Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Finding the Ruins of Xammux

With Jessika, werewolves, knights, and bandits all still heavy on their minds, the heroes were now presented with another problem. There seemed to be some kind of unnatural plague overtaking the town of Standing Stone. It seemed strange even to me that nightmares had become contagious. Foul play was afoot, and likely something deeply entwined with dark magic. The party decided to ask Huergar Medinsk what he knew of the dream disease, being the medical expert of the town. Huergar seemed amazed that the heroes were not affected, as it seemed to have spread to everyone else in town. He told them that the disease seemed to have originated from the Cartographer, Dairun Keldson, after he returned from some ruins in the High Forest with the mysterious sword that had the word Xammux written on it in ancient runes. He said that Dairun had been wandering off at night, sleep walking, and had returned with Redthorne Brambles on him. This narrowed their search down to a very specific part of High Forest. They decided to ask the Immor if they had more information about ruins in the area.

They consulted an Immor elder, though she seemed at first unwilling to give up much information other than directions to the location of the ruin. After some prodding and clever words from Reynardine the elder told them that the area is cursed and evil. The Immor avoid it, it is unnatural and turns the ground and the plants around it black with plague. Undaunted by there warnings, the group of young adventurers prepared to travel to the Blackwood to try to find out how to lift the mysterious curse of Xammux that had befallen the town.

The traveling was hard. Rain poured down upon them, and rivers flooded washing away some of their gear. It was as if the sky itself was trying to drown them. The finally made it to the Blackwood and saw first hand the corruption that had earned the area its name. Everything seemed unnatural, even the stone that made up the ruins was not anything from the nearby mountains and the foliage growing upon them was not native to the area. And there was a strange screeching clacking sound coming from the nearby woods. Something seemed to be talking, arguing even, but the adventurers pressed on unaware of the dangers around the corner. They found a raised platform with a large basin of water and town small indentation on runed stone pavers in front of it. But the goblins found them.

Jumping out of the treeline, the goblins attacked. They found Vic by himself and he took several arrows, almost falling before Valentine charged across the battlefield to his aid, shouting a barbarian warcry. Mo and Harry met the goblin flank and began making quick work of goblin warriors with the deadly combination of axe and fist. Rey stood atop the platform raining down arcane magic to support his friends until he was met with the arrows of the deadly precise goblin archers. The heroes grouped back together and with some struggle finished off the goblin archers. On the body of the leader of the crazed berzerking goblins they found an amulet. On it was inscribed "Xam." Searching the nearby area, the party found the bodies of the goblin's prey, and in it a magic shield and an amulet that read "Mux." Mogrein placed the amulets in the slots next to the basin and heard the rumbling of some giant mechanism. The basin gave way to a staircase descending into the depths below.

Before the party could react, water began to swell up from the staircase with a life of its own. Water elementals swarmed around the stout human, and began to try and overwhelm him and drown him. Mo managed to withstand their assault due to his superhuman fortitude, and his allies rushed to his aid. With barbarian war cries, shadowy magics, deadly backstabs, and forceful fists, the party began to make quick work of the elementals. As the living waves struck back, they overwhelmed Rey and Vic, forcing them to the ground in an attempt to drown them. But their allies were able to defeat the elementals and save them.

The group decided to camp for the night outside of the temple. A foreboding storm raged throughout the night as the party got a fitful sleep, worried about what might face them in the morning to come.

Faithfully reporting,
Sir Fayn Fatesinger of the Knights Hospitaler
Servant of the Lady of the Tower

The Broken Blade Bandits

The heroes had a lot on their minds, and many things to talk about as the left the Moonwood to head home. But their musings were cut short when they heard voices ahead and came across a camp. Proceeding down the road, they ran in to a road block, along with several armed men bearing the insignia of a broken sword on them. It seemed the Broken Blade Bandits had decided to try and capture the next tax shipment out of Standing Stone. Valentine refuse to let bandits operate this close to his town, and decided he must fight, much to the chagrin of some of his wiser allies.

Their second attempt at combat went better than their battle with the wolves, but they still suffered many injuries. They were able to pull a victory out in the end, as Mo was able to fend of the attacks of several of the bandits at once. His group combat training seemed to come in handy as he blocked blows before he even knew they were coming. This bought time for Vic's daggers and Harry's fists to find their targets and incapacitate the remaining bandits, while Rey helped the wounded Valentine back to his feet. After the fight the living bandits were tied up, Val promised to bring them to justice in Standing Stone, while Mo promised to fix Val's bashed in helmet, and Harry attempted to fix Val's bashed in head. Meanwhile, I snuck a peek over Vic's shoulder as he found an envelope in the bandit's tent. It seems they were sent there by Slade himself.

The party escorted their prisoners back to Standing Stone and were met by the Knights in Silver collecting the tax money from the town, guarding the transport for it, and setting up to occupy the town for the time being. While some members of the group were not to happy to see the Knights in Silver (how could anyone ever hate a knight?), the Knights offered to pay them for capturing the bandits. Then it was let slip that there were barbarians in town, and the Knights went on the hunt. Most of the party quickly enacted a bold plan to try to hide their Immor friends from the Knights, while Vic inconspicuously slipped away to talk too Sarah and Bredonna about Jessika and the werewolf problem.

It was later that day that the heroes noticed that many people in town were acting strangely. They complained of nightmares and the sensation of drowning, and no one was getting much sleep. There was clearly some dark force working on the town...

Late that night Vic went to find Vandrin and warn him that Bredonna was out to find him, but Vic only found a patch of blood in the hiding place Vandrin was once at. There is clearly someone working in opposition to our dear heroes.

Reported as seen by:
Sir Fayn Fatesinger of the Knights Hospitaler
Servant of the Lady of the Tower

The Fury Claws of Blackclaw Hollow

An entire world of danger and mystery seems to be closing in around these young heroes. I watched as they stood around their meeting tree, knowing something must be done, they must be the ones to do it, but not what it is they can do. They wandered Standing Stone, asking for advice and where aid was needed. They got many answers, some conflicting each other, but two bits of information stood out in their minds: Vandrin Hallliday was in jail, and Jessika Brightmoon was missing. Their childhood friends needed help, and the words of Hago Hammersmith echoed in their minds, "Protect your friends and family. Make sure you have a home to come back to before you leave on an adventure."

During the night, the heroes planned a daring jail break, coordinating efforts between the five of them to get into the jail and break out Vandrin. Their mission was successful, but there was an unexpected surprise. During the jail break, the alarm was sounded, a large beast ran from the woods into the Blackstag Inn, and killed younf Danny Blackstag in the middle of the night, before escaping back into the forest.

In the morning, the heroes followed the beast, led by Vic's well-practiced tracking ability. The prints of a huge wolf led them to the Miller farmstead, where they found another victim, Fran Miller, who lived but was infected with what Harry identified as Lycanthropy. From my high vantage point I could see that our heroes were heading for danger if they continued this path, but it is my duty to observe and not to interfere with the workings of fate.

Deep in the woods, the heroes were ambushed by a pack of wolves. As the wolves bit and tore at them, the fight seemed to be going poorly, they were in a lot of danger. Luckily, Rey summoned up powerful arcane magic he learned in Silverymoon and incapacitated some of the wolves with a Sleep spell, allowing the heroes to turn the tide of the battle.

Progressing deeper into the forest, the heroes found them selves in the Moonwood, and stealthily approached sounds they had heard. They found a group of werewolves, their hunt seemed to be nearing its end. And in the middle of the werewolves chained down, was Jessika Brightmoon, they had found their missing friend as well!

They were not attacked by the werewolves, but were approached by Greymane, the alpha-wolf. Harry tried to reason with the alpha for the release of his dear friend, but learned a terrible truth. The werewolf that had attacked Danny and Fran was in fact Jessika. She was not powerful enough to control her werewolf form and had been too close to town during her transformation. Greymane told them that she was to fight him in a trial by combat in one month for the crime she had committed. The Furyclaw Werewolves had long lived in Blackclaw Hollow under an agreement with Father Coranel that they would not attack anyone from the village.

The party was forced to leave Blackclaw Hollow empty handed and unsure of how to progress, but they were still determined to save the life of Jessika, whatever it took. And while they were at it, they would try to find a cure for Lycanthropy to save Fran Miller before it was too late.

Dutifully Reported by:
Sir Fayn Fatesinger of the Knights  Hospitaler
Servant of the Lady of the Tower