Session 1: A New Power Rises (
15th August 2012)
The cast of heroes
Arken (Half-Elf Cleric) – leader of the partyBardan (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
Interlude (Year 2 Day 1)
Now that the immediate dangers from the black dragon were over, the village returned to its normal rhythms of life. Damage to the walls and gates were repaired and all of the casualties were either healed or buried accordingly. The adventurers had been together a year now. Their journeys together had taken more than 300 days, but that did not include the first five or six weeks they had travelled with the initial caravan when they first met. Adding this to the few weeks that Arken and Bardan had been together prior to meeting with the rest of the party, a year had passed.
This was now an opportune moment for the party to ask their steward if he wished to consider his position as a permanent member of the village council. He agreed to work for a 1% cut of the gross revenue of the village with the occasional bonus depending upon circumstance, and full board and lodgings in a new exchequer the party were about to build for him. He was also allowed to select an aide who could deal with the more rural side of things. That taken care of, the party knew they could now leave on future quests without having to worry about the running of their fief.
It was now that everything had calmed down that Arken dropped the bomb-shell; the Hawk was still alive in the orb and needed to be got rid of if the threat of Nephyros was to be truly deemed over. They decided that Rioja should join forces with Laerus to work out how they could achieve destroying the final aspect of the dragon. So, they took a trip into the local town to visit the mayor and his attendant wizard. Upon arrival they were quickly ushered into the mayor’s presence and offered the usual hospitality to recover from their journey. It was only whilst idly chatting to the mayor that they were informed that Laerus was away on a quest and would not be back for a few days. They said their farewells and returned to the tower in Gerudos. Rioja pulled out his ancible and contacted Laerus but the wizard could only whisper about the danger he was in and that he would contact them on his return.
Now that his hangover was well and truly over, Bardan decided to exact revenge upon the two bouncers who had dumped him unceremoniously into the horse trough. Even after a thorough look around the town he could not find them, and his enquiries fell on deaf ears. The bouncers hadn’t been seen since the day he was dumped in the trough and his threats made.
Not long after his return to the tavern, Korum received a note from Cindy, one of his working girls: “Suspicious character at the tavern.” He called over the stable boy and told him what he required of him (using any means necessary), and to report back with his findings.
The Stranger (Day 5)
One evening, a few days later, the adventurers were in Rioja’s tower having a relaxing drink when there was a knock at the door. A note, written in Cant, was passed to Korum: “Incredibly average looking. Staying at the Twister [Korum’s
Inn]. Spends the
day browsing the market stalls. No suspicious activity. Cindy reports he is
paying for girls but just speaking to them for a couple of hours”. He
stepped outside and found that Cindy was there, waiting in the shadows. She
explained what the small gang of thieves were up to whilst following the new
arrival and told him that the stranger was holed up in one of the rooms at the
inn. Korum gave her a small pouch of gold for the information and returned to
the party in the tower.
After a brief discussion, Korum, Bardan and Knil decided to investigate who this person was, but Rioja felt this was below him and returned to his studies. Arken left for his temple to prepare and pray for a speedy resolution to the Hawk dilemma.
Upon arrival at the tavern, Cindy indicated through Cant that the stranger was in his room on the second floor at the back of the tavern. The three members of the party headed up to the room and knocked on the door. The stranger cordially invited them in and they sat down to talk. From their conversation the party worked out that he seemed to be on a personal fact finding mission; he was aware of their fame and wanted to just meet them and soak up the atmosphere post-Nephyros. The party were not 100% convinced by his story so brought in Arken to attempt to see through any subterfuge. The stranger resisted all magical attempts at getting any useful information out of him. Arken realised that a stronger type of magic may be required so he headed out to collect Rioja and get his thoughts on the situation. Whilst he was away, the party managed to get more information from the stranger: he was there under his master’s orders, his master came from the Marches to the north-west, he was warning them of a new power rising – a human one this time, and he was to take all the information that he had gathered directly back to his master. Upon his arrival, Rioja questioned the stranger but realised straight away that the story just did not add up – the stranger had changed his story to tell them that his master had heard of their successful battle against the dragon, but he had taken several weeks to get there. This caused the wizard to doubt anything the stranger said and he left for his studies again. The rest of the party decided to take him at his word and let him go; but not before Korum had one of his ruffians equip himself to follow him.
(Day 6) Mission
The following day there was a knock at Korum’s tavern door. It was the stranger again, looking dirty and dishevelled. He said that he had been waylaid on the journey back to his master and had a new message for Korum from him. However, he would need to shake Korum’s hand to relay that message. Thinking back to the way he had disposed of the Master Thief up in the northern city he decided to take precautions. He put on a glove, but upon shaking hands nothing happened. Thinking it through, Korum went off to wash his hands and paid a visit on Arken to prepare some anti-poison spells just in case. He also sent off a runner to find out what had happened to the ruffian he had sent to follow the stranger initially. He then returned to the tavern with Bardan and Knil as his backup and shook hands with the stranger. He felt a sharp pain upon initial contact, then his arm went numb, and then his head swam with visions of a blasted plain. Suddenly the vision took him flying across the plain and up into the mountains at the distant horizon. Within the mountains the flight ended at a black keep with a black robed figure standing in front of it. Upon the figure’s head was an ornate golden crown studded with many sparkling gems. The vision ended almost as quickly as it started, leaving Korum with a numb arm and many questions.
The stranger said that now his mission had ended he would like to retire to a room and rest for his return journey the following day. Korum assured him he could have a room but set a watch upon him that would detain him if he tried to escape.
Korum’s messenger returned a few hours later with the tracker who was initially sent off to follow the stranger. The tracker corroborated the stranger’s story: the tracker had followed the stranger until he stopped to make camp. Nothing happened for a few hours, but suddenly there was a flash like lightning and the stranger disappeared, not to return. The tracker said he then looked over the camp but could find nothing untoward and no treasure, so he slept and took a second look in the light of day. He was about to return when the messenger reached him.
The Hawk (Day 7)
The following day, Laerus called at Rioja’s tower. He had returned from his travels and came as soon as he could. Rioja mentioned the party’s concern about the Hawk, and he decided to help the party as best he could. The two wizards sat down to discuss their plans whilst the rest of the party made ready for their part in the process too.
The adventurers made their way to Arken’s
, where he had prepared an
area of sacred ground within the walls of the Temple
gardens. Laerus prepared to create the magical holding sphere whilst Rioja
started the release ritual. He removed the orb from the holding urn and watched
as it started to glow red. As the ritual progressed, the orb grew brighter and
brighter until a humanoid shape appeared within the glow. The face of the Hawk
appeared and the aspect of Nephyros began to smile upon its release. The smile
soon turned to a look of anguish and then severe pain as red flakes of its
being started to float off and reduce the Hawk from top to bottom. The flakes
flowed to the upper area of the protective sphere but would diminish no
further. Rioja realised that they could not reduce the aspect of Nephyros any
further, so he began the entrapment spell and pulled the glowing red matter
into the holding urn. Temple
Departure (Day 8)
The inability of the two wizards to finally destroy the last aspect of Nephyros nagged upon their minds. Rioja though put those thoughts aside and started to think about the new quest. Laerus, however, was able to keep his mind focused on the conundrum, so he returned to his tower in the local town to think further on the Hawk matter. The rest of the party gathered the supplies they would need for their journey to meet the stranger’s master. They decided that for extra security they would take a few of their men-at-arms; they would also be the main security for the stranger whilst they travelled.
The party set off early the next morning and made good time, stopping at all the major towns along the way. The journey should have taken several weeks, but that was only because the stranger had decided to scout around the lands of the elves. Upon arrival at the borders, Knil negotiated an audience with the council of elders, where he was greeted as something akin to a hero. He was thanked for his part in the final battle and offered a magical bowstring that should give him better service than his existing ones. After leaving the council, he visited the families of those elves that had died at the battle – he was thanked for his kindness. However, as with all things elven, the warmth of greeting soon turned to the coolness usually offered to strangers in their lands. They wanted the party gone as soon as possible. Knil gathered up his companions and they continued on with their journey.
Travelling through the elven lands saved them many days’ travelling, and just a few more days brought them within a few miles of the coast. The refreshing smell of the sea soon turned to one of death and decay, and the forests and rolling hills of grass gave way to a blasted wasteland smothered in a blanket of smoggy cloud full of noisome stenches. The mountains from Korum’s vision could be seen far to the south and the stranger mentioned that his master’s keep was on the far side.
However, the nearer the party got to the mountains, the more agitated and nervous the stranger became. Was this through fear of his master or something else entirely?