Bastion

Taking Root
Week 47

“Ask not for Whom the Bell Tolls….”

We are on the point of leaving the forest where the Lady of the Wood resides. She seems strangely sorrowful of her role in the current state of things, so our clever Bard, Tumdrum, asks the fae creature for a token, something that will give a signal to the Men of the Bear that we can now pass peacefully through their territory. The Lady is agreeable, and provides him with an elaborate multi-branched staff taken from one her trees (Dryad Staff). Tumdrum expresses his profound thanks.

It is a somber group that rides away from the forest. DeeDee and Tanna still share the same horse, but it is now the dwarf who must do the leading. What is a scout with no eyes? What is an elf with no ears? Tumdrum speculates what he’ll do with the staff once they are past the Men of the Bear — perhaps he’ll gift it to “our” Ech’lun back in New Dawnsburg since they hold the Lady of the Wood in such regard. Most of the day’s travel is spent quietly.

We reach the center of the ruined Valkyrie city by nightfall, and rather than risk disturbing any Bear clansman in the better buildings, we decide to take the night’s rest in a more dilapidated structure. Eerily, shadowed figures are seen nearby — do they have branches coming from their heads? — but they do not approach, then disappear into the night. A fire is decided against; we don’t want to draw attention. It is a somewhat restful night for all but Tanna, who chooses not to trance.

Near dawn, however, a figure approaches the ruined door. Tanna boldly goes out to meet him. He is of fiendish appearance, quite devilish with cloven feet, red skin, fierce teeth. He seems oddly polite, however, mildly stating he has been sent by his master to take “the Bounty”. Tanna rightly assumes he means Tumdrum, and flatly refuses. The creature, who calles himself a Servant, tries to bargain. The rest will not be hurt, he claims, if they just turn over the Bounty. Tanna declares he won’t be taking her friend without a fight. Disappointed, the Servant leaves.

DeeDee, who was sharing the watch, has roused the others as this is taking place. They decide to leave with all speed, but are able to make it down the road only a short distance before a RIP in the air manifests, disgorging two figures. One is the Servant, and the other is apparently his master — Orbach the Burning Ranseur. He is a fierce-some being and bears a flaming halberd. Orbach demands the surrender of the Bounty — our Tumdrum. The bard, as is his nature, first tries to talk his way out of the predicament, then humbly tells our group that this is his problem and they need not stay to defend him. This is, of course, out of the question, and a battle ensues.

It is a tougher battle than thought, especially with six against two, but the fiends are eventually defeated. It is Kaleth who gives the death blow to Orbach, but not before she casts a spell to hold his death off until she asks some questions. The question-answer session, however, occurs silently so the rest of the group is unaware of the subject. Kaleth finally sends Orbach back to his world, leaving a noxious hideously odorous pile of goo on his departure.

We are barely able to breath relief from this encounter before another begins. Hideous figures appear, aiming directly for us. They are fiends in humanoid form with hyena-like heads, sporting lethal claws and teeth. These are the Hounds of Murr (linked to Prince Murr). They are shape-changers, resistant to elemental damage. Just as the fight begins, another being appears. Robed, floating, and apparently made up entirely of multiple clawed arms, this is the Acolyte of Murr.

The battle is long and takes a terrible toll. Adam is severely wounded, near death. DeeDee is fierce and lethal, and Tumdrum spins out multiple spells. Even Mako inflicts damage, throwing daggers from a rooftop, and Tanna overcomes her lost confidence and is able to get off multiple deadly arrows. But it is Kaleth who bears the brunt of the battle, casting her spells and taking terrible damage. She retreats to seeming safety near a building, barely hanging to life, when the dying Acolyte exacts his final revenge before perishing himself — he casts the Finger of Death at Kaleth.

Kaleth, the noble dragonborne, smiter of demons and keeper of secrets, is killed where she stands, her body turned into undeath, her soul ripped from its corporeal remains.

The battle over, our group is stunned at the felling of our best ally. Perhaps in shock, we fall into bitter argument over what to do next. Take Kaleth’s body back to New Dawnsburg where perhaps Thal or Macdaman can perform their miracles? How much time do we have before Kaleth is irretrievably lost? Should the zombie-fied body be destroyed now before it gets away from them?

We calm ourselves enough to take action. Tumdrum puts a dagger in Kaleth’s heart in order to still the flailing body, then it is wrapped tightly and packed for the journey home. We make haste in our departure, a terrible desperate hope that we will be in time.

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Ulfsaar's Domain

Journal Entry: Mol, 23rd Nymm 2801 RB
General Adam Westin reporting:

We make our way west from Gram’s Tower. These ruins seem to be extremely old, though Deedee feels the overgrowth is not nearly as old. Instead, rather new. We search around inside one of the buildings and find a dozen or so books. While Kaleth begins to read, Tanna’s eyes spot a fine rapier hidden behind a bookshelf. After I look over it for a moment and detect that it is magical, we decide to stow it and the rest of the books until we return to the camp to get it looked at properly.

Once we reach the road again, Machk begins to sniff around. Strangely, he smells that of Sylvan or Fey around. Tumdrum address concern that we may be too late. The Men of the Bear might be too far settled to be scared off. After much deliberation, we decide that it is best to head back to the colony. But not before having Amanus do a fly over the ruins. Noticing numbers in the hundreds, quite out of our range to handle.

Making our way back out, we spot a figure in the distance. Wearing leathers and furs and wielding a longbow. Clearly, this woman is not expecting our arrival. As we begin to move forward and the crazy bard argues with himself, the Echlun fires an arrow in our direction. Mako, hesitant at first, asks if we may pass and she replies with a swift no.

Tumdrum tries to intimidate her, but seems to fail. Tanna, with her bow in hand, launches an arrow into the air at a candle Tumdrum tosses and extinguishes the flame. The Matriarch commands our party to return west and continue on our mission to meet the Lady of the Wood.

Instead, we instruct Mako to tell the Matriarch that we searched and could not find the Lady. Which does not go well. Mako suffered some injuries from an arrow fired by the Matriarch. Though, Tumdrum was quick to heal her wounds and returned the arrow, to the lady in our way. A bit more broken than she originally gave it to us.

We then knew that we were to meet the Lady. We had no other choice. Tumdrum quickly fashions a plan to handle the Lady of the Wood and we make our way west. The trees past the city are covered in a strange purple fruit. Tumdrum quickly instructs us to not take anything from this world. After a short time, we reach a clearing with a single large tree and are greeted by an elven lady.

As the party approaches, she greets us humbly and offers drinks and food. While we focused on not giving away too much information, she informs us that she is the guardian of these lands. She and the “red imbecile” do not get along. She claims that her recent purpose has been to heal the wounds of this land. She offers to help us in her own way. She is shocked to find that one of our own follows Mindor. She says she will heal Tanna of her terrors, inform us where the valkyrie are and assist us in healing Gungrin. But we must do it within a year. However, if we fail to do it by then, there will be a cost. It is a no fail option.

After a long conversation, she informs us that it will take a night to heal Tanna. All but Kale accept her boon and help. As night falls, the ritual begins and Tanna starts the gruesome process. Around morning, she completes the ritual and Tanna will never be the same. After some time, we received the blessings from the Lady and set out on our way home.

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Westward Ruins
Week 45

“Nature shows us only the tail of the lion.”

After the arrival of food and supplies from the Kou Kingdom, and Kale and Tumdrum’s brave, but very frightening meeting with the third consort of Baelhal, Arygos, the tension-filled atmosphere within the settlement begins to calm in the days thereafter; however, it becomes clear there is some friction between the Ech’lun which have remained at New Dawnsburg and the newly-arrived settlers from Choso. All the same, our adventurers, and Baron Drussus, begin to initiate plans to further develop the settlement. With a new brewery starting to be built, it’s only a matter of time before the denizens of the settlement will be able to piss away their worries with Tumdrum Hazkaldar’s finest ales!

Throughout the week, things continue to progress, but there inevitably comes a time when the adventurers turn their eyes towards distant western terrain – not only to scout, but perhaps also to cultivate in the future. It is known the Valkyrian once lived in a very grand city close to where Alandra’s temple is, but does anyone truly know what’s become of it? Ultimately the Clan of the Bear – an Ech’lun tribe which have previously skirmished with the Clan of the Crow – do, but is it even possible to approach the tribe without being put to death? Given the cultural differences, and the troubling language barrier, any possible encounter may incite violence. Because of this Tumdrum, Tanna, and the others, seek out Mako – a fellow colonist and Ech’lun. As they speak upon the Clan of the Bear, and more sensitive matters, about the Ech’lun within New Dawnsburg and the Lady of the Wood, it becomes clear Mako is disconcerted with the conversation.

Considering all that is said, she points out to Tumdrum that, perhaps, one day she may very well be opposition – an enemy – of New Dawnsburg, should anything happen to the Ech’lun within the colony. Whether they leave, or become enslaved, only time will tell how the relations between the Choso natives and the Storm Isles Ech’lun continues to develop. Tumdrum suggests possible celebratory events which all citizens of New Dawnsburg can partake in, to possibly lighten the atmosphere, – particularly customs which the Ech’lun partake in. “Boar-wrestling,” is one such custom. After meeting with Baron Drussus, it seems he is, at the very least, interested in the idea, and see into possibly hosting a future event.

After quietly listening and observing this conversation, Kale decides to strike up a conversation with her retainer, Thal, about the Lady of the Wood. She’s heard a little bit of this and that about her from a few members of the colony, but finds the Lady of the Wood to be a curious topic. Warlocks are warlocks after all, and she’s your typical warlock – a gatherer of knowledge, a seeker of power. However, upon conversing with Thal, she’s warned to stay away from the Arch-Fey, to avoid eating and drinking anything offered to her, and to respect, if not fear, the scary fey of the wood. Presuming this arch-fey to be an extraplanar entity, Kale takes the words to heart.

As the group prepares to leave the next day, with Mako in their company, it takes a bit of time for them to decide who will be riding with who. Nonetheless, they’re soon off. Passing by a nearby obelisk, they all stop to peer at Tumdrum’s pair of shadows. It is the first time Kale’s seen Tumdrum’s two shadows and as he admits his shadows are pointing him towards Cyrelun, she suddenly appears troubled. Stepping closer to the obelisk to peer at it, or perhaps to see if she had two shadows too, Kale feels a strange sensation wash over her. Not immediately painful, she decides to take a step closer to the obelisk and suddenly wishes she hadn’t. Cursing, she reaches for Deedee and shoves her towards the obelish, as if expecting it hurt her, but Tumdrum quickly explains it’s because she’s still attuned to the artifact, the Fragment of Seylurian, and carrying it on her person. Commenting about feeling phantom pains from time to time, her nervousness makes it clear she wants to be soon off.

Once the group sets off again, they come across a pair of Ech’lun fishermen. As the group tries to hail them, the fishermen, spooked by their presence, instead seek to retreat, clearly not wanting to do anything with the group. Deciding it best to continue following the road, they are soon beset by five Ech’lun warriors – members of the Clan of the Bear. Such knowledge is made readily known as they summon four Bloodrage Bears to attack the party. Alas, the party seeks to exercise diplomacy with the Ech’lun warriors; however, the Ech’lun encourage the fiery bears to strike the adventurers. Tanna, as well as the others, continue to exercise diplomatic tactics, all the while with Mako translating. Growing weary of the nonverbal exchange of threats, Kale, guised in her familiar human shape, reveals herself to be one of the dragonborn, trying to appear as stern and threatening as she can, even going so far as Mako telling the warriors, she – they – were there to see the Lady of the Wood. A not so smart idea, Kale is at a loss while the party converses amongst themselves. All the same, the Ech’lun allow them to pass without further violence. How long will it be though until they realize they were bluffed?

As they continue on, they eventually come to the ruins belonging to the Valkyrie. Tumdrum and Amanus scout the area, and Tanna encourages the group to explore the ruins they came across. It’s clear there is a small spiral of smoke coming from a ruined tower, so someone is undoubtedly home. Tanna knocks upon its broken door and doesn’t receive an initial greeting. Knocking again, and nearly about to give up, a voice suddenly speaks to her in her head. Communicating through telepathy, the mysterious voice encourages the woman to enter its domain. With that, the party enters the tower. The tower seems to consist of three floors, but though they enter the first level, Kale seems interested in opening the closed doors instead of going to the second floor! Still, she decides to ignore the doors and head up the steps in front of the party. Just in case…

With a fellow comrade behind her, she finally returns to the first level and asks if they’re going to all head up. It seemed safe enough. As they all start looking around, there are statues within the room which seem very peculiar. Peering towards them, its eventually learned the statues are of Valkyrie who were petrified to stone, long ago. Still donned in armor, or in light cloth, some bore weapons, their expressions angry, whereas others, looked terrified. What possibly could’ve done this to them? As it turns out, the group isn’t alone. A pointy-eared elf greets Kale, and mistakes her for the person he telepathically communed with, shaking her head, Tanna quickly speaks up that it was her. As they approach this individual, Kale, from the very beginning seems highly edgy. The stranger is quick to introduce himself as Garm, and as he peer towards everyone, he seems to be reading them in a peculiar way. He speaks of their auras, leaving Kaleth even more perturbed.

Nevertheless, Garm seems pleasant enough. Tanna, Tumdrum, and Deedee actively speak with Garm about the tower, and the petrified Valkyrian within the room. He says he doesn’t know how they ended up like this, but he’s interested in trying to restore them to life. Kale is quick to absorb these words, but she says nothing on the matter; at least, until she asks another question or two, and he suddenly lets slip she’s Dormin’s servant. Highly on edge now, she approached Garm, and even reaches out to take a hold of his wrist, because she realizes there is something very off about this person. As Garm’s illusion is suddenly destroyed to her sight, she sees a dark, twisted, spindly creature, with scratches all over its body. Reeking of dark origins, Kale remains moodily silent while Garm speaks of Dormin to Tanna and the others. Recounting a tale over Dormin’s origins – he refers to a time when not only the Serpent, but also a Plague, Eye, and Mouth were playfully active upon the world’s surface, dabbling with the world as if it was their very toy.
And then Eight entities came along, saw what they were doing, and put a stop to it.

Very perturbed by now, Kale believes it best to leave the tower completely instead of breathing an inferno of flame upon the wretched creature. Leaving her companions behind, they continue on in their conversation, but eventually decide to leave the tower. Tumdrum gifts a few magical items to Garm, and as they depart, it seems they are on good terms with one another. Westin, however, pops a divine sense and while he and Tum are heading down the steps, mentions Garm to be a demon. It seems though Tumdrum is trying to look at it from the brighter side of things. Garm owes him a favor! Perhaps Garm will be able to help him find the mysterious artifacts which are connected to Alandra.

With the tower now behind them, the party decides to continue their scouting adventure; however, Mako mentions the group needs to decide if they are going to appear dominant or submissive to the Ech’lun within the Clan of the Bear. To these Ech’lun there is no equal standing – you are either one or the other. While the group converses on how to possibly impress the Ech’lun – from utilizing Tumdrum’s aerobatics with Amanus and predigestative fireworks, to an even more daring idea…

…*possibly asking Salt for help*.

While Kaleth’s idea may seem insane, these Clan of the Bear worship and respect the Lady of the Wood. It seems the Lady of the Wood has existed upon the Storm Isles since Baelhal’s initial arrival, so perhaps her idea isn’t as insane as it initially appeared.

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Noble Arygos
Week 44

We start this session with Tanna and Tumdrum in New Dawnsburg and the rest in Nakamaru Port. Tumdrum makes sure Thaal is going to see the dragon, and that all is well before leaving to Nakamaru with a mercenary guard to help guard the caravan.

While left alone in New Dawnsburg, Tanna “looks” around Alandra’s temple and is blinded by an extremely bright light.

Tumdrum meets up with the group outside Nakamaru port, as they have been travelling with the caravan uneventfully for most of the day. The group worries about taking too long to return, but they must guard the caravan overnight while waiting to learn more in the morning.

Kaleth tries communicating with Thaal but does not get an answer. This causes her worries to grow. Eventually, she agrees to ride on Amanus with Tumdrum to meet this dragon envoy to our colony.

Kaleth and Tumdrum go off to meet the dragon after assuring Baron Drussus that this is the best course of action to take. There we meet Arygos, The Shatterer of Marrowbar’s Hollow, The Sage of the Storm Isles, the Seer of old paths, the third Consort of Bael’hal.

She talks to Kaleth mentally and Tumdrum understands none of the conversation. Arygos tells Kaleth that she was very curious about this group deciding to inhabit the lands and buildings of the foolish Valkryian so close to Bael’hal’s structures. She was looking them over for any reason to not destroy the settlement and saw your retainer Thaal coming her way. They had a small conversation and Arygos decided to wait to speak with Kaleth to learn more of this settlement. Kaleth states that she is the ruler of this settlement and that she needed to leave New Darafas to make a name and kingdom for herself as women are very much hamstrung in that department on New Darafas. The female Arygos seems to admire this initiative and appears to even see a bit of herself in Kaleth and decries that the settlement shall be spared under certain conditions. The people are to learn the proper respect for the dragons and know the bow to them when they arrive, no one is to disturb any of Bael’hal’s structures, there will be yearly inspections by someone beneath Arygos, and Kaleth is responsible for anything that goes wrong. If so, her entire family line will be wiped out back on New Darafas. Arygos also plucks at the string that ties this warlock Kaleth to some other power and states that Kaleth certainly has encountered some interesting and entertaining contacts.

Arygos leaves and Kaleth faints. Tumdrum struts around as if everything went according to plan though he heard none of the conversation. It is clear now that the madness of Gungrin that caused his massive paranoia has been rationalized by Tumdrum that he isn’t paranoid, every thing is out to get him because they must know what massive greatness he is destined to achieve, and they want to stop it before it happens. They leave to New Dawnsburg as Kaleth and Thaal talk for a while, and she doesn’t say much to Tumdrum.

We get back and the food caravan arrives that night and all seems well. We spend time on the Kingdom Building phase. This is our first time doing this, so it takes a while to figure out all the rules and such. We agree on taxing, holidays, claiming land and making it a farm with a road, building a lot full of houses as well as a brewery. Some questioned why Tumdrum, a brewer, wanted to build a brewery, but he noted that the Kou Kingdom delighted in the delicacy of the dwarven wines and ales, and they hated to see that trade evaporate with the problems Gungrin was having. We don’t have natural resources to trade or else this land would have already been taken over. We must use our creativity and knowledge to produce goods that can’t be or haven’t been made elsewhere. Our unique recipes should provide something that would be desired by both the dragons and the well to do in other kingdoms via trade.

Tanna has been acting very strange for the week back in New Dawnsburg, and Tumdrum feels guilty about it and tells her why they had her come to New Dawnsburg early. Tanna doesn’t believe much of it having never heard of The Further or Void before and not trusting Dradiira. Tumdrum says all the truth he has, but it doesn’t seem to go well.

He then turns to Kaleth and asks her to explain what the dragon wanted and said. He continues to push as he can tell he is not getting straight answers from her. Kaleth eventually lets out that the dragon, Arygos, was very worried about pests becoming a nuisance near Bael’hal’s structures. Especially pests that took to inhabit the old home of former pests. Needled more by Tumdrum who realizes a being seeing us as nothing but pests would not have went away without stamping out those pests if not for some reason, Kaleth mentions to the group that she told Arygos that she held a position of power in this settlement and was wanting to stay in that position of power and would take responsibility for the settlement’s actions. She says the settlement will be visited yearly by a dragon consort of Bael’hal, but that as long as we only build farms near the Aether structures and no one does anything to those structures, we should be fine.

Velm is still struggling with the drow and slivers under Gungrin. But wary of returning there, the group decides that next time they shall head west toward the men of the bear and the Valkryian ruins to learn more about their neighbors.

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The Further
Week 43

“I see the bad moon rising. I see trouble on the way.” — CCR

The envoys from New Dawnsburg — namely us — have arrived in Nakamaru Port, more than a bit bloodied from the journey but otherwise sound and hale. We decide that, despite our desire to be away from this strange and unsettling kingdom of Kou, we must remain the week until the caravan with needed supplies for our colony arrives and goes on to the south. We feel it necessary to see our mission through to the end.

Officials from Nakamaru Port have made us reasonably comfortable, assigning us a wing of rooms that are, if not fancy, at least relatively private. As we get to know our surroundings, it is noted that the soldiers and warriors of this community do not carry shields, only weapons. We conclude this is not a defensive but an offensive means of protection. We tread our way carefully during our stay. But the atmosphere of the place is a bit calmer, less strained than it was in the capital of Echizen, though there are still rumors of the occasional mother-and-child burning for those seen to be afflicted with fiend-half-breeds.

The morning after our arrival as we are breaking our fast, we are surprised to be joined by the nobleman Jirou Kurada. He is confident, if not a touch arrogant. He questions us about our journey, offering many opinions about our success or lack thereof, then magnanimously makes himself available for discussion concerning the expected caravan route. As it will be traveling from the Kou Kingdom to the south towards New Dawnsburg — and presumably through his port — Jirou stuns us with a demand for further money. There is an expectation, he explains, of a ‘fee’ that will need to be agreed on before he will allow such caravans to pass through his domain. He suggests charging 20% above and beyond the original Kou fee. While we sputter and ponder this new development, Jirou slyly suggests other means of payment. It seems he wishes some weapons to be smuggled back to the capital of Echizen and feels our diplomatic papers would ease the passage. We politely decline, giving the excuse that we are needed to the south, so he accepts one of our aquamarine gems as payment. After he departs, we muse about how the Baron will view this newer, higher price of the cost of doing business in the Kou Kingdom.

We try to occupy our days while waiting for the caravan, and decide to follow the rumor of a valkyrian slave once seen in the port area. Kado, son of Jirou, is asked of his knowledge. It seems he himself once owned a valkyre slave, one he had bought off a traveler. But he has sold her to another traveler, someone perhaps of Ech’lun origins. As far as he knew, they had left the port area and even the Kingdom some time ago.

Near the end of one of the meals we had been enjoying in the hospitality dining room, Tanna begins to see the walls bulging and low, ominous moaning emitting from the area. Alarmed, she warns they others and they leave the room immediately. The elf, however, soon realizes that this effect seems to follow them wherever they move. Caught in the halls, Tanna grows increasingly agitated, despite Tumdrum and Kaleth’s best efforts to calm her. Bizarrely, the elf scout is then distracted - she becomes convinced she can sense all the rats in the area, wherever they are. This new-found ability stretches not only to the city’s entire population of rats, but she feels she can have some influence on them. Is the elf mad or developing new skills?

On the morn, Tumdrum decides to fly Amanus back to Echizen to speak with Dradiira of these new developments. Tanna’s abilities appear to have dissipated by the next day but he and Kaleth worry about what these new developments may mean. Tumdrum’s visit with Dradiira goes smoothly but the news is ominous. When he flies back to Nakamaru Port, he has a private conversation with Kaleth.

According to Dradiira, what Tanna is experiencing is caused by the elf being increasingly exposed to paths or trails between planes. Not only between planes but reaching beyond planes to a place known only as The Further, also sometimes called The Void. Something has connected her psyche to this path, something not demonic or fiendish, nor indeed caused by any entity of this plane or any other. Dradiira highly suspects it is exposure to the God’s Mirrors that has infected her, and she begged Tumdrum to allow her to study the shard he has. Without that, she cannot hope to help their companion, but suggests that moving around on the physical plane may help. She warns creatures from The Further may be trying to test Tanna (the example being the connection to rats) to see if hers is a viable connection.

As Tumdrum and Kaleth speculate on their next plan, Kaleth reluctantly reveals a secret she has been hiding — she is a worshipper of the god Dormin, the Snake of the World, a deity who is most connected to The Further. Startled, Tumdrum mentions the great Wound to the world, and Kaleth solemnly replies that this Wound may be something that goes all the way into The Further. They decide between them that Tanna needs to be moved as quickly as possible to Alandra’s Temple, in hopes the goddess’s influence will help shield her from the influence of The Further.

They develop an elaborate plan in order to trick the elf into leaving her traveling companions, and the next day, Tumdrum takes Tanna aboard Amanis and away from the port.

The three arrive in New Dawnsburg, just outside the settlement, but as they are landing, they spy a creature soaring high above. To their shock, it is a red dragon, and Tanna immediately shouts an alarm, panicking the people of New Dawnsburg into stampeding to the underground temple. Tumdrum has a clearer head, however, realizing this may be one of those of dragon-kind that Kaleth had expected to inspect this new community. Without the dragonborne, however, there is no way to communicate with the beast. Tumdrum begs Thal, one of Kaleth’s retainers still in New Dawnsburg, to help calm the possible ensuing anger of the insulted dragon. Thal sends a message to Kaleth that her immediate presence is needed.

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Infernal Wrath
Week 42

“Stress is the demon in our society, stalking the cities and the countryside, striking down young and old and growing in strength daily.”

When our weary adventurers decided to fully retire for the night at the Red Ass Inn, each individual paired up with another to make certain no one slept alone. With three rooms graciously offered to them via the spooked Innkeeper, and an evening well spent observing Tumdrum’s gallant bardic performances, everything seemed to end on a very relaxed note. And yet, in these fiend-filled lands within the Kou Kingdom, it comes as no surprise the lulls many commoners, and even royalty, have, are often the calms before turbulent storms. In a world of strife where existing may even mean fighting to stay alive each and every single day, how, pray tell, will the adventurers continue to fair?

With their night’s rest interrupted by an uninvited (and very fiery) visitor, Millie, Tanna, and the others awaken to the sound of combat beginning to occur in another room. Sliding doors opened would reveal the presence of a fiend, a Charred Oni, who’s attention was mostly set on Tumdrum, the adventurers bard. A dwarf with the strangest and most mysterious of paths before him, it becomes quickly clear, after Kaleth questions the assaulting fiend, he is being hunted now more than ever. A Bounty Hunter dead set on taking Tumdrum for his own, Westin is swift to come to Tumdrum’s side and aid him, as well as Millie. With Deedee ferociously barreling down wooden-floor hallways to come to the rescue too, Tanna, nimble and sneaky as ever, takes a few sniping shots at the Charred Oni to help defeat him.

The Charred Oni, refusing to be cowed so easily, summoned a lesser elemental in the fight, setting the upper floor of the inn ablaze. Alas, a plan backfired once or twice, Tumdrum’s trusty sword, Frostband, dampens out the initial fire. Once the Bounty Hunter and its summoned elemental are defeated, the fires are put out. Alas, the rattled Innkeeper is given curt explanations, as per Kale and Tumdrum’s quick thinking, and for the rest of the night, they remain in their quarters; however, Kaleth chooses to stand guard in front of Tumdrum and Westin’s burned down doorway for the rest of the night, though she manages to get three to four hours of rest in the earliest part of the morning.

A little coin is offered as restitution to the Innkeeper in the morning, and after eating a meal, the group is swift to try to head out of Aki. Conversations between the members of the party ensue, but as they reach the outskirts of Aki it becomes readily apparent farmers from the farms outside of Aki are, with their families, quickly traveling into town. Kale stops to speak to a frightened farmer and in the midst of translations, it becomes clear violence also occurred outside of Aki overnight. Men, women, and children dead, their heads taken, the mention of a man impaled on a wall leaves some of the group chilled to the bone. The party agrees to set out to see what happened. Given the heavy presence of farmland outside of Aki, if agriculture production were to fall to ruin because of this incident, it might not bode well for New Dawnsburg. Perhaps a hasty conclusion, but sometimes… sometimes it is better to peer into a mystery than to avoid it altogether.

This mystery, however, was not a mystery; rather, butchery. Tanna’s keen senses, and newfound perception, picks up on the presence of something that doesn’t seem natural to the Natural Plane. Singed hoofprints. Tumdrum and the others look around, and after a little more discussion and realization of what they may be very well dealing with, its decided they will investigate further. Tethering their horses back at the farmhouse, they choose to follow after the hoofprints, believing fully now they are dealing with yet another fiend. Do the fiends visiting the Natural Plane truly have no end?

Encountering yet another devil, a headless fiend riding upon a nightmare, yet another fiend from the shadowy plane beyond, the party believes they are ready to deal with this otherworldly threat. Alas, the entity is wielding a vorpal blade and several a time during the battle, he nearly severs the head off of a party member. Flaming skulls, mayhaps even the very trophies which the fiend took from the headless victims back at the farmhouse, are floating through the air, mercilessly hurling fireballs at the party, and hurting them severely. Kaleth’s attempts at banishing the fiends fail, but the party refuses to be swayed, and fight tooth and nail to win.
And win they did, but not without nearly costing Millie her life.

Although the battle ended, Kaleth, the dragonborn, is clearly still enraged, and stays possessively close to Millie, even barking to the others to give Millie a potion or two to help heal her because she cannot. Millie’s wounds, though grave, does allow her to continue on with the group and the group returns to the Farmhouse. Tumdrum decides he will see to the dead at the Farmhouse and the others return to Aki to speak to the guard there. As it were, the guard seemed to be rallying to see about what happened at the Farmhouse themselves, but upon being given an explanation of what happened between Westin, Kale, Tanna and the others, They are thanked greatly for the service they performed to Aki and its citizen. Given everything that occurred overnight in Aki, the group believes it best to continue southward in haste to Nakamaru Port.

Kale, finally calmed down enough, believes it best though their group is escorted to Nakamaru Port. Believing safety in numbers, especially due to her possessiveness of Millie, if not also her well-being, she requests some of the military of the Nogami clan to escort them to the port. Willing to do this for the party, they are escorted to the port and make it there by nightfall. However, the Nogami military which accompanied them are not allowed to enter the port, so they turn and seek to return to Akita. Tumdrum, in the midst of all this, eventually reunites with the escorted group, but even he, and his griffin comrade, how to wonder if the group were prisoners or not.

After arriving at the port, the group is escorted to the fort and are allowed quarters there. With conversations about the port, and the fishing in the local waters, being a greater matter of interest, one can only wonder what their possible week-long stay at Nakamaru will bring them while they wait for a merchant caravan to arrive at the port for them to escort back home. And yet, it seems, there’s rumor of a Valkyrie to have exchanged hands with noble’s son of the local clan, the Sogo. Whether or not the Valkyrie was sold to someone in the local area though, has yet to be found out.

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Cut to the Quick

After procuring an influx of food for our settlement there was a mostly restful night. The new day began with a charged melody about the pirate’s slave auction and our place in it. With a late morning farewell from Dradira, it was time to see our heroes back on the road. With thanks for her hospitality, Dradira returned a dark and ominous, “tread carefully”.

Our eyes were soon greeted by another (somewhat) familiar face. Panacea had again crossed our path. This time she was busy selling potions, poisons and herbs in Echizen. Tanna bargained with her in elven and when all was said and done we’d bargained for a fair chunk of business while trying to get a more precise read on this being and what role she’d play in the future of our party and potentially settlement. Panacea’s Goddess Irena has apparently foreseen a need of burial and last rights for this kingdom.. much as She had for Gungrin. There was talk of wounded minds and doors of coping, then there was talk of New Dawnsburg. Panacea was invited and with a hand shake from Tumdrum, she agreed to visit and maybe do some more business beneficial to all involved potentially teaching MacDaman of the surrounding flora/fauna and it’s alchemical uses at a date in the not so distant future. Kaleth was notably not treated as nobility by Panacea, but Kale took it in stride while asking for more on Irena’s views of Cyrelun “Irena’s bane” and the Kou Kingdom “everyone gets what they deserve”. We parted then and left Panacea to “bury the dead and send the departed to the Soulwrought”.

By midday on the road to Aki, we were passing by rocky hills and noticeably larger caravans than our own small group of weathered travellers. Then it seemed there were very few, indeed nobody for a time, until one rundown hovel and it’s apparent resident caught Tanna’s attention. Her sharp eyes caught sight of a child retreating into the building. Of course her good heart would not let her leave a child to whatever fate awaited it in this bleak, broken down “home”. So she tried to offer the retreating figure food, but there was no response.. Kaleth called out to the figure, but there was no response.. then we heard a clicking of metal on stone, that is what drew us in.. ALL of us. Once inside the moldy rundown hovel it was noted there were stone stairs leading down, there was a light at the bottom of the steps and more clinking. Once we reached the bottom of the steps there were three children chained in the room that opened before us. After some soothing, “cooing” words from Tanna they told Kaleth of “the bad men” that would punish them if chores were not done, so of course we had to intervene. Tumdrum suddenly saw these children as abominations.. FIENDS! So he cast a moonbeam spell on one, releasing the enslaved soul of this child and that’s when it happened.. chains drew in on us from the ceiling, grappling us, restraining us, sinking their spikes into our limbs over and over again. Where one would fall another would animate and take it’s place against us. Shortly after Kale’ freed the remaining children’s souls that had been bound here, Amanus spotted a couple devils hidden in the shadows. These were “the bad men” the children spoke of. Once we’d spotted them it was quick and painless to dispatch one, before the other disappeared via some sort of foul teleportation. The one that we’d (maybe)destroyed left a black spiked chain, that the party quickly realized was no ordinary 30 foot link of chain. We were hardly out the door before the entire building was collapsing in on itself, leaving a pile of rubble where there had minutes ago been a deadly battle that could easily have cost us much more than it did. Tumdrum said a few words showing respect of the children’s souls, then it was back on the road, bloodied but still breathing.

The day was wearing on as we approached Aki(the Kou farming village along the road to home via Nakamaru Port). There was talk in the streets of a mother and her cursed newborn that’d recently been burned in order to appease the people and their crazed ideas of cleansing the kingdom. Eventually we arrived at our destination for the night, The Red Ass Inn. Kaleth got us a few rooms for the night(compliments of the innkeeper) and it was business as usual. With a joke about the red assassin that we were staying with tonight, Tumdrum performed both for the party and the masses with his lute and his juggling. After bedding down for the night, I know Deedee was already trying to decide what she’d do first when she got home.. it seemed so close.. and THAT’s when it happened.

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Accordance
Week 40

“There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others.”

As our last session, “The Storm Isles: Surrounded” concluded, the motley group of advisors and diplomats continue to finish their evening meal. While some members of the party more avidly conversed with their gracious host, the mysterious drow noblewoman, Lady Dradiira, others choose to pay more attention to their meal and refrain from questioning more into the nature of Fiends. Self-preservation, after all, can be a very powerful motivator in trying to maintain the cohesion of one’s sanity and living status, not to mention their perception of the world! Tanna is one such individual. Kaleth too. The dragonborn, already a firm believer of Tanna’s keen paranoia is the mark of great wisdom and insight, followed suit, especially after the mention of the Valkyrian in their passing conversation.

Where Tanna is considered extremely wise in Kaleth’s eyes, Tumdrum is considered the most bold, willing to step outside of his own perception to try to understand others way of life, and Westin, valuable in his combat prowess. Since his induction into Salt’s service, it’s becoming clear he is growing sterner and more vigilant to the threats surrounding the party. As Tumdrum eventually accepts the very informative tome Lady Dradiira offered for him to temporarily borrow and read, the conversation finally transitions from a discussion of fiends to the discussion of what tomorrow would bring – the impending diplomatic meeting with the Shogun’s Chief Advisor, Takuya. To possibly earn Takuya’s favor a little early in the meeting, Lady Dradiira suggests the group offer a gift to the Chief Advisor. From one topic to another the conversation continues, from the subject of the Night Market to the more sensitive moral aspects of slavery, their meal concludes with Tanna urging everyone to finally retire for the night. Lady Dradiira thanks the party, and hopes everyone has enjoyed her hospitality. Considering this particular wing of the palace is her domain, there is safety to be found within it – a much needed thing for the party to comfortably rest and still recover from their hard journey north from New Dawnsburg.

After they retire for the evening in their adjacent quarters, Tanna and the others converse over what happened at dinner, also believing it best they decide on a gift for the Chief Advisor before morning’s arrival. As they heavily begin discussing what specific gift to present, Kaleth is, admittedly, ridiculously off in her own world, clearly thinking over what everyone is saying, but undoubtedly with thoughts and opinions differing from the group’s own running amuck inside of her scaled skull. While food trade is very possible with the Kou Kingdom, it too seems possible with the Dwarves. In the end, Kaleth finally plants a claw down and states it is Baron Drussus’s final say on this diplomatic matter, so she chooses to send a sending stone to her retainer, Thal, to get a prompt response hopefully from Baron Drussus himself. As gemstones are eventually decided upon as a gift, they retire for the night.

With everyone avidly fussed over and dressed the next morning, a morning meal is consumed, with another sending stone message sent and received, before they are eventually prompted, and guided, to where the meeting is meant to take place. Deedee, Millie, and Tanna serve as the groups ‘servants,’ whereas Adam Westin is clearly an armed guard and general, and Tumdrum, Kaleth’s right hand advisor. They hardly had to wait long for Chief Advisor Takuya’s arrival. With armed guards at his shadow, certain Kou Kingdom customs are initiated. Little curiosities, such as the covering of the guards faces, and Takuya’s comment of ‘empty vessels’ is enough to catch Kaleth off guard since it is her (and like everyone else of the party) first visit to the Kou Kingdom.

Armed now with the opinions and perceptions of her comrades, as well as the information provided by Thal and Baron Drussus, Kale introduces everyone within the party to Takuya before encouraging Tumdrum to present Takuya with the chosen gift – a gemstone. Accepted, but curiously questioned over, Kale translates Tumdrum’s answer with very romantic rhetoric, hoping it would be, at the very least, accepted with graciousness. As the meeting progresses, Kaleth explains of the arrival of the colonists from a far off land called ‘Choso,’; however, instead of telling him of how part of the Storm Wall was brought down, she speaks of how Elora, otherwise known to the other colonists as Salt, chooses to answer the colonist’s prayers and allow them entry through the Storm Wall. A commonly known name among the Storm Isles and its inhabitants, Elora’s strangeness is commented upon – something which Westin inwardly bristles at.

Tumdrum’s very avid theatrics with Tanna nearly has Kaleth smacking her own nose and rolling in laughter, so it is only by Kaleth’s focus on the serious aspects of the meeting she managed to retain her politeness and dignity. As the meeting further progresses, mentions of what is occurring in Gungrin is brought forth, as well as possibilities of trade between the Kou Kingdom and New Dawnsburg, even if only for a few months. Kaleth focuses on keeping their trade agreement simple, believing it best they focus solely on monetary costs for goods and nothing else. Given her own knowledge of pact-making from her Warlock training, she knows more lawful-abiding Fiends will maintain their word and integrity instead of fucking the other party over and taking everything from them.

With the meeting a success, Takuya goes on his way and the party decides to split off in different directions for the rest of the day. As Tumdrum decides to remain on the palace grounds, Adam Westin heads out on his own to investigate the market area the group previously visited, whereas Tanna decides to take a stroll… and even more than that. As Tanna explores the streets, visiting a merchant and picking up some goods, her stroll eventually leads her into a Tavern where she attempts to converse with others with Thieves Cant. While some understand her, it is clear she is a foreigner and becomes a person of interest to those who hear her voice. A drink finished, she eventually moves on, heading back out onto the streets, but it inevitably comes to her perceptive attention she is being followed. Tanna attempts to elude her pursuer while heading back to the palace grounds, but it is to no avail. He attempts to charm her, but given her elven origins, she succeeds in not succumbing to it.

Kaleth, Millie, and Deedee, also leave the palace grounds into the city, where Deedee watches a weaponsmith forging a Katana. Interested in the craftsmanship, she purchases a sword to wield, but they too return; however, it was before Tanna did. When everyone reunites, Kaleth and Millie are already grossly deep in a game of Three Dragon Ante, but they too participate in the conversation. From Tanna recounting her trip from the palace grounds, to Kaleth, very interestingly inquiring into Dwarven mating rituals, and the oddities of Tumdrum’s magical possessions, Tumdrum earns a lighthearted chuckle and regard from Kale. It is clear though she wants to avoid the magical item he carries, the Amulet of Narcissism, if she can…

Once more the group shares another evening meal with Lady Dradiira, and in that timeframe Tumdrum returns the fiend tome he borrowed to her. Thanking her for allowing him the time to review it, the meal passes by uneventfully, though Tanna’s market incident is once more recounted. Dradiira advises Tanna to tread more carefully, but Tumdrum’s curiosity gets the better of him and he asks Dradiira how much Tanna is worth. Given her pureblooded elven heritage, Dradiira estimates at a few thousand gold. A very high price, indeed, for such an elf! Kaleth advises the others to not tell Baron Drussus this, and even amusedly comments on the fact Tanna’s market value even exceeded her own. A very strange topic of conversation, their meal (and the game session) draws to an end, with other topics spoken here or there, but like before, Lady Dradiira departs from the table for the evening.

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Surrounded
Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

Log Entry: General Adam Westin

Our day began with a tasty breakfast served by our hosts. I particularly enjoyed the eggs. Lady Dradiira joined us as we were able to question her about the capital and the area near the city. Also, my fears seem to be true that the evil I felt last night may be coming from Dradiira herself. She also warns Tumdrum of the dangers of sleep sweet.

She begins to describe the “curse” that is effecting the capital and her work in studying it. She informs us Chief Advisor Takuya would meet with us on the morrow. Giving us some time to see the city. Revolt seems to be a problem in the capital.

The Mention of Gods Mirrors seemed to excite Dradiira. She got very defensive about them. Claiming they can be controlled and or used for good with the right knowledge.
She tasks the scouts to acquire a piece of the godsmirror and bring it back to her.
Conversation continued on the Godsmirrors after she leaves. There seems to be a split in the party as to what the mirrors do and the power that controls them. And what exactly Dradiira wants from them.

The party decides to spend the morning resting before heading out to search the town for clues of just who they are dealing with. Tumdrum decides to take flight and explore the area outside the city. The rest of the scouts decide to take to the streets to do some information gathering.

The main group decides to head north towards the merchants. Upon entering a staged area, Kaleth gets the idea to muscle some information out of a poor man named Shen. His bosses name is Sayuri. So Kaleth approaches. Kaleth’s tone was firm with this one. If I wouldn’t have been yelled at so much in my military life, I might have been intimidated myself. After she is done talking to him, I notice she is the topic of conversation. Which leads me to believe it’s time we take some cover in a local diner. Kaleth informs us she learned of a man named Noboru. A slave importer and trader.

The meal here reminds me of the groul we would get in the mess halls back on choso. As we finished and took back to the streets, Tanna informs me that we are being followed. With that, we take action and she circles around to get behind our follower.

After finally getting him in an alley, we were able to find out his name is Sado. He wanted to make some GP off of us with information on Noboru. Tanna informs me that he is not alone, my divine sense tingles as I feel the presence of a fiend as he and a “tiny” fiend. He leads us to a building and says that this is a warehouse where he Noboru runs his slaves. With a payment and one last reminder not to mess with us. We returned “home” for the afternoon.

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Old Friends

Stab the body and it heals, but injure the heart and the wound lasts a lifetime.

The night comes and rest beneath something other than open, often inhospitable skies, our party now sleeps in a small room of the gate-fort’s inn. Restless in her eagerness to once again explore civilization, Tanna the scout slips away to seek out other denizens of the dark. But this is a small community, duty-bound and regimented, so she finds nothing of particular notice. When she returns to the elvish trance that is her people’s form of sleep, her dreams are troubled things, showing her creatures living in shadow. Is it real or part of her sickening imagination? In this other realm, the Lady of the Wood tries to protect the young elf, but Tanna continues to turn away from her light.

The next day, the party of Chosoan ambassadors make their way toward the Kou Empire’s capital of Echizen, following their local guide, Chouko and his wagon. The journey is interrupted by armed warriors – ronin – who wear Kou emblems, incomplete though they may be. Their demands are strange — half of our party will be permitted to pass by, but half must remain as a ‘security measure’. We argue for our freedom, showing our passports granted by Kou gate guards, but the warriors will not yield. They draw their weapons in a threatening manner and then attack breaks out. We are also ambushed by their comrades — who are not well uniformed but in the rags of bandits. But this group seems to have underestimated us, for we defeat them handily. There are survivors from their band and we learn they were no more than a group of brigands taking advantage of travelers. We take survivors to law enforcement as we enter the outskirts of Echizen.

The areas surrounding the capital are lowland and west, some areas even swampy. We are stopped at the entrance again, much as we were at the kingdom walls, and asked our identification and business. Chouko, his men and wagon are allowed by, and they aim for the Blue Sun Inn to stay. While Kaleth is attempting to translate and explain our diplomatic mission, she feels herself forced to reveal her true identity — that of a dragon-borne. The guards react with shock and nerves, immediately acquiescing to nearly everything Kaleth asks.

Treated now like feared royalty, we are escorted to the more noble regions of the city, even to the enormous palace itself. We are to meet a higher personage of the royal household who is housed in a wing of the palace, who will — it is presumed — be able to help us in our initial diplomatic process. This person turns out to be Dradiira Despath, a Drow and well-known to most in our party. It was she we first encountered when landing to shore after passing through the Storm Wall. It was she that first told us she was a refugee from her own people and took sanctuary with our colonists, bestowing on us knowledge of the islands, a map of the region, and a ring of invisibility. And it was she who disappeared from our colony when the settlement was attacked by werewolves.

Now, apparently Dradiira is an important person within the Kou Empire, accompanied by her human major-domo (main servant). We are not sure why she has established herself here, but it can be presumed to having provided the Empire some very important duty. While she is reacquainting herself with us, however, Adam Westin and Tumdrum both sense something is off, and cast ‘divine sense’ at the Drow. Through their magical senses, they now see that Dradiira and her servant are “fiends”.

While trying to digest this startling information, Dradiira, oblivious to their findings, offers us all sleeping quarters. Not wishing to be separated, the group requests one large room they will share, feeling more comfortable, they say, in bedding down together. Kaleth and her retainer Millie, however, decide to sleep in a chamber on their own.

During the night, Tanna again experiences disturbing visions. This time, she sees something hovering over Adam, something following him, covering him in storms. When she tries to touch this influence, her hand passes through an opaque mass that dissipates. The rest of the night passes quietly.

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