Pathfinder Off the Beaten Path

A Gathering in Brinewall
As the Fellowship gathers, a forbidden watchtower awaits.

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As the fellowship is brought together by the hands of fate, the forgotten watch tower broods in the distance. What awaits them in this lonely garrison?..

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Pilot: The Forgotten Watchtower (part 1)
With the threat uncovered, The fellowship must survive and protect Brinewall.

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Synopsis: As the Heros gathered in Brinewall, an old menace arose in the surrounding countryside, forcing the Commandants’ hand. As Zuristoi the Fortune Teller arrived, he was beset by several enforcers from the dreaded Sczarni Syndicate, hoping to enjoy some violence at the fortune teller’s expense. Before blood could be drawn, the group attracted the attention of Nick Hawkes and Nadya Begeris who decided to intervene on the fortune teller’s behalf. Meanwhile, Thrindil Tamin’Atar and Sa’hetna The Greenwalker were on their way to the keep to speak with the Commandant about the situation with his forge and the release of workers to help build it.

The brawl became a vicious duel, as the two Sczarni tough’s drew blood and things rapidly deteriorated. As all those gathered decided to stop the assault of the fortune teller, Nick, Zuri and Nadya fought the bravos until their uncle arrived from the caravan to formally request that their lives be spared. After a brief discussion, the Sczarni were relieved of their weapons and turned back over to their uncle. As the dust settled, Zuristoi the Fortune Teller thanked them for their help, and asked them to disregard such a shameful representation of his native culture.

At this point in the day, the group saw a search party of guards stumbling back into Brinewall after a long day chasing an alleged chupacabra. They had no luck attempting to find the creature that was killing a shepard’s nearby flock, and as it stood, Thrindil’s forge would continue to remain unbuilt until the safety of the town was assured. Thrindil and Sa’hetna decided to speak with the Commandant directly. Upon speaking with him, it was decided that the only way work on Thrindil’s forge would continue, was to find the cause of the missing sheep.

Sa’hetna tracked a band of marauding goblins back to a forgotten watch tower in the middle of a small bowl valley. After sneaking their way close to the tower, the fellowship was discovered as they closed in, and a general melee broke out. Goblins tried to defend the tower, but the fellowship broke through their defenses, but not before being mauled by the combat. There were several difficult battles, during which members of the fellowship were gravely wounded, and eventually they did have to retreat before anyone was killed. This delay cost the shepard his life, however, as the remaining forces in the tower retaliated and disposed of the bodies of their cohorts.

After the fellowship was able to rest, repair and rearm, they returned to the watch tower and immediately rushed to subdue the remaining forces there. When the upper levels of the watchtower were attacked, several ambushes were laid with hobgoblins and bugbears until the group was badly mauled once again by the ferocity of the inhuman opponents. Finally however, we were able to win through, and the threat on top was dealt with. Exploring the lower levels however, has proven challenging, fortunately however, the fellowship is far more prepared and is ready to face these new challenges.

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Broken Dragon
(Season 1, Episode 2) A Hellknight in Brinewall, and a dark storm descends

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It was in late spring when the fellowship returned to the growing village of Brinewall from the forgotten watch tower. In the dark webs of the spider mother, they had discovered a prisoner who had been kept barely alive to feed her brood, a dark haired half Elf named Ollinithivel. He had taken a job as a scout, but had run afoul of the monsters after sneaking into the secret entrance to the lower levels of the watchtower. There, the brood of the spider mother had attacked and kept him paralyzed until they were ready to feed. Fortunately for “Olli” the brood of the spider mother had proven no match for the fellowship, as they cut through their ranks. It was not until half the fellowship was forced to return to deal with an undead threat above them, and their strength was halved, did the dark mother of webs reveal herself and attack. It was clear she had commanded her children to secure their food, and she would not surrender Ollinithivel without a fight.

Fortunately, the mighty A’hoot, Sa’hetna the greenwalker and Thrindiil Forge-borne were able to turn the tide of the dark web mother, and soon her cracked, bloated body was spilling its blood upon the stones. When she was dead, Sahetna burned away what webs he could and opened the coccon containing Ollinthivel the Oracle. His blood was thick with the paralytic poison of the spider queen, and it took much of the day to return him by litter into the welcoming arms of the city of Brinewall.

Of the mysterious figure of Ollinthivel, little is known except when Sa’hetna would speak of his friend and traveling companion.

“Ollinthivel?… There are some for who the presence of the spirits are a blessing, but others who do not agree. I have come to realize the the burdens of his secrets were many.

After they returned to Brinewall, Ollinthivel was treated for his injuries at the local apothecary and given leave to report back to the commandant about the situation. Meanwhile Nick and Nadia had received an awaited message from a young child who rushed up and gave some sort of coded statement. Nick immediately recognized what the child was saying and left to catch up with the caravan which had only recently departed Brinewall. Nadia packed up her things and left with Nick in hot pursuit of the Traveling wagon train. They took Zuristoi with them to help with negotiations once they caught up with the caravan and the insular Varisi who run them. After they divided up the loot so far, they took their shares collected so far, but left the rest in our care for when they accomplished their mission and returned.

It was after speaking with the commandant, Ollinthivel had recovered much of his strength and After Zuristoi, Nick, and Nadia had gathered their belongings to intercept the caravan, a strange procession entered town. The fellowship was considering what their next move should be when a small slave column began to work its way through Brinewall on their way to a Chelaxian merchant ship docked in the harbor. . It consisted of Three slavers, 4 shoanti prisoners, and 1 blonde hairedVarisi woman.

As soon as Sa’hetna noticed the Shoanti in chains, he moved out into the center of the street and blocked the way forward with A’hoot at his side. Ollinthivel and Threndiil noticed the slaves as well, and immediately knew there would be trouble. The slavers moved with impunity, despite the fact that most of the crowd were faithful of Desna, no one was willing to challenge the obviously armed and dangerous slavers. There was a brief standoff as everyone parted ways, leaving the three adventurers standing in the slavers path. Threndiil tried to negotiate, but they were already tense and the situation was ready to explode at any moment. Finally Ollinthivel cast a spell to try and force one of the slavers to fall on the ground with a spell of command. As soon as his magic flew, the Slavers knew they had a fight on their hands and moved forward to attack.

Threndiil the Forgeborne, summoned an Eagle to attack the slaver, while Ollinthivel continued casting spells in hopes of sowing confusion among their number. Meanwhile, with a look of fury, Sa’hetna and A’hoot attacked the slavers head on. A’hoot slammed into a slaver, and bit into his neck as his head thrashed back and forth. There was a loud Cracking noise as the first slaver’s neck snapped like a chicken’s and he went limp. Sa’hetna attacked with his warclub as the eagle and Ollin’s magic did their work upon the third slaver. As the combat began, The crowd parted to allow the shackled slaves to escape into a nearby butcher shop. Once out of harm’s way, they rejoined to create a group of spectator’s hiding them away. A’hoot charged again, crashing into the second slaver as he tore an arm from its socket with a bellowing roar, leaving the man to spray his life blood upon the muddy street. Finally Threndiil was able to talk to the remaining man after he had been nearly killed. At that point he knew that it was over for him, and his only chance for survival meant surrender. He gave up to Threndil and Ollin, before being clubbed into unconsciousness by Sa’hetna from behind.

As the people started moving forward, suddenly a dark clad man in a breastplate shoved his way through the crowd. It had been long enough so that the remaining slaver had regained consciousness and called out to Him.

“Armiger!.. please, help me Armiger!”

This statement named him as a untested squire of the Hellknights, and revealed the presence of the Cheliax militant order here in Brinewall. The Knight drew a sword and swore a bitter oath at the slaver as he shook his head…

“Oh.. you shouldn’t have said that.”

Sa’hetna sought to place himself between the knight and the others, as blood had not been drawn and in truth he appeared to be a far more formidable opponent. Ollin tried to tangle the man’s mind while Threndil began to cast spells and summoned another creature to press the attack. Unfortunately, the Hellknight novice moved around the crowd, and nearly buried his weapon in Olli’s head before missing at the last moment by tripping over some mysterious invisible object. The melee ensued, as Sahetna and Ahoot moved to attack and struck blow after blow upon each others defenses. Fortunately, Olli was able to weave a spell that forced the knight to drop his weapon on the ground. As he stumbled about for it, another magical spell whipped it from underneath him and it danced off to the side and out of reach. The Novice Hell knight snarled as he drew a sap and proceeded to lay into Olli as the fight carried into the butcher’s shop where the slaves had taken refuge. Ahoot and Sahetna tried to trip and force the Knight off his feat so he would be vulnerable, but the experience and combat training of the warrior proved to be too much as their attacks proved far less effective. Finally after being cornered and battered, Olli commanded the spell to toss the knight’s weapon up unto the canvas roof and well out of reach. The Hellknight novice roared in frustration, determined to use his sap to club Olli to death when Sahetna and A’hoot finally brought him down.

The fellowship did not have time to celebrate their victory however, as soon as the fight was over, it was clear that the slaver had escaped and was even now, fleeing to the Cheliax merchant ship. On the dock, the sole surviving slaver waved his arms in hopes of catching the attention of those on deck. As they watched, Olli moved forward into a tent structure, readied a crossbow, and just as he was spotted by the officers from the boat, sent a crossbow bolt into the slaver, killing her instantly. Her body slumped into the water, and when Threndil moved forward to shout at the ship.. a mage on board summoned a pair of manes to give chase.

As threndiil retreated from the dock he shouted behind him, “We trade! But not in slaves!”

Later on that evening, Threndiil was speaking the commandant about the work on the forge, when the matter of the slavers came up. From that point forward, the conversation went poorly as the commander realized that he would be forced to entertain the ships captain as a guest for dinner in order to smooth things over. After a long and grueling conversation, over which the commandant made it clear that we were to stop causing trouble, or else. Olli and Sa’hetna had decided it was time to seek answers outside of Brinewall.

After visiting with a caravan recently arrived in a disheveled state, it was revelead to the fellowship that the caravan had encountered a mischevious copper dragon, who was disguised as a comely woman. When she had asked for aid, but then was refused by the new caravan master, she had begun to play tricks upon them.. one thing after another until the caravan fled as fast as they dared.

(to be continued)

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More Dragons and Hobgoblins
In which we deal with dragons and spend more money than we make

I.

Sa’hetna’s last log entry left off with us in a middle of a supernatural windstorm, battered by a fight with air and lightning elementals and hunkering down in the cave of a dead copper dragon. We had rescued two of her wyrmlings, Acidophul and Cyandotin, but sadly arrived too late to help the third (whom we later learned to be Ganason.) I’d seen an earth elemental peeking out of the wall deeper in the cave, but when we proceeded in there was no sign.

At just this moment a bard approached the cave! It turned out to be one Zuristoi, a Varisian friend of Sa’hetna and Thrindiil who had helped carry me back to town when they rescued me from the giant spiders a few days earlier. As we were unable to wake Cyandotin, we felt it urgent to get a Restoration spell for her before she became dehydrated; however, we lacked the money to pay for it, so we gathered the dead mother’s hoard and headed back to Brinewall through the lowering storm. While we were loading up A’Hoot with the sacks of gold, earth elementals phased through the floor in that creepy way earth elementals have. It turned out they’d been family friends of the dragon; they would guard her body until we returned with a Speak with Dead scroll to figure out what she wanted us to do with her kids.

The hoard. The hoard was mostly a lot of copper pieces. Thrindiil was going to count it, but then he had some sort of wizard study to attend to, and since my magic mostly just sort of happens – I don’t really know how, but on the other hand I don’t have to stay up all night studying scrolls – I agreed to count them for him. But then luckily a merchant agreed to trade us the whole lot, uncounted, for a Restoration scroll! Narrow escape there. We might have overpaid, but really taking everything into account we got a bargain. So, Sa’hetna masterfully cast the spell from the scroll, waking Cyandotin who promptly attacked us. But we all tried to calm her down; she spewed acid all over everybody, but only once, so I suppose that’s not so bad. Anyway she didn’t get any on me. Cyandotin’s pretty surly, but I guess you have to give her some leeway because she just lost her mom. Still, I like Acidophul better.

So we, meaning Zuristoi and myself and I think Sa’hetna, bought a Speak With Dead scroll as well. The hoard was gone at that point, so this was out of pocket. We’re not really doing a great job of making a living at this – both Zuristoi and myself are running a net loss since we started adventuring, and Sa’hetna might have been as well but I don’t think he’s keeping count. Anyway. It turned out I was the only one of us who understood the scroll, so I was going to get to cast it. I was apprehensive – I blew enough scrolls back in wizard school in Crying Leaf – but I got lucky and was able to get the spell off. So then I was in mediumistic contact with the departed spirit of the mother dragon! That was pretty gross. She wanted us to try to raise her other child from the dead, if we were going to raise anyone. She also said we should take Acidophul and Cyandotin to a bronze dragon who lived down the coast a bit, which surprised all of us. Who ever heard of a bronze dragon raising copper dragon wyrmlings! (Nobody spoke of trying to raise Ganason from the dead, in spite of the mother’s wishes – perhaps we all felt that while it might be worth an heroic quest to bring back a powerful adult dragon, we already had about two more wyrmlings than we could handle and didn’t need a third.)

She was terse and a bit cryptic, but I’ve heard this is always the case with the Speak With Dead spell. It makes me wonder what I’m really talking to there – it certainly didn’t feel like a fully conscious intelligent being. Anyhow, she said we should just “return her to the earth”, and so the earth elemental leader agreed to bury her. I think Thrindiil was relieved that I wasn’t going to try to badger him into helping me cart this large (and apparently valuable) dragon corpse through pirate-infested waters half-way across the world to get her raised. We hurried back to Brinewall, arriving just after nightfall in a howling windstorm.

Oh, also the dragon’s cave had an entrance to the Darklands! The earth elementals said they guarded it and kept things from coming up.

II.

The storm kept us bottled up in the Brinewall castle for another day. On the morning it started to abate, we found Cyandotin had scarpered. Not much we can do about that; hopefully she doesn’t run into any of the green dragons that are distressingly common hereabouts.

Zuristoi talked to the Varisians who’d been pranked by the copper dragon – now known as the Green Horse Caravan – and produced a wagon to escort us down the coast to see Plantagonox (the bronze dragon). This was especially handy because I didn’t have to carry supplies, or walk. Plantagonox, it turns out, spends his time killing and presumably eating pirates. I’m not sure how he tells whether a ship is a pirate before he destroys it – didn’t seem like a good time to ask. I haven’t heard any complaints of dragons preying on shipping up in Brinewall, but then it’s hard complain very loudly from inside of a dragon.

Acidophul didn’t seem keen on staying with Plantagonox, and Plantagonox didn’t really want Acidophul, although he said he’d keep him since it was his mother’s dying wish. Zuristoi read the Harrow for the kid, and it said staying with P. would produce woe, so he came home with us. He’s now hanging around the castle in Brinewall, where he gets free meat and water, so a pretty sweet setup. I hope he sticks around; he is fun to play with, although I think dragons grow up so slowly that he’s still going to be a kid when all of us except maybe Thrindiil are long buried. Someday when I go to Crying Leaf I’ll have to introduce him to my mom.

It turns out Plantagonox had strained relations with Acidophul’s mom, and we think she was just trying to saddle him with raising her kids as a final joke, since she knew it would drive him crazy but that he’d do it because he was so straight-laced. Which is pretty funny, actually; maybe the kid is a little young to appreciate the humor in it right now, though.

III.

By the time we got back to Brinewall it had been two weeks since the group cleared the hobgoblins out of that old watchtower, so we decided to go back and finish looting it. We approached along the wash to the secret back door that I’d found earlier, so we wouldn’t be spotted if more monsters had moved in. And it turned out they had! Three goblins with riding dogs were keeping guard along the creek; while they were no real danger to us, only Thrindiil’s summoned eagle was able to keep them from escaping to warn the Tower, harrying them until A’Hoot caught up and finished them off. I got to try out this new trick I’d discovered to interrogate someone’s thoughts by sort of yanking on all the threads through their brain. It worked pretty well as far as that went – I learned that the goblins were indeed scouts for another batch of female hobgoblins that had reoccupied the tower – but I was a bit surprised that it also killed the subject.

We had no trouble getting back in through my secret door, but this time I had a bunch of folks who were better at tracking along, and they noticed something I’d missed earlier – a dragon was evidently lairing in the cave there! Sa’hetna said it was probably a green. I think it must be a pretty young one – surely no adult dragon would live in a crappy cave under a goblin-infested tower like this, nor would he leave the brush growing over the entrance so he had to crawl into his own home on his belly – but the others didn’t seem to agree. Anyway, we hurried on so we could assault the hobs while we still had surprise on our side.

They had walled up the stairs from the basement (where we were) so there was only a narrow crack in, but this time we knew that trick. (Later Thrindiil had his earth elemental knock that wall down; having to invade the tower through that narrow crack twice was enough.) Incidentally, we saw the hobs had made a lot of improvements to the tower – maybe we should let them occupy it one or two more times and see if they put in some curtains and nicer furniture. That’s a joke.

So: I changed my form into that of a goblin, and Zuristoi taught me how to say “No treasure down here, nope!” in goblin in case I was caught – with the hope that the hob guards would chase me rather than alerting the fortress – and I snuck through to see what was going on! This actually worked too well – first, I was so stealthy that the guards didn’t even see me, and then when I tried again and deliberately stumbled into the guard room, then fled back through the crack, Zuristoi could hear the guards saying “it’s just a goblin, who cares” and failing to pursue. So, we just charged in and attacked. We quickly overcame them, but as we soon discovered there was another batch of hobs upstairs who had heard the fray and were now prepared for our assault.

That next fight didn’t go as well – I went up the stairs first and attempted to cast my new Murderous Command spell on one of the guards, but I didn’t see the hobgoblin necromancer standing behind me in the stairwell. She was invisible (I think using the same Vanish spell that Thrindiil often casts), Mage Armored, Shielded, False Life’d, and had a Spectral Hand up as well. Right off the bat she hit A’Hoot and me with some sort of energy drain effect, but we mostly were able to shake it off. Luckily I was able to keep her confused by tweaking on her threads – and thus prevent her from doing anything intelligent like fleeing – while the rest of the group finished off the guards. Then A’Hoot and Thrindiil’s earth elemental were able to box her in in the stairwell and, eventually, kill her.

At this point the hobgoblins were all dead, but Thrindiil and I were almost entirely exhausted of magic. However, we still wanted to clean out the basements before the green dragon returned from its hunt, so we pressed on.

IV.

One room we had ignored when coming up through the basement was full of chests and broken furniture. Thrindiil used the last few seconds of his summoned earth elemental to open all the chests, but there was nothing obviously valuable. All of us except A’Hoot joined in a quick search, which was perhaps a mistake – horrible little crawling undead hands came out of the debris and jumped on Zuristoi, Sa’hetna, and Thrindiil! I kept trying to discharge some positive energy into them with cure spells, but I couldn’t manage to land a hit. Also the door slammed shut – evidentally that was some local supernatural effect, and not my fault like it usually is – which shut A’Hoot out in the hall. But while the hands were quite disgusting they weren’t very strong, and eventually we were able to smash them while A’Hoot bashed through the door.

Sa’hetna said he still had a full panoply of spells, so we decided to go ahead and check out the last unexplored room, the Chamber of Bones in the sub-sub-basement. (We didn’t know it was called the Chamber of Bones at that point). This was a very large room, piled waist-high with bones as advertised, and with some sort of construct made of skulls sitting in the far corner. Which construct immediately hit Zuristoi and myself with a fear spell, so I decided I’d just stay out in the corridor and be ready to heal anybody who needed it. So the rest of the description of this battle is from what Z told me later. A vast horde of skeletons, at least fifteen, plus a mighty death knight rose from bone debris and charged toward the party! Luckily, Zuristoi still had the ability to channel, so he cleansed the room with blasts of positive energy! The clatter of disintegrating skeletons was deafening, leaving only their death knight leader and the skull tower itself. Sa’hetna magically set the tower on fire, but it was burning very slowly, so Z was still having to fight through the fear effect – but he was undeterred! He loosed a hail of specially designed anti-skeleton arrows at the puissant knight, but the fell fiend fought through them and engaged him in single combat! Finally, Sa’hetna, wielding a magically summoned club, and A’Hoot were able to assist him, and with a mighty thrust Zuristoi brought down the foul creature! I’m really sorry I missed all of that, it figures I’d run out of spells for the best fight of the day.

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Zuristoi... Dragon slayer
(Season 1, episode 4) Shepard's Bane is cornered and slain.

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Greetings mother and father.. I will be returning home soon. It will be very good to see everyone again and I am looking forward to seeing the mighty ancestor trees which grace our homeland and keep the spirits of our ancestors. I know now, that I am on a great spirit quest, and that our journeys will become legends told to children many years from now, provided we survive. I have made a home in the stinking town of Brinewall, where it smells very bad all the time. I am hopeful however, that as I am able to show them the way, and convince the people to work with the land instead of struggling against it, they will achieve some measure of harmony, and then they will aid us in our fight against the consortium.

Nearby, there is a great tower of stone which is a nesting ground of evil spirits. They call to goblins and hobgoblins, filling their ears with desire to dwell in the company of darkness. Twice we have cleansed this place of evil, and twice it has reached out to call more of its kind to dwell there. I fear that there may be no way to finally be rid of it, except to raze this nesting ground of dark spirits to the ground and return its bones to the earth from which the stone was drawn. I must always be mindful, for not every dark spirit is necessarily evil, but whatever is calling to these goblins and bringing them down from the mountains, makes it difficult to secure the town of Brinewall from threats to the North.

In our most recent adventure, we had finally killed the goblins and secured the tower before realizing that the small green dragon which had started amassing its horde in the basement would likely soon return, and be very angry with us. A dragon knows its horde like it knows its own skin, every coin is like every scale. Everything has a place, and as soon as we took some of it, the dragon would know its lair had been defiled and its treasure touched by outsiders. We tried to return the goods, in hopes that the dragon would not immediately attack and give us enough time to recover some of our energy. The blessing of the trees would not fall upon me until dawn, so I had to make do with what I could while Zuristoi, Olli, and Threndiil had recovered enough of their strength to be useful.

We barracaded ourselves in the tower to wait while the dragon returned from its hunting to consume its latest catch and add its bones to the growing pile. We knew that we would not be hard to find, but we had returned the treasure we had taken in hopes that it would not be so angry with us, that it would hurry to engage us. After resting for a time, we heard a disturbance outside.. so Threndiil sent one of his eagles out to give chase, but we didnt hear anything after that. Zuristoi used a trick of the light to make it seem like someone had gone to the door, and the decoy was consumed in a massive cloud of acidic gas.

We fled back down into the dragon’s lair, and made ready to assault the beast. It would seem counter intuitive to attack it in its lair, but its true strength, was in the air where it could attack us with impunity and we would be nearly helpless to stop it. By this time night had fallen, and the lair itself was nearly pitch black. Zuristoi had used another illumination spell, and we soon discovered the creature as it moved to confront us.

Our attack was swift and decisive.. everyone attacked as best they could, A’hoot closed while I cast my spells and helped as best I could. The dragon’s attack had taken place too soon for Ollie to replenish his spells, but he helped attack the beast as best he could. Zuristoi however was quicker on the draw and drew up next to the dragon with his sword raised high. He struck the beast once.. then again as it died from its wounds. The dragon was defeated and the scourge of the local livestock was now dead.

We were hailed as heros upon our return.. and Zuristoi spun tales well into the morning while the rest of us went to tend to other matters.

I had investigated the area, and found a ruined grove that could be used with some time and attention. Meanwhile .. the town itself was attacked by an acid scarred ogre who had come down from the hills. Its savage attack was cut short as our hunting party gathered to stop it. The people of Brinewall fled while we raced in the other direction to confront the beast. It had left a trail of devastation in its wake, but we caught up with it before it was able to kill anyone. We attacked the ogre head on.. and brought it down, but not before several of our group were wounded. At this point the fellowship decided it was time to see to the ogres in the hills, and end their threat once and for all.

We left for the hills in the early morning.. I did my best to guide the others and track the path the ogre had made in its rampage. Finally, we followed the ogres back to their lair, a stinking cliff cave that was covered in strange burns that were likely made by the dragon. We wasted no time inside, and hurried to engage them before they could better prepare themselves. Two ogres came out of the darkness as we went in.. and the fight was terrible. Ahoot had been knocked down and was bleeding badly. Were it not for Zuristoi’s magic and the wands we had purchased, I don’t know what would have happened to my brother.

We finally defeated the Ogres, and on our way back, saw a terrible sight.. a caravan of hobgoblins and goblins, moving into the tower to once again fortify it as a garrison of their foul race. My heart sank as I considered what we had just sacrificed to clear it.. but the goblins and hobgoblins were a truly numberless enemy.. and it was not going to be easy.

Finally we made our way back.. and I asked the others if they would help me return to my people, so I could acquire an ironroot tree seed as the center of the new grove in Brinewall.

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The Battle of Ancestor Hill
(Season 1, Episode 5) The Iron Consortium has come at last.

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The Battle of Ancestor Hill..

Throughout the history of Varisia, many details about important events can get rather difficult to confirm for obvious reasons. The first intermediary period was a time where the country was wild and untamed, and many key figures took on the roles of local heros, and eventually legends who’s fantastic stories were repeated through the ages. There was no centralized government, and the local populace consisted of Native Shoanti to the North, and scattered caravans of wandering Varisi everywhere else. Several figures however play an interesting role in what would become the foundation folklore of the eventual city of Brinewall. This place had originally been established as an outpost by fleeing nobility from the far east, but almost all of the family had been wiped out by a concerted attack by the Oni, and for many years the keep was laid to ruin.

This ruin was later rebuilt and became a hub for trade that was headed North into Kalsgard and the lands of the Linnorm Kings. It was at this time, a tribe of Shoanti called the Huho’tach Maudi began to make their presence known. This distressed tribe had spent many generations isolated both from the outside world and the other shoanti tribes, but now was under attack by a shadow arm of the Chelaxian government called “the Iron Consortium,” Thier people had begun the long slow decline into cultural dissolution, when they sent one of their young braves to Brinewall in search of a solution. Unfortunately for them however, the Iron Consortium had been busy, and was preparing a logging expedition to move up into the hills and make a direct assault on the sacred ancestor grove.

Sa’hetna had been using this time to establish himself in Brinewall, when he returned home just in time to find his tribe under attack. There was no time for tactics or long thought out strategems, the situation was critical because the consortium were already well under way with their assault and soon it would be too late. In later writings, Sa’hetna had long had misgivings about the slow decline of his people, and when he returned to the tribe, there was already a heated debate in progress about how to best deal with the invaders.

A tribesman named “Haargev” had formed a degenerate cult of worship for those creatures which dwell beyond the dark tapestry. This dark cult had already wormed its way into the hearts of several tribesman as their fear and desperation grew to a fever pitch, and now, “Haargev” knew that the time was ripe to make his move. The hunt master Nath’rek had taken issue with the use of “summoned spirits” and wanted to gather for a direct assault. Meanwhile, “Haargev” had insisted that the help of the spirits would break the backs of the invaders.

At this council meeting, “Haargev” invited the fellowship to participate in a summoning ritual that would call forth the spirits that would liberate the tribe. Sa’hetna and the others, agreed to attend, but as the greenwalker would recount years later…

“Something felt profoundly wrong about this. I had felt the influence of the spirits and the dire warning I had received from Rancher Fauster did nothing to put my fears at ease. This was something terrible, it was the reason our ancestors had warned us about influence from the outsiders. It was not the lure of money, or the working of iron which had filled their hearts with horror and kept them looking up into the endless sky with dread. The source of their fear, was the profane knowledge that somewhere out in world, these abominable rites and rituals existed, and could be used to call up such evils that no sane man should ever be exposed to.”

When the fellowship had arrived, the ritual began, and suddenly reality itself twisted as something foul and otherworldly was summoned into being. The fellowship only marginally helped as Threndil assisted the ritual by giving his voice to the cult leader, meanwhile Sahetna and the others prepared to deal with the aftermath of what was happening. Shocked and frozen in horror, Sahetna could only stare as the cult leader lost control when the offering mysteriously died just before the creature could consume it. The beast, thus denied its feast, lashed out and nearly took the cultleader before he fled. Fortunately, Olli used his power over the mind to force the cultleader to flee back towards the beast. When he did so, the creature took him in its tentacles and started to drain his life essence. Partly in punishment, and partly in mercy, Sahetna along with the others targeted his attack on the cultleader to finish him off and kill the fool before his soul was consumed by the strange creature from beyond time and space.

It was a close thing for the huho’tach maudi, because if the beast had escaped the confining circle it would have inflicted untold death and injury before it could have been stopped.. if it could have been stopped at all. The circle held however, as the magic of the Harrow revealed itself through Zuristoi and saved the lives of the fellowship and the village. After that disasterous turn of events, the council and the tribe realized its folley in turning the to dark spirits from beyond and decided that now was the time to fight. The fellowship agreed to fight by their side and gathered with Nath’rek in the morning for the attack.

As the Consortium continued up the hill, the Huho’tach moved to attack the other two elements while the fellowship crept forward to attack the third. Each element consisted of 2 clockwork soldiers alongside a clockwork harvester and attended by gaurds and an overseer. The fellowship planned to attack the overseer, and disable the harvester until all the others had been dealt with. The attack proceeded as both Olli and Zuristoi used their magic to occupy the overseer while Sa’hetna and Threndil used claw and summoned creature to attack the gaurds. The clockwork soldiers were very strong, and could inflict terrible wounds upon anyone who got close. Fortunately however, one was led off by Threndil while the other was attacked and dismantled by Sa’hetna and A’hoot. The fight did not last long as the gaurds were cut down and the overseer was forced into a magical slumber from which he would awake only briefly. His gaurds did their best to protect and revive him, but by the time they realized what was happening, they were being overrun by the fellowship and the tide was turning against them. As the battle was nearly finished, Zuristoi led the harvester on a merry chase while the others tried to use the keys to take control of the clockworks to no avail. The other groups of Huho’tach were successful in their attack, having brought down the clockworks with huge mallets that smashed joints and caved in armor. After leading his harvestor on a chase through the field.. Zuristoi led the device towards the warriors, who knocked its knees out from under it and proceeded to smash it into metal bits.

Nath’rek had decided to press the attack, kill the next shift and burn their camp in a wave of destruction that would chase the consortium all the way back to the shore. Sa’hetna and the others followed and wrecked terrible damage upon the consortium until chelish troops began to deploy from the boats to call a halt to their assault. Meanwhile the tribe’s advance had left a path of destruction in its wake, and the consortium would have no choice but to retreat.

The warriors of the Huho’tach and the fellowship returned to the village victorious, and a great feast was gathered in honor of those who fought, and those who had died to make victory happen. Sa’hetna was given a sacred ancestor sapling to place in his grove, and after making a quick stop by the sawmill to say goodbye to Breanna, he guided the fellowship back home. Threndil had been busy collecting salvage, and so he traded his horse for a wagon that would carry the metal back to Brinewall for his forge. This meant the trip home would be longer, but with the metal and spoils from the battle, it would well be worth it.

None of the fellowship had any illusions about the eventual return of the Iron consortium. They had been beaten once, but now was the time to prepare. They would come back eventually, stronger then before and ready to fight and destroy the Huho’tach maudi forever.

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Ashes to Ashes..
(Season 1, Episode 6) A fire spirit attacks, and a dark secret revealed.

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Sa’hetna’s Journal -

It was with a heavy heart that I turned away from my village and began the slow trip back to our home in Brinewall. I suspect the others were ready to leave, but I still wanted to stay. My goal was still incomplete however, for while they had been defeated, they would return in time. It seems strange to think of it now, but the village of Brinewall has become our home. For as long as I can remember I have never thought of someplace else as being home except my village, but Brinewall has changed to become something more. It is a muddy, smelly place that stinks of fish, salt and dung, but even that is slowly changing. The wagon was loaded down with the spoils from the battle of Ancestor Hill, and while Threndil was excited, all I saw when I glance into the back of the wagon was a huge load of gears, plates and junk.

He has said, “It can be melted down into things which will be useful.” so I chose to simply defer to his advice on the junk-pile and focus my effort on tending the ancestor tree.

On the road back into town, we first met an old Tinkerer who had broken down on his travels across the countryside. His wagon was damaged and so we paused in our journey to help him fix his wagon and speak with him briefly before moving on. He was a wandering Tinkerer who moved from tiny village to village to provide whatever services they lacked. The Tinker was not a skilled Artisan, but he could provide the bare necessities to a hamlet that had little to offer besides room and board.

Two days later, we had returned to the road and were attacked by a rogue Ankheg. This scourge would normally avoid larger caravans, but unfortunately it saw our small party as a potential meal, especially our horses. The beast burrowed under and exploded from the surface to rush our group in a direct assault. I had dismounted and was about to move around my horse when it focused its attack on Teh’tuon, my brave mount! Its first bite cut deeply into its neck and my horse would have been killed had we not been able to overcome the beast. Zuristoi, Threndil and Olli all attacked the beast with our weapons and powers until it was finally overcome and it fell in a twitching heap of oozing chitin and bug innards. Zuristoi had used his powers to heal Teh’tuon and save my horses life, an act for which I will always be grateful. Threndil, never wanting to see anything go to waste quickly set upon the carcass to remove the chitinous plates and save them for later use. When he sets upon a fallen foe, I cannot help but think of our women, and how they would tear into the carcass of a fallen Elk to clean and remove anything and everything of use. His single minded devotion to picking the dead clean is a slightly morbid marvel to behold, and a I suspect that he could teach the women of my tribe a thing or two in finding use in that which has fallen on the battlefield.

Several days after the encounter with the Ankheg, we met a traveler on the side of the road, this was an old pilgrim of Desna who had been wandering the road for some time and was exhausted from her journey. It was strange, because she had no food, pack or water, but none of us realized that at the time. Perhaps we had assumed that she used her favor with Desna as a means to support herself, in looking back I admonish myself for not being more cautious in my consideration of such things. I can see now, that too much of my healthy suspicion has eased since we have settled into Brinewall. We could see that she was exhausted, and so we accepted her into our group and continued back towards Brinewall. Some time later, as we had settled into camp for a peaceful evening, The Pilgrim and Olli had stepped away from the Campfire to observe the stars, when she drew out a spear and stabbed Olli. At first we could not understand what was happening, but she continued to attack, muttering something about how she had to “save the world”

Ahoot and I had lept into action as Olli drew back clutching a wound and his hand was covered in his own blood. Fire started to sparkle in her eyes and her voice became thick with anger as she moved to attack Olli again. By this time, our fellowship had sprung into action and we attacked the pilgrim with intent to put her down. She was either possessed or insane, but whatever the cause for her unprovoked attack on Olli, when my fellow hunter was safe, it would be answered with blood if need be. I clubbed at the witch, while Ahoot swept in for the attack. The others used their powers to attack, and soon the pilgrim and whatever force possessed her was on the defensive. After A’hoot tore at her neck, she screamed out and scalding blood shot from her wound as she died. The woman appeared to be bursting into flames as Olli shouted for us to get away from the dying woman. I knew that if her body was going to explode, there was no way we could get away in time, so I tried to move in close, so that my brother A’hoot and I could meet the spirits of our ancestors side by side. Fortunately for us however, she did not explode, but simply burst into flames and the body was quickly consumed by intense heat. A strange, malicious fire beast burst forth from the body and ran all over camp before we were able to bring it down. tainted spark elementals burst into life after the thing had called to its strange god “Cthugga.” This name did not sound familiar, and as we saw the tainted fire which was called up by invoking its power, I suspect our ignorance was probably for the best.

The Fire beast of Cthugga ravaged our camp, injured several of our hunting party and sent one of the horses fleeing into the night before we were able to put it down. It did not focus its attacks on the ancestor sapling, but instead seemed focused on killing Olli. After the fight, when we asked him about it, he said that a similar situation had happened with his previous group. A fire creature had possessed a hobgoblin and after the course of a battle, seemed as if it was about to explode. Instead of hanging about wondering what was going to happen, Olli had fled before he could see the results. At that point I began to suspect perhaps this was the same fire creature, after all, if it could possess a hobgoblin, why not a pilgrim of Desna?

We buried her corpse, because if she had been possessed then it was unfortunate circumstance that placed her at the wrong place at the wrong time. Our hunting party returned to the road, much disturbed by the events from the previous evening. I set out ahead of the group to try and track her path and came upon the campsite where the pilgrim had slept previously. The blackened remains of a pack mule were all that remained, as the fire spirit had obviously attacked and killed her mule before taking her body and possessing it. Such a horrid violation still shakes me deeply, what sort of foul spirit could do such a thing as possess a host while still burning with such unnatural heat. Is the victim still alive?.. do they feel the fire inside them?.. all of these questions and more shook my spirit, and despite our victory back at the village, the remaining ride into Brinewall was absent of conversation.

When we finally returned to Brinewall, I wasted no time in returning the tree to the Grove and started the ritual to place it within the holy ground prepared for it. It was at this time we noticed something strange. The accidents had returned and become even worse. All work on the walls and buildings was being brought to a standstill by accidents that would happen throughout the day. It was as if the entire village was under the affect of some curse. Threndil was beside himself, as he was preparing to make use of the green dragon hide for a magical bag that would help Olli.. when an accident in his workshop almost ruined it completely.

We had decided that enough was enough, because this curse was obviously not natural and had to be stopped. Eventually everything we were trying to do would come to a halt and we would be defenseless against the hobgoblin’s attack. In addition, people were being injured and in some cases nearly killed, so we had to find the source of these accidents. A’hoot and I began to search as the hunting party returned to some of the places we had searched before for some clue as to what was happening. I already had a terrible suspicion that the foul luck bewitching brinewall was the result of a visitor from the first world. There were many different kinds of fey creature which could be causing this, but it had to be something that could either turn invisible, or was very small and could hide. We searched the old lighthouse, and detected old tracks that led back into Brinewall. after a time, we started finding tiny three toed tracks that crisscrossed the town. We followed the tracks until we arrived at the cathedral of Desna currently under construction. There, A’hoot and I heard what the mysterious curse of Brinewall was.. Gremlins.

We attacked, and while the Gremlins tried to disappear into the shadows and flee, we had their scent now and our hunting party was relentless in pursuit. Olli, Zuristoi, Threndil and I attacked and were finally able to corner and squash two of the creatures before it was able to disappear back into the town and escape.

We followed the tracks of the gremlins back towards the keep and suddenly we remembered the old record of its retaking. Apparently there was a terrible fight that had happened with a strange demon creature in a cavern deep below Brinewall Keep. The beast was defeated, but the existence of such caverns below the keep could mean a great many things. So, we informed the commandant that we were going into the lower levels, and reopen the way to investigate. As we reached the sub cellar, we discovered more gremlin tracks led from below and easily squeezed between the bars installed to keep out intruders from below. We had to investigate, so we removed one of the bars so we could squeeze through and get into the cavern below the keep.

We were on our way into the cavern, when we were attacked by an entire flock of Gremlins from the shadowlands. There were Gremlins of the kind we had fought before, but there were also others. Dark hooded gremlins with long pointed ears and sharp claws hopped about and slashed at anyone and everyone close enough to attack. It was a vicious fight, for the gremlins did not want to give up their new home, and they fought to the last. After a bitter combat, their bodies were strewn about and we continued down into the cavern to make a truly unsettling discovery.

Something had tunneled up from the shadowlands and had bored their way into the old cavern below the keep. The entire place smelled faintly of troglodyte, which meant the beasts had been digging for some time up from below. The caverns would have to be sealed and gaurded, or else more gremlins and worse would bubble up from the caverns below. There could be an entire tribe of troglodytes down there, and we had been completely ignorant of it. The town of Brinewall had been plauged with curses until then, but such foul luck ultimately gave way to good luck as we were now aware of a new threat from below. If the Troglodytes had chosen to attack before this entrance had been discovered, then they might have taken the keep unawares and Brinewall could have relived a second massacre in its dark and bloody history. Such a realization chilled me to the marrow.

The commandant had sent to his order for more troops, and workers have been ordered to seal the entrance with multiple layers of brick and mortar. The threats we were facing were starting to mount and we did not have the resources to prepare defenses against them all. After our hunting party gathered to speak on what to do next, we decided to hurry to Riddleport and find a mage who could repair the Clockwork soldier and then a buyer would could trade us the money we needed for it. I despise this need for money, but if it will help me complete the grove along with Trendil’s forge and Zuristoi’s caravan.. then at least it can be used for something useful.

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Of Riddles and Shadows
(Season 1, Episode 7) In Riddleport, the fellowship is entangled in a web of intrigue

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It may seem strange, but I follow the whispers of the spirits. I do not hear their voices speaking directly to me, but I feel their pull when I close my eyes and open myself to the feeling of their influence. The spirits are all around us, influencing, guiding and sometimes interfering with us, but like the rest of my people, I have come to put great faith in their hands. I must trust that the spirits shall show us the way. That is why, as soon as the discussion of Riddleport arose, I felt it was where the spirits wanted us to go. The direct reason for our trip to Riddleport was to have the clockwork soldier repaired so it could then be resold and provide both ourselves and Brinewall with the means to prepare our defenses.

At every turn I become more frustrated by the intense desire these city dwellers have for gold.. but I must use it to finish my task and build an enclave for my people, and anyone else who is a child of the green way.

Before we left, I took some time to speak with Master Jorune Ashstaff as well as his young apprentice “Yundi,” and as I reflect upon that meeting, even then I could see the hold Flay-leaf has upon him. I firmly believed then as I do now, Its time he was broken free of its control, and his senses returned to him. I suspect he had the potential to be a powerful druid once, but that has been consumed in a cloud of Flay-leaf smoke. I was resolved, upon return from Riddleport, I would make preparations to cleanse him of its influence once and for all. It will not be easy and he will not thank me for it, but as I see him wasting away, I know it has to be done.

After several days, we were finally prepared to leave, and so our hunting party set to the road and made decent time considering we were all crammed aboard one of the wagons. It was not a glorious start to our hunting expedition, but one must use different means to hunt other kinds of prey. This time, our prey was coin, and the bait was the damaged tin soldier wrapped up in the back of our wagon and secured for the trip. I do not mind telling you however, It is an extremely unpleasant way to travel, and I will always prefer a horse beneath me compared to the bumpy, unyielding wood of a wagon. I now look at Zuristoi’s people, and their lifetimes spent in these rolling rattle-boxes with a new respect for their fortitude and endurance. After only a few hours I was done with our transportation, but we still had a very long trip ahead, so I settled down with my brother and tried to sleep through as much of the trip as I could.

After twelve days on the road we finally arrived at the outskirts of Riddleport, and even from a great distance, I could feel my nose burning with the chemical stink along with the fetid stench of brine and rotten fish that was many times stronger then Brinewall..(although in all honesty, I did not think that was possible.) As our Rattle-box wagon trundled into the city, I was assaulted by such a clamor that I do not think I will ever forget it. I had not imagined so many people in all the world, especially gathered together in one place such as this. Everywhere was noise, people, stink and motion, until finally I found myself shaking and retreated to the back of the wagon to huddle with A’hoot until we were some place where I could get my bearings. After we passed several street hawkers who tried purchase both A’hoot and myself, we witnessed numerous beatings occurring down filth encrusted alleyways, and for the first time I began to wonder if we had made a mistake by coming here.

Although we had come to a dark and shadowed place, Thrindil seemed a touch more at ease here, which did provide some comfort as we searched for an Inn to settle in our wagon and begin the search for a powerful mage who could repair our clockwork. However, even Thrindil was cautious, and advised we mind ourselves and our belongings while in Riddleport, and I for one did not disagree in the slightest. We set up in a room at the “Brass Dwarf” before packing up our things and trying to make our first contact with one of the magi of the cypher lodge. It was well known that the Cypher mages were some of the most powerful wizards in the area, and if we were going to find someone with the enchantment needed to repair our clock-work, it would be at their lodge next to the base of the Cypher gate.

If you have never seen the Cypher gate, I can only speak of it as one of the great wonders of our world. The thought that such a thing was made by men is difficult for me to accept, such was its immense size and scale. The metal alone required to craft it must have emptied entire mines, and upon it’s long curved surface, carefully scrawled writing can be seen stretching from one end to the other of the vast gateway. Surely, such a thing must have been created by the spirits in a time long since forgotten by men, now it sits here inspiring a cabal of wizards to study and document every inch of its surface.

We drove our wagon up to the Cypher lodge in hopes of speaking to a wizard that could cast the spell we needed. Unfortunately, from the very beginning we ran into some difficulty, as there was a problem at the lodge which had caused them to close their doors to outsiders. There was a woman named Finella who flatly turned us away, and would not allow us to speak with any of the mages who were in residence at the lodge. We went around back, pretending to deliver supplies and entered through the kitchen despite the protests of the cook as we tried to find someone who would talk to us. Zuristoi, spoke in that smooth and charming manner of his, but even his considerable charm was to no avail as Finella demanded we leave at once and started to cast a spell that would have held us in place while we were bodily removed from the premises. Finally, a powerful mage came to the front and informed us that we were now trespassing, and lowered a wand aimed directly at us. At that point, Thrindil informed us all, that we were now breaking the law, and within moments this mage would likely activate his wand to whatever dire effect if we did not vacate the premises immediately. We would find no assistance here, and so we turned our wagon around and returned down the side street we had come, back towards the Brass dwarf.

There was a temple of Calistria here in the city that might possess the spell we were looking for, but as Thrindil explained the Goddess of Lust and Revenge, was well as the style of her worship, I felt a knot of fear develop in my gut at the thought of going there. It was at this point, Zuristoi decided to try playing some music for the patrons of the Brass Dwarf, in hopes that it might loosen their tongues. One of the serving women asked if he could keep his performance quiet, as “we were not the Golden Goblin.”.. and there was a sense of propriety to be maintained here. At that, Zuristoi decided to seek out this rowdy place in hopes of finding a lead on something that could help us locate what we were looking for. I did not think it was a good idea for any of us to travel the streets alone, even one such as Zuristoi, so I gathered my things and accompanied him down the street towards the Golden Goblin.

As we entered the Inn and Casino, once again my senses were assaulted by such a clamor that I had not imagined before. The main room was filled with a vast variety gambling tables, spinning wheels and card dealers that serviced a huge noisy bellowing crowd. Everywhere there were people, and Zuristoi seemed at ease, while it was all I could do to try and find a quiet corner and watch to make sure no one came at us unawares or made off with what little coin we had brought with us. Having found someone’s face in the crowd, Zuristoi sat down at the card-table of a blonde half elven woman. The two exchanged pleasantries, and after losing several times, suddenly Zuristoi won, and there was a message which seemed to pass between them. I later discovered that the blonde haired woman was named Samaritha Beldusk, and she had recently passed through Brinewall on her way to study at the Cypherlodge in Riddleport. Half an hour after Zuristoi sat down at her table, she took her break on a nearby balcony that overlooked the street. Before doing so, she had passed a note to Zuristoi that he should meet her and they could talk. I positioned myself close enough to make sure nothing untoward happened to Zuristoi, after all, the lesson of Desna’s pilgrim was not lost upon me, and I would not allow such an ambush to nearly kill one of our hunting party again. The kindly old woman had caused me to lower my guard, so that was a mistake I would not make twice.

Samaritha Beldusk had taken a job at the Golden Goblin, because the cypher mages had closed their doors not just to people looking for aid, but to potential apprentices as well. Fortunately, she had spoken with Finella, and had been informed that Lord Tammerhawk would be greatly interested in the services of relatively unknown adventurers such as ourselves. She sent a note to Finella, and a meeting was arranged for the following morning with the Lord of the Cypher mages.

Shortly after dawn, we left the inn and made our way through the city towards the base of the Cypher gate. Fortunately this time, instead of forcing us out, we were welcomed by Finella, and shown into the Lodge master’s quarters, past the brooding enforcer who nearly discharged his wand at us the day before. Even though we had been welcomed here in hopes that we could be of service to the Lord of the Cypher lodge, I had no illusions about the fact we were still in considerable danger. It was the only option left however, if we did not wish to turn back towards Brinewall or seek out the bladed pleasure palace of Calistria.

Ellias Tammerhawk was a gruff wizard of Chelish descent who had a keen eye and a sharp wit despite his never ending pursuit of the esoteric. There was a no nonsense approach that made things very clear at the start of exactly what he wanted. One of the other Crime lords was moving against him, and scholars he had sent for were being intercepted before they could arrive in Riddleport. Tammerhawk wanted us to find those responsible and put a stop to what was happening. A Tien scholar was overdue, and Lord Tammerhawk feared that he had been taken like the others. This was a local matter, and as such he did not want to risk open warfare on the streets, that is where we came in. Any survivors were to be found, and those responsible were to be punished.

Here at last, was something I could come to grips with. For the first time since we had arrived in Riddleport, I could feel the will of the spirits humming in my chest as a hunt was called and I could clearly see their purpose in bringing me here. Tammerhawk was a powerful man, and although the hive of Riddleport did not encourage fairness and mercy in its leaders, having his favor would do well for us if we had business here in the future. Thrindil and Zuristoi began to ask questions about access to knowledge and resources that Tammerhawk had, in order that we might begin our search. But a good hunter knows that your prey will not hide in bush that has already be searched by another hunter. I spoke to Lord Tammerhawk, telling him that we would find who had done this, in exchange for a spell that would repair our clockwork. If he would cast it for us then we would see to it his will was done. After he agreed to our terms, we set out for the docks to investigate.

I was done hiding in wagons and shivering like a child at the seemingly endless hordes of people in Riddleport. My blood was up as we took to the hunt and I found purpose in the search for our prey that distracted me from the filth and squalor that surrounded us. My brother A’hoot felt is as well, and together we moved through the city like hunting cats in our eagerness for the kill. Zuristoi found an old dwarven fisher who told us about a building down by the dock which had been abandoned for some time before being recently “reoccupied” as we moved down by the docks to take a closer look, we realized we were not alone. I noticed a group of toughs who kept a sharp lookout over the building, and so we gathered they were probably scouts and guards set to watch for any approach and alert the thugs inside of intruders.

We approached quickly, but they were alerted to our presence as soon as I cast a spell upon my brother which made his teeth longer and more vicious. We set upon them and closed the distance as fast as we could. A’hoot surged forward and had mauled all three of them to some degree as the rest of us moved into position. They turned and fled into a different warehouse behind them as the fight moved inside the building. We were fully armed, and they had little more then saps with which to attack A’hoot’s armored bulk, as a result the fight was over quickly as the rest of us moved into range and joined in the attack. We still did not know exactly who these people were, and the power structures within Riddleport were like a maze of influence between different crime lords one must navigate carefully. Furthermore, although my blood was up, we did not wish to leave an obvious trail of bodies that could be traced back to the Cypher Lord who had hired us. I stablized the one who had been nearly killed, and we interrogated the scouts about the building they were watching.

As it turned out there was another Crimelord who was interested in the events happening here on the docks. A tremendous half orc named “Boss Krote” had sent his thugs to intercept anyone leaving the building, it was only luck and a sharp eye which had discovered them before they could have in turn ambushed us on our way out. There is a saying among the huho’tach, an ambush turned, visits mischief upon its maker tenfold. We patched the thugs up as best we could, and sent them back to their boss with a warning not to interfere in Alligia’s Business. As of this point we were still a mystery, and we wanted it to stay that way. After interrogating the thugs, they informed us that people and crates of salvage had been sent here from a ship called the “Lionfish.” Now that we had the name of a connection, we continued into the warehouse from a side door. Thrindil had secretly unlocked the narrow side door that was on the other side of the warehouse and I prepared for battle by transforming myself into a Firepelt. Thrindil assisted me by quickly placing the armor over my body, then we proceeded inside.

Even now I find it difficult to describe what it felt like as a firepelt. If I were to give it words, I suppose: pure Exhilaration, would be the only thing coming to mind which gave it any justice. A’hoot and I climbed over the top of some crates which alerted Allegia’s Thugs to our presence, but the time for subtly had passed and the time for blood had come. Ahoot came down among them and they turned to attack as I leaped down off the boxes and tore into a nearby thug. It is difficult to fully explain the joy and pleasure I felt as my teeth ripped into the flesh of my prey and there was a heated wash of copper tasting blood in my mouth. I bit through his neck and crushed his windpipe, then turned to swipe at another as A’hoot also slashed at a different thug. I was consumed by the kill and could only feel the power of my new form as A’hoot and I murdered them. There was no grace or art in this fight, only butchery as we tore them apart amid savage claws and the spray of blood. Thrindil and Zuristoi were able to hit them with magic several times before the last thug went down. Fortunately we were able to take one captive, who sneered defiantly as he tossed his weapon down and surrendered.

I had not returned to my human form, but A’hoot and I watched carefully as the thug led us to one of the crates where a woman was being kept. Zuristoi could see that she was was in dire condition, so he pulled her out and channeled healing energy into her body which brought her back to consciousness. Thrindil then ordered the remaining thug to remove his weapons and climb into the heavy shipping crate where the woman had been kept. Zuristoi had assumed he was going to remain in the crate until he was discovered and released, but none of us were prepared for the reality of the situation. I had a few moments to calm down after the fight, but I was still filled with the need to kill, and as Thrindil asked a confused Zuristoi to remove the woman from the area, he also instructed me to “destroy the evidence.” and pointed towards the box with the captured thug. Perhaps it was the predator talking, but it made sense the more I considered it, because as of this point no one knew who we were. A band of two bit thugs thought of us as a Allegia’s henchmen, but if we left a survivor then other crime lords could eventually put the pieces together and figure out who had intervened on Tammerhawk’s behalf. The Cypher mage could not afford to have the Crime Lords unite against him, but neither could we afford to have them notice us and decide to take revenge directly or punish Brinewall for interfering in their affairs.

I would not order my brother A’hoot to do it, so I leapt into the crate while the Street thug screamed in terror and soon the room was filled with my roars and the wet sounds of meat being ripped apart. There were splashes of blood on the sides and my instincts took over as I used claws and teeth to finish the thug as we were confined in the crate. I was horrified with myself, but at the same time I cannot deny a certain exhilaration as I was able to give vent to the need for violence in my Fire Pelt form. I jumped on the edge and emerged from the silent crate covered in his blood as I stopped myself before committing the sin of eating his flesh. The taste of his blood still filled my mouth as I returned to my human form and I could not suppress a deep shudder. Zuristoi was understandably displeased, but agreed to help us as we cleared the bodies and filled the crate with corpses from the other thugs in Allegia’s employ. After that terrible moment, we locked the warehouse up behind us and moved on the Lionfish.

The mood was grim as we realized what we would have to do. When it came to Allegia’s thugs, there could be no survivors left alive to draw the ire back towards us and Brinewall. They would have to be killed to a man, and so we set off towards the Lion fish by stopping by an old dwarf fisher woman down by the docks. The boat itself was at Anchor in the harbor, so we needed a skiff to take us out there quietly. So far, the old dwarf had proven to be both helpful and discrete, valued traits in a city like Riddleport as I was quickly coming to learn.

We were rowed over to the Lionfish, but the fight to take her was very very messy. The ship itself was captained by a Gripli Alchemist who fought by throwing vials of ice oil and stepped out to stab me from the shadows at every opportunity. Unfortunately we alerted them before we could get A’hoot on the boat, so Thrindil spent much of the fight man-handling the gangplank down into the skiff moored to the side of the Lionfish. Zuristoi fought like a lion, and attacked the others while I engaged the captain and several of his men. At one point, the Gripli captain had stabbed me several times, and I did not know if I could fend off another attack before he landed a killing blow. I backed up against the railing as we fought and simply dropped backwards into the black water of the harbor to get away from the fight. Fortunately, I did not catch the disease that is carried in the harbor water, but I was careful not to draw any of it into my lungs as I surfaced and climbed slowly back up into the boat. After the battle, Zuristoi healed me by channeling energy into my body after the terrible wounds I had taken from the captain’s blade and his many alchemical bombs.

We were close now, as we discovered papers and maps in the captain’s quarters with detailed plans for Allegia’s ill conceived move against the master of the Cypher-lodge. After some negotiations with the dwarvish fisherwoman.. (in which Thrindil seemed to make new friends as always.) she agreed to gather a crew and sail us the short distance up the coast to the rendezvous point. Upon reaching the hidden cove, we could see a cave where Allegia’s latest victim was moored, A Tian vessel which had been carrying a scholar from half way around the world in Minkai. We sailed the Lionfish up the into the harbor and quietly moored our ship nearyby before disembarking and making our way into the dock.

The cave split into two tunnels, so we investigated the tunnel to our right and found it ended in a ledge over a pit filled with trained warhounds. The beasts had been horribly mistreated, and I grieved at seeing them, so filled with mindless rage. I hoped that after all this was Over I could perhaps take them back to the grove and tend them back to health. I could not get through the them however, and their noise had certainly alerted the others of our arrival. .. so we prepared for combat and made our way down the other passageway to the left.

Once inside we found that the passageway expanded out into a large cave ..where Allegia had prepared to make her stand. Allegia herself was of some kind of race I had never seen before, her skin shimmered and there was an quality to her body that led one to believe she was not fully human. As she appeared from around a pillar in the room, she held the tian scholar in front of her with a hand crossbow resting aimed at his throat. More thugs came from around the pillars and the situation deteriorated into a standoff.

Zuristoi, Thrindil and I all spoke, trying to negotiate and buy time, but as she made offers to us, our cover was becoming thin and I realized that we were running out of time to act. I stepped aside and gave A’hoot the command to take the Scholar and hold him on the ground. My brother surged forward and took the scholar from a shocked Allegia as her thugs cried out and attacked us. He threw the scholar on the ground, protecting him while several thugs moved towards us on the attack. Allegia and one of her henchmen tried to reach the lever which opened up the dog kennels below. Thrindil summoned an earth elemental in their path, while I stepped forward to engage Allegia with my club. She was very quick, and danced with her blade as it snapped back and forth in a seemless order of attacks. We traded several blows as A’hoot tore into her henchmen, finally she landed a cut on the side of my arm, but it started bleeding fast enough that the poison smeared on her blade was not able to do its work. Thrindil’s elemental took out the last thug and moved to attack Allegia from behind as the summoner commanded it to stop. He shouted at Allegia to stand down or die, and so after a moment of looking around at her fallen henchmen, she surrendered her weapon. I would take no chances, so I struck her from behind with my club to knock her out while we tied her up and prepared her for transport back to the Cypher lodge. Zuristoi healed the Tian scholar, who was grateful for our rescue.

We were taking a chance, leaving Allegia alive, but I had no doubt that Tammerhawk would make sure that loose end was tied up… permanently. Upon returning, Ellias was overjoyed at the return of his scholars as well as the capture of his rival. Both were swept away by servants who heeded his commands quickly and efficiently. That was when the situation turned, as he informed us that.. the greater make whole spell was a recently researched conjuration that he did not.. as yet, have access to. We explained what we needed it for, and he nodded in understanding before offering to broker a deal for the clockwork to his sources in Magnamar. Our role in its acquisition would be erased, and he would take a generous cut of its sale in exchange for handling all the details such as transport and repair. We haggled briefly as Zuristoi fought hard to get us a better deal.. and we did finally reach an agreement that was more to our liking. The three of us would receive 2500 gold each, in addition a trade route would be established between Riddleport and Brinewall using the “Lionfish” Because the Lionfish was flying Riddleport Colors, merchants would be desperate to book passage for freight and passengers too valuage to risk attack by pirates. Therefor the new dwarvish captain of the Lionfish stood to make a tidy profit along with Brinewall.we were also free to take any loot or salvage from the lionfish or Allegia’s warehouse as our own.

It was not a great deal, but I sensed danger… Tammerhawk was a crime lord of Riddleport after all. So I feel we left with as good of a deal as we were going to get. We thankfully sold the wagons, and with loaded packs, headed back on the road towards Brinewall..

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A Winter Knarr (part 1)
(Season 1, Episode 8) Hidden enemies revealed, and a traveler from the North

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Time and again I had complained of the stink of Brinewall, but as we rose over the ridge, and could see it off in the distance, I felt for the first time, like I was coming home. perhaps it was the many horrors of Riddleport, that made me take a kinder look at our adopted home. Whatever the reason, we topped over the rise and even the mild stink of Brinewall brought an unconscious smile to my face. We were home, and it had been a difficult journey which sorely tested all of us in ways that we had not imagined upon setting out. We were quiet while riding the last few leauges, but as the people of Brinewall came out to greet us, I felt a warmth of welcome I have not felt since leaving my home village.

Fortunately, The Commandant and Ollie had not been idle while we were traveling north to the far off port. In an effort to assist Brinewall in preparing its defenses, Ollie scouted out the Watch Tower for signs of activity, and what he discovered was not welcome news. Several dozen hobgoblins and their goblin slaves had returned to the tower, and even now were hard at work to reinforce and build up their defenses to withstand another inevitable attack by the same adventurers which had previously destroyed their hasty garrison. If the hobgoblins continued to build up their forces, they would be drawn to attack brinewall like flies to rotted meat in the summer sun. We had to strike first, but the green-skin numbers just seemed to come back stronger every time we wiped them out. The others have suggested we need to find out where they are coming from, and I am inclined to agree, although that will mean eventually going Into Hobgoblin held lands.

For now, they have possession of the watchtower, and it seems clear they will retake it as many times as necessary and sacrifice whatever troops they need to in order to keep it. The only way we can insure it will remain unoccupied or unavailable as a base of operations for the hobgoblins.. is by either leveling the tower, or by placing a garrison there. There was a great deal of fruitless discussion, that boiled down to the point of, “we can do nothing to stop them right now, and if they attacked Brinewall, we could save the people by retreating into the castle but the town would be put to the torch.” abandoning our town or the grove to the mercy of the hobgoblin did not sit well with me, and I further advised against it. Unfortunately, for now the decision would be out of our hands.

As we were going back and forth to the keep, the workers who had tilled the tobacco garden came up to us as we were about to speak with the Commandant, and informed us that something was “wrong” at the grove. A strange presence along with yellow eyes had been seen lurking in the twilight hours around the perimeter of the grove, and there was a strange sense that someone was “trying to read” each person who entered. My first thought was perhaps the grove had attracted a visitor from the first world, but when we traveled to the grove to investigate, it became clear that there was something much more local and sinister afoot.

I told Yundi to return to town, and not return to the grove until we had investigated what was wrong. Zuristoi began to play a delicate song which drifted over the trees and entranced Jaroon while we continued to search the area. A’hoot would not enter the grove because of the stink from flayleaf, and even I found my head getting slightly dizzy the longer we stayed. Fortunately my search took me towards the perimeter, where I discovered the tracks from a Hob-nail boot that led all around the edge the grove. Hob-nail boots are unique to hobgoblins, and suddenly I began to fear that the hobgoblin garrison of the Forgotten watchtower were already making a subtle move towards Brinewall’s outer settlements. It was strange however, because the tracks never actually left the grove, only circled about before returning back from whence they had come inside.

By this time, my head was filled with suspicions, to many times we had grown lax in our vigilance, only to have it return and attack us when we least expected it. Jaroon was a source of many questions, and his love for Bladeleaf forced many, including our animal companions to keep their distance from the grove. Now there were potential enemies infiltrating our village, and the only occupant of the grove was a drug addled old man. It was time that Jaroon’s curse of addiction was lifted.

Zuristoi continued his song to lull Jaroon into a deep enthrallment that would make him easier to deal with. Unfortunately, when he tried to take his staff from him, Jaroon had been pretending to be entralled, and in fact stepped back to simply use his staff to catch all of us in a the field of writhing plants and grasping vines. We tried to subdue him, and knock him out so that he could be locked in his hut while drying out from the drug, but when his staff was taken, suddenly the true mask dropped away and Jaroon was revealed to be a doppleganger!

The fight was short, but brutal, as the False Jaroon used his staff and vicious claws to slash and tear at us when his disguise was finally lifted. He fought with great strength and terrible purpose, as undoubtedly he would have killed us all and taken our form to move among the town undetected. He was unsuccessfull however, and eventually our fellowship was able to overcome the doppleganger and strike him down so that his true form melted into a heaving puddle of blue slime. As he was dying however, Olli cast his magic to rob the creature of recent memories. Through those memories, we learned that the real Jaroon had been dead for some time. His body was buried in a shallow grave nearby when the doppleganger had killed him and taken over his life.

That night as I dug up his body, and transplanted it into the roots of the sacred tree, I wept for the druid that I never got a chance to know. Jaroon was a harmless old man who had taken on Yundi to train in the ways of the forest. It was now my charge to train the boy as a druid in honor of his slain teacher. Even then, I felt the chill of fear as I realized how close I had come on many occasions to being alone and murdered at that beasts claws. This terrible land never ceases to horrify me, and fill me with dread at each new terrible revelation. Whom can we trust?.. whom dare we trust? In riddleport, the evil of that place was on display for all to see and feel. But to date, some of the most vile creatures we have encountered so far, have cloaked themselves and hidden among us under a veil of benevolence.

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Shortly after the druid’s burial, another visitor came to town via a large Longboat. It was not flying the flag of the Linnorm kings, and instead carried the banner of Irisen, land of the Ice Queen. Our fellowship met them at the docks, and the guards who attended a Noblewoman from the North were well trained, but edgy and ready for combat at the drop of a hat. When we escorted her to the Keep, we learned her name was Elisa, and she was looking for a fugitive who had stolen something very valuable.

This fugitive’s name was Nick Hawkes.. and he had stolen a woman from her family.. Nadia Begeris.

Unfortunately this complicated things a great deal. I was now curious as to why a noblewoman from Irrisen wanted to apprehend Nick and bring Nadia back. They had mentioned fleeing the country, but had said nothing in the way of specifics. Now that a ship from Irrisen was in the harbor, those unmentioned specifics became much more important.

Later that evening, she met with Thrindil and I at his Forge to discuss some terms for possible side work. Thrindil conducted the negotiations while I simply whittled at some wood, not wanting to be alone in my camp so soon after the horror of Jaroon’s death. We discussed the possibility of going after Nick, and I told her that I would find him. At this point, I knew little about what was happening, but it was clear that forces in Irrisen wanted Nick and Nadia back, so it was imperative that Nick be contacted about what was happening. Sa’hetna also wanted some information as to what they had done to cause such an overwhelming response as to have a ship full of deathguard sent to track them down. After we had conducted the negotiations, Eliza left, and we called the others together to discuss the situation.

Zuristoi was outraged at the possibility of going after them, and found any negotiations with Eliza to be extremely distasteful. I knew little of Irrisen, but I had no intention of handing Nick over until we got some answers as to what he was really wanted for, and I told the bard as much. He would have none of it however, and before long we were in a heated argument when I noticed a glint of white under the door.

A Winter coat Ermine had been listening to our conversation, and I immediately suspected that it was in fact a familiar sent to spy on us. The creature scurried away in an attempt to escape. I transformed into the firepelt and tore after it before catching it in the underbrush and bringing it back to the others.

At this point another creature made itself known and attacked us with the sole desire to retrieve the ermine. At first we were not sure what it was, but as we closed, a small white dragon made its presence known and suddenly our fellowship was in a pitch battle with the beast. We fought bitterly, and took several injuries before we were able to subdue the creature. Zuristoi “The Dragonslayer” wanted to live up to his title and slay the evil beast which had dared to attack us in our own town, but Olly thought it best to spare it for now and use it as a bargaining chip for when Eliza eventually came to retrieve her familiar. Thrindil wanted its pelt for use in his forge, and Sa’hetna did not want to kill the beast, but was not about to let it tear his companions to shreds. Fortunately the Earth elemental that Thrindil had summoned was successful in subduing the beast with A’hoots help and we were able to capture it.

Disgusted that we would allow such a foul beast to live, and knowing that any negotiations he had with one of the witch servants of Irrisen would quickly devolve into violence, Zuristoi was about to remove himself from the situation and slip quietly out a side door as Eliza’s longboat rowed up the river towards Thrindil’s Forge. All we could do was patch ourselves up as best we could, and prepare for a potential battle if Eliza was determined to see bloodshed.

(edited 9/27)

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The Incident Report
(season 1, Episode 9) Scuffle at 'Father's Forge'

Official Incident Testimony: Brinewall Keep
Official: Commandant Chaleb Kelton
Report: 1st of Lamashan
Incident: 29th of Rova
Witness: Thrindil Talmin’atar
Location: Father’s Forge

Eliza visited us later after the initial meeting. They inquired about Nick and Nadiya, the two people who fought to keep this town safe from hobgoblins not too long ago. I have a sneaking suspicion that they planned to kill or torture nick and send Nadya back to a royal hag family (she’s likely a changeling, given she is a heterochromatic sorcerer), where she would likely be turned, given her powers. Eliza and I brokered a trade deal with her to build a flame-forged knife. I don’t know what she plans to do with it, but the next frost queen cycle is upcoming, and I imagine it’s for nobility games.

Directly after, Eliza sent an ermine to spy on our conversation. Sa’hetna spotted and grabbed it.

We bagged the ermine, Eliza’s familiar. She sent a young white dragon to retrieve it, disgusting, vile creature. We managed to subdue the dragon as well, but Sa’hetna’s bear, A’hoot got ripped up pretty bad. He swiped at me but missed. This was on my property, mind you. We threw the dragon into the vault and as soon as we did, Eliza and her entourage beached their boat on my property and banged their shield, her Deathguard itching for a fight, yelling and banging their shields. Zurastoi was angry we didn’t kill the dragon and wanted to kill them all. I wanted to gut the dragon and negotiate for the ermine. Sa’hetna wanted to give them both back and tell them to get lost, and Ollie wanted to go on a date with Eliza, thus he parlayed.

Ultimately, Olli won out simply because he was likely the first one to die in case we angered them. Sa’hetna was unwilling to provoke Cmd. Kelton a second time (you’re welcome, Commandant) and I realized that with opinions split so far on the scale of diplomacy options that it was safer if we consolidated. We handed over both (to which Zuristoi was furious), Olli got his date, and we smoothed things over. They left on amicable and more respectable terms. I believe my trade deal is still intact.

I’ll also here report of our scouting of the hobgoblins to the east. The watchtower is fairly infested, and they’ve moved in aurochs as a food source, goblins in as a workforce, but it’s clear they’re not ready to attack Brinewall. It’s likely they’ll start drilling troops there and attack in the spring, or if they’re left to their own machinations, attack before winter. We’ve found a forward outpost eastward of the watchtower. That is likely where we will attack first.

I, Thrindil Talmin’atar, hereby willfully agree to this testimony, and that all written is the complete, unerring truth, by the word of Iomedae.

Off the Record: Cmd Kelton, we have eyes on us. I’m a political target for Irrisen due to a debt my father owed. The Chilaxians are likely spying on us as we’ve apprehended spybot constructs that have been looking into our records. Our best trade deal is with a Riddleport crime lord. You don’t survive in riddleport as a leader without slitting throats.

Eliza showed up in town, unwilling to offer her identity yet expecting to be recognized as a entity of Irrisen, which is disgraceful in my opinion. While my compatriots frowned at me for inquiring at her identity, ultimately it served us poorly that we didn’t pry. You want order to rule in this town? Expect representation for recognition, send away people who refuse, and jail people who misrepresent. Make it law. I think we have the right to know who files through our town if they ask to be formally recognized.

We are not just in establishment danger; we’re in political danger. Until we have forces, all we have is attitude and grit and respect. We must act as if we are in a position to demand respect from people who visit, or we’re going to get sacked.

We have respect from Irrisen now, and we carved that respect by demanding it. By rights, we should have slain them, and we did so not out of respect for them, but respect for you. Things here are going to get uglier before they get better, and I have more important things to do than write up incident reports, like prepping for a 4-man war against more hobgoblins than we can count just so this town can last until winter without having the populace pinned to the keep’s walls like trophy mantles.

I’m running for mayor in the winter. I hope you’ll back me.

If you’re wise, you’ll burn this report.

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