The Great Northern Forest
Journey to Project Lantern
Assault on Project Lantern
Battle for Bastion Keep
Into the Jungle
Rings of the Master
Giants, Elves, and Pants
Retribution to the Verdant Kingdom
Ramas, a barbarian from the sparsely populated interior regions of the empire who won the Adventurer’s Guild annual contest of combat prowess. He’s deadly with his enormous maul and adventures because he’s good at it. He watches out for his little sister, Anabelle, but this might be a bit of overkill because Anabelle is a highly accomplished Warlock. She has bargained with the entity known to her clan as Ursos to gain power, but the exchange seems to have had a much higher price than she ever anticipated. Now she has mutations to go with her powers and must endure confusing prophetic visions. Maethic Ringsmith tries to glue the group together with his grounding in the deep places of Berr Dornat, but even his almost geologic patience is tried at times by the confusing antics of the humans and elves he’s been saddled with. A cleric of the little-known deity of Quorjen, Maethic’s divine powers are awesome to behold, though those of his order shunned him because of his undwarflike attitude towards secrets: namely that knowledge should be shared and not hoarded like gold and diamonds. Finally, Banori Ironleaf rounds out the crew as the last surviving member of the Ironleaf clan. This clan of wood elves was wiped out twelve years ago during the undead uprisings and she managed to survive all of her kin by being in the right place at the right time. She has since sworn vengeance on the undead and pursues them mercilessly. These intrepid heroes call themselves the Iron Stormwolves and they travel the land, doing battle with vile monstrosities and undead abominations in an effort to cleanse their home of the undead blight.
The first session saw the adventurers meeting up in a tavern in Mir. They were then approached by a rather enthusiastic (if erratically accented) German wizard who called himself Heinrich Fleischer. Fleischer had a job for them and was exceedingly happy to fill the trope of finding adventurers in a tavern. He offered them a lucrative job fetching some heartwood from 300-year-old Blackleaf Oak trees if they could pass a simple test. Fleischer told them about some hill giants that had been annoying him near his tower. He said that if the party was able to defeat the hill giants, not only would he give them a cash bounty, but he would give them more details about the mission he wanted them to go on. The party agreed and set out to find the giants.
This brings us into our second session, where the Stormwolves made their way to what they thought would be an eccentric wizard’s tower out in the middle of nowhere, but instead turned out to be a sprawling complex of buildings built around a tower. The party was accosted by a group of guards with a strange lantern insignia on their uniforms. The guards told them that the complex was a restricted area and that they would have to leave immediately. The Iron Stormwolves pressed their case, however, insisting that Fleischer had hired them for a job. When Fleischer’s name was mentioned, the guard captain decided that he’d rather shift the decision up the chain of command and led them to Director Lucilla Hemsworth’s office.
The heroes then got to go on a tour of the Project Lantern complex. The complex was comprised of several artisans’ workshops, including a blacksmith, glassier, woodworkers’ shop, kiln, and arcane engineering laboratories. There were even dormitories there for the staff. Fleischer gave them the tour as he told them more details about the mission he had hired them for. Simply stated, the mission would be to get to the North Woods and find at least two Blackleaf Oak trees older than 300 years old. Once the Iron Stormwolves found the trees, they would cut them down and get the heartwood out of them. The heartwood would then be used in the creation of some enormous magic wands that would be deployed against the hordes of abominations pouring out of The Scar. Time was of the essence as the sooner the project was complete, the sooner the Bastion Perimeter could be relieved of the deadly pressure of holding back the tide of misshapen monsters.
The party decided to head for Woodsedge, a small village on the edge of the North Woods where they could hire some oxen and acquire some carts so they could transport the heartwood out of the forest. They also hoped to hire a guide that could lead them to the trees, since Blackleaf Oaks are a rarity in the North Woods, which is more of a temperate rain forest than the Blackleaf Woods far to the south. While there are plenty of Blackleaf Oaks in the North Woods, ones that are more than 300 years old are quite rare.
The journey would be long and ultimately successful. Reese told the party that she knew where some Blackleaf Oak trees were, though they were guarded by some dryads so it likely would be difficult if not impossible to get the trees. The party gave a collective, “Dryads? Meh,” and went boldly into the forest. The journey through the forest was long and difficult. They were assaulted by a veritable cornucopia of monsters including a young forest remorhaz, a mated pair of allosaurus, and more shoggoths. And then Ramas, Annabelle, and Ineis scared Reese away when she accidentally shot Ramas with an arrow trying to kill a dinosaur.
Their guide ran off into the woods (once she regained consciousness) and the party groaned and went to rescue the NPC. Said NPC had been turned to stone by a colony of cockatrices, then her statue form was dragged into a cave by a rather nasty troll. The Iron Stormwolves made short work of the cockatrices, then delved into the troll’s lair to rescue their guide. The terrain was nearly the death of them all.
Eventually, the party emerged from the harrowing battle victorious, the troll slain and burned so it would not come back to life. They even managed to save Reese’s life. Feeling like true heroes, the party then looted the absolute hell out of that troll’s cave and came away with a modest little haul of treasure for their near brush with death. Reese thanked the group for saving her life, deciding that she’d no longer take the chance of shooting her bow in the middle of battle, especially when Ramas was within a mile or two. The party then proceeded to the Blackleaf Oaks.
Things got weird once they reached the Mother Tree. The Iron Stormwolves were introduced to the Guardian, a disturbing creature that seemed to use dead bodies all overgrown with vines and plants as pseudopods for its forays in the woods. The Guardian agreed to help them with a sapling for the dryads, in return for some help with a task of its own. It seemed a being called the Forest Lord had been badly injured by some hunters. These hunters had employed the use of cold iron weaponry, which was the only weakness for the godlike being. The Guardian asked the Stormwolves to free the Forest Lord in return for a sapling. The party rolled their eyes but agreed to yet another subquest and off they went.
The party found the Forest Lord, guarded by a contingent of animal guardians. The creature was a unicorn trapped in a vicious cold iron trap and in its maddened and injured state, would allow none to approach it. Trapped in a ruined tower nearby were the remaining hunters. The hunters were starved and desperate and they begged for help from the party. As the party discussed what to do, Annabelle made a curious decision. She drank the blood from the wounds of the Forest Lord. It had some miraculous healing properties, but carried with it a dire curse–a curse that she was unwilling to end because the price was too high. She had suddenly become abhorrent to all animal life. They hated her and shied away from her. Though it seemed that their forest journey was nearing its end, it’s hard to tell yet if this curse will bear evil fruit.
The Guardian thanked them and showered them with magical gifts as well as money! It was awesome. You had to be there. It also gave them a sapling from the Mother Tree, which the party returned to the dryads (with an extended side discussion about the ethics and morals about planting the tree themselves or letting the dryads do it) and they finally gave them instructions on where to find the Blackleaf Oaks.
So, with oxcarts obediently following through the pathless waste of the forest, the Stormwolves found the Blackleaf Oak trees. The also found a rather fat, young green dragon sunning itself on some rocks in the middle of a pond nearby. With a mental shrug and a couple nervous glances over their shoulders, the party began hacking away at the trees. They hadn’t made much progress when the dragon attacked.
The party facepalmed and then went back to the place where they fought the dragon and delved into its lair. After some rather anticlimactic fights with some chuuls down there, they found the dragon’s hoard and looted it (and yes, there were some diamonds there). The night ended with the party bringing the diamonds back to the Guardian.
Return to Project Lantern
After the party spent the night in Woodsedge, some in the inn, some in the nearby wilderness due to complaints about the price of the inn they were on their way. A hasty message was sent by bird towards the dryads to let Reese know they had left without her and that she should find her way back to town or something on her own.
The sisters meanwhile were able to find a logging camp and procured some horses and equipment better suited for hauling their cargo.
Not too long after both Anabelle and Ineis started to feel something a little deathly in the air. Investigations from both yielded piles of dead animals. The sisters were able to hide this from the loggers so as to not alarm them. Finally meeting back up the professionals got the load moved to better equipment and the party took greater care in their escort quest.
They waited but no attack came from the undead and by morning everyone was on edge. With the undead having passed through they decided the only thing they could do was to continue on. The rest of their trip was uneventful, save for a vision Anabelle had one evening, and it wasn’t too long before the sight of the Project Lantern site was in view once again.
With the load delivered the engineers got to work at finishing the project. The party shared word of what had happened on the road with the undead which brought some alarm to the camp as one would expect, but work continued.
The members of the party went about mostly doing their own things. One of the elven sisters tried to (unsuccessfully) talk the other into leaving and returning home, Ramas drank the night away, Maethic pondered on how best to show these people the best way to live. Anabelle had plans of her own too.
While unoccupied she made her way into the directors room and searched around, eventually finding a hidden panel in her desk from which she recovered some parchment. While clearly important it was also blank to her normal eyes, but she could sense the magic obscuring it.
While preparing for bed Anabelle pop her head into Ineis’s room and the two took a look at the note. Ineis suggested maybe a simple dispell magic would suffice to which the warlock foolishly agreed. The spell was cast and the paper exploded unleashing necrotic energy on them both. Accusations about not properly aizmuthing the 4th astral line were made, things that should not have been said may have been said, and both went to bed grumpy and sore. Whatever secrets the note held were lost forever!
As the night went on a deep fog rolled in around the site. Maethic kept an eye all night and was joined by the sisters once they had finished their trance. They spent some time in idle chatter and then a pair of sharp eyes caught movement in the fog. Soon several skeletal figures could be seen with weapons advancing on the camp. An alarm was raised and the defenders were able to quickly sweep their foes away.
As they all took a moment to catch their breath more and more shapes started appearing from the fog, all around the site, uncountable numbers of undead surrounded all. Panic started to overtake camp and the heroes, how would they escape? Then from the fog came more good news for our heroes. Riding in a palanquin carried by some fun looking undead creatures was the broodmother Maras, one of the Lich Lords.
Ramas, not liking the way the skull burned, decided the best option here would be to start some diplomatic negotiations with the dragon skull via his maul. The fight was clearly beyond the party, Maethic and Anabelle both falling in the fight, their bodies delivered to the waiting zombies on the outskirts of the town. Ramas had learned during the fight however, that he must have been a battlefield engineer in a former life. He found a miniature ballista and assembled it like a pro, firing off a shot that did next to nothing to the foe. Satisfied in its superiourity and not interested in rooting out every last would be hero (some zombie could do that later) he returned to the mass of undead.
It was about this time that Obinorcle and Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale had just finished their delicious breakfast after having woken up from their comfortable beds. They had received work from the researchers that some adventurers had FINALLY managed to bring the required wood to the site. Honestly, how hard is to move a tree?
With the camp in disarray the party took control of the situation. Obinorcle found that one of the wands had been completed, he was able to control it through a colander like hat and two Nintendo Wii Nunchucks attached to the wand by wires. They saw two options, try and blast their way out, or, as the druid had suggested, try and sneak out by a tunnel she figured she could dig provided she had the help of the camp. Being adventurer’s they clearly chose the blow their way out option. No wait, they went for the digging option.
The remaining party members battled an undead hydra which when slain exploded unleashing more monsters! Everyone had a great time and most of the researchers and engineers were even saved! The party decided their next stop would be Bastion keep, as it was the closest stronghold where the wand was intended to go.
Battle for Bastion Keep
The trip to Bastion keep was fairly uneventful. As the party drew closer to the keep they saw a great wall acting as a barrier for the abominations, but there was a large gash in it. Arriving at the keep they found the place was clearly expecting an attack at any moment.
They soon found that the current commander had gained his position more due to attrition than valid leadership skills. Relieved that 4 whole people had shown up he immediately suggested they should take the wand and walk into the scar and destroy all the abominations. Fortunately, our heroes were not quite that naive. Control of the forces fell to Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale and the party joined the forces getting ready to repell another assault by the abominations, possibly the last one the defenders feared.
The battle went surprisingly well, as if some divine force had poorly estimated balancing rules regarding the meeting of one large force against another. Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale lead a large force of calvary deep into enemy lines, Obinorcle using the untested wand fired waves of death upon the abominations, Ramas nearly held off half the invaders himself, and Ineis gave the infirmary workers something to do after taking a massive hit from one of the abominations.
Making their way past the great wall they soon caught sight of what was happening. A baby world eater had been summoned, and currently a number of casters were working to gain mastery over it. Sure they were not a match to slay such a beast the party decided their best course of action was to stop the casters, and so they did. A quick battle ensued where the World Eater broke free and ended up causing great harm to both sides. Ineis, Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale, and Ramas were all swallowed by the monster as well large parts of the enemy forces.
The party quickly decided to have the keeps wizards teleport the wand and as many of the wounded that could not move on their own to the capital, they would try and lead as many from the city as they could. And so it came that most escaped the keep but it was quickly turned into something more akin to swiss cheese as the world eater descended upon it.
The party started arranging for evacuations. The keeps wizards were ordered to take as many wounded as they could along with the wand the teleport to Galinious. The party warned as many people as they could before fleeing the doomed keep as well before it was turned into something more like swiss cheeese.
A plan was worked out, Obinorcle was going to take some of the swifter troops and head to Galinios to try and help reinforce it, the rest were going to head to Mir to make sure they had been made aware of the threat and mobilize the paladins stationed there.
In his haste to reach the capital Obinorcle came across some nefarious necromancer types trying to plant something in a graveyard. As he weaves the tale he single handedly stopped them all from planting one of Maras’s seeds of evil which would have raised the dead from the grave to fight in her army. Reaching the capital he studied the objects he found from them and actually came up with a method that seemed to neutralize the seeds leading to his heralding as a hero of the empire.
Ineis and Ramas after telling the troops to head back to the army went in more cautiously, once on the other side were able to finish up the crew, with a cry from Ineis to Ramas not to kill the last one which came too late, or was not heard. It was hard to tell in such a strange place. During the fighting the ship they had boarded, (which turned out to be more beast than the kind of wooden vessel they would have been used to) had set sail and the portal slammed shut behind them. Ut oh!
They found more prisoners aboard the ship, those taken from different planes by the slavers, including the rest of the missing scouts. Anabelle and Ineis figured out how to fly the ship (it’s magic!) and how its sensors worked. Without much of a plan they started heading to random dots on their map and Ineis volunteered to die… err.. walk into the portals randomly and see where she ends up. A few steps from entering the first, black gateway, Anabelle made the suggestion that they push a rod through the portal first. Ineis relented the glory of being the first to discover new land to a push bar they located and shoved it into the portal where it was promptly turned into splinters. Looking a little ill Ineis decided this was probably a better idea than blinding jumping in.
A few portals later Ineis had been nearly crushed by the pressure of the deep deep deep ocean, seen the most wondrous forest she’d ever laid her eyes on, and so on. But no signs of their home or of any other captives (a captive from the plane of water helpfully pointed out that whole crushing water thing upon her return, Ineis was most grateful for the useful info after the fact!). Finally, a fire dwarf named Scorch politely spoke up and suggested that the ship had a destination already, the City of Brass on the plane of fire, and from there they could likely find all the help they needed for the right price.
Meanwhile an efreet had tried to goad Ramas into a drinking contest for a large amount of the parties treasure which he turned down. This then turned into a contest of strength which he also turned down. The two ladies were relieved as Ramas kept refusing this, but it started to become clear he was not going to relent and it might soon come to blows. Ineis stepped forward to challenge him to a drinking contest to which she received a few words hurled at her, ones she would call not polite, and which briefly unnerved her. Having had enough she started egging Ramas on to beat him to a pulp. Poor Anabelle.
Ramas found himself outmatched by the efreet and Anabelle soon hit the floor unconscious. Ineis unsure if she should run or stay backed into a corner throwing healing spells on Ramas who fell unconscious more than once, but eventually the second friend of this efreet made his way to her and made quick work of her before she could once again awaken Ramas. Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale, who was of couse still unconscious and sleeping in a chest or something, did not put up a fight either.
They all woke up in slave pens, informed that Ramas and Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale would become gladiators while Ineis and Anabelle would become pleasure slaves for Saleel the efreet. Fun times for everyone!
The boys woke up with some other would be gladiators. Speaking with them they got the gist of what was going on, they were in some holding queue awaiting their chance to find out if they were worthy of moving on to the real fights or not. I mean, clearly they are, it’s not like their level 1 and have no name or anything. The other npcs were toast if they had to fight them. Except the one big guy. Obviously. Poorly armed they worked on a plan to escape which involved using brute intelligence.
They continued down the elegant hallways and eventually came to what they had learned was the room of Saleel. Bursting in they found… a party in full swing. He was entertaining guests and apparently had expected them, perhaps not quite so soon but soon enough. And, as a gracious host, he made them an offer, they could fight another group in the arena, and he would grant to the winning group 3 wishes.
Quickly stepping forward Anabelle wished for the power to slay Ursos. The wish was granted and she disappeared. From site.
Ramas wished for riches from the princes personal vaults and the party was outfitted with the finest of gear.
Finally Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale wished for them to return home. Ineis tried to interrupt him to make sure all the scouts and other slaves on the ship were sent home as well but it was too late and they reappeared back in the canyon from which they had left, but instead of the few days it seemed like it looked more like months had passed.
Ramas didn’t seem too concerned, he knew wherever his sister had ended up she was fine. Ineis was a little alarmed to find how much time had passed, her sisters Ainu’Cuivie period would have finished up long ago and she was unsure if her sister could see her while she was off-world. Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale shortly after got word from Obinorcle via a sending spell, he was close to giving up and had been trying to send messages to his companions for the last few months every day. Obinorcle gave the party a few details of what they had missed, but he’d give them a more detailed briefing when they finally made it to Mir. And so once again the party was off.
Again reunited the party sat down for a well deserved meal in Mir. Obinorcle went to great lengths to explain what had happened and how he was now a hero (but stressed it was no big deal, also that he was now famous and what a hindrance that was). The army of the dead had just up and vanished, and Obinorcle had figured out how to neutralize her seeds.
Just as they had started to dig in (even the berry junky seemed inclined to join in this time) a messenger came and interrupted their meal, the emperor wished to see them all. And by see them he means now. So no meal for our heroes, too bad, it looked rather good. The party was sent to the capital via a teleport circle. Upon arrival they were escorted to the emperor’s private chambers. In the chamber they found the emperor who looked in bad shape, his daughter and some of the finest healers of the land were there as well. He dismissed them all and beckoned the party closer.
The party readily agreed, what good heroes they are. So good that we’re sure we didn’t hear three of them commenting afterwards about which would be the first to sleep with the princess. There might have been some talk from a paladin about it being simpler to just kill the emperor but surely that was in jest. And soon they found themselves standing in the makeshift village. They explored around the town, were given housing, and even found a quest board which had a whole raft of quests just waiting for them! Our heroes explored the jungle around the camp, running into all kinds of neat things like a fire beam coming from the skies, really big dinosaurs, poisoned frogs, slippery rocks overlooking extremely high waterfalls, and even learned how to remove botfly eggs from their bodies! Ramas wowed the party with his near legendary culinary skills with some mouth watering t-rex steaks. And that was just their first trip!
Alas the text made mention of places none of them had any clue of. So, it was time for some research! Obinorcle headed to the library in the capital with his new research assistant Ineis and together they went through book after book after book until they finally figured out where the battle in the legends may have occurred.
Meanwhile Ramas being near home decided to go pay his family a visit. What a good son! He told them of the deeds he had accomplished, of Anabelle, turned down a wife at this time, and even judged the worthiness of calling some of the tribes boys men. His prowess was tested but he of course easily showed why he was #1.
Finally, after a few weeks the party was back together and ready to head out into the Karas Wastes to hunt for the Rings!
Rings of the Master
Into the wastes our heroes went, equipped with new toys they bought with their hard earner gold, new spells, and new abilities! Obviously any foes they ran into would have no chance!
And some scaled monster, bigger than Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale and Ramas combined, it’s scaled scarping along the spires of the wasteland, it actually tried to eat Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale, swallowing him in a single bite. It scampered up the spires with its pray much to the druids dismay who was trying out her new t-rex form, jumping and snapping at the beast but it stayed out of range while trying to digest its less than cooperative meal. In the end the meal proved to not agree with it as it did some rather harsh damage inside.
Later that night after licking their wounds a beat up paladin came across the party by the name of Rohr. He told them his sad story of how some insect people had captured his party and was seeking help to rescue them. Being true heroes the party said sorry, we need to find these rings but maybe after. Good luck!
Fortunately for the paladin he knew where this beasts lair may be and offered to take them there, the party in return offered to help once they had secured them. So off they went to a creepy cave which had more of the giant ants, only these ones didn’t really seem to be paying the party any attention, rather they just scurried around the walls as if they had some grand purpose.
Ramas and Obinorcle came too not too long after, Rohr and Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale helped heal everyone up and they all noticed that the lake of ooze was slowly draining. And at the bottom they found the most curious thing, a dwarven cleric named Arbosh, of a god who’s name kept slipping his mind. His group had apparently found this beast but were soundly trounced, he called upon his unknown gods blessing and was put into some kind of stasis which saved his life.
With greetings competed the party examined the newly formed chasm and found it lead to a very odd teleportation circle, drawn with not just wizard runes but also clerical and druidic ones. Obinorcle tried it just the same and the part found themselves before Fulg and Bent, wearer of the rings of the master.
The fight proved very simple for the party, it was almost like Fulg wasn’t able to do anything at all. Once he was defeated the party had a look around the room, he had drawn all kinds of symbols upon the wall, and once again some time was taken to use magic to decipher the text which spoke of a gnoll named Rhygar in the north and in short that he had the sword Retribution. The party cut the rings off of Fulg’s fingers, Obinorcle quickly put them on and gained a few new tricks as the rest of the party watched on in hushed silence certain he might be about to turn into some kind of monster. But alas he did not, but he did learn a few new skills and found he could now fly! Pretty handy! Fulg’s spell book was also found, and in it were odd spells, much like the teleportation circle, parts drawn in the language of other magics, crazy to Obinorcle’s mind, they shouldn’t be possible but he was looking at them.
The next day he tried to prepare a few of those spells but unfortunately for the party it broke his mind. He just wasn’t able to shake the oddity of them and he wasn’t able to work any of his normal magic. This left the party stranded in the chamber for another day. And no one had brought any books or playing cards to help pass the time!
Giants, Elves, and Pants
With the rings firmly in hand (literally, wires grew out from them into Obinorcle’s fingers and hands) the party headed out to try and help our Rohrs companions. He lead them for several days through the desert. Finally one day the sharp eyes of the elf spotted a glint off something metallic a few miles off, and as she watched it noted they were clearly watching them as well. A day or so later contact was made with them, it was a small band of thri-kreen. Rohr confirmed these were the people he was looking for, and once again magical communication took place. It sure was a good thing someone took a level in bard!
The trip to the city took most of the day, and the party was wowed when they arrived. And kind of disgusted too. But mostly wowed. They used a mucus the excreted to build their homes, and they were quite interesting looking, different from anything the party had seen to date.
Taken into the royal chambers they found their queen, something the druid helpfully relayed to the rest of the group. The party made her an offering of some of their junky magic items. In return she told them of their origins, having come from the astral plane and finding this land empty decided to settle it. She also showed the party visions of what Rohr group had actually done, which was after an initial hostile meeting, who was at fault there is hard to say, but what followed was Rohr’s companions slaughtering non-combatants without mercy, clearly driven by blood lust.
Unnoticed by the party was how the holy aura from Rohr had been slowly waning in power. The party shocked asked him if this was true. In response he charged the queen, sword drawn. With words on their lips Ineis and Obinorcle started magic to try and stop him but it not needed, for the queen had Rohr on her lips as she bit him in half with one bite. Delish!
The party seemed to have no problem with this. The queen granted them passage through her lands as long as she they did not harass her people. They were made aware that her lands stretched far, but that they had plans for expansion into the lush forests to the northwest, the Summer Kingdom they realized. And she had found the baby world eater, a being from her home plane. It was now working with her. They took their leave, Obinorcle sent word to an unconcerned Empire. They returned to gather up their companions and awesome mega loot and decided to continue on north to hunt down Rygar and take his sword or die trying!
Several more exciting days of walking later the party found a most amazing sight, a whale like creature with tentacles instead of fins was floating there in the sky. The druid copied its form, finding it was feeding off the ambient magic that she could see with its eyes. A creature unique in her experience, and one she was able to shift into. She ate as it ate and saw as it saw, all very interesting but they were in a rush, they have a world to save!
The giants elder druid spoke to the party about ruins in the desert they had explored that appeared to one time belong to dwarves. Arbosh flew into a rage and trying to slay the elder, stopped by Obinorcles magic. Not the first time the party had noted his actions being extremely erratic. After getting filled in on the history of the giants and sharing their story they found themselves invited to go on a hunt for one of the whales! The druid did not approve especially with all abundance of nature magics these giants had access to, but what’s the point of living if you don’t get to experience any wonder and delight?
The elves had from time to time come to harass the giants, for they considered the whales to be theirs, but in this instance came in much larger numbers than normal. It seems they had sensed the awesome loot our heroes were carrying and their king wanted it to outfit his troops for in order to acquire Retribution for himself from Rygar!
The party was trounced and captured, although Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale and Ramas gave them one heck of a hard time. The giants fled and returning to camp to let them know of the disaster. Ineis scryed them just in time to see the skimmer loading up with the bodies of their friends and pieces of whale meat, nom nom!
Giving chase using their flying forms they pursued them based on sights seen during scrying efforts and did eventually locate the mountain kingdom. Inside which the captives were informed they would be free to go in a day or so, minus their magical treasures. The king was however kind enough after beating them to give them a few thousand gold coins.
Ramas, none too happy, after all they had taken his drinking horn crafted from the horn of the green dragon that had slain him and spelled by Obinorcle to be forever full of beer, decided the way to handle this was to drag a tree into their ‘guest’ quarters. And drag in a tree he did. The walls got all scuffed up, the floor had all kinds of scratches and dings, and there was dirt everywhere! Trying to leave their room again the party found the doors sealed. With nothing else to do they decided to sleep on it. During this episode Obinorcle had made contact with Kalshaazakkeh Lonescale and they had made arrangements of where to meet up, but it was not to be.
Chased along the mountains paths skimmers soon joined the pursuit, and before long they found themselves at the edge of a 200ft high waterfall. The pair decided their only chance of survival was to jump, so jump they did.
Realizing their friends were lost, and that they had signed their DNR (do not reincarnate) cards, they used Obinorcles magic to return to the capital. They opted not to search for Arbosh, not being willing to bare the responsibility of bringing someone with such powerful magics and his ability to fly off the handle at a moments notice back to a place where there were lots of people he could hurt.
The party rejoins after spending about a year tying up personal loose ends and searching out new party members who were both willing and able to join in the quest for the Pillars of creation. While the memories of Kal and Ramas will remain forever, their loss was a grievous blow to the party and one they needed to recover from if they ever wished to complete their quest and save the Empire. Obi decided to retire from adventuring life to pursue the study of the Rings of the Master and with his new estates near Saumya, it was easier to make that decision.
Ineis roamed the land, interviewing possible candidate while also beginning her role as ambassador of the Empire to the elves. It took a while, but they finally tracked down some suitable members. A dashing swashbuckler from the high seas (and friend to a certain high elven paladin) named Sarric joined the group; Lucien, a bookish bard whose instrument choices were… eclectic… joined the group; and the great fighter Uroz, a half orc from old orc bloodlines of the Old Kingdom answered the call to adventure with a bold plan to gain the favor of the orcs of the North.
The party then teleported to an icy glacier where they planned to defeat the hideous ice troll, Gwerhig and his enormous white dragon companion–a true beast of an animal called Icefang–in order to impress the embattled orcs of the North and hopefully convince them that they were worthy bearers of the Chalice of the Mother. The glacier was fraught with dangers, but the party managed to pierce to the heart of the dungeon and defeat Gwerhig and Icefang, looting the massive hoard of treasure the white dragon had accumulated over the years. In addition, Uroz found a young white dragon that he ensorcelled with a sapphire pendant to become his mount and companion.
So armed, the party departed from the glacier and pressed into the Old Kingdom (a frigid, but nonetheless heavily wooded taiga), hoping to reach the orcs before Rygar’s army of gnolls found them. In this respect, they were not so lucky. Rygar’s army was widespread and the party ran afoul of a few scouting parties. Though they defeated these scouts with relative ease, the ferocity of the gnolls and their demonic powers were a bad sign of the kind of power Rygar could bring to bear.
During their scouting mission, they also began to feel resonances of necromancy magic in the area. While Uroz scouted ahead, the rest of the party tracked down the source of the necromancy and found a massive grave titan–a horrific undead beast that could throw zombies at them. The grave titan proved no match for the party, though it led the group to a hidden ruin in the depths of the forest. This ruin stank of necromancy and exuded a palpable sense of menace.
Within the walls of the keep, the party faced their most challenging foe yet! The interior of the keep was a scene of desperate battle, though one from long ago. And in the midst of this scene was a throne raised on the dais. Sitting in the throne was a decrepit skeleton clothed in the tattered remains of once-fine robes. As the party neared this long-dead ruler, its skull came alive and began cackling madly. The party had stumbled onto the remains of the once-powerful lich lord, Borcus! Though reduced in power now as a demi-lich, Borcus nonetheless nearly proved to be more than a match for the party.
Through fierce battle, the party managed to defeat the vile creature and took away a small haul of treasure from the demi-lich’s unplundered vault. Included in that haul was an artifact of disturbing power. This artifact was a suit of tortured wooden armor that Borcus once wore when he was a full lich. Lucien decided to attune himself to this artifact and the evil influences within this powerful magic item were immediately apparent as the armor seemed to try to kill him as it constricted against his body.
Fortunately, Lucien did not die from the effects of the artifact, but Ineis Ironleaf did not feel like this was a good development. She demanded that he take the suit of armor off (Lucien’s face had begun to rot away alread from the evil magics trapped within the armor) and reluctantly, Lucien complied. They stowed the armor away and prepared to depart from the crumbling ruin of Borcus’ keep.
They were intercepted, however, by a party of gnoll death knights and their death mage companions. Rygar was closing in. Though the party defeated the gnolls, they left one of the death mages alive as she provided them with key information about Rygar’s movements. This idea may have been a bad one.
It was not even a day later when Rygar himself showed up, hearing of the party’s battle prowess and their quest for the Pillars. As the current possessor of the Sword Retribution, Rygar had more than a passing interest in their quest himself. Rygar was drawn into a duel of sorts, fighitng the entire party (save for Uroz, who had gone ahead to the orcs to prepare the way). The terrible power of Retribution was revealed as the party battled for their lives. With blasts of intense fire, the humming buzz of high-powered magic, and the terrible sound of sharp metal cleaving through flesh, the party fought the demonic leader of the gnolls. Finally, Rygar was disarmed! Though disarmed, the gnoll was no less dangerous. He had the bard, Lucien, at his mercy. He demanded the party return Retribution to him or he would kill their friend.
Sarric and Ineis decided that their mission was more important than any one member’s life and ignored their unconscious friend’s plight as they took Retribution for their own. Rygar mercilessly bit the head off of the unconscious bard, killing him instantly. Then Rygar decided that enough was enough and commanded his army to attack. Taking the better part of valor, Ineis teleported herself and Sarric to Sarric’s family’s inn, the Starflower Inn located on the southern coast of the Summer Kingdom.
The party rested there for a short time and Uroz was teleported to them by Obi (rather unexpectedly). He learned that they were in the possession of the Sword and began lobbying Sarric for possession of the great weapon. As Sarric pondered the wisdom of this course of action, his parents pondered his sanity for travelling with a wood elf. In addition, Obi teleported another new adventurer to the party–a tiefling warlock named Amon. Amon seemed to be a good fit for the party, though he was a bit lost on the Then Rygar and a bunch of his buddies teleported in looking to finish the job he started and take back his precious Sword.
They battled the demonic gnoll and his cronies for a long time. Ineis was stricken with a terrible disease by a cleric of death that Rygar brought and this sickness rendered her unable to cast spells effectively. Amon showed his effectiveness to the party by thinking quickly and entrapping the death knights in a force cage, but the wily cleric and death mages were able to get out of it. Rygar himself had no trouble with this barrier.
Rygar and his allies, however, proved to be no match for the full power of the party. Without his sword, Rygar was just another scary monster–one that the party rather gleefully chopped into teeny tiny pieces, then blasted those pieces into greasy ash. With Rygar defeated, the Starflower Inn badly damaged, and half of the party sickened by Rygar’s hideous presence, the party tried to rest and recuperate, but they were interrupted yet again by more teleporting creatures.
This time, the teleporting creatures were high elf arch wizards. They had come to investigate the demonic magic they had felt from their wizards’ towers. Once the elves found out that the demonic influence had been defeated, they parleyed with the party. Sympathetic to their cause, the archwizards gave to the party some powerful gifts of magic items and a warning that all was not well in the Verdant Kingdom.
Their warning was that the Verdant Kingdom had gone silent. A powerful enchantment had been laid on the forest that prevented teleportation or scrying. Whatever was in there did not want anyone prying into what they were doing. Furthermore, no contact with the wood elves had been made and any who went into the Verdant Kingdom did not return. The party promised to look into the problem as soon as they had met with the orcs.
Ineis teleported the party via tree (a terrifying and maddening experience for non-druids) to Dreadfort, the main stronghold of the orcs. There, the party proclaimed their victory over Rygar, Gwerhig, and Icefang. The orcs hailed them (well, Uroz really) as heroes and invited them to council. In the council of the orc elders, the group explained their quest and their need for the Chalice. The orcs agreed to aid them when the time came, and the party was left to their own devices.
Uroz had some family stuff to take care of, so the rest of the party decided to venture into the Verdant Kingdom and find out what was wrong there. Ineis tree-teleported them to a copse of trees outside of the Verdant Kingdom and the party entered into the Little Blackleaf. They quickly found that all was not well in the Verdant Kingdom as the magic that blanketed the forest dimmed the light of the sun and caused strange magical effects to manifest.
The group made their way to the village of Tirion and found that the village had been depopulated, perhaps violently. There was the evidence of some kind of brutal struggle, but no bodies. With deepening suspicious, the party made their way deeper into the forest, trying to make their way to the blessed Glad of Asari. On the way, the party was assaulted by a small group of vampire spawn, giving the group a good clue as to what had happened in the Verdant Kingdom. Though the party defeated the vampire spawn and made their way to the Glade of Asari, with vampire spawn, there will somewhere be a vampire master…