Scales of War

Tanner is so Awesome!
(Thanks for writing up the Adventure Log)
13 Harvester, 1468 CY

The morning after dining at the Coxcombe and meeting Lothel, the party resolved to seek out Diony based on our new friend’s information. I was a bit groggy (didn’t sleep well, perhaps the food was too rich after weeks of hard rations!), but Lilac was positively hungover. Poor thing! She stayed behind to recover. Lothel led us to a part of the market district where she had spotted Diony, a place where we had encounted Lost Ones before. As we were asking around after the elf, we discovered that someone had been looking for us, a messenger from Brindol – Alys! We resolved to find her as well, for she was probably in more danger than Diony, but Irjan decided to stay and listen for suspicious activity or Diony, who he was convinced he would always hear. Chris was worried about Lilac so she went back to the inn to check on her.

Further into the market place we asked after Alys. She had been seen being escorted by three burly men who were all too happy to help her find the Hordebane, likely members of the Lost Ones! Lothel tried to coax info out of them by associating herself with the Lost Ones, but that just made them clam up and foist money on her. I approached them afterward and reassured them, so they told me quietly, as if to hide the information from Lothel. We started off in the direction indicated, but it led us back to where we had started. I came right up to Irjan to ask how things were going, but apparently I broke his cover or something because he irritatedly asked me to go into an alleyway to talk about it. While we had been gone, some Lost Ones had apparently set up a front at a fish stand. Irjan said they were announcing sales of swordfish, and other salty-water fishes. Very odd. I failed to see the import of stopping their illicit activities (we had trouble enough stopping them from bothering Reggen, and that didn’t pan out so well, did it?).

To me, it was much more important that we find Alys, and then Diony. Unfortunately, no one else besides Irjan had met Alys, so they weren’t as concerned as I was. Even if it hadn’t been Alys, I would have tried to track down an innocent bystander! Especially one who had been put in harm’s way just by seeking us out! I would have walked right up to the fish stand, said, “I’m Tanner of the Hordebane. Your boss knows who I am. Let’s cut the crap and deal with this like civilized people.” Unfortunately, no one else in the party thought this was a good idea. They went to focus on scoping out what the Lost Ones were doing. At least Irjan, Chris, and the Professor did. I’m not sure what Lothel was doing, perhaps she had other business to attend to.

I may have been sulking in the alleyway when I heard a voice from above say, “I’d be careful if I were you.” I was alarmed, concerned that one of the Lost Ones had gotten the drop on me, but no, it was a very heavily armed elf with an eye patch. I think I saw him before when we were fighting the orcs. Name was Thorn. After my initial shock wore off, he told me that the members of the Hordebane had bounties on our heads equal to 1000 gold a piece. (I’m not sure if this includes the newest members of the group or not.) He also said that the Lost Ones weren’t likely to be gentle when they caught up with us, they had reason enough already to want us dead.

New threat, new panic. I went to find the others and inform them to be wary, but they had already disappeared. I set off in the direction of the inn to warn Lilac, but Hoffmeisteri blew over in the form of a swarm of flies, resumed gnome-shape, and let me know that the others had followed a cart of illicit goods, most definitely not fish. I followed the gnome and came upon Irjan underneath an upset cart, accusing the wheelbarrower of not paying attention to where he was putting the cart. I helped Irjan up and defused the situation, leading Irjan away. In a matter of moments, we were following the cart at a distance with Chris, who had been following Irjan too. I told them about the terrible danger we were all in, but Chris and Professor Hoffmeisteri believe that they are exempt since they don’t feel like they’re tied to the Hordebane, but they have been seen around us and received payment from the Ironfell clan… so I think they’re still in danger. They were still very focused on finding out what the no-good Lost Ones were up to with their clanging boxes of “fish.” Sighing, I followed.

The barrowman ended his trek at a warehouse. The doors were still open as the shipment was checked in, and the professor snuck into the building using his gnomish invisibility and pried the box open, then quickly becoming spiders or something to inspect the contents. Later he told us they were weapons with the black arrow sigil, but first he realized he was trapped inside the building. He had moved underneath the cart again and was preparing to escape when one of the thugs noticed that the box had been tampered with and they shut the building up tight, supposedly to search for intruders. He was finally able to escape by squeezing under the door, and we all ran away, heading back for the inn to check on Lilac.

Lilac was fine, but shaken. Lothel showed up and let us know that she had found a clue in the marketplace that might indicate the route that Alys had been taken in. Something about birdseed. Lilac still elected to stay behind for now, but we went to check out the clue. The tussle that broke the crate could have been caused by anything, I suppose, but we did find a muddy dirty boot print. Irjan was positive that it was from the Nine Bells district, the holy district known for the filth of the urchins on the streets.

So we headed over to Nine Bells. Irjan conferred with the beggars on the streets, who eagerly pointed him to a child who had seen Alys. The kid guided us to the abandoned temple to Pelor. We checked out the half-sun shaped building but only saw entry in through the rotten front door. I saw nothing for it but to kick down the door and announce ourselves, and this time the others agreed with me. Down went the doors with in a shower of splinters, and in the dim light inside we saw a woman with dark hair tied to a chair under a hole in the roof. Alys was bound, blindfolded, and gagged, and there was evidence of cuts and bruising. Seeing no one else, I immediately rushed over to her and as soon as I had removed her gag she shouted, “It’s a trap!” Sure enough, some Lost Ones sprang from behind the arras at the front of the room with some ravening dogs. I summoned my mage hand to undo the knots more quickly, then told her to run. Gods bless the messenger woman, she could be fleet on her feet, even injured! She shot out the door past Irjan and the banner he had planted. Just in time too it turned out, because I was grabbed by one of the Lost Ones and dragged behind the arras. As I struggled in his grasp, I could see my friends being singled out this way as well.

Once I was alone with him, though, I stood and my face darkened. I let my anger flow through me as I told him, “I’m Tanner of the Hordebane. But you knew that already. What you don’t know is the trouble you’re in now.” I saw him blanch a little at my expression, but he shook it off. I was able to stab him and use my bladespell to interfere with the dogs who were attacking Irjan. I was getting pretty injured myself by this point and I contemplated taking a moment to rejuvenate myself, but didn’t want to give my opponent the upper hand. I could also sense that my allies were all locked in troublesome contests, so I began weaving my bladesong and pushed myself twice as hard, jabbing my opponent twice so I could pull one man away from Lothel and to set one of the dogs on fire. What I wasn’t expecting was for the doors on the rays of the sun to open and for a few more Lost Ones to emerge. I felt a tear in my side and the world went dark.

I think I was only out for a moment. Chris was standing over me, pulling me to the feet and commanding me to Get Up. Together we finished off the opponent before us, and I heard one or two of the others go down. Irjan and Lothel both made their way over toward us, and we paused for a moment to regroup.
To be continued…

Death Toll

A few Lost One kidnappers were incapacitated or killed on this day. Reggen’s fate is still unknown.

New Acquisitions
  • Each Player receives 350 XP (Total: 13350)
  • Lothel has obtained a ledger that she hasn’t gotten to read just yet.

RP Sessions have been discontinued now that game will occur more frequently. Every 2 weeks, Sundays.

The Not-So-Victorious Return
12 Harvester, 1468 CY

The Hordebane (and followers) returned to Overlook and spoke with Bram Ironfell.
The group investigated the empty Mountain Hearth Inn, and sought answers at Morgoff’s, a new tavern/inn across the street.
Hoffmeisteri purchased gnomewear.
The Hordebane plans to seek an audience with the Council of Elders regarding the rift in the Karak Lode.

Death Toll

Reggen has disappeared from Overlook, but as far as you know she is not dead.

New Acquisitions
  • 260 XP to all players (Total: 13000) – Everyone is now LEVEL 8
  • 500 gp from selling the dwarven marble chess set (already split by the party)

RP Sessions

Transcripts of important interactions from the RP sessions will be posted here:
In the Spirit of Coxcombs
Data MINE-ing

the real bitch-queen afterall...
Excerpt from Chris’s Encoded Letter to Lilianna

So instead of getting out of this damn place after the ceiling collapses these geniuses think it’s a great idea to go back in. How they decide to do things never makes any sense. Seriously! For example, they listen to this blind idiot’s advice on the best way to climb up this rubble that has blocked everything because of the stupid quake that collapsed the ceiling. Blindy one actually comes up with some path on which rocks to use so that we can anchor a rope for everyone else to use to climb. Of course they expect me to go first because I’m expendable and they don’t know if this plan will work. But, when it’s you against a group, sometimes you do what you have to. I climb up and secure the pitons and have to help the nice one before she falls while trying to secure this rope to make this ridiculous climb easier for everyone else. We have to scuttle, yes, that says scuttle, across this valley. I tried to jump it, let’s just say that didn’t end pretty.

As we continue to go deeper into this place, the energy is palpable. There’s glowing red light and around one turn is two red skinned demons in front of a pile of dwarven skulls. To make matters worse there is this serpent like creature with a humanoid face and it’s actually coiled up around this pile of skulls. There is this huge deep chasm in the middle of the room glowing red.

The nice one lays down this springboard so that we can cross over the chasm. She tells about the types of creatures these things are. Snake-bitch attacks Taily, Blindy, and Nicey with this round of thunder which is surprisingly painful from their reactions. Out of the thunderpan and into the fire, I use the springboard to propel across the chasm and attack one of the trident-demons. I bring it to the ground as I jump the chasm and knock it prone.
To make things worse, a lava creature climbs out of the chasm. Lavaman creates this cyclone of fire damage by running in a circle encompassing the rest of them. The stupid demon impaled me with his trident because I was distracted by firecircle and the other demon shoots poison breath on Buggy. The nice one heals me a bit cuz the trident hurts more than I would like to admit. So obviously, not thrilled with this demon who got a little too happy with his trident, I push it back into Lavaman and it slows them down just for a bit.

Fighting continues for minutes before anyone comes to the other side of the chasm to help me out. They tend to just stay in their little group and just leave me alone hoping I’ll do most of the work for them. Except the nice one, she doesn’t want me to die so heals me from time to time. I wrench the trident from the demon and knock it into the chasm as it tries to avoid my attack. Then it disappears. Taily sees this and explains to all of us that there is a portal to the elemental chaos.

Blindy teleports over the chasm which draws snake-bitch’s attention and she attacks, him, me and Taily. Lucky for us, Lavaman also gets hit. Blindy gets all shiny, I still don’t know what that’s about, and I try to gather up all my reserves. More fighting and bug swarm pounces on snake-bitch in wasp form shaped like a dove. (yes I did tell you that they were geniuses right?)

Trident-demon says something to snake-bitch before jumping into the chasm. Seemingly like this was the real bitch-queen afterall. Nicey finally joins the party on this side of the chasm and attacks snake-bitch. Let me tell you how bad her breath was (or really, you don’t want to know). I grapple snake-bitch and Nicey mounts the skull pile. Snake-bitch slashes at Blindy with her tail, proving that he gives a bad first impression on everyone. Buggy must not have had breakfast because he winds up devouring snake-bitch.

We rummage around the area to figure out as much as we can before we leave. We’ve already realized that there is nothing we can do to actually close the portal in the chasm. The wealth that we had been sent to find was being shipped out through this portal by some group that we weren’t able to identify. It seems like queen snake-bitch didn’t even know who she was working for. Buggy collapses the ceiling on purpose this time as this is the only way that we can stall beings coming through the portal.

The Rift in the Depths of the Karak Lode
Earthday, 27 Goodmonth, 1468 CY

Discovered Elemental Rift/Gate, fought demons and a naga (the real Queen Shephatiah).
Collapsed the mine over the Rift, and escaped.
Rested in the Fortress above.
Set off into the desert to return to Dunesend.

Starday, 1 Harvester, 1468 CY

Return to Dunesend, early evening.
The town was deserted, all hiding in the old dwarven tower.
The party talks the villagers out of the tower, and stay the night with Priestess Fawma.
Irjan speaks with Old Bede, the crotchety baker, and gets drugged with a truth serum.

Sunday, 2 Harvester, 1468 CY

The Hordebane departs for Overlook via Ronzen.

Waterday, 12 Harvester, 1468 CY

The Hordebane returns to Overlook and meets with Bram Ironfell.

Death Toll

The real Queen Shephatiah perished at the hands of the Hordebane (and stingers of Professor Hoffmeisteri).

New Acquisitions
  • 820 XP to all players (Total: 12740)
  • Another Ironfell Signet Ring (also held by Lilac)
  • Primordial Ring taken by Chris
  • Cincture of the Githzerai taken by Hoff
  • 1900 gp already split amongst the party

RP Sessions

Transcripts of important interactions from the RP sessions will be posted here:
Return to Ronzen
Between a Dwarf and a Hard Place

Earthday, 27 Goodmonth, 1468 CY

Excerpt from Lilac Derbyshire’s Journal (Earthday, 27 Goodmonth, 1468 CY)

The Hordebane just cannot catch a break! After slaying the self-proclaimed Queen Shephatiah and finding no means of accessing the Karak Lode, we finally made camp for the night in order to get some much needed rest. The trials and travails of the desert and the many monstrous denizens of the complex we had assaulted had rendered our company dead tired (though thankfully not dead). Unfortunately the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune had not yet finished their volley, and we were viciously assaulted by chokers and another troglodyte. There’s nothing quite like being used as a shield to absorb a friend’s sword swing when you’d rather be sleeping, but such is the adventurer’s life. After dispatching our ambushers and finding the shifter we had taken captive executed, we decided to dispose of the troglodyte stinking carcass. Chris and I lugged the fetid corpse down the stairs and into the Queen’s throne room, imagining the stench in there couldn’t get any worse. While transporting the body, a metal object fell out of one of his pockets and glinted in the light of my sunrod. I quickly retrieved it and found it to be a Clan Ironfell Signet Ring! At least that was good news, and I assumed that the Lode must be near by.

We found it quickly enough. Despite the previous night’s search leaving us stumped, we found a secret entrance while following a trail of canary feathers to a previously searched room. Diony had lost track of the bird brained former prisoner we had rescued, and our search for him turned up the Lode instead! Jackpot! The trail of feathers lead us to a secret entrance in the floor, complete with lift, and we descended into the mines. At the bottom we discovered troglodytes guarding a portcullis. A pitched battle broke out. I provided fire from the back while Tanner and the Professor used their respective talents for translocation and turning into a swarm of disgusting insects (ick!) to by pass the portcullis. It was finally opened by the Professor, allowing Chris access to the remaining troglodytes. As I’ve documented she is a ferocious fighter, so as you may imagine the remaining guards were speedily dispatched.

Beyond the portcullis we finally found ourselves in the mine we had been tasked with rediscovering. It was hardly a wondrous sight however, as pulsing veins of magic spread throughout the mine. Tanner and I determined it to be raw elemental chaos energy, and it lent a ghastly hue to the mine’s sprawling corridors. They seemed to trigger in the Professor the same violent headaches he had experienced while examining the Throne earlier. To make the environment even less homey, we found spread among rock and rubble the skeletons of numerous dwarf miners or guards, whom the Professor later determined may have died as many as eight centuries past. Severely rusted weapons lay untouched by the skeletons, and most disturbing of all they were decapitated. Headless skeletons hardly put a country girl at ease, and it was no surprise that we quickly found ourselves clashing with the creatures which dwelled in these long forgotten shafts. A swarm of spiders and a pair of loathsome carrion crawlers (they evidently nested in the mines) attacked us, and they were soon joined by a chillbane dwarf zombie and a hideous barlgura demon. Determining that the zombie was weak to fire I loaded a grenade into my crossbow and launched a smoke powder blast at it, focusing my fury to aim with as much precision as possible. The fiery explosion was devastating, and the smoke gave Tanner an opportunity to strike at it. The zombie, whose chilling aura had been difficult to manage, thankfully fell. The rest of the battle was intense and nearly deadly. In an impressive display of strength Chris tore a crawler off the wall and brutally pummeled it as it crumpled on the ground. The Professor summoned a localized earthquake under the demon which destabilized the shaft and began the process of a collapse. Amidst falling stone we retreated back in the direction of the portcullis, but Chris found herself poisoned and unable to move. Tanner quickly dragged her to safety however, and we all survived. Unfortunately, the demon had smashed my homunculus before being crushed by the cave-in, and I was unable to retrieve it before escaping to safety.

Anxious to retrieve the valuable technology my father had entrusted to me, I began examining the fallen rock and trying to determine a way to reach my automaton. Tanner and Chris warned me to be careful around the unstable stone however, and after a breath and coaxing the others into agreeing to help, we rigged a pulley system and began to make a tunnel. Tanner gave us a pep talk that rivaled a bard’s, while Chris and Irjan hoisted, I secured rocks to the pulley, and the Professor in swarm form determined the safest path to take. Upon reaching the stone my homunculus was crushed under, I took out my crowbar, wedged it into place, and Chris, Tanner and I went to work. Tanner pressed on the crowbar with all the might a wizard can muster while Chris and I strained at the rock with our bare hands. The Professor wormed his way under and collected the homunculus as well a number of other valuables, including gems and healing potions. We quickly made our egress from the makeshift tunnel and I returned my homunculus to my bag. I guess if I am to incorporate the snake construct’s venom into its design, I need to take it apart anyway, so perhaps the demon saved me some labor? Always look on the bright side right?

Meanwhile, one of the gems seemed to trigger a reverie in the professor, and he seemed to dissociate while lost in a memory. He came to visibily agitated, though he seemed unwilling talk. Tanner and I examined the dwarf skeletons and hypothesized about reasons for their decapitation. Meanwhile, Irjan found he too was affected by the elemental chaos that ran through the mine and voiced his displeasure with it. We then examined our options for traversing deeper into the mine. We had found a passage off to the right that could be climbed to continue along the mine. I determined that a pulley system could shift some rocks to make for an easier ascent, and if necessary we could use rope to rappel down the other side. After determining the best route of continuance, we set to work, and in the process steeled ourselves for whatever challenges may await further into the dark depths of the Karak Lode.

Session Overview

Found Ring on Troglodyte from ambush.
Followed trail of yellow canary feathers downstairs to the hidden Karak Lode entrance.
Fought past troglodytes at the portcullis to enter the mine.
Dwarven skeletons missing skulls, weapons out and rusting—it appears the dwarves killed each other in the end. Veins of raw elemental chaos energy run throughout the mine.
Epic battle of the collapsing chamber, and subsequent unearthing of the homunculus.
Still alive!!

Death Toll

Troglodytes, demon (barlgura), dwarf zombie (again), spider swarm, and a carrion crawler all perished.

New Acquisitions
  • 780 XP to all players (Total: 11920)
  • Ironfell Signet Ring (held by Lilac)
  • 2 potions of Cure Moderate Wounds (taken by Chris and Hoff)
  • 1 Potion of Healing (taken by Hoff?)
  • 5 gemstones, added to Party Coin Purse
  • 50 gp, already divided amongst party members (Irjan gets 10gp)
  • Clean water – barrel currently contains 25 gal (5 gal drunk in the 3 fights since awakening)

RP Sessions

Transcripts of important interactions from the RP sessions will be posted here:
Cave-in Crunch
Missing Skulls and Rocky Roads

Hordebane Killed the Queen
Earthday, 27 Goodmonth, 1468 CY

There are two remaining doors to the north of the courtyard and have the sharp smell of decay. The Queen of the Drylands these self-proclaimed “Hordebane” have described must be there…or a figment of the imagination. I have not yet determined their sanity…nor my own. From what I can gather (whispers amongst themselves) I am in a fortress called Ironfall located in the middle of a desert village “Dunesend”. I’ve not a clue how I came to be here but I know something evil resides here; the migraines are unbearable. For the time being I will follow this Hordebane, after all they did save me from the berbalang (winged vampire demons that originate from an individual).

The remaining doors are opened with caution; beyond them nothing but another set of doors. The breezeway is lined with arrow slits and the big lizard man (a species unknown to me) named Irjan checks for guards by thrusting his blade through the opening. Through the arrow slits, I can see some curious trees with silver and gray bark. The horrid smell of decay seems to be emanating from them, almost like a corpse flower. I am told these are Susser trees, humph, never in my life have I seen such a thing.

Through the next doors I first see four more of the Susser trees, then a female at a throne who had just killed a laborer. This female let out a horrid laugh, exclaiming that she had expected us and predicts our failure. She is the known as Queen Shephatiah and has six humanoid soldiers. The throne room is 40 foot tall, and those giant trees brush the ceiling. The half-orc called Lilac is the first to attack one of the warriors, while Irjan attempts to attack the queen. Irjan’s onslaught fails as she teleports near a tree to the right of the doors, and other creature attacks him! I find out later that Tanner thought this longtooth shifter was Skeen (former comrade) and had nightmares of this day; the shifter is kept for interrogation after the fight.

I attempt to send a jolt of lightning at one of the soldiers but for some curious reason I summon a giant toad. Although not what I intended, my horny toad attempted to attack one humanoid soldier…not successfully. I cannot seem to remember how to fight, but I hope memory is restored soon. Another large female, named Chris, in the Hordebane endeavors to attack the queen but her blade misses this time. After this hardship, the group starts killing the attackers. As the fight nears the end, two enormous hyena like creatures enter the throne room.

By this time, the toad has warmed up and has almost killed the queen; I send tremors at the throne which produces cracks in the floor. The helpful toad dies later by the claws of a foul, acid-blooded hyena. At this I change to beast form, and kill the queen in a roar of terror. The remaining foes are dropping like flies (ah, my toad would have enjoyed cleaning up) and Chris cuts the last hyena’s throat. All that remains is the longtoothed shifter and getting some rest.

Before waking the shifter, I notice the laborer is a 22 year old innocent with a Melora symbol and wears sandy desert cloths. Out of the crack I collect potion of healing, gold coins, and a marble dwarven miner chess set and board. The energy emanating from under the stone aggravates my migraine… that seems irrational but the hyena did have signs of foul energy exposure. Lilac notices my discomfort and tries to help ease the pain. We explore several of the trees for information about the queen and her plans.

Later, while upstairs, we awaken the shifter. He seems like a really nice fellow, who honestly believes in the deceased queen. To make him talk, I shift to my true form of a thousand tubificids over his body. This initially does not make him uneasy for he is well versed in benthic organisms and rather enjoys the treatment. Next I try a swarm of wasps to divulge his knowledge of me… this does the trick. He whispers the answers to my questions and I am glad of it; the others shouldn’t know yet, not before I found out what it means. We make camp and set up a round of watches; I am the second watch and to fall into an uneasy sleep.

Death Toll

Queen Shephatiah, two acid-blooded hyenas, and a handful of her human guards were killed. The longtooth shifter—another of her guards—was spared and interrogated.

New Acquisitions
  • 325 XP to all players (Total: 11140)
  • Holy symbol of Melora from the dead peasant in the throne room who may have been from Dunesend
  • Two potions of healing
  • A dwarven miner chess set and board, made of solid marble
  • 750 gp, already divided amongst party members
  • Clean water – barrel has been refilled to 30 gal.

RP Sessions

Transcripts of important interactions from the RP sessions will be posted here:
Choke the Choker!
RP Session 26-2 – Cancelled!

Down in the Crypt
Behind the door that says something about "death"
Waterday, 26 Goodmonth, 1468 CY

Through the door in the hallway, it was almost entirely dark. We almost literally bumped into a muttering old gnome who was stalking a terrible beast. He seemed confused of many things but sure that his name was Professor Hoffmeisteri. The professor tried to cast a spell at us but he did it in such an odd way that Lilac was sure reminded her of an archaic form of spellcasting not seen in a century or more. We couldn’t make heads nor tails of him really.

Just then, Lilac’s sunrod extinguished leaving us in the dark with the threat of a terrible monster. Tanner lit another one, whispering, “Onward.” Around the corner was a room with many doors inscribed with glowing runes. As we debated what they could mean, one of the doors burst and a winged vampiric demon screeched at us in some lofty ancient language. Tanner recognized it as a lesser berbalang. Almost instantly a second one appeared, and then a third one, and a fourth, but not all at once. In reaction to seeing the berbalang, the Hordebane’s new companion did an unexpected thing and became a mass of worms in the shape of a snake that began attacking the berbalangs. Sensing that we were not alone and hearing the terrible screechings, Irjan planted our battle standard. The echoing chamber must have messed with his hearing because instead of hitting the berbalangs, Irjan hit Tanner, Chris, and Tanner again before finally his quarry. Lilac tried to intercede and make the broom-handle arrows sting less, but Chris was still pissed!

It took the team a while to realize that there was really only one true berbalang. It was summoning copies of itself which it could explode with a command, or deflect attacks away from itself to its copies. Eventually they were able to identify and target the original. Tanner name-dropped, using his name to make the demon uneasy. Lilac used her hoverboots to levitate away from a copy, but it flew up after her. Chris slashed and pummeled. The worm monstrosity savagely rended the copy demons. The copy demons exploded in psychic gore one after another, and a fifth berbalang was summoned. Despite his earlier misses, it was Irjan who finally took the original berbalang down with an unlikely perfect shot.

In the aftermath, Tanner used prestidigitation to clean up the smatterings of gore that covered them, even if it was only in their heads. Searching the doorways, the Hordebane realized that they were the crypts of ancient dwarves, although most of them were empty or defiled by the actions of the corpse-devouring berbalang. They did manage to find a magic weapon in one of the tombs, which Lilac identified as a scalebane weapon. Chris got a glint in her eye and took the weapon for herself. The team wasn’t in very good shape, though. It was too dangerous to stop now, but Chris and Tanner knew they didn’t have a lot of resources left.

Death Toll

Lucky for the Hordebane, only the berbelang died.

New Acquisitions
  • 300 XP to all players (Total: 10815)
  • One of the crypts contained a Scalebane Khopesh +2, taken by Chris
  • Irjan’s little keg is now about 1/4 full (about a cup of the potent stuff remains)
  • The group has 15 gal of water left (everyone has drunk what they needed today).

RP Sessions

Transcripts of important interactions from the RP sessions will be posted here:
A Horde of Hordebanes
Ah HA! This IS the Karak Lode!!

Exploring Fortress Ironfell
What's that smell?
Waterday, 26 Goodmonth, 1468 CY

After fighting the harpies and carrion crawler in the collapsed courtyard, the party tried to lower down their water barrel. It went well until Chris decided to toss the barrel down for someone to catch. It was sort of caught by Irjan, who happened to break most of its fall. Unfortunately, the top popped off and much of the water spilled out. Irjan received a back ache. At that moment a poisonous ray came at them through the arrow slits, followed by javelins.

It turns out that there had after all been some guards in the gatehouse, but they had been looking for an approach from the outer gate. The noise of the harpies, followed by the wump of the barrel of water, had alerted them to intruders behind them. Our protagonists rallied, most entering the inner gateway to try to get out of the open and to get at the guards. One of the guards was trying to hold a door closed but Chris pushed it open with such force that he got a bloody nose. Then a terrible stench assaulted them, coming from the lizard guard, whom Chris grabbed and stabbed and punched him. In the mean time, Tanner was occupied with a javeliner in the arrow slit across from the door. Using a power on his rapier that he hadn’t used before, he teleported the guard through the arrow slit into the open. Diony shot through one of the arrow slits in the courtyard, hitting someone who was about to shoot him! Then he was finally able to remove a javelin that had been impeding himself and everyone moved into the gate entryway. There was a pause in the assault from above as the enemies presumably moved away from the courtyard arrow slits.

Lilac pulled out a brass orb and rolled it next to one of the lizards still near us, then shot the orb with a crossbow bolt to activate it. Her obedient servant unfolded and helped Tanner attack the lizard. Irjan interrupted that fight by shooting that lizard in the head and pinning him to the wooden gate behind them. By this time, more enemies had arrived from above, some on either side of the entryway, with the mage behind the arrow slit. Tanner cast color spray to daze the creatures on that side of the room. Irjan dragged an arrow through the sand of the floor and shot a dust storm at a newly arrived lizard at the door. Diony backstabbed him, and then Chris savagely grabbed him and slammed him into the wall, bashing his brains in. A team effort.

Lilac sent her mechanical servant up the stairs to explore, and Chris went that way as well. She found straw dummies at the windows on the face of the keep, as well as murder holes above the path between the inner and outer gates, and levers to control some portcullises. Meanwhile, Lilac tossed a sunrod into the gate room through the arrow slit to make it easier for the team (all those who weren’t blind anyway) to target their assailants. With Chris coming around from behind, they were eventually able to defeat the lizards. Upon pondering, Irjan identified them as troglodytes, who normally inhabit swamps. What were they doing in the desert?

Past a door near the defeated mage, the party sneaked down a hallway until Chris bumped into Diony and Irjan. By a closed portcullis and an old dwarven forge, a guard overheard them. Diony backstabbed him with excessive force and he fell lifeless on the ground. Two more came from within the room and were easily dispatched by Tanner and Chris, two others stepped on ice traps planted by Lilac and were impaled by shards of ice, and the last one was taken out by Diony. There was some movement on the stairs but nothing else appeared for several minutes. The party prepared for an attack while Tanner explored the barracks. Irjan investigated a closet full of empty barrels, but there was a faint waft of alcohol. He eventually, after minutes of searching, was able to find a small barrel with barely any alcohol left (though he also contemplated aging the party’s water in wine barrels).

Finally Tanner found the mechanism to raise the portcullis, though he needed Chris to give him a hand to raise it. Finally some people came up the stairs, some shifters. The battle was met and Tanner charged into the fray. Diony jumped over some boxes and clear over the head of one of the shifters. A mechanical snake unwound from the waist of a dwarven statue on the stairs and attacked Diony. Lilac set one of the shifters on fire, then Chris charged in to knock one of them prone. Irjan finally returned from the alcohol closet and realized that there was a fight going on. He eventually killed the two shifters that the others had softened up. Lilac defeated the snake and collected it to study it. In some boxes at the top of the stairs there was food, so the party took 20 rations each, then headed for the door at the bottom of the stairs.

By the end of this fight, the sun had set.

Death Toll

Everything you fought died, though Lilac did collect the no-longer-animated iron cobra in hopes of tinkering more with it later.

New Acquisitions
  • 515 XP to all players (Total: 10515)
  • One of the shifters had Laughing Death Hide Armor +2 (taken by Lilac)
  • Irjan found a small half-gallon keg that is at least half full of liquid.
  • This is still an Amulet of Protection +2 up for grabs if anyone wants it.
  • The group is in the process of drinking 5 gal today, of the 20 gal they have remaining.
  • Everyone took 20 rations from the boxes at the top of the stairs.

RP Sessions

Transcripts of important interactions from the RP sessions will be posted here:
Smells like Orc Spirit
“Freeing” the Crazy Canary Man
Into the Bubbly!

Finding Karak Lode
In which the Hordebane braves the desert sands
Moonday, 24 Goodmonth, 1468 CY

This morning we left Dunesend, passing through the Serpent Wall. We have 30 gallons of water, some of which is in a barrel that Irjan is carrying. I can withstand fire without much problem, but it is very hot in the desert and it feels like quite a different thing. That Bitch is taking it particularly hard and decided to not wear his armor if he can help it. Everyone is a bit grouchy from not having slept well (nightmares all around, yay) and from heat and sand. Our spirits lifted when we found the first landmark mentioned on the old parchment that serves as our extremely vague map. We’ve set up camp directly under these basalt pillars, and Irjan set up some kind of moisture trap to try to replenish our water stores. It’s an interesting contraption, a cloak staked up with a weight in the middle over a cup in a pit. I guess condensation clings to the bottom of the cloak, rolls down toward the weight, then drips into the cup. We took turns taking watch. The only thing of note was a large desert tortoise that lumbered by our camp during L’s watch.

Godsday, 25 Goodmonth, 1468 CY

During the heat of the day, we saw the mirage of a woman crawling towards us, warning that only death and madness lay ahead of us. That Bitch was convinced that he should give her some water because she was collapsing from thirst, but L warned him that it may be a trap. Instead, I stalled while That Bitch put on his armor. Then Irjan said “Trust me” in that way of his and shot at her! He moved back behind the ridge of our dune and planted our standard, and sure enough, several shifter ruffians appeared from under the sand. The little dessicated woman turned out to be a hag of the literal variety. Lilac used one of her gadgets to levitate upward and get a better look at the fight. We held our position and made them come to us, giving us the strategic advantage. We fought on until That Bitch smote the hag with a burst of holy light. After that, the shifters were dispatched quickly. Perhaps since we did not go forward death and madness found our opponents instead of us. Not wanting to waste anything, we took what water they had and some useful items, including a snazzy cloak that Lilac is now wearing.
Shortly after that, we found the next landmark. We decided to keep going since it was still early enough in the day, and eventually made camp between two dunes. All went as planned until Lilac woke me a shift early. There were some clouds and flashes of light off in the distance that she thought were likely will o’ the wisps but wanted someone else’s eyes to know for sure. Irjan was supposed to be next so… it was me instead. One glance and I knew there was a storm coming quickly and that our little gully would soon be flooded. So we roused everyone in the camp just as the rain came pouring down and scrambled for high ground. It was tough, water everywhere, and wind lashing it in our faces. We could only see each other in the flashes of light that came every few seconds. Under the torrents of water carving out the dunes, I tripped and hit my head. I’m not sure how much later it was that I came to but luckily I didn’t drown, and finally I made it up to the top of a dune and found my friends just as the rain stopped. I felt reinvigorated but exhausted, like something had changed in me. Maybe it was just the bump on the head.

Waterday, 26 Goodmonth, 1468 CY

Early the next morning, we were able to collect and purify some water that was still pooled in low spots in the desert. Then we broke camp, reoriented ourselves, and headed onward. In the afternoon, we saw a basalt bluff with twin towers set into its face, clearly of dwarven construction. Part of the bluff had collapsed. We decided to go to the side of the bluff and climb up, hopefully out of view of anyone watching. There were some winged creatures in the distance but they didn’t seem to see us. The climb up was a struggle. I used my mage hand to bring a rope to the top of the bluff and secured it up there, then began my climb. And proceeded to fall only part way up. Lilac reacted by summoning a springy board that I landed on and vaulted upward, and thankfully I managed to grab the rope but oh it burned! That slowed me down a bit but finally I made it to the top where I could secure the rope better. Lilac kept the springboard active while the rest of us climbed up. Irjan tried climbing up with a full barrel of water, but that didn’t work and he abandoned at the bottom. That Bitch had a really rough time of it, and Irjan and I had to pull him up partway. L tied the rope to the barrel before levitating up to her springboard with her fancy boots, springing up higher, then climbing the rest of the way. After that, even with all of us, we just barrel-y were able to get the barrel to the top of the bluff. Phew.
Part of the bluff had caved in revealing a courtyard between the gate and the main door with a squalid pile of sand partially filling it. That Bitch and I had climbed down the rope onto the sand when a monstrosity burst from under the sand: a carrion crawler, all teeth and tentacles! Irjan and L came down the rope to fight the crawler, but then the winged creatures appeared, attracted by the commotion. Some of them came down into the courtyard that was apparently their den, while the rest harried Chris and Diony at the top of the bluff. It was an intense battle, with the harpies controlling us with their songs and screeches and the carrion crawler poisoning us and holding us in place. The battle wasn’t going well for us and Lilac freaked out. I was behind the sand dune fighting the crawler so I didn’t see exactly what happened, but I heard her snarl with rage and attack someone, and then the tide of battle turned for us. After the battle, a blood drenched-Lilac came back around the dune and collapsed, traumatized at what she had done. I was able to glance over the dune and see a pile of barely recognizable harpy. I prestidigitated the blood and gore off her and sit by her, holding her hand and soothing her for a bit. I’d promised her that I wouldn’t let her succumb to her orcish fury, but I had failed her.

Death Toll

The howling hag and her beast-man minions were defeated in the desert.
In the courtyard fight, 2 harpies were slain, in addition to the carrion crawler.
Where one of the harpies died, there is a dark red patch of Blood Rock (critical hits can be scored on a 19 or 20 when standing upon it).

New Acquisitions
  • 670 XP to all players (Total: 10000) Level up to 7!
  • Cloak of Survival +2 taken by Lilac, making her Amulet of Protection +2 up for grabs
  • Shadow Hound Leather Armor +2 – perhaps Diony would be interested in it?
  • The group is in the process of drinking 5 gal today, of the 40 gal they had in the morning.

RP Sessions

Transcripts of important interactions from the RP sessions will be posted here:
Hot Days and Stormy Nights
Here’s Sand (and Blood) in Yer Eye
Bidding Fairy-well

An Excerpt from the Diary of Lilac Derbyshire
Dated Moonday, 24 Goodmonth, 1468 CY

It seems as though there was something rotten carried in on the desert wind last night. The Hordebane, myself included, seems to have all had terrifying nightmares last night. I woke up screaming in the dead of the night, and Tanner came to check on me. The Hordebane ended up in the common room of a small Dunesend caravansary, drinking by the fire and discussing our nightmares. But it’s been a couple days since my last entry however, so I feel the need to back track:

The pugilistic woman from the Hearthstone Inn crossed our paths again. Her name is Chris. While riding the ferry across the Elsir River, we encountered her on deck. Irjan did not manage to ingratiate himself to her, and I’m surprised she didn’t pick up the blind man up and throw him over board. I’m certain he knew what he was doing, there are depths to that Dragonborn I feel I will never quite fathom. I might be better off for it. Regardless, Tanner managed to coax Chris into joining our expedition into the desert. We were in dire need of filling out our ranks after losing Skien and Grymm. Chris seems to have some family problems which are a sore spot for her, sadly. Processing pain is a journey undoubtedly, but I feel as though that kind of mourning isn’t possible in someone who did not first experience great love and empathy. Hopefully some time with the Hordebane will be to her benefit, at least monetarily.

With Chris newly on board, we traversed the Thornwaste, stopping at home for a time. Being together with mother and father was sweet, and it’s good to know that this time as I journey, mother and father are safe and sound together. I no longer have to worry about my father managing by himself, or fear for my mother’s safety in the grips of an Orc tribe or vengeful dwarves. I can instead worry about the path ahead, through an unforgiving desert. Huzzah!

Anyway, we left our remaining horses (one had died, sadly) in the care of my neighbors. As we left the Thornwaste we came upon the town of Dunesend just in time to find it being terrorized by a Gnoll with a fearsome Behir stead and a gang of satyr archers at his back. The Gnoll had already killed a villager, but he was no match for the combined might of the Hordebane. Chris quickly proved her value in deadly combat; she tackled the many-legged Behir, which had been firing volleys of lightning at us, and took it to the ground in an amazing feat of ferocity. Maybe I’m too used to my crossbow, but I would never think to full body tackle a lightning spewing lizard beast and pummel it with fisticuffs. That didn’t stop her from bringing it to the ground with her. The Gnoll and the Behir ultimately perished in the fighting and, we found on them en enchanted heavy flail and some Tempest Whetstones. We learned that the Gnoll was the Warden of Sephiatah, Queen of the Desert and had been collecting tribute from the towns people. It will not be the last time we cross swords with the Queen or her minions, and if all goes well our search for Karak’s Lode will also give us the opportunity to vanquish her and free the towns people from bondage. The people here are understandably grim, but ultimately have been supremely welcoming and I know I will do my best to help them. Who would have thought that an orc could be the heroine? Ha!

To return to our nightmares, I do not know of any power the Queen could muster to conjure in us such terrors from afar. Hopefully they were merely the result of travel stress and fatigue and not at all portentous. But only time will tell. I hear movement back in the common area again and it would be best for me to prepare for our journey through the desert. Karak ho!


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