Session 0: The Being Known as Vagrec
[Dec 6th, 2022] – 708 G.R.
A trade caravan leaving from the Astonian city of Nomia travels along the eastern smaller roads towards the village of Boreana along the Darkwoods Forest. They set camp outside the village to rest for the night. However, in the middle of the night screams and shouts are heard as bandits charge into the camp and attack the caravan. Six travelers awaken and huddle close to the dying campfire, trying to figure out what is going on in the darkness.
First is Aki Korsun, a mixed Noradrie and Amarie young man (13 yrs) who travels south to find his destiny after the loss of his mother and father in Nomia. He hopes to follow in the bardic footsteps of his father and share the sagas and songs of Aelgard to the south. The young man tentatively draws a dagger.
Next is Byron “Twinaxe” Arsenault, a hulking young adult (24) of Toldrie heritage. He comes from Verland as a bounty hunter, much like his father. He hopes to someday catch the man response for his father’s death. He had just finished a contract in Nomia and was returning home to see his mother. The gruff man draws two hatchets as he steps out looking out for danger.
Next is Draco a young man (15) of the famed Aureus family, a prominent Astonian patrician family. Draco has been eager to prove himself before his requisite military obligations for the Empire begin. He has been traveling to learn the ways of trade and the wider country to perhaps aid his future political ambitions. He steps out with his spear, scared, but ready to prove himself.
Next is Eori, a young Arathian man (19) who is little more than a street urchin since the sudden disappearance of his parents. They had moved from Arathkelsara some time ago, but now he is an orphan living on the streets. He now travels to Milania, hoping for better pockets to pick and temples to provide some alms for himself and his young travel companion, a boy named Lairal (13). He steps out with his dagger.
Next is Scalanis Farmaer, a young (14) half-elf of sulmar and Astonian heritage. The nervous young lad follows the direction of his overbearing father, Rhangyl, who took him from his mother as he was sick of human cultural practices. Rhangyl wants his son to train at the finest fencing school in Elienspar, the elven capital of Enaarvis. With his father missing, Scalanis steps out with his rapier, looking about nervously.
Last is Zhorn Amar, an Eshmar man (25) who is a new member of the Order of the Silver Stake, a small group of priests dedicated to Pelaria the moon goddess. Their mission is to eradicate lycanthropes from the world. Zhorn returns from Nomia where he successfully completed his first mission, felling a wererat that was stalking the streets at night. He snaps his whip and brandishes his holy symbol as he steps out.
The six travelers soon find themselves accosted by a group of bandits who charge at them. They are able to take them out, but Byron takes a deep cut that knocks him down. Thankfully, the others are able to patch the bleeding and get him on his feet again.
It is then that the bandit leader, a late-middle-aged dark-haired Toldan man with a scar across his face steps into the camp. One of his goons has a knife to the caravan leader, Gallio Petrus’s throat. Gallio instructs them where they can find a small iron chest in his wagon, but that the key is around the neck of his pet pot-bellied pig, Maypie. They soon learn that Maypie ran off into the nearby forest. The bandit leader demands that the six travelers head to the forest to find the key or he will kill the survivors.
Byron reluctantly agrees and leads the group to follow the pig’s tracks into the forest. They soon discover that the pig was taken by a group of fey creatures that dwell among some ancient elven ruins. The ruins are likely left by the ancient Stelmar. After a scuffle with some mitflits, the heroes continue past more ruins and a large ornate looking wall covered with elven runes and silvery metal embedded within.
The travelers then reach a clearing where they find a large bestial looking creature holding the pig and the key. He asks them questions about mortality as he kills the pig with his bare hand. He seems quite curious, explaining he just arrived from another world and that he finds limited lifespans and mortality a curious thing. He then curses the travelers, telling them they shall wither away if they do not return in 5 years. He wants them to tell him of what happened to their lives during that time. He throws them the key and they leave, with the horrifying realization of what just happened haunting their minds.
They return to the camp and where they find Gallio was killed, but the other survivors are huddled together. Rhangyl is among them, but Lairal and Draco’s guard were killed. They hand over the key and the bandit leader opens the box for only a moment, as a golden glow illuminates his face. He smiles and closes the chest and the bandits leave. The travelers now face five years with this curse upon their shoulders.
Session 1: Bound by Curse and Purpose
[Dec 13th, 2022] – 713 G.R.
Five years have passed and the village of Boreana is little changed, but the five travelers who come across it are quite changed by their experiences. Byron is more experienced with a softer tone. Aki is travelled and more confident. Zhorn is a bit eccentric and seasoned in his quest. Eori has found discipline and self-control. Scalanis is over-confident and eager to prove himself to the world.
The five travelers meet at the local public house in Boreana, many of them eager to get the conversation with Vagrec over with and move on with their lives. The threat of the curse brought them here and they hope to see it through. They decide to head to the forest that night in the dripping rain, deciding not to wait for Draco. Zhorn guides the way with his enchanted lantern and mysterious raven, Timothy. Byron follows the trails into the forest and finds the old elven ruins.
Soon the five find the ancient stone dais and Vagrec greets them. He asks them about their experiences over the past five years. He seems quite interested in learning “what can change the nature of a man?” He seems disgusted to find that time continuously is involved in changing people, but is struck by Eori’s answer that relationships and connections can change the nature of a man. He then grows quite upset to find that the sixth member of their cursed lot is missing. He demands that they return in one year with the sixth member among them. He then says he curses them further to be bound to each other to see if their relationships and connections will change their natures. As they leave, Zhorn tells the others he believes Vagrec is an Elder of Annwyn, an immortal and very powerful fey being.
The cursed five then return to Boreana and decide to travel to Milania together to find Draco, suspecting the young nobleman might be there. After five long days of travel, the curious adventurers arrive at the city. They find a line has formed to enter the city proper along the road. As they join the line, they find that two merchants are arguing and one is threatening the other with his mercenaries. Byron recognizes Alvert, a fellow mercenary, among them. The adventurers intervene and quick brawl is fought between them and the mercenaries. Byron and Alvert duke it out, smiling the whole time. In the end Aki threatens the merchant to call off his hired blades and the situation is settled. Alvert asks Byron to meet him at the Exotic Antelope Inn later that night.
The adventurers enter the city and split three ways. Eori heads to the Blackfish (Pisces Niger) district to deliver the herbs for Tharin, but he finds that Tharin’s friend, Appius Aurelius, was killed. Zhorn heads to the temple of Pelaria and meets with Vesnia Bato, the priestess who asked for the Order’s help. She explains that things have gotten worse and an old man named Cassius Naso is in jail for being a suspected murderer and lycanthrope. She wants Zhorn to see if he can prove Cassius’s guilt or innocence.
Byron, Scalanis, and Aki head into the Big Market (Magnus Forum) to meet with his fixer and contract-finder, Secundus “The Second”. Byron asks for an easy job and he offers them a contract to find a large stag’s head for a nobleman. It is currently not deer season and its considered poaching this time of year. Byron takes the job, hoping to show Aki and Scalanis what an easy mercenary contract looks like. Byron asks about Draco Aureus and Secundus says the name came up recently, apparently the nobleman was likely a target assassination, as the young noble’s entire troop stationed at Lazur Lake was poisoned. No one was killed, but the troop was delayed returning to the city due to investigations into the matter. Byron and the others realize this might have been why Draco never showed up.
The five gather again at the Exotic Antelope for some lunch and a drink to discuss their next course of action…
Meanwhile, that night, we see Secundus meeting with someone in a dark alley, paying him for “a job well done” and says he has “someone else you can take out…”
Session 2: Murders in Blackfish
[Dec 20th, 2022]
The five travelers share their ales in the Exotic Antelope Inn (Oryx Exotica Taberna). Eventually, Byron says his farewell and meets with Alvert. He and Aki turn in early to prepare for their poaching trip, Scalanis declines, preferring to find trouble in the city. Meanwhile, we see Draco Aureus return to the city’s garrison, stepping out to enjoy the festivities of the night with his friends and enjoy his newfound post-military-service freedom.
The next morning, Zhorn wants to investigate the murder and speak with Cassius Naso at the jail. Scalanis and Eori decide to join him. They speak with Sergeant Quintis at the Vicini Lux garrison and eventually speak with Cassius in the underground dungeon. Cassius appears to be a desperate beggar who claims tom have stumbled upon the woman after she was killed by some dark shadow. He intended to rob her, but was caught and they thought he killed her. Zhorn verifies that he is not a lycanthrope. They share this information with Srgt. Quintis. Quintis agrees to seek Zhorn out if he runs into any supernatural issues in the investigation.
The heroes check out the alleyway where the woman was killed and and find a bit of boot-shaped mud on a window sill above the murder-site. Eori tries to view it, but breaks it and falls to the ground. This angers the owner of the home, a river-helmsman named Vel. He lets them see the window and help him fix it, but they don’t find any more clues.
The investigators then head to the Blackfish (Piscis Niger) district where most of the murders had taken place. On the way, they run into Draco. After a long catch up, Draco agrees to accompany them on their investigation (mostly to avoid heading to his grandfather and the awaiting responsibilities of his family’s estate). They all ask around the neighborhood and learn a few tidbits of information. One, the murders happened mostly to homeless and migrants living on the street. Two, they were all slashed with what people suspect to be large claws.
The investigators then head to the Blackfish district garrison and speak with Sergeant Tiberius Nennius. He tells them that the latest Blackfish victim (prior to the death of the herbalist Appius) was a young woman named Vagionia Elvorix, who worked as a nursemaid for a merchant family. He gives them her information and apartment to speak with her brother. They head over there and break into the place, with Scalanis picking the lock. They are interrupted by the brother and they are able to talk down his anger. He tells them that he knows little about why she was killed. But it was during the evening when she was returning from her work. He saw her body and describes three deep and long gashes across her body.
The investigators then head to Appius apartment, breaking in again with Scalanis’s lockpicking skills. They find the herb-filled apartment still has his bloodstains on the floor. Draco finds a secret compartment that contains illicit drugs and chemicals, which might be a motive for the murderer. The investigators return to the Exotic Antelope for a drink and a break, deciding to wait until nightfall (Brightmoon) to see if a lycanthrope is about.
That night, they head to Blackfish looking for any signs of danger. After a while, they hear a woman scream. They rush into an alleyway and find a cloaked figure brandishing a sickle near a frightened woman. The investigators charge in to stop him, with Scalanis rolling past the assassin to protect the woman. The investigators quickly defeat the would-be assassin and prevent him from bleeding out.
Scalanis speaks with the woman, proclaiming to be the “Sword of the Sun”. He learns that she recently broke up with a merchant named Decimus Taenaris who did not take it well. The ruffian admits that he was to kill her on Decimus’s behalf. However, he received his job through a secret fixer. He also admits to killing Appius the herbalist as a copycat killing in the hopes of blaming the killings on the ‘monster’ of Blackfish. His fixer also gave him that job, related to some drug network issues.
Draco and Zhorn head to get the guards while Scalanis extorts more information from him. He is able to learn that the fixer who gave this assassin his jobs was the same Secundus that Byron has been getting work from. The guard then arrives and takes the would-be assassin away.
Session 3: The Beast of Blackfish
[Dec 27th, 2022]
Draco, Zhorn, Scalanis, and Eori celebrate their success in apprehending the would-be assassin. Draco heads home for some sleep as the others continue their patrol through the night and return to the Exotic Antelope Inn for some morning rest.
Meanwhile, Aki and Byron return to the city after a successful hunt. They were able to take down a modestly-sized stag in the nearby woods and Byron was able to sneak the head into the city. Byron sends Aki into the Inn as he searches for Secundus to earn his pay.
Aki tells the others this and they share the news that Secundus may be linked to the assassin’s copy-cat murder attempts. They rush over to the Magnus Forum to find Secundus. They spot him from afar and motion to Byron, pointing him out. Byron heads over to speak with Secundus, carrying the stag’s head under a large cloth. Scalanis, Eori, and Draco attempt to sneak behind the alleyway to confront Secundus from behind. Aki distracts the crowds with his song and sagas, as Zhorn views the scene from above through the eyes of his raven Timothy.
Secundus and Byron get in an argument, as Byron learns that Secundus cancels the contract. Byron tries to intimidate him, but Secundus flips out a dagger to Byron’s throat then throws a puff of poisonous dust into Byron’s eyes. Secundus is able to slip away in the crowds as the others reach Byron. Byron then learns about Secundus’s assassination efforts and is furious that he has a stag’s head to deal with. He heads back to the Inn to recover from the poison.
Draco meets with his grandfather that morning and agrees to dine with him and his rich, merchant friends to go over his ideas for investment and expanding the family business. He then heads to town to meet up with the others.
With Secundus in the dark, Scalanis and Aki decide to find their own mercenary opportunity. After spending all morning asking around the markets, they eventually meet an older woman, a scholar named Octavia Achacia. She is interested in finding some ancient Noman artifacts at a lost cavern site called the Sacred Abyss. It is believed to be near Lazar Lake, and Draco knows its general location, since he was just stationed there. She is willing to pay up to 500 silver plus bonus for any artifacts recovered. She has worked with Byron in the past, who helped her track down a thief that stole her notes a year ago. With Byron’s name attached to the group, she agrees to give them the contract and may be willing to front part of the reward to cover supplies for the expedition.
Meanwhile, Zhorn heads to the Vicini Lux garrison and clears Cassius Nato’s name as a threat and part of the murder investigation. He finds a crowd of angry people worried about the murders. He then meets an eccentric dwarf, dressed in finery with a triangle cap with a feather and a fine cane, who introduces himself as Thombar Opaldelver. He is a arrogant, but effective investigator. Sergeant Quintis agrees to hire the dwarf to get to the bottom of the murders.
Eori and Draco head to the house of the merchant, Decimus Taenarvis, but find the house is swarming with guards. It is likely that the failed murder attempt on his former girlfriend has put him on guard.
The adventurers all gather back at the Inn later that day and try to decide what to do next. They begin to discuss their adventuring group’s name and whether they should pursue the investigations or the quest to find the Sacred Abyss.
That night, Draco heads to his grandfather’s dinner party, where he convinces his grandfather to support his venture to start a mercenary and labor guild in the city. The merchants seem disappointed, but Marcus is supportive and proud of his grandson.
The others decide to continue their night patrol of the Blackfish district. They spend the night prowling the streets looking for dangers. Around midnight, they hear something moving impossibly quick down an alleyway. They rush towards it, eventually cornering it at the end of a narrow alley. As the light of Zhorn’s lantern shines upon the beast, it reveals a monstrous man-sized rat-like creature with deadly-sharp claws.
Scalanis charges bravely forward at the beast, but the creature’s smell of death and decay causes the swashbuckler to pause. The beast then leaps upon him and slashes at his chest, much like the murder victims. Scalanis manages to scramble away and the others decide to flee. The creature turns tail and scurries up a nearby wall and disappears into the darkness. Eori checks Scalanis’s wounds and makes sure he is okay. They all head back to the Inn, deciding it to be too dangerous to peruse the creature.
Many miles away, we see a small group of mercenaries preparing to enter a forlorn cavern, loading crossbows as they head into the Sacred Abyss.
That night, a guardsman knocks on Byron’s door, seemingly having been tipped off about the stag’s head. Byron panics and sneaks out the window, leaving the stag’s head behind. He finds lodging at a cheaper inn on the other side of town, hoping to escape notice for the time being.
The next morning, the travelers head to the Blackfish district and share what they learned with Sergeant Nennius. Nennius offers them 15-20 gold to capture or kill the creature. The group says they’ll consider it. Zhorn then head to the Vicini Lux and the Temple of Pelaria, and he learns that Cassius Nato escaped from jail as they were moving him. He’s back on the streets somewhere.
The adventurers gather, trying to decide what they should do next…
Session 4: Travel to the Sacred Abyss
[Jan 3rd, 2023]
Byron awakens at the crude inn on the far side of town and decides to look for the others in the Augorum District. He sees them from afar at the market, but some guards intercept them and seem to be asking for Byron. Byron steps out and agrees to meet with Srgt. Titus Ligustinus concerning Secundus Rusticus, his former fixer. Byron tells them that Secundus might have a secret hideaway in the Low-water river-docks district. Byron also learns he owes a 2 gold fine for his poaching.
The mercenaries all gather at the Exotic Antelope, where Byron has to pay the innkeep, Caius Trupo for the troubles with the stag’s head. After meeting with the others, he is quite intrigued about the quest to the Sacred Abyss and agrees to meet with Octavia to finalized the deal. They head over to Octavia’s office, but Zhorn is intercepted by a priestess of Pelaria named Meral Veselvrem. She is one of the leaders of the Order of the Silver Stake. She tells Zhorn that if he can find and slay the beast that troubles the city, he will likely be promoted and can start his own branch of the order here in Milania.
The group then meets with Octavia the scholar, she grants them 10 gold up front for supplies and Byron agrees and signs the contract with her. They will owe 20 gold if the fail to return by Harvest 7th (three weeks). She tells them she doesn’t expect any particular danger, but doesn’t know what the local situation is.
The mercenaries gather supplies for their journey, stocking up on rations and torches. They then find Draco to join them, but it seems that Aki may be off on his own venture. Thus, Byron, Scalanis, Zhorn, Eori, and Draco head out into the wilderness along the road towards Lazur Lake.
Along the journey, the travelers come across some hunters in the hills and pass some mercenaries of the Grim Sons mercenary group. Their signature skull with a furrowed brow gives them away. They are looking for someone on a horse. After a few days of travel, the group is accosted by a warband of orcs that charge at the travelers. Seeing themselves vastly outnumbered, Byron and Eori leads a retreat as the mercenaries flee the orcs. A few javelins scrap and bruise them, but the travelers are able to escape and hide in a gulch in the hills as the orcs pass them by.
The travelers then reach the small village of Lazurus with the prominent fort, Fort Lazurus, protecting the village and the valley basin around the lake. Draco points out that he was stationed here and across the lake he points to where the cavern should be located. Unfortunately, fog sets in and the travelers can see little of the lake’s valley basin.
The mercenaries head into the village’s inn, the Fascinated Canary Inn, and ask around about the Sacred Abyss. They only learn that it was an abandoned Nomen iron mine from ages past. Various groups often go there looking for treasure, but no one finds anything. They confirm that a group of mercenaries had gone to the cavern a little over a week ago, but haven’t been seen since, presumed to have moved on.
The adventurers head to the cavern and reach its rocky entrance by the evening. They carefully enter the cavern and find ruined minecarts and broken piles of ore. They are then immediately assaulted by a band of scaly, reptilian humanoids, likely troglodytes, who strike at them with crude clubs and spears.
The adventurers try to fight back, but find themselves outnumbered again, and try to flee. Byron and Eori are knocked out and the others try to rescue them. Thankfully, the troglodytes greatly dislike the sun, and Zhorn tries to use that to their advantage. Draco then uses his secret magic to pull the troglodytes closer to him, allowing Scalanis and Zhorn to rescue Eori and Byron. The adventurers revive them as best they can and flee the area before the sun sets.
Zhorn is able to recover Eori and Byron, getting them back to consciousness and they make camp some ways from the cavern. They confront Draco about his magic, and despite Draco’s fears about its discovery, his compatriots are quite glad that he was able to help rescue them with his powers.
The next morning, the adventurers decide to try the cavern again. They prepare an ambush outside the cave and Eori bravely enters to draw them out. The monk lights a torch and steps into the darkness, finding the troglodytes ready to pounce…
Session 5: Down into the Old Mine
[Jan 10th, 2023]
The adventurers charge in at the troglodytes striking at them and then retreating to the light of the morning. The troglodytes are hesitant to enter the light and the adventurers are hesitant to enter the darkness. The adventurers manage to kill a few of the troglodytes and then Draco tries to convince them that they can leave the cavern. The others let them go and they disappear into the shadows of the nearby woods.
The adventurers enter the cave proper and treat their wounds. They then find a shrine dedicated to Alibrithior the Azure Prince, Nomen dragon-god of wealth, greed, and social status. Draco drops a few copper coins to add to the two sitting in the dragon’s outstretched palms. They then look down the great shaft and throw a torch. It reveals the glint of light reflecting from coins below. Byron agrees to go down the shaft, using the ancient pulley mechanism left by the ancient Noman. The ropes on the mechanism seem to be rather new and soon Byron lowers himself down the 100-foot shaft to the bottom (where he grabs the copper coins scattered about).
The others follow Byron, with Draco noticing that the mechanism rattled and lurched during his descent, forcing him to go down quickly. The others check the mechanism, and deem it is still working. The rest of them head down. Eori is last, and the mechanism then lurches again and the whole contraption shudders and breaks as it tumbles over the side into the shaft. Eori is able to scramble out of the ropes and grab the rocky wall as the contraption shatters on the floor below, thankfully missing the other adventurers.
Although they realize that they might be able to climb their way out, they believe they are somewhat stuck down here for the time being. They continue forward, using the light of Eori’s torch and Zhorn’s lantern. They come to a larger cavern where they are greeted by a ghostly apparition of an ancient Noman woman. She looks sad and fearful. They try to ignore and move on, but they the ghostly becomes a visage of fright and strikes at them.
Byron slashes at the ghost with his axe, but it does nothing. The adventurers then run down the winding corridor, making distance from the ghost. It does not follow them. Byron and Draco both felt the fear of the ghost, and Byron now sports a flock of white hair on his head due to its touch.
The adventurers continue on, finding a cavern with a pool of water. The rocks crumble near the pool as Zhorn approaches, but he remains unharmed. However, he believes an object was in the water. The party rests for a bit and drinks of the water, then Eori searches the water for the item, but finds nothing.
The adventurers continue on and run past the ghost, forcing them to turn left down another cavern tunnel to avoid the ghost’s fury. They then find themselves accosted by a trio of zombies. As the corpses shuffle closer, they see the emblem of the Loyal Rings, a mercenary group from Milania. These must have been the mercenaries that came here a week ago.
The adventurers work quickly and take out the zombies. They then rest for a bit, but as they do so, they are accosted by four more of the corrupted corpses. They zombies strike hard, and knock out Eori and Scalanis. Scalanis takes a painful injury as he is battered to the ground. The others work together carefully and take out the remaining zombies, with Byron doing the bulk of the zombie slicing.
With the zombies down, they revive Eori and Scalanis, and now try to plan their next move…
Session 6: The Secret Cult of Sethma
[Jan 24th, 2023]
The adventurers prepare to continue their explorations, but then they hear someone running towards them. They see a light of a torch flickering as the figure runs, looking back over his shoulder. They then see Aki with a frightened look on his face. The others explain the ghost and their explorations of the Sacred Abyss. Aki explains that he had to perform at a nobleman’s party, hence why he arrived late. Thankfully, Aki was able to leave a rope down into the shaft, giving them all an easier escape.
The adventurers continue their explorations to the west, where they find a series of branching mining tunnels, some still glittering with untouched iron ore. At the end of one tunnel, they find two skeletons buried in the rubble near piles of mined ore and rusty pickaxes. Byron takes a bronze pendant from one of the skeletons. The angry ghost from before appears again, hauntingly beckoning towards the skeletons. Zhorn and Draco attempt to speak with it in Old Nomen, and find some success, as the ghost dissipates. Zhorn believes they should honor the dead to appease the ghost.
They gather the bones and then Zhorn attempts to put them in his bag to bring to the surface, however, this seems to anger the ghost. The angry spectre reaches a deadly claw out from the body and Zhorn is nearly killed as he drops to the ground. The others decide to flee as Aki and Byron drag Zhorn away from the skeletons. They gather in the far chamber, where they fought the zombies, finding the ghost had not followed them. They revive Zhorn and return to gather his items. Aki then attempts to make a cairn with the stones for the dead, but this too seems to anger the ghost. Thankfully, Aki flees in time, and the others decide to leave the ghost be.
The adventurers then head down to the southern tunnels where they find a rusted suit of plate armor on a skeleton. Byron gathers the pieces to reconstruct later. They then attempt to treat their wounds, but are accosted by a pack of bony skeletons. The adventurers make quick work of the skeletons, but Aki takes a painful gash to his leg that causes him to limp. They then explore to the north. They find a dead-end chamber with discarded equipment from the Loyal Rings mercenary company, much like the zombies. The light of Zhorn’s lantern then reveals a secret door in the northern wall.
They carefully open the secret door and discover a filthy living chamber with numerous bedrolls and a horrid smell of filth and decay. The adventurers are then assaulted by three black-robed cultists who scream out for Sethma the Plaguebearer. The battle is quick and decisive as they take out the cultists. They leave one alive and unconscious, but she nearly dies from her wounds. They are able to save her, but she will likely be out for quite some time. Draco volunteers to watch her as they continue to explore the chambers.
They head into the next chamber finding some foodstuffs and a trough of dirty water filled with floating spleens. Eori remarks this is a “cleansing” vat for a Sethma temple. They cautiously enter the next chamber and find more cultists engage in a ritual to their deity. The small temple was once ornate and beautiful, but now it is covered in dried and fresh blood and numerous corpses. They find equipmnent and bodies of the mercenaries. There are also boxes and baskets of harvested organs creating a horrid aroma of death and decay.
The adventurers strike at the cultists in a flurry of attacks. Zhorn takes a bad hit and goes down with bruises. But the others are able to fell the remaining cultists quickly. They now look about the disgusting temple in horror…
Session 7: Horror in the Village of Lazurus
[Jan 31st, 2023]
Eori immediately treats Zhorn, trying to get him back to his feet. Aki and Byron wait their turns as Draco searches about the room. He finds barrel of wheat-berries infested with diseased organs, the barrel has the marking of the Imperial Quartermaster. He wonders if the tainted food is linked to the sickness he and the other soldiers experienced a couple weeks ago at the nearby Fort Lazurus.
Scalanis is watching the door for trouble, but the door quickly opens and he finds himself beset by another cultist. Another battle erupts and the adventurers charge into the narrow and dim corridor where they find a few more cultists and their leader. The leader is a dwarf and is dressed in a black cloak and has fresh blood on his cloak and hands. The battle is quick and fierce. Scalanis flips off the walls behind the enemies, and quickly pierces the head cultist. Draco moves in and helps finish him. Eori and Zhorn take the others out with Aki’s help. Byron mostly stays back due to his injuries.
The adventurers finds a true evil temple beyond the door. There is a body of a young woman, recently killed and her heart is next to her fresh corpse. Zhorn and Aki search the temple as Scalanis searches the body of the dwarven leader. The others search the grisly chamber filled with body parts. Scalanis finds fancy leather bracers and some coin on the leader, along with a strange runed stone. Eori finds a small cache of coins as well.
Realizing there is little else here, the adventurers head out to the cavern, where they find the cultist they left there had bled to death. They decide to rest in the cavern and get some sleep. After a couple hours, they are interrupted by five men of the Loyal Rings mercenary company. Their leader introduces himself as Lucius Nolus and that he is the lieutenant of the group. The adventurers tell them what befell their comrades here in the Sacred Abyss. With their captain dead, they will likely disband. Lucius tells Draco that he’d be interested in any mercenary company he forms in the future.
The adventurers rest. Eori treats Zhorn’s injury, but it does little to help. Scalanis finds he is better. However, Byron, Scalanis, and Eori all suffer under the zombie rot disease. Eori looks particularly pale the next morning. The adventurers then head out of the cavern and decide to return to Lazurus to find a healer to help them.
That evening they reach the village (slowly due to Aki’s injured leg). They see smoke rising in the distance, a battle had taken place here. Draco leads the way into the village, worried about the people he served here during his tenure as a soldier at the fort.
They find many of the villagers and soldiers are dead in the street and there is a dozen black-robed cultists gathered in the village square. The adventurers approach cautiously and they see that the head priest holds the same box that Gallio had taken from him by the bandits five years ago. He opens the box and a golden light bathes him.
Draco reacts quickly and fires his crossbow, grazing the cultist’s arm, he drops the box. The priest grabs the box and runs as he commands the other twelve cultists to capture the adventurers. A fight breaks out and the adventurers charge at the cultists, trying to break them up. Scalanis is able to draw them in with his incredibly fast moves, however, five of the cultists surround him, they grab and restrain him. Draco chases after the priest as the others fight off the cultists on the west end of the square.
The adventurers take out many of the cultists. Scalanis breaks free and continues to taunt them. Draco then loses the priest, but finds himself beset by a heavily-armored dark champion…
Session 8: The Cost of Victory
[Feb 7th, 2023]
Draco finds himself being cornered by the armored champion and the Sethma priest. He uses his draconic magic again to fly past them at quick speeds, only to find no sign of the metal strongbox and the strange glowing object within. He then maneuvers across the village, trying to regroup with the others. By then, Byron, Aki, Scalanis, Zhorn, and Eori are ready to help him fight the champion and the priest.
The champion charges in cutting at Draco with a devastating attack that knocks Draco to the ground, bruised and battered. Scalanis tries to help but finds himself in peril. Scalanis then trips the armored champion and stabs at him with his blade. Byron steps in and chops his axes into the prone warrior and Zhorn tries to whip him. Aki sings from afar, occasionally blasting mind spells.
The champion is able to get back to his feet, turning around and cutting down Eori in a fell swoop. The axe cleaves Eori through the middle, killing him in one deft blow. The priest kneels down and takes pleasure in Eori’s diseased blood. Byron steps back trying to hold the warrior at bay as Scalanis slices with his rapier. The champion strikes down again, battering Byron and taking him down.
Scalanis then manages to trip the champion one more time and pierces the warrior through the throat with his sword. Scalanis revives Draco with an elixir as Zhorn chases after the fleeing priest. Draco gets up and he and Scalanis join Zhorn on the hunt. The priest quickly realizes that Zhorn is gaining on him, he summon a cloud of noxious vapors, but it barely deters Zhorn. When Draco and Scalanis catch up, the priest summons a burst of black energy that nearly kills both Draco and Scalanis, who were already quite injured. Zhorn let’s the priest escape as he tends to Draco and Scalanis.
As Aki and Zhorn gather the unconscious bodies of their friends together, a mysterious stranger approaches them. He is an auburn-haired, meek individual who offers a number of elixirs to revive the others. After everyone is revived, he introduces himself as Silatoris, an alchemist and healer here in the village of Lazurus. He helps the others find an abandoned hovel to rest in for the night and tends to their injuries as best he can.
The next morning, everyone is feeling much better, their injuries are treated and Scalanis and Byron’s zombie rot disease has faded away. Aki, unfortunately, still has troubles with his injured leg. The six of them bury Eori and Draco takes his dagger to send to his mentor in Ineania. They then spend the rest of the morning searching for suvivors. They find no one for hours, believing that any survivors had fled the village completely. They do eventually find one of the cultists barely alive.
The heroes interrogate the cultist to learn more about what they were up to. They learn that the cultists of Sethma had planned to perform a powerful ritual to infect Lazur Lake with disease that would spread down the streams to Perania. A strange woman had given their leaders the box and the magical artifact inside it, it was to enhance the ritual to make it powerful enough to contaminate the lake. It seems the strange woman approached the cultists, knowing their plans, and had volunteered the artifact to help. He suspects that the mysterious woman had taken the box back during the battle, as she was not eager to let the cultist borrow it for long.
They also learn that Sergeant Sextus Severus at Fort Lazurus was working with the cultists to infect the guards at the fort. Weeks ago, when Draco was poisoned, their attempt had failed, since the guards did not die, so they tried again. This time it was successful, all the guards died from food poisoning, leaving the village easy to take over. The cultists insists that they were operating out of Sacred Abyss and nowhere else. Draco kills the cultist, who takes joy in the suffering of his death.
The heroes set out for Milania. Silatoris joins them, as he has nowhere else to go. They travel through the day and make camp that evening…
Session 9: A Job Well Done
[Feb 14th, 2023]
The adventurers divert their journey to the town of Bulsia to leave a warning to the guards there about what happened at Lazurus. Draco insists on this and the others agree it would be a great place to resupply. On the journey there, they are accosted by a fierce storm that forces them to create a shelter near the River Milano for a day. They then reach Bulsia the next day. Draco warns the guards about what happened, after seeing a friend, named Regulus. They send a scout on a horse to Milania and Lazurus.
The adventurers spend the night at the High Cliff Inn in Bulsia and restoke their supplies. They head out the next morning and spend the next four days along the road towards Milania. The trip is mostly uneventful save for the legionaire calvary that pass them by towards Lazurus.
Upon reaching the city, Draco informs his family of his return and the heroes head to Octavia Achacia to get their rewards. She purchases the marble sceptar and the bracers from Byron and Scalanis and helps identify their two minor magical trinkets. She thanks them for the information about the Sacred Abyss and pays them for the quest.
That night the adventurers spend their money at the Exotic Antelope and have a merry time. The next morning, they learn from a town crier that the merchant scion, Decimus Taenaris had been killed in Blackfish, suspected to be killed by the beast that still haunts the streets. The adventurers meet with Srgt. Nennius and Thombar Opaldelver to learn more. They learn that Decimus’s body was found a few streets over, slashed like the other victims. Witnesses saw a dark monstrous form approach him down an alley after he tried to force a prostitute down the alley with him. She got away and they heard him scream before finding his slashed body. Srgt. Nennius reminds them that they are still looking and the beast and will pay 15 gp for its body.
The adventurers go explore the alley and Draco finds signs of slash marks on a stone wall. Byron is able to follow the tracks which soon lead then to a sewer entrance. They decide to head down into the depths. They all climb down and are nauseated by the smell of feces and urine. However, they press on as Byron follows the tracks. After over an hour, they come across an ancient Noman archway that heads down to some deeper ruins. They follow the steps and the tracks into the ruins.
The adventurers then come to a corridor that is somewhat collapsed and narrow. Silatoris is able to engineer a safe way through and they all crawl through the narrow opening and continue down the corridor. They come to a wider ancient sewer, now mostly dry and forgotten. As they head down the corridor, however, they hear the tunnel they came through collapse, leaving them trapped.
They continue on and come to the end of the old sewer, but see another archway that heads down into ruins. However, they then hear the sound of scurrying rodents all around them. Swarms of rats scurry over the stone with a few giants rats that seem eager to eat them…
Session 10: Deep Beneath the Sewers
[Feb 21st, 2023]
The adventurers find themselves surrounded by the rats coming in at them. They move into defensive positions and strike at the hungry vermin. Draco summons his draconic claws and shimmers with golden scales as he slices away at the rats. The others cut down the rest of them. With the rats defeated, the light shines down the beckoning staircase into the darkness.
The adventurers step down into a large cavern where it seems some ancient buildings of the Noman Empire have been lost to time, deep beneath the earth. There are two buildings with doors before them. The adventurers enter one of them and find an old book-binding workshop where Draco finds an old waxed scroll. They then head into a storage chamber, where they are attacked by shafts of wood. The magical brooms come to life and begin swatting at them.
The adventurers quickly destroy the animated brooms and continue on. They find themselves “outside” again, in the cavern. A roaring waterfall sounds off to the left and a crumbling bridge is before them. It looks like someone has added some branches to connect both sides of the ruined bridge. Byron finds sign of the rat-like beast on the ground, indicating that it came this way.
Sila checks the bridge and determine its safe, however, when he tries to cross, the branches collapse beneath him. The others simply leap over the gap. On the far side, they find the façade to a large temple that seems dedicated to the prismatic dragon-god, Armathon the Wizened Wyrm, Noman deity of knowledge and lore. On the front of the intricately carved temple doors is a dragon-head with a slot built into its outstretched tongue. The adventurers try placing a few items in it, and to their surprise, a voice speaks in ancient Noman and clues them that they need to find “metallic knowledge”.
The adventurers explore the other building near the entrance and find an old scroll workshop. They find a magical scroll that Draco takes. They then head into a courtyard where there is a statue of a robed figure holding a scroll, a faint magical glow illuminates the area. The adventurers then head north into a ruined dining hall, then into a ruined kitchen. The north wall of the kitchen is blown out and there is a view of the clear water. It seems quite deep and has an underwater cave on the north side.
The adventurers then head south after Scalanis expertly unlocks the door. They then see a strange ancient sword floating and glistening in the air. Draco approaches it and the sword stops and slowly moves towards him. As he reaches out for it, however, he touches a translucent wall of sticky, acidic substance. He backs away and the others then see there is a cube of gelatinous ooze. The cube seems somewhat sentient as it surges forward.
The heroes begin striking and slashing at the cube as it tries to surge forward. They keep cutting off chunks of its ooze, but it keeps moving. Byron then leaps in and hacks it away into tiny pieces, ending the threat. Draco picks up the ancient Noman sword, knowing it is magical.
The group then heads back to the doors to the temple of Armathon, trying the sword, but it doesn’t open. They then head to the nearby pile of rubble and climb into a deep depression in the debris. They find a small lockbox at the bottom. Before they can open it, they are accosted by small, balding flying creatures surrounded in little dust clouds: dust mephits. They battle is dangerous as the adventurers fan out, trying to avoid their scintillating clouds of dust. With much teamwork and good tactics, the adventurers are able to fell the mephits.
Inside the lockbox, they find a strange potion and an alchemical smokestick. The adventurers treat their wounds and then head over to the deep part of the water, planning to explore the underwater cavern…
Session 11: Ancient Forgotten Streets
[Feb 28th, 2023]
The adventurers tie a rope to Scalanis who bravely dives into the water and explores the cave, finding that it goes down a long tunnel before resurfacing. Scalanis and Zhorn swim through the cavern and make it to the other side where they find a large cavern with some ancient Noman buildings, many still standing. They tug the rope and the others follow, swimming through the tunnel. As the others reach the cavern, however, a giant water snake slithers towards them and bites Silatoris.
The others swim to shore as Byron pulls his axe and hacks at the snake. Sila tries to get away as Zhorn and Scalanis stab at the snake from the shore. Aki blasts it with magic. The snake then bites Byron and coils around him as Byron goes unconscious. The others pull the snake away, cutting and slashing at it. Draco uses his gravity pull magic to fling Byron’s unconscious body towards him on the shore. Zhorn then strikes the snake with his whip and strangles it, pulling its dead body to the shore.
The adventurers are able to revive Byron and treat their wounds. They then begin to explore the ruined Noman street. They find a large statue of a dragon-winged woman that they later learn is a depiction of Thalmara, silver-dragon goddess of life and light. She holds a sphere of glowing light.
The adventures begin to explore the ruined buildings, but find only rubble. They then explore the intact buildings. The first building they find an old letter explaining that the city street sunk into the earth during an earthquake many centuries ago. The next building the adventurers find a pedestal, missing whatever item it once held. They try a nearby door and are blasted by a gas trap that makes Zhorn and Sila a bit dizzy. They eventually find a secret button and open into a closed off room where they find a magical bronze sconce and a brass anklet.
They then explore the next building, where they find a letter preserved in a bottle. It mentions ashes that need to be returned to the sea at the Ieanis Harbor for the Ereanorus family. They take the urn and decide they might pursue that quest when they return to the surface. They head to the final building and open the door to find a room filled with cobwebs. Scalanis and Zhorn head inside, but find webs stick to them and hold Zhorn immobilized. A massive spider then climbs down from the cieling to eat its prey.
The others rush in to strike at the spider but are soon overwhelmed by swarms of spiders coming to protect their “mother”. The battle goes quick and fierce, with Draco taking out the swarms with a blast of wind. The adventurers treat their wounds before exploring the final room. Inside they find another cobweb filled chamber, but there is a small lockbox in the corner. ZHorn reaches inside, and avoids the spider that lives there. He pulls out a bronze scroll that tinges with magic.
The adventurers then explore the northeast portion of the cave, where it seems like there is a narrow exit to the surface. Sila checks it out, but is nearly killed by a cave-in. The others dig out his unconscious body and find his arm is broken. They treat his wounds and they head to the most secure room to rest for the night.
The next morning, the adventurers head out of the chamber, swimming through the cavern and they return to the entrance of the Temple of Armathon. They present the scroll to the dragon’s mouth and the door open. They enter into a large cathedral-like chamber with tall columns and brilliant stained-glass windows. They head into a nearby chapel with a prismatic dragon statue, and Draco prays to Armathon, receiving a blessing. They then head to the library across the way, but find it destroyed by time, the books are ruined. Aki finds a magic scroll, however.
The adventurers then head down the corridor where they find tow more doors and a brilliant stained glass window depicting a rainbow dragon soaring through the sky. Byron then points out a pile of straw and old garments in the corner. It is clearly the bed of the Beast of Blackfish.
Session 12: The Rat’s Nest
[Mar 7th, 2023]
Byron searches around the area and finds signs of the rat-like Beast of Blackfish heading to the west. The adventurers follow the tracks into a ruined chamber and then step out into a fissure of natural stone. It is there that a skulking beast steps out of the shadows. It is the Beast of Blackfish.
The creature surges forward, biting and clawing at Draco, who takes one of its shadowy, unholy bites. He pulls back as Byron, Scalanis, and Zhorn surround the monster. They slash and cut into the beast as Sila provides support and Draco blasts it with magic. Aki sings his songs of courage. Four giant rats charge out and attack the adventurers just as they take out the Beast of Blackfish. The Beast simply disappears as if it was magically summoned.
The adventurers hear a man shouts for his “minions” to attack. The man steps out holding a golden scepter. He turns out to be a humanoid rat-like monster, a wererat. Zhorn immediately recognizes the enemy for what it is and shouts to his friends to be cautious. The wererat retreats as the adventureres take out the rats one by one.
The adventurers decide to push forward and defeat the wererat. They step into an ancient room that is filled with more recently stolen crates of food, now rotten and smelling, rats scurry everywhere. As the heroes step into the chamber, hordes of rats attack them and the wererat emerges again. Byron is knocked out immediately as the wererat tears into his flesh with a vicious bite. Sila is then taken over by the rat swarm and goes down. The others manage to hold them as bay as the scramble back and out of the room, dragging their downed companions with them. Scalanis holds them off, using his expert dodge skills to avoid attacks.
Aki closes the door and holds it as the wererat chases them. The others are able to get to safety and Scalanis successfully bars the doors as they flee. The adventurers flee into the chapel chamber and Scalanis rigs a alarm trap and bars the door so they can tend their wounds. They take a couple hours to revive their friends under the watchful eye of the statue of Armathon.
The heroes decide to return with most of their stamina restored. Byron really wants to get paid for the job and capture that wererat. The adventurers charge into the wererats chambers. Zhorn sends the rat swarm away with a wild sweep of his whip. The others take out the wererat quickly with excellent teamwork. Aki finishes him with a mental blast that knocks him out. His body reverts to that of a scrawny older man. The others search his chambers and find a few trinkets and some coin as Zhorn explains the dangers of lycanthropy.
The adventurers then head out through the east chamber, but are accosted by a swirl of haunting ghosts. This nearly kills Zhorn and Draco. Sila tends to them as Scalanis explores the cavern to the north. The swashbuckler’s light inadvertedly attracts the attention of a few thieves. Draco and Scalanis successfully intimidate them and they say they can help them to the surface for a price. But they grow tired of waiting and disappear into the darkness. The adventurers then head out after them, through a few smuggler’s chambers before they find the sewers. They climb out back into the streets of Milania.
As they return to the surface, they find themselves in the Warehouse District. They then all receive a telepathic message from Vagrec. He is angered they he only senses five of them and wishes for them to return to him. They all feel a sudden strange longing to return to the forests near Boreana.
The adventurers return to Blackfish and report to Srgt. Nennius and Thombar Opaldelver. They even fetch Vesnia Bato of the Temple of Pelaria to verify Sulan Vulvius (the old man) is indeed a wererat. Thombar tells them his research led him to learn that Sulan’s wife was killed in Blackfish years ago and Sulan had gone mad and disappeared at the time. Srgt. Nennius pays the adventurers and thanks them for their fine work.
Session 13: The Rat’s Curse
[Mar 14th, 2023]
The worn and weary adventurers take their leave from Thombar and Srgt. Nennius, and Byron brings them over to the House of Healing to check out their wounds. Aki and Scalanis head back to the inn for the night, Draco heads to his family’s estate, and Byron, Zhorn, and Sila rest overnight in the care of the healers.
The next morning, the healers speak with Byron and tell him that his injured arm will likely never be the same again. Byron doesn’t want to accept this reality and heads over to the Temple of Solarus to see if the clerics of the healing goddess can help. However, they too seem powerless to restore the man’s missing strength. The others meet up with Byron and everyone heads over to Octavia’s library and meet with the old wizard. She immediately realizes that Byron is infected with lycanthropy.
She looks over their items and identifies the ancient treasures, trinkets, and scrolls. She then unveils the waxed scroll they found. It seems to suggest that the golden scepter is of Stelmar origins, nearly 10,000 years old. The ancient Nomans who wrote the scroll mention it was found in caverns on the northwestern side of the Hullepsie Mountains in a place belonging to a Stelmar known as the Beastmaster. Octavia warns against using the powers of the scepter, believing it might be related to the wererat they found in the sewers. Zhorn takes the Scepter of Mus Maledictio for safe keeping.
Octavia then tells Byron of tales of witches in the Dark Woods to the east. Legends say they can cure any illness, including lycanthropy. However, they may exact a dangerous price. Byron seems bent on following this lead and decides he is leaving as soon as he gathers some supplies. The others decide to join him with the expectation of seeing Vagrec while they are in the area.
The adventurers head out in evening and pass some desperate peasants heading for a new life in Milania. Sila gives them some coins and wishes them luck. The journey to Boreana is uneventful as the adventurers travel the busy roads, rest in the inns in the trade towns along the way, and occasionally sleep in the wilds. Byron is hell-bent on ridding himself of the lycanthropy before the full moon, which is approaching.
When the adventurers reach Boreana, they speak with Ingrid of the public house, and she tells a tale of witches she saw deep in the woods when she was younger. Byron takes interest and wants to find them. The adventurers camp for the night and head to speak with Vagrec first thing in the morning. They are accosted by a group of mitflits again, but quickly defeat them and move on. They then find Vagrec at his usual spot. He asks why Eori is not present and why he cannot “see” him. They explain to him about the nature of death and how life can change and evolve. They convince Vagrec that mortality is what gives them purpose to create change that is passed on to the next generation. Vagrec eventually accepts their answers and wants to ponder on it. He releases them from his curse and says he will depart this world.
Elation fills the adventurers as they have removed Vagrec’s influence on them. They then see a strange archway, like a door that is closed with stone. Above the ancient Elven archway is a moon-looking orb that glows with a soft light. Based on the amount of the orb that is lit, it seems like it is nearly full. Scalanis recalls seeing the orb last time they were here five years ago, and it was only slightly less full then. Zhorn can only partially understand the ancient Elven writing, perhaps meaning “Black Star and Door to the Stars”. Aki makes a rubbing of the script to take back to Octavia.
Byron is growing impatient and he pushes them to continue his search for the rumored witches of the Dark Woods. Zhorn uses Timothy to spy the forest from above and sees a faint trail of smoke a few days travel to the east. Byron wants to head that way and the others follow. They spend a couple days of travelling through the thick and dark woods, finding the ancient forest is uncompromising to their desire for comfort.
As evening falls one night, Scalanis and Aki see a trio of large cats approaching the camp, they seem to be hunting for game…
Session 14: A Difficult Choice
[Mar 21st, 2023]
Aki and Scalanis cry out as the large cats leap upon them. Scalanis is quickly torn to the ground and mauled as Aki fends them off. Silatoris and Byron charge over to help, with Byron facing the larger cat head on and Sila tending to Scalanis. Draco summons his draconic heritage and charges at the beasts with burning claws and golden scales. Zhorn takes some time to awaken, but when he finally does he joined the fight with his whip.
The cats tear into Byron, but Sila manages to keep feeding him healing elixirs to keep him on his feet. Aki goes down, but Draco is able to take out the other cat. Byron then fells the larger cat with Scalanis’s help, and the final smaller cat flees into the forest. Sila tends to their wounds and everyone returns to camp to sleep.
The next day, the adventurers head out, despite their injuries from the night before. By midday, they reach a clearing where they see four beautiful young women performing some sort of ritual around a bonfire.
The adventurers approach them and the lead witch introduces herself as Egreleth, leader of the Starlight Witches. She seems quite kind and friendly. The adventurers explain their mission to rid Byron of his curse. Egreleth agrees to help him as long as he will help them defeat a rival group of fey. They give Byron a temporary cure to his lycanthropy, performing some occult ritual upon him. The others share tea with the witches and they say they must finish their equinox rituals and that they can talk tomorrow morning.
The adventurers make camp and spend the day relaxing and thinking about the future. Some of them find that they have unlocked strange new powers after their encounter with Vagrec. Perhaps it is a latent gift from the enigmatic Elder fey. Regardless, Byron finds he has a primal connection. Draco feels blessed by the teachings of Thalmara. Scalanis has tapped into some latent occult powers. Zhorn, Scalanis, and Aki have simply enhanced their skills and knowledge.
The next morning, the adventurers return to the witches. Egreleth explains their task. They must retrieve a woman from Boreana that they claim had lost her memories. She was a member of their coven, their “sacred fifth”, but the fey have twisted her and she now lives among mortal men, not knowing who she really is. They have been ay war with the fey led by Queen Lethria for many years now and have been unable to retrieve their fifth member. Byron agrees to the quest and the adventurers head out to find this missing witch in Boreana.
The adventurers travel for two days, before reaching the edge of the forest, where they are greeted by a strange blue-skinned woman of great beauty. She says she is a member of the fey court of Lethria. She explains that the woman they seek is not a witch, but should instead be brought to the fey at the Court of Lethria. She insists that the witches are the real danger here.
Byron pushes past the fey creature and heads into town, the others follow, unsure of the fey’s true intentions. They head to the public house and speak with Ingrid for a few hours. They realize that Ingrid’s story of the witches and her own past has many holes. Draco is able to convince her that she has magic inside her and they she could learn more in the witches’ company. Eventually, they get Ingrid to agree to accompany them back to the Starlight Witches.
The aventurers seek out the fey naiad they spoke to earlier, and she appears. Draco and Sila speak at length with her and learn more. The naiad says that Ingrid’s true name is Mialee and she is a fey of Lethria’s immortal court in the plane of Annwyn. She came to Enelis to grow and learn, but was meant to return. However, the witches kidnapped her and cleared her memories. She escaped, but believed she was a mortal human and lost her connection to the fey world. The naiad had come to check on Mialee, to see if she had remembered herself. The window is closing soon and then Annwyn would be out of reach for Ingrid/Mialee forever, she would become forever mortal and lose her fey essence.
Draco and the others discuss the issue. Byron and Scalanis insist on getting the job done and freeing Byron of his curse. Sila and Draco promise to protect Ingrid as they take her to the witches.
Session 15: An Ancient Struggle
[Mar 28th, 2023]
The adventurers trek through the ancient forests of the Darkwoods, getting ever closer to the lair of the witches near the flowing Roma River. After a full day of travel, Ingrid seems to be growing nervous and there is some tension among the party, as some feel they making a grave mistake to aid these witches. Draco and Sila even fear that Ingrid is being brought to her doom.
During midday on the second day of travel, the adventurers come across one of the witches, names Cedonia. She tells them that she is here to retrieve Ingrid and bring her to her sisters, the Starlight Witches. She promises Byron that his contract is fulfilled and asks Ingrid to follow her. However, the group is interrupted by a naiad fey named Deduil. She pleads with the adventurers and Ingrid to not follow the witches and to come home with her to the fey court and return to Annwyn.
A battle breaks out between the naiad, Deduil, and her nixie minions against Cedonia and her gremlin allies. Two jinkin and nuglub gremlins come out to aid the witch. The adventurers try not to take sides in the battle, but Ingrid is quite scared and soon the jinkin try to to pull her chaotically towards the witch. Cedonia summons a globe of impenetrable darkness and then blasts the naiad with her fire. Deduil tells the adventurers that even now the witches assault the fey court and begs them to help her. Deduil comes to Ingrid and begs her to follow her home, with tears in her eyes. Byron tries to stop her and cuts her down into a pool of water.
Cedonia blasts the nixies with fire but then is forced to strike at Draco as the enraged, dragon-infused sorcerer swings wildly at Cedonia. Eventually, Cedonia is able to pull back into the darkness and convinces Ingrid to follow her. Scalanis runs around the globe and sees only Cedonia exit. She claims that Ingrid is gone and there is no more point fighting about it. Cedonia leaves and the adventurers finish off the final gremlins, who seem to only revel in the chaos of the fight.
A single nixie, named Phina, stays behind, somewhat taunting the adventurers. However, she pleads with them to follow her to the fey court and see that the witches do indeed attack them. They eventually agree and follow Phina towards the fey court. As they past the darkest, deepest parts of the forest they are assaulted by another band of jinkin. The battle is quick and decisive, but the adventurers find they must rest for the night.
The next morning, they head out and by midday, they reach the glistening pond where numerous naiads, nixie, and dryads dwell. Phina dives into the pond and the adventurers are confronted as trespassers. However, Lethria, the naiad queen, approaches them and relieves they hearts and fatigue. She asks them for help, as the gate to Annwyn is drawing closed and they cannot stray far from its connection. She pleads with them to find Mialee (Ingrid) and return her here before the gate closes. She explains that witches and the fey have battles for centuries. The witches have stolen their immortal sisters in the past, and used their immortality to extend their own cruel lives.
She then promises material riches for those who desire it. This convinces Scalanis, but Byron is only convinced after Lethria explains that the witches cannot cure his lycanthropy, only delay it. They wish to use him as a pawn.
With their newfound courage, the adventurers prepare to strike out and find Mialee before its too late…
Session 16: The Starlight Witches Coven
[Apr 4th, 2023]
The adventurers quickly discuss and decide they have no time to waste. They march headlong through the woods, crossing the river again, and heading to the glade where they found the witches’ bonfire. It is late in the evening when they arrive, the sun set and darkness fills the forest. There is no sounds of life, as no birds or beasts seem to be anywhere near them in the forest. Only silence.
The adventurers find the bonfire is cool and quiet, but they are soon accosted by more gemlins that bite and claw at them. They go on defensive, trying to fight back against these enemies. However, they seemingly fail at most of their attempts, as if luck itself was against them. They soon find that nasty pugwampis hide among the foliage and their unlucky aura is affecting them.
Aki begins to direct his attacks at the pugwampis to remove their influence as the others slowly take out the nuglubs. Byron is slashed to the ground and nearly killed, but Sila is able to drag him to safety and fill him with healing tonics. Draco fights firm with his dragon claws as Zhorn and Scalanis take out the other nuglubs.
With the gremlins defeated, the heroes take a half an hour to treat their wounds, but are interrupted by the sound of people approaching. It seems to be a group of pilgrims dedicated to Enis the Earthmother. They had celebrated the autumnal equinox in the forest with their druid elders. The leader of the group is a young man named Vibius the Vibrant. He takes their warning of witches and promises to tell the elders of their influence.
Byron finds a trail of the witches path through the woods that leads to a rocky outcropping closer to the river. The heroes climb this path and find it leads to a cavern in the rocks. At the cave’s entrance is a worn statue of a hooded figure, now unrecognizable. They hear the sounds of chanting and spellcraft deep in the cave.
Byron and Draco charge forward, with Aki and Zhorn behind them. Scalanis and Sila sneak along the side, trying to be cautious and quiet. Inside the cave, they find the four witches, led by Egreleth, they are chanting with their hands raised over a stone dais and altar. Ingrid is naked and unconscious on the altar as the witches perform their ritual over her. Oddly, Ingrid’s skin is blue, perhaps hinting at her true naiad heritage.
The witches make no movement and seem so engrossed in their ritual that they do not notice the heroes enter. Draco gets in position and uses his magic to summon Ingrid to him and catches her. Scalanis and Byron prepare to stop the witches. Sure enough, Egreleth comes back to reality quickly and threatens Byron, seemingly releasing the lycanthropy inside him to the surface. She then changes to her true form, that of a charged Storm Hag.
The other witches slowly come to as they are cut and blasted by the heroes. One is killed before she can even act. Cedonia and the other remaining witch blast Zhorn with lightning and summon a ball of fire upon Sila. Byron manages to fight against the lycanthropy and slashes deeply into Egreleth with his temporarily magical axe. Scalanis assists, demonstrating his Elven battledance.
Draco is able to pull the delirious Ingrid out of the cave to safety as Aki guards the entrance, blasting witches with his sonic bolts. Byron then loses control and transforms into a monstrous wererat. Egreleth then moves past the wererat and unleashes a lightning bolt through Aki, nearly killing him. Scalanis and Zhorn surround Egreleth as Byron steps forward, finding a moment of clarity as he slashes through the hag. His form reverts to normal and the danger is past.
The heroes gather a few notable items from the witches before they rush back to the fey court. They reach the glade as the dawn light shimmers on the edge of the horizons. Most of the naiads are gone as other fey creatures are seen leaping into the forest pool which now swirls with a vortex. Queen Lethria rises from the water and offers her hand to Ingrid/Mialee. Ingrid thanks Draco and says she finally feels right as she joins Lethria. She reverts to her true form as a beautiful naiad and sinks into the water with the Queen.
For a moment, the heroes feel cheated on their promise as the vortex shrinks. But Queen Lethria returns to the surface to discuss their rewards…
Session 17: The Struggle for Byron’s Soul
[Apr 11th, 2023]
Queen Lethria gives the heroes gifts for their assistance in saving Mialee. She gives Scalanis a magical runestone, she tells Aki the secret location of a powerful warrior-muse, she tells Draco that his draconic heritage might be in that same location. She then gives Sila some powerful alchemical formulas, and enchants Zhorn’s sword with silver. She then tells Byron that his father’s killer is near at home and that those close to him have kept this secret from him. She then tells him that his lycanthropy can be cured by seeking the druids in a grove nearby, imparting that location and knowledge to Sila.
The heroes take off, heading for the druid’s grove. After a couple days of travel, they find the grove and an old woman who is annoyed by their presence. Her name is Bera Greensky and she makes them wait until morning and then explains that she can help Byron confront his inner monster. She takes Byron to a glade where she administers a strange magical concoction.
Byron is forced to face the wererat inside him in the only way his mind knows how, in a duel to the death. Draco is able to provide some divine assistance during the fight, but eventually Byron is able to defeat his inner fury and fell the wererat inside him. When he awakens in the real world, Bera warns him that if he should give in to primal rage the creature may return. In exchange for her help, Byron promises to seek out a group of knights of Korrond in the city of Ineania and convince them to stop their springtime hunting ritual.
The heroes then set out to return to Milania. They spend quite a few days struggling in the forest, looking for forage and hunting for food. They eventually make their way out of the forest and travel many days to reach the city. When they arrive, they head to the markets to sell some supplies, but then head to Octavia’s library to seek her help.
Octavia explains that she was robbed last week and the thieves took many of her belongings, including her research and notes on the location of the Stelmar ruins of the “Beastmaster”. Without the notes she cannot locate the ancient Stelmar ruins.
The heroes also share their stories of magic they encountered, along with the Stelmar etchings from the ruins of Lamia Hill where they met Vagrec. She explains the etchings refer to a magical door called the Stellostium (star-door) that would open for the “void star”. She says that her astronomer friend, Vesuvius Umbonius, had recently spotted a haloed black star in the sky, but knows little about it. He is currently encamped in the hills outside Milania to get a better view of the stars.
The heroes decide to stay in Milania for the time being and search for Secundus, who is still missing after he betrayed Byron. Byron talks with the Augoreum sergeant of the watch, Titus Ligustinus, and learns that they found no sign of Secundus anywhere. However, he asks Byron to look into the exploding black market of a drug called refined pesh that is causing deaths throughout the city. Byron agrees and shares the news with his allies.
Session 18: The Pesh Investigation
[Apr 18th, 2023]
It is the afternoon on the 18th of Harvest (712 G.R.), the heroes are discussing their next course of action after hearing about the new strain of refined pesh that is causing overdose deaths in the city. Byron had promised to look into it and believes it might leave a trail to finding Secundus.
After some discussion, the group, still worn and dirty from their travels, decide to head to Blackfish district to find a seedy bar where they might find a pesh dealer. They end up at the Bloody Chain Bar, a rough and tumble blue-collar bar for dock workers. The place is dirty and the people rude. However, Draco is able to talk down some ruffians and convince them share what they know. One of the dock workers mentions that he heard that a nice inn called the Ravenscale in Low-water (Docks District) has a pesh den.
The heroes (still drinking through the afternoon), decide to head over the Ravenscale Inn. They find a very posh and refined establishment with a mixed clientele of rich merchants, mercenaries, and off-duty guards. The heroes grab a drink and watch around the place. Byron and Sila notice a man stumbling out from the basement, barely coherent with a friend holding him.
Draco inquires at the bar and they learn that they can pay for VIP treatment and access to the pesh den. They decide to pay and are escorted to the basement, which is very finely furnished. There are a few groups playing cards and attractive women serving drinks. The heroes share some wine before they enter into the pesh-den. They meet a charismatic man named Rhodo the Pesh-tender who advises them on their choice of drug for the night. Draco chooses a Purple Dragon strand as the others share a new variety called Blue Fever that is advertised as twice as strong at half the price.
The heroes spend the next few hours high on pesh, although Zhorn and Byron are able to mostly resist the drug’s effects. Sila tests the drug using his alchemical tools and learns that a caustic and carcinogenic component has been added to the drug to greatly increase its potency and potential danger. Draco, Scalanis, Aki, and Sila enjoy the hours of well-being and minor hallucinations while the courtesan dancers sit on their laps and keep them entertained with playful fliting. Byron, however, heads upstairs and has a very human and intimate evening with a woman named Adina.
Meanwhile, Zhorn tries to talk to the courtesans about the glories of Pelaria, but they seem disinterested. He does, however, overhear Rhodo talk to an unknown figure about shipments of Blue Fever coming “from below”, suggesting they manufacture the dangerous drug on site.
At the crack of dawn, the heroes exit the Ravenscale Inn and head to the Aureum bathhouse as they discuss their next plan to find the source of the Blue Fever pesh. Draco and Zhorn check into the Ravenscale Inn that day and rest as the others head to the Exotic Antelope to sleep. An hour or so after checking in, Draco overhears loud noises at the stairwell as if men were moving crates around, However, there was no sign of activity on the street.
The heroes reconvene at the Exotic Antelope, where they overhear a young woman sobbing about a friend who died of an overdose the previous night. Sila and Zhorn head to the morgue to check out her body and they find traces of the caustic substance in her blood. Draco and the others meet with the young woman’s friend who procured the pesh and they learn that the young man purchased the Blue Fever pesh at the Ravenscale Inn.
The heroes return to the Ravenscale Inn that afternoon and decide to search around building, looking for an alternative entrance. They explore the alley behind the building, but find only a Noradrie family antique shop called Quillis’s Antiques. They inquire with the tax-law advocate across the street from the Inn, and learn that food shipments are usually in the afternoons and she confirms that she heard nothing in the morning. Therefore, the heroes believes there has to be a secret entrance inside the Inn somwhere.
The heroes return to the Inn in the evening as the crowd begins to grow…
Session 19: Beneath the Ravenscale Inn
[Apr 26th, 2023]
The adventurers hang out at the Ravenscale Inn as the crows grow and the entertainment begins. They inquire about another night in the pesh lounge, however, they learn that the pesh lounge is booked for the night. Draco makes a few attempts to get into Rhodo the Pesh-tender’s good graces, but it doesn’t seem effective. However, they do learn that a prominent senator from the Daralia region, Servilia Octavania, was currently down in the VIP section. Later in the evening, they watch as she exits with many prominent nobles, including the young lady Gregania Alypia, whom Draco has seen at noble social gatherings in Milania.
Draco and Scalanis stay up all night drinking at the Ravenscale Inn as the others head off to bed, Zhorn upstairs, and the others back at the Exotic Antelope. The next morning, the others meet up at the Antelope as Draco and Scalanis catch up on sleep. Byron decides to visit a local fence that he calls Tertius. They head over to the black market hidden in a fake antique shop and meet with “Tertius”, who introduces himself as Timerius Velus.
Timerius confirms that he has recently fenced quite a number of alchemical and minor magical items, likely stolen from Octavia’s shop. Of course, he has no record of the sellers or the buyers. However, Byron convinces him to admit that he thought the seller was a member of the Braided Hoods thieves guild, which is known to operate near the Groundwater (docks) district. Byron purchases a couple trinkets and the adventurers head back to the Exotic Antelope.
Draco joins them at midday, but Scalanis never shows up. Sila heads up to Scalanis’s room but there is no answer. They get the innkeeper of the Antelope, a Verlander named Geno, to unlock the room and Scalanis is no where to be seen. The adventurers then split up, with Byron, Draco, and Zhorn looking for information on the Braided Hoods and the source of Blue Fever pesh while Sila traces Scalanis’s steps.
Sila comes across a group of people at the collection of fountains in front of the Magisterium, apparently someone had defecated in the fountain and it was being cleaned. Sila assumes the worst and heads to the Legio Castrum where he finds that Scalanis has been arrested. He pays Scalanis’s fees and meets up with the others. No knew information was collected and they decide to all rest before heading back to the Ravenscale Inn that night, as Draco has reserved a spot in the VIP lounge for them.
That night they meet back at the VIP lounge in the Ravenscale Inn and play some cards and watch the activities closely. Sila orders another set of Blue Fever pesh and heads to the privy to take time to examine it. He is able to determine that the caustic substance is actually a deadly fungus called Nefrus, often associated with goblins, who grow it in dark caves.
The adventurers wait until the night nears the end and the lounge has mostly emptied. Rhodo had entered the pesh lounge but has not emerged in over an hour. Sila sneaks to the curtains and looks inside and finds it empty. He eventually finds a secret door that leads into a dark tunnel and a secret room. He peers inside and finds a couple Braided Hoods thieves and a priest of Tulsin. They spot him and a battle breaks out. Sila screams. and the others come to his aid. Despite having only limited weapons and no armor, the adventurers quickly defeat the thieves and capture Rhodo. Zhorn is able to stabilize the priest as well. Zhorn peers down a trapdoor and finds an entrance to the sewers.
Session 20: The Den of Thieves
[May 2nd, 2023]
The adventurers awaken the unconscious priest of Tulsin. They then interrogate both the priest and Rhodo the Pesh-tender. They are able to learn from them that the Braided Hoods thieves guild approached them with deals on refined pesh months ago. But a little over a month ago, they started selling Blue Fever. Rhodo had been dealing with a man in the shadows at the entrance to the sewer beneath the Ravenscale Inn. The priest seems only loosely affiliated with the thieves guild, as he seems not to know where their new base of operations is (after they left a warehouse on the docks).
The heroes devise a plan, allowing Rhodo in on their plan to oust the Braided Hoods as blackmailing Rhodo into selling their product. They hope that this avoids causing a confrontation with Senator Servilia Octavania of Daralia, who apparently owns the Ravenscale Inn and pretends to be oblivious to the illegal pesh operation with the Braided Hoods. Rhodo is knocked out as the heroes discuss the plan. They then hear guards searching the pesh lounge and are now interrogating the courtesans in the VIP room.
The heroes awaken Rhodo, who fearfully admits that the name of the man he met in the shadows was in fact Secundus. This news makes the adventurers eager to pursue this further. They head out of the chambers and speak with the guards, getting them to understand their help in breaking up the Braided Hoods operation with Rhodo collaborating their story.
As the heroes exit the Inn, a reporter for the Apex Bulletin, a noble gossip magazine, is delighted to see Draco is there. The adventurers separate and everyone gets some sleep. The next day, Draco sends out a message to Senator Octavania coyly suggesting she stop her pesh operation, signing with a gold dragon wing. Byron and Draco speak with Srgt. Ligustinus in Augoreum about the bounty on Secundus and the Braided Hoods. The Sergeant agrees to pay 30 gold if they break up the Blue Fever operation and an extra 5 gold if they capture Secundus alive.
The heroes discuss their plans and decide to call themselves the Moonlit Blades now as a true mercenary company. As they head out, Draco finds the latest Apex Bulletin where he is made out to look like a lavish pesh addict wasting his family’s fortune. The story was written by that reporter, Gauis Salonius. The heroes gather some supplies and then head over to the Ravenscale Inn with a writ from the sergeant. They are given admittance at the now close Inn, and they head down into the sewers to find the Braided Hoods pesh operation.
They travel through numerous corridors and foul-smelling passages. Byron pretends to know the right way, and coincidently gets lucky following the sewer water flow. They eventually come down some stairs into the deep sewers of the old city. They explore the area, fighting off some giant rats and finding numerous small tunnels carved into the earth, only 2 feet wide and 3 feet tall. They crawl through some of them, but find nothing but muddy passages.
They head north and find that a massive dam had been built to block the flow of sewage water. Byron is attacked by a giant snake, but they heroes quickly fell it. They then continue searching, and eventually find a connection back to the way down into the Noman ruins they exited weeks before.
They find a door in one of the walls and head into a tight chamber with a pit trap. Byron leaps over the pit with a rope tied to him, however, on the far side a spring-loaded lever drops Byron down into another pit.
The others scramble to pull Byron up and keep him from falling deeper. Byron slams the side, but is able to climb to then top and find safety between the two pits. Draco then accidently pulls a torch sconce that locks the trap door. The others all leap across and they head towards a narrow muddy tunnel that they have to squeeze through. On the far side is a door. Byron prepares himself before charging through the door.
On the far side of the door, are numerous thieves of the Braided Hoods, all ready to intercept the interlopers. Soon, a few goblins come out from a side chamber to join the fight. The heroes charge into the room to fight, but Byron is quickly knocked down. As the heroes are fighting for their lives, they look over to see Secundus, grinning like a scoundrel, in a nearby chamber.
Session 21: The Fall of the Braided Hoods
[May 23rd, 2023]
The heroes try to hold the entrance chamber with Draco, Scalanis, and Zhorn standing firm as Sila and Aki support from behind. Byron manages to recover and rejoin the battle as they slowly cut down the Braided Hoods thieves and their goblin allies. Secundus seemingly runs away as the heroes are busy fighting. Draco blasts some of the thieves with burning fire, taking two out quickly. Scalanis distracts them with quick movements and deadly thrusts of his sword. Zhorn holds firm making precise strikes with Byron aiding with his axes.
In the end, the thieves and goblins are slain. The heroes quickly regroup, downing potions and then charging northward into a large circular chamber. It seems the Braided Hoods have blocked the sewage flows to create a large dry chamber to work from. The heroes charge in, finding many more thieves aided by a magical goblin who enchants them with goblin song. Secundus takes a position in the back, firing deadly shots with his bow.
The heroes fan out and Scalanis tries to take out the enemies at the far end, but is nearly killed twice. Zhorn and Draco carefully take out the peripheral enemies as Aki, Sila, and Byron push their way towards Secundus. Byron eventually reaches the rogue, but he escapes through a door and up a flight of stairs. After felling the other thieves, the heroes follow Byron, where they find that Secundus hides in a chamber with a large, scarred man. They recognize this man, Halgrad the Horrible, as the man who led the bandits that attacked Gallio’s caravan five years prior. He was the one who stole the box with the golden object.
Secundus flees down a trapdoor into a tight muddy corridor. Byron chases after him as the others confront Halgard. The heroes surround Halgard, who is quickly distracted by Scalanis’ battledance. They take him out quickly and Draco kills him with his sword. Meanwhile, Byron chases after Secundus, but seems to be losing him in the tight corridor. However, Scalanis, quickened by Sila’s mutagen, is able to catch up to Secundus quickly and grab him with Byron. They knock him out and tie him up.
The heroes explore the rest of the thieves complex, finding their Nefrus and Blue Fever chamber. They then head back to the surface and interrogate Secundus. They learn that Secundus used an assassin, a Kalruan named Vanim Ganjic to murder Appius and attempted murder on the woman in the alley. He was the one who planned the robbery of Octavia’s library and tells them that he sold the mysterious notes to an eager scholar, an older man named Cauis Cilnius. Cilnius had wild-looking thugs with him.
The heroes turn in Secundus to the guards and collect their ample pay. They decide to take a few days off to recover and train their skills.
Session 22: The Manor of House Cilnius
[Jun 6th, 2023]
The heroes reconvene after a couple days. They sell off their treasures and distribute out their gold among each other. Aki takes his share and disappears, writing and telling the saga of their adventures to the taverns of Milania. Draco speaks with a journalist from the famed Gazette, who writes a favorable story about the Moonlit Blades and their conquest of the Braided Hoods tainted pesh operation. They even note that Senator Servilia Octavania owned the Ravenscale Inn and might be a culprit in the horrid plot.
The heroes then head over to speak with Octavia and see if she can transfer some potent runestones to their weapons. However, Octavia is still furious and eager for the Moonlit Blades to find her missing notes that were stolen by the Braided Hoods. She is eager to make some archeological discoveries before the archeological forum scheduled for midwinter. Byron negotiates with her and agrees to confront Cauis Cilnius, the man to whom Secundus said he sold the notes. Byron leaves behind his magical runestone (that he bought from Scalanis) and favorite axe to be enchanted. Scalanis does the same for the magical Noman sword and his prized Elven curved blade from Enaarvis.
The heroes head out to find the Cilnius Estate, which Draco knows is on the country road towards the Emperor’s city of Ardolia. They reach the countryside after an hour or so and find a walled estate with surrounding fields and supporting enterprises. They look around and decide it seems like an easy mark and head back to the city, waiting until midnight to return.
When the heroes return at midnight, they sneak over the wall scrambling through the bushes. Scalanis leads the way, peering into windows and seeing those large, burly Kalruans inside the house. As they head around the side of the house, however, one of the Kalruans comes out and spots them. As the light of the full moon shines upon him, he transforms into a large monstrous werewolf.
The heroes move to defend themselves, but soon find numerous more of these large monstrous werewolves appearing. They decide to flee, scrambling over the wall. Byron is bit, but thankfully doesn’t contract the lycanthropy again. Scalanais is slashed by claws as he flees. Byron and Scalanis helps the others over the wall and the heroes flee into the countryside.
They regroup back in the city and decide they need to be better prepared before they try another assault. Zhorn is particularly interested in mounting an assault against the lycanthropes. They get some sleep back at the inn. The next day, Sila finds some alchemical formulas that can help them as Draco searches and finds Aki in one of the taverns.
The next morning, at the crack of dawn, the heroes return to the estate. They glisten their weapons with silversheen, targeting the werewolves’ weakness. They then charge into the estate through the front gate, charged with the knowledge that evil beings dwell within. Scalanis unlocks the front door of the manor house and kicks it open. The heroes soon find themselves in an all-out-melee with the guards of the estate, now in their burly human forms.
Session 23: Defeat and Retreat
[Jun 13th, 2023]
The heroes try to hold the doorway at the Cilnius Manor House as more burly Kalruan warriors charge out from inside. Scalanis and Byron find themselves overwhelmed as Zhorn, Draco, and Aki try to support them and Sila tries to enhance them with alchemical tinctures.
The Kalruan werewolves, however, are able to storm past the front line and cut into the heroes quickly, knocking them to the ground. Soon chaos takes over the scene as the werewolves try to haul away the knocked out heroes to eat while the Astonian guards try to stop them. They plead that Master Cilnius will wish to learn about them. In the meantime, Scalanis alone fights against the werewolves until he is knocked out as Silatoris escapes into the nearby brush. Scalanis’s final attempts distract them from chasing Sila.
Sila then sees that Master Cilnius, an aged Astionian man with a white beard and hair, commands the Kalruans to prepare his carriage. Sila tries to blast Blue Fever pesh into Cilnius’s face, but is able to ignore its effects as he sends his Kalruan guards to find the perpetrator. He is then summoned to the entry chamber, where the other heroes lay unconscious in a heap. Aki and Scalanis, however, only pretend to be knocked out as Sila’s tonic slowly restores their energy.
Master Cilnius recognizes them as the Moonlit Blades and allies of his rival Octavia Achaica. He commands them to bury them in the woods and strictly forbids the werewolves from eating them and leaving any bones as evidence. The werewolves take offense to this and refuse to help, leaving the three Astonian guards to take the unconscious heroes to the woods on a cart led by two donkeys.
Meanwhile, Sila hides from the werewolves by crawling into the dirt under the bushes, but thankfully the guards are called back as Master Cilnius leaves the estate on his carriage. Sila rushes to the south were he sees the Astonian guards take the heroes on the donkey cart. He manages to scramble over the wall and follow them from a distance.
When the guards begin to dig the graves, deep in the forest, Scalanis is able to revive Byron. Then Aki, Byron, and Scalanis rush to attack the guards. Sila joins in, blasting them with his psychic energy. The guards swing their shovels wildly, but are quickly overtaken by the heroes and two guards are killed. Aki knocks one of them asleep with a powerful dweomer.
The heroes treat their wounds and revive everyone, then they interrogate the guard. They eventually offer the guard, named Lars Titillus to join the Moonlit Blades. He accepts and tells them what he knows about Cilnius. He relates that Cilnius went to the south a few months ago, and returned weeks ago with all these Kalruan guards. He didn’t know they were werewolves until the other night when the heroes attacked. He says Cilnius is searching for something since he returned and was delighted to purchase some old scrolls.
Lars wants nothing to do with the werewolves, but he returns the empty cart and donkeys and manages to steal back the heroes’ gear from the manor house. The heroes and Lars then flee back to Milania. At the city, Lars heads out to speak with his wife. Draco tries to find jobs on the route to Ineania, but fails to find anything at the mercenary bulletin. Sila goes shopping for new alchemical recipes.
Scalanis and Byron speak with Octavia about being unable to retrieve the notes, however, Octavia believes they can still catch Cauis Cilnius, as he is likely to head to the nearest port to catch a boat to Hopesdawn. She believes the ancient Noman notes at the library there might be able to help Cauis find the Beastmaster’s secret lair. Byron remains non-committal about it and they say farewell.
Zhorn heads to the Temple of Pelaria where he finds his superior, Meral Veselvrem. She says she has come to help Zhorn form a new sect of the Order of the Silver Stake, but Zhorn must choose to work with her for some time to find new recruits in the area. Zhorn reluctantly agrees, saying a temporary farewell to his friends and the Moonlit Blades.
Aki spends time at the tavern talking with a merchant named Quintus Familiaris who is desperate to reach Ineania as soon as possible. He wants to hire guards to protect his wagon on the road. Aki convinces him to pay 6 silver per day for the protection for each of his companions.
The heroes all meet up for one final night as they say farewell to Zhorn and prepare to leave towards Ineania.
Session 24: The Smuggler’s Road
[Jun 27th, 2023]
The heroes meet up with a shifty merchant named Quintus Familiaris. They find that he has already hired one mercenary, a gruff muscular man named Castor Tremerus. Quintus informs them of the danger of the mission and that the armory he is carrying is worth quite a lot. They set out after purchases more rations for the road and begin to trust Quintus less as time goes on.
On the second day towards Ineania, they find that legionnaire riders are chasing them down. Draco confronts Quintus and forces him to double their pay if they want to be on the wrong side of the law. The group manages to trick the riders that they carry appropriate goods (using a forged document in Quintus’s possession). Aki then distracts them with the sounds of danger in the forest and they take off.
Quintus is angry about the change in pay, but accepts it. He also confesses that the stolen legionnaire equipment came from Lazur Lake, where he met with former Sergeant Sextus Severus. Draco and Sila are upset about this, as they both want Sextus to pay for the death and ruin of the village. However, Quintus promises to tell them where Sextus went into hiding if they finish the smuggling job. The heroes reluctantly agree.
The next day, the heroes come across a checkpoint with numerous legionnaire soldiers. They are able to convince them that their wagon carries alchemical supplies (complete with a forged writ by Quintus), using a decoy box provided by Sila. Things get a bit tense, but Scalanis distracts them with his battle-dance and fights the lieutenant in a duel. Unfortunately, Scalanis is defeated and nearly accidently killed. This sours his mood for the next few days.
A few more days go by, and the wagon is attacked by some forest bandits. Castor and Lars prove their prowess in battle, earning the respect of the other Moonlit Blades. The heroes take out the bandits quickly and are able to move on to Ineania a few days later.
When they reach the city gates, the guards don’t seem to accept Quintus’s excuses and Scalanis helps craft a ruse regarding that the boxes are all locked by the person accepting the goods at the docks. A legionnaire accompanies them through the city to the shady North Harbor of Ineania. When they arrive, Quintus meets with a fierce Kalruan named Keshnik Malik. Scalanis overhears that Keshnik and his men intend to ambush the legionnaire.
However, Aki is able to use a magical disguise to lead the legionnaire away to chase after a fake fire and robbery. This allows Keshnik and his men to quickly load the goods on their ship. They pay Quintus and sail away before any legionnaires can return to the harbor. The heroes take their pay from Quintus and even eke out two extra gold coins for their masterful ruse. Quintus reluctantly pays them and tell them that Sextus Severus was headed to Tortumael in Eshlien. He then heads off.
That night, the heroes gather at the Delirious Dove Inn near the merchant’s gate in Ineania. They discuss their next moves. They intend to help Byron deal with the Knights of Korrond’s sprintime hunts as well as find if Ieania Harbor is here to send off the ashes they found under Milania. They also discuss what is next, with Byron saying he is headed to the south, to his homeland to deal with the man who killed his father.
The others decide to chase after Sextus Severus and see him put to justice. Lars intends to return to Milania. Castor remains undecided.
Session 25: Intrigue in Ineania
[Jul 11th, 2023]
Sila decides to remain at the inn to perfect and study some new formulae for his alchemical concoctions. Lars looks to find a caravan heading back to Milania. The others decide to help Byron and head over the the guildhall of the Knights of Korrond. There they accidendily interrupt a meeting and kindly ask they recind their springtime hunts. However, their leader, Law Steward Oppa Virginia takes a vote and they decline. However, she requests a compromise.
They meet with Law Steward Virginia privately and discuss how the hunts enable the Knights to keep an eye on the nobles of the city and ensure they are uncorrupted and truthful. They have yet to have a springtime hunt with the latest Magistrate, Agrippa Triferus. She asks Byron to look into Agrippa and his assistant advocate, Vibia Audens. Vibia has taken over for Agrippa as a proxy while he was ill this past week and she led the passage of a number of new laws. The Knights are concerned about corruption. Byron and the others agree to look into it.
They first head to a fancy tavern called the Olde Wolves Tavern, where Aki pretends to be the entertainer, the Mysterious Bobo. Draco and Byron head to the city archives. They learn that the the laws Vibia passed directly benefited shipwrights from the Angmarian city of Skerne. Byron fails to get the writ for the Harbormaster’s records, and incidentily meets with Vibia Aubrens, a vibrant red-haired woman.
In the meantime, Aki and Scalanis get into a duel and then a fight with some nobles in the city square. They both eventually get arrested, but Byron is able to bail them out. Draco is then able to get the writ and they are eventually able to get ship records confirming that a ship called the Cunning Wing led by Captain Henning Vink brought in ship parts the day after the laws benefiting the import tax was passed. The Angmarian merchant company, called Diedrich Imports made the sale. They were sold to Calradian Shipyards, the main drydock owned by the Sosius noble family. A new galleon, the Aubreon, was just finished there and more are likely on the way.
Aki pretends to be Bobo at the tavern that evening, but the real Mysterious Bebenia, a beautiful elven performer shows up and is offended. Aki backs out, pretending it was a prank, however, he then blasts her guitar with magic as he leaves. This causes a warrant to be issued for his arrest. The heroes are forced to switch to an upscale inn across town, called the Bitter Pigeons Inn. Aki dons an illusiory disguise and finds that he can spend a week in jail and pay a 5 gold fine, or if he can fix Bebenia’s guitar, she will drop charges.
The heroes now try to decide what to do next, trying to find proof that Vibia passed the laws to benefit Diedrich Imports and herself. But they have yet to find how she personally benefits from this, as her family owns vineyards to the south and have no known interests in Angmarian imports.
Session 26: Kidnapped!
[Aug 8th, 2023]
The next morning, the heroes decide to continue their investigation. They decide to try and meet with sickened Magistrate at his manor that evening. Draco wants to convince him to have dinner with him as an envoy of House Aureus. Aki first heads back to the Mysterious Bebenia and negotiate for Sila to repair her guitar. Sila spends the entire day doing so, and Bebenia drops the charges against Aki after Sila restores it to perfection. The others begin to search about the town until the evening. Draco finds a secret magic shop in the harbor district called the Rusty Pestle.
That evening Draco and Aki dress in their finest attire as the others pretend to be their guards. They head to the manor house of Agrippa Triferus. They meet with the guards and are able to get the Magistrate’s advisor, Tertius Gratius, to meet with them at the gate. Draco is able to win him over, but they cannot meet with the magistrate for at least a week while he recovers. The advisor admits the Magistrate was poisoned. Draco instead arranges a meeting with Vibia Audens the next day.
The next day, Draco and Aki meet with Vibia to discuss “regional affairs”. She seems particularly interested in the fact that they are the Moonlit Blades of Milania fame. She locks the door and confesses that brigands have kidnapped her younger sister while she was returning to school in Milania. She explains that a spy, likely sent from Diedrich Imports, had her sister kidnapped by local thugs. He then extorted her to pass those laws benefiting the merchant company while they presumable poisoned the Magistrate. However, the spy has since left, considering the job done. The thugs, on the other hand, are asking for more money before they will release her sister. She is expected to hand off 50 gold coins (which she doesn’t have) the following night.
Draco and Aki agree to take the job (for 40 silver) to find this thug and impersonate Vibia to do so. That day, Draco tries to learn more about Diedrich Imports at the library, but learns little. Scalanis infiltrates a ship owned by Diedrich Imports, the Constant John. He pretends to want a job as a lowly deckwipe and gains entry to the ship while the crew is away. He breaks into the captain’s office, but finds little in the records that stand out. He then narrowingly avoids a fight with the rowdy crew as he leaves.
The next night, the heroes head to the Sunken Anchor Tavern in the North Harbor district, a hole-in-the-wall bar run by a racist, anti-Noradrie, elderly man named Old Bill. The heroes place themselves inside as Aki uses his magic to look somewhat like Vibia, waiting for the meeting with the thugs. Eventually, a dark cloaked man appears, but gets spooked by the obvious mercenaries in the bar. He motions the fake Vibia outside to the alley, where Aki surprises him and knocks him out with a sleeping spell.
The heroes are able to learn from the thug that he is only a go-between with a band of brigands out in the Dark Woods near the city. By threat of force, he leads the heroes to an old fortified shrine in the woods where the brigands hide out. Scalanis sneaks towards it as the others follow, making some noise. The guards appear to have been alerted, because as Scalanis climbs over the broken walls, many bandits fire at him.
Soon, an all-out-melee breaks out as the others heroes climb over the broken wall and strike out at the bandits. They are able to take a couple of them out as they try to avoid the arrows shooting down at them from the high walls.
Session 27: Rescue and Schism
[Aug 15th, 2023]
Sila hears the sounds of combat in the distance. He had been following his friends from a distance, watching them follow the thug into the forest. Now he can hear that they are in trouble. He steps past the unconscious body of the thug and rushes towards the sounds of combat.
Meanwhile, the heroes cut down most of the bandits. Scalanis rushes around the building, meeting up with Castor at the entrance of the old shrine. The others take refuge at the base of a tower as the bandits above fire down at them. Sila climbs over the wall and joins them. Draco uses his magic to pull one of them down to the ground in a painful pull. Byron cuts him down as Draco takes out the second archer on the high wall. Draco, Byron, Aki, and Sila then rush to the shrine entrance where they find Castor and Scalanis in a deadly fight with four bandits and their leader.
Scalanis and Castor try to hold the line, but the bandits scare them with rush tactics and deadly blades. Aki stays back and sings songs of courage and valor as Sila pokes his friends with vials of healing serum. Draco pushes past the bandits while they are distracted and throws spells from the far side. Byron and Scalanis cut down the bandits as Castor tries to get back to his feat.
Eventually, the bandits are all slain and they find the young woman, Velya Audrens, tied in the next room. She tells them that the bandits were worried about the sound of stirring undead in the crypt below and that they mentioned something bout the altar to gain entrance. The heroes lead the woman back to the city, reaching Vibia’s apartment just after sunrise.
She pays them and thanks them for their work, promising to speak with the Knights of Korrond. The next morning, they all meet with the Knights of Korrond and consider the new Magistrate well investigated and discuss starting a regular Tournament in the city instead of the old-fashioned hunts. Byron believes this will appease Bera Greensky and his promise to her.
Epilogue: Byron booked passage to Verland, saying farewell to his friends as he seeks out Jasper Raoult in his hometown. Aki and Scalanis booked passage to Hopesdawn. Draco returned with the others to Milania, escorting young Velya Audrens with them. Draco and Zhorn bought a small office as the new headquarters of the Moonlit Blades Mercenary Guild.