Kai'ckul

The price of Greatness.

I feel cranky today. Maybe it is the undulating waves of the sea. So much up and down, but nowhere to go. I’m getting restless.

Gnomes are weird. They don’t like to do anything interesting and for all of their desire for knowledge they don’t seem to have much to back it up. They quickly shift topics of conversation, sometimes nonsensically, can’t see past direct meaning and fact to find the greater meaning that lies beneath. What kind if world would this be if we all parsed each word for exact meaning or broke down every plant and animal and sunset into factoids to be consumed and hoarded. I would rather sit on a beach back home (I think of the Greenbirth as my home now) and enjoy a sunset in peace than know what the sun is or where it goes at night. It is funny how visiting a place for a day or two can already feel so much more comfortable than the place that I spent most of my young life.

Or maybe it’s the visions….. I didn’t understand the enormity of Merla’s accomplishments until I saw for myself. She was a paragon of battle. How she lived through the war and all the violence it must have taken such a toll on her. Even the small glimpses I have seen/experienced have caused me to lose sleep. I could never hope to have the strength she had. Fighting is fun for me. But that…..what she did……definitely not for funsies.

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Session 12- Adventure Log
A Tale of Gnomes and Pirates

As our intrepid adventurers enter he great dwarven city of An Dun they take some time to take advantage of being in one of Kai’kuls great trading outposts to spend some of their hard earned gold and resupply.

The party Purchased-
Rations w/ Cheese for Nilbud- x6- = 3 AM
Rations w/ Eel- Eldorin x3 = 1.5AM
Barding Alteration for Ester = 20 AM
Darts x 20 Baranel = 2 AM
Crowbar- Nilbud = 2 AM
Rations w. Pike and Gar- Khalo = 3 AM
Rations w/ Mutton Jerky- Eldorin = 1 AM
Playing Card Set- Nilbud = .5 Am
Plan Flute- Kahlo = 12 AM
Flute- Eldorin = 2 AM
Fishing Tackle x2 Nilbud + Razhad = 2 AM
Rations (Hardtack) x4- Razhad = 2 AM
Pitons x 4- Razhad = 2 AM
Daggers x2- Razhad = 4 AM
Studded Leather Armor- Razhad = 45 Downings

Total- 57 AM and 45 Downing

Remaining Group Loot
31 Journey
44 Travel
63 Rest

4 Ancient Mint

5 Tumbledown

In Bank of Oezter- An Dun- 1120 AM

While haggling and chatting the group hears more rumors of the earthquake to the East. Kahlo finds that his town was one of those affected and runs off into the city seeking solace in a temple to kai’kul. He randomly takes the 9th path down into the city and ends up on a balcony overlooking the dock region with an intricate clock set into the roof allowing light to travel through different gems at different times of day. Nearby he finds the shrine he seeks. Within he has a vision of Kai’kul herself who confirms the story and sets his soul into searching his reasons for traveling away from his home.

As the group enters the city Eldorin and Nilbud notice a Dwarvish looking human nearby trying to subtly get their attention. This name claims that he is a merchant being unfairly left out by the people of An Dun over a trade conflict with Senia. The group “promisies to tlk to someone” and leaves Eltan Firthgar to his own devices (but not until after Razhad slight of foot’s a ring into his own possession). The group enters the city and takes the 6th path which leads to the docks themselves.

A group of Gnomes appear to be busy with some sort of ship at the end of the docks and the group came up with a cover story to try to gain passage on the ship. After lots of discussion about dropping names or not approached the Gnomes

Eldorin struggles to convince them to take us to Wyrmspyre but eventually we discover the way to deal with these people is to promise them knowledge. Each member entices them with various mundane knowledge which seems to be enough to ensure passage across the Fathers Footprint.

The group deposits a large amount of gold in the bank of Oezter after having a debate about digging a hole vs. more civilized methods of safeguarding gold. Baranel familiarizes herself with the proof of deposit stone so that she can find it with locate object at a later date if necessary.

Nilbud finds a stable to take care of Ester while she is away at sea.

The party whiles away the long hours at sea in the following ways.

Eldorin- Keeps an eye on his spellbook, goes over Walters notes and practices the flute.
Baranel- teaches the Gnomes about druids and shows off her powers while fishing in bear form.
Kahlo- practices his pan flute and composes hymns to kai’kul
Razhad- Climbs the ropes of the rigging, fishes some and takes some time to learn about the Gnomes (picks up a few words of Gnomish)
Nilbud- Practices card tricks and despite multiple attempts to engage the Gnomes finds that she has nothing in common with them and spends a lot of time feeling bad about herself.

Kahlo wanders to the bow of the ship to ask Kai’kul for guidance and once he decides to to kill us all he notices a ship in the distance. The group is soon beset by pirates (the ones that sailed away from the Greenbirth)

Razhad takes aim and the pirates and gets warned to “Stand Down”. Eldorin makes preparations for the attack and once the pirate ship is in range he sets all their sails on fire with one firebolt. Nilbud lifts the hood of her cloak. Berenal charms a group of seagulls to wreak havoc on their ship just before the attack.

With much preparation on our behalf the pirates arrive. Wave after wave of thugs board the ship. Many are pushed off by Nilbud’s fists and Baranel’s waves of thunder. While Eldorin and Razhad reigned down mundane and magical missiles.

A few pirates connect with Nilbud despite her invisibility and pierce Razhad with arrows despite his perch in the rigging.

While all of the first wave of pirates was dispatched our heroes thought they would have a respite. But the Pirates weren’t done yet. Two huge men board the gnomish vessel…..TBC

All inspiration except Nilbud
Berenal- Used 4 1st level spells and one Wild Shape- In human form with full HP
Eldorin- Active spells (Mage Armor, Arcane Ward* 4 pts and Mirror Image* 3 copies)- Full HP
Khalo- 1 spell slot used- Full HP
Nilbud- 3 Ki used- Invisble- 22 HP
Razhad- 18 HP

Initiative

22 22 21 6 5
Nilbud Razhad Eldorin Baranel Khalo

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The Importance of Belief
Entry 11

26th Day of the Wyvern, Year of the Crown

Among the Senians, I am given to understand, there is a tale told to children about a nameless shepherd boy keeping watch over his flocks. Several times, the overzealous boy seems to see a wolf stealing into the valley and cries out for help so that the watchmen come bearing spears, but each time they find no wolf. Eventually, a wolf does come, but the watchmen have written off the poor boy as a fanciful worrier. They do not heed his calls, and somehow it is the boy who is gobbled up instead of a lamb.

It is a strange story, with some questionable elements, and small wonder given that it is borrowed without context from the ancient Lay of Lethion. In Lethion’s tale, of course, the young Elf Palinor keeps watch against their enemies the White Wolves of the Night Serpent. Palinor is nervous but attentive; in every movement of the night he seems to see the vanguard of the White Wolf army. The other guards, eager to dice the night away, lose interest in his warnings and when a scout for the White Wolves comes prowling indeed, they ignore his calls. It tears out their throats, making way for the vanguard, who sweep through the outpost, slaughter the warriors within, and steal the Light of Nargoth: a tragedy as unspeakable in the tongues of today as it was in the Elven tongue of old.

The Senian version is clearly a tale told by weary mothers who do not wish to be troubled by overactive children. It relies, as do so many tales of Men, on self-interest and fear of death, as if to say: “Bother me too often and a wolf will eat you.” In my travels, I begin to wonder if the races of Men feel shame at having believed a thing once it is disproved. What a thing to fear!

It may be that young master Balenpyre is wrong about Kai’ckul. It may be that he is crazy. On the other hand, it may be that he is right — that Kai’ckul herself attends our journey, watching, guiding. Khalo is young and doubtless naive, but this also means unsullied, and I judge his heart to be pure. What better mouthpiece could Kai’ckul have found? True, the messages may be garbled and difficult to understand, but in time perhaps that will change.

Palinor’s tale cautions us to believe when believing serves us, even if belief may have ill served before. Even should I find evidence that Kai’ckul was not guiding Baranel‘s hand, and that Kai’ckul has no hand in my own serendipitous travels, even then should I choose to believe!

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Session 11 - Game Log

The night drew on and a pounding rain began, ending much of the comfort of the night as the party collected before the visage of Arcaibh. Suddenly, a form in full armor running pel-mell towards them leaps into their midst over Esther’s cart and announces he is there to save them all. Almost at that moment, Nilbud notices that the remains of the giant sheep and their former shepards have begun to rise once more, beads of precipitation rolling down their once resting bodies.

With the aid of Khalo, the party is able to dispatch the beings from beyond and decides to move on through the inclement weather.

North they press, learning of the newcomer and his origin from Cennetig and they repay him with the oddities of their own quest and welcome him and his reflective and inward ‘dialog’ to the group.

After a couple days, they reach the Black River at the border of Sussenia and see a massive construction underway: pulleys, ropes, framework of lumber and hundreds of laborer a passing into the Grey Delta. They are stopped at a bridge by a pair of guards who demand payment, and Eldorin and Nilbud recognize the distinctive scarring on one’s ear as declaring him a member of the Nicks. Paying the exorbitant toll they continue onward, but Nilbud steals back under the protective invisibility of his newfound Undercloak to retrieve the extortion as well as the other money the man had on him.

Many people pass north and south along relatively new pathways which bring material and personnel for this large scale project in the delta. As night approaches, the group decides to press onward to reach the border as soon as possible and are beset by bandits, led by the guard from the bridge earlier. Tying up half of the band in a Web, Eldorin’s staff blasts a wide and sustaining light, turning night to day as they make the ambushers regret their decision.

Out of Senian lands and across the White River, they make camp without event. The next day brings them to the base of Sirius’ Stalagmite — a masterfully crafted spire of igneous rock of myriad colors and interlocking in perfection without any stonework — where they pay one last toll to the Dwarves of the commanding tower and then head along the Mellinius Road towards An Dun.

As we left the group, they looked down into the massive opening where traders and merchants had set up their wares to those passing in and out of the trading Capitol which is An Dun.

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Session 10 game log
Sorry for the delay

The Dead Rise

As the newly discovered Maegwir disappeared into the aether, a new threat arose from the very earth. Our heroes are beset by two hulking flesh beasts, their smaller brethren form a pair of armed skeletons, a hoofed centaurian skeleton, and their commander on horseback composed of a bone structure completely alien to this world. Fyrsson charges into the fray mightily scratching the flesh beast as Baranel the Bear charges with him and properly mauls the hulking brute, though still it stands. Razhad’s loosed shaft pierces it deeply evoking a raging blow from the brute sends Fyrsson’s head snapping back as the commander gallops to engage Nilbud. One of the skeletal footmen looses an arrow striking Razhad as Nilbud’s furious assault on the skeletal horse ultimately produces much wind but little damage until she focuses herself and smashes the horse directly in the teeth, knocking it to the ground. The second hulking monstrosity joins the fray against Baranel, giving the ursa a taste of her own medicine. Fyrsson, for the first time, invokes the name of Brondurim and drops a mighty fear bomb on the undead mob causing the commander and half horse to flee. He then casually heals Baranel who sinks her teeth and claws into the already wounded flesh beast as Jethrael’s arrow pierces its skull. The party all suck wind as the beast still stands. Another arrow from the skeletal archer strikes Razhad who now looks a little woozy. The skeleton’s spear toting compatriot stabs Baranel in her flank. Overcoming his temporary dizzy spell Razhad’s eagle eye does him much credit as his arrow splits Jethrael’s shaft in twain sending the first of the hulks back to the grave…again. Nilbud seizes on the shift of fortunes and charges the second hulk. Her driving blows and a wicked stomp to a knee send the hulk to the ground. Fyrsson takes the opportunity to completely miss the skeletal archer he has charged, but distracts it from its continued long range attacks against Razhad and heals him for good measure. Another good mauling by Baranel followed by a spectacularly well aimed shots by Jethreal and a killing blow from Razhad sends the second hulk back to the grave but a savage spear thrust from the skeleton footman breaks Baranel’s concentration and with a roar she reverts back to her slightly less stinky elf form. Fyrsson cleaves through the skeletal archer’s arm as an arrow from Razhad severs its neck sending its skull toppling to the ground. More heals are sprinkled through the ranks. Nilbud takes this opportunity to showcase some very fancy footwork, no doubt dazzling the remaining skeleton as Jethrael’s arrow sails overhead. An axe blow from Fyrsson staggers the skeletal spearman as an acid spray from Baranel bleaches his bones a lovely shade of pearl before Razhad has finally had enough and downs yet another baddie. There is light rejoicing as the party hauls their booty to the cart with Fyrsson tending to the party’s wounds and Baranel doing some checking for magic.

Magic Spreads

As the cart makes its way away from the blighted encampment Baranel discovers a number of newly enchanted pieces of gear amongst the party: Nilbud’s necklace lends her an ethereal haziness and there is definitely something to those ratbone bracers. Baranel’s own journal has a new tale to tell. Undiscovered items in both Jethrael and Fyrsson’s packs as well as fyrsson’s axe. And finally Eldorin’s staff and amulet. (he popped in for the quick scrying).
The party pulls into a field of purple pops and Nilbud lends her special brand of assistance to Baranel’s de-glyphing of the protected chest. Razhad then steps in, with Nilbud at his side, and deftly removes a poison needle trap and opens the chest. Inside are reams of paper, a journal, and one thousand ancient mint! Nilbud reminds the party of their debt to Venmar and the party makes their way back to the encampment. Razhad and Nilbud quickly dissolve into the susurrus with Nilbud quickly finding Venmar. The pair bond over their low self esteem as Venmar discloses that he plans to head back east although he is interested in the path the party will take. Nilbud then speaks with Seth who, tavern full of booty, plans to rebuild. He informs Nilbud that one of the braver commanders has taken one of the brigs and some men and sailed off. A sad conversation regarding cocks and crabs follows. Jethrael goes to search for spoils in tents to no avail as Razhad creeps about. Baranel searches for the druids, but alas they are gone. She leaves them a note and hopes for dry days ahead. Fyrsson sits alone and prays for guidance. The party then gathers at the cart. Jethrael wishes to pursue Maegwir but also the Great Axe of legend. Razhad is possessed with his search for magical items and Nilbud wishes to return to looking for uncle Moss although she blames herself for Maegwir’s escaping. Much discussion of plans ensues with Fyrsson admitting to the group he’ll be leaving but will stay to see the group north towards An Dun to secure passage to Wyrmspire. After some much needed joviality, the group parts ways with Venmar and heads north. It turns out Baranel can make magic berries. They are quite fulfilling and with the exception of Fyrsson everyone agrees they are quite pleasant. They travel a full day and at the edge of the Greenbirth they spy a flock of sheep. They take a few moments to greet the dwarven sheepherders, although these are hill dwarves mind you, not honest mountain stock, and put them upon a better path back east. They continue north and come across a dwarven, once again: hill, fishing village. They decide to make a brief pit stop in the hamlet of Trondarm. The people are simple fishermen who are happy to hear that the pirate raids will likely end for a time. Razhad buys some delicious smoked fish and the party continues onward.
As the party continues north the towering parapets of Arcaibh come into view. The party chooses to spend the night and rest before continuing on in the shadow of so reviled a place. On the next morning the party spies yet another flock of sheep. However, upon closer inspection, they find these are no ordinary sheep. They are ten massive cannibalistic dwarf munching sheep. The party, no doubt still suffering PTSD from their earlier bizarre animal encounters, decides they cannot abide these sheep to live. Razhad then Fyrsson and then Jethrael begin loosing shots into the flock. Many puns fly along with the arrows and bolts. Sheep begin to drop as the flock charges. Nilbud notices her bracers tightening as the flock nears. As the thinned herd nears Nilbud throws a very threatening dart as Fyrsson misses and drops his crossbow to pick up his axe. For the first time in many days Razhad fails to find a killing shot, but one by one the sheep fall. The group set to butchering the animals and Fyrsson, with Nilbud’s expect assistance, cooks up some fine mutton. The group, seemingly about to break apart, has some twilight conversation with Razhad divulging he has a large one pound red egg that has recently gotten warm to the touch and Nilbud, desperately looking for clues, shows a large coin with an ancient writing which no one is able to decipher. As the sun sets we are left with more questions than answers and the long shadow of Arcaibh’s walls stretches across the land.

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I'l see you again.

It was difficult to watch Eldorin suffer as much as he has over the last few days, so much of this could have been avoided if he had just told us the truth. Now the bar and inn has burnt to the ground. It was a gift from Mediena that Seth told me about Merlas trunk when he did. It could have been lost forever! Now it is in my possession and I am honored beyond imagining that I can hold her clothes. If I’m ever rich, I’m going to have duplicates of these made. I may look out of fashion, but no one will care and I will feel unique and like I am doing honor to my ancestors . This cloak is something else entirely it is magic and I am uneasy about using what I don’t understand. It feels right though, the warmth and comfort of this cloak, and to become invisible? Many many nights in my youth I hoped and wished that I could disappear if only to move through our home. Without the constant sneers jokes and stares. Now I can do exactly that, I think. I don’t know what limits there are on the magic that fuels this power. But At least this cloak was Merla’s so I believe I can trust in its power. On the other hand the changes to my bracers is disconcerting. I felt a kinship with them because they represent difference I can make in people’s lives even in my small halfling way. That family is better off because I helped. But now they may be tainted with the magic of the flame thing or of Walter…….who knows what they do or where their power originates. I want to just take them off and not use them again until I know exactly what’s going on. The same goes for this necklace. I don’t want to wear it, but how will I ever find out what it does?

Like I said all this magic is too much for me to understand. In the meantime I’m keeping an eye out for Moss and Honey. I’m excited to go to the pebbles and meet the gnomes. I saw one once from a distance in Terminus, it was weird to see someone my size who was clearly not a halfling. Apart from that I’m glad the bar will be rebuilt, I will come back here someday. It is nice to know I already have a friend. Seth said I would be welcome back any time, but it’s the beaches that draw me. To know Merla might have touched the same bit of shoreline is thrilling. However, she only did that after achieving greatness. I could never hope to reach that bar, but once I’ve done some good, and earned this place I know it will be here waiting.

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Nilbuds Response
Huh?

Nilbud’s response-

How can I even begin to describe how utterly beyond me this all is. Crowns of elemental energy that were formed centuries ago! The betrayal of some unknown number for powerful individuals that can cause villages to burst into flames with the wave of their hand. The struggle against these forces is fierce and unfair, how could any one mortal win? I have had to come to terms over these last few weeks that magic does indeed exist and that when wielded thoughtfully can be used to help and defend the powerless, but when you become powerful how can anyone keep perspective with the common person. Magic should not be messed with especially for someone as mushy headed as I am, this decision cannot be made by me; my life is meant for simpler things. Like uncle Moss always said, Go new places, but use the roads you know.

Where are the heroes who are supposed to take care of these kinds of things? Is this lone elf all that stands in the way of the destruction of the world? Where are the leaders of this “circle” and why aren’t they flying in here on wings of magic and snatching up the bad wizards? I can punch out some big rats perhaps, but I am no match for magic.

I can’t do this, maybe I’ll just stay here. I’m not going to be any good to anyone I didn’t even have enough sense to run away when I had the most powerful object in the world in my hand. This could have all been over and its all my fault if anything bad happens because of this crown thing. You all should probably just go on without me. I’ll stay here and help rebuild the bar.

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Eldorin's Tale
as told to those sworn to secrecy

(This is the story told by Eldorin to those who have sworn the Oath of Secrecy)

In the last age, the Lost roamed the realm and pillaged where they would. Lacking an alliance between all those who would become the civilized races, no one could stand against their vast forces. Battles were won, but the wars were lost, bit by bit, and the Elves were trapped within the forests of Culdonia in the Long Siege. Torfingalf the Wise led the Wizards of the Elendil to protect the forest, but it was Perius who led them out. Perius, the Kin-Commander, who broke from the trees and sought out Lothar Greatworth, which led to the Great Alliance. They lifted the Siege and broke the armies of the Lost in a mortal blow at the Siegelands. Likely, you have all heard this much before.

At this time an Elf soldier and prophet named Finrodel, having taken part in the victory at the Siegelands, begged leave now to return to his home at Oakenfell and found an order of Wizards who would keep safe the world’s most prized collections of knowledge and pass along the secrets of Wizardry to those who have proven their worthiness. Thus was founded The Circle, of which I am the youngest and most recent of fifteen members. Finrodel himself still leads our order with his partner, Melitherien. All this, too, may be known to some of you.

What you do not know is this: Finrodel had, from the start, a much more solemn purpose in founding the Circle. The Circle was not a mere place of learning — not a place for selfish obsession with books. It was, and is, a knighthood — its members sworn to a sacred duty.

When Finrodel raised himself from the battlefield at the Siegelands, he came upon a curious item, gripped by one of the bodies of the Lost and, to his eyes, emanating great power. It was a crown of burnished red gold, forged in the likeness of a circlet of fire. He touched the crown and was gifted a vision of peril, and in that moment he knew the course he must take.

For this was the Flame of Therilor, known before this only from the murmurs of the Lost. The Flame was said to bring madness wherever it went, while the wearer of the Flame is given power to twist and sway the will of weaker minds. Its actual powers are not known to any alive, save perhaps Maegwir now — but I believe it may well have been an instrument in the forging of the Lost to begin with. Or — perhaps worse — it may have yet another, more frightful purpose that was never used before it was lost to the Circle. What was known was that it could not be destroyed.

Finrodel consulted with Perius and both agreed on his plan: keeping the Flame an utter secret, he made all haste back to Oakenfell and fashioned there a secret place where the Flame could be kept from all and guarded night and day. He then invited those with wisdom and, above all, honor and duty into a sacred order which would thenceforth be known as the wizard order called the Circle. These members would be a society of knights, sworn guardians of this terrible thing which must never be used nor destroyed nor even spoken of in the light of day. The Flame of Therilor was written out of history to keep safe the new world.

A thousand years later, it was Finoriel the Artificer, daughter of Finrodel and fairest of the Elves, who saw honor in me, who spoke on my behalf and persuaded Finrodel to invite me into the Circle. I myself have known Maegwir the Summoner for some few hundred years. He was beloved by Finoriel, but in time her heart grew away from him and warmed to me instead; I suppose perhaps Maegwir never forgave this offense. Still, I cannot think that this could account for his present madness. This was perhaps thirty years ago.

A few months ago, an urgent council of the Circle was called. The Flame was missing. Only one member was not present for the council — Maegwir — and he had been seen rushing out of the Tower Perian that morning, preoccupied and distraught. All of Oakenfell was searched, but Maegwir was gone, his things taken as if for a journey.

Finrodel shut up the doors of the Circle and sent home all aspirants. No more would students learn the crafting of items of power nor read from the Book of Arinoth until the Flame be recovered. Until that day, the Circle was cast out into the world, to walk the lands in search of what was taken, and to bring Maegwir to justice, should it take a day or a thousand years.

The heart of Finoriel was broken by the news of Maegwir’s betrayal, and she lay in her deathbed. When I last saw her, she gave me this — her bloodstone medallion crafted many years earlier while she loved him. It warms when he is near (though I find now that he must be near indeed, since it did not grow warm here until I entered his very tent).

It gets worse. She also confided in me an important secret.

“Eldorin, hear me: Finrodel is trusting and good-hearted but he is no fool. Though it brought him to tears to speak of it, for he could never stomach the thought of doubting his own brethren, a failsafe was built into the chest of the Flame as its charge was too important to leave open to treachery. True enough that only a Ringbearer (as such are we Telcari known, we wizards of the Circle) may pass its warding traps, but little known is this: only three Ringbearers acting in concert may open it! Maegwir is known, but at least two more traitors there are and they walk the world among us even now, unknown to many of our colleagues. My father did not wish to sow fear in a time of such sadness, but this must be known!”

We then spoke our farewells and … she was lost to us. Most of the Circle had left by now, so after my mourning I left, coming shortly to Worthen and meeting most of you.

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Session 9 Game Log: Showdown at Greenbirth!
Wherein Walter's identity was discovered

Having reached the Greenbirth at last, the party views a military camp (perhaps 100 soldiers) on the beach from an overlooking hill. They review their options and Eldorin issues a cryptic caution: “I cannot say much, as I am bound by a sacred oath, but suffice it to say that it is possible that either Walter or Eraneth might not be who they appear to be, and either could have power well beyond our own. Let us take caution with our actions here.”

Fyrsson grumbles about Elves and starts off toward the camp, others following while Orieth flies ahead, noting some large, dangerous birds about. The camp is made of about ten large barracks tents positioned by a dock, with several war clippers docked and guarded. Also off the dock is a large, two-storey wooden building.

Fyrsson approaches a tent marked with a symbol: a circle with a sinuous line crossing it from left to right (This is “O-group”). He speaks with two dwarves standing out front. They are surprised and maybe concerned to see Elves with the party, but they say sorely that “They’re in charge over there” in the next tent over, and new recruits should “talk to Walter, in that tent over there,” and that they came “from Carn Orn when it was poisoned, and disasters were foretold,” having nowhere else to go — at least here they might find work. They describe their routine, which involves daily training for naval combat.

Venmar points to the wooden building, mentions, “I’ll be at the tavern if you need me!” and saunters off.

Eldorin decides it’s best for him not to be noticed in this camp. He pulls his hood over his head and the group splits up: Fyrsson and Baranel head toward a nearby tent to the south, near Walter’s tent; Nilbud wanders to the north; and Eldorin walks to the next tent over.

Simultaneously…
- Eldorin enters a tent with a mark looking like a “T” with branches sticking off it (“T-group”). One sole halfling is inside, named Torleaf Halfleg. He seems decent but unhelpful. He directs new recruits to Walter’s tent.
- Nilbud finds a crew of bandits to the north, seemingly led by a giant man (Tyren) sharpening his greataxe and eating a chicken leg. Some women wrestle on the ground. Tyren pets an oversized mastiff and tells Nilbud proudly that their group (“Y-group”) is in charge of pillaging on the open seas, but then seems dismissive to Nilbud. Nilbud offers to wrestle the dog and Tyren looks at her like she’s an idiot but nods his head. Nilbud quickly pins the dog to the ground, cuffing its head—but Tyren pulls her off the dog before anyone gets hurt. “All right, you can wrestle. Why don’t you head off somewhere else.” She wanders further north, to a flattened field where soldiers spar.
- Fyrsson & Baranel go to the tent between the first one and Walter’s — it shows the O-group symbol like the first one with the Dwarves, but these humans insultingly scoff at the dirty Elf and Dwarf, telling Fyrsson to go back to the Dwarf tent where he belongs — and that Elves don’t belong here, she should talk to Walter if she really wants to be here. Fyrsson resists the urge to fight them, and they leave.

After that round…
- Eldorin decides to lay lower, sitting on the ground behind a tent, fixing some problem with his boot, but really whispering via cantrip to Baranel: “Orieth will go with you and be my eyes. Do not be alarmed. You do not know me.” Baranel replies: “We don’t?”
- Nilbud wanders into the sparring field where sailors loiter; she talks to them casually, saying she’s on her Greenrite. They tell her their group (T-group) is charged with capturing some island, and they practice launching attacks on and offshore.
- Fyrsson & Baranel go to the tavern with Orieth perched on Baranel’s shoulder and Eldorin perceiving through Orieth’s senses. They speak with some drunken sailors and Fyrsson tricks them into describing their duties: O-group is set for raiding & plundering some castle called Arcaibh, a Darkhold — they plunder this place regularly. (Odd — aren’t Darkholds abandoned?)

While they remain in the tavern, Eldorin whispers to Baranel’s ear again: “Baranel, are you two willing to go to Walter?” She looks at Fyrsson, who, wondering why she’s looking at him, says “Yes?” She replies to Eldorin: “Yes.” He says: “Good. You are two acquaintances who met on the road looking for work. You still do not know me or anyone else from our party. Orieth will remain my eyes, but if you are asked, she is with you.”

- Baranel & Fyrsson enter Walter’s tent. Two “stone men” stand silent guard outside, and inside, beyond a rich carpet there is a simple bed with a chest at its foot, a workbench with notes, maps, and instruments. A fire burns in the center, a strangely marked circle is marked on the ground in one corner, and a finely-wrought man made of steel stands watch in the opposite. “We were told to come see Walter,” says Baranel. Walter — an unassuming old man who is not recognized by any of the party — says, “Who are you? An Elf, here?” He inspects Orieth warily and asks: “Is that yours? Are you … one of those Druids of the North?”
- Baranel replies: “I don’t think any creature can belong to another, but she is with me, yes. The North? Which Druids? I am a Druid, but not one of ‘those’ Druids, whoever they are!”
- “And yet you wish to work here — with us?”
Fyrsson steps in: “We just want work. We were told there was work here. Is there some reason we wouldn’t want to work here? What is it you’re doing here? Why would we not want to work here?”
- “Who are you both? Where have you come from?”
- “Fyrsson and Baranel. We met on the road not long ago, looking for work. Baranel seems to be some kind of Druid, and I serve the Bronze Dragon Brondurium.”
- Walter pauses. “You should both leave this place. You do not belong here. Begone.” They leave the tent, taking careful note of their surroundings, and Eldorin notes Walter’s possessions carefully: an ornate wizard’s staff, a necklace, many rings. There is a chest in the back near the bed, and a sack sits on it.

- Meanwhile, Nilbud challenges a sailor to a boxing match and swiftly humiliates him. He gets up and sorely walks away, glowering. She starts to wander back toward the south, and the rest of the group.

They all meet up quietly and head to the north to discuss, and the Elves notice some people further north, surreptitiously spying on them. The party waves goodbye to each other and fans out, each heading north but separately. The spies try to leave but Fyrsson gets their attention with a Thunderwave, and then amiably attracts them. All converge.

The spies are some of those “Druids of the North”, who have been tailing Walter for some time and spying on this camp, looking for ways to upset his operation. The party reveals that they share this goal, and all compare notes, agreeing that the camp’s goals will be carried out within a day, meaning there is no time to seek outside help. They slowly form a plan. The Druids agree to play a role, and they will be ready three hours after sunset as agreed. They head off, away from the camp, and the plan is put into action….

Nilbud takes a windup and punches Fyrsson square in the mouth and a few times in the eye, giving him a nice shiner. Fyrsson grunts but takes it before parking outside camp to rest up a bit. Then Baranel goes away from the main camp to bathe in the ocean water, and Eldorin and Nilbud go to the tavern to rent a room. The barkeep explains how the building was here long before the camp was, and no one knows what it was before. Nilbud introduces herself and the barkeep says, “Hey, I think we had a chest somewhere in the basement for ‘Underfoot’. You’re free to go look for it!” Eldorin & Nilbud pick up their jaws and Nilbud goes downstairs to search through rooms full of junk while Eldorin goes upstairs to the room.
- Baranel, now clean, shows up at the inn/tavern and finds her way to Eldorin in the room.
- Nilbud takes a while downstairs but does find the locked chest with an ornate “U” on the lock. She takes it with her outside and leaves it with Ester the donkey, well outside the camp.
- Eldorin scouts the room and its view out the window: the prize vessel across the dock. Thirteen guards keep watch over it below their window. Somewhere down below, he hears a rooster crow its final death-crow. “Must be supper-time,” he thinks.
- Venmar meets them in the room and they relate his part of the plan. He nods grimly.
- Fyrsson nurses his bruises, which are purpling nicely.

They all finish a short rest and wait until three hours after sunset.


It’s night. Fyrsson takes his axe and gouges his lip, which blooms fresh blood — along with his bruised face and general Dwarven countenance, he looks a foul sight. He makes for the Dwarves’ tent from the O-group – the same Dwarves he first spoke with. “Those bastards! The humans – our ‘bosses’! They said – augh! They think they’re better than us! We need to show them who’s boss around here!! Who’s with me?!” The Dwarves look around, get mad, and grab their weapons. They all follow Fyrsson, who leads them to the O-group human area and charges — blasting the front man with a column of holy radiance before thickening in the ranks and then hastily escaping the ensuing battle….

Venmar, “conveniently” sitting nearby, jumps up and starts yelling about a fight broken out to anyone who will listen.

Eldorin, watching from the window of their room at the inn, sees the column of radiance and signals to Baranel & Nilbud. “It is time.”

Baranel casts a spell of swiftness on Nilbud, then changes form into that of a snake and slithers into Nilbud’s pocket. Eldorin empties the packet of dust over Nilbud and the snake, and they disappear from view. Eldorin watches the room door open and close, as invisible Nilbud and Baranel make for Walter’s tent.

Eldorin sends Orieth out the window and off to the north, then waves a hand at the bed and it ignites. He turns to the window and stretches out his hand, sending a fiery blast to the sail of the prize ship across the dock, which is engulfed in flame. He exits the room, taking his pack, and calmly strides downstairs and out along the dock — at this point, Venmar runs up the dock, calling to anyone about a fight in camp. The ship guards stare blankly, but then his face catches a glow from above, and they all realize the sail is on fire. Venmar runs back down the dock, still yelling about the fight.

Orieth reaches the Druids and flaps her wings, wheeling about back to the camp. They nod and rise silently, making for the docks. They stick to the shadows and creep under the docks, readying their fire magic for the dock — but are stopped by a horde of giant crabs under the docks! One Druid gets off a spurt of flame, but is crushed to death in a huge pincer. The others escape with their lives….

Invisible, her steps quickened, Nilbud creeps into Walter’s tent with snake-form Baranel in pocket, both unnoticed by the stone wardens. They see a prone form in the bed — he’s wearing Walter’s robes, but this is no human: it’s an ancient Elf. The steel golem does not see them, but they can see the arcane staff lying against the chest, and the Elf “Walter” seems to be in meditation — he certainly wouldn’t be sleeping.

Turning visible, Nilbud grabs the necklace from Walter’s neck, puts it on his own neck — the Elf’s eyes flick open — then grabs the staff and clamps a hand on the Elf’s mouth. Baranel flops out on the ground.

Eldorin & Fyrsson approach the tent at the same time and meet there, unsure whether to enter. Eldorin whispers a message to Nilbud: “What is your status?” — the reply: “Holding Walter down in his bed; have his staff!” Eldorin dashes straight toward the tent but Fyrsson bursts right past him, running past the stone golems, who begin to move….

Inside, in a blink, Walter and Nilbud have switched positions — Nilbud on the bed and Walter has grabbed the sack from the chest and is stepping back away, calling to the elements all around. Man-like forms rise from the sands below. The steel golem strides over to the bed to menace Nilbud, but Nilbud escapes to run over to ‘Walter’. Baranel, at the foot of the bed, suddenly expands to the form of a great bear, facing off against the golem. Fyrsson bursts into the tent across the rug, which springs to life and thrashes at him, missing but still threatening. Eldorin follows more carefully, dodging the rug and hurling a magical web into the doorway to slow the entry of the stone golems… then Eldorin turns and sees the Elf, and calls to him:

“Maegwir, my old friend: let us cease this madness. There is no need for hostility.”

“Call off your friends.”

“Halt!” says Eldorin, and all cautiously stop fighting. “Explain your actions, Maegwir.”

“I am not the enemy, Eldorin. I know not what Finoriel told you, but you are on the wrong side.”

“Convince me. I would love nothing more than to believe you, but you must give me at least one reason to trust what you say.”

“Finrodel betrayed us. He planned to take the Flame of Therilor and use it against us.”

“And so you took it instead? You confess you wield it even now?”

“I have it.” Maegwir (“Walter”) nods to the sack in his hand, inside of which something glows visibly. “I must keep it until we are able to stand against him, but he is too powerful. If I can but get inside the Wyrmspire and learn what they know of the Flame, we may stand a chance.”

Eldorin pauses. “Let me help, Maegwir. If betrayal has faced the the Circle, I will not stand by while others fight to protect it. I will stand against it! How can I help?”

“Yes! Can you go to Wyrmille and get inside the Wyrmspire? This would help greatly. You can find me at Arcaibh, at the Circle of Brodgar. You can send your owl.”

Eldorin looks at his companions. “We could do this. But why? Merely show me how the devastation you have wrought these past few weeks does not condemn you.”

“What devastation?”

“The monsters — the beasts, grown to unusual size — the creatures twisted by madness, rage, and hunger.”

Fyrsson bellows, to Maegwir’s dismay: “Everywhere you have passed, you have left a trail of misery and destruction!”

Maegwir presents a shocked face. “It must be the Flame.”

Eldorin looks to him. “If you retire to this island keep at Arcaibh, you will take the Flame with you and remove it from the presence of these beasts? This could keep the madness at bay while we build strength and get to Wyrmille.”

“Yes. Find me, Eldorin!” Maegwir waves a hand and disappears. All the constructs freeze in position — now apparently lifeless.

The party turns all their eyes to Eldorin, and close on him. Baranel in form of bear growls, engages, and pins Eldorin against the tent post. Fyrsson looks at Eldorin and says: “Talk. NOW. Everything.”

Eldorin sighs, and then speaks….

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A Clearer Path
The unmistakable paean of metal on wood rang out again as the axe bit deeply into the tree’s great trunk. A bark of laughter heralded the felling of another tree in the large clearing. In the wan moonlight a stocky silhouette stood alone, gulping in air, as he let his axe head rest upon the ground. Wearing only cotton breeches Fyrsson surveyed the damage he’d wrought in the glade. Around his neck a pair of small bronzed boots glinted dully as the dwarf gave voice to doubts that had plagued him all this time.

“I’m not strong enough”

Letting out a roar Fyrsson hefts his axe and charges the nearest tree, one of only three left standing. Bellowing he smashes his axe into its base a first, second, and third time in rapid succession. Two chunks of barky flesh spin off into the air as a fourth contemptuous stroke topples the hundreds year old tree in seconds. With jaw set tight Fyrsson begins dismantling the tree into smaller and smaller pieces. His forearms strain under the work, muscles bunching and beginning to burn from the exertion. The earth, in cruel mockery of his efforts, gives way beneath the timber with each swing; it doubles the effort necessary.

As his axe falls a final time he surveys his work with grim satisfaction. As he looks up from the ground he sees one of the remaining trees a dozen yards from where he stands:

“I’m not fast enough”

Howling Fyrsson races towards the tree, his axe carried low behind him. His legs churn over the soften earth as he weaves between and leaps over the tree’s fallen friends. He races across the last ten feet, axe rising into the air, yawps and brings the axe down in wide arc. The blade flashes in the night before striking the trunk of the tree. He yanks the blade free and turns, immediately racing off towards the only other standing tree. Back and forth he runs, sweat pouring from him as he sprints. He rebukes himself as his paces slacks. Redoubling his efforts, violently gasping for air, and launching himself one final time at the tree Fyrsson’s axe strikes home. The trunk snaps and cracks, bark splitting, as it falls to the ground. Leaning heavily on his axe Fyrsson slowly turns to face the final tree.

He walks with grim determination toward the great monster. Over a hundred feet tall and twenty feet thick, she stands as a testament to fortitude and willpower. Hundreds of years spent growing and reaching to the heavens, patience personified.

“I lack faith”

Calling out to his dragon god, Fyrsson channels Brondurim’s fearsome energy from the ether. Tendrils of muted blue-grey energy seep from the corners of his eyes. The air, pregnant and heavy with potential, is charged. The hair on the cleric’s arms stands on end as his focus tightens. Finishing his incantation in a barked cadence his hands shoot forward as thunder peals from the base of the tree. The shockwave washes over Fyrsson who, laughing, revels in his god’s answer. The earth at the base of the tree crenellates, exposing roots an erupting great gouts of loamy soil into the air. The tree begins to slowly totter away from him, pulling great roots free from the earth as it does. With a smile playing upon his face he summons the electricity from the air around him, forming it with his hands. As it coalesces he sends his arcing through the space into the tree trunk. Bark explodes from the arboreal behemoth. One great shard spins through the air and pierces into Fyrsson’s shoulder, knocking him backwards and to the ground. It is a mirror to the tree who, in all her great age and strength, finally gives in to the assault and topples. The crash is deafening. Fyrsson rises from the ground, pulling the carboniferous shrapnel from his body. He has never experienced any communion with his god as strongly as he just had. With fearsome clarity the cleric knows he has been blessed. Brondurim approves of his path and has gifted him with new tools to aid him in his righteous vengeance.

“I will take your path”

Holding his axe by the bit he carves a three taloned claw into his right breast. Turning away from the tree he heads back towards the road which will carry him to his newfound companions. Behind him a wineskin rests alone on the floor of the forest glade, liquid pooled around it reflecting a dull ruby in the moonlight.
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