Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ogres, ogres, and more ogres

After our adventure with the Brotherhood of Dread, we had a few months of (almost) vacation. For most of that time we split up, each going our own way (thanks to the Gates allowing instant travel from city to city) and each doing our own thing. I've been researching and experimenting with new magic, as well as working towards getting a Messenger's mosque built in Logging Town.

During those few months, however, Ghost and I did help Merton (the apothecary in Woodland) with a task; someone had broken into his home and stolen some of his possessions. We tracked the thief to one of the ruins outside of town, and after meeting with his guard pudding (in short: ouch. These do not make good hats), found him cowering in one of the back rooms. He surrendered right away and we brought him and the treasure he'd stolen back to the guild hall and Merton.

Later, after everyone had met up in Woodland again, we were summoned to the guild hall by the king's order. When we got there, we found the guildmaster Micah, Martin Mikon (ranger from Port Town), Gordo (apparently a vampire hunter with a penchant for wearing red), "Old Calvin" (the dragon Khrom-Vel in his human guise), and Rooks (a thief of some kind that we've worked with before, but who was now clearly a prisoner).

Micah told us that there had been no word back from Dwight, Duke of Joven, and that the king was concerned. The last correspondence had come from the Walled Valley and that the duke and his party had been traveling east to Treehome. Micah also mentioned that there was news of a vampire lurking around the countryside and that some of the people attacked were members of Countess Berkeley's house.

Khrom-Vel shared information that the movement of monsters to the east had stopped. His plan was to seek the other dragons for allegiance.

Rooks was going to go west to speak with the elves to see if they are allied with the king.

Martin was going to travel west to seek the Brass Dragon in the desert. (I had some information pertinent to Khrom-Vel and Martin's tasks, so I told them what I knew.)

This left the situation of the missing duke for our group; our task is to find him. We were given permission to hire on a few mercenaries to aid us and, after interviewing a few prospective candidates at the tavern, we finally agreed on four. Those were:
Sten, a priest of Apollo (we all agreed that having a healer would be wise!)
Orfeo, some sort of stealthy rogue-type, but he seemed trustworthy enough
Clarence, a bard (although I think Ayman and I voted on him largely to irk Ghost)
Oakskin, a woodsman who knows the area we would be traveling through

We also acquired a young acolyte of my order; Clem joined us as part of his field training.

Our group now considerably larger, we Gated the next morning to the mosque in the Walled Valley. Once in town, Clem delivered a message for Abbot Sol and the group asked around for news of Dwight's whereabouts. Armed with a bit more information, we began traveling northeast. A few days later I convinced a lone pixie in the grasslands (that sounds incredibly silly, does it not?) to tell us what he knew; he pointed in the direction where a large group of monsters were meeting and that the leaders were at something called the "ogre moot". Unfortunately he had not seen any humans and had no idea where prisoners would be held.

We continued traveling and as we set up camp for the night, Orfeo heard something: the yipping of dogs coming from the northwest. These turned out to be Jackalmen and he warned us not to look into their eyes. They approached us in human form, feigning helplessness and claiming to have been attacked, but our group did not fall for this. Ghost pulled a card out of her Deck of Illusions and an ogre appeared. Startled, the Jackalmen shifted back into jackals to attack the ogre and the party members closest. After a fight, the monsters were all slain and Sten healed those who were injured.

The next morning Orfeo mentioned that there was an abandoned monastery not far away. We found this built into the side of a hill in the remains of a vineyard. Ghost found some large (and some smaller) footprints, but no one was around so we went in, SwampFox breaking down the bar that was latching the door shut. Once inside we discovered that this was an old temple of Seiryuu, a pacifistic priesthood that we had helped before. We explored the temple (I'll admit to being quite distracted by the library while a few others were very interested in the cask room) and I discovered a magic scroll and a magic rug; I had to leave the rug behind, but I did snatch up the scroll.

As we were sitting down for dinner, however, we heard a pounding on the door, followed by a "Who's in Big Bob's house?" It looked like we had ogres for dinner guests! I tried to Charm him into leaving us alone for the time being, but failed (I hate when my strongest magic doesn't work...), so Linora and Vordb tried their hand at getting him to obey. This failed, and after Linora got thrown into a wall, seven more ogres approached. Big Bob wanted us to surrender to be taken to the ogre moot, but none of us (sans Ghost) wanted any part in that plan, so we improvised a way out. This worked amazingly well and I am still trying to figure out where that vast amount of luck came from!

Vordb cast his Grease spell on the lead ogres and the stairs under them; once this was in place, I used my Ring of the Ram to shove Big Bob backwards, knocking him and the other ogres down the long staircase. Before they could get up, I cast my stickiest spell on them, causing them to adhere together, and Ghost threw a vial of Greek Fire; this turned them into a burning, sticky pile of what was essentially lava. To add insult to injury, Vordb then cast an Irritation spell on the monsters.

These monsters were no longer a threat, but at the bottom of the hill were more ogres and a hill giant. Our fighters attacked them well, Vordb used his Hovering Skull to taunt the giant, and Ghost lobbed another Greek Fire. I used my Wand of Fear on the group of ogres still standing and this caused them to turn and flee- unfortunately not before the hill giant could toss a huge boulder on top of Oakskin. Ghost got a healing potion to him just in time and while the monsters all fled in one direction, we ran the other way.

We are now camped for the night and are hoping that we will not be visited by more ogres tonight. Tomorrow we continue on towards the ogre moot- but at least not in the position of prisoners, for which I am exceedingly thankful!

~Cyneric Conroy, Order of the Fleet Fox
October 5th, 7th day of Brightmoon

Adventures in an evil temple

We hurried on from Hightower and were able to reach the Brotherhood of Dread temple by the phase of the moon that we needed. Using the pearl we received from the king, Tarus reveled the door hidden in the gorge wall and we entered. Once inside we avoided traps set into the floor and Ghost and I discovered hidden alcoves further on that contained wights; these the group destroyed, but Tarus was uneasy because he didn't remember those. We continued down into the temple and just as we came to the acolyte's hallway, we began hearing clattering noises behind us. We knocked out a few of the acolytes then took care of the skeletons that had followed us. Here I gave Vordb that undead turning amulet that we'd picked up a while ago, figuring our necromancer would have a better idea of what to do with it.

After we got rid of the skeletons, a few priests came out to see what was going on; I Charmed them to forget that we were here and they got to work cleaning up the skeleton mess. Some of our group went to investigate the corridors and rooms around and discovered that there was a crawl space above, which was how the skeletons had gotten behind us. We continued on (stopping only long enough so I could put a warding glyph on the door behind which the Dark One kept a large part of his army) and eventually reached a room containing living guards. These we eliminated, then reached a large room with a deep chasm inside. In trying to kill the undead in this room, Ghost dropped her magic sword down into the pit; luckily she had the great idea to use my air elemental to retrieve it or else that could have been a disaster!

Following the directions of Tarus, we headed towards the sanctum proper. Here the decor had not been changed over completely for the Brotherhood of Dread and the original motifs of Hades remained on the columns, answering my question of which god this temple originally belonged to. We found the cells but the keys Ghost had picked up didn't work; Tarus told us that he had keys in his own chambers. We followed our guide, but ran into our old friend Rugur and a few of his colleages. These we incapacitated, largely with magic on the part of Vordb and Ayman, but Linora and Ghost became paralyzed by the evil priests' magic. Ghost was able to control the air elemental telepathically to help, and the two eventually broke free. Tarus retrieved his keys and we locked our new prisoners in the vault temporarily after first taking the treasure it contained. We finally located the real Duke Marcus, who looked quite unhealthy after being held captive for so long, but he still had the strength to attack Tarus upon sight (not that any of us could blame him for that!). The duke now with us, we headed to the actual temple area. Upon entering the room, the jaw of the giant skull on the wall opened, emitting red smoke, armored warriors, baneguard, and a tall figure in dark armor, who promptly issued the command “kill them”. As soon as I could, I cast Silence on this figure, clearly confusing him, and this combined with a well-placed Web spell from Ayman, gave the group time to attack his guard without his interference. Vordb's Grease spell (he must be learning from Ayman) then knocked many of them over and the group attacked, the duke staying safely behind us. Finally, with one last attack (by Ayman, I think?) sending him flying backwards, the Dark One gave a shout and black mist began issuing from his armor while the skeletons crumbled. Tarus gave a heavy sigh and said that he thought “it's over”, which was what we were hoping for. Ghost and Linora went into the chamber behind the large wall skull and found some treasure while Tarus gave us some more information: he was fairly certain that they've never seen the face of the Dark One and that he traded humanity for power- that mist was all that was left.

The Dark One apparently destroyed permanently, part of our group went to retrieve the priests we'd locked up while I prayed to Hermes, asking for guidance on what to do about Tarus and the remaining Brotherhood. The response wasn't clear at first (perhaps because I was in a desecrated temple?) but the answer I received was that Tarus was now someone else's problem (that was quite a load off my mind, having been his babysitter for far too long), and that for the others “to be sure of their fate, deliver them unto the hands of justice”, which meant taking them back to Rinos and the king's judgment.

While the rest of the group continued looting, SwampFox, Tarus and myself headed back outside in order to go find wagons to transport our prisoners back to Rinos. As we traveled up towards the surface, Tarus began to feel uneasy and strange, but I didn't notice anything until we reached the main door, where my fox and bird began freaking out and SwampFox became incredibly confused- here I realized there was a divine presence! As Tarus held his head like he had a massive headache, SwampFox and I pushed the main door open. A very bright light had been shining through the cracks in the door and when we got it opened, even though it was now daytime outside, everything was black and white. Two figures were standing fifty feet away; one was tall with a long black robe covering his face and bearing a scythe, the other was much taller even than that with dark skin, hair and beard, and very ornate armor and helmet. This was Hades and one of his assistant minor beings of Death! I bowed low, SwampFox mirroring my movements, and Tarus fell to his knees. Hades told me to rise and step forward, which I immediately did. He asked about “the usurper” and told me that he was destroyed- and that I do Hermes a great credit. At this point I felt as though I was going to faint (how often do you get to meet a deity!) but I think I stammered out a “thank you very much!” in there. Hades then turned back to face Tarus, telling him “you have business with me this day”. The evil priest rose almost involuntarily and told me that he had to go- but needed payment for where he was going. I handed him two silvers with a “good luck” (what else could I say?) and he walked over to the being with the scythe, turning pale, like he was fading into another world. Hades then looked at me and SwampFox and bowed, we echoed this movement and suddenly it felt like I was waking from a dream; everything looked normal again and my pets were now calm.

I located the stables and wagons and proceeded to complete the task I'd come out here to do with much shaking all the while. When the rest of the group finished looting the temple, collecting stray evil priests, and trying to heal Ayman of the poison he'd picked up from a trapped chest, we set off back towards Rinos. That night we came across the Master again; he told Vordb about Black Don (the Necromancer writer of some books Vordb had picked up) and he identified some of our treasure. A few of us traded for new magical items, as well; I believe Vordb got some sort of bug-summoning staff and I got winged boots that allow me to fly- perfect for a Messenger!

While testing these boots out the next day and flying ahead, I spotted a group of bears trying to eat something humanoid. I scared them away and discovered the body of a half-elf; what was strange was that he had an empty quiver but no bow in sight and it looked like the arrow that had killed him was one of his own. We buried the body and soon met with a group of adventurers the half-elf had belonged to: Wes, some sort of weaselly thief; Walt, a warrior with a trident; Kenna, a priestess; Radu, a half-ogre; and Garga, an elven magician.

We joined up with this group and continued to Hightower. That night while he was guarding the duke, Ayman saw a shadowy figure standing over Marcus' bed drop a dagger. This figure fled out the window and past where Ghost and I were guarding the wagons that contained the captured priests; we chased him, but even after being hit with my mace and Ghost's arrow, he got away from us, but I did find his dropped dagger which my fox used to follow the would-be assassins trail. Even with this help and Ghost's tracking ability, we were unable to locate him and had to start off the next day towards Rinos again.

On the road a group of very injured men were driving a wagon in the direction we'd come from; they were bitten and burned and told us that they had been attacked by a chimera. Ghost followed the monster's tracks and we located a cavern where a chimera was asleep on a pile of coins. With the help of our five new companions, we quickly vanquished the monster- only to have two more come after us. These we were also able to destroy with a lot more effort and we returned to the cavern. Here were found a pile of halfling bones and the owner's diary which stated that it belonged to “Ol' Red Slewfoot”; it is likely that this is a relative of our friend from Woodland, Homer Slewfoot, so we took the halfling's possessions so that we can return them to Homer.

That night we were attacked by large stag beetles, but we made short work of these, and continued traveling after a short stop in Bartertown. We traveled in very stormy weather and were nearing Cornwell when our horses became skittish; I calmed one down enough for it to tell me “Gotta run away, they'll eat us!”, which didn't bode well. Sure enough, a few moments later we were attacked by a group of gnolls. The leader said something about wanting something Vordb had (perhaps the undead turning amulet?), but we were able to take these monsters down, as well. Vordb found a magical skull in the leader's bag, but this didn't seem to do anything when placed near the amulet.

That night we reached Cornwell and, surprising no one, we learned that our friend Cornwallis the Conjurer is from this town, In a state of panic he informed us the next morning that he'd been robbed. Our group began an investigation and Ghost figured out what had happened with the use of her new x-ray ring: Wes had stolen them, although how he knew about them is still a mystery (Garga had been the only one Cornwallis had showed the items to, which isn't sitting well with me). Ghost knocked Wes out, got the items back and returned them to Cornwallis. The thief was taken by the constable after getting a good kicking and shouting at by Kenna (seems like I'm not the only one who doesn't like to put up with unsavory behavior from traveling companions...).

This problem sorted out, we left town and finally made it to Rinos. We met with the king and council and were thanked profusely for rescuing Marcus. We were given a very good feast and each offered a boon as a reward. I'm rather curious about what the others will ask for said reward, but as for myself, I'm thinking that I would like to ask for permission to build a Messenger's mosque in Logging Town.

~Cyneric Conroy, Order of the Fleet Fox
July 14th, 4th day of Bleakmoon