Session 16: Revenge for Skreed
After a long mostly sleepless night, the heroes head out for their duties the next morning (30th Rainfall, 692 G.R.). The work has become somewhat more difficult as the crew shrinks. Nyyrikki’s absence is quite obvious as the others struggle to make up for the barbarian’s strength. However, the heroes push on and are able to get the boat moving. Raag is still unconscious from the simian tranquilizer and Arngeir is not sure if he will pull through.
Agandar readies the horses in the morning and sets the boat to be pulled upriver. The going is slow, but the riverboat moves up the river heading ever deeper into the marshes and swamplands of Deadlight Marsh. After the long day of rowing and keeping the horses moving, Esderal spots a stone marker along the edge of the river. It appears as a circle of thorny branches carved into the rock. It was clear this was the sign where the lost Vault of Thorns was hidden.
The crew and heroes stop the horses and pull them into the ship to rest and they all have a grand feast that evening as the heroes begin to discuss their plan on entering the marsh. Agandar reminds them about their goal to find the Vault of Thorns, he shows them the Ghostlight Lantern again and explains how they need to slay a will’o’wisp and place its corpse within the lantern. The lantern will then guide their path to the Vault of Thorns.
As the heroes continue their discussion, they hear a noise outside on the deck of the ship. They know that the crew is all upstairs and it does not sound like the usual heavy steps of Halrex. The heroes then see an armed orc peek into the room. The heroes rush out into the night where they find many orcs sneaking their way upon the ship with blades at the ready.
The heroes charge in at the many orcs fighting them across the deck of the ship. Esderal then sees a dwarf covered in full-plate armor climb aboard the ship. He has many dents and divets in the metal and he is covered in what looks like mud and feces. The dwarf, named Brango, draws a short blade and shield and begins striking at the orcs.
Esderal and the new dwarf charge into the galley after one of the orcs. This orc has burn marks all along his body. He slices his falchion at Halrex, who is barely defending herself. She seems to be guarding the back door to Raag’s quarters. The fire-singed orc then turns to fight Esderal and Brango.
The heroes move towards the meeting room as they surround and attack Tark Singeskin, the leader of the orcs. It is then that Duke and Agandar are accosted from behind, as more well-armored orcs climb on-board the ship. They charge at Duke is has to crawl away to the top-deck. The old wizard then turns to the orc chasing him and blasts him with an acid spell. The caustic liquid eats away at the orc who begs for mercy.
The others manage to pull out of the meeting chamber as Tark falls, and they fell the remaining orcs on the deck with a quick flurry of attacks and spells. With the orcs defeated, they find a small letter on Tark’s body indicating that Melira had sent word to him ahead to ambush the ship at this very spot.
The newcomer then introduces himself as Brango Nargrymkin, a dwarven soldier from the Kalavarian city of Grimholdur. He and his cousins had been wandering through Deadlight Marsh for over a week, trying to find the lost tomb of his namesake ancestor, Nargrym Linhannd. However, he explains that they came across a stone menhir deep in the swamps where they were waylaid by a trio of hags. One of the hags cast a viscous mind-altering spell and the dwarf had been wandering in a schizophrenic haze for the past couple days. He expresses a wish to return to the swamp and find his kin. The heroes agree for the dwarf to join them on their quest, hoping they may come across his kin on their journey to the Vault of Thorns.
The next morning (31st of Rainfall, 692 G.R.), the heroes set out into the marshes and swamps. Agandar surveys the wildlife and finds signs of crocodiles, snakes, swamp drakes, and some other unknown beasts. Arngeir uses his divine magic to have the god Odis guide them on their path to the Vault of Thorns, helping them avoid the worst of the bogs and ponds. The heroes travel a few hours into the deep swamps, following the divine path. Agandar surveys the area again and finds some signs of trolls and warns the others to be wary.
The heroes eventually come across an old stone road deep in the swamp, it is old and crumbling, pitched with thick vegetation. The heroes decide to follow it, but they are soon waylaid by a band of trolls who come charging out of the nearby copse of trees.
Session 17: Will’oWisp Hunting
The heroes prepare themselves as the band of hungry trolls crashes into them from the swamps.
Arngeir summons a divine weapon of Hethroth to strike at the creatures as Duke and Kiltro blast them with fire magic. Brango leaps into a defensive stance as Agandar and Ali try to defend themselves. Esderal throws his dagger across the watery channel at the trolls as they begin to flee. The fire magic seems to much for them, especially after Duke summon his fire mephit friend, Scaraphor, Incinerator of Insolents and the Spitter of Flame.
The last troll manages to escape after the other two have fallen and their corpses burned. With the trolls defeated, the heroes continue following the worn path northward, crossing over a number of makeshift bridges. As they come to the last bridge on the ruined road, they see a crazed dwarven woman charge at them with an axe held high.
Brango immediately recognizes the dwarf as Ingrahild Nargrymkin, one of his missing cousins. She has a wild look in her eye and promises death to the “greenskins.” Brano intercepts her trying to hold her back and Arngeir uses the power of Agrimmosh to grow to giant size and wrestle with the dwarf. However, Kiltro then uses a powerful dweomer to dispel the curse upon Ingrahild. She immediately stops her attack and blinks, seeing the heroes for the first time.
The heroes head to her small camp nearby and she explains that she has been wandering the swamps for days in a schizophrenic haze. She asks about her brother Umlo, but Brango informs her that there is no sign of him. The heroes spend the rest of the day searching the area near the camp. Agandar and Arngeir survey the wildlife some more as Brango and Ingrahild go hunting. The two dwarves talk about their experience withthe hags and decide they need to find Umlo, but will help these travelers on their quest in the interim. The dwarves return with a large wild boar, which Esderal scorches and burns on the campfire.
The heroes spend the long night sharing stories with Brango and Ingrahild about where they came from and where they are headed. Esderal tries to tell some ghost stories, hoping the evoked fear might attract some will’o’wisps. However, the long night passes and no creatures are seen.
The next morning (32nd Rainfall, 692 G.R.), the heroes head out to search for both signs of will’o’wisps and signs of Umlo Nargrymkin. After much searching the wilds of the marshes and swamps, Agandar evnetually comes across a booted foot of a dwarf. They identify it as Brango’s print. Agandar and Ingrahild follow the dwarf’s tracks in reverse, trying to find the stone menhir. However, the tracks eventually lead to a clearing. In the center of the clearing is an old stone crumbling section of a wall, covered in Elven designs and details. Agandar and Duke move in to investigate it, but are then accosted by floating balls of light.
The lights appear and disappear as they strike with electrical arcs upon their foes. The heroes surround them and strike, destroyng the first one quickly. Agnadar moves to pull out the Ghostlight Lantern and place the dead husk inside. As he does so, many more will’o’wisps appear and strike at the them. They move in at Agandar and one begins to call out, “Thief! That lantern does not belong to you.” The other wisps echo the words. However, Agandar invokes Silvermane’s name and explains his mission to the wisp.
The will’o’wisp then stops and the others wink out. Inside the ball of light, the dark skull is replaced by an aged elven visage. The wisp introduces himself as Mossmoon, a former druid of the Council of Thorns. He seems to understand Agandar’s destiny and mission. He explains how all the will’o’wisps in the swamp were once druids of the Council, but they sacrificed themselves in a powerful ritual to stop an orc horde a couple centuries ago. Many have forgotten who they once were. Mossmoon says he saw the insane, wandering dwarves over the past few days and that one of them (Umlo) was captured by a patrol of orcs on the western edge of the swamps. Mossmoon then encourages Agandar to place the corpse of the first wisp into the lantern, and they all watch as the lantern glows a pale blue light, shining the way forward to the entrance of the Vault of Thorns. Surrounding the heroes, they see many lights blink into existence around them, then they all fade as Mossmoon wishes Agandar good fortune in completing the prophecy.
The heroes search the ruined wall as the will’o’wisps fade away. Agandar finds a secret compartment with magical elven boots and a powerful druidic scroll. The heroes then rush onward, using the Ghostlight Lantern to guide their way. After an hour or so, they reach the long corridor of tall trees, the same one that Agandar saw in his dreams. However, these trees are now overgrown and messy, the path unkempt, and the stone menhir at the end is covered in vegetation. As the heroes approach the stones, they hear a loud sound as a massive giant charges out of the foliage. It is a marsh giant wielding a mighty spear.
Session 18: The Vault of Thorns
The heroes stand among the stone menhir and the surrounding circle of stones. Agandar is mesmerized by the ancient druidic circle, seeing the entrance to the fabled Vault of Thorns near at hand. However, a great marsh giant charges in at them with its swamp drake pet.
Brango and Arngeir leap into fight the marsh giant, while the others try to stop the drake. Ingrahild pulls back and pelts the drake with arrows and Duke, Agandar, and Kiltro blast it with spells. Ali rushes in and bites at the beast. Meanwhile, Esderal climbs atop the cracked standing stone and strikes at the marsh giant, but the giant turns around and skewers the half-elf, who falls to the ground in a pool of blood. The others manage to fell the drake, while Brango tricks the lumbering giant and trips it to the ground. He strikes at it with numerous fierce stabs as the others come over to help. Soon the marsh giant is felled and Esderal revived.
The heroes tend to their wounds and decide to make camp. They head back to Ingrahild’s makeshift camp and gather all her gear and make a new camp near the standing stones. The heroes rest for the night, during which Brango and Ingrahild decide to stay with these newcomers, relying on Agandar’s promise for help in finding Umlo and the orcs that captured him. Ingrahild gives the heroes some extra potions and promises to watch over the camp while they enter the Vault of Thorns.
The next day Duke and Agandar spend much time examining the standing stones surrounding the central menhir. Agandar is able to decipher many of the ancient Druidic writings. He and Duke are able to compile a list of numerous sacred Druidic sites scattered about the region. He also sees his family’s name scratched off the honoring wall. Eventually the two explore the central menhir itself and Agandar activates the stone by washing the menhir in the light of the lantern. He then touches the pulsing stone and vanishes. Duke and the others soon follow.
The heroes soon find themselves appear in a lush forest environment. A bright noon sun shines overhead and the area teems with the sounds of life and living creatures. Ahead of them is a massive wooden structure made to resememble a flower with petals opened up and massive stamens reaching outward. A wooden door is in the center of the wooden flower. A Druidic phrase is written above the door, “If you seek peace in nature, welcome. If you seek anything else, beware the wrath of the Vault of Thorns.”
Before the heroes can continue, however, they are attacked by a batch of twigjacks, evil fey plant creatures. Duke, Agandar, and Ali are continuously pelted with sprays of splinters. The heroes make short work of the twigjacks, blasting them with fire magic and well-placed strikes.
The heroes cautiously enter the door and find a massive domed chamber. A long ironwood bridge stretches from one end of the dome to the next, where another door resides. The dome is high overhead, where the sparkling glass seems to enhance the rays of the overheard sun. The room is hot and humid and the sounds of jungle can be heard underneath, as about 40 feet below the bridge are the tops of jungle trees, covered in mists and fogs. The heroes move carefully across the bridge, but then see more fey creatures blocking their path. They are attacked by mysteriously bright fey humanoids that disappear into the brightness of the room.
Agandar shines the Ghostlight Lantern upon them to keep them visible as the heroes try to defend themselves from the lurkers in light.
Session 19: Ewigga the Guardian
The heroes stand upon the long ironwood bridge that stretches from end to end in the massive greenhouse dome. The high sun overheard shimmers brightly into the chamber and the humid, hot air surrounds the heroes. The fey creatures, known as lurkers-in-light, throw magical blasts of light at the heroes, blinding Duke, Kiltro, and Brango. Duke immediately stumbles towards the door, that Esderal has recently opened. Brango stumbles around trying to find the creatures, as Arngeir uses his celestial axe of force to strike at them from afar. Agandar blasts them with magic. Kiltro is stuck on the far side of bridge, he continuously tries to dispel the magical blindness, to no success. Arngeir and Brango move in and strike at the remaining lurkers-in-light and defeat them.
The heroes stumble into the next chamber, eager to away from the oppressive humidity. They see a massive throne room. The walls of the chamber are surrounded in wooden panels of various wood types. Each depicts a section of a continuous story, showing how the ancient druids sacrificed themselves to halt the horde of orcs. It shows them becoming will’o’wisps and striking fear into the orc hordes.
Sitting upon the throne is an aged elven woman. She introduces herself as Ewigga, the Guardian of the Vault of Thorns. Agandar explains his quest to her and how the lantern guided his way here. She explains that she will hand over the vault to him after they rid it of the evil fey creatures that dwell there. She learns from Kiltro that the heroes seek items to defeat the orcs, and Ewigga relates that such items may be found deep below.
The heroes take an hour to rest in the nearby storage chamber. Finding it filled with various organic items that are seemingly unaffected by the passage of time. They partake of the magical berries and treat their wounds. They then head to the northern door. After descending a flight of stairs, they come across a long chamber with five massive lily-pads floating in the air from one ledge to another on the far side. The ground below them is invisible in the darkness.
Arngeir leads the way, leaping from pad to pad, finding they descend due to his weight. The heroes then hear the buzzing sound of insects get much louder as three massive dragonflies arise. One of them is a magical fey marine chaser. The heroes try to fight them from the ledge, but Arngeir and Agandar are quickly snatched by the dragonflies and pulled into the air to be eaten. Duke and Kiltro blast them with spells and Esderal throws his dagger. Agandar beats on the dragonfly and tries to climb upon its back. he succeeds in escaping its clutches, but fails to climb upon it. He falls far to the ground below, 80 feet into a compost heap. The heap is covered in flies and normal dragonflies.
Brango then leaps out on the lily-pad and strikes at the dragonfly as it swoops at him. He eventually fells and and reaches the bottom as the others finish off the marine chaser. Arngeir fells the dragonfly holding him and he falls to the ground, rushing over to revive Agandar. Esderal then leaps from the side of the ledge with a rope attached to his waist. He lands on a lilipad then leaps down upon the last dragonfly felling it as he drops upon it. He then slams into the side of the wall, due to the pendulous action of the rope. Everyone is okay and the dragonflies are defeated. Using the rope, everyone climbs carefully up the 100 feet to the top again. They then head into the storage room to take a long rest.
During the rest, Brango stirs and screams out. He then weeps a bit, but tries to hide it. Everyone’s wounds are tended and the heroes feel refreshes. Finding the noon-day sun still overhead. They head out back across the lily-pads, this time going one at a time, carefully leaping from pad to pad before they descend. The heroes then climbs down a long hallway. Agandar summons the guard dog Oak to assist him as they reach the bottom.
The heroes find on the other side of a door is the interior of a massive tree that has an opening and stairs leading out into the hot humid jungle floor of the greenhouse. The heroes see a vibrant jungle filled with numerous creatures and birds and insects. Rain falls from the bridge overhead and a thick fog permeates the entire chamber. Agandar leads the heroes around the side of the dome and they come to another massive tree trunk and perhaps exit. As they circle around the chamber, they see a massive tree-like fungal monster charge at them with swinging tentacles.
Session 20: Bramble and Betrayal
The giant fungal-tree-like creature known as a tendiculous strikes at the heroes. Brango is immediately grabbed by the monster and swallowed by its gaping map. The others struggle in their fight against the twigjacks. Esderal moves about the thick jungle swiping at twigjacks and tendiculous alike as Arngeir uses his giant form to strike. Brango manages to climb out of the tendriculous’s maw and strikes at the beast some more.
Kiltro throws balls of exploding fire at the head of the beast, which also helps dissipate the intense moisture of the area. Duke is grabbed by the tendriculous’s long tentacle which then allows the twigjacks to claw at the old wizard. The tendiculous then swallows both Brango and the enlarged Arngeir, slowly digesting them in its acidic juices. The others keep blasting and striking at the great beast, eventually felling it and freeing their friends.
The heroes take some time to treat their wounds before continuing onward. They then climb into the giant hollow tree and through the door inside. It leads to a cramped hallway, covered in vines and creepers with flowers. Intense perfume-like scents fill the air. The heroes carefully step through the hall, but fail to notice that numerous deadly xtabay’s hide in the foliage. As the heroes pass, the flowers blast them with sleeping pollens. However, the heroes resist the powerful pollens and strike at the flowers, felling them rather quickly. After the battle, Duke finds a stone tablet forgotten against the wall, covered in vines. He is able to read the Draconic writing, learning the true-name of an ooze mephit named Oozleberry the Bogstrider.
The heroes continue onward find a winding hallway that descends into the earth. They come to a large double door and Esderal and Brango lead the way inside. They find a massive chamber with numerous high mounds of compost. The mounds are covered in growing fungi and twisting brambles and thorns. Numerous small vermin skitter about. The heroes also see a large chest upon the farthest, tallest mound. As the heroes head towards it, the brambles begin to writhe and move. A massive brambeblight, an evil fey abomination strikes at them.
Brango and Esderal charge at the brambleblight while extensions of the bramble move towards their allies. The strange plant creature strikes, throwing thorns and deadly attacks. Agandar tries to approach from the rear, but is nearly felled by a rain of thorns. Ali strikes at the beast as the others try to take out its extensions. Arngeir then falls to the brambleblights deadly attacks as he revives Agandar. Brango bravely fights the beast to the very end as Kiltro and Duke slam it with magical attacks and flames. The great beast eventually falls, with the heroes taking many wounds.
The heroes treat themselves while Esderal and Kiltro explore the large chest. Esderal unlocks it and opens it, finding it empty. Agandar finds no magical aura detectable. Esderal then finds a false bottom, revealing a ladder then heads down into a small room within the compost mound. Kiltro and Esderal climb down into the treasure chamber, finding many wonderous items. However, before the they call out what they found, Ewigga enters the chamber and approaches the heroes. SHe then reveals herself to be a green hag, the same one that sent Brango, Ingrahild, and Umlo into insanity.
Ewigga blasts the heroes with a strength-draining gas, but then takes many painful strikes as she tries to go invisible and crawl away. Duke goes invisible as well, just as four powerful air-elemental birds fly into the room to strike at the heroes. The battle for the treasures of the Vault of Thorns has just begun…
Session 21: The New Council
The heroes surround Ewigga, trying to prevent her attacks. She manages to get free from Brango’s grasp, fleeing around the mounds of compost. The heroes try to throw spells and her and Agnadar shines the eerie light of the Ghostlight Lantern upon her. Ewigga eventually escapes as the heroes destroy the final zyphyr hawks.
The heroes spend some time to treat their wounds and to explore the treasure’s of the Vault of Thorns. Esderal climbs down into the secret space and funnels out the items as Kiltro and Duke examine and identify them. Agandar finds a powerful staff and Brango finds an old orcish storm blade called Hashkan’s Fang. Brango also takes a powerful wolf-headed shield. Agandar dons some white-wolf hide armor. Duke takes a magical ring shaped like a ram’s head.
The heroes then head back up through the vaults chambers. As they pass through the greenhouse again, climbing through the dripping waters of the cross-bridge, Agandar sees a tree ahead of them change shape. It forms into a crooked humanoid woman, Ewigga. She blasts the heroes with a powerful bolt of lightning, that nearly kills Duke and Esderal.
Arngeir uses a healing burst to get people back on their feet. Ewigga throws some webbing to slow them down, but Brango and Esderal surround her as the others throw spells to weaken her. Eventually Ewigga tries to flee from the onslaught again, but Brango slices her open with his new sword. With Ewigga dead, the heroes find even more magical items left by the druids of the Council of Thorns. Agandar takes the diadem of the council, donning it. As Duke finds a powerful wand of missiles.
The heroes return to the throne room where they rest and feast upon the magical berries in the storage room. Agandar takes the time to study the druidic tablets he found, learning forgotten magic. He also attunes himself with the ever-sprawling ley-lines of primal magic that connect to the Vault of Thorns.
After a night’s rest, the heroes return to the menhir to leave the vault. Agandar waits to be the last as he says good-bye to the Vault for now. As he touches the menhir, however, he finds himself transported to the past-version of the Vault. Thaunestando meets with him again and takes him out to see the elven village of Skathavei during its prime. He advises the druid to make the new Council from his own vision and to deal with the threat of giants and orcs in the region, as they will “destroy this new sapling before the tree can grow.”
Agandar then returns to the present and his friends in Deadlight Marsh. Ingrahild rejoins the heroes, giving Agandar a silver medallion she had found near the menhir, bearing the symbol of the Council of Thorns. The heroes also reafffirm their promise to the dwarves to help them find Umlo. The heroes pack up and head towards the river and the boat waiting for them. As they near the river and the channel’s delta, they are waylaid by a massive mult-headed beast, a hydra.
The heroes surround the strike at the beast, finding it regenerating from their attacks. They then begin to strike at it’s heads, felling them one by one. Kiltro, Duke, and Esderal cauterize the dead heads with fire magic and alchemist’s fire. Eventually the final head is cut and the creature slain. The heroes reflect on their many recent successes and eagerly head towards the riverboat.