Tales of the Bloodstone Lands

Defeating the Desecration!

Kythorn 24, Year of Rogue Dragons
The stench… Oh the stench… The substructure of the city is a series of reinforced arches with channeled floors leading rainwater and sewage to separate (hopefully) cisterns and run outs… We are blessed to have a guide like Jinx with us… If I was impressed with his woodcraft his ability to track down here is down right amazing… Like I don’t know how he doesn’t vomit when he touches something then licks and sniffs his goo encrusted digits… I always thought elves had a slight Constitution but maybe the man blood mixed in his veins gives him the chops to handle this sewer…

After an hour or so avoiding dangerous oozes and slimes and possible monstrous sewer denizens, the Magnificent Seven follow the barely perceptible trail of armor scrapes and obfuscated trail sign to a boarded up section of sewer… We determine the new construction fits our timeline and the large grey skinned warrior takes a crowbar to the wall and quickly demolished a portion he can get through and the rest follow in… This portion of the sewer clearly has seen little to no traffic in long time and presents a clear trail… After a short travel, one section of wall seems to give the impression of a concealed door and a brief investigation yields a hidden niche that accepts the Knight’s ring…

The wall slides away and reveals a small corridor behind it… Almost instantly several phantasmal warriors appeared and the leading apparition threatens the wrath of the Lich-King Zhengyi… Combat ensures… The ghostly nature of the warriors present a unique strategy problem but luckily the rain of radiant bolts from the hands of our mighty Hin martial artist Reed Goodbarrel never wained… Coupled with Reed’s bombardment the eldritch blastings of Brother Xenos whittled away the phantasmal warriors while Jinx, Pagu, and Tai harried them in melee…

The large Rageborn staggers for second and shakes his head groggily and informs his companions the revealed hallway and chambers ahead have a unhallowed desecration that tingles the divine oath of vengeance at the heart of Pagu’s power… Tingling in a way that normally requires concentration and line of sight… Overbearing almost… With the greatest evil pulsing from a bearing beyond the walls and door’s of this hallway…

Maybe not in the smartest way Pagu breaches the first door in the direction of the great evil… The room reveals an old bedroom… Upon the light shining in from the light spell on Reed several shadows coalesce into demonic forms and race off through the walls… In a vain attempt the Rageborn sprints down the hallway in an attempt to cut off the shadowy demons flight… The Seven spread haphazardly as a few follow Pagu past the other doors in the hallway in an attempt to get around the corner while others stay back near the first room to investigate…

Rounding the corner reveals a larger complex with other hallways and stairs… Thinking the demons got away the Seven regroup and start clearing rooms… The first one reveals s small shrine of penance decided to the Triad, Helm, and Tempus… It feels unspoiled and a speared from the desecration around… The next chamber reveals the the ruined bedroom of a female elven knight… Not being wary enough in the room, Pagu is mere feet away from the sudden manifestation of an ghostly form and the banshee’s wail crumples the warrior and he falls dying… After her surprise wail the fragile elf spirit falls under the barrage of attacks from the Magnificent Seven… Brother Xenos rushes in to magically heal and administer some first aid to Pagu and gets the massive warrior back on his feet… Treating this redoubt like one of our dungeon crawls we continue to clear rooms, though in hindsight we might be making a mistake to treat this like one… The next chamber is breached and reveals another menace… Some nightmarish wight of a knight with foul undead hounds launches to the attack… Pagu, Reed, and Jinx counterattack and battle is joined… The large Rageborn warrior goes right at the wight hound master and lands several mighty blows that would have savaged most mortal men but the evil wight shook off those blows and hammered home viscous hacks of its own… The hounds delivered viscous gut ripping bites into Reed and Jinx doing so much damage it forces the heroes out of the fight and into a fighting retreat… The bad turns to the good as once into the hallways the ranged attacks of Halorin, Tai, Xenos, Jinx, and Reed are brought to bear on the hounds and they are destroyed one by one… The fight between Pagu and the hound master rages… The hound master lands a thrust that pierced Pagu’s plate armor and lances trough him coming out the back… The wights eyes flares with anticipation of draining the soul of this warrior slain in combat but with a mighty yell the Rageborn is not ready to die this day and pulls himself off the blade and delivers two mighty divine smites of his own both crackling with radiant energy that destroys the wight…

In dire shape the Magnificent Seven fall back to the Shrine that remains unspoiled in this desecration… The company debate their next move while they tend to wounds, catch their breathe, and regenerate any magical powers that can be… The idea that the shadow demons went to warn others outside this complex and some haste in exploration carries the debate… Thinking we should use the resources we have on the greatest for we decided to attack what seems to be the source of this desecration…

We avoided the temptation to open every door and search every hallway and make our way to the part of the complex Pagu’s divine senses located the heart of the evil hear…

Beyond the door lay a small temple to the Triad, Helm, and Tempus… The temple is befouled and filled with bones over half a foot deep… Rising from the bones in the back of the temple is a Deathlock of some sort… Striking is the fact it has three faces… Also rising from the layer of bone first are several skeletons warriors skittering to the front and secondly a bone colossal lumbering to back them up with fell fire burning in it’s ribs… The Seven waste no time and move into battle! Brother Xenos blessed the warriors, Magnus Tai magically hastes Pagu, and Pagu abjures himself with protection wards from evil… While that part of the Seven prepares to fight the evil the two Hin dart to the front… Reed flies into the middle of the skeletons and lashes out with staff, fist, and foot… Halorin conjures a globe of magical silence in most of the temple forcing the Deathlock to have to come to the doorway to cast its normal magic… The tiny monk holds the line against the skeletal onslaught… Giving out much more than he was taking from the many foes… The Deathlock is briefly able to get out of the silence and cast a wall of fire down the hallway scorching the party members lurking in the back… The giant skeletal colossus pulls the bale fire from it’s chest and hurls it down the corridor and detonates it into the party’s rear again… Pagu is eventually able to get into the fray in the bone filled room… He ignores the few skeletons in the front and channels a divine oath of enmity to this Lord of Bones and lays down two mighty smites and many other vicious blows into the Deathlock… Wrecked by the attacks The Deathlock defensively melds into the bone floor retreating for a moment… Fear maybe creeping into the undead monsters psyche for the first time in it’s existence… Unfortunately Reed falls to the combined blows of the remaining skeletons and freshly risen bone colossal with a new balefire growing in it’s ribcage… The companions in the rear maintain the magical augments and pop out with spells and arrows when they are able… Pagu smashes a path to Reed and lays his hands and channels divine healing into Reed bringing him back from deaths door… The Deathlock rises from the bones in anticipation of striking Pagu from behind but the foul beast didn’t realize Tai’s magical haste allowed Pagu to spring back and deliver a blow… The strike was a critical blow of smiting radiant damage that disintegrates the Bone Lord and spread throughout the temple blasting all the bones into dust… The mighty Rageborn paladin roars so loud that the citizens would hear it in the city above if not were it for the magical silence it all happens in…

The Magnificent Seven stand wearily triumphant in and around the desecrated temple as the desecration seems palpably less with the destruction of the Deathlock Bone Lord…

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Bright Lights, Big City

Ugh the smell… The large Rageborn warrior chuckles to himself… I thought the city above stunk once we entered it… Never did I think I would be entering the catacombs and sewers beneath it to experience a while new meaning of stench… How did a simple country boy from Vassa end up like this ruminates Pagu, as he thinks back to how he ended up here…

Mirtul 27 – Kythorn 3, Year of Rogue Dragons
The trip from the Vaasan Gate to Heliogabalus was uneventful… The well traveled roads of Damara were far safer than any of the trail I was used to in Vaasa… I am truly stunned as the Walls, Spires, and sights of the capital crested the horizon… I have never seen a community on this scale… Even on the road here we avoided the cities along the way for but we saw them from a distance and I wasn’t that impressed… But this, this is a whole new matter… From the road the size and scope of Heliogabalus is astounding…

Yet once we entered the southern gates (into “Good ole Southie” as Jinx calls it) the smells started… Maybe it’s the preponderance of human industry and commerce that creates it but a distinct reek permeates the city… Or it does to an outsider like me…

Kythorn 3, Year of Rogue Dragons
The Magnificent Seven (as I am now counted amongst them) settle into accommodations near Magnus Tai’s guildhall… A fine low-key establishment meant to hide us from this nefarious thieves guild called Tightpurse that has bad blood with several members of our band… Tai, my companion whose judgement I trust the most, is quickly taken from us because of upheaval within his guild and we are left to out own devices… I don’t need to see Omens to tell me this is bad…

Tai is unable to research our information on Slaughtergarde during his guilds upheaval so our band has time to kill… I decided to present myself to the Tempurian establishment here in Heliogabalus… I figured in such a mighty city the Foe Hammer would have a majestic temple with it’s martial presence being the backbone for security here in civilization… Boy was I wrong…

First of all my travels take me through the oldest and smelliest of the “quarters” (of which there is more than 4, which makes no sense as well) to a small compound, at least in a neighborhood of the Old Quarter that has the least stench to it… This is the Monastery of Saint Kruskien… Home to the Tempurian faith here in the capital… I am fairly unimpressed… Cromm’s Holdfast back home in Palischuk is a mighty fortress that is an integral part of the town’s defense… This looks more like a fortified nobles manor house…

I have an startled acolyte announce my intention to present myself the faithful here… Battle Guard Ezekiel Hekrit meets me… I announce I am a sworn Battle Brother of Cromm’s Holdfast in Palischuk, raised in and by the Tempurian faith, and that my sword is his sword as long as I remain here… Ezekiel questions me and takes notes on my story, I answer him truthfully and after an hour or so of conversation he takes me to a small training yard… We take up training swords and he takes measure of me as a warrior as do I of him… After an hour of sparring we retire to his study and have some more conversation over some drinks and a modest meal of cheese, meats, and bread… Ezekiel is impressed with my skill but says in order to engender the full trust of this chapter of the Tempurian faith I need to return and put it my duty over some time… It is a reasonable request and for the rest of that week I return daily to help about the business of the faith…

The Magnificent Seven meet at breakfast and dinner at The Dimension Door Inn during the first week of our stay in Heliogabalus… I notice that staying low-key and out of troubles is hard for some members of our group but trouble does find a way to find us… Even Tai and I, one afternoon head out to try to sell some arms and armor we won during our adventures… A few city toughs recognize Tai and try to give us the business… Tai quickly defeats most of them with a sleep charm and I knock out the last one… After we manacle the lot of them and wait for the Watch to come Tai wakes one and warns them the next time they accost us it will be a fireball and not a sleep spell that will end the fight…

Kythorn 13, Year of Rogue Dragons
The week turns to the next as we wait for more information on Slaughtergarde….

During my chores at the Monastery, Battleguard Hekrit does reward my service with a Writ of License to wear armor. He tells me to be careful in it’s use as it is on his honor and reputation that the written is issued… I swear to bring no dishonor to his name in the use… He also asks me if my company would be interested in a trade for him… I agreed to host a meeting and bring it up…

We move our residence from The Dimension Door Inn into to the newly named Goodbarrel Manor! Reed purchased a manor in a splendid part of the city that actually doesn’t stink! By Tempus’s grace, there is no stink and we are surrounded by Hin establishments that have the most tremendously fine foods!

Kythorn 23, Year of Rogue Dragons
We host Battleguard Hekrit as he presents his task… He informs us that after the defeat of King Bloodfeather at Goliad some of his surviving knights and confidants tried to start an underground resistance… One member of those knights was a close friend of his who would clandestinely visit him at the Monastery. Ezekiel believed that resistance had a hidden redoubt somewhere here in the sewers of the Old Quarter. It is curious that Baron Ree, the Lich King’s puppet, curiously closed off much of the sewers therein… Ezekiel asked us to enter and explore the sewers and try to find the hideout… We agreed…

We take several days to recon and research our mission… Clandestinely a few nights later we entered the sewers from a entrance near the monastery… As we get acclimated to the foul stench of the sewers I swear to never again complain of the stench above… I say a quick prayer to the Foehammer and our band sets of in search of adventure!

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Plugging the Dark Elves' Hole

Mirtul 21, Year of Rogue Dragons
The Magnificent Seven rouse themselves from the brief rest they took after battling through the main drow host holding this “Temple” piece of the Abyssal ruin know as Slaughtergarde

It appears Magus Tai has divined some way of manipulating the demonic arches with the flames and purple mist barriers dividing the complex…

We continue to explore into a corner of the complex infested with nightmarish spider like creatures culminating with full fledged driders of which I have only heard of in myths of the Underdark… The beast’s lair is the main shrine to this Abyssal Prince Mu-Tahn Laa… It is somewhat comforting to see the visage of the defeated monstrosity that attempted to destroy the world you love and know. Reassurance that the trials ahead can be victorious!

During the recovery from the battles against the arachnid foes, the complex shakes and twists as if a minor earthquake hits it. The band sets out to clear the other chambers in the complex… Giving the elemental guardians a wide berth… A section of the complex containing natural chimneys contain the lairs of yetis and giant bats but our strength of steel and spell easily defeats the beasts…

Plunging deeper into the complex we come across the remaining drow forces… Some male warriors and arcanists with some wererat mercenary scum… Luckily we were able to fight each group separately… but by the end of fighting with this rearguard of the drow host our group is spent of strength, spellpower, and endurance… To our good cheer we find evidence that the drow priestesses collapsed their tunnel from the Underdark to cover their retreat…

Selecting a highly defensible spot to rest, Magus Tai erects a magical dome to provide security while we take turns resting and recovering our strengths…

Mirtul 22, Year of Rogue Dragons
Hardy and hale after a good rest we plan a intricate attack on the magma elementals… As soon as the first arrow flies my companions throw away the plan and surprisingly it wasn’t Jinx or Reed it was Ulfgar, strange indeed… The elementals could not withstand our full strength power and they were defeated… Exploring the areas beyond them yielded a room of angry restless spectral undead spirits that we defeat and hopefully set to peace… And lastly we find It….

It is a portal to the Abyss… Frozen in place like an image in a mirror stepping out of it and into the world were several demons stuck out of time and dimension… My divine senses ringing like an alarm I felt like I was underneath a rock slide frozen above me waiting for it to fall… Magus Tai issues a magic assault of thunder to shatter the glass like portal and for an instance the connection to the Abyss springs to life and the sounds, sights, and smells of that abyssal landscape fills the chamber and the demons in the portal fall through into our world while the portal’s glassy gate shatter to a thousand pieces…

Our company and the Demons clash… I channel the divine might of the Foehammer and smite blow after blow… All my companions give their all and after a mighty battle we stand triumphant…

Recovered from the bloodletting battle with the fiends we explore the last bits of the complex… The last enemy is some sort of clockwork construct possessed by some Devilish Fiend… Swarms of animated clockwork beetles issue out from it and lay waste… Our blows killed a few each swing but what good was that against the magnitude of the swarm… Luckily main construct was vulnerable to sword blows and the radiant anger of Tempus channeled trough me… Eventually the constructs fall and we discover the room it inhabits is some type of scrying room that observes other parts of Slaughtergarde

Two dark visages are evident but one has an image… An image of a construct that my companions know… They met this “pentadrone” in an earlier piece of Slaughterguarde… It is polite but condescending and my tact takes control of my pride during the conversation…

The Slaughtergarde Temple is secured… We spend the rest of the day exploring the nooks and crannies looking for hidden rooms and cataloging the treasure we take…

Deciding to spend the night before leaving we set camp… We notice something observing us from the hills around… We send our scout supreme Jinx out into the wild to find out what’s out there… Returning he thinks it’s a disguised human… We send him and Tai out stealthily then I approach the stranger’s position and demand the surrender… Well surprisingly he gets the drop on Tai but fails in his tackle and ends up falling down the ridge laying prone at my feet…

Putting my armored boot firmly on its chest to hold it in place, I looked down to see a human primarily clad in a dated Damaran uniform repaired with various what I assume to be Underdark clothing with dark soot and charcoal rubbed on exposed skin… a clever camouflage for the Underdark…

I say, “we can do this the easy way or the hard way. What say you stranger?”
And so the interrogation begins….

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The Omens were right indeed...

The large Rageborn covered in blood and ichor splattered half plate armor carries the last of the drow bodies into the center of this ritual chamber then staggers to the wall and sits down… Finally catching his breath he uncorks his wineskin and takes a healthy swig of fermented goat milk; the bitter alcohol helps numb the soreness around Xeno’s salve soaked bandages and stitches… Looking around Pagu smiles…. Ah my new companions… The Omens were right… They are drawn to the darkness I see threatening Vassa… The darkness I must fight… At least it seems these Magnificent Seven will be worthy allies in the battles to come… Pagu reflects on the past few days leading up to his current state of affairs…

The overland trail traveling south from the Vassan Gate to Dharmshall was quick and booring, an ideal journey whenever in Vassa… Our half elf ranger Jynx’s woodcraft is quite impressive and plays a major part in our good travels…

Our travels put our trail across that of a wandering hill giant band… We decided this menace was worth putting down… We tracked and defeated the giants… I see my companions general battle strategy is follow no strategy… Interesting…

Our travel puts us camping outside the halls of Hillafar Hold, a dwarven fortification in the foothills of the Galenas… After setting out from the dwarf hold we are into the wilds of Vassa…

We found this part of “Slaughtergaurd,” a destroyed demonic domain strewn in pieces across the Bloodstone lands after some mystical catastrophe centuries ago… We find it’s entrance amongst the ruins of some Damaran noble’s hunting lodge… As we descend into the dark depts of the complex we are assaulted by foul dark elves… I know what a surprise… In the region known as the Dark Holes of Sunderland where every deep pit is rumored to connect to the Underdark we find demon worshipping drown infesting a demonic ruin… How did we not see this coming…

We battle from room to room… Strange portals of obfuscating purple mist and roaring flames act as door’s through out the complex, that coupled with Vile drow darkness and warriors with poison covered weapons provide unique hazards that dangerously spread our group apart and make the combat incredibly deadly… In the exchange of blades and spells several companions fall and are only narrowly brought from the brink before they bleed out…

The last burst of combat features the lead Priestess calling some Abyssal fiend of Lolth… While my companions battle around us I engage the fiend in mortal combat… Tempus guides my strike as I channel my wrath in a blow of radiant vengeance that critically strikes the fiend, destroying it… The lead Priestess is felled and Most of the Drow host is defeated… A newly positioned priestess leads a retreat of the remaining drow force to link up with some minions on the other side of the complex while a room guarded by magma elementals stands between our two groups…

And here we are… camped up in this room with weird status of crone’s in various poses… The Magnificent Seven indeed… Me resting by the corridor on guard for the approach of enemies… Adept Tai exploring the arcane significance of the room… Xeno’s tending to wounded… Ulfgar and Reed going through the bodies of the drow… Hallorin still unwilling to come through the flame wall and advising a tactical retreat… And Jynx, well Jynx just being Jynx…

Ah yes… This is my new company… Yes the Omens will be proved right… This group’s chaos will be the strength our Homeland needs… Maybe not the heroes we want but definitely the ones we need…

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A Long Road Indeed....

Mirtul 6, Year of Rogue Dragons
As the Magnificent Seven rouse themselves from slumber and prepare for the long march to bring midwife Elara to the Monastery of the Yellow Rose for the safekeeping of her testimony about the false claim of Helmont the XV to the Ducal Seat; they are met in the hidden burrow by another Elder of the Halfling Downs. He leads the group for several days through winding tunnels (the tallest even having to crawl and hands and knees at some times… Finally the last day of underground travel leads out a tunnel putting them within sight of the Fanewood…

Mirtul 8, Year of Rogue Dragons
The next day the company heads into the woods to avoid any patrols of Helmont or his allies… Near the end of the day the Magnificent Seven’s tracker, Jinx, misses the obvious signs of a troll hole and kobold activity and leads the company into a confrontation… A quick attempt to parlay by Adept Tai with the beasts leads to an attempted ambush… Swarmed by a kobold mob and a forest troll, heavy damage is take by the group… Ser Buckthorn charges the troll and trades blow for blow while the party handles the Kobold vermin… Eventually the troll’s regeneration outpaces the gnomish knight’s furious rage and he falls broken beneath the troll.. The companions battle until the Kobold horde is dealt with, then the fire brought to bear on the troll by Tai is able to end the monster… Weary from marching and battle the company takes refuge near the troll hole figuring few forest denizens would risk this territory…

Mirtul 9, Year of Rogue Dragons
The next day of travel through the Fanewood lead the company perriosuly close a giant spider infested tract… Noticing the signs the company decides to circumvent the area… Luckily Jinx’s woodcraft is so advanced he was able to still keep our pace on target despite the detours… Traveling a bit into the night but we are to put the Fanewood behind us by rest… Adept Tai unveils a new ritual he learned and provides a magical dome of force to rest in safety… It turns out incredibly useful as in the morning we find large arachnid tracks about our camp… If we set watch we might have seen what stalked us… Lessons learned…

Mirtul 10, Year of Rogue Dragons
Several days of the Seven traveling trough the plains of Southern Morildon… Taking care to stay off main roads and generally stealthy travel is the modus operandi of the group… An afternoon of travel finds their path crossing a pack of ankehgs out and on the hunt… The giant burrowing insects burst out of the ground and fight the companions with vicious mandibles and squirted streams of vicious acid to wound and maim… Yet once again the company defeats the monsters…

Mirtul 12, Year of Rogue Dragons
Nearing the last day of travel before reaching the edge of the Duchy and the border town of Pierscalm the company is waylaid by bounty hunters… The battle is vicious and eventually the Seven prevail… They followed the tracts back to the bounty hunters camp… Going through the campsite reveals the information that carrier pigeon had relayed our sighting to back to Ravensburg… The company also takes possession of a magical chest that provides food for a small band once a day… The chest already empty, the remaining pigeons are cooked an eaten… Delicious…

The group sends Adept Tai into the town to secure a boat across the river but the gig is up… An accurate wanted poster is hung in the town square… Luckily the Duke is a dick and not liked by the small folk… A boat is chartered and we get across into Arcata… Also Tai finds out a contingent of Ducal guards recently ferried across… Also Reed is enraged by the inaccurate, husky representation of him on the wanted poster… He vows vengeance.

Mirtul 13, Year of Rogue Dragons
The long pass winds and twists into the Earthspur Mountains and lead up the glacier… Before long we encounter Sir Guthrim and a contingent of Ducal Guard waiting in ambush… The two sides charge and Sers Guthrim and Buckthorn clash in the middle of the battle line! The battle rages on the tight mountain pass and after a few minutes the Magnificent seven defeat the forces of Helmont the False and Ser Buckthorn accepts the surrender of the last remaining guard, a sergeant.. There is a brief fight between Jinx and Buckthorn over the right to offer quarter and the right to slay… An uneasy truce falls amongst the party…

Mirtul 14, Year of Rogue Dragons
The next day of mountainous travel finds the band under attack by a yeti pack… The group defeats the pack fairly easily but during the battle old wounds are opened between Buckthorn and Jynx over the prisoner… Luckily the Monastery is near and hopefully tensions will be lowered in it’s relative safety…

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Feverish Dreams

Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……

The droning sound of a jungles’ worth of buzzing insects, heightened to a maddening and deafening degree, abruptly wakes the sleeping gnome Knight… He frantically rises from his nest of ruined furniture and clothing scraps… Slinging on his backpack, he grabs his blade as he moves to the door of the ruined hovel barricaded by an overturned bench…

Bzzzz…… The droning buzz loudens…

As the gnome Knight wearily leans against the door the droning starts to break him and he begins to cry… The tears trace lines in the thick grime caked onto the beard and armour of Sir Buckthorn from the weeks of hard travel…

Bzzzzzzz….. The droning reaches a zenith…

The hovel shakes… The shutters of the hovel blast open from a fierce wind and the dim red light shines in… The gnome moves to peek around the corner of the window… He sees the pale red sun looming fat on the horizon… It’s light, pale yet still blinding, washes his face and he feels the intense heat… Temperature rising he shields his eyes and scans about…

Bzzzzzzz……

It’s then he sees It… Ser Buckthorn buckles a bit… Despite the blinding light he sees It… It’s bauble like eyes… The beating wings… Venom dripping from it giant mandibles and chitinous legs’ making it’s droning buzz… The hovel shakes again as the roof rips off and knight falls from his perch by the window… The door blast open… On his back, turning to look out the remains of the door the pale blinding red light starts to be dimmed… As thousands of shadowy objects swarm through the sky…

Bzzzzzzz…… The droning sound makes ears bleed….

The shadowy swarm replaces the dead red sun’s light as it fills up the horizon… The feverishly hot gnome turns and crawls away in terror… The Shadows like a swarm of locusts catch up and wash over the prone Knight… As he is swallowed by the darkness he falls to his chest… The last thing he sees is a grime covered goblet lying amongst some trash on the floor… covered in grime except in one spot… blasted by the debris from the door is a small sliver of gleaming gold under the grime… That glint from the golden cup is his last sight as life fades to black….

….With a start the gnomish Knight wakes up on his cot in the hobbit’s warren to the sounds of Ulfgar, Gazlowe, Hallorin, and Reed snoring, burping, and farting in an awful cacophony… Shaking his head he takes a swig from his wine skin and pulls a blanket over his head to muffle both the noise and stench… Settling back into his cot, he tries to get some rest for the start of the hard trek to the Monastery in the morning…

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Truth, Justice, and the Carmathan Way!!

Mirtul 6, Year of Rogue Dragons
As the last of the ogre’s intestines spill on the ground around me the rage leaves me… Catching my breath Reed points out a fleeing shadowy figure and starts to chase! Adept Tai quickly reminds Reed he is the only one who can lead us to the elder’s burrow and he allows the figure to run. We realize the figure was headed in the direction of the Ducal Guard. No good can come from that. We double time it to the Elder Merfyn’s burrow. We do pass the Sheriff’s offices and I do hesitate for a second to think about springing my buddy Gazlowe from the brig but to be honest I’m sure he can get out of any cell south of the Heliogabalus….

We arrive at Elder Merfin’s burrow to the sounds of harsh interrogation… One of the imposters, “Chessa” was questioning the poor elder… She was revealing herself to be some sort of magic user from an organization called “The Citadel” with an imp familiar and bound devil, which Tai later identified as a hamatula or barbed devil, at her side… It was too much for the poor terrified Hin elder, just as we reached his doorway he was giving up the name of the midwife… I charge into the burrow and stand over him and swing my blades at the fiend and the evil Hin… I strike true on the fiend but my blade does minimal harm to it… My other blade was about to strike true on “Chessa” but at the last second she cast a shielding spell to divert my blow… Battle begins!

The sorceress quickly teleports away and leaves behind her fiendish servant to do battle. It summons several spinagons (spined devils) to it’s side and my companions battle them both in and outside the burrow… It’s a hard slog, the fiend’s resistance to normal weaponry means only our spellcasters and Reed‘s radiant bolts can really harm the fiend’s… But true to my instincts Gazlowe also shows up and that extra offense helps turn the tide and the devil’s are sent back to whatever Hell they crawled out of…

Reed recognizes the midwife’s name and we race off to her burrow. On the way to Elara’s home we encountered a group of Carmathan guards responding to the chaos of the night. Expecting a problem, I begin to stay behind to deal with the guards and let my companions escape; but Gazlowe’s, still wearing an illusion of a Hin deputy from his escape from the brig, steps forward and convinces the guards he is using us and the guards are needed to deal with the ogre threat… Fucking Gazlowe, way to go!

We make it to the midwife Elara’s home and all is quiet. We rouse her and tell her what is happening. She is not as timid and soft as I would have expected a Hin of her age. Just as we finish explaining the Ducal Guard shows up. Sir Dorris Guthrim, a minion of Helmont the False, threatens both us and my family particularly… I denounce him and his liege and prepare for battle as the guards prepare torches to burn us out of them home. As they throw their torches into the burrow, the midwife shows us an escape route behind her hearth… We collapse the tunnel and flee into some hidden warren…

Upon reaching the central cavern of the escape route we encounter the whole “Greentallow” family waiting for us… They reveal they are agents of the Citadel of Assassins. The offer our lives for the midwife’s but we draw blades in response! The battle lines are drawn…

The young male is a considerable warrior, the father and daughter are cunning, nimble assassins, and the mother and her imp provide magic assaults… In particular her opening lightning bolt catches us in the tunnel and slants the opening of the battle squarely in the assassin’s favor! Complicating things our midwife is caught in the lightning and needs immediate help!

The Magnificent Seven spring into battle!

Reed charges the leader Rolin and the two monks begin a dance of death. Paldo the young warrior charges us, Ulfgar and I meet the charge and battle back, a whirl of blades and axe against the stout Hin warrior… Tai enters his blade song and engages the sorceress with bow, spell, and blade… Halorin our bard tends to the wounded midwife and supports our battle with his inspirational charms and hinders our foes with his cutting mockery… The last assassin rolls from fight to fight trying to take advantage of any slip ups or loss of concentration with deadly precise strikes… I catch a short sword to the gut and fall in combat, darkness takes me, only to have Halorin revive me with one of his healing charms… Halorin falls in the next turn of battle… in return, I rush to pour my last healing potion into his mouth to revive him… The tide of battle turns when Gazlowe takes advantage of his natural habitat and snipes shot after shot from the advantage of underground camouflage his svirfneblin heritage provides… Our party decisively turns the tide with a few aggressive sleep enchantments…

In a fitting form of irony The last sleeping assassins are relieved of their heads much like the poor Greentallows…

The Hin midwife assures us the warren will be safe to rest in as the hobbit’s of the Downs won’t be betray this place to the Ducal Guard… We decided to take the midwife to the Monastery of the Yellow Rose to tell document her tale…

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Fucking Gazlow

Mirtul 6, Year of Rogue Dragons
It was a good day… After several good days of travel through the beautiful Carmathan countryside and into the Halfling Downs, here we are… Sitting with Ulfgar in a raucous Hin tavern enjoying the fantastic food and drinks whilst at the same time keeping eyes on one of our suspects, “Paldo”… Watching his comings and goings trying to connect the dots… All the while not having any clue that the Magnificent Seven are hot on his crews’ tail… Hmm… Old deputy, old merchant, old guard, old farmer… All people with roots here amongst the Downs… What are these Greentallow imposters looking for…

Tai returns from his reconnaissance with splendid intelligence… The “rich merchant” imposters are keeping up the pregnancy ruse and looking for only the best midwife, one who allegedly served the Dukes of Carmathan, the House of Devlin…

Reed returns from his day about the Downs and I am comforted by the fact his celebrity has not blown our anonymity and the suspects still have no clue we are here… It is a good day…

Maybe it’s the harder drinking that Reed pushes that does it but Garl’s Golden Beard, I have it!! It hits me all at once…I remember a conversation I overheard in the tavern back at Rosebriar before I left to come back Heliogabalus… Several inquisitors and monks returning to the Monastery of the Yellow Rose were grumbling about how the Hin of the Downs were obstructing some research there… Peppered with, "Well if they don’t want to help us they can live with “Theo the fraud”"…

I explain to my non-Carmathan companions that the claim to the Ducal Seat made by the Helmont XV is tenuous… The imposters and the Ducal guard are both here looking for the old Hin midwife to the Ducal family… And if the slaughter room in the basement we found at the Greentallow’s is any indication I this this interest is deadly…

I love it when a plan comes together… Surprisingly we all agree on a plan.. we decided to wait until nightfall to try some aggressive diplomacy at the Greentallow’s residence… Nothing could possibly go wrong…

Oh no… When did Gazlowe show up… Why is he sweating and looking nervous…. “You did what? Magically opened a hobbit’s burrow and sent in your owl familiar!! They killed it and it exploded in a shower of pixie dust!!! You have to leave, no wait, we both should leave!! No don’t chug that beer with Reed, this isn’t funny”

Roofied by Reed, The Svirfneblin passes out and falls down…

Reed and I quickly grab the grey gnome carrying him upstairs… As I start grabbing our gear to flee Reed starts tying up Gazlowe… We have a heated exchange of ideas but he convinces me to turn over Gazlowe to the Sheriff… I try to use my status as a sworn Knight of Carmathan to curry some privilege but the Hin deputy but my attempt fails to grant any extra leniency… Only Gazlowe’s comatose status garner’s any sympathy from the deputy and he is still looking forward to a couple days in the brig…

More importantly our cover is blown… One of the imposters blatantly approaches my companions and tries to milk them for intelligence… Adept Tai’s attempt to send his rat familiar into the Greentallow’s home is cut short by a snake familiar bound to one of the conspirators… But a snippet of evidence leads Reed to recognize one of the people who the imposters were after… it’s a village elder…

Well it’s on now… Its dark… We are headed to the endangered elder’s burrow now… Wait, what is that? It can’t be… Is that 3 Ogre’s sneaking through the Downs? Did the big one just say, “it’s an elf, we can kill theses!”

“Hey you! Big and ugly!! My name is Ser Buckthorn Beywinn and we are the Magnificent Seven!! Prepare to die!!! Aaarrggghhh!!”

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From the Journal of Tyengandrill
The Greentallows

The adventuring band voted, we would pursue the Greentallow family murder investigation for Bluto. Each member seemed to have a compelling reason to go, I am also pleased with this decision.

Greengrass, 1373 (Year of Rogue Dragons)
We travel to Bricheon Townshed to meet Talia. She has an alias name she was using at this farm and has the farms son besotted with her. She helps us don some disguises and has arranged rooms at the Left-handed Inn in the Burrows of Heliogabalus in the Bricktop Quarter. The Greentallow Manor is located in the Burrows.

As expected the Burrows is a very pleasant section of Bricktop. The Hin take great enjoyment in food and socializing which leads to a great pastime, gossip. Halorin passes himself off as a visiting family member and starts speaking to the locals reaping the gossip around town.

Greentallow Manor is boarded up and the Greentallows have moved out about a month ago. To a place they purchased in the Downs. The gossip is that Chessa (Mother) Greentallow became pregnant and the whole family started acting strangely. The Greentallows started walking around all bundled up. A new cousin moved in, Cora who looks a lot like Drina (Daughter) Greentallow, and Cora ran off their regular nanny and rebuffs visitors.

After interviewing potential leads, it became clear we needed to search the house. Why the impersonation of the Greentallows, why a pregnancy, and why the house in the Downs? Are they trying to make a profit off the sale of the Manor? The pregnancy goes towards explaining a lot of odd behavior, but Chessa was barren.

The timeline indicates that they did a rush move out of the house when the barrels went missing.

Mirtul 1, 1373 (Year of Rogue Dragons)
We sneak into the Greentallow Manor at night. It was conveniently boarded up so our lights from inside did not give us away and muffled any noises. It appeared they mostly cleaned out items of interest from the home. They left behind a few very deadly and expensive traps. Four things of interest were discovered:
• Letter from the Halfling Downs with the purchase details of the property in the Downs
• Many letters upset about the unfulfilled work contracts
• A secret room, now covered in dried blood, which most likely was used for butchering the family.
• An unused cask, prepared for to receive a spell which could preserve more heads.

We head to the Bricheon Townshed to meet with Talia to fill her in and plan our trip to the Downs.

In reviewing my past journal entries, I once again read the note we found regarding the casks with heads.

“Someone is on our trail, and we needed the goblins to intercept the delivery for the goods to disappear. Trace the goblins back to their lair and wipe them out – no loose ends. The two casks need to be delivered to the stall of Zarkos Dourstone in the Ironspur Trade Center. Middle of the night – no witnesses. Do not bring any spice containers you recover to the trade center – we can’t afford to have anyone making that connection. Once you’ve delivered the goods, use any proceeds from the spices to pay the boys – no tithe – completing the delivery is the guild’s cut. If you fuck up – you better be dead – if not, you will be.”

Mirtul 4, Year of Rogue Dragons
We settle in to a local inn and decide to each use his own special talents to keep an eye on the imposters new home and collect any juicy gossip. The plot thickens and we stumbled on something HUGE.
• “Chessa” is interviewing for a midwife of noble quality, she has rejected many of the Hin who have applied.
• The Duke’s personal guard are about town and this is not the norm.
• “Paldo” is interviewing many of the elders in the Downs, plying them with truth serum.
• Ser Buckthorn remembers that the current royal bloodline of Helmont the 15th is under dispute and the Monks of the Yellow Rose are investigating.
• The Devlin family used a Hin midwife and she could confirm or deny the lineage of Helmont the 15th and she is from the Downs.

Well now some of the pieces fall into place and explains the extravagance and expense used to cover the imposter’s tracks. They are after the Hin Midwife and this is all tied up in the contention for the rightful ruler of the Duchy of Carmathan. Whoever leads the Duchy of Carmathan would greatly influence the stability of the Bloodstone Lands under King Gareth’s rule and right now Helmont the 15th does not support Garth Dragonsbane.

Like a hard to reach itch, that I cannot scratch. Why are the heads being preserved and delivered? I can understand disposing of the heads to support the ruse, headless bodies cannot be interacted with without the most potent magics and bodies without heads are hard to identify. There are two stories here and most likely intertwined.

Mirtul 6, Year of Rogue Dragons
We need to know more and we stick out here, heads above the rest. We meet and discuss what to do and I suggest that I have Nettle, my familiar, assume the form of a rat and scout out the “Greentallows” new home. It is agreed and I settle down that evening near the house and let Nettle scuttles into the Hin’s Burrow. I see “Chessa” out of her body suit and “Cora” mixing vials. “Paldo” and “Rolin” (Father) are discussing the days interrogations. The elder that he doused with truth serum doesn’t know who the Hin Midwife was, but he knew who does, an elder named Merfin…then, poor Nettle is bitten by a poisonous viper. Damit, one of the imposters is an arcanist. Must be one of the women, they always go for the vipers in the cleavage.

I hurry back, as the humans saying goes “The gig is up”. I give my companions the short version and Reed knows exactly who the elder Merfin is and where he lives. Well it is a race now isn’t it and we have to reach him first and we hurry out…

…and we get jumped by Orges, how did they get Orges into the Downs!?! “Look an Elf, we can kill the ones with the Elf!” It was a short battle and I notice a shadow slinking off, I cry out and point and Reed is off like an arrow. Now the town is stirred up, Reed is giving chase to the shadow and we need to get to Merfin’s house now, not later.

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Big Cities, Little Hobbits, Big Troubles

Mirtul 1, 1373 (Year of Rogue Dragons)

Wow… Nighttime in Burrows isn’t so bad… Bricktop, This Northern part of the city doesn’t carry the reek of the Southern side I was introduced to earlier… It’s truly like a different place… There’s even parks and green space… While it’s not the beauty of living on the Rosebriar where I grew up on, one could get used to living amongst these conditions… Maybe Heliogabalus isn’t the shithole I thought it was… It’s a shame the king doesn’t live here…

Alright, game face Buckthorn… This break in is going down…

Between talking to the crabby ol neighbor, the rebuffed nanny, and friendly innkeep the afternoon chasing down the leads on the missing Greentallows was a fair success…. Now breaking into the manor and finding any clues these imposters left behind is of Paramount importance to unfurling this mystery…

It’s a solid plan… Jinx and Ulfgar will climb the rooftops and provide overwatch… Adept Tai will provide an entry and well that’s as far as we can plan… Anything else will probably be ignored any ways…

Well there’s goes Tai… He’s strolling by the front door… Peeking in through the glass… Bampf!! Where’d he go… oh, He must have ported… The doors opening… Oh yeah, go go go, Poorleaf is waving me and Gazlowe access… We swiftly and stealthily as possible enter the Greentallows manor and wait for the rest of our company to get the signal to enter…

Oh no… There’s Jinx… Something went wrong… Ulfgar and him are providing overwatch…

Ok everyone is in… Jynx and Poorleaf are outside running interference and we can start turning this place over…

The office is treasure trove of documents… Our timeline of the impersonation and deceptions is supported by some correspondences we discovered… Unfortunately the villains behind this leave several traps to injure and hinder us or anyone else investigating this disappearance… From alchemical firebomb traps, to aggressive enchanted (or possessed as I think) cutlery, and hidden dart barrages these ner’do’wells did not want anyone uncovering and unraveling this murderous deception…

As we descend into the basement to look for clues I’m ready to remind these villains that I, Ser Buckthorn Beywinn, am not just anyone…

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