Book One: Blood Ties
Book Two: Near and Distant Shores
"You'll find that most people are
very stupid. You'll probably learn to turn that to your advantage... but
it does get quite tedious and depressing at times."
~ Edrik Kynedyr to his nephew Elias (Session 10)
"It's nice to look nice."
~ Ethme Tremayne (Session 26)
High Laird Pwylloch Kyrmac begins the Great Hunt, an attempt to purge Snowdown of all its monstrous threats.
|1345 CR||Hagen, a Northlander mercenary, arrives on Snowdown with his son, Vangrid.|
Tristan Kendrick becomes High King of the Moonshaes. Kale Kynedyr, his wife Verona, and his son Dunham are lost at sea during a voyage back home to Snowdown. Elsbeth Kynedyr marries Lucan Mullenwyr, a lesser noble of Alaron.
|1349 CR||Edrik Kynedyr leaves Llandrian.|
Hagen arrives in the cantrev of Llandrian with his son and his pregnant Ffolk wife, Aramana.
Heilyn Prosser dies at the hands of a troll in the Dweller'sWood.
|1354 CR||The Great Hunt ends. The Draka are driven deep into the Laird's Mire and the Burning Fens, and the High Laird declares the island free of trolls, giants, and gnolls. Elsbeth Mullenwyr leaves Alaron for the Korinn Archipelago and marries Birger Haxx.|
Iden arrives in Llandrian.
|1356 CR||Piers Haxx is born.|
Elias Kynedyr is born. Aislin Kynvelyn and Iden Tremayne are married.
|1358 CR||Jenna and Ethme Tremayne are born.|
Ardel, the Druid of Llandrian, dies. Iden inherits his position.
|1363 CR||Riordan and Jenna Kynvelyn leave Llandrian to live out the rest of their days in Myrloch Vale.|
The Preludes begin...
Late Spring: The Sisters Tremayne and Elias Kynedyr travel with Iden to Westphal, the capitol of Snowdown, and then to the southern cantrev of Andover. At Westphal they meet the High Laird Pwylloch, the Calashite wizard Ibrahim, and the High Druid of Snowdown, Heroan. At Andover they meet the Sisters Aldfrith, Nuala and Sorcha, who are said to be witches and are also the great aunts of all three children.
Late Summer: Alicia Kendrick becomes High Queen of the Moonshaes. The Tremayne household acquires a House Thing. Elias begins training with Vangrid Hagensen.
Early Autumn: Piers Haxx arrives on Snowdown with a Northlander named Brek and an emissary from Calidyrr named Ellery. He is to be fostered with the Kynedyr family. Hagen gives Piers the nickname "Koli", which means "dark" in the Northlander tongue.
|1367 CR||Bran Kynvelyn marries Cadhla Kundry. Ernan Prosser marries Ula Kynvelyn soon after.|
|1368 CR||Mercia Kynedyr unexpectedly becomes pregnant. Rhian Kynedyr is born later in the year.|
Early Spring: Piers loses Casnar Seamere’s boat and nearly drowns during a storm. Days later, on his birthday, he has a disturbing dream during which he sleepwalks. Elias finds him on the parapets of the keep.
Spring: Iden Tremayne travels to Liddenholm, a renshi community nestled in the hills of the Northern Weald, to obtain a special metal for Llandrian's master blacksmith, Dowel Brenagaine. He brings his daughters with him, as well as Elias, Piers, and the aspiring druid, Shane.
|1369 CR||Late Spring: Vangrid Hagensen agrees to train Ethme in swordplay.|
Summer: High Laird Pwylloch travels to Llandrian to retrieve the sword he had commisioned Dowle Brenagaine to make. He arrives with a sizeable retinue, which includes his family. The sword is presented and Pwylloch is so pleased with the work of the Master Smith, he calls for a celebration to honor the weapon and its maker.
Highharvesttide: Elias and Piers participate in their first hurley game. They prove to be a formidable combination on the field, and become the rivals of Torin Eideard and Elias' brother, Nolan.
Winter: Ethme inadvertently casts her first cantrip.
Early Spring: Once again, on Piers’ birthday, a thunderstorm hits the island and Piers again has the dream. He awakens to find himself standing on pebble beach.
Spring: Ethme, Jenna, Piers, and Elias travel to the south end of the island with Iden to visit the Sisters Aldfrith. Elias has an encounter with a Quarry Thing named Ruavard. It's agreed during the visit that having Jenna and Ethme spend more time with their great aunts would be a good idea.
|1370 CR||Midsummer: Riordan Kynvelyn marries Maeve Angharad.|
Summer: Piers finishes Casnar’s replacement boat and begins working on one for himself. The Sisters Tremayne spend the season with the Sisters Aldfrith.
Winter: Elias visits the Sisters Aldfrith during the Solstice and meets one of the Llewyrr. The fey creature informs him that he isn't entirely human, that he is "gen" and is "of the air": kin to elementals.
Early Spring: Piers again has the dream on his birthday. As before, there is a harsh thunderstorm, and as before, he awakens on the pebble beach.
Sping-Summer: The Sisters Tremayne stay with the Sisters Aldfrith.
|1371 CR||Highharvestide: Piers and Elias begin playing hurley with the older crowd.|
|1372 CR||Early Spring: Even though there is a storm on the night of his birthday, just like the previous three years, Piers doesn't have his dream. The next morning, signs of a shipwreck begin washing up on shore. Piers goes to Pebble Beach and finds that there is a survivor there, a man named Raiza Il'imon.|
|1372 CR||Summer: Jenna and Ethme must come home early, because their aunts have business to attend to that's going to take them away from the island.|
|1372 CR||Highharvesttide: During a particularly harsh hurley game Piers strikes Torin the Younger across the back of the head with a hurley stick. Torin is knocked unconscious and doesn't stir. That night, Draka attack the village of Llandrian. The campaign begins...|
Session 1 (11-22-03)
Player Game Rating: 8.25
1st Day of Marpenoth
The session opens with all four characters at the Tremayne abode.
troll is positioned in such a way that it denies Iden and his daughters
any clear avenue of escape. The
creature snarls as it steps toward Iden, but then the House Thing launches
itself at the monster and begins clawing at its rubbery face.
Piers stabs at the troll with his dagger, but his blade fails to break the creature’s tough hide. Despite this, the troll
decides to turn on the new threat.
The trolls are quickly dispatched after
fire is introduced to the scenario. Piers stops over Casnar for a moment, who
beckons the young Northlander closer and whispers to him, "Piers...I know you covet my wife..."
He then wheeze-laughs at Piers' horrified expression. Abashed and amazed
that a man could joke while in such a condition, Piers picks up Casnar's sword and continues on into the village, as the fisherfolk
turn their concerned attentions to Casnar himself.
he gets inside, he observes that the main hall's conversion into an infirmary has already been started. He runs through the halls until he finds his father, Vangrid, and Connell,
all in his father's office. He learns that the draka had burst up out of the hole in the courtyard. His mother, grandmother, and brother are safe, but
his grandfather was attacked and is not at all well; it's not sure that he'll last the night.
A decision is swiftly reached that
the disruption must be
investigated. Garhalt, Thorvid, Corwyn, Piers and Elias mount up and
ride off down the southern road. Just outside the village's perimeter, they come upon a crater and a partial corpse; apparently a rider on the road was somehow blown to bits. There's a brief discussion,
in which Piers expresses a concern for the neighboring cantrev of
Harloch. Garhalt doesn't believe there's anything to be concerned about.
Nonetheless, Garhalt and Thorvid return to Llandrian to report, while Corwyn, Piers and Elias
continue down the road to the next village.
It's quickly observed that Harloch is in quite a state. It has suffered a great deal of damage, and it appears all but deserted. Only the keep in the distance shows any signs of life. Corwyn continues to move deeper into the village, against the protests of his companions. Then, Elias notices a figure up the road. Unfortunately, the figure notices him as well. It emits a forlorn moan, and a group of people clamor out from a nearby house in response to its call. A chase ensues, with the boys being pursued by this shambling mob of people. But it's quickly deduced that they are not people... not anymore. They are restless dead. There is even a draka among them.
The boys run for dear life, with Caer Harloch being their intended destination. Upon reaching the keep, they shout for the gates to be opened. The opening of the gates seems to take an obscenely long time. Fortunately, the restless dead are not very fast, and the boys make it inside just before their pursuers can close in on them. Once within the safety of Caer Harloch's walls, they are met by Donnard, the captain of the guard. Donnard and Corwyn, then Donnard and Piers, caught up in the tension of the moment, exchange some heated words. However, everybody gets hold of themselves and settles down soon enough.
The boys learn from Donnard that Harloch was also attacked and that the laird and the druid are both dead. The assault on Harloch was apparently much more intense than the assault on Llandrian, perhaps because of its proximity to the Laird's Mire. There was a red draka with the attacking force -- now dead -- and it was the one that defiled the fallen and made them walk. The dead are not just restless either; when they claw you or bite you, they inflict a disease that makes you like them. It only takes a scratch for the infection to be delivered. That's why the townsfolk have not been able to deal with the wretched abominations, so far. Donnard also explains that they had sent a messenger to Llandrian for help... which reveals the identity of the unfortunate rider who died on the road.
After Elias spends a brief time with his uncle (during which he tells of the attack on Llandrian and the attempt on Regan's life), it's decided that Piers, Elias, and Corwyn need to return to Llandrian as quickly as possible. They need to tell everyone what's happened in Harloch, and they must also ask if Iden can come to the village's aid. Another messenger, Marcus, is to be sent to Brannoch, in the south. First though, it is Marcus who will provide a distraction so that the Llandrian folk can escape.
The three young men from Llandrian are given fresh horses, while Marcus is suited up with as much protective clothing as possible. When he is fully outfitted, he looks very much the absurd sight, especially due to the "weapons" he wields: a heavy pot and a large, wooden spoon. The gates are opened, and Marcus sets out with surprising speed, despite the encumbrance of his clumsy armor. He races through the village like he's been shot from a bow, banging spoon upon pot and shouting. The dead pour from the buildings to chase after him, as Elias, Piers and Corwyn gallop off to the north. Once beyond the village, they retrieve their own horses, and head home to bring the news.
Session 2 (12-20-03)
Player Game Rating: 8
Elias, Piers, and Corwyn make it back from their excursion to Harloch with a harrowing tale of the surviving villagers trapped in the cantrev's keep by a horde of disease-ridden, walking dead. They manage to keep the tale pretty quiet. Elias tells Torin, Connel, Vangrid and, inadvertently, Ethme. Corwyn tells Jenna, who tells Maeve, who tells Ula. Piers tells Riordan, Iden... and a mole that he suspected may have been Iden.
Elias checks on his grandfather, who's condition is still critical. He's conscious though, and he gives Elias a quest...
is to take the life's work of his grandfather, a complete history and
guide of Snowdown, to the great library of Candle Keep, located on the Sword
Coast. Elias must see that the book gets there safely and is accepted,
Regan, even if he lives, will never again have the strength to make such
a journey. Elias' grandmother, Brianna, motivates him further by saying,
"Regan may not have long... but I'll be sure to live long
enough to see you come to ruin if you make a mess of the task you've
decides that he must go and try to aid Harloch, but he is loathe to
leave Llandrian without its druid... so he gives to Elias, Piers, Shane,
and his daughters, a mission. The group of them, along with Seward, must
travel to Liddenholm and ask the Wardens for assistance. The group is to
explain that all the Goddess' children are endangered by this newly
organized and aggressive draka menace. Iden gives the group twelve
goodberries, and arms Piers and Ethme with weapons that neither girl
knew he had. The group takes what few things will be needed for the
journey and heads out, but not before Jenna asks her father to please
send word south to find out if the aunts are well.
The group is initially tense, but the walking eventually relaxes everyone enough that people start talking... and Jenna and Piers start bickering. Seward puts a quick stop to that, however, by suddenly racing off after something in the trees. He comes right back, but several time after that he becomes noticeably tense, stopping to stare at a particular spot or sniffing the wind or growling.
The group continues on, much more
subdued now. After a while, Seward suddenly begins barking again, madly
this time, and
races off into the forest. The group can hear him barking and barking,
and there is a brief argument about what to do. Jenna wants to go off
after Seward, but Piers and Shane and Ethme want to keep going, and
Ethme convinces Jenna to start moving again. After a bit, Seward returns
with a bolt in his mouth that Elias recognizes as one of the crossbow
bolts the draka used.
The group pushes on toward Liddenholm, now feeling sure that they're being followed, but unsure of what else to do. Darkness falls, and Piers lights a lantern. Shortly after full dark, Seward again seems to become alarmed. Piers sets the lantern down, and the group spreads out to the edges of the light. Jenna is startled when she suddenly realizes that there is a renshi standing right next to her, peering out into the darkness with her.
the inevitable moment of confusion passes, Jenna explains
to the renshi that they believe they are being
followed by a draka. The renshi introduces himself as Finder Bridden, son of
Voled, and takes them into Liddenholm to see the Old Warden.
Old Warden is not pleased that the group has lead danger to Liddenholm.
After speaking with the youngsters about what's happened and hearing their
plea, he tells them that the matter must be discussed, and they'll have
an answer in the morning.
The group is put up in the same barracks-like guest quarters that
they were brought to in their last visit.
the morning, Old Warden Braeved tells the group that the renshi will
send Warden Legear, his initiate, and the finder, Bridden, to Llandrian.
They might have sent more, but the security of Liddenholm must be their
foremost concern. The combined group of humans, renshi, and moorhound
set out for Llandrian...
Session 3 (01-03-04)
Player Game Rating: 8.75
The group arrives back at Llandrian without incident, and heads up to the High Hill. Legear, Shen, Shane, and the badger remain there, while the intrepid heroes take Bridden to the keep and introduce him to the acting Laird, Torin Kynedyr.
gifts Torin with a stone. Torin accepts the gift graciously enough, even
though he obviously has no idea what to do with it. The ensuing dialogue
is difficult and awkward, but all the necessary information is conveyed.
On the way out of Torin's office, Piers points out the crater in
the middle of the courtyard. Bridden stops to inspect it briefly,
then everyone heads back to the hill.
is left to assist the renshi while Jenna and Ethme go to Connel's to
check on their mother. They learn that Young Torin woke up the night
before, which is promising news. After speaking with their mother, the
girls head home to work on cleaning the house. They find their two
uncles and Corwyn there already, patching the hole in the roof.
Their mother returns later in the day.
Meanwhile, Piers and Elias go back to the keep. Elias shows Piers the Book of Snowdown and tells him of his quest. Elias then begins to read any references he can find in the book about renshi and draka to Piers... which lulls the Northlander to sleep.
Later in the evening, there is a gathering at the
The renshi come to dinner, along with Piers and Elias, the girls' aunts
and uncles, Shane, Corwin, and Bran. Everyone is surprised to learn that
Bran and Bridden have met before. After dinner, Bran tells a tale of how
his sister had once drugged their parents
so she and he could venture off into the woods together in the
dead of night, and they had come upon Bridden. Bridden had treated a
wound Ula had taken from a fall, and then had shared with her secrets
that had allowed her to make Bran's medicines more potent.
dinner ends and people go their separate ways. Piers goes and speaks
with Young Torin's mother briefly, while Elias goes off with Shane.
Jenna has a talk with her Uncle Liam and Aunt Duana. Ethme reads her
cards, seeking to divine how her great aunts are doing.
next morning, it starts to rain. The girls invite the renshi, as well as
Shane, to breakfast. The boys show up for the meal also. During
breakfast the autumn rainstorm suddenly increases in ferocity, becoming
a gale in a matter of minutes. The renshi say they must return to the
standing stones. They quickly depart, along with Shane.
Elias manages to reinforce the blanket covering the hole in the
cabin wall. Ethme and Piers are bickering in the kitchen when suddenly
there is a thunderbolt so loud that Jenna screams and drops the
porridge. Elias, outside, can see smoke rising from Caer Kynedyr. He and
Piers race off to the keep, which has been struck by lightening; the top
floors of one of the towers has been blown off.
boys look for Elias's mother and father, eventually finding them in the
broken tower with several others, trying to salvage what they can before
sealing it off. They help with the work and eventually the doors are
closed and bolted. The boys brave the storm and head out onto the wall,
where Elias looks out at the ocean and realizes that people might have
been caught out fishing, given how suddenly the storm came up.
and Piers race down to the shore, where the families of the fisher folk
are gathered. There's been no sign of any of the boats that went out
that morning. Eventually, somebody decides it'd be prudent to wait out
the storm at the Kundry House and people head inside.
Those who went out that morning are: Desmond and his son, Logan; Casnar's brother, Willem;
Casnar's sons, Gwynne and Niles; Willem's son, Bruinn; Hagen, and
Arna. Piers and Elias go to Vangrid's, then up to the Point, but they
can't see anything except the raging water.
Sorcha arrives at Aislin's in a flurry of dark, wet cloak; she states
that she has business in Llandrian with her niece, but wanted to see
"her girls". She is told briefly of Iden's mission to Harloch and of the
renshi presence on the hill, and she tells the girls that Nuala is well,
and at home, and that apparently the whole island except for Westphal itself, was attacked. Then she leaves for the keep.
and Piers, out on the Point,
are summoned to the keep by Sorcha's whispered voice in their
ears. "Child of rain, child of wind. Come to me. I have need of
At the keep, the boys participate in a ritual conducted by Sorcha,
and attended by Elias' grandmother, Brianna, in which Sorcha scries the
origins of the gale. She and the boys see a gathering of chanting draka,
centered about a draka with wings like those of a small dragon. The
winged draka looks up suddenly, as if sensing their presence, and Sorcha
casts the scrying bowl aside. Elias shows her Regan's book, with
Brianna's permission, and she reads the draka information. She then
tells them that the renshi are trying to stop the storm, and sends them
to get Ethme and Jenna and meet her on the hill.
the hill, the four friends offer up their blood to Sorcha (the boys for
the second time) and each take their place at a standing stone. Sorcha
is in the center of the clearing, flanked by Legear and Shen. Sorcha
raises her sword to the sky, her voice lost in the wind, and a bolt of
lightening crashes down upon the sword, passes through her, and branches
out to strike each of the four brave souls. Some of them can see the
others. Those that can, see Ethme wreathed in flame, Jenna apparently
melded to the stone, Elias surrounded by a whirlwind, and Piers
wavering, as if underwater. Sorcha collapses, the four youths black out,
and the storm breaks.
a short time, the renshi are able to help Sorcha to her feet, and the
others are once again awake and able to walk. They all head down to the
shore, where people are already putting boats into the water to go out
and search for the fishing fleet. Piers and Elias take a boat, while
Sorcha and the girls head up to the point. Sorcha calls some seagulls
and instructs them to gather their comrades and to fly out over the sea
and hover over any people or pieces of floating wood that they see in
is rowing for all he's worth, when suddenly their boat is propelled
through the water, as if somebody was lifting and pushing it from
behind. They travel rapidly like this for several minutes, then come to
rest near a flock of seagulls. The gulls are hovering over three people,
all tied to drifting wreckage: Arna, Gwynne, and Niles. All are
unconscious, but Arna wakes up and has the strength to climb into the
boat and help Piers row.
They tow the boys back to shore, once again being propelled for
part of the journey. Gwynne is in very bad shape and he is immediately
carried off. Aislin is called for, and she and the girls go to tend him.
Piers and Elias immediately set out again. All the boats stay out until
well after dark, but nobody else is found.
in the night, Sorcha stops by Aislin's house to say goodbye to the
girls. She asks a few questions about Young Torin; Piers had previously
asked her if she could help. Sorcha tells the girls that she will see
them again, but it may not be soon. Travel may not yet be safe, come
the keep, Elias sees Sorcha and his grandmother walk out the front gate.
He follows them down the south road and out of Llandrian. He calls out
to them, and Sorcha yells back to him to go home. Then he sees Sorcha
and his grandmother rise up into the air, and float away.
meanwhile, has gone to Hagen's home to be with the family. Arna tells
him, on the sly, that she has a theory. She thinks that Hagen would have
made for Eyetooth Rock when the storm came up. She and Piers make plans
to row out there the next morning.
Session 4 (01-17-04)
Player Game Rating: 8.5
In the morning, Piers and Arna row out to Eyetooth Rock. It's a long and grueling journey, but they make it. When they get there, they are rewarded by the sight of a piece of fishing net and a shirtsleeve, snagged upon a rock. They find an opening in the massive Rock and make there way into a cave where, indeed, they find Hagen, great-axe still strapped to his back.
Hagen is dehydrated, very badly hurt, and more or less delirious. He is able to move enough that they can get him out to the boat, but it takes so long that it's near dusk when they finally set out for home. They have Hagen in a second boat which they are towing behind their own. Full dark catches up to them not long after they push off from the Rock, and as the wind picks up, the sea becomes increasingly choppy. Eventually, they have to take turns at rowing and bailing out the boats. At one point, they see lights in the distance, and begin rowing towards them. It's not long before they realize that even as they approach the lights, the lights are moving towards them. Soon a great sailing ship looms into view. Ropes are tossed down and the three are hauled aboard.
Session 5 (01-31-04)
Player Game Rating: 8.75
Elias, Ethme and Jenna take
Caer Kynedyr's modest dungeon and put him in a cell. Elias asks the girls to find Piers. The twins head off to Hagen's but find nobody there, so they go to Vangrid's. Eventually, they end up down on the beach, where they find all of clan Hagensen as well as several of the other fisher folk. Three huge bonfires have been lit. Vangrid tells the girls that Arna and Piers are missing and that he suspects they went looking for Hagen. He asks them if Piers had mentioned anything to them (which he had not), and asks them to fetch Elias. Ethme runs off to get Elias while Jenna remains on the beach.
Session 6 (02-28-04)
Player Game Rating: 9
6th Day of Marpenoth – 11th Day of Marpenoth (afternoon)
The evening of the sixth, Jenna
and Ethme make the rounds of the all those sick and injured in the
village, visiting and bringing some fresh stew. Piers accompanies the
girls for their first trip, to Hagen's, then stays to talk to Hagen
about a problem he's having – he's struggling with the guilt
he feels over what happened to Young Torin. Hagen advised him that he
needs to figure out whether or not his actions were justified or not.
and eight of Marpenoth are uneventful, but on day nine, the rite for the
Ishtishians who died will be conducted by Rohn, of the Muirfinn clan.
Piers knows that the Muirfinn's, one of the older fisherfolk families,
are Ishtishian. They are connected to the Kynvelyns through the Prossers;
Desmond Muirfinn's sister is Ernan's grandmother. Years ago, Desmond's
sister Rohn married and left Llandrian, but she suffered some tragedy
and returned. Desmond and his son, Logan, were killed during the storm.
As the only resident Ishtishian, Rohn must perform rites for them. The
ceremony takes place at first light, on the beach. Rohn is very nervous,
and Ishtishian dogma, even the parts that are read in the common tongue,
is largely ineffable.
of the tenth day, Iden and Seward return home from Harloch. All Iden's
women are thrilled to see him, of course. He has a sad tale to tell,
however. It seems that the restless dead of Harloch were inhabited by
something, and he was able to force it out and deal with them fairly
succinctly. However, while there he learned that the Brannoch was
completely destroyed by the draka. A few escaped, but the cantrev itself
is a smoking ruin. High Druid Hiroen is currently there. The girls, in
turn, tell their father about Aloszek; some of the story he already knew,
as he'd been to the keep before coming home. The girls follow their
father up to the hill where he converses with the renshi and with Shane,
some. Shane will accompany the renshi home. Elias and Piers show up
later in the day, and they fill Iden in on their stories over dinner.
After dinner, all four accompany Iden up to the keep, to speak with Aloszek.
learns from Aloszek that the draka tribes in the Lairds Mire and the
Burning Fens are lead by the Kyr'nyth, which means 'Wings Open.' He
claims that they number hundreds - perhaps thousands - and that tribe
Kyr'nyth is over 500 strong. There are many, many smaller tribes as
well. The winged draka is named Ezieroth. Ezieroth has further plans,
but Aloszek doesn't want to say more about that. The tribes in the Mire
and the Fens are in contact with each other. There are tunnels and
caverns deep beneath the island - even under the lakes - and things have
been found there. Aloszek describes them as old creatures, like insects,
but not, and very large. Ezieroth plans to use them somehow.
questioning of the draka ends, Iden tells the four that he is unsure
whether or not the draka is lying, and that doubt alone is enough for
him to recommend that Aloszek be taken to the High Laird. He questions
Piers some about Hagen's health, then goes off to speak with Torin.
Elias, Piers, Jenna, and Ethme retire to the boys room to partake of a
bottle of almond brandy. The four drink and talk, more or less
coherently, about the possibility of going to Westphal and eventually to
the Sword Coast, and about a bunch of other stuff. Elias tells the girls
about Candle Keep.
On the way
home, Ethme and Jenna talk some more, then chat with their mother for a
bit, before falling into bed. They are awakened far, far too early by
their father, who instructs them to come with him. It is still dark out.
Iden marches them for miles into the woods, at a merciless pace, but it
all seems worthwhile when they reach their destination. It's a glade so
beautiful and ethereal and glowing with the Mother's essence that the
girl's are stunned. There is an enormous tree in the center of the
grove, and a small waterfall spilling down into a pool of crystal clear
water; the pool emits an ambient light that fills the glade. There is a
cave across the grove and a bear comes out of it. Iden goes and has a
chat with it, then calls the girls down to the pool. He tells them that
these groves are scattered about the isles. They are the heart of the
Mother. They are called Moonwells, and this is the smallest of the three
on Snowdown. They are the charge of the Jennathi and they must be
protected. It was through a Moonwell that the Dark Walker came into the
the girls that there are things that he must know about what fate awaits
them. He instructs them each to drink a handful of water from the pool,
which they do. They promptly fall asleep.
Jenna wakes up alone. Nobody responds to her call. There is light
coming from the bear cave, and she follows it. It leads her through
winding tunnels until she comes to a dead end. The way behind her is
sealed, cutting off the light, and she is encased in rock on all sides.
As she is approaching panic, she hears a sound coming from overhead.
Looking up, she realizes there is one direction that is still open to
her. A goose looks down over the edge of the rock shaft and squawks.
Jenna begins to climb the rock wall and soon reaches the top. She
follows the goose down to the edge of a lake. There are the sounds of
people laughing and the smell of smoke coming from a village along the
shore, as if there is some kind of gathering going on. That sounds
inviting, but then she notices a small, mist-cloaked island out in the
center of the lake. It's rocky, and there are dolmans atop it. There is
a small boat, and she gets in and rows out to the island, the goose
swimming along behind her. When she reaches the island, she climbs up to
the standing stones at the top and finds that they encircle and alter
with an old book laid upon it. The book is a heavy tome of wood and
metal, with jewels encrusting its cover. The design on the cover of the
book, she immediately decides, is what she will craft out of her d'larun.
She opens the book, then turns to say something to the goose, who she's
been having a more or less running conversation with. Where the goose
was, her mother now stands. Aislin says, “Your choice has been made.”Then Jenna wakes up, next to her
sister and father, and begins to draw in the earth before she forgets
Ethme wakes up alone and sees a cabin up on the ridge that wasn't
there when she went to sleep. She goes up to the door and knocks, then
enters. Gavin is there. He is thrilled that Ethme has finally come home,
and kisses her passionately. Before she has quite recovered from that
shock, Ethme hears a child's cry. Gavin goes and fetches the
source of the sound and hands it over to Ethme - a beautiful baby
boy with a lock of curly, red hair. He quiets right down as soon as he's
in Ethme's arms. Gavin keeps saying how good it is to have Ethme home
finally, and how much he and the baby have
missed her. Throughout this, Ethme keeps hearing the sound of
some large animal outside. She asks Gavin about this, but he only tells
her that it's nothing. Ethme looks around the cabin some, and sees a
large sword hanging over the fireplace in the next room. Unable to stand
it anymore, she goes to the front door to see what is making that noise,
although Gavin either isn't hearing it, or is ignoring it. Outside is a
large boar. It snorts and paws the ground when it sees her. Off in the
forest that surrounds the house - the glade is now gone - Ethme can
hears the sounds of combat, both martial and magical. There is shouting
and the clashing of swords and flashes of blue lightning cracking in the
distance. The boar turns towards the gate and starts trotting towards
it, then stops and looks back at Ethme. Meanwhile, Gavin is trying to
convince Ethme that nothing outside matters; nothing outside the walls
of their home is of any consequence. He tries to get her to come to bed
with him, but she is still looking out towards the boar at the gate. She
hands the baby to Gavin and says, “I'll be right back.” She goes out to the gate and
asks the boar what it wants from her. She thinks she's hears Piers voice
in the battle, but behind her, she hears laughter. Turning back to the
house, she sees Gavin at dinner with her mother and father. The little
boy is older now, and there is a
younger girl with a very serious look on her face. Ethme goes inside the
house. She goes to her mother and her father and tells them that she
loves them, but that sometimes you have to make choices in life. She
goes to Gavin and the children and tells them that she loves them very
much. Then she goes and takes the sword down from the wall and goes out
the door. Hagen is now standing where the boar was, ax in hand. As she
and Hagen turn to walk towards the
battle together, Ethme hears Aislin's voice say, “The choice has been made.” She wakes
up next to her sister and her father.
the girls tell him all about their visions, in detail. On the way home,
he talks to them about the
goose and the boar, then he tells them to go and prepare to to leave for
Westphal with Uncle Liam and Bran. While they are packing, Jenna
overhears bits of the conversation between Iden and Aislin, and relates
it to Ethme. Aislin is sad. The whole family goes to the keep, where
they meet up with Liam and Bran, Elias and
Piers, and a shackled Aloszek. Aloszek's chains are bolted to the
wagon that's been provided, and he is covered. Jenna is given the reins,
while Ethme is told to ride next to her sister. The men will all be
mounted. As we're leaving, Elias' mother comes running out after us,
calling for us to wait. She hands Elias a warmer cloak, in case it gets
cold. He gets off his horse and gives her a hug. Then the group sets out
outside Harloch, the group is met by a couple of riders, one of whom is
Marcus. Marcus is now a guard, apparently, and he and his companion
escorts the group through Harloch and for a little ways south. There's a
brief break for lunch, but then it's time to push on. It's mid-afternoon
when the group reaches the crossroads. From this point on, the road
follows the river, and is completely exposed to the moors on the other
bank. Half-way down the road to the bridge, Bran - the group's forward
scout - rides back and lets everybody know that there are bodies ahead.
Sadly, the group cannot risk stopping to give them a proper burial.
Jenna and Ethme pray to Jennath as they pass the two bodies; they were
young men, no older than Piers.
time, Bran signals a stop. He comes back to the wagon and tells Liam
that something's wrong. The two dismount and move forward on foot.
Suddenly, Aloszek yells in alarm, and the ground erupts in front of the
Kynvelyns. An enormous creature with huge, lobster-like pincers bursts
up through it. The creature is being ridden by a draka.
Session 7 (03-13-04)
Player Game Rating: 8.75
11th Day of Marpenoth – 13th Day of Marpenoth
is astonished by the sight before them, but there's no time to waste
dwelling, especially not as four more draka come into view behind the
beast - one of them, black. Thinking quickly, Ethme casts Dazzle on the
beast's eye, causing it to rear back briefly and shake it's head. It
lunges forward at Bran but misses, due to the light in its eyes. Bran
takes a step back and looses an arrow, hitting the beast in one of its
many limbs, as Elias leaps off his horse; he throws the reins of both
his horse, and Bran's, towards the wagon and races towards the black
draka. Aloszek makes a grab for the reins, while Jenna worries about
keeping the wagon horses under control. Piers forces his forward,
galloping it past the beast and bearing down on the draka behind the
thing. It seems as if the tide of battle shifts from moment to moment,
in favor of one side or the other. Piers is thrown from his horse, but
manages to regain his feet. He makes a mighty slash at the back of the
black draka, just visible on the edge of Elias' darkness, but then
himself is felled by a draka bullet to the back of the head. Liam slays
the mounted draka, then unleashes several shots directly into the head
of the giant beast. It retaliates by spitting a green, viscous fluid at
him that burns his skin. Meanwhile, Ethme and Bran are both assaulting
the beast, but sword and arrow both find it difficult to pierce the
thing's shell. Back at the wagon, Aloszek has managed to regain control
of Elias' and Bran's horses. Jenna is desperately trying to force the
cart horses forward, towards the fallen Piers, but they are staunchly
the riderless beast retreats, skittering backwards towards its hole.
Bran continues to pelt it with arrows while Ethme and Liam turn on one
of the ones who had earlier attacked Piers (and was now attacking Ethme).
It drops. The remaining draka see this as a bad sign, and flee
towards the hole. Liam leaps onto his horse and charges forward, firing
down into the hole after them. Bran is doing the same thing, and another
draka falls. With the beast now gone, Jenna manages to get the
recalcitrant horses to move forward, but Bran and Ethme have gotten to
Piers now, and are able to stop his bleeding and apply a poultice to his
wound. Then the darkness falls away and we see Elias, standing
victorious over the corpse of the black draka.
beheads all the dead draka except the black one, which Elias finally
manages to hack the head off of. Piers is loaded into the wagon with Aloszek
and the draka heads, and group continues on. Pier's
horse, which had bolted more from fear than injury, is recovered
further down the road. Piers wakes up during the journey, and is able to
sit up in the front of the cart, though standing is not yet feasible.
Nobody has any idea what that beast was.
arrives at Westphal late in the afternoon. Once through the city gate,
they immediately go to the keep and request an audience with the High
Laird, but are stopped by a guard who can't think past his orders. Those
seated in the wagon see the familiar form of Sir Nerian walking across
the courtyard. Piers stands up and calls out the him, the effort nearly
rendering him unconcious again. Sir Nerian approaches the gate and
orders the guard to open it. Upon hearing a brief version of the group's
tale, he arranges for a suite of rooms to be made ready, and then takes Aloszek
off to the dungeon, accompanied by Elias and Bran. Over the
course of the evening, food is sent to the rooms, and a healer comes to
tend Piers and Liam, and the group is informed that they'll be meeting
with the High Laird in the morning. Elias' brother Alroy also stops by
and talks with Elias briefly.
Ethme have a brief discussion, which causes Ethme to stomp off angrily.
She ends up wandering out onto a balcony and finding Alroy there. They
talk for a bit about events back home and a little about fear, and
whether they are afraid. Alroy isn't, and he wonders if that's strange.
morning, the group is invited to breakfast with the High Laird, Sir
Nerian, Sir Tedmund, and Ibrahim. The discussion mainly focuses on what
should be done. In particular, the High Laird asks Elias and Liam their
opinions regarding Iden's suggestion to bring in mercenaries from
off-island to deal with the draka. The group learns that men were sent
out to recover the bodies of the two boys they had passed. They also
learn that the High Laird and Ibrahim will be speaking with Aloszek that
day. The High Laird also singles out Ethme, telling her that he either
owes her his ire, or his gratitude...it's too soon to say which, yet. As
he and Ibrahim leave, he gives her a gold coin, telling her it's from
Duncan. Afterwards, the knights want to hear all the details of the
group's battle on the road. They
also talk about the High Laird some, and how angry he is at the way his
people have been attacked. When breakfast is over, Piers asks Sir Nerian
to relay the message that he's like to speak with Ibrahim before the
questioning of Aloszek.
breakfast, the group splits up. Liam goes down to the courtyard. Jenna
goes out of the keep to the town market, and buys a present for her
mother. Ethme goes and visits with Alroy again, and tells him about the
breakfast with the High Laird. Alroy's theory is that the High Laird is
angry because the whole incident is a stain on his perfect record as
Laird of Snowdown. He also asks if Elias' opinion was solicited by the
High Laird. Ethme is getting a bad feeling from Alroy.
Elias, Piers and Bran have gone back to the suite. Ibrahim shows up, in
response to Pier's request, and they tell him all about the previous
interviews with Aloszek and the information he's already revealed.
the day, when everybody is gathered again, the High Laird and Ibrahim
come to the suite. The High Laird says that he's keeping Aloszek, and the
thanks the group for their service. He states that as long as Aloszek behaves with honor, he will be treated honorably. He says that
Aloszek has asked to speak to Elias. Elias and Ethme go to the dungeon to see
the draka, escorted by Ibrahim. On the way, Elias questions Ibrahim
about magic, and admits that he has an interest in it. After the chat
with Aloszek, Ibrahim leaves the two to find their own way back to their
rooms. Ethme expresses some concern to Elias about Alroy's state of
mind, and warns him to be careful.
are gone, Sir Nerian comes to the suite to speak with Piers. Piers had
never had a chance to send the last letter he'd written. They go off
into a room together to chat, and Piers questions Sir Nerian about
Assuran. Sir Nerian is aware of an obscure bit of theological lore that
speaks of a contest between Tyr and Beshaba for Assuran's allegiance.
Piers' also mentions his desire to have a longsword made. Sir Nerian
recommends the Brenagaines of Llandrian, but says that the keep can
certainly provide Piers with a longsword.
Elias make a detour to the balcony, so that Elias can see his brother
before the group leaves. Alroy was going to be thinking on whether or
not he had any messages to send home. They talk briefly, and Alroy sends
his best wishes to the family.
the rooms, Piers and Jenna converse briefly, but for the most part,
everybody is quiet and lost in his or her own thoughts. Eventually,
everybody turns in for the night. In the middle of the night, Elias
awakens suddenly from a dream and realizes there's somebody standing
next to his bed. It's his brother Alroy, who wants to speak to him. They
go out into the corridor and Alroy tells Elias about how it's really
him, not Elias, who's been the outsider all his life. He talks about
he's always tried to imitate others, like their older brother Nolan, but
in truth, he just doesn't seem to care about anything or anyone. He says
he knows that Sir Tedmund thinks there's something wrong with him. He
just wants Elias to know that he's not the outsider he thinks he is. He
eventually ends up just walking away, leaving Elias to ponder.
Session 8 (03-27-04)
Player Game Rating: 8.25
13th Day of Marpenoth – 1st Day of Tarsakh (1373)
the morning of Marpenoth 13, Elias and Piers talk about Elias' strange
visit from Alroy, then the two go to the stables to talk to Sir Tedmund
about it. Then everyone leaves for home. The group stops in Harloch and
has lunch with Laird Anson, his wife, Winifred, and their son, Glew. It
is a trying event, for which Elias apologizes profusely to the group on
the way home. The group arrives in Llandrian in the late afternoon,
where the mood is somber. The funeral rites for those who died in the
attack were held that morning. Elias, Piers, and Liam go to report to
Torin, while the girls and Bran go home. The girls go to the cemetery to
pay their respects at twilight, and meet Elias and Piers there.
next day, Ethme goes to talk with Hagen about learning to fight with an
ax. He scares the sense back into her, and she determines to continue
her training in sword fighting with Vangrid. As the month of Marpenoth
passes, Piers begins to train with Vangrid with his new longsword. Jenna
speaks to her father about the battle on the road, and learns that Uncle
Liam had told both her parents all about it. Elias asks the Kynvelyns if
they can make crossbow bolts. Word comes that druids from Gwynneth have
arrived in Westphal, and that Sir Tedmund and Sir Nerian have left for
Alaron. Bards are carrying the word of Snowdown's need around the
islands. Brianna returns, near the end of the month.
Uktar, news starts coming in about draka raids on outlying homesteads in
the southern weald –
just like in the old days. Militia are again activated, and watches are
doubled. Ethme begins working the watch. Jenna works on her Book of
Secrets and begins to spend more and more time in the shed, working on
her pots. The Seameres recover, but Young Torin remains the same. Connel
is pushing for a trial, and Regan confides to Elias that he'll have to
acquiesce sooner or later. The days get colder and shorter as winter
arrives, and Day of Remembrance is quieter and more somber than it's
been for some years. The first snow falls on that evening, and by the 1st
day of Nightal there's an inch on the ground. The blanket of snow and
the early fog give Llandrian an ethereal, other-worldly feel.
trial is held in the first week of Nightal. Connel speaks his complaint,
and Piers his defense, then the floor is opened up to all. Several
people speak on Piers behalf, including Elias, Vangrid, the Seameres,
and Arna. Riddock stands up and says that what Piers had said,
about Torin taking pleasure in tormenting Piers and Elias, was
true (much to the chagrin of his father). After hearing Iden's whispered
counsel, Regan decrees that the penalty shall be 50 gold, to be paid to
the Eideard family one year from the date of the trial, and that should
Young Torin recover within that time, the penalty will be lifted. Connel
is incensed, but Regan explains his reasons and remains firm in his
resolve. After the trial, Ethme goes off with Piers and Elias, while
Jenna goes on home.
arrives, bringing the year 1373 with it. This is the coldest and
quietest month of the year. Nothing happens except for intermittent
snowfall. At Midwinter, Elias' family goes to visit Anson's family.
Elias learns that Glew has taken a shine to Ethme and intends to ask for
her hand. Elias tells him he's very brave.
day of Alturiak is Elias' 16th
birthday, his Day of Choosing. He is allowed to invite anybody he wants
to the celebration, and invites the entire Kynvelyn, Tremayne, and
Hagensen clans, Hagen's family, and Shane. He gets many gifts, including
a short sword made by Castor from his parents, two flasks of honey mead
from his brother Nolan, twenty crossbow bolts from the collective
Kynvelyns, a pendant made from d'larun from Jenna, something from Ethme,
and a fine leather backpack from Iden and Aislin. He also gets ten gold
which had been held in trust until this day. Later on, after the
gathering, Regan gives him a small vial and tells him if he ever has a
dire need to get out of a situation, to drink it. The vial looks like
glass, but is apparently unbreakable; it weathers Regan's smashing it
against a wall without even a scratch.
comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb; the weather is unseasonably
warm. There's no big storm, and Piers does not experience any
sleepwalking or dreams of bald men with large spears. News of more draka
raids comes from the south.
seventeenth birthday is on the last day of Ches. Elias organizes a
little party, and he and Jenna and Ethme all chip in and get Piers a
nice scabbard and sword belt for the longsword.
the first late afternoon of Tarsakh, Piers and Elias are on their way
home. As they approach the keep, the see three riders coming up the
road. They go down to meet them. One of the riders is a stunning woman
with skin of warm bronze and a fall of honey-gold hair cascading around
her shoulders. She wears finely crafted scale mail with a disc of
lavender enamel set into the breast piece, and a cloak of violet-red.
There are two men there, as well. One of the men peers down at Elias and
says, "You look like me." He questions Elias about who he is,
and somehow Elias manages to tear his attention away from the woman long
enough to answer that he is Elias Kynedyr, son of Torin. At that, the
man dismounts from his horse and embraces Elias, calling him
"nephew." He introduces himself as Elias' uncle Edrik.
and Piers lead the group up to the Keep, and Elias takes them all in to
see Torin. Piers, ever the gentleman, offers his arm to the woman and
escorts her. Torin is literally speechless, so surprised is he to see
his brother. Edrik introduces his companions as Anhagan ap Woden and
Sora Gautiero. They have come to Snowdown in answer to the High Laird's
call, and Edrik thought it wouldn't do to be on the island and not see
his family. As they leave to go to the suites that are being prepared
for them, Edrik takes Elias aside and asks him if he's 'touched.' Elias
replies that that's what he's been told. Edrik assures Elias that he'll
fit right in with the group, as they are all "completely fucked
Session 9 (04-10-04)
Player Game Rating: 7.75
1st Day of Tarsakh – 2nd Day of Tarsakh
Edrik wishes to see his sister, so Elias agrees to take him down to Shianna and Vangrid's house. Piers decides to stay behind to see to the needs of Anhagan and Saura (emphasis on Saura), but Anhagan makes it blatantly clear that they already have everything they need. As a result, a mildly disappointed Piers ends up accompanying Elias and Edrik into the village.
Upon arriving at his sister's home, Edrik appears somewhat taken aback that she's living in such a... modest dwelling. Shianna is extremely surprised and excited to see her brother. The two siblings reminisce for a while. Edrik is not very forthcoming about his past, and it's revealed that there is some issue between Edrik and his father Regan. Eventually Piers and Elias decide that they're not going to hear anything else particularly juicy and they leave. They head over to the Tremayne household, have some dinner, and ask Ethme and Jenna if they'd like to meet Elias' long lost uncle Edrik, as well as his companions. Of course, the girls are enthusiastic about this prospect.
After dinner, the four head up to Caer Kynedyr and Ethme
and Jenna are introduced to Edrik, Saura, and Anhagan. There is some polite chitchat, during which it's learned that Saura comes from a place called Iriabor, in the Western Heartlands, and
Anhagan is from someplace
"south of everything else". His earliest memories, he
eventually admits, are of a place called Port Nyranzaru. Then Edrik says they all need to get some sleep and
he ushers the four out.
Session 10 (04-24-04)
Player Game Rating: 7.5
3rd Day of Tarsakh – 6th Day of Tarsakh
Knowing that his uncle is to leave on the following day, Elias decides to seek Edrik out. Piers comes along, taking advantage of the opportunity to potentially gaze upon Saura once more.
The boys find the three adventurers at the Kundry House -- the effective tavern, inn, and general store of Llandrian -- and sit down to talk for a while. The conversation (which is mildly awkward in its initiation), primarily revolves around the trio's "plans" for assaulting the draka. Edrik's strategy seems to be nothing more than to go in, kill the winged draka, and get out. When the boys exhibit a slight dismay over the simplicity of the plan, Anhagan reveals his suspicion that the experience will likely involve him having to save Edrik's hide. It's a task he's apparently well acquainted with, though Edrik tries to downplay that revelation. Saura admits that there was a time when she would've protested the "cloak and dagger" approach that's to be taken. When Piers asks her why the draka would deserve more honorable treatment, Saura explains that, "it's not a question of what they deserve. It's a question of what you deserve." The conversation winds down soon after that. Piers takes his leave, and Elias and Edrik go out for a walk together.
While heading toward the outskirts of the cantrev, Elias and his uncle discuss the manner in which they are both touched. Elias relates to Edrik his experiences with Ruavard and the Llewyrr. Edrik in turn reveals what he has learned about the unusual condition they share. He explains that their inhuman blood is very, very old -- even older than the Aldfrith line -- and that it was introduced long before the Telfyr came to the islands. He adds that there are legends of an ancient people that roamed the Western Heartlands and used a dark and powerful magic, suggesting that it is perhaps these ancients that are somehow responsible for the legacy that Edrik and Elias have inherited.
Offering further insight, Edrik claims that the power in their blood is of the air, of shadow and of cold. He stresses that it is a dark thing, and that Elias should always be mindful of that. He must never let himself be ruled by it. The elder Kynedyr also reveals that he has met others like them (including some who gave in to that darkness). Apparently, there are a fair number on the mainland, due to an unexplained surge in the number of babies born 'touched' during his and Elias' generations.
then informs Elias that he will have a talent for the magic of shadow, but that he will find himself most unwelcome on Snowdown if he decides to pursue his gifts here.
He gives a couple of small demonstrations. First he points to two trees and asks Elias what's between them. Elias says there's a rock there. Edrik points out that he shouldn't be able to see that. Then Edrik tells Elias about how
matters get more and more weird as you get older and he gives him a brief example of what he means; he seems to be able to draw shadows to him, so that the air around him grows darker and darker. Edrik also shows Elias a small black star, tattoed on his wrist. He
indicates that the symbol represents a loose organization of like-minded people and that perhaps Elias might seek help from somebody with that
mark someday, should he ever find himself in need. Finally, Edrik says that certain things will just call to Elias, will just feel 'right,' like the winter
wind and shadowy places. He points out that he is not the type to stay still for too long, nor to weigh himself down
(wearing heavy armor). Finally, he makes the peculiar recommendation that Elias
should learn to dance, then he takes his leave.
after examining the situation, decides that it is a matter for the
Sisters Aldfrith. Between him and the girls, they manage to calm the woman
just enough to get her up onto one of the horses. Darton rides for Andover with
the distraught woman, leaving the girls with a warning not to go near the house.
as she declares "that's enough!" to the creatures, one of them
hurls a knife, which implants itself in her thigh. It is quickly decided
then that the direct approach will not work. The girls manage to slam the door behind them and Ethme is able to help Jenna over to where their lone horse is waiting. Unfortunately, Ethme is too upset by the event to really help beyond that, so Jenna tends her own wound. After that, the two stay put until Darton and the aunts
Session 11 (05-08-04)
Player Game Rating: 8.75
6th Day of Tarsakh – 7th Day of Tarsakh
Elias and Piers set out in the morning with the other fisherfolk, Piers making a show of teaching Elias to fish. After several hours of rowing, they make it to Eyetooth Rock. The first thing Piers notices is that
parts of the landscape of the rock have subtly changed. For example, where there used to be a point of rock, now there is a ridge. The hole leading inside is still there, but it's much smaller than it was before; Hagen could never fit through it now. Inside the cave, there is a new opening in the ceiling, letting a shaft of light in. The cave smells like something died in it. Cave isn't really the right word though, as there is no real floor. There are a series of ledges lining the walls, and the central part of the cavern is an open shaft extending down into darkness. The ledge that one steps on when entering through the hole ends in what almost look like rough steps that drop off into nothing.
Session 12 (05-22-04)
Player Game Rating: 8.5
8th Day of Tarsakh – 9th Day of Tarsakh
Oblivious to the boys' plight, the girls happily continue their training. Jenna is put through a series of endurance exercises by Sephaerian and Sorscha, while Ethme continues to get to know Callinda.
Thorvid lights one of the torches. Elias is now in bow range and he looses an arrow at the spellcaster, as his companions close in on the group. One of the sahuagin steps onto the shore to flank Hagen, but is stopped abruptly by the arrival of Vidar and Odara, who cut it down in a flurry of blows. The pair then continue on, into the water, going after another of the enemy. Elias continues to shoot, from the bank. Piers races forward towards the large sahuagin, which is still trading blows with Hagen. Piers swings at the enemy's weapon and strikes it a solid blow, but not before the large sahuagin turns and drives the end of the trident into Pier's mid-section. The double-ended trident breaks as Piers drops, forcing the large sahuagin to discard it, which could've very well saved Hagen's life.
Thorvid runs forward and stands over
the fallen Piers, waving his torch about him to ward off the sahuagin. Vangrid
arraives then and swings his longsword, taking the large sahuagin's head clean off its shoulders. Vidar and Odara leap into the water and attack the spellcaster, while Arna goes after one of the others. Elias drops his bow and races forward, drawing his short sword. The three remaining sahuagin are on the retreat now, moving deeper into the water, away from the humans. One stops to fire an arrow that grazes Elias. Vangrid, in turn, leaps into the water and cuts it down before it can make good its escape. Odara and Vidar move back up onto the bank and draw their bows, firing at the retreating sahuagin, and drop another one. Hagen hurls his axe at the retreating spellcaster, and Elias throws a dagger, but both miss, and she submerges and disappears.
Session 13 (06-05-04)
Player Game Rating: 9.25
9th Day of Tarsakh – 14th Day of Tarsakh
The scene is the edge of the Laird's Mire. Two watchtowers have been constructed, and workers have begun setting the foundation for a fort. However, their work is interrupted by a draka raid. Guardsmen trumpet their war horns but the wind and weather steal away the sound. Only one very unusual familiar hears the blare and urges its "master" to heed the call...
Ethme the Invisible and Callinda move down the hill towards the furious battle between several units of draka and a small group of guards who are trying to fend off the Draka long enough for panicked workers to flee to shelter. One of the workmen has other plans however, and charges one of the draka, only to be cut down. He is quickly attended to by one of the guards while several of his craftsman cohorts race to his aid, one of them felling the draka with a shovel.
injured worker is dragged away to safety by a couple of his companions and several of the other craftsmen flee with them. Meanwhile, the guardsmen in the watchtowers have felled some of the attacking draka, but the draka are not taking this lying down. They respond with tanglefoot bags and poisoned bolts, hitting the captain of the guard with both. The guards, at least, are taken by surprise when a ball of flame erupts, engulfing several of the draka. Most of the the draka turn their attention towards the newly arrived sorceress, who quickly disappears from sight. Some of the draka had seen her casting though, and one responds
by hurling a thunderstone, which deafens Ethme.
Then the trolls show up.
Two of them.
Ethme has moved down towards the battle now, still invisible. She passes quite close to the second troll, as it moves towards the very center of the defenders. The man with the shovel charges at it's back, striking it a mighty blow. This irks the troll, who turns around and grabs the man, ripping him in two. Ethme is stunned and
horrified by the man's violent end. This appearance of the troll is the final straw for the remaining workman, who bolts and runs for the road. The captain roars in rage and swings two-handed at the troll with his bastard sword. Both blows land, but the troll appears to shrug them off, and returns the favor two blows and a savage bite that very nearly kill Trahern on his feet. Ethme attempts to cast a spell at the troll, but in her deafened state, she is unable to get the words right. Jenni's entanglement wears off just in time for her to look down from the tower and see the troll savage her captain. She responds with
two brilliant shots: one through its eye, and another through its neck. Ethme makes another attempt to cast, this time a successful one. Gouts of flame shoot from her hands and hit the reeling troll, who turns towards her. She is now visible.
The draka leader hits Ethme and she falls to the ground. Then the fireworms all burst from the ground behind the embattled group, and begin moving forward, apparently intent upon attacking both friend and foe. The draka leader decides it might be a prudent time to retreat, now that their task is accomplished. Lorus runs in and picks up Ethme. The remaining two draka break and run. Several shots are fired at Callinda, and one of the draka, the
summoner of the worms, apparently commands the fireworms to focus their attention on her. She yells out to Lorus to get Ethme out of here, then runs over to where she can get a line of sight on the two fleeing draka, taking them both out with another fireball. The summoner, meanwhile, decides this might be the opportune moment for his escape.
As Elias peers into the fog towards the river, he sees another body adrift in the water, being carried down to the sea. Then Piers hears the sounds of weapons clashing and somebody yelling. They gallop towards the sounds, arriving in time to see a massive figure in what appears to be a horned helm, swinging a bastard sword at another man. As they gallop closer, they see that the man who has just been savagely cut in two was another Westphal guard... and that the horns are no helm at all. The man is enormous. He has black skin - truly black skin, like coal, as opposed to like Ibrahim's skin. His eyes are also black, and two large curved horns protrude from the sides of his head, not unlike ram's horns. He is fully armored and wielding a bastard sword. He turns towards the sound of the galloping horses just as Piers and Elias pull up to an abrupt stop. The three eye each other for a moment, then the giant yells, "Come on. What are you, cowards?" Elias and Piers raise crossbows and shoot at him, but both shots miss. "Apparently so!" bellows the warrior, and he starts to laugh. The boys kick their horses into a gallop, racing around the giant, back towards the road. As they run, he yells out, "That's it, run! Tell them this road is ours!" They gallop the rest of the way to Westphal.
Player Game Rating: 7.75
14th Day of Tarsakh – 15th Day of Tarsakh
Piers and Elias get to Westphal and are sent by a guard to the High Captain, to tell their tale. They meet High Captain Lennis Konnard and convince him of the truth of their story by successfully describing the body they saw speared to the tree; their description matches one of the members of the patrol, which is late in returning to Westphal. The Captain will be forming a hunting party to leave at dawn, and
he wants the boys to go with him. He also anticipates bringing Ibrahim along.
Now engaged in the general conversation in the room, Piers and Elias learn of the battle at the mire, and also that it was Edrik and his friends that brought the winged
draka to Westphal. They've apparently been making a spectacle of themselves at Brianna's Tankard - the tavern right across the street from the
Sojourn. At that point, Elias takes note of a man getting up and leaving in as discreet a manner as possible.
Session 15 (07-03-04)
Player Game Rating: 8.25
14th Day of Tarsakh -- 16th Day of Tarsakh
Piers, Elias, Ethme and Cordelia go to the boys room and barter over the Sahuagin loot. They reach an arrangement of 200 gold for everything except the black pearls (which are not shown). The boys carry the goods to Cordelia's inn at her request, leaving the pearls with Ethme for safekeeping. They collect their pay and are standing in the entryway of the Westmere House when Ethme comes in; they hadn't realized she and Cordelia were staying in the same place.
Ethme and the lads retire to Ethme's room, which is far larger, more lavish, and more sumptuously decorated than anything that either of the boys have ever seen before. Shrewdly, they count the gold and there are indeed 200 pieces of it; each piece is stamped with the words "City of Splendors" on one side. The chambermaid brings some wood for the fire. After she leaves, Piers and Elias tell Ethme some more about the Sahuagin.
They stay in her room that night, and enjoy a most comfortable rest... until everybody is awakened by the sounds of Callinda and, presumably, Edrik, having a romp in the adjacent room.
The next morning, Piers and Elias have to leave to meet Captain Konnard. Ethme wants to go along but lacks a horse, and trousers. When Piers and Elias arrive at the barracks, they find Captain Konnard, Ibrahim, Sir Tedmund, Alroy, Lorus, and two other guardsmen all waiting. Most of the men are mounted, though one guard is driving a wagon.
The group heads out
to collect their dead and investigate the scene where the conflict with
the horned man occurred. Piers directs the men to the various sites of
the battle. Captain Konnard dismounts and goes to investigate the area
on foot, with Elias following behind. They find Lane's hand-and-a-half
sword, as well as the remains of the fourth guardsman. They do not find
Jared - the body that Elias saw in the river. Ibrahim is able to
identify the mark on Lane's breastplate as draconic, and says it is a
territorial marker. It roughly translates as "here be
dragons." They also see that Lane's face has been burned, as if
with acid. On the way back to Westphal, Piers mentions to Ibrahim that
there is something he and Elias would like to discuss with him.
When the group
arrives back, Captain Konnard tells Lorus to take some men and try to
find Jared's body. Ethme is waiting at the gate for them, eating
poppyseed cake and drinking root beer that a nice lady had given her.
Piers swings her up onto his horse with him, so she can ride
Ibrahim indicates that the three of them should accompany him to Caer Westphal. After having their horses taken for them at the stables, Ibrahim leads them to his private quarters. There they are served strong, hot coffee, which they had never experienced before. Ibrahim asks after the health of those in Llandrian, and in turn tells the trio some news of his brother, who lives in Calimshan. After that, the group gets down to business. Ibrahim asks for a more detailed description of the horned man. After hearing the murderer described, he reveals that he believes a black dragon is involved, and he lays out several frightening possibilities. For one, the man may actually have been a black dragon in human form. For another, he may be the offspring of a dragon and a human, or some other race. It sounds to him like the armor that Piers and Elias describe may have been made of metallic dragon-hide.
After that, Piers and Elias tell him a bit of the story of Eyetooth Rock and show him the black pearls. Piers offers them to Ibrahim as a gift. The mage takes two but gives the rest back. He tells them that the size of the pearls may make them difficult to sell, but it is possible. A black pearl of normal size might be worth about 500 gold. Ibrahim thinks they should be able to get just as much for these enormous specimens from a wizard who would use them in spellcasting. In that instance, the size of the pearls would be an asset. They might even be worth more to the right buyer.
Ibrahim offers to keep the rest of the pearls overnight to "cleanse" them, so that the Sahuagin can't track them. He also thinks the temple was a temple to all three of the Sahuagin gods, but does not explain who or what those three gods are.
Eventually, the trio part company with Ibrahim, and ponder what to do for the rest of the day. Ethme is still quite set on getting some trousers. She goes to see Callinda, who is still bleary-eyed and only partially awake. Callinda gives her some money, and she is able to purchase pants and a shirt from an apparently far-sighted old seamstress, who mistakes Elias for a girl. Then they go exploring the marketplace. Ethme is looking for gifts for people. As they are moving from stall to stall, Elias sees a lithe figure leap from one rooftop to another, then peek over the rooftop, down at the market. They start walking, trying to determine if the figure is following them. It is. Ethme catches the briefest glimpse of honey-colored hair, as the figure leaps off a roof and disappears into an alley. She thinks it is the same color hair that her chambermaid has.
Far to the west, Jenna and Sorscha are making camp in the gnoll village. Sorscha instructs Jenna to make them some dinner, which she does, while Sorscha brews up a concoction of her own. After the two have eaten, she holds out her bowl to Jenna and instructs her to drink. Jenna does. She is sitting cross-legged, at Sorscha's feet. Sorscha is talking quietly to her and stroking her hair, as she drinks. It is not long before the world begins to spin. Jenna tries to speak to her aunt, but finds that she can't say anything. Nor can she make any movement beyond sort of tilting herself sideways, so she is leaning on Sorscha's legs. The world is spinning faster and faster, and seasons are flashing by her. After several spring thaws and leaf falls have passed by, the world slows and eventually stills. She is still seated, as she was, but now the village is alive. There are tall, tall creatures walking about. They are dog-like, but they walk upright and have hands instead of front paws. They are fierce looking beings, painted and pierced and very feral looking. The males are all armed. There are females among them though, and also children - or pups. She sees one particularly rambunctious pup who keeps charging at the males and attacking their legs. He keeps getting cuffed on the head and knocked away for his efforts, and the adults all make a rasping, high-pitched sound -- maybe like they are laughing. None of them seem to see her.
She gets up and goes
over towards the shaman's hut, tentatively reaching out to touch the
fabric. Her hand passes right through it. Feeling a little more bold,
she steps through the tent, inside. The shaman is in there. He looks
just as a fierce as the males outside, but he also looks very old. There
is a grizzled quality to his face, like an old dog, and his stripes have
faded till they have nearly disappeared. He keeps drawing on the ground,
then scratching out his work, only to start again. Jenna suspects he is
trying some sort of divination, but he doesn't seem to be liking the
answers. She tries to move to where she can see the drawings from his
angle, and as she moves, he suddenly looks over at her. She freezes in
place, and after a moment, he goes back to what he was doing. She
watches him for a while longer, and also examines the tent. Then he gets
up and goes over to one side of the tent. He grabs at something, and
Jenna sees that he has snared a mouse in one hand. He pops the wiggling
little thing into his mouth and chews it up and swallows it. Then he
grabs some other things off a shelf and returns to the center of the hut
with them. He makes up a paste or gruel of some sort, and eats it. Jenna
recognizes the signs of a trance that soon follow. He begins drawing
again, and now she moves again, cautiously, trying to get right next to
him so she can see what he's drawing. This time, his hackles raise and
he turns his head and looks right at her, and there is no doubt that he
sees her. He straightens up. Jenna takes a step back, and lowers her
head, looking at the ground.
The shaman regards
her for a moment, then seems to accept the gesture of submission. He
says, "You bring men here?" She hurriedly shakes her head no,
glancing up at him now without actually looking him in the eye.
The two then begin attempting to converse, but it is mostly in
sign language as the shaman's grasp of the trade tongue is limited.
Jenna tries to draw, at one point, but is frustrated by her inability to
interact with the corporeal world. This gets a laugh from the shaman
(she thinks). He has a raven feather, which Jenna associates with
Sorscha, but it's not enough for her to figure out what he's getting at.
He then shows her an old tooth, wrapped in a bit of leather. He seems to
be trying to get across that this tooth was passed down to him, and he
has nobody to pass it on to. He buries the tooth in the center of the
hut. Jenna thanks him. Then he raises his head as if he hears or senses
something. His expression is kind of like the one that Seward gets when
Iden is going someplace without him - as if he's sad. He picks up a
large, spiked staff and steps out of the tent.
Jenna follows him out, passing through the fabric again.
The shaman calls out to the others, and a huge male comes forward. He is all battle-scarred and painted up. The shaman goes over towards the fire-pit at the center of the village and begins swinging the club around his head. As he does so, a wall of stone shards forms, spinning in the air around him. Then men burst from the trees, charging into the village with weapons drawn. Jenna sees one man -- going too fast to stop -- run right into the wall of stone shards and the whole front of him is torn open. She sees another charging towards the large male, apparently the war chief, who impales him with his spear. Horrified, Jenna can't tear her eyes away from the scene unfolding before her. She takes a step back, so she is standing through the tent wall, and watches as Hagen -- much younger and more blonde than the Hagen of today -- comes charging out of the woods and swings his greataxe at the war chief, splitting his chest open. She watches as several bowmen shoot down the pup as it tries to flee into the woods. Then she sees the wall of stone shrapnel fall away, allowing High Laird Pwylloch himself to close with the shaman and bring his longsword to bear. As the shaman starts to fall, Jenna feels the world begin to spin again. She tries to fight the sensation, and hold herself in place, but she can't control it. She starts running towards the shaman, calling out that she'll remember him, as the world goes dark.
When Jenna opens her eyes, she is again sitting in the gnoll village, this time leaning on Sorscha's legs. She gets up, though her legs are wobbly underneath her, and staggers over to the shaman's hut. She digs until she finds the tooth, its wrapping all but rotted away now, and shows it to Sorscha. She tells her aunt the story of what she saw, and the two talk for a while about gnolls, and the old times, and about respect. Jenna learns that Sorscha had known the shaman when he lived and that his name was Kruk Char. She also learns some things about her great-grandparents and how they played an important role in unifying the clans of Snowdown. Eventually, Jenna says that she needs to sleep.
The next morning Jenna and Sorscha are pack up their gear and head south again. As they cross the Southern Weald, Jenna brings up a topic that has been troubling her for a while - Piers' trial and the compensation he has to pay to the Eideard family. Sorscha explains much about the traditions of the island and goes into some of the historical considerations that probably went into Regan and Iden's decision. Sorscha also expresses some of her own unfavorable opinions of the Eideard clan, and talks about actions and how we don't always get to choose the consequences. Jenna feels better after the talk, and races off to romp with Betha.
Session 16 (07-31-04)
Player Game Rating: N/A
Session 17 (08-28-04)
Player Game Rating: 7.5
15th Day of Tarsakh -- 17th Day of Tarsakh
Piers prepares for his dinner engagement with Cordelia, but when he gets to her room, there is no answer. He ends up joining Ethme and Elias at Brianna's Tankard for dinner and drinks. The food is not very good, and it's pretty quiet, so early in the evening. Eventually, the pace picks up however. Some minstrels start playing, and Ethme prevails upon Elias to dance with her. They get a number of other patrons dancing as well. Elias also notices a rather large woman with honey-colored hair, like the hair they had seen on their shadow, earlier in the day.
overhears a man make a comment to another, to the effect that 'he wishes
it was him that foreign lass had been looking for.' He takes his leave
of his companions and goes back to the Westmere House and strikes up a
conversation with the honey-haired young woman working at the desk,
Maggie (short for Magnolia). She is flattered by his attention, and
invites him into the back room for tea, where she rudely snaps at her
sister, Lily, to bring another cup for their guest. Over the course of
the conversation, Piers discovers that Cordelia was traveling with a
large, dark-haired man, who has not been seen for several days, and that
Maggie is about as smart as a stick. He makes a couple of cutting
remarks, for Lily's benefit, which go right over Maggie's head; but he
is rewarded by the sound of a choked laugh from the other room.
Eventually, he takes his leave and goes to rejoin Ethme and Elias, but
runs into Callinda in the street. She is looking for Ethme, and seems
very harried. She runs off towards Brianna's Tankard without waiting for
the Tankard, Callinda spots Ethme and asks if she might speak to her
outside. The ladies leave, passing Piers on this way in. Outside,
Callinda explains that Edrik and his friends have been asked to go deal
with the Horned Man, and she is going with them. She tells Ethme that
she can escort her back to Andover first, but Ethme opts to stay in
Westphal instead. The two embrace, and Callinda retires to her room at
the Westmere House, after telling Ethme that the group will be leaving
the following afternoon. Ethme goes back inside to continue racing Elias
down the road to Drunken Oblivion.
three talk some, then Piers decides to turn in. As he is passing
Cordelia's room, he gives a knock, and is surprised to hear her answer.
She comes to the door, apparently not in an entirely friendly mood, and
says that she had thought they were to have dinner that night. Piers
explains that he had been there, and it turns out that they simply
missed each other. Piers suggests a nightcap, and says that he can back
within a half an hour with a bottle of fine wine or mead. Cordelia turns
over an hourglass on her night-stand. Racing the time, Piers runs back
to the Tankard and buys a jug of the best wine they have, and two clean
mugs, and runs it back to the Westmere House. He makes it in time. He
and Cordelia chat, and he learns a bit more about her business, and also
that the large man's name is Renaldo, and that his job is to be a
'deterrent.' As the two talk, it comes out that Piers knows the heroes
who are going off after the Horned Man, and Cordelia asks if he might be
able to arrange an introduction. He thinks he can, although he makes no
guarantees. Eventually, sadly, it is time for Piers to leave. He takes
with him, however, the suggestion
from Cordelia that perhaps next time his offer to rub her tired feet
will be accepted.
Meanwhile, Elias and Ethme are talking about magic. She tells him about having seen the Weave. Eventually, however, it becomes apparent that Elias has won the race. He manages to get a barely mobile Ethme back to the Westmere House, although he's not able to get her up the stairs on the first try. After Ethme is more or less safely tucked away in her room, Elias goes back to Brianna's Tankard and sits at a table, drinking and watching people. He is interrupted by a voice behind him saying, "How like your uncle you are." It's Anhagen, who joins him. They converse a bit about the special nature that Elias and Edrik share, and also some about the Sword Coast - specifically a place called Amn. Anhagen speaks of the slave trade, which is legal in Amn, and warns that the group should be careful should they ever go there - specifically the girls. Ethme, in particular, would bring a very high price on some markets.
this evening, days to the south, Jenna and Sorcha have made it back to
the cave. The next morning, Sorcha says she has something for Jenna to
see, and leads her off into the woods. They walk for a long time, until
eventually they get to a high spot, overlooking the forest.
They sit on rocks and Sorsha smokes, while Jenna strokes the rock
spirit she is resting on and waits for Sorscha to reveal the secret.
After a while, Sorsha points out what appears to be
a bird, flying high in the sky.
As it approaches, Jenna realizes that it's not as high as it
seemed and is, in fact, very, very large. Sorsha seems more excited than
usual; she watches the bird with anticipation in her face. As it comes
in for a landing, it is revealed to be a hawk the size of a horse, with
two woman riding on its back. It lands, and then shrinks in size until
it only a slightly larger than normal hawk, and the two women are
standing on the ground. One is a tall, striking woman, apparently of
Northlander heritage, with long, golden hair. The other is a smaller,
rounder, and darker woman, very motherly in demeanor. Sorscha and the
tall woman embrace warmly, for several minutes, and then Sorcha
introduces the woman as her daughter, Thianne. The shorter woman is
named Yanna. They have come to
help prepare for Jenna's initiation, which is to take place in a
is some initial excitement when Yanna's companion, a fox, leaps out of
her backpack and is immediately set upon by the savage Betha. The two
are separated with no undue harm to the fox however, and everybody
returns to the cave and sets to work. There is not a lot of
conversation, although Thianne has a tendency to suddenly go off on
tangents and have to talk about a particular subject until she's
exhausted it. She mentions at one point that she's met a new man, and
Jenna is unable to hide her dismay that the man is a knight.
next day, Yanna and Thianne go off into the forest to gather herbs, and
Jenna and Sorcha chat a little bit about witches, and about Thianne's
taste in men. Jenna learns that Sorcha's son's name is Aramon. She also
learns that her initiation will involve some sort of trial, and that it
will be difficult, but Sorscha has total faith in her.
walks through an ancient and pristine glade, somewhere deep in the
forest. He leans forward and reverently kisses the bark of an enormous
tree, and whispers that the coven of the Ffolk gathers to welcome a new
member into its ranks. The tree is chagrined that the Ffolk do this so
often - it has only been forty years since the last one -
but he agrees to attend, and says he best get started. Then he
begins to uproot.
Session 18 (09-11-04)
Player Game Rating: 7.25
16th Day of Tarsakh -- 19th Day of Tarsakh
After a night of being violently ill, Elias wakes up surprisingly clear-headed. Ethme...not so much. Apparently Anhagen had given Elias a concoction of his own devising - an Edrik Special - to purge the body of the excessive alcohol. The group gathers and heads up to the keep to say farewell to Edrik, Callinda, and company. They find that Edrik's group has been joined by a druid named Mariam. She is a very small, Ffolk woman, with an equally small owl perched on her shoulder.
After the group has seen their elders off, they head down to the docks and inquire into shipping schedules and the best ways to get to the Sword Coast. They also find the third tavern in Westphal - Harridan's Rest.
Time passes, and the next night, Piers goes in search of Cordelia. He runs into Lily instead, who confides in him that Cordelia "flew away." He attempts to get Lily to agree to meet with him to talk about things she knows about the town, but she doesn't take the suggestion well and runs away.
Elias, in the meantime, has taken up the habit of playing fidchel with the guards down at Humble Hill. On the 18th, Piers and Ethme are with him there; the group learns that a patrol has reported that the Dweller's Wood is on fire. A garrison is being sent north - 50 soldiers to Harloch, and 50 to Llandrian. The group makes ready to accompany the garrison, as do a number of other citizens, taking advantage of the opportunity for an armed escort north. Despite the coming darkness, there is no time to lose, and they set out immediately. The troops are under the command of Sirs Nerian and Tedmund.
company reaches Harloch in the middle of the night. The Laird is much
distressed by the sudden appearance of so many troops, and willingly
takes the advice of the knights on how best to deploy the new guards.
The town itself has been locked down. Most people have left their homes
and gathered in the keep. In the distance, the horizon glows. Piers
takes the opportunity to find Marcus and chat for a bit. During the
conversation, Marcus tells Piers and ancient legend of the Fianna -
Ffolk who were chosen by the Mother to be her warriors.
some rest, the company is split into two, and 50 guardsmen and women,
along with Ethme, Elias, and Piers, follow Sir Nerian on to Llandrian.
They are met just outside the village by Riordan. They all continue on
to the keep, where Torin is also--as his brother was--surprised by the
sudden onslaught of reinforcements, but immediately goes about
organizing them as he sees fit. He is soon joined by Vangrid. He also
speaks briefly with Elias, learning that both Elias and his brother are
well, and tells Elias to go and find his mother.
Elias finds his mother standing at a window, watching the hustle and bustle in the courtyard. She is pleased to hear that he and Piers and the girls, as well as her other son, are all well. Elias, Piers and Ethme then set out for the Tremayne household, only to find it empty. They go to Garhalt's, where Ethme learns from her sleepy uncle that her mother is at Liam's. They go to Liam's, but are reluctant to knock and wake a second household, now that they at least know where Aislin is. They are surprised by Bran, who confirms that Aislin is indeed inside, and that Iden has left for the Dweller's Wood. The three return to Ethme's house and turn in for the night.
Bran watches his cousins walk away, then something seems to catch his attention. He looks up at the moon, and his expression changes from wary, to attentive, to serene. He walks off into the forest. In Harloch, Marcus is sitting on a wall looking up at the moon. Suddenly, his face splits into a broad grin. He leaps down off the wall and races out of the cantrev, into the woods. In Westphal, Lily slips out a window, her pack secured to her back. She shimmies down a drainpipe and heads for the city walls. In Andover, Gavin stands over his father's sleeping form. He traces his fingers over the contours of Darton's face, then turns and walks out of the cabin. As he looks up towards the moon he gasps, and whispers under his breath, "I can see it." Then he walks out the gate, and towards the woods.
Piers goes to speak to Regan about the fact that he has the money
for the Eideard's. Regan tells him he has to go give it to them himself.
He and Elias go to do just that, and find Riddock home alone. The learn
that Torin has disappeared. It seems as if he just got up and walked
out, although he had not been able to walk on his own the day before.
The boys look around for a bit, but find no clues.
Ethme is doing some chores about the house when her mother comes home.
Aislin is surprised to find Ethme home. Ethme assures her mother that
both she and her sister are well, and explains very briefly how they
came to be separated. She learns that Bran is missing. The whole village
has turned out looking for the missing men, though , of course, most of
the concern is for Young
Elias and Piers are out in the woods, when they see a group of people coming towards them. It's Liam, Duana, Corwin, and Garhalt, and with them are Bran and Torin. The group is remarkably subdued; they all seem quite tense about something. Elias approaches the group, and they all greet him, including Torin. They all walk back to Garhalt's, as Bran is anxious to be reunited with his wife. From there, Garhalt, Liam, Aislin, Piers, and Elias escort Torin home. Torin's mother is greatly relieved to see him safely home again, but then astonished when he returns her embrace and greets her. His father is equally astounded and moved and they all embrace for some time. Garhalt then tells them that Torin has a story to tell them, and maybe they should take him inside and hear it. The family goes inside. Elias and Piers then learn, as Garhalt and Liam tell their sister the tale, that the Mother spoke to Bran and Torin. They are Fianna now. Garhalt, who is quite distraught, also says that they are "no longer alone with themselves" and that there is a risk of them going feral. Liam tells him he just has to deal with it.
in the Daunsannym Forest, Jenna and the witches have been working for
for Jenna's initiation.
On the night of the 19th, the witches are all unusually testy and
cranky. Finally, Yanna says that they might as well just say it out loud
- there's something wrong. Jenna learns that the spirits are being
particularly loud this night. They are gossiping and on edge about
something, and that after her initiation, she'll be able to hear them
She is also educated as to the rather special relationship that
the druids and the witches of the islands have. There is
an unspoken agreement between them - a matter of respect - the
precludes the witches from delving into certain matters that are judged
to be strictly the affairs of druids. It's a pretty hard arrangement to
take, given the curious nature of witches, and Jenna's not particularly
taken with the idea.
Eventually, Jenna can't stand the atmosphere in the cave anymore,
and goes outside to sit atop it, on her favorite rock. Becka joins her,
promptly sprawling out and falling asleep. She is sitting there for some
time, looking out into the darkened forest, when she suddenly realizes
a pair of golden eyes are staring back at her. What's unusual
about this is that she at first can't make out the shape behind the
eyes. Only after focusing for some time does she eventually realize that
she is looking at a large wolf of a black so dark that she initially
couldn't tell where it ended and the night began. The other odd thing
about it is that Betha doesn't seem to know or care that there's a wolf
so close. It turns and fades back into the darkness. Jenna goes down to
the cave mouth and asks Sorscha to accompany her. She takes Sorcha out
to the spot where the wolf was and describes what she saw. Sorscha
converses with her raven briefly, then declares, "Things are worse
than we thought. Roan is on the island." She takes
Jenna back into the cave.
Anhagen, and Edrik are examining the tunnels where they had defeated the
winged draka. The lair has been completely abandoned. Once the three are
gathered again, Edrik removes a locket from his neck and opens
it. Wisps of shadow rise from it and form a gossamer door. He
opens the door and Saura and Miriam step out, both looking quite
unhappy. The group makes camp.
Session 19 (10-09-04)
Player Game Rating: 8.75
(In this session, the players take on the roles of Edrik, Callinda, Saura, and Anhagan to play through their showdown with the Horned Man...)
story picks up with Edrik and Anhagen tracking a group of draka
northwards, towards the Northern Wield - disturbingly close to Llandrian.
Anhagen has detected the presence of human tracks amongst the draka, and
the tracks of another creature that he can't identify. Eventually, the
tracks lead into a small pass between cliff-faces, forming a natural
gauntlet. The men judge that this is the best place they've seen so far
for the enemy to stage an ambush for their trackers; they think they're
in there. The women and Spot are released from their shadow prison and
they all discuss the situation. Miriam's small owl is sent out to fly
over the area, but reports nothing of note. The group decides that they
will prepare spells and the more stealth-oriented members of the team
will move cautiously forward, but if nothing happens when the spells
start wearing off, then the group will retreat to rest and devise a new
plan. Spells are cast. Anhagen takes to the air, while Edrik and
Callinda begin to sneak forward. Saura and Miriam remain at the mouth of
the pass, waiting till they are needed. Saura has cast a spell on
Anhagen, Edrik, and Callinda that allows her to monitor their position
and condition at all times.
Edrik and Callinda are moving down the length of the pass, Edrik
suddenly steps on something. He leaps aside as a cloud of yellow smoke
plumes up from the spot where he stepped. Then a lot happens at once.
The illusions that masked the true terrain give way, and Edrik and
Callinda see that they are in a cul-de-sac. Crossbow bolts,
thunderstones and tanglefoot bags fly out from the very walls
themselves! Elias is hit by a bag, and Callinda is struck by several
crossbow bolts. A fiendish direwolf appears in a flash right next to
Callinda, but is unable to attack her as she is warded against evil.
Then Edrik is struck by two daggers, thrown with such force that they
knock him into the wall. He draws darkness over the whole area, then
retreats up onto the low cliff walls and hides. Anhagen begins to call
casts Mirror Image on herself as another summoned monster appears, this
one equally ineffective against her wards.
Saura communicates aloud that Edrik and Callinda are wounded, and
Miriam begins running forward towards Callinda. Saura moves forward
behind her, but pauses to throw a Wind Wall up, ringing the central area
of the dead-end, in an effort to keep the draka from shooting at
Callinda. As she does so, she see the Horned Man run across the pass
from one of the cave mouths. Miriam never sees him. He swirls his
double-bladed sword and slices her into pieces, cutting her head clean
off. Saura yells for Callinda to run past her, and Callinda does so, one
of her images disappearing as she races past the invisible Horned Man.
the Horned Man appears in the middle of the clearing, as if challenging
the group. Saura however, due to her True Seeing spell, sees the real
Horned Man, still invisible, charging her. She yells this information
out the the group, and prepares to meet his blow. Anhagen entangles the
field of battle, which Edrik and Spot move down to try to flank the
Horned Man - no easy task for Edrik, as he can't see his opponent.
Callinda has made it past Saura and is just outside the edge of
and the Horned Man are now locked in battle, but nobody else can see
him. Saura steps back, drops her mace, and casts Dispel Magic, targeting
the Invisibility effect, and it works. Now Edrik is able to move in,
though his strikes do not always seem to have the effect on the Horned
Man that they do on most opponents. Spot also attacks and manages to
hit. Anhagen shoots arrows and calls down bolts of lightning, Callinda
hurls Magic Missiles, and Saura calls forth rays of Searing Light. Then
chanting is heard from someplace overhead, and the Horned Man shimmers
and begins to move faster. Saura, abandoning spellcasting, drops her
shield and draws the holy greatsword, stepping in to engage again. The
Horned Man is now surrounded by Saura, Edrik, and Spot, and is taking
fire from Anhagen and Callinda.
several draka appear behind Callinda, and several more emerge from the
caves and walk through the Wind Wall to begin casting at Anhagen. This
only gets them caught in his entangle, however, and brings them into his
bow range. They immediately rethink and begin to retreat again, though
one is unable to break free of the twining weeds.
The Horned Man has turned his attention from Saura briefly to
Spot and Edrik and hits them both, "killing" Spot. Edrik is
now badly hurt, and out of range of anybody who might be able to heal
him. Edrik has to withdraw
from the battle and begins to move towards Callinda. The chanting begins
again, and the Horned Man shimmers. Saura requests that somebody kill
can't see the spellcaster, but can hear her. She targets an area above
the Horned Man's head with a fireball, and is rewarded with a scream.
Apparently, she hit. Edrik summons an illusory Spot, who begins to float
towards the Horned Man. Saura, now badly hurt herself, steps back from
the battle and casts a cure spell on herself. The Horned Man takes this
opportunity to leap away from her and Spot, up onto one of the low rock
walls. He bows to Saura, saying, "First round, to you." Then
he strikes the gem set into the hilt of an ornate dagger. It shatters,
and he disappears in a burst of light. Saura now tries to get a look at
the spellcaster without revealing her attention. She sees a woman
wearing Calishite clothing, which scaly blue skin and horny ridges along
her head. The woman is not taken in by Saura's bluff, and flies away.
Saura releases the Flamestrike that was meant for the spellcaster at the
draka over by the caves. Anhagen finishes off them off, while Edrik
closes with the ones who are threatening Callinda. He makes short work
of one, and the other flees in terror.
Saura had recognized the sigil of the Cult of the Dragon on the Horned Man's dagger, and communicates this to the others as everybody begins to tend their wounds. They gather up Miriam's body and put her into the shadow room for transport. They investigate the illusory wall, and find a cave behind it. Within the cave they discover some trinkets... of Sahaugin design.
Session 20 (10-23-04)
Player Game Rating: 8.25
of Tarsakh -- 5th of Mirtul
Session 21 (11-06-04)
Player Game Rating: 8.25
6th of Mirtul - 13th of Mirtul
Jenna talks to Niles Seamere about her plans to sell her pottery wares. After going over the options, it becomes clear that she can't be ready to go anywhere in three days time; she won't have enough money for her passage by then. However, Elias tells her that he has money of his own, money that didn't come from the sahuagin temple, and that he can pay until she can begin earning her own way. She accepts this.
The girls tell their parents about their decision, and Elias tells his as well. They spend as much time as possible with their families over the next few days -- Elias, specifically, with his mother -- and also prepare for their journey. The Kynvelyns prepare a great feast for the group, as well as for Bran and Cadhla. Hagen's clan throws Piers a very special going away party - Piers gets to drink from an enormous and very old drinking horn that has been in Hagen's family for generations. Like all others who've faced the horn before him, Piers is greatly vanquished. As he is laying, semi-conscious, in a bed, he is awakened by Arna, leaning over him. She gives him a special going away present, too.
The next morning, as Piers is leaving, Aramana calls him over, and points out that each notch in the horn represents a member of Hagen's family. She indicates the new notch that represents Piers himself.
On the 8th day of Mirtul, the combined group leaves for Westphal. They travel all day, not stopping in Harloch, and arrive at Westphal in the late afternoon. They stay in Caer Westphal. Jenna gives the boys the tanglefoot bag and smokestick she made. The next day, the group boards a ship called the Mother's Blessing. They meet Master Cauldwin, and set sail for Calidyrr.
The trek takes four days, and is largely uneventful. Jenna spends some of the time talking to Saura, and one night Elias happens to witness his uncle and Callinda appear in a wisp of smoke and sneak into bed. For part of the third day, the winds die and the ship is becalmed, but it picks up again in the afternoon. Elias has trouble sleeping while on the ship, and gets something from Anahagen to knock him out.
On the fourth day, late in the afternoon, the ship arrives at Calidyrr. To the eyes of the four Snowdowners, the city is enormous. There are thousands of boats in the harbor, many of them much bigger than the Blessing. The walls of the city are white, and they rise to a height that one might think impossible for a building, and the city stretches away from the keep and the harbor for as far as the eye can follow. Saura leads the way to an inn near the docks, called the Ship's Prow, and gets rooms for everyone. She tells the group where her room is, and informs them that Edrik will probably be spending most of his time in the first floor tavern, should they need anything.
Session 22 (12-04-04)
Player Game Rating: 8.75
13th Day of Mirtul
Everyone wants to go out and see the city, and also eat and drink. Jenna wants to find the market place. They find the options are almost overwhelming, in terms of taverns and festhalls, but most of the shops are starting to close down. They decide to put off the market trip until the next day, and just find a place for dinner. They pick a tavern, more or less at random; the placard has a flower wrapped around a tankard.
When they walk in, they immediately see a man such as most of them have never seen before. Though he's sitting, he looks to be as wide as he is is tall. His face is covered in tattoos and his hair is a multi-colored strip down the center of his head. Jenna openly gawks and is hustled along to a table by the others. They order food, and as they are sitting, taking in the sights, Jenna realizes that Betha is no longer at her side. Both dogs are over by the stout man with the hair, and he is feeding them bits of meat.
The girls go over and introduce themselves. The man's name is Doranadin Oathborn, though most simply call him Din, and he is a dwarf. They talk a bit. He tells them where they can get meat for the dogs the next day, and Jenna buys him an ale. Then another man comes in, accidentally hitting Ethme with the door. He is human and seems a bit distracted or absent-minded; he is draped in satchels of various sizes. The dwarf whistles and the man turns around suddenly and says "oh, there you are" and takes a seat.
The girls excuse themselves and return to their table, but the man with the satchels rises and follows them. He seems fascinated by Betha and Finn and wants to know if they are moorhounds and how old they are, and if he can touch them. He examines them for a bit, then goes back to sit with Din.
As the group is eating their very bad dinners, they continue to watch the odd couple. A third man joins them, this one a Northlander. He sits and talks to them for a while, then eventually gets up and leaves. The girls start to make up stories about the three companions and what they are up to. Eventually, Ethme wants to find a place with dancing. As they are walking through the city, the see a huge, domed building, inset with stained glass windows. It's beautiful, and unlike anything they've ever seen before. Ethme asks a passer-by what that building is, and learns that it's a temple of Istishia. They all go in.
Inside, the building is even more breathtaking. There are four waterfalls cascading down into a series of streams that are spanned by small foot bridges. In the center, is a calm, crystalline pool. There is also a device that is a series of rings and spheres, all moving around one another. As they are examining the device, and young priest comes out of another room. He is apparently surprised to see them, but greets them. Piers asks him, privately, how to make an offering to Istishia, and is told to put the offering in the central pool. Then he comes over to talk to the others. Jenna wants to know all about the device. The priest doesn't know how it works, much to her disappointment, but does tell them that it represents the planes and points out the elemental planes to them. The Plane of Water is, of course, the largest of the four. He tells them how to make donations, as well.
Jenna and Piers go outside, but Ethme and Elias hang back. As they are leaving, the priest says to Elias, "Good luck with the curse." Elias, mystified, asks for an explanation. He learns that he and Piers have been marked by the sahaugin. There is a mark on their foreheads, which the Istishian priest can see, indicating the curse. He doesn't know how they can get it removed. His suggestion is to atone. Elias tells Jenna and Piers about this, as he and Ethme rejoin them in the street.
The four go to another tavern to mull this over. Sadly, there is no dancing, as it's very crowded, but there is ale to be had. Elias and the dogs spot an enormous black cat, up in the rafters of the tavern. Ethme tries to see if she can see the mark by invoking the weave-sight. She can see that there is something there, and that it is divine in nature. They discuss their options, such as perhaps throwing the pearls back into the ocean. Not all members of the group are comfortable with the idea of getting back on a ship, especially without telling the captain of whatever ship they board.
Eventually, they head back to their inn. As they walk, the boys fall behind, letting the girls and dogs lead the way. The girls and their dogs all simultaneously hear a sound coming from an alley they are passing. They hear running feet coming towards them and a voice call out, "Stop!" Jenna sticks out her staff and trips the running man, then Ethme and the dogs all descend upon him. He drops the satchel he was carrying, and flees. Jenna, followed by the boys, proceeds down the alley to see if anybody has been hurt. They find the man who they had met earlier - the one with all the satchels.
He seems to be unharmed, and as they approach, the stolen satchel lifts itself up and floats back to him. Seeing them, he suddenly become flustered and exclaims, "I wonder how that could have happened" but the group assures him that they don't care -- at least, some of them don't -- that he can make his satchels fly. They learn that his name is Oliver. He is on a journey to study trolls and is particularly interested in the theories that trolls originated in the Moonshaes. The Northlander is his guide, and Din is his bodyguard. Din specializes in slaying trolls. The group offers to help get him back to the docks, and as they walk, they learn something of Doranadin's story, and tell Oliver some of the lore of the islands. They part ways when they reach their inn, which is in sight of the docks.
Session 23 (12-18-04)
Player Game Rating: 9.25
13th Day of Mirtul -- 21st Day of Mirtul
The girls are up in
their room, in the Ship's Prow, when Jenna tells Ethme that she has
something to show her. She makes Ethme turn around and close her eyes.
When Ethme looks again, Jenna has changed into a young northlander man,
about Piers age. They girls
get the idea to play a trick on the boys. Ethme goes downstairs to the
tap room and joins them at their table. A short time later, a beautiful
auburn-haired woman comes in and joins them as well. She engages the
boys in conversation, then asks if one of them would be willing to walk
her back to her room. Elias immediately jumps at the chance, and he
follows the woman upstairs. When they get to the upper hallway, the
woman makes Elias close his eyes, then changes back into Jenna. This
causes a brief argument over whether or not to tell Piers; Elias doesn't
want to, but Jenna insists that they must. Eventually, Elias agrees.
However, when Piers gets back to their room, and finds Elias there, the
Elias doesn't get much opportunity to do so. Ethme has also returned to
her room, and she and Jenna sit themselves on the floor with their ears
pressed against the wall between their room and the boys, listening.
Eventually, Jenna can't stand it anymore. She goes and knocks on the
door and gets Piers to come out. Then she shows him the trick as well.
He immediately begins thinking over the long term implications of this
ability, and doesn't even seem to be particularly angry. Jenna goes back
to her room, where she and Ethme set about comparing spells.
The next day, the 14th
day of Mirtul, is warm and sunny. Elias gives the girls 10 silver pieces
and they go out to find a butcher shop and buy food for their dogs. The
girls wander the market some, checking out the price of thunderstones,
smokesticks, and pottery. The pottery is much more expensive then what
they are used to in the markets on Snowdown. Jenna realized at one point
that she has been robbed. The girls go back to the inn and get Elias and
Piers and the group goes back to the market for a while, then eventually
heads to the temple.
The boys talk to
Samael's father, Seeker Raphael, and bring two of the enormous pearls,
which are from dire oysters, it seems. Raphael is unable to remove the
curse, but another priest will be arriving in a few days, who may be
able to help.
It will be three days
before that priest arrives. In that time, the girls spend a day outside
the city, past the south gate.
Elias makes a
"trick" pouch, which contains only a few coppers and a note,
and hangs it to his belt. On his trip the the market to buy a blank
book, Elias feels a tug on his trick pouch. He gives chase to the thief
and eventually gets a clear shot at the miscreant at the end of an
alley. He fires an arrow treated with petrification poison and drops the
perpetrator in its tracks. He runs up, and discovers that the thief is a
young girl. Just then a guard runs over and questions Elias, wanting to
know what happened and if the girl will be alright. The guard believes
Elias' story and lets him go, as this girl is known to him, but he makes
it clear that he'd rather Elias not shoot anybody else. Elias goes back
to the market and hooks up with Piers. Before you know it, he is robbed
again. This time he and Piers both give chase, causing some property
damage and they race across rooftops and leap from trellises, but this
time the thief eludes them.
On the 16th day of
Mirtul, Edrik and company leave for the Sword Coast. The whole group
sees them off. The next day, a message is sent for the boys to come to
the temple of Ishtishia. They
meet Seeker Ezekial. He is an older man, very weathered. They tell him
all about the sahuagin temple underneath Eyetooth Rock, and he tells
them a little about the three gods of the sahuagin. Then he removes the
curse. As they are leaving the temple, Samael stops them. He asks if he
might accompany the group to the Sword Coast. Jenna agrees, rather too
swiftly, but the rest of the group has no problem with it. Samael says
that he'll arrange for a ship. When the group gets outside, Jenna and
Ethme check to see if they can tell if the mark is really gone, and it
Two days later, the
group and Samael, leave for Mintarn aboard the Golden Crest.
The journey takes two days, during which Samael spends most of
his time reading from the Book of Mysteries and writing.
It's the 21st when the
ship arrives in Mintarn. It's harbor is enormous, and full of even more
ships than Calidyrr's was. There are northlander longships, galleys, and
many, many other kinds. Mintarn is not a large island, there are no
forests or grassy plains, or anything that looks like wilderness, at
least that can be seen from the harbor. The island is composed of sheer
cliffs with natural bays that manage to look as they'd been blasted out
of the rock faces. The island is dominated by shipyards, and in fact,
the cargo of the Golden Crest was lumber. The city of Mintarn is a
crescent around the bay. Some of the crews, visible on the other ships,
are not all human, and the group sees more of these strange people on
the docks. Before anybody is allowed to disembark, everybody's belonging
are searched by guards.
Elias picks and inn
called Bertha's Bountiful Bosom, or the Triple-B, to stay at. Bertha is
there, and she lives up to the inn's name. Piers pays 10 gold for the
whole group to stay for a tenday. Piers goes to some trouble to remove a
loose floorboard, hide his and Elias's belonging, then put the board
back. The group decides to go in search of food. There's not shortage of
taverns and festhalls, and they settle on the Broken Keg. The owner is
an enormously fat black man, with pearl earrings and a couple of gold
teeth. Most of his clientele appear to be dark-skinned southerners, like
Ibrahim. There is one lone white man sitting off
in a corner, who has the look of an old sailor about him. At one
point, during dinner, the old sailor begins yelling at the owner that
he'll win the place back, and the owner makes it clear that's he's
welcome to try at any time. The group learns that the place used to
belong to the old sailor, but he lost it in a game of cards.
Ethme, Piers, and Elias
notice some people at another table being served coffee, with cinnamon
sticks, which is a treat Ibrahim had introduced them to. They order
some, even though it's quite expensive when compared to the fare for
dinner. Jenna does not like it at all, and Samael does not seem to care
for it, but the others all like it.
Eventually, the group
returns to the inn and everyone goes to their respective rooms. When
Elias and Piers enter theirs, they find that all their goods have been
rifled. The things that were under the floorboard are now strewn upon
the bed. However, nothing has been stolen. They ponder the meaning of
this while the girls, blissfully unaware, sleep.
Session 24 (01-01-05)
Player Game Rating: 7.75
22nd Day of Mirtul -- 23rd Day of Mirtul
The next morning dawns
cool and foggy. The whole world is white. The girls find a general store
and get scraps for the dogs, then everybody goes in search of breakfast.
After breakfast, the group explores the market and local shops, staying
more or less together, but sometimes drifting apart. Elias is by himself
when he is suddenly grabbed from behind, spun into a merchant's tent,
dropped on his back, and sat upon by a pale-skinned, dark-haired, young
woman - a young woman who looks remarkably similar to him. It gets
noticeably darker in the tent, as she looks down at him. Her knees are
pinning his arms to the ground. She asks what he's doing here, and he
asks why she's on his chest. It seems her name is Tenembray, and she is,
indeed, like Elias. He manages to convince her that he is but an
innocent traveler, just passing through on his way to the Sword Coast,
and she leaves as abruptly as she'd arrived, and the shadows recede
again. Elias takes a moment, then emerges from the tent, much to the
merchant's distress, and Pier's relief, as Piers had just noticed that
Elias was nowhere to be seen. Elias tells Piers about his encounter with
the mysterious and beautiful Tenembray.
Over the course of
various conversations with people, the group learns that there are
temples to Tempus, Tymora, and Valkur, and shrines to Gond, Akadi, and
Istishia. Ethme knows that Tymora is the goddess Callinda follows, but
nobody has heard of Gond except Samael, who explains what little he
knows. Jenna also visits a shop that sells herbs and various items that
she learns are made by a local woman named Loksa, who lives above
Rabab's Fish Market.
Ethme wants to see the
Tymoran temple, so the group goes in search of it.
They eventually find it, and also a man sitting out front,
leaning back in his chair, apparently deeply asleep. Some debate ensues
about whether or not they can just go in without permission, and finally
Jenna and Piers push the door open and walk in. The room is very simple.
There is an altar and a wooden statue
of a beautiful woman that they assume to be the goddess. There
is a small pool, almost like a birdbath, a single window, and a winding
staircase leading to a loft area. There is a smell in the air that the
group does not recognize (but, OOC, is oil paint).
Jenna wants to see the
shrine to Gond, so that's the next destination. The shrine is a metal
obelisk topped by a 4-spoked wheel that turns. Jenna presses her ear to
it and can hear moving parts inside.
A local man informs the group that Gond is a god worshiped by a
race of small people who make noisy things, and that Monty tend the
Over the course of the
day, the group starts to notice that many people are wearing a
particular emblem - the silhouette of a sailing ship with a hammer on
the side of it. Elias realizes that Tenembray was wearing that symbol.
They see it on a fat butcher, and a man who looks like a pirate, and a
variety of other people. Eventually, Elias asks a man who's wearing it
what it means. He learns that it's the symbol of the Tyrant's Hammer, an
elite force of hand-picked individuals charged with keeping law and
order in Mintarn. The Hammers are appointed by the Tyrant himself.
The girls also speak to
a man with a pair of moorhounds about the best place to get food for the
dogs at a reasonable price. Then Jenna and Samael return to the inn, and
Ethme, Elias and Piers go looking for something else to do. They find
themselves in what seems to be a gaming den. There are all sorts of
games going on at different tables - dice, cards, fidchel, and some they
don't recognize. When they sit down at a table, two pitchers and three
glasses are set down on it. Looking about at the other patrons, they see
that everyone is drinking the same thing. People seem to be mixing the water from one pitcher, with the green,
milky liquid, that smells minty, then drinking it. They all try this,
and find they quite like it. They inquire of a waitress what a bottle of
it costs, and are quoted a high price. However, they pitchers they are
currently drinking are on the house. They also notice several people
smoking pipes, or passing pipes around, and it's rather smoky. Elias
decides he'd like to get in a game, and runs back to the inn for his
fidchel board. Almost as soon as he gets back, though, a gong begins to
sound. Most of the bystanders start to drift towards the back of the
back of the room, which is quite large. Even many of the players quit
their games, or leave them where they are, and go too. Ethme, Piers, and
Elias follow the crowd.
They find themselves being ushered through a door and down a corridor into an underground coliseum, ringed by stone steps that serve as benches. There are other doors at various points around the circle, and people are drifting in from all sides. There is an area that is set off from the steps, like a balcony, and they see a fair-haired, well-dressed man, sitting there. With him are Tenembray and also the man they'd noticed in town, who looks like a pirate. Elias points Tenembray out to Piers. Then the doors at one end of the pit open, and a half-orc man is shoved into the central circle.
The Tyrant stands and
addresses both the crowd, and the half-orc. It seems the half-orc is
Braxon Bloodfist, a captain who has been found guilty of piracy by the
Tyrant. But he will be given a chance to win his freedom, by facing the
Tyrant's champion, called the Reaver, in mortal combat. The Tyrant
assures Braxon that he is a man of his word, and that, in fact, the
Reaver had once been a condemned man who won his life this very way.
Braxon makes a rude gesture in reply. Then the door at the other end of
the pit opens, and a human man walks in, who is greeted by a tumult of
cheers from the crowd. He is apparently hugely popular. Although he is
not an overly large man, he somehow manages to exude menace. The signal
is given for the fight to begin. It doesn't last long. The Reaver takes
Braxon apart with an efficiency and precision that leaves Ethme a little
shaken. His success is met by more cheering, though there are some in
the crowd who think he should have made it last longer. The three make
their way out with the crowd, and head home. Ethme tells Jenna what she
saw, and how disturbing it was. Jenna asks if Ethme is re-thinking the
warrior's path, and Ethme replies that she's not sure.
The next day, rain is
falling in sheets. The girls must go out to get food for the dogs, so
everybody decides to brave the rain and try to find some breakfast.
Elias and Piers don't feel well at all, however. Piers is clammy to the
touch. They are both sweating, and thirsty, and need to relieve
themselves often. As they talk about their experiences the night before,
Samael recognizes the drink they describe as one that is outlawed in
Calidyrr because it's addictive. It seems the boys may feel worse before
they feel better. The stuff leaches all the water from their bodies and
they'll have to keep drinking water, and try to weather the discomfort
until it's out of their system.
They all go back to the inn and their respective rooms. Elias and Piers collapse into bed. Eventually, the rain lets up some, and Jenna decides to go out again. She goes in search of Rabab's Fish Market, and Loksa, who she expects to be a witch. Loksa probably is a witch, though it's a little hard to tell, or to get a coherent sentence out of her. She has many cats, and a home packed to overflowing with all sorts of interesting things, ranging from herbs that Jenna is familiar with to small heads in jars. They have tea, and Jenna learns that the sleeping man at the Tymoran temple is the priest, and was probably drunk, and that Monty is a wealthy man and lives up on the hill, towards the Tyrant's keep.
Jenna manages to politely escape her tea with Loksa and then goes up to Monty's estate and knocks on the door. It takes several minutes for him to answer, but he eventually comes to the door just as Jenna was about to give up. She sees he is a very, very tall man -- apparently a northlander. She promptly asks him about Gond. However, instead of telling her of the god, he abruptly invites her into his home.
Monty leads Jenna
through his manse to an upper room which is a combination of a library
and workshop, hands to her a book, a small volume about the
Wonderbringer, and points to a chair where she may sit and read it. He
then returns to his workbench, upon which is his current project: a
mechanical man. He informs her that she is welcome to visit anytime so
long as she doesn't mind reading quietly while he works.
Eventually, Jenna goes
back to the inn and gets Ethme and Samael to go out for dinner with her.
They discuss their plans, how long they should stay on Mintarn, and the
prospect of Samael getting them passage on a ship to the Sword Coast.
Session 25 (01-29-05)
Player Game Rating: 7.75
24th Day of Mirtul -- 25th Day of Mirtul
The 24th day of Mirtul dawns foggy and
cool. Samael goes off to see about securing passage on a ship to
Baldur's Gate. The other four go out to explore the lands outside the
settlement, and to let the dogs run. The terrain past the outskirts of
the city is mostly composed of scrub, stumps, and rock. There is a lot
of bird and small rodent life. As the island is crescent shaped, it
doesn't take long to walk across the width of it to the other coast,
which is a series of shallow cliffs forming natural steps and platforms
that fall down to the sea. As they approach the edge, they see a group
of men gathered about a fire on one of the cliffs. Then a voice from
behind the group breaks the silence, asking what their business
The dogs growl low in their throats as
the group turns to face the source of the voice. He is a man of middling
years, with a mop of shaggy hair and beard, which are both dark and shot
through with gray. He wears a patch over one eye, and a silver ring in
one eyebrow, and a flat, wide-brimmed hat. His face is pockmarked, and several of his teeth are
missing. He is wearing a cloak made from the pelt of a single, very
large wolf, over a long, leather coat. There is a cutlass slung at his
belt, and he carries a large walking stick that looks like it could
double as a cudgel. He comments on how pretty Ethme is, then asks if
they are just out for a stroll. When nobody responds for a moment, Jenna
nods and replies, "You?" He says that he and his friends come
out here for the privacy, which prompts the group to indicate that
they'd be happy to go 'that way' -- away from the group of men. They take
their leave of the man, and start walking back in the general direction
of the settlement, taking pains not to seem rushed or panicked.
The group gets back to the outskirts of the city and are turning a corner, when a voice calls out to Elias. Tenembray is standing there. She asks if they've seen a man with a patch, and Elias replies that they have. Tenembray leaves, and a brief argument ensues between Jenna and Piers over whether or not Elias should have informed on the patch-eyed man. That doesn't last long though, and everyone decides to get something to eat. Then Elias go back to the inn, and Piers, Ethme, and Jenna go visit the Tempurian temple.
The patch-eyed man stood huddled with his ruffian companions around a fire on the cliffs of Mintarn. The fire was encircled by arcane-looking runes, painted on the rock with what looked to be blood. After a brief conversation, the patch-eyed man motioned for silence, closed his good eye, and began to speak...
"Oh, Dark Laird, Master of Lies, Dweller In Shadow, we, yer humble servants, give unto ye these offerings and beseech thee, grant us a boon--"
"Gurnz, what do you think you're doing?"
The question, coming from nowhere and entirely unexpected, startled the patch-eyed man and disrupted his concentration. This, in turn, resulted in a blinding blue flash, a loud "whoomp" noise, and a gout of flame shooting up from the fire, which sent one of the men careening and screaming down the cliffs.
"Oh, fer-- pity's sake!" The patch-eyed man, Gurnz, took off his hat, whacked it across his knee in frustration, and stomped his foot like a child having a tantrum. "Tenembray!" he bellowed, turning to glare up at the woman who had snuck up on them and ruined their ritual. "Can't ye see we're trying to summon a devil here?"
"You should know better, Gurnz." Tenembray smirked the smirk of smug satisfaction and placed her hands on her hips. "That's not allowed."
"Technically, we're not in Mintarn!" Gurnz quickly countered with ample bluster. "Come on now, lass, we had no designs on you or yours! This was private business! Can't ye give a man a break!?" He sighed then and gestured helplessly at the broken and unconscious fellow below them. "And look at my man down there, limbs all askew in so unnatural a fashion. It'll take weeks 'fore he's fit to sail again!" His eye shot to her once more. "I should be compensated!"
Tenembray chortled. "Take it up with the Tyrant." And with that she spun on her heel and sauntered away.
The temple is only slightly larger
than the Tymoran temple, and it has a statue that looks like it was made
by the same person who made the statue of Tymora. This one is of an
imposing man, bearded, wearing a horned helm and standing next to a
chariot. He wields a sword in one hand and a hammer in the other. There
is another room off the main chamber, with a pit of sand in the center
of the floor. There is a fat northlander man sitting on one of the
benches, reading. He has blonde hair with a hint of red in beard and
mustache; his beard has braids in it, and his mustache is waxed. Through
the door, the group can see another man, working out with a polearm.
This man is a foreigner. He is short and stocky, with close-cropped
hair, goatee, gray eyes, and chiseled arms. He is wearing only a tunic
and simple breeches. Both men appear to be in their forties.
The northlander greets the group,
calling himself Vlanmir and offering them the blessings of Tempus in
return for a small donation. Ethme donates a short sword, and Piers,
nine pieces of silver - which is a bit of joke on Vlanmir. There are
some interchanges between the two men that imply that they have a
somewhat tumultuous relationship. The group learns that the book Vlanmir
was reading was poetry. The smaller man is Praefect Horatio. Piers is
after a Book of Steel. It turns out that Prefect Horatio has one, which
was made at the Vault of Swords. He is willing to sell it, as he
memorized it long ago. He will let Piers have it for five gold pieces,
which is quite a bargain. He and Piers talk for some time, and a dinner
invitation emerges from the conversation. Horatio agrees to meet Piers,
and anybody else who'd like to join them, for dinner that evening.
Outside the temple, Jenna and Piers
have another brief spat, and she storms off back to the inn, leaving
Piers and Ethme. Eventually, the whole group is reunited by Samael, who
calls everybody together to talk about potential passage to Baldur's
Gate. He says that there is a ship called the Black Maelstrom leaving in
two days time. It's captain is a man named Gurnz, and from Samael's
description, the others realize that this is the same wiry-haired,
one-eyed man they ran into outside the city. Nobody is particularly keen
on sailing with Captain Gurnz, especially on a ship called the Black
Maelstrom. Samael thinks it would probably be fine, although he doesn't
seem to keen on the captain, just on principle. Elias decides he'll try
to find Tenembray and talk to her about Captain Gurnz, before a final
decision is made.
Elias, Piers, and Ethme then go to
meet Horatio for dinner, while Jenna and Samael simply retire to their
rooms. Horatio talks about his history and how he came to the church of
Tempus. He tells the group about the trials that are an indoctrination
into his church and a bit about the Vault of Swords, and about the
Moonsea region in general. He
expands on some things he'd said earlier in the day, regarding the
differences between the eastern and western versions of the faith, and
about how he may eventually move on into the islands themselves, to live
among the northlanders. Piers also asks about Assuran, but Horatio
doesn't know too much about him, although he does mention that he's also
called Hoar. He also doesn't know the name Gurnz, but he does speak a
bit about Mintarn and the Tyrant. He says that the people adore the
Tyrant and that the name is mostly a kind of joke, and he expresses the
opinion that the Tyrant is Tempurian in many ways. He also mentions that
the Tyrant is completely accessible to the people; if the group wanted
to, they could just go knock on his door and ask to speak to him.
Eventually, the dinner is over, and
everyone retires to their rooms. Jenna and Ethme speak briefly about
Ethme being on the path of the warrior.
The next morning, everyone meets for
breakfast. Jenna has had Ethme braid her hair up. Piers has become
determined to read the
entire Book of Steel in two days, due to an argument with Jenna over his
ability to do so. Unbeknownst to the others, he goes back to the drug
den and buys a flask of the green liquid, which has the temporary effect
of sharpening the mind and senses. Elias goes off to the market in
search of a buckler. Jenna manages to get Elias alone briefly, before
the group splits up, and tries to convince him to keep an eye on Piers
and tell her how much of the book he's actually read. Samael continues
his queries about ships, in hopes of finding an alternative to the
Maelstrom. Piers and Ethme return to their respective rooms to read -
Ethme has borrowed Piers Book of Fire. Jenna goes up to Monty's.
While Piers is reading, he begins to
hear strange noises. At one point, he hears whispering coming from the
girls room, and distinctly hears the words "Piers" and
"leave him behind." He
is also not feeling well at all. At times the word on the page seem to
shift and change, and he is light-headed and sweating and very thirsty.
Ethme meanwhile, is absorbed in her
own reading, as is Jenna, up at Monty's. Ethme is learning about the
metaphysics of the Tempurian doctrine, while Jenna finds information on
Baldur's Gate, Lantan, and a fascinating book describing failed
experiments in mechanical flight. Elias buys a buckler.
Eventually Jenna returns to the inn,
and after talking to Ethme briefly, the girls decide to go fetch the
boys and get some dinner. When they go to Piers room, they discover he
is quite sick again. They
go and get him some water, and convince him that perhaps some fresh air
and a bit to eat might make him feel better. They're also concerned that
Elias might have taken a turn for the worse as well. They get Samael,
then go in search of Elias. They find him rather quickly, and learn that
he is fine; he doesn't seem to have gotten sick again.
After dinner, everyone returns to their rooms except Samael, who
continues his queries about potential ships. Piers confesses to Elias
that he took more of the drug.
Session 26 (01-29-05)
Player Game Rating: 8.25
26th Day of Mirtul -- 30th Day of Mirtul
26th day of Mirtul is foggy and unseasonably warm. The group has decided
to wait for another ship to Baldur's Gate, rather than going with
Captain Gurnz. Samael
continues working the docks, looking for prospective passage. The girls
check in on Piers, then take the dogs outside the city for a run. They
are looking for medicinal plants to make a healing tea for Piers. They
also try looking for shells briefly, but quickly decide the cliffs are
too treacherous. Jenna is
able to find or buy elder flower, linden flower, and peppermint and
makes a tea for Piers to make him feel better.
the early evening, Elias is sitting alone in a pub, when suddenly he is
straddled by Tenembray. She wants to know why he's been asking about
her. The two begin to talk - well, as much as Elias is capable of
talking - about "people like them." Tenembray doesn't seem too
impressed or intrigued by their special nature. She mentions having once
seen a man with a pincer growing out of his chest, and how that
was strange. She does know that some of those who share their particular
traits call themselves Shadowdancers, and that sometimes they have
gatherings. She declined to join their little club. The star that Edrik
has tattooed on his wrist is their symbol. Elias also asks about the
Shadow Weave, which she doesn't really know much about. She speaks of Mintarn some.
She talks about the freedom of being an outsider; how less is
expected of you. And she talks about how many who were outsiders where
they came from have settled here on Mintarn, where they are free to be
so. She raises a let and rests it on Elias's shoulder, then asks if he'd
like to see where she lives. He agrees.
Tenembray takes Elias to the citadel. As they enter the gates, the guards chortle knowingly, and one of them salutes Elias. Tenembray leads Elias into the building proper and takes him to... an office, wherein sits the Tyrant himself.
introduces Elias to the Tyrant, who seems to have been expecting him.
The Tyrant has a brief chat with Elias, in which he offers him a job,
when and if he should return from Candlekeep. Then he says that he'll
probably see him in the morning. Tenembray leads Elias out of the office
and down to her chambers, which contain, among other things, an
enormous, plush bed, and a small altar with a black mask hanging over
it. Tenembray has her way with Elias all night long. In the morning, as
he staggers out the front gate, he salutes one of the guards, who
chortle knowingly just as the other pair had the night previous.
the rest of the group is becoming worried about Elias. Jenna sends a
calling spell, but Elias does not return. The others speak to one of the
Hammer's about their missing friend. Eventually, a message is sent that
he is the guest of the Tyrant's this evening, and everything is fine.
next day dawns bright and sunny. Ethme and Jenna go outside the city
again. Jenna is gathering as much as she can in the way of herbs and
plants. Piers goes out and buys some smithing tools. At dinner that
evening, Elias tells the others what happened to him last night, without
going into too much detail. After dinner, the girls and Elias go in
search of music and dancing, while Piers returns to the inn. Samael did
not join the others for dinner. Piers asks Bertha about Gurnz. She
refers to him as the "Black Bastard of the Sword Coast" and
says he'd probably be a lot more
dangerous if he were smarter. The rumor is that he dabbles in black
magicks. She thinks the group probably wouldn't have any trouble with
him, as long as they were paying passengers on this ship, but he does
tend to attract trouble.
makes a salve and tends Elias wounds with it, before he turns in for the
night. He has welts and scratches all over his body.
She leave the salve so he can tend
the ones in more sensitive places himself.
the 28th, Piers tells the others about his conversation with Bertha.
Jenna buys scissors on her way out of the city with her sister. When
they are out in the moor, Jenna chops off her hair, and lets it blow
across the island, in the breeze. Ethme tries to neaten it up, then on
the way back into town, they stop at a barber to finish the job.
has news of a Ffolk captain whose ship just docked, and will be heading
for Baldur's Gate. Later that evening, Samael reports that he has
secured passage on the Ffolk captain's ship, and that it will leave on
the 30th. The passage for everyone is 10 gold, which Piers pays.
the 29th, Jenna goes to the Tymoran temple on her way outside the city.
She talks to Roderick for a while about his paintings, and he gives her
one. Then she goes to
Monty's to say goodbye. He
is in the process of selling something to a man, but then his business
concludes, and Jenna tells him she's leaving. Then she goes outside the
city alone and tries to commune with the spirit of Mintarn. She gets the
sense of a presence of both enormous age, and childishness - somewhat
like an old person who is experiencing a "second childhood."
She has the urge to be sly and impish for the rest of the day; she
shifts into as close an approximation of Ethme as she can, and wanders
around the city like that for the afternoon. Meanwhile, the real Ethme
gets food and supplies for the dogs. Piers and Elias buy food for the
people. Piers also writes a letter to his sister.
dawn on the 30th, the group boards the Ocean Flight and meets Captain
Kerig Ierne. They also meet two officers. Alfgeir is a broad-shouldered,
rather short, Northlander. Selim Idras is a dark-skinned man with a very
relaxed manner and way of moving.
The group's quarters are part of the hold that has been set
aside; there is no cargo this voyage. It's actually quite spacious.
The dogs seem to quite like Captain Ierne.
the way out of the harbor, the captain enters into a race with a Captain
Dartan, who is the man Jenna saw at Monty's.
The race ends in a draw as the ships hit open water, and must
peel off to go their separate ways. Many birds follow the ship. Samael
tells Jenna that the captain is from Moray and follows the old ways. The
two talk about Mintarn a bit.
and Selim are talking to a cloaked and cowled figure. The figures says
that it sees a storm of blood red hue coming. We cannot face it, so we
must be ready to flee. The captain says that "that's what we're
built for." The figure also says that it "won't be the last
Session 27 (02-26-05)
Player Game Rating: 7.25
30th Day of Mirtul -- 5th Day of Kythorn
Eventually, there is no land in sight anywhere, which puts Jenna on edge. Ethme and Elias take to it alright, though, and Piers is in his element. He begins to work with the crew. At one point, when Ethme and Piers are the only members of the company on deck, they see Selim escorting a cloaked and cowled figure. It walks like an old person. A sailor tells Piers that the figures name is Galloban and he's a seer. He sees things that are to be, and things that might be. He says that this ship has never fallen to any piracy, storm, or other mishap. Having Galloban on board makes the captain a lot of money; its seems that sending cargo on this ship is a close as a guarantee as you can get, that your cargo will arrive safely. The sailor also mentions that those three - meaning Kerig, Selim, and Galloban - are very tight with one another. He also mentions that he's a family man, and likes this ship for that extra sense of security.
that's happening, the others are below deck. Elias is practicing. Jenna
is bored and irritable. She tries reading Piers' Book of Steel for a
while, but it holds no interest for her. Samael is reading, but then
switches to playing a lute, which soothes Jenna some.
Piers overhears the two sailors he's stationed at a ballista with,
arguing. One is saying, "It's him." The other is in denial.
When Piers asks who "him" is, they tell him about Captain
Helgrim, also called the Storm Lord. It's said that he's favored by
He's been organizing the Nelanther pirates, and has become the
scourge of the southern seas. This is very far north for him to be.
They tell Piers that Ierne will try to outrun them, and only
stand and fight if there's no other choice.
Eventually, the Ocean Flight has left the pirate fleet far behind, and
Ierne orders the crew to "cut them free." They cut through the
heavy ropes and the ships slows to a normal rate. Repairs begin. The
crew and Piers speculate, as they work, on why the Storm Lord would be
north, but nobody really knows. Samael tells Jenna that the
captain had been calling the whales for days. He had known that there
was some sort of trouble coming that they'd need to outrun.
Session 28 (03-12-05)
Player Game Rating: 9.00
5th Day of Kythorn
their quest for Nodbender's Table, the companions enter an open area
that is dominated by a massive complex. It looks like multiple buildings
of diverse architectural styling, all piled together. Motes of light
dance in the air around it. There are enormous gear works turning on the
outside of it, and there are glimpses of sparkling water from within, as
if there's a waterfall actually inside the building. The symbol of Gond
hangs over the front gate.
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