Sleeping Gods

The mask and the cloak

Assassin big

Several political factions were present in Criggen Varras, vying for an audience and the favour of the Melano the merchant Prince, but who harboured the assassin(s)?

The party hurried to touch base with the Cornumbrian chieftains, the trade delegation from Ferromaine and even had run ins with the Thieves guild. The day of the masquerade ball approached rapidly, with hours to spare the first contact with a Hasharim agent was made in the Golden Goblet inn, as representatives of the thieves guild were followed there and a meeting was broken up. Unfortunately both the assassin and the thieves guild lieutenant were not apprehended, the former escaped, the latter expired falling from a window onto the cobble stones of the alleyway behind the inn.

The mercenary guards at the masquerade ball have been doubled and the party arrived at sundown, spreading out to try and see if they could discern any clues or pointers to try and catch the assassins out before the attack occurred. Melano had flatly refused to postpone or cancel the event as he needed to show strength in the face of this pressure, and the diplomacy with the factions was paramount to Criggen Varras and the wider area as a whole, in fact the entire country and its neighbouring states might be affected by the decisions and alliances made.

Clues were uncovered, a careful and clever use of a spy stone by Vhailor uncovered a conspiracy by two of the merchant ruling elite: Lady Jocelyn and Sir Richard. Corvin was first to spot a creature of pure evil – a succubus sorceress in one corner of the hall, hiding behind a complex illusion. The moment had come, the party acted as the assassins struck and through expert use of healing and antidote spells, as well as blade and deadly attack magic they thwarted and killed the assassins while driving the succubus away.

The aftermath of the attack saw grave news arrive from Castle Ravenswood, a coordinated attack on the Baron saw him struck down, not dead, but dying from a deadly and rare poison distilled from Demon’s blood. Captain Fraser and Mathor directed the group to cease their diplomatic mission to Glissom and instead attempt to find a cure to the venom, quickly and at all costs!

- The Games Master
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Bjorn the red handed
Victory or death - in the Arena!

Bjorn the red handed

The storm wracked seas and the lashing rain or a 50 metre tall tower of rock are no impediment for those practised in the way of the arcane! Galen the warlock used a scroll given him by his sorcerous comrade Corvin and teleported to the pinnacle of the needle of rock, there to battle the harpy matriach and her sisters to save the wounded Captain Vasilvio.

With fell lightning, dread fire and his magic broad sword he smote the haglike harpy queen and her minions, before saving the bold captain and descending to his companions in the rowboat with a treasure of some harpies eggs.

Magical cures and some days in bed saw Captain Vasilvio returned to good health and sincere gratitude. Steering his ship northwards, after saying a prayer for a lost member of the crew – Salty Pete, the Crimson maiden made good time and arrived in the bustling melting pot of a trading city that is Criggen Varras.

The party said their farewells to the honest crew and wasted no time; Corvin the most enthusiastic and energetic amongst them to secure a place to stay and to find a captain to see if travel by sea further north was possible – The ice laden seas dissuaded them from this course of action. Meanwhile the stoic Sir Ronin found a stablemaster willing to sell the party some horses, and sold their excess armour and loot, while Galen procured potions for the spell casters.

Criggen Varras is half as big again as Clyster, and the markets and streets were teeming, as the group decided on further plans. The Arena had piqued Logen’s interest, and he resolved to enter into the competition and win some money so as to buy more magical equipment for the group. Showing his skills to the wily Jurgenson the arena master, he was matched for a battle that evening with Bjorn the Red Handed, a cruel Thane from the north who had bested and slain nine previous opponents.

As the sun dipped beneath the horizon the games began and the sand was stained red with the deaths of slaves who died in bizarre combars with wild animal, followed by short battles between less skilful gladiators, until some two hours later, Logen and Bjorn entered the circular arena, to the roar of the crowd that was now at fever pitch.

Nerves and pressure caused the youthful Barbarian to activate his magic ring slightly early, as the wily, experienced Thane backed away, and hoped the spell would collapse – magic items that did not impact directly on health were allowed, but no spell casting was, and the arena had a powerful wall of magic spell cast around it so as to stop magical cheating or healing or the like.

The battle continued for some minutes, the combatants circling and pacing, Logen became impatient, standing in the centre of the colleseum, roaring his disdain for the careful thane, as he circled at the arena’s edge. Then, a flurry of action, a spear launched, a reckless charge, and first blood drawn, a deep cut on Logen’s arm sent him into a berserker rage, he swung wildly with massive force at the thane, his battle axe smoting him once, twice, but two other attacks were slipped and deflected by Bjorn’s canny use of his shield, meanwhile his long axe flicked out, tripping Logen, and crunched once more through his armour, into his side.

Further swings, faints, parries, roars of combat and bloodlust were heard as the two gladiators struck one another time and again, their armour proof against untold blows, yet some more slipped through, until both were wounded and bloodied.

Time seemed to slow for Logen’s comrades who sat in the “blood spatter seats” in the front row of the arena, as their long time companion swung with desperate fury, high, but wide…the thane ducked his head just enough to see the battleaxe swing in a glittering arc above his head, and a spear thrust, sharp, firm, and fast flickered out- a great gout of blood blossoming from Logen’s stomach, his spine severed and death being instantaneous, he toppled to the floor in a cloud of bloodied sand as the crowd roared.

Some hours later, Ronin his martial comrade in arms, took Logen out of the city to a quiet area of woods and buried him, in the ways of the old Gods, and marked his grave with some white stones and hoped he arrived in the halls of his forefathers to drink and fight forever more, as his ancient pagan religion boasted.

Thus Logen the Barbarian passed into the history books – the Ogre Slayer, the man who fought Gods, beasts and almost touched a red dragon’s nose was no more, his memory and deeds live on in legend.

- The Games Master
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The Wine Dark Sea
A quiet sea journey!

Stormy sea

Leaving the City of Clyster behind, the party make passage south aboard the Crimson Maiden, trading cog and sturdy wooden ship commanded by Captain Vasilvio and his crew of rogueish sailors. 2 weeks of careful progress south, avoiding ice floes and storms finally saw the captain heave the ship to into a cove and await a lantern signal from the shore. A mysterious figure was rowed back who revealed himself to be Galen, warlock and one time adventuring companion of the group. A mission within enemy territory had seen Galen gather important details about which of Grissaille’s lords would consider siding with Baron Aldred and bringing the civil war to a swifter conclusion, before the Duke Grissaille could return from the continent with a freshly raised army to continue the civil war and drag the conflict into another year of military campaigns, bloodshed and misery for the populace.

South the ship travelled, now the party numbered 5 again, and the group made good friends and comrades amongst the ships crew – Soupy the cook, Tom, Old Tom, Salty Pete amongst others would share stories and teach the group how to tie knots or stow sails in return for tales of the party’s adventures.

It was another few days of southward travel before a ship was sighted, a sleek, long hulled reaver’s craft gliding low in the water that caught the trading cog up swiftly. Not just pirates, which would have been bad enough on its own, but a dread ship of undead reavers was revealed, the captain of the deathless crew challenged the adventurers to a contest of rhyme, the prize of which was to keep their souls and avoid death at the hands of the blue men or beneath the sea.

The contest won, Ronin looked Westward to the shore, as the ship continued southwards and came close to the large city of Ongus and his ancestral manor house. Curiosity and anger burned in his veins at the injustice served upon his father’s lands by the Duke Grisaille and he wanted to see if his mentor and companion from the crusades Sir McCallet still lived, so he asked the party if they would accompany him ashore on a short journey and enquired if the captain could spare him a 2 day wait for the expedition.

Travelling inland by paths less travelled the group managed to avoid local militia or patrols until they arrived at the treeline overlooking the manor, only to see it being looted by some soldiers in the livery of Lord Somet, one of Grissaile’s loyal vassal knights and a cruel and merciless soldier who Ronin knew from his time in the crusades. Using illusory magic suggested by the crafty warlock Galen, the party approached to within metres before one of the spells expired and a short and brutal combat was resolved with the blunt and brutish soldiers. Four of their number including their leader were slain in short order and the remaining eight were shown mercy and given leave to retreat.

Ronin spoke with Galfrid, the warden and seneschal of the manor house, an elderly but loyal manservant who had served the manor since his father’s days, and has planned to get a message to Sir McCallet to try and make further contact in Criggen Varras if at all possible, and to try and defend the lands until such time as Baron Aldred can claim the throne and reward those knights who would throw their strength behind his banner. For saving the manor from being looted, disposing of the imminent attack by Somet’s soldiers and risking discovery Ronin has been rewarded with yet another legendary magical item – The Helm of the Sea – an heirloom discovered by his adventuring father in years gone by.

The group made haste on the 4 captured horses back to the ship, in good time and continued their journey south, towards and around the southern cape of the Isles of Ellesland, and swung round northwards, this time passing the lands of the Earl Montombre on their starboard side.

Having travelled now for 6 weeks out of the estimated 8 week journey, land was sighted, 2 tall pinnacles of rock stood jutting from the storm wracked and rain spattered seas. The sharp eyed amongst the crew could see distant winged shapes rise up from their eyries and plunge to attack the ship- Harpies swooped over the decks and attempted to claw or grab anyone unfortunate in their path. Brion and Corvin lashed themselves to the Capstan and Mast respectively, to see off the enemies crafty attacks, but not so fortunate for one of the crew and captain Vasilvio himself. Several harpies were slain with bowfire, raised swords or crackling magical energy but the two victims were seen to be carried off, struggling and writhing in the claws of the harpies up to the tall natural rock towers….to be slain? eaten? fed to the harpies young? who knows, but a rescue is planned and the crew swing the ship towards the needles of rock, it will be a dangerous task to bring the ship in close to the rocks and climb the spray soaked, barnacle and kelp covered rocks, but the lives of their friends hang in the balance!

- The Games Master
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Saint Marcus?
The plague is lifted, but at a cost.

Zombie priest

The city of Clyster is freed. The Vampire Lord Tenebron has been defeated and with his death the supernatural plague which gripped the city has dissappeared. Almost every person has made a full recovery, but the toll of dead was heavy, numbering many hundreds.

On a more personal note to the group, Friar Marcus, the priest was slain in the climatic battle in the graveyard where the vampire was raising his army of dead. Selflessly praying for the protection and aid of his allies, a flurry of wounds and deadly arrow shafts cut and pierced his body, sending him crashing to the mud beneath the storm wracked skies to gasp his last breath. He was able to pass his relic to his comrade the knight Ronin before finally expiring, but to add insult to injury, the necromantic magics which Tenebron had laid down in the cemetary acted on the recently dead Marcus to see his body twitch and lurch and rise unsteadily once more, as a zombie!

Important clues were found in the adventure, a note in a journal found that the Vampire had journeyed from Krarth, that he was in concert or dealing with someone or something that knew that Albion’s position was weakened and the time for conquest and domination was ripe. Still more dots need to be joined for the full picture to present itself.

For the present, the survivors accept Governor Beymont’s hospitality for a week while their wounds heal and they inter the body of Friar Marcus, their loyal and brave companion. The Abbot, Edricus and Governor Beymont both said kind words at his funeral. A messenger was sent hastily to Castle Ravensbrook to update the Baron on events, and with these items dealt with, and a bit of shopping by the party’s crafters for calligraphy and magic arrow supplies the group now board Captain Vasilvio’s ship the Crimson Maiden, as the Governor has lifted the port’s blockade, the chain across the harbor has been removed and the trading routes are once again open.

The epic campaign continues on board ship, for the several weeks journey Southwards, going around the island and thus avoiding the ice floes in the North. Festination Criggen Varras; another huge trading city, this time on the Western Coast, there to make contact with the Merchant Prince Melano an ally in former times and to secure passage onwards to Glissom.

Click for some great photos of the climatic battle!

- The Games Master
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The Vampire Lord
Into the sewers!

Zombies

With rain threatening and thunder booming across the skies, the party have made haste to renegotiate their deal with captain Vasilvio and wagered they can cure the city of plague within 7 days, for a half price passage to Criggen Varras. The jovial and good natured captain has accepted the bet for he does not see how this is possible.

Wasting no time the party followed up on their magical visions and answers from the oracle of spirits and plunged into the dank, slimy, dark, smelly and disgusting sewers. Important clues were uncovered and some bodies of virulent pus ridden plague carriers were found laying wedged in the bars or washed up on broken stones within the sewers, an initial attempt to destroy these pockets of disease with dragonsbreath spells was not considered sufficient and after exiting the sewers the group related news to Governer Beymont to send teams of soldiers from the city guard down to dispose of and burn the corpses. However…this was not the only thing discovered on the party’s underground escapade as they encountered a strange mist which was hiding some zombies, and revealed itself to be not only sentient and capable of dodging arrows, blades and spells but also the vaporous form of a terrifying and ancient vampire lord. The undead creature fled in bat form but the Mystic Brion was able to follow his psychic spoor back to the apothecary.

The group stands poised and prepared outside the store, with rope, potions, sharpened blades and determined glints in their eyes, they have decided that speed is of the essence as Corvin’s more delicate constitution and Ronin’s extended stay in the sewers so he could heroically map every location of the plague corpses have seen them both succumb and suffer from the first stages of the disease. Marcus is able to cure them but he is only able to cast this potent spell roughly once per day. With this in mind the party have decided to forego meeting with the thieves guild at high tide in the evening as they have no idea how rapidly the disease passes to its next stages.

Logen witnessed some beast or being slamming the trapdoor at the back of the apothecary shut, and the group were able to find the remains of a weak potion in the distilling and brewing apparatus which is the only remaining item that still functions in the largely completely ransacked apothecary’s back rooms.

Corvin through prudent use of his peer spell has unocovered that a very deep basement, or at least stairs leading down under the city wall are present and it is at this point that the adventurers stand, with their own and the city’s fate in their hands…

Continuted the following session…

The party ventured down into the basement which quickly opened out into a large catacomb or lair, much larger than they first surmised. The floors were hard packed earth and the walls were stone blocks, the place seemed to have been constructed many centuries ago.

Several encounters and enemies were encountered and dispatched in short order. A room full of standing coffins disgorged a dozen skeleton guards. Another chamber housing scores and scores of unopened coffins was doused with lantern oil and set alight. 2 skeletal death knights were bundled to the ground beneath weight of numbers, and even a mummy was discovered at the bottom of a pit.

The adventurers stand with a few minor wounds and a few potions consumed, but the decision was made to press on, even though Private Simeon, one of the soldiers sent by Governor Beymont to help the party search and defeat the inhabitants of the catacombs has perished in one of the combats. With weary limbs but determination the group stand in a passage that leads further down to the third layer of the tomb. Their target, the vampire lord who’s spoor Brion the Druid can see, leads onwards to the utmost depths. Danger abounds, as the smoke from the fire of the room full of coffins begins to spread further through the dungeon, making the air hazy, and the noise of several combats has surely alerted the ancient bloodsucking lord of the invading group’s presence? Only time will tell. Victory or defeat is close at hand!

- The Games Master
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Hearts of Stone
Onwards and Eastwards

Clyster

The group returned to Castle Ravensbrook to relay the sad news of Lord Almeric, Sir Grisso and Gothryd’s death in the recent adventures to the North around the manor house and in Garambar’s lair.

Baron Aldred listened to the party’s explanation in quiet, solemn contemplation. The audience in the great hall of the castle was attended by almost all of his retinue, his high ranking knights and chieftains were all present, including Mathor the court magician, his apprentice Corvin and Captain Fraser

The Baron, shocked some of the companions by decreeing that while he understood events in the north had taken a terrible turn for the worse because of his enemy Earl Montombre’s soldiers committing acts of war behind enemy lines and a fateful expedition into the lair of the Boar King, he could not forgive the party completely for the fact they had failed in keeping his son and heir alive and safe.

The party was banished and set about gathering their meagre belongings packing them on horseback and riding east, for Clyster; the largest port city on the Eastern Coast of Ellesland, there to take a ship to Criggen Varras where the party had allies and friends.

On the road, under grey and cloud filled skies the group were caught up by three riders who were urging their mounts at a furious gallop. The companions were initially suspicious of an attack but quickly lowered their weapons and their guard when they saw it was Captain Fraser, Mathor and Corvin who had followed them. Fraser explained that the Baron had banished the group as a ruse, he suspected that his enemies had one or more spies within his court, and that the mission to find alliance with Glissom was so important, it was perhaps better served if the group acted in secret, as common mercenaries, and not as men of the Baron. This would at least buy time for them to get to Clyster and get passage on a ship, before the ruse was discovered, if at all. Corvin joined the group and was entrusted with the 20,000 gold peices which Aldred’s tax collectors had managed to gather; a vast sum, the wealth of a realm, to be used to fund and smooth potential alliances, trade agreements and promises of support from the king of Glissom. The other members of the group were tasked with keeping Corvin and the money safe and acting as the Baron’s diplomats upon arrival there, but to keep their mission completely secret until that time.

Arriving in Clyster, the party were shocked to find the city was in the grip of a virulent plague, bravery or foolhardiness or a sense of duty saw the group enter the city which was locked down in quarantine and speak to several high ranking individuals to find out information and see if they could offer some aid. The Abbot Eldricus, Governor Beymont, the Harbourmaster were all sought out and it seems the plague has an evil supernatural element to it. The adventurers took the opportunity of being in a city for the first time in months to purchase supplies, potions, more mundane items, parchment and ink for Corvin’s calligraphy and even rooms and stabling were all at a massively inflated price as the quarantine had locked inside the city walls many soldiers paid out of the army from the recent battle, and many transient refugees from the civil war.

The Governor had decreed no travel out of the city by road or by sea and enforced this with a curfew in the evening, a great chain across the harbour opening and had undertaken to burn the diseased bodies which were piling up at an alarming rate. The cemetary was overfilled and the group found evidence of bite marks, possibly human on some bodies.

Friar Marcus and Brion the druid used their magical skills to keep themselves healthy and to heal others and now the Governor has come to rely on their help to try and break the plague, meanwhile a deal in theory has been struck with Captain Lucio Vassilvio who commands a fast trading cog known as the Crimson Maiden. If the group can make progress and potentially help the city and its inhabitants swiftly they can continue onwards with their main mission without much of a delay!

- The Games Master
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The Ruined watchtower
Gothryd's last stand

Gothryd s last stand

After meeting with Sir Orrin and his troop of crossbowmen at the manor house, the companions have been told to return south immediately and bring the Baron the solemn news. Their wounds healed by their encounter with Helvennian the party made haste and left early the next morning, a full days riding brought them to within sight of the ruined watchtower as evening fell, and although Brion the druid advised that a flock of ravens and the gathering thunderclouds portended an ill omen the group decided to seek cover from the impending rain.

At some point before midnight, Sir Ronin heard a loud crashing noise in the trees and spied great trunks being toppled as a gigantic cyclops stepped from the forest and began making its way up the gentle rise towards the ruins where the adventurers camped, and this was not the least or only worry as a troop of elves, wearing dark green armour and carrying their now familiar and deadly elf bows moved through the undergrowth and copses swiftly. Ronin awoke his companions and hurried to mount his trusty steed – Invincible, as the others made hasty preparations.

Battle was opened spectacularly by Gothryd casting a gigantic HELLFIRE spell, setting the cyclops ablaze, the beast roared in pain and staggered forward as it tried to beat out the flames, for which it’s fur and leather armour were no protection. Misery was heaped upon the monster as Brion took aim and shot it directly in the eye with an amazing shot, blinding it, before Ronin struck it with his sword and his stoic warhorse smote it with a great kick of its iron shod hooves, crushing its skull and sending the towering and still smoking beast to the ground.

The Elves proved to be the more dangerous foe, the companions hunkered down behind the ruined walls waiting for their enemies to close, some javelins and bowfire was sent back in response but the arrow fire was accurate and deadly, and several wounds were caused. The party prepared to counter attack as the Elves closed in but then a great misery befell them; a particularly accurate fusillade of arrows sang through the night sky striking Gothryd not once, not twice but three times and knocked him from his saddle with blood in his lungs and then in his mouth. The newest member of the group expired there on the cold, rain soaked ground, beside his new companions. They had known him for less than a month, but his passing is mourned, for he was capable, wise and loyal.

The skirmish continued until the group had caused sufficient casualties on the cruel Elves to drive the enemy to retreat back down the hill. While Logen hacked with his axe, Brion slew with his bow and Ronin rode down several Elves, the whole party was ably supported by Friar Marcus’ divine rituals, but the holy man could do nothing to help Gothryd, the spirit had left his body.

The companions rushed down the hill after the fleeing elves just in time to see a magical portal, which had began collapsing in on itself, but not before they were able to discern the image of a castle’s interior, and on the walls some flags and heraldic symbols of the Earl Montombre!

- The Games Master

Montombre

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Sins of the Fathers
The Boar king's reign is crushed!

Helvennians shield empt yblue

While out hunting the Elf interlopers tracks in the snow, the party heard Sir Grisso's horn blowing several notes from the northern forest. They rode as fast as their mounts could carry them over the snow covered landscape to find a scene of devastation on the path half a mile into the deeper forest. Several of the farm hands and villagers from the manor lay dead, and Lord Almeric stood alone in the road, holding his shield up high, it was pierced through with many arrows but he himself seemed unharmed.

The Baron’s son seemed very shaken up and told the party that Sir Grisso had been captured and dragged into a lair nearby, by creatures with the bodies of men, but the heads of wild beasts. As the companions bravely ventured off the track into the deep forest, Brion followed the spoor into a clearing where a great tunnel lay in the side of a hill, it was deep and dark and forbidding, magic was strong in the air, and he warned his companions this was a site of great importance, power and magic, and his words were proven true as Helvennian the silver stag of Albion stepped forth from the clearing to rout a pack of wolves that were about to ambush the party.

The ancient pagan god spoke to the group telepathically and explained that the lair of Garambar, the lord of beasts stood before them, Almeric urged the party to enter and help find and save Grisso while the Silver stag had another task for them; he bid them to venture deep within and find an item of great value that would aid the land in times to come, for a train of events centures in the making was coming to fruition and a mysterious, evil force was threatening Albion.

The dungeon was deep, it sloped down into the very earth, and the oppressive weight of tons of rock could be felt above them. The party battled hard, for some hours, fighting dire wolves, beast men, bears, sabre tooth tigers and panthers – a menagerie of beasts was under the control of Garambar.

Finally the deepest recess of the lair was pierced, and two pieces of news shook the party – the discovery of Sir Grisso’s body was discovered – he had been cruelly left to die, blinded and hanging in chains but even more shocking was the discovery of Lord Almeric’s body. His revenant or ghost, had brought them here, to avenge his loyal retainers death, his guilt had caused his restless spirit to stay on this side of the river of death while this last act was done, in an attempt to atone for his cowardice. With a pitiful wail, the guilt stricken spirit of the Baron’s side dissappeared to the other side.

Garambar rose from his throne, a might warrior, 12 feet tall, with the thickly muscled body of an ogre and the head of a boar, the king of beasts was a cruel and brutal enemy who chased the party out of his chamber. Sir Ronin, heroically stood while his comrades took up a better position and used his shield expertly – blocking blow after blow from the huge axe which would have surely sundered others in a single strike.

Meanwhile, Logen & Brion had formulated a plan, to bring the roof crashing down on the brutish boar king, and the party lured him out of his throne room, into the corridor, where the nimble barbarian clambered up to the roof, where roots and brambles held a great weight of stone in place tenously, and smote at the roots with his battleaxe. The web of roots and tree limbs holding up the tons of rock creaked, groaned and began to snap just as the beastmen guards which Garambar had summoned with his hunting horn rushed into the chamber from the south. Logen and Ronin dived out of the way at the last moment, as several hundred weight of boulders and earth came smashing down onto Garambar and some of his minions, instantly destroying them.

The party scrambled to regroup, for they had been separated by the cave in, Logen was alone and beastmen swarmed into the area where he stood alone, the grunting, growling half men had wicked vengeance in their hearts, to slay in the name of their fallen god, but they had not reckoned with the strength of a son of Wotan, a barbarian of the gnawing wastes was made of sterner stuff, and he met them head on. Roaring his battle oaths and with great overhand sweeps of his battle axe he slew beastman after beastman, until the corridor lay thick with dead and his cloak, face and body were spattered with their blood.

With their enemies dead, the group searched and took stock of their loot. Friar Marcus had found a legendary relic, a cross of St Justinian, Gothryd had found a +2 magic spear, a teleport scroll and the party had found 450 gold. Of Garambar’s body their was no sign, but most important of all, the shield that bore Helvennian’s mark had been found! The party regrouped and made their way back to the manor house and although they had won a great victory it had come at a terrible cost and with heavy hearts they told of Grisso and Almeric’s fate, to Jacob the manorhouse seneschal and the newly arrived Sir Orrin, a knight in service to Baron Aldred.

- The Games Master

Stone cold killer ul

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Of Lords and Lands
The army returns...

Aldreds castle

The adventurers returned South from their adventure in the village of St. Stephens to wait for Baron Aldred at Castle Ravensbrook. In a few short days the army returned with Aldred and his war captains at its head.

A meeting was hastily convened in the Great Hall where Aldred advised the party of the political and military situation across Albion. A plan was arrived at, where the Baron would offer his patronage in return for the adventurers to undertake missions for him, which suited their exceptional skillset. Everyone bar Logen, the barbarian accepted the Baron’s offer of patronage.

Throughout the coldest snow bound months the armies are forced into winter retreat and it is the time of diplomacy and subterfuge. The group have been tasked with going to Glissom and assessing the situation there, to find out if any allies would be amenable to joining Aldred’s cause in return for gold and/or trade agreements. The Thane king of Thuland persists in his neutrality and the petty reaver warlords of Cornumbria squabble and will not choose sides, so now Aldred advises the net must be cast further afield.

Since the battle of Breylak, the Duke Grissaile’s military strength has taken a serious blow, but his political power with close ties to several royal families in Chaubrette means he is essentially untouchable from further sanctions or reprisal, it seems however that he has been knocked out of the running for the crown, leaving the Earl Montombre – the so called Elfin Earl as Aldred’s main competitor for Kingship of Albion.

While a war chest of gold is gathered by Aldred’s tax collectors, to be taken to Glissom by the adventurers another more pressing short mission has been handed out to the party. They must accompany Aldred’s son and wife – Lord Almeric and Lady Amarisa to Ravensbrook manor, which is far behind the front lines, to his fortified manor and ancestral home.

Leaving the following morning after having spoken to Mathor the court magician and a few other important individuals in regards to personal information and following up of clues, the party made steady progress and arrived at the manor house 3 days layer. Lady Amarisa, who is heavy with child was taken into the manor house and has not ventured outside, the journey was hard on her. The group passed the time in hunting wild boar, telling stories of legends, drinking and making friends in the local tavern and making sure security was sufficient to see Lady Amarisa was safe.

It was on one evening at the manor that Ronin and Logen spied something glinting in the woods, tracks were found, which were difficult to follow and ultimately lost. The next day, a further search was made, and 2 elves were run into by Brion, as he was investigating the area where he had picked up the psychic spoor, fortunately for the druid his magic cloak saved him from becoming an arrow filled pincushion and he used his magic to send a telepathic message to his comrades, the Elves were first driven off, chased and killed in short order, but their presence and their target is still guess work.

Gothryd also found 4 small Elven ponies with their tracks heading from the south west, the direction of the pagan mountains, this plus the presence of Elves has some party members concerned, are they affiliated with Earl Montombre? Are they just more local elves out hunting or attacking humans in spite? Are they part of some wider conspiracy that Aldred hinted at “The time of diplomacy, subterfuge and chicanery takes precedence to military matters while the snow lays heavy on the ground.”

The party have been tasked with making sure things are safe at the manorhouse before returning back to the castle and taking ownership of the war chest and leaving on the mission to Glissom. It would seem there are still some loose ends to tie up before the journey south can be made.

- The Games Master

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Kerrol the Wood Witch
A village under threat

Kerrol the wood witch 01

The party answered the call from the Priest and some inhabitants of the village of St. Stephens which is a settlement in the North East of Baron Aldred's fief. Accompanying Lord Almeric and Sir Grisso the adventurers arrived to follow up on information that a shepherd had been murdered in strange circumstances.

After a night’s questioning and rest, the party set out into the snow covered wilderness to track down more clues, they already had several leads and things to muse upon as it seemed the village was indeed split into two factions, those who worshipped ancient pagan spirits and those who adhered to the new faith.

An ambush occurred upon the forest track of Rowanswood as the party were out searching for ingredients which were said to break the spell of, and make vulnerable a malicious Fey creature known as Kerrol the wood witch, otherwise known as the Bramble queen. The party fought off an attack by thorn demons, and had been able to find two pieces of the puzzle, mistletoe berries and holly branches, but no rowan wood was to be found, even in the forest of that name. It seemed as if someone, or something was destroying all examples of the wood.

Returning to the village to rest, after the battle, the party gathered the villagers and offered a bounty for anyone who could supply them with good stout rowan wood, from the handles of tools or implements. Although some of the villagers attempted to block this from happening, the call was answered and the adventurers were succesful in gathering a stout rowan broom handle, which they sharpened into two staves.

Arming themselves with the knowledge gained from speaking to the wise man and woman of the village, the adventurers went to the Lake, which was found to be frozen almost solid, although a somewhat careful crossing was needed, Brion, the druid found a way across and scouted the area on the isle at the centre of the lake, reporting back that there were pagan standing stones, some tents and several thorn demons, which seemed lifeless and unmoving at that time.

The whole party made their way across the frozen lake by hauling themselves across on a rope, in a borrowed boat, and readied themselves with spell, weapon and items of ritual. A hermit, or druid of the locale appeared and warned the group off, but after careful spell use showed him to be of evil intent, he was struck down by Logen with a mighty blow from his two handed battle axe. The blood from the corpse spattered across the nearby altar and the pagan tree spirits with Kerrol at their head, were awoken with thoughts of violence and retribution in mind.

A massive battle occurred in the clearing at the centre of the lake, between the standing stones, as the party attempted to enact the ritual, of crowning the wood witch with holly and smiting her with rowan wood, while holding mistletoe about their bodies as protective wards. The thorn demons at her command, and even the earth, with jaggged roots and bristling thorns smote and tore at the party, causing grievous wounds.

Sir Ronin the Knight was felled, not once, but twice, attempting to hold back the rending, scratching, clawing tide as his companion Friar Marcus blessed weapons and healed his comrades, holding his shield aloft to protect himself from blow after blow from the demons viscious claws.

This brought time for Logen the barbarian and Gothryd the warlock to attack Kerrol, with blade and magic, forcing her back and back, and beginning to cut away at her defences. Just when all seemed lost, and the battle was in the very balance, with one of their number down and bleeding to death, and another one wound away from unconsciousness and coup de grace, Brion the Druid stepped forth, and raised his magic mace on high, and brought it down to crush the last strand of life force within the malicious witches transformed wooden body.

The party returned to the village with some small loot, and recounted their exploits to the grateful (for the most part) villagers, and their comrades Sir Grisso and Lord Almeric, who had been dispatched with some able bodied miners and farmers from the village to search the Ironstone mine.

Success assured, and safety for the village, the adventurers rested for two nights as the snows cleared from the high mountain pass and their wounds healed before returning on the 6 day journey south, back to Ravensbrook castle to meet the returning Baron Aldred at the head of his army.

It should be noted, that a mighty artifact The Dark Blade lay in the unexplored depths of Smithees mound, there it had lain for scores and scores of years, at the bottom of an icy cold pool of underground water. How long shall it there abide, unknown of, and untouched?

- The Games Master

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