Adventures in Hiraeth

Chapter I: The Road to Skarabrae


Part I: Surfacing

Scrawled Notes in Ertix's Hand

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No one here knows anything of use. Closest thing was the priest, who at least seemed interested. The next village is called 'Skarabrae', meant to be bigger. Someone there might have answers. This 'Redcliff' seems to have no obvious magic I can see, and no practitioners.

Need 5 copper to travel with next caravan. Man running the bar (Lying Fairy) saw my staff, offered 2 copper a week to help him out. Arthur is his name, seems like easy work and trustworthy. Can ask patrons for information about this banner, strange none of the dwarf miners have encountered anything like this in their tunnels. This one was buried deep though..
Vex ('captain' of a wagon) needs an escort to Skarabrae. Her guards were killed by Ratmen. She trades this route frequently, carries iron-bearing ore. Seems like a lot of work to mine it, bring it to the surface, and then carry it half way across the world just to make it into picks to bring back and mine more….
Met a massive dwarf hunter (part orc?) Loknir - interests align with mine, agreed to come along to Skarabrae to fill Vex's guard needs. Seems to know an awful lot for a hunter from a small town.

Cart-load of iron ore is collected from 'The Bank'. Very secretive, something not right - find someone who knows, or find out. Cult?
Look out for more blue medallions.

Route to Skarabrae is easy enough - new creatures above ground, 'Fire Beetles'. Keep an eye out for mounds of earth, glow slightly. Beetles no challenge in small numbers, appear mundane.

Three tieflings cross the path - disciples of Woeb Prall Deity of Luck/Fortune/? on a pilgrimage around Hiraeth to four sacred shrines. None seem to know anything of the banner, or much about the higher planes or arcana, but come across almost as blind followers.
Offer for me or Loknir to tag along, but we've given our word to Vex to get her to Skarabrae.. this deity seems interesting, remember to head east of the road and south for two days to investigate shrine location.
One of the three rolls a dice and decides to join us for a time (Ohanzee).

Next day, two gnomes on a pony are coming down the road the same direction as us - one is in a bad shape, one looks to be a College wizard. Nubbly Nubkins is the wizard, and can produce similar energies to me. He knows nothing of the banner. They are surprised to hear of the Ratmen and travel with us to avoid getting eaten..
Loknir finds a wolf cub and seems to be trying to domesticate it for some entertainment.
An elf from the southlands is shadowing us, seems to have a distaste toward death-aspected magic. Applies across the surface - good to know.

Arrive in Skarabrae and take rooms in an in - no library and another working town.. Someone sneaks in unnoticed while we're asleep and leaves us letters or sealed wooden boxes. Loknir and Nubbly open theirs and get instructions to meet some Lord, seems like he has work for us….


Part II: Andalou's Blood and Tears

From Jac.'s diaries

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Drak’s parties, everyone has heard of them, I am getting more excited by the day. Hopefully I can make an impression. Also, hope the travel is worth it, seems it should be, as some nobles are travelling for more than a month to get here.

Of course I’m not staying at the manor itself, but would it kill some of the snooty nobles to not rub it in our faces? There seems to be a bit of a minor incident where a gnome tried to talk to the Duke and his wife on the street. Well, results as expected, completely snubbed.

Anyway, accommodation. I follow the human noble and gnome combo to an inn, the Broken Grape, although it apparently has another name? There we meet the innkeeper Rust, a portly redhaired man and three gnomes and a dwarf, whom seem to be associated.

Nubbly, Dickopoulos (Yeziver), the gnomes, and Ertix, the deep gnome, didn’t realise svirfneblin came to towns at all. Loknir appears to be a reticent dwarf hunter or ranger with an amazingly cute puppy. They all got their own invitations to Drak’s, and not the bland type. They had boxes which had magical puzzles, a magical badger running around it that had to be but to sleep, a box that grew hotter that had to be cooled by magic. Amazing! And, of course Loknir’s was to smash his open…

Well the gnome and noble duo are Puddly Fizzwizzle and Garth Marengi, respectively, would be a bit weird the other way around. Puddly, like a true gentlemen, buys drinks for everyone, ‘Andalou’s Tears’ seems to be a strange wine that makes you melancholy, I accompany the drinking with a sombre tune of my own. It appears that the combination is too much for Rust.
Anyway, did everyone get blackout drunk? Yep, what a great first meeting. The Andalou’s tears gives a common hallucination of an idyllic stone and wood cottage next to a stream with a waterwheel. How strange.

Next morning, the boys go order some new clothing, their current stuff is pretty shabby. I go get my leather armour cleaned, got to make an impact guys; but not before getting some breakfast from the local markets. I mean, who serves oatmeal for breakfast, Rust seemed pretty taken aback when I said that.

Well, it’s time for Drak’s Party. Everyone in their new clothes, we present our invitations at the door; Loknir brings his axe in… really? One step in and the scale hits me, it’s held in a massive entry hall, large tables filled with food and drinks hug the three walls, with space cleared in the middle, truly a classical ball or soiree to a different scale. Star Waddlemoddle himself is singing on a balcony overlooking the floor.

Ertix spots Wanda, an elf, some sort of acquaintance and goes over to talk to him. Something about, will trust him if he completes the task for Drak.

Meanwhile, it appears that the pretty wife of the fat Duke Derrick Gale is dancing with none other than Sir Gerald Hurt, one of the Paladins of the Prince. Apparently, he is super famous, not that I have heard of him. I digress, this appears to be some tasty gossip either way. Drak himself comes and greets Gerald and shakes his hand.
Ertix casts a spell? And seems to study Sir Gerald for some time and then switches to look at a group of dwarves. Ah, officials, Dwarves of the Bank, yes?, important people.

Servants come notify us to come meet with Drak. Us, meet Drak? Nice. Loknir appears to be imbibing a bit too much whiskey. He starts rambling about the stonework on the way through to a meeting room.
Drak, the enigma himself, wants us to find out why Dane, a dwarf, is fortifying his house and how he got the money to do so. He says it seems to be that Dane came into a lot of money, and suspects him of breaking the treaty. More specifically, steal the documents from his desk. 10gp reward each. Of course we accept, well Loknir doesn’t really, think he left the room anyway. Jeeves rushes out after Loknir to stop him defiling the art gallery.

On moving back to the ballroom, the paladin is still dancing with the Duchess and the Duke is distraught. Well bad luck, I think you lose on all fronts there. Countess Yrgl, a harsh looking woman with black hair, is onlooking the duke/paladin situation, and seems to be anticipating a duel between them. She’s a bit creepy, or should I say morbid? She seems to like watching blood being spilt, she hosts her own blood sport games, only the winner gets rewarded. Err, no thanks. Drak attempts to calm Derrick, Dickopoulos follows up and convinces him to eat and drink Andalou’s Tears, not sure about the tears…

The following morning back at the inn, I wake up to a thump next door. I go investigate, it appears Dickopoulos has fallen over asleep, near a small blue lizard with a collar, which is also sleeping? I prod him with my toes. Lightning Lizard? Shocks you if you touch it? Ahh, I offer my quiver to scoop it up with. Dickopoulos goes and gets a small wooden cage for it. Loknir informs the group that the lizard is worth 15gp.

Lunch planning session in my room, sausage and veges. Need to look for the guard who Dane fired because he was always drunk. He frequents one of the local inns/taverns. There are two other taverns in the vicinity. The Loyal Heart and an unnamed one.
The Loyal Heart is a tented beerhall which is servicing some human farmers and dwarven guards. Loknir stays behind and looks after the lizard. Talk to gnome lady bartender for round of drinks, she doesn’t accept haggling, I thought all poor people haggled when buying things? Hmm. Apparently the guards work for the very Dane we are looking to steal from, and know the guard Gaelon, who was fired, he was trying to get a job with the city barracks, even though the mainly employ humans. Ertix disappeared for a while and a suspicious dwarf came in ask a few questions and left leaving his beer, well mine now.
Anyway, we head to the barracks and are immediately told that Gaelon is at the Broken Grape, as he was not fit for employment, especially seeing as he turned up drunk. Well, back full circle. Rust says that Gaelon is staying upstairs and has paid ten days in advance, we convince Gaelon that we want to hire him. Asking leading questions under the guise of an interview, we obtain some information of the house fort.

Time for Plan DDDD, Disgruntled Dwarf Disguise Distraction.
Ertix disguises himself as Gaelon and distracts the front two guards, saying that he has been rehired. I really thought I’d be able to climb this. Oh well, I try to open the door with a crowbar, how does this thing work again? Oops. Not like that apparently. Well things appear to be heating up out the front and inside. Magic is going off and I can hear Dane calling from inside.
I smash the window and run around the opposite side of the house and smash the library window too. Sounds like only Dane is a threat now, have the rest been slept? Oh dear, he has spotted Ertix (Gaelon). Well good a chance as any, I run in through the Library and upstairs, Dickopoulos following just behind.

We find the desk, I try to open it with the crowbar, should probably ask Loknir how this thing is used, he would probably know; plus he hasn’t done anything to help and is just sitting there outside the walls of the house.
Dick takes the crowbar and opens the desk drawer. Like that? Ahh. He grabs a stack of papers and hands them to me, and grabs some strange artefacts. I promptly put it in my bag and run and jump out the window, perfect landing on the wall. Nice. Should I become an acrobat? No too boring, and hard to become well-known. Ertix is being chase by Dane, who appears to be brandishing some strange weapon. Dick follows me out the window. Ahh poor choice, he appears to have flopped the landing. I grab him and run, this is turning into a real bunfight. The gnomes appear to be struggling with the small wall, which would be hilarious in any other situation.
Everyone runs outwards, a guard catches up to Nubbly and knocks him out. Dick hops down and runs to help Nubbly. Dane stops chasing Ertix, seemingly out of breath. He starts chanting a spell and a glow forms on the artefact he is holding. It fires out a golden ball which simply punches through Ertix’s back, leaving a gaping hole. Oh crap. I run. No deal. I fire a random shot of, hopefully to buy Dick some time. Nope. He was looking at helping Nubbly, same thing happens to him. Shit. I keep running.


Chapter II: Warrens and Warnings


Part III: Blood for Coin

From Loknir's expedition notes

With no sign of the others I can only assume they have either been captured or travelled elsewhere in service to Drak's criminal doings. I have therefore decided to follow my instincts and joined up with the Princes' Army in ridding the local area of it's Ratman infestation. The Army is stretched thin protecting from pirates off the coast and so the General has entrusted me with gathering allies to take on these rat warrens. To that end Lord Drak has promised a five silver bounty on each Ratman tail returned from the warrens. This promise of bounty has brought a farmer, Claud, who looks weak but seems to have passed Drak's test for entry. Alongside him sits an old acquaintance, Helja Brawnanvil. She looks as strong as ever, her finely made battle axe in hand, and agrees with some glee to come on the expedition. The General provides travelling packs full of rations and torches and a guide, Nigel. Nigel's bushy orange moustache is something to be commented upon, dominating his face in a way a dwarf would be proud of. As we make to leave Skarabrae two more figures join the expedition. Minerva wears full chain armour and carries a sword and shield like she knows how to use them. Not signed on with Drak, she has a private contract in her role as a bounty hunter. The second figure is short and grey skinned, bearing a splash of pure white hair. He looks the spitting image of Ertix and indeed it is his fellow Deep Gnome that Yuri came here to find.

He had arrived earlier in the day looking for Ertix and had spoken to me then. Sending him to Dane's fort he was given Ertix's remains, confirmation that the poor Deep Gnome was killed during the heist. Yuri then travelled to Drak's manor but was not allowed access by his guards. Taking his dead fellow's possessions Yuri had decided to join the hunt for the Ratmen. Drak would be paying the people taking part in the attack, and so if Yuri accompanied the group to the warrens he might get a chance to ask Drak the questions he needs about the fate of Ertix.

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Led by Nigel we travel out of Skarabrae and up the long road that leads north towards Redcliff. It is a four day journey to the rat warrens and the group bond as we walk. Nights are spent huddled around a campfire sharing stories while during the day the company are watched over by Yuri's owl familiar and Claud's two pet birds. I walk Stormfang from time to time, he is growing stronger by the day. Nearing the rat warrens Claud walks off the path and finds the corpse of a man who had been mauled to death by a wolf. On his body is a key and a ragged map. He and Yuri follow the map's instructions, happening upon a pile of freshly dug dirt not far off the path. Digging with his pitchfork and shovel Claud soon unearths a small silver chest with markings matching a banner Ertix often asked strangers about. They open the chest, finding potions within, and Yuri claims the chest for his own with a look of curiosity in his eyes.

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Arriving at the cave entrance we find the long abandoned mine, since reworked by the Ratmen into a warren. Lighting torches we stalk inwards, Helja and I leading the way with our natural knowledge of tunnels. The pathways within are a strange mix of mine shafts, carved tunnels from a civilisation long ago and hand dug rat tunnels. Moving onwards we slay any Ratmen we come across, many of the beasts not even waking from their slumber before our axes find their necks. On one wall we find a strange Ratman symbol that appears to be heraldry of some kind. Yuri dutifully takes notes on parchment, keeping track of the many twists and turns on the walls with charcoal. Most of the areas we come across are living quarters and the Ratmen are scattered and weak. One larger Ratman appears to be a butcher of some kind, he digs his cleaver into my shoulder but Minerva's blade finds his heart before he can draw it back for a second strike.

Further into the warren we come upon a robed figure who appears to be experimenting on human slaves. We slay him and carefully look around, finding evidence of poisons and experiments on strange purple mushrooms. Yuri magically deciphers the Ratman's secretive scrawl while I take notes for the Encyclopaedia. Yuri keeps the notes and books from the Ratman's table and we move on. Not far away we find a room filled with ornate paintings depicting a large Ratman. He appears to be fighting dwarves and ruling over his people. In a secret room behind a painting we find another silver chest bearing the night sky symbol of the one we found outside. Unable to open it we give it to Yuri once again. The Deep Gnome meanwhile had run out of paper and we were now travelling only based on feeling and the charcoal scratches on the walls.

Deeper into the poorly-dug sections of the warrens we find Ratmen who appear to be on drugs of some kind, passing around a smoking green bowl and sitting in black robes. We butcher the Ratmen before they awaken and nearby find a room of injured Ratmen. I kill them all and take their tails as trophies. The others seem unsettled by this, but many of them are weak from time spent in civilisation. The Ratmen have filled their tunnels with many traps and after one pressure plate I find myself growing dizzy. The purple dust it let off have made me feel light-headed and I have begun to hear the word 'Hacktooth' repeated over and over. Feeling unwell I suggest we stop to rest for the night and soon we barricade ourselves inside of an ancient abandoned smithy. A few patrols of Ratmen appear but Minerva easily slays them without even rousing the rest of us. As we settle in for a rest I cannot help but think of how large these warrens truly are and if we will ever make it out of them alive.


Part IV: Hacktooth

From Loknir's expedition notes

As the group rests in the abandoned smithy a figure approaches. Covered in dust and carrying a pack of supplies weapons are raised and an awkward standoff takes place before I recognise the figure as none other than Jac! She sits with me a while and explains what had happened since I'd seen her last. Drak paid her handsomely for the information taken from Dane's house. It seems that she at least was successful in her mission, even as the others died around her. Drak had sent her to make sure I didn't derail the mission here, worried that I might do the bidding of the Army instead of his mercenaries. She came here straight from Skarabrae only a day after us, composing poems on the road and managing to avoid trouble until she reached the warren. Lighting a torch she followed the dead Ratmen and opened doors to find us.

After speaking with me I head back to sleep, overhearing a little of the conversation Jac has with Yuri. Yuri asks her about Ertix, about his fate and about the strange banner he was investigating. Jac knows little more than me, revealing to Yuri that Ertix intended to win favour with Drak to get allowances to visit Trinsic, the Elven city to the south. He believed the Elves would have more information about his mysterious banner.

Time is an irrelevance in the warrens and some hours later we awake in darkness. Lighting torches we share a quiet breakfast and set out again, moving through unexplored tunnels and corridors and leaving only a few dead Ratmen in our wake. Soon we happen upon a religious sight of some kind, an idol to a rat-headed god sitting alongside a bowl of the strange purple mushrooms we had now encountered a number of times. Yuri reads the runes around the shrine and discovers that the mushrooms are a way of communing with the patron spirit of these Ratmen, a creature named "Hacktooth". It is a name I am familiar with, but am now uncomfortable at having the creature speak inside my mind.

Moving onwards Yuri insists that we capture one of the Ratmen alive and breaking into a cheese storage room Minerva expertly takes down one of the beasts. I interrogate him with Yuri, the others watching on as the conversation in Undercommon takes place. The beast reveals that he came here to serve Hacktooth, as did his fellows. The mine that once stood here broke into some ancient tunnels and the Ratmen had dug their own tunnels in an attempt to find more of these ruins. The rat is under the impression that the tombs here are from an ancient culture of Ratmen, although the idea of these beasts having a society seems absurd. We convince the creature to lead us to the opening to the ruin only to find it caved in. Apparently the Ratmen collapsed the tunnels at some stage to stop entry.

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Helja and I put our dwarven brawn to work, clearing stones and smashing through in no time whatsoever. What sits beyond is nothing like the red stone pathways we had been exploring. High ceilings sit above rooms carved in a dark blue stone, expertly worked with unlit braziers still holding oil. Lighting the room we find stonework that neither Helja nor I can place; not dwarven, or elven or even gnomish but something else entirely. Yuri lets the captured Ratman go as we explore the room. A concealed chest holds small bars of gold, silver and bronze while Claud senses magic hidden behind a small writing desk. Within is a golden coloured gauntlet and a massive strange feather. Moving through a heavy stone door we happen upon the sight of an ancient battle. A golden armoured skeleton lies dead on one side of the room while the walls are covered in claw marks and ancient scorched stone. Minerva moves over the skeleton and removes his armour, taking off her own heavy chain for the ornate and exquisitely crafted splint armour. She is a sight in her golden armour and also equips the gauntlet from the previous room.

Moving onwards we find the skeleton of a massive Ratman. Easily the size of an ogre, the creature is long dead and chained to the floor. Jac uses her crowbar to pry open a locked metal door, the first of its kind we have seen in the warrens, and we find within an ancient skeleton. The skeleton holds in its hand a long dagger which Claud inspects as Yuri walks up to look at the bones. As soon as we enter the room there is a clattering behind us as the bones of the rat-beast begin to reform. Soon the hulking creature stands over us, a skeletal ratman who easily fills the high ceilings. Minerva, Helja and I combine to cut the beast down, smashing it apart. But as I pick up its skull as a trophy the beast reanimates, swinging at Helja and landing a solid blow across her face. Now Claud steps into action, summoning frost magic around himself that slows and wounds the creature on each strike. Jac also joins the melee, firing her longbow in close quarters while ducking the swings of the beast. Seeing that the creature will not fall I rush into the other room, smashing down upon the other skeleton with my hammer. The beast deanimates, falling to the floor where Helja proceeds to smash it to pieces. Through all of this Yuri has been staring off into space concentrating, and as the dust settles we find out why.

Yuri claims to have been communing with the spirit of Hacktooth during the battle, speaking to the long dead ratman. He explains that Hacktooth fought alongside a human long ago by the name of "Saff". They were attempting to fight off the elves in the south and both served an ancient god: 'Morloch'. Saff was killed by the elves and Hacktooth hid here to escape their wrath. Yuri said that Hacktooth has asked him to help find a room. I am dubious about this entire event but Claud, newly revealed as a mage himself, confirms Yuri's experience as being similar to that of communing with a spirit or patron. And with that we head off again, this time following Yuri's instructions from Hacktooth until we reach a strange room stinking of magical resonance.

A ritual circle sits in the floor carved of iron and a small table holds a bowl and knife for ritual sacrifice. Yuri, Claud and I look at the room for some time, eventually coming to the conclusion that it is a ritual chamber used to speak to a deity or god far away. Hacktooth confirms this to Yuri, saying that he created it to try to speak to Morloch but was never successful. Yuri decides he wants to complete the ritual and talk to Morloch and Jac agrees to help him. I urge caution, repeating what I learned at college about the dangers of summoning rituals. I also implore them to think about why the elves might be trying to kill this god, Morloch, and whether the patron of the Ratmen is really something we want to talk to. I look to Helja and Minerva for support but they are busy clearing rubble to another exit. Unwilling to interfere beyond words I leave Yuri to his fate, eventually leaving the room with Minerva and Claud. We wait outside as Yuri and Jac complete the ritual, aided to my surprise by the normally level-headed Helja.

Nearly an hour later the others leave the room, having communed with Morloch. Yuri tells us that the god wants to be free of his shackles and wants him to help free him. How to do this however he is unsure. Moving through a new set of corridors I am surprised to find Ohanzee. He had followed the Ratmen here some week ago and wandered the tunnels without meeting a single one. With the hundreds of them skittering around here it was an act of pure luck. We settle in to share his campfire, preparing ourselves for the final push to clear the warrens.


Part V: Dead Ratmen Have No Tails

From Loknir's expedition notes

Moving on through the warrens after a rest the group comes upon a strange armoury. Filled with half destroyed dwarven and elven armour, the items are piled haphazardly. Looting through the spoils of a war long ago the group find the items they want. I take a damaged but fine suit of dwarven half-plate armour, hoping to have it repaired once we return to Skarabrae. Moving through more sprawling corridors Helja once again takes the lead, Jac walking behind her longbow raised. Yuri walks at the back, eating small slices of the purple mushrooms found within the warrens. He mutters to himself from time to time, talking to Hacktooth in his head again no doubt.

Making our way back through the warrens we follow the chalk symbols that Yuri left behind. Returning to the torture chamber we find the two prisoners dead, left for days without sustenance after their captor was slain. We come to a disagreement about how to head forward. Yuri wants to continue onwards looking for the torturers spellbook while I think we should leave as soon as possible. Minerva and Jac agree with me and we soon find out way out of the warren and set up camp. Nigel the scout and Ohanzee accompany us as the sun begins to set over the forests and mountains.

Meanwhile Yuri, Helja and Claud continue deeper into the warrens looking for the spellbook of the torturer. Looking through his notes they discover the torturer was named Shrak. Deeper into the warren they find his book and soon rejoin the party camping outside.

Back on the road the next morning an argument breaks up between Yuri and Claud. It seems that Claud had picked up Hacktooth's dagger in the warrens and had hidden it from the expedition. Yuri suspects that Hacktooth's spirit still lingers in his dagger and Claud admits Hacktooth had been talking to him, telling him to do things. The group argues for a while, eventually deciding that the dagger should be destroyed. Claud reveals that the dagger had told him to kill Nigel and that night Helja sleeps alongside him to keep him safe.

During the night figures approach the campfire, moving towards a sleeping Yuri. He awakens just in time to shout out as the figures reach for him. A half dozen leather clad orcs with large axes circle the campsite and with Yuri's shout we a roused straight into battle. Helja and I move forward and cut down the lead orcs with out axes while Minerva strikes a blow with her shield that sends a third tumbling. As she puts her sword through its throat Yuri puts the last of the beasts to sleep. Jac and Claud jog out of camp to make sure there aren't any more as I tie down the surviving orc. Waking him from his enchanted slumber Yuri begins questioning the orc.

We discover they had been paid to capture Yuri. The orc reveals little more and I begin to force him to talk, an action that seems to distress some of my fellows. Nevertheless he gives us the information we need. He is from a small village that had been hired by a man named "Gamear Weebit". Minerva recognises the name as an infamous criminal operating on the west coast of Hiraeth. As far as she knows no-one had ever seen Gamear but his shadow lingers over criminal doings all across the land. The orcs had been paid to take Yuri to the northern village of Coalfell. Finished with the questioning Yuri prepares to let the orc go as he had promised. Unwilling to let something that attacked us go free I cut the orcs throat.

Yuri is outraged and the next three days back to Skarabrae are awkward. He grumbles at me, claiming that his word to let the orc go free should have been respected. Travelling down the dirt road out of the hills and mountains down into the forests the group follows Nigel. I hunt during the day with Stormfang, the wolf now able to run most of the day on his own. We take down a deer and enjoy fresh meat during the next two days travel.

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Approaching the coast and Skarabrae we spot smoke rising from the town. Getting closer it appears that the smoke rises from the island, just outside of the grey stone of the fort. Moving into town the word on the street seems to be that Drak's manor had burned down. No-one in town knows exactly what happened but the consensus seems to be that Drak and most of his staff had perished in the fire.

Nigel and I go to the fort to check in while the rest of the party returns to the Grape. At the fort I discover that Drak had financed the entire expedition and not only were they not getting paid but the rat-tail bounty was not going to be honoured. Leaving Nigel behind I return to the Grape. The group had been there gathering information, finding that an explosion led to the vast alcohol stores combusting. No-one had survived the blast and the blaze had only just been brought under control. It seemed that Skarabrae had been troubled in the days since we had left. Not only with the fire but the graves had been robbed outside of the village.

As Minerva goes off into the town to look for evidence the rest of us reunite to go to the town church, hoping to get the spirit of Hacktooth dispelled from the dagger Claud had taken from Hacktooth's remains. The white bearded priest, Blace, cannot cleanse the dagger. He suggests that the priests at Hiraeth capital or the druids of the Yew encampment might have the necessary power to cleanse it. Meanwhile Minerva discovers that there is no evidence of the bounty of Yuri. This means that the bounty is off the record, peaking her interest even more. In the church Jac notices that one of the church attendant is listening a little too intently at the discussion of grave robbing.


Chapter III: Curse of the Lycan


Part VI: Claud's Account

Hastily scrawled on the back of the party's shopping list…

thought I should write some notes in case I don’t survive to tell my story we returned to town and look at the draccs body and his servers looking at them showed us nothing but we did meat the preests son greg yury asked him some questions and this led to find this boy had found a magic focus further questions showed us that he might have got this things from a not so good way we looked into and went into the woods and foud found some monsters that we took out but we kept one for qestioning we found that he served some evil sounding guy and that was not on so we went back to town locknear told the guards while we talked to preest and told him about the bad stuff greg had did greg ran away guards chased him dont think we will see him again next day group worked togetere to get enuf for a pearl and we did then yury took all the cool stuff we have found and went to his room to check them all out at this point my rat teeth are getting pretty bad after he had checked it all out every one got some cool stuff we thought I shouldnt hold onto my dagger anymore and then we left town after some time travelling we came acros a traverler who was badly injured we tried to talk to him but he was quite angry and attacked us he bit me and locknear which I dont is good but we must travel on to the druids


Part VII: Full Moon

From Loknir's notes

After being bitten by the creature Claud undergoes a full inspection by Yuri. With the assistance of an identify spell Yuri determines that Claud is suffering from a curse known as 'Lycanthropy'. We discuss what we know about this curse but between Yuri and my knowledge we only know that the curse brings on great aggression and is tied to the moon in some way. This only strengthens our resolve to continue onwards to the druids of Yew. We travel up the road towards Redcliff, stopping to sleep in a magical grove of trees. The next morning Helja seems to have taken a small stone icon from the grove, a magical icon marked with the primordial symbol of the bear.

A few more days into our journey we are drawn towards the sounds of battle ahead. We rush onwards to find a familiar figure battle with three shambling creatures. Sir Gerald Hurt is a Paladin of the Prince himself and I last saw him at Lord Drak's party in Skarabrae. Gerald is battling three strange creatures, seemingly ancient humans still covered in their burial rags over rotting flesh. He plunges his glowing sword into one and decapitates another with a backwards swing. As his horse rears and brings the final one down he plunges his sword down on it as well. We are somewhat embarrassed by our rush, Gerald clearly able to handle himself. The creatures are what dwarves called Wights, although Minerva refers to them as "mummies". We greet the knight, Helja in particular taking a liking to his height and long limbs. We settled down for the day, breaking open some wineskins and cooking a wild boar that I catch with Stormfang. Learning of Claud's plight Gerald agrees to perform a ritual to remove his connection to Hacktooth's dagger. A ritual takes place and Claud has his connection severed. Helja and Gerald break open a second wineskin and move off into the forest to drink alone as the rest of us settle in for another night in the forests of Hiraeth.

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Gerald leaves early in the morning and I would later find out he had learned from Yuri about the devils in Skarabrae. Meanwhile we continue onwards, Helja cloy about a night spent with the knight but clearly wearing a token of his affection around her neck. A few days later we arrive at Redcliff. I had not been in my home for many weeks and it is good to see the mining colony proceeding as normal. We drop in at the Lying Fairy for lunch and a drink before moving out of town again. We head north of town in search of the necromancer Saff's old base. During the journey north Yuri had been reading the notes from Hacktooth's den. Most of the notes are reports of battles long ago between Hacktooth and his necromancer ally Saff and the Elves of the south. It details many of the barbaric actions of the Elves, killing whole villages of Gnomes on suspicion of them allying with the Ratmen. It was in these notes that Yuri found evidence of Saff's base north of Redcliff but despite the instructions we find little evidence of the base. It seems that the Elves had been thorough when they had sacked it long ago. Disappointed we camp near the famed red cliffs that give the town it's name.

During the night a figure in dark robes approaches the camp. Discovered by Jac he tries to flee into the forest but falls asleep as he flees. As he wakes Minerva works her interrogation skills on him, using a combination of persuasion and intimidation honed during her time as a bounty hunter. He does not reveal his name but does tell us he was hired to kill Yuri. He was paid at the Liche's Promise inn not far from here by a man named Aldius. He doesn't know why Aldius wants Yuri dead but was offered a tidy sum of 20 gold pieces for his head. Letting the man go without his weapons and coin purse we rest for the rest of the night before deviating from our journey slightly and arriving at the Liche's Promise inn. The Promise is a two story stone and wooden building that has seen better days. A stable sits at the edge of the cluster of buildings that make up the Promise and that is where I leave Slopnert as we enter the inn. Within are a strange collection of folk. Dwarves sit alongside Gnomes and even some Orcs. Shady looking humans serve drinks and it seems all those not allowed to stay in Redcliff drift here. The owner, Maryran, is a mage of some kind and detects Yuri's magical disguise as soon as he enters. He retreats to the forest with Claud to hide from any prying eyes.

As Helja and I settle in to start drinking Jac and Minerva begin plying the crowd for information. Strangely it is Helja who tracks down Aldius, the man who hired the assassination on Yuri. She meets with him in her room and finds out Aldius is simply a middle man. He is getting a cut but the funding for the assassination itself is being paid for by a man named Gamear Weebit. Gamear was also behind the Orc's who attempted to kidnap Yuri near Skarabrae. Helja shares this information with us and we agree to travel to Coalfell, where Gamear is said to operate, after visiting Yew to rid Claud of his curse.

In the forest Helja and Claud make camp with Yuri. The Deep Gnome is still worried to show his face at the Promise and so they camp under the green foliage. Hours later they return to the Promise at full pace. It appears that under the full moon Claud's curse had manifested. He had transformed, skin shedding and fur growing over as he transformed into a wererat! He is now loose in the forest and I hope for his sake no innocents come to harm.


Part VIII: An Act of Mercy

From Loknir's notes

Claud returns to the Liche's Promise the next morning and is reluctant to talk. I can tell something is wrong and push him but he still reveals nothing about his transformation. Yuri pushes him further but he is still tight lipped. After a hearty breakfast we leave the Promise and head north towards Yew. Yuri needs to be smuggled out to avoid the bounty hunters still looking for him. On the way out the minotaur bard who had been performing in the inn offers to join us on the road but Helja rather brutally rejects his offer. We break out of the hills of the Promise and back into deep green forests, tinged only slightly with the first browns of autumn. A storm wracks the road as we move north, troubled by Claud's recent developments. Hopefully once we reach Yew we'll find a way to cure him of his illnesses.

Later that day two strange figures begin to rush down the road towards us. Wearing ragged robes they hold golden symbols in their hands and swing strange spiked flails. We attempt to speak to them but they rush in, energy coalescing in their hands as they swing them at us. Luckily the men are frenzied with rage and we manage to subdue them. Tying them to a tree Yuri identifies their golden symbols as the sigil of Morloch, the patron of Hacktooth and the ratmen. When they awaken the men simply scream in rage until we are forced to knock them unconscious again. We decide to stay here for the night and discuss what to do about Claud. Yuri is convinced his lycanthropy will manifest again and wants to make sure he is safely contained. Helja suggests digging a hole and we are soon stripped of armour and digging in the soft forest earth. Some hours later a massive hold is dug and the two prisoners are executed without fanfare.

Claud is stripped of his weapons and armour and put down the hole while the rest of us settle in for a long night. Some hours later as the moon reaches its peak Claud begins to scream in pain. The transformation is like nothing I have ever seen. Fur sprouts from his skin as he face elongates into a snout, massive teeth ripping through his gums. After a few minutes of blood and fur and pain Claud is replaced by a beast of horrors. Part rat and part man, he is no mere lycanthrope but a ratman monstrosity. As the creature begins to trash around in an attempt to climb out of the pit Yuri raises his hands above his head and conjures a massive surging purple ball of flame. He pushes the flames downwards, washing over Claud and obscuring him from view. Holding the flames down the pit for a minute the screams and smell of burnt fur eventually stop and Yuri dismisses his ball of fire.

Looking down into the hole we see no sign of Claud, only a large hole in the side of the pit. We realise too late that the creature had escaped. Leaping from the earth nearby the rat-beast lunges off into the forest, attempting to escape. Stormfang lopes after him and pulls him down as the rest of us rush forwards. We smash at the beast with axe and sword. We hack pieces off the beast but find that these wounds close over and heal as quickly as we can make them. Only Jac's arrows seem to work, the magic of her attacks cutting through the lycanthropic resistance. Yuri rushes over and tosses me the broken magical sword recovered from Hacktooth's lair. Helja and Minerva hold the creature down while Jac loops her rope around its legs. It thrashes and writhes as I plunge the sword shards into its back. I stab again and again with the broken blade before eventually the creature that was once Claud turns to ash.

We share a somber meal on the side of the road near the pit that was intended to contain Claud. We scatter his ashes and Helja and I construct a small cairn to honour his memory. Not the beast he became but the man he was. Leaving his pitchfork and shovel next to his grave we continue onwards. Eight more days of travel pass uneventfully as we go up out of the forest and into the foothills of the mountains. We stop one day to rest and Jac spots a massive figure not even a mile away. The gargantuan blue skinned creature appears to be a giant, watching us from afar. Yuri speaks directly into the creatures mind and is surprised when it answers.

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Yuri speaks to the creature in his mind for a few minutes before we approach it on foot. Up close it is even larger, twice the size of a building and muscular. It's skin is grey-blue and it's eyes are pure white. The giant refers to itself as Gruuel Marx and seems friendly. He reveals he is the last of the storm giants who live in the mountains and that he was simply watching us to make sure we were not going to cause trouble. Apparently the humans and dwarves send hunting parties to kill him on occasion. We speak to him at length, learning that he is suspicious of the druids of Yew and that he is thousands of years old. Yuri questions him about the war long ago. Eventually the giant offers to let us visit his home in the mountains, having taken a shine to us. We gladly accept and soon have our gear packed onto the giants shoulders. He picks up Slopnert the pony and we head off into the mountains. It is a strange journey as Gruuel steps over massive rocky peaks. We spend nearly a day on his shoulders, light snow falling upon us as we go higher into the mountains before eventually we arrive at Gruuel's palace.

Carved out of the mountains themselves the palace is massive beyond imagination. Built for giants, the hulking archways and hallways make us seem like ants as we walk along them in the giant's wake. Gruuel once lived here with his entire family but slowly violence and the malice of lesser race saw them destroyed. Now he lives here alone, served by a clan of harpies who dwell at the peak at the palace. As we stop to rest on a large giant rug and meet Gruuel's other visitor. A grey robed man sits at the human sized table eating a roast meal that smells as fine as any I have had in some time. He pushes his hood back to reveal youthful and dark haired man wearing blue tinged scale mail armour. Anders Stormwind had come into the mountains to commune with the storm spirits he worships. He is a cleric of Mystra, the goddess of magic and storms. He had run into Gruuel in the mountains and been allowed to visit the palace. We share dinner with Gruuel and Anders, the giant sitting at a massive ice seat as we stand on the table itself and eat directly from the many delicious foods prepared for Gruuel by the harpies. Gruuel knows a good many things about Hiraeth and over dinner he shares them with us. For one thing he informs us that the Prince of Hiraeth has now gone beyond mere mortality. He was once a paladin of the Lord of Light but after decades of noble deeds ascended to become a Saint of the Light. We continue to drink and talk into the night, giant made whiskey as ancient as it is strong. Minerva and Anders go hunting naked in the snow with stone spears while the rest of us shame ourselves in one way or another within the palace.

The following morning Gruuel presents us with gifts to thank us for the company and promises to help us travel through the mountains. As the morning mist clears we can look out of the mountains onto the east coast of Hiraeth. From our vantage we can see all the way down to the capital.


Chapter IV: The Druids


Part IX: Something Rotten

From Loknir's notes

Over a decadent lunch prepared by the harpies we discuss our next move. Although we all want to visit the capital we agree that the destruction of the cursed dagger is more important. We would travel to Yew to seek the aid of the druids in removing the curse on Hacktooth's dagger before heading on to Coalfell where the man ordering the assassination attempts on Yuri is located. Before we depart Gruuel warns us about the druids of Yew. Apparently they had been taking far more shipments in than a settlement of that size warrants. Later that day we mount up again on the giant Gruuel and head back down the mountains away from his icey palace. Anders accompanies us this time, eager to commune with the spirits at Yew and learn more about the magic that he revers.

It is a cold journey to the north-west but as an act of kindness Gruuel deposits us much further to the north than he found us. We are only a few days away from Yew when Minerva departs. Gruuel had asked her to take on a bounty nearby and she assures us she would rejoin us once we leave Yew. Anders proves to be a good travelling partner in the following days, a polite young human who follows his goddess Mystra loyally. On our travels we encounter a group of undead battling with a gold armoured elf. Fighting with twin silver swords the elf makes quick work of the undead and speaks to Yuri and Helja at length. It turns out the elves of Trinsic had been sending soldiers northwards to battle the rising number of undead. He speaks of the war long ago as being run by rebel elves, not those acting in the interests of Trinsic. As he leaves he bestows Yuri with a silver sword pin that would allow him access to the elven lands to the far south.

Although the undead we have encountered have been weak and in small numbers we soon discovered the true cost of their attacks. A village nearby seems entirely abandoned, doors left open and tracks leading to the town hall. Within are most of the villagers, a few days dead. Most have been ripped apart by bare hands or bitten by dull teeth. Rotten flesh caught on shattered doors and empty graves seem to point towards undead being the culprits and nearby I find tracks showing the undead had spread out into the nearby forests. We pile the bodies in the town hall and set it on fire. Whatever their unhappy fate in life these innocents would not be returned to life by necromancy.

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The next day we begin to approach the settlement of Yew. The trees get taller and taller, massive dark wooden pillars with a canopy high above casting a mottling of light on the ground below. The forest gets more and more lush as we approach the coast before eventually we arrive at Yew. The settlement is built into the trees themselves, not carved with chisels or axes but seemingly grown into the trees themselves. Individual dwellings are accessible by wooden steps while larger communal areas taking up entire levels of the massive trees. The only evidence of civilisation beyond the trees are wooden walkways that cross the swampy ground between the trees, a necessity with caravans but out of place in the rest of Yew. We approach the settlement, leaving the pony at the edge of town and entering one of the larger tree trunk habitats.

Within the druids of Yew drink and eat together, seemingly sharing provisions with no currency changing hands. This is the town's only inn, Danklands, and most of the druids gather here during the day to relax. Helja and Jac talk to the locals and discover that their leader, Fernwhirl, is a powerful witch with the ability to remove the curse from Hacktooth's dagger. We travel through Yew and find her hut on the very edge of the ocean, where the massive trees of Yew meet the ocean in a change so contrasting it seems unnatural. Fernwhirl is an ancient woman who lives in her own tree. She is gracious and kind to us, agreeing to use a druidic ritual to cleanse the dagger of Hacktooth's corruption. We watch as she collects various herbs and roots from around her house, drizzling or crushing them onto the dagger while chanting in a strange language. With a rush and an inhuman scream a woosh of air leaves the dagger and Fernwhirl falls quiet. Hacktooth's spirit had been exorcised. Fernwhirl refuses payment for the service, claiming that cleansing the horn of a unicorn is worth more than any reward we could give her.

We stay in Yew overnight, sleeping in our own camp within the outskirts of town. In the morning Helja joins the druids for a morning ritual, a prayer in primordial and druidic that praises nature for all it gives us. During the day Yuri speaks with Fernwhirl, trying to get her to admit to the extra shipments that Gruuel had noticed. She reveals nothing, even when pushed, and Yuri leaves frustrated. Later that day we reunite for a fine lunch on the ocean's shore. We swim in the cold waves and enjoy the hospitality of the town. Later that day we head deeper into the Yew glades, far beyond the areas we have explored before.

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Here the trees are even larger and more lush, grown magically by the druids for hundreds of years. The ground is covered with flowers and brambles beyond imagination and moss or vines cover every stone. As we continue onwards ancient standing stones with glowing runes mark the edge of an even deeper glade protected by a wall of thorny vines. Clambering over the top of the strange wall we find something even stranger hidden within. Two hulking boats beyond the size of any I have seen before sit on a bed of vines. The boats themselves appear to have been grown like everything else in yew, magically formed out of the trees themselves to allow the druids onto the seas. But for what purpose? On board we find evidence of boxes and other trade goods. This is a troubling discovery. As per the tenants of the Treaty only the Prince has the right to trade by sea in Hiraeth. If the druids had been trading illegally it was a troubling revelation indeed.

Returning to our camp we argue about what to do about the druids. They are almost certainly breaking the Treaty but Helja points out how little evidence we actually have. She urges leniency against the Treaty-breakers until we know more. Jac suggests this is not our problem and that we should simply report it to the Prince's army at the next settlement we reach. Yuri suggests we speak to Fernwhirl and try to get more evidence and we eventually reach a compromise. We will wait three days on the edge of the settlement to see if any more shipments arrive.

These days pass without incident, the rest a welcome break after our days of travel. With no other evidence of wrongdoing we agree to talk to Fernwhirl in an attempt to uncover if the druids are truly breaking the Treaty. We visit her abode the following morning and Yuri plies her with questions. He dances around the points for some minutes before going straight at her, all but accusing her of trading illegally. Even with her even temper it becomes apparent she is growing angry as she repeatedly asks us to leave. Yuri continues to question her before her tree-home begins to quiver with her anger. Eventually we leave, warning her that the Prince's Paladins would hear of their transgression.

As we leave town Fernwhirl gathers Yew's druids in the centre of town. We hurry away from the town through the forest, moving at pace to distance ourselves from Fernwhirl's displeasure. Heading towards the town of Coalfell we camp for several nights in the forest and march all day at speed. But we could not escape Fernwhirl's wrath. One night the sentry owl summoned by Yuri is ripped to shreds by three massive eagles. Easily the size of a horse, the eagles swoop in and slash Yuri with their talons. Helja rushes to defend the deep gnome, taking deep wounds herself as she cuts down one of the massive birds. As it falls the creature twists and deforms, revealing itself to be one of the druids. Stormfang rushes from the back of the camp, pulling down one of the birds as I bury my axe in its skull. As it transforms back into a druid I smash down my axe again. The remaining bird tries to flee only to be brought down by one of Jac's arrows. The druid transforms back high above the trees and hits the ground with a sickening crunch. The druids are slain but it becomes apparent Fernwhirl does not intend to allow us to report her breaking of the Treaty.


Part X: Many Masters

From Loknir's notes

Breaking camp and continuing north we march through the night. As day breaks it brings with it a storm like I have never seen. The storm seems centred on us, howling wings and sleet ice battering us as we sludge through the muddy forest floor. For hours and hours we march through the storm, growing weaker as the fearsome cold bites to our very bones. Anders and Yuri grow weaker as the storm wears them down but unphased by the cold Helja lifts the pair over her shoulders and we continue onwards. After hours more even the strongest of us begin to grow weak from the storm. Yuri determines that the storm was summoned by the druids at Yew using a vast ritual. It is more powerful that any magic he has ever seen and he believes it had attracted observers from far away. The magical pulse was attracting strong divination magic, the gaze of powerful mages brought to this place by the storm. Almost on cue a series of sizzling splits in reality appear. Blue edged white gates cut rocks and grass where they appear before us. Four of these gates stand before us with a strange fifth gate at the centre. This one is black where the others are white and is wreathed in gold-red flames that scorch the ground below the portal. As we stand, stunned, one of the gates calls my name and I find myself drawn undeniably towards it.

I walk through the portal and experience a feeling like none I have ever known. It feels like my entire body is being ripped apart by claws smaller than anything in existence. Then as suddenly as the feeling starts it stops and I find myself on my knees in a strange cave. Minerva is by my side, having been drawn into the same portal. Before us sits a massive two headed giant on a throne of ice. He greets us and introduces himself as Woeb Prall. Understanding this to be the god of luck, he explains to us that this is a misunderstanding that has led to him being worshipped. The worship has led to him growing in strength and so he is able to grant blessings. He is cordial towards us even when Minerva and I are awkward and soon we take to gambling and feasting. The place gives us a sense of ease and after a few hours he request we step back into the portal and return to the forest. We accept, thanking him for his patronage.

We step through another gate back into the forest. It is night now and although the hard earth is still chilled by the storm there is no sign of the druids or their fearsome magic. Our portal had closed while the other three and the strange black portal remain open. One by one my fellows return through their portals, each snapping closed when they do so. Only the gate through which Helja and Anders travelled closes without them returning. When we regrouped later I would discover that the other portals led people to other locations. I tried to record what I could of what they remembered.

Jac had been summoned to speak to the Prince himself! In the ornate palaces of Hiraeth capital she feasted and spoke to him at length about his expectations for her. He asks her to destroy Yew and punish those who have broken the treaty. He also warns her of the trickery of the elves and not to trust the Elven ruler, Bellamere.

Meanwhile Yuri is teleported into an ivory cage. He recalls being held in a carved stone hall and speaking to a pale skinned elf on an obsidian throne. This was Bellamere, the king of the elves, and he too had a task for Yuri. Yuri seems to have not trusted the elf and recounts little of what transpired. But based on what he hints at I believe the elf asked Yuri to help kill anyone breaking the treaty. This seemed to be a suggestion that he butcher most of the villages on the west coast who are engaging in illegal trade through Yew. Yuri saw no point in the vicious slaughter and left back through the gate as soon as possible.

Returned and reunited in the forest we discuss what had just occurred. It seemed that the druid's storm had drawn the eye of these powerful lords and led them to believe we were important in some way. All that remained for us was the final black gate. We argue about going in, stating that no-one trusted any other single person to go through. I think I may have hurt Yuri's feelings by suggesting he is the most at risk of being corrupted by whatever is within. Eventually we step through into painful heat. Standing on a black rock surrounded by a sea of molten metal we look up at a massive stone figure. Standing the size of a castle he weeps molten rock from his eyes and speaks with a voice that reverberates in our very souls. The daemon speaks to us plainly, asking if we would serve as his emissaries in a war to come. He claims that both Bellamere and the Ratman god Morloch used to serve him and that their betrayal split his worshippers. He wishes to regain that power. He asks that we convince those we can to join the worship of him and kill all others. We refuse at first and he tries to sweeten the pot. He makes great promises in my mind, visions of a future he could make reality. I see the other's eyes widen as he sends images to them as well but eventually we all refuse and step, one by one, back out of the gate.

Back in the forest we camp out and discuss what had just occurred. It seems that these three powers vied for control of Hiraeth and each had decided to use us as their pawns. We all agreed that slaughtering any who would not follow the daemon was too vile to consider but are torn about what to do about Bellamere and the Prince's orders. Although Yuri resists we agree that it was our duty to wipe out the druids at Yew. Minerva suggests waiting for Helja and Anders to return but unsure when that would be we continue on. Before we go I produce a pair of glass orbs that the daemon gave me should we need to contact him again. With a mighty strike I bring my axe down to shatter the orbs, only to find the metal of the axe bursting into a thousand pieces upon the rain-soaked earth. Fuming I follow the others back towards Yew.

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Unwilling to fight, Yuri agrees to make a distraction to help us approach Yew unmolested. He travels to the south of the town with the pony Slopnert and summons a fearsome purple flame that quickly engulfs the ancient druid groves. As the purple flames dim the regular flames take hold and soon a conflagration spreads through the forest around Yew. Meanwhile we sneak up the coast, where the massive trees butt up against the ocean, and approach Fernwhirls hut.

As we approach Fernwhirl and a pair of her druids leave her hut to investigate the fire. Rushing forward Minerva and I plunge our blades into her guards and an arrow from Jac takes Fernwhirl in the chest. As I pull the sword I borrowed from Minerva out of the druids chest Fernwhirl screams in pain, raising her staff up and summoning a swirling vortex of green druidic magic. We stagger backwards and when the vortex subsides Fernwhirl is gone, replaced by a beast out of nightmares. Easily the size of her cabin the creature has scales like a drake and a massive head filled with teeth. It has flippers where a lizard might have legs and creates great craters in the earth with its mass. As we battle the Fernwhirl-beast lumbering octopuses scamper from the ocean, entangling Minerva and my wolf in battle. I hold off Fernwhirl, ducking under her lunges and slashing at her with my sword while Jac gets into position. Just as I tire Jac's arrow lunges forward, surrounded by magical energy, and takes Fernwhirl in the eye. She shudders and transforms back into human form and Minerva cuts her throat.

In the midst of battle I had not noticed the battle with the octopuses and realise too late that my wolf, Stormfang, had fallen. Smothered by the creatures I am unable to save him and he dies, whimpering, in my arms. I fly into a rage, beheading Fernwhirl and setting fire to her cabin. As we flee out of Yew we encounter other druids who we cut down without mercy. As the howls and calls of the druids pursue us into the forest I swear vengeance against them.


Chapter V: Coalfell


Part XI: Peaceful Resolutions

From Alaric's diaries

I ran into a strange group on the road down from Coalfell. A group of druids from Yew who had packed up all their worldly possessions, few as these were, and headed towards the mountains. I approach the group and speak to their leaders, a strange collection who are clearly not druids. Yuri speaks for the group, a deep gnome with a bushy white beard who asks many questions. Helja, a leather clad dwarf, seems to be hired muscle alongside the beauty Minerva. Jac is a bard and archer of some skill, and not unattractive herself. The group is rounded out by Anders, a cleric who wears the blue tinted armour of a storm priest. The group negotiate with the druids for a while before a massive grey skinned giant appears. They speak to him as well, calling him Gruuel, before the Druids follow the giant into the mountains.

I join them at their camp after the Druids depart, sharing salted meats and wine next to a roaring fire. It appears that the group are heading to Coalfell. They are tight lipped at first but I soon discover they are looking for Gimmear and agree to help guide them to the town. We hit the road the following day and they recall the days leading up to my meeting them at the edge of the mountains.

It appears that they had been in the process of attacking Yew when they had been captured. Their fellow, a dwarf named "Loknir" had struggled and been killed by the Druids. While Yuri, Minerva and Anders hid out in the ruined town of Mirefield Helja and Jac had been the Druid's prisoners.
Over the next days Jac and Helja spoke to the new Druid leader. He was worried about the deal the previous leader, Fernwhirl, made with Gimmear and the criminal syndicate operating on this coast. Fearful of attack by the criminals Helja convinces him to take his remaining Druids and head to the mountains to seek safety.

It is eight days to Coalfell and over this time I come to know my new travelling companions. There is gambling and good cheer at night when we make camp and laughter and music during the day. Jac proves herself to be a talented musician while Minerva rebuffs my subtle advances. I learn that the group had been travelling together for some time and hear stories of Ratmen, Giants and mysterious fires. Yuri recounts the history of the land that he is researching but I have little mind for history. The group also reveals that Gimmear has a bounty out on Yuri's head and that they travel to Coalfell to convince him to drop it. The heavy implication is they intend to kill the crime lord. I tell them I am no assassin but agree to show them where Gimmear lives, hoping his death will clear my own debt in the town.

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Arriving just outside the town we sit and watch the stone and wooden houses for a while, Yuri growing increasingly paranoid. We see no sign of Gimmear or his promised army of thugs and so enter the town later that afternoon. Yuri magically disguises himself as a dwarf and we book rooms at the town inn, the Red Tart Arms. As I stay to make some money off the drunk townsfolk the others go to meet with the town Mayor to attempt to sell the horses and carts left to us by the Druids.

They come back later, unsuccessful, having discovered something strange in town. After the Mayor attempted to rip them off he suggested that Helja, a registered blacksmith, use the town smithy. It seems the town smith had disappeared, leaving all of his tools and supplies behind. He had left hundreds of crowns worth of equipment and Helja happily repairs everyone's gear with his abandoned supplies. Yuri is suspicious of the blacksmith's disappearance but Minerva, a trained bounty hunter, can find no evidence of any foul play in Coalfell.

We drink that night in the Red Tart, pitchers of mediocre wine and jugs of ale brought to the table as we start a tab. We drink long into the night, Minerva, Jac and I pushing on even after the others go to sleep. Jac proves herself a gun hand with a throwing dagger and I end the night owing her nearly 20 gold pieces, while Minerva asks for ink etchings on her skin that I doubt she will be proud of in the cold light of day. The next morning I awake with a headache and an empty purse, coming to really enjoy my new travelling companions.


Part XII: Aggressive Negotiations

From Alaric's diaries

Over breakfast we make plans to bring Gimmear out of hiding. Jac and I would gather information in town while Helja and Minerva watch Gimmear's house to determine his movements.

I write this later that day, huddled beneath a tree near Quack Rock outside of Coalfell. The others have yet to join me and I sit alone, scratching into this infernal thing as I dwell on what has happened this foul day.

It began when we went downstairs and discovered Gimmear's thugs surrounding the Red Tart. They demand I go with them and I accept, assuming a chance will come to weasel my way out of it later. The thugs are annoyed that they lost money to me some weeks ago and my clever disguise had clearly not fooled them. As they are taking me to see Gimmear they begin to round up my new allies, claiming them as equally responsible for my alleged indiscretions. Helja in particular feels ill treated by this assessment and begins to brawl with Gimmear's thugs. Taking this opportunity I wriggle free of my captor, rushing back towards my fellows before a sudden and overbearing pain in my back smashes me into unconsciousness.

I awoke to find the street the sight of a bloody melee. Minerva darts between a half dozen enemies, their blades striking against her shield as she cuts throats and hacks at limbs. Helja had yet to draw her weapon, simply grabbing two of her attackers and smashing their heads together repeatedly as they struggle futilely against her massive strength. Jac lodges arrows in the eyes of her attackers while Anders summons bursts of electricity that blast thugs into tiny meaty pieces with massive booms. A dozen dead thugs lie in the street while more still flood towards us from the town hall, a lithe half-orc standing behind them with a sour expression on his face. I draw my daggers and dart in, helping where I can. I am no warrior but my distract aids Minerva in beheading a particularly ugly looking criminal with her quick darting sword. Suddenly Minerva lurches backwards as one of the larger thugs grabs her around the neck. The other criminals fan out around their hostage, threatening to kill Minerva. We stop fighting and wait as the thugs hold a blade to Minerva's neck.

Suddenly the criminals fall to their knees as a magical weave of purple energy falls upon them. We turn to confront Gimmear, now the lone figure opposing us. Jac and Minerva rush forward with blades drawn. And in the blink of an eye both are on the ground. With a single blow of his shield Jac is laid low while a spinning spear knocks Minerva unconscious. As Helja draws her great axe and charges Gimmear I begin to run away through Coalfell. Darting between houses I reach the edge of Coalfell and dash into the corn fields, running as hard as I can towards the edge of the forest.

And so I find myself sitting under a tree near a rock that oddly resembles a duck. We had agreed to meet here if things went south in Coalfell. I wait for nearly an hour before, shockingly, my allies join me. First Anders arrives at full pelt and informs me that they battled Gimmear in the streets of Coalfell. Minerva and Jac roused and rejoined the fight but were put down again. At that stage Anders fled back to the rock. Not long after a battered and bruised Minerva carries Jac to me, a spear wound in her leg. They had only escaped because Yuri had led Gimmear away, magically bolstering his strength and easily outpacing the half-orc in the forests around Coalfell. I marvel at the fact we had all survived, albeit with deep and painful wounds. Even Yuri joins us some time later, having spoken to Gimmear before escaping.

Yuri reveals to us that Gimmear was intending to hire us when he apprehended me. An awkward situation that leads to a few strained grins in the group. Gimmear was behind the death of Drak and the disappearance of Dane, a dwarf from Skarabrae. He had seemed offended that Yuri had refused his offer to help him but ultimately had let Yuri go.

Coalfell%20Burns.png

We rest for a while beneath the trees around Quack rock, discussing our options going forward. It is not long however until Yuri's own familiar begins to hear screams coming from town and a dark smoke grows on the horizon. Rearming ourselves we sneak back towards Coalfell and are met by a grizzling sight. The townsfolk all lie dead, slaughtered in their houses or on the streets as they tried to flee. Of Gimmear there is no sign and Coalfell itself is consumed by a conflagration of flame. Houses, shops and even the town hall are consumed by fires started within each building. It seemed Gimmear had not be inactive in our absence. Anders summons a rain storm that douses the flames and we search the wreckage, finding no survivors. Even our horses and the pony, Slopnert, were killed in the massacre. All our provisions were destroyed and of Gimmear and his thugs there is no sign.

We search the town for a time before returning to the forest. With no supplies and no way of tracking him we have no way to bring Gimmear to justice at this stage. We make camp beneath the dark brown leaves of the trees and sit in silence, a far cry from the jovial mood that filled out camps on the road to Coalfell.


Part XIII: Undead Revelations

From Alaric's diaries

The Coalfell blaze grows closer and closer during the night but never reaches the camp, the cold wet leaves of the forest stopping it just beyond the fields of that doomed town. The next morning we head back into Coalfell to look for survivors. None remain in the smouldering town and even the farmsteads in the fields around have been destroyed. Picking through them we find that each has been built with a secret cellar in the stable. Each is of identical design and contains stacked bars of precious metals. We split the gold and silver among us, all encumbered with pounds and pounds of wealth. We also find bars of a strange blue-grey metal that Yuri claims resists magic in some way and take that as well. It appears the the townsfolk of Coalfell had been hiding Gimmear's wealth. There is only one unburnt farmhouse and within we find the remnants of Gimmear's own accomodation. Chests and weapon racks lie empty and the stores have been utterly cleaned out. Out the back the group finds a dead pony that causes them all some sadness. Slopnert had apparently been with them for a while and had been hacked apart by one of Gimmear's thugs.

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We take a break from the searching and discuss our next move, eventually deciding to track Gimmear north and try to put an end to his villainy. Jac leads the way, following his tracks in the forest mud as he and a dozen followers move north deeper into the forest. We soon follow the tracks into an abandoned mine, silver and gold ore sitting unclaimed alongside dead miners. Gimmear was cleaning house and even these workers were not beyond his wrath. With the source of Gimmear's wealth becoming apparently we moved deeper into the mines before we come upon a strange door. The door stands easily four times the size of a man and is carved intricately from the rock that surrounds us. It bears many strange symbols that Yuri and Anders identify as symbols of Morloch, an ancient and forgotten creature worshipped by the Ratmen. As we make camp outside Anders opens the door nearly by accident, saying the command word during a conversation about the source of the ruin.

Lighting torches we head inside, walking down luxurious and ornate hallways carved from the same stone as the strange doorway. Here and there statues of skeletons are carved from the same material. As Minerva walks through a small room the purpose of the skeletons becomes clear, a pressure plate magically activating them. The skeleton-statues swing at us from the walls with stone spears but a blast of thunder from Anders and magical arrows from Jac soon put them out of commission. From that point we are far more careful about strangely coloured tiles in the ruin and succeed at not activating any more of the hundreds of skeletal statues dotting the corridors and hallways. Moving onwards we push past strange enchantments and statues before we arrive at the centre of the fortress in which stands a strange staff. A mural on the wall depicts a figure that we assess to be Morloch, a skeletal figure bathed in red flames and utterly terrifying to behold. Yuri does some experiments on the staff and discovers it is literally the heart of the castle. The staff has the power to rework the environment around it to make this exact castle layout. Someone has planted it here long ago and the hallways have formed around it from the very rock into which it was placed.

Nearby we find a series of rooms that suggest someone lived here. In those living quarters I find antique and priceless clothes that fit me nicely, while Helja's dwarven nose draws her towards a secret chamber filled with gold. We take even shares of the gold and platinum within and while Jac finds and claims a magical ivory bow I take a little more silver for my own sake. Nearby is a shrine like room in which a massive statue of Morloch is carried by skeletons. A silver bowl appears to be for communing with the spirit and Yuri pockets it for further inspection. In a nearby area we find an ancient library, the books within seemingly entire written about the Elves of Trinsic. As the rest of us settle in to relax for a while Yuri and Anders read through the ancient books, ritually deciphering them and trying to figure out why they have been stored here. Minerva and I gamble as we wait and I lose a few times to gain her trust. The choice between a pretty face and a good win is too difficult for me as always. A few hours later Yuri comes back to us with a startling revelation. Of the Elves in Trinsic and beyond only seventeen of them are living. Since the war with Saff and Hacktooth the majority of Elves in Hiraeth by far have been undead.

This revelation shocking us into silence things begin to make sense. The ban on necromancy, suggested by the Elves, seems now less altruistic and more a method to conceal their own nature. Eager to find more information we return to the relic room and devise a ritual by which we can contact Morloch. The ritual requires a blood offering and I offer my services. As I place my blood in the silver I fall into a sleep, speaking to Morloch directly. He informs me that he is bound and cannot grant any assistance until he is freed. He says that each time he is contacted he gathers strength and to convince my allies to perform the ritual as well. When I awake I am bound and held down by Helja. Angered, I try to stand and find she smashed me to the floor again. Yuri wants to check that I have no ill effects from the ritual but is unwilling to expend the magical energy to scan me. He does an elaborate ritual that lasts some time, all the while Helja's knee on my back. He clears me of any lingering impact and I am untied.

Furious I leave the ruins, setting up camp and waiting outside until my fellows return. Everyone but Yuri comes out and I think for a split second that the conniving Gnome has fallen. But then as the front gate begins to crumble he comes skitting out, tiny legs pumping as the castle behind him returns to stone. He is covered in dust and cuts but holds in his hands the staff that created the castle to begin with. All exhausted we make camp and the night passes with the soft sounds of Jac's lute filling the air.


Chapter VI: The Broken Isles


Part XIV: Banker's Due

From Alaric's Diaries

We awaken outside of the now crumbled fortress, no sign of the intricate palace that once stood there. I suggest to the group that we return to Hiraeth capital to inform the Prince of what we have discovered. Surely the fact that the Elves of Trinsic are undead is something the might paladins would want to know. I also would like to offload some of this wealth, but that information is not necessary for the group. We consider tracking Gimmear but with no settlements to the north we worry about being stuck in the wilderness. With the decision set on returning to Hiraeth the discussion moves to how. Talks of boats and southern passages go by before eventually we decide to hump it through the mountains. We set off that morning, tracing our steps back through Gimmear's mines and past the crumbling ruins of Coalfell. Steering clear of that cursed place we following the river until we reach the mountains. We camp that night at the base of the mountains, winter cloaks pulled from packs as a light snow falls upon the hard ground. Jac trains me to use a crossbow during the night, wary of battles to come that might require more power than knives, while Helja gets out her smithing gear and shaves off silver for Anders to use in his rituals.

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It is a hard few days through the mountains, days spend sweating up barely sculpted stone pathways and nights spent huddled around the flickering campfire. But after a few days we break out of the mountains and into the coastal forests beyond. Moving along packed earth roads we pass more and more farms, patrols of guards bearing the stylised sun of the prince riding past on occasion as we approach the Capital. Soon the Port of Hiraeth sits before us, stone walls and towers surrounding the spires and palaces within. The red and white of the Prince flies above all the walls and we are greeted by a dozen armed guards upon entering the city. Moving down streets crowded with merchants and locals we push through the bustle and take rooms at the Beekeeper's Arms, a blue tiled stone building in the market district. Taking rooms and buying a glass of Trinsic wine it truly does feel like I have come home. As the others settle in for the night I make my way into the dock district, passing guards and slipping through checkpoints until I arrive at an abandoned warehouse. It is here that I meet with Glenn, a fence who I have worked with before. He offers to buy the silver and gold bars I show him and I receive a small purse as a down payment. He promises to buy the rest in a few weeks time and I return to the Arms.

The next day we spread out into the city to spend our wealth. Cautious of Gimmear's influence even here we move in groups of two, pairing up and watching each others backs with a sense of paranoia. New armour if purchased and fitted, gems and trinkets sold and weapons ordered. Minerva picks up a bounty for her time in the city, glad to be back doing her original line of work. Things almost seem to be going too well until Anders speaks to the town's blacksmith. The dwarf, as all blacksmiths are in Hiraeth, looks shocked at Anders' suggestion that he use the blue-grey metal to make armour. He refuses and some time later as we take lunch at the inn a group of dwarven soldiers from the Bank arrive. They take Anders into custody, marching him back to the stone fort at the centre of the city. Helja and Jac send a letter to the Prince to request an audience and later that day we are admitted to his palace.

We meet with the Prince in a grand dining chamber, decadent food and drink presented to us as we join his majesty for a feast. Eating with him are his Paladins, five strange figures each noteworthy in their own way. The Prince is not surprised at the undead nature of the Elves, he had suspected it for some time. Yuri presents him with evidence from Morloch's temple and he agrees that this calls for action. Of the blue-grey steel he is stumped. It is a material he does not recognise but senses that it repels magic in some way. One of his Paladins identifies it as Cold Iron, a mythical metal believed to have been mined out of existence. He notes that if the dwarves are aware of it's properties it could mean trouble. He tasks Helja with speaking to the dwarves at the Bank and seeing what they know and gives her a writ of service to help identify her as his emissary. When asked about Anders' incarceration the Prince says he cannot help but offers a ring with the power to shape stone, just in case we decide to do something foolish.

We return to the Beekeeper's Arms and settle in for the night, making plans to visit the Bank in the morning. During the night we are awoken by a massive boom and the smell of smoke. Gathering our possessions and stumbling out we find the entire bottom floor of the building engulfed in flames. The fire is hot enough to burn the stone and Yuri claims the source of the fire is magical. Minerva, who was awake after returning from a bounty, claims to have heard a strange guttural language being spoken before the fire spread. We have no doubt that this strange fire was not an accident and get rooms at the Ogre and Loot with anxious minds. Jac and Minerva travel to the palace to speak to the Prince about the attack and he informs them it was the work of an assassin known as "the Hollow Child". This assassin favours flame kills and is paid using 400 gold of ruby per life he takes.

The next morning the group approaches the Bank while I watch from a rooftop nearby. They enter with the Prince's writ and leave some time later. Then only Yuri and Minerva return, seemingly arguing with the dwarven guards as Anders opens up the stone in the side of the building and slips out. The group grab their packs from a nearby alley and begin to hurry out of town. Some moments later the dwarven guards leave the Bank and spread out into the city, searching alleys and asking questions at the Ogre and Loot. I wait out the trouble for an hour or so before gathering my possessions and leaving the town myself. Sure enough a few hours down the road the party have made camp, raising weapons as I approach. It seems that in the Bank they had identified themselves and told the guards they were doing the Prince's business. As night falls we move the camp off the road into the forest, resting for the night unaware of the ramifications of what had just occurred.


Part XV: Sparks of War

From Alaric's Diaries

That morning we discuss where to go, as we have so many times in the month I have been with the group. We discuss going to Vesper, the dwarven capital or Skarabrae in the south. Helja and Yuri argue for going to Trinsic to see the Elves while I suggest we go to Moonglow college and wait things out. Moira is there and would help hide us until this blows over. Eventually I am out voted and we agree to go south to Trinsic. We decide to go and look for Alfred Voyls, the warlock whose patron Aesdurath had made a play for the loyalty of the group and who was implicate in the vanishing of Gerald, a paladin of the Prince and Helja's former lover. But Trinsic is a long journey and we are direly in need of supplies. So the next morning as the group packs and begins to march south I walk back to the Capital, coin purse heavy.

The streets are strangely empty when I return but for a crowd gathered around the Bank. Here guards of the Prince occupy the facility while dead dwarves litter the streets. A preacher stands at the front of the crowd, his words rising them into a frenzy as he speaks of the betrayal of the dwarves. It seemed that during the night the dwarves of Vesper had attacked the Prince, the Council themselves appearing directly in the palace. The Prince and his Paladins slew the dwarves and the people of Hiraeth had risen up to kill the dwarven population. Even now the people were being formed into a militia to march on Vesper and make the dwarves pay for their imprudence. Unwilling to fight in a war I make my way to the edge of town and secure two fine horses. Leaving payment and a note in the stable lockbox I ride the horses out of town and soon catch up to the group. I explain the situation and that war between humans and dwarves is imminent. I suggest again that we go to Moonglow and wait for the war to end but the others are set on riding south.

Some days later we reach the town of Eastmarch, set just off the coast. As we enter town Helja goes straight for the blacksmith, finding the forge cold and the smith missing. I go to the town hall and tell them that Helja is there but when they approach her she shows the writ from the Prince and the town mayor lets her go about her business. It seems that the Prince has declared all dwarves to be traitors and any captured are being taken back to the capital as prisoners. The town blacksmith is one such man and is currently being held in the dungeon of the town hall. We stay the night at the Heron's Foot inn and I become increasingly worried about Moira. She is at Moonglow and with war breaking out the college of magic is sure to get involved. I leave that night with my horse, riding to a local fishing village and purchasing a boat. The fisherman would take me to Moonglow for a small fortune and I pay it gladly, leaving the troubles of the war behind with a single goal in mind.

I would not see the group again for some time. The journey itself takes nearly a month and at the end I find only a ruin. The dwarves had invaded Moonglow and set the mages to the blade. I find no evidence of Moira and filled with despair swim back to my ship. The return journey is a sombre one and in the depths of despair and a few bottles in I find the answer to my prayers.

I would later discover that the group had spent nearly this whole time in Eastmarch. Ignoring the war, Helja had spent the time forging the Cold Iron into weapons and instruments of binding. As battle raged to the north the group spent their days working the forge. Eventually they ride south again, finding the hut of Winfred Voyls some days later.

Nearly two months after I left Eastmarch I watch as Helja appears out of a portal in front of Aesdurath. Her lover, the Paladin, is chained nearby where had sat for the better part of four months. He had been tortured but not broken, his will too strong even for my master. She tries to break his chains as Aesdurath simply watches from his molten throne. Eventually he offers her a deal, deceit on his lips. He would save the babes he had placed within her for a simple thing; her loyalty. Beaten and desperate she accepts and the Eyes of Aesdurath appear within her eye sockets in a moment of searing pain. On his throne Aesdurath tells her what she must do for him. He tells her that the Prince is protected by holy icons held by his Paladins, items of great power that protect him from Aesdurath's will. Gerald's shield he already has but the others elude him. She would bring the artefacts to him and the Prince will be dealt with once and for all. As Helja moves out of the portal back into reality I step from the shadows, eager to hear my own tasks for the war ahead.


Part XVI: Two Betrayals

From Alaric's Diaries

I approach the group the following day. They more or less welcome me back, suspicious looks and probing questions no more than their usual. It soon becomes clear that Helja wants to avoid her duties to Aes Durath. Somehow she is resisting the influence of the Eyes. I argue with her and the others that we should find the paladins and retrieve their magic items but they eventually agree to travel to Trinsic of all places.

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It takes only a few days to reach the elven city, Yuri allowed access due to the silver pin he gained long ago from a travelling elven warrior. The once great city is crumbling and abandoned, great moats and statues sitting among stone domes and ornate architecture. Passing armoured elven warriors we meet with Bellamere, an ancient elf with white hair who sits casually on his throne as he addresses us. He informs us of the war brewing to the north, of the Prince's siege of the dwarven city of Vesper and of the sacking of Moonglow. It seems that he has the Mages Council here, having teleported them to safety when the sacking of that city began. Yuri talks to Bellimire at length, quizzing him about necromancy and magic. I soon stop paying attention but enjoy some food as Yuri talks the old elf's ear off. Not long after we are given rooms, the elves showing us all courtesy despite our past opposition to their interests.

During the night Yuri finds the Mages Council and convinces them to apprentice him. Not a single Mage but the entire council, an unprecendented event. In exchange he would give them all the archaic and forgotten lore he had uncovered, as well as a book he refers to as 'Loknir's Encyclopaedia of Hiraeth'. We meet with Bellamere again, offering him our services in overthrowing the Prince and taking power. He seems bored and tired, unwilling to get involved in the conflict and interested only in protecting the few living elves left in Trinsic. Our offer abandoned Helja convinces the others to travel to Vesper and confront the Prince's paladins, taking their magical items in an attempt to free Aesdurath. One of the Mages agrees to help us travel the distance and in a ritual circle drawn within Bellamere's palace we are transported far to the north to the woodlands outside of Vesper.

Vesper is a large city built into the mountains themselves and ringed by a massive thick stone wall. Bellamere had informed us that the wall is riddled with Cold Iron, making it impossible to teleport in to or magically influence in any way. But this had not stopped the Prince from attempting a siege of the city. His army now sits in a ring around the outer walls of the city. We see the Prince's own sun banners alongside those of many minor lords and militia levy from almost every town and city in Hiraeth. We move out of the forest and approach the camp. At the gate the others flounder in their lies and throw to me. I pose as a bounty hunter bringing Helja into the city for a bounty. This was apparently not the plan and I am given many uncomfortable and angry looks as the guards lead us to meet with the Prince. The Prince is understandably angry. He accuses the group of causing the war with the dwarves and of inciting violence with their actions at the Bank in Hiraeth Capital. Eventually he calms himself and offers us a way to redeem ourselves. We would take a barrel containing powerful fire magic and place it under the walls, breaking them open and allowing his army into the city. Helja informs him that she knows of passages that lead under the city and would gladly guide us through.

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Outside the Prince's tent Helja informs us that she knows of no such passages and intends to betray the Prince to the dwarves of Vesper. She goes towards the gates that night, stealing away into the dwarven city. She returns later in the night and we accompany her back, carrying the magical barrels. The dwarves are suspicious of the humans present and almost refuse us entry. The dwarven commander informs us that they will use their trebuchets to launch the barrels at the Prince's outpost. This will kill him and demoralise the army and we would have first choice of any equipment his Paladins are carrying. As this suits my purposes I do not argue but am worried about how quickly Helja betrayed the Prince's trust.

That night a signal goes up and a bombardment begins from the city. Barrels are flung from Vesper and land amongst the Prince's camped army. The barrels ignite, sending flames and death hundreds of feet in all directions as they land squarely on the Prince's command tent. Screaming soldiers and the crackle of burning supplies fill the air as the fire begins to spread through the camp. The group moves forwards to find the Prince's tent when across the other side of the flames we spot dark figures. There stands the Prince, his Paladins and be his side Anders. The Cleric had betrayed us, his conscience unwilling or unable to let us assassinate the Prince. As the Prince and his Paladins move towards us the group separates. I see Helja running for the safety of the dwarven walls while Jac and Minerva grab horses at the edge of the panicking camp and begin galloping south. I duck into an abandoned tent and don the uniform of one of the Prince's soldiers. As chaos reigns in the camp I hide my wealth and weapons within a tent and settle in for a length stay. The Prince and Anders search the camp for those responsible but will never find me.


Epilogue

The war would drag on for a few years, the Prince's weakened forces unable to break Vesper as the dwarves outside the walls are slowly but surely hunted down and killed. The siege would last many years and the world beyond it would change fundamentally.
Moonglow is retaken but the Mages Council remains in Trinsic, studying in the ancient libraries there alongside the college's new Loremaster, a deep gnome called Yuri. With the death of Sir Gerald alone in the wilderness a new Paladin is ascended to the Prince's side. Anders Stormwind gets great riches for saving the Prince's life and serves alongside him for the rest of the war. Alaric sheds his identity, as he had so often before, and lives among the Prince's army. Avoiding combat when he can he makes a good deal of coin running a black market within the camp and retires after the war to an estate in Hiraeth Capital. Of Jac and Minerva little is known, their adventures would take them cross the Hiraeth isles and beyond and are truly a story in their own right. No-one heard from Helja after her babies were born.


Campaign Appendixes


Dramatis Persona

Adventurers:

  • Loknir: Dwarven hunter who is attempting to write a book about the land of Hiraeth.
  • Ertix Shardcaster: A deep gnome who left his tribe to investigate magic in all its forms.
  • Nubbly Nubkins: Young and supremely gifted gnomish wizard who has recently been kicked out of Moonglow College for sharing college secrets. Travels with Slopnerp the pony.
  • Yeziver: A gnome wizard who hid in the sewers beneath Moonglow College after his family were massacred by some unknown creature. Over the years he became a powerful wizard before the Mages of Moonglow removed his memory and set him loose.
  • Jacqueline: Once a noble in a far away land, 'Jac' now lives as a travelling warrior and bard who seeks out stories to tell…and become a part of.
  • Helja Brawnanvil:
  • Yuri: Svirfnebli relative of Ertix, Yuri had intended to travel with Ertix but was waylaid. Arrived at Skarabrae looking for his fellow.
  • Minerva: A fearsome swordswoman who is quite the sight in her full armour. Makes coin hunting down outlaws within city limits.
  • Claud: A simple farmer with two strange pet birds. Considers himself unlucky.
  • Ander Stormwind: A cleric of Mystra and follower of the Tempest gods. He seeks greater communion with his goddess.
  • Alaric: A wandering gambler and rogue who often gets into trouble that his quick tongue cannot get him out of.

Redcliff:

  • Father Olneas: Operator of the Redcliff chapel to the divines. Ancient and book-obsessed.
  • Austin A. Arthur: Owner of the Lying Fairy Inn alongside his wife. Has a good deal with the Banker's Guild.
  • Vex: A lifelong caravaner and merchant who recently took up the route between Redcliff and Skarabrae.

Skarabrae:

  • Lord Drak: The wealthiest man on the coast, but none know how he earned his fortune.
  • Rust Radavar: Owner and proprietor of the Broken Grape inn.
  • Nigel: A hunter and tracker for the Skarabrae military. Face dominated by a massive bushy orange moustache.

The Wilds:

  • Ohanzee: Tiefling following of the god of luck Woab Prall.
  • Hacktooth: A long dead Ratman sorcerer who fought an ancient war against the elves. Follower of Morloch.
  • Saff: Human necromancer and ally of Hacktooth in the war against the elves long ago.
  • Gruuel: An ancient storm giant that lives in the mountains in the centre of Hiraeth. The last survivor of his people, he dwells in an ice palace at the top of the mountains.
  • Fernwhirl: Head of the druids at Yew. An ancient and powerful witch with a powerful connection with nature.

Coalfell:

  • Gimmear Weebit: A half-orc criminal overlord who commands a crime syndicate on the north-west coast of Hireath.
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