Westmarch

Westmarch - Mission 14
Royal Audience and Which Drow Witch in Dulwich?

Party: Exandra, Rufus, Hilniflit, Finial, Callehalahath, Ambrose, Pear

Day 0: Taxes in town settled up – Guild kitty after taxes: 6,591 gp

Asheryn is busy rushing around the Guild preparing for the party's audience with the dragon queen, Nightserasa.  The loot from the raid on Bargle was divvied up and distributed before the party leaves with Asheryn for the castle.  Asheryn takes the party towards the noble's quarters.  They pass through to the throne room, where they enter a secondary chamber.  The room is draped in blue and brown.  The room is guarded by the Queen's soldiers and a robed figure is waiting for them.  Yannos arrives shortly after with the ork skull, which he passes to Asheryn.

Suddenly the guards leave the room and return moments later.  A herald appears and announces Queen Nightserasa.  A tall, elven-looking bronze woman in an ornate breastplate enters.  Asheryn introduces the Guild members and expresses hope that the Queen is still pleased with her after her expulsion from Elven lands.  The party glosses this.  Asheryn then presents the skull to the Queen.  The Queen expresses her appreciation and gives the skull back to Yano for further study.

The Queen then grants each member of the Guild a favor and gives them an opportunity to make a request of the Court.  Hil, impatient and overly excited, decides to use this opening to tell the queen about the other ork skull they'd found under Shadowed Keep, but accidentally destroyed with a little bit of fire.  Asheryn and the party are barely able to contain their groans.  Hil ignores them and plows on, unrolling a long wishlist… then catches Asheryn's glare.  Hill rolls up the list and requests the Queen make a suggestion that might please her highness.  The Queen offers Hil a Cloak of Firey Vanishing.  (When attacked by fire, it turns the wearer invisible and leaves a pile of ash where they were standing.)  Hil is delighted and pleased with this gift.

Then Exandra steps forward and swears loyalty to the Queen, asking if she may train and spar with the Dragon Guard so she may better serve the Queen.  The Queen agrees and grants her an honorary title equal to sergeant in the Guard and tells Exandra to report to Captain Belorin.

Next Calle, clearly besotted by the Queen, promises to do the Queen a favor in the future.  The Queen is pleased and offers Calle a Stone of Alliance.

Finial, with a flourish of pride, speaks to the Queen in draconic and explains his desire to continue his study of the cycle of life.  The Queen rewards him with a Ring of Surging Electricity (shocking grasp and exploding die mechanic for electrical spells).

Ambrose requests a parcel of land that he can run in the service of the Court.  The Queen explains that there's no land to offer beyond the walls of Westmarch that the Queen can grant explicitly, but she grants him a Court Charter of Stonehaven Keep – the condition of which is unknown.  If Ambrose can make it safe, the Queen will allow Westmarch citizens to settle there.

Rufus asks for his bow to be enchanted and the Queen says she will make it an Enchanted Huntsman Bow +1.

Pear desires something sneaky, like a pair of Cat Burglar Boots (to boost her climbing and acrobatics so she can fall out of things gracefully).

Once all the gifts had been granted, Hilniflit reads Weido's letter to Bargle.  The Queen is a bit non-plussed.  Politics beyond her walls are not her concern, but she asks that if the Guild is going to intervene, she asks that they do so in a manner that will do right by the people of Dulwich.

Ambrose then tells a really, really hilarious joke.  You had to be there.  It was really great.  The herald then leads the party out to the Main Hall to wait for their gifts to be retrieved and arranged.  A note is delivered to Ambrose with the Queen's seal.  The note reads "Ha ha" and includes a Rune of Power in the envelope.

Mission 14 Map

With the Queen's audience concluded, the party heads out to Shadowed Keep by warp stone.  Outside the Keep, the party finds one of the rune-covered goblins they met in the forest and set here, guarding the entrance.  The goblin shows no fear of the party despite the fact that the party killed a bunch of his clan.  Hil approaches the goblin and asks how things are going between the two merged goblin tribes.  The goblin seems to suggest everything is fine.

Ambrose tries to soften the goblin up by telling a really terrible joke.  It was bad.  I can't repeat it here.  The party leaves the Shadowed Keep for Dulwich, formulating a plan on the way.  That night, they make camp and discuss possibilities.  Will they infiltrate the city covertly and spy or try a propaganda campaign?  The plan is not settled before they sleep for the night.

The next morning, on their way to Dulwich, the party is stopped by shrieking coming from an abandoned house.  The party approaches and finds a crumbling stone, 2-story building with a thatched roof.  3 horses are tied up out front.  Exandra, Hil and Pear rush to the front entrance.  Calle sneaks around one side of the building and Pear circles around to the other side.  Calle, spying through a window, finds two humanoids with wings for ears shrieking in front of a headless corpse covered in a writhing slime.  The humanoids are being cornered by two dark skinned creatures that are just humanoid heads with bat wings for ears and tentacles on their chins.

Calle smashes the window.  Finial runs through the front door and shouts, "What's going on, here?!"  The hairless humanoids shout for help.  Calle shoots one the dark heads from the window.  Hil steps in and casts burning hands, engulfing the dark heads in flame.  Exandra rushes in behind and kills the first head.  The other shrieks a blood curdling scream and Hil, Rufus and Pear suddenly find themselves frozen in place.  The slime suddenly comes alive and attacks Exandra.

Ambrose tries to play a song that will free them, but it's kind of pedestrian and not very catchy, so it doesn't work.  Calle's tiger, Sasha, jumps through the window and attacks the remaining flying creature.  Finial zaps the slime with electricity and it vaporizes.  Exandra then rushes the last head and kills it.

The two prisoners beg for their lives.  They say they are iron merchants on their way to Dulwich and the corpse used to be their former guard.  They were caught by the flying heads who hypnotized them and then bit them.  This began to transform them into the hairless wing-eared creatures they are now.  The party decides to escort them to Dulwich and admit them to the Irori Temple for healing.  The two get progressively worse on their way to Dulwich.  When they reach the temple, the priests do the best they can to help.  The party warns that if they can't be saved, they should be "subdued".

The party then heads to the Dancing Bear Inn.  On their way, they come across a member of the pottery guild being harassed by mercenaries hired to be city guards.  Hil steps in to break things up and it isn't until Finial and Calle back her up that they back down.

Ambrose and Exandra decide to follow the mercenaries and strike up a conversation with them as they are disguised as city guards themselves.  The mercenaries tell them that Weido's support is based on his gold and their allegiance only goes so far.  Exandra then fabricates the story of a raid and asks if they are going on it.  The mercenaries are surprised she knows about the raid.  They ask who their captain is and Ambrose tells them it's "Gerald".  The mercenaries haven't met Gerald yet, but they're really interested in going on this raid Exandra's talking about after Exandra and Ambrose convince the guards this raid is totally real.  The guards agree to have the party meet their commander, Drancis, at the Dancing Bear later to learn more of this raid.

Arriving at the Dancing Bear, Rufus heads straight to the bar and convinces Nerlin, the owner, to offer discounted drinks.  The bar is very busy, filled with Weido's rabble and supporters.  Thruv and Isolde are in the bar, Isolde is totally hammered, but tells the group that Weido's road is almost to Longbridge.

The party speaks with Thurv, who tells them about Ossi, the head of the lumber guild.  He might be interested in any plans to displace Weido.  Ossi wants to reinstate the city's Council, but Ossi is laying low.  The only person who knows where to find him is a local mime named Zado.  The party can probably find Zado somewhere in the market.

Thurv asks Pear if a war is coming to Dulwich and Pear nods.  The party gets some rooms and a few retire for the night.  Exandra and Ambrose wait for Drancis to arrive.  He asks them how they know about the raid.  The raid is not done by the mercenaries or city guards, but by "things".  He says the mercenaries want no part of these raids.  He asks Exandra and Ambrose to follow him.  Ambrose tries to keep Drancis at the Dancing Bear and offers to buy him a drink.  Drancis says he's going to take them to another bar to the north.  The bar's sign is a large skull in gold.  It's crowded and busy.

Ambrose had messaged Hil to tell her where they were going.  Hil and some of the others follow them to this new bar and wait outside.  Drancis, Ambrose and Exandra order drinks and have a seat.  Drancis wants to know why they want to go on one of these nightmare raids.  They are carried out by dark and corrupted woodland creatures and fey.  Ambrose and Exandra get Drancis to agree to take them into his command, but just as he's about to make the offer, a fight breaks out in the bar.  They try to usher Drancis out of the bar, but Drancis is going to stay.  They agree to meet later.  Exandra and Ambrose meet the rest outside and they head back to the Dancing Bear to turn in for the night.

The next day, Nerlin tells them they can probably find Zado in the market.  Ambrose works up a new disguise and they head to the market.  They find Zado peforming as a mime in the market.  The party observes his performance and then tips Zado in an effort to make contact by messaging him on the sly.  Zado only replies with the telepathic response, "Zado".  Zado moves down the street and the party follows him to his next performance.

Ambrose makes 12GP telling jokes in the market.

Zado eludes the party somehow in the crowded market, but Ambrose gets a message to meet someone in a back alley.  As Zado reappears down the street, Ambrose finds a halfling waiting in the alley.  The halfling wants to know what Ambrose wants with Ossi.  He doesn't trust us because he saw Ambrose with Exandra (dressed as a city guard mercenary).  Ambrose explains our cover and tells the halfling we're trying to stop Weido's plans with Longbridge.

(At this point in the story, it occurs to me that we have learned of some Drow (evil dark elves) that are playing some role in all this and seems to either be working for Weido or has Weido in its thrall.)

Ambrose asks about the Drow and the halfling claims to know nothing about it.  At this point, Hil butts in and asks the halfling if Ossi is prepared to fill any power vacuum if the party takes out Weido.  The halfling is unsure and will have to ask Ossi.  He then heads off towards Eastgate Tavern.  Calle, Exandra and Pear follow him.

They find the halfling sitting at the bar.  Exandra walks up to the bartender and ask if he knows of anyone looking for a bodyguard.  Calle notices a group that looks a little out of place and she sits down with them after they offer a seat.  Meanwhile, Pear has snuck in through the back, posing as a waiter.

Calle asks the odd group if they know where Ossi might be found.  The group is not really with Ossi – but they make pretty clear that they hate Weido.  They refuse to say much else despite Calle's prying.

Calle then decides to stir hearts and minds with some Dulwich patriotism and that's when the halfling tells the group that if they want to meet Ossi, they're going to have to leave at once.  Everyone decides to head back to the Dancing Bear to wait for Ossi.

Back at the Dancing Bear, Pear and Rufus ask Nerlin about the rumored Drow and Weido.  Nerlin doesn't have much to say, but he acknowledges that Weido is bad news.  Unfortunately, as a business owner, he needs to keep his head down.

With so many dead ends, Hil, Finial, Exandra and Pear decide to go see Sanni.  Sanni once again asks about the map to Khundrukar and the party once again plays dumb.  After some haggling, Sanni agrees to tell them about the Drow – but only if the party pays 500GP and gives her some intelligence on Bargle.  Hil almost lets slip that Bargle's dead, but instead tells Sanni that Bargle's funding might be drying up, soon.  Sanni finds this detail satisfying and tells the party that it is not multiple Drow, but just a single one.  This Drow might be influencing Weido in some way, but Sanni's pretty sure the Longbridge gambit is probably Weido's idea.  After the party shows her Weido's note, she discloses that Weido just got done delivering a bunch of captured Fey creatures to Bargle last night. (!)  This is confusing because the party was pretty sure they killed Bargle… who is collecting Fey still and even more curious, who is reimbursing Weido for them?  Is Bargle still alive?  The party never really recovered his body… maybe he survived?

Disoriented and confused, the party heads back to the Dancing Bear.  Later, Drancis turns up asking about "Gerald's" raid.  Ambrose continues his bluff and makes some excuse.  Drancis then invites Ambrose and Exandra to "clearing duty" on the road to Longbridge tomorrow morning.  Ambrose asks Drancis about the Drow.  Drancis doesn't seem to know anything, but suggests he talk to Tula, the captain of the city guard that protects Weido.  She might know something.

Then Ossi's halfling enters the Dancing Bear and orders a drink and downs it swiftly and then leaves.  Nerlin signals Rufus over and tells him on the sly to meet Ossi at the lumber yard later that night.  The party gathers themselves up and they all head out to the lumberyard.

When they arrive, they are approached by a woman who leads them back to a small stone building in the back of the still busy lumberyard.  As they wait inside the building, the halfling arrives and says that Ossi should be along soon.

When Ossi arrives, he's quick to the point and asks what it is the party wants from him.  The party offers to dispose of Weido if Ossi can fill the vacuum by reinstating the Council.  Ossi makes clear that he doesn't have any kind of army and that he can't help with any revolution plans.  The party says not to worry, they can get around Weido's army.  Ossi tells them they don't understand – taking out Weido doesn't mean his army will just stand down.

The party then tells Ossi that they have it on good authority that Weido's secret funding might dry up soon and if there's no pay, then the army will dissolve.  Ossi agrees… if this is true.  But he also says that Tula is extremely loyal to Weido.  She won't just go away.  She will make life miserable with the few guards she'll have left.  The party agrees they might have to make sure she's taken care of as well.  Without Weido or Tula, the army will probably scatter if nobody will pay them.

Calle asks Ossi if he knows anything about the Drow rumors.  Ossi hasn't heard anything about it.  He suggests the party talk to Zado in the market.  Zado's there all day and hears all kinds of things… and only tells any of it to those he decides are worthy of the telling.  Ossi's pretty sure Zado can be trusted and most likely has Dulwich's interests at heart.

When the party asks if he knows anything about the raids, he says that he is aware of them and knows they're going on – but not much else.  He can, however, help us crack the Keep.  He says that while the above ground portions of the Keep are totally solid and well-defended, the underground dungeons are much less so.  He suggests that if we look into it, we can probably find a way to breach the Keep through them.  The party thanks Ossi and they head back to the Dancing Bear to plot an assassination.

Back at the Bear, Exandra talks to Thurv about the Keep's weaknesses.  Does Thurv know anyone that might help us get in?  Thurv suggests talking to the old timers that were around when it was built.  Exandra does just that the next morning.  She finds out from some of the builders that there was definitely some shoddy work done in the dungeons.  They're just dug straight out of the ground and not really walled in with a foundation of any sort.  The ground around them is pretty soft.  They say the western side of the hill is probably the easiest to access.

With this news, the party heads to the market.  It's very busy and there's a big commotion at the end of the market by the Keep.  It turns out that Weido has put three people in the stockades for being tax cheats.  Tula and 12 guards are standing watch over them as the crowd observes.

While this is going on, some of the party spot someone in what is pretty clearly somone in Bargle's robes!  The person turns and runs off.  Sasha chases after the person and follows them all the way out Eastgate.  Calle calls off the chase.

Meanwhile, Exandra is approached by a Zado operative.  He pulls her aside and tells her and the others that the easiest way in or out of the dungeon is to dig oneself out.  He jokes that if we could get someone arrested for tax evasion, it wouldn't be difficult to get put down there…

The party spends some time scouting the Keep's hill and discussing the possibility of getting someone arrested that can dig out to the rest of the party.  That's when Calle brings up that she can soften Earth and Stone magically… hmm…

THAT'S IT FOR THE ADVENTURE.  TO BE CONTINUED!

(And thank you very much, Kevin, for all your hard work.  It's been a blast.  We look forward to doing this on teh interwebs, soon!)

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Westmarch - Mission 13
Where we finally argle Bargle!

Party: Exandra, Fledermaus, Hilniflit, Finial, Callehalahath, Ambrose

Day 0: Taxes in town settled up – Guild kitty after taxes and purchases: 4661 gp

Asheryn informs the party that the queen of Westmarch is very interested in the ork skull found in the previous mission.  After some discussion, the party agrees to present it to her as a gift… in exchange for favors from the queen.  The party leaves the skull under the care of Yanos at the Arcane Codex.  Asheryn will arrange for the visit.

Mission 13 map

Day 1:  The party uses the stones to travel to the Standing Stones waypoint near Mistmere Castle.  The weather is foggy as they head Northeast through the forest where hilarity ensues after Hilniflit accidentally kicks a bee's nest and everyone is fine.

The party approaches Mistmere Castle carefully and formulates a plan to draw out the guards that are invariably in the yard.  Hilniflit sneaks up to the gate and hears voices speaking giant.  She lets the party know it looks like there are ogre guards and the party readies the ambush.  Calle casts tangle outside the gate while Hil and Ambrose create dancing lights inside the courtyard to get the attention of the guards.  The guards take notice and start to chase the lights that look like torchlight in the fog.

The first ogre runs straight into Calle's tangle.  Exandra, standing to the right of the gate, snares him with her whip and brings him to the ground.  The first ogre tells the second to sound the alarm.  The second ogre turns to run back to the castle, blowing a whistle and kobolds begin to pour from the castle's entrance.

Fledermaus fires arrows into the first ogre and Calle sends her tiger, Sasha, to grapple the second ogre.  Hill casts spider climb on herself and skillfully climbs the wall without falling even once.  The second ogre returns and tries to pull the first ogre free from the tangle.  Exandra rushes in to poke the second ogre, but stumbles and drops her weapon.  Sasha is so distracted by this, she totally misses the ogre and runs right past him.  Fortunately, Fledermaus has kept his distance and fills the second ogre with arrows.

The party then dispatches the kobolds swiftly and search the bodies.  They find 10GP, javelins, a sealed clay jug and a wand of (mumble-mumble).

Mistmere Castle underground levels
 
The party quickly makes their way through the quiet ground level to a set of stairs leading underground.  They enter into a small room containing a statue that seems to be holding some kind of gift that is now missing.  The inscription reads, "The Orb is the key."  After searching the room, they decide to check the South door.  They can hear sounds on the other side, so Hil kicks open the door and casts burning hands into the room.  She finds 2 ghouls and the body of a chewed kobold.

Calle, Fledermaus and Sasha run in to deal with the ghouls.  They are able to take care of them rather swiftly, but Calle is badly injured by one of them and feels kind of spaghetti for a while.

Under the kobold, the party finds a silk bag with 30GP and a silver pin inside it.

Heading through the door to the North, they enter a small room with a pile of garbage.  Because we're dungeon-crawling, Exandra pokes the trash and rats spill out of it and attack her.  After a brief bit of stomping and burning and slicing, the rats are taken care of.

The pile is searched and the party finds a masterwork cold iron short sword.  (Hilniflit's notes:  cold iron is all over the place, in these parts!)

Further North of the trash rats, the party finds stairs leading down further, but the top of the stairs is being guarded by a crystal statue of Bargle.  It seems vaguely magical and its eyes light up when it sees movement.  Fleder and Hil sneak up to it. Fleder moves past while Hil throws her bedroll over the statue.  The party quietly shuffles past.

Fleder, ahead of the rest, heads down the stairs and finds a sleeping ogre.  Meanwhile, Finial uses multiple rounds of artificer's touch to destroy the crystal statue at the top of the stairs.  Fledermaus finishes off the sleeping ogre guard by stabbing it in its sleep.  He finds 4GP on the ogre guard.

Through the next door is a dining room.  3 ogre guards are eating when the party ambushes them.  It goes fairly well, but Fledermaus is back in old form and takes the brunt of the damage.

The party searches the ogres and finds 15GP and three silver amulets with a "B" in the middle of each.  The party then searches the two rooms to the South of the dining room – a sleeping quarters and store room.  If they found anything of interest, Hil didn't write it down.

Moving East, they enter into a larger room with a big tapestry on the far wall.  The tapestry depicts Bargle surrounded by all the lands on fire.  Hil goes to inspect the tapestry, but a crystal statue emerges from behind it and challenges the party.  Ambrose is now disguised as (something).  This tricks the statue and the party moves on, further East into a room with an altar.  A quick search uncovers a potion of Cure Light Wounds and 6GP.

Moving through a short hallway, and rounding a corner, the party stops short of alerting another ogre guard.  The party backs off and finds an alternate route around the guard.  This brings them to a hallway filled with crystal Bargle statues.  The party quietly shuffles past them, rounds a corner South and finds themselves in a room full of doors that all seem to lead to small, empty chambers.  After a more systematic search, one of the rooms seems to have a switch that reveals a secret door at the back.  This leads West into a throne room where the party finds Bargle waiting for them!

The fight is very exciting and undocumented, but it turns out this creature was not Bargle after all, it was a doppleganger pretending to be Bargle!  After searching the room, though, they find a masterwork dagger and a potion of invisibility.

To the South of the false inner sanctum, they find the real inner sanctum of Bargle in a throne room that contains a small pool in the middle of it.  Bargle casts a wall of flame and the party attacks… and they kill him.  No big deal.

They search the sanctum and his adjacent quarters and find:

Bracers of +2 armor, +1 dagger, ring of protection +1, Summon Monster V scroll, ruby (1000GP), garnets (500GP), onyx (500GP), red quartz (200GP), potion of gaseous form, 300GP in assorted loot, 2000GP, 3 pearls (100GP each), gauntlets of ogre power, rope of climbing, wand of hold person (22 charges), 2 potions of cure moderate wounds and a spell book.

The party also finds a letter from someone to Bargle:

Weido's letter to Bargle

THE PLOT THICKENSTHIS IS TOTES MAYOR WEIDO FROM DULWICH!!!

Then the party finds a secret escape tunnel behind Bargle's throne and they follow it out, noting scales on the floor… kobold?  Then we bamf home.

Loot from this adventure:

2365 GP
2500 GP in gems and stones
a sealed clay jug
wand (found on ogres in courtyard)
silk bag
silver pin
masterwork cold iron short sword
three silver amulets with a "B" in the middle
masterwork dagger
potion of invisibility
Bracers of +2 armor
+1 dagger
ring of protection +1
Summon Monster V scroll
potion of gaseous form
gauntlets of ogre power
rope of climbing
wand of hold person (22 charges)
2 potions of cure moderate wounds
spell book:
1st Level: Charm Person, Magic Missile, Shield, Sleep
2nd Level: Invisibility, Levitate, Mirror Image, See Invisibility, Command Undead
3rd Level: Dispel Magic, Fireball, Hold Person, Gentle Repose
4th Level: Animate Dead, Wall of Fire
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Westmarch - Mission 12
Journey to the Southern Burroughs

Party: Exandra, Pear, Hilniflit, Iolena, Franmar

Day 0: Taxes in town settled up:

Starting kitty: 2055 gp
+ Not taxed: 1080 gp
 
Items sold:
orange gemstone, 50 gp
magical elven urn, 200 gp
emerald silver bracelet, 500 gp
small masterwork short sword, 300 gp
necklace of silver bones, 150 gp
(2) topaz jewels, (500 gp ea), 1000 gp
gemstone, 100 gp
quartz rock, 10 gp
small wooden shield +1, 100 gp
 
-10% tax 349 gp
Total 5196 gp in guild kitty
 
Items kept:
wand of detect magic, 42 charges, 375 gp
studded leather armor +1, small, 500 gp
sling w/ magic stones (+1), [Exandra]
gold key from Mystmyr
<strike>apple core, priceless</strike>
chain shirt +1
(2) cure light wounds, [Franmar] [Pear]
scroll of fireball, [Hil]
scroll of protection from evil, [Hil]
small bag of holding, (up to 250#) [Iolena]
 
Franmar bought … something? for 81 gp
Everyone bought rations for 25 gp

Guild kitty after taxes and purchases: 5090 GP

Mission 12 Map

Day 01:  Use waystones to transport to Shadowed Keep.  Everything is quiet.  No sign of goblins.  the party decides to head into Dulwich to see what's going on in town.

On the way to the Dancing Bear, the party notices that the town is largely subdued.  There are very few nobles about and many more guards sporting new armor and weapons (red and black stripes on their shoulders).  The party meets Nerlin and Isolde at the Dancing Bear. 
Thurv is not around. They learn that the armory blacksmith guild has sided with Mayor Weido.  Isolde is also working with Weido.  The rest of the guilds in town have been marginalized while the Mayor works with the blacksmiths to train and arm more guards to push out into the woods to address bandit problems.  The captain of the guard is apparently offering missions to adventurers.  The party's still not sure how they feel about Weido.

Nerlin tells the party that the noble-backed East Gate Inn is not doing so well as most of the nobles in town are lying low.  He also says that Weido is looking to push his influence into a town East of Dulwich, called Longbridge.  Longbridge is a town straddling a river trade route and Weido is using his new forces to push a new road into it.  This has put him at odds with the Longbridge mayor, named Hilduin Lorsch.  Lorsch is from a smaller town further East of Longbridge, called Woodridge.  Lorsch and Weido are both competing to secure control of Longbridge.  Weido has the greater forces and there's some concern that when his forces reach Longbridge, things could get violent.

The party also learns that the Wool Guild has allied with the Irori in the Temple Stronghold and is trying to stay clear of Weido's agitation.

Next, the party heads to Saini Alanen to see what she knows about goings on about town.  She first asks about the map to Khundrukar.  The party lies that they never found it and suggests that they could pass word to the goblin leader, Saar, and see if he'll allow her to poke around the goblin lair for the map.  Since the map is a large immovable, geode, the party's a bit worried that she might find it.  So this strategy is a stalling tactic.

We then ask about Longbridge and Saini fills in the details mentioned above.  Lorsch needs Longbridge to revitalize Woodridge and make it viable again.  Weido's seemingly just trying to consolidate power.
 
Next on the schedule is a visit to the Irori Cathedral in town.  The party meets a half elf acolyte named Jacquepin.  We tell him to pass word to the temple that we are interested in helping them serve as a peace keeping effort in the conflict over Longbridge.

The party spends an uneventful night at the Dancing Bear (10 sp).

Day 2: The party heads south, giving the Shunned Valley wide berth.  In the woods, they come across a noisy group of a dozen goblins marching through the woods to drums.  They are lead by a female shaman carrying a stick with a skull at the top of it.  The goblins are all dressed in robes and they make no effort to be quiet. Hilniflit thinks she recognizes something about the skull and tells the party it's really important to get that skull.


The party moves to flank the goblin party.  Franmar and Exandra set up distractions to draw the goblins' attention away from the party.  Iolena summons three eagles that swoop down from the sky to try and grab the skull staff.  One eagle gets a grip on the staff and starts to carry it away, the goblins, startled, attack the eagles with slings and knock the staff-carrying eagle out of the sky.  Franmar runs to the dropped staff with Hilniflit close behind.  The goblins are thrown into chaos as they try an regroup – especially after Iolena summons a horse in their midst.  Pear climbs and falls out of many trees.


Franmar and Hilniflit fall back with the staff while Exandra and Iolena deal with the rear of the goblin column.  After the party kills six of the goblins, the goblin shaman surrenders.  Franmar and Hilniflit interrogate her and learn her name is Sibesa.  She says they were once lead by an oppressive leader named Otlock.  They found (what turns out to be) an orc skull in a gnome mine far west of this location.  When the skull was found, Otlock disappeared.  This made the goblins believe that the skull is a good omen and Sibesa has created a cult around it and they are now following wherever the skull takes them.  They call themselves the Clan of the Orc Skull.

Sibesa is covered in tattoos that she claims are ork writing – which is strange because goblins fear writing.  Hilniflit can tell right away, however, that it is definitely not orc writing.  It's just gibberish.  Hilniflit tells Sibesa that the party is keeping the skull.  Sibesa resists, but the party makes it clear this is non-negotiable.  Hilniflit suggests they travel North to the Shadowed Keep.  She gives them a stone with her mark on it and tells her to speak to Saar and see if they can take refuge with the Bloodmoons.  Sibesa is skeptical, but says she'll do so.  The goblins move on.

The party loots the remaining goblin corpses and find three cure light wound potions.

Later in the day, as the party moves further South, they come across a group of dwarves in a standoff with a group of hobgoblins.  The hobgoblins have cover and higher ground.  Hilniflit messages one of the dwarves and asks if they need help.  The dwarves welcome it.  Exandra tosses a javelin and kills the first hobgoblin and with the help of the dwarves, they're able to kill the rest.  The loot is two cure light wounds potions, 150 GP and a ray of frost scroll.


The leader of the dwarven party is Oberryn Steelhammer.  He says they were tracking the hobgoblins because the hobgoblins were kidnapping people from a town called Vulgruph's Hollow, to the South.  Oberryn also mentions that there is a waypoint West of the town controlled by Averryn Steelhammer.


The party follows Oberryn to Vulgruph's Hollow.  The town is divided between dwarves and humans.  The mayor is Vosk Vulgruph (dwarf) and he runs things with his town council, including a human named Hethan Pagemaker.  Vulgruph's Hollow is farmland surrounding a river called Snow Crest Creek.  The town itself is built upon stone blocks in the middle of the river.  There are two inns in the small town, Blood and Thunder Bistro (filled with dwarves and some gnomes) and Giant's Run Inn (filled with humans and some halflings). 
Giant's Run is owned and operated by Jin Grasko, a former hill giant fighter with a prominent facial scar.  Blood and Thunder has two employees.  The party decides to spend the night split between the two locations according to their respective races.  The night is uneventful.

Day 3:  The party meets in the street with Oberryn, who agrees to take them to Vosk.  On their way, they pass the graveyard and notices shadows moving within.  The graveyard is called Ancient's Rest and its tended by Reggald Ditchfoot.  The party asks if he noticed the shadows and Reggald denies seeing anything.  The party finds dried blood near the mausoleum in the graveyard but Oberryn warns them against disturbing the tomb.


Vulgruph's Manor is a well crafted building in the middle of town and Vosk Vulgruph himself is the son of the town's founder.  He greets the party and answers some questions about Reggald (he's always been strange).  He also expresses concern about the growing divide in his town.  He doesn't blame the humans, but is looking to keep the peace.  The party asks about the waypoint to the West and Vosk says it is heavily guarded and well defended by Averryn.  The party asks if he can write a letter of referral to meet with Averryn.  If passage through the waypoint can be negotiated, the party can help with the hobgoblins in the area by clearing out Khundrukar.  Vosk agrees to do so.

Oberryn leads the party towards Mistfall.  The party is told to wear blindfolds to be escorted in.  The city of Mistfall is hidden from strangers through the mists of waterfalls and some magic and strangers are charged a toll to enter.  The party pays 500GP to get access to Averryn.


Averryn welcomes the party and negotiates a 100GP fee each time the party comes through the waypoint.  In addition, the party agrees to help Mistfall's wizard, Breyhall, to maintain the waypoint.  The waypoint is similar to others the party has seen, but this waypoint is far removed from Mistfall proper and is covered in glowing and pulsing magical runes.  Once passage through the portal is secured, the party decided to return to Westmarch with their ork skull and figure out their next plan of action.

Loot from this adventure:

5 potions of cure light wounds
150 GP
Ray of frost scroll
Orc skull

Guild kitty after expenses (500 GP): 4540 GP

 
View
Westmarch - Mission 11

2135 Starting Gold – 80 for Alchemist Fire purchased = 2055 GP in the Guild Kitty.

We head to Mistmere. It's a cloudy day. It has been a couple days since we were last here. At the gate, Mimolette does some recon. Outside, there are kobolds going in and out of the castle and 5 ogres – some with spears, some with clubs – digging graves. We decide to make camp for the night

Iolena, on watch, sees a procession heading into the castle – a dozen kobolds and 2 ogres dragging 2 creatures tied by ropes, both alive. One is a humanoid made of wood, the other a primate with brown fur that has a green mossy tint and kind eyes. Next to the front ogre is a hooded figure. They head into the courtyard. The group follows to the edge of the wall.

Calle casts entangle, but the wizard doesn't get caught. Fledermaus hits the wizard with an arrow. The wizard opens the door to the castle and 2 duplicates of the wizard appear! Fledermaus misses with a 2nd arrow, but Calle puts a flaming sphere on him, but he dodges the damage. Sasha goes after the closest ogre, biting it. Iolena sends magic missiles at the wizard, hitting with all 3.

Finial confers with Franmar on the pronunciation of a word in giant – and successfully Commands an ogre to "Fall"! Pear, wearing the kobold skin, tells the other kobolds to go outside the walls because there are more opponents out there. An ogre bull rushes the wizard into the castle, taking the flaming sphere on himself. Suddenly, a fireball goes off in the middle of the courtyard, dropping all the kobolds. They're all dead. The oakman and ape are wounded, but alive. Finial heals everyone after the last ogre is felled.

The oakman says the wizard came out of nowhere and took him from his tree. We let him go home on his own. The ape bonds with Fledermaus. She was taken from her family. The ape and Fledermaus high-five to indicate they're best friends now. The kobolds appear to only be carrying garbage, so we leave it behind.

Franmar kicks open the door, Pear goes in through the chimney. Everyone heads into a room with a chest and a log hanging above it. We get the chest out of the room, it contains 100 gold and an orange stone. Franmar disables the log trap and the fall echoes throughout the castle.

In the next room we see a kobold statue, and Franmar detects a trap. We find rats and trash in a nearby closet. Pear disables the trapped statue, after much discussion.

Pear, Fledermaus and Franmar go downstairs, and find a statue of a wizard in the room. We don't think it's 'our' wizard. Next door there is a dark room and sound of crunching…

On the wizard statue, Iolena detects transmutation magic. An inscription reads "The orb is the key". We suspect this is a statue of the previous wizard-king owner of Mistmere. Pear enters a room, and someone says, "Halt" in draconic. Pear responds with "Who's there?". They discuss the events upstairs. The kobolds get suspicious of Pear's disguise. One kobold turns to leave the room, and Pear shoots him in the back of the head with a crossbow! Three more kobolds pop up from behind the table and throw alchemist fire at Pear. Franmar throws alchemist fire back, and after a short combat, all the kobolds are down. Finial heals. 

In the next room, two kobolds are roasting a dogmeat dinner. Pear asks where the shaman is, and they gesture to a door nearby. Pear asks where the master is, and they don't know. The two kobold chefs are quickly killed by Pear and Franmar. 

In the shaman's room is the shaman-chief and 4 elite kobold guards. Pear alerts them that the "skinners" are in the building. The shaman-chief says to call the lieutenants and goes to find the wizard. Pear runs to the nearest door – and it turns out to be a closet! Finial, in kobold skin, steps in and says, "Don't mind him, he's sick." But then his disguise slips a little. Pear runs to a different room and finds the lieutenants, who get up to attack! Pear runs through the shaman-chief room, and more kobolds come in. Calle misses with her bow, and Franmar drop caltrops to slow progress. As a kobold comes into the kitchen, he steps on the caltrops and gets grappled by Sasha. Kobolds run in and stab with spears. The shaman shoots with his sling stones that burn when they hit. The group takes some hits but gives more back, Fledermaus tosses alchemist fire. The shaman points at Finial and says, "Doom…". Finial is baned, but the party is able to take out the shaman and his guards, and lieutenants after a messy fight. Sasha and Buddy the she-ape (shape?) help out. Iolena drops the shaman with a final spell, and one kobold is left alive for interrogation. Calle skins some kobolds and the shaman.

The remaining kobold says the wizard is downstairs, "Behind the doors and ogres". We ask where the orb is, but he doesn't know. Two kobolds got away for sure, but otherwise it looks like we took out the leadership. The kobold confirms there's treasure in the shaman-chief's bedroom. He can't tell us about the crunchy room. The wizard statue was there when the kobolds moved in. They made the kobold statues upstairs. He can't tell us the safest way down. Bargle leads the ogres and pays the shaman for services. There are "many" ogres. Franmar executes the prisoner kobold.

The shaman-chief's body contains: small studded leather +1, small masterwork short sword, a sling with magic stones, necklace of silver bones, a gold key, two topaz jewels. 

Pear enters a different room, and hears faint singing. There's a magical urn in there, singing an elvish lullaby. Franmar uses the key on the shaman-chief's bedroom, and to unlock a trapped chest. Inside is: 230 gold, an emerald studded silver bracelet, a wand of detect magic, and a letter from the wizard instructing him to watch out for the skinners. Pear leaves the letter on the shaman's corpse.

We move on and find 4 more kobolds, who are terrified. We ask what's on this floor – they say "spiders, cubs and a pit for trash". In another room, there is a magical bag that's bigger on the inside. Inside is 3 gold and a gemstone. We take the bag and the contents.

In another room there is a broken statue and 2 beetles. We move on. In another room is 27 gold and a quartz gem worth 10g. Also, a dead rat and an apple core. The kobolds live a sad life.

In another room is a message written in draconic – "Oil bugs this way, Keep Out!". Franmar disables a swinging door trap, possibly designed to keep beetles out. Pear disables the device so that we can stop throwing kobold bodies at it. The room behind is full of oil slicks.

Moving on is a tapestry depicting Mistmere as it once was. There is a picture of the old wizard king, confirming that the statue we saw earlier was him. 

Deeper into the castle is a room with a pit, with a kobold skeleton. It has a small +1 wooden shield. 

Finally, we see a room with stairs heading down! A message written on it says, "Use other stairs, by order of Bargle." There is a gelatinous cube with gold pieces floating inside nearby. Franmar unwisely pokes it with a stick…and gets paralyzed by the cube's attack! Fledermaus throws alchemist fire, but it's not enough. Iolena and Fledermaus drag Franmar back through the rooms to the pit room, baiting the cube to follow and fall into the pit. 

Beyond the cube area is a secret room…with musical notes written on the wall. We grab the urn and bring it into the room. There are two iron chests and a magical statue. It looks like the old wizard king. We open the chests and find: 720 gold in various coinage, +1 chain shirt, 2 cure light wounds potions, a scroll of Fireball and a scroll of Protection from Evil.

Loot haul:
1080 gold
Orange gemstone
Magical Elven Urn (200 gp)
Emerald studded silver bracelet (500 gp)
Wand of Detect Magic (42 charges)
Studded Leather Armor +1 (small)
Masterwork short sword (small)
Sling with magic stones
Necklace of silver bones (150gp)
Gold key
2 topaz jewels (500gp each)
Bag of holding (small)
Gemstone (100gp)
Quartz rock (10gp)
Apple core
Small wood shield +1
Chain shirt +1
2 Cure Light Wounds potion
Scroll of Fireball
Scroll of Protection from Evil

 

View
Westmarch - Mission 10
Buffalo Bills - 5, Kobolds - 0

Starting Guild gold = 1487.5 gp

Day 1

Visiting Yanos in town, the party finds out that Gygar used to rule from Mistmere Castle, but died without a successor. The castle fell into ruins. Records show that Gygar used to have lots of people visiting and staying at the castle. There's probably a big underground area since the visible floorplan is small. Gygar had a tattoo of a star on his upper right shoulder and sleepy eyes. 

Yanos also says there are legends about standing stones showing visions of the past, like the party encountered last time. They are from before even the height of Zephyr (Westmarch) and Anatolia (Eastmarch). No one knows how they work, or why they show what they show.

The party uses their pendants to travel to the cavern under the standing stones near Eastmarch and Mistmere. They travel northeast through the forest in a howling thunderstorm. At the edge of the dead forest the party hears the sounds of combat up ahead. Pear climbs a tree and sees 2 people swordfighting.

Iolena approaches the two women, when one of them, a brunette, asks for help. She says "She's not going to stop." The woman's opponent appears to be a corrupted human of some sort.  The brunette is defending and not attacking at all. Iolena hits the corrupted human with a magic missile, prompting the brunette to beg the party not to kill it. Exandra steps close, and notices the stench of death on the corrupted human – she's been dead for some time, and has glowing red lights in hollow eye sockets. Exandra disarms the creature, knocking its sword from its hand. Isolda, the brunette, agrees that her sister is gone, and the thing she has become can die. Sasha grapples the creature, largely immobilizing it. 

Finial binds the creature's feet, and Exandra shackles its hands. Isolda says her sister went adventuring in Eastmarch, and came back like this. Wandering around Eastmarch there are all sorts of "broken" adventureres. The party determines this creature is a wight – an undead creature that cannot be restored to its former humanity. Exandra decapitates the wight. The glowing eyes go dark. The party searches the body of Betha and gives her possessions to Isolda. They're both adventurers from Dulwich. A crew went to Eastmarch and only one came back – that adventurer is mute and not all there anymore. Isolda decides to come with the party to Mistmere. The party travels a few hours and camps outside of Mistmere for the night.

Day 2

Pear gets some recon of the Mistmere courtyard, seeing 18 kobolds and a large wild boar, which is being held with pole-lassos by 4 of the kobolds. One kobold has iridescent black scales, and seems to be in charge. The party forms a plan – entangle the courtyard and take out those holding the boar. Pear climbs up the wall to get a firing position, but she accidentally kicks some loose stones, alerting the kobolds to her presence. The sergeant blows a whistle, alerting the team of the intruders! Pear kills a kobold holding the boar, followed by Exandra also taking out a boar-minder. Iolena magic missiles the sergeant, who blows his whistle alerting the kobolds to the magic user. Calle entangles almost everyone in the courtyard except the boar. The boar is unable to free itself, oddly, from the kobolds control, until the party takes out the last 2 minders. The sergeant is quickly dropped at range, though not before a third whistle-blow, and the kobolds start to lose any semblance of cohesive combat. 

The party methodically wipes out the rest of the kobolds, with a well placed Flaming sphere, some help from Sasha. The boar is tough, but eventually falls too. One kobold surrenders, and the party interrogates him. He calls the wizard "Bargle", and says Bargle has many servants. The kobolds fight for Bargle in exchange for money. He thinks Bargle is currently in Mistmere, "downstairs". Kobold watches change shifts every 8 hours or so. The party loots the whistle from the sergeant, along with a potion of Bull's Strength, an axe, a small masterwork chain shirt, and 130 gp.

Planning ahead, Pear suggests using disguise to infiltrate and fool some of the kobolds that must be inside. After some discussion of logistics, Calle skins the kobold sergeant and Pear fashions a kobold costume out of it, wearing the skin "like a psychopath" (Iolena's words). The surrendered Kobold, named Klersk, is horrified and allowed to run into the forest, warned never to return.

The party enters Mistmere. Heading to the East, instead of West like last time, the party enters a room with 4 rickety chairs and an unstable chimney. In the next room, there are number of boxes. One smells rotten, but Pear opens it anyway – releasing a boxed up zombie! The commotion alerts a few more zombies, but they are quickly defeated. One zombie has on a gold bracelet with 3 green stones. It's determined to be non-magical. It's taken, along with a feather from a large bird.

 The party finds a room with a magical bed in it – much like the room across the hall they found last time. Again, no one gets into the bed.

Pear, using her disguise, stuns 5 kobolds in a back room that appeared to be attempting to surprise the party. They're quickly dispatched, but only have 7 coppers among them, along with a rat's paw, a piton, a belt pouch containing an ornate silver hilt, and 4 bent and tarnished silver pieces. Once again, Calle skins some kobolds and Pear fashions another creepy kobold disguise, this time for Finial to wear. Finial speaks Draconic, whereas Pear does not – so now they may be able to really fool some kobolds.

In a small room nearby, the party finds a statue of a kobold, that is largely unremarkable beyond that.

In the next room is a dining table, with gold plates, goblets and fancy silverware. In the chairs around the table, skeletons. The room also has a stone fireplace. Finial triggers a channel positive energy, but it does not affect the skeletons – they do not animate. However, out of the fireplace emerge two harpies! They start to sing, and most of the party becomes enthralled – Finial, Pear, Calle, Isolda and Rufus all start mindlessly entering the room, moving towards the harpies in a trance. Exandra, knowing that harpies are greedy, tries to parley, offering the gold bracelet. One seems interested and ceases singing. Further entreaties seem to do – something – and the harpies stop singing and retreat to another room, closing the door behind them. 

The effects of the song wear off. The party finds a large chest hidden in the chimney, no magic or traps. Pear is unable to pick the lock, so Exandra smashes it open. Inside are a bunch of fancy dinner outfits, 2000 silver, 2 turquoise earrings (broken when the chest was smashed), and 2 potions of cure moderate wounds.

Pear grabs a gold plate when suddenly, a puff of smoke wafts off of it! It is now clear that plates were not gold, but pewter plates covered in yellow mold! Pear fights off most of the affects of the yellow mold spores, but does take some Constitution damage.

The party starts to go down the east stairs, Pear in the lead – when she encounters two very large beetles that spray burning fluid! The party retreats, agreeing to revisit Mistmere soon.

Isolda is escorted to the teleportation circle and ferried by Exandra to Dulwich. The party then heads back to Westmarch, but not without 3 kobold skins that Finial will preserve with Gentle Repose.

Treasure:
3 kobold skins
2 Cure Moderate Wounds
2000 sp
2 broken turquoise earrings
7 cp
1 piton
ornate silver dagger hilt
gold bracelet with 3 green stones
potion of bull's strength
masterwork chain shirt (small)
small great axe
130 gp

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Westmarch - Mission 09
So, like... go East this time?

Party: Exandra, Rufus, Hilniflit, Finial, Callehalahath, Clonk

Day 0: Taxes in town settled up, 510 GP added to the Guild Kitty, running total: 935 GP  No additional supplies purchased.

Mission 09 Map

Day 1: The party sets out to figure out what is happening in the forests of Westmarch and only has vague rumors about a wizard in the East corrupting the fey.  They make camp outside the forest edge – as has become habit.

Day 2:  They return to the grove of bone white trees early in the morning.  This is the grove they came across in the first mission months before.  They find the ground black and slimy, covered in a festering rot.  The bone white trees are still budding mysteriously.

Undead dryadThey hear some rustling and Calle sends her tiger, Sasha, ahead to see what it might be.  Sasha roars for help and the party finds her being attacked by three small humanoid creatures made of rotting leaves.  They seem resistant to stabbing, but can be hurt with magic, fire and blunt force.  As the party scraps with the small creatures, they are ambushed by a taller, female humanoid.  She is pale-skinned with dead leaves for hair and seems to be able to step into trees and teleport instantly between them.

After the battle, once they have killed the creatures, the green buds that were growing on the bone white trees wither to black and fall.  The party searches the creatures and finds 25 GP.  While searching, some forest sprites appear.  Hil speaks with them in fey and learns the female creature was once a dryad, but had been corrupted by the wizard with the harelip and became undead and evil.  She was oppressing the normal forest denizens and they thank the party for saving them from her.

SpritesThe sprites say the wizard had come from the East and they no longer felt safe in the forest and were going to move on to safer territory.  Hil marks a leaf and gives it to the sprites in case they need to reach the party in Westmarch with more news.

The party continues East and comes across an old, red, cloth strip tied to a tree.  Another is close by and the trail of red markers lead to an abandoned and messy camp with the remains of a bramble wall crumbling in disrepair.  The camp seems to have been abandoned for a while and the party can't seem to determine who may have left it.

Finial searches the fire pit and finds a fishhook and pockets it.  The party marks the camp on their map and collects a scrap of cloth so they can ask around about it and then decide to move on.

Further East, the party finds a grove of maple trees and a small cottage with smoke coming from the chimney.  Hilniflit sneaks up to the cottage to get a peek through the windows.  The cottage seems cozy and lived in with a table set for two people, but she can't see anyone inside.  Moving around the building, she finds an open window leading to a messy kitchen with a burning stove.  Hil messages back to the group that she's found an open window and is going to climb in.  Finial joins her.  The rest go through the front door.

The group that goes through the front are suddenly attacked by magical objects, including a book that flies through the air and an enchanted fire poker.  After a quick struggle, Exandra destroys the book and Rufus bends the poker, but it refuses to be disenchanted, so they tie it to a cord to restrain it.  The poker continues to whip around, trying to attack them as they search the room.

Meanwhile, Hilniflit and Finial open the stove in the kitchen and are attacked by a small fire elemental.  Finial summons water in midair over it and douses it immediately.  They notice a chair leaning against a door, wedging it closed.  Hil removes the chair to find a stairway leading to a basement or cellar. She heads downstairs out of curiosity with Finial close behind.

The rest of the party searches the rest of the cottage and find a hallway leading to a closed door.  Sasha, the tiger, sniffs at the door and growls – but the group suddenly hears Hil and Finial cry out from downstairs and they rush to investigate.  Calle leaves Sasha guarding the door.

Pizza golemThey find Hil and Finial in a sunken pantry tangling with a creature made of molten pastry that spatters them with flaming pizza gobs when they hit it.  Nothing seems to stop its rampage until Calle summons a water elemental that finally defeats it.  The quickly search the pantry and find nothing important.  They decide to go back upstairs and see what's behind the door in the hallway.

When they enter the room, they find a small winged creature tearing up books and a bloodied man tied to the bed.  The creature attacks them with its stinging tail.  The party kills the creature, Clonk learns it is an imp in the process.  (A minor devil that can sometimes be an evil wizard's familiar.)

ImpThe party unties and revives the imp's prisoner.  His name is Gendrew and he seems to be an accomplished cook that dabbles in magic (the pizza golem in the pantry may have been his own accidental creation and the enchanted objects in the front room were his security system).  His passion is creating new dishes and he occasionally sells them to wandering travelers in the woods.  He was approached by the wizard with the harelip and Gendrew sold him a dish that displeased the wizard.

The wizard sent the imp to punish him for the substandard fare.  Gendrew thanks the party by gifting them a batch of powerful potions (Bull's strength; Exandra, Cat's Grace; Hil, Cure Moderate Wounds; Exandra, Jump; Rufus, Vision; Hil, Endure Elements (fire); Hil).  Gendrew tells the party that the wizard was looking for something in his cottage – an arcane lore book that would give the reader a bonus to arcana knowledge when checking for elemental knowledge.  He gives the book to the party for safe keeping.  He also tells the party that the wizard lives in Mistmere Castle to the East and shows them where it is on the map.  The party decides to spend the night in the cottage before setting out in the morning. The night passes uneventfully.

Day 3:  The party sets out Southeast in the general direction of Mistmere Castle.  The day is windy and a little cold.  On the trail, they find themselves in the path of a swarm of velvet ants (wasps without wings, actually).  Hilniflit is able to set many of them on fire, but not before they barrel through the party, stinging them and being a general nuisance.

That night, watch is interrupted by a giant, tree-sized spear landing in the middle of camp.  Nobody was hit by it, nor could anyone tell where it came from.  Exandra scrambles up a tree and thinks she might see a giant off in the distance, but can't tell for sure.  The rest of the night passes uneventfully after the party decides to move camp away from the spear.

Day 4: The party comes across a massive bear carcass in a clearing.  The forest is turning darker and more ominous.  When they make camp that night, they can see a large hill to the South with a ring of standing stones that glow a pale blue at night.  They decide to investigate in the morning.

Day 5: On their way to the standing stones, the party finds a massive, petrified tree in a clearing, but can't find anything to explain it or anything of further interest.  They keep moving.

Ring of standing stonesThe ring of standing stones at the top of the hill are weathered and ancient, covered in old runes.  A patch of blue flowers grow in the middle of the ring.  The party examines the runes and finds they are strikingly similar to the runes on their waystones, but seem to indicate these stones are not for travel, but for seeing visions.

The party tries to meditate as if they were using their waystones and they are shown a detailed vision of Westmarch from above.  The circle of stones are shiny and new, the forest is younger and greener.  Eastmarch is still a standing city that rivals the current prosperity of Westmarch.  Two massive armies fight a bloody war and Eastmarch seems to be making its last stand. The Eastmarch army is made up of goblins and hobgoblins and even orks – which have not been seen for hundreds and thousands of years.  The Eastmarch army of goblins and orks are scattered by the army of Westmarch and just before the party is woken from their vision, they see Mistmere Castle, a solid and imposing structure built against the face of a cliff.

While Hil transcribes the runes for future study, the party searches the stones for any further evidence that might tell who left them.  They find a hidden tunnel near the stones that leads to a large chamber under the hill.  It is filled with glow worms that illuminate another waypoint marker like the one found in the Shadowed keep tower.  They are excited to find a marker so close to Mistmere Castle!  They make camp and plan their assault on Mistmere the next day.  The night is uneventful.

Day 6:  The closer to Mistmere the party gets, the more creepy and dead the forest becomes.  Decay and leafless trees are everywhere.  The land becomes barren, lifeless and hazy.

Giant beetleThe party finds four, 20' tall obsidian pillars covered in runes, and entangled by trees in a loose circle.  Between them is a giant, fallen tree and they hear movement inside.  Hill sneaks up to the end of the tree to find it hollowed out.  It contains two giant boring beetles with green/gray carapace.  Knowing this would probably be an epic and dangerous battle that would properly cap off what was already a long and satisfying week of adventuring out in the forest, the party decides to leave the beetles alone and push on to the castle that they likely won't have much time to explore in the waning hour… I mean day… before, like… everyone gets tired.  (Nice try, Dungeon Master!!!)

Giant catterpilarMistmere is a tumbled and worn down castle that stands against a sheer cliff wall.  Its face opens out to a courtyard surrounded by a wall with a gate that's still standing, but a portion of the wall has a large hole in it.  Sneaking up to the hole, Hil peers through to see a giant caterpillar/centipede looking monstrosity roaming the courtyard.  Near the castle entrance is a group of kobold guards.

The party regroups and makes a plan to lure the guards outside the walls using Hil's ghost sound spell to pretend like it's a group of kobolds in distress.  Then Calle will cast entangle outside the castle walls so the party can pick off the kobolds easily.  Everyone readies their spells and positions and Hil fakes her distress call.

A small party of kobolds come through the gate at first and they are slaughtered fairly quickly, but not before one is able to raise a signal with its whistle, the rest of the kobolds and the multi-legged creature begin pouring from the walls.

Fortunately, kobolds aren't very sturdy foes, so they die quickly and the caterpillar thing doesn't prove to be much of an obstacle without its kobold support.  Searching the bodies, the party finds 30 CP and Calle finds a small iron box that contains 100 GP and a black onyx gem.

Mistmere Castle - Mission 09The party goes through the front entrance and finds a room with a door across the way (not shown on map) and entrances into other rooms to the left and right.  They explore to the left to find a room with a table and some chairs.  The room is guarded by a large dire bat that the party kills.  Searching the room, the party finds 3 SP worth of teaspoons and a small bag of dried peas.

Another entrance leads to a room full of crates containing nothing of interest, but there's a crate that speaks to the group.  The party pretends to be kobolds and the crate asks for a name they don't recognize.  Hil tries to pick the lock and fails terribly, so Rufus smashes the box open.  It's empty and doesn't speak to them any longer.

The next entry leads to a closet with a hatbox that contains a musty red woman's hat.  The box is tied with a bit of string coated in sasson poison leaf and Exandra gets poisoned by it.  (She'll be fine.)  The hat has a platinum hairpin that the party keeps.

The party then pushes into a moldy bedroom.  The bed appears to be enchanted, so the party avoids it, finding nothing else worthwhile.  They then find a small hallway with a set of stairs and everyone decides they have seen enough.  They decide to return to Westmarch to report on their progress and regroup…

Loot haul:
125 GP, 30 CP, 3 SP
Fishhook
Potions of:
 Bull Strength, Cats Grace, Cure Mod Wounds, Jump, Vision, Endure Elements (fire)
Arcane lore book (+1 arcana checks for elementals)
Black onyx gem
Platinum hairpin
Masterwork longbow (from the dryad – Rufus?)
Red cloth of unknown origin

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Westmarch - Mission 08
Shadowed Keep is done for now...

Party: Exandra, Ioelena, Hilniflit, Fledermaus

Day 0: No taxes to settle for Mission 07 loot.  Visited Yanos to discuss ork skull and a new development with the green buds on the white branches: The buds have turned black and now new buds are growing.  Yanos not sure what any of this means.  Exandra, by the way, opts to buy herself a halberd which turns out to be an excessively wise decision…

Guild Kitty after buying supplies: 625 gp – 200 gp (Cure light wounds potions for party) – 425 gp

Mission 08 Map

Day 01: Leave Westmarch, uneventful day and night.

Day 02: The party comes across a small, lake in what looks like a small crater. In the middle of the lake is an island with a weeping willow.  The lake seems about 30' deep and the party doesn't seem up for a swim, so Ioelena summons an eagle to scout the island for us. When it returns, it tells Hil (#SpeakWithAnimals) that there's a dark hole on the island under the tree. The party notes the location of the island on the map and decides to return on a later mission.  Camp that night is uneventful.



Young Green DragonDay 03: It's a warm day and the party gets a little lost and find themselves in soft, boggy terrain.  They hear a commotion in the distance. Hil sneaks up to the commotion and finds a family of boars fighting a (relatively) small green dragon about 12' in length. Hil sends a wizard's message back to Exandra, telling her there's a dragon, the rest of the party approaches and Fledermaus steps on a stick. The dragon is immediately alerted to the party's presence, still in the thick of the forest. Ioelena and Hil blast it from cover with magic missiles and a scorching ray. The dragon launches into the air and casts an entanglement spell that slows the party and ensnares Exandra.

To the members that speak draconic, they can hear the dragon complaining about annoying adventurers. The fight lasts another round, dealing some savage blows to the dragon, but it's clear that the dragon's acidic breath weapon might be more dangerous than expected (Hil barely escaped the main blast and suffered significant acid damage). Hil tells the dragon that it can surrender. The dragon lands a cautious distance from the party and tells them it is a young dragon fleeing its parents, looking for hunting grounds of its own. The party suggests it should move to the East in search of grounds not directly under the party's protection. The dragon grudgingly moves along after grabbing its boar snack.  The party camps nearby that night and passes uneventfully.

Day 04: The party comes across a temple covered in yellowing ivy. Searching inside, they discover a book covered in a pile of rat skins that seem to have been drained of their innards by some dark art. The book's cover bears the image of a large fly and is filled with necromancer rituals.  From the ceiling hang long threads with small silver pieces tied in shimmering chains. Hil taps Fledermaus and Exandra with the wand of Bull's Strength so they can climb the walls and grab the silver (40sp). The party keeps the book for later scrutiny and Hil incinerates the temple interior in disgust as they leave.

The party arrives in Dulwich.  Hil and Ioelena travel to the Irori Temple to heal Hil. Exandra and Fleder head to the Dancing Bear Tavern to hopefully find a cleric to join us on the Shadowed Keep raid. The head priestess of the Irori Temple, Vuokko, tells Hil and Ioelena that Valio was hired as a contractor to turn the Bugbear Stronghold into an Irori safe haven free of Weido's Dulwich politics. Hil and Ioelena meet up with Exandra and Fledermaus at the tavern and find them plying a table of exhausted and traumatized adventurers with drinks. The bartender mentions that the adventurers are veterans of famous area dungeons – The Smoking Mountain, The Maze of the Blue Medusa, Eastmarch.  They have been introduced to a female dwarf cleric named Thurv that's willing to help the party on the raid for a 20% cut of the loot, 15gp up front and her choice of any magical weapons that might be found.  The party agrees and suggest they meet at dawn the next morning.  The night at the inn was uneventful.

Day 05: On the way to the Shadowed Keep, the party runs into a Bloodmoon Goblin named Saar, holding his arms out to his side and clearly looking to parlay. He begs the party to help he and his supporters to oust an Ogre that has taken control of the Shadowed Keep tunnels.  The Ogre, Ruknar, has been a menace to the goblins and Saar and his followers are tired of dealing with him, the bandits and the party's constant raids and slaughter.  They are willing to help us get access to the Ogre's chambers if the party will then leave the Bloodmoon in peace… and leave them some of their treasure.



Saar seems to recall a map in the Ogre's chambers and this seals it for the party. The chance of pacifying the goblins, satisfying the bandits and finally finding the map in one stroke is too much to resist. Saar agrees to make sure the guard room is lightly guarded and tells the party any goblin wearing a yellow armband will be trustworthy. Saar also sketches out the route to the ogre's chamber for the party.

When the party reaches the Keep, they are stopped by a clearly frustrated and harried Firean and a couple bandits.  They have grown tired from the constant and increasing assaults by the Ogre and his goblins. They have even lost two of their party, taken prisoner by the goblins. She has lost all patience with the party and is planning to leave Shadowed Keep entirely if they can just figure out what to do about their two captive members. The party offers to rescue them as they have a deal with a faction of the Bloodmoon.  Firean is skeptical, but is happy for any help.

Bloodmoon Keep Map

The party heads below the donjon and dispatches the guards at the bottom of the stairs swiftly. They head straight for the ogre's chambers. Hoping for the element of surprise, Hil throws open the door and casts flaming sphere, Fledermaus tosses a stun grenade and the rest of the party surges in, firing off magic missiles and swinging halberds. Ruknar and his harem of swift and nimble female goblin assassins are caught off guard. The quarters are cramped by a fire pit and a table surrounded by piles of moldy furs. This is not helped by the fact that the ogre himself is massive and nearly fills the room with his bulk.



The flaming sphere is dodged by the lead goblin and the stun grenade incapacitates another. Ioelena's missiles and Exandra's halberd wound the third goblin. Hil then directs the flaming sphere onto the stunned goblin, lighting her on fire. Fledermaus kills her with an arrow. The last two goblins attempt to charge Exandra, but the furthest is tripped up by the fur piles and the second is chopped nearly in half by Exandra as it tries to slip past the reach of her halberd (crit 20 opportunity attack).  The ogre charges with a massive falchion and narrowly misses Exandra, glancing a badly timed blow off her shoulder. Exandra takes the opportunity to disarm him of his falchion and sends it flying back behind her, she then swings the halberd around and buries it deep into the ogre's collar bone (crit 20, again). Hil's flaming sphere then trundles toward the ogre and lights him up before fading into a puff of smoke.  The flaming and enraged ogre takes the brunt of a few more magic missiles and then finally crumples across the table. The last goblin frees herself from the furs and stumbles back to a weapon wall, but is taken down by some more magic missiles before she can respond.

The battle was incredibly swift and efficient thanks in large part to Exandra's new halberd. The rest of the Keep barely had time to respond. Saar shows up after the battle and claims the ogre's falchion and drags it out to show the rest of the goblins that Ruknar is dead and is no longer their leader.

The party searches Ruknar's chambers and finally finds the "map" of the dwarven Khundrukar stronghold… unfortunately, the "map" is actually a massive stone geode with the map of the mines carved into it in full three dimensional relief. 

On the outside is a carving showing the path to the mine's entrance. Hil and Exandra take some time transcribing the map to parchment as it looks as if the geode is going to be too heavy to move from the chamber.

Khundrakar map

The rest of the search reveals 45sp on the goblins, some goblin "jewelry" worth 10gp, 3 masterwork javelins (Exandra), gold earrings worth about 50gp, a wand of moderate wounds with 12 charges, a black leather pouch with the initials AH that contain a set of masterwork thieves' tools (Hilniflit), a golden necklace (value tbd), 300gp, 20 platinum and assorted copper and silver in a large chest.

The party gives Thurv the earrings and her 20% cut of gold and platinum. The falchion turns out to be masterwork, but is too big for human sized wielders, so they leave it with Saar as a ceremonial token of leadership as well as the silver and copper from the chest.  Saar then releases the human prisoners – two of which are the bandits Firean mentioned and a third named Kirko.  He's a large, muscular human that was captured by a goblin raid while transporting merchant trade between Dulwich and Longbridge. The party agrees to take him back to Dulwich.  Thurv sets about healing the prisoners while Ioelena intimidates Saar into leaving human settlements in the area alone. Hil gives Saar a marked token that he can send back to Westmarch if anything weird comes up out of the sealed undercrypt below the goblin tunnels.

Once topside, the party returns the two prisoners to Firean who intimates that she and her bandits are pulling up stakes. They're done with the Keep and are going to find easier locations to ply their trade. She offers Thurv access to a shrine on the tower's rooftop if she'd like to pray to Irori and Thurv takes her up on the offer.  When she returns, she tells the group it's not an Irori shrine.  The party goes to investigate and finds glyphs similar to the ones on their adventuring stones provided by the Guild and was apparently built by Ironwolf. It turns out this is a new waypoint the party can travel to using their stones! (We can now "bamf" to Westmarch or Shadowed Keep after 10 minutes of meditation.)

All told, it was a fine treasure haul and I think we can finally cross Shadowed Keep off the to-do list…

Loot:
Silver tied to string (~40sp – spent at some point)
Necromancer book of rituals
45sp
240 gp (-60 for Thurv)
16 pp (-4 for Thurv)
goblin jewelry (10gp)
3 masterwork javelins (Exandra)
Masterwork thieves' tools (Hilniflit)
Wand of moderate wounds (12 charges)
Golden necklace (tbd)

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Westmarch - Mission 07
"We're in a tight spot"

Day 1

 

So the stalwart adventurers have decided to make one more trip to the Shadow Keep to see if they can finally wipe out the goblin tribe that reside there in. The group consisted of Clonk, a monk / cleric; Die Fledermaus, a ranger; Exandra, the fighter; Franmar, a rogue; and Pear, a rogue.

 

The adventurers make their way south once again and had an uneventful first day of travel. In the evening as the group was making camp we came across a burial cairn that had a very well worn out flat stone marking the grave site. The grave belonged to the late Stator Autumnwolf. A few in the party recognized the name as one of an explorer and adventurer that had a lot of fame years ago. He had a bit of a mixed reputation in his life. Towards the end people took note of a complete personality change as if he was a different person.

Die Fledermaus and Franmar wanted to exhume the grave but unfortunately the other members of the party found the idea of digging up a dead body in poor taste so we left it alone.

 

Day 2

 

The party continues travelling south to Shadow Keep and was attacked by a vicious peacock which followed Pear for a short while before eventually wandering off.

 

As we continue in our travels we came upon what looked like a dead elk lying in the forest in a small grove that looked incredibly suspicious. Two of the trees in the grove seemed to be moving and swaying in a manner different than all the others in the forest. Die Fledermaus shot an arrow at one of the strange trees only for them to transform into a pair of trolls. The party did what it could to fight them off but without any fire we could not stop them from constantly healing themselves. The gods decided to smile upon us when trolls both decided to scurry up to the tree tops and make their escape.

We continued our journey and made camp in the forest, but not before being attacked in the night by a skunk the size of a horse. Die Fledermaus attempted to calm the wild beast but instead got sprayed in the face for his trouble. The party defeated the skunk and found a small alcove that contained 3 small containers with fuses attached that smelled of sulphur.

 

Day 3

 

The party’s journey south had them come across a huge majestic ancient oak tree which was being tended to by a small tree spirit. We made friends with the spirit and we were given the gift of 6 acorns. The spirit asked us to take these acorns and find places for them to be planted in the ground.

At the end of the day we once again stay at the Hobgoblin keep that was being renovated by Valio the Paladin. He allows us to stay overnight at a reduced cost because Clonk our cleric was also a worshipper of the god Irori. Clonk promises to visit the main temple in the city of Dulwich to pay his respects.

 

Day 4

We enter the city of Dulwich and as promised Clonk pays his respects with the temple. We have a sit down talk with the head priestess Vuokko who examines the acorns that we were gifted from the tree spirit. She allows us to plant one of the acorns in the temple grounds. The priestess informed us that they radiate magic.. We run into Rufus our ranger ally from our last adventure and he agreed to join us to once again to attack the Shadow Keep.

We meet up with the sage Saini in town and exchange information regarding the cairn of Strator Autumnwolf. It seems that rumors abounded that Stator was in fact murdered and replaced by an evil doppleganger. Had we exhumed the body we would have been able to solve the mystery. The next time we come by the cairn we should make a note to dig up the grave. The sage was also able to examine the canisters with the fuses and he let us know that these are stun grenades.

Day 5

We sneakily approach the entrance of the Shadow Keep and we quickly dispatch the 1 goblin that was guarding the entrance of the don jon with a sniping bow shot. We did not notice any bandits in the area nor did we see any in the watch tower.

 

We slowly approach the staircase leading to the basement level. We see 6 armed goblins in the fire pit room area waiting for us. We lob one of the stun grenades into the lower level and get a lucky shot that knocks down 5 of the goblins into a stupor. Our fighter Exandra leads the charge and wades into the fray. Out of nowhere a huge bugbear comes from around the corner and attacks us while we try to take down the goblins. We were able to defeat them all but not before one of the goblins runs escapes down the hallway presumably to warn the others of our attack.

 

We make our way to a previously unexplored area past the storage food storage and armory area that we had initially discovered from our first expedition to the Shadow keep. We make a turn at a hallway that leads us to a huge room with a deep pit in the middle. At the bottom of the pit we see a huge gelatinous cube that had weapons suspended inside of it. But no one was certain as to how exactly to kill it so the party ignored it for the time being. Our best guess was that the pit was used as a way for the goblins to dispose of waste while living in the keep.

 

We made our way to the next room which looked like a large dining hall. Initial inspection of the room made us believe that it was clear and empty, but the sneaky goblins were very well hidden and attacked the party. A bugbear comes charging at party members at the back of our marching order who were still in the pit room.

 

We were able to take down the goblins quickly and the bugbear was knocked down and fed to the gelatinous cube alive.

We were able to keep one goblin alive and was interrogated and was given some “light” torture in order to parse out where the dwarven map could be located. We demanded to know where the goblin leader was, and once we got all the information we could get from him we immediately kill him.

 

Further exploration beyond the dining area we discover an area of literally dozens of individual cells. Each cell was used as a single room home for goblin children and the elderly. The ranger Die Fledermaus wanted to kill them all, but his bloodthirsty nature was ignored by all the other party members.

 

We take one of the elderly goblins and had her lead us to the room where the goblin leader resides. We enter into a halfway that lead us to a room with two doors. We open the first door to discover a room guarded by 2 armored ogres and goblin. We immediately shut the door and tried to make a retreat back down the hallway to see if we could bottleneck our enemies from attacking us all at once.

After a long exhausting battle the ogres and the goblin were eventually defeated. Unfortunately the party was so tired by this point that we decided not to enter into the last room and left it unexplored.

 

The party then used their hearthstones to teleport themselves back to Westmarch.

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Westmarch - Mission 06
We're kind of badass...

Mission 06, Bugbear Stronghold & Shunned Valley

Party: Ioelena, Finial, Pear, Hilniflit, Fledermaus, Rufus

Day 0: Settled up with the city taxes for Mission 05 loot.  Visited Yanos to download Faun stuff.

Guild Kitty after buying supplies: 906 gp + 200 gp – 425 gp in taxes (equipment outpaced currency in 5) = 681 gp, 18 sp  (A +1 longsword has been set aside for Exandra Redjoy if she wants it.)

Westmarch - Mission 6

Day 01: Uneventful journey to the edge of the woods outside of town.  Camp uneventful.

Day 02: The weather is clear, but with a strange chill.  Our usual trail was overgrown, so Rufus found an alternate route that lead us to a small shrine overgrown with vines.  The central focus of the shrine is a large bronze statue of a minotaur holding an axe standing in the middle of a small fountain.  Bronze severed heads have water pouring from their mouths into the fountain.  As we begin to search the fountain, the statue comes alive and two spiritual minotaurs flank us on two sides.  They ask us if we are here to toast their victory or drown in their defeat.

Pear makes an effort to diplomatically toast their victory (drinking water from his own skin), this seems to appease them, but they ask us to leave their sacred place.  We decide to do so.

decapusThat night we made camp in a grove filled with soggy wood unsuitable for making a fire.  We gathered sticks from the surrounding area and set the watch.  On third watch, 4 large, 200 lb green creatures with 10 tentacles and pale faces attack the party.  Hilniflit immediately takes out the two attacking sleeping members of the party with magic missiles.  The two instantly disappear.  Battle commences as the party wakes and the other two creatures seem to be more substantial and pretty grabby – they are also a little clumsy on the ground.

Additionally, the two that blink out when attacked seem to be reappearing, but not attacking.  Hilniflit tells the party to ignore the two that turn out to be illusions and focus on the more substantial pair.  The party takes some damage from wrestling with the creatures, but the creatures are eventually killed.

In the aftermath, the corpses produce 1 gp each and everyone gets a nature lesson about the decapus.

Day 03: We decide to head toward the Bugbear Keep to check in on its status and find it to be inhabited with guards from Dulwich.  The party approaches and are greeted at the entrance by Sir Valio Ilmonen.  The party is barely able to stifle their groans as he greets us. We ask if we can spend the night in the Keep and Valio tells us it is in the service of the Priestess (Cena?) in Dulwich.  They are trying to repair the Stronghold so it can serve as a sanctuary from the escalation of tensions in town under Mayor Weido's increasingly authoritarian rule.  He asks the party for a fee of 5 gold pieces to spend the night as a kind of donation to the cause.

The party balks and offers the 2 gold they just found the night before, Ioelena tries to intimidate Valio into a reduction, but neither intimidation nor diplomacy are able to sway him.  The party resigns itself to the 5 gp fee and spend the rest of the day helping out around the Stronghold. Hil gives Valio a marked token and tells him to find us in Westmarch if they ever need any help dealing with Weido.

Day 04:  The night and following day on the trail to the Shadowed Keep are uneventful and the party arrives at their destination.  The Bandit Tower's lights are on as night falls, suggesting they still inhabit the tower.  The front gate is still accessible by slipping through and the party decides to try sneaking into the Keep without confronting the bandits.  The donjon itself seems to remain empty, so the party quietly heads down the stairs to the goblin catacombs.

Shadowed Keep - Underground Level 1

At the base of the stairs, we find 4 new goblin guards sitting around a fire pit.  They are complaining about being left behind on a hunt or raid.  Hilniflit is in the lead coming down the stairs and envelops them in flames from her burning hands, two die instantly.  In less than a few seconds, the party fills the guards with arrows and subdues them all, including two additional goblin guards skulking in the corners of the room.

Pear interrogates one of the goblins and learns that Razagan, the goblin leader, is out hunting with a larger group of goblins.  Someone makes the executive decision to kill the goblin, citing rear guard safety concerns.  A set of stairs that were either unobserved or didn't exist the last time we visited the Keep lead down into lower levels.  The party decides to go down and explore further.

Shadowed Keep - Underground Level 2

The long stairway leads down to a 20 foot pit filled with sludge.  Leaping the sludge looks to be out of the question as the stairs leading up to the edge are steep and slick.  Ioelena remembers she has a levitation potion on her posession and the party decides to levitate our strongest character across with the lightest members, who will then string a rope across, anchored at each end with pitons.  Then the more dexterous characters can shimmy across the pit.  This works and everyone gets across successfully.

At the end of the sludge pit hallway is a rotting door and we get through it easily.  We come into a chamber with pillars and a bas relief mural of the Keep's original master, Ironwolf, battling goblins and hobgoblins heroically in the Battle of Slaughter Meadow.  In the battle, Ironwolf eliminated the kobolds of Evenscales and defeated the goblins of the Severed Hand and Blood Moon tribe.

A short hallway across from the sludge pit hallway leads into a Chapel covered in slick, gray sludge.  Two intricately carved statues of warriors with battleaxes flank an altar at the far end.  On the altar is a rotting coffer that contains a golden idol of a warrior (30gp), a small set of silver chimes (10gp), a wrought iron bowl (10gp) and three dark green gems (15gp ea).  The chapel is a Temple to Abadar, god of cities, wealth and merchants.

One of the temple alcoves leads to another door the party moves through, revealing a room filled with humanoid bones littering the floor and chains hanging from the ceiling with skulls on the end of them (including one of an ork – a creature that hasn't been seen for thousands of years).  The room is difficult to move through because of the bone piles and a series of iron bars.  The party is surprised by a group of skeletons that rise from the piles and attack.  The skulls on the ends of the chains also aggressively snap and bite at the taller members of the party within reach of their chains.  The skeletons are covered in frost and wield frozen swords.  One of them stabs Pear.  Finial channels divine energy in an effort to turn the skeletons and two of them crumble.  Fledermaus puts arrows in the remaining two while Hilniflit uses mage hand to swing a mace hanging in the middle of the room.  The mace is filled with holy water and the spray does some slight damage to the skeletons.  In the process of destroying the skeletons, Hil may have accidentally burned the priceless ork skull that's potentially worth a lot of money and historical value.

But after the fight, the party searched the room and found, in addition to the holy water mace (an Aspergillum – which is not a flower, by the way), a rotting grave shift with gold stitching, gold earrings, a steel vial filled with a transmutation potion, oil of blessed weapon and a tapered 1' iron rod with pictures of heroism on it that turns out to be a rod of bull strength with 10 charges.

Across the room, the wall opens up to a large, rough-carved cavern with a wide chasm on the opposite side.  The room is very cold, near freezing and the chasm is filled by a lake of black water after a steep drop.  Finial is deeply unsettled by the room and senses a great evil.

Along the same wall as the opening to the skeleton vault is another opening that leads into a room filled with pillars holding up a ceiling that looks like it's about to collapse.  The pillars are all carved to look like heroic statues all facing one direction except for one.  As the party moves into the room, the odd statue begins to move and steps from its position and attacks.  Hilniflit does some hasty rough calculation and figures out that if we take out a couple pillars, the ceiling will collapse.  Rufus and Fledermaus devise a plan to wrap a rope around one of the nearest pillars and pull it down after Ioelena and Hil determine they are protected from magical damage.

But the statue proves to be a bit of a nuisance and gets in the way of things by smashing its massive stone weapon into members trying to collapse the room.  Pear heroically grabs the rope and tries to maneuver past the statue, to get the rope around the closet two pillars (upper left on map).  While trying to avoid the statue's weapon, the party tries to pull the pillars down, but are largely ineffective despite Hilniflit using the rod of Bull Strength to make people stronger.  Ioelena decides to summon a pony to help with the pulling and Hil immediately casts Bull Stength on it to goose the chances.  The pony proves to be sort of difficult to tie to the rope.  But once the rope is effectively tied to the pony, the pillar begins to crack.

Finally, after throwing as much strength as possible into the effort, the party pulls the pillar out and the ceiling above begins to collapse.  The ceiling lands squarely on the statue and a couple party members, the statue gets trapped by the rubble, but it's clear that it is going to free itself soon.  Everyone managed to avoid the worst of the damage from the collapse, but many are hindered by the rubble and suffered some bruises and scrapes.

Finial rushes to the trapped statue and begins hitting it with Artificer's Touch to try and destroy it.  The statue crumbles just as Finial runs out of casts per day.

At this point, everyone remembers there's a birthday they have to get back to at Westmarch and they return home immediately without searching the collapsed room.

Loot haul for Mission 6:
2 GP (spent) & 7 Sp
gold idol (30g), chimes (10g), bowl (10g), gems (15g x3)
Gold stitching from shift (?), gold earrings (?), steel transmutation potion (?), Rod of Bull Strength (8 charges left – in Hil's possession), oil of blessed weapon (?)

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Westmarch - Mission 05
We're easily distracted...

Mission 05, Not Exactly A Journey to Shadowed Keep…

Party: Hilniflit, Franmar, Fledermaus, Ioelena, Finial, Callehalahath

Day 0: Settled up with the city taxes for Mission 04 loot. Guild Kitty after buying supplies: 906 GP, 18 CP

Westmarch Map - Mission 05


Day 01: Party heads out of town with the intention of returning to the Shadowed Keep and clearing it of its goblin problem. Hilniflit was a bit distracted the first day, but something about meeting and talking to squirrels happened?

Day 02: (P) decides to take a new approach to the Shadowed Keep via the town of New Keep after hearing about a giant destroying the town's bridge.  The journey on the new trail is otherwise uneventful and (P) makes camp an hour or so just outside of the town.

ettinDay 03: New Keep turns out to be a hamlet of some 30 homes and an unfinished keep.  When (P) arrives, they find chaos as a two headed giant (a ~15' ettin) is rampaging the cattle stock, swinging a massive piece of timber, killing townsfolk, smashing structures and stealing cattle.  The ettin roars at the party and retreats into the surrounding woods before the party gets a chance to attack.  The village is too preoccupied with tending the wounded and hastily repairing structures to give much detail, but the party is pointed in the direction of the Iomedae temple where they find the priest Restic.

Restic explains that for the last few weeks, this ettin has been coming by day in a rampage as witnessed by the party, but has also been spotted sneaking around at night, quietly.  It is even suspected of scrawling a riddle on the wall of the temple:

Two heads have we but born with one,
We avenged, healed and protected,
Our master was invincible,
But punished all we who objected,
He did we the six-armed king,
And so by our god were rejected,
Thus, this is our fate,
One head, twice bisected.

Restic tells the party that he even suspects the paint and brushes that were used for the riddle were stolen from Jolden, a farmer in town.  The party's line of questioning leads them to the village elder, Hanah who fills in some of the local history:  Hanah tells the party about Aranda, the mayor of new keep and Malwick, the half-elf son whose father was killed by the ettin after his father shot it with an arrow.

The party, suspecting a mystery afoot with the strange behavior of the ettin between night and day, heads to the mayor's keep to meet with her. Aranda, the mayor, fills the party in with some more local history: New Keep is called New Keep because the villagers had to flee Old Keep (a few hours South) because an evil wizard took up residence in the Old Keep and drove them away.   They were just starting to scrape out an existence when this ettin arrived and started causing problems and smashed the town's bridge, hindering their ability to seek help.

The mayor points the party in the direction of Malwick, the young half-elf whose father was killed by the ettin.  Malwick is obviously distraught and only has thoughts of slaying the ettin.  The party suspects there's more to the story, so they decline his company in their plan to track the giant.

Following the ettin's trail cautiously (and surprisingly stealthily for this group), the group stumbles upon a party of 8 hobgoblins lead by a hobgoblin named Boothram. Hilniflit, scouting the forward position, decides that now is not the time for a rousing scrap and instead decides to try speaking with the hobgoblins – who seem a little rattled. It turns out they have also been harassed by the ettin – even after trying to ally with it in common, bad-humanoid agendas.  They tell the party that the ettin is holed up in Old Keep.  The party suggests if they can resolve the ettin problem for the hobgoblins, the hobgoblins will leave the town of New Keep alone.  The hobgoblins agree to this deal and both parties part peacefully.

Shortly after, the party stumbles across a smaller giant with beady eyes, standing in the middle of the road – an ogre. Before the party knows what's happening, another ogre steps out of the woods behind them. Diplomacy is clearly off the table, so Fledermaus knocks an arrow and buries it deep into the rear ogre's eye.  The ogre bellows and charges Iolena and smashes its club into her.  Callehalahath's tiger springs into action to attack the front ogre and is joined by the rest of the party.  Finial races to Iolena's aid and tends to her wounds despite an ogre bearing down on their position. Fledermaus somehow escapes near death this time and actually manages to drop the rear ogre with just three arrows – an impressive feat, really.

With a combination of fire, weapons and tiger teeth, the front ogre is eventually dispatched as well. The ogres were carrying 100 GP and a very old, gold ring etched with fish designs. The party learns it's a Ring of Swimming that allows the wearer of the ring to swim far beyond any natural ability (+5 to swimming skill worth 1000 GP).



The party nears Old Keep as it gets dark and decides to make camp in the nearby woods.

Day 4:  The party observes from afar that Old Keep is a squat, old stone tower with a circular parapet.  The same riddle from New Keep seems to be scrawled on the outer wall with blackened firewood, but much is smudged.  They also see a few relatively new gravestones with the names Zimian, Kordel and Thorvald Halfgranite inscribed on them.



The party decides to stay hidden and wait for the giant to emerge at night when it's presumed it will be more docile.  Then they will track it back to town and/or search the keep while it's gone… anyway, this all seemed rather confusing to Hilniflit, so she decided to ask the ettin himself what was up when he came out. Hilniflit, using the message spell, greeted the ettin when he eventually emerges. There was a confused moment where the party tried to sort out the giant/common translation process between Franmar, Hil and the ettin, but fortunately, it turned out the ettin spoke common and things proceeded quickly.

Hilniflit made clear the ettin was in no danger if it was peaceful and the ettin told the party everything is peaceful as long as the other head, that was sleeping through all this, stayed asleep.  The party emerges from hiding and the ettin tells the party he was once a cleric of Iomedae, named Kernan. Kernan came to Old Keep to confront the wizard with a band of adventurers. The wizard cursed Kernan and turned him into this giant, who now shares a head  with another person named Muck. Kernan insists Muck is responsible for all the bad stuff he's been doing and he's afraid Muck is gaining more and more control over Kernan as time goes on – including killing the rest of his party (Kernan then buried them in the new graves the party noticed earlier). Muck is also responsible for smashing the bridge and raiding New Keep.

Kernan has been scrawling the riddle, hoping somebody could help him solve it and tells the party if they can't solve it, he'd prefer the party killed him before Muck wakes up again.  He also tells the party the wizard (Stondalis) that cursed him is dead and buried beneath the keep.

Fledermaus and Franmar decide to search Old Keep for clues with Kernan.  They find a polymorph scroll, a potion, a magic sword, a spear and some chainmail – but not much that helps to solve the riddle. 

Meanwhile, the party still outside is confronted by a mob of New Keep townspeople lead by a drunken Malwick.  The townspeople are determined to slay the giant that has been raiding their town. Iolena eventually convinces the mob to stand down.  She tells them the giant will be dealt with by the party – who is currently slaying him in the keep as they speak.  The townsfolk buy it for the moment.

The party reconnoiters in the keep where Kernan tells them Muck might be starting to wake up.  The party binds Kernan and locks him in a storeroom until they can decide what to do next. Iolena is able to read and cast the polymorph scroll, so the party decides to polymorph Kernan back into his previous form – but without a permanence spell, this would only last a few minutes.  With no other options to explore, the party decides to give it a shot and Iolena casts the spell after throwing open the storeroom door.

Kernan is successfully returned to his old form, but he still does not feel his powers granted by his goddess, Iomedae, have returned.  Without solving the riddle, this would just be a temporary fix.  Kernan pleads for the party to kill him while Muck is not a problem.

In a brief therapy session, the party asks what it was he could have done that displeased Iomedae so much and Kernan tells of incremental crimes that lead him down a darker and darker path.  When Kernan expresses regret and prays for forgiveness, he can feel his powers return and he casts dispel magic on himself.  The curse is broken.  The ettin has been slain… sorta'.  Franmar and a few others decide to dig a false grave for the ettin in case New Keep wants proof the ettin is no longer a problem.  The party dresses Kernan in the chainmail and spear they found and leave the keep.  They tell the villagers that the ettin is dead and buried and convince them to return home.  The party spends the night in Old Keep.

Day 5: The party returns to New Keep and sneaks Kernan to the temple of Iomedae and leave him in the care of Restic. Hilniflit gives Kernan a marked mug that he can send back to Westmarch if he wants to reach the party in the future.  They then decide to strike out East into the woods to see what minor adventures they can rustle up before returning home.  (Shadowed Keep can wait for another time.)  The party stumbles across an old stone hut, surrounded by incredibly annoying stinging nettles that can actually cause pain to distraction.  Hilniflit thinks she has an easy solution and burns the nettles away from the entrance, only to create a noxious smoke that ends up irritating some of the party anyway.

The Ghoul Lair under the stone hut

The party searches the hut and eventually finds a trap door that leads to some stairs underground.  The party proceeds cautiously to find a small room covered in a brown mold.  Callehalahath informs everyone that brown mold feeds on fire and despite a lot of side eye, Hilniflit steps forward and blasts the mold with rays of frost, killing it instantly.

The party files into the room and finds a small, sewer-pipe-sized tunnel opposite.  Just as they decide who should crawl into it, a gray humanoid form streaks out of the tunnel and attacks the party.  The creature, a ghoul, is fast and tries to slash and bite the party, but they dispatch it quickly.  Franmar searches up the small tunnel and finds the ghoul's lair, thick with humanoid bones.  Franmar searches the bones and finds a cloudy white potion and 4 amber gems (worth 50-150 GP). Franmar also discovers a tunnel in the ceiling that leads up to the surface, into the thicket of nettles.  The party, after a little further exploration, decides to move on.

The party continues to head East, further into the woods. They come upon a small clearing, where they find a couple small humanoids with goat legs who are clearly aware of the party. The two turn out to be fauns, Filn & Nilf, with a couple animal companions, a raven and a frog. The fauns tell the party that their animal companions are actually their significant others.  They were cursed by a hooded wizard with a cleft lip.  The wizard is trying to convince forest sylvans (magical forest creatures) to leave with him (they will be "well cared for") and any that refuse are cursed or killed.  Evidence of these killings is the bleached white trees the party has stumbled across in previous adventures.  The fauns are surprised to hear these bleached white trees are budding – they have never heard of such a thing.



The wizard is apparently from the East of the woods, but the fauns don't have much more to go on, even after the party tried speaking with the cursed animal companions who saw the wizard.  The party tells the fauns that they are sworn to defend the forest and the sylvans. The party asks them to spread word that we are available to help if this wizard turns up again. Hilniflit gives them a marked token they can send back to Westmarch if they need us to return.

The party then decides to return back to Westmarch after so much do-gooding for one week and bamfs back to Westmarch.

Loot:
100 GP
ring of swimming (1000 GP – with Franmar)
potion from the Old Keep
magic sword from the Old Keep (This longsword has an ornate basket hilt, which is chipped and dented. The blade itself is highly polished and glimmers in the light.)

white potion from Ghoul's Lair
4 amber gems (50-150 GP)

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