Tir Na n'Fir

Story #18
A Dead Gnomish City

Dunkirk prayed.

Not that this is very different from any other day, but in this case, Dunkirk prayed to find out what was going on.

One of the side passages was discovered towards the back of the cave, and in it was a small house. The house, made of three rooms, had been the scene of violence. The front room had what appeared to be guards that held off an attack, but succumbed eventually. The middle room was undamaged, and had shelves of scrolls. The third was a bedroom with a crib. The baby inside had died of neglect, and the parents were nowhere to be found. Nearby was a statue of Ulraini and a figure of Zon (sized for a child to hold). Robes of brown and red were throughout, but largely undisturbed. It was if the only victims were those in front, and a lone child in back.

By the bed was a bar of silvery-white metal, partially formed into a sword blank. The metal is odd in its lightness, and it was obviously being hammered using the priestly techniques common to the followers of Zon and Droashi. And, yet, it too had been abandoned.

So Dunkirk prayed.

And, suddenly, the ground shuddered and Droashi spoke. This city was a shrine dedicated to the followers of the earth god, and it had been defiled. Kobolds, goblins, and orcs all had participated in the slaughter, and Droashi wanted the area cleansed. Dunkirk was the first priest to come along, and was charged by divine authority to destroy the infidels. A channel to Govannon and Ogrini was granted, so that their power could be used deep in the underworld, until all the defilers were destroyed.

As eight wandering goblins meandered by, Dunkirk went into a frenzy, and with help from Rashe and Aoife, all the bodies were floated downstream to be eaten by the salamanders and shrimp of the river. 35 iron tics were removed from their bodies, to deprive others of the spoils of battle. The iron, substandard, seems to be fit only for currency. Even so, there hasn’t been a lot of it so far.

The bridge, with the burning fish, seemed to be a likely point to find more goblins, and so everyone started down the river, the cart sloshing along as the donkey continued to be disgruntled about a lack of food and warm legs. Aoife is sent ahead to scout the bridge while Dunkirk tries to manage the donkey (to keep it quiet, if nothing else). Aoife saw a processional crossing the bridge from the right to left, made up of well-dressed goblins, kobold guards, orcs in priestly vestments, and a single gnomish victim bound to a pole. She came back, and everyone started looking for alternate entrances. Taking a back passage down the river, Aoife saw a cave that could be of interest, but another of the crawlers lept onto her head, and Dunkirk and Rashe worked to free her. Dunkirk was poisoned, fell into deep water, and nearly drowned, but Rashe and Jezebel fashioned tethers from the kit ropes and pulled everyone back to the cart to safety.

Arrows and Rashe’s sword dispatch another monster, but it had no treasure stash. With half the group injured, it was decided to go into one of the side passages past the bridge, hold up for a while, and recover. Rashe dispatched two priests in a room with a bubbling lake of ichor, pulled everyone into the hallway, and dealt with repeated, but sporadic, attacks by goblins. Rashe dispatched more goblins (with bows) but damaged his sword, and Aoife honed her ranger skills of killing creatures that despoil forest lands. This time the pouches of iron tics were thrown into the river to rust, along with bodies that are probably clogging up some river passages by now.

Four more goblins and two giant spiders later, the passageway back to the river was impassable. Rashe was tired, and nobody else wanted to drag spider bits into the river, so everyone moved back into the ichor room and camped for the night. Rashe and Aoife did a security sweep and found a small hallway and hidden door. Worried about the potential for ongoing damage, Aoife attempted first aid on Jezebel to provide magical support, only to nearly kill her. In an effort to save her, Aoife worked her skills on Dunkirk to make him fit to provide medical services to the rest of the party. Instead, she nearly killed him, too. Rashe leapt in, undid the damage to Dunkirk and Jezebel, and succeeded with divine inspiration to give Dunkirk the right aid to rouse him, making him fit for medic duty.

With little else to do, after resting, it was decided that it might be a good idea to investigate this side passage behind a secret panel.

Story #17
In caves on the road to Duine Dora

Dunkirk because quite dull, as though he was lifeless….. So, Aoife painted him purple and dressed him in a little hula skirt.

Or, she could have, but didn’t….

It was the 25th day after the Equinox, and the Troll Under The Bridge had been vanquished. Dunkirk was not happy about going across the bridge, but it was necessary, and so everyone began to move.

No, wait. The donkey was having none of this. Aoife talked with the donkey for quite a while, and finally persuaded it to take the time to walk across the bridge, though everyone made it across very slowly. Halfway across Aoife noticed goblins down at the river, and Rashe was able to see them fishing, scooping up baskets of small silver fish, and drying them on stands. Aoife confirmed it was spawning season for some fish, so this didn’t seem that unusual. The goblins, however, treated humans on the bridge as quite surprising and hid back away from sight.

The next three days were uneventful, but at the end the trees had fallen back, and changed from broad leaves to needles. Ahead you can see the pass through the range, with a broad plain at the bottom with a river on the right side, and the rough road on the left. There is a light rain, but nothing serious, and the road is still pretty dry. There are cliffs in the bluffs to the left, and quite a variety of local flora and fauna.

A rock passes by overhead.

This seemed to bother Aoife. Jezebel was watching a large animal herd out in the plain, which seemed to be the target of the rock. Moments later a three story man rushed in and gathered up the stunned animal, and began ripping it apart.

Rashe suggested haste, and Aoife agreed. Ahead was a cave with columns carved into the sides. “This indicates a gnomish village,” said Dunkirk, and so everyone rushed inside to find…

Two dead gnomish guards, and no shops or market activity. Investigation of the cave revealed no other bodies, but obvious signs that the shop structures had been pulled down and the parts taken elsewhere. One cave had a bunch of large cave crickets and a giant centipede. Another had a chamber with 10 casks of gnomish ale.

Everyone started moving backwards, looking for hints and the actual village. Rashe found a side tunnel, but a cave with a large cave spider wasn’t the right way out. It did result in a dead spider, and the discovery of some gnomes that had been made dinner, and what Aoife determined was a kobold victim as well. Kobolds are the enemies of the gnomes, so seeing them together seemed a bit confusing.

In the spider’s lair and on her victims were pouches with 18cp, 6sp, and 93gp, and a bone tube with a scroll of active magic (it can be read by anyone), but without any indication of what it does.

Outside, the giants seemed interested in where that cart had gone, and have started filling up the cave entrance with rocks. With no other way out, the troup headed further into the caves, and found a river. Travelling along the underground waterway filled with clear shrimp and the occasional white salamader, they found a bridge crossing from an upper portal on the left to another on the right. Climbing up seemed difficult, but it was noted that there were lights on the bridge, made of burning fish….

Around the corner they found that the river flows away into a passage that cannot be traversed. Turning back, Aoife found an odd side tunnel with a creature intent on eating her head. Thus, we have established a theme that every evil monster likes Ranger brains.

Rapid work by Aoife, before she was taken down and poisoned, and Rashe, lead to the death of the crawler, and the discovery of chests that were previously the property of other victims. Rashe carefully opened them, finding 4000cp, 6000sp, a 100gp plate, 3 large saphires (about 1.5” across each), and a dull grey stone like those used to sharpen weapons.

Dunkirk removed the poison from Aoife, and now his lips are numb.

It was decided to camp here, since most nearby baddies would probably think it was best to avoid this tunnel. Camp was set up.

As day 29 begins, an inventory has revealed that 1/4 of the torches have been used so far, and the Donkey is not a fan of eating shrimp or salamanders, and is a bit put out that no food is forthcoming.

Story #16
Departure from Antorus Nor

The intrepid band of adventurers finally prepared to start out from Antorus Nor. As they talked amongst themselves about how to proceed, and who this new young lady was, a bardic troup entered town. It was quickly decided (as art sometimes has this effect) to stay and let Aoife recover so that the news and music could be enjoyed.

The group, made up of the dwarvish bards Morai, Wauni, and Unar, set up to sing in Tall Man’s Inn. He hung out a plank advertising MUSIC, and by a few minutes after lunch the place was packed. Porch doors were opened so that the patio listeners could enjoy a full show.

Morai sang of the destrution of Lorgis and Sorgain in the lands of Ui Bruin, and the dwarvish city of Mors. Legends of the great ranger Kira and her armor made from the skin of a dragon, Ruald the dragon keeper, Sir Mungo the Imperial Knight, Tongsten the Chaos Mage, and Tinc “the sneaky” went on for the bulk of the afternoon. Legends of the great wars, the benefit of requited love over other kinds, and why dwarves are better than humans filled the air until the second hour past midnight. Lots of beer was had (as Dunkirk called on the favor of his Gods) and Tall Man seemed unable to wipe the smile from his face.

The next day Dunkirk attempted to provide healing to Aoife, but the Gods are fickle and decided she needed to remain injured. She was piled into the cart with everyone else, and on the third day past the equinox the adventurers finally headed out on their two-fold quest (tree and deliveryboy service). The road, such as it is, to Duine Dora an Valar, is really mostly a set of worn ruts in a mud- trail, completely unlike the roads towards Quatere Tratos or Keep Mithrian. The going will be difficult.

The fog doesn’t help. It was three foggy days in a row, as the forest in the distance fades in and out of view, before the trees surround everyone and the sounds of travel muffle in the underbrush on either side. With better loamy soil available, Dunkirk repots the Sylvan tree, and Aoife shows signs of feeling much better (Dunkirk’s repeated doctoring attempts don’t hurt). Three more days, and the edge of the elven lands is reached. Great stone towers (unusual for elves dedicated to arboreal pursuits) are capped with wooden structures, and guards watch as the band passes. Aoife takes a moment to announce their presence, which the guard passes along, and the fog gets decidedly weird.

On the 11th day after Equinox, eight days into travel, the wind picks up and a giant hawk is seen flying from the east. The fog takes on a sulfury smell, and occasional ash falls from the tree canopy. Time is taken to set up a camp, and Dunkirk strikes up a conversation with Brezemel, a 30ft tall tree that seems unwilling to take root. It is agreed not to start a fire, so a strong watch is kept this night, as the ash falls and sounds muffle or explode with no rhyme nor reason.

Aoife, feeling much better, decides to take on a hunt (avoiding deer, as the Sylvan Guard mentioned they were off limits), and happened on a large golden weasel. And its rather large family. She began peppering the weasels with arrows of many kinds, firing as fast as her bowstring would muster, and only with the barest of luck did she weaken them enough to take a breath. At this point Rashe arrived and quickly dispatched them, making sure to keep the pelts protected as they were a rather fetching golden yellow, and might be worth something.

Aoife, though wounded, crawled into the burrows of the weasels and found possessions abandonded by previous weasel dinners that were probably taken from the nearby trail. In one burrow she found 31 pieces of silver, slightly tarnished, and in the other she found a dwarven pouch of fine workmanship filled with 55 pieces of shiny gold. In a pouch she also found a thin cloak with a version of the Sylvan Tree across the back and sylvan leaves as clasps. When she tried it on she realized she was moving with minimal sound. Such an item was obviously of some value, but it doesn’t want to fold back into the original pouch. The money and the pelts were brought back, a quick meal was made of some of the meat, and the skins were hung on the sides of the cart, giving it a rather nice ‘travelling trapper’ feel.

After a quick goodbye to Brezemel, the adventurers make their way across the northern Sylvan forest, finally emerging into light forestland near the edge of rather steep foothills to the north. Dunkirk sang to some mountain lions, who were content to allow everyone to pass. A few days later they passed some dwarves travelling the other direction, and inquired how far to the river. Just a few days longer, and on the 25th day past Equinox they arrived at a great stone bridge bearing the Imperial seal on the gateways.

As they approached, the bridge Troll called out for payment, and actively threw rocks at Dunkirk as he sprinted across the bridge and back. A quick check, though, revealed a bridge goblin, and a weak one at that, who preferred to hide in a crevice under one of the supports rather than answer for his actions. The group laughed, and began convincing the donkey to start across the great arch…..

Story #15
In the Elven City

Langail the Death Mage was hit with a tree limb from the Sylvan in the center of Lalia Durien, but was capable of doing instant resurrection magic and didn’t die, but casting life magic under the sylvan gave her a special bond to the tree. This prompted King OiNeash Malovne, leader of the Dark Elves, to send her on a quest as guardian of a sacred sapling, something she knew would happen after meeting the Oracle of the East.

Aoife the Ranger and others escourted her from the city, but after news of the upcoming armies of the south moving against the elves, the other companions left for safer lands at the crossroads town of Quatere Tratos. Aoife felt a desire to continue guarding Langail, but after an attack by two mages, wererats and werewolves, was concerned she’d done the right thing. Fortunately the mages had a chest of potions, and a little self-medication left her feeling better about the quest.

Langail had not taken care of the sapling, and it eventually died, killing her. Aoife was just outside Muir Na Valar, the last elven village before the Dwarven lands, when this happened. She also started feeling ill, but the chill of winter seemed most likely to be the cause.

Aoife and the body of Langail arrived safely in Antorus nor Ui Morish, a Dwarvish city and Gnomish village in one. There she met with the Dwarvish priest Dunkirk, a priest of Govannon, who realized she had been infected with lycanthropy. A donation, some potions, and a fight with the spirit of the werewolf that infected her, and Aoife was less ill, but not really any more healthy. A talk with the Dwarvish priest, Muirin, lead them to try a healing potion on the body of Langail, but it had limited effect. Dunkirk saw that it was somehow connected to the dead sapling, so checked Aoife into the local Inn, and took the dead tree inside to protect it, while he pondered the events. To his surprise, the lifeless tree had flowered….

In TallMan’s Tavern where Aoife rested, Rashe, a travelling mercenary, also pondered things as he watched them unfold. He had recently arrived with a caravan of dwarves, but needed new work, and there was a potential job here. His previous witness of the werewolf spirit, and the body of Langail, had made him quite curious.

The next morning, when the Gnomish Crier woke the city much to the annoyance of the Dwarves, Dunkirk returned to talk with Aoife, and Rashe accompanied them both back to see the surprisingly living tree. As they began to work out the details of travelling, and what to do with a rotting body, Aoife practiced her Ranger skills and spoke to the tree. It complained that there was little light inside, but was happy that its roots were warm despite the aging of the moss around its base. Taking it outside, though, chilled the roots despite the good light.

Aoife’s continued lack of health lead to a visit with the Gnomish witch, who identified the rest of her potions for the price of transporting a commissioned box to a city Aoife was already going to visit. One potion was a means to turn back time, and Aoife decided to revitalize the moss using it. The moss not only turned green but surrounded the pot, allowing the tree to be put in better light. At that, it started singing, prompting Aoife to pet the leaves, only to discover they were as sharp as knives by losing blood rapidly from her hand.

Time to leave town… Dunkirk began to load up Aoife’s cart, only to discover that Langail’s body was missing. He went inside to take his leave of the chapel, only to find Mantari, the acolyte, doing altar duty as Muirin fed a young woman named Jezebel, who had climbed out of the back of Aoife’s cart….

Story #8-14 [REDACTED]
a quiet time....

The characters went forth, slew the vile maidens, saved poor dragons, and otherwise advanced in time, until a day in which the party split up to take on other pursuits. Aoife, the last of the party, found herself without a job or direction, and so….

The story starts again with new companions.

Story #7
Under Seige

The plan was simple, and yet incredibly powerful…

Eamon, at full run down the cliff-face of the Keep, would approach the massive engines of war. Then, calling upon the power of his circle, he would cause the support beams to rot, thus toppling the machine. If he survived stopping long enough to cant, he would run to the other and repeat the procedure. Whatever was left of him would rush to safety.

Covering fire would be offered from balistae that were built by the Knights, and tightened by Eamon’s magic (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) to extreme power. Archers, including the Ranger Aoife, would fill the sky with shafts. Raven would sally out with a group of battle starved knights to keep the pathway open, and Langail would send out great waves of cancellation, in hopes to destroy her previous accidental duplication.

A plan. With thought.

From Player Characters? Sorry….broke the story ambiance….

Anyway—the plan worked very well. The machines lobbed only one stone, which boomed into the inner courtyard and destroyed part of the lancing field. Eamon raced, the goblin army pursued, their shamen were thwarted by Langail sending out destruction magic spells, and Aoife rained down death from the sky. The goblins took cover behind their earthworks, and waited out the counterseige in surprise. The day turned to night, and then to day, and the goblins worked to clean up the damage.

Over the next few days they rebuilt the engines with new axles, and prepared for the seige to resume. They crafted spells, enchanted boulders, and otherwise got themselves ready. The plan was going to be revamped, but it looked like a second try to take out the weapons of war would be required, when….

On the night of the 61st day, the fog rolled in. The only thing visible were the tops of the massive catapults, their slings hanging limply in the wet air. Then, they shimmered red, and with a flash, they vanished. On the morning, the field was clear, with no goblins remaining. The boulders were there, and the earthworks sturdy, but no assailants. The knights went forth and cleared the field of the preparations, but no goblins, nor bodies of their slain, were found.

In the days left of their seige boredom, Aine completed a study of elvish, Raven studied force of will in arms, and Langail learned some final powers of magic. Raven also commissioned a sword made of the elusive blue iron, which will be completed around the 150th day of the quest, if the swordsinger has success with the fragile metal. And, with the plan to return at the end of those three months, the champions headed out to locate the one remaining Mithrian Knight.

This was day Sixty Four.

Story #6
Back in the Castle Again

At dinner a great rush of power filled the room, and who did manifest but the Master of UnDeath, our Necromancer (from scene 14). He summoned his power and inflicted a disease of skin on Sir Hilzana, and raised up fighters from the bones he carried in his robes. He, however, had not expected to be faced with the same fighters who dispatched him in the stone circle, and with a simple wave from Eamon he was again imprisoned, then skewered by Raven, and this time his body turned to dust by Langail. And, with the dust scattered to be made inert, attention was turned back to the damage this rogue Undeath Mage inflicted.

Aine remembered the Abbot down river, and two knights rushed to bring him back to provide healing magic. The cleric Cirrus knew this was beyond him, but he offered his aid (now a NonPlayer Character) in the interrim. Within mere hours the Abbot had returned (by boat, because the castle was still under seige), and quickly he began a healing chant that would draw life from all that would volunteer it, to the aid of Grandmaster Hilzana. Even the champions knew this was a good and noble act, and thus agreed to stay for the duration of the magic, some three weeks of canting and ritual. Besides, the seige was a nice diversion, and there were baths here.

One week into the cant the seige ended. As always, a flowing fog came from the mountains, and after covering all the army, they vanished. And, just as the cant was ending on the 48th day of the quest (in which everyone took time to study, practice their arts, and barter), the fog rolled in again. Sir Hilzana was healed, but the clanking of the returned goblin army was obvious. As the sun rose on the 49th day, it was easy to make out the large force, over Three Thousand strong. Their obvious leader barked orders to create machines of war, as they donned their battle colors. Gold sircoats, with interlaced arcs, were worn by all. A force of one-third tromped to the far woods, and returned with logs over four feet across. This would not be the same seige of the past.

By day 52 the engines were being hewn to place. Great triangles with wheels at their corners were lifted, with a large center arm between them as an axis. The vertical shaft, made from a single straight tree, was weighted on one end by rocks summoned from the earth by goblin shamen. Such a catapult was larger than any seen before, standing over one hundred feet tall. The weights being packed were comparable to the obvious ordinance, boulders over three feet across.

Mithrians built strong castles, but these rocks were deeper than the outer walls could withstand. Langail decided that the only way to win was to destroy the army before it could complete the horrible weapons. She reached out, and …

......doubled the size of the army.

By the next day, a second engine was being raised, with extra hands to complete it quickly. However, a problem had arisen among the goblins, in that a second leader had been created alongside the first. A ring was formed, and the goblin generals and captains watched intently as the two large fighters circled each other, feinting and striking, until only one was left alive. He called out his victory, and the extra shamen took the old body away for destruction. The knights braced for the coming dawn, on day 57, as the army prepared the engines and rolled them into striking distance (but well outside the range of the fire-arrows of the castle archers).

Story #5
In the Caves of the Oracle

In the middle of the night, on the 25th day of the quest, a small creature ventured forth and found its way among our heroes. It was only three feet tall, but it weilded considerable magic as it began to lay about upon Raven and Eamon. In short order it was revealed by Aoife that this was an enchanted creature, a Brownie, and when Eamon attempted to subdue it with magic (and created two Ents instead) a parley ensued, thus saving much life, though the previously lockable door to this room was no more.

The Ents, together with the brownie, returned to the southeast enchanted grove, with plans to allow people to pass along the road, but not among the other trees of the woods. Safe passage rules for enchanted forests are somewhat new negiotation territory, and both sides seemed to be happy with the result, but it is far too early to know if this was the right decision for everyone.

The band slept out the night, then awoke refreshed and ready to take on more orcs. Which is exactly what happened, with much mayhem, sounding of warning gongs, and one large BugBear that couldn’t make it past a rain of arrows and Raven without his morning coffee. Three orcs were dispatched in one room after they pretended to be friendly. Three more came from below, and then they finally sent archers to the battle (only to watch their eyes punched out the back of their heads by Aoife’s well-aimed shots). The last the party heard was the sound of orcs fleeing into the hills. (spoil: 44 superior quality arrows [ 4D+2, negates 1D armor], 3 dime- sized blue gems, 20pp, 9pp, 1 key, one loop earing from a female orc) (spoil: a tun of elven wine, a highly polished shield [dwarven sized] ) (spoil: 2 blue, 2 red, 1 burgundy, and 1 green elven silk, 2×3 yards each, throwing hand axe [dwarven sized] ) (spoil: 30lb white stone statue of a horse, 1462 sp, 2 potions, 6 superior quality arrows [as above]) (spoil: two bows, of elven make, 1 dwarven short sword, 10 combat arrows, and 6 elven arrows known as goblin slayers)

Our heroes decended into the caverns down the slope from their last battle, to find two locked cell doors. With the key from the battle they were able to unlock the heavy metal door (unusual, because it is heavy, and metal, which could be put to better use in weapons or farm implements) and release the prisoners inside. They had found Sergei, a dwarf, and Sir Bonivace, a knight of Mithrian, along with several orcs and two elves. From the spoils of battle Sergei and the two elves were allowed to arm and defend themselves, and they went along their way. The orcs were released to harass those that fled, to provide a tenuous protection against surprise attack. With Sergei and Sir Bonivace along for the walk, it was time to head back to the castle.

Sergei was glad to find a good room, and bid the party good journey as he looked to find a way to make enough money to return to his homeland. Sir Bonivace, happy to see his Order’s fortress, invited everyone in celebration. Sir Hilzana concurred, and a dinner was scheduled for all to attend. Baths all around, and a replentishing of their supplies, and the Royal Champions prepared for a nice meal.

Would that it would have been so simple…..

Story #4
Once More Into The Keep Dear Friends

The baths were wonderful, and the time in the Mithrian Keep, so far, a good thing. The next morning, our adventurers prepared to meet with the Castelan. A quick message to Corporal Khral, relayed to Sargeant Jonaval, to Sir Darvbhi, The Captain of the Guard, got them to the interior gatehouse and into the grounds of the Knights of Mithrian.

At the gate they were met by Cirris (Cirrus?), the Cleric they had seen in the exterior courtyards around the tavern and guildhalls. He offered his service to the Queen’s Quest and to the adventurers, and being a recognized resident of the castle, was immediately allowed to come with the party as a member.

The courtyard was an immense training ground, with stables along one corner, and a huge manor home in the center. Three large divisions of building greeted them from atop a raised stairway, which offered a grand view of the grounds. The 12-ft tall doors were thrown back onto an ornate waiting hall, and shortly thereafter Sir Hilzana, Master of the Order of Mithria, came out to hold audience.

Sir Hilzana and his advisor Chevalier Llewellni, an elf of the Order of the Emerald Rose, welcomed the group to a feast that evening, to hear stories of the order, the recent history, and to tell their own stories. A quick retreat was planned so that everyone could wear good clothes, and get some quick reprovisioning and training out of the way.

The dinner was wonderful, with delicious food and drink for all. Chev. Llewellni told a story of the creation of the universe, and of the evil Molayan that thwarted the purity of the peoples of the First Age. In reply Raven and Enya told of the Quest and how they had come to arrive at Keep Mithrian. Their story of only finding a few knights of the original fifteen dispatched, and then only their bodies, saddened Curate Arche Antonari, who pled with Sir Hilzana to impose a Geas on the Quest, that Raven and his band seek out the missing Knights. This addition to their quest was taken without reservation.

The evening wound down, and everyone went back to their rooms to rest and prepare for the next morning, when the Quest resumed.

Nobody told the Weather Gods, though….

As morning rose, the sun didn’t. A heavy mist surrounded the castle on all sides. In the distance could be heard the sound of an army moving, and from the stories of the Sargeant and Sir Hilzana, it could only be goblins.

The fog broke after the mid-day candle burned down, and across the great field between the hillocks across the new road stood an army of Goblins, numbering a thousand or more. They were building seige engines (Malvoisin) and scaling ladders, but otherwise seemed to take little interest in the Keep. Everyone inside took this time to prepare for battle, or to train and do research, as little else could be done.

The next day, with blessed weapons and armor, everyone stood ready for the attack. It came at Dawn, through the last of the fog as it flowed away towards the plains. The Malvoisin rolled nearby, but was attacked by volleys of arrows, blasts of magic, and a rather irritable death mage.

Somewhere in this a group of adventurers proclaimed that the Goblins kept coming here on their way to the Northern Oracle, and the death of the oracle would eliminate the need of the gobins to constantly seige the castle, and so they went over the wall to save the world.

Somehow this didn’t sit too well with the Queen’s champions. And, after a brief meeting with appropriate castle staff, our band headed out the back water drain (and supply) to the swamp along the edge of the river. They trekked across the peat islands, taking note of a series of bridges left behind by some unknown people. But, availing themselves of them, our team made it quickly along the swamp to a large island. As they approached, some creatures came forth from it, throwing spears and yelling in an unknown language!

They were green of skin, with scaly flesh and large amber eyes. Their language was groans and clicks, and their weapons primitive. But, under threat of injury Raven, Aoife, and Langail began a systematic destruction of the beasts, until only the children were left alive. And, in an act of apparent guilt, the humans left them alive to fend for themselves.

Pushing on, Eamon saw a set of hills with marker stones on the top. Raven and Aoife climbed first, with the rest along behind, and on this side of the river they found a central stone with a fist upraised carved into the surface. On the fist was a mouth with fangs, from some race unknown. To the left was a shorter stone with a stick emblem, and on the right a similar stone with an outstretched hand, pointing away from the central stone.

Similar stones seemed to exist on the other hillock, and so a ford of the river was attempted. After allowing time to rest and dry out, and eat dinner and sleep, the second mount was climbed. On top were three similar stones, but with chevronelles, in center an eye, and a palm on the right. A hole was found in this stone, which allows one to see the other quite easily, as though magnified. From the other side, though, it points away towards a valley, visible best from standing on top of the stone. Caves were spotted in the sides of the valley, matching the legend of the home of the Northern Oracle. It was decided to make for the Oracle with the best light of day.

Camping on the road near the underbrush dividing the last of the road construction from the valley, Eamon attempts to clear some of the path but instead clears everyone of their excess water. His misfire seems to have granted an awareness of his presence, for later he feels out with a second misfire, which shows him the location of his watcher. However, he had more successes than failures, and quickly developed a land clearing spell that did not harm the plants overmuch.

In the midst of the forest was found the bodies of three knights, hung from a high tree. They were quickly cut down, and revealed to be one of some authority, from the ring he bore (an emblem of the order, with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and a huge cut sapphire). (spoil: ring of a high knight of Mithrian)

When the way was clear, and the valley breached, it was quickly shown to be a place of death and desolation. Barren, for the most part, with carrion eaters watching from all sides. A nearby cave on the second rank seemed interesting, And Aoife ventured inside to see what awaited them. She was curious about the skulls on the walls, but failed to take action against an orcish skull that was later revealed to be just the top of a rather live orc….

With the help of her companions, this section of caves was cleared of all but its children, as well. When the party retreated to the valley floor, they were met with the rest of the Orcs that had remained hidden. Raven and Langail made quick work of them, and Raven took the time to spell out his name in a warning with the heads of his enemies. (spoil: 218sp, 2 gp)

Back into the caves, Enya and Langail began looting the bodies of the leaders. Another knights ring was found on the hand of the head of this tribe, along with a suit of chain mail armor. In order to preserve the peace, it was decided to kill the orc kinder, and they were tossed out the mouth of the cave. (spoil: 31gp, chain mail armor of good quality, large build, ring of a Mithrian Knight, plain)

In the locked den of the orc leader was found his mate, quickly dispatched, and two great battle axes. In the storage supplies was found the armor of the other adventurers, somewhat damaged, and three swords, obviously of the knights.

In a small cavern off of the leaders room was found a small desk, and a bone case with an imbued scroll (creo magic, but of what form?) and a flask, marked with the same stick design seen on the marker stones.

It was decided to camp in this room for the night, with the door locked and braced.

Thus ended day number twenty-five of the quest.

Story #3
A bit of a rewind....

To rewind a bit….

On the ninth day of the quest bestowed upon this intrepid band, our heroes had finally cleared through the second enchanted forest along the westward road of An Cliath Kestria. A visitation by a very large while owl, who shared some rabbits collected for dinner, preceeded the trek along the stone road, when suddenly….

A large trench, moving from the river towards the road, was discovered. This trench has continued to be a part of the road, making it difficult to use. Early speculation by Anya and Raven theorized the passage of a boat, being pushed along or towed, or a dragon slithering down the lane. Neither is exceptionally likely, thinks Eamon and Aoife, and the Death Mage is keeping to herself about it.

Ahead, on the right, is a burned out farmhouse. Signs of a struggle appear in the pathway between it and the road, with a body left behind. It is covered in reddish fur/hair, and is humanoid though large.

By the tenth day the band finally made it to Celestria, along the river. An earthen dam was erected some years ago, and a small lake with two islands provides some source of fish, and shelter for small container ships moving up and down the river. But….

Celestria is in ruins. Burned on one side, slaughtered on the other, the last few buildings will at least offer some shelter for the night. Raven visits the local shrine/temple, and Eamon and Aoife begin looking through the remaining structures. They discover a round shield, made of a pounded red metal engraved with a center spiral and four arm spirals. In the Bar they found 18 bodies, stacked. In a clothing store they found general cloth and materials, but in an upstairs vault they found a bolt (18” wide, 240” long) of a material that flows like water, in a blue patterned weave. They also found a spool of gold thread, buttons, fasteners, and some high quality cloth.

Somewhere in here Raven leaps from the second floor, or falls out the window, depending on who’s story you accept. An over-reaction to finding a trap, he has instead laid himself up and needs extensive bed rest to recover.

On day eleven, the bodies in the bar were taken out and buried, to make room in the bar for a temporary base of operations. Aoife got slightly injured, but Raven still holds the record for stupid things done. Cleaning of the bar and kitchen allow for good meals, and on the next day Aoife and Eamon went fishing along the lake to expand the food stores past vegetarian and preserved meats.

This twelvth day Eamon and Aoife find the docks, and pull up some of the salvagable boats from the bottom. Aoife sees a structure on one of the two lake islands, but the weather starts stirring up, and they complete their fishing, an inventory of the bodies buried (including the town cleric), an inventory of the materials found, and everyone prepared to let Raven recover so he would be good in a fight if needed. Oh, and Aoife found a still back in the field. Operational, and easy to stoke, the still has proven to be an asset, as clean alcohol is great for medicinal purposes. Let’s drink to that!

On Day thirteen the salvaged boats (two of them) were under repairs. Plugs were fashioned from old cloth and maple saps, and with buckets in hand a trial float was made. Aoife is now certain that the structures on the island include a tower, and some inhabitants. The boats were taken inside to dry out.

Day fourteen saw heavy fog roll in, and a continued work on the second boat. It’s likely to rain on the morrow, so no real rowing trials were accomplished. Raven continues to improve due to the ministrations of Anya, who is a very good field doctor.

Day fifteen brought the rain. Heavy rain. Horrible flooding rain. The fires across the street have been put out, and the smouldering smell is being washed away by the downdrafts. Anya and Eamon continue work in the kitchen, making it more than it was before—a good cleaning is always a helpful thing for a kitchen in these days. After a good meal, in the dark and rainy afternoon, everyone settled back to wait out the storms.

That evening, however, between a dozen and a score riders went through the center of town at a blinding speed. Humanoid, but no further details discernable, these riders seemed to be fleeing the very edge of Anastar’s Waste. Shortly afterwards Aoife spotted goblins in the town, and with very little effort managed to kill all six. Recovered were six score hunting arrows (she never let them draw), 2 short staves, 3 short bows, and a 1-ft long stick, engraved with odd characters.

On the sixteenth day the rain let up, and the fires were all extinguished. Aoife and Eamon rowed across to the tower to see what was there. Some low lying buildings, a small garden, and a tower met them, along with the priests of the Monestery of Arche Brennen, believer of renoun, helper of the farmer. Eminence Antarian, abbot, invited them in to visit, and for some salt, came over and cast healing spells on Raven. He indicated that perhaps help would come from Keep Mithria, further out along the road and river.

Day seventeen saw our band finally leaving Celstria along the westward road, and by early afternoon they were at the edge of the farmland and into the scrub and heath. The fields look even more un-tended, indicating that the entire crops could be going to waste. Shame, really, as there are no farmers left nearby to help.

A bit later, on the left side of the road, headed south, was discovered the signs of a large battle, with a marching column obviously arriving from or leaving towards the south. Investigation found pools of blood, some broken light weapons, and the occasional bit of broken armor strapping. Nothing of value was seen, but a trek down the pathway to the south showed it to be unerring, which is rare for marching armies.

Day eighteen along the road passed uneventfully. The keep is visible in the distance on the right side of the road, up on a rocky outcropping. More battle signs are about the fields surrounding the castle, but there is an eerie silence about tonight. The road to the castle from the westward road is surrounded by packed earth with ruts, but nothing remains to show what it was for. A quick pass up the pathway, and to a guard tower, and our heroes were finally back to civilization. If they could just get past the watch.

Raven was recognized, and acting as a spokesperson for the heroes and their Royal Quest, they were allowed across the dry moat through a second gatehouse into the grounds proper. The ruts outside were immediately apparent, as the market had moved, on wheels, into the castle. There is much to see and buy, and some attention was paid to the buildings and temporary houses. Anya registered with the merchants guild as a tinker, set up group quarters in the travellers inn, and got their animals stabled. As it was too late in the day to meet with the Castillan, the group retired for the evening, and prepared for real baths the next day.


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