Frontier Songs

Murder Tunnel
Session 8

Hearing the voices looking for us, we decide initially to try the Wandering Assholes Gambit, but then overhear Bertram the Innkeeper say “They have to be down here…best if they don’t leave…looks like they’ve been in the offering room…yuck…”

We head for the water room with the bad guys on our heels. Nyla is turns into a goatwolf again. The bad guys say that we’ve been poking our noses in blah blah bad guy talk, “the mistress would like a word.” Talhier and Crea mouth off at that. Fighty fight! Issana’s first shot hits the chatty one and she encourages Bingo to “aim for the motherfucker in the back.” He does, but misses. One of them gets a good hit on Talhier. Crea takes a hit but also nearly takes out one of them. Nessie cleans up the one attacking Talhier, and we decide to try and keep one alive as a hostage to go meet the “mistress”. Bingo casts hideous laughter on one guy and he’s incapacitated. Crea ties him up. The remaining guy takes off a run, as winged by Talhier’s dagger. Cael gives chase and kills him with an arrow. Issana finds 15 silver and a weird tool in the nearest dead guy’s pockets. Kinda looks like a dagger, but it’s flat, not sharp, just a long thing piece of metal with a handle.

Talhier tells GoatNyla to “go fetch the body, creature” and she tries to pee on his shoe. He dodges. Now the hallway stinks.

Back at Chuckles, we try to interrogate him. Who is “the mistress”? He doesn’t really know…he’s basically, a mercenary working for Grover the Constable. Most of the big stuff goes down in the swamp. We offer to let him go if he takes us to the swamp. The other door is to the tunnels under the temple. We try to talk Tegan into some better life choices, then take a short rest and head up through the temple. Tegan tells us that Fr. Abrama is holding some prisoners, people who were resistant to whatever swamp mojo was happening. Then he gives us the rundown on the situation under the temple: some tunnels, a maze, one or more creatures that may or may not respond to commands in orcish.

We head to the other door, Issana takes the slim-jim-looking guy and tries to use it to open the door. The door opens up into a rough hallway that splits into a Y a bit further down. Tegan assures us that they both go to the same place. The hallway gets super muddy and slows us down considerably. Also, the mud very much smells—almost like weasels or ferrets. We eventually come to a little room off the side of the path with what looks like nests in them. There’s another about 10-15 feet away. Tegan stops suddenly to let us know that there’s a screaming mushroom up ahead. One of his buddies has some “stuff” that he’d sprinkle at the mushroom, so we go back to his dead buddy to the get that. Issana sneaks up and throws the stuff over the mushroom and James overdescribes the kinda disturbing way the mushroom reacts. Just past the mushroom, the ground firms up to stone again and then a staircase—the entrance to the maze.

Tegan assures us he can get through the maze, Crea is not convinced, but we follow him anyway. He makes a few wrong turns and then, when he finds the right way, we hear a growl and sniff from down a hallway. We try to make friendly contact and hear “Are you fighters….or are you FOOD?” We offer “friends” as an alternative, but that’s apparently not an option. An ogre charges us from down a side hallway. We do some damage out of the gate, then Crea and Talhier gets the shit kicked out of them. He’s got some troglodyte buddies, but Nila helps with them. Fighty fight, but Nesse’s Toll The Dead delivers the killing blow.

Exhausted, injured, we hole up in a barricaded room and take a long rest to reset spells, hit points, etc. We put Tegan back on the case of getting us out of the maze, which he does without further incident. We head upstairs and go through a door that leads to the actual temple basement. From there, we find a trapdoor that leads to Misha The Priestess’s room and another door that leads to a prayer room. Not hearing noise or finding traps, Issana opens the door Misha’s room. She sneaks into the room and it looks like someone has left in a hurry. On a desk there are papers, standard records for a temple to Iyana, a few letters addressed to someone named Brother Deceus. These letters appear to be status reports informing him of when the next “crop of believers” will be delivered and hopes that “ED” will find them to her liking, and also some reports on whether the alderman “suspects” anything, and her plans to cast suspicion upon “Terathi”, some reports on a woman named “Vilma, an aged crone whose faith in Iyana is too strong” and they are waiting on an opportunity to bring Myron in, but he doesn’t go out at night. Each letter closes with, “in the most holy name of Explicitica Defilius”. She also finds a second seal, this one depicting on oroboros with a human-ish face.

Issana grabs the letters and the snake seal, then heads back down to consult with Nesse. Has Nesse ever heard of Explicita Defilius? Nesse has not. We head for the door to the prayer room. Heading up to that, it’s a very small, one-person room with a door leading out covered with a bead curtain. Against the wall, there’s a shrine. It appears it was originally a pastoral scene (fruit trees, sheep in a field) but it has since been defiled with strange images, including the likeness of the snake with a human face and the weird oroboros. We decide to head out into the hall via this room.

As we head down the hall, we see 4 more rooms like this off the hall. At the end of the hall is another threshold. Beyond it we can see a long dining table. In the dining room are a bunch of doors, one to the central chamber, one to a kitchen, etc. The prisoners of Fr. Abrama are upstairs, we’ll need to cross the central chamber to get to the stairs. In the central chamber, things are much cleaner and more polished, well-tended. There’s a dais in front of a mosaic, walls are lined with fine tapestreis. All this depicts the usual images of Iyana: grains, fruits, agricultural abundance. Clearly, this part of the tempe is a front for the weird snake-worship business in the back. Through a door across from whence we came is a hallway lined with small alcoves each holding a golden statue of some kind of plant (grapes, sheaf of barley, etc.). This is a suspicious amount of gold for a town this size. Also, what the hell are these snake people up to if they aren’t looting all this shiny stuff? This hallway leads to a wide staircase that leads to the second floor.

We head upstairs, through a barracks room with two other doors. We head through the leftmost door and enter a nice sized library. On a central table is a sacred tome to Iyana that has been defaced on every page. Talhier prestidigitates a page clean. He makes a mental note to come back later if possible. The other door leads to a meeting room with another door. Through that door is what appears to have once been a storage room. Now the room is dominated by a table with leather straps and a rack. Found the torture room!

There’s of course another door, this one has a gold nameplate that says “Fr. Abrama of Her Most Bountiful Highness Iyana”. Issana knocks on the door. She hears maniacal laughter from behind the door, but even further away. She does the ritual of doors and we enter. There’s an antechamber that has been destroyed: walls scratched, bookcase destroyed, random rubble. Going in further, there’s a destroyed bedroom. Investigation reveals a wall switch behind the desk. Talhier pulls the switch and hears a mechanism in the wall make a sound. He slides the wall away and reveals a secret door. The maniacal laughter gets louder.

In the room behind the secret door, we see the floor littered with crude statutes similar to the ivory statue beneath the Golden Grain Inn. Also, we see Fr. Abramo, wearing full armor, ratty robes, a matted beard. Around him are three animated skeletons (they immediately draw weapons on us) and very far away in a corner is a trio of goblins with bows who seem not super into it. Fr. Abramo is next to a big cage with a person inside.

“…Bingo?” says the person in the cage.

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A Snake A Snake Snake
Session 7

We rejoin our heroes immediately post-fight. 

Digging in the muck like a serious weirdo, Nila finds a ring that is unique enough looking that we suspect someone might recognize. We decide to head off in the other direction and see what the rest of this place holds. We come to another intersection and open area and Crea looks both directions down the right and left halls. The Path ahead and to the right seem to open into a larger room and the one to the left slopes down and stops at a door. Issana goes to investigate the door situation and then opens the door. The hallway past the door slopes further down and we decide to head in that direction. Some people notice that the air has gotten decidedly colder and damper. Once the tunnel levels off, we notice that the walls change from earth to hewn rock. Fewer people notice that the walls seem strangely clean. Talhier and Cael notice that the path is turning further left (E/NNE). 

 

Eventually, the tunnel opens out into another irregular large room. At one side there’s a leak/small waterfall (the room isn’t flooding, so it’s going somewhere) with a little bit of pooling towards the middle of the room. Cael sees a strange shape in the water, goes to investigate and then gets…smacked in the face. Initiative! A giant goo rises up out of the puddle or possibly was the puddle. It smacks out at Cael, but misses. Crea takes a swing and does some damage, but not much. Nessa does the holy symbol bell thing. Nyla starts chanting, and then sprouts fur, then horns, then an elongated maw with sharp teeth. She’s a chupacabra basically? Bingo casts some bravery and extra hp onto Talhier. Issana gets an arrow off and hits it. It’s like hitting a giant jello with an arrow. Crea gets engulfed in ooze, being paralyzed and suffocated by this thing. Understandably, she freaks the fuck out and calls upon Krom the Defender From Goo to go into a rage. She breaks free of the goo and stumbles away. Nila-The-Chupacabra charges at the thing and pushes it back. Issana shoots it with an arrow. She plays to her strengths. She does some damage, but also encourages us to try fire and throw a torch at it. Talhier and Crea deal some significant damage. Cael deals the death blow, and it explodes out all over Talhier. 

 

Issana tries to set a bit of the goo on fire, and Crea does a little prayer of “Krom the Gross…this is gross…and it probably doesn’t belong to you, but you can have it back anyway.” Talhier tries to mop himself off. We poke around, possibly in the remains of the goo and pick up 12 gold. We realize that this guy was probably a cave roomba cleaning the cave walls and floor. Note to selves: beware of clean dungeons. 

 

We head for the hallway to go deeper into the cave. Nila poops. The tunnel begins to start arcing upward but also continues  veering left. We’re now heading north, having basically gone in a big loop. We pass back into dirt-walls and drier air and come to another door. On this side, it’s solid, flat, shut, no handle. Issana does the whole investigation routine but doesn’t find anything useful. Instead of breaking down the door, we head back through the tunnel past the waterfall and the ooze room, back to the intersection we found after leaving the room of bones. We turn left, then come into another open room that does not appear to have any other exits. 

 

As we walk into the room, we see a statue of a weird creature carved of white bone or ivory. It’s very large, person-sized (5’-6’). It looks at first like a snake, but upon inspection the face is flat and almost humanoid, not pointy like a snake. There are fangs, and a hood like a cobra, some kind of ornate headdress. Bingo, Nessa, and Nila investigate. Bingo finds a well-made statue, Nessa may have heard a story before of a creature like this, mostly snake and only a little human. Nila picks up the smells of lots of people, not just us. There’s no writing or anything on or around it. Towards the back of the room, Cael finds a small wooden box. It’s empty. We leave this room, head back to the intersection and take the remaining hall. 

 

This hall opens into another seemingly-empty room. Nila smells and hears other creatures along the back wall of the room and starts braying-growling. Some people notice large slithering shapes around the edges of the rooms. One  or two rear up and spread hoods—BIG SNAKES. Talhier and Crea miss, but Issana hits one with an arrow. The constrictor hits Crea and the vipers spit at Cael and Bingo. Crea take a chunk out of a snake, and Cael shoots an arrow through that one’s eye and we are down one snek. Talhier and Crea team up to deal with the snake that was trying to eat Goat-Wolf-Nila, snake is bisected and lets go of GWN as it dies. Issana gets a good shot in at one of the remaining vipers. Cael catches one as it has it’s jaws open to spit and gets it right through the brain. One snake left. Nessa’s Toll The Dead does some damage to the remaining viper, as does Bingo’s crossbow. Nila tries to charge and wipes out. Talhier puts the final viper out of its misery. 

 

We investigate the remains and whatnot. Not much there. Nila turns back into a person, this snake room leads back to the door we came in. There’s one final unexamined hall, and we head down that one for about 15’ and it comes to an abrupt halt, almost as if they just stopped digging. Except very minor investigation reveals that it’s an trompe l'oeil thing hiding a small alcove with three small chests. Issana insists we don’t touch the chests until she investigates. Which she does and finds nothing alarming. Nessa kicks one, Crea picks one up and shakes it, possibly breaking something inside. Issana opens that one, it’s definitely got a broken vial of healing potion in it. Issana breaks her lock picks in the next lock. Crea promises to make her better lock picks if Ayla’s husband lets her use his forge. They’ll have invocations to Krom Who Opens That Which Is Closed imbued in them and everything. 

 

Nessa breaks open her chest, and finds 45 Gold. The last chest is still locked, but Crea cracks off the lock with the end of a javelin. Inside is a small cylindrical tube. Open the tube, there’s a scroll with squiggles on it. Crea’s got better things to do than read so she hands it to Bingo. Who confirms that it is, in fact, a scroll. Probably a magical kind. We decide to post up in the waterfall room for a short rest of about an hour and then head over to the snake statue room. 

 

Back in the snake statue room, and the face on the statue has changed. It looks like it’s snarling with wide eyes when before it had been blank faced. Issana someone say “spread out, they have to be down here somewhere” from back behind us… 

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At the Inn of the Golden Grain
Session 6

The broken glass and screams came from the third floor. Nila and Issana hear it; Issana jumps from the table and runs upstairs; Talhier and Bingo follow. Nila takes Nesse outside; Cael follows.

Once the door is unlocked, Ailla is laid out on the bedroom floor in a pool of blood. Issana and Talhier see that Ailla is breathing, but things are bad. The window is shattered inward, with a small hole. There is a crossbow bolt in Ailla's chest. Bingo uses a healer’s kit to stabilize Ailla; Talhier closes the curtains.

Outside, Cael sees Kain coming up the road. There’s nothing else out of the ordinary here. Cael and Nesse check around the building. At the back of the inn, there’s a window facing the lake on the top floor that’s broken with a small hole. There aren’t any buildings that tall nearby, but there are some trees. Cael and Nesse head for the trees.

Issana finds nothing interesting out the window, and there’s nothing noteworthy about the crossbow bolt. Bingo tells the Belba innkeeper there’s been an attempted murder. The innkeeper sends for the constable; Bingo makes a “Whoops!” face. Belba comes upstairs and is motherly.

Cael finds tracks in the stand of trees that move from the northeast to one of the taller trees at the western edge of the grove. There are scuffs to indicate someone climbed it recently. There are also tracks leading away. They head northeast, which is not the same direction as the tracks that were leading from the hermit’s house. The tracks all seem to be headed to and from the temple.

Nila asks her cat if it sees any tracks or anything. He smells that someone climbed the tree.

Issana calls Nesse upstairs to give Aila some healing. Nesse sees two adults and a kid coming up the road to the inn. Inside the inn, Bingo and Kain see the constable coming into the common room with the little boy the innkeeper sent to get him. Bingo stalls the constable and his half-orc companion in the common room for a minute.

Nesse goes into Talhier’s room, she heals Ailla a little. Ailla wakes up, and the constable comes in. He asks simple questions, and Talhier, Nesse goes into as he cases the room. He sends the half-orc outside to check the scene there. The constable notes that the shot could only have come from the trees, but it would be a hell of a shot. He says no one is town is that good.

Cael asks what’s going on; he says “Killin’” like Billy Bob Thorton or something and walks away. The cat says the Cael see someone poking around the back of the inn. They head inside. As they pass, Nila and Cael. Back outside, half-orc is not the person who climbed the tree.

Everyone is now in Talhier’s room. Cael reports in. Ailla says she came upstairs and took a bath, and heard the glass break as she walked into the bedroom. This was about 45 minutes after she got to the inn with Issana and Nesse. Cael. Belba leaves, and Ailla starts to cry, like she just realized someone tried to kill her.

After she calms down, Ailla tells the group that the temple has been strange for nine months to a year. The priests haven’t been active in the community, and they’ve become more closed off. People used to be allowed in whenever they wanted, and there were festivals, but Father Abramo hasn’t been around much and very few people have been allowed in the temple, and their movements have been restricted. There’s a new woman named Misha who arrived about six months ago after things started to change.

The party still needs to talk to the general store owner about the gnoll temple and about the temple in town. And there’s the other inn. Aila says she’s sticking with the party. The party goes downstairs and sees Belba talking to Zacharias the alderman. Bingo eavesdrops; Zacharias says Belba should have sent for him before she sent for the constable. Zacharias takes the party into a private room and says attacks in broad daylight are new, but that the tension in town has been going on for a while. He says he thinks the constable is involved.

Zacharias says he’ll hire the party to figure out what’s going on. He suggests checking on Turathi the Hermit as part of the conspiracy. Cael reports out; the fireball through the door is news to Zacharias, so that kills that theory. He says Aila knows as much as anyone at this point and indicates the temple is involved, though he has nothing to make an accusation with.

 

Talhier asks if he remembers a scholar coming through asking about a gnoll temple. It sounds familiar, but he can’t say for sure. Bingo asks about the candles. Zacharias says the people who disappeared and came back had personalities that were almost irrevocably changed. He says Aila was gone about a month ago and came back different. Ailla doesn’t remember anything, and it upsets her.

Misha is a priestess of Iyanna who arrived last year. She said Abramo had asked for someone to share his duties. The constable went north after he came back inside, Belba said, per Zacharias.

Zacharias says the party can trust Farmer Hewitt, Myron Tweed, Killian the Stablehand and Belba and the others at the inn. He offers to keep Ailla at his house and keep her safe. The party gets the impression that Zacharias is an old dude but he can throw down if he needs to. Issana gives Aila a dagger and tells her to stay safe at the alderman’s house.

At the general store, the party meets a smiling man behind the counter. He says there’s talk of a drowned pagan temple out in the swamps, and that’s what he told the scholar about. It’s five or six days out into the bog. He doesn’t know anything about the candles, or so it seems along Bingo’s line of questioning. Issana asks about a gift for her friend Aila; he suggests a bundle of aromatic herbs. Nila sniffs them – they are just nice smelly herbs. Rats.

The party goes into the Golden Grain for dinner. It’s dark. There’s a haze of acrid smoke – it’s that smoke, from the candles. There are a few people there, mostly sitting apart from each other. Only a couple look up when the party comes in, and the bartender barely acknowledges them. They try to blow out the candles and open the windows; the bartender gets mad. Talhier stares him down. The bartender says the candles come from a doctor in Fairhill. While Talhier talks to the bartender, the rest of the party blows out the candles and opens the windows.

Bingo runs upstairs while the bartender is in the kitchen getting bread. It’s a shithole.

 

Talhier bullies the innkeeper into cleaning upstairs so the party can stay. While the innkeeper is upstairs, Bingo, Nesse, Cael and Issana go into the kitchen and down some creepy stairs into an empty, musty room full of broken furniture and stuff. It is not the gnoll temple Bingo was expecting. Issana finds a trail in the dust that comes from the wall opposite the stairs that goes toward a blank wall. Huh. On investigation, the wall appears to be false. Bingo hits a sconce and the wall slides open.

The rest of the party is fetched. There appear to be no traps, so a light source is acquired and the party proceeds. There’s a meeting room inside with some tables and a ladder in the far wall that leads up to a trap door in the ceiling. There’s a door all the way on the other end of the room that’s barred from this side.

Issana opens the barred door and finds a hastily excavated tunnel that goes off in a couple of different directions: straight and left, so sort of under the road. Talhier puts out the torches in the cellar and closes the secret sliding door behind the party. They enter the tunnels and take the fork that they believe heads toward the temple. Always choosing the left fork. The path angles down as it goes.

The path opens up into a room. Issana leads the marching order and steps on something crunchy. It’s a human skull. The whole floor is bones. Yay! A dark, gray leathery humanoid shape comes out of the corner and attacks, getting a surprise round. No, wait, there’s more than one. THREE OF THEM attack. Two more are coming. Jesus Christ (whoever that is), ghouls!

Ghouls dispatched, the room is full of bones of all kinds and all species. There’s some gold. The room’s a goddamn dead end. Did we find anything that could belong to the missing? Tune in next time!

 

 

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The Cursed Town
Session 5

Issana gives Talhier the letters from zombie lady to read. Because Crea can’t read. AS IF THAT’S IMPORTANT. We head over to the Slumbering Serpent. As we wander through town, we realize that many buildings/farms/homesteads look abandoned…and some that appear abandoned actually have people in them. We see a hill with a large temple that seems fairly active (closing up for the night) with a walled inner courtyard. It appears to be dedicated to some not-Krom-of- the-harvest-god. There’s a lake in between us (where the inns are) and the area around the temple. We can see that the Golden Grain (creepy one) is shut, seems quiet; the Slumbering Serpent is clearly more active.

We head to the Serpent. We see a small path that leads into a large grove of elm trees that seems healthier and stronger than the rest of the area. There’s light and laughter coming from the Serpent, the landlady is welcoming. I don’t even know people would go to the other crappy inn. (Katrina does an insight check, everything seems sincere). Everyone orders food and drink (which is suspiciously good). Issana asks about her friend Ailla, and the barmaid says that the husband had “gone away” and “came back changed” and that the stress had clearly worn on Ayla. Issana mentions that others have been acting strange, which the barmaid agrees with. She doesn’t know where the husband went. Issana mentions that the other inn doesn’t seem to be doing as well as Serpent—which the barmaid ascribes to the hard work they put in, but she’s not going to tell anyone else how to run their business. The place appears to be about half full of pockets of people eating together and a few people sitting alone: older woman getting up to leave, nervous looking guy.

Cael sneaks out to follow the older woman and/or the nervous looking guy as they leave. NLG is moving with purpose towards town…then turns east and heads toward the temple and enters a small shop: Tweed’s Tweed, which is apparently a tailor shop. He hustles in and closes the window shutters. Cael returns. Issana mentions wanting a new cloak, barmaid says we just missed Myron Tweed, the local tailor. We get rooms for the night. Talhier and Issana plot—we’ll talk to the temple about a guy? looking for a gnoll temple? and a new priest? and some lady? and the creepy trees? Apparently, it came up in the letters that Crea can’t read. Because reading is dumb anyway.

Nila interrogates a mouse, he gives some information but not much. Mostly he wants cheese.

Bingo plays for his supper/lodging, and meets (is tipped generously by) Zacharias Ormond, Town Alderman. Bingo asks what’s up in town, and Zach warns him that there’s something going on around Orlane, and suspects a secret order is behind the mysterious changes. Bingo pokes at the conspiracy theory a bit and the councilman talks about “disappearances”—people go missing in the night, then come back about a week later and they are different. He suspects the clerics at the temple in particular and mentions a hermit, gesturing towards the grove of trees.

Night falls, morning follows. We wake up to a beautiful spring day. And decide to split up a bit to gather some information:

  • Cael, Nila & Crea will go investigate the hermit in the grove of elm trees

I mean, he’s a hermit in the middle of a town. Anyway, the grove is fairly thick and there’s a path winding into its depths and to a small open clearing with a very small, very humble house. Cael notices immediately a mallorn tree—sacred to her order and her people. She stops dead in her tracks, Crea pulls out her axe but Cael tells her to chill, it’s a sacred tree! Praise to Krom the Gardner, who grows all beautiful things! There’s a small shrine at the base of the tree. On the shrine is a blessing from Serrorax , and runic drawings of plants, trees, fish, natural things. There’s an offering bowl with a hole that leads into the roots of the tree, as if offerings were made to the tree. We knock, with no answer; we peep into a window, and Crea sees that the place looks like it has been trashed. Jars are smashed open, a table is overturned, the chair is broken. The back door frame shows fire damage but the back door does not (as if the door were open when fire damage occurred). We find a very well made gold ewer with fancy water inside. Cael pours some of the fancy water into the offering bowl while singing a bit of a song she sort of remembers from childhood. The tree says nothing. We look for tracks, and Cael sees all: a path around the tree, a set of at least two other boot prints aside from the (presumed) hermit.

  • Talhier & Bingo will go talk to the Constable

Heading to the Constable, they do notice that there is some activity in the town, but not as much as there should be. They see a shifty character on a front porch. Bingo puts on full HAIL GOOD SIR MIGHT YOU BE THE CONSTABLE greeting and gets not much of a response. They go inside: open office with a desk, a couple of drunk tank cells. The constable wants to know how long they’ll be in town and what their business is (“meeting up with a friend of a friend, can’t remember her name, we’ll be here a month”). Constable reacts to “a month”. Talhier asks about buying one of the abandoned properties, constable points them to an alderman. Talhier asks about people getting more forgetful than usual, and the constable blames it all on superstitious townspeople.

  • Issana and Nesse will go talk to Myron Tweed

Nesse and Issana head to Tweed’s Tweeds, your typical store on the bottom-apartment on top style building. It looks all very shop-like. Issana goes to open the door, but it stops as if it’s bolted. From inside: “What? Who’s there?” Issana: “Customers!” The sound of many MANY locks being undone and the man from last night opens the door. Older guy, slim, suspicious, interrogates them on their intentions. He insists that he’ll only let one of them in at a time. Issana thinks he’s rude af, but Nessie realizes he’s terrified and convinces him that SHE should buy a cloak and to let them both in. It’s a very nice shop with quality stuff but everything is covered in dust. They try some stuff on, he seems to relax as he does the sales pitch. He mentions that the midwinter festival was surprisingly cancelled by a priest at the temple. Nesse manages to charm the tailor a bit, and he warns her to stay away from the Golden Grain and away from the temple, and to stay in after dark. They leave on good terms, Nesse ordered some fancy unmentionables and Issana bought a cloak WITH POCKETS.

They stop by Ayla’s house again, but she’s still foggy. Issana juggles in front of her and Ayla’s breaks out of it a little bit, and seems surprised to see Issana. Ayla starts to remember writing to her, then falls over in a faint. She’s able to say that she thinks there’s something wrong with her. She went into the woods…underground…they took her there…she thinks her husband was there, but she hasn’t seen him in weeks? It seems like she’s realizing all these things. She’s in her jammie jams, she realizes, and tries to head inside. Issana instead goes to get shoes, a cloak, etc. Nessie does a medicine check, and can realize that Ayla’s showing symptoms of being heavily drugged. Nessie grabs some smelling salts in her kit and tries to revive her from that. Inside, Issana realizes that the house looks run-down, like it’s not been cleaned or cared for. There’s a candle burning on the table. Issana blows out the candle, but the smoke smells strange as it gutters out, there’s another one in the bedroom, and Issana snuffs that one out, too. As Issana is digging out clothes and whatnot, her vision goes blurry and feels overwhelmed by the scent of the candle so she grabs Nessie and books out of the house. As they walk Ayla out of town, they both feel as if they are being watched, but they don’t catch anyone obviously staring. On the way back to the inn, they pass the carpenter, the constable, the village shopkeep.

Back at the inn, Issana conveys that a) this cloak HAS POCKETS b) the bad candles are bad and c) Ayla is feeling better. We dispatch Ayla to go take a bath or something. We begin plotting next steps: talk to the store owner and maybe buy some candles, get more details from Ayla, maybe try to intimidate the constable, probably should go find the hermit.

Suddenly, we hear the sound of shattering glass and a scream. AND SCENE.

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The Road to Orlane - *LVL2*
Session 4

We have horses and level up to 2nd level. Hooray! We get a long rest, a shopping expedition in. Bingo gets a recommendation for an inn in Sodor, Crea gets a contact (Levi the Farmer) from the blacksmith guy, whose barn we can sleep in overnight. We head out in the morning.

We take a cart path to the Sovereign’s Way road, a large, clean, safe, white-paved road that cuts through the provinces. Grassmere is pretty far out in the eastern boonies, so there’s not a ton of traffic. We spend the night with Levi, help out around the farm, etc. He’s seen one other halfling recently, which is notable. Weirdest thing he’s seen on the road? The leader of a bandit horde being paraded back to Sodor for execution. Uneventful night, we head out towards Sodor, turning at the crossroads off the Sovereign’s Way onto the road to Sodor and traveling through the farmland that feeds the city.

About dinnertime, we pass through a clump of trees, turn a corner, and there’s the big walled city rising in front of us. Mostly cleared of trees heading to the wall and some outside-the-gates settlements. Guards are posted around an open gate, but we are able to ride in freely. We head to the Songful Rest, recommended by the bartender back in Grassmere, up in the NE end of the city. Bingo offers to pay in performance and split the proceeds. Barkeep is unimpressed. We get rooms and dinner and directions to the temple of Bior. Apparently, there’s one more set of devotions for the night! Crea thanks Krom The Abundant for dinner.

We head out to the temple, taking in the many roads of Sodor. Sodor’s big—we pass through a bunch of squares and little parks with statues or whatever, merchants, etc. We head towards the central keep, and to a statue in the plaza in front of the keep—looks like the Trafalgar monument. It’s a monument to the Last Imperator (who was known to travel with his troops for a day—then build a quick but sturdy encampment before moving on. Sodor is built on the site of one of those encampments).

The Temple Of Illumination is in the temple district west of the keep. It’s a soaring structure with spires rising 100’ tall, festooned with lanterns all along the walls and roof. People are flowing in for evening service. We sit through about an hour-long service with several priests and acolytes and whatnot. After the service breaks up, we send Talhier to talk to one of the priests (Crea is vaguely disgusted by this entire display. Krom is infinite and all, but there’s limits.)

Flamekeeper Bors introduces himself. Talhier makes sure he is familiar with Septus Vardis and mentions that we found his tomb. This pulls Bors up a bit and invites over Flamewarden Draga. Talhier gives him the rundown on the Aubri chasing adventure. Cael offers to draw a map, Draga thanks us all profusely and basically takes off at a run to go find the tomb. Bors shakes everyone’s hands and we all introduce ourselves. On the way out, Nesse leaves a couple gold coins to apologize for breaking the door. Nila makes a hash of offering up something. Crea makes a note to send a shaman of Krom by to tell them everything they are doing wrong….it’s a lot.

Bingo busks at back at the Songful Rest and is a hit. Nesse gets laid. Nila makes friends with lots of cats and at least one not-cat. Cael and Crea head for some botanical gardens. Talhier goes to a wine bar in the elf district. Issana tries to pick some pockets and gets busted. She charms the cops and is told to get out of town. On the way out, she runs into Cael and Crea and lets them know she’ll be spending the night outside the gates and to meet her in the morning with Lovely Tigress and all her stuff. Crea thinks Issana is gonna get jumped outside the walls, so they both camp.

Night comes, morning follows: the third day. Talhier and Cael pick up some more armor. We convert our giant piles of silver into actual gold. Crea picks up a nice blanket for Buttons.

We head back out and get nearly to the crossroads by nightfall. There are settlements—collections of farmhouses—around, but nothing like a village. We talk to a brickmaker guy who is willing to put us up in the shop for the night. It’s nice enough to camp, so we settle down for the night.

Night comes, morning follows: the fourth day. Crea greets the day with some thanks to Krom The Moon for watching over us. We make it to the crossroads by mid-day, cross the Sovereign’s Way and head towards Orlane.  We’re in some rolling hills heading downhill-ish into some bogland. A wagon heads towards us, with two people on it, completely loaded with stuff—someone is moving. Looks like two dudes, probably related. As they approach, we realize that the road isn’t really wide enough for all of us and they pull off to the side to get out of our way. Some of us notice also that their body language is very timid—no eye contact, etc.

Issana asks if they are coming from Orlane, the older man says they are, they are leaving, in fact. He’s pretty nervous about it. She mentions Ailla, the blacksmith’s wife. Guy knows her, and her husband Aelric. Guy is super nervous about the whole interaction and finally admits that they are leaving, as others have before, the town is cursed! "People aren’t “acting right”. He gets emotional about it, he’s a lifelong resident and people he’s known all his life are starting to act like they don’t recognize him. Friendly people are getting angry, aggressive. The place is cursed, he’s getting out before. Bingo gives him a pile of gold coins, Crea gives him the full “Krom the Protector watch over you and protect you” routine.

Issana tells us that there’s two inns. The Golden Grain is the heart of the weirdness—people go there and come back changed. The Slumbering Serpent is the good one. Orlane is on a high spot in the midst of some bogland, slightly larger than Grassmere. We meet a friendly local who, again, tells us the place is cursed. Talhier is confused about the whole situation—was this one of the weird ones? We get to the forge, it’s cold. Issana knocks on the door. There’s no answer for a while, then a ragged-looking woman answers the door. She doesn’t remember Issana, or writing letters, or much of anything. She seems like she comes back a bit, “I know how to juggle? Issana?” and stumbles back. Issana grabs her, and helps her up.

We make sure Talhier knows she’s a weird one. We head to the Slumbering Serpent to set up a home base.

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The Lonesome Cage of Aubri Waggoner
Session 3

Blind Gnome makes friends with a mouse. Issana sneaks down the hall, and sees a crude altar in front of a raised dais. In front of that, there's a goblin high priest thing chanting with an unknown number of other guys. Issana shoots him in the neck with an arrow, because she's cool like that. He ded. Crea comes charging. We get a surprise round but don't do much with it. Crea hits a big guy with a javelin and he doesn't like that much. Issana kills another goblin. We're gonna start calling her Issana Goblinbane. Talhier bisects a goblin of his own. Bingo about dies. Issana recognizes the big guy as a bugbear. Crea rages, ineffectively, while everyone else gangs up on the big guy. Issana puts an arrow through his neck, because that's how she rolls. Nila breaks open the cage holding Aubri, who runs out and hugs her. Crea, still in a rage, disassembles the remaining goblin. 

Issana pours a healing potion down Bingo and he recovers a bit. Crea goes to see if Aubri's okay. He's hysterical but (apparently) unharmed. As an offering to Krom the Wrathful, Crea takes the bugbear's hand. 

Examining the room, the statue is of one of the figures from the outer room fresco (leader guy, probs). Around the bottom of the dais is some writing: "If you are to keep this, you must first give it me" in an old dialect of common. Nesse investigates around the statue but doesn't find anything—solid construction, no holes, etc. In the back of the room is a pile of stuff: sack with a lot coins, a cylindrical tube, some glass vials (thick red potion, probably healing again; striated brown-silver-tan, for walking up walls apparently?). The tube holds a scroll of "poison spray" cantrip. Unfortunately, the bag is suuuuuper heavy. Attempts to place the bag on the dais or the statue don't make it lighter. 

The Ashen Order was known to be one that took vows of poverty, so this treasure is out of place. The goblins all wore generally squalid goblin stuff, not like they were spending treasure or something. Issana discovers a section of wall that seems different, she checks for airflow weirdness with a tinderbox and finds that along the corner there's a crack that indicates a hidden passage. Crea burns the bugbear hand and explains to Aubri about Krom the Wrathful, etc. Nesse manages to crack the wall, but not much else. Talhier tries some business with giving specific coins to the statue. Nesse finally breaks open a bit of the wall. So she casts light on an old chicken bone and tosses it through the crack in the wall—revealing about 10' of a hallway and another room. 

In the next room, behind the wall, there's a larger room with 10' long-ish crypt-looking thing. Issana figures out the riddle ("Your Word!") and the broken door slides open. She takes the remaining healing potion bc we're dumb but not stupid. We head in, and there's a bunch of sarcophagi. We decide that the goblins were trying to profane the place (there were some dead goblins in that fresco…). We pack up, Nesse tries to fix the door a bit. We make the decision to head out and find a temple of Bior (the Ashen Order's god) to fix it up. We note the names. 

Septus Vardis – front big one 
Decius Varias 
Quintus Sugestus 
Lucilius Sinicis 
Lucius Spurious 
Sextus Clavicus 
Caius Pilus 

On the way out, Crea piles up some rocks and says a quick prayer to Krom The Door, that he protects this place and keeps out all the would do it harm. 

We head back village-ward and camp out overnight. About mid-afternoon the next day we get to the outskirts of town. We've been gone 3-4 days at this point. Joyful reunion with Aubri and his dad. 

At the inn, we divvy up the giant bag o'loot. It ends up to 171 in gold (value) most of it in silver. At this point, its weight is a concern. Most of it is in silver pieces. We discuss buying horses (ponies) with it. At the tavern, Issana gets a pile of mail. She's kinda cagey about it, but Crea can't read so…?

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The Offering Room
Session 2

Before we head down the stairs—Crea will go over to one of the dead goblins, and wipe some of their blood over the blade of her axe and dip the tips of her javelins in as well. She says a little prayer to Krom The Blade, Edge of Justice, Drinker of Blood and Devourer of Enemies; then she holds her hands out in front of her in two fists and says another prayer to Krom The Accurate, Way of Truth, Guide of All Hands. Then she says a little prayer to Krom The Mother, Defender of Children, Maker of Homes, Keeper of the Hearth that they find Aubri safe and eats a crust of bread. All this is done in Orcish, which no one speaks bc Kain isn't here. And by now, Issana has seen Crea do this kind of thing a lot. 

As my rituals happen, others notice some rustling in the bushes. Out walks a tiny gnome. With a cane. And maybe a pimp strut? It's Nila. She's tracking some goblins. Our goblins. She's also blind. This is problematic. 

We hear sounds of goblins winding themselves up, so we head down the mausoleum stairs. Issana-Crea-Talhier in front. Issana sneaks up and sees a small group of goblins, including an in-charge looking guy. So she shoots him in the neck. Fight! Crea bisects a goblin. Crea, as it turns out, bisects a lot of goblins. Unfortunately, from there, we get our asses handed to us. Lots of almost death. A mutant dog thing comes in with more goblins and nearly eats Issana. Crea bisects a dog. 

Talhier goes chasing after a goblin down another hall, cleverly finds a wall-swinging blade trap. 

We eventually kill all the goblins, take a short rest and look around. There's a relief on one wall of a small circle of Roman-looking soldiers facing off against hordes of enemies. On their tabards there is a stylized AO symbol, indicating that they were members the Ashen Order, a militant religious order that had been active during the decline of the Veridyyan Empire. There's carved letters on the other wall: an oath of allegiance from Septus Vardis to the Ashen Order, swearing to fight the "chaos wyrm and her children". 

Cael and Bingo loot the bodies and find some coins. Bingo finds a loose stone in the floor, Issana is pretty sure there's no traps. It sounds hollow—so Bingo (amazingly) hoists the stone up and finds a cache of 210 gold and…a vial. Medicine check—it's a healing potion. Crea hands it to Issana so we can save it for later. 

Issana disarms Talhier's swinging blade trap, but while that happens we all hear, from the unexplored room: crying, drums, and chanting.

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Into the Wilderness
Session 1

Alward  Waggoner (the local blacksmith) comes running in to the tavern covered in blood from a head wound, says "goblins" have taken Aubri (kid of the blacksmith) Crea takes off for the forge to investigate, finds that a party of ~ 4 goblins executed a coordinated attack on the forge, scuffled with Al, and carried off the kid. Taking a toy of Aubri's, Crea invokes Krom the Seeker to find a trail—Cael and Issana find an actual trail. Either way, we head northeast deep into the forest. 

Where we encounter a zombie ogre! And kill it. Crea takes a ton of damage and rages. 
We take a long rest, wake up in the morning, re-find the trail, and follow it through the hill country further from Grasmere than maybe we've ever been. 

After about a day of following the trail—it looks like the goblins never stopped for the night—we come across a crypt looking structure guarded by goblins at the top of a hill. We attempt to sneak up but fail to be sneaky and the goblin guard attacks. Fighty fight! As the guard goblins get the worst of it, they run back into the crypt crying for reinforcements—but Talheir kills the last one. 

The mausoleum was built sometime before the fall of the Veridyyan Empire (800-1000 years ago), an empire that was very militaristic and conquered huge swaths of land, at one point it covered the area that is now split into provinces, baronies, and city-states. The Last Imperator had a wildly successful military campaign but died in the final battle, then the empire collapsed within a few decades because he had no heir and the generals and politicians squabbled to seize power. What followed has since been known as The Pandemonium, which lasted for over a century. Even after the events of Pandemonium, war, famine, and plague were common. 

There is something about the Ashen Order trying to battle the chaos worm, maybe that is who the tomb belongs to.

Investigating the entrance to the crypt, we see stairs leading down and, more ominously, evidence that the door to the crypt has been broken open by something large. 

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