Lands of Astoria

The Last Moments of George Madoc
for now

The Rite of the Alpha Wolf. Recognition, and a great boon from the founder. Revenge, at long last.

Lost in a familiar berserker rage, foaming at the mouth behind my mask. Frenzied hacking and slashing at the commander.

Viktor’s fate comes later. He will remember, one way or another.

A blade in my gut – not an unfamiliar or unexpected sensation, but definitely an unwelcome one.

More unexpected is the insistent tugging at the very seat of my being. I shrug it off.

I don’t shrug it off the second time.

The tugging becomes as irresistible as the blows of a dwarven war construct; I fight it with everything I have, my vengeance so close to hand… but the blade has its way.

My soul is engulfed by a cacophonous black void, and my lifeless body falls to the loamy forest floor. A storm of memories, sensations, and emotions assaults me; scything waves of terrible despair, threatening to scour away everything that makes me who I am.

I barely cling to my most recent memories. Of a commander who betrayed the ideals of the reformed Wolves, who wields the blade I currently find myself trapped in. Of a nemesis who didn’t even remember my name. Of having lost my first family in Sior’s Reach, my second family in the Wolves, and my third family in the Alliance of Convenience.

Of my vengeance, denied.

The storm abates in the face of the hurricane which now sweeps through the void, and I am the hurricane.

I tear through the inky blackness, howling my wrath and indignation. But there are no boundaries to cross, no doors to break down; I rant and roar and rage and scream, and nothing stands in my way, yet I cannot escape.

I am an unstoppable force moving through an infinite space.

I lose track of time, drowning in my own fury, choking with rage. The other voices are quieter now, not willing to risk losing themselves to me as I almost lost myself to them.

Eventually I arrive at the eye of the storm. The hurricane rages around me. Chaos and clarity surround me in equal measure.

I am the calmest I have ever been.

I have never been more furious.

I listen to the other voices.

And I wait…

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Session 11: Changing Fronts

Part 1 – Early days,
Opening a keep whilst on a war footing can yeild both boons and trials. Construction over the past two months has been quite frenetic, I must say, but with the Queen's approval we've moved forward with the mission of refurbishing a disused keep on the Eastern front. We departed the capitol some 8 weeks past, leaving behind [Lachlan's character, sorry Lachlan, can't remember his name right now] to attend to more research, and set out via airship towards our new home for the next several months.

On a personal note, I must say the novelty of having an airship under my command (even if through this adventurers collective) is a decidedly novel experience. It's an object of beauty, and the engines are simply fascinating to watch work. I simply do not understand why so many of my people refuse to travel by airship. Valarum could replicate this technology easily through the
Corp, if the higher ups could just overcome their own damn prejudice against flying.

Whilst journeying to our new location, a message reached us via Ori's connections that the Wolves of Castranovus (of which our members Ori and George counted themselves among their number) had started behaving oddly and making some maneouvres that lead us to suspect the leadership of that organisation might ally with the Ephrians against Tegria. Protected as they
are by the Whisper-Woods, such an alliance would be devestating to Tegria's defenses. George set out immediately to investigate, and if necessary intervene. We've yet to hear from him since then, and I can only hope this is due to the difficulty sending messengers through the woods, and not due to any calamity that's befallen my favourite inebriate.

When we arrived at the ruined keep, we were greeted by Daunton, the engineer sent by Lord Darrington of Keep, to assist with the construction. With him had come a vertible gaggle of masons and laborers, without which the reconstruction work would have progressed much slower than we've had so far. With their assistance, we've managed to reconstruct the keep and
fortify it strongly with an outer wall, and build a fortified tower further to the west connected to the main keep via concealed passage. We've also invested heavily in the foundation of a settlement outside the walls of our keep, establishing a guildhall and trading centre. Now we have only to continue to hire staff, and encourage trade to ensure our new little settlement of can thrive not just during this time of strife, but long after peace is established as well. We've opted to christen the settlement Grovemount, due to the elevated position of the keep and in honour of the Druidic Grove we're planting within the keeps walls. This place has great promise, and is located close to the mountains, so there's a chance we'll be able to found a profitable mine nearby.


Part 2 – Trouble at the Gates
Keeps are expensive. Despite the considerable fund provided to us by the Queen for this effort, the maintenance and necessary services for a defensive structure of this size are considerable.  The numerous trade opportunities we've invested in locally go some way towards offsetting this cost, but with the war effort and our trading post being located so close to the front, we've had difficulty attracting the highest quality of traders. The other day I went into the potion shop, and the damn charlatan was selling vials of coloured water. "Homeopathic Remedies" my arse. I  wanted to run him out of town at gunpoint, but Tayis was adamant that he'd paid the duties to sell his wares, and subsequently had a right to run his business within our settlement. Ridiculous if you ask me, but he knows the the laws of this land better than I, and how far they stretch to protect this lands citizens.

At least we've managed to secure a full complement of staff. Our Major Domo, Tillus, is an exceptional organiser, and without her we'd be hard-pressed to keep our little keep ticking away. But with her help we've secured a labourers and guards, medics, craftsmen, everything we need really to keep this place ticking over. We've even managed to hire a local druid to come in from the forest and tend to our littel Grove that we've started from the Underdark Shroom kits I bought for Ori and Puvin. In George's absence, it's fallen to me to ensure the training of our local guards are up to scratch for the upcoming conflict, and to drill our common folk so they're prepared should our settlement fall under attack. It's hard work, and has left me little time to continue my research on the powerful and fragile underdark enchantments, but progress on that front continues, albeit slowly.


Today our role as defenders of this frontier lands was tested for the first time; the keep of Grovemount is located just a few hours march from the Gate Fortress, which defends the underground passage that is the only safe passage between the two kingdoms. Our location is not a mistake, as our orders are to draw the focus of any invading army that makes it through the Gate, however in all honesty any force large enough to push through that defensive fortress
would likely overwhelm our keep also.

Such an event had seemed to occur this morning, as we were approached by a small force of soldiers wearing Tegrian colours. Some of their members seemed injured, and they claimed to be members of the garrison force at Gate Fortress, which was, according to their account, currently under attack and desperately needing reinforcement. We made preparations for our keep to defend itself should the fort fall and an Ephrian army come through, and sent word to Keep and the Capitol of this news, then prepared to set off to the Gate Fortress to reinforce. During our preparations, we noticed that the messengers were not as injured as they had made themselves appear, and their leader, though a good orator, was disguising an Ephrian accent
whilst speaking Tegrian.

Suspicions aroused, we followed the "Gate troops" back towards gate, accompanied by a compliment of our own guards. Sure enough, within a few miles the "Tegrian" troops turned to attack us, and were joined by a larger compliment to do battle with us at a bridge at a nearby river.Though not actually surprised by this turn of events, we were still greatly outnumbered by troops armed with heavy crossbows and separated from us by the river. Our guards valiantly sought to draw fire, while Tayis and I took to the air to try and take what advantage we could from that direction. Our druid Puven drew down lightning from the heavens itself to break apart the enemy formations, but it was little Ori who proved the most advantageous ally of the day.

The Ephrian leader, seeing a small and weaker spellcaster seemingly unprotected, rushed our little friend and fired upon her at point blank range with a pistol. The inferior Ephrian weapon backfired though, fouling its mechanism and not damaging Ori as much as intended. Ori used the distraction of the Sergeant to draw upon her fey magics, teleporting across the river and levelling a lightning bolt from her wand at the crossbowmen still across the river, felling a full
third of the enemy compliment in a single shot.

After that we managed to subdue the remaining enemies, except for one which managed to escape even from our fleet-footed Tayis. Their leader was killed, but many of the remaining soldiers surrendered. After tending to our wounded guards and taking account of our losses, one of our young guards, a lad named Jimmy, was killed in the combat. We opted to
instruct our remaining guards to assemble a litter for Jimmy, and sent them to take Jimmy's body and our prisoners back to Grovemount, whilst we pressed onward to confirm Gate's fate.

When we arrived at Gate Fortress, (a mighty fortress set into the immense mouth of an enormous natural cavern through the mountains), we found the outer wall staffed by soldiers in Tegrian uniforms. When we approached the wall and announced our presence, they immediately opened fire upon us. Ori was able to veil Tayis and myself, but Puven was forced to take the form of a fleet-footed horse and hoof it whilst under fire. It proved to be a good trick, getting him almost out of the range of the walls defenders, but he was  peppered with bolts and fell back to his dwarven form. He was able to create an outcrop of rock to hide behind, but the invisible members of our party were unsure how we would rescue him from his predicament. He surprised us all by shapeshifting again, into a small snake, and slithering through the tall grass until he was well out of their range.

Having confirmed that Gate Fortess was indeed in the hands of Ephrian loyal troops, we returned to Grovemount to determine our next move. When we arrived at our home, the forces of Lord Darrington of Keep had arrived to reinforce us, and I end this log to go now to the war-room and prepare our next strategy. God's favour us.

Part 3 – Denying the Ephrians Entry
I am writing this now in the late evening, despite my weariness from multiple battles today, to try and keep the events fresh in my mind to record them. After my last log entry, we as a group joined Lord Darrington and Sir Hughbert [yes?] in our war room to determine our strategy for taking back the Gate Fortress. We received word from the Capitol that Tegrian spies on the Ephrian side of the border were reporting a large force of Ephrian troops moving through the
Eastern Gate Fortress, and if we could not retake the fort we'd soon have the entire Ephrian army moving into Tegria.

It was established by the council that we must immediately mount a mission to the fort, with 3 priorities;
either: 1 – Take back the fortress, and garrison it with troops loyal to Ephria. Sir Hughbert assured us
that the Gate defenses on the Ephrian side are sufficient to stop almost any army.
2 – If that proved impossible, or if the Fortress of Gate had been sabotaged to allow entry from the Ephrian side,
we were to attempt to rig a bomb using our available airship fuel, to attempt to bring down the cavern passageway,
and block entry from Ephria entirely.
3 – if all such options failed, we were to take our airship and fly it into the cavern mouth, and detonate the engines.
It was anticipated that this blast would be sufficient to cause a large enough collapse to block the cavern.

With these priorities in place, a strategy was developed to deploy the members of the alliance of convenience, along with a compliment of lord Darrington's knights lead by Sir Hughbert himself. We were to take our available airship, and all our remaining fuel, and circle around the fortress from the north. Approaching from the Eastern side, we could repel down the mountain to the cave mouth, and gain access to the top of the wall and breach it.

Lord Darrington was to approach with the bulk of his and our groundforces on foot, in the hopes that we could capture the fort and reinforce it from the Tegrian side, and to besiege the fortress if we failed. Our ship was left above, with instructions to come on a suicide run if we failed.

The rest of this account of the mission is what I've determined from debriefing as many of my colleagues as I could after the mission was completed. We took the airship on a wide arc to the north of Gate and moved into position up the cliff face, high above the wall of the Gate. We then made our way down the cliff-face via rappel, until the knights and our party were in position just outside the cavern entrance. Tayis opted to go ahead and scout the lay of the land
and managed to sneak over the top of the waiting guards and mark their locations, as well as finding an extra cache of enemy combatants standing guard over the Gate's gate-controls. All seemed to be going well for him, until he attempted to set some simple traps for the guards (to increase the odds for our party). It was at this point he was discovered by
a lookout, and the rest of our  cohort was forced into action.

Rappelling and flying down to the wall, we engaged a larger force of enemy forces, which turned out to be made up both of common soldiers and spellcasters prepared to counter our own spells. Both Ori and Puven found their efforts rapidly thwarted, and it looked like we were in trouble, until Sir Hughbert and his knights rappelled into the fray. Hughberts knights were as practical and efficient in their combat as their unadorned armour led us to believe, but Hughbert…

A word here to any potential researcher who may get the "opportunity" to meet  Sir Hughbert in melee combat: Don't.

Hughbert mowed through the defending soldiers, each swing of his massive hammer driving another enemy back. Each blow sent another of our enemies flying from the high walls of Gate, to fall to their death or permanent disability. He is a devestatingly efficient soldier, and thoroughly enjoys battle (from the amount he was laughing during combat, that's all i can assume).

My own efforts were less spectacular, I performed at my usual combat capacity, but was unfortunately rendered unconcious during combat by one of the spellcasters.

Tayis, I've heard, acquitted himself with his usual grace and lethality, but was also overcome eventually by the superior numbers of the defenders. But between the combined efforts of ourselves and the knights, we overcame the defending forces and retook the Gate, in time for Lord Darrington to bring through his groundtroops and re-fortify the eastern side of the
fortress.

I've yet to get the details of the encounter when the Ephrian forces made it to the Gate Fortresses eastern defenses, but from what I've been told the Ephrians suffered a massive and decisive defeat when they approached the heavily defended fortress that they assumed was being held by their allies.

According to Lord Darringtons officers, when they perused the logs of the enlistment logs of the Gate garrison, in the months prior to their defection, lords Thorn and Fitzwilliam managed to pad out the garrison with soldiers loyal to themselves (and now therefore Ephria), in order to facilitate the Ephrian forces entrance into Tegria. With this plot foiled, we may gain a reprieve from the threat of invasion, as the Ephrian's lick their wounds and try to come up with
alternative plans.

Now, I'm to bed and rest, the coming weeks will likely be busy with continued preparations, as I'm certain that these events will only slow the Ephrians advance, not halt it. I need sleep.

 

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Session 10: the Bloodgames
Presented by K'thriss Drowb and Alhoon Parry

Scene opens of an aerial shot of the drow arena

We see a packed crowd, mostly drow with the occasional Draegeloth, troglodyte or quasit pack in the crowd. A large purple worm sits in a section of the arena with a small booth seated beneath it, the two commentators – K’thriss Drowb, a drow warlock and Alhoon Parry the Mindflayer Arcanist.

Scene zooms out to show this image on a small magical screen in the commentator’s box

K’thriss: “Alright ladies and gentlemen it looks like the spider-screens are up and we are live here at the 75th bicentennial Blood games live from Lovely Menzoberranzan, the tournament is looking to be a short one with only 4 teams entered but from what we’ve heard the teams will have plenty of surprises for you folks today, but before we get into that why don’t we introduce ourselves, I’m K’thriss your regular deathsport commentator and joining me are a couple special guest commentators….”

* K’thriss looks towards Alhoon*

Alhoon: “Thanks K’thriss, a pleasure to be here for those who don’t rcognise me I am Alhoon Parry, I ussualy run things over at the Darkspire, it’ll be good to see how you folks handle it over here”

K’thriss: “Don’t worry Al I’m sure you’ll be in for a treat and behind me a face that regular fans of the bloodgames will be sure to remember – its last games champion Purple Worm!”

Camera feed pans up to purple worm

Purple Worm: “GRAAAAGGHROAGRAAAAAGH, SNAP, KRAAGGGHSSAAS!”(Thanks for having me, I Enjoy this food place!)

K’thriss: “Allrighty then now that’s sorted why don’t you introduce our lineup to the crowd Al”

Alhoon: “Gladly K’thriss, and boy this lineup a doosey, we’ll start with the hometeam, Lolths Fangs, easily the fan favourites this year they’ve been having a good run in the arena lately and I hear they’ve brought some fun surprises to today”

K’thriss: “Right you are, as usual Al though there was some disappointment when they announced their team captain the Wonderful Asha Vandree after she decided to take a vacation to the Mantol-Derith and her return was delayed by the Duergar. That does lead us to the next team of today the duergar StoneSplitters, a vicious band of battleragers and warmongers ready to split skulls aswell as stone.”

Alhoon: “Yeah they sound like a vicious bunch of dwarves and from what I hear there might be just as much excitement for their fights as the Fangs, though for very different reasons im sure”

K’thriss: “Certainly Al, infact most of the crowd was leaping from their seats when they were told we would see these two come up against each other and finally end the feud they’ve had for the past sixty years or so in the arena. But moving on we have two remaining teams in this year’s pool, both of them a bit of wildcards, first we have the Necromancer Kraztar Darkmagic and his fleshgolems, up against a ragtag band of surfacers, newly arrived in the underdark. Let’s start with Kraztar, Al what can you tell me about him, I hear hes been a crowd favourite over at the Darkspire lately”

Alhoon: “Why yes, he has been making quite a name for himself, they really love all the ticks he’s brought to the table in past fights and what else would you except for a wizard from the New Hampshire Darkmagics, Kraztar may be a bit of an outcast but he keeps their signature flair. Honestly im not even sure if will be much of a competition between him and the newcomers.”

K’thriss: “Now now Al, don’t be so quick I happen to have it on good authority that the surfacers may be tougher than they look, I have it on good authority they’ve managed to make a good impression on both the merchant and warrior house and if they made it all the way to Menzoberranzan on their own they must be good at surviving. But it looks like time for speculation is over Al, the gates are opening and our first fight is beginning”

screen in background shifts to view of the arena and the commentators turn towards it as the view zooms in

Party assembles around entrance to the arena, Kraztar is walked in on a palanquin by his Flesh Golems and lowered to the ground as they position themselves before him

K’thriss: “an impressive entrance by Kraztar, it looks like he came dressed to impressed and am I mistaken or is that robe what I think it is Al”

Alhoon: “You bet your wand it is, and Im sure any of our viewers magically inclined recognise that particular ace in the hole but let’s keep it a surprise for the rest of the crowd”

K’thriss: “I wouldn’t have it any other way Al.”

Bell rings out as the battle starts

Kraztar waves a cloud of dark glittery mist over himself then disappears from view immedietly

K’thriss: “Strong Start from Kraztar, it’s going to be interesting to see how they deal with that one”

George, ‘Fighter’, Mystic and Druid run forward, Tayis and Ori split to different sides of arena to look out for wizard and summon a Panther

Alhoon: “Sure enough but s you said the newcomers look to have a plan, they obviously know what each of them should be doing and Kraztar will have to be wary if they can keep someone on the lookout for him and summon their own allies.”

Gloomy summons lightning and buffs golems

K’thriss: “oooh a rooky mistake from the druid there, obviously that druids never dealt with flesh golems and that is going to cost them.”

Flesh Golems charge forward, one falls in a pit

K’thriss: “Luckily for him those golems are not the brightest servants available so that may even them out a bit”

Sudden necromantic explosion in the centre of area

K’thriss: “AND THERE IT IS LADIES THE FAMOUS DARKMAGIC MAGIC! What a show it is”

Alhoon: “Yes but it’s a risky play by Kraztar allowing his golems to be hit in that blast he won’t be able to keep that up if he wants to have some guards around”

Legion Leaps over the golems and onto Kraztars side of the arena, meanwhile the rest of the party begins to lay into the golems and Gloomy summons some flame, Tayis flys over the pit and gets ready to shoot Kraztar again

Alhoon: “Looks like the newcomers are showing their fangs, between the fire and their magic weapons I’m sure they’ll make quick work of the golems and obviously the newcomers share that sentiment with some of them already keeping an eye out for Kraztar”

K’thriss: “Like I said before Al anything that can make it to the Underdark is going to hold its own in the arena”

Poisonous cloud is released over the party and golems

Alhoon: “As excpected though Kraztar is not letting up and now that the irons hit the anvil he’s giving his minions the advantage on the field with a classic necromancy favourite cloudkill”

K’thriss: “definitely one of the many advantages of undead minions is that they are just so lolth-damn resilient. But this does leave him open to attack from the other team.”

Tayis misses a shot at Kraztar

K’thriss: “But I get the feeling he’s not that worried for now”

‘Fighter’ charges forward, Legion leaps in front of Kraztar and begin attacking him. Tayis takes a shot at him after dipping in the pit, but he escapes mostly unharmed

K’thriss: “To be fair though these newcomers are making wonderful use of the terrain but it seems magic is trumping skill for now”

George retreats to Ori for healing, Golems charge after Gloomy and Vera, Vera is knocked unconscious and tossed into the pit

Alhoon: “And it seems things are going pretty poorly for the rest of them, they better hope their friends can finish Kraztar quickly if they want to see the end of the fight”

Kraztar pulls out a wand of lighting and blasts ‘Fighter’, Legion and Tayis

K’thriss: “Boy howdy Al you were right when you said he had flair, I haven’t seen a wand quick draw like that since Octavious the Octomancer”

Legion blasts the wizard back against the wall almost killing him and impaling him on spikes

Alhoon: “As always though he should have been more careful, those necromancers have a habit of getting too cocky”

K’thriss: “Let’s see if it’s not too late for him to learn that lesson today!”

Tayis runs forward ready to ambush the wizard once he steps out again, rest of the party continue blasting the golems

Kraztar lifts himself a bit off the spikes then rips a star from his cloak then blasts Legion with magic missiles, He gets blasted 9 times and he goes down Boromir style but is saved by some last second healing words

a small dart is shot from the crowd and finishes him undetected

K’thriss: “Another excellent display of how quickly things can turn around in the arena, and a mighty last show of force from Kraztar but in the end it was not his day.”

Alhoon: “Such a shame to see a good wizard die, but hell serve as a reminder to other aspiring arcanists, don’t let your enemies get close.”

*Other fight happens off screen *

K’thriss: “Welcome back viewers, hope you enjoyed the break because its time to get onto our thrilling finale of the 75th bicentennial Blood games, with me is Alhoon Parry, and unfortunately, or fortunately as some might view it, our second guest commentator will be unavailable for the finale as due to the double elimination during the second bout he has returned to the arena to defend his title”

Alhoon: “Certainly a day of upsets, who knows we may even see a new champion at the end of the day. Ha Ha!”

K’thriss: “Ha Ha, Yeah let’s get down to it Al and see if these up and comers have what it takes to take home the prize! Let’s get down to it folks!”

Party enters the arena and spreads out awaiting Purple Worm

Puprle Worm Rolls out to the stage and the bell tolls

George and Legion charge the worm and begin slicing into it, Vera and Gloomy unleash lightning and gunshots at the worm

Alhoon: “I must admit you were right earlier today when you said not to underestimate these newcomers, they certainly excel at destruction.”

*Tayis tries to drop spider box in the worms mouth but misses sending spiders all over the field. *

K’thriss: “True but it seems some may be more suited than most.”

Ori blasts the worm with her eldritch blasts

Worm attacks George and Legion, missing Legion and unable to swallow George

K’thriss: “It seems luck is on their side today though, or Purple Worms just a little rusty after his early retirement!”

Alhoon: “Who knows maybe he’s still a little full after eating my former colony last week. That much illithid must take a while to digest”

K’thriss: “Ooph! I’m sorry to hear about your colony!”

Alhoon: “Don’t be K’thriss, I was kicked out centuries ago for being a wizard, and those brain suckers frankly deserved it!”

Party continues to attack the worm and Tayis drops down on it

K’thriss: “Not exactly elegant but they certainly are tenacious”

Alhoon: “You can say that again K’thriss”

worm attacks again and stings Legion, almost taking him down

Alhoon: “And there it is the famous Purple Worm Poison we’ve all heard so much about.”

K’thriss: “Just look at that man, he’s stumbling like a Quaggoth who ran into a Gas Spore, thankfully for him Purple Worm is not looking good!”

Party continues to swarm Purple Worm and finish him off

K’thriss: “What a show Ladies and Gentlemen, certainly a display like this only comes along every few bloodgames, Any last words Al”

Alhoon: “At this point im not sure what else needs to be said, we saw a lot tonight and it was an honor to sit here and bring the entertainment out to all you fine folk watching this on the Web. Thank You!”

K’thriss: “Couldn’t have put it better myself Al, from the Westrift Aren in Menzoberranzan this is K’thriss Drowb and Alhoon Parry signing off!”

 

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Session 6: Northward Bound
25 words at a time

SGT Madoc's Report

Day 1 of Operation Queen’s Alliance of Convenience

We left Ballinor for Valtarum in pursuit of recruiting the dwarves, stopping over in North Stoke and then proceeding to Min Barom, and from there to the Capitol of Thol Darum.  At some point Hesskn Hn left our group for reasons unknown.

Upon arriving at Stoke we observed a number of bodies hanging from a building near the town square, and I was informed that there were other Wolves in the vicinity. Upon entering the tavern I learned of a separate Operation being conducted there by CMDR Killgor, supported by SGT Jorin and a dozen Journeymen, using the village as a staging ground for any Operations being conducted in the North. CMDR Killgor informed me how to get from Min Barom to Thol Darum, and provisioned me with winter supplies. CMDR Killgor also informed me of a Dwarven Artificer currently staying at the inn who could be useful given our recent airship acquisition. We recruited this Artificer, Vera.

The rest of my party was unhappy with how the Wolves were conducting themselves, and Tor confronted me about it. I sought guidance from the Castra and was informed that while this was an important staging ground, if we beat CMDR Killgor by trial of arms then he did not deserve to lead and there would be no hard feelings regarding the Wolves losing North Stoke.

I put this to Tor and he challenged Killgor to a trial of arms, with quarter to be given. Should Tor win, then CMDR Killgor would give up his rank and the Wolves would vacate North Stoke. Should CMDR Killgor win, Tor would renounce his paladinhood to Bahamut. Tor agreed. Tor was struck down, but CMDR Killgor withheld the killing stroke so as to allow Tor to seek quarter, presuming that Tor would want to do so. Tor took the opportunity to strike CMDR Killgor instead, before being knocked unconscious. CMDR Killgor was of the opinion that as he had offered quarter and quarter had been refused, quarter would not be given and he would take Tor’s head. His blood price for not doing so was too high for our party to afford given the stakes in our current mission, so he killed Tor.

We then left North Stoke for Min Barom. En route, our priestess Eleanor used one of the scrolls of resurrection to bring Tor back. Curiously, his scales changed colour from brass to white, and I did not see him use any of his Bahamut-given abilities in the subsequent battle, though he was taciturn as to why he struck CMDR Killgor and what effect this action had upon him. In mid-afternoon a red dragon attacked the Valiant, incinerating Eleanor during the ensuing battle. Before Tor struck it down, the dragon demanded that we hand over our wealth in the name of ‘Serathastor’, presumably its master. Tor managed to use another scroll of resurrection to revive Eleanor, and we continued on to Min Barom, harvesting the dragon en route. We arrived just before nightfall and stayed in the Leaky Mule’s VIP suite.

Day 2 of Operation Queen’s Alliance of Convenience

We awoke to Tor’s absence, his Bag of Holding and Ring of the Ram, and a note explaining briefly that he had to go. It would appear that he has fallen and can't get up.

We split up, with most everyone going to meet with Min Barom's lord and myself going to recruit a pilot. I located the Pilot's Guild and found their sole remaining pilot, Cogline, being courted by a group of Efrians. After ferocious and unrelenting negotiation I beat their insulting offer of 10000gp with my own offer of 10100gp, this figure having been obtained from the Efrians' poorly guarded negotiation notes. The pilot did not take well to the Efrians' manner when they were informed of their loss, so he kicked them out of the guildhouse. I met up with the rest of the party, who had been successful in their audience with Min Barom's lord, and we proceeded into the tunnel systems to Thol Darum.

After 8 hours of twisting tunnels and rushing rapids, we arrived at Thol Darum. Vera had informed us that Thol Darum's canals were known for their clear, almost glowing water, and the city itself for its opulance. The city actually appeared to be afflicted with some manner of sickness, with the canals covered in fungal blooms and numerous seemingly plague-stricken homeless dwarves in the street. We were greeted by the harbourmaster and his guards, who had crazy eyes and hostile manners and who demanded to know whether we had come to steal their gold. They also wanted a docking fee to the tune of a thousand gold, the rat bastards.

En route to meet with the Orsaker Brighthammer, the Queen's godfather, we encountered a dwarf unlike the others who flocked Thol Darum's streets fearful of their own shadows, who asked to accompany us to meet Orsaker. He (Puvin Silvervein) informed us regarding the local power structure – the Lords of Gold, Stone, and War – and that our destination was the Temple of Moradin. We arrived at the temple and were granted entry by the Orsaker, who informed us the Efrian delegation had arrived well ahead of us but were essentially useless. We volunteered our services to end the plague and now the military's banging on the door and I'll have to cut some stupid idiot's head open agai

The handwriting on the report becomes decreasingly legible in the final paragraph

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Side Adventure: The Tales of Quinn Savage and Talon Brightwater Part 2
On the order of the Queen.

Quinn Savage and Talon Brightwater was finishing up the night in their tavern, The McGeachie Inn, when a cloaked figure entered through the door looking for them. The figure was a human woman who asked for them by name. Quinn offered to bed the stranger, and was put under a hold person spell. Talon tried to stop her, but was knocked to the floor, noticing the signet ring on her hand and realising that she belonged to the royal house of Termainee. Revealing herself as Queen Lucielle Alexandra Termainee III, the Queen informed the dynamic duo of a mission of great importance. She needed them to collect a crate of Residuum from Balthazar's Bazaar of Magical Goods and Sundries (for all your magical item needs), and covertly smuggle it out of the city via stolen airship and deposit it in the village of North Stoke, just at the border between Tegria and Valtarum. When asked why, the Queen only stated that another group of adventurers on a vital mission for Tegria would need it. For this mission, the pair were paid 5000gp, with 5000 more upon delivery. 

The two caught Sky Gondolas to Balthazar's and bought new magic weapons in order to gain the attention of the eponymous wizard. He supplied them with the crate of residuum and warned them not to expose it to magic, as this could detonate it. 

Talon then went to the docks to scout out a ship to steal. He identified a small cargo airship as being an easy target, when he drew the attention of his Thieves' Guild contact, Fingers. Fingers offered Talon and Quinn a job: to come to the docks and secure a crate of cargo which was to be brought in today. Talon surmised that Fingers was out to steal the same shipment that he and Quinn were meant to smuggle. Talon bluffed Fingers into thinking none the wiser, and declined the job. 

Talon and Quinn sought out guards costumes and then prepared to make a move on the docks. They paid a dockworker, Karl Goldsteen, to carry a fake crate onto the docks to draw the attention of Fingers' and his men. To their horror and dismay, they saw Karl as three arrows struck his chest, killing him. There, they saw Fingers and his men: a gladiator, an Efrian Knight, an an archer and a wizard. What was worse was that the nearby guards did nothing, evidently on Finger's employ. Talon and Quinn rushed into battle and used their disguises to intimidate the guards into fulfilling their duty. The Guards were quickly cuit down and Finger's shrewdly saw through their disguises. A fierce battle ensued, with Talon brutally cutting down Fingers, who slowly bled to death. The Wizard threw lightning bolts and fireballs, but luckily Talon and Quinn were able to withstand the magical onslaught. Quinn showed himself to be an exemplary warrior, as he weathered many a fierce blow with his shield and tough skin. Talon meanwhile used his new found Rogue abilities to deliver decisive damage to the enemy. The battle was soon won, and Talon and Quinn quickly made out of Ballinor in their stolen ship. 

They arrived in North Stoke and delivered the Residuum to Bartler, owner of the tavern and a former member of the Queensguard. He congratulated them and paid them the rest of their money. The pair rested for a while before setting off for their next adventure in the mysterious lands of Taikashi. 

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Session 5: Welcome to Ballinor City
The Trial of Frederik Von Pirn

The party awoke in Keep and spent several days preparing for their journey to the Tegrian capital of Ballinor. On the 5th day, an Airship from Ballinor arrived, The Valiant, and the party were beckoned to meet with Lord Darrington in his hall. It is revealed that the party will smuggle Frederik Von Pirn to the city aboard the airship while the Lord marches forth with his knights. 

After being attacked by a pack of wyverns, the party arrived in Ballinor and were met by the Lord High Justice and his retinue of Knights of Good and Knights of Tegria who escorted the prisoners. 

The party spent considerable amounts of time shopping. 

Toriandaxus learned that the Grandmaster of the Knights of Tegria has gone AWOL

The party arrived for the trial of Frederik Von Pirn, however halfway through he was supposedly murdered and the party was accused and locked up. They were later freed by Lord Darrington and Queen Lucielle who have charged them for a new quest: to head to the Dwarven and Elven kingdoms and secure alliances for the coming war. 

The Queen returned their gear, gifted them 50,000gp for expenses, provided 8x scrolls of raise dead and three scrolls of teleportation circle. She has also given them access to the Airship Valiant. The party made their escape from the city. 

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Side Adventure: The Tales of Quinn Savage and Talon Brightwater, part 1.
Big Heist in little Keep

The following events take place six months before the main adventure. 

QUINN SAVAGE, a half-orc Barbarian Tegrian war vet who never found his feet after the war, and TALON BRIGHTWATER, a keen wood elf Monk with criminal connections, were sitting in the Two Tiger's Inn drinking away the last of their gold. Suddenly, Talon suggested using his criminal contact, Fingers, to find them a paying gig. After making his mark with a stone in the alleyway, the party were soon met by Fingers, who told them of a score that could be incredibly lucrative for everyone involved. The job involved a shipment of coin that Gerhardt, the General Store owner, was keeping in a hidden warehouse. If Talon and Quinn could find the location of the warehouse, they could sneak in, dispatch the guards and make off with the coin. In return, they would have a 50/50 split with Fingers. 

Quinn went into Gerhardt's store and began sussing out the place, pretending to inquire about a broken wagon. When this failed, Talon sneaked into the store and threw a lantern against a stack of tin cans, distracting Gerhardt. Using this opportunity, Talon snuck behind the counter and lifted a sack of gold, set of keys and business ledger before heading into the back room. In the back he found a shipping crate with the address still on it, and dozens of bottles of 1000 year old Elven wine (of which he took three). With Gerhardt and his guard Gorion alerted, Talon headed upstairs to make his escape. Unable to open the chest in Gerhardt's room, he smeared poo from the toilet on his bed and then jumped out of the window, managing to vanish into the streets. Quinn was accused by Gerhardt and questioned by the guards, who later found there was no evidence to convict. Quinn and Talon had learned that the warehouse was hidden in mine 27. 

Enacting the second stage of their plan, Talon and Quinn set about purchasing a donkey and wagon as an escape vehicle. Going to the local stables, they were conned into buying a donkey bred from prize race donkey stock (Tegria does not race donkeys) and a Mark 3 Lightning Bolt Wagon (no such brand exists). Luckily, Quinn's natural charisma meant that he was able to negotiate to a price where they were only slightly ripped off. 

Talon went to investigate the mines and ran into the foreman, Dunbar. Dunbar was down on his luck after a nasty divorce and responded well to Talon's politeness. Talon organised to bribe Dunbar with enough gold to take a holiday in the capital of Ballinor if he helped them sneak their cart into mine 27. He agreed and they returned that night, with Quinn having taught the Donkey to come when whistled, sit on command and enter into a Donkey Rage. 

Working their way into the mines, Talon and Quinn quickly found the strong room where the loot was kept and dispatched of the 10 guards within. Quinn used his barbarian strength to rip the doors off of the strong room and to break the locks on the chests. They loaded the loot onto the wagon and made good their escape, profiting 3000gp and 10000sp. Having decided to keep their word with Fingers, they gave him his cut of the gold. So impressed with their work, and needing someone capable to run his new venture in Ballinor, Fingers offered Talon and Quinn the deeds to McGeachie's Pub in Ballinor (partially a money laundering business) and told them that he and the guild would be in contact soon. 


Talon, Quinn and Donkey rode into the sunset drinking 1000 year old Elvish wine. 

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Session 4: Catacombs of Orcwatch Tower
To capture a Von Pirn

The party rested for a moment in the ruins of Orcwatch Tower, having just dispatched the Orcs of the Bloodspear clan who had been guarding it. They thought momentarily what to do with their Ogre captive, when an elvish arrow struck the beast in back of the head, killing it. This introduced the party to the elvish ranger, Firlawyn. George Madoc spent considerable time interrogating the Orc prisoners to discover details about the catacombs below and the disposition of enemy forces. He then began to instruct them on a plan to get rid of the Orcish forces still below. This took sometime to teach to the prisoners, but eventually the party had to move ahead. 

Descending into the catacombs, the party was confronted by two doors. From one door they could smell roasted giant rat which suggested that Orcs were present. Leading his captive through the door, George entered and attempted to arrange for the Orcs' departure from catacombs. This was successful until the issue of the Orc Chieftain's chest came up. Unwilling to lose the chest, George successfully convinced the Orcish guards to flee, leaving only the War Chief and his Orog brother to fight. The Orcs were dispatched with some effort and Toriandaxus temporarily had his powers revoked by Bahamut after he slew a defensless Orog. Inside the chest was 200gp and 6 Potions of Greater Healing. 

The party traveled through a trapped room containing a pit trap, sliding staircase and animate archer statues. They found their way to another set of two doors, one containing Frederik Von Pirn and associates. A fierce battle ensued against Von Pirn and his associates Mr Skinner, Mr Fist, and Sir Clienshe. The party's survival was in doubt, but George Madoc was able to threaten Frederik Von Pirn into ordering his men to surrender. With Von Pirn captured, the party were able to return him to Keep a few days later, having received 2000gp from Lord Darrington and a further 3000gp from Frederik's own bag of holding (alongside a sash of infinite knives from Mr Skinner, Von Pirn's own firearms, and a Ring of the Ram). Mr Skinner and Mr Fist were left with a day's ration in the marshes surrounding Orcwatch Tower, Mr Skinner being left naked without any weapons. 

Upon their return to Keep, Lord Darrington congratulated the party and informed them that they would be accompanying him to Ballinor for the trial of Frederik Von Pirn. 

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Session 3: Life and Death

The session begins with the party making their way from Woodpines on foot with a barge in tow. Once they escape the wintery weather, they hoist the barge into the flowing river without difficulty.

The party makes their way upriver to Orcwatch Tower with no incident. Ori's expert survival skills land them at the ideal habour.

The ranger Roth and his ursine companion conceal themselves in the swamp and make short work of the difficult terrain, serving as scouts for the party. They (undetected) discover a search party, using an arcane artefact to track the whereabouts of their Alliance. Roth and Crusher hasten back to the party to warn them of the oncoming attack.

The party take defensive positions and set up an ambush to catch their foes unawares before they are caught out. However, despite their terrain advantage and the element of surprise, combat is brutal. Crusher is slain. Cain reveals the unsavoury nature of his power. One of the mages escapes. Roth, utilising his limited magical abilities to their extent, is able to maintain sight of his quarry and sets off in pursuit, leaving the combat.

He is promptly blown to death in the explosion of a fireball spell.

Emerging victorious from the combat, the party is able to take a prisoner – Nora, the archer, mercenary of the Eagles of Langworthy. She agrees to trade a scroll of revivify (which she was expecting to use on her squadmates) and her intel in exchange for her life and all her gold. The party acquires two letters, meant for Frederik von Pirn (their target), indicating treason in the highest order.

George runs off to attend to the deceased Roth. In a show of holy power, Torian is able to use the scroll of revivify to restore Roth to life. Roth owes Torian the highest debt of honour. Through Roth, Crusher is also restored to life.

The party takes a long rest.

Sensing an incoming extraction party (mentioned in von Pirn's missive), the party hastens to Orcwatch Tower. Fifteen orcs stand guard at the ruined tower. Failing an engagement of deception, combat erupts. One orc escapes underground.When combat concludes, two orcs and an ogre are held prisoner. The rest (excluding the escapee) have been dispatched. 

The party peers down the entrance to the underground hideout. Von Pirn awaits below.

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Session 2: Winter Comes Early

* The session started with three day's downtime in the town of Keep. Party members used the time to bargain for equipment they needed and to pursue their personal goals.
* On the last day before setting out, Tayis, Ori and George encountered Roth Abarac in the tavern. Roth announced that he was looking for adventurers to assist him on his next mission as part of a quest to reclaim his soiled homelands from a gnoll invasion. Roth joined the party as a tracker in their current mission to capture Frederik von Pirn. He hopes that in exchange for his efforts, the party will soon be able to return the favour.
* The party reconvened with Lord Darrington and recieved intel indicating that von Pirn looked to be fleeing north through the swamp to Orcwatch Tower. 
* After considerable planning, the party determined that their best bet of closing the head start von Pirn had on them was to head in a straight shot down the main road West-Southwest to Woodpines, where they could procure passage on a river barge heading North, downriver to Orcreach.
* The party rented horses and ponies, and set off in the morning.
* Travel was safe and smooth overall.
* The party was able to save a Halfling merchant's trade cart from sinking into a shifting patch of the mire. In exchange, they recieved 50g (?) worth of saffron.
* Upon arriving in Woodpines, the party stabled their horses (and Crusher the bear) and booked an audience with the resident Duke for the morrow.
* In the morning, the party was split. Half headed to secure river travel arrangements as soon as possible, and the other half headed to their audience with the Duke to keep the local authorities informed of their quest and see if there was any assistance they might be able to offer.
* Arriving at the impressive Ironbark-clad halls of the Duke, the party was informed that the Duke was indisposed and Baron Evilguy would see to their audience in his stead.
* Roth offered the baron the party's writ from Lord Darrington that certified their mission and their friendship of Keep.
* The baron promptly burned it up. He apologised for his mistake.
* Passing a persuasion check, the party was able to convince the Baron to draft them up a new one with a similarly meaningful seal of authenticity, only this time from Woodpines instead of Keep.
* Fearing an ambush or other similar mishap, the party left in good haste upon recieving the new writ.
* Meanwhile…
* The party made enquiries in the harbour district as to what barges were leaving North soon, and whether booked passage might be possible.
* They came across Old One Eye (who had zero eyes, and was completely blind), the captain of a sizable river barge. One Eye directed enquiries to his ship's boy.
* The ship's boy was a huge half-orc, who refused to barter and suggested the party run their own barge if they thought themselves capable.
* As they were leaving, Old One Eye's parrot gave some clue (which Louis has now forgotten) that something was terribly amiss on board the barge.
* The party turned back to re-confront the ship's boy, only to see that the barge had pushed across to the other side of the river and was effectively inaccessible.
* As both sides of the party reconvened, the weather started to suddenly and abruptly turn as though it was the dead of winter. Snow fell, and the river began to freeze over.
* The sailorfolk at the habour flew into a panic. There was a flurry of activity as sailors rushed to secure their watercraft from harm as the water started to freeze.
* In the panic, the party decided to steal a barge.
* Between the lot of them, they were able to lift a barge from the (unattended) barge rental shop. As they hastened upriver away from the harbour and the local effect of the magical weather, someone remembered to leave some gold (Louis can't remember how much) and a small note in place of the stolen barge.
* The log concludes with the scene of a barge scuttling through the snow, a small horde of legs barely visible under the hull. Four of the legs are furry and clawed.

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