Amaria

Session 1
Search for the Girls (or Amber Alert)

Scarecrow by radojavor

Several weeks after coming ashore in Drear Willow, a sleepy sea-side town in the Amarian province known as the Breach, Demitri, a young sailor, made his way inland looking for work. His contacts eventually led him to the Black Bramble Inn, a well known way-station on the outskirts of the town of New Landis. There, he was invited to share a table with two locals, Orlief, a tanner, and Korglander, a Matth’ari blacksmith’s apprentice. The group was also approached by Malichi Dawntrough, the back-slapping jovial owner of The Smelting Pot and Tiberius Constantine, a tall stranger who had been seen in town over the past several weeks.

The jovial mood in the inn quickly changed, however, when locals Lantos Penwohrst and “Old” Belinda Aurscar burst into the taproom in quick succession with similar tales: their young daughters had mysteriously vanished from their beds without any sign of struggle or forced entry. The only clues: a small amount of hay found near their beds, and small burlap coin pouches found under their pillows – each with a single silver drake inside. Orlief, Korglander and their new companion Demitri rushed to Orlief’s house where they discovered that Orlief’s eleven year old daughter, Sarah Mournhammer, had also gone missing under circumstances identical to the other disappearances.

The group rushed outside to find the town congregating around the local guard barrack where Captain Nidal Jackos was preparing search parties, but not before Old Belinda told those around her that the straw and coins were from the children’s fairy tale of the “Gimmie Man”, a living scarecrow that stole into the rooms of greedy children to carry them away on his hay wagon in burlap sacks. It was said that the Gimmie Man compensated the parent of the taken child with a single silver coin.

At this point, Tiberius reappeared and suggested that the group speak to Burgomaster Irvin Brimworth about starting an investigation of the crime scenes. Joined by Tiberius, the group went to the Burgomaster’s manor, where they found the man finishing a conversation with local socialite Beni Velstoy, who curtly excused herself. The group also discovered that a young man named Donham Jergo had also rushed to meet the Burgomaster with a similar request following the disappearance of his little sister Jenna Jergo. With the Burgomaster’s blessing, and with the assistance of Donham Jergo, the group proceeded to investigate the homes of the girls and to interview their parents. The investigation yielded several bits of rumor, including the following:

1. Sarah, Jenna and the Penwohrst and Aurscar girls were friends.
2. The girls spent a lot of time playing in the yards around the Temple of Lannados.
3. Several locals had spotted Protector Jame Branclor scowling at the girls from the doorstep of the temple.
4. Many children in the Lower Burgh had been saying that one of their friends is a fugitive from the law.
5. Milly Peterson’s cat died a week ago under strange circumstances. She hard children giggling in the alley behind her house when she found the dead cat strung up in a tree, but couldn’t make out any faces.
6. Lorna Evansigh believes there is a Coven in New Landis.
7. Torna Malbush says Protector Branclor has been asking strange questions about one of the neighborhood girls.

Eventually, the investigation led the group to the Temple of Lannados in the middle of the night. Although Protector Branclor was missing, they located his journal, which ranted about his suspicions that several of the young girls in the town had formed their own coven and were practicing blood magic and about his desire to put a stop to it. The journal stated “I have devised a means that should properly discourage any other children from following the example of these naughty girls” The journal also noted that “…the old Langlin farmstead should suffice.”

Following the journal’s clues to the nearby Langlin farmstead at dawn, the exhausted group came upon a large red barn near the farmhouse at dawn. As they approached, the barn doors burst open to reveal a living scarecrow barreling towards them in a hay-wagon, laughing maniacally. Realizing that something was amiss, Tiberius shouted out for the others not to attack as they dodged the careening wagon, right before it crashed in a heap. As Tiberius, Donham Jargo and Dimitri moved to inspect the crashed wagon, Orlief and Korglander entered the barn and nearly wretched as they discovered what appeared to be the charred bodies of the eight missing girls hanging from meat hooks in the center of the barn. In the instant that they realized the masses of meat were only animals carefully dressed up to look like the missing girls, they were attacked by two men in the hay loft of the barn, one of whom wielded magical flames. While the barn burned down around them, Orlief and Korglander managed to subdue and drag the mysterious assailants outside.

While the combat took place in the barn, Tiberius discovered that the scarecrow was actually Protector Branclor, who had been severely beaten, dressed as a scarecrow and strapped to the wagon. Though badly injured, he explained to Tiberius and Donham that the coven he had been investigating in New Landis was real, and that they must have framed him for the abduction of the girls. Branclor told Tiberius where he had stashed his real journal, which contained his investigation notes and urged him to get back to New Landis to recover the journal as quickly as possible. Taking one of the horses tied to the wagon, Tiberius put the injured Branclor in front of him and took off down the road towards New Landis to retrieve the journal, leaving Donham Jargo and Dimitri near the wagon. At this point, a third hooded figure appeared from the far side of the farmhouse and galloped past the wrecked wagon, pursuing Tiberius down the road. Tiberius attempted to outrun his pursuer, only to have the wind knocked out of him as a crossbow bolt slammed into his back, sending the world spinning and the ground up to meet him…

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Session 2
Piecing it Together (or the "Columbo" moment)

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As dawn broke, Dimitri helped Orlief and Korglander pull the two unconscious assailants from the burning barn. They quickly recognized the men: the more injured had worked with Orlief at the tannery for several years. The other, whose fire spell had set the barn ablaze, was a man named Markov who had been seen at Thom’s, a wine-sink in the Lower Burgh. Orlief, Korglander and Demitri were unable to revive the tanner, presumably due to the severe head injury he had received from Orlief’s war-hammer during the melee. Despite their best efforts to intimidate Markov, he refused to tell them anything. Frustrated, the party tied Markov to a nearby tree and left both assailants near the burning barn as they headed down the old farm road back towards New Landis to find their companions.

After slipping into unconsciousness, Tiberius Constantine awoke in a bed in the Temple of Lannados in New Landis, tended by Donham and the rescued Protector,Jame Branchlor. Donham explained that, after seeing the third assailant gallop down the farm road after Tiberius and Jame, he had grabbed the other horse from the Gimmie Man’s wagon and raced after them. He was able to shoot the assailant in the back with his own crossbow, but not before Tiberius had been shot. With Jame’s help, Donham brought Tiberius back to the temple to be bandaged and healed.

Donham also handed Jame’s real journal, which he had already inspected, to Tiberius while he lay in bed. The journal laid out the details of Jame’s investigation over the past six months along with a list of suspects which included Donham and his sister Jenna, as well as Burgomaster Brimworth, Olivia Taplestone of the Black Bramble Inn, Thom of Thom’s, Kentor Velstoy and Old Belinda. The journal also noted that Jame had grown uneasy and believed his questions around town had led to his being followed. Finally, it noted that he had called in an old associate to assist him with the investigation, in no small part due to his fears for his own safety. Donham, having obviously read the journal and having seen his name on the suspect list, told Tiberius that he hoped the disappearance of his own sister and his own actions assisting the party had cleared their names from the list of suspects.

Following these revelations, Orlief, Korglander and Demitri returned to the Temple where they shared what little they had learned about the identity of the assailants back at the barn and were filled in on Jame’s investigation and the list of suspects. It was decided that, following a brief rest, Tiberius and Donham would return to the farm to try to wring more information from the assailants while Orlief and Korglander investigated the homes of the same men for clues. Demitri remained at the temple to protect Jame in case his previous assailants or their associates returned to finish the job of dispatching the priest.

Tiberius and Donham returned to the farm to find the barn smoldering and the tanner all but dead from his head injury and smoke inhalation. They were more successful in extracting information from the now delirious and dehydrated Markov, discovering that a Coven was indeed active in New Landis. Markov informed them that each coven member belonged to a different “circle of three” members so that no one would ever know all the others. He also implicated Burgomaster Brimworth as the Coven member who had given him instructions to frame Protector Branchlor to make it appear that the priest had kidnapped and murdered the girls in his paranoid and zealous attempt to rid New Landis of the perceived Coven in order to draw attention away from the real coven, to explain the girls’ disappearance and to put a stop to Branchlor’s investigation. Markov claimed he had no further information. Tiberius and Donham then marched Markov back to New Landis as a prisoner.

Meanwhile, Orlief and Korglander broke into the Lower Burgh hovels where the two assailants had made their homes and discovered a spellbook and hand-written note instructing the Coven members to frame Branchlor, just as Markov had explained. Upon meeting up back at the temple, the two teams compared their new evidence and decided that the Burgomaster was now their prime suspect and determined that they needed to confirm that the note was written in his hand and possibly confront him. Prior to doing so, it was determined that they would turn Markov over to the local authorities. Still bound and gagged, Markov was marched out into the streets of New Landis, drawing looks from passersby until the party found a local guardsman on patrol and explained Markov’s role in the kidnappings and barn fire. Thanking the party, the guard agreed to take Markov into custody until he could be questioned. The group decided to keep Markov’s found spell book hidden at Branchlor’s temple, however.

As the sun began to set, the party marched to the Burgomaster’s Manor in the Upper Burgh and were guided into his parlor by his door man after requesting to speak with the Burgomaster about the progress of their independent investigation into the missing girls. While waiting, they rummaged through papers on his desk and confirmed that the Coven orders were written in his handwriting. Once the Burgomaster appeared, his pleasant civil demeanor quickly melted into trembling fear and stammering apologies once confronted with Markov’s accusation and the orders written in his own hand. He exclaimed that he was not part of the Coven, but that he had discovered that the blacksmith Malachi Smith had kidnapped the girls and had threatened to kill Brimworth if he told anyone. Brimworth swore he knew nothing further. The party then walked Brimworth out of his Manor with a knife against his back as they made their way to The Smelting Pot, Malachi’s smithy.

Upon reaching the Smelting Pot after nightfall, the party discovered the shop was locked, but they circled around behind it to Malachi’s attached two room home and found the door unlocked and a lantern burning on the table. It did not take long for them to discover a hidden trap door to the basement hidden beneath a rug behind the counter in the Smelting Pot. Orlief, Korglander and Tiberius made their way into the basement while Donham stayed behind in Malachi’s house to keep an eye on Brimworth.

The three descended into a pitch black room filled with old smithing equipment, boxes and piles of ore. In the far corner of the room, they discovered a thin beam of dim light coming from a hidden door built into the wall that had been left slightly ajar. Blowing out their own lantern, the three slipped through the doorway and into a long dark earthen tunnel. Down the tunnel, they could make out several people, one of whom was speaking. Staying in the shadows, they crept down to the front of the tunnel and discovered a large chamber. Four low burning braziers cast shadows about the room, but seven of the eight missing girls, including Orlief’s daughter Sarah and Donham’s sister Jenna, were bound and gagged along the far wall. Between the party and the center of the chamber, Malachi stood facing a sacrificial altar where a woman wearing nothing but a sheer open gown and a bronze mask of a horned demon held a dagger above the eighth missing girl.

As the party burst into the room, the woman grabbed the girl from the altar and moved towards a door on the opposite side of the chamber. Holding the dagger to the girl’s throat, she threatened to kill the girl if she was followed. Before disappearing through the doorway, the woman whispered a prayer and blew a kiss towards Malachi. Malachi suddenly howled and began to convulse as his body grew and contorted into a hulking monstrosity. The skin on his face split down the middle as if a seam had burst, revealing the center of his skull and nasal cavity, along with a red eye in the center of his exposed skull. Howling and maddened, the now monstrous Malachi attacked the party. Although Korglander was injured during the battle, they were able to defeat Malachi. As he fell to the floor, it seemed as if his head had suddenly cleared. Rasping, the deformed Malachi begged the group to kill him…a request Tiberius was more than happy to oblige. At this point, the seven girls in the room were untied, reuniting Orlief with his daughter. Once the group returned to Malachi’s shop above, Jenna Jergo raced into the arms of her brother Donham, sobbing and muttering “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…” The group then released Burgomaster Brimworth on the promise that he stay out of any further trouble.

The party next set out to locate Nidal Jackos, the Captain of the Guard, for assistance in searching the tunnels for the escaped woman and her hostage. They found him in the streets with a patrol and explained everything that had happened. At this point, they also confided their suspicions of Burgomaster Brimworth’s involvement and showed Jackos the written order to kidnap Protector Branchlor, which had been written in Brimworth’s hand. Thanking the party for the information, Jackos and his men set off to search the tunnels beneath the Smelting Pot, but not before the party noticed that one of the guards in the patrol had slipped off during the conversation. While Jackos took up the search of the tunnels, the party returned the rescued girls to their homes and regrouped with Demitri and Branchlor. The following morning, Jackos returned to inform the party that they found the body of the last girl in the tunnels, and that the tunnel ended inside an abandoned shed in the Lower Burgh, where the trail had gone cold. The Captain also informed Orlief and Donham that the girls could spend the day resting, but that they would be called in to the Vestry (the local courthouse/temple of the Basilica of Blessed Judgment) for questioning tomorrow.

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Session 3 - The Demon, The Judge and the Inn Keeper
Or - Into the Woods

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I. Ending the Investigations

The next morning, Captain Nidal Jackos and his men escorted the eight girls to the Vestry, the local temple/courthouse of the Basilica. There, Jame Branchlor and Tiberius Constantine were invited by Justice Malmont to take part in their questioning.

All seven of the other girls indicated that Jenna Jergo had told them she was in a coven, and that Jenna had asked them to be in her coven too. Thinking it was all a game, the girls all “played coven” for several weeks, until the previous night when they lay in their beds and found that they were suddenly paralyzed, had bags thrown over their heads and were dragged away to the basement where the party found them.

When confronted with these accusations, Jenna told her questioners the following story: Jenna was in fact, not from New Landis, but was the daughter of a wash-woman at Hollow Hill, the keep of Baroness Naros. Several months earlier, a group of nobles from New Landis had visited the Baroness at Hollow Hill, including a woman named Beni Velstoy. Velstoy had taken a particular interest in Jenna and befriended her. Towards the end of Velstoy’s stay at Hollow Hill, Jenna confided in her that she had lost her father during the Scourging and that she missed him terribly. To her surprise, Velstoy told her that she could help Jenna contact her dead father if she ever came to visit her in New Landis. Taking Velstoy at her word, Jenna snuck away during the night and traveled to New Landis, where she sought out Velstoy. Although Velstoy was kind to her at first, she eventually told Jenna that she must join her Coven and provide her with blood that would be required to contact her father. Jenna complied and spoke the words to join the Coven. Being a young girl and not understanding the full consequence of what she had done, she told the other girls in the town about it because it made her seem interesting and helped her to make friends by “playing coven” with them. When word finally made its way back to Velstoy that Jenna’s loose lips posed a threat to her organization, she had the girls kidnapped and framed Protector Branchlor, thereby eliminating two potential threats to the Coven. Donham supported her story, indicating that he was actually a page of Baroness Naros who had set out to retrieve Jenna after she went missing from Hollow Hill.

Following Jenna’s naming of Beni Velstoy as the Coven’s leader, the party, along with Donham Jergo, approached the Velstoy residence with the town guard in tow. There, they discovered a hidden attic with a summoning circle and charred parchments strewn about. The sound of rattling chains from a dark corner of the attic revealed a withered old woman who had been tethered to the wall with meat hooks. After being healed, she explained that she was the real Beni Velstoy. Two years earlier, as the leader of a small harmless Coven, she attempted to summon a demon to seek guidance and instructions from the dark godess Orphelia. Unfortunately, she lost control of the demon during the ritual and it broke free. It assumed her form (that of a young beautiful woman), kept her prisoner and fed off her life-force, draining her until she appeared as she does now, almost fifty years older than her true age. The demon also used a spell to create a mental fog that would prevent Beni’s husband, Kentor Velstoy from noticing that anything was amiss. In the guise of Beni Velstoy, the demon has been growing and leading the New Landis Coven for its own purposes ever since. She asked the party for a quick death, explaining that the demon told her it was leaving but promising to return for her. Instead, the party turned her over to Justice Malmont. A further search of the house turned up a map of an unspecified palace dungeon and a letter from the demon to a man named Santor, instructing him to meet “Beni” near a back entrance to the palace dungeon on the day of the Lunar Fleet Festival. The letter ended with “it is time we bring Duke Moorfell home.” Upon reading the letter, Donham appeared visibly shaken.

2. Justice

Upon returning to the Vestry, the party filed in to the benches with other townspeople as Justice Malmont read out the sentences of the various persons implicated. First, he brought out Markov and sentenced him to death by hanging. A rope was then thrown over a rafter in the middle of the Vestry courtroom and Markov was forced by Malmont’s personal guards to stand on a block. When given an opportunity to say his last words, Markov declared that he had been found worthy by Uran Thul and that he would stand in judgment over the town at Thul’s side when he returned. After this strange statement, he was summarily hanged. Next, Irvin Brimworth was brought in and likewise condemned to death on the basis of the evidence the party had gathered against him. When given his last words, he cried and wailed that he was a victim and that he had acted out of fear of Beni Velstoy. Next, Malmont declared that the seven girls from New Landis were innocents that had been led astray by the corrupting influences of Jenna Jergo. Finally, he declared that Jenna, as a confessed member of the New Landis Coven, must also die. Malmont remained unmoved despite an impassioned plea from Donham and a speech by Tiberius about the girl’s potential use in further investigations to locate the demon. At the last minute, Captain Jackos stepped forward with a superior force of town guards and told Justice Malmont that he would not permit the execution of a gullible young girl. Overwhelmed and thrown off by this unexpected obstacle to his authority, Malmont stormed out and left New Landis with his body guards, promising that “this is not over.” Following the tumult at the Vestry, Donham suggested that it might be best for the party to leave for Hollow Hill with both Jenna and Orlief Mournhammer’s daughter Sarah Mournhammer for their own safety and to report the events of the last few days to the Baroness. Everyone agreed to rest up and head out the next morning.

3. An Intriguing Offer

As the party left the trials at the Vestry and after splitting up from the Jergos, they were approached by a town guard who informed them that Olivia Taplestone, the Inn Keeper of the Black Bramble Inn would like them to join her for dinner. Upon reaching the Black Bramble, the party met a group of Matth’ari led by a friendly and excited archeologist who told them he was on the verge of “the most important discovery of our modern age,” though he remained tight lipped about the details. After introducing the party to each member of his expedition, including his two pack mules Bella and Ser Clopps, the strange band set out while the party walked in the front door of the inn.

There, they were greeted by Taplecrest who told them she had set aside rooms for them to wash up and relax before dinner. At dinner, following some polite conversation, she informed them that she was in fact an agent of a secret organizations known as the Justicars. She explained that the organization’s primary mission was to preserve peace, law and stability throughout Amaria. Because she was impressed with the party’s handling of the Coven situation and due to their lack of strong allegiance to any particular lord or organization, she wanted to recruit them as free agents who would work with the Justicars when it was in their mutual interest. The party agreed (albeit some begrudgingly) to deliver a sealed message from Taplecrest to one of her agents in Rostigradht, the capital of the Breach where Duke Laremy Norhardht makes his seat, before the Lunar Fleet Festival. She assured them each that upon delivery of the unopened letter, her man in Rostigradht was instructed to deposit 500gp each into accounts in their name in the Bank of Rostigradht. Taplecrest also agreed to provide fresh horses for their travel to Hollow Hill and Rostigradht.

4. Into the Woods

Despite Donham’s insistence that she would be safer at Hollow Hill from both the Coven and any further trouble from Justice Malmont, Orlief decided that his adopted daughter Sarah would remain with a local couple in New Landis that he trusted more than the Jergos. With the sealed letter in hand, the party then met up with Donham and Jenna and set out into the woods to return the Jergos to Hollow Hill before heading to Rostigrahdt. Not long into the journey, Orlief asked Tiberius if he could see the letter from Taplecrest. After taking it, Orlief broke the seal and read the letter, much to the dismay of his companions. The letter indicated that, as Taplecrest said, the bearers of the sealed letter were each to receive 500gp. It also indicated that “the Invictus has been sabotaged, Tolston in danger.” Although Orlief’s unilateral decision to open the letter lead Demitri to punch him in the face for having potentially cost the party 2,000gp, it also gave the letter’s delivery a sense of urgency since Tolston might very well refer to Edvahr Tolston, Archon of Amaria. Despite all of this, Orlief continued to voice his skepticism and suspicions that Taplecrest would entrust such a seemingly important message to a group of relative unknowns.

5. Shelter from the Storm

On the third day, a bad storm was seen moving in from the west. Having come this way before on her way to New Landis, Jenna led the party to what appeared to be the ruined shells of several strangely designed and vine-covered abandoned buildings in the middle of the woods. The group took shelter and set up a fire in one of the larger two story buildings as nightfall and the thunderstorm came on. The sound of jingling bells revealed one of the Matth’ari’s pack mules as it came out from behind a half ruined wall inside the same building. Behind the wall, the party discovered stairs behind the wall that led into a basement.

Before the party could investigate the basement, the sound of yelling and galloping horses drew their attention to the mud-slick yard between the buildings where a group of hulking hooded figures on horseback had surrounded one of the Matth’ari workers they had met several days earlier. Shaking, the Matth’ari pointed towards the building where the players were hiding. At this point, the leader of the riders dismounted, pulled out a sword and ran it through the Matth’ari, tossing him to the ground and shouting orders over the storm.

Donham told the party that he was going to sneak off to try to keep Jenna safe. While the Jergos snuck out through a ruined wall in the back of the building, the party crept up to a crumbling section of the second floor as the riders advanced on the building. Once the riders were close enough, Demitri jumped from the second floor into the midst of the riders with his sword drawn. It was only at this point that the group noticed that the faces hidden under the riders’ hoods were not “entirely” human. With their cover blown and their companion in danger, the party had no choice but to jump down into the fray. Despite the element of surprise, several crippling death blows from Orlief’s warhammer and some timely heals from Tiberius, the riders and their leader fought ferociously, leaving both Korglander and Demitri unconscious and bleeding out. Finally, with his sister safe, Donham returned to assist in fighting the remaining riders. In the end, the riders’ leader, alone and badly injured, fled back into the driving rain, leaving the party to lick their wounds and reflect on their close call…

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Sessions 4 + 5
As noted by Tiberius

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Narrowly escaping the all-too-familiar grasp of death has surely taken it’s toll of each mortal soul subject to last nights encounter, however, this was only a precursor to unrest that wait below our very feet. Korglander and Donnum unwittingly managed to escape the next days uncertain fate, as they volunteered to escort the girls back to Hollow Hill. Meanwhile, the Matth’ari expidition had left some frightful clues to their whereabouts in the area.

Luckily, tho i’m not sure if thats the right word, another traveler joined us seeking refuge from the elements. “Red Daffel” he said his name was. He assisted us in our recovery, Lo, something struck me amiss about this neophyte. Perhaps it was was his eagerness to risk our parties safety for the amusement of pyrotechnics in close quarters. I will never understand weapons of this new age, a splash of fire will never be as effective as good old fashioned steel.

On the morrow what should we discover, but the most peculiar storage basement. A small space in the bowels of the crumbling ruin. Attached, however, to this basement was an old era labyrinth slowly dissolving into the memories of humanity, only to be the budding spring of some new kind of evil. Formerly, what must have been a sewer system for the ruins above, at some point had been converted to a place of worship for what was clearly a darker being. Murals, memorials, lesser religions…. I could taste the stench of death. Some greater evil had been growing a false religion, stripping its followers of their worldly goods and sending them to a fate surely most unkind. Otherworldly cockroaches, Fungal undead souls left to wander this plane in misery, the source was something we would soon wish we hadn’t found.

One more level down, further into the darkenss you felt you could touch if only Orliefs Sunrod wasn’t struggling for every inch it could grasp.We found ourselves in a strange series of tunnels forged of steel and glass, some construct not of this age, possibly not of this world. Alas! The remaining Matth’ari! or so it seemed. It was some cruel trick, some disgusting aberration we would soon learn. Morglander, if I can call it that, helped decipher voice capturing decive. The device contained the voice of a man from another age, a suicide note? a warning? what were we thinking…? forgeing ahead.

Venasha was it’s name, the deity of the underground, ancient temple. Im not sure if it was a plant, a person, or a demon. Perhaps it was all three. She claimedto have mastered death through the black magic known as science. There is no such thing outside of Lannodos’ power, this can only be black magic and must be destroyed. Venasha had been kiilling innocents to nourish her offspring. without her steady stream of old world sacrifices, she would be dead soon enough. If not for the sacrifice I had made for my traveling companions, surely we all would have perished under weight of her evil. I had managed to convince her to let us go in exchange for bringing her breed above ground. She forced me to ingest her seeds, which I will later take care in discard. I also managed to talk her out of her valuables, which should come in quite handy once exchanged for some more utilitous goods.

For now we shall rest up, and on the morrow continue our journey to Hollow Hill. Surely, only better days can be ahead.

-T

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Session 6
As noted by Red Daffel

Mission Journal, day 60:

I know that it is simply a fact of our Age that I will encounter men and women who blindly follow in the path of so-called dieties, and I must not doom myself to constant disappointment by expecting too much change too quickly. Even with these reservations, I worry about the company that I have joined.

I have failed my master, and the Matth’ari I came to assist are dead, or soon will be; murdered by my companions, or as good as. We left them to die underground, and I would be there with them, or worse, had I pressed too hard. They accepted their fate with grace and dignity, more than I would have. I shall morn their needless deaths the rest of my days, as will I regret that my new friends have turned us all into oath breakers. I don’t know if this shame can be overcome, but I must press on and do what I must to earn their sacrifice.

The one silver lining of this whole ordeal, though how can it compare to men’s lives, is that we recovered some kind of storage device from a civilization long dead. We encountered many strange objects and writings from ancient times in that excavation, and this device may be the key to understanding the time before the Fall. Fortunately, my travelling companions have agreed that we may return to the Consent with this device after we have concluded events begun long before I came upon them. As the danger they face seemed imminent and immense, a delay in my investigation of the past seemed a reasonable compromise. Whatever my misgivings about their actions with the Matth’ari, they do seem more or less well meaning, and I soon found even more evidence for this belief.

Our party was making its way to a great city (ed note: Jesse, I forgot some of the specifics here, so I’ll leave blanks for now and fill in the info when I get a chance) along a wooded highway when we came across some men around a fire. Though they invited us to share the warmth of the fire and their company, something seemed off about them right away. They were jumpy and suspicious of even the most innocuous of questions and comments. Even jests seemed to set them off!

At one point, ________ left the camp fire to relieve his liquid burden. Upon his return, he swiftly executed on of the travelers before anyone knew what was what. It turned out that these “simple miners” had come upon a man from a foreign land, had stripped him, tied him to a tree, and would have killed him, had we not intervened. And the man’s great sin? Simply being foreign! While I normally detest violence against a common man, I can hardly blame ___________ for killing a man before he kills another. Fortunately, that was all the violence needed to set the miners on their way. Hopefully they learned a lesson.

We invited the traveler to join us, as he was bound for the city as well. As it turned out, he was an ambassador from ___________ on his way to his country’s embassy! Now, I know we’ve all heard the stories of the men from _________ and their violent, savage ways, so it came as quite a shock to me to discover that he was a well-learned and peaceful man. Granted, he holds true to faith, which, as with all true believers, he hopes to spread to new lands. But he did not hate those who do not share his beliefs, and though I fear religious faith as a precursor to religious war, he seems to have no desire to spread his beliefs at the point of a sword.

Our party reached the city, and I saw my new friend to his embassy. I go now to provision myself and to meet up with my new friends, who despite myself seem to be growing on me. I do not know what awaits us, or if I shall ever return, but I do hope to see my friend _______ again. If half our land were as open-minded as he, a great deal of suffering and strife might be averted.

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Session 6 - The Road to Rostigradht
A Quick Summary

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Session 6 Highlights:

  • The party reunited with Korglander at Hollow Hill and spent an evening as the guests of Baroness Naros. The Baroness revealed that Duke Moorfell was an old family friend and that the Duke had secretly visited her near the end of the Scourging seeking her counsel. As it turned out, Moorfell had been blackmailed into leading the Dreadlord’s army on threat of the murder of his son, Dontis. The Baroness revealed that Donham Jergo was in fact Dontis, the Duke’s son, whom she agreed to keep safe in exchange for Moorfell surrendering himself to end the Scourging. The Baroness revealed that Dontis had fled to Rostigradht after finding out that his father had been imprisoned by Duke Norhardt beneath his palace. She offered the party use of her estate in Rostigradht and requested that they find Dontis and keep him out of trouble.
  • On the road to Rostigradht, the party rescued Azir, an envoy from the Cel’Anari Caliphate, from a group of miners from Baeralorn on their way to the Lunar Fleet Festival in Rostigradht. After a violent confrontation with the party, the miners explained that they assumed Azir was a “sander spy” and planned to present him as a gift to Duke Norhardt. Azir shared the road with the party the rest of the way to the city, then parted ways with them.
  • Upon reaching the Baroness’ estate in Rostigradht the day before the Festival, the party split up to shop and gather information:

  • Demitri ran into Kristin, a ship captain in the employ of Nerro Shan, primary shareholder of the Silver Sail Company and reputed gangster. Kristin took Demitri to Nerro, who agreed to provide information in exchange for Demitri’s promise to captain a ship of illicit cargo from Rostigradht to Parthis as soon as possible.

  • In a bar near the docks, Korglander met a Matth’ari mercenary and his crew who argued that the Matth’ari in Ortizar (a Matth’ari village set up inside Amaria after their homeland was destroyed) were puppets and slaves of the Amarians, who he criticized for never coming to the Matth’ari’s aid when their homeland was under attack. They attempted to recruit Korglander and told him he’d know where they’d be if he ever “changed his mind” While at the bar, Korglander also overheard rumors that a noblewoman from New Landis had recently visited the Temple of Lannados to speak with the Grand Inquisitor.

  • Tiberius was summoned to the Temple of Lannados, where he met with Grand Inquisitor Magnus. Over tea, Tiberius reaffirmed his allegiance to the Temple and was tasked with delivering Duke Moorfell into the Temple’s hands after breaking him out of Duke Norhardt’s prison. Magnus gave him instructions to meet one of his agents inside Norhardt’s palace during the festival for further instructions.

  • Red Daffel escorted his new friend Azir to the Embassy District, where Azir thanked him and promised to visit the library with him to share his culture’s greatest works.

  • Orlief entered a pickle-eating contest against a bearded lady and a talking bear named Steve. Hilarity ensued.
  • Following their separate diversions, the party regrouped and went to the Opulent Encounter, a high end brothel, where they met Vicente, the Justicar spymaster. He read the unsealed letter from Olivia and promised to honor her agreement with the party. He advised the party to determine how best to split their forces to deal with the two issues that required simultaneous attention: the vague threat to the King mentioned in Olivia’s letter and the threat that the Demon would be attempting to reach the imprisoned Duke Moorfell at the same time – during the Lunar Fleet Festival. It was decided that Orlief, Tiberius and Korg would get Moorfell while Demitri snuck aboard the airship dressed as a servant to attempt to expose whatever plot faced the King.
  • At the point that we broke off, no one had discussed the plan with Red.
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Session 7 - Rostigradht
Or - Airship Down

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Demitri and Korglander snuck aboard the airship Invictus dressed as waiters to determine what threat faced King Maher. Once the ship was airborne, they noticed that the prince and princess had been poisoned and were dead at the royal dinner table. As soon as they drew the ship’s attention to this, an assassin dressed as one of the King’s personal guards grabbed the king yelling “thus always to tyrants” and slit the king’s throat. As chaos erupted on the deck, the engines of the ship exploded and the ship started to careen into the bay below. The assassin was able to escape, but Demitri and Korg confronted a band of Matth’ari mercenaries (the same ones that had earlier attempted to recruit Korg) who had sabotaged the engines and managed to kill several of them. With only moments to spare, the PCs assisted women and children into escape craft. As the massive airship hit the water, the PCs found themselves clinging to wreckage in the frigid waters of the bay. Unfortunately, they saw both Azir and Baroness Naros slip beneath the rough waters before they were able to rescue either, though they were able to save several other people from certain death by drowning. Facing the shock of the cold waters and their own fatigue, Demitri and Korg held on to the flotsam until a mysterious stranger in a small boat offered them a hand…

Meanwhile, Red and Orlief assisted Tiberius in his mission to rescue Duke Moorfell from the dungeons beneath the Zakat Sobor, Duke Norhardt’s palace in Rostigradht. The group met with one of the Grand Magus’s agents and received a key to the dungeons. Although they met with some resistance, they were able to spring the Duke from his cell and made their way to the main Cathedral through a secret passage.

Once there, they spotted a group of Norhardt’s guards and attempted to quietly slip past them on their way out. To their surprise, Duke Moorfell yelled out to the group of guards and walked towards them. As it turned out, Moorfell had forged a secret alliance with the Grand Magus to wrest control of Rostigradht from Duke Norhardt. With Norhardt’s loyal soldiers busy with the Lunar Fleet Festival, the Grand Magus and Moorfell had arranged for the palace to be staffed only by double agent Seraphim soldiers posing as palace guards, but secretly loyal to the Inquisition. Moorfell’s escape was timed to coincide with a larger coup where Inquisition soldiers throughout the city struck out against Norhardt’s soldiers, causing city-wide pandemonium. Duke Norhardt was dragged before Moorfell and the Grand Magus immediately following the crash of the Invictus into the harbor. Moorfell produced “evidence” that Norhardt was behind the assassination of King Maher and ordered that Nordhardt be summarily executed for treason.

As a test of his loyalty to the Inquisition and as an “honor” for aid in Moorfell’s ascension, the task of carrying out the execution was offered to Tiberius, who carried out the request without hesitation. Following Norhardt’s execution and Moorfell’s de facto installation as Duke of the Breach, the Grand Magus thanked Tiberius and his associates for their service and placed Tiberius in charge of defense of the Grand Temple of Lannados during the rest of the battle for Rostigradht. Tiberius, Red and Orlief then left to secure the Temple with an honor guard of Seraphim guards.

Once outside in the chaos of the ongoing battle for the city, the group turned down a back alley street, at which point the Seraphim honor guard turned on the party and attempted to kill them. After several minutes of hard and bloody fighting with the party surrounded, a strange knight on horseback charged the line of attacking Seraphim, skewering their Paladin leader and opening a route of escape for the party. Removing her helm, the knight identified herself as Vindra, a friend of the spymaster Vicente, and begged the party to follow her to meet with Vicente at a secret location, noting that Vicente had been attacked at the Opulent Encounter by Inquisition forces, leading him to believe that the Justicar organization had been “compromised”.

Vindra led the party to a small shack along the merchant docks of Rostigradht, where they found Vicente as well as Korg and Demitri huddled around a map. Vicente explained that his spy network had been compromised and that he had been betrayed, leaving only the party and Vindra as the people he could trust. He told them that Moorfell’s assassination of King Maher would lead to a full blown civil war between Moorfell and Duke Agnor, King Maher’s oldest friend and loyal military commander. Vicente asked the party to serve as his agents in gathering allies to assist Duke Agnor in defeating Duke Moorfell and holding Amaria together. Once they agreed, Vicente requested that the party head north to Icehold, the capital of the Vishmael nation of Volgoth. Their king was an old ally and friend of the King and Duke Agnor from the Scourging and would make a strong ally in the coming civil war. At Vicente’s request, Vindra agreed to join the party and assist them in their mission.

As newly commissioned agents of the Justicars, the party took a merchant vessel north to Spring Harbor, the southernmost port in Volgoth. On the way, Tiberius fell ill and a group of sentient vines grew out of the ship in places where Tiberius had touched it (presumably as a result of his ingestion of seeds from Vinasha in the forest ruins). After defeating the aggressive plants, the party arrived safetly in Spring Harbor. They booked passage to Icehold with the last merchant caravan of the season, but were left with several days in Spring Harbor before the caravan headed north….

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Session 8 - The Consent
Or - A quick stop in Parthis

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Entry coming soon.

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Session 9 - Icehold
Or - The Korgblaster

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Highlights:

- The party hires a ranger to take them on a faster route to Icehold (having missed the merchant caravan) through a system of caves in the mountains. The party discovers a nest of crystal spiders whose eggs are highly prized and valuable. During the attempt to steal eggs from the nest, they are attacked and defeat a large mother spider.

- The party speaks to the Jarl of Icehold, an assistant to the King, who states that Icehold will aid Duke Agnor in the Amarian civil war only after the party deals with the threat posed by tribes of Hill Giants that have recently been threatening the city. He also agrees to let the party search for the next pyramid in the catacombs beneath Icehold after they deal with the giants.

- In town, the party stumbles across the disgruntled owner of a failed brewery who is willing to sell his holdings at a steep discount due to his lack of ability/patience to deal with the “fuuuuuckin’ orcs” that have disrupted his supply of hops. Seeing a golden opportunity, the party agrees to purchase the delapataded brewery. Leaving Korg in charge of fixing up the property, the rest of the party quickly deals with the orc threat and establishes a hold on a hops farm, thereby securing their supply line for their new venture. Korg decides to stay on at the brewery while the party carries on with their other business.

-Party investigates several giant villages and discovers that, in an act of desperation in the face of aggression by the Vishmael, the giant shamans have summoned demonic forces to “aid” them in their struggle and have allowed their bodies to become host to skinchangers. These skinchangers have turned on the giants and have begun slaughtering them. The party agrees to help the giants and runs to the other villages to warn them of the danger and gathers the giant tribes together in the process. The giants tell the party that Icehold used to be their city before the Vishmael took it from the, and that an ancient relic lies within the Giants’ catacombs beneath the city that can stop the skinchangers. The party agrees to search for the relic to help the giants stop the skinchangers. Greatful for the party’s assistance, the giants agree not to attack Icehold.

- Having secured the giants’ promise not to attack Icehold, the Party reaches Icehold and discovers that the King has died and the Queen has been secretly ruling in his name. She agrees to honor the Jarl’s promise to send troops to aid Duke Agnor. She also agrees to allow the party to descend into the city’s ancient catacombs to search for the relic they seek…

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Session 10 & 11 - Tomb of the Giants
Or - The Shadow of Genocide

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- The party descended into the catacombs below Icehold. The architecture of the entire structure indicated that it was built by and for the giants that called Icehold home prior to its occupation by its current Vishmael occupants. The first floor consisted of a great hall containing a massive memorial statue honoring an ancient giant king.

- Beyond the great hall, the party discovered a smaller chamber with stone mosaics on the walls. The mosaics told the story of the giant king finding a powerful pyramid shaped stone, which granted him power and helped him build Icehold. The next scene showed the giants prospering in Icehold. Next was the Vishmael sacking of the city and the death of the King. The final mosaic showed the king being buried with the pyramid. The center of the chamber contained a giant hole into a dark abyss.

- Climbing down a rope into the hole, the party landed on top of a massive pile of giant bones of varying sizes. The chamber was large enough that the party could not see the sides of the chamber with their torches, but they could hear weeping coming from the darkness. They guessed that the bones were likely the end result of a genocide committed by the Vishmael when they sacked the city and killed all of the giants, tossing their bodies down into this hole. In the distance, the party heard the faint sound of picks and hammers and a faint light. Upon closer inspection, they discovered a crew of animated skeletons on scaffolding near a tunnel entrance, slowly using the bones from the center of the chamber to tile the chamber’s outer walls. The skeletons stopped working and stared at them as they passed, but did not otherwise interfere.

- Next the party entered a burial vault. Although there was a sarcophagus for the Giant King, there was no body inside. There were, however, several trapped chests, including a mimic, which proceeded to wander down the hall with Red Daffel stuck to its maw until the party burned it down. The party found several treasures, including a wand shaped out of a giant’s finger bone and a staff with three female heads carved out of bone.

- The party next proceeded down another tunnel which lead to a small dock at the edge of an underground lake. Here, they met Gaywin, a bard who had been teleported into the tomb after upsetting a powerful wizard. He was engaged in conversation with a hooded ferryman. The group convinced the ferryman to take them across the lake, but the ferryman refused to tell them the cost until they had departed. Once they embarked, the dark water changed to an ethereal abyss of twisting spirits beneath the boat. Closer inspection of the ferryman revealed that he was a massive hunched skeletal bird with a long neck. He told the party that his people had once ruled the northern peaks, but had been enslaved and/or killed by the Giants. He told the party that the Necromancer, a powerful Giant mage, had taken up residence in these tombs, and had enslaved the ferryman by using one of his feathers as his phylactery. He requested that the party locate it and bring it back to him so he could be released from his eternal servitude.

- Upon reaching the far bank of the “lake”, the party found themselves in a natural cavern with icy permafrost walls. They were quickly spotted by a floating sentry “eyeball” and chased it further down into the tunnels to find a small series of rooms dug into the cavern. Here, they discovered a laboratory/library full of research notes into anatomy and necromantic magic. They also located the phylactery. A journal in a room used by workers indicated that the Necromancer was a trusted adviser of the Giant King who had retreated into the crypts below to preserve the King’s body and discover a way to revive him. Unfortunately, the Necromancer was sealed in by the Vishmael and was forced to turn to necromancy to keep his work going since his men would die anyway. The journal indicated that the Necromancer was keeping the King’s body preserved in a deeper cavern, waiting for a chance to escape before reviving him.

- The party entered the main cavern housing the King’s body and defeated the Necromancer and his skeletal guards (who attacked them on sight). Near defeat, the necromancer begged the party to let him finish his work and restore the King to lead the Giants. The party refused and killed the Necromancer. They took the pyramid and the King’s Crown from his body and left it there in the caverns.

- Upon returning to the ferry, they gave the ferryman his feather. He thanked them, then turned into a pile of dust. The abyss of souls surrounding the boat disappeared and the party found themselves sitting on a rotted boat in the middle of a dry chamber.

- Upon finding their way out of the crypts and back into the Vishmael palace’s basement, the party discovered several dead Vishmael guards. Outside the throne room, they found a group of monstrous humanoid mercenaries lead by the same creature that attacked them outside the forest ruins (see episode 2-3). He told them he had been sent by Duke Moorfell to collect the two pyramids from them and offered them safe passage if they turned them over. He also demonstrated that he had captured the Vishmael queen and would order her executed if they failed to comply.

(cue cliffhanger)

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