Heroes' Journey

"I'm wearing boots of escaping!"

We had a very difficult time getting out of Falwur after Talga had presumably been captured. We had almost reached the gate when one of the guards pointed at Vera von Drakdale and wanted to seize her. We didn’t like it in the least, but we decided that we must get the antidote to Langmar von Drakdale as soon as possible to prevent another pointless war between Keoland and Ket. We swore that we would come back for her as soon as we had saved him though.

Eventually we made it out of there though and travelled as quickly as we could in Bramblewood while avoiding the Ketite patrols. After a few days travel we arrived at Thornward and had to slip by yet another patrol while getting there.

We met some people from Shieldhome in Thornward and they told us that Redaya of the Clatspurs said that “It awakens at the field of broken sun.”

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Masseurs, shopping spree and the city.

What we know about the client who hired an assassin called Face to kill Lord Langmar von Drakdale:
- The client is a woman.
- She is known as the Smiler.
- She has vested interest in silencing Langmar von Drakdale.

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Assassination attempt on Lord Langmar von Drakdale.

What we have found out so far:
- Langmar von Drakdale was poisoned by an assassin from Sleeping Eye faction. We don’t know yet who hired him/her.
- Jason slept in the adjacent room to Lord Langmar because he was ill. Otherwise he usually slept in the same room with his Lord. Jason blames himself for this.
- Jason met a girl he thought was Wendy and slept with her two days before Lord Langmar was poisoned. The next day, he became ill; rather conveniently leaving Lord Langmar to sleep alone the night he was poisoned.

- A woman travelled towards Drakdale in the same group of travelling companions as Sir Emeric of Ket and Nikol. She met with a man we suspect to be the assassin at Warfield Inn. The woman left the group and the man joined it until they reached Drakdale.
- Wendy met the assassin in the village three days before Lord Langmar was poisoned. She described him as a brown haired man who looked like an adventurer. For some reason she couldn’t remember many details about him and this seemes to cause her distress as well. Also, the man wore a pendant of bone or wood which had a silhouette of a sneaking figure and a closed eyelid on it which indicates the Sleeping Eye – a guild of assassins – according to Talga.
- The assassin stayed at the Drakesmouth Inn for one night and left the following evening. He paid for his stay in Velunian coins. The assassin introduced himself at the inn as Marlen.

- Sir Emeric was captured outside castle grounds during the night Lord Langmar was poisoned and then imprisoned in the castle dungeon. He seems the obvious culprit to most. Sir Emeric’s horse is still at the Drakesmouth Inn stables; it is a fine Baklunish horse.

Blacksteel:
- Most likely an individual assassin who uses poison to coat their weapons black so they don’t reflect light. Willem von Drakdale had heard this rumour and shared it with us.

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Up in the arse of Vera

When we arrived back to Rhorton’s Grove we first went to see Rusk. Luckily his fever had gone down and he felt much better. After we filled Rusk in about what had happened at the swamp we decided that Vera should try to talk to the spirit of the lizard wizard.

I must say that I felt slightly uncomfortable when the talk turned to Rusk’s children. The old man hadn’t known that it was possible to talk with the dead like that and seemed keen on knowing if Vera would be able to contact his children or brothers in arms who had died in the big battle. I understood why he would like to talk with them but I myself couldn’t imagine wanting to talk to anyone dead… Best if you didn’t interact with them too much.

When we went to the tavern to fetch the skin from Ossin the party was in full swing and the young hunter was once again telling the others the story of his heroic deeds. I had grown quite fond of the boy during the few days we had been in Rhorton’s Grove. His enthusiasm was endearing and I almost hoped that we didn’t need him to show us the way to Mosswall. I had a hunch that that trip wouldn’t end well.

Vera cast the spell on the skin and asked our questions: it called the thing it had tried to summon Sess’inek. According to the spirit with the help from that Sess’inek they would burn everything. It also spoke something weird about the great crocodile Sess’inek ‘s jaws would consume the eggmother and lead them to glory. Many allies, it said: the man in the coin armor supplies them, filthy orcs make weapons and Sess’inek empowers them. Also giants were coming and it threatened that the necromancer would get us. The darkness and power was gathering at Mosswall.

The hissing sound and the words of the dead lizard man made a chill go down my spine. I didn’t like this at all. Oh how I wanted to see Zare’in, as he had insisted me calling him. The name felt weird in my mouth. I was sure he could explain what was going on.

After the chat with the spirit we decided to join the party that was going on inside. I didn’t much feel like partying and sat most of the time in the corner table. Also partly because I didn’t want to make the villagers feel uncomfortable. At some point Vera came to me and insisted that I would have to join the other, to make a good impression. A bit grudgingly I joined the others and even drank few pints of the local ale. I refused to touch Bogwater, still shuddering at the thought of the hang over it gave me.

Ossin tried to hit on me. It was really quite cute and I couldn’t help flirting back a bit. Luckily he didn’t seem to mind that much when at some point I had to gently turn him down. As much as liked the boy I didn’t like him that much. Well, there was plenty of fish in the water for him since all the girls in the village were fighting for the attention of the local hero.

In the morning the weather was cloudy and warm and it felt like it might rain at some point. Lyman came to us when we were leaving and gave us small jar of ointment that later turned out to be Keoghtom’s ointment. Really powerful stuff that could heal wounds and cure from poisons. It made us all wander who the old herbalist really was and what a man with his skills was doing in an isolated place like this. Then again, some people had secrets for a reason and I knew better than to ask.

The morning went by peacefully but at some point in the afternoon Ossin halted us and told us to be quiet. I quickly saw why. In a pond about 20 yards from us was a giant frog the size of a man. Ossin told us that they were pretty dangerous and could eat humans. The meat was really tasty though. After a short negotiation we decided that it would be best to walk around it though the detour would delay us by couple of hours.

The rest of day was uneventful and our guide found as a camping place on small hill. We had only slept few hours when we woke to Vera’s scream. She had been on the watch and a snake had bitten her bottom. She was a bit shaken and the snake was apparently poisonous and the wound had started to look infected. The men were of no use, Ossin blushing like girl and Rusk modestly turning his back so I had to use the ointment Lyman had given us. The effect was immediate and the wound healed in front of my eyes. And damn her arse was fit…

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Talking with the dead

(To be written properly.)

- Rusk and Vera return with Ossin and the girl
- Talga tries to find out the meaning of the symbol in the girls belly (the girl was quite afraid of Talga and refused until Vera asked her)
- The girl told that the lizard shaman said the word Hextor while it chanted, the symbol on her belly was meant for summoning something —> they wanted to sacrifice the unborn child.
- Talga wanted to check the bodies of the adventuring party the others had seen on their way, just in case.
- The journey was quite peaceful and the weather was nice.
- Talga and Vera talk girl stuff (read: about boys)
- From the first body (who apparently was a wizard) Talga takes a pouch that includes gold and 3 gems and some magic ingredients.
- There was only half left of the soldier and he had Nerul’s symbol on his chest there was also a some kind of molotov’s coctail next the body.
- The third body (apparently a bard) could have been Cheradenine but he was too pale. There was a fine sword under the body (that was almost completely eaten)
- Vera and Ossin carry the bodies on a small hill while Talga gathers firewood.
- Vera talks to the soldier before they burn them: Why are they here? traveling. Who is their leader? The man in a coin armor.
- Vera wants to save the bards head for the morning so she can ask some more questions. Talga doesn’t quite like this.
- The other questions: Where is the man in the coin armor going? To the Ivory Court in Ket. what is his name? Maurik
- Talga shares the money and the gems with Vera and Ossin and wonders if she gave the boy a bit too much.
- They head back and it’s quite peaceful until they notice something following them in the water.
- Talga shoots it with blowgun darts and it raises from the water, Vera mutters a prayer.
- It’s the lizardman shaman and it casts some poison smoke spell, Talga and Ossin take hit.
- Vera fights the lizardman and it touches Vera with some kind of cold spell, at some point Ossin manages to distract it a bit.
- Talga loads her crossbow and aims for the lizardman but doesn’t shoot.
- Vera gives the killing blow
- They find a fine Baklunish dagger, three jars of herbs and divination bones.

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Damsel in Distress

A young heavily pregnant woman called Dova was kidnapped by the Lizardfolk. Rusk, Vera and Ossin go for the rescue. Talga is hit with paralytic poison and is left behind.

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"Merchant" issues

Talga

Before we left for Rhorton’s Grove we decided to leave our horses (Snowflake, Rusty and Bubbles – Though Vera insisted that its name was Steelmane but I had heard her calling the horse Bubbles on our way to Shiboleth, it was quite endearing I have to say) in the care of a local stablemaster. They would just break their legs in the swamp. I think we struck a rather good deal. 6 gold a horse for six days and the seventh for free and the stablemaster promised us that if we weren’t back in a week he would take the horses to the local shrine of Pelor where we could fetch them when (if) we returned.

We also rented a mule to carry our stuff because we didn’t dare to leave anything behind. We decided to call him Dandelion. We left him in the care of Rusk and they seemed to be fast friends. The poor old soldier was clearly better with animals than humans.

So we set forth. The weather was nice while we walked through the fields where people were harvesting for winter and the upcoming harvest festival. The way to the edge of Rushmoors was unbelievably dull. No one stopped us or questioned where were we going. Everything was calm and peaceful but I couldn’t help the feeling that this was just a calm before a storm. Something was happening and it was going to change all of our lives forever.

We could smell the swamp before we saw it. It wasn’t exactly a bad smell, just something very distinctively swamp. The edge of the swamp was fenced by tall rushes and we could see people cutting the rushes and piling them on barrows. We stopped by one older man to ask for directions and I saw it best to wait behind Dandelion while Rusk and Vera did the talking. I had noticed that most people, especially the common folk, were often scared of my appearance. I couldn’t blame them. I would be scared too if I were them.

The man told them that it was about two days and on the halfway there there was camping site. The route, he said, was quite clearly marked. Before we continued he warned us about lizards and other creatures that lurked in the swamp. It was good to know. We thanked the man and continued our journey.

I can’t begin to describe how much I hated the swamp. The worst thing wasn’t the bugs, gods know I had gotten used to them in Westkeep and they were much bigger there too. No, it was the water and the mires. Of course I had known what it would be like once it got clear that we were going to go to Rhorton’s Grove but I had forgotten how bad it was. Before midday our boots were soaking wet and every inch of my body was itching with mosquito bites. I made a mental note to remind myself never to step on another swamp again if got out of this hellhole alive.

In the front of our little line Rusk was having trouble with Dandelion because he refused to move. We stopped and Rusk struggled with the mule a moment and then there was a yelp and Rusk disappeared. He had fallen in a mire and the only thing we could see of him was his hand that was holding Dandelion’s reins. I’m ashamed to admit that I did nothing to help. I just stood there frozen to the spot while Vera dragged Rusk up without breaking a sweat. After I had recovered from my shock I took a moment to admire Vera’s strength before kneeling next to the coughing and vomiting Rusk. He smelled of corpses.

While I was hovering around him like a useless twat Vera lay her hands on Rusk muttering prayers to her godess and then gave him something to drink from a small vial. Holy water, she explained. Rusk looked pale and like he would vomit again when Vera told him that he had rot fever. A fever that came when you swallowed pieces of a corpse. Quite disgusting. I had rather strong stomach but still that made me feel a bit sick. I wonder what poor soul had drowned in that mire. I shuddered at the thought.

Once we got Rusk up and going again (though he was still pale and feverish) we continued towards the camping site. I hoped that we could still get there in sun light. I wouldn’t want wander around the swamp in the dark, as if it wasn’t dangerous enough. The rest of the day was uneventful and full of mosquitos.

I have never been so happier when we noticed the land getting dryer and finally reached our camping site when the sun was casting its last rays on the tops of the few trees that subsisted on the swamp. It was marked by large rock and there was a little fireplace and a lean-to that was raised from the ground. We tied Dandelion on a tree so it wouldn’t wander off and Rusk insisted taking the first watch. I would take the second one and Vera the last one.

After we ate some of our rations and Vera made as nettle tea from the nettles she had gathered from the swamp me and Vera went to sleep. I fell asleep almost immediately. A days walk in the swamp really wore one out. I slept like a log until Dandelion’s neigh woke me up.

After a moment of disorientation I saw two lizard-like creatures attacking us. One was trying to pull Rusk down with it’s spear and the other was getting closer to me and Vera. I stood up and drew out my knife. I took a step forward to attack the lizard but then my foot slipped sending me tumbling down into a pond next to our camp.

Suddenly I couldn’t breathe and there was dark water and bubbles everywhere. I didn’t know which way was up and I could hear my heart thumping wildly in my ears. I did all I could not to panic. I tried to gasp for air but I only got murky swamp water in my mouth. When I finally felt the bottom of the pond I managed to kick myself up towards the surface. My lungs felt like they were on fire when I finally reached the surface after a time that felt like forever. I gasped for air and flailed about in almost panic until felt solid ground and managed to drag myself to the bank.

Soaking wet and shivering I hid myself under the trees while I waited for my heartbeat to slow down. The fight was almost over and Rusk was shooting an arrow after the last lizard creature. I felt like I could move again and tried to sneak around to catch the creature when Rusk’s arrow missed it’s target. However when I got close enough to hit the creature it dived in a small pond and disappeared.

I stubbornly stood and waited by the pond for the creature to appear again. That was also my excuse to calm myself down after the dip into that pond. I did my best to keep all the unpleasant memories at bay. I didn’t want to go there right now. Preferably never.

Finally when it seemed that the lizard wasn’t going to reappear I walked back to the camp. Rusk and Vera asked if I was okay and I tried to assure them that I was quite fine, thank you very much. Though I had to admit to them that I didn’t like water and I couldn’t swim. Vera’s kindly asked question if had almost drowned as child hit just bit too close to home and I saw it best to keep quiet. Let them make their own conclusions.

The creatures turned out to be Troglodytes and Vera had killed the one who had tried to get us. Her first kill, I heard. I felt sympathy for her, I truly did. First kill, whether it was an animal or a human, was always difficult. I should know. Vera seemed a bit shocked and I offered to listen if she wanted to talk about it.

The Troglodyte had some kind of necklace and the tooth that hung from it was a crocodile’s tooth. Vera also collected the foul smelling musk in the vial that had previously held the holy water. After that Vera and Rusk went back to sleep and I stayed up and tried to dry my clothes by the fire. The rest of the night was peaceful if you didn’t count the ruckus that came from somewhere north-west.

In the morning we continued towards Rhorton’s Grove. After a few hours we found another Troglodyte. Luckily it was already dead but unfortunately it didn’t take away the horrible smell. The musk was gone but it had a similar necklace to the one we got last night and Vera decided to take it as well.

Again we walked few hours in peace until we heard some noise from the rushes. We didn’t see anything but I decided to take a look. Just in case there were more of those Troglodytes. Quietly I sneaked around the rushes and redyed my crossbow. There, knee deep in the water, stood a strange looking man dressed in Troglodyte skins (whose name we later learned was Olyn, at least suspect they were the same person). I pointed my crossbow at him and asked what was his business.

The man’s eyes were large and bug-like and to be true he looked a bit crazy. His words didn’t make much sense, only that he was hunting the Trogolodytes and something was making the Lizardfolk anxious. We decided that it was for the best if we all went to our separate directions and didn’t bother each other.

Once again the rest of the journey was uneventful and we had already started thinking about finding a camping place when we smelled the pleasant smell of bog lilies. We had finally arrived to Rhorton’s Grove.
(To be continued)

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The Beginning

Talga

After yet another fruitless attempt to get some work, the agent at Niole Dra gave me a letter from Him. I admit that I a cried a bit after I got rid of the agent. It’s been almost six months since I last heard of Him and it’s not like Him to go so long without a word to me. I had been so worried that something might have happened to him.

The letter was dated a week ago and with it came a pendant. It was a sun disk and it looked like there was a bit of blood in the engravings. He told me that I should take the pendant to the Abbess of Shieldhome and she would know what to do with it.

It took me four days by foot but finally I reached the monastery at dusk. For some reason she was expecting me and I was took to her chambers. In the room with the abbess there was a young woman who seemed to be a priestess of Mayaheine. She introduced herself as Vera von Drakdale.

I must say that the abbess’ words didn’t make much sense to me but she talked something about dark forces rising and a great battle that was to come. Worrisome words indeed. She told us that our paths were intertwined and we should go to meet Rusk the stablemaster and he could tell us more about the pendant.

We stayed the night at the monastery and set forth after the dawn prayer with Vera. Rusk turned out to be a grumpy old man with ill manners. He seemed suspicious about us and our intentions but when I showed him the pendant his attitude changed quickly. He turned pale and took the wooden pendant with shaking hands. He told us that it belonged to his son Jak who had passed away many years ago.

After some closer inspection he found faint writing behind the pendant and I offered to read it. It turned out to be magical writing and when I started casting Read Magic Rusk almost threw me out of his house but I managed to explain him why the spell was necessary. I don’t know what has happened to him that he had such strong reaction to my magic or was it just superstition. Anyway it was a bit weird but then on the other hand nothing I wasn’t used to.

So I cast the spell but soon I had to drop it with a yelp. The darkness that flooded from the pendant was so intense that it felt like it would have swallowed me if I stayed in touch with it any longer. It was scary and left me a bit out of breath and hands shaking. It was something really evil.

When I inspected the spell cast on the pendant more I could read the writing and it said Jak son of Rusk of the Crying Spears. To my horror I also recognized the spell and pity towards Rusk filled my heart. It was a necromantic spell that binds Jak’s soul to the caster’s.

When I told this to Rusk he lost his temper and yelled us out of his house. We made a tactical retreat and heard loud clanging when something hit the wall and loud cursing. I hoped with all my heart that I could do something to help him because it was a terrible fate that his son’s soul had faced and I wouldn’t hope it for my worst enemy.

We didn’t get far with Vera when Rusk seemed to calm down and came out to apologise his behavior. We talked a bit and came to a conclusion that we couldn’t leave the situation be and we should ask advise from the abbess.

So we headed back to the monastery and found the abbess praying in the chapel. We asked her to look at the pendant if she could tell us something more than I had already found out with my spells. She took the pendant and put her hand above it. It seemed like the sun itself decided at just that moment to shine in from the small window of the chapel and enlighten the wooden pendant. For a moment I was sure I could sense Pelor’s presence in the room.

The old abbess confirmed my findings about the necromantic spell and also told us that the caster of the spell could be traced with the pendant because it was the focus of the spell and that way kind of bound the caster. The complication was that it could also be done the other way around if the necromancer got a scent of our plans. Rusk seemed (for a good reason) to be very insistent about finding the caster and was happy to hear that the spell could be reversed by killing the caster.

After that we spent some time talking about what we should do and where we should start. We decided that we’d better start looking for this necromancer from Shiboleth. According his letter the pendant was found in a saddlebag of a man in a coin armor who was heading towards Rhorton’s Grove from Shiboleth. Curios that the abbess had also mentioned a man in the armor from many lands… There was clearly a connection. We collected some gear and started riding towards Shiboleth.

In Shiboleth we found ourselves in a inn called Headless Orc which despite its gruesome name was rather cozy. I left Vera and Rusk at the inn and went to visit the local agent in a bit upscale tavern called The Princeling. He was rather nice fellow compared to some others I have met during the last six months, didn’t treat me like something despicable like most of them tended to do these days. It was just one mistake, for crying out loud! Though I do admit that I may have gone a bit too far with it…

To my great joy he had another letter from Him that was dated two days ago. He had been here two days ago and didn’t wait for me though He knew I was coming! That bastard! He told me that he believed I was on the right path and told me to head to Rhorton’s Grove. I just wish that I knew what path that was. It wouldn’t hurt if for once he was clear about his meanings… And he said he was proud of me! He didn’t hate after all (like I had thought when I didn’t hear from him in six bloody months!) and his praise made me feel all giddy and I couldn’t stop smiling. He always had that effect on me.

The agent even had a job for me and for a moment I thought about taking it but then I decided to refuse. This matter with the necromancer and Rusk’s son’s soul felt much more important, besides I didn’t want to start explaining to my new friends why we needed to travel away from our destination. After that the agent offered me glass of wine and started flirting with me. I didn’t mind per se but I politely turned him down telling him that my friend’s were waiting for me at the inn.

Back at Headless Orc I heard that Vera and Rusk had done some investigation of their own about the man in the coin armor. They had come to pretty much same conclusion that we should go to the Rhorton’s Grove. So I guess that’s were heading tomorrow.

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