Mountain of Mystery Part III
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This is the third page of the Mountain of Mystery campaign session summary thing. Somehow the campaign went on so long that thirty or more sessions were necessary. Still, if it's fun, it's fun.
This page starts with the party setting out to perform the task for the King of the Sea Elementals to pay for The Ship That Sails on Land and Sea; and, as always, consists of the old pages from the Latest page. Any comments on sessions from players and readers alike are very welcome (and indeed would be gratefully recieved), and I will probably post them up if I ever get any. Mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or any other address you know I'm at.
- The Ship sailed onward and by dawn she had reached Sunward Isle. It was a small island, about 2 km across, with a large house in the centre, surrounded by dead grasses and trees. There was a boat at the quay which had been sunk by a rock.
- They decided to get swiftly on with the mission, and so they walked up the main path leading to the house's front door, with Jason sneaking ahead in case of trouble. All they encountered was a dead allotment, which offered little in the way of opposition. Above the front door was a plaque which said 'Sunward Gambit', and one of the double doors was ajar. Louis suggested scouting around the outside of the house first, but Angor (who was on tactical) just walked in through the front door, which opened under its own steam after the initial push. There was a beautiful marble-floored hallway, and another set of double doors. There were also two paintings entitled 'Gambit' (a cheerful young man) and 'Aniah' (a pretty young woman with a babe in arms).
- They proceeded through this second set of doors to find a hallway with some stairs. They decided to head for the roof so they could view the island in its entirety: this led them upstairs and into a tower. There was blood in the tower so while Angor, Gomez and Louis went up onto the roof, Quistin, Jason and Tal went downstairs to investigate the blood further. They found a lot of it generally sprayed about the area, and two circles (next to each other) in a room with a burnt book and lots of ash. The circles had been broken and the book had but one surviving phrase, but no one could read it.
- Meanwhile, on the roof, the others had found a window that looked down on a garden in the centre of the ground floor, a door into (presumably) a room and a nasty skeleton with a short sword. They defeated the skeleton between them and Angor picked its sword up by the blade and threw it off the front of the house to collect later. The two groups met up at this point and shared information.
- Quistin and Jason investigated the towers while the others walked around the roof in the opposite direction to find another skeleton and another door. Again they defeated the skeleton, although during the fight Gomez laughed at it for having only one leg (Angor had severed the other) and found himself on the receiving end of a violent blow that sent him flying into a wall. A ghostly male figure materialised, attacked Jason and Tal and was attacked by pretty much everyone before fleeing in a gust of cold wind.
- The party then tried to open the door but found it to be magically sealed and even taking off the hinges, hacking it with a pickaxe and Angor's sword and burning it wouldn't release it. Quistin even tried dispel magic, to no avail. Gomez, however, turned into a misty version of himself and walked through the wall to get into the room. He found it to be some kind of study but being incorporeal, he couldn't manipulate anything.
- The party then decided to finish investigating the towers and then investigate the lower levels of the house, hoping to find a key to the door or maybe a clue as to what was going on or possibly even find the trapped spirit they had been sent to find.
- The towers yielded little joy: a few bows and arrows, some odd junk and a little blood mostly. So then they decided to brave the first floor, however, they were set upon there by two humanoid creatures that were composed of bits of dead people and packed a serious punch. Several people were hammered severely during the fight (especially Angor) but in the end, with help from everyone, they managed to overcome the pair of them. They rested.
- After half an hour or so, they decided to venture into a room sporting a pair of double doors: this looked like the master bedroom and a quick rummage revealed the usual assortment of clothes, jewellery and so on. They also found quite a bit of money. However, it was at this point that their ghostly assailant made his comeback, striking at Tal and flinging him across the room. Angor and Louis engaged him and held him up for a short while, but then Gomez came out of hiding to help Tal, attacked the ghosty and found himself on the receiving end of another hammering. He nearly died.
- Quickly the party rallied round and with the firing of a few magic missiles and the swinging of a few magical swords, they managed to drive it off again. They decided to move on swiftly and found little of interest on the rest of level except plush, expensive rooms and some emaciated spiders which they chose to avoid. Oh, and a blood-stained lance thrust through the floor from the level below.
- Downstairs they found the garden to be a dried and lifeless husk, so they moved through quickly and entered a hallway with many doors and a couple of paintings. Jason managed to spot the face of the ghost that had been attacking them amongst some young people in one of the paintings, but unfortunately he was unnamed in the picture. They found the library, which had mostly mundane books, a weird globe thing and a metal armoured knight. Jason, Gomez, Tal and Louis went ahead and found a music room and a trashed dining room with a neatly-dressed man stuck to the ceiling with a lance through his chest...
- Meanwhile, Quistin examined the globe thing and Angor took a warhammer to the knee of the knight statue and, as he expected, it animated and hit him very VERY hard. He ran away. Fortunately, the thing showed no interest in attacking Quistin, or the rest of the party as they sneaked past carefully. In the hall, they stopped to recuperate for a moment.
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- The party rested for a few minutes, and healed Angor, before setting off to look through the remainder of the house. They found a children's play room, a games room (complete with rotating billiards table) and a lounge with a fake bookcase which had them intrigued...
- They found the back garden, complete with dead dog and disused barn - here they found a handful of skeletons and quickly dispatched them with little blood spilt. In the barn were dead cows, sheep and a goat and there was also a chicken coup containing dead chickens. The smell was pretty bad.
- They also found their second corpse in the kitchen - a maid by the look of things, and a door to the cellar. Louis had taken a bunch of keys off the guy who had been lanced to the ceiling and these opened the door, however, they decided to check everything before heading down into the darkness.
- They found a little parlour and a room filled with works of art, and a dining room from which the ghost threw all the crockery and cutlery at Angor and Quistin before fleeing into the art room. Jason locked the door behind him quickly and then they tried to communicate with the ghost. All they got was a responsive rattling on the door when they knocked, followed by what sounded like a window shutting (maybe). They went back to the ship for the night.
- That night, Quistin decided to summon his familiar and he received it: a bloody great female albatross whom he temporarily named Alfie. When the party went back to the island in the morning, Alfie circled slowly, looking for anything that moved.
- In the cellar, the party found the ghosts and corpses of two little boys (the sons of the ghost they had now identified as Tenabrus Gambit). Quistin laid them to rest while Gomez and Angor eagerly uncovered a concealed door: this led into a chamber filled with a massive contraption consisting of a main section which disappeared underground, a boiler of some sort, many cogs and wheels and pipes disappearing into the walls. Someone had disabled it by sticking wood and metal in the way of the mechanisms so it couldn't move. Quistin and Louis thought it was wise to start it up and so Louis removed the obstructions while everyone else went to look at the crypt that Gomez had found.
- In the crypt there was little beside coffins on stone biers: however, one of the coffins was more ornate than the others and so they decided to open it. Angor lifted the lid, at which point the hydraulics kicked in and the lid raised itself automatically: Angor held on and was lifted six feet into the air on the end of the coffin lid. Inside was a skeletal corpse and on the inside of the lid was neatly carved 'Is your curiosity satisfied?'
- Louis managed to remove most of the obstructions and the machine began to work again; clunkily at first but slowly regaining grace. It was designed to pump water up from the sea, purify it, and then pump aforementioned clean water through the house and down the man-made trenches to irrigate the land.
- They returned to the magically sealed room and went at it three ways: Angor and Tal mining through the roof, Gomez mistifying through the wall and solidifying on the inside while Quistin, Jason and Louis watching through the barred window by various means, telling Gomez what to do and studying the things he passed them that were of interest. They found lots of junk and papers - nothing explaining the events that had transpired (or 'the shit that went down' as the party so succinctly put it). However, they did find a little music box that seemed to attract the attention of the ghost quite well...
- They decided to wander around the island a bit - stretch their legs, get some fresh air in their lungs - so they headed for the trees, following the riverbank quite closely. There they found Tenabrus' wife, Senia, bettered to death, lacking a hand and quite putrescent. They could identify her from her jewellery. They decided to take her body and put it in the crypt - this was done accompanied by the ghost hammering down tower walls and wailing harrowingly. Louis even retrieved Senia's hand and someone grabbed the children and laid them all to rest.
- Then they decided to have it out with the ghost, so they went up to the master bedroom and played the music box until the ghost appeared and attacked them. It was driven away very quickly by the flurry of attacks from everyone. Unsatisfied, the party left the house again and began sweeping the island, starting at the forest. This time they found the body of Tenabrus himself: he had been digging the ground with his hands, and his heart had been ripped out. On him they found a signet ring and a set of keys: they took his body back to the house (accompanied by rumbling this time) and laid him to rest, too.
- Armed with what they hoped were the door keys to the magically sealed room, the party made a swift assault up the outside of the house: Tal flew, Gomez spider climbed, Jason scaled the walls and everyone else roped up. The key did indeed open the door and they all piled into the room to tackle the earthenware jar on a plinth which they believed to contain the spirit of nature they hoped to free.
- As they were playing around with it, trying to find a way to open it using the signet ring and the squiggles on the plinth's base, the ghost burst through the door they had trashed and attacked, although this time he had sort of melted in features (as the Tenabrus part of him was laid to rest) and he seemed to have some resistance to magical effects. Regardless of this, the party drove him off quickly and bent their minds to the task at hand: getting through the magical force-field around the jar so as to free the spirit.
- They tried the signet ring, they tried the plinth. Eventually Louis struck on the idea of Senia's severed hand - they ran to the crypt, grabbed the hand and a bunch of Senia's jewellery and ran back: trial and error eventually had Gomez reaching through the force-field with both hands tied to the severed hand and grabbing the pot. Once it was outside the force-field, they removed the lid and all but Jason were blinded by the gorgeous nymph that emerged from within in a glittery swirl.
- She was very confused and explained that she knew little of what had happened, except that it hadn't had anything to do with the woman, Senia. She then rewarded them all by curing their blindness and giving them each a kiss. They were very happy (Gomez tried to get more than he deserved and Louis saw more than he deserved) and then she left through the window, explaining that a key was in the jar.
- Gingerly Jason reached in and pulled out a human heart. Then they ran like the clappers to the crypt and put the heart back in the body of Tenabrus Gambit (who didn't really react to it) and then they left quickly, hoping to have solved all the problems.
- The ghost ambushed them in the hall but was quickly defeated by the combined efforts of the party and with one final, chilling moan, he faded to nothingness.
- And through all this, they never found any women hanging from the balcony in the garden, or Liam Neeson wandering around with a Dictaphone, or anything even vaguely related to films about supernatural hauntings.
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- The party nobbled all the stuff they wanted from the house and then went back to the ship and set sail. A short way into the voyage, Louis started to go green and vomit over the side of the ship so he retired to his room. However, when the rest of the party went to sleep, they found themselves awake, or so it seemed, and lying on a gravel track in a field, wearing and carrying the things in which and with which they were most familiar or comfortable.
- A short discussion ensued, in which Jason tried to figure out if it was a dream: this theory was confirmed by the appearance of a mysterious woman called redd-Kamaril'yv, who explained that it was a dream and that they had been brought into the Dream Realm to save a friend: and that in order to save them they had to travel to a certain castle and defeat the beast that held him.
- A flurry of questions followed, from which it was resolved that events in the Dream Realm might affect things in the real world, although redd wasn't certain how, and that the party could not affect this dream by dreaming. They were also told that their respective powers ought to work just fine.
- Begrudgingly, they headed off, assuming that the person they were to rescue was Louis and hence cursing his name with every step. Tal was quite happy because, for the duration of the dream, he got to be in his half-elven form again. The first thing they encountered was a circle of five statues: one of each of the party members in heroic pose and name inscribed into the base. Each statue had a choice of three goblets containing either milk, water, wine or blood. Some drank, some didn't.
- They then walked on up to a door where they faced a challenge from a dark-haired young man wielding a black sword from Jason's dreams. He offered an honourable challenge but made quick work of Gomez and even killed Angor without too much difficulty. Tal was third to fall beneath his blade, at which point Quistin dispatched him dishonourably with a spectral hand-vampiric touch lethal combo. They then proceeded through the door as Gomez, Angor and Tal reappeared after their deaths, looking a little peaky but otherwise none the worse for their experience.
- Beyond was the valley of What might Have Been, in which they saw a great many rocks displaying images of the group at various ages and in various situations. These included Jason being abandoned as a babe, Gomez being mistreated on his uncle's farm, Angor covered in tattoos, Tal as a cripple and Quistin with a moustache.
- At the door was an old monk-like man, called the Riddle Master, who asked them 10 riddles and let them through the door into the Forest of Sorrow. The forest was dark and had heavy underbrush, so the party decided to run through. They were stopped by a man-rabbit spear-bearing thing, which let them pass when they explained what they were trying to do. So he followed them at a distance until they were attacked by shadow warriors: then he helped the party defeat them and escorted them to the door: a riddle on a tree. They answered the riddle (the answer was 'ladder') and a ladder appeared, leading to a door in a tree's branches and, beyond that, the Valley of Fear.
- The Valley was rough to traverse and contained a great many fears: rope bridges, evil horsemen, snakes, bees, metamorphosis, death, teleportation accidents and similar. The going was difficult and along the way Jason died and did not return to the dream. Quistin also died and returned after he feather falled into a distantly-bottomed pit.
- The exit was guarded by the Riddle Master again, who let them through after nine riddles, into the River of Madness. It was a dark and eerie place; there was a little boat and a boatman, Prince Malachai, who offered to take them down the river for a fee. Despite Gomez's cries of "don't pay the ferryman!" (and "she likes Chris de Burgh!") the party paid him and they all got in the boat and sailed downriver. The water was black and appeared to be filled with dead fish and old dismembered people: Angor nicked one of the fish to give to Quistin's albatross... The trees hung low and tried to snatch at the party, but failed, and bats circled ever overhead, punctuated by the splashing of crocodiles slithering into the water.
- Then suddenly a huge creature stepped into the river and demanded that the party give him kidneys (yes, I did steal this bit) as they had plenty and it had none. A quick discussion followed while it wheedled softly at them, and it was decided that Gomez would sacrifice a kidney to satiate the beast. So, while Tal objected, Angor tried to knock Gomez out and Quistin removed the organ with his kris knife. Gomez passed out and then died but the beast was satisfied with the organ and went away.
- As the boat pulled up to the bank, Gomez appeared there and the party disembarked. Angor decided to take his frustration out on the ferryman and shot him twice with his crossbow as he rowed away, knocking him out if not killing him.
- They were in sight of the castle and so wandered up the rather odd path made of equal sized rectangles of any kind of animal skin you can imagine: cat, dog, moose, cow, sheep, bird, snake, horse, human, giraffe, crocodile, elephant, tiger, mouse, mongoose and koala bear. The works, prompting Gomez to comment: "Now this is was I call crazy paving."
- Outside the door to the castle stood the black-sworded man: once again he challenged them but this time Gomez challenged him to a game of marbles. Bemused, the warrior agreed and they played until Gomez won and then the warrior let them through into the courtyard of the castle.
- In the courtyard they were attacked by a mounted knight armoured in mother-of-pearl; they defeated him by taking out the horse and hacking him to bits, although the horse ran free. They then proceeded into another courtyard where people threw imaginary objects at them. From there into a main hall where they were confronted by the castle's seneschal, who pleaded with them and offered them money to go away (okay, I nicked all of this) but they refused, although they were quite nice about it. Proceeding on they found the master, a giant rat-man thing, guarding a round wooden thing that contained his hostage. They engaged the beast, Quistin's fireball putting paid to most of its fur and setting alight the wooden prison: the fight was brief and resulted in the death of the rat-man thing. Th party then quickly opened the little prison thing and out fell... arkh-Shamier'yv.
- Quistin slapped him about a bit and he came round to find his lapels in the hands of the mage: he asked to be let go of and then he said goodbye to the party and vanished, without explaining anything. Rather miffed, the party left and went to see the Seneschal. He was amazed that his master was dead, but the severed head of the rat-man thing caused him to faint and so he said little about it. The dream was over and they found the best way to leave was to hit the person wanting to leave, at which point they saw cracks in the fabric of reality, and then they walked through them and vanished...
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- The party slowly awoke, hungry and thirsty after their sleep, to find that quite a bit had changed while they were asleep - for one they had been asleep for 5 days, for two, Louis had gone leaving a note behind (Gone to save Sea Elf Kingdom - back soon - Louis) and for three there were two total strangers on the ship: an Alesian lad called Saul and an aquatic elf maiden called Ryessa.
- After an interlude of chatting to the visitors, it turned out that Saul was a young man in search of adventure, and had stowed away on the ship, to be found by Louis four days beforehand, while Ryessa was there to keep an eye on the sleeping folk while Louis was gone. As Jason had not yet awoken, she remained to tend him and keep him watered. Also, it appeared that Gomez really had lost a kidney, which resulted in a few irate words to Quistin and a little tenderness from the attractive aquatic elf.
- The ship sailed on, without Louis, and accompanied by 12 aquatic elves, who had promised to look after the ship in the half-elf's absence, Jason showed no signs of coming round but Ryessa kept a close eye on him and kept him as healthy as possible. She also tended to Gomez's wound while Angor 'taught' Saul to fight and constructed a thing to practice on..
- A couple of days on, and Jason shows no signs of waking, but the party do encounter a floating raft with a few barrels of supplies and a friendly guy looking after them. There is a pleasant exchange and the party lose a scimitar in return for a barrel of tar. Quistin even leaves some in Jason's room as a present. The spirit of charity is felt throughout the ship....
- A couple more days pass without significant event until suddenly, one afternoon, Jason staggers onto deck woodenly, eyes clenched shut. As the party gather round him, he opens his eyes to reveal, not his eyes, but those of someone without any whites and purely golden irises with a black pupil (the eyes of their enemy, Inisrya). Jason glances slowly round the group, while everyone panics a little, trying to figure out what to do: after a hasty minute or so Quistin casts dispel magic and Jason slumps to the ground, unconscious, with his own eyes once more.
- Worried, the party locks Jason in his room, knowing that he would be capable of unlocking the door without the keys, where others might not. However, that evening, a great black cloud like thing with tentacles appeared before the ship, wrapped many tentacles around it, and started pulling it into the main body of the cloud.
- In the struggle that followed, Angor, Tal and Saul hacked at the tentacles, while Gomez attacked the big thing and Quistin tried to free the prow from the tentacles. However, despite their best efforts, the ship was pulled into the main body of the black thing: even Gomez, who jumped off...
- Beyond the black thing was a lot more blackness, and the ship fell through space for a while (as did Gomez) until eventually it hit water, where it came to rest... in a dark place with walled water passages and no moons...
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- It turned out that the ship was stuck in a maze filled with water, but that the walls were big enough for folk to walk on. So while Angor stayed with the ship, the others went to explore and find an exit.
- There were two groups: Quistin and Tal and Gomez and Jason: they searched thoroughly and made a map as they went. Gomez and Jason quickly found the exit, guarded by two stone statues of chimerae. Wisely assuming they would animate if any attempt was made to pass them, the two searched on and found a well and a half-sunken ship. They also found a lot of gibberlings but avoided them but swimming away and bumped into Quistin and Tal quite frequently.
- Meanwhile, Quistin and Tal found the sunken ship to be inhabited by Neogi and their Umberhulk guardians. Havin met them before, Tal avoided any conflict and the pair moved on to find remnants of a camp and a severed arm. Looking further they found a young Akhiran (Egyptian-like) woman in a house who asked them if they would rescue her. They agreed and she gave them directions to the pier she knew of (they asked) but told them it wasn't a way to leave. She was right.
- Armed with a map and a route, the four (and Hathor, the Akhiran woman), headed back to the ship and guided it out. On the way they were attacked by enormous bats, which made a meal of Saul and nearly had the albatross. Theses were dispatched and then they encountered an eyeball with bat-like wings that died before it got to attack. Finally they came upon the statues of the chimerae. Cunningly, Angor tried to take them out before they animated and attacked but his sword did little against the stone so Gomes detonated them for a while, crippling both such that their legs were missing and their wings just rubble.
- True to form, as the ship passed, the creatures animated - however, their crippled state left them bleeding on their pedestals and the party sailed on and out of the portal into the real world without fighting another thing.
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- It took until dawn for the captain to determine that they were somewhere near the coast of Lanixa and set sail. Jason got drunk and Hathor refused to come on deck until nightfall: Gomez ranted for hours about the weird behaviour of the party. Suspicious of their new associate, he checked her for a shadow, and she had none. Ascertaining that she was a vampire, he approached her and asked her why she had been banished to the plane of eternal night. She explained that, as sister of the Pharaoh, she became High Priestess of Sulon: when her brother was deposed by her nephew, she was banished.
- Nipping below decks, Gomez quickly told everyone (he had already told Tal and left him on deck) that she was a vampire - Quistin urged caution and recommended that they determine for certain that she was indeed a vampire: a lack of shadow is hardly conclusive proof. He convinced the others to let him talk to her alone in his room and if he screamed, or she walked out of the room first, they were to kill her.
- Dubious, they all agreed, and so Jason fetched Hathor from the prow, where she had been standing. She was in the room with Quistin for almost ten minutes when Quistin's scream was mingled with a thumping sound as his head ricocheted off the wall: Angor broke the door down to see the mage lying slumped against the wall, bloodied, and the vampire standing over him, ready to strike. Before anyone reacted, she turned into a grey mist and sailed past everyone and off the ship, ignoring attempt to send her to sleep from Gomez and Angor's swinging sword.
- After a little yelling at the injured Quistin, it was decided that they would all sleep in Jason's room, for safety. While there, Gomez and Jason discussed the fact that they had discovered some odd tattoos on themselves in the shape of the Greek symbols tau-gamma (Gomez) and tau-eta (Jason) (obviously this is an alien language to the characters). They determined that the language might well be the language of arkh-Shamier'yv and his people, but for all Jason's figuring, he only managed to work out that they were acronyms of some kind. He resolved to find a sage.
- The ship sailed on and by late afternoon she had reached the Lanixan port of Deliam: Quistin and Angor stayed on the boat while Tal, Gomez and Jason explored the town. They found that the language of the area was the same language as that seen in a scried image of Inisrya, but they couldn't tell if she'd been there. The trio were to pick up supplies and healing potions (and maybe sell some of their assorted stuff from the hold) so they made their way to the Temple of Kalir, god of healing. There they managed to swap two healing sprays (with four charges left) and an anti-radiation spray for 6 extra healing potions and 16 gold pieces. They then decided to hire a priest for the party: Gomez ran a quick interview and managed to get an eager young local lad called Zane.
- They headed off to buy supplies but found the shop shut so went back to the ship, letting Quistin off to visit the library while the others filled the new recruit in on the tales of their adventures.
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- The party waited until dawn before re-entering town. Quistin had managed to find some spells off a wandering wizard and was happy playing with his spell-book (for a change). Angor went to the Wizard's Guild to sell the two cold magical swords he had, while the others sold the stuff they had acquired from Sunward Isle and bought the supplies that were needed. Also, Jason and Gomez continued their secret investigation by talking to a sage in the city...
- Finally they set off, sailing across the continent of Lanixa in beautiful weather. As they travelled, they were accosted by five harpies. Although the creatures appeared to be fairly tame from the party's point of view, the young priest Zane nearly presented himself as lunch to one and it was only the timely intervention of Quistin that avoided him being on the menu.
- The rest of the journey was uneventful and soon enough they were stopping outside the agricultural town of Tyroll: the last known location of Inisrya. They split up and asked everyone (anyone) if they had seen their foes, and it transpired that Inisrya had had her child, and she and Corman had gone into the town but probably not stayed, leaving on the south road. Instead, a young man called Benedict, claiming to be Cormankian, had been with them and while there, dyed his hair purple and got drunk. Although not a lot of information was available, it seemed fairly certain that the trio had gone south: possibly into the vast Lanixa forest.
- This was backed up by the evidence of Quistin, that spoke of the lost Elven city of Daesentar, deep within the forest itself. Legend said that long ago, before the humans came, it had been in a great war but then the humans invaded and all that is left is a shell, and even that shell is lost. They figured that the seal Inisrya is seeking may well be under this lost city (it dates back to around the right time), but then again, it might not.
- A decision was reached that the party would go on to the next town and talk to the people there before deciding...
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- Quistin went back into Tyroll to talk collect Jason (who was chatting up a barmaid in the Plough and Ox Inn) and revisit the library. However, upon arriving at the Inn, he found that a small crowd had gathered outside and Jason was nowhere to be found. The shaken barmaid explained that she and Jason had been sat in a booth chatting when a guy with a beard had walked into the pub. He had visited the bar, and then just walked over the where Jason was sat with her and shot him in the chest (3 times with 2 crossbows). Then some other men (without beards) had run in and picked up the body and left through the rear exit of the inn, leaving a message with the girl to say that if they tried to follow then Jason would die.
- Quistin returned to the ship to tell the party, who were surprised to say the least. A quick investigation if the area followed, including the molestation of an innocent merchant vessel, until a sewer entrance was found and investigated. Gomez and Angor walked up it, to find a wider section smeared with blood, and a chalk circle drawn on the floor.
- Meanwhile, Quistin discovered that the town guard were sending a wizard down the pipe to investigate something they had found: he seemed an amiable sort so the blonde mage followed him into the sewers. They met up with Angor and Gomez successfully but, alas, only determined that the circle was an aid to teleportation and the destination could not be found. Jason was gone.
- The ship sailed on, heading ever southwards and stopping only to enquire at towns with pubs regarding their distinctive foes. They got vague confirmation of their heading and so kept travelling until they reached the last town before the Lanixa Forest itself. They made a quick investigation of the town and found little out, save that they had paid an exceptionally tall man in one of the pubs, and probably gone south into the woods. They also encountered another group of adventurers, this one heading north, who had a very charismatic young woman as their leader. She explained that they had found the elves in the wood to be hostile in their protectiveness of their lands.
- As they were about to check the Forest and Firkin, the pub where Corman was said to have made the trade with the tall man, they saw a small dog running towards the town, chased by four wolf-men armed with swords. The party engaged as soon as they saw that the dog was hurt. The fight that followed was bloody, and Angor bore the brunt of the damage, but ultimately the party defeated the beasts and rescued the hound.
- The dog was a bulldog, with the name Kellar inscribed upon his collar in the magical script. Suspicious of the dog, the party had little choice but to let it follow them into the inn as they settled down to have a drink with the beautiful thingy.
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- As they were drinking (having found the little information they sought), there was a strange disruption in the fabric of space and Louis stepped in via a dimensional portal from his jaunt at the bottom of the sea. He was clad in aquatic Elven armour and looked rather pleased with himself. He explained to the party that he had been rescuing a princess from the clutches of an evil king and that's why he was delayed. The party, being hardened adventurers, used this as an excuse to get a round out of Louis.
- Hammered out of their heads (well, most of them were at least a little drunk), the party returned to the ship to sleep and in the morning tried to decide on the best course of action. A word with thingy about the elves made them decide to head into the forest for a few hours and try to find some of then pointy-eared folk.
- A couple of hours in they spotted a figure hiding in a tree: they asked him if he had seen anyone matching Inisrya's description and he told them to move on until a certain patrol found them. They obeyed, and sure enough a couple of elves blocked their path a few miles further along the way. These elves explained that they had seen the daemon and her friends, and had been warned about the party's probable pursuit. However, he had not attacked them because Inisyra and company had insulted the elves in some unspecified manner. He told them that if they returned the next day at the same time, one would come who could guide them through the woods to the last known location of their quarry. However, when asked about the lost city, he denied all knowledge.
- The next day, many decisions were reached quickly. They bought horses and hid the Ship among some trees; Gomez had a 'chat' with the dog but couldn't convince him to leave (for some reason he keeps expecting the dog to talk to him...). They then headed off to meet their guide.
- His name was Taeranon and he told them that the ones they sought had last been seen entering the territories of elves to the south of his clan's lands, and that he would take them to the border. They travelled along minor paths for three days until they reached Taeranon's village. Here they paused for a few hours while their guide gathered a little information. Then they pressed on.
- That night, however, Louis was approached on his watch by a ragged-looking elf: thin and beaten. He told the half-elf that Taeranon was not going to take them to where they really wanted to go: Dhi'sen'taer: the lost city of the elves. Intrigued, Louis asked him how he knew this but the ragged elf was vague about it - it was agreed that Louis would talk to the rest of the party an reconnoitre with his sneaky friend the following night.
- However, during the following day, the party were assaulted by a small group of rather large spiders with a poisonous bite. Alas, this poison was too much for Quistin's body to fight and he died shortly afterwards. Taking all his equipment with them, the party moved on in a slightly more sober mood.
- That night the elf reappeared to Louis and asked him what was going on: Louis explained that they wanted to go to Dhi'sen'taer but they wanted to know why Taeranon wouldn't take them there and this guy would. The elf explained that the elders would not allow anyone to go there, but that he himself had made a mistake by taking people there and he wanted to right his wrongs. He also introduced himself as Fincassius.
- It was decided that the party would take out Taeranon without harming him and so, in the morning a couple of days later they tried to knock him out. Gomez found him to be amazingly resistant to all attempts to send him to sleep, but eventually it worked and so they disarmed the elf and tied him to a tree: they explained why they were doing it and then Angor knocked him out.
- Fincassius returned at this point and, at the party's behest, explained that he had been around when Inisrya and her small entourage had turned up in their village. The tall man (recruited in the last village) had put some kind of spell on Fincassius, which had made him trust and like him. So the elf had taken them to Dhi'sen'taer. He knew that the tall one was called Neil and that they had been seeking a library, but he didn't know why - he'd been told he didn't need to know so he hadn't enquired. When they had left the city, Fincassius had been a little mad and run off into the forests - to be found by the elves a little while later. The elves had punished him badly for his crimes; beaten and starved him; and once the charm and madness had worn off, he knew the full extent of his actions. When Taeranon had come to ask him questions, he had realised he could rectify his mistakes if he escaped and helped the party, but also that by redeeming himself thus he would never be able to return to his homeland again.
- The group travelled on again, this time heading for the lost city - however, as they approached they were assailed by a small band of elves, who attacked without warning. Thinking that they were sent by Taeranon to stop them, the party were caught a little off-guard when it was revealed by their pendants that they were worshippers of Lucifer...
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- The following morning, the party made their way quickly to the city of Dhi'sen'taer: the City on the River of Luck. There they found that it was walled by nasty looking bushes and guarded by four Sentinels, also composed of nasty looking bushes. They defeated the guardians and decided to send only Gomez, Louis and Tal into the city to find the library (Fincassius gave them directions), while Angor, Fincassius, Zane and Kellar waited outside.
- The city was eerily quiet and slightly dark, and the trio picked their way carefully between broke towers and disrupted paving. They heard a scream from their friends, but investigation proved them to be hearing things, so they pressed on. However, screams plagued Louis for a little while longer.
- Reaching the library, they thought they heard footsteps scurrying upstairs, but chose to ignore them and investigate the cellar instead... Halfway down into the darkness the torches blew out and when they were relit they detonated, showering the party in burning wood fragments. Unfazed, they pressed on, torches blowing out as they passed them. They came to a narrowing of the tunnel and had to scramble through some rock; on the other side they saw red eyes watching them.
- Throwing a rock at the eyes, and watching them duck away, they ascertained that the eyes belonged to a large snake. Louis, terrified of snakes, refused to go on if there was indeed a snake there, but the eyes vanished and they pressed on, passing two statues that Tal reckoned were watching him. Finally they reached the library and rummaged for books that might be relevant: they checked for books that had been disturbed recently, as these were probably those that had been read by Inisrya.
- While Louis read the background on the war, and a little about the heroes and races, the library insisted on pestering Gomez by throwing books at him, and detonating them. However, they were unable to remove books from the library so had to wait Louis' reading out.
- Meanwhile, Angor and the rest were assaulted by four more sentinels, that managed to concuss Zane and gut Fincassius before Angor and Kellar could finish them off. Angor took the opportunity to begin a bit of forest-sprucing in the area.
- Armed with knowledge, the others back in the city quickly investigated the rest of the library, to find that it was empty, although footsteps could be heard and someone was moving grinning skulls so as to place them eerily. On the upper floor, they were attacked by shards of glass and forced to flee, at which point Tal noticed that a sea of darkness was encroaching on their position.
- Greatly afeared, they made their way quickly into the darkness, that wailed and moaned and was filled with scary things: Tal was freaked out by the appearance of one of the statues that he had seen earlier, and when it threw a book at him he tried to fly away but got encased in a sphere of darkness and eventually allowed himself to drop out of the sky to avoid being trapped forever.
- Louis became very despondent at this point, playing right into the hands of whatever spirit was controlling the darkness, but when the screams went silent they were able to shout to Angor and use his voice to guide them out of the blackness. Angor had been seeing visions of a red winged Inisrya-like daemon, and had tried to attack it and it was this that had led him into earshot in the first place.
- Just as they were about to leave the city, a seething swarm of snakes appeared between Louis and Angor and freedom. Louis refused to cross, so Angor attempted to hit him to knock him out and Louis somersaulted across to avoid a pointless conflict.
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- Realising that their only guide through the forests was dead, the rather sombre-mooded party began packing up their things for the journey south. However, they were just leaving when their old friend Taeranon turned up and put an end to the fun.
- He explained that he was going to take the party in for punishment and that this would probably mean death: that what they had done was break the sacred traditions of his people and that was unforgivable. However, during trying to talk their way out of the situation, a prophecy was mentioned and somehow Taeranon ended up being convinced to take them to the place that Inisrya was last seen at the edge of their territory. This took a couple of days and at the end of it they were left with a female Elven guide who knew the forest trails quite well.
- It was decided that the best course of action was to travel into the grey elf lands and try to speak to them: they managed to rouse a couple of grey elves who told them that Inisrya had kidnapped a young (20 yr old) elf child from one of their villages and that was why they were helping the party. The grey elves also told them of the Ashaba strengths: resistance to iron, fire, cold, magic, poison, sleep (possibly a few more). Realising that all their magical weapons were iron and hence could not kill her, the mood of the party went significantly downhill.
- Travelling further still they found an egg abandoned in a tree. The egg was a good couple of feet in size, and Gomez insisted on adopting it. Sure enough, the egg hatched and out plopped a little dark green dragon-like creature, which Gomez named Kale. A few days later they met some centaurs who told them Kale was a type of drake: a vandalraug. They continued to travel.
- Finally, as they approached the edge of the forest, they heard the sounds of axes on wood... closer investigation revealed several score of rat-men cutting down trees. They didn't seem hostile, but the elf guide seemed perturbed and was more than happy to leave the party and head home when the time came.
- Heading towards the nearest town, they were beset by bandits, but the party overcame them easily and stole their horses and crossbows to sell at the next town, Walddorf.
- Walddorf seemed quite a reasonable town, and the party managed to sell the horses and equipment they had spare and acquainted themselves with the local inn. While there, they noticed a young, ragged-looking man in a dirty grey uniform staring at them. Louis politely investigated and the lad explained that he had been sent by a mutual friend to find the party to help them in their quest but that if he did find them then he would almost certainly die. The party all came and sat with him, but Louis neglected to tell the others of the importance of the boy's safety, and he wouldn't say what he had to say in public. Deciding to leave, Louis tried to keep the boy, Alford, in the centre of the group but the barman came over and tried to stop them leaving, worked his way close to the boy and then slit his throat. Louis leapt on him and knocked him to the ground where he turned into a snake and slithered away, up the stairs, with Angor hot on its heels. At the top of the stairs, the snake transformed into a winged man that leapt out of a window and then vanished into the crowds.
- Gomez paid for the boy's funeral, while the others sorted themselves out to leave. Once they were well clear of town they had a look through the boy's stuff but all they found was a note describing Corman, two ships and directing them to Vortis City.
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- Travel to Vortis City was as rapid as possible, with the only real delay being a waylayment by bandits armed with poison. These managed to strike Louis a crucial blow before they were defeated, and although the half-elf did not die from his wounds, the poison succeeded in infiltrating his system and laying him low for a while.
- Arriving in Vortis City, the party made their way to the Hangman, an inn recommended to them by a guard on the main gate, and there they decided to base their operation. They learned that two ships had been sighted in the city: a black streaked land-based ship and a light, fluted air ship. While out walking the animals, Tal and Gomez caught sight of a familiar figure in the street, accompanied by a priestess of Iaphre - it was Jason! Quickly they got together to discuss Jason's reappearance, but as they were about to embark upon the story, a voice advised them from the shadows that it would like to hear the story, too.
- The voice introduced itself as Jimmy, a roguish-type turned worshipper of Fate. He claimed to have been receiving visions of the party (lucky thing) and coming to Vortis City and believed that Fate wanted him to join them. A little dubious, Gomez recounted the story so far, filling in the details for Jason, and then Jason explained that he had been kidnapped by a priest of Lucifer and taken to an old barn, interrogated and then he escaped. On his journey he had seen a ship suspiciously like the Ship that Sails on Land and Sea go sailing by and he had followed its trail to Vortis City, where he had used the temple of Iaphre to scry out the party.
- The following day they sold much of their magical equipment (including Louis' magical khopesh and Tal's magical Elven short sword) in exchange for two non-ferrous items: a silver short sword and a chitinous broadsword. Gomez and Tal also went to see a man named on the paper given to them in Walddorf, but he ushered them out of the shop, refusing to talk to them. Outside, ten thugs came to beat up on the pair, but while Tal flew Kale to safety Gomez used his ability to absorb kinetic energy to defeat the thugs, killing two of them before the others ran away.
- Further investigation in the city only confirmed the story: the land ship had arrived in the late afternoon, followed by the air ship in the wee hours of the morning. The both left the following day at around lunchtime, although the land ship left first.
- Talking to captain Marker, who had personally set up a watch to keep an eye on the land ship, Gomez let slip that he had killed some thugs and then had to bribe Marker not to arrest him (tut tut). However, Marker did tell them that several persons had approached the ship shortly after the airship docked: from the description it appeared to have been Inisrya, Corman, Benedict, the tall guy and the baby. They had all left again, but in the morning Benedict had taken a good score of men aboard (with supplies) and the ship had gone southish.
- Meanwhile, Jimmy helped the party by talking to the untalkative shopkeeper and arranging the care of the Thieves' Guild if he would tell him what he knew. The grateful shopkeeper explained that a man fitting Corman's description had entered the shop a good ten days before the air ship docked and had bought some equipment: shackles, a pulley system, rope, standard adventuring gear, and had ordered the modification of a bath tub to resemble a large sieve. He also revealed that Corman had stayed at the Carnival Inn, but Jimmy's investigations there only revealed that he had stayed 10 days, refused the advances of the barmaid and talked to some young mercenaries.
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- That evening, the party were sat in the Hangman when a foppish young man entered with a request from one Lord Stoltz that the party come to his house right away for discussion of matters regarding their quest. Curious, the party went along to meet the Lord, who was little and bearded and rather casual for a man of his station.
- He explained that every two years Vortis City would host a Trial of Champions, and that the Czar was very much into the games. In fact, he loved them so much that he selected which House would be the First House for the following two years, based on the winner of the tournament. Basically, whoever sponsored the highest-scoring team in the championship got to be the favoured house. For the past six years it had been House von Carpel, and their Blademasters, but this year he hoped the make it House Stoltz.
- He went on to explain that, in his eagerness to win, he had consulted a soothsayer who had told him that his best chance lay with a party who were seeking two ships in the City of Winds (Vortis City): if he offered them transport then they would do their best to win it for him. So in return for winning the tourney, he offered the party clothes for the post-tournament celebrations, weapons (if they needed them), their entry fee and a magic carpet, in addition to the prizes offered by the tournament hosts, the Adventurers' Guild.
- Agreeing, the party went to the Guild and asked about the conditions and prizes: the conditions were that only 4 people could enter, and no items or magic of any kind was permitted; nor inherent magical powers or winged persons. This led the party to selecting Jason, Gomez and Louis for the event, but left them one short as Angor was uninterested (and not ideal), Tal was winged, Zane didn't want to take part and Jimmy had vanished. So they returned to the Hangman and asked the adventuring wizardy type sat in a booth if he wanted to join them.
- His name was Barnabus and he was indeed a mage (apparently the most powerful mage who ever lived) and willing to join them, so back went they to the Guild where they were told that the prizes were 100 gps between the lot of them, a trophy each and a years free Guild membership. The party signed up under the name 2.5 Humans, and found out that Guild membership was fantastic.
- The tournament arrived and the party went to the Adventurer's Guild where they met the other contenders: a varied group including a bunch of halflings (Southdale's Finest), a handful of orcs (the Green Menace), a group of elves (the Merry Elves) and even a bunch of honest-to-truth adventurers (the Grunthogs). While they were laying bets and mingling, a beautiful young woman spied Gomez and watched him for a while, until eventually he went over and talked to her: she explained that she was wondering what race he was, as she herself was a fourthling - a quarter troll - and hadn't met anyone quite like Gomez before. She introduced herself as Peace and explained that she was an 'alterer'.
- The Czar and his wife arrived, and the 18 teams embarked upon the 10 scenarios they had to perform, each taking 15 minutes or less. These tasks involved deciphering runes, measuring pigs, netting goats, not touching the floor, carrying chests across a river, swinging over a chasm, facing dire wolves, rescue form becoming dinner, avoiding insects and unearthing treasure. Finally, the results came through: the party had come 7th with 340 points (out of a possible 400) and the winners were once again the Blademasters with 370.
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Campaign 2: [Next] [Part I] [Part II] [Part III] [Part IV]