Secrets of Pavis

Adventures in Pavis
A brief summary of some adventures in the city of Pavis

While Duke Raus of Rone was under the influence of Stalethia the Moondancer, the heroes paid a visit to New Pavis. While asleep in Geo’s, Xaraya woke to find someone trying to break in through her window. Clad only in her nightdress, she wrested the intruder inside and struggled with him. Once subdued, he revealed that a mysterious figure in Riverside had hired him to kidnap one of the women who had recently taken up lodging in Geo’s. Outraged, Xaraya demanded that Erastes lead her and her companions to the intruder’s employer. Xaraya woke Skye and Grom, but only Grom bothered to arm and armor himself properly (despite the laws against wearing armor in Pavis).

Arriving in Riverside via the back alleys, avoiding the patrols, they were able to ambush their putative kidnapper It turned out to be Erastes Fulmen, and Xaraya managed to break both his arms in subduing him. She forced a confession out of him that he was trying to kidnap one of the women on the orders of his mistress, Arantxa Vullen, who was a lover of Sor-Eel the Short. His mistress had agreed to find out more about these mysterious new heroes in town for her lover, it seemed, and her preferred method of doing so was by torture.

Xaraya demanded that Fulmen lead them to Vullen’s house so they could confront her before they would heal him. In considerable pain, he agreed to do so. Unfortunately for the party, the Riverside Boyz street gang, also known as the Dolphins, spotted a pair of attractive young women clad only in nightgowns, and decided to waylay them. The fight was short and unfair, but things took a nasty turn when Grom decided to honor his grim god of death by dispatching a young ruffian who lay unconscious. At this point Erastes joined the surviving Dolphins in crying “Murder!” to summon the trollkin watch. The heroes, not wishing to break more laws, submitted to the watch’s questioning and were led away to the city administration building.

In the offices of Jorjar the Quick, constable of Pavis, the heroes were relieved of all their possessions. Xaraya was particularly miffed to lose her collection of magic crystals. Erastes was also placed in a jail cell, being a known criminal.

A few days later, the trial began. The Riverside Boyz were convicted of unprovoked assault, while Erastes, despite the party’s testimony, was bound over to his mistress to keep the city peace. He left the courtroom smiling and whistling, with an impudent bow in the direction of Xaraya. Eventually Grom was found guilty of manslaughter, with the mitigating circumstances of religious observance and self-defense. Xaraya and Skye were found to be accomplices. Owing to the mitigating circumstances, they were not sentenced to crucifixion, but to be detained at the pleasure of the Seven Mothers cult of Danfive Xaron.

The party were taken to a jail attached to the Seven Mothers temple, where they were stripped, washed, and issued with simple orange tunics. They were introduced to Cakor Deth who was to be the officer overseeing their punishment duty. A day or so later, along with a bunch of other new prisoners, they were ushered in to the main temple, where a Rune Lord of the cult of Danfive Xaron, Nose Ring, preached a sermon to them about the joys of penitence and service to others. Standing at the back of the service was an exceptionally ugly Xaroni leaning on a huge axe, by the name of Splitface, who appeared somewhat cynical about the

After the lecture, Cakor revealed to the party that Splitface would be their patrol leader and that their first task would be to retrieve some artefacts stolen by trolls from a Seven Mothers priestess in the Rubble. Splitface led the party via the Troll Bridge, where they negitiated their way across successfully, and then to the hideout of a gang of trollish bandits. Because of the party’s status as trollfriends, they were able to negotiate the return of the artefacts without bloodshed, much to Splitface’s surprise.

On returning to the barracks, Xaraya was visited by Hetaera Thessen, a priestess of the Seven Mothers, who expressed concern that Xaraya was experimenting with Arkati sorcery.She argued strongly that if Xaraya continued down her path, she would eventually turn into a troll (as had happened to Arkat himself). She tried to urge Xaraya to seek the truth of the Lunar way, but Xaraya rebuffed her advances.

The next expedition was to be much more involved…

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Quick Summary of Interim Adventures - part I
Being a summary of about three years of adventures...

After cleaning out Five Eyes Temple, Skye was approached by the dragonewt priest Silver Whispers Descending and Hu Bao Yi who made some enigmatic remarks to her, before Hu presented her with an amazing curved blade, which he called a katana. Hu showed Skye the basics of using the blade, but then left with the dragonewts. Ronegarth’s watchmen said that the strange party went north for about a mile before reversing course and heading south, retracing their steps exactly before heading further south along the river bank.

During the next few weeks, the heroes became increasingly concerned that Duke Raus of Rone had fallen completely under the influence of the Lunar agent Stalethia the Moondancer, in whose company he was spending all day and, they feared, all night. Nothing they could do could persuade him to listen to them rather than her. It became apparent that he now intended to follow the orders of Sor-Eel, Count of Prax, to the letter rather than treating them as guidelines. Eventually, Stalethia, speaking for the Duke, sent the heroes off on a sequence of what they felt were inconsequential missions, including some to New Pavis, which involved a series of side adventures (see next few posts).

During a trip to Horn Gate the heroes learned a bit more about the oasis. The oasis was currently ruled by the Sable People who had displaced the Rainbow Bison some while ago, but the Hospital there was guarded from them by a sisterhood called the Daughters of Azundati, who were skilled swordswomen of Oasis People stock. The current leader of the Daughters was a beautiful woman in her 40s called Dzhingi who had lost a hand in battle at some stage and so had an artificial golden hand in its place. Once they became a Daughter, the women swore celibacy, but before she had become a Daughter following the death of her husband at the hands of Bison riders, Dzhingi had borne a daughter, called Dyala.

On their way back to Ronegarth, the heroes were ambushed by a contingent of Lunar hoplites, led by Stalethia the Moondancer, who used her strange dancing magic to create some trouble for the party. However, Grom and Skye made swift work of the hoplites, while Xaraya hit the Lunar agent with a barrage of arrows, sufficient to kill any mortal. Stalethia, was however, accompanied by a Lunar priest, who called on the Red Goddess for aid. His request was granted, and Stalethia and the priest ascended to the Moon itself, drawn by a red moonbeam.

Next the heroes went to Corflu to see if they could find a new water priest for Five Eyes Temple. While calling at the “city” (village in a swamp more like it), they encountered a strange crew of seafarers led by the legendary Barran the Monster-Slayer. His ally, Amur An Zed, suggested that he needed help finding something in the Rubble, but the heroes had too much on their plate, what with needing to find a priest. They found one called Loka, a dashing, long-haired, bare-chested young man of dark complexion, whom Skye found more than a little attractive. To cleanse the temple of the magics of the newtling shamans, the heroes engaged on an upriver heroquest with Loka. As always, Grom Ashbringer fell out of the quest half-way, developing an overriding fear of drowning. Skye and Xaraya Greatbow however made their way through the obstacles in their way and helped Loka tame the Water Horse spirit of the temple. For their efforts, Zola Fel blessed each of them with the mark of the Water rune, which would be of aid to them in future watery encounters.

Returning to Ronegarth, the heroes found Duke Raus of Rone freed from the influence of Stalethia, and being visited by Xaraya’s former fiance, Moharo Blessed-by-Waha, who had a plan to drive the Sables from Horn Gate if Duke Raus would agree to it. The trouble was that the Sables had a powerful shaman, who possessed magic knives that could turn the battle against the allies if he used them. Duke Raus asked his champions to scout out the town, secure the alliance of the healers and the non-intervention of the Daughters of Azundati, and to remove the knives from the shaman. On talking to Dyala, it quickly became apparent that Dzhingi would stand with the Sables, but Dyala did not know why. Grom renewed his acquaintance with the beautiful healer Marcilla and secured a promise that the Healers would try to use their influence to stop the Daughters from intervening. Skye, meanwhile, discovered that the shaman had a weakness for pretty girls and wine, so she visited the shaman with several amphoras full, and proceeded to get him drunk while rebuffing his advances. When he finally belched one last time and fell asleep, Skye relieved him of the knives. While this was going on, Xaraya had scouted out the market and discovered a Lunar merchant and painter named Munkaar. Growing suspicious of him, she searched his hut to discover not only that he was a Lunar agent, but also paintings of a naked Dzhingi and further evidence of an amorous relationship between them. Xaraya took this evidence to Dyala and the Healers, but before they could demand an explanation, Munkaar and Dzhingi fled, leaving behind the Sword of Azundati. Dyala took up the Sword and agreed to lead the Daughters in a flanking attack on the Sables when the battle came.

Returning to Ronegarth, it was agreed that there would be a pincer attack on the Sables. Grom would lead Raus’s mercenaries and begin the attack with a hail of fire from Duke Raus’ bows. When the Sables were drawn out, Moharo would lead a bison charge, coordinated with the attack of the Daughters. Everything went as planned. Grom, Skye and Xaraya all distinguished themselves in the fighting, with Grom striking down the Sables’ Storm Khan. However, once the Sables had been driven off and the Bisons had taken their place, victory celebrations were cut short by the news that Dyala had been killed in the fighting.

Marcilla explained that she could not resurrect Dyala as the souls of the Daughters went beneath Horn Gate to join Azundati, their ancestral queen, in her last resting place. If the heroes wished to save Dyala, they would need to venture into the ancient caverns to find her soul before she joined with Azundati permanently. The heroes did so without hesitation, and encountered numerous amazing things on their journey. First was an enormous minotaur, obviously inflicted with chaos, which thankfully did not infect the heroes before they disposed of it. Further on was an enormous cavern, guarded by a little old man, which contained vast animal spirits, which they learned were the Protectors of the tribes, angry male spirits always fighting with each other, which had been placed here by the god Waha to keep them from keeping the tribes in a state of eternal war, but where they could be released shoudl the Devil return to Prax. Xaraya found the Ibex Protector, and learned some things about her tribe.

Going further, the heroes were ambushed by Dzhingi, her golden hand replaced by a cruel iron spike, angry beyond belief at the party for ousting her and, to her mind, killing her daughter. She was accompanied by Munkaar, evidently a powerful sorcerer. Eventually it became apparent that his and Xaraya’s magic were too closely matched, and that Dzhingi, while more than a match for Grom, could not prevail against both Grom and Skye, and the angry lovers teleported away. Finally, the heroes found Dyala’s soul, still making her way to the Cavern of Azundati. When they reached the cavern, they found a thousand souls in torment, tortured by a powerful, godlike spirit – Azundati herself. The great queen’s spirit had been corrupted by chaos (there was speculation later that the minotaur had had something to do with that) and rather than providing a peaceful resting place for her daughters, she had been torturing them for generations. Unequipped to do much against spirits, the heroes were on the verge of having their souls ripped apart when Xaraya managed to smash a jewel in the statue of Azundati that was in the center of the cavern, which destroyed the evil spirit and freed the tormented souls. Dyala, who had helped the heroes, agreed to return with them to her body, having had her hopes of solace dashed.

With Dyala returned to life, she said that henceforth the Daughters would be the Daughters of the Hospital, and gave the Sword of Azundati to Grom. Moharo thanked the adventurers, and made one last attempt to persuade Xaraya to be his number one concubine. The heroes swiftly left Horn Gate and returned to Ronegarth, where they received bad news from the Duke. His enemies in the Lunar Heartland had apparently had all his family assets seized, leaving him unable to pay his debts to the party. He therefore released them from any obligation they might feel towards him, but suggested that with Sacred Time approaching, the party might like to visit Garhound for the famous contests there.

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All Eyes on Five Eyes
In which our heroes sing for a dragon, find an old friend, and unleash hell on some newtlings

Duke Raus of Rone was at war. He asked Grom and his friends to start drilling his mercenaries, preparing them for possible tunnel fighting, while Daine, his chief of mercenaries, embarked on a scouting expedition of Five Eyes Temple, the fortress of the newtlings who had proved so resentful of the human settlement of the middle valley. Needing another scout, Daine had summoned Tarnak, the now one-armed “Mayor” of Weis. More surly than cocky now, Tarnak promised Xaraya that he would soon do something to make her think of him as a true hero.

Several days later, Daine and Tarnak had not returned. The Duke decided that it was time to move on Five Eyes, but still regarded a scouting mission as essential. He asked Skye, Grom and Xaraya to undertake the mission, along with the Stepson mercenary Harmodius (or Harmo as he preferred to be called). The Duke would lead his troops personally to the valley below the temple and await the return of the scouting party before leading the assault.

The party chose the second of the “Eyes” that legend said led to the temple. Skye, who had visited the temple before had been unconscious when she entered the temple and blindfold when she left it, so was unable to help pick the correct entrance. It soon became apparent, thanks to Xaraya’s remote viewing, that this eye was not an entrance to the temple, but to a disused troll shrine. Although friendly to trolls, the party decided that angering troll spirits was not a wise move at this point and moved to the fifth eye.

After dispatching a chaos snake with some ease, the party discovered that the next obstacle was far more serious – a shimmering giant in gold, the dream of a dragon. This creature, which itself had been sleeping, woke and drew itself up on its forelegs. Looking at the party, it asked them to leave their best singer behind and get out. All except Skye were terrified by this manifestation of their deepest fears, but Grom agreed to stay behind to buy the party time, by his death if necessary.

The remaining three members of the party moved on to the third “eye” and were relieved to find a less fearsome adversary in the next cave – a man-beast, seemingly stitched together from man, lion, and scorpion. The party got the drop on the creature, which had been enjoying a meal, and dispatched it quickly.

Meanwhile, Grom was singing lays of ancient Sartar to the dragon, whose name he learned was Krang. The dragon was impressed, and decided not to eat the Humakti. In return for another song, he told Grom three truths:

  • He would need to visit Hell
  • That the red-haired dragonfriend should visit him [Krang] soon
  • He should turn left, then right
    With these mysterious words churning through his mind along side the fear*, Grom passed by the dragon and entered the tunnel behind him. Grom soon came to a fork in the tunnel, where he went left. After a short while, he found a small opening on the right, which he ignored. Continuing down the tunnel, he eventually came to the bottom of a well-like opening, at the base of which were mounds of rotting and rotten foodstuff. Grom proceeded to climb up to the opening.

Xaraya, Skye and Harmo were meanwhile carving their way through the newts of the temple. Eventually they found the main temple area, a large partly-flooded chamber with a continually-flowing source of water, where they were ambushed by a large force of newtlings led by two small specimens clad in religious regalia. Skye recognized the older one as Croaker, the shaman who had ransomed her. After a short and bloody battle, in which the younger shaman was badly wounded by Xaraya’s arrows, Croaker called for a truce, and invited the invaders towards the water source where he stood for parlay. Xaraya reluctantly agreed.

In the meantime, Grom had crawled out of the well to find three newtlings armed with tridents and nets surrounding him. They called on him to surrender, but the Humakti was not about to do that. At one point in the ensuing combat, Grom was on his back (where he ended up repeatedly), with nets entangling his shield arm and left leg. However, with his sword arm free, a follower of Humakt is never beaten. Moments later, three newtlings lay eviscerated at his feet.

Back in the temple, Xaraya’s suspicions were confirmed. As the three adventurers set foot in the water, Undines (water elementals) surged at them at Croaker’s command. The remaining newtlings charged with tridents and nets at our heroes. The other shaman called forth the Water Horse spirit, while Croaker climbed to the roof of the temple. Yet while Skye and Harmo held off the attackers, Xaraya shot a crippling blow at the younger shaman. Desperate to summon a healing spirit, the young shaman staggered through the door at the back of the temple…

…where he ran straight into Grom, who had been searching the rooms at the rear of the temple, looking for the right turn the dragon had told him about. Grom dispatched the wounded newtling quickly (at which point the fearsome Water Horse was freed from his command) and picked up the body. He entered the temple holding the body of the newtling leader above his head, saw Croaker on the roof, and threw the body at him. A good hit dislodged the elder shaman from his perch, and he fell to his death 20 feet below. The elementals dispersed and the other newtlings surrendered.

A search of the remaining temple rooms found several prisoners in the cell where Skye had been held, and a dragonewt embassy. The resulting conversation was as mysterious as interaction with dragonewts always is, and almost came to blows. Cooler heads thankfully prevailed.

With Grom still certain he had missed something, he, Grom and Xaraya returned to Krang, while Harmo marshaled the compliant prisoners to return to Ronegarth. Krang was delighted to see Skye, and asked Grom and Xaraya to leave them, indicating to Grom that he should retrace his steps.

Krang told Skye that she was the left hand of the dragon, and revealed to her certain draconic truths and insights that no human had learned for an age. She gained a degree of Draconic Illumination, and learned the secrets of a form of draconic magic that allowed her to breathe fire, although its use required a morning ritual (one that Skye has repeatedly failed to perform…)

Grom and Xaraya returned to the small cave that Grom had bypassed earlier. In it, they found the body of Daine, stabbed in the back with what Xaraya recognized as Tarnak’s knife. A small tunnel led to a cave that proved to be the final resting place of Xaraya’s would-be lover Tarnak, spliced in two by Daine’s iron longsword. On returning to Ronegarth, they learned from Daryli Godtalker that Daine’s sword possessed an enchantment whereby it would strike with terrible force on its own against anyone who slew its owner. Duke Raus gave the sword to Grom in recognition of his role in ridding the Duke of this thorn in his side, although he kept Daine’s iron plate armor.

*All characters from lands previously affected by the Empire of the Wyrms’ Friends have a Passion of Fear Dragons at 70%.

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Murder at Ronegarth
In which a market turns to murder

The heroes returned to Ronegarth via Horn Gate, where they dropped off the women of Black Rock, to find the small settlement in a state of excitement. The famed trader Biturian Varosh was soon to visit Raus Fort with his caravan, bringing with him exotic goods such as the poor settlers of Weis Domain had not seen for a very long time.

Soon the fort began to fill up. First to arrive were the Thunder Bison, a warlike branch of the Bison People. To Xaraya’s dismay, they were led by Moharo Blessed-by-Waha, to whom Xaraya had been engaged at birth. Moharo expressed great delight at seeing Xaraya again, and complemented her repeatedly on her beauty, the fullness of her bosom and the length of her leg, much to the chagrin of one Karnyne Widehips, who, it transpired, was Moharo’s current fiancee. Moharo repeatedly made lascivious advances to Xaraya, suggesting that even though she could no longer be his wife, having no tribe, she could enjoy a privileged position as his most favored concubine. Xaraya rebuffed Moharo on every occasion. With the Bison was Kagrunner, a Storm Khan and warrior of renown. He insulted every warrior in the Fort, including Grom, who bridled and looked forward t a chance to duel the bully.

Next to arrive was the Lunar Provincial Survey Team led by Hazphar Pharates, who proceeded to flirt with Xaraya in front of Moharo. He said he had news for Duke Raus of Rone, who came out to meet Hazphar, whom he greeted like a long-lost nephew. Hazphar told the Duke that Stalethia the Moondancer was on her way to the fort. The Duke immediately smiled with delight – a smile that soon turned into a rictus of terror as he realized the implications.

Next to arrive was a mysterious stranger from the Far East, Hu Bao Yi, who was looking for Silver Whispers Descending and his dragonewts. The Tailed Priest told our heroes that he was looking for “the Dragonfriend,” who he was sure was here right now, but not yet (once again, the party were mystified by something SWD said). Over the next couple of days, the party observed him practicing his weird oriental combat styles with the dragonewts. Skye was particularly interested in his scimitar-like sword, which the priest called a Katana. Xaraya took the opportunity to learn the rudiments of the Kralori language, and was eventually able to learn that Hu (whose name meant “timely rain”) had obtained his weapon from the School of Celestial Defense in Lur Nop in Kralorela, but that such fine weapons were not given easily to foreigners.

Next to arrive were a dozen newtlings, led by Flysnapper, emissary of Quicktail, lord of Five Eyes Temple and the Reverend Cho’och, Priest of Zola Fel, his negotiator. It seemed that they had a grudge against Duke Raus and spent much of the next few days in heated discussions with the Duke.

Also arriving were a troop of baboons, led by Tsetse, their warrior champion, and a pair of Morokanth brothers dressed like traders, called Creechkol and Kra’hatcha, who kept trying to trade with the various parties at Ronegarth but always seemed to come off poorer. Soon afterwards Chaku Ironspear turned up, with the ten awakened herd men the characters had left with him a while back. The party decided that they should go to Rabbit Hat as freeholders. Another Agimori had also arrived, but this one had very strange clothing and a thick accent. He called himself Amur An Zed and was looking for help of an as-yet-unspecified nature that he hoped to find at the market.

Another lone stranger was a man clad in black hoplite garb, most unlike the hoplites of Dara Happa that formed the backbone of the Lunar military. He called himself Harmo, or Harmodius the Stepson, a member of a mercenary band from far-off Refuge, who was looking for a desert trader who might help him find who killed his partner. He was hoping that Varosh was that trader.

The day before the market a delegation from Sun County arrived, led by the beautiful but stern Lady Vega Goldbreath. Among her honor guard was a very strange sight – a baboon with shaven skin, painted yellow, who called himself Melo Yelo. Tsetse’s baboons teased him mercilessly, but his soldierly demeanor stopped him responding. This added another factor to the already combustible mix of Lunars, Bison warriors and Duke Raus’ men. Kagrunner in particular continually insulted the Lunars for worshiping chaos, the Yelmalions for being led by a woman, the Agimori for being “ground men,” Grom for following a cowardly god and everyone else for whatever crossed his mind at the time. Tensions were running extremely high and the Duke ordered Daine and Xaraya to be on guard for violence.

Eventually, Biturian and his caravan arrived, with his wife Norayeep of the Flower Bison, his shaman Idrith, and his warrior guards The Five, supposedly the last survivors of a tribe destroyed by the Lunars. Biturian seemed upset to see the Yelmalions, while Kagrunner seemed to have encountered The Five before and ridiculed them as losers. Biturian, however, set up camp professionally.

Finally, as the Duke’s guests were enjoying a pre-market feast, A lone horsewoman arrived. As she flung back her traveling cloak, everyone gasped. She was a short woman, clad in scarlet and silver, barefoot, with a pile of silver hair secured by jade pins. Heavily tattooed, she was nevertheless of surpassing, exotic beauty, perhaps second only to the healer Marcilla in Grom’s eyes. She swept in to the tower, but soon emerged on the arm of Duke Raus and took her place at his side for the feast. This was Stalethia, and she entranced every male present – and many of the females – when she danced for the crowd at the Duke’s request. Even Hazphar stopped flirting with Xaraya for the evening. Kagrunner got wildly drunk and insulted everyone present. The baboons disappeared completely. Finally, Silver Whispers Descending portentously announced that something terrible was about to happen and that he would Futurequest to find out what. With a Tailed Priest standing in the center of the feast area surrounded by Beaked Warriors looking klanths at anyone who came near, the feast broke up in subdued fashion.

Xaraya chose to stay up to keep an eye on things. Early in the morning, she heard a scream from over by Biturian’s tent. She roused Grom and Skye and they went to investigate. They found the body of one of The Five, slain by an axe. The other members of the Five soon appeared, demanding vengeance, although Norayeep soon calmed them down. Xaraya found tracks, and followed them to the West rampart of the fort, where they simply stopped. Grom started asking questions. It soon became apparent that Kagrunner was nowhere to be found. A naked Hazphar was found sneaking back to his tent. One of the Five said that he saw Stalethia creeping around the Bison yurts. A bizarre sequence of events saw the Morokanth brothers paying Xaraya for giving her the information that Kargunner was last seen arguing fiercely with Chaku, who refused to say why. The baboons were nowhere to be found. Varosh announced that some items had been stolen from his stash – mostly amber necklaces and iron spearheads.

Harmo the Stepson revealed that he had advanced scouting and offered to help look to Kagrunner and/or the baboons. Moharo was found sleeping naked through the commotion in his yurt, but Karnyne immediately accused him of sleeping with Xaraya, slapping her and kneeing Moharo where it hurt. Xaraya decided to go searching with Harmo and a couple of Raus’ men, while Grom continued his investigations. Skye threw up her hands and went back to bed.

Grom managed to get Hazphar to reveal that he had been enjoying relations with someone when the murder occurred, but discretion forbade him revealing who. He also discovered Kagrunner’s helmet in Lady Vega’s tent. She was at a loss to explain why. Hu Bao Yi’s katana was missing. The newtlings told Grom a variety of things:
*One of the Duke’s mercenaries threatened to kill Kagrunner last night.
*The short painted female mated with Kagrunner and killed him.
*Kagrunner attacked one of the survey team.
*The red moon people, fire worshippers and the Duke have reached a secret deal to hunt nomads and newtlings alike.
*This market was a trap! We will never leave here alive!
Grom left the newtlings more bewildered than before, although the Zola Fel priest did tell him that one of the newtlings, Longtongue, had gone missing.

Xaraya and Harmo searched the ramparts, and found tracks of a large Cliff Toad above where the previous tracks had stopped. Thoughts of a lycanthropic toad started going through Xaraya’s mind. They followed the tracks to near the river, where they found the headless body of Kagrunner. His head had been removed in a single swipe. The katana was found nearby. Who could have decapitated a Storm Khan in one go? At this point, a lycanthropic toad seemed like the least of their worries.

Harmo noticed that the tracks continued to the river. As he was investigating, a huge tongue emerged from the river and struck him. Xaraya raised the alarm and Grom and his men started towards the river. Harmo and the mercenaries started into the river while Xaraya cast Project Sight. She discovered a newtling riding a toad under the water. As one of the guards collapsed with glazed eyes she realized the newtling must be a shaman. Harmo sliced the toad’s tongue off the next time it attacked, leaving it a race to disable the shaman before he and his fetch dragged everyone to the spirit plane. Xaraya was able to use magic to disable the newtling before Harmo and eventually Grom slew the toad.

They dragged the newtling to the bank, where, after unsubtle “persuasion,” it told them what had happened. The newtling, Longtongue, had been sent by Quicktail of Five Eyes to cause war between Duke Raus and the Thunder Bison. While they had initially planned to kill Karnyne and frame Xaraya, the excesses of Kagrunner had provided a better option. Kagrunner had killed one of the Five in a drunken rage, then staggered off. Longtongue had summoned a Traskar, an awakened Cliff Toad, and had stalked him on the ramparts before having the Traskar entangle him in its tongue and swallow him. They came down to the river, where the Traskar vomited up the Storm Khan, whom Longtounge’s fetch then destroyed on the spirit plane while Longtongue beheaded the body with the katana, which he had obtained from the thieving baboons.

After further investigation, it transpired that Stalethia had seduced Moharo. Karnyne, on seeing this, had sought out an all-too-willing Hazphar for the night. Kagrunner had clumsily attempted to seduce Lady Vega, who threw him out (he forgot his helmet), making him so angry he killed the next person he met. Chaku and Kagrunner had been arguing over Kagrunner’s behavior, nothing more. the baboons took advantage of the Fiver’s death to raid Varosh’s stash before fleeing (they were never found).

With embarrassment extremely high all round, the newtlings left with Duke Raus’ formal declaration of war in their possession. Biturian cast his Create Market spell and the market began. The party were able to acquire some useful items, particularly armor. In return for clearing up the mystery, the Issaries priest gave the party his copy of The Journal of Federang Sandpiper. The Bison riders left to head for Moharo and Karnyne’s wedding, with both extremely annoyed with each other, and Xaraya for that matter. As the Lunar survey team left, Hazphar warned Xaraya to keep an eye on Stalethia. Biturian was forced to admit that this was his most eventful market since his own wedding.

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Muriah and the Mistress, Part II
In which our heroes discover a den of depravity in Sun County

(GM note: I didn’t take good notes during this and the next few adventures, so apologies that they aren’t as detailed as the previous recaps)

Our heroes realized that not all of the vision had been accounted for in their expulsion of the broos from the Vilnar headwater caverns. They discussed the visions with Leotychidas, Homophilus and Cleombrotus, who said that all clues pointed towards a village called Black Rock, on the western outskirts of Sun County. The party marched through the heat of Fire Season to the village, moving through dead fields, a deserted village and past up dried up streams. At Black Rock they were greeted as emissaries of the Count by the village headman Fethal, a former Sun Dome templar, and his cocky son Varloz. They pronounced a feast in honor of the visitors that night, and Fethal insisted that the militia would drill for the visitors the next morning.

At the feast, the party noticed some strange things. Grom noticed that the youths of the village were unruly and uncouth, particularly for Sun Domers, although he was distracted by an attractive young widow. Xaraya noticed that there were few young men, as opposed to teens, and that Varloz spent much of the time leering at her. That night, Leo and the other Domers were asked to sleep in Fethal’s hut, while the unbelievers were asked to sleep outside. Suspecting something was up, Xaraya, Skye and Grom split up watch duties. When Grom was on watch, he was approached by the young widow, bearing her child with her. She said her child was sick, and she needed to take her to the Earth Temple, but wanted a strong man with her to keep her safe. Grom agreed, because there was something threatening about the place. They proceeded to engage in increasingly affectionate conversation. After she left the child with the crone at the Earth Temple, she asked Grom to retire with her, but Grom, though tempted, refused.

The next morning, Grom and Leo supervised a drill session. They declared the Black Rock militia in severe need of discipline and proceeded to start knocking it into shape. While they were doing that, Xaraya, Skye, Homophilus and Cleombrotus searched for information, with Varloz acting as their guide along with two militiamen. They found the crone in the Earth Temple had lost her wits, although she did try to show them writings in a language no-one understood. Climbing the rock slide to the waterfall above the town, they found a shack that housed the village shaman, a woman who seemed compltely and utterly terrified by something. Xaraya tried reasoning with her, but failed.

Looking from the top of the cliff, they spied a pool and barn in the distance. Remembering the presence of a pool in the vision, the party insisted on going to investigate, despite Varloz complaining that it was just some fields and a barn. Xaraya called Grom to join them, while Homophilus went back to join Leotychidas in training the militia. They made their way along the cliff top and down to the barn area. Varloz looked more and more agitated. After Grom opened the barn, they suddenly came under magical and missile attack from hidden opponents in the grain fields. On top of that, Varloz and the militiamen turned on them and shut the barn behind Grom, locking him in. Varloz killed Cleombrotus with what was obviously a magical spear. Skye faced off against Varloz while Xaraya dealt with the other militiamen. Grom failed to reach the barn skylight, so took the simple expedient of ripping down planks from the barn wall and made his way back out.

Eventually Skye killed Varloz, who had failed to control the magics of his spear (and took the spear for herself), while Xaraya and Grom finished off the other militiamen. They then turned their attention to their hidden assailants, by firing burning arrows into the fields. The assailants fled, and the party noticed they looked like children. The children were fast, and made off over the plains to the southeast under cover of the smoke. The party managed to find tracks and followed them.

After a while, they lost sight of the children, and then lost the trail. Recovering it, they found that the children appeared to have been picked up by a band of Sable riders – Xaraya’s tribal enemy. Continuing on, the party indeed encountered a band of Sable Riders – a Lunar provincial survey team, headed by a charismatic young officer named Hazphar Phraates, and an Iron Centurion named Dalmades. Xaraya and Hazphar, a sorcerer, proceeded to flirt, while Dalmades and Grom sized each other up and agreed to duel the next time Dalmades visited Ronegarth. Hazphar revealed that his command had indeed come across children in the plains, and out of charity had taken them off to the southeast, where they appeared to know some settlers. Hazphar did not know where they had gone precisely. Despite their mutual attraction, Xaraya was sure Hazphar was not being totally level with her.

Reaching what seemed like a dead end, the party decided to return to the barn, which they explored. They found a horrific sight, with mutilated corpses hanging in the barn and evil phrases carved into the roof. They also found a series of pouches that Xaraya recognized as fetishes – including a male testicle and a lock of hair that Xaraya realized had been taken from the shaman in a ritual of spiritual castration. They also realized that the pond had been artificially created by a small dam of rocks, and that this had caused the drying up of the fields and stream below. They removed the dam, and as the pool emptied, they discovered a skeleton of a young teen.

First, the party returned to the shaman. With her lock of hair returned, she seemed to gain in spiritual strength, and was able to speak. She revealed that the village was beset by a particularly evil and chaotic spirit, one that had carnal power, that had tortured her, taken her spirits and killed her fetch. The shaman was too weak to help, but begged the party to destroy the spirit.

The party girded their loins and set back for the village. There was no-one to be seen. The party first explored Fethal’s hut, where they found more obscene carvings and a blood-stained dagger stuck in the roof. Skye secured the dagger in her bag and the party searched the other huts. They found cowering woman after cowering woman, most of them pregnant. One of the women was the widow Grom had met the previous night, with her baby, but she looked much less attractive than she had. Questioning revealed they were all pregnant by the same male, but it was not Fethal or any other man the party knew of. The women were all terrified of “The Mistress” above all.

The decided to explore the Yelmalio temple next. As they filed over the bridge in the center of the village, Fethal and his men came out of the temple in battle formation, while Skye felt something moving in her bag. Skye looked, and found a tiny naked woman attempting to pull the dagger out of the bag. When Skye moved to pick up the woman, the tiny figure grew in size to twice the height of any of them. Grom swung his sword, hit the woman in the head, and, miraculously, she disappeared. (GM note: critical hits against unarmored, even if mystical opponents are extremely useful)

Fethal’s militia fired bows ineffectively. Xaraya responded using her new legendary ability of Deadeye – and skewered Fethal through the eye. Another healed him, but Xaraya promptly did it again! Others had been brought down by Skye’s missile fire and Grom was closing, looking like an Avatar of Humakt the God of Death. The rest of the militia fled, but Xaraya found Fethal was still alive and conscious, though dying. Fethal confessed that he had brought the curse upon the village by killing young girl by the pond in his youth. She had returned as a vengeful spirit, and had mastered him, and the rest of the town, killing the men who resisted and fathering a gaggle of children from hell, Varloz being the first. He then expired.

The party entered the temple, where they found a bound and gagged Homophilus, and a naked Leotychidas, crucified above the altar. Homophilus revealed that the Mistress had spent hours writhing with Leo, who was now exceptionally weak. They rescued their friends, and went to the Earth Temple. By careful interrogation of the crone, they were able to ascertain that she had a blessed shovel, which would put angry spirits to rest by proper burial. Using the shovel, they buried the skeleton they had found. The shaman said that she believed the spirit had departed.

The party was left with a village with no men and a host of pregnant women, likely carrying chaotic children inside them. They resolved to take the women to Horn Gate, where Skye believed the healers could remove the chaos inside them safely. As they left, they burned the cursed village and marched back to Ronegarth full of regret and sorrow at what had befallen the people of Black Rock.

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A Brief Interlude on the Hero Plane
In which our heroes find a Wyter for Weis

Our heroes and the Templars returned to Ronegarth, to deliver the news that the broo who had poisoned the Vilinar had been dealt with, but there was no sign of their leader, the witch Muriah. The Duke took this news with equanimity, but was distressed by the news of what had happened to Weis. He took his leave of the party, saying he had much to think about.

Ronegarth had had some visitors in the party’s absence. First was Jodred, a Sword of Humakt from Pavis. He interviewed Grom, whose deeds he had heard of, and consecrated him as an Acolyte. He reminded the new trainee priest that he had promised to bring the way of the sword to the trolls of the Gundahaak clan. Grom promised to get round to it.

The other visitors were far stranger – dragonewts! The party saw a Tailed Priest, standing on one leg, singing, guarded by two watchful beaked dragonets with klanths drawn and ready, while half a dozen crested dragonewts walked round him in a circle, occasionally switching direction. Daine told them that the priest was called Silver Whispers Descending (“no, I don’t know what it means either”) and that they came looking for the “fierce females of Fort Rone.” Silver Whispers [SWD] had been standing like that for a day without moving.

Eventually, SWD stopped his song in mid-note and came over to the PCs. He looked at the women and said one of them was the one he had been dreaming about, but he was not sure which, as all humans looked alike to him. He grabbed each woman by the shoulders and let his dragon tongue flick all over their faces, something neither particularly appreciated. He sad that Xaraya is not the one but Skye was – a dragontouched woman, he said. At this point, Skye suddenly realized she had no fear of dragons and that she could understand some of what the other dragonewts were saying.

The priest continued by saying that he had seen Skye’s future and that she would be present at the Dragonrise. Unless she wasn’t. (Huh?) At this point a Crested Dragonewt tried to interrupt; SWD drew his klanth and beheaded him in one move. He asked, “Was that impatient? I must decide whether that was Right Action” and went back into his guarded trance.

Duke Raus then reappeared and said that he had been consulting with Daryli and Jodred, and they had come to the conclusion that Weis was such a sorry place because it lacked a Wyter. They had agreed that Grom should, if he were willing, perform a Heroquest, the Making of the Storm Tribe, to bring strength to the village and secure it a guardian spirit. As a Humakti, Grom was not ideal for the role of Orlanth, but with Xaraya and Skye supporting him in spirit, he might be able to finish the quest.

That night, a grand feast was held, a combination of wake for Lady Varna and a celebration for the victory over the broos. Lady Jezra had rather too much to drink and expressed affection to Grom, but he had eyes only for the unattainable Marcilla. After the feast, Grom stepped forward and everyone began the incantations to propel Grom and his companions on to the Hero Plane.

Daryli told Grom that there were three things to remember: No-one can make you do anything, violence is always an option and there is always another way. Grom would have to demonstrate understanding of each of these principles as he gathers the tribe. He also reminded Grom of the legend: Orlanth overcame the doubting wheel, then helped Yinkin against the Plant Tribe, freed Lhankor Knowing from the Stone Tribe, defeated Vadrus in a test of strength, gathered the tribe and made them listen to him, then led the tribe in battle against the Night Tribe, after which they all acknowledged him as King. With a final wish of good luck, Daryli faded from sight and Grom found himself on the Hero Plane once more.

Grom found himself standing before Ernalda, who looked uncannily like Marcilla, and the Earth Mother told Grom-as-Orlanth to form a tribe from his friends and relatives so that he could challenge the Emperor.

First Grom faced the Doubting Wheel. The wheel was being pushed by strange figures dressed in wooden masks. It told him he should not make a tribe and rolled towards him. Grom remembered that no one can make you do anything and found a net in his pocket that he used to ensnare the wheel, which shrunk down so far that Grom put it in his pocket and walked on.

Next, Grom found Yinkin the cat god fighting with the plant tribe over the hunting grounds. Grom explained his wish to bring together his friends and relations to make a tribe. Yinkin said he might come to the moot if Orlanth helps him against Rustling Vines. Grom remembered that violence is always an option and drew his sword. The Vines manifested themselves as an Aldryami warrior with a wicked-looking bow. Grom charged the elf and dispatched him quickly. The elf left behind a sharp “lancet” as the Aldryami spears are known, but Skye said she didn’t need it. Yinkin said he appreciated Grom’s efforts and might bring the Cat Clan to his moot, but he walks by himself and all places are alike to him, so he might not.

Grom traveled on and found the Knowing God, captured by the Stone Tribe (dwarves). He had been imprisoned in a cube of iron. The Stone Tribe looked warily on. Grom considered trying to bend the bars, but Xaraya reminded him that there was always another way. Inspiration came to Grom to sing a song no-one had heard before. The bars of iron disappeared. The Knowing God agreed to make the Marks-on-Barks Clan part of the tribe, as long as it had fierce warriors.

Next Grom found Orlanth’s wild brother Vadrus, beating the bushes, looking for Yinkin to fight. Grom asked Vadrus to attend the moot, but Vadrus told him to get out of his way. Grom recalled that no one can make you do anything and challenged Vadrus to tests of strength. Vadrus, it seemed, was of equal strength and skill to Grom, and although the challenge could have gone either way, Grom won. Vadrus agreed to come to the moot “as long as that blasted cat wasn’t there.”

Soon, Grom and Ernalda stood before the moot. There were many other chieftans there, such as Issaries, Chalana Arroy, Humakt, Vinga (Skye manifested as the Loyal Daughter), Elmal and others, but they were all squabbling. It appeared that Grom/Orlanth had given them contradictory promises.

Grom was tempted to beat sense into the quarreling gods, because violence is always an option, but he decided that there was always another way, and asked Ernalda for help. She brought forth the Tribal Regalia and adorned Grom with it. The gods stopped fighting and many of them bowed before the majestic figure of Grom-Orlanth, although Vadrus and others snorted.

At this point the Night Tribe attacked, accompanied by a great Hell Monster. Grom and Skye stood against it, with Xaraya adding magical support. They defeated the monster handily and it agreed to serve Grom however he wished.

This was the point where the Heroquest should have ended, but as Grom was born aloft by his tribe in celebration, a great dragon appeared. Somehow, the PCs knew that Silver Whispers Descending had entered the HeroQuest. The dragon looked at all 3 PCs, even the ones that weren’t really there, and they saw a fast montage of images:

A beautiful woman with leathery wings
A naked male vampire, with runes and grime all over its body
A wizard’s tower at night, with lightning behind it
Deep dark caverns, with a glistening forest of fungus
A black broo with a bear’s head, its fangs drooling
A small girl full of malice
A bubbling pile of chaos
The Lunar hero Vindrman Sol Veir, decapitating someone
The Lunar Coders, staring at them
The baby they found suddenly growing into a golden adult, a god
The Lunar governor of Pavis shouting at them
A gigantic cradle floating down a swollen river, bearing a gigantic baby
A severe winter, bringing snow and ice even to the plains of Prax
AWyrm’s Friend and a God Learner, staring at one another
A striking red-haired Orlanthi Queen (Grom recognized her as Kallyr Starbrow)
A ship rising up to the heavens
A vast Dragon’s head, rising up and breaking out of a hilltop, devouring a huge building

Shocked by this vision, the heroes returned to the feast at Ronegarth. Daryli soon announced that a spirit was present, and wished to bargain with its conquerors. Xaraya undertook the negotiations, and the spirit agreed to protect the village of Weis, serving as its guardian. The spirit showed signs of terrible spiritual wounds in the past, and Xaraya felt she recognized it, but could not say how.

GM note: the heroquest was taken bodily from King of Dragon Pass. I worked out other options for success and failure for each section, but curiously the PCs took the route that leads to success in the computer game in virtually every case!

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Muriah and the Mistress, Part I
In which our heroes hunt down the foul broo that have been poisoning the Vilnar river

Returning Lady Jezra to Ronegarth, our heroes discovered that further tragedy had befallen the Duke in their absence. The Duchess Varna had died suddenly of her illness and Marcilla was back from Horn Gate to stop it from spreading further. As Skye, Grom and Xaraya filed in to the Duke’s parlor to pay their respects, they found it draped in black. Also present were three Sun County Templars, including their old friend Leotychidas. It transpired that the High Priest of the Sun Dome Temple, Gaumata the Strange had been sent a vision, about two twisted children that threatened to defile the Zola Fel valley. Gaumata was convinced that one of these children was active in the Vilinar area of Weis Cut and had sent Leotychidas to warn Duke Raus. Too late.

The Duke was not sure what to do about the Sun County delegation, but told the party that his scouts had found signs of Broos operating in the Vilinar headwaters and was certain they had something to do with it. Leo said that Gaumata was sure that one of the children was active in that area, the other in the remote village of Black Rock, and offered to help the party if they would also help him investigate the Black Rock area. The party agreed. Leo introduced his companions, Homophilius (“It doesn’t mean what you think!”), a young scholarly type, and a grizzled old scout called Cleombrotus. The group paused only to consult with Daine and Marcilla. Daine was ill himself, and suggested a likely area for the investigations to concentrate on, while Marcilla gave the party medicinal herbs and treated linen gloves with which to handle Broo remains.

The party first paused at Weis, where one-armed Tarnak had ridden without stopping off at Ronegarth. The village was rank with the smell of rotting corpses and all the doors were shut except one belonging to an old woman. She told Xaraya that Tarnak had shut himself up in his hut and had not been seen out since his return. At her most conciliatory, Xaraya persuaded Tarnak to open up and let her in. Tarnak told her that he was now merely half a man, and had no chance of winning Jezra. Xaraya proved so soothing in her response that Tarnak looked at her with a look in his eyes that suggested he might no longer regard Jezra as the object of his affections. He said that Xaraya was his only hope now and he looked forward to her return.

In scouting out the headwaters, the party’s scouts quickly found broo tracks leading to the cave from which the river flowed. The party discovered that the Vilinar had two sources, one warm and one cold, which caused steam to rise where they met, obscuring vision. They entered the caves stealthily to find two broos on guard, one of which proved to be somewhat of a handful, especially because he seemed able to reflect magic. Eventually, sheer numbers brought them down, and Xaraya gleefully pocketed the crystal the tough one carried.

The party did not feel like wading up either stream, so they found a tunnel leading off the entrance cave and followed that. A crude pit trap was avoided, and the party came to a bridge over the warm branchthat was covered in green slime. A broo stood atop the bridge, but fled as the party approached – the broos were now warned! The party took care to cross the bridge so that no-one slipped into the stream below and then inched forward carefully, anticipating ambush.

Our heroes soon came to a larger cavern, where the light of a fire flickered at one end, and which was filled with natural stone pillars of varying sizes. Leo and the Templars took one wall, inching round with spears and shields ready, while Grom with sword and board took another wall. Skye and Xaraya stood ready with their bows to lend support. Three broos sprang from behind a pillar to attack the Templars. As Grom tried to outflank them, he found himself in combat with a strange broo who moved extremely quickly and had a confusing appearance such that even weaponmaster Grom found it difficult to hit.

Trusting that Grom could handle himself, Skye and Xaraya aided the Templars. Homophilius and Cleombrotus suffered for lack of armor, but the broos were dealt with eventually. The fast broo disengaged and ran when its comrades fell. A search of the cavern found a long timber plank and a trapped chest. Skye disarmed the trap and the chest was found to contain some vials of an unidentified substance and a jeweled dagger. Leo advised his colleagues to stay behind to tend to their wounds, and the party inched down another tunnel, again expecting an ambush.

The party came to a high cliff over the cold branch of the Vilinar. There were three ropes hanging from the cave roof, one secured on the party’s side, one secured on the other side and one being held by the strange broo, who was regarding them cautiously. It was flanked by two broos with bows. Skye and Xaraya raised their bows and began firing. The two missile users were easily dealt with, despite one being extremely strong and the other having one massive leg. Each of them went down with a leg wound, as it happened, before being finished off. The swift broo’s confusing nature made it difficult for them to hit, but the two women were no slouches with their bows. The broo returned fire with magic, causing Leo to dissolve into a fit of sneezing. The others shrugged off further magical attack and the broo, now with a couple of arrows sticking out of its hide, took the fateful decision to swing back across, trusting to its chaotic abilities. Grom swung his shield at the beast as it sailed through the air and caused it to miss its footing. It slipped, but clung to the cliff such that it could have regained its footing, had not Grom managed an athletic move that knocked the broo down off its tenuous hold, and the fiercest adversary the party had yet faced fell into the stream below.

The party returned to the previous cavern and got hold of the timber plank, using that to cross the stream, rather than relying on the slippery ropes. The sandy tunnel widened into another larger cavern, which proved to be empty. The party inched further forward until they came to a chamber with a rock floor, rather than sand. It was occupied by a fearsome-looking broo clad in black plate armor, covered with chaos and death runes, bearing a massive sword that glowed with the Bladesharp enchantment and a black shield. The fight was a long one, with Grom at one point landing a mighty critical hit to the chest that would have killed any other opponent, but which the broo shrugged off as a minor wound. Skye and Leo contributed with their spears, and Xaraya managed a few good hits with her bow, but the broo started dealing mighty blows itself. Eventually, another blow inflicted a wound to the chest, and the broo was forced to try to use magic to heal itself. The party concentrated their attention to the chest and eventually brought the fearsome beast down.

The creature wore a valuable medallion studded with rubies around its neck and a key, and further investigation found more items of interest: the chest that matched the key, made of fine camphorwood, a set of phials that reeked of disease, presumably to be added to the river water, a set of manuscripts written in Auld Wyrmish, and a portentous letter. A chimney led out of the chamber upwards to the cliffs above, easily climbable to someone with some skill, it seemed.

Battered but triumphant, the party picked up their wounded and limped out of the caves. On the banks of the river as it left the cave, Xaraya found freshly-made broo tracks. Their fast foe had survived the fall, it seemed. They led to a cliff, which the broo had apparently climbed. Given its speed, the broo was presumably long gone by now.

The party staggered into Weis, where the wise woman informed them that Muriah was an unfortunate girl whose family, twenty years ago, was dying of disease and who had been denied aid by the villagers for fear that she too carried the plague. Her parents died, and Muriah had returned to the village to tell everyone that a day would come when all the doors of the village would be shut by Death, and then disappeared. Xaraya avoided Tarnak’s attentions.

The letter read:

To Muriah the Blessed,

It appears you have a sister in Sun County. Someone else wronged as you were. I fear she may not be easy to approach, but I believe she will recognize a kindred spirit.

Despite your best efforts at Rabbit Hat, things have gone awry there. Pumpkinhead was slain and his altar purified. We believe his slaughterers also did away with Polybius, for we never heard the expected announcement from him, and work is progressing to rebuild the settlement. Nevertheless, GG’s plans continue unabated. The Waiting Mouth and the Changer dwell unnoticed yet.

Things progress well here, however. Our exploration of the caverns is proving most effective. We owe the discovery of your sister to the Talon’s kin.

Finally, the Great Vampire has made itself known to us, as GG said it would. It shall ensure we conquer the valley and befoul the River.

I look forward to your return. In your absence, I shall deal with Qad as you suggest.

D.

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Jezra's Rescue
In which our heroes lose and then regain the daughter of the duke

After the Heroquest to restore Darnbar Chaosknower to life, Marcilla the White Healer suggested to Xaraya, Grom and Skye that they come with her and Darnbar to Horn Gate to see if the Sisterhood could attempt to cure Darnbar of the Unlife Sickness. The Duke’s wife, Varna, was unwell, and Lady Jezra asked to accompany the group to see if she could purchase some herbs that she believed would cure her mother.

The journey to Horn Gate was interrupted by another encounter with the Morokanth, in this case Visishwaw Windclaw, a follower of Storm Bull and his gang. After an initial period of feeling each other out, Grom earned the Morokanth’s respect and Visishwaw offered Grom some Kvass, which Grom had to turn down owing to his geas. Visishwaw found it odd that a god would require a worshipper not to drink, and took this as a sign of Humakt’s weakness compared with the Bull. They spent the night camped on the plains, sharing the watch duties with the Morokanth.

The party found Horn Gate still controlled by the Sables. Xaraya bristled at this, but Marcilla asked her not to cause trouble. They delivered Darnbar to the Hospital and Jezra purchased her herbs. Not wishing to stay where the Sables ruled, the party set off back for Raus Fort via Weis Cut, aiming to overnight at Weis Village.

Arriving at Weis, they discovered the old Headman had died and been replaced by the arrogant young “Mayor,” Tarkan, who proceeded to attempt to flirt with Lady Jezra, ignoring the PCs. Jezra rebuffed him bluntly and demanded a hut to herself. Tarkan offered the hut of the old headman and set his “best men” to guard it.

The PCs were awakened by a might ruckus in the middle of the night. They heard Lady Jezra scream, but by the time they had gathered their weapons they found Jezra’s guards dead and the lady screaming for help from a distance on the back of a mighty riding beast of some sort, with others flanking her.

Xaraya loosed an arrow and hit one of the beasts in the leg. It slowed and the party was able to catch up. Its rider was an ugly sort, looking like a three way cross between a man, a troll and a pig. He put up a fight, but was slain by Xaraya’s arrow. The beast, a giant hog of some sort with enormous tusks, kept attempting to charge, but was brought down by Grom.

By this time, the rest of the beasts were out of sight and Xaraya lost the trail when they crossed the Weis river. The party knew they had no choice but to report the loss of his daughter to the Duke. Tarkan came with them. Daine informed the party that the beasts were Tuskers and their riders Aramites, or Tusk Riders, holed up in an ancient stone tower to the southwest, and they had already received a ransom note from them. The Duke was thunderous in his anger and ordered the players to kill these Tusk Riders who were defying his authority. Daine told the PCs after the Duke had left that they had better bring back Lady Jezra as well, although the Duke would not admit that this was more important to him. He suggested the party take Tarkan along, as his skills in hiding, sneaking and climbing would probably come in handy.

On the way to the tower, the party surprised a patrolling Tusk Rider and his beast. The rider was young and inexperienced and put up much less of a fight than his mount. The party made it to the tower without further incident, only to find it impregnable. An attempt at a frontal approach was answered by arrows fired from window slits. Tarkan suggested going round the back and climbing the tower, which proved to be much more weathered and craggy than it looked. It was very old indeed.

Tarkan and Xaraya made it to the top. While they were pulling up Skye and Grom, they discovered that what they thought were two statues were actually two gargoyles, one of which ripped off Tarkan’s right arm. A hard fight ensued, which the party won without further loss. Xaraya treated Tarkan’s wound so he would not die, but the man simply sat and cried, holding his severed arm. A quick search of the roof revealed a secret niche, where they found a valuable-looking necklace.

The party found the way down and made their way into the filthy tower. They quickly found, surprised and dealt with a pair of Tusk Riders who had fired arrows at them earlier, the searched what appeared to be the main floor of the tower, discovering a disgusting altar as well as the quarters for half a dozen riders. They could not find the remaining two riders, nor Lady Jezra.

The party decided to go down another floor. The worked out that the next floor was the ground floor and, judging by the smell and the noise, the stable. Attempting to proceed stealthily, Skye triggered a trap and fell about thirty feet, fully armored, into a deep pool of water. Heroically, Grom immediately jumped in to rescue the Vingan. It appeared he had forgotten two things – first that Skye, blessed by the nymph Kinope, was an excellent swimmer and second, that he was not and also more heavily armored than Skye! Skye ended up saving her would-be rescuer, dragging him eventually to the shore. Xaraya followed and was able to make it to the shore as well.

As the PCs stood there dripping in the wet and darkness, they heard some shuffling and creaking from around them. A skeleton lunged at them out of the darkness. Grom was delighted at a chance to destroy undead and drew his sword. The skeleton proved to be no match, going down at one blow from Grom’s sword. Grom followed the noise and dispatched six skeletons in all. Eventually the PCs found a source of light and to reveal a natural cavern surrounding the pool, with six graves from which the skeletons had emerged. A search uncovered some burial goods, including some silver and copper and an iron spear head.

It also transpired that there were steps leading up from the cavern. Despite his prowess against the skeletons, Grom was still suffering from nearly drowning, so Xaraya took point. The steps led to a sliding trap door, which Xaraya inched open. Peeking upwards, she found herself looking up at the legs of a Tusk Rider who appeared to be wearing only a bloody apron. He was taking something from a stone structure above the trapdoor. A few yards away, Xaraya could see Lady Jezra chained against the wall, her clothing in some disarray, but screaming blue murder at her captors, using words Xaraya had never heard before. An armored Tusk Rider stood grimacing at her.

Xaraya reached for her only stabbing weapon, an arrow, and jabbed it upwards between the legs of the Tusk Rider in the apron, dealing him a fearsome wound to the abdomen. He staggered backwards, allowing Xaraya to move the trap door further aside and climb out. The other Rider drew a wicked looking sword and cast a spell. Grom was able to make it out of the stairs before both riders attacked. Xaraya was able to take the torturer down with her battleaxe but Grom had a stiffer time with the Riders’ leader, who appeared magically protected. Eventually Skye was able to make it up the stairs too and joined the fight. With some appropriate use of magic and a few lucky blows, not to mention vocal encouragement from Lady Jezra, the Rider fell. The key to Jezra’s chains were quickly located and the Duke’s daughter released. After a few choice words about how long it had taken for the PCs to rescue her and a swift kick or two at her late tormenters, Lady Jezra demanded to be returned to Ronegarth NOW.

The party made their way up from the torture chamber to the stable, which was filled with four cantankerous Tuskers. The party decided simply to open the door and shoo the Tuskers out, there being no farmland for them to ruin in the vicinity. They then retrieved Tarkan from the roof, still sobbing, especially about what Jezra would think of him now. Jezra indeed looked disgusted at Tarkan’s new state, and remained aloof from everyone on the way back to Ronegarth.

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Resurrection Heroquest
In which our heroes become gods, for a while anyway

When last seen, Xaraya, Grom and Skye had agreed to aid Marcilla, High Healer of the White Sisterhood, in a Heroquest to bring Darnbar Chaosknower back to life. The PCs escorted Marcilla to Horn Gate, stopping off at Ronegarth, where they picked up Lady Jezra, who was intent on visiting the White Sisters to get some herbs to help treat her mother, who had fallen quite ill.

They reached Horn Gate without incident, and Xaraya was able to restrain herself from confronting the Sables. At the hospital, Marcilla gathered her sisters and explained the legend to her helpers. During the Gods War, Lhankor Mhy went missing. Chalanna Arroy was worried at this, and asked Humakt, Issaries and Vinga to help find the Knowing God. Each was unwilling, but the Goddess persuaded them. They overcame obstacles on the way to the land of the dead, where they found Tien about to decapitate Lhankor Mhy. Humakt defeated him and drove him off. Chalanna Arroy healed Lhankor Mhy, Issaries told him where he was, Vinga gave him a pair of walking boots and Humakt gave him a sword to defend himself. In return, the Knowing God gave each of them a reward. Then the gods returned to their homes.

Xaraya agreed to play the role of Issaries, while Skye and Humakt of course agreed to play the roles of their patrons. Marcilla explained HeroQuesting for the PCs’ benefit, and emphasized that if the PCs veered too far from the ritual, very bad things could happen and if they did so on purpose then they would commit the sin of God Learning. She stressed that if they failed at their tasks, they would likely fall out of the God Plane, with possibly bad results. If they died on the God Plane, however, they would almost certainly be lost there forever. In the earlier parts of the legend, when they are being recruited, they would have to play the parts of disinterest well. If they simply agreed to go along, they would have failed and would fade as the legend goes on. If they played their part too well, however, they would not accompany CA on her quest and would fall out of the HQ. The PCs gulped and agreed to these conditions.

The sisterhood began their prayers and the questers found themselves on the God Plane, each heroforming into the gods they represented. First Marcilla approached Xaraya, who as Issaries was engaged in a market. Xaraya successfully resisted Marcilla’s first two attempts to persuade her/him to come with her, when Marcilla argued that she/he must help her friend, and that without knowledge the market goods would be worthless, but agreed to come when Marcilla said that Issaries’ customers were falling in numbers, for they did not realize they needed his goods.

Next, the gods approached Vinga, who was playing with Yinkin. CA failed to get Vinga’s attention until she sent Yinkin away, but was glad to see Vinga did not follow. Then CA explained she needed someone who could climb far over hill and dale to find Lhankor Mhy, and the goddess agreed to go with them.

Then the gods approached Humakt, who was locked in combat with a Zombie god. Grom defeated the Zombie easily and realized his sword was now enchanted against zombies. Marcilla asked him to come with her, but he said he had other zombies to dispatch. So Marcilla showed him affection, and Grom was eager to help her, realizing his emotions for the beautiful healer.

The gods then came to a great scarp, which the legend said Vinga climbed and then pulled up her friends, with some undefined help from the other gods. Skye climbed the cliff with difficulty, but then was at a loss as to how to pull her friends up as she failed in exerting herself. Xaraya/Issaries shot an arrow up attached to a rope, and with the two ropes the questers were able to continue.

The legend then said that Issaries guided the gods across the River Styx towards Havan Gor, judge of the dead. Xaraya did not know the secrets of Issaries’ travel in the underworld, and so was left to her own devices. She managed to bring the gods to the dark river, where again she shot an arrow tied to a rope, which enabled them to cross over.

At last the gods found Lhankor Mhy, unconscious and with a garrote around his throat, put there by the headhunting Chaos god Tien. The god was a headless monster, and Grom/Humakt challenged him. Grom won swiftly, setting the monster to flight.

The questers could now see that Lhankhor Mhy was Darnbar, suffering from a grievous head wound. Marcilla healed him and he opened his eyes. He asked where he was, and Xaraya told him. In return, the god gave her a magical map that could tell her where she was at any time, if she could read it.

Next, the god said he needed boots to make his way back to the God Plane. At this point Skye realized she had forgotten to bring a pair that would fit him. She faded out of the Heroquest.

Finally, Lhankor Mhy asked for a sword. Grom realized that he, like Skye, had forgotten to bring the item, but he had the sword at his side. Reluctantly, he turned over his newly-enchanted sword. In return, the god told him the secret of Defending Knowledge.

The gods started back to their homes, although Lhankor Mhy did so with difficulty because he had no boots and Vinga the pathfinder was not there. The questers woke up back at the hospital. Darnbar was breathing and would live, but Marcilla said that because the myth was not wholly successful, he had not found his way back easy. Ever after, she lamented, Darnbar would be subject to the Relife Sickness, and would be a shadow of his former self.

Nevertheless, the quest had succeeded in its main objective, and the party celebrated with the sisterhood that night. Grom found himself unable to take his eyes off Marcilla all evening.

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Rabbit Hat Farm II
In which our heroes discover the evil beneath their new lands

Duke Raus took the news of possible chaotic activity, more than just broos, in his lands at Rabbit Hat with little humor. He instructed the PCs to clean out the place, and to aid them sent with them Dranbar Chaosknower, a Lhankor Mhyte expert in chaos lore, Gorkin Rockbone, a Flintnail rock dwarf whose experiences as a pestle (don’t ask) had scarred him for life, and the beautiful Marcilla, a High Healer of the White Lady. The party set off for Rabbit Hat with some trepidation and wondering whether Subodai’s chaos-killing skills might have protected him. On the way, Grom noted that Marcilla would occasionally speak to a butterfly that flitted around her, and the dwarf would occasionally talk about not letting his secret out.

Marcilla quickly confirmed that the farmstead had suffered the depredations of worshipers of Malia, the mistress of disease. She cleansed the well and the headman’s house, which Darnbar noted had also been converted into a shrine to Primal Chaos itself. The party then prepared itself to examine the tunnel they had found earlier.

Gorkin muttered and fussed his way to arranging a pulley system to allow for a safe descent down the tunnel (including a tea break during which he muttered away while eating a can of unappetizing Dwarf Food™). As the party descended, Dranbar examined the tunnel walls, declaring them to have been chewed out of the rock by a Krarshtkid, an awful beast sacred to the Devouring Mother, Krarsht.

The party proceeded with caution down the tunnel, finally coming to a wider cave dominated by a wide, murky pool. On the lip of this pool, Xaraya was distressed to find the headless body of Subodai. Marcilla declared that his head had been bitten clean off. As the party carefully explored the cave, Gorkin slipped and fell in the pool, from which he had to be rescued. At this stage, the first mutterings of “damn, dirty dwarf” was heard among the party. Skye too slipped in to the pool.

The pool turned into a stream, which the party discovered had been dammed and diverted down another Krarshtkid-built tunnel. The party noticed a pile of tarnished silver coins, which they decided not to touch at this stage [GM note – and forgot to come back to], as they proceeded down the new tunnel.

It turned out that the stream entered a hole in the center of a spherical cave, from which several other tunnel radiated out. The party explored one of them, at the end of which was a dead end and two bodies, locked together in their death struggle: a Sun County patrol commander and a chaos-spawned Krarshtkid. Dranbar explained that the gooey strands holding them together were Pratzim, a glue-like webbing extruded by the monsters.

Returning to the spherical chamber, the party heard an ominous sound, as if of something huge slithering towards them from the pool cavern. At the same time, a Krarshtkid emerged from one of the other tunnels, its six limbs propelling it up the tunnel at a frightening rate. It spat Pratzim, covering Gorkin and Skye in the gooey mess. Shortly afterwards, a nightmare loomed into view as a gigantic shelled squid-monster appeared from the tunnel to the pool, its eyes frantic and its maw screaming as if for blood. Grom engaged the Krarshtkid while Xaraya leveled her bow at the beast, Marcilla attempted to free their trapped comrades and Darnbar watched the other tunnel in case of another nasty surprise.

The fight was hard. Xaraya used her skill to shoot the beast repeatedly in the head, while Grom and the others fared less well. The Krarshtkid’s tongue, they discovered, bore acid that dissolved their weapons and armor and there seemed to be no end of Pratzim. Eventually, just as it looked like Gorkin, Skye and Grom were all doomed to suffocate in the goop, Marcilla called on the power of her goddess and the Pratzim dissolved to water. Grom and his fellows wasted no time in carving up the Krarshtkid before turning to the squid-beast, which had inflicted severe damage on Xaraya even while taking arrows, multimissiles and speedarts to the head. The beast fell, and the party pulled it to the hole and dropped it down, giving them once again a way back. Marcilla worked her magic on the wounded and the party pulled itself together again.

Moving down the remaining tunnel, the party noticed a hole in the roof. The party once again resolved to explore that later and continued on, keeping a wary eye to their rear. The tunnel ended in a much larger chamber, expanding well beyond the limits of their magical light. The chamber appeared to be a large cube, about 20 meters on each side. In the center of the room was a weird structure; a circular pit surrounded a raised altar of some sort, which appeared to depict a waiting maw. Covering the pit, however, was what appeared to be a net made of human hair. As the party examined this monstrosity, they were surprised again. Simultaneously, a thrown web of Pratzim engulfed Skye and a Krarshtkid descended from the darkness to attack Grom.

Again, the fight was difficult. Grom and Xaraya made short work of the Krarshtkid, although receiving injuries that Marcilla was quick to tend to, but even Gorkin’s Earthsense was unable to locate who had flung the Pratzim. A crossbow bolt then came out of the darkness, skewering Dranbar in the head, killing him stone dead. The healer wailed, for she had lost access to her immediate resurrection ability when she had called on her goddess earlier. Gorkin worked out that their undetectable assailant was located on a ledge 10 meters up the west wall of the cube. The attacker then flung out a net over Skye, and began to drag her towards the ledge. At Xaraya’s urging, Gorkin pulled out his secret weapons, a Pistole and what he called a grenade. Meanwhile, the Krarshtkid had been healed magically and attacked Grom and Xaraya again. Despairing, Marcilla once again rescued the party by dismissing the magical protections of the enemy. A hideous, cowled individual with a crossbow was revealed. Gorkin tossed his grenade and, following the explosion, the stunned enemy tried over the edge of the ledge and fell to his death. The Krarshtkid followed its master into oblivion soon after. Skye was freed from the net and the Pratzim with some difficulty.

The body was confirmed to be human, if mutilated, with an amulet bearing the chaos rune round his neck, along with a sharp tin razor. The party decided to set fire to the net, in case the pit contained another Krarshtkid. In one corner of the chamber, the party found a series of empty crates, stenciled with a Moon Rune and the legend, “Office of the Commissary of Despatch, Furthest (Duty Paid in Full).”

Gorkin arranged a series of pitons to allow the party to climb up to the ledge. There they discovered a small, portable shrine in the shape of the mouth of Krarsht, made of porcelain. In its central orifice sat a severed human appendage, barely recognizable. Following the ledge around, the party came to other side of the hole they had noticed earlier, with a rope ladder ready to be dropped down it. Further on, they found the tunnel blocked by a large oaken door, thankfully unlocked. Inside was their enemy’s quarters. Ransacking it, they found a crate of weevil-infested hardtack biscuits, a crate of the hazia drug, assorted nails, and a complete 12 volume set of the books of Elephantis, a famous work of Pelorian pornography.

Having found nothing more of interest, the party gathered up Dranbar’s body and made their way warily back to the surface, Gorkin carefully noting spots where the caves could be collapsed. As they made their way back to Ronegarth, a weeping Marcilla asked the party if they would aid her on a Heroquest to restore Darnbar’s soul. The battered party agreed without question.

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