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[SPOILERS] Campaign Chronicle - A Tall Tale of Five Exiles.
Posted: Sat 30 Mar 2019, 17:33
In this thread I will publish the campaign chronicle I've been writing based on the events of our weekly roleplaying sessions.
I have taken the liberty to dress up the events a bit, it makes for a better story that way
Note that this thread will contain spoilers for The Ravens Purge, The Game Masters Guide and likely The Spire of Quetzel!
I would also like to add that this chronicle contains some allusions to sexual themes and some quite graphical depictions of violence. Rest assured that the players in this campaign have played together for a long time and that I as the GM made sure that everyone was comfortable with some of the particular turns this story takes.
Don't be afraid to comment or ask questions in the thread, this is a forum after all.
Re: [SPOILERS] Campaign Chronicle - A Tall Tale of Five Exiles.
Posted: Sat 30 Mar 2019, 17:38
Chapter 1: Demons of the Harga Wastes
On a clear and windy day the fates conspired to bring five individuals to the battlements of the Iron Lock. All they had in common was the fact that they were unwanted from whence they came. They were all considered criminal and had been passed the same sentence.
By decree of the serpent god they were to be exiled into the Forbidden Lands.
The exiles were:
Erden the Honest - A peddler of Aslene descent who succeeded in convincing the arbiter in allowing him to be exiled with his faithful donkey companion.
Burzob - A fearsome orc warrior, descendant of a lost band of clanless brigands who pushed too far south during the wars of old.
Nobel - A sorcerous frailer who claims to have escaped the forbidden lands shortly after the blood mist curse was lifted.
Belladonna - An old dwarf woman, mother of many daughters and poisoner of many husbands.
Droll - A weatherbeaten goblin hunter. Stalker of boar, deer and man alike.
After suffering through a short ceremony and the rough treatment of the silent guardians of the Iron Lock, the band of ne'er do wells were lowered down into the ashen wastes of Harga. They soon realized the inhospitality of the land to where they had come. Hardly a living thing could be seen among the rust-colored sands and after traveling north for a day things immediately went from bad to worse as a heavy mist rolled in from the mountains.
Lost in the mist the ruffians started to despair. They had not been able to find any food or potable water and their supplies were starting to stretch thin. As they pressed forward, walking without direction they could hear a song pierce the white veils. The voice was rough and sung without tune. The words it spoke told of a lost grave and purple flowers at a place where heaven and skies met. They decided to sneak closer to see what could give rise to such an ominous tune and in the mist they found a grey fox sitting on a rock with its mouth in the air, howling out the forlorn words. As they approached the fox it stopped singing, abruptly realizing that it was not alone. It snarled as it jjumped down from the rock and started approaching them.
“Have you no manners travellers? What has driven you to hear my song and see my face without giving proper warning first? Now you must swear to me to never speak of my song or my face to anyone. If you do not swear I promise you there will be a price to pay as I cannot stand to have rumors spread about me. What say you, do you swear?”
They all swore except Belladonna and Droll, they felt it was beneath them to take orders from an animal, no matter how strange it seemed and the fact that the fox was speaking did not deter their stubbornness. This made the fox upset and as it ran away it did so with the promise that since all of them did not swear he would be forced to take action to prevent the rumors of his song from spreading.
The ruffians made camp in the mist hoping that the they would not see the fox again. They made a campfire and Erden pulled forth a thoroughly ostentatious tent from his pack which he raised with pride. They soon fell asleep taking turns to watch the fire. It was during Burzobs watch that a strange darkness appeared in the mist. The darkness moved quickly towards the camp and Burzob drew his sword as he rushed out into the mists to show the thing that he was no defenseless prey. As he screamed for his travelling companions to wake the darkness exploded from the mist. A twisting shadow creature enveloped Burzob and chilled him to the bone, driving him mad with fear as he realized he could not fight a shadow with a simple blade, no matter how skillfully swung. In his mind he could hear the voice of the fox promising that Burzob should not be frightened as he had sworn the foxes oath. Despite this he was scared witless and ran and so the shadow burst into the tent and fell upon Belladonna. She was awake from Burzobs screaming and managed to escape by slicing up the cloth of the tent with her dagger as her her sleeping furs were torn to shreds behind her. Hearing the commotion and seeing how powerful the shadow monster was, the entire band of exiles ran away from the camp, escaping into the mist.
As the morning broke they found each other again, for by now the mist had been dispersed by the sun. After a discussion the others forced Belladonna and Droll to call for the mysterious demon fox in order to apologize. So they started screaming apologies across the wastes of the Harga, begging the fox to forgive them and that they were ready to swear the foxes oath. The fox soon found them and approached with a sly face as he saw the fear in their eyes. He told them that this time they would have to swear on something important to them as a normal oath was not enough, considering they had refused his demands the first time. Belladonna swore on the life of her 28th daughter Stinalina, the only one of her daughters she truly loved. Droll swore on the grave of his old friend Beldram who he highly respected in life and truly missed in death. The fox was pleased and left them.
So they started walking again, further north. They were relieved by the passing of the fox and now bore newfound knowledge of the land they had found themselves in as well as the demons that stalked it. After walking for half a day, they once more heard strange music across the wastes. This time however it was not a voice they heard but instead the strings of a lute. Before them, in the rays of the midday sun, sat a woman dressed in colorful clothes, cradling a lute like a baby between her arms. They approached with great care, considering the memory of the shape-shifting demon fox. However, the woman turned out to be both welcoming and friendly asking for their names and querying about the purpose of them being in the Harga wastes. She introduced herself as Dalb and claimed to be a traveling bard. A collector of stories and songs. As she rose from her seat the sun reached her eyes and revealed to be yellow where eyes are usually green, brown or blue. When Nobel saw this he resolved to open his ethereal sight for Nobel was a skillful sorcerer of no slight magical talent. Gazing upon her with his third eye he could tell that the guise of the beautiful woman was but a veil hiding something else, just like a pond of water can hide things beneath it’s mirrored surface. This made him draw to memory a legend which he shared with the rest of his companions in a hushed voice. He spoke to them of strange men and women, yellow of eye and cunning of mind, said to be bringers of change and turmoil, helping with one hand and striking with the other. Thus, despite her friendly manners, the warnings of Nobel put the entire group on edge.
Dalb invited the ruffians to travel with her to the castle Weatherstone, just a few days journey to the east into the Begrand Valley. She claimed to be following the legend of the Spire Nekhaka, believed to have been lost among the spoils of the Fourth Alder war. She was intrigued by the rumors that no one could deny a demand from anyone wielding the Spire of Rule. She also informed them that it was most fortunate that they met up with her for the direction they were headed would have led them straight to the Fortress of Vond and a fate as slaves, sacrificial cattle or worse since Krasylla, the ruler of Vond and butcher of Aslene, cared little for mortals. Having no idea of what to do or where to go the five exiles decided to take up Dalbs offer and travel east.
End of chapter 1.
Re: [SPOILERS] Campaign Chronicle - A Tall Tale of Five Exiles.
Posted: Sat 30 Mar 2019, 17:41
Chapter 2: Prophecy
During their interactions with Dalb, Burzob asked her for favors and Dalb indulged his wishes three times. Dalb caught and cooked a fish that stilled Burzobs hunger. Dalb postponed the start of her journey for a quarter of a day so that Burzob and his company could negotiate between themselves and figure out what to do. Finally Dalb shared his waterskin and stilled Burzobs thirst. Dalb also told many stories of long dead kings, demons and haunted castles as she regarded the sharing of songs and tales to be a holy task.
One night, Dalb offered to take watch to let the rest of the travelers sleep, and the travelers slept. It was not a usual rest for they slept so deeply that nobody noticed when Dalb entered Erdens tent. She forced herself on him and together they rejoiced in the pleasures of each others company. When half the night had passed and they lay resting next to each other Erden came to his senses, feeling as if he had been placed under a spell and just now coming to. As he opened his mouth to speak, he had to pause to collect his thoughts but was interrupted as the mysterious bard caressed his chest and whispered prophecy in his ear.
“A son I will grant you, oh Erden the Honest for tonight you have made me with child. A proud and strong man he will be, a leader of men and beasts. A son with none of your weaknesses and all of your strengths. This son I will give you but only if you hold the Spire of Nekhaka in your possession when the child is born. If you fail to grasp the spire before the birth of your son he will be a monster and surely be the death of you and others.”
Erden spent the rest of the night laying awake, shaken to his core by the words. In the morning he told his newfound friends of what had happened while Dalb was out of ear shot. Burzob was very happy for Erdens sake, as children were always a blessing. They others were surprised and amused but in the end they decided it would be best to confront Dalb and ask her version of the story.
"Why would you trust Erden the Honest?" She asked. "A known liar and charlatan? How can you imagine that a beautiful woman such as me would lie with a dirty peddler? I am ashamed by your accusation but am willing to forgive. Let us continue our journey and not speak of this again.”
When the travelers soon thereafter reached the castle Weatherstone they realized that the yellow-eyed bard had left them.
Slightly relieved at the departing of Dalb the group walked closer to the old ruins only to discover that it was not completely abandoned. Outside the moat of the castle the smoke of a campfire could be seen billowing out the upper windows of a watchtower. As they approached they could hear a voice echoing across the field ahead of them.
“Who goes there? Make yourselves known, travelers of the Harga wastes and hear me when I say that if you come here in search of treasure you come too late. This ruin has been claimed by Esgar Farthing of the village Grindbone and the claim is supported by me, his companions and his friends.”
In the light of a window a bowman could be seen, ready to pierce the heart of anyone who would dare approach. Burzob and Erden responded to the man, claiming to be lost travelers and salesmen. Merely wishing for place to make camp and rest their feet. Erden also claimed to have a special ointment he could sell to the bowman, promised to restore vigor and youth to even the limpest of men. The bowman, tempted by the promise of a restored manhood, opened his door to the five travelers and when he did, Burzob stabbed him in the mouth.
As darkness descended and a storm rolled in over the valley, the bowmans tower turned out to be a comfortable resting place for the five ruffians, with a campsite for four people already made. They disposed of the corpse of the bowman in the moat and discovered that the murky waters were concealing a predatory beast and that the the fields outside the castle were riddled with the bones of hundreds of soldiers and horses. This delighted the sorcerous Nobel who went out into the wastes while the others were resting. By weaving his spells he crafted two mighty servitors from the bones of long dead alderlander war horses.
While Nobel was performing his sorcery Erden was awake by the campfire, watching over the others. He had a hard time sleeping anyway, since his mind was still troubled by Dalbs prophecy. While sunken into his brooding thoughts he was startled by a strange noise from the castle. Watching from the tower windows he could see a hundred motes of gold sparkling through the air in the starlit valley, scattering over the courtyards and ravines of Weatherstone. Blinded by greed he ventured out alone, not bothering to wake the others out of a wish to keep all the gold for himself. However, when trying to enter the castle by traversing the slippery log that served in place of a drawbridge he fell into the waters of the moat and found himself beset by a fiend of slimy skin and many limbs.
It was Nobels conjured war horses that drove the creature away but not before Erden had passed out from exhaustion while trying to escape the underwater horror. Nobel was forced to dive into the waters and rescue him with great effort. The lying peddler expressed regret and gratitude towards Nobel but could not help but be slightly disturbed by the sorcerer's undead servitors. They did not speak of the incident with the others until the sun rose.
In the morning hours the five ruffians laid in wait for the bowman's companions to exit the castle. They knew there were three by counting the number of bedrolls in the camp and three people should prove no match if caught in an ambush. It was not long before they came, exhausted and ragged. A swordsman clad in mail hurried towards the drawbridge carrying a badly wounded half elven woman. An old man draped in the recognizable brown robes of the Rust Brothers was helping him. Burzob told his accomplices to hold off the attack until the bowman's companions were traversing the log that was lain across the moat. The ambush turned into a failed negotiation after which the ensuing fight was quick and chaotic. Nobels undead horses overpowered the unlucky treasure hunters and made short work of the swordsman. The wounded half-elven woman managed to escape up the mountainside but the swordsman remained to be taken prisoner. As did the rust brother after having lit himself on fire in a desperate attempt to hurt Burzob the orc by summoning demonic flame. The ruffians fished him out of the moat into which he had thrown himself to douse the fire. It did not take long for the burned old man to betray his former companions and declare loyalty and thankfulness to his captors. He said his name was Brother Ferebald and that he had come to Weatherstone to lay his old king to rest. For the legends say that Weatherstone has become the final resting place for the proud warrior king Algarod. That he was cursed to everlasting unlife in the old castle ruins. As a proud alderlander at heart these stories made Brother Ferebalds blood boil and if they turned out to be true he would attempt to slay the king to give him the rest he deserved. The swordsman he was accompanying was indeed Esgar Farthing and Ferebald claimed he was a proud and greedy man that could not be trusted as he was driven by a will to only loot and plunder. Burzob decided to kill Esgar Farthing since when they tried to negotiate with him earlier he had proved himself an insolent liar but after seeing the pathetic man in the eyes Burzob could not find it in his heart to slay him. Burzob gave the blade to Erden but he too was moved by the mans grovelings.
“Please oh mighty adventurers braving the trials of the Harga wastes, kill me not for I have friends in high places in the nearby village of Grindbone. I am a member of the Bone Ferrets company and I have the ear of our leader. If you spare my life I will sing your praises in the taverns as mighty, noble, wise and merciful warriors. I will say you are as skilled with blades and arrows as you are with sorcerous trickery and that the dead themselves bow to your whims. As proof I will show the scars you gave me and they will know that if you bested the mighty swordsman Esgar Farthing you are not to be trifled with.”
So they set Esgar free and he went to find the wounded half-elf woman, whose name was Dyndria and return to their homes in Grindbone. But before they let him go Burzob claimed his armor and shield as rightful spoils of his victory. Esgar did not protest.
End of chapter 2.
Re: [SPOILERS] Campaign Chronicle - A Tall Tale of Five Exiles.
Posted: Sat 30 Mar 2019, 18:42
I really like to read this, the first cronicle I've seen. Since I wrote Raven's purge, I'm very curious to see how it plays out in practice.
Re: [SPOILERS] Campaign Chronicle - A Tall Tale of Five Exiles.
Posted: Sun 31 Mar 2019, 18:04
Very cool, curious to see how it plays out.
Re: [SPOILERS] Campaign Chronicle - A Tall Tale of Five Exiles.
Posted: Sun 31 Mar 2019, 21:31
It makes me really happy to know that you are taking the time to read this Brior and Thomas, I'm a huge fan of both your work!
Rest assured that the chronicle will continue for a while
Chapter 3: Breaking Bonds
And so it was that the five exiles entered Castle Weatherstone in the company of brother Ferebald. Pleased by the news of a nearby village, Dalbs promise of finding treasure seemed all the more attractive since now they knew that they would have a place to spend it in. After having braved the moat and passed through the gatehouse a chilling sight beset them for in the grand chambers of Weatherstone lay hundreds of dead men. There were heaps and piles of forgotten soldiers, draped in rusted chain-mail and mummified flesh. The dusty air and the stink of rot and mold made the five explorers quicken their pace, but not before Nobel had the insight that these halls could not have been the place of the soldiers death. Somehow they got here after dying.
While climbing across the ravine that cleft the castle in two they noticed that the lowest part of the ravine was covered with a black waste that seemed to come from a pipe underneath one of the buildings above them. Something moved in the sludge and it made them wary for none of them had seen anything like it before. But it was not enough to scare them away, they pressed on and soon found themselves on a courtyard with a single dead tree and three buildings. Brother Ferebald could inform them that beside the building from where they had entered, the other two would be a laboratory inhabited by the beast that injured Dyndria, his former companion, and that the other building was a theater tower, home to a murder of Harpies. Beside the buildings and the tree there was only the ravine and they could see that the only way further into the castle led through the theater. In the side of the ravine however, they could also see a cave hidden in the shade of the cliff side, and what seemed like the rotten remains of a ramp running along the ravine towards the castle entrance. In the cave they could see the back ends of four wooden carts. Not wanting to bother with the climb down they decided to press further into the castle and entered the tower.
When opening the door they were met with a cacophony of chirping voices and fluttering wings as hundreds of feathered black bodies swirled in a vortex across the sky in the place where the towers ceiling had once been. The floor was indented as a stepwise gallery facing a large scene, covered with white droppings. Two doors could be seen, one leading to a terrace and one further into the castle. Droll the goblin, always the explorer, could not leave the terrace uninvestigated and ran ahead of the group to find three large catapults aimed towards the fields of the Begrand Valley. In one of the baskets a heap of gold and silver coins lay. All across the terrace the harpies were eagerly bouncing around and with screeching voices they invited him to partake of their treasure.
“Greetings oh wrinkled one, take your fair share of our riches if you please. We only wish to see our guests happy. This is why you came, is it not? Yes? Treasure and gold and treasure and gold? Please fill your pockets to the brim. Just reach into the basket. Please, just reach.”
Droll, was not fooled by the harpies and understood that they had set a trap but he also wanted the gold! So he decided to trust his reflexes and reached up to snag a coin from the basket. As soon as his wrinkled hands crossed the rim the harpies jumped on the firing lever. The goblins arm was almost caught in the ropes of the basket but he managed to pull away just in time as it was flung towards the sky with frightening speed. In his bloody hand he held a shiny gold coin. The harpies rejoiced from once again having fooled an adventurer with their favorite trick while the rest of the gold coins sailed through the air. The malicious glee spread through the flock as they laughed and laughed, and as they laughed they started to relieve their bowels all over Drolls friends who had stayed in the tower. They could do naught but seek cover further into the castle to escape the humiliating. Before he left, Droll could see how the harpies started collecting the coins back from the dusty cliff side.
It did not take long for the five to reach the top of Weatherstone. From there they had a striking view of the Begrand valley. Before them was a small tower room with one wall open towards the ravine. From this place in the castle the ravine was twenty fathoms deep and the only way across into the tallest tower on the other side was a raised drawbridge. On a platform beside the drawbridge stood two mummified warriors wearing chain-mail and they were armed with spears and shields. Their eyes were sunken and their flesh a grayish brown. They stood there, swaying in the wind yet somehow maintaining a soldiers salute, obviously guarding the drawbridge mechanism set beside them. Erden the Honest tried hailing the dead warriors, calling out to them with the voice of a noble lord demanding to enter the keep and speak to the King. It seemed as if his words had fallen of deaf ears until one of the tower guardians started clacking his teeth and poking his friend in the shoulders. And so both of the guardians stirred from their sleep, shaking themselves back to unlife. The guardian that still had intact vocal cords hailed Erden with a voice:
"Too meet the King you must first speak the secret passphrase!”
Erden and his friends all tried a few phrases before realizing that no words would satisfy the dead watchmen. Whatever phrase they uttered the undead responded with confused looks and shrugs of their shoulders. So it continued for a while until Belladonna finally had enough and flung a spear at the drawbridge mechanism and managed to unhook the latch resulting in the drawbridge coming crashing down. This greatly upset the guardsmen however as they came charging across, spears and shields at the ready. The fight was hard and ruthless but ended with the skeletons being unmade despite their awesome undead strength. Burzob took the brunt of the battle and was struck with exhaustion. The others fared better, shielded by the orc warriors battle prowess. Equipped with the spears and rusty chain mails of the guardian skeletons they all entered the highest towers of the castle. Not a lot of time was spent exploring further before the decision was made that they all required rest in case they were forced into combat again. The skeletal guardians had taken their toll on the group despite their low numbers. A fact which cast a new light upon the hundreds of undead soldiers they had passed on their way through the castles lower rungs. After a brief search they found a small room that must have been the servants quarters. It was deemed suitable for resting since the door could be barricaded from the inside.
In the morning, the curious Nobel queried Brother Ferebald as to his intent in dealing with King Algarod and the rust brother willingly explained his plan. With him, Ferebald had brought a human heart prepared with poisonous salts. He planned to offer the heart to the undead king since he knew that powerful undead often seek sustenance from human organs. The poisonous salts would weaken the king and allow Ferebald to strike him down and give him the rest he deserved. None of the adventurers seemed impressed by his plan and many suspicious glances were traded over their morning meal.
After locating the king's chamber later in the day the band entered with care. The chambers must have been grand and ostentatious once but all that remained of the old splendor was dusty carpets and moldy tapestries, bathing in the colored light of three mosaic windows. At the far end of the hall lay the king in his bed, still clad in ring-mail and clutching a rusty broadsword with armored hands. His long hair was a wispy white and flowed across the pillow beneath a golden crown. His face was a dried husk. Above the bedside there was a charcoal drawing pinned to the wall amongst faded oil paintings of ancient noble folk. The charcoal portrait was skillfully made and must have depicted the king as a young man. In the drawing, the king was tranquil with full cheeks and luscious hair. His eyes were closed in a somber expression.
For Burzob the way forward was clear as he drew his sword and stepped up next to the resting king without a word to his comrades. Despite the protests of Brother Ferebald he raised his weapon above his head and swung down with great force. The heavy sword struck deep into the neck of the king and in an instant he stirred from his sleep, drawing a ragged breath. As the air of the bedchamber inflated his dry lungs it made a sound like flowing sand which was accompanied by something like thunder, for as the king woke from his age old slumber, so did the rest of the castle. Before the undead king could rise from his bed Burzob swung his sword again but this time Algarod was awake and deflected the sword towards his armored chest before striking Burzob down with a single blow from the back of his hand. The rest of the adventurers looked on with horror. Around them they could hear the sounds of marching feet and rustling bones filtering in through the walls and windows from the castle beyond. Before their eyes they could see the charcoal drawing starting to move, twisting, until the depicted face showed a frightful, angry expression. Panic started to spread as a side door slammed open and three well armored undead guards stormed into the hall to defend their king. A desperate battle began. Algarod clobbered Burzob over and over smashing his snout and breaking one of his legs, but the orc did not yield despite his great wounds. No matter how many times he was struck down he rose again and again, wiping blood from his mouth and continuing the fight, screaming at his friends to run and save themselves. Instead Ferebald and Nobel fell groveling to the floor wishing for the king's mercy as they thought they had no way out now that the castle was swarming with the newly awoken undead. Droll the goblin however, did not fall to despair and managed to escape the castle by running out the side door where the kings guards had been hidden. There he found a passage leading to a terrace equipped with a crane from where he climbed all the way down to the moat. It would be several hours before he met his companions again.
In the chamber of King Algarod it seemed like nothing could stop the king and his guards from tearing the invaders to pieces. Belladonna, who was fleet of foot and sharp of mind made a desperate dash toward the charcoal painting. Dodging and weaving to avoid the swings of the mad king, she drew her knife and tore at the paper which disintegrated in a flash of smoke and light. The king slowed and as a sudden stillness beset the chamber everyone could do naught but hold their breaths. Swaying with a confused posture, the king spoke for the first time in centuries.
“Who are you, invaders of my halls. You strangers who dare interrupt my sleep. Why have you come here? Why are we doing battle?”
Erden the opportunist saw his chance and declared that he and his friends were but well wishing Alderlanders, visiting the king to free him from a curse. The king was placated by this lie and decided to spare Erden and his friends but also decided they were his prisoners to be taken away to the dungeons. In the meantime he would rest, think and clear his clouded mind. As they were escorted out Erden was ordered to stay and answer questions.
“Tell me, you who claim loyalty to Alderland, how is the war against Zygofer going? I remember only demons, bloodshed and the loving touch of a beautiful woman. What happened to my spire Nekhaka? What has happened to me?”
Erden answered best he could but could only increase the confusion and melancholy of the King who seemed unwilling to accept that he was in fact dead. Wisely, Erden did not press the point further and started using his ears instead of his mouth. Algarod seemed to want to travel west to the place called Vond and take up the war where he had left off. But he needed the spire of rule. The king explained that the spire was a great burden on his soul but nevertheless it was his duty to carry it like his father before him and his father before his. As far as the king remembered it was left with the war chests in the stable in the ravine. With a false smile Erden agreed to go fetch it, for he was more than happy to have a reason to leave the king and had no intention of ever returning once he had his hands on the spire. He left the king and started looking for his friends. Walking through the castle he could hear the rumbling sounds of boots stirring around him and through doorways and windows he could see the army of the king marching in aimless fashion. A block of thirty undead men marched in a small square until they hit the walls only to crumple together and fall over each other before collecting themselves into formation and beginning a resolute march toward some other wall. That was when the ghost showed herself. A translucent woman draped in a bloodstained gown appeared from the darkness of the corridor before him. She had the elven features of a frailer and was completely colorless beside a pair of piercing violet eyes. In a whispering voice she asked:
“Who are you to disturb the rest of my husband the king. What is your name and what have you done here? One such as you could not have done this by yourself, where are your friends?”
As Erden the honest answered with the truth she narrowed her ghostly eyes and told him sternly that he should try to calm the king and prevent him from leaving the castle. Erden should also stay put and wait, for the ghost promised him that she would send word to her mighty friends. Surely they would be able to save the unfortunate adventurers from the undead. After the woman gave her orders she faded away and Erden was left with only his thoughts.
End of chapter 3.
Re: [SPOILERS] Campaign Chronicle - A Tall Tale of Five Exiles.
Posted: Sat 06 Apr 2019, 16:33
Chapter 4: The Iron Guard
After spending the night in a closet under guard by two undead soldiers, Burzob, Nobel and Brother Ferebald awoke to find that Belladonna had succumbed to thirst and pain from the grievous wounds she was dealt by King Algarods royal guards. They prodded her and tried to wake her only to realize that she was barely responsive and would soon die if she would not get anything to drink but nobody had any water to spare. Their efforts were interrupted by the voice of Erden from outside the door, he was trying to will the guards to step aside without success. Burzob spoke to Erden through the door and told him to go find water for Belladonna as Nobel promised to deal with the undead guards. Forcing his will upon the undead was a small thing for the accomplished necromancer and once they were free Erden arrived with a barrel of bitter tasting wine that stilled Belladonnas thirst and helped to ease the pain from the wounds they had all collected. Erden had a gaping sore in his face. Burzob had his leg in a splint and the rest of him was covered in bruises and seeping wounds. He must have suffered terrible pain though his face did not betray it.
In the meantime Droll had found his way back to the tower of the bowman and after having a pleasant rest he deciding to head back into the castle to see what became of his friends. In the halls of Weatherstone a macabre feast was taking place. A hundred undead soldiers sat at five long tables squabbling over scraps and shoving rocks and mud down their gullets with a forlorn desperation. Obsessed with their rustling revelry they did not notice the goblin as he made his way up the towers again. When Droll reached the small square by the laboratory building he became witness to a strange sight. Five undead soldiers stood outside the gates trying to decide who was to enter the staircase down in the dark. The chosen method was rock, paper, scissors. A game where some of them were at a severe disadvantage due to a lack of fingers. As soon as one of them was singled out it was forced down the stairs by the others and after a few minutes it was audibly torn to shreds by something big and strong. As soon as the noises ended the soldiers began squabbling again as if nothing had happened repeating the process again and again, their numbers slowly dwindled. Droll paid them no heed and pressed on in search of his companions. When he passed through the theater tower he managed to snag another coin from the harpies catapult trap just as his friends came stumbling through the corridors of the castle, apparently still alive. They explained that Erden had spoken to the king and had heard that there was a treasure in the ravine and that they intended to climb down to get it. It worried them that the news appeared to delight the harpies as it became apparent that they had been eavesdropping on their conversation. But despite this, into the ravine the went.
They tied together a rope and some other debris and started climbing down from the stone guardrail into the ravine. When only Nobel and Ferebald was left Nobel ordered his two undead soldiers to push Ferebald over the edge. For in his past Nobel had learned to hold a great distrust for the rust church. Therefore he believed that the old man was a liar who had tricked them with the intent to wake the undead all along. So Ferebald fell in to the ravine but somehow managed to roll along the hill only suffering bruises and scrapes. Nobels servants did not leave the job half-done as they lept after their prey. One of them managed to part Brother Ferebalds from one of his feet and the old man screamed as blood poured from the mangled limb. Droll the Goblin executed the old man and Belladonna took his belongings. After this Burzob threw the corpse down the ravine into the black pool of waste below the laboratory building. With a sickening sound the body was swallowed by the goop. The rest of the group was mostly fine with this turn of events and proceeded to climb up to the cave on the other side of the ravine where the treasure was supposed to be. The flock of harpies were coalescing onto the cliffs around them and as the adventurers got closer to the cave the harpies interest noticeably increased. In the cave stood four wagons and on top of them were crates, barrels and a few chests. It was furnished as a stablehouse and along one wall the skeletons of four horses lay with their bones splayed out over the dusty floor. Erden was eager to open the chests but was warned by the others. They were suspicious of the harpies and feared another trap. After long deliberation Nobel ordered his undead servants to open one of the chests only to find it empty. The harpies roared with laughter and screamed and screamed.
“Idiots! Fools! We stole it first and now the treasure is ours! You are greedy and stupid and late! If you wanted the treasure you should have been faster. You are not even the first to be late!"
After suffering the insults of the harpies Erden almost fell into despair, he wanted the spire for he could still hear the bards prophecy, it was burned into his mind. As he was about to give up he heard Burzob conversing with the harpies and it became apparent they were open for negotiation. They offered to reveal the location of the treasure if only the band of adventurers gave them something in return. “Algarods sword” yelled one. “The donkey in the tower” yelled the other. “A baby” yelled a third. “The baby in the laboratory!”. After haggling with the harpies for a while Belladonna offered to sneak into the laboratory to try and see if there was a baby to be found there. They bared no illusions of returning to King Algarod in order to steal his sword and Erden did not want to give up his beloved donkey to the winged wretches. After scouting through the upper levels of the laboratory Belladonna found a book in the clutches of an undead clerk. The book was rotted and the parchment almost fell apart when touched. On its dusty pages they could find a long list of names, all but the last one marked with a cross. Next to the last name there was a check mark and the words “lion” and “scorpion” could be seen next to it. There were also references to a master and that the work of the laboratory had come to a standstill since the supply of something called “Mog” had run low. Beside Erden, Nobel was the only one of the group that could read so when he read context of the tome to the others he got an idea. He figured that the names marked with crosses were failed experiments and thus their bodies would have to have been discarded somewhere, but all the undead they had seen seemed to be soldiers or servants, and if Belladonna could be trusted, the prison in the laboratory was empty. Maybe the black waste in the ravine was the remains of people? Burzob tied a rope around the Sorcerer's waist and lowered him down towards the black sludge and when he was close enough Nobel gave a sign for Burzob to stop as he proceeded with calling out the name of one of the slaves in the list. As Nobel infused the sounds of the name with his magic, the black sludge responded with a shudder. It was a horrific display as eyes, mouths and grasping arms materialized from the blackness, reaching and clawing in the air toward the suspended sorcerer. One of the mouths spoke.
“Yes I am he whose name you spoke. You must help us for I am now we. Our bodies are one in death and we have been trapped here for ages. They stole our limbs, eyes and ears. My arms are now an others. I can feel him use them even now. It pains me.”
Nobel was shaken to his core by the eldritch display. Only the darkest of magics wielded by the darkest of minds could cause something like this. He demanded to be raised up again and told what he had learned while shivering in the wind of the square. Belladonna was not deterred, still feeling bound by her promise to explore the lab she went down the staircase again, into the darkunder croft of castle Weatherstone. In a small antechamber she found an empty prison and a vivisection table equipped with tools. The floor was covered with the broken remains of five undead soldiers. In the next room she could hear something heavy rustling around. A mumbling, rabid voice reached her ears.
"Where did she go? The little elvish girl was so soft. Where is she? I need her skin! I need her hair! So soft and bright and unmarred.”
In the faint light Belladonna caught a glimpse of the monster. It had the body of a lion and the swollen face of a rotten corpse. Its tail was that of a scorpions and instead of legs it had three pairs of human arms, scuttling like a centipede. Belladonna had enough of the horror and left the lab to tell her friends of what she had seen. Together they decided to exit the castle and rest in the bowman's tower so Erden could take care of his donkey and so they could prepare themselves for a fight with the laboratory horror. On their way back there they passed many undead and barely managed to escape conflict with them. Burzob again took a blow for his friends as the undead pelted him with a barrage of cutlery as his friends ran through the great feast hall at the castle entrance. They spent the night in the tower, resting more soundly knowing that the undead were on the other side of the moat. Nobel assembled two mighty undead warriors from the bones of valley and Burzob practiced his defensive stances.
In the morning, Belladonna was on watch and through the morning haze she could see a band of riders approaching from the west. There were twelve of them in all. Clad in plate armor rusted red and riding black destriers of a frightening size. But after waking the others they could not decide what to do. Maybe the riders would pass them by? But they did not. Instead the rode closer and closer until they stood in formation in front in the valley outside the castle. It was not until this time that the adventurers realized the predicament they were in as Nobel recognized their armor and could inform the rest that the riders could be no other than the fearsome Iron Guard, the militant section of the rust church. Their horses were clearly no natural breed for they all showed signs of demonic influence. One had long curled horns on its head. Another long fangs. A third had scales in place of fur and a fourth had a bundle of vipers instead of a tail. The rest of the horses and even the riders themselves were equally terrifying, equipped to the teeth with rusty swords and long spiked flails, most of them showing the same signs of demonic influence as their mounts. These men were not here for exploration or treasure. They were here to kill and capture.
As their leader gave a sign two of the riders broke formation and started scouting around the valley and again Burzob sacrificed himself for his newfound friends. He told them to escape as he would create a diversion. He rose from his hiding place at the top of the tower, greeting the riders with a friendly hello. The knights froze and immediately started closing in on the him. Their leader raised his visor and revealed that he had an extra pair of eyes on his cheekbones. Through teeth filed down to nasty points he responded to Burzobs greeting with a smile and a nod.
“We come here in search of Erden the Honest and his accomplices, tell us all you know and we shall spare your life after you have repented your sins in front of the true gods”
Burzob responded, saying he would meet them at the base of the tower where he would tell them all he knew and as he started walking down all but Nobel escaped, unseen along a rope tossed through a tower window. They ran along the moat towards the mountains. Nobel who knew what the riders were capable of could not move and not speak, fear having gripped his soul to the extent that all he could do was huddle up into a ball and hide in his sleeping furs.
Burzob stepped out of the tower to meet the Iron Guard face to face. He began by explaining that he did not know where Erden was. This displeased the riders and in the corner of his eye he saw one of them raising a great flail at Burzobs back so he spun, drew his sword, and parried the knights blow. But more attacks came quickly from all sides and no single orc can match the might of twelve knights and he was quickly captured. Flailing and screaming he was bound with rope and thrown over the side of one of the horses. The knights searched the tower but failed to find Nobel among the furs so they moved on towards the rest of the castle. Four of the knights stayed behind to guard the rear and keep check on Burzob.
When Nobel heard the screams of his friend the orc he steeled his courage and decided he must try and save him. He woke his two undead warriors who he had ordered to lay motionless on the floor and decided he might use them to distract the knights and run in during the chaos to untie his friend. But just as he was to set his plan into motion he could hear a signal from the castle. Someone was blowing a horn that echoed through the valley. Soon the sounds of battle could be heard and the eight knights who entered the castle came back out, in obvious retreat. Following them came hundreds of skeletal warriors led by their undead King. Chaos ensued after all and in the fray Burzob managed to escape with the help of Nobel. They were almost run down by the fleeing knights and the undead horde but quick wit and fast reflexes gave them an opening to escape into the mountains.
From a hiding place on a cliff side Burzob and Nobel could see how Algarods army celebrated their victory, having routed the Iron Guard that were by now riding away with great haste. The King climbed a rock and gave a speech to his men.
“Warriors, hear your King! Once again we have been attacked by the enemy and once more we have routed them. This time we will not let them escape. We will follow them to the edge of the world or the end of time. We march to the west! We march to the Fortress of Vond!”
And with that the undead horde left castle Weatherstone. Marching to the west and leaving the adventurers stunned and alone outside the castle. The only sounds was the howling wind and the scraping of bone as a few stragglers hobbled away, following their King on a last march to the west.
End of chapter 4.
Re: [SPOILERS] Campaign Chronicle - A Tall Tale of Five Exiles.
Posted: Sun 07 Apr 2019, 10:11
This is great, JJ!
Re: [SPOILERS] Campaign Chronicle - A Tall Tale of Five Exiles.
Posted: Mon 15 Apr 2019, 22:58
Chapter 5: Treasure
After resting in the bowman's tower the exiles decided to find the gear the undead took from them when Algarod awoke. Once they were armed again they would slay the beast in the laboratory in the hopes of finding a baby to give to the harpies. That part of the plan seemed somewhat suspect considering that no human babe was likely to survive a prolonged stay with the beast belladonna had described. Nobel voiced concern that the harpies would try to betray them at the first opportunity. The bird creatures had not exactly proven to be trustworthy so far. Erden was determined to do whatever would take to get his hands on the spire and could accept no other alternative than all of them going in to get it. So, once more they entered Castle Weatherstone.
Since the castle was almost completely empty they soon found the gear and gathered outside the laboratory on the square with the tree. Burzob had no patience for squabbling and felt eager for battle after the sound rest in the bowman's tower. His leg had healed up well and his face was no longer hurting so badly. He draw his sword and shield and bellowed down into the dark of the stairwell below. He beckoned the creature to come out to meet them. The creature responded hesitatingly. It had a voice thick with anguish and as it spoke it sounded slurred, as a drunkard with a broken jaw.
“Who are you that dare summon me with such insolence. Come down here instead so i may greet you in my home as guests! But first I must ask you, are you the ones that stole my legs?”
Burzob answer was simple and was delivered without hesitation. He roared out a bold lie that they, in fact, had the creatures legs but if the ugly fiend wanted them he had to come up and show his face. Unless of course, the beast was a coward? The thing could not stand being insulted on the threshold its own home and came roaring out from the darkness. Goaded straight into a trap. The beast was a fierce fighter but was no match for the combined strength of five brave adventurers. They surrounded the creature and beat it to a pulp. Everyone pitched in with spears, flails and poisoned daggers. As the man-thing turned to flee it used its long venomous tail stinger to defend itself as it ran down the stairs, but Burzob was faster. He ran after the thing, deflecting the stinger with his shield and cut the entire tail off at the root, severing sinew and bone. The thing died in a torrent of blood that ran in rivers down the staircase like a bundle of black snakes.
After having disposed of the monster and catching their breaths for a bit Erden, Nobel and Droll lit their torches and went down to find the supposed baby as Burzob staved of the Harpies who, when seeing that the beast was dead, immediately tried to swoop down towards the laboratory windows to get the baby themselves. After a show of force by the orc the harpies settled with waiting for the adventurers and were convinced to hold their part of the agreement. Down in the lab the dungeoneers found strange powders and rotten books. They found two bodies nailed to the walls with their legs cut off, in the pockets of one of them Nobel found a heavy silver statue in the shape of the Serpent God. He pocketed it without telling anyone. Erden went through the rotten library the monstrous creature had used as a nest. All the books were molded and unreadable but among the rubble he found a collection of glass jars with human parts in yellow fluid. One of them was a whole human fetus.
Knowing that the harpies would trick them if given the chance Burzob got them to reveal the location of the treasure before handing over the glass jar with the human baby. The ugly creatures had stuffed it all into a small crevice on the cliff side, just below the terrace with the catapults. Belladonna rushed there ahead of everyone else as soon as the harpies had revealed their secret. Then the harpies descended on the bottled baby as they screeched with glee. Soon they started to squabble amongst themselves regarding who was the better mother. They fought so hard with each other over who was to carry the baby that the jar was dropped and shattered against the stone floor. This did not deter their affection as they lifted the unborn corpse into the tower and placed it there, cooing with raspy voices. They had to make some room by discarding a few child sized skeletons from their nest, but then a stillness settled them all as they watched their newborn and left the adventurers to their own devices.
Belladonna was already down in the crevasse as the others gathered on the terrace. Burzob climbed down and together they excavated a large treasure, a plenty of gold, silver and copper coins. Furthest in the crevice they found a bundle of linen and as belladonna grabbed it she could feel the hairs on her neck stand on end. She knew that what she was holding was no simple thing of value, but a thing of greater importance. As she unveiled the linen a golden spire set with a grand ruby revealed itself. To the head of the spire three chains were set and on the chains three rods of alder wood hung, singing in the wind like a wood chime. As she touched the gold, here eyes were drawn to the deep red of the ruby and she felt a great burden fall upon her. She knew that whoever held this rod had power and with that power came responsibility and a duty to make hard choices. She quickly handed the spire away to Burzob, giving him the part still covered with cloth. For Belladonna had no ambition to rule anything. Responsibility scared her for she tended to hurt the things she loved. As they climbed back to their friends, Erden was handed the spire with grand ceremony as Burzob felt the the occasion deserved it. As Erden held the spire the others began to see him in a different light. The lying peddler was a now a man of authority. A ruler of men and land. Nobel inspected the spire with his sight and could confirm that the spire held great power. Indeed, it would be hard to deny a request from a man wielding such a symbol. As he probed further he realized that even the land itself might be forced to yield to the magic of the spire. He also realized that such power would burden the mind of anyone wielding it. Burzob yelled for Dalb to show herself and congratulate her husband for he suspected that she was watching them from the shadows but as his voice bellowed over the valley the only thing vaguely like a response was the screech of a falcon. It made a few circles above their heads before heading to the west.
Rich beyond their wildest dreams they left the castle. Heading north over the mountains, on the path to the village Grindbone. Using the map they had taken from brother Ferebald they could calculate that they would be able to make the journey in two days time if they were lucky and marched hard. This was deemed a fortunate thing for their supplies were running low and they were eager to see civilization again. After walking over the mountains and down into the western parts of the Groveland woods they stopped to rest, fish and forage. They were planning to leave the camp during the day but as the sun was just about to rise and the birds had started singing something happened in the woods. Belladonna and Droll who were awake by the fire felt shivers run down their spines as everything suddenly became quiet. The birds stopped singing and the wind stopped blowing and the woods suddenly felt very dark and very deep. Around them they could see a dark crimson mist flowing around the trees, rising tall and surrounding them. With haste they woke the others for they had all heard the tales of the Blood Mist. They ran, leaving the camp and taking only their backpacks and weapons with them. In the haste Nobel got separated from the group for he was the first to run. He knew all too well what happened to the poor creatures who got lost in the mist. He himself had been born during that dreadful time when every night it would envelop the land. Only after running for a long time he realized that the mist had crept around him and trapped him in a small glade. He screamed as it swallowed him.
As Burzob, Erden, Belladonna and Droll gathered their wits again they felt happy for having escaped the mist. Just as they realized that Nobel was missing they heard him scream from the forest. Burzob did not hesitate and Erden and Droll joined him in rushing back to save their friend. Belladonna dared not risk her life and stayed behind. Breathing the red mist made them feel sad and hopeless. It was not moist but dry like a fine dust and it seemed to move against the wind. They started to suspect that they would be too late, and that the the death in the mist would come for them all. It was foolish to rush back into the mist. Why should they all die? The thoughts were interrupted by another scream. Before them in a glade stood Nobel, terrified out of his mind cowering away from a wispy creature. It was shaped like a man but its proportions were all wrong. Its arms were too long and its face had no features other than a slavering mouth oozing with red ichors. It seemed to blend with the mist like sirup in water. It struck suddenly and without warning, flowing like smoke with an otherworldly grace and ferocity. The fight was hard and the band of adventurers realized that the creature had no sense of self preservation. Attacking like a crazed predator with its razor sharp sword-like arms. Nobel ran away and so did Droll. When Erden was struck down only Burzob was left. He screamed and fought with a berserk fury. It came down to one blow in the end. He abandoned his defensive stance and struck with all his power, knowing that it might be his last chance. The gambit paid off and as his broadsword impaled the creature it let out a dry rasping hissing sound and dissolved into blood red motes of dust, mingling with the mist. Burzob thought he was wounded and alone before he realized that Erdens donkey was still standing watch over his fallen master and together they managed to get the injured Erden back out of the mist. Forced to breath heavy in the red dust Burzobs mind was addled with despair and he was just about ready to sit down and give up as the first light of the morning came over the mountaintops and filtered down through the leafy canopy of the forest. Where the light touched the ground the mist was burned away. Forcing it back into the ground as suddenly as it had risen. He could hear the call of his friends and staggered out to meet them.
They pressed on immediately, eager to leave the forest and enter the plains. Before them the Green hills of the northern Harga stretched out for as long as the eye could see. The good weather and the fact that they had survived the attack of the blood mist made them lift their spirits. They kept moving to the north, marching hard towards Grindbone with its promise of hot food, warm beds and a chance to spend some of their newfound coin. Their hopes were disrupted by a wild boar that came rushing across the hills straight towards them. The boar acted completely rabid and all five adventurers braced with lowered spears and raised swords. A few boar steaks would be nice to cook up in a tavern towards the night. Suddenly the sun was blocked out by a large shadow and with an ear piercing screech droll the goblin was plucked from the ground like a ripe berry by a huge griffin. When the pair was high into the air and moving with great speed the griffon opened its claws and flung droll towards the ground. He bounced along the grassy gnolls but managed to protect his head and got away with a few scratches. The griffon was not satisfied and dove again, but this time the adventurers were prepared. Burzob slashed with his sword, Nobel thrust his spear and Belladonna stabbed with her knife and the griffon was soon no more than a wounded animal panting for air on the ground. Its wings torn to shreds and its guts spilling across the grass.
On the wind they could smell smoke and to the north they could see pillars of soot from the hearths of Grindbone rising towards the air. Five light riders were approaching them from the small town. The flew a banner depicting a white millstone with a single drop of red blood on blue cloth. As they came closer their leader raised his hand in salute showing them that they came in peace.
“Travellers hear me for I am Captain Kratullos of Grindbone, I hail you welcome to our village. I have heard of you and your deeds and was hoping you would head this way. I have an offer for you. Please let us sit down and speak over a mug of ale. Let’s make a fire."
End of chapter 5.
Re: [SPOILERS] Campaign Chronicle - A Tall Tale of Five Exiles.
Posted: Tue 16 Apr 2019, 16:21
I declare myself a total fan of Burzob