The Westerlands

Session 31: Rescuing Kit
Hey you. Get your damn hands off her!

An Ogre Outpost in The Cloud Peaks

Current Task:
Rescue Kit!
Travel to Cydon to seek the source of the Blight

NPCs Met:
Wigston Muxloe

Treasure Gained: Update: Adjusted to reflect the items identified in Session 32
Item Qty. Recipient Location Found Notes
Coins 3140g 400s even split (448g 57s each) (4g 1s leftover)
mwk longsword x3 Bag of Hold Hobgoblins
mwk heavy flail x1 Bag of Hold Hobgoblin Slaver
mwk greatclub (lg) x1 Bag of Hold Ogre Barbarian
mwk javelin x6 ??? Hobgoblins
mwk chainmail x1 Bag of Hold Hobgoblin Lieutenant
mwk breastplate x1 Bag of Hold Hobgoblin Slaver
mwk light shield, wood x1 Bag of Hold Hobgoblin Lieutenant
mwk chainmail (lg) x1 Bag of Hold Ogre Barbarian
Helm of Battle x1 Santiago Ogre Barbarian
mwk heavy shield, darkwood x1 ??? crates
Goods and Items
Bag of dust x1 ??? Hobgoblin Lieutenant
Jumping Caltrops x1 ??? Hobgoblin Lieutenant in exotic hide pouch
torc, silver-plated copper x1 ??? Hobgoblin Lieutenant
hat, boarskin x1 Eleanor Hobgoblin Lieutenant
dice, granite x1 pair Kit Hobgoblin 6-sided
mug, brass x1 Kit crates
Stone, green x1 Destroyed by Eleanor Ogre aura (faint necro.)
Potion, cure light x2 Daethin Hobgoblin Slaver
Potion, ??? x1 Rayne crates unidentified
Potion, ??? x1 ??? Hobgoblin Lieutenant unidentified
Scroll, Bull’s Strength x1 Rayne crates arcane
Scroll, Bear’s Endurance x1 Eleanor crates divine
Scroll, Snake’s Swiftness, Mass x1 Eleanor crates divine
Scroll, Remove Disease x1 Eleanor crates divine


Well, Kit had certainly done it this time… After being tackled from behind, she is dragged through the double doors at the end of the hallway she was investigating. When the stars clear from in front of her eyes, she finds herself in a large room with several hobgoblins in the midst of taking up defensive positions facing the door through which she has just been brought. Her weapons and gear are roughly pulled from her person and unceremoniously tossed onto a pile of crates along one wall. Her captors seem in a hurry to establish a defensive position.

The main feature in the room is a pair of large shafts in the floor along one wall. One is empty and too deep to see the bottom, at least in passing. A large chain descends into the center of the open shaft. It is pulled taught as though it is either anchored to the bottom or has a large object suspended from the end of it. The other end of the chain rises out of the pit and disappears through a hole in the ceiling. The other shaft also has a chain coming out of the ceiling above it, but this chain splits in four just below the ceiling and anchors into four corners of a platform that hangs suspended in the shaft.

Besides the hobgoblins, there are four other “people” in the room. Two are ogres. One stands beside a lever embedded into the floor between the two shafts. The other, who is larger,and who is wearing an ornate helmet is staring intently at a human slave standing by some sort of panel that is set into a door on the far side of the room. As the hobgoblins bring Kit in, there is a sudden flash, a sizzle of electricity and the slave by the far door falls unmoving where he stood.

The ogre in the helmet lets out a roar, and pounds his fist on the floor in rage, cracking some of the flagstones. While the ogre is shouting, he repeats the words Snuhk’Glohr several times amidst his bellowing in whatever language ogres speak.

The last person in the room is another slave. He appears to be Gnomish. He has been gagged and one of the hobgoblins is standing guard next to him over by one of the pits.

Hey you... Get your damn hands off her!

When Daethin discovers Kit’s discarded sunrod in the middle of the hall upon investigating the commotion downstairs, he immediately dashes back outside to enlist the help of the others. Rayne looks up from tending to the recently freed slaves as Lanna instructs Ceffyl to watch over them. The party then rushes into the tower and down to the lower hallway to prepare their assault.

Piruk kicks open the big double doors to reveal a group of hobgoblins staring intently at him from behind the cover of crates. The apparent leader, distinguished by the officer’s torc around his neck and his particularly nasty demeanor has Kit by one arm and is holding his longsword at her throat.

“If you want your friend to live, drop your weapons and leave this place!” bellows the head of the slavers.

Piruk rebuffs the offer, sizing up his chances. The hobgoblins and the adventurers stare each other down through the open doorway.

Then Rayne, not one for political niceties, decides to relieve the tension of the standoff by firing a barrage of magic missiles at the hobgoblin holding on her roguish friend. The bolts fly unerringly into the slaver who is left charred by the arcane blast.

Suddenly, everything is in motion. Piruk, Lanna and Eleanor charge forward into the room as the hobgoblins behind the crates hurl javelins and tanglefoot bags at the charging party. Piruk reaches the stack of crates and immediately puts an end to one of the slavers while Kit uses the opportunity to jerk free from their leader who is holding her captive.

Lanna takes a direct hit from a tanglefoot bag and finds herself rooted to the floor by strands of sticky adhesive.

Eleanor, thinking quickly, casts Enlarge Person on the unarmed Kit. As the thief suddenly doubles in size, one of the hobgoblins is forced to dive over the crates to avoid being trampled underfoot. Unfortunately, his attempt to escape brings him directly into the path of Piruk’s maul, and another slaver is no more.

The helmeted ogre, suddenly seeing an opponent to match him in size lashes out at the enlarged Kit with his greatclub. The thief is sent reeling, but quickly recovers, grabbing the longsword off the slaver who failed to escape over the crates. Turning to face the ogre once again, Kit is startled when the brute suddenly bellows Snuhk’GLOR! and bowls past her.

Rayne, who has moved into the room and is battling one of the slavers who had set up to the side of the entrance turns to see a strange creature that has just appeared behind her. The gummy mouth in the middle of its torso opens as a pair of slender hands dart out and snatch the recently acquired white rod from Rayne’s belt.

The strange creature then turns, and seeing the enraged ogre bearing down on it, vanishes as suddenly as it appeared. When the creature vanishes, the ogre bellows in rage and once again shouts, Snuhk’GLOR!

Eventually, the part begins to gain the upper hand, slaying several of the hobgoblin slavers and then each of the ogres in turn. The remaining hobgoblins, finding themselves suddenly outnumbered, make a break for the door. One of the slavers throws the great lever in the floor, and the platform on which the bound gnome is lying begins to descend into the floor. Meanwhile, a similar platform rises from the other shaft, opening a way for the hobgoblin to flee the scene. The lead slaver is cut down before he can reach the exit, but two of his companions gain the outer hallway and then the stair to the surface.

Lanna, hoping to cut off their escape reaches out to Ceffyl through her empathic bond. She sends a sense of warning, impending danger and rage. Soon, a surge of adrenaline followed by a sense of vengeful satisfaction flows back to her through the link and she knows that one of the fleeing slavers will not escape. Unfortunately, the other manages to slip past the unicorn’s slashing horn, fleeing into the wilderness.

With the flight of the remaining hobgoblin, our heroes pause to assess their situation. A muffled plea from the depths of the elevator shaft prompts Piruk to once again pull the lever. After a moment of grinding chains, the platforms once again trade places and the bound gnome ascends back out of the shaft.

While some of the party see to the gnomish prisoners bonds, others begin constructing a makeshift barricade from the pile of crates, for they need to rest soon, but do not know what other threats might emerge from the shafts in the floor or through the locked door on the far side of the room. Meanwhile, curious about the door which seemed to be the focus of the helmeted ogre’s attention, Eleanor examines the far door more closely.

The door features what appears to be a curious sort of latch. A 5×5 grid with 4 raised squares and a brass knob projecting from one of the corner squares. The squares immediately adjacent to the knob emit an electric blue glow.

Door puzzle
The puzzling latch

When Eleanor gingerly pulls on the brass knob, it suddenly slides through one of the blue squares, and does not stop until it hits the edge of the plate. Each square it passes through raises up behind it making its return impossible. When it comes to rest, the vacant squares next to the knob once again light up with a blue glow. Eleanor continues to move the knob around the plate and it continues to slide until stopped by the edge, or a raised square. This continues until the knob becomes penned in by raised squares, yet some remain vacant… Suddenly, there is a crackle and an arc of electricity shoots violently out towards Eleanor who just manages to dodge aside.

Deciding that it may be best to work this one out on parchment before making any further attempts, Eleanor leaves the door for the time-being and returns upstairs to look after the recently freed slaves.

Session 30: Emancipation
Have you seen my sneak-buddy?

The Cloud Peaks

Current Task:
Travel to Cydon to seek the source of the Blight

NPCs Met:

Treasure Gained:
Item Qty. Recipient Location Found Notes
Coins n/a
mwk longsword x2 Bag of Holding Hobgoblin Outriders
mwk studded leather x2 Bag of Holding Hobgoblin Outriders bears a red whip over a wolf’s head
mwk javelin x6 Santiago x3 & Bag of Holding x3 Hobgoblin Outriders
Potions x3 Bag of Holding Hobgoblin Outriders Unidentified
Dire Wolf x1 Daethin Hobgoblin Outriders studded leather barding & military saddle
It is 3am high in the Cloud Peaks The party has just defeated a pair of Hobgoblins mounted on dire wolves. Daethin stands, holding the reins of one of the wolves as he speaks soothingly to it through the use of a Speak with Animals spell. The once hostile mount has calmed under Daethin’s expert touch and soon becomes willing to allow Daethin to lead it, if still a bit wary of the overall situation.

Daethin asks the wolf its name, and it responds to him with a thought of sounds in goblinoid.

When the Elf attempts to speak the name aloud, Piruk chimes up… “Crook-tooth. or that’s what it sounds like.” is that it’s name?

“I suppose so.” Daethin responds.

Hobgoblins are into whips and leather...
Hobgoblin Slavers

The group searches the corpses of the two Hobgoblins. The pair appear to have been scouts. They are carrying longswords and javelins and are armored, like the dire wolf, in studded leather armor. The armor on each of the corpses bears a sigil of a crimson whip cracking above the head of a snarling wolf.

Kit bends down to examine what the Hobgoblins had been poking at when the group stumbled upon them. Lying face-down among the coarse mountain tussock-grass is the body of a human woman. She is dressed in simple clothing which is soiled and tattered as by a very rough journey. She is barefoot and the soles of her feet are calloused and bloody. Further examination reveals that her dress has many vertical slashes down the back, which cut through to her skin. There is also a ring of raw skin around her neck.

“Slavers.” Daethin remarks. He begins to search for the back trail of the two riders and their quarry. It is not difficult to locate as neither party seemed particularly interested in covering their tracks.

After Eleanor says a prayer over the body of the woman, the group sets out following the track of the woman to its source.

While travelling, Crook-tooth appears to have warmed to Ceffyl and to have accepted him as an alpha figure. Daethin and Kit scout ahead along with Belfry keeping their eyes peeled for any sign of danger.

The trail begins to descend from the high, alpine meadows, hugging the side of the mountains as it winds its way along the edge of a vast, mountain valley. A tall cliff rises to the right side of the road and plummets in a sheer drop to the left. Stunted evergreens cling tenaciously to the cliff-side. And occasionally jut up through cracks in the ancient roadway.

After approximately two hours travel, Kit and Daethin come across a tall post jammed into a pile of rocks. A bleached ram’s skull adorns the top of the stake, which has a crosspiece inserted through the eye-sockets. A crude banner made of some sort of animal hide hangs from the cross-piece. It bears a crudely drawn image that seems intended to depict a badger, or maybe a bear on fire. When the rest of the group catches up to the scouts, Piruk determines that it looks like the sort of battle standard used by many of the monstrous humanoid races to mark their territory.

As the group travels on, they continue to see similar sign-posts. Some are just skulls on sticks and some display the weird, flaming critter sigil.

It is now getting close to 5am and a mist has begun to rise from the mountain vale. The group proceeds in the gloom of the pre-dawn light. Soon, Belfry lets out a soft squeak and Kit and Daethin pause to see what the bat has noticed.

Ahead of them, looming in the murky gloom, the pair can see the squatting shape of some sort of complex. A dark bar of a wall cuts across the path and a couple of shapes that must be buildings rise up beyond it.

After reporting back to the group, Rayne decides to send Belfry ahead to investigate the compound. As he flies over, he recognizes two buildings beyond the wall and a large, towering structure at the edge of a crevasse beyond them. He spots what appears to be a large humanoid on top of one of the buildings, a few others gathered around a campfire and a wagon hitched to two aurochs stopped on the path.

After some discussion, the group decides to move in for a closer look. Daethin and Kit creep up to the wall, where they spy what appears to be two hobgoblins sitting beside a dying campfire. Beyond the faint ruddy glow, they see a third, larger figure looming in the shadows. Between themselves and the sentries huddles a mass of slaves, lying piled on top of one another in an effort to keep warm in the chill mountain air. In the middle of the path stands a wagon with a large iron cage in the back.

Rayne arrives at the wall just as Daethin and Kit make their move. Kit creeps through the shadows along the wall and places a conter-of-mass shot directly into the nearest slaver’s back. As the Hobgoblin lurches from his seat in sudden pain, Daethin looses a rapid volley of two arrows. The first takes the slaver in the shoulder, while the second severs his spine at the base of his skull, passing through the back of his head to protrude out his mouth, killing him instantly.

At this point, Santiago rushes in and hurls a javelin through the shoulder of the other Hobgoblin. His attack is immediately followed by Rayne, who lets fly with a well placed fireball revealing the face of a rather surprised ogre, just as it envelops the entire campfire circle in a burst of magic flame.


The fireball incinerates the remaining Hobgoblin before he has time to react. The ogre, however, manages to survive the blast, but looks severely worse for wear. The rest of the party chooses this moment to rush the camp. Lanna charges towards the staggering ogre, astride Ceffyl while Eleanor and Piruk make for the huddled slaves and the cage on the cart, respectively.

Suddenly, two more ogres join the fray. The first rises from atop the squat stone tower to the right of the path and lobs a large chunk of masonry at Rua’Lanna and Kit, missing horribly. The other, rushes from the shell of a burned out cottage to the left of the path, hurling himself at Piruk and sending him reeling with a mighty double-handed swing of his greatclub. Piruk, reeling but not out, returns the favor with change, dropping the ogre with two swings of his maul.

Meanwhile, Rayne hurls another fireball into the ogre on the rooftop, while Daethin follows up with several volleys of arrows, dropping both the remaining ogres.

Out of immediate danger for the time being, Kit and Daethin move forward to investigate the tower while the rest of the party sets about tending to the refugees. Rua’Lanna uses her lays a hand on each of the former slaves, channeling a controlled amount of Ehlonna’s life-giving magic to help speed their recovery. Meanwhile, Piruk lays into the cage door, shattering its lock with just a few blows of his maul.

The occupant of the cage turns out to be a very battered and bloody cleric of Kord who introduces himself as Olympos. He thanks Piruk for his assistance and accompanies the rest of the slaves beyond the wall of the compound, where Rayne is attempting to make them comfortable.

Meanwhile, inside the tower, Daethin and Kit enter into a large common room. A spiral staircase in the far right corner leads both up and down from the main floor. A few articles of travellers’ gear lie stacked in the corners and The fireplace, though dark, still emits warmth from an earlier fire.

Have you seen my sneak-buddy?

Daethin chooses to go upstairs to confirm that the ogre on the rooftop is dead, while Kit creeps cautiously downstairs into the gloom. Striking a sunrod to illuminate the darkness at the foot of the stairs, Kit spies a short hallway at the end of which, looms a pair of double doors. She creeps carefully forward, scanning the floor intently for traps…

Which is why she fails to see the net hurled from the shadows. Her adrenaline pumping, Kit manages to free herself from the restraining net, but just as she is about to turn and run, she is tackled from behind by an iron grip and dragged through the door at the end of the hall.

Daethin, returning to the main floor after checking the roof, hears the sounds of a scuffle coming from the lower level and a gasp of alarm in a voice he recognizes as Kit’s. Rushing down the stairs, Daethin sees the same empty hallway that greeted Kit just moments before, save for the lone sunrod lying discarded in the middle of the corridor…

Session 28: The Heartspring
Don't you hurt my dog!

The Heartspring deep in the Tangled Fens

Current Task:
Investigate the cause of the mysterious blight spreading through the Fens.

NPCs Met:

The Heartspring
Treasure Gained:
Item Qty. Recipient Location Found Notes
Coins n/a
Rod of Frost x1 Rayne Corpse
Earthsilk Jersey x1 Daethin Corpse
Horn of Fog x1 Kit Base of a Tree Specifics not Identified
Arrows, (mod. evoc) x10 Daethin Corpse Unidentified
Unidentified x2 Eleanor Corpse Unidentified
Unidentified x1 Eleanor Corpse Unidentified

After several days of slogging their way through the Tangled Fens, the party finally reached the Heartspring. As they emerged from the maze of trees, which controls access to the spring, the first thing they noticed was a massive stone altar, covered in a twisted mass of vines, out of which protruded a single, spiral horn.

Proceeding cautiously, Lanna crept across the stepping stones to the altar. As she was about to investigate more closely, the treant guardian of the spring suddenly awakened and bellowed at them to leave. After attempts to reason with the treant made it apparent that it had become corrupted by the Blight, the party had no choice but to battle the enraged guardian for their lives.

Don't you hurt my dog!


Lanna took significant damage to both her sword and her person as she struggled to beat back the assault. Rayne had better luck as she hurled several fireballs into the treant’s upper branches, while Piruk, aided by Eleanor’s Enlarge Person spell, waded into the tainted spring to reinforce the beleaguered Lanna.

At last, it seemed that our heroes had gotten the upper hand in the situation. Then, just as the treant seemed about to collapse in defeat, its bark began to groan and split. Suddenly, the entire tree exploded, pelting everyone nearby with flying splinters. Out of the shattered stump left behind, rose a horrific being of elemental evil.

Lanna, near death from her battle with the treant withdrew back across the stepping stones to seek healing while Piruk took the fight to the taint elemental and Rayne proceeded to launch jars of the mysterious liquid the party had found in the ruins beneath Riverbend.

Just as Lanna was about to reach the relative safety of the far shore, the elemental dispersed itself into the atmosphere, reforming next to the injured paladin. Thinking quickly, the nearby Santiago took up a jar of the purifier and hurled it into the center of the horror, destroying it just as it was about to finish off his 1/2 elf companion.

With the immediate threat vanquished, the party once again turned their attention to the altar at the center of the spring. Kit used her dagger to make quick work of the tangled vines that covered the altar. As they fell away, they revealed an injured unicorn trapped beneath.

After Lanna revived the creature by laying on hands, he found the strength to stand, and to speak. The unicorn introduced himself as Ceffyl. He had traveled to the Fens to investigate rumors of the Blight, but had been lured in and captured by the already-corrupted guardians of the spring.

Ceffyl thanked the party for rescuing him and, seeing a common cause and kindred spirit in the person of Lanna. He agreed to serve the paladin as her mount. Then, he touched his horn to the Heartspring’s altar, activating a spell, which closed the mouths of the mighty gargoyles, which were spewing tainted water into the spring. The unicorn informed the party that such an act was only a temporary solution, for with the flow of water cut off, the Fens would eventually wither and die.

With the area now relatively secure, the group made a search for items of interest and made plans to send word back to town before continuing further into the mountains the next morning.

Session 27: Tree Maze
Tree Maze

A labyrinth of trees deep in the Tangled Fens

Current Task:
Travel to the Heartspring to investigate the cause of the mysterious blight spreading through the Fens.

NPCs Met:

Treasure Gained:
  • Masterwork Elven-craft longbow x1
  • Arrows (appear made from braided vines) x10

Santiago has just come to the rescue of the injured Rayne. The party is locked in battle with an unnaturally altered dire wolf, which Santiago has just managed to knock cross-eyed with a ferocious punch to his mutant-poochy face. Kit quickly takes advantage of the beast’s stupor, slashing open its belly before thrusting her shortsword up through its throat.

Out of immediate danger for the time being, the group searches the room (Map Marker 2). They uncover the remains of several of the wolf’s previous meals, including a horned skull, which Daethin identifies as having come from a satyr.

As the party moves deeper into the labyrinth, Kit sweeps ahead for traps. She discovers a switch buried among a tangle of vines and closer inspection identifies it as a trap bypass switch. With the unsprung danger behind them, the group moves forward until they spot an intriguing patch of disturbed soil.

Overcome with curiosity, Lanna decides to prod at the soil using Daethin’s 10-foot pole. Suddenly, a swarm of centipedes comes boiling out of the soft earth, swarming up the pole to cover Lanna. The party choses to quickly retrace their steps in hopes of putting some distance between themselves and the swarming bugs.

As they round a corner, there is a sudden rushing and creaking in the surrounding trees. They run on, and suddenly find their path once again blocked by a writhing mass of centipedes.

Eleanor elects to use her patented centipede-smashing shield bash, which she had previously used to great effect in the Riverbend Ruins. The rest of the party struggles to find a way past the bugs until Kit has a sudden realization. Running back the way they came, Kit, followed closely by Daethin, discovers that the sudden creaking in the trees was caused by the walls of the labyrinth moving and that the dead end where they found the swarm has now opened to the passage beyond.

The group finally manages to defeat the centipedes through much shield-bashing and dousing of centipede and adventurer-alike in alchemist’s fire and insectbane. With the poisonous mass behind them, the group resumes their exploration.

Further on, Kit pokes her head around a corner only to find herself staring at a charging, ghoulish satyr. She quickly flinches back out of the way of the satyr’s charge and it careens into the wall just beyond her.(map marker 3)

Several members of the party overrun the satyr and push into the room beyond. There, they find a second ghoulish fey. They make quick work of the horned undead and search the room, discovering a fine elven-craft bow and a quiver with 10 arrows that look as though they were made from braided vines.

As they are finishing their search, Lanna feels suddenly drawn towards the exit at the far side of the room. She wanders around the corner and up a flight of earthen stairs into the light beyond…

The party finds themselves standing in a large clearing encircled by an impenetrable wall of trees. A large pond fills the center of the clearing fed by water gushing from two massive stone heads carved in the likeness of Obad Hai, the Great Shalm. The surrounding trees all have leaves of deep red and in the center of the pond, on a small spit of land, stands an altar backed by a lone tree with equally red leaves. The altar is covered in a tangled mass of vines, out of which protrudes a single spiral horn…

Session 26: Gates of the Forest
Feelin' Gassy?

Location: the Tangled Fens
Current Task: Travel to the Heartspring to investigate the cause of the mysterious blight spreading through the Fens.
NPCs Met: none

Treasure Gained:
Item Qty. Recipient Location Found Notes
Gold x500 divided evenly
Holy Water x5 bag of holding
Poison, Oil of Taggit x3 bag of holding surgery tent None / Unconsciousness DC15 Fort Neg.
Belt x1 bag of holding surgery tent Decorated with 3 moonstones
Candles x2 bag of holding surgery tent Thick and blue. No magic aura detected
Restoration x2 Eleanor surgery tent
Remove Curse x1 Eleanor surgery tent
Remove Disease x1 Eleanor surgery tent
Calm Person x1 Eleanor surgery tent

The party is securing what remains of the refugee camp after clearing it of it’s ghoulish invaders. Eleanor and Lanna set about disposing of the remains of the camp’s original denizens while Piruk, Dathin and Kit check the perimeter and reset the pit traps that Eleanor “uncovered” during their assault.

Santiago returns to the large, central tent, where he discovers a number of potentially useful items scattered about the a grizzly scene. A corpse inside the tent is stretched out on a table, a knife in one hand and his own intestines in the other. This disturbing surgery is what likely resulted in the formation of the allip, which Santiago blundered upon during the party’s initial investigation.

That Evening, Eleanor spends some time studying the journal of Brother Valarin. She uncovers a little more information about the journey of the Cydonic refugees that once inhabited the camp and about the rise of the mysterious blight, which appears to have migrated from their land to this one.

The party spends the night with two people on watch as much as possible. Then, in the morning, after Eleanor disposes of a wayward ghoul that fell in one of the pit traps during the night, they once again set out to the Northeast in search of the Heartspring.

A game trail runs out of the camp in the direction the part wishes to go. They wind their way down from the relative high ground of the camp into the thick of the swamps. Their first day of travel goes by uneventfully and that evening, Daethin locates a copse of trees on an easily secured peninsula of land surrounded by the bog.

On the third day out from Fenwatch, the ground gradually begins to rise once more. The hilltops seem more like forest, while the lowlands are marshy as ever. As the party begins descending one of the many hills, Kit and Daethin suddenly stop in alarm. The air around the party has gone dead and is entirely without oxygen.

The group quickly hustles back uphill to a spot where the air is breathable. There, they spend some time deliberating how to get past the deadspace. Kit ventures a short way down the hill and notices the bones of several of the gas pocket’s victims lying beneath some particularly vibrant looking plants.

Rayne sends Belfry flitting across the cloud in order to determine its size and whether it might be crossed. The length of his flight indicates that it would take almost all the party’s breath to cross the deadspace, leaving little room for stalling, should they be waylaid within the cloud.

After much discussion and argument, the group decides to just go around the gas pocket, and sets of hacking their way through the underbrush.

As they are forging ahead, piruk suddenly notices something familiar occuring up ahead. His shouted warning is too late though, and Daethin suddenly finds himself firmly in the grasp of an enormous assassin vine. The group struggles to free Daethin from strangulation by the monstrous plant. Finally, after plowing into the underbrush, Piruk manages to beat back the vegetative threat, spurred on by the memory of his own near miss at becoming plant food two days before.

Once freed from the constricting vine, Daethin’s wounds are tended to and the party sets off, completing the rest of their detour unmolested.

The ground continues to rise and the thick, still air of the swamp gives way to the sound of running water. As the party climbs over a rise, they see a massive, tree-topped hill rising from the forest ahead of them. Numerous streams of water spill down the hillside to the forest floor below. On top of the hill, massive trees stand close together forming veritable walls of living wood.

The party proceeds cautiously up the hillside with Daethin and Kit scouting ahead, ever wary of potential danger. Upon reaching the top, they find themselves gazing down a massive, tree-lined corridor, which winds away into green shadows.

The group continues into the cover of the trees. Soon, the only sound to be heard is the babbling of numerous streams flowing unseen beyond the walls of tree trunks. The light beneath the trees is filtered by the leaves and tinted with the rich, verdant hue.

Rounding a bend in the path, Kit and Daethin suddenly draw up short. They have stepped into a massive, shaded clearing dominated by a still pond covered in lily pads. Several streams pour into and out of the clearing from beneath the tree roots. On the far side of the pond, two massive trees support a thick curtain of tangled vines, giving the impression of a massive castle gate. A pedestal on the near shore of the pond emits a brilliant blue glow.

After recovering her composure, Kit moves slowly up to the pedestal, checking for danger. She sees that the glow surrounds a row of three stone bluebirds facing a row of three stone frogs. An empty divit between them in the stone appears to be the source of the light.

As the rest of the party gathers around the pedestal, they determine that this must be the key to entering the Heartspring. Eleanor reaches out and attempts to move one of the bluebirds, only to discover that it is an illusion.

The group then begins to experiment with various solutions to this puzzle. They discover that the frogs can be moved to the blank space, but not to a space with a bird. Nor can they be taken away from the pedestal.

At last, Piruk notices something that might be of use. He spots a similar blue glow emanating from halfway up one of the massive trees on the far side of the pond. He surmises that the far glow likely contains the actual bluebirds to be manipulated.

Rayne once again sends Belfry to investigate. After he confirms that the far glow emanates from the other half of the puzzle, Rayne makes use of a Fly scroll she has in her case to quickly and easily ascend to the out of reach controls.

Working together, Rayne in the tree and the rest of the party on shore, hop the birds and frogs over each other until they have all reached the opposite sides of their track. As the last statue is dropped in place, the waters of the pond begin to bubble and churn. A series of massive stone blocks rises from beneath the surface as the massive curtain of vines parts to reveal a tree-lined hall beyond.

Session 24: Crazy Camp!
Dinner and a Floor Show!

Location: Fenwatch to the Tangled Fens
Current Task: Travel to the Heartspring to investigate the cause of the mysterious blight spreading through the Fens.
NPCs Met: none

Treasure Gained:
Item Qty. Recipient Location Found Notes
Coins none
Before Leaving
Belt Pouch x1 Kit Wayshepherd’s Sentry Thanks to Lanna at her best
In the Fens
Alchemist’s fire x2 Rayne? Assassin Vine
+1 Greatsword x1 Piruk Lunatic Fighter
mwk shortbow x1 ?? Lunatic Fighter
Armor Crystal of Rubicund Frenzy, Least x1 Piruk Lunatic Fighter
amulet (unidentified) x1 Rayne Lunatic Magic User
Dagger, silver x1 ?? Lunatic Magic User
Scroll, Identify x1 Rayne Lunatic Magic User
Scroll, Invisibility x1 Rayne Lunatic Magic User CL2
Mithril Chain Shirt x1 Kit Lunatic Rogue
+1 shortsword x1 Kit Lunatic Rogue
shortsword x1 not taken Lunatic Rogue
Acrobat Boots 1 pair Santiago Lunatic Rogue +2 to tumble, increase speed (3 charges/day)

It has been a week since the party returned to the village of Fenwatch having rescued several of the town’s children from the horrors of enslavement by a hag and her grey jester companion. Since returning, Our heroes have managed to restore some semblance of life into the rescued younglings. They are once again able to act independently and have begun exhibiting emotional responses. However, it is clear that their injury, like the injury to the surrounding land is still very much present.

Eleanor has been spending her days deep in study, seeking new information on the evil that is infusing itself into the countryside. After poring over ancient texts on morality, religion and its struggles with the manifestation of evil, she has uncovered some information on what may be causing the mysterious sickness in the land and how to better resist or even treat the illness.

Kit has been spending her days pestering and bribing Content Not Found: Ipswitch-npc to help her better understand the workings of her spider-bot. He has revealed that the maintenance logs found along with the spider bot revealed that, while the construct excelled at retrieving metallic objects such as bits of armor or jewelry washed up in the water vats, it did not fare so well when asked to deal with less shiny objects. The bot has no real concept of value and is easily distracted. He suspects its animating spirit may have been derived from some sort of retarded pixie.

Rayne has taken to looking after the children.

Content Not Found: pyke-npc has taken over management of Fenwatch. His men have converted the Wayshepherd’s guild into their base of operations. Access to the building is now restricted to those with an appointment to discuss a specific matter with the Sergeant. The town now exists in a state of martial law. Pyke’s men make regular patrols of the town perimeter and temporary barricades have been set up around the core of the village. Controlled access points have been established on the major streets while building gaps and alleys have been barricaded with the detritus left over from the town’s ravaging.

Pyke’s fortifications are clearly temporary, as Ipswitch has begun laying out markers and digging foundation points for what will eventually become a perimeter fence encircling the town.

While the townsfolk occasionally grumble about Pyke’s blunt and authoritarian methods, they seem comforted to once again have a sense of security creeping back into their lives.

Ba’art does not seem as grateful for the security afforded by the new military presence. During the day, he busies himself assisting the townsfolk as they recover the town, one building at a time. However, at night, he often sits quietly, alone or with his former deputies looking quite sullen over a pot of ale from one of the kegs Content Not Found: gunhilda-npc managed to salvage.

It is the day before the party’s planned departure back into the Tangled Fen. They sit at a long breakfast table set up in the main hall of the Pelorian Temple. The morning sun streams in through the great rose window high on the east wall casting an intricate mosaic of refracted color across the room.

Session 24: Recap
The party sets out into the Fens heading Northeast toward the rumored location of the Heartspring. The trees quickly close in about them as Daethin leads the way through the underbrush. Going is slow, as there is no discernible trail in this part of the Fens, but Daethin is confident of their heading.

Around midday, there is a sudden commotion from the back of the group. The party turns to see Piruk fending off a large vine that is flailing and attempting to wrap itself around the resisting dwarf. Daethin recognizes the assailant as an assassin vine, which likely intends to dine on dwarf.

The party quickly comes to Piruk’s aid. After Rayne lobs a couple vials of alchemists fire to little effect, Eleanor manages to severely injure the plant creature with a well-placed dispersal of defoliator, which also kills all of the undergrowth within a 5 foot radius.

Piruk then gains the upper hand, smashing the injured vine to a pulp with his maul.

The episode leaves the party on their guard for similar dangers and leaves Lanna feeling a bit queasy at Eleanor’s use of alchemical toxins on the local environment.

Our heroes find themselves deep in the Tangled Fens nearly a full day’s march from Fenwatch. They have just stumbled across a clearing that used to be some sort of encampment. Unfortunately, upon arrival, the only living residents were three blood-soaked lunatics standing among the mangled corpses of the camp’s former residents. After Kit accidentally fell into a pit trap rigged along the entry path, you were promptly attacked by the raving trio and forced to end their lunacy.

Session 23: Healing the Children
The Cleric's Conflict


Current Task:
Heal the children and help rebuild the town

NPCs Met:
Brother Saul, Sergeant Pyke

Treasure Gained:
Item Qty. Recipient Location Found Notes
Coins 1000g divided Brother Saul
+1 heavy mace x1 Eleanor Brother Saul
letter x1 Eleanor from Fr. Phaeton delivered by Saul
letter x1 Rua’lanna from Tiberius delivered by Ipswitch
flowers, dead x1 bunch Rua’lanna from Tiberius delivered by Ipswitch
An Excerpt from the Musings of Sister Eleanor Daystar...
as written by Naughtsauce. Bonus xp to the Cleric!

In her seemingly never-ending days spent growing up in the Sun Spire, Eleanor often found her mind wandering during her studies. She was much more likely to be caught staring out the golden paned windows, and in all outward appearances seemed to be romanticizing future adventures she would have whilst spreading the Word of The Shining One to those who needed it. Internally however, she was wracked with strife.

Sister Daystar’s primary fixation was nearly wholly consuming – the chance to seek out and smite the evil that took so much from her – a desire she hid within herself as to not start whispers amongst the other members in her order. The Mother of her Order, however, was never one to allow austere politeness to overcome familial concern and duty, and she found it difficult to turn blind eye to the Sunfire that would fill Eleanor’s eyes whenever studying histories of the Undead scourges and their weaknesses.

Eleanor would constantly replay to conversation she had with to Mother of the Order four days before leaving the Sun Spire, like some Bardic song – always there, never-ending, mind-consuming.

“You will reach a point, Eleanor, where you will need to choose a path,” her warm, strong voice providing heft to her message. “As long as you serve Our Lord Pelor, he will bestow his graces upon you. But be aware of the differences between Holy Retribution and personal revenge, and know that the order of the world outside plays out nothing like heroic deeds of our imaginations.”

Pelorian clerical education and training, while comprehensive, did little to prepare Eleanor for the horrors she had witnessed thus far since meeting her traveling companions. The Mother was too true; the world outside the Abbey was cold, exposed, and brutal. Worst of all, it was in the midst of battle where she felt furthest away from His love.

She recalled an incident in the forest. Behind her, the shambling masses approached, the their stench nearly overwhelming. The calls of her companions seemed muffled, far away. Like some inborn instinct, she quickly turned to face her attackers, her flaxen hair surrounding her head like a halo of His Light. She swung into one ghoul with all her might, her mace obliterating what was left of the abominations’ face. Clutching her Holy Symbol with her other hand, her mental faculties were lost in interminable rage that flowed through her body and outward into the horde of ghouls until nothing was left but dust, and an aching, cold emptiness filling her armor.

Coming out of the swamp into Fenwatch filled Eleanor with an aching relief. At last she was back in society, albeit in a town which had been laid to waste. Here, she knew her purpose, could tamp down the flames within, and serve her Lord Pelor admirably.

Looking around upon arrival, it was clear that most of the townsfolk seemed greatly surprised that the party made it back alive, and even more so upon seeing the rescued children in tow. Rayne, who has taken it upon herself to serve as temporary guardian for the children, was clearly haggard and unwell, but still made her priorities apparent.

“Eleanor, we must get these children to the infirmary,” she said briskly. “Your healing has been insufficient.” Eleanor was still surprised at Rayne’s concern. Until their encounter at the cottage, Eleanor knew not of a maternal bone existing within her companion’s body.

Eleanor felt rebuffed by the impulsive, immolation-happy dragon-blood, wanting to defend herself. “I wasn’t adequately prepared!” she thought defensively. Her studies, her interests, all seemed to focus on the destructive powers of The Fiery One. Instead, she nodded gravely, swallowed her conceit, and replied gently, “You are correct Mistress Rayne, and time is of the essence.” Eleanor’s voice then took a more serious tone, her eyes a look of concern, and as she brushed a stray hair out of her companions’ eye said, “keep in mind as well, you yourself are suffering, as is Lanna, and neither of you will recover until we can all rest, and pray for more healing from Pelor.”

Upon reaching the Wayshepard’s Guild, followed by and increasingly large group of curious townsfolk, it became painfully apparent that Sergeant Pyke had fully taken up residence, and the party even had difficulty gaining entrance despite having the rescued children in tow.

With some brusque transactions between Rayne and the Guards, the party was at last allowed entrance and access to the infirmary. The nurse rushed to the children, questions coming so fast and with such weight of concern, that it took the pair of adventures a good few minutes to calmly communicate their findings.

“Complete bed rest,” the matron demanded, “for the both of you.” She gave Rua’Lanna and Rayne both such a steely gaze that both women could do nothing in protest.

Still, while Rua’Lanna was dressing her wounds and bedding down, Eleanor was sure she heard her grumble softly, “’Tis nothing but a scratch…” and then something she couldn’t quite make out. She couldn’t help but think, out of all the things Lanna had learned prior to her return to the party, why she still couldn’t admit to the mortality of things – the laws of nature, of life and death.

Eleanor felt Lanna was the closest thing to a friend she ever had, that is, before she was called away. Rua’Lanna provided Eleanor with her first chance to proselytize – she felt as if someone cared for what she had to say, wanted to learn from her, and the feeling was intoxicating.

“Tell me what I should do,” her companion once asked her, clutching her arm upon entering a tavern. Never before had anyone asked Eleanor for spiritual guidance or opinion.

“I will let tell you as I see a need arise,” Eleanor said, in a voice she thought sounded sagely. The truth was, she was stunted by her cloistered upbringing – Eleanor knew nothing of survival, dungeoneering, and even lacked the basic outward geniality required to befriend others. She loved Lanna, because she seemed as insecure as herself, and yet still, for some reason, looked up to her. But not anymore, not since her return. Something was different about Rua’Lanna now – she was a true paladin. No longer did she feel the need to confer with Eleanor on spiritual matters. Since Lanna’s return, Eleanor knew she was tightening up, closing off. She knew others viewed her as judgmental, but she was hardly herself a decision maker – it was the only mask she knew to use to cover the pain she carried with her always. The pain of loss, of inferiority.

Rayne, still exuding what Eleanor saw as unnatural, familial compassion, insisted allowing the afflicted children into her bed to sleep. “What does she hide?” Eleanor wondered. “Has she not always been childless? Self-serving? An arsonist?” Suddenly, scripture came back to her:

“Passing undo judgment clouds the sky of His Day. The Sun shall rise and fall. Those who judge will lose the Light to find their way.”

“I must rest, I must pray to help my comrades,” resigned Eleanor. She shuffled tiredly out of the infirmary, only to see Daethin, Piruk, and Master Ba’art, having what appeared to be a heated discussion with Sergeant Pyke.

“That Pyke, how insufferable!” Eleanor said to herself. “I’d like to see how haughty his attitude would appear when faced with the trouble end of the dwarf’s maul.” Eleanor liked Piruk the moment she met him in the infirmary, when he resigned himself to join their party to make right a situation he could not even recall. He carried within himself a lawfulness and strength of will she herself lacked. Their encounters with the hag and jester only solidified those opinions. His protectionist instincts toward the children seemed neither contrived nor out of place, and he was a fighter of the highest quality.

She stopped, pressing herself behind a pillar, and waited for the argument to subside. Eventually, the dwarf turned to head in the direction of the infirmary, presumably to check on the state of the children. Eleanor stepped out, but the dwarf hardly seemed to notice, his eyes far away, tinged with sadness, as he trod on.

“Piruk!” Eleanor called out. “Master dwarf, wait!” She stepped quickly to catch up him, as he slowly turned around meet her, eyes on the floor. “I see the sadness in your heart, but I want you to know I think you performed admirably. Those children, all of us, we are all indebted to your bravery and skill.”

She slid her right hand up and down her left bracer in a nervous gesture. “Whatever your plans are, I hope they include joining us.” Eleanor was blushing at this point, and she desperately hoped the dwarf’s eyes were still fixed on the floor. At this point, however, his eyes rose to meet hers, and the pain she saw caused her own eyes to moisten.

“Sister Eleanor, I have failed.”

“No! Sir Piruk! You are a hero!” Eleanor was adamant, tears coming now.

“In whose eyes? In the eyes of parents whose children didn’t return? The empty sockets of the children’s skulls we found in the garden?” The stoic dwarf trembled now, and Eleanor knelt slightly to meet him face to face.

“In my eyes, sir. I am a good cleric, Piruk, but I am not a skilled one,” she said through a whimper. “I have neither the determination of will you have, nor the strength, nor the control. I do, however, believe I have a little compassion, and I think you outshine me in that area as well.” She placed her hand on his armored elbow, and with a gentle tug said “let us go check on the children.”

Session 22: Swamp Chase

The party stood before the blazing inferno, which was quickly consuming the remains of the cottage and the horrors it contained. A billowing plume of greasy black smoke rose into the afternoon sky. Our heroes watched with mixed emotions., grateful that they had rescued half a dozen of the village children, but still shaken by what they had seen inside the building now consumed in flames.

Rayne, still looking green after having suffered the Gray Jester’s empathic feeding was tending to the children. The gaggle of younglings, while free of the Jester’s control, were still far from recovered. Their complexions remained ashen and their expressions, vacant. Their eyes followed Rayne wherever she went. The charm she had cast on them had succeeded in restoring a basic level of responsiveness to the children, but only when Rayne was the one speaking.

Daethin, perhaps clued in by a subtle stiffening in Scar’s stance at his side, looked up suddenly, listening. Several of the others turned from the fire to follow his gaze to the tree-line along the Southeast edge of the clearing surrounding the lake. Hidden beneath the shadow of the densely packed trees, they saw several stooped figures heading in their direction with a gait that lay oddly between a shamble and a lope. The sounds of gutteral growls now became audible above the pop of the timber frame behind them.

“Ghouls!” Daethin’s voice dripped with contempt. “Figures. With all the carnage that took place here, they probably think of this clearing as an endless schmorgasboard. I wouldn’t be surprised if that old hag fed them like squirrels.”

Kit watched the trees, futiley trying to gain an accurate count of the numbers headed their way. “Can ghouls swim?” she asked, and after receiving puzzled looks from the group, eplained “because if they can’t, we could take refuge out on the lake.”

“Swimming for it might be a reasonable plan for you, but for those of us in steel, the water route is a bit impractical.” Eleanor chided as she loosened her mace from its hanger.

“Agreed,” said Daethin, “They can’t come for us directly while we stand in sunlight, so they appear to be moving to cut us off from the path back to town. If we make haste, we can probably get there first, and with a little luck, we will get back to town before dark.”

“Get those children moving! GO!” bellowed Piruk, and the group broke into a run, attempting to slip past the advancing ghouls before they could cut off their escape.

The party managed to reach the trail ahead of the advancing pack, and paused briefly to catch their breath.

“We’re about ten miles into this place. We should hurry, but make sure to pace yourself because we have a long way to run!” said Daethin. “and keep an eye on those kids!”

The group set off quickly in the direction of Fenwatch with the sound of the pursuing ghouls following behind. As they ran, the group strung out along the narrow track with Rayne and the children staying to the middle of the group.

After a mile or so, the forest dropped into boggy swamplands. The game trail wound between fetid pools and mires and the trees sprouted beards of moss.

“This place reeks of decay,” panted kit as she trotted along.

Lanna slowed and glanced over her shoulder. “That’s not the swamp. Behind us!”

Piruk Eleanor and Santiago whirled to look behind them. Two gnarled and twisted figures with sickly decaying skin came into view behind them. The snarled as they caught site of their quarry and prepared to dash forward.

“Ghasts!” cried Daethin, “It’s worse than I thought.”

Lanna did not hesitate. Grasping her holy symbol of Ehlonna in her sword hand, she presented it forcefully at the advancing horrors. “Unnatural things! By the power of the Woodland Queen, return to death!” The wooden unicorn talisman was bathed in a green glow, which spread to Lanna’s hand before bursting forth in a verdant light.

The ghasts recoiled at the site of the Ehlonnic symbol and fled back down the path.

The party resumed their flight, quickly covering another two miles before they were once again forced to repel the advancing undead pack. This time, Eleanor took on the task of repelling the monsters, turning them with the fury of Pelor.

At this point, the children began to slow. Though their expressions remained blank, their stumbling steps belied the onset of exhaustion.

Rayne called out, “We need to slow down or we’ll be carrying the children the rest of the way!”

The group slowed to a walk, acutely aware that the sounds of indefatigable pursuit were growing gradually louder.

Soon, a new sound drifted to the party from out of the underbrush to the East. A mixed group of ghouls and ghasts had flanked the fleeing heroes and were crashing towards the middle of their group.

The creatures burst out of the bushes rushing directly at Rayne and the children. Santiago rushed to the rescue, pummeling the oncoming horrors with a tremendous flurry of blows as Rayne attempted to usher them to safety. Lanna charged into the fray as well, but one of the beasts managed to latch on to one of the fleeing children who fainted from the shock of the ghoul’s bite.

A blast of holy vengeance from Eleanor ended the brute’s chances of a quick and easy meal. Unfortunately, the other ghouls had changed course and were continuing for the weakest members of the group, the children.

Recognizing the peril of the young ones and not wishing to lose those he had sworn to protect, Piruk hurtled forward to place his formidable maul between the children and their assailants.

As Rayne struggled to get the younglings clear of the threat, One of the powerful ghasts petrified her with its corrupting strike just as Lanna managed to turn the rest of the pack by once again summoning the holy power of the Nature Goddess.

At last, Piruk and Santiago succeeded at laying out the last remaining ghoul. Throwing Rayne over one shoulder, Piruk lead the way. Fortunately, the effects of the ghast’s foul touch were short-lived and Rayne was soon able to make her own way once again.

The group ran on, ever aware of the sounds of pursuit behind them. Soon, however, another sound began to cut through the trailing snarls. The trees ahead began to thin and the party soon found themselves on the bank of a rushing river.

A fallen tree spanned the rapids forming a makeshift bridge. Unfortunately, the spring run-off had left the log slick with moisture and moss. Daethin succeeded in crossing with little difficulty, but as Rayne attempted to lead the children to the safety of the far bank, several lost their footing and two were toppled into the rushing creek.

The sounds of the ghouls grew louder.

Piruk did not hesitate. Aided by Rua’Lanna, he waded fearlessly into the stream to take hold of one of the struggling children. Meanwhile, Kit hurled a rope to the other. Unfortunately, the swift-flowing stream was proving too much for the child, exhausted from running, and he began to slip along the rope.

Thinking quickly, Santiago leapt to the child’s rescue. Grabbing ahold of him, he stood, balanced expertly in the midst of the onrushing current.

While Rayne, Piruk and Santiago were seeing to the children, the frontrunners of the ghoul pack once again pulled into view. The thrum of Daethin’s bow alerted the group to the danger as one of his arrows found its mark in the first ghoul’s shoulder.

Again, Eleanor stepped forward, brandishing her holy symbol. “By the light of the Sun God, go back to the darkness from whence you came!” she cried. Her arm burst forth in a nimbus of holy light and once again the pursuing undead recoiled.

At last, Rayne managed to help the rest of the children safely to the far bank. With the makeshift bridge no longer clogged with frightened young ones, Kit was able to cross quickly. The heavily armored holy-warriors, Lanna and Eleanor chose to ford the river instead, relying on their strength to keep their feet against the current.

Just as the last of the party reached the far bank, the pursuing pack once again came into view up the forest path.

“Quickly now!” urged Piruk as he laid a shoulder into the log bridge, “lend me a hand with this!” Lanna and Santiago stepped to Piruk’s side and pushed against the upstream side of the log with all their might. Soon, the massive trunk began to shift under their combined effort. Then with a final heave, the trio spun the log free where it was caught by the current and pulled swiftly downstream.

“If that doesn’t stop them, it should at least hold them back for a time.” Said Piruk “but let’s not wait around to find out!”

The group set off once again at a run until they noticed that the sounds of pursuit were fading. Soon, the only sounds that remained were those of the party’s heavy footsteps and panting breath. The sounds of the fen had otherwise returned to normal. Only the occasional splash from some muck-dwelling creature, and the thrum of circling insects broke the steady shuffle of their passage.

Just as the light of day was giving way to the golden hues of evening, the group at last broke free from beneath the trees. There before them, lay overgrown pastures and gardens, and beyond the open ground, rose the ramshackle town of Fenwatch.

As the group paraded their way into the streets, work crews wrapping up a day of clearing and repairing buildings damaged by the porcine onslaught, paused in their work. The onlookers stood silent, largely expressionless, some with the faintest hint of surprise or hope cutting through the mask.

“I never thought I’d be so happy to be back here again.” Daethin muttered, as the group made their way, at last to the relative safety of the Wayshepherds’ stronghold.

Session 21: A Visit with Grandmother
Laughter is the best DEAD-icine
Here is a recap written by Galgacusferox, who plays Daethin Moonshadow. 500 bonus xp to the elf!
Please note that the story below is the only context in which I would EVER use a picture by the Painter of Suck

Daethin frowned as he scanned the ground in front of him. In his left hand, he held his longbow, with an arrow clasped against the stave and ready to fire quickly at need. With his other hand he batted at the branches which overhung the path, impeding his party’s progress. Scar padded quietly by his feet, the wolf’s long snout close to the ground, sniffing.

They were marching quietly through the Tangled Fens. They were seven, now. Rua’lanna had returned from her journey to Elionde, bound on a mission from the church of Ehlonna. Daethin was glad to have the paladin back in the group. She was a strong sword-arm, and she was very easy to poke fun at, and always gave a worthwhile reaction when provoked.

The two newcomers were Piruk the dwarf, and Santiago, an enigmatic half-orc. Both had proven themselves in battle already, which counted for a lot in Daethin’s book, and he had even begun to form a bond of friendship with the tormented dwarf – they shared a background as soldiers, even if their approach to combat differed as much as their blood. He was still trying to read the big, quiet monk, however. He’d never seen anyone perform the sorts of feats Santiago had done in battle, and yet, when at his ease, Santiago was reserved and polite. He was a different kind of warrior from the elves Daethin had fought beside.

They marched on, stopping now and again for a brief rest and a sip from their magical travel-mugs. The swampy forest was alive with sound all around them – the buzz of insects, the hiss of wind in the trees, the echoing clamor of frogs. Daethin should have been at east out here, amongst trees and sky and the sounds of nature; but there was something beneath it all, something wrong…

He froze, his hand shooting up to halt the others behind him. Underneath the sounds of the swamp, at the very limit of detectability, he could hear it.

“Listen,” he said quietly.

It was far-off, an echo, but somehow it came through clearly: the voices of children, forlorn and despairing, their whimpers intertwining with the voices of the forest, as if the trees themselves were weeping.

They all heard it after a moment. Scar was quiet, his ears swiveling toward the sound. Lanna grew visibly impatient, staring off into the forest in the direction the sound was coming from. Eleanor gripped her holy symbol, her eyes closed, her lips moving. Kit just seemed nervous; the thief was a brave fighter when it came to things of flesh and blood, but the supernatural realm tended to make her jumpy. Rayne gazed off towards the sound, her head cocked, her face unreadable. Santiago seemed to accept the new sound with a slight frown and a furrowed brow.

Piruk was pale, his eyes wide, seeing something only he could see. Then he swallowed, lifted his hammer off his shoulder to grasp it in both hands. He looked at Daethin.

“Let’s go,” he said, nodding toward the trackless forest.

“Aye,” Daethin said, reluctantly. “Be on your guard. We don’t want to come to the same end as others who’ve come this way.”

“Bloody right we don’t,” muttered Kit, her hand tight on her rapier’s hilt.

They set off through the woods, heading vaguely east, following the eerie sound. It grew louder as they went, until all could hear it clearly, and the natural sounds of the wood were drowned out. Daethin tried to focus on finding a clear path, pushing undergrowth aside, scrutinizing the ground, but soon the sound was not only too loud to ignore, but it had changed. Before it had been a pathetic whimpering; now it rose to terrified shrieks, screams of agony which sawed at the air and put his nerves on a razor edge. Lanna, Piruk, and Eleanor looked nearly frantic, and Lanna kept trying to push past him.

“Corellon’s pointy ears, woman,” Daethin growled, “do you want to get us lost out here?”

“Just hurry up, you skinny little faerie,” Lanna grated back at him, but there was no anger behind the comment, only a frantic haste. Behind her, Piruk said nothing, but his eyes burned with a different kind of frenzy, a mounting rage mingled with an echo of harsh shame.

Kit walked with her hand hovering next to her head, as if she were about to clap hands over her ears to shut the ghastly noises out. Her other hand still held the rapier’s hilt, white-knuckled.

Then, in an eye-blink, the sounds stopped. The natural noises of the wood returned.

Minutes later, the trees began to thin, and then they were standing in a clearing on the shore of a lake. A low frame house stood on the shore several hundred yards away. Black smoke floated lazily up from its chimney.

“I don’t like this,” Daethin said. They stood in a cluster, discussing what to do next. The house stood a hundred yards away, eerily quiet. Daethin got the uncomfortable feeling he was being watched.

“There is a thick aura of evil will all about this place,” Lanna said, as if she hadn’t heard him.

“I fear that the longer we stay here, the greater risk we run of contracting an insidious blight just from the air itself,” said Eleanor, examining the silk sash in her hands. The piece of cloth had turned inexplicably brown as they moved closer to the mysterious house.

“All the more reason to make haste,” Lanna replied. Her sword was in her hand; the tip seemed to tremble with the paladin’s eagerness.

“We have no idea what’s in that cabin,” Kit put in. “I think we should take more time to scout around.”

Piruk heaved a heavy sigh; the burly dwarf was leaning on his war-hammer, his face troubled. “I want to get in there as badly as anyone,” he finally said, “but I can’t ignore the fact that we have no information whatsoever on the tactical situation inside-.”

“Then you three can sit around out here and ponder your tactical situation all afternoon,” Lanna snarled, cutting him off. “Meanwhile, I’ll be in there, kicking ass and saving innocent lives.” Without another word or a backward glance, she stormed off toward the house. After a moment, Rayne and Eleanor followed, casting dark glances back at the stragglers. Santiago went with them, his expression neutral, walking with a quiet readiness about him.

Daethin spat. “This again,” he grumbled, and Kit shook her head.

“I have a plan,” said Piruk.

“Let’s hear it,” said the elf.

A moment later, the three started forward, Piruk following the main body of the group towards the door, Kit and Daethin circling wide to the left and right, respectively. Daethin took the arrow in his right hand and laid it across the bow as he walked, working his way into better shooting range, Scar loping along quietly behind him. His eyes never left the house’s front door. He stopped when he was about thirty yards from the house; he saw Kit move in a little closer. Piruk was a dozen yards from the front door as Lanna, Eleanor, Rayne, and Santiago came up to the house.

Lanna immediately tried the knob. Finding the door unlocked, she pushed it open, and all four of the companions filed in.

Daethin’s keen ears heard voices, but nothing distinct. Then he started: a small, gaunt figure appeared in the doorway. It was a child, a young boy. His eyes stared lifelessly out at Daethin as the child closed the door with the click of a latch.

The sounds of battle erupted suddenly from inside. A flare of magical fire burst from the windows; he could hear Rayne calling words of power in a clear voice. Then came another voice: a shrill cackle that made the hairs on the back of Daethin’s neck stand up.

“Shit,” Kit yelped.

“Follow me!” Piruk roared, and charged for the door.

Daethin frowned at the house. It wasn’t very big, and there was no knowing the layout of the inside. Four of his companions were in there, probably close to chopping each other’s heads off in a wild melee. Not a good place for a bowman, especially around the tiny front door.

“Kit!” he yelled. “Let’s go around back!”

“Right!” the thief agreed, running over.

Piruk gave a wordless shout and pounded the door with his mighty hammer; splintered wood flew all around him. He drew the weapon back for another swing, and then Daethin and Kit were around the corner to the right of the door, out of sight.

There was a lush vegetable garden around the back of the house; they skirted it and found a little path running to a rear door. That was in the side of what looked like a kitchen outbuilding, added on to the back of the house. The chimney with its black smoke rose above it.

“Check it,” Daethin said, but Kit was already there, examining the door-frame closely. She jiggled the handle, found it locked, produced a couple of pins and a length of wire seemingly from nowhere.

Inside the house the sounds of battle continued, as did the bizarre cackling.

The door popped open, and the two friends raced inside. They were in the kitchen: the walls were lined with cupboards, and an ample basket of picked vegetables lay next to the door. There was a frantic fluttering, and Daethin brought up his bow; but he lowered the weapon when he saw the small bird-cage hanging by the door, a startled raven beating its wings against the bars, squawking in fear.

There was a second door, one that seemed to lead into the house’s main ground-floor room. The clatter of weapons and the endless laughter came clearly through the thin portal.

“It’s unlocked,” said Kit, standing by the door.

Daethin turned to Scar. “Stay,” he said, and the wolf sat where he was, yellow eyes wide and bright, ears forward.

Daethin shoved the door open and drew his bow until the arrow’s feathers tickled his cheek. But what he saw made his stomach clench and his eyes go wide in shock.

The house’s main room was a charnel-house and a madman’s art-gallery. There was a long table set as if for a communal dinner, and on each platter was a bloody hunk of meat. Daethin’s knowledge of anatomy, among both civilized creatures and things of the wild, left no doubt that these were butchered human carcasses. On the walls all about the dining-room were framed sculptures; but the sculptures, too, were crafted of human remains, bleached bones that were small and delicate…

A battle raged amidst the hideous scene. The door was a broken ruin, lying splintered on the floor. Nearby were several children. Many of them lay unconscious, and as he looked he saw Santiago grab one of the fallen forms and haul a little girl out through the ruined door. Piruk came in a second later to do the same.

Some of the children were up and moving, and they seemed to be fighting against the party – albeit feebly. Lanna and Eleanor were trading blows with a withered creature like an old woman with livid green skin; Daethin recognized a Green Hag, a demon of the swamp. The creature swiped at Eleanor as he watched, her nails scraping off the cleric’s shield with a painful squeal. Two children batted at Lanna with tiny, weak fists; the paladin tried to ignore them as she swung her long-sword, angry flames trailing the blade through its arc.

Right in front of Daethin, less than thirty feet away, was the source of the demonic laughter. He was a spindly figure, attired like a court fool, with multi-colored clothing and a hat hung with bells. But his face was a hideous, leering mask, his eyes gleaming red. His fingers twitched greedily as he leaned towards Rayne. The young sorceress stood there, helpless, racked with irresistible guffaws, obviously caught in a spell of forced laughter that left her doubled over, her face locked in an expression somewhere between incredible mirth and intolerable pain.

Daethin could tell this creature was a kind of fey, one of the People of the Wild, but an evil thing, a sprite which fed on the very life force of other creatures. As he watched, the Jester seemed to be sucking something out of Rayne, like an insubstantial mist, wisps of the sorceress’s very spirit.

Daethin scowled. He centered his arrow on the Jester’s chest. The creature was oblivious to him, caught in the rapture of his feeding-frenzy.

“Die for your misdeeds,” the ranger growled, and loosed his arrow.

The shaft sang as it flew, and the Jester screamed as the broad arrowhead sank into his chest and shot out his back in a spray of blood. Kit bounded past Daethin in the arrow’s wake, bringing her crossbow out from the folds of her cloak. There was a sharp snap as she fired, and a bolt sprouted from the Jester’s eye. The fey creature shrieked again and grabbed at his face, then toppled backward onto the floor, writhing and wailing in agony.

“Huh,” said Kit. “Cold Iron.”

Seeing the Jester’s death-throws, the Green Hag tried to bull her way past Eleanor and out the door. But Lanna’s sword flashed, and the Hag screamed and fell to her knees, clutching at a wounded leg. She looked back up just in time to see Piruk loom over her in the doorway, hammer held high. There was a grisly thunk as he struck, and the Hag sank to the floor, her skull crushed.

Instantly, the two children who’d been battering at Lanna fell to the floor, unconscious.

Daethin rushed over to Rayne, who had stopped laughing and was now gasping deeply, her face red. After making sure she wasn’t badly hurt, he came over to the Jester.

The fey thing was still slightly alive. He giggled feebly as Daethin came over, blood oozing out the corners of his mouth. Daethin drew his long sword from its scabbard at his belt. The Jester’s one remaining eye seemed to laugh at him even then.

“Trouble the living no more, and go to what reward awaits you,” Daethin said, and chopped downward. The Jester’s head rolled across the floor, his laughter silent at last.

“Pelor,” Eleanor said in her clear alto, “let Your light shine unstained upon this place, and cleanse it, the resting-ground of many of Your innocent children. The manner of their deaths was gruesome indeed, a dark affront to Your light and goodness. Please, accept them now unto Your breast, that they may know the light and warmth they ought to have enjoyed, living many long years under Your sky.”

“Ehlonna,” Daethin heard Lanna mutter, “let Your earth embrace these, who came from it in the Beginning. Reclaim this earth as sacred land, that wholesome things may grow here. And forgive our slaying of one of Your People, the wayward sprite; but we struck only in accordance with the Law of the Wild – we killed to keep one of our Pack from being devoured.”

Daethin said nothing. When he prayed, he prayed to Corellon, for aid in battle, and none of those they’d found buried in the vegetable garden had been elves, or even warriors. Nonetheless he was glad to hear the two half-elven women speak the rights over that earth. He knew it was evil not to respect the dead, especially these, innocents taken in the dawn of their lives, by forces too dark for them to understand. The vegetables that had been fed by the rotting flesh of slain children lay hacked to pieces over the dark earth; he and Lanna had seen to that, the two companions who squabbled so often silently helping each other in a task both knew needed doing.

While the two holy women prayed over the burial ground, Piruk knelt nearby, forehead pressed against his hands where they rested on the hammer’s haft.

“I’m sorry,” he said, over and over. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

Santiago also stood nearby, his eyes closed. Daethin thought he heard a low rumble from the half-orc, as if he were uttering a low chant.

They came around the front of the house a little later. Kit and Rayne were there with the gaggle of surviving children; all of the young humans stared blankly, uninterestedly, at their saviors, but Rayne seemed to have charmed them, waving a magic wand and speaking to them in sweet tones that Daethin would not have expected from the brooding, pyromaniacal sorceress. In any case, the children now followed her, a silent troupe of small, gaunt figures.

There was a fluttering and a chittering from his left shoulder. “Hush, you,” he said in a friendly tone. The raven sat there; he’d managed to calm it and coax it from its cage in the battle’s aftermath. There was something in its eyes which bespoke a wit keener than usual for such a bird. He had his suspicions, but it appeared they would remain unconfirmed for now.

“I wish we could give the rest of the remains a more conventional burial,” he said as he came up to the sorceress and the thief.

“Cremation’s very conventional,” Rayne said, “and it’s also a fitting way to dispose of this…” She trailed off.

“Abomination,” Lanna finished for her, and Daethin could only nod.

Without another word, Rayne raised a hand. A searing beam of light sprouted from her palm and pierced the side of the house; instantly the wood started to burn, and soon the entire building was a towering column of flame.

There was a nearly imperceptible sound, like a contented sigh from dozens of young voices, that rose on the fire’s hot wind and passed away.

“We did rightly,” Eleanor said, smiling.

Then there was another sound, from behind: a rustling as of hundreds of feet in the thick brush, and a whisper of voices uttering wordless hunger between savage fangs.

Daethin whipped around, bow at the ready, and stared into the tree line a hundred yards away.

“Uh oh,” he said.

“What now?” said Kit.

Session 19: Battle with Mr. Oinksley
The Sheriff is a Drow!

Where we left off…

The party has arrived in the border town of Fenwatch, only to find the streets deserted and overrun by highly aggressive pigs.


After weathering the initial assault from Fenwatch’s deranged pigs, the party decides to proceed out of their makeshift fortification and move towards the center of town. As the group moves up the street towards a single line of woodsmoke, they witness the town’s devastation firsthand. The doors and windows on most of the buildings have been boarded up, while others present vacant sockets spilling their contents into the street.

They reach the center of town without incident. As they creep into the main square, the group is almost overwhelmed by the smell of scorched swine-flesh. The corpses of burned, arrow-stuck pigs are scattered about the plaza. The buildings in this area appear vacant with the exception of a massive wood and stone structure on the far side of the square. An extra barrier of sharpened stakes has been set up outside the building’s main gate above which can be seen the dented helms of three guards.

After convincing the guards that they are not, in fact, angry feral pigs, the group approaches the fortification where they are introduced to three rather unique guards (read: yokels). Cromwell appears to be the outspoken leader of the group (read: know-it-all). While Abner is an earthy individual and Fitch is the strong, silent type.

Cromwell leads them through the gate into the structure, which he identifies as the Wayshepherds Guild. In the building’s great hall, the party winds their way through a sort of triage operation and are ushered up to the man in charge. To their surprise, this turns out to be a Drow, named Ba’art. A former mercenary with the Wayshepherds, Ba’art was appointed acting sheriff after the rest of the town leaders were either killed or fled.

Ba’art explains that the town’s pigs, famous for their ability to root out magical and alchemical reagents in the nearby swamps, had recently become unruly and then downright hostile. As the porcine plague began to attack villagers, the population of Fenwatch either fled, or turned to the local mercenary guild for help. Unfortunately, with the closure of the Cydonic border, there was little call for caravan guards and so many of the mercs had sought work elsewhere.

The remaining residents of the town are holed up in the Wayshepherds walled compound, trying to fend off the swine by day, and worse things by night. Ba’art believes that the pigs are being lead by an alpha, by the name of Mr. Oinksley who had previously been a prize-winning pet belonging to one of the local farmers. Oinksley is believed to have made his lair in the alchemists’ market on the south end of town. If the party can take him out, perhaps the townsfolk can deal with the rest of the porkers.

The group agrees and settles in for the night. They will deal with Mr. Oinksley in the morning.