Thursday, 28 June 2012

Khorvaire Session 11 - 28/06/12

Session 11: The Dragon (27th June 2012)
The cast of heroes

Arken (Half-Elf Cleric) – leader of the party
Bardan (Human Fighter) – the muscle
Knil (Elf Ranger) – the tracker
Korum Proudfoot (Halfling Thief) – the scout
Rioja Hyrule (Human Mage) – the wizard
Kima (Black Domestic Cat) – his familiar

Davon laid to Rest (days 43-45)

The party did not take the time to rest but headed straight into town to carry out Davon’s final wishes. Arken made the final arrangements at the Temple whilst the rest of the party made off to carry out re-provisioning themselves for the forthcoming journey ahead. Once they had finished purchasing the items that they required, the party returned to the tower, only to find that Arken still had not joined them.

The following morning Arken, after having spent the night in town, returned to the party to tell them his news. He had purchased the tower, in the name of Gerudos (apparently a name his aunt Zelda used to call him when he was a lad), and all the lands within a one mile radius for the princely sum of one gold coin. This deal did come with a few catches however; the forest had to be returned to as near its former state as possible but it took into account that the adventurers could build upon it; trade in town should not be affected by any premises set up on this land or a tax would be levied to compensate for loss of earnings. He had also put in plans to build a new temple to Din upon this land, for which he paid a high price in terms of usury; 10,000 gold pieces at a rate of ten per cent per annum for the first year and twenty per cent per year after on the original sum lent if not paid back on time.

Later that afternoon, a short wizened old man arrived at the tower. Rioja invited him in and directed him to Arken, who proceeded to discuss plans for the building of the new temple. A few hours later a group of Dwarf engineers and masons arrived to start work on shaping the stone for the temple. A party of woodcutters and workmen arrived just after to start on clearing the dead woodlands in the vicinity. They were told not to chop down Knil’s tree but all other woodland was to be cleared back to bare earth and the recovered wood was to be divided into a wood burning pile and a sawn and treated lumber pile for building work. This work would take the workers about eight weeks in total and they would charge 1000 gold pieces plus a share of the shaped lumber. A deal was agreed to this effect.

The Next Town (Day 73)

The party rested again overnight and then set out on their journey to visit the wizard who had originally hired them for the quest the following morning. They journeyed via the local town so that they could purchase a couple more riding animals; a pony for Korum and a warhorse for Bardan. The rest would travel in the wagon with the spare weapons and supplies.

The journey to the next major town was uneventful. It took four weeks of travel along the highways and major road networks. The weather was good and there was no sign of the Darkness.

Upon arrival at the town of Araj, they found there was a lot of work going on. Walls were being repaired and those made of wood were being rebuilt in stone. The guard house at the gate was fully manned, although they were allowed to pass straight through without any checks. Upon querying the work with the guards, they were told that there were disturbances to the east and many refugees were pouring into the town. The party were unable to get a description of the trouble other than that it may have been a large group of bandits.

Passing through the gates, the adventurers pulled up the first tavern they came to; the Sword and Cheese. There was another, better kept inn across the road but they were put off by its name; the Shield and Milk!

The Sword turned out to be a very large tavern with a good choice of food and drink. Bardan and Korum leapt straight in, but Arken was a little more talkative. He managed to find out that there were two refugees in the tavern who had come from the east. The barkeep pointed him in the direction of two young lads in a dark corner nursing two very small beers. Korum, over hearing the conversation between Arken and the barkeep, walked over to the boys’ table and topped their beakers up without asking. The rest of the party followed and were able to find out that the boys’ village had been attacked during the night over a period of a couple of days by what seemed like bandits because of all the noise and destruction they beheld each morning. However, nothing was ever taken and they were unable to say if there were any tracks left by the attackers as their village elders had sent them west to keep them safe.

The party decided to spend the night at The Sword, during which Rioja was able to study the diamond and chest in more detail. He confirmed that it still had magical traces about it but the magic would only activate in a certain area (the swamp).

Final Destination (Day 74-88)

Arken spent the night at the Temple of Din within the town of Araj but was late in meeting with the others before they left to continue their journey. As he was the highest ranked priest in the vicinity he had been asked to take morning prayers!

The journey to the town where the wizard lived took only a further two weeks instead of the usual three weeks it normally would have taken. The roads were empty except for a few people scurrying quickly away eastwards, so the going was good and the inns along the way provided good rooms and service to the party so they could rest better than if they were forced to sleep in the common rooms. All of the refugees they met told the same story; something was attacking their farmsteads and villages by night, causing lots of damage and not a few deaths.

When they arrived on the outskirts of the town, they noticed that it too was re-fortifying its walls and there was a large, armed presence all about. The party made their way into the town and headed straight to the nearest busy tavern to pick up on the news.

The barkeep recognised Arken and Bardan straight away, but raised an eyebrow at the appearance of the rest of the party. Arken quickly explained that these were now their fellow adventurers on the quest that the wizard had given them. The barkeep was satisfied with the explanation and gave the party free drinks and food whilst he updated them with the news from the east. Korum sorted out stabling for the horses and wagon and heartily partook of the free meals.

Arken, meanwhile, headed to the nearest Temple. It turned out that he was the only Priest of Din left in the town and the priests had made off with the takings in the collection box too! Whilst he was alone in the temple, the orb started to glow red, a colour it had never glowed before. Something made him step outside of the temple and look at the sky; there was a large patch of Darkness centred over a spot a few miles away, in the direction of the wizard’s keep where the whole journey had begun. He hastily made his way back to the tavern to update the party.

The Wizard’s Keep (Day 88 continued)

Time was getting on now, so the party made haste to the keep. The Darkness was about a mile across and centred over where the wizard’s abode was situated. The forest they had to travel through was thick and it hindered their progress sufficiently that it was nearly nightfall when the party arrived at the edge of the Darkness.

The adventurers pulled out their usual array of torches, lanterns and model unicorns with Continual Light cast upon them to give them some protection against the deep gloom. To check the strength of their old enemy, Bardan threw one of his Fire Bombs into the depths of the darkness. It exploded, forcing the Darkness back, but once the flames had diminished, it moved back to occupy the place it had been evicted from. The party reckoned they could get to the keep and still keep the Darkness at bay if they used all of their light sources and their newly acquired cache of magical weapons, which were known to at least cause it some anguish in the past.

The party pushed on into the Darkness in a tight formation, occasionally hitting out with their magical weapons. As they moved through, the Darkness parted before them but rapidly closed in behind them again. The Darkness began to form the shapes and outlines of beings again; it was obviously getting stronger and night was about to fall.

After a short time, the party emerged from the Darkness into an area that was not affected by it; rather like the eye of a storm centred over the keep. Off in the distance, behind the keep walls, they heard a mighty clang as if a large metal object had just collapsed. They raced towards the keep only to find the main gates locked. Without waiting for Korum to pick the locks, Bardan crashed them open with his mighty boot and the party followed him through into the courtyard. The Darkness had somehow got into the castle and filled most of the courtyard.

Forming a tight wedge, the party fought their way through the blackness towards the actual keep door. Each step they took was an ordeal with the shapes moving within the Darkness forming up and striking at the party. The party struck back causing many of the shapes to lose cohesiveness but they quickly reformed. The orb was used to aid in their fight, with the Darkness pulling back with a hiss, but reforming rapidly when the party had moved on. After a few minutes of desperate struggle, they passed the source of the metallic crash; the wizard’s Iron Golem had succumbed to the Darkness and fallen just outside the door of the inner keep. Their light sources had started to dim and the torches were no longer able to be relit. A few more hard fought steps had them arrive at the door, but it was locked. Korum could not force the lock so Bardan attempted to kick it down. He was unable to. Korum, remembering one of the magical items he had bought back in their local town was still around his waist, summoned up his strength and kicked the door. It burst asunder from its hinges. Those Giants sure were strong.

The party hurried into the brightly lit interior and quickly made their way down the only corridor to the door at the far end. It was locked. Arken knocked on the door, identifying himself and calling out the wizard’s name. It was swiftly opened. The party were ushered into a small study and the door was rapidly closed behind them, but not before the last to enter noticed that the torches at the far end of the corridor were starting to go out one-by-one.

Breathing a sigh of relief for the temporary reprieve, the party took a rest. Arken, however, rummaged in his backpack and produced the unicorn horn, the urn containing the troll’s heart, the chalice and the dragon orb. He handed them over to the wizard one at a time, but when the wizard’s hand closed around the chalice, he dropped it in disgust. It had been tainted. Black veins of writhing power could be seen all over the outer surface. He said that he must get on with the ritual straight away, although he was afraid that the party were too late, especially as the chalice was corrupted. Arken tried to Dispel Magic, but his spell did not work. The light from the corridor that was entering from under the door snuffed out. The Darkness was directly outside the room now.

The Ritual

The wizard stepped up to his bookshelf and pulled a particular tome from the shelf just enough to trigger the switch in the floor holding the desk in place. He swung the desk out of the way and pulled open the trap-door revealed beneath. He quickly ushered the party down through the door before closing it firmly behind them. The small room beneath the trap-door was just big enough to hold the circle of power drawn on the floor and a few items of ritualistic paraphernalia.

Arken took himself to one corner with the dragon orb and chalice to converse with his goddess. After a short period of preparation, the wizard stated he was ready to start his incantations but Arken still struggled in the corner trying to force the orb surrounded by an intense bright white light and the chalice surrounded by a pulsing halo of darkness together.

Suddenly there was a blinding flash and Arken fell to the floor, dropping the orb and chalice from his hands. The black veins of power that were threaded throughout the surface of the chalice were now gone. Korum picked the items up and handed them to the wizard so that he could begin his ritual and the rest of the party tended to Arken. Light began to pulse within the confines of the inscribed circle upon the floor, gradually obscuring the wizard within.

Rioja managed to force his three potions of Healing between Arken’s lips and the cleric slowly started to come to; he had been on the point of death.

The pulsing light from within the circle rapidly increased in intensity until it suddenly winked out and a massive out-rush of air knocked everyone to the floor. The pulsating light had gone leaving the shrivelled shell of the wizard upon the floor; aged beyond the aeons of eternity.

The Light of Day (Day 89)

Korum slowly pulled himself to his feet. The wizard was obviously dead, but it sounded like he had achieved his purpose; the battering on the trap door above had stopped and a calmness had descended upon the keep. He pushed open the trap door and climbed up into the study devastated by high winds and awesome dark power. He rushed along the corridor and took a look outside. The Darkness had gone but there was something else in the sky. For the briefest of instants he saw the shape of a gleaming, bright dragon dip below the horizon just as the sun broke free of the tree-tops ushering in a new dawn.

Arken, recovered from his ordeal, took up the orb and threw it at the wall of the ritual room. It shattered into a thousand pieces. The magic had worked.

The rest of the party pulled themselves from their reveries and slowly made their way out into the courtyard. Bardan joined Korum who was busily picking up the pieces of the Iron Golem. He mentioned it would make a great guardian for their home tower if only they could get it working again. He was aware that they needed a special incantation written down on a piece of paper inserted into its head or breast. He put his hands into all the rents in the metal carapace and found what he was looking for. Unfortunately he could not read it, so he passed it to Rioja, who quickly grabbed it and returned to the wizard’s study in order to decipher it. He grabbed a few relevant books from off of the shelves and started to read, nodding sagely to himself as things started to make sense. They would have a new guardian for their stronghold in the south.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Khorvaire Session 10 - 20/06/12

Session 10: The Chalice (20th June 2012)

The cast of heroes

Arken (Half-Elf Cleric) – leader of the party
Bardan (Human Fighter) – the muscle
Knil (Elf Ranger) – the tracker
Korum Proudfoot (Halfling Thief) – the scout
Rioja Hyrule (Human Mage) – the wizard
Kima (Black Domestic Cat) – his familiar
Davon (Human Paladin) - the Warrior of Din

Rioja Returns (day 42 - continued)

Upon completion of his training, Rioja had returned to the tower in the Blasted Forest. He noticed quite quickly that the rest of the party had moved out, so decided to make the most of the peace and quiet by practicing a few of his new found spells. He poured himself a brew and sat down at his desk to study the newly acquired knowledge. A strange sight caught his eye as a portal suddenly appeared directly in front of him. He was sure that it was not there a few moments ago so got up to investigate. Being the cautious type, he decided not to touch it. After a short while he decided he would have nothing to do with it so started to move away. A voice in his head urged him to walk through to join his companions. Not convinced he asked for proof that the voice in his head was in fact an agent of Din. The portal disappeared.

Meanwhile, in the glade in the marshes, the party were trying to figure out how to gain access to the large diamond within the box without setting off the storm alert. A portal, similar to the one they passed through to get to this dreadful marsh, appeared before them. Not sure what to make of it Korum poked his ten foot pole through it. He encountered no resistance and it came back whole, thus rendering itself safe in his mind.

Rioja was just returning to his studies with a shake of his head when another portal appeared before him with the end of a pole sticking out of it. Curiosity got the better of him so he advanced just as the pole disappeared and was replaced by the head of Korum.

Not sure whether this was some magical trick he asked Korum to identify himself. Nothing would convince him this was the true Halfling Thief, so he asked the question, “What would Bardan most like to do to a bunch of merchants in the local town?” The response was that he would most likely round them all up and burn the town with them in it convinced him of the genuine nature of Korum, so he followed him through the portal.

He was greeted warmly on the other side by all of his companions and brought up to speed with what had been happening. He then identified the magical items each member of the party was carrying and worked out how they could at least take the gem with them. The metal chest was firmly attached to the altar, but with Bardan tugging and the others levering it up with a crowbar in Korum’s pack, the chest came off with a screech of metal on stone. They tied it to the back of one of the horses and headed on out. The good weather followed them at the same fixed radius of the grove all around.

The Mausoleum (day 42 – late afternoon)

The journey to the final destination was uneventful, and the party were glad of the good, dry weather that accompanied them although the going under foot was still boggy. When they got to within half a mile of the mausoleum, Knil and Korum scouted ahead to find a way in, investigate the local environs and check out the weather for comparison’s sake. It had begun to rain quite heavily outside the influence of the magical boundary provided by the chest and gem, and the wind had started to pick up. The mausoleum was only a very short distance from the cliff faces at the end of the valley, so there was nowhere else the party could go other than into the stone building.

Knil signalled for the party to join them, so they all made their way to the door of the sepulchre. They hobbled the horses and took down the chest – they were not going to leave it outside for any random passer-by to take! The great iron-bound oak doors (the only entrance into the building they could discern) proved simple for Korum to open, so he ventured inside. He was surprised to see two large skeletons bearing down on him; they must have been activated by the very act of opening the doors as he had not trod on any tripping devices or pressure plates. Quick as a flash he threw one of Bardan’s fire-bombs, that went off next to one of the skeletons, setting its dry, decaying rags on fire. Seeing Korum in trouble, Knil let loose a couple of arrows that hit true and Rioja launched one of his newly acquired Fireball spells into the room. The explosion and resultant heat made everyone take a step back. The first skeleton went up in flames and crumpled to the floor but the second skeleton was now able to attack Korum and hit him soundly. Knil’s next shots missed due to the after-image left on his retinas so, pushing the mage out of the way, Bardan and Davon piled into the room to protect their fellow adventurers. Shaking his head to clear his vision, Knil’s next shots flew true which caused the skeleton to slow its advance giving Bardan and Davon time to engage in combat. Korum, meantime, had managed to recover himself and get round behind the animated cadaver. The fighters managed to hit a few more times and Knil’s arrows again flew true leaving the skeleton confused. It missed its attack on the warriors in front of it but opened itself up to a sneak attack from the thief. The damage caused was just enough to slow it so that Bardan could execute the coup de grace.

Looking around the room, Korum noticed that there was nothing else but a door in the opposite wall. A quick mental calculation confirmed that the door was probably a few feet before the back of the building true, so was most likely not a door to the outside that they may have missed on their earlier reconnaissance. Korum surveyed the door but accidentally set the trap off that caused the door to fall inwards. He just managed to jump out of the way in time before it crashed to the floor where he had been stood but a moment earlier. The fallen door revealed a second door behind it. Obviously shaken, Korum was unable to pick the lock so asked Bardan to try to kick it down. The door budged a little but the lock held. Bardan hacked out the lock with his axe. Once the lock had dropped to the floor, he again kicked the door open but it sprang back as if on a very tightly coiled spring. Bardan managed to stop the door before it closed and, with Davon’s help, Korum spiked it open.

Korum quickly investigated what lay beyond and called back that there was a spiralling staircase that led down and back beneath the room they were in. As things were getting late, Arken called for the party to rest up for the night and set three watches. Korum and Bardan took first watch. Nothing seemed to happen, so curiosity got the better of Korum’s inquisitive nature. Bardan warned him not to go down the stairs, but too late, the thief had sprung over the resting fighter and onto the top of the stairs. The stairs led down beneath the room the party were camped in and along a short corridor before stopping at a cylindrical pit. There was a metal walkway around the lip of the pit that led down into the darkness. Korum tentatively tried the stairs; they would hold his weight but made an awful screeching noise as the metal twisted in its holdings. He quickly applied oil to some of the worst places but the task to quieten all of the joins would have been Herculean, so he made his way back to the top of the pit. He looked down, but could not quite see the bottom, so spat over the edge and listened. The resulting splat timed the fall to about 40-50 feet, with a stone floor at the bottom. Korum decided that cautiousness would be the better form of valour for this task, so returned to get some rest. The rest of the night passed uneventfully, except for the scolding Bardan gave him on his return.

Into the Depths (day 43)

The party awoke fully refreshed, with all spells learned and wounds healed. They broke their fast and started on their way down the spiral staircase around the pit. Metal squealed at every step, but they all made it to the bottom safely. Set into the wall opposite was another door. Korum was able to open this door easily, which revealed a long corridor with another door at the far end. The corridor was full of rubble on the floor and was lit somehow by dim natural light; possibly filtering down from the marshes above? Proceeding cautiously, prodding the floor ahead of him with his pole, Korum slowly made his way along the corridor.

About halfway down, he must have hit a pressure pad as a large blade swung from one wall across to the other, taking the end of his pole with it. How had he missed that trap? He decided to look closer and espied another two sets of opposing slits in the wall further ahead, about five feet apart. He prodded around to find the nearest pressure pad and set the trap off again. This time he was able to work out which particular stone set the trap, so he marked it with chalk. He stepped over the pad and crawled beneath the lowest height of the blade as it had swung (about 2 feet) and stood on the other side of the trap. He then advanced on the next trap cautiously.

After a little searching he found the next pressure pad. He set it off, but this time the blade at the next set of slits swung across the corridor. He marked the trigger off with chalk again and cautiously advanced to the next pair of slits in the wall. Again, he found the trigger stone but this time it set off the trap five feet back; so these two sets of traps worked in opposition. He motioned the party to come forward and told them to avoid stepping on the stones marked with chalk. The party followed through but also made sure they crawled under the arc of the blades just in case. The party reached the door at the far end without injury.

The Antechamber

The door was opened easily by Korum and he took a peak through the small gap he cracked it open to. Inside he saw that it was dimly lit with a door in the opposite wall only 20-30 feet away. Just as he was about to open the door fully, a skeleton walked into view. Korum let loose a shaft from his crossbow but the shock of being discovered caused him to miss. He pulled himself back behind the door and closed it. He was in the middle of explaining that there was a skeleton in the room when a large rusty sword was thrust through the door’s timbers. Upon Arken’s command, the party carefully retreated behind the traps in the corridor to await the approach of the animated bones. It did not take the armoured skeleton long to hack through the door and enter the corridor, but it is also swiftly followed by two more of the same! The first skeleton swiftly closed the gap only to be smashed asunder by the swinging blade of the first trap triggered by Korum. This turn of events caused the second skeleton to falter, but the third one advanced none-the-less only to meet the same fate at the second trap, also sprung by Korum. This time, the blade became trapped in the wall slit, entangled in the arms and armour of the decimated skeleton. The remaining skeleton, eyes burning blue fire, advanced again upon the party, not setting off any traps as they were now sprung. Combat was engaged and the cleric tried to turn the undead being. His attempt failed so the skeleton picked him out as the main target. After several feints by both the party and the skeleton, Arken was hit a couple of times causing him to stumble back out of the fight. Bardan fumbled with his axe as he saw his companion stumble back, but Davon swung his mighty two-handed sword and cleaved the skeleton in two with just the one blow.

The party advanced over the smashed skeletons and back through the door into the chamber beyond. There was nothing else to be found within the room, only another large door opposite the one they had just entered from.

The Chalice

Korum, his nerves now calmed somewhat, set to work on looking for traps on the door. He discovered that this door employed the door-fall trap that was encountered earlier in the dungeon. There was no way of circumventing the trap, so he made sure the rest of the party were clear before setting it off safely. The door boomed to the floor, thus snuffing out any form of surprise the party may have had, even if the previous fight had not been heard.

Unfortunately, luck was no longer with Korum as the door behind the false trapdoor had a very difficult lock on it; so difficult in fact that he broke his favourite lock picking tool in it. This meant that Bardan had to hack the lock off.

Kicking the remnants of the door down, Bardan strode into the torch lit room. He could see the room was empty except for a raised dais in the centre which could be approached by a set of steps at each cardinal point, a cylindrical column upon the raised dais, and upon that column was a golden, jewel encrusted chalice. Unfortunately, behind the column and chalice there stood a robed figure, face hidden by a deep cowl, bony skeletal hands held aloft mumbling an arcane incantation.

The rest of the party quickly made their way into the chamber and loosed a barrage of arrows, bolts and vials of Greek Fire at the figure. These missiles all bounced harmlessly off of an invisible barrier at the edge of the raised dais.

This shocked the party into inaction, but Arken approached the cowled figure and requested the return of the chalice on behalf of his goddess. The robed necromancer laughed at the cleric and put his hands into two deep pockets, removing them and flinging an item to either side of the dais, intoning “If you can defeat them, you can have it.”

The robed being cackled as two heavily armoured skeletons erupted from the ground. The scouts of the party had their bows ready and loosed their shafts at the skeleton on the right hand side, Arken and Barden advanced upon the second skeleton to engage it in combat and Davon made a bee-line for the figure upon the dais.

The fighter and cleric engaged the right hand skeleton in combat whilst the ranger and thief loosed more arrows at the left hand one. Korum had used one of the bolts with a slender rope attached to it this time. Davon, meanwhile, tried to push his sword through the invisible barrier protecting the robed figure. The sword began to glow and smoke but did not get anywhere, so he decided to drop the sword and try to step through the barrier.

Arken saw what Davon was trying to do and pulled himself from the combat to go after him. The barrier had stopped Davon getting through, so he started to doff his armour. Meanwhile the other combats carried on around the chamber with Bardan holding his own and the archers piling in more shafts.

By now, the left hand skeleton had reached the archers so they would have to drop their bows and draw their side-arms soon. Korum, drew his magical short-sword and grabbed the rope trailing from the skeleton, but Knil kept a hold of his bow seeing what his companion was now up to. Bardan was beginning to overpower his opponent and Arken had now reached Davon’s side, but Davon thrust his fellow worshipper aside and advanced upon the robed figure.

The rope that Korum had plucked up he now wound around the skeleton advancing against him and Knil, which reduced its combat effectiveness and made it an easier target for Knil, who promptly put two shafts into it. Bardan traded blows with the other skeleton whilst Davon was struck a massive magical blow emanating from the hands of the necromancer. Arken went to his aid, casting various Cure spells upon his friend, but all to no avail.

The bound skeleton could no longer advance due to the rope binding it, so stopped in its tracks allowing Korum time to sever the spinal column causing it to collapse in a shower of dust and bone. Knil switched his aim to the skeleton fighting Bardan. The two shafts and great axe struck the skeleton down.

The necromancer, upon seeing its comrades’ fall, raised its arms, chanted a short spell and collapsed into a cloud of dust leaving the party as the victors in the fight.

Arken, although saddened by the loss of the paladin, left his body on the floor of the chamber and tentatively advanced up the steps to the cylindrical altar. He was able to pass through the place where the invisible barrier caused so much anguish to his compatriot. He grasped the chalice from its place atop the altar and went to put it into his sack. The Dragon Orb began to glow; perhaps this was the third item they were after on their quest?

The party searched the room for any further items or exits but found none so, picking up Davon’s body and armour with due reverence, they made their way solemnly back to the mausoleum at the surface. They found the metal chest containing the diamond where they had stashed it, so picked it up to strap back onto the horses outside. When they emerged into the sunlight, their horses snickered to greet them. At the edge of the area of calm the party saw another of the portals of Din. Without hesitation, Korum strode through.


The party emerged from the portal back at the wizard’s tower in the Blasted Forest. Beside the tower was their cart that had been abandoned at the swamp’s edge. Din had fulfilled her promise and brought them back to their point of origin.

Arken immediately set down Davon’s body and cast Talk with the Dead, asking his shade what he would like the party to do for him. He responded that he would like to be returned to the Temple of Din in the small town nearby. Arken began to make the arrangements whilst the party took another look at the magic involved with the chest and the diamond. Bardan removed the gem from its metal box, but no change occurred with the weather. He quickly hid the gem amongst the folds of his tunic giving a warning look to Korum that he should keep his hands off.

The party arranged Davon’s body on the cart and set off with heavy hearts to the Temple of Din to carry out Davon’s final wishes.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Khorvaire Session 9 - 13/06/12

Session 9: The Undying (13th June 2012)  

The cast of heroes

Arken (Half-Elf Cleric) – leader of the party
Bardan (Human Fighter) – the muscle
Knil (Elf Ranger) – the tracker
Korum Proudfoot (Halfling Thief) – the scout
Rioja Hyrule (Human Mage) – the wizard (not present)
Kima (Black Domestic Cat) – his familiar (not present)
Davon (Human Paladin) - the Warrior of Din

An Expected Visitor (day 37)

The adventurers spent the night relaxing in the safe surroundings of the tower. Each party member had time to think on the last few weeks and work out what they wanted to do. Korum and Bardan lusted after gold, food and drink but the other members of the party had more honourable intentions.

prose supplied by Craig (DM) and Russell (Rioja)

Hugging his long flowing cloak around himself to ward off the driving wind, Laerus strode purposefully through the Dead Forest. As he neared his destination, he reviewed his task in his expansive mind. The Mayor had agreed that Laerus would train this inexperienced Mage, and, if he was totally honest, Laerus was looking forward to it.

As he neared the tower, a voice boomed out: 'Who goes there?' Laerus allowed a smile to play out across his lips.

Striding confidently across the open space between the forest's edge and the door, one gnarled hand crept out from the sleeve of his robe. The fingers twitched, and a breath of air escaped Laerus's lips. The voice sounded no more. The hand grasped the door handle, and he walked into the interior of the tower. “Anyone home?” he called.

From his vantage point atop the tower (that he was fast becoming to think of as his tower), Rioja had been watching the old wizard approach. As he neared, Rioja descended the stairs to welcome him.

Half way down Rioja heard the booming voice of the door 'Who goes there?'

'Arses,' he thought, 'I'd forgotten about that damned door'.  

He sped his descent, managing to avoid tripping over his familiar, the jet-black cat Kima, who had taken to sleeping on the stairs. When he got to the ground floor he found the old wizard had already let himself in. 

'Anyone home?' enquired the old wizard.

'Greetings Wizard Laerus, I'm sorry nobody was here to let you in and welcome you properly. 'I am Rioja of house Hyrule, but I'm sure you remember that. You must be tired after your journey, please come through and have some supper.'

Over supper Rioja explained his situation to Laerus. 'My training at the academy has served me well until now. I've become quite adept with Magic Missiles, and low-level utility spells like Spider Climb, but I feel like I've plateaud, not advancing as much as I should.'

Rioja produces his spell book and continues, 'It doesn't help that I'm lacking in higher level spells. Look, only two spells for levels two and three, and I've never actually had cause to use any of them.

'We are on an epic quest, the sort we studied in history classes at the academy! I look around at the rest of the party and see them growing into heroes worthy of those old stories, and I want to play my part too; more than just throwing a few Magic Missiles and then hiding while they finish the battles.

'Can you help me? Help me become more than I currently am, to be the hero the party and our quest deserve?'

Laerus smiled. He had heard this tale many times; rookie Sorcerers looking to get more powerful quickly. Many had approached him, and he had turned them all away. The power would be too much for them, and it would destroy them, but there was something different about this Mage. He sensed huge potential, and Laerus was not about to stifle something that magnificent.

'I will help you Rioja, I will help you fill your spell book. I will teach you 3 spells of each level from 1st to 4th. I know a great many spells...what would you like to learn?'

The delight on Rioja's face was clear as he said 'Teaching me three spells of each level is very generous! I promise to you that I shall use them to serve my quest and party in a manner fitting with the heroic stories of old!

'I must consult my notes regarding spells that might help our quest, and I must inform my fellow party members that I will be studying with you for a period, and that they must go on without me for the nonce.

'But first let me show you to your room for the night, and then in the morning we can journey back to your study to commence the tutorial.'

Rioja showed the old wizard to the room he had prepared for him, then went to inform the party of his plans, entrusting the information to Arken as the rest of the party was somewhat the worse for drink.

Returning to his study he consulted his notes, and re-read various tomes describing the common spells, and even checked recent issues of Wizard's World for inspiration.

The next morning over breakfast he talked with the old wizard about the spells he was interested in. He enquired if he might take more level three spells over level four spells, as they may be of more use in the coming weeks of this quest, and showed him the list he had come up with:


Level One
- Sleep
- Strength
- Unseen Servant
Level Two
- Invisibility
- Web
Level Three
- Clairaudience
- Clairvoyance 
- Fireball
- Fly
Level Four
- Dimension Door
- Polymorph Self


He shifted with unease, and asked 'What do you think of my choices? Are you able to teach me those? And, if I fail to learn any spells... will you be willing to teach me other spells in their place?'

Laerus perused the list of spells again...

'Hmmm, interesting choices. Although... to my knowledge, Strength is a 2nd level spell.'

He shifted in his chair, and once again looked at Rioja.

Laerus smiled. 'I am, though, still prepared to teach you all the requested spells. And as for failing to learn any... we will be conducting studies in a most comfortable environment'
end prose

The studies go about as expected, Rioja only failing to learn the ESP and Fly spells. Without the Fly spell Rioja opts for the next best thing, the lower-level Levitate. For the final one, he is interested in the spell Material; a spell not familiar to him that the old wizard had in a tome named Unearthed Arcana. 

An Unexpected Visitor (day 38 – morning)

The rest of the party had known of the arrival of the mayor’s vizier and that Rioja would be called off in search of greater knowledge, so they prepared other ways in which to indulge themselves. As mentioned previously, Korum and Bardan were fast becoming good drinking buddies as they both had the same lust for the good things in life. However, during the wizard’s visit and subsequent departure, Arken and Knil busied themselves the best they could in preparation for the rest of their quest. Arken had shut himself up in his room and was not seen for the duration of the last day or so, and Knil was seen pining for woodlands.

After Rioja and Laerus had left to further their studies at Laerus’ quarters back in the town, the rest of the party continued on with the tasks they were already performing. After an hour or so, the Magic Mouth at the door boomed out its customary “Who goes there?” Korum immediately wondered why the wizards would have returned so early; perhaps they had had a difference of opinion and had stormed off sulkily in opposite directions? These wizards could be such funny people; always uptight and never enjoying the finer things in life. He poked his head out of his upper storey window in readiness for pouring the previous nights’ soil bucket onto the unsuspecting Rioja but held back when he espied a very large human in full plate armour carrying a huge sword and equally enormous shield. He shouted down to this fellow, enquiring after who he was and what he wanted. After finding out that the newcomer, Davon, was after Arken and not him, Korum sped down the stairs and welcomed him to his humble abode.

Korum mentioned that Arken was otherwise indisposed at that current moment and could he get him anything? Davon was happy just to wait. In the meantime, Bardan had been roused from his stupor by the Magic Mouth and appeared at the top of the staircase. He questioned Davon as to his motives and began to sharpen his axe menacingly. Davon smiled, responded that he was expected and why hadn’t Arken mentioned this, and flung a very fine quality whet stone to Bardan mentioning that it would put a keener edge on his blade than the one he was already using.

Arken made his appearance, greeted Davon warmly, and introduced him to the party; he had spent the last day or so requesting aid from the great god Din and was told that Davon would arrive that day. The rest of the story then tumbled from Arken’s lips: A powerful being had taken a sacred artefact from Din, which may possibly be the third item the party were looking for. This being was most likely hiding away in the Shadow Marches; a huge swamp way out west. The party were most happy to continue their quest but worried about the length of time it would take to get there. Davon mentioned that Din would transport them there directly, and then Rioja when he had completed his studies.

Knil had also been busy during the last day or two. He had espied a tree from the uppermost window of the tower and knew it to be the right one. He left the tower early that morning and approached, with due reverence, the only tree in the Dead Forest that hadn’t been blasted. It was a native species from his home land that must have been imported specially by the tower’s previous incumbent; its magical nature must have protected it from the devastating magical blast. He surveyed the branches and picked a bough that would suit to make a powerful bow. After making the appropriate arcane signs and begging forgiveness, he deftly removed the branch and returned with it to the tower. The last few hours had him toiling over making a selection of fine bowstrings from the sap and bark, and carefully carving arcane symbols over the staff. It still needed work but the adjustments could be made over the following days.

Arken and Davon removed themselves to Arken’s room to pray to Din and ask for her guidance in the coming quest, whilst the rest of the party readied the cart and horses.

A few hours later saw the cart fully laden and ready for travel and the party made to mount up. A hazy arch appeared over the main path, into which Korum drove the cart with all its equipment and his fellow adventurers.

The Shadow Marches (day 38 – late afternoon)

The wagon shimmered as it passed through the magical gateway and the party found themselves in a land of mist and fog. The path they were on was a track between two very steep cliff sides and only led in one direction; behind them was now just a dead end. Going forward they noticed an ever increasing stench of death.

After about two hours travel a ghostly figures appeared before them. It moaned at them but they could not understand what it was trying to communicate. Bardan shouted at it at the top of his lungs and the apparition glided away. The gorge led further onwards and at last made a sharp right turn before opening into a huge valley, all sides surrounded by sheer cliffs and wreathed in mists. The floor was an endless bog. The wagon would not be able to traverse the terrain, so the adventurers unloaded their equipment onto the horses and used them as pack animals instead. Not sure how to continue, Arken decided it might be best if they quarter the area in a logical way so that they don’t miss anything. They could see the far cliffs about 3 days’ journey away (taking into account the heavy going), but the floor of the valley was in mist with only a short range of visibility. They decided to head off to the left in search of clues.

Just before darkness was about to fall, the party came across a large rectangular structure; a crypt with a wooden door for an entrance. Korum was able to ascertain that there were no traps on the door but could not open the lock. Bardan, realising that the metal and wood that made up the door was very old, grabbed the lock and physically pulled it from the door. They were greeted with a sonorous voice “Who dares enter my resting place? Leave or die!” Although nervous, the party refused to leave the crypt and were greeted with a gust of wind. The ghostly voice repeated its threat but unbowed Arken requested if it knew of a powerful undead threat that was within the valley. The ghostly voice gave the party directions to a place that may harbour just such a being but requested again that they leave. Bardan, now sick of all this talk, rushed to the coffin inside and pushed it open. He grabbed the skull of the incumbent and threw it out of the crypt. The ghostly voices stopped. He then searched the rest of the coffin and found a large pile of gold for the party to share. The impending night fall forced the party to make their usual nightly preparations within the confines of the crypt. There were no more ghostly voices and no sign of the Darkness.

The Dead Marshes (day 39)

The band of adventurers set off across to the other side of the valley the following morning, covering as much ground as they could. There were more of the harmless ghostly apparitions but no sign of anything else of interest until late afternoon. Another crypt emerged from the roiling mists. Korum began his usual checking of the door for traps, but before he is finished Bardan stormed past and kicked the left hand door open. He promptly disappeared. Shocked, the party wonder what to do next, but are reassured when he casually walked past them from behind and had another go at the doors with the same effect. Korum, his interest piqued, pushed at the right hand door and found he too was teleported twenty metres behind the party.

Both doors now opened, Arken approached the entrance but was stopped by the appearance of a shambling cadaver. He asked it if it knew where a powerful undead being may be located within the marshes, but the cadaver calmly and smoothly reclosed the doors. As the way in seemed to be trapped in an ingenious way, Arken attempted to walk through the stone wall but Davon stopped him just before he did so by explaining that his spell would not work on walls, only live rock. Korum, meanwhile, had got back from his teleportation and pushed open the doors again. He was teleported away again. Bardan, who was also making his way through the doors again, began liberally sprinkling lamp oil as he went. He too was teleported away, but the open doors gave Davon, holy symbol held aloft in front of him, the opportunity to walk through unscathed. The rest of the party heard a whoosh and a crash come from within the crypt and rushed in to see what had happened. Davon had the shambling corpse held up against the wall in cowering terror. Bardan put it out of its misery with a deft sweep of his axe. Whilst this was going on, Korum had slid the top off the coffin and searched it for goodies. Inside was a skeleton holding a pristine sword and a pouch of gold. The party were handed the sword and a variety of pieces of rotten chain mail whilst the pouch of gold found its way undetected into one of Korum’s many pockets.

Using the old bones and more of their dwindling supplies of firewood, the party slept the night in the crypt.

Ghouls, ghouls, ghouls (day 40)

The journey continued again at first light. Trudging through the brackish waters of the swamp for the whole morning began to take its toll on the travellers. Their adventurous spirits were beginning to wane just as Knil spotted another, smaller crypt in the distance. The party approached it with caution but their fears were unfounded as there was no door to the stone structure. Carefully checking it over, Korum found that the lid of the structure needed to be lifted off. Bardan and Davon provided the muscle power, and Korum peered inside. In the gloom, he could make out a set of stone steps leading down. He quickly vaulted over the walls of the stone cist and made his way down the steps. The steps ended after about twenty feet and continued onwards into a corridor that stretched for maybe another fifty feet more where it either ended or turned a corner. Lighting torches and bringing forth their permanently lit miniature unicorns as light sources, the party made their way cautiously along the corridor. Approaching the end of the corridor, they noticed a strong stench of rotting flesh. Rounding the right hand corner at the end they were surprised to see a large pack of flesh eating ghouls in the darkness. The foul creatures turned their heads towards the light as the party approached and two erupted into flame as Bardan’s phials of Greek Fire hit them and exploded.

The ghouls could only see Arken and Davon in the glare and charged them without fear. The cleric tried to turn the undead minions but his cries to the goddess went unheeded. The pack of ghouls bore down on them and Arken took a hit which left him paralysed. Bardan pulled Arken out of harms way which gave the ranger and thief an opportunity to loose their shafts. All of their shafts hit, but the nightmares kept advancing. Davon, his mighty sword now drawn, hacked down another of the foul beasts whilst Bardan stepped into the gap to plug the fighting line.

Now the way was blocked, the two archers could no longer fire into the melee, so tended to Arken and prepared to plug any gaps that appeared in the defence. Davon again hit one of the dreadful creatures, but Bardan received a wound for his hesitance.

This gave the ghouls another opportunity, which they took well, hitting both Bardan and Davon, who could not shrug off the feeling of cold coursing through his limbs. Seeing what had happened to his companion, Bardan slipped and knocked Davon over. This, however, proved fortuitous as both of the archers could now fire into the melee again, injuring one ghoul and killing another.

The fighting continued apace, with Bardan soaking up more damage but not succumbing to the ghouls’ paralysing strikes, allowing the archers to keep the pressure up with their bows. Knil took advantage of this, his new bow singing as he dropped another ghoul and struck the next one behind it. Bardan, knowing that he had to hold his ground or run the risk of the party being overwhelmed by the pack of ravenous beasts cut another to the ground with his great axe, whilst Knil put down another of the undead minions.

The tide of battle was turning the way of the party until Bardan missed the ghoul in front of him and Knil fumbled with his bow, dropping it to the ground. Bardan got hit again by his opponent, but Knil was able to recover his bow in time to launch an arrow at the same time as Korum, both shafts striking the same creature and felling it. Davon was just beginning to come round from the effects of the paralysis as the last two ghouls advanced. Bardan and Davon concentrate on the ghoul to the left of the corridor, thus drawing themselves away from the firepower behind them. This proved a good strategy as a bolt and two arrows felled one ghoul whilst Davon and Bardan combined their attacks to drop the final opponent with a last snarl of defiance.

Licking their wounds, the party went to the aid of Arken. Rubbing his limbs, they slowly brought him round whilst Davon Laid Hands on Bardan to tend to several of his wounds. Looking around the fight scene they discovered that the corridor had ended at a large door. Korum stepped up to investigate and found it to be trapped. He disarmed the trap, unlocked the door and Bardan entered boldly. In the centre of the room beyond the door was a large coffin with a glowing orb of fire hanging above it. As soon as Bardan’s foot hit the floor inside the confines of the room, the orb sank to the coffin and a ghostly shade rose from it.

Arken moved past him and called upon the power of Din to remove this abomination from their presence but his goddess did not answer this time and the ghost made straight for him. Without pause, it struck Arken and he felt the strength start to ebb from his limbs. Bardan drew the magical sword from the previous crypt and advanced towards the melee. Before he got there though, two shafts flew past his shoulder, but neither got anywhere near to the ghost. The next two flights found their target but passed straight through its misty presence. Bardan and Arken joined combat and their magical weapons struck true – a resistance was felt. This angered the shade and it struck back with fury, causing more strength to ebb from Arken’s already weakened limbs.

By this time, Davon could see that Arken was weakening and joined in the melee. All three of the goodly heroes hit the ghostly figure, but again it kept up its inexorable effort of draining Arken’s strength away. A small gap opened up in the melee allowing Korum to scout past, and for Knil to let loose with a brace of his magical arrows which, unfortunately, missed and clattered against the far wall of the crypt.

Arken traded further blows with the ghost and was now close to the point of collapse. Bardan managed to strike the ghost just as Korum had opened the coffin and crushed the skull of the skeleton inside it. The ghost gave a final scream and fell to the floor where it turned back into an orb of fire and slowly dissipated.

Whilst the rest of the party rested, Korum searched the coffin further, finding a suit of prestige chain mail, a short sword of great workmanship and a small pouch of gold that he pocketed without the party knowing. He handed over the suit of armour to Bardan and slipped the scabbard of the short sword through his own belt.

Arken’s strength started to slowly come back, so the party put him onto a horse so that he could recover whilst they journeyed further across the valley. A few hours later he was feeling much better. As the daylight started to fade, the party came to the other side of the valley again. They could see the cliff walls but in front of it the mist had banked up to become a thick curtain obscuring everything more than a few feet in front of the adventurers’ faces. Korum scouted ahead and found that the wall of mist suddenly abated to reveal a small knoll of dry ground surrounded by a moat of swamp water. Standing in the middle of the grassy knoll was a large skeleton with a massive sword strapped across its back. It didn’t notice Korum, so he pulled his head back within the bounds of the mist and told the party what he had seen and that he would scout around the far side to see what was behind it.

Knil stepped through the mist and fired off two shots. Both were aimed true and struck the skeleton in the chest. It didn’t flinch. The skeleton slowly reached behind its head with both hands and then threw them forwards in a motion towards Knil. Knil was rooted to the spot in a state of paralysis. It reached behind its head again and slowly drew the large double-handed sword strapped to its back.

Noticing that Knil was not moving, Bardan pulled him out of the way as the cadaver boomed in a menacing voice from beyond the grave, “Step in here, if you dare!” Bardan, always up for a fight, happily obliged.

The two combatants advanced on each other, and upon seeing this, Korum snuck up behind the large skeleton. Bardan and the skeleton traded a few feints and minor blows whilst they sized each other up. This to-ing and fro-ing meant that Korum found it difficult to make a clean stab at its back. Having the knowing of his enemy, the skeleton then proceeded to take Bardan apart. Two swift blows rendered the fighter hors de combat but in revenge Korum finally managed to deliver a solid blow. Davon, upon seeing his comrade-in-arms fall, flung himself into the melee. Whilst its attention was on the newly arrived human paladin, Korum managed to get another big strike on its back, but was still unable to sever anything critical. The two larger combatants circled each other looking for a way through each others’ defences. This gave Korum another strike of opportunity, but he was still unable to find a critical point; these strikes would have felled at least three strong men by now! Davon managed to get a couple of minor blows in but then the skeleton got the measure of his foe and started to deal a great deal of damage to him. However, it didn’t reckon on the tenacity of his smaller enemy. Korum managed to get a final hard blow in, which finally got the undead’s attention, upon which Davon capitalised, dispatching the foul fiend back to the netherworld from whence it came. The cadaver crumbled to dust taking its foul weapons with it.

The unconscious Bardan was quickly healed by the cleric and paladin, and Davon’s wounds were also tended to by Arken when they got Bardan back to health. Knil, however, was still paralysed. They tied him to a horse and set off in search of somewhere to pass the night in safety. They only had to travel a short distance to find another crypt that contained two coffins. There were no ghostly inhabitants, but the party burned the bones in the coffin just in case. Again, the Darkness did not return.

Choices (day 41)

The party passed an uneasy night in the crypt, but by morning Arken had managed to cure Knil of his paralysis. The morning dawned misty, as always, but the end of the valley was now within reach. However, there now appeared to be only three objectives left to investigate; a small grove of trees, a small structure on a small hill and a large mausoleum at the very end of the valley. The party headed towards the small structure on the hill which turned out to be a crypt guarded by a lone skeleton which was dispatched without effort. Within the crypt they found a small bag of gems that they divided up amongst themselves. The distance involved in travelling to this crypt meant that they would need to spend the night there. Again there was no Darkness; perhaps they had finally shaken it from their tail?

The Grove (morning - day 42)

Dawn spread grey gloom across the valley floor. The party broke their fast and continued upon their journey towards the grove of trees they had spotted the day before. It took them most of the morning to get there, but they found it to be surrounded by a bank of mist rather like the “arena” they had encountered two days before. Korum stepped through the wall of mist and into the glorious sunshine of the glade beyond. He motioned that it was safe for the party to follow and they did do, their moods lifting almost at once in the bright sunshine and green splendour of the grove.

At the centre of the grove of trees was a stone altar, and upon the altar was a metal chest. Korum tried to open the chest but the lock stymied him. Knil reached past him and just popped the lid open. Embarrassed, Korum moved away, allowing Bardan to reach in and see what treasures it contained. He pulled forth five vials of liquid and a huge diamond. As soon as his hand touched the diamond, though, dark storm clouds rushed in. He continued to stare at the treasure with greed in his eyes, and Korum approached to feast his eyes too. Arken, always most sensible, suggested they put the diamond back. Reluctantly, Bardan dropped the diamond back to where he found it and the storm clouds started to dissipate.

They would need to think on how to claim the large precious stone from its container. Rioja would have the answer, but he was not with them. That said, his arrival was now overdue.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Khorvaire - Session 8 - 6th June 2012

Session 8: Troll Hunters (6th June 2012)
The cast of heroes

Arken (Half-Elf Cleric) – leader of the party
Bardan (Human Fighter) – the muscle
Knil (Elf Ranger) – the tracker
Korum Proudfoot (Halfling Thief) – the scout
Rioja Hyrule (Human Mage) – the wizard
Kima (Black Domestic Cat) – his familiar
NPC (Human Ranger) - the traveller
NPCs (Human Villagers) – troll hunters

The Village (day 28 continued)

The party spent a great part of the morning discussing how to trap and kill the troll. Bardan and Rioja remained in the village sourcing the equipment that would be required to carry out their task of gaining a Troll’s heart; bear traps, chains, lamp oil, lime, spikes, hammers etc. and a cow to use as bait. Arken seemed to have disappeared whilst all of this preparation was going on. Knil and Korum went scouting in the forest where they found fresh tracks. They followed them looking for a suitable place for an ambush, but much of the daylight had been used up, so they decided to head back to the village before the Darkness came back.

That night, the party again holed up in the cottage but found that their guide from the previous few days had joined them there; he slept soundly in a chair by the fire. The usual precautions were taken to keep the Darkness at bay and the party settled down for the night with their usual setting of watches whilst Arken slept and recovered his spells. There were the usual sounds of mayhem and destruction from the direction of the village, so the party awoke their guide and he confirmed that he could hear them. Worried for his family and friends he requested that the party do something but they responded that it was too risky. However, Rioja asked his new found familiar to scout around. The cat cautiously snuck outside and moved into the village but found that the Darkness and high winds only affected those in the cottage. It seemed that the familiar was either immune from the effects of the Darkness or could see through the illusion.

As the noise and disturbances were quite overwhelming, and the party could no longer sleep, Arken gave out a little more information about their mission. The orb he was carrying contained the spirit of a friendly dragon. The items they needed to find would help release him so that he could fight his nemesis Nephyrous; an evil dragon whose symbol was the five-pointed star. Nephyrous, in response to the threat, split off three parts of his spirit; a beast, a spirit and a hawk. If these were destroyed, it would make it easier to defeat him.

A Place of Ambush (day 29)

As the forest was quite a distance away (about three hours), Knil and Korum set out on their scouting mission again, this time accompanied by their usual guide who knew the environs better than they. They gave him a description of the type of place they were looking for; a glade with a good area for a cross-fire with an overhang so that the missile armed troops were out of reach of the troll, and trees up which the adventurers could conceal themselves whilst the trap unfurled. The guide knew of a place that could be of use although it didn’t match their requirements exactly. The two adventurers made a quick sketch of the area and returned to the village again as the light started to fade.

Upon their return to the cottage, they tracked down the rest of the party to discuss the plans for the ambush. Arken was still missing, but after a short while he came bursting through the door of the cottage all covered in mud. The party asked him where he had been and what he had been up to for the last couple of days. He didn’t reply except to ask everyone to follow him to the storage barn next to the cottage. The stench upon approaching the shed was over powering. Upon opening the door of the barn, the adventurers jumped back in fright – inside the store was a small horde of newly resurrected zombies, fresh from the local graveyard.

Arken explained that he had raised the dead in order to use them as a shield to aid them against the troll in the upcoming combat. Not wanting to sleep in the vicinity of the zombies due to the smell, and following a conversation that Rioja and Korum had been having, the party decided to split for the night. Arken and Bardan remained with the zombies, but Knil, Korum and Rioja spent the night in another of the empty cottages that overlooked their normal cottage but was some distance away. Arken and Bardan were soon beset by the usual high winds and Darkness, but the rest of the party passed the night away in perfect safety. Kima was sent out to investigate again, and he returned to mention that the Darkness was most definitely centred around and over the people carrying the orb.

The Ambush is set (day 30)

The ranger, thief and their guide set off into the forest again with all of their equipment to set up the ambush. They placed the bear traps, chained them to numerous trees, dug a small ditch around the area they would use for the ambush, filled it with combustibles and oil, and then the ranger covered it all so that no trace of their presence would be found. As they left, he erased all of their tracks. They made their way back to the village and settled down for sleep.

Whilst they were away, the rest of the party made their preparations, including asking for half-a-dozen of the village’s finest archers to accompany them and the guide. They were assured they would be away from danger to assuage any reluctance they may have had in accompanying the party. Far from being nervous, the village archers were positively looking forward to revenge.

The Battle of Troll Glade (day 31)

The party of adventurers and villagers (with the bait cow in tow) set out early in the morning with the forthcoming encounter foremost in their minds. They were resigned to spend the next few days camped out in the glade come what may. Upon arrival, the archers and the guide took position at the top of the rise; a good platform to launch their missiles from. The rest of the party took up their positions and then Knil went around the glade erasing all tracks before finally clambering up the tree he would be stationed in.

The day wore on and the flies began to buzz around everyone far more than they ordinarily would. The reanimated corpses stank a little bit more in the growing afternoon heat. Close to mid-afternoon, the cow started to moo and move around in an agitated fashion, limited only by the rope tied around its neck to a tree.

An hour and a half passed without much more happening, when the cow started to become agitated again. Knil spotted movement between the trees and heard the thump of heavy footsteps approaching. A few moments later a huge troll, at least fourteen and a half feet tall, emerged from the forest and into the glade. It sniffed the air cautiously and came to a stop just outside the ring ditch of oil and combustibles. Korum thought at first that it had detected the oil, but upon further consideration realised that it could smell the rotting cadavers towards the hill. The troll was obviously confused between the smell of rotting flesh and the very much alive cow that was struggling to put more distance between itself and the troll. Overcoming its confusion, the troll advanced upon the cow now bucking franticly to escape; why turn down fresh meat if it was so easily within its grasp? The troll advanced further into the glade, but upon reaching the centre its large feet snagged on the chains that tethered the bear traps together. It stumbled to its knees without setting off any of the traps, but Korum saw his chance. He let loose with a crossbow bolt with thin, but strong, cord attached. The bolt thumped unnoticed into the ground next to the great beast. Arken, seeing that now the trap had been sprung they couldn’t afford for the troll to escape them, cast a Bless spell on his small zombie horde, but he had miscalculated. All but one of the resurrected villagers crumbled to dust. The surviving cadaver advanced slowly into combat with the troll.

Korum blew his whistle to get the villagers shooting. Bardan, from his tree hide-out, threw his canister of lime at the troll’s face but missed. The troll, confused by the noise and commotion, but only just back on its feet struck out in blind fury, tearing huge chunks out of the last zombie. This confusion allowed all of the missile shooters to get a few shafts off. Korum and Knil both missed but the volley from the villagers was slightly more successful as one shaft found its target.

Everyone had by now overcome the shock that they were in a serious combat and got on with their allotted tasks. Bardan leapt axe first from the tree he was in, causing a grievous wound in the troll’s side. Unfortunately this meant he also lost his balance and fell to the floor. Seeing that there was still only the troll visible in the glade, the archers fired again. Knil and two of the archers’ flights hit true but in the excitement, Korum fumbled and dropped his crossbow. Rioja’s Magic Missile more than made up for this and the troll roared in anger, pain and confusion as the pyromantics hit it squarely in the chest.

Bardan regained his feet and swung his axe. The troll, expecting this, caught Bardan a grievous blow with its claws and Bardan’s axe swung round taking off the head of the cow tied nearby. The wound that Bardan had caused the troll previously was already beginning to heal!

Korum, seeing his friend in mortal danger scrambled down from his tree and raced to Rioja’s hiding place yelling for the healing potions. More arrows poured into the glade but only Knil hit the troll this time. Another spell from Rioja hit the troll causing it more agitation but this only wound it up further into a battle fury causing Bardan more harm with its claws.

Bardan, staggering under the impact of so many grievous wounds could do nothing but take another strike from the troll’s claws. A few more arrows found their mark and Rioja’s magical strike hit the troll again thus preventing it from hitting the advancing Arken. Arken called upon his god, Din, to rain fire upon the troll not knowing that Rioja’s cantrip had now lit the ditch of flammable liquid that chose that very moment to explode into seven foot flame. The villagers were impressed.

More arrows are fired into the melee and the troll was hit in the head. This wound drove it into increased fury but it could not see its attackers for the black blood pouring from its wound into its eyes. Fortuitously, this allowed Korum to pull Bardan from the combat and administer a potion of Extra Healing to him. Arken took his position in the combat.

The flames now cut off the troll’s escape but also meant that Arken, Bardan and Korum were still within the circle and at the troll’s mercy. The archers on the rise kept up their barrage, but no sooner did the arrows hit than the troll started to heal. However, the numerous wounds it had taken were starting to take their toll and the brute seemed to be getting weaker. Bardan, angry at being beaten by such a big, dumb critter, and having to rely on the cheeky Halfling to rescue him, swung his mighty axe. This struck the troll at the exact same time as a particularly well aimed shot by Knil. The troll tumbled to the ground and a great cheer arose from the villagers. Before it could rise again, Bardan hacked off its hands, feet, limbs and finally its head, whilst Korum distastefully picked up the pieces and threw them into the surrounding fire pit.

Arken moved in to remove the heart, and Rioja climbed own from his tree with the urn to take it. Unfortunately, the heart was too large to fit into the receptacle. Rioja’s troll lore came to the fore - he remembered that the troll parts would try to reassemble and then regenerate. He asked Arken to chop the heart into several pieces and place those pieces into the urn. Arken, not sure what might happen to the heart, took two of the pieces back out and saw that they tried to rejoin and heal. He stuffed them back into the urn, which seemed to stop that process. The floor of the glade where they fought the troll was fired to remove any trace of the beast.

The party returned to the village, the archers celebrating wildly all the way and recounting the shots they made in their part of the battle, but the guide was quieter; he had seen what the troll had done to his best friends.

Upon arrival, the villagers broke out the ale and a great party spontaneously broke out in the tavern. Around midnight, Arken realised that the Darkness would be returning soon and as he did not want the villagers subject to its forces, called for his companions to return to their usual cottage. That night the wind howled furiously and all torches and fires were quickly extinguished – even those set inside the fireplace. The continual light cast upon the unicorn models also faded and winked out. Arken was worried and spent the rest of the night trying to keep the Darkness at bay.

Interlude (day 32)

Morning could not come too soon. As the first rays of light broke the horizon, the party stepped outside the cottage to see if it was just another illusion. The cottage and surrounding gardens had been severely damaged by the storm, but the rest of the village was OK. One of the archers from the ambush party came by to make sure they were alright. He also mentioned there would no doubt be treasure in the troll’s lair as much stuff had been stolen from the village over the years. The adventurers set out, after a hearty breakfast, and picked up the troll’s spoor. Knil tracked the troll’s footprints to a large cave. Korum edged in nervously and poked around in a huge pile of furs with his trusty ten foot pole. Happy in the knowledge that nothing was lurking in the heap, he thrust aside the old furs, clothes and rusted weapons to find a vial containing a bright red liquid, an unblemished suit of ring mail and a small pouch that quickly disappeared into the folds of his cloak without the others seeing.

Upon their return to the village, they realised that the archer had sent them off in search of treasure to divert them away from the preparations for a huge party on the village green. Huge haunches of venison, slabs of salt pork and large kegs of ale were brought forth. The villagers sure knew how to throw a party, with music all night, bonfires all around and many a comely maid to dance with, the adventurers did not notice that the Darkness did not return that night.

Back to the Tower (day 33-36)

Nursing sore heads and queasy stomachs the party rose the next morning and made preparations to collect on the mayor’s offer of a reward for proof of the slaying of a troll. They decided to head back to the wizard’s tower to collect their horses and wagon. The three day journey passed uneventfully but Arken managed to get their permanent light sources back up to strength. On the afternoon of the fourth day they arrived back at the town.

The Boys are back in Town (late afternoon - day 36)

Upon approaching the gate guards, they were again called to halt and state their business. Korum recounted the promise of a reward for proof of a dead troll, and that they had just that proof. He reached for the urn, uncorking it as he approached the guards. The guards’ guffaws stuttered in their throats, they turned pale and the captain fainted when he saw two parts of troll heart begin to knit together in Korum’s bloody hands.

The party made their way to the mayor’s office to collect their reward. At first the mayor is not convinced, thinking that the party were just playing a parlour trick on him. He called forth his trusty adviser who cast a few spells and observed the party’s movements. He declared the party were telling the truth, and that it was indeed a troll heart they had within their urn.

The opening offers of reward were derisory, and the party made their dissatisfaction known. Eventually an offer of 4000 gold is demanded but the mayor stuck fast that he could not afford more than 3000 gold. A compromise was sought; Arken offered that if his fellow adventurers were given 1000 gold each, his share could be offset by exempting his temple from future taxation. Rioja followed suit and declared he also would forego his share in return for a tutorial with the mayor’s magical adviser. This was agreed upon.

Rather than spend any more of their hard earned reward, the adventurers headed back to the wizard’s tower to work out what to do next. They had two of the artefacts required but no clue on how to gain the third. They would have to return to the first town in which they met to track down the aged patron and seek his advice.