Session 28: The Search for Sextus
[Aug 22nd, 2023] – Starsky 8, 713 GR
Months have passed in Milania as Draco and Zhorn have successfully created their office space. It is nestled off a side alley along Pratdenus Road, not far from the main road to the Perania Gate. It is tucked between the Vicini Lux and Occidencollia districts. On the main Pratdenus Road, stands the Wise Chestnut Inn, where Zhorn and Draco have been resting living spaces. The Inn is run by a late-middle-aged couple named Old Billus and his wife Sula. Their regular brewer and cook, a young man named Karrian, keeps them well-fed.
Over the weeks, the new mercenary guild has been struggling to get decent jobs. They have mostly been living off of basic guard duty and escort missions for merchants and nobles of the city. Draco has been flexing his local connections to keep these jobs coming, ensuring enough coins to keep the office open. However, they have often been discussing with Lars, Castor, and Sila about chasing after Sextus. To both get revenge and seek the bounty on him.
During this time, Sila has met a young man named Ferelin, who seems to have a very troubled past. Sila learned that Ferelin also has an uncanny gift for mental powers. Ferelin’s powers, however, seem quite strong and perhaps dangerous. Sila invited Ferelin to join them as a mercenary to help get on his feet. The very nervous young man agreed, although he seems scared of the wider world, almost as if he feared something was chasing after him.
Also during this time, Draco and Zhorn began to notice a orange tabby cat hanging around the office, seemingly listening to their conversations and hanging out in the rafters of the drafty building. Zhorn began calling the cat Kit. Eventually, the two noticed there was something odd about the cat. It seemed far to intelligent to be a normal cat. Draco eventually uncovered that the cat was in fact a young elven girl, who had the uncanny knack of changing her physical features. She preferred to be in cat form most of the time, hunting mice around the alleyways. Draco and Zhorn began to ensure she always had enough to eat and drink around the office.
Eventually, fliers began to get out and around town, advertising that the Moonlit Blades Mercenary Guild was hiring. Draco and Zhorn were able to interview some new recruits and were finally eager to send a group out to chase after Sextus.
First, was Ernault, a valiant warrior of noble birth. He came upon a fine steed and talked relentlessly about the virtues of Pelaria and Myra, saying that nothing is better than the shining moon upon the lake, where the two gods embrace. He claims to be blessed by these deities and has been granted some divine power to do their will upon this world.
Next, was an older dwarven warrior and monster-hunter, named Afaen Nightshoulder. He claims that he spent most of his life hunting foul beasts in the darkest depths under the mountains. The gleaming sun is a relatively new and painful experience for him. He is eager to lend his skills to help the mercenary guild grow.
Finally, a mysterious woman joined them, named Isolde Stein. When she finally lowered her cowl, her hair seemed like tendrils of steel and she could summon rusted blades at a whim. She was hesitate to reveal herself until Draco demonstrated his own oddness, his sorcerous and draconic nature. She is from Kalrua and has long discriminated freaks and weird folk in her realm, now she finds that she is cursed and become a stranger herself. She has fled her homeland and seeks a cure to her condition.
With the new recruits gathered, Zhorn and Draco explain the mission, to find Sextus in Tortumael and bring him alive for his treasonous charges against the Astonian government. They ask Castor to lead the mission, taking all the new recruits with him. Zhorn and Draco have to stay and handle the administrative work, while Sila and Lars wish to remain close at hand in Milania. Additionally, Draco and Sila do not trust themselves around Sextus, and want to ensure he is brought back alive.
The new group of mercenaries gather some supplies before setting out. Castor choose to take the route through the Eshmira Hills towards one of the lakside villages, where they can find a ferry to Tortumael. The group heads out along the cold hills as the first snows begin to fall. They begin to learn about each other and work as a team to reach the village of Bulsia. During this time, Kit plays many pranks on Castor and the others.
The group then sets out towards the ruins of Lazurus. On the way, they run across three travelers with a cart and donkey. The cart seems to have suffered damage and needs repair. They ask for help and Castor and Afaen begin to search for a way to make a crude, but quick axle for the broken cart. However, the mercenaries soon learn that these are actually cultists of the Cult of Sethma. A fight breaks out and the cultists use dark magic on the mercenaries.
The mercenaries, however, show that they have many gifts themselves. They quickly defeat the cultists and end the threat. Kit takes their holy symbols to bring back to Draco and Sila, whom she knows hates them. The mercenaries then reach the ruins of Lazurus and briefly check out the Sacred Abyss.
The mercenaries then travel through the cold, snowy hills before they see the shining Moon Lake before them. They head down to the village of Etherin to seek out a ferry to Tortumael.
Session 29: The Order of the Eldritch Sign
[Aug 29th, 2023] – Starsky 18, 713 GR
The mercenaries head down into the village of Etherin, heading towards the harbor to find a ferry. As they reach the cobbled streets along the wooden docks they soon find two mysterious groups of cloaked men approaching towards them and from the rear. One of them draws a sword quickly and rushes at Castor. Soon a fight breaks out and the mercenaries find themselves assaulted by cloaked men with swords and daggers.
Afaen is cut down and soon Castor follows. Ernault is able to revive them as they try to hold the line. Isolde summons a carapace of rusty steel and fends off her attackers. Ferelin uses his enhanced mind to blast the minds of his enemies and calculate the best defensive moves. Kit hides in the alley, blasting the enemies with spells from a safe vantage.
The fight seems dangerous and desperate as even more cloaked men begin to join the brawl. It is then that a mysterious woman appears on the roof of a nearby building. She blasts the cloaked men with deadly spells, summoning water and lightning. Castor and Afaen are back on their feet, cutting away at the cloaked men, cutting them down. Soon the men are dead and the mercenaries panting for breath.
The woman floats to the ground and rushes the mercenaries away from the harbor into a shrine dedicated to Erean the Sea King. She is an older Eshmar woman with a fair, painted face. She explains that she is Morwen Teithra, a former member of the Order of the Eldritch Sign, whom those cloaked thugs belong. She says that the Order would follow the arcane signs of the cosmos to predict catastrophic events, however, she now believes her former colleagues are being manipulated by a demon to do its bidding and change events on Enelis. She is working against them now.
She says that the Order will continue to attack them, as for some reason they believe the mercenaries are part of some catastrophic event in the future. They believe that by killing them now, they can stop these events from taking place. She says she may see them again, but that they should now be wary, as she cannot always be there to help. She then disappears through a back door.
The mercenaries head back to the harbor, where they are able to procure seats on a ferry to take them to Tortumael. The journey takes almost two days, during which they meet a young Eshmar scholar named Pena Zhumradel. She tells long tales about the ancient noble houses of Eshlien. She does happen to mention the Order of the Eldritch Sign, mentioning that many noble families in Tortumael are rumored to be members, but no one knows if it truly exists. She says they is a rumor of a connection to the Teilam family.
The long boat journey finds Kit playing pranks on the many other passengers and narrowly avoiding getting caught by the crew. Ernault spends much of the night gazing at the fading moon upon the endless water. The others try to get some sleep on the crowded, uncomfortable benches.
Early morning on the second day and the mercenaries arrive in Tortumael’s harbor. They head to a cheaper district and get food and lodgings at the Careless King Tavern and Inn. They then decide to split up to try to find information about Sextus. Ferelin and Afaen search around the seedy, occult places in the city, but learn little. Ernault and Castor check out the city’s taverns, and Ernault learns that the Teilam Manor is located in the Lakeview District of the city. Isolde and Kit have some confectionaries at the market and find the bounty notice board where a city employee informs them that Sextus has been caught by the famous bounty hunter, Wima Thevenet.
Kit and Isolde quickly learn that Wima is staying at a merchant inn, the Misty Master Pub. Kit scouts the place as Isolde gathers the others. They soon head to the pub and find Wima telling the tale of her prowess against Sextus and showing off her prized head of the man. Castor and the others buy her a round of drinks to hear her story and confirm that it is Sextus’s head. Castor is talked out of trying to steal the head from her and just consider the quest completed, but he is sour about missing the bounty payment.
They decide to take a look at the Teilam Manor, to see if there is any connection with the Order of the Eldritch Sign. On the way to the Lakeview District, they are assaulted by another group of the cloaked Order members. The mercenaries were ready for this fight, and quickly take out the cloaked men with dazzling teamwork. Afaen was able to knock out one of them and hold him for questioning. Townsfolk call for the guards and the mercenaries have to decide to stay or go.
Session 30: The Void Star Beckons
[Sep 5th, 2023] – Starsky 23, 713 GR
The mercenaries act fast, as Afaen grabs the body of the unconscious man. The group bolts it through the alleyways before the guards show up. After disappearing into the back alleys of Tortumael, the mercenaries awaken the member of the Order of the Eldritch Sign.
The Order member speaks of ill omens and the destruction of all. He tells the mercenaries not to seek the “Void Star” for it brings only ruin. He then summons some dark power that causes him to die before them. The mercenaries puzzle over the madman’s predictions and decide to return to seeking out Teilam Manor in the Lake District. They soon find the manor house, but an angry housekeeper forbids their entry and says that Lady Teilam is not present.
The heroes decide to return to the inn and rest for the remaineder of the day. That evening, they head to the Lakeview Park to view the Void Star in the sky. Ernault, who watched the star near the darkened moon the night before, points it out to them. The strange star glimmers with intense brightness, although the center is void and darker than the space between the stars.
The mercenaries speak with a traveling merchant named Cassius, who also comes from Astonia. He comments on a astronomy and a friend of his named Vesuvius who is studying the star in Astonia. The mercenaries get some sleep for the night then decide to take the ferry and return to Milania. After nearly two weeks, they return to Milania. They meet with Draco, Zhorn, and Sila, relaying the news about Sextus and the impossibility of collecting the bounty from Wima.
Their discussion then moves to the Order of the Eldritch Sign and the connection with the Void Star. Draco mentions that Octavia knew a man studying this star and sends the mercenaries to her with a note of introduction. They meet with Octavia who is happy to relay them to her friend Vesuvius Umbonius, who has been studying the Void Star since its appearance months ago. She gives them the coordinates of his camp.
The mercenaries head out to Vesuvius’s camp in the foothills near Ardolia. They find him nestled on a hillside with a homemade telescope. The kind, middle-aged man is startled at first, but then excited to share his discoveries with them. They have some stew as he explains the significance of the Void Star to them and its growth in size and brightness over the past few months.
Night falls and he shares a view of his telescope with the mercenaries. First Ernault views the Void Star, and has a sense of longing and loss. Kit then looks and has a sense of sadness. Afaen only gets a sense of curiosity, and Castor has a sense of rage and anger. Finally, Ferelin peers at the star and is assaulted by a mental entity into his mind, something entirely alien and frightening.
Before he can say much about it though, the mercenaries find themselves surrounded by members of the Order of the Eldritch Sign. A battle breaks out in camp. Castor holds off one side with Isolde as Afaen and Ernault hold the other. Kit and Ferelin provide support. However, up on the hill a magic-user blasts them with assaulting spells. The mercenaries manage to take out the armored Glyph Wardens and then surround the magical Sigil Keeper, taking him out.
After the battle, Vesuvius is startled and frightened by the mercenaries’ presence. He then shows them an encient Elven sextant that glows with magical light. He explains that since the Void Star reached its zenith, it began to hum with power and glow. He suspects that any ancient Stelmar (star elf) are responsible and their items and places may have returned to life, as the Void Star seems to feed their magical contraptions. They were called the Star Elves because of their ability to use the magic of the stars.
The mercenaries stay until morning and then return to Milania to speak with Draco and Zhorn. They decide to head out to the ruins of Lamia Hill, near where Vagrec first appeared, where Aki copied the ancient elven writing that Octavia deemed of Stelmar origin. They suspect that the ancient Stellostium (star-door) may have activated. The mercenaries set out, heading toward Boreana.
Meanwhile, in an opulent noble chamber, Senator Servillia Octavania decides to end her plan to get revenge on the Moonlit Blades for causing her pesh den operation to be closed down. She decides to let things be… for now.
The mercenaries arrive in a cold and snowy Boreana village, where they find the public houses’s ale has diminished in quality since Ingrid’s departure. The next morning, they head to the ruins, though they get lost along the way in the vast white wilderness. Eventually, as evening draws, they see a shimmering portal in the distance.
The ancient Elven archway hums with vibrant energy as the runestones surrounding the archway glow and shimmer with a brilliant glow. Streaks of white light shimmer like forgotten stars as the portal itself is naught but a undulating fluid of pure light, beckoning for entry. As they approach, Kit is able to read the ancient Elven upon the stone archway.
“Stellestium na i dóro i feui” – Star-door to the Fey Realm
However, the mercenaries are then attacked by a group of mischievous fey, but they are able to take them out quickly. The portal now beckons them in the darkness.
Session 31: Into the Otherworld
[Sep 12th, 2023] – Windchill 12th, 713 GR
The mercenaries decide to wait before pushing into the portal of light. They rest nearby, watching the night unfold and the Void Star glow above them. In the night, Isolde is awakened to a herd of elk roaming through the wintery landscape. She attempts to take a stag with her crossbow, but the bolt strikes its flank and the heard flees into the dark forest. She decides to leave it be.
The next morning, the Moonlit Blades step one by one into the portal of light. They are whisked away through a shimmering path of starlight before they step out into an ancient forest in eternal twilight, the Otherworld. They see many ancient Elven ruins around them with various broken and toppled statues of once grand figures. One such statue they confront attacks them, suddenly animated by magic. Castor destroys it quickly with his hammer.
The mercenaries explore the ancient ruins, coming across various fey creatures and finding a few ancient relics. Ferelin finds a Stelmar staff that he uses as a walking stick. The mercenaries then find a large toppled round column. Kit takes to cat form and explores the other side, finding the ruins to be far above the forest floor. She comes across a group of gremlins who surprise her and knock her out. The others rush to her aid, but barely get across the toppled column. They fell the gremlins and revive Kit.
They find more toppled statues and ruined courtyards, fighting more gremlins and dark fey creatures. They eventually find a memorial for Stelmar warriors where only a single word is legible, “Dragon”. They also find a secret stash with a magical potion, though its unknown what properties it has. The mercenaries eventually leave the elven ruins and wind their way down to the forest floor towards what appears to be a giant box covered in stone bricks.
Two massive columns flank the entranceway, and some fey graffiti warns that cunning is required to make it through the labyrinth and find the knowledge within. The mercenaries hesitantly enter the dark orifice, where they find two doors in the first corridor. They open the first door to find a massive spider nest. Four huge spiders come fiercely at them as a swarm of smaller spiders charge in. The mercenaries begin taking the spiders out one by one, but the spiders successfully inject many with their deadly venom. By the time the spiders are felled, Ernault and Castor lay upon the floor dying from the venom coursing through them. Thankfully, they are able to recover before succumbing to a cold death.
The mercenaries retreat to the forest to treat their wounds and prepare for another jaunt into the beckoning darkness of the labyrinth…
Session 32: Danger in the Labyrinth
[Sep 19th, 2023] – Windchill 13th, 713 GR
The heroes press into the darkness again, finding the narrow corridors filled with danger and excitement. They explore the spider-filled room and burn away the webbings, but find little of interest. They continue through the corridors, eventually finding a stairwell down into another level deeper into the ground. As they gaze down at the stairs, four screaming heads come flying towards them.
The monstrous bat-winged heads fly around them screeching and biting at them. The sound of their penetrating wail sends shivers down their spines. Kit particularly finds she cannot move. One of the creatures flies up to her and kisses her paralyzed form on the lips. Ferelin looks in horror as he realizes what these creatures are and what that kiss can do to Kit.
Ernault, filled with determination from his goddess’s edict to destroy evil, strikes out with a renewed fury. As Castor bangs them with his hammer, Ernault knocks them hard into the ground. Afaen and Isolde strike at them as well, felling another. Soon the aberrations are destroyed and the heroes retreat back to the light of the sunny glade outside. Ferelin warns Kit that she will transform into one of those beasts and he begins to study their corpses intently to learn anything that may help. Ernault applies some treatment to Kit, and together with Ferelin’s gathered knowledge, they help subdue and remove the affliction.
The heroes spend a couple hours tending their wounds before heading back into the dangerous labyrinth. Near the stairwell, Castor notices the wall has a slightly different tone than the other bricks. Kit touches the wall and triggers a hidden Elven rune that briefly glows with faint magic. The wall moves aside and a secret way forward reveals a door.
They explore the corridors nearby and find a bubbling bog filled with algae. They fight two elemental water wisps, taking them out quickly. Kit then finds a small hematite gemstone in the bog. The heroes decide to backtrack to near the secret door, where they find another door.
They head through, but within that doorway they only see an empty wall. But they notice the discolored bricks again. Castor runs his hand along the wall, but nothing. Kit then does so, and it triggers another hidden runestone. They suspect her Elven heritage may be what triggers the magic. As the wall pulls way, it reveals a shimmering portal. Castor tries his hand and it seems safe, he and Ernault then enter.
They find themselves in complete darkness with the sound of a squishy liquid something getting louder. Soon the others step through and join them, bringing Ferelin’s torchlight. They see a trio of sickly green slimes coming towards them. Afaen and Ernault move to protect the others, but find the oozes slam them hard with acidic pseudopods. Afaen goes down, but Ernault is able to restore him with the blessings of the Lady of Tranquil Waters. However, Ernault himself is slammed hard to the ground and the others hear the crunch of a broken rib-bone.
The heroes are able to destroy the oozes before anyone else is hurt, but Ernault seems quite injured…
Session 33: A Slimy Near-Defeat
[Sep 26th, 2023] – Windchill 13th, 713 GR
The heroes revive Ernault, but find his injuries are quite severe and one or more of his ribs might be broken. He perseveres and they treat their other wounds before pressing on. They explore more of the long and strange labyrinth, find the twisting dark tunnels filled with strange ancient roots, broken debris, and the occasional copse of mushrooms.
They come across a bog of bubbling green water, covered in a slimy surface. Afaen leaps in to prove it safe, but the others climb around it. Castor falls into the water, and now he and Afaen carry a horrid stench with them. The heroes continue exploring, eventually coming to a strange smelly chamber with a massive pulsating chrysalis.
The egg-like thing bursts and a moving mass of fungi comes forth and attacks them. They manage to take it out quickly, but their attacks disturb five flying bat-like ooze scamps. The scamps blast the heroes with a spray of toxic ooze, then come in biting and clawing at them. The heroes cannot take the onslaught, and each of them are knocked unconscious and bleeding out from cuts. Castor tries to take the remaining beasts out, but fails, leaving one injured and nasty scamp to chase after Kit.
Kit desperately fights back, but she too is knocked out. Hours go by and darkness greets their eyes when they finally come to. Ferelin lights a torch and they see they are all present, though in poor shape. Their pale skin a clear sign of the blood loss. They manage to scramble into a corner and treat some of their wounds, but they are then attacked twice by that phase-shifting spider.
Eventually, the spider leaves them alone and they are able to take a protracted and fitful rest in the labyrinth. They continue exploring until they find the entrance of the labyrinth again. They step outside and allow the healing aura of the Overworld to help restore their wounds. After some debate, they march back into the dangerous labyrinth, exploring a new path.
They eventually come around the whole labyrinth going counter-clockwise, find a few trapped doors, but eventually the center of the maze. Inside, they find a pedestal with a giant stone brazier burning with a magenta flame. They cannot read the writing on the side of the brazier, and Kit touches the flame. The magenta fire engulfs her and she disappears. The others bravely do so as well.
The heroes soon find themselves standing in a beautiful ancient Elven room lit by small blue braziers. They are immediately attacked by three wooden constructs who shout an ancient word akin to “interloper”. The heroes quickly destroy the constructs and continue exploring the strange Elven complex. Unlike the labyrinth, the place seems mostly intact and undamaged by time.
The heroes then come into a wide hall where five statues stand, four wooden statues of Stelmar warriors, and one stone statue of a Stelmar wizard. They immediately come to life as the heroes approach. The warriors seem easy to take out, but the wizard is more difficult. Nearly all of them come close to death, but with perseverance, they defeat the statues. The stone statue was holding a strange mace, labeled Perina Gwing in ancient Stelmar, “Slicing Wave”. Ernault happily wields the mace, finding that he can summon forth a whip of water from its end.
The heroes prepare to continue their explorations…
Session 34: Secrets of the Stelmar
[Oct 24th, 2023] – Windchill 14th, 713 GR
The heroes head through the southern doors, where they find an elaborate map room with a 3D topographical map of the ancient Eastern coasts. The magical map seems to note many ancient Stelmar sites, although most of these sites are crossed out and indicate one word: Rámalóce [Dragons].
The heroes find that one of the sites is listed as intact, labeled Saronost Radagstudui [Arcaneum of Beast-study] suggest it is the lair of the “beastmaster” that Octavia has been searching for. However, this map suggests that the site was moved to a new location in the Eriasha Peaks before the Stelmar’s eventual demise. Perhaps Cauis Cilnius and his werewolves are seeking out the wrong location. They also see an elaborate brass amulet set with a large emerald when the magical indicator is pressed, although it is unclear what the amulet’s relation is to the indicated site. Perhaps it is a key of some sort? Ferelin sketches the map and information for future exploration. The heroes also note that the current site, at Lamia Hill, indicates that it was abandoned by the Stelmar for unknown reasons.
The heroes continue exploring, discovering a set of keys in an old storage room, noting that the Stelmar must have abandoned this site quickly as food preparation seemed to be underway. They then find a dining and study area where Kit finds an ancient text on the classification and properties of numerous plant species.
In the next chamber, the heroes are accosted by four more animated statues of elven warriors. They manage to take them out but Ernault is knocked out in the process. The heroes spend some time to recover, knowing the ancient elves have long abandoned this place. They continue on, finding an old bathhouse, whose perfectly clear water seems to mend old wounds. Ernault finds a beautiful pearl on the bathhouse floor. The heroes spend some time bathing in the magical waters.
The heroes then find a library, where the books have all been removed, leaving naught but a couple magical scrolls. Ferelin and Kit translate a small note left on the desk:
I don’t understand why Ethuven doesn’t comprehend the elemental cycle. Air simply doesn’t counter anything, air is the absence of matter.
The heroes then find an old alchemical garden, with numerous potions left on a desk. In the back chamber, they find an abandoned bedroom, but are then accosted by undead shadows seeking the life of the living. The battle is fierce and dangerous, but with much luck and perseverance, the heroes pull through. Isolde is nearly killed and takes a minor injury to her muscles.
The heroes then spend a couple hours tending their wounds again before pressing on into the final chamber to the south. They use one of the found keys on a large, overly ornate door depiciting scenes of anture. Beyond the door, they find a large magical area that mimics an open glade filled with trees, flowers, and two waterfalls. A clear pool dominates the center of the seemingly outdoor space. As the heroes enter, they are attacked by plant spirits, called leshies. The heroes are barely able to defeat the exploding plant creatures. Ernault, again, is nearly killed but is rescued by his friends.
With the leshies defeated, the heroes spend some moments to reflect on what they have done and many of them feel this is a turning point in their career as explorers and adventurers.
Session 35: The Professor
[Nov 7th, 2023] – Windchill 14th, 713 GR
The heroes explore the large open area of green gardens. Kit discovers that something is unnatural about the place, despite all evidence suggesting it is an eerily perfect natural environment. The heroes take some time to recover their injuries before continuing onward, looking for a way out of the ancient Elven complex.
They find their keys open the double doors into the entry hall, but discover a complex elemental puzzle is required to open the exit. After some try and error, and numerous flashes of painful elemental energy, the heroes are able to decipher the cycle of elements and open the exit door.
They step out back into the ancient forests of the Otherworld, but find a great and once magnificent tree, now blackened and desolate. Under the tree is a strange, twisted tree-like fey with its underlings. The heroes charge towards the enemy, but the grim-stalker summons forth the plants to grasp and slow the heroes down. A battle is spread throughout the area, with Kit nearly killed by a tree-like minion. Ernault saves her life as the others take out the rest of the monsters.
The heroes return to the safety of the Elven ruin, healing their wounds before returning to the path back to the portal to Enelis. They step through to find the same snowy landscape they had left behind. However, there are three mercenaries and an elven woman near the portal as they exit. She tries to introduce herself, but the heroes are then attacked by strange faceless creatures that seem to appear out of nowhere. One of the mercenaries is cut it two.
The heroes fight back against these strange creatures, eventually defeating them and saving the elven woman and her remaining guards. She introduces herself as Anadine Angalarie, a professor of ancient Elven history working with the Historical Society in Hopesdawn. She explains that her many ancient Stelmar artifacts came to life with the void star and she learned about the ruins at Lamia Hill. She expected to find a major research facility here and is fascinated to learn what the heroes discovered.
The heroes bring Professor Angalarie with them through the portal and spend the next several days exploring the ruins in greater detail and discovered a treasure trove of ancient manuscripts and information. Professor Angalarie takes the discovered notes with her as she returns to Hopesdawn, promising to work with the Moonlit Blades to mount an expedition to the lost Arcaneum of Beast-Study.
The heroes return to Milania to report their findings to Draco, Zhorn, and Sila…
Session 36: Winter Woes
[Nov 14th, 2023] – Rarehunt 21st, 713 GR
Many weeks go by as the Moonlit Blades continue to work various small jobs around the city of Milania. Zhorn continues to search for lycanthrope activity in the area with his new protégé, Zlatan Khodasevich, a young Kalruan ranger who speaks little about why he left Kalrua. Draco spends the time increasing his connections for the guild, getting many nobles interested in mercenary services offered. The young noble is also able to begin to garner a network of trust and protection from local taverns to serve as an information network.
Meanwhile, Kit has become fascinated with language and the people who speak them. She has been following people in her cat form, listening to conversations and learning the many languages that pass through the city. She has also been studying more of the ancient Elven language as a new full-fledged member of the Moonlit Blades, hoping this knowledge will add their future expeditions.
Sila has been working on creating alchemical elixirs and tinctures for the crew to aid their tasks. Ferelin has been diving deep into studying for signs of the Order of the Eldritch Sign, but learns little. Ernault has been proselytizing at the river in Milania, trying to get people to listen to the sacred words of the Lady of Tranquil Waters. Meanwhile, Aki is trying to mount an expedition to the mountain of Hethroth’s Hond from the town of Jorvik, to seek the draconic muse.
One cold and rainy day, while most of the Moonlit Blades are gathered in their small office, Scalanis returns to the guild looking frantic and disheveled. He explains that a Hopesdawnian nobleman named Dhengo Themlos is out to get him. Draco had noticed a a sizable bounty (30 gold) for Scalanis on Milania’s posting boards. It seems Scalanis bested this nobleman in a duel and now seeks retribution. Draco arranges for Scalanis to hide out at the nearby Wise Chestnut Inn for safety while Draco sends Lord Themlos a letter hoping to resolve the problem more amicably. Draco also gets the local guards to agree to not arrest Scalanis on the foreign assumption of charge. He then has to deal with a local audit of their business, and the administrator suggests a powerful noble made it happen.
One night, the crew heads over to the inn to grab a drink. Afaen explains how he is a wanted criminal back in Kalavar and how his clan has lost their honor. Afaen goes into a long and sad tale about finding a lycanthrope in the tunnels of the Deep Underground who infected his parents and he was forced to kill his father. Now he is labeled a Kinslayer [Drengehkin]. Draco and Afaen drink late into the night. However, a masked assassin appears seemingly to murder Scalanis. Thankfully, Scalanis screams out and a short battle ensues in the upper corridors of the inn. Scalanis is able to disarm the assassin, who then escapes by turning invisible and leaping out the window to disappear into the streets below.
A couple days later, a very aged dwarf arrives, a prominent member of the Historical Society, Dodak the Historian. He greets the Moonlit Blades and says he is setting up in a suite in a nearby inn as they prepare for Professor Angalarie to arrive. He explains that the professor has found the missing gemstone that is required to open the way to the Arcaneum of Beast-Study, however, it is now missing, suggesting it may have been stolen. She will come as soon as she is able and learns more.
That night, Ferelin has a premonition about the Cult of Sethma, suggesting that another lake may be targeted for a poisonous attack. The next day, Zlatan meets Isolde for the first time, and seems scared by her presence. He explains he has evidence of a werebear attack in the forest outside the city, where some hunters were attacked. Isolde is then confronted by her husband, who tracked her down from Kalrua. He is disgusted by what happened to her and tells her not to bother returning home. Isolde then seeks Octavia, willing to do anything to remove the elemental confluence inside her. Octavia agrees to study it, ensuring that some experiments might be painful, but promises nothing concerning a solution.
The crew assembles to look into the werebear attack, with Zhorn leading a group consisting of Zlatan, Kit, Isolde, Sila, Scalanis, and Afaen. They first talk to the only surviving hunter, where Zhorn confirms that the man is not infected with lycanthropy. He gives them a clear description of the location in the forest and Kit is able to map the location.
Session 37: The Hunt Reversed
[Nov 21st, 2023] – Rarehunt 26th, 713 GR
The heroes gather supplies for their expedition to the forest, with Sila providing many useful alchemical elixirs for the journey. They set out along the road at first, coming across some traveling merchants. They then head northward into the forest. The recent snowfall has blanketed the land in a light layer of white.
Evening falls as the heroes reach the area and they decide to set up camp and search for the hunter’s camp the next morning. After an uneventful night, they find the hunter’s camp, nothing more than a few hide tents, covered in light snow like white mounds.
They investigate the camp, where they find three frozen corpses of local men, one of which had their leg ripped out of its socket. They search the tents, but find only the hunter’s basic belongings. They then notice that the hunter’s coin purses are absent, as if they were robbed. They find a large slash mark on a tree as well. The snow has covered any possible tracks, leaving the heroes with little more to follow up on. They decide that whomever performed this massacre, they might be tempted to go after another camp. So the heroes set up their own camp some distance away, hoping to entice the monsters.
Kit and Afaen decide to go hunting while Isolde and Zlatan get a chance to talk. Zlatan explains that he is on the run from Kalrua and that is why he does not trust Isolde, as anyone can be a spy for the Church of Bael. Isolde reconfirms her commitment to finding a cure and returning to her children, even as Zlatan encourages her to take them away from that life. Meanwhile, Sila focuses on setting the camp while Scalanis focuses on being miserable.
Kit and Afaen search around for any sign of prey to hunt, but the wintery forest is quite scarce. However, Afaen does spot something. He sees two large burly, bearded Kalruans hauling something large between them. He can tell by the rock face that a cavern must be nearby. He and Kit sneak back to the camp and warn the others. They gather their gear and prepare to investigate the cavern.
When they reach the cavern, they find a low entrance and decide to send Scalanis in to scout ahead. Scalanis sneaks quietly inside and finds a campfire deep within the cave, where he see three burly Kalruans. One is cutting off chunks of flesh from a hanging human corpse, the others are munching away on human limbs. Scalanis sneaks back to the others and the heroes prepare an ambush. Afaen then throws a stone to attract the enemies.
One of the men comes out and spots Afaen hiding near the entrance. He runs away and calls for the others. But this seems to be a ploy, because as Afaen follows him he sees the man suddenly turn around and undergo a painful metamorphosis into a werewolf. More werewolves leap out of the shadows and giant dire wolves join them. A grand battle erupts in the cavern as the other heroes join in. Afaen is nearly killed, but Scalanis and Isolde are able to cut down the enemies and rescue him.
Zhorn and Zlatan take a different path but Zhorn is ambushed by the werewolves and only barely escapes. Thankfully, Sila is able to patch everyone up with his astounding elixirs. Zlatan, unfortunately, is ripped apart by one of the werewolves, leaving his friends horrified. Soon, all the heroes face off against the final two werewolves seeking revenge for their comrade.
Session 38: Werewolf Cavern
[Nov 28th, 2023] – Rarehunt 28th, 713 GR
The heroes continue to fight against the two remaining werewolves, even as Zlatan’s bloodied body continues to pool blood upon the floor. With some careful teamwork, the heroes are able to defeat the werewolves. During the fight, Afaen was bitten, but Zhorn is unable to confirm if he has been infected by the lycanthropic curse. The heroes treat their wounds for a bit and discuss what to do next. However, they are then ambushed by a few more dire wolves and another werewolf.
The heroes cluster together as the wolves charge in. The werewolf leaps down and nearly kills Zhorn with its deadly claws and bite. Sila is able to keep everyone fighting with his reviving elixirs, but eventually Afaen and Zhorn are down. But thanks to Scalanis, Isolde, and Kit, the wolves are felled and the werewolf tries to flee. Kit captures him in a tangling collection of plants, allowing Scalanis to finish the monster off. The heroes treat their wounds again, and Zhorn realizes that he has been bitten as well as Afaen.
Meanwhile, back in Milania, Draco is greeted by an old friend from his Academy days, Lar Paetinus. Lar has inherited much of his family’s trade network and is looking for a mercenary company to help him with a problem. He suggests that he wants the Moonlit Blades to pose as bandits and rob and destroy a rival’s caravan in the hills. Draco, however, makes it quite clear that they would never take such a dishonorable job. Draco is able to be very diplomatic about it, however, smoothing things over and possibly securing another contact among the nobility.
Back in the werewolf caverns, the heroes search around the area, finding two magical oils and a small collection of likely stolen coin. In the back of the caverns, they find a wild-looking man in a makeshift cage, he seems injured. There are also numerous dead bodies of men and a horse, as well as half-eaten hunters. The man introduces himself as Ignius, claiming to be a wild man of the woods. However, Zhorn insists that he check the man for lycanthropy. Ignius refuses and grows angry. This anger allows him to shapechange into his hybrid werebear form and break out of the cage.
Zhorn questions Ignius about killing the hunters and this causes the werebear to grow somewhat hostile. Kit intervenes between Zhorn and Ignius, allowing Ignius to share his side of the story. He explains that he was there to share company and a meal with the hunters, and it was the werewolves that attacked. Ignius saved the final hunter and drove off the werewolves. But they ambushed him and captured him.
Kit is able to convince Zhorn to let Ignius leave (combined with Zhorn’s own wounds and uncertainties). The heroes search the chamber and find a note indicating that the werewolves were in the area to find the astronomer Vesuvius, it was signed by “CC”. The heroes decide to head over the Vesuvius’s camp and warn him before whomever is behind this sends another assault.
Meanwhile, back in Milania, Draco is again greeted in the Moonlit Blades office. An armored, dark-haired charismatic man enters with a cadre of dark-robed priests. The Kalruans all wear the unholy symbol of Bael the Tyrant upon their necks. The leader, an inquisitor-knight named Brajko Rabinowcz, inquires that he is looking both for Zlatan and Sigfried. Draco is able to avoid answering the questions directly and invites the inquisitor for a pleasant dinner. Brajko agrees and the two have a long enjoyable night filled with debate about the nature of people and how best to create an orderly society.
Outside the city, the heroes march their way up the mountainous hillside through the thick snowbanks towards Vesuvius’s camp. Suddenly, many black-robed men leap out of hidden places with drawn knives and desperate looks in their eyes. It is the Order of the Eldritch Sign again. The heroes move to defend themselves, felling a few of the cultists quickly. One of the members throws powerful spells at them, burning them with fiery blasts.
Session 39: Vesuvius is Kidnapped!
[Dec 5th, 2023] – Rarehunt 28th, 713 GR
The heroes quickly defeat the remaining cultist, as Isolde and Scalanis cut down the warlock. They don’t have time to deal with much longer, so they quickly tend their wounds and then race on up the hillside to find Vesuvius’s camp. When they arrive, they find four of the hulking werewolves chasing down Vesuvius. One of them grabs him and restrains him as he tries to flee. The heroes rush to his rescue, but the thick snow makes it difficult for them to get closer.
Vesuvious them breaks out of their hold and rushes towards the heroes, but is slashed by werewolf claws and dropped to the ground bleeding. Thankfully, the werewolves patch his wounds, but then carry him off, trying to get away with his unconscious form. By now, the heroes have charged closer and Zhorn, Scalanis, Kit, and Silatoris face off against the werewolves as Afaen climbs up the hillside with Isolde providing ranged support. One of the werewolves charges at Afaen, but the trained warrior manages to trip the werewolf, sending him tumnbling down to the lower area. Afaen pounces on him and the two go one-on-one.
The others take down a couple of the werewolves, but sustain great injuries. Scalanis is eventually cut down, trying to save Vesuvius. Isolde helps Afaen deal with the one werewolf and the two rejoin the others, but Afaen is cut down shortly after. Then Cauis Cilnius appears, throwing the area into chaos with a spell of grasping vines. The werewolves knock down Zhorn and the werewolf carrying Vesuvius gets some distance from the heroes. Isolde is cut down and Sila desperately tries to revive his friends.
Cauis Cilnius and the werewolf escape, with Vesuvius in hand as the heroes desperately deal with their wounds and injuries. They gather Vesuvius’s mule and Kit takes his telescope. They use the mule to carry Zlatan’s body back to the city. The heroes return to Milania late that night, broken and defeated. Vesnia Bato of the Church of Pelaria is awoken to perform a successful ritual to stop the lycanthropy in Zhorn and Afaen.
The next morning, Zhorn performs a ceremony for Zlatan to rest, but is greeted by Brajko the Black who suggests that Zlatan stole a holy artifact from the Church of Bael in Kalrua when he fled to Milania. He also asks about Sigfried and Zhorn is unable to conceal that he saw the man and that he might have spoken to someone else in the office. Draco is trying to find information about Cilnius and updates Octavia the Scholar on the situation. He decides to search about his properties to learn where he might have taken Vesuvius.
Isolde heads to Octavia to begin their experiments. Through the painful and grueling process, Octavia is able to show Isolde the elemental conflux inside of her and show that she has control over it. Isolde learns how to control the power completely and suppress it enough to allow her to look normal. Octavia asks Isolde to return for more experiments. Afterwards Isolde is confronted by Brajko the Black who is looking for Sigfried. He threatens Isolde (and possibly the safety of her children), but Octavia comes to Isolde’s defense and gets the intimidating men to leave.
Session 40: The Savague Separti
[Dec 12th, 2023] – Windchill 15th, 713 G.R.
Meanwhile, in the rolling hills of Betana County in Verland, Byron Arsenault returns to his home village of Rivier. There he learns that Lord Boissolot, the manor lord of the county, has been kidnapped after a failed attempt to conquer a rival county. He shares tales of the Moonlit Blades with his friends as he catches up on local affairs. Byron then meets with a separatist group composed of locals and mercenaries who wish to rescue Lord Boissolot and remove the control of Lady Guimara Herisson. Byron is able to join the group thanks to his connection with Old Jorge and his mother.
When Byron joins his first meeting, he finds that the man who killed his father, Jasper Raoult, is among the separatists. He puts aside his hatred for the moment as he joins in the planning of rescuing Lord Boissolot from Fort Herisson before the fort increases its garrison. Among the crew are local friends of Byron from Bretana county, and a few mercenaries that want to get their payment from the imprisoned lord.
There is Jaquin Thévenet, Felix Didier, and Hebert Genest, friends of Byron and local freemen of Betana county. The last two, are Raoul Dufour, a mercenary-priest of Hermaen the Vault Keeper; and Dietrich Gunderson, an Angmarian mercenary. Jasper Raoult rounds out the crew with Byron. The group decides to sneak their way into the dungeon through a sewer grate.
When the Savague Separti reach Fort Herisson, they find it dark and quiet. They sneak through the sewer grate as planned, but are nearly discovered sneaking over to the prison entrance. Raoul is able to don a magical disguise, appearing as another guardsman. This allows the group to enter without trouble. They find a puzzle blocking the doorway, but they quickly figure out the mechanism and head down into the prison.
Downstairs, they are greeted by a guard behind a set of bars. Raoul, in disguise, pretends that Byron (as a bounty hunter) has come to deliver Jasper Raoult, a wanted man. This ruse works, and the guards escort Byron and Jasper to the deep, double-locked prison section. Raoul pretends to go off duty in the break room. At the door to the prison cell, Jasper and Byron fight against the guard, but find reinforcements are underway. It seems the lord of the fort, Sir Reynard de Montclair, had his right-hand man and squire, Esquire Paduan, trying to get Lord Boissolot to sign a contract relinquishing his lands to Lady Herisson for his freedom.
Chaos breaks out in the narrow prison corridors. Back at the entrance of the prison, the other four: Jaquin, Felix, Hebert, and Dietrich rush out and try to take out the guard behind the bars. Raoul emerges, pretending to help the guards as Felix rushes in and bashes his head open. The other guards flee as the Separti charge into the prison. Meanwhile, Byron and Jasper find themselves overwhelmed as the prison’s executioner emerges, swinging a mighty axe.
The others charge in to help, getting past the second gate, while Deitrich faces off against the single guard back at the entrance. The executioner manages to cut hard into Byron’s neck, who drops to the ground bleeding out. Before Byron dies of blood-loss, he has some satisfaction watching the executioner hack off Jasper’s head in one fell swoop.
Raoul double crosses the men of the fort and gets Lord Boissolot to pay him off, tearing up the contract he was supposed to sign. The other member of the Savague Separti charge in and defeat Esquire Paduan and his guards. They release Lord Boissolot and escape out the sewer grate and back to Betana County. The Lord thanks them for their rescue and pays those he promised. Knowing the political aftermath would be great, some of the Separti decide to head out of Verland for awhile to avoid conflict.
Jaquin, Byron’s closest friend, tells of Byron’s passing to his mother and takes his favored axe to return to the Moonlit Blades and share news of his passing there. Raoul, Dietrich, and Felix decide to join him and see if this mercenary guild can offer them any work as they stay clear of the politics of Verland.