Return to the Keep on the Borderlands

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or

From MMH to Eternity

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Or The Kendall Keep Caves o’Chaos Caper


Scribe Notes

Summary

Adventure: Return to the Keep on the Borderlands
GM: Jon McSpadden
Session: Autumn 801 wk
Level: Medium?

Party
  1. Michael - William Dymock
  2. Mebh - Julia McSpadden
  3. Barth Wader - Michael Woodhams
  4. Reck A Celestial played by Jillian Mitchinson
  5. Haann_Uberreich - Ben Taberner


Employer
Ben Cyrus
Mission
Escort a suspiciously humming iron-bound cart across most of the Western Kindom. Don't stop.
Pay
Shaped items and new, unique organs.


1st of Seedtime

On about the first of Seedtime Mebh approached a bunch of us in the Guild sitting at a table in the mess hall, and startled everyone by announcing that she was literate enough to read a notice pinned up on the notice board. Apparently someone was looking for heavies.

The Note reads: "Needed - resilient guardsmen for undisclosed undertaking - must not be prone to dying - if this is you, fetch your-self and a small number of friends and bring the assemblage with this communication to Ye Magicke Shoppe" It is signed "Ben Cyrus" With a PS "Highly profitable opportunity!"

This has "make (me) money fast" all over it. The quicker Guild security take this junk down, the faster people put it back up.

Apparently the note was magical enough to hide from people unsuitable for the undisclosed task. It was also preserved all to heck and still looked like it'd seen better days, so whoever was setting this up seemed prepared to cut corners. I wasn't so sure how they defined suitable, either. Under their heading of suitable came the following;

Mebh the Bandit Magnet: Gilded armour ( At lunch? Someone should let her know the quality and temperament of the food improves drastically while most folks were out of town. ), a gem encrusted sword and a habit of wearing Lightning Strike spells. I hear dragons like sparkly things. Mebh is a tireless scourge of all things evil, regardless of whether it can be proven or not.

Michael, the merchant of menace: Too calm, too cold, and altogether too clever. We probably shouldn't trust him with granny-related transactions.

Barth, a suit of armour: Scary guy. Until we took his helmet off, I wasn't a sure if we were going to see a face or a pamphlet entitled "What a friend we ( are extremely lucky to ) have in Samael" in there. Another tireless scourge. Lucky us.

"Nervous" Reck: Bravely confronting a collection of phobias including; binders, sea-captains, and unresolved vengeance, she has returned to her celebrated career in mis-fortune. I cannot but admire her stoicism, but I fear she is still quite crazy.

And myself: Haann Uberreich, your tireless scribe: Selected largely because no-one ( Mebh and Barth ) trusted me to be Party Leader. We choose Michael instead and he will therefore be nominally in charge of any granny-related transactions. This should learn them.

On with the show.

We troop down to the Ye Magicke Shoppe, and some of the party complain as I take them along the most direct routes. Some of them appear to object to the cosy back-streets and quaint folkways of New Seagate. A brisk walk along long Wine Street and we get to the shop, which has been run for as long as any one can remember ( not that long in Wine Street, but you takes what you can get ) by a daft old codger called Coppers on account that is what he likes to take his payments in.

Coppers is extremely cagey about telling us 'anything about the mission before we agree to take it, so our curiosity ( and advanced penury, at least in my case ) got the better of us. Apparently, all we have to do is escort a wagon from one place to another safely and we'd get paid. It sounded simple enough, so after some haggling from the more wealthy party members and the passing back and forth of buckets of copper coins we headed up to the Guild with Coppers.

After signing the necessary forms at the Guild, we head off to the Rune College and meet Styx ( can't these peoples parents give them proper names, or have they already exchanged them for less embarrassing aliases? ) who leads us out to a Rune Portal. Mebh insists on taking Spike, her large and foul tempered war horse. While we are holding hands to help the ritual along Spike takes a disliking to Barth and nearly sticks his hoof all the way through his gut. Reck and I heal him and I help calm Spike with a few soothing words and a control animal spell. I believe the words were, "Resist this, you flea-bitten old nag!" This seems to help, until we get to the other side of the portal in Mittel-Mark Haupstadt and I release the con-trol. Fortunately Mebh had gotten back on Spike and managed to rein him in to some degree, but I was rather more glad of the Walking Unseen that Reck cast on me. The horse is obviously a complete psycho. If he has to puts up with Mebh on his back, that’s the least you can expect. We are directed to the Mechanicians Guild, which was apparently responsible to the Road Making Machine fiasco of a session or two ago. Remember the one with the Nitchsphere and the gigantic pissed-off earth spirit trapped in it. Yeah, that sort of thing tends to be easy to remember. Apparently Barth was on that little jaunt, so he led us through the motley collection of new, old and re-cently repaired buildings and we get to a courtyard and Werner, our employer. Werner must have been a bear of a man when he was younger, but the years hadn't treated him too badly. And he still appears to have all his allotment of marbles, de-spite working in a field of magic about as unsensible as the pointy hat brigade can come up with. We give him the let-ter from Coppers and he explains what needs to be done.

He directed our attention to a pair of eight foot tall stone golems pulling a cart in a tight circle around the middle of the courtyard, which we had noticed but were politely avoiding the subject due to Reck's anxiety about Binders. The cart is covered with a sinister cold iron dome, which is taller than the golems by a foot or two. Behind the cart hang down a number of silvery strands of some-thing we haven't been able to identify properly, which drag along the ground. Where they have touched the ground in the path that the cart follows small plants are starting to grow at unnatural rate, seemly only kept in check by the big flat feet of the golems.

Werner explains this is a "Certainty Device" which has been ordered by someone called Nadia living near Free-town far to the West past Cauldersfield, and can only safely be delivered overland. Apparently if it stays still or leaves the ground it obtains "Critical Certainty" and sucks all the magic out of an as-yet unknown area. Apparently magic needs uncertainty to work, which would explain a great many things.

We make sure that the Golems are ordered to follow our instructions in the event of Werner being incapaci-tated and know to circle the wagon if no other orders seem relevant. We also note that mana is being displaced from the cart as it moves and there is a lingering dead-zone of no-mana where it has been. We also confirm that our route will take us south through Aquila, Novila, the Droskyne Pass, Barraskyne, across most of Alladar, though southern Cauldersfield and north to Freetown. This takes in some of the most picturesque scenes of de-struction provided by the war, and is a jolly long way. The final destination is a place called Keep Kendall.

We get the cart to the bottom of the hill outside MMHS, in hope of finding a reasonably priced inn and getting the cart away from densely populated areas. The prices are still shocking, but it's better than stony ground and cold food, which are looming in our futures, Certainty Device or no.

{ Food and a bed 5sp a night EACH! }

We also get some horses. Reck, Michael, Werner and I get some friendly biddable palfreys, but Barth gets a destrier to go with his outfit. He didn't look too steady when he got on, but worse still Spike hates it on sight. With this distraction I may be spared after all.

5 Seedtime

We are skirting Innesburgh when Werner mentions something interesting. As he and I discuss the principles regarding Uncertainty Theory (my neck and throat are starting to pay the price for all the nodding and agreeing sounds) he reveals that if a dead body touches the strands at the back of the cart it's pretty much irresurect-able. I feel compelled to share this with the rest of the party. Defending this thing from attack will have mixed motivational effects, I think.

There have been some territorial squabbles between the two stallions (maybe they both want to prance around on Barth's liver) but nothing tragic has happened yet. Barth is getting pretty serious equestrian training. The noises he's been making, going to and from the stable, don't sound even remotely pious.

13 Seedtime

We cross some big river that I've forgotten the name of. It's got a big stone bridge, so it should easy to find on a map.

Note to self: must rank Navigator.

15 Seedtime

We skirt around the town of Novilar.

17 Seedtime

Another river, another big stone bridge.


19 Seedtime

We reach the foot of the Droskyne Pass and start up it. The number of other travellers to be amused/concerned at our appearance drops dramatically. We are heading through some of the areas worst affected by the recent war, though the damage has been largely repaired where there are people to repair it, some places were pretty much wiped out. Since then the introduction of a new, young, and apparently mentally unstable ruling class has helped things immesurably . Consequently, this should be a barrel of laughs.

22 Seedtime

Nothing much exciting happens until we get to the other side of the pass and we have seen wall-to-wall bugger all so far. Not even friendly local bandits. Then we clap eyes on the gigantic blocks of stone appar-ently dropped on Barraskyne during the war. No sign of the city. Needless to say whoever won, it wasn't the folks living there. There is a sign telling us to stay away from the left side of the road, as apparently Sabrina sealed all the invading nasties (undead or demons, I can't remember) into the area. That would have been right before the properly values really took a nose-dive. Incidentally, the blocks of stone are really big. I've seen the Chasm Forever, which was pretty aptly named, but a half dozen of these beauties would be the start of a pretty good bridge across it. Provided you were willing to drag them all the way to Zentradia past Calamar blockades to a plane where no-one lives. Still, I wonder what they will call this in few hun-dred years? The Mindbuggeringly Big Stones, Three blocks down on your left. or Sabrina's Folly?


24 Seedtime

We see some bodies, lying uncomfortably in the middle of the road. They turn out to be of the dead-but-not-moving variety and appear to be the refuse of a ambush. The armour they had on is worn and dilapidated and they appear to have been stripped of loot by the people who stuck them full of arrows a couple of days ago. Mebh and Barth insist on covering the bodies with rocks, pre-sumably to keep necromancers out, but don't take my sound advice of cutting the heads off. Very untrusting.

Two days South of Droskyne Pass.

Some Rocks.

Well, isn't this cosy? Three and a bit weeks on the road and no-one is dead yet. Mind you, all of the danger so far has come out of the transport arrangements.

26th Seedtime

A couple of nights later Michael wakes me up for my watch and I get a nasty feeling that some-thing isn't right. It takes me a while to realise that it is the absence of the sound of the cart and the golems rumbling and girding away, which has been a constant companion since we left the Mechanitions guild. Also the flashes of blue coming from the cart made me think something was amiss. One of the front wheels had come off and the golems were gamely trying to grind the cart along like a plow. I holler to let the party know about the situation and belt down to the cart. Seeing the spokes have caved in and the wheel buckled I order the golems to stop and get the left one to hoist up the side of the cart with the broken wheel. Whilst it ponderously follows the order a glob of blue light oozes out of the iron cover and zooms toward me. I try and get out of the way of the weaving bolt, but it manages to smack me in the top of the head. It stings a bit, but my head doesn't appear to be on fire, so I leap on the wheel and lever the pin out with my Main-Gauche and haul the wheel off. By this point, Reck is at the cart, nimbly dodg-ing another glob of light and frees the spare wheel from the front. We get the cart back on the road, and let it do a wide berth of the place where it stopped and where there is a luxuriant growth of the grass and wild flowers.

Time to check out the damage. Empathy tells Reck that I'm unhurt, despite there clearly being an extra ear growing out of the top of my scalp and it's at least twice the size of the usual set.

Apparently there is an amount of excess mana sloshing around inside me too. Before trying anything exciting I wake up Werner. He seems more concerned about the cart, but says that the best way to fix my new feature is too get it cut off and healed back as it was. We leave it till morning, and I get to play both healer and patient. Reck lends a hand and helps get my skull back to the right basic shape.

28th Seedtime

On the road, we see a cloud of dust on the horizon and conclude it's a mounted force of some sort or other. We pull off into some ruins and set the wagon circling as far out of sight as possible. It turns out to be a group of about forty gnolls, some riding giant wolves. They stop near us and issue a rather odd "challenge". Effectively they asked politely if they could use the piece of road we had just scattered from. Michael takes this all in his stride and magnanimously lets them pass. They continue on dragging along the cattle and sundry household effects that they presumably liberated elsewhere. This purely cir-cumstantial evidence nearly sets Mebh and Barth on a rampage after them, but we restrain them by explaining that any raiding they took part of occurred some time ago. They are all the more frightening for their identical thought processes. Everyone is suitably impressed with Micahael's savoir Gnoll and general cojones.


5th Blossom

We reach Freetaun, and while we wait to get passed through the gate Barth's horse Dagger gets jittery and stomps a small boy. I stop him from dying and manage to do some surreptitious healing while Reck de-tains the parents. A curious official quizzes us on the cul-prit so we try and not drop Barth in it. Unfortunately, the parents of the boy got a clear view of his armour. We have to pay off another city official before leaving, under the pretence of the family receiving recompense.

Werner presents himself to the Freetaun Mages guild and is swiftly availed of a barge and slightly nervous looking water-mage, and we are treated to a fast and rather abrupt trip across the river. We are all thrown around a bit and another blue glob of mana gets loose and streaks straight for Mebh. It disappears through her armour's stomach plate and while she is distracted, beating at her armour, we arrive very suddenly and Spike is pitched over-board. Mebh takes off her outer shell of armour, revealing her paddings with a suspicious clean patch on it. She then jumps off the barge and leads Spike around on a nearby boat ramp.

We regroup in a nearby square and make for an inn. Reck convinces Mebh that I should be let have a look at the new bulge she is sporting on her midriff, despite my status as evil. Whatever it is it appears to be tied into her circulatory system and numerous organs. It might be an extra lung, or maybe a spleen, but I don't commit myself to this optimistic prognosis.

6th Blossom

We decamp to an Inn and make prepara-tion for traveling into the woods on the other side of the river. This includes repairing the spare wagon wheel and letting Mebh get her new acquisition investigated by the healers at the Mages Guild. They are fascinated and de-termine it is an organ that bestows the ability to open a Gate to Hell and summon Imps.

We (Michael and I at least) are staggered to discover that she wants it (the Imp gland) removed. At very least she could have hung onto it until we returned to the Guild. She could have swapped that for any body part she named with some adventurers. Or at least gotten a sub-stantial amount of money for it. I am beginning to think she is some sort of killjoy, rather than a real adventurer. If what I over-heard is anything to go by, she isn't enjoying the unique challenges.

Mebh: "The demonics are trying to insert things in me again Reck" Reck: "Yeah I hate it when that happens."

The offending body part is put in a jar and then burned, much to the disappointment of the Mage Guild's healers. They don't get to see these organs without the ex-owner dissolving on them apparently.

When the excitement is over we head back to the inn. The others had noted a relatively lightly guarded wagon, laden with wool-products, heading in the direction that we are to set off tomorrow. It looks like we shouldn't e-pect to run into too much trouble, so we prepare for the worst.

7th Blossom

We head off in the morning and have an uneventful days travel though the forest.

8th Blossom

At about midday, we get very poorly ambushed by a group of 8 bow-wielding goblins being lead by two humans. Mebh and Spike crush a good half of the goblins by plunging into the undergrowth and Michael charges down the men in the middle of the path. The rest flee in terror and good sense. Michael briefly interrogates the bandits and decides they need some serious upskilling in the gentle art of highway robbery. So he directs them to a group of ogres and other low-life’s he knows near Sanctuary. The fact that they are directed to "Ask for Skull-Crusher" doesn't make me envy them either.

We dust ourselves off after a frankly disappointing ambush, while I pluck an arrow out of Werner's arm to make him feel he's getting his moneys worth, and we get back onto the road.

After the ambush we move on, discussing the mechanics of "Extreme Mana" ( as opposed to good old, ordinary, High mana ) and the logic of wearing a chastity belt of your own volition, but being unable to take it off yourself. Mebh apparently wears one capable of giving would-be ravishers heart attacks, which makes me nervous about healing her. I'd be better reassured if I knew that the belt had less of a suspicious and judgmental nature than Mebh, but I really rather think that ranged healing spells might suffice. Reck admits she's always considered a complimentary grope to be one of the perks of being a healer, but I'm pretty sure that wasn't in the oath I took.


9th Blossom

Heading Northwest we run into our first real opposition, a narrow gorge with a cart and armed retainers coming the other way. We engage in a brief shout-ing match, but something in our manner persuades "Lou", the leader of the little group, that he should yield. Very thoughtful of him, but I think the edge of desperation in Barths voice when he told them "Our cart can't stop" helped convince him to be a gentleman about it.


11th Blossom

Today is uneventful apart from Mi-chael spotting some movement in the trees, which turns out to be a stooped, long-limbed, red furred creature swinging through the branches. Apparently a kind of tree goblin know as an "Orangotan", which can be quite nasty if they are cornered and manage to grab you with their prodigiously long arms. It is far from cornered and doesn't appear to be controlled or spying for anyone, and with careful ignoring it leaves us alone after a little while.


12th Blossom

After crossing a low bridge with "check for trolls" written all over it, but nobody is collecting tolls today; we pass out into the open by a wide cleared area. Apparently stopping mid-afternoon for a rest is a new sort of impiety recently identified by our intrepid moral protec-tors Barth and Mebh. We continue on and, lo and behold, meet a washed out and rocky section, were the stream we just crossed meets a larger river, that no-one feels confident in trusting the future of the plane to. Unfortunately there is a well-used detour off to the west which continues back into the forest, where more wildlife waits for us.

This time a swarm of largish buzzing things races out of the trees at us, with rather obvious hostile intent. Reck's wall of light turns out to be the medicine, as at least a half of the cloud explode on impact and arc smouldering to the ground. The rest skirt one side and home on Barth and me at the rear of the party. One apiece crash into us and pierce our armour and it becomes readily apparent that they are a particularly unpleasant kind of blood-drinking bird. I snap the neck of the one buried in my shoulder and yank it's nasty bill out of the hole it's made. This helps stop the claret from leaking out of me, and I head around to help Barth. The rest of the party have wheeled back and are cutting the remaining swarm down to size, giving me plenty of time to stop Barth from draining away. Reck exhibits an eye for accuracy, skewering one neatly with a rapier and the ones sensible enough to flee are cut down by Mebhs arrows. Apparently these things are called Stirges, and I pretty much hate them. Barth isn't to keen either.

Emerging from the forest we discover the castle. It's pretty much the only landmark we can see, but makes up for it. It's a very serious defensive structure, and the guard are alert enough to spot us just about immediately. We park the cart in an orbit a safe distance from the gates and stride up, trying not to look like archery targets. We have a pleasant chat with Sabine the Gatekeeper who informs us that peace bonding of weapons is all the rage at the moment, and we make the gesture of fastening our weapons to their scabbards with tragically flimsy pieces of fabric and such-like. Apparently this town within a keep frowns on the possibility of trouble in the streets, rather than regarding them as a legitimate population control and entertainment source.

It's not very big, but has a range of artisans. Mebh and Reck stop to inspect the blacksmith's various wares. We come across an Inn called the Green Man, which the learned Barth tells us is a pagan fertility symbol, though he seems to feel it's an inappropriate name for a hostelry. The local Pub, the One-Eye Cat, is also run by the same fellow, Wilf. Given this staggering range of choices, we dump our packs and stow the horses.

Tella ( the stable-lass ) is menaced by Spike, so Mebh gets to rub her own horse down. Tella is also full of interesting talk about Caves of Chaos, apparently cleared out by lusty adventures, who preferred to return in smaller groups that they left in, a number of years ago.

We secure a table at the Inn and watch the people watching us, and drink as much local beer ( fine stuff ) as we feel we are able.

Barth confuses everybody by drinking water, but we manage to avoid insulting him by making up the difference. A number of people talk to us during the evening. Joop: A town guardsman, still in his chain-mail, is feeling talkative and after chatting with Wilf gives us a little local knowledge. He confirms the tales Tella heard about the Caves of Chaos, and mentions the presence of a mad vegetarian Hermit, a tribe of Lizard folk persecuted out of existence by Lord Devereux's 10sp a head bounty, and the presence of monsters in Spider Woods. Another local, a trapper and guide named Cob, chips in with a few comments about the strange events he's wit-nessed recently. Apparently the "Goblinswater", the river we crossed to get here and the least wholesome name for a water-feature I have ever heard, running red and seeing a group of gnolls 3 times in the last month. He had also seen a site of a battle where a number of heavily armed people met their end. We ask about retaining his services as a guide and he seems keen for the work.

Mebh talks to Brother Martin, a Raphaelite monk and the local baker. Perfect syntheses of professions if you ask me, but the man must really enjoy getting up early in the morning.

After the beer and baths are had we return to the little pub to get down to the serious drinking. Werner and I are well into our cups when the employer's employer, Lady Nadia, turns up. She's beautiful in an icy sort of way that sobers up Werner pretty quickly. More sobering is the posse of plate mail-clad lads she had in tow. Even more sobering is the enormous bag of coins he is casually handed by Lady Nadia in exchange for the control amulet. She held it in her pale hand with ease, but I heard Werner strain a little and the clunk as it disappeared into his walking chest was not a little one. We might get some money out of this after all. And with that the Lady and her entourage disappeared into the night.

I am rather convinced it is far from the last the Guild will hear of Lady Nadia and her new toy, but right now I'm glad to see the back of it. Taking full advantage of Verner’s good mood we ask for some goodies in return for our toils. He’s carrying quite a large number of shaped items in that chest and manages to convince us that a number of these are worth 500 gold schillings. Everyone seems quite happy with their choices nonetheless, especially Barth whose new light sword is already making me feel less than safe.

13th Blossom

Everyone not afflicted by inflated sense of piety rises at a respectably late hour, but Reck seems to be suffering out of measure for her exertions the night be-fore. I check her out and discover she is totally exhausted and something has thinned her blood. I immediately suspect the pale and interesting visitor from the night before, but for some reason the local god-box needs to be consulted.

Abercrombie, a hard-line Michaeline cleric, has apparently seen this sort of thing before. It’s called The Kiss of the Undead and allows the vampire to see through the victim’s eyes and know they are. The link exists while they are both alive and occasionally affords the lucky recipient visions of the vampire’s activities. Mebh and Barth take her to the chapel, a dainty little sixty-foot tall solid stone thing, a pray over her for a while. We do manage to get Barth to locate the cart that is within 130 miles but further away than 10 miles.

We keep an eye on the rest of the town, and make a few observations;

  1. The Parade ground has been turned into a veggie garden.
  2. There are merchants coming into town to pick up deliveries of barrels.
  3. They are not in want of tradesmen and crafters, even this far out of civilisation.

We also meet Sir Robin “the Brave” a wandering min-strel who seems eager to follow us and chronicle our ad-ventures. Michael cheerfully taunts him with stories of Vampire mind control. All in a quiet night, but we have a different guest tonight. A scowling Michaeline in full evil-smiting kit, Abercrombie makes a pretty intimidating sight and he really gets his dander up when Barth nonchalantly suggests that the Ranks of archangels has room for one more. I begin to appreciate how open minded my companions are.


14th Blossom

The morning starts early when Abercrombie wakes us for prayer at three bells, and gets into another argument. The devotee’s of Vishankar never made this much noise, if largely out of fear. Fortunately I was blessed with the foresight to hypnotise Reck to sleep soundly and dream of sunshine, burbling streams and fluffy rabbits in the hope these thing will drive the vampire off. We sleep for most of the day and Reck’s condition improves slightly. She has seen the Vampire in fleeting visions, Michael speculates that the kiss was a simple method to keep track of source of danger for the vampire. That being us, a party of adventurers at a loose end. Tonight is quieter despite that little gem of unwanted speculation.


15th Blossom

We visit Brother Martin to get a slightly more even view of the condition, although he puts he’s faith more in sound nutrition over prayer in this case. He does advise that the vampire will return at some point, as the link occupies a portion of their awareness that they can’t shut out. Apparently Reck should be safe (if bored) in the chapel until the Vampire chooses to return or she is rested back to herself again. Brother Martin also offers to bless some water for us.

We take rooms at the Merchant’s Guild house, with Michael “posing” as a wealthy merchant prince, and the rest of us pretending to servants of some sort. This means we are directly adjacent to the chapel, and only thirty feet from Reck and the dubious safety afforded by holy ground. The Guild House is run by Greeeves, a sanctimonious old prune and kept running by Pitr the elderly housefrau.


16th Blossom

We leave Reck in the chapel for another bout of reflective recuperation and head out to visit the site of battle described by Cob, with his help. Ever vigilant, Barth spots some glowing eyes in the undergrowth near the sad little row of unmarked graves by the cutting that detoured around on our way here. He gives chase but the evil whatever eludes him. Cob sees some track he thinks were made by a large dog or wolf, and thinks it’s probably a hellhound. I am becoming more concerned about the native wildlife in this area. I feel the bleeding bird-bat things were quite interesting enough, thank you.

We follow the tracks through the forest and come to wall of brambles in front of a cliff that cuts into a low barrow-like mound. Picking our way through the brambles, tastelessly decorated with scraps of cloth and rotting flesh, we find a large stone door set in the cliff face. After a brief investigation it does not appear to trapped and the stalwarts start to try and bash the door down by lumbering into it. This looks painful, but does eventually yield results and a cluster of almost surprised looking skeletons suddenly confronts us. They surprise us in turn by simply closing the door in our faces. We batter it open again, Mebh and Barth proving their usefulness in their brute strength and diminished survival instincts. The skeletons are quickly dispatched and we press on down a long corri-dor (nearly ½ a mile) before the walls turn from the un-dressed stone into an inlaid pattern of black veins running through red rock. Apparently we have broken in the back door of a lair of necromancers, which isn’t the bad news it could be. However, they will be upset when they discover we know how far behind they are on the decorating.

We finally come to a “Y” junction and find our way to a little temple, in which a group of hooded figures are wor-shipping a figure on a throne in the middle of a raised dias. She was wearing one of those low cut “Queen of Damned” evening numbers. Anyway, while Michael incinerated the hooded skeletons with a Web of light and Mebh went for the obvious threat, who turned out to only be a illusion sadly. Barth and I stood there with our mouths open, making sure that none of them got away.

Making our way further west we find a room packed with Zombies, who manage to leap all over us, and the fight degenerates into brawl with the rotting horde. Eve-ryone survives, with the help of some judicious healing, but I am too tired to also cure the lingering diseases we all happen to contract. We and our various rots retreat out of the caverns for a rest and head back to town. Back in the town, we meet a regular visitor and mer-chant, Mendel and his attendant fluff, Shontel and Sascia. He claims to be in town picking up a consignment of barrels, but this seems like an odd place to get empty barrels when other place would be able put goods in them as well. We also gather some of the townsfolk and explain what we have been up to and our determination to not to run away and desert them until we feel we’ve made enough loot. Robin the Bard is keen to help (with inspira-tional music, Seir save us) but Abercrombie will only go if he leads the expedition. No one seems keen for that to hap-pen. While this is happening Barth notices a young woman listening intently, and she comes over and introduces her-self to us as Aseneth. She is not a local and claims to be looking for a reclusive holy order. They, from what circumstantial evidence we can gather, appear to be very reclusive and not that holy. Michael says she’s a relatively new Necro and has a manipulative personality. I think he has a nasty, suspicious mind, but is probably right this time. We have the usual theological discussion back at the Guildhouse and meet a dodgy looking pair. Tomas and Holga are lightly armed by adventurer standards but he is a wiry and lean Assassin with a rapier and dagger and she totes a short sword. They are probably up to no good, just like us.


17th Blossom

The next morning Abercrombie has de-cided to ensure the safety of the inhabitants of the heavily fortified town, by remaining within the walls and praying some more. We are under whelmed by his pious fervour. We go looking for the suspicious Aseneth, stopping first with Martin. He mentions that he knows of no reclusive orders, only a mad hermit called the “Bee Man”. Wilf said that Aseneth asked about the whereabouts of the tanner and we follow his direction also. Jocelyn the Tanner, her enterprise deceptively hard to find due to the lack of the familiar stench, has spoken with Aseneth but not enjoyed the experience. She seems to have also deduced she is a Necromancer, either by the supplies she requested or other means, and doesn’t approve. She does direct us on to Ashen the Cooper, who was Aseneth’s next destination. Ashen and his wife (Nariella?) appear to be having a do-mestic disharmony of some sort when we arrive, but he is soon talking business with Michael. Michael had already determined that some of Ashen’s trade was on his side of legal after spotting parts that could easy be used for decep-tively crafted barrels. Little wonder Mendel comes out here for his goods. Michael also seems moderately im-pressed, so I won’t be surprised if we take a few barrels back ourselves. Sir Robin and Cob join us on this day’s excursions; Robin looking a little worse for wear. Despite his complexion, he insists his music will inspire us. On our way through the brambles, Michael spots a ward that encom-passes a pretty large area around the door. It hasn’t gone off, despite us being inside the area, so we press forward to the door. As we don’t have Namer, Barth volunteers to interfere with the door and everyone else retreats to out-side the ward. When he gives the door a whack it whacks him back with medium strength Necrosis. We rush up and administer healing and marvel at his deranged bravery. He also thought he heard a scream that sounded initially human before it was choked to gurgling halt.

We are making preparations to reopen the door, when Mebh appears out of the blue with a young tree under her arm and crashes through the door. The new zombies be-hind the door present little threat and while tidying up we spot one of Mendel’s floozy’s in a bad way on the floor, a victim of the ward. We ponder the origin of the Zombies and recall the graves near the battle have been disturbed. Everyone (boring) contends this is dread necromancy and not right. I contend that this making use of the natural resources of the area and only to be expected when dealing with necromancers. No one seems impressed.

We hurry down the corridor to the Y and look in on the dias room, where we attempt to smite the new inhabitants. A skeleton in an evening dress and another in raff-ish gentle’s clothes menace us. I actively resisted the “fe-male” one and fall into a comfortable doze for my trouble. When I awaken the party looks alternately scorched and blasted, but relatively pleased to see me. Apart from Barth, who is busy making bone splinters out of what could have been a useful contingent of uncontrolled skeletons. But we have managed to get our first loot of he adventure, which is slightly cheering.

I heal the hurts and we try and hear anything over the disturbing din of Sir Robin’s singing. Michael creeps ahead and spots a gaunt fellow in a misty robe accompa-nied by a pale woman and mummified cat. He completes his spell and mist rises, sharing with us the wonderful scent of Noxious Vapours. We advance, but an Agony quickly follows the Vapours and half of us fall screaming to the ground. Ironically, Barth and I are left to charge the ne’er-do-well together but get blasted back by a Stream of Corruption. Barth managed to get in shot, but an unseen metal arm that emerges from within his cloak deflects it. At this the little coward scampers away down the corridor, covered by a dozen archers. Deciding to see how the others are doing, Barth and I, take a few arrows back with us as souvenirs. Mebh yells that them to re-cant, but they don’t seem convinced. We cast healing spells, again, and head back up the corridor. Michael also manages to backfire a Walking Unseen and turn Mebh extremely invisible to the point that it doesn’t come off when she hit’s something and Witchsight can’t penetrate it. Sneaking ahead, Michael is dropped on and engulfed by a nasty roof hugging monster and is then nearly battered to death by the Mebh and Barth in a valiant, if ham-fisted, attempt to rescue him.

Despite the ravishing and battering Michael is still game to go on and creeps forward to spot another en-trance to the tunnel system and a fully laid on ambush at the top of a ramp. We spoil the party by sneaking in in-visible and laying about us with abandon. I spot the Necro casting from behind the slit of a large door, and I nearly manage to get him with a volley of darts, before the still invisible Mehb crashes into the door and nearly breaks it down. She gets it on the second go and we pile through and chase him down a dogleg staircase before considering the possibility of some more nasty warded surprises. We decided a couple of live prisoners would be worth the effort and collect as many of the dead bodies as was can, hoping not to run into them, the next time around.

Back at Keep Kendall Larel and Charl, Sabine’s able assistants take the live prisoners off our hands. Appar-ently the local authorities will draw out their punishment by having sort of show trial before executing them. That’s the sort of backwoods place this is. And we have to leave the dead to the tender mercies of the church.

Reck is feeling better, but can’t be all well yet because she didn’t take to kindly to the suggestion that she will have to spend the rest of her days in a convent to keep the vampire off. Impressed by our zeal, Brother Martin is keen to help and heal us if we go out if we go out tomor-row.

18th Blossom

Sure enough, we rise early the next day to go and smite evil. Like evil’s going to up this early. Reck is deemed well enough to come along with us. Mehb is still transparent from the backfire yesterday, but is cer-tain this won’t interfere with you planned sneaking and looting. Very chivalrous. The rest of get plain old magic spells, with the exception of Brother Martin who apparently has Raphael on his side. We travel in the direction of the other entrance we spotted yesterday and find a small canyon with a river running out of it, covered with sparse forest and pocked with caves along the steep walls. Could these be the fabled Caves of Chaos? It’s certainly full of goblins, if the tracks are anything to go by. We generously let the ladies sneak out into the under-growth, to determine which of the Caves is our one.

Southern lower cave entrance is covered with goblin tracks and has a broader path leading to another cave further up the slope. The upper cave is furnished with a door and decorated with skulls and bones, warded to animate at some obscure triggering condition. Mebh and Reck return and we decide to keep looking for the cave we saw from the inside and avoid the goblins for the time being.

Barth - “Let’s deal with the necromancer before we make big piles of dead bodies.”

Smartest thing he said on the entire adventure, I swear.

We move forward to the copse that they had been scouting from, and managed to spot the reeking Troll cave they had somehow missed. We scurry past to look at the north wall of the canyon.

There is another strong smell as we head west up the canyon. We head from copse to copse until we find a wide mouthed cave hidden by tree, which the stream that emerges from the valley. We move further on until we reach the last cave, which has the stone lintel and general shape we are looking for.

The cave is warded with, our old favourite, Necrosis, and we have a brainstorming session about how to deal with it. The ideal solution, going home and getting a Namer, is dismissed along with the notion of leading a local troll or parade of goblins into the area. The tough guys of the group decide to take it on the chin and Brother Martin says that Raphael will protect him.

Disturbingly enough the ward, which was supposed to trigger when the fourth entity entered it, fails to manifest when he steps in. Sure enough, it is entirely gone. Why can’t I get perks like that from my patron?

We get into the room where we ambushed our would-be ambushers, and I cast ESP to get the mental picture of the area. There is quite a lot of activity; but we focus our interest on a reverently meditating mind to the sou-west, a pair of minds alternatively concentrating and resting in the nor north east, and a group of despairing minds to the sou-south east.

Tracking the meditating mind up the ramp and south down a corridor we find a place of worship. Fitted out with a pretty nasty looking altar, with four black pillars holding up the domed roof, and murals telling a touching tale necromantic romance. On the blood crusted altar were are a group of artefacts ( a bowl, two goblet, and a pitcher ) also covered in suspicious looking stains. We find the hero of the mural’s story, a tall figure in black plate and a red cloak, cowering and praying to someone called Arishkogal behind a pillar. His prayer doesn’t seem to help him. We also smash the vessels on the altar, despite the loss in revenue it represents. Mehb has a good go at smashing the altar with her mattock, but Brother Martin cracks the huge thing into little bits with his staff and a little help from his Patron. We take the guy’s equipment and charge off in the direction of the despairing minds, whom we assume are prisoners.

We return to the ambush room and head through the room that the Necromancer fled through, down the two flights of stairs to the level below. We are presented with a with a sixty foot long corridor with an opening on the left 10’ along, one right at 30’ and at the end another left. Judging the despairing minds to be approximately to our left we take the first corner and head down it. There is a heavy door at the end, but we can’t see anything through the slit in it. The seems like magical Darkness, but Brother Martin simply steps up, grabs a handful and yanks it out of the hands of a armour clad woman. Her big friend in black armour tries to kill Martin, but he fends of the blow and the invisible Mebh steps in the way. The woman pulls out a bow and starts firing shots from within the small, furnished cell. The fight is too cramped to let anyone else get involved, and seems to be getting nowhere fast ( despite Barth casting a triple du-ration Quickness on us ) until I cast Control Person on the archer and drive her into the back of the warrior. They collapse in a heap and Mebh gets a surrender out of the armoured warrior, who explains that he has forsaken his name. Emboldened by this victory, and Barth’s urging that we shouldn’t waste such a good Quickness, we force the captives down the corridor ( taking their weapons and their neat portable hole with us ).

Sadly, there is little to fight other than the urge to snicker as we encounter a man and woman playing chess for one another’s garments over a board carved into a plinth in the floor. By the light of the red and black candles, we can see that they are well advanced into the game and in some kind of trance. They were (originally) wearing the same colours as their pieces; read for and black for her. We snoop their auras and discover that they are both human Necromancers and are not currently doing a ritual. Thus it must just be entertainment. Oh well, it takes all types, I suppose.

The folks I am with believed it does not take all types, and want to drag these people back to town for a quick burning. We choose the back door that we originally en-tered through, but I cannot recall the basis for this choice, other than we assumed that we had already cleaned it out. We quickly discover the side effect of our raid has been that some has been getting no sleep whatsoever, be-ing up all night laying down wards. The first is absorbed by Brother Martin’s immunity to fell magics, but the second Necrosis spills over and damn near kills half of us. This is followed up a Stream of Corruption set for three entities in its area and a ten-foot gap to another, which will go off on the fourth person. With a bit of shuffling, we managed to avoid getting glooped by both of them; Martin’s only comment is “I think there is some evil magic here.” We shake our heads at the slime dripping walls and wander down the long rough corridor to the exit.

At the exit, there are more skeletons waiting for us, four holding magical traps. They are primed with nasty Necromantic area effect spells, but the zombie’s instructions don’t include people grabbing them away from them. They only one that goes off is the Noxious Vapours, and Mehb had protected all of us before we entered. Our captives and Brother Martin do not look very happy, so we smash the remaining door guards and head out into the fresh air. We leave the door off it’s hinges, hoping it’ll look like we cam in this way. On the way someone spots a couple of large spiders eyeing us up, but they don’t get close enough to worrying us, held at bay by Michael’s Web and Mebh’s arrows.

A little way out of the town, we stop to sort through our loot and Mehb says that she has to release the dark knight, on the basis that he surrendered to her in a chivalrous fashion. This is despite him appearing to be a touch undead and the fact she was sitting on him at the time. This seems pretty unfair to me, so I claim that Keira the archer, by failing to resist the Control spell, surrendered to me. Therefore she is allowed to give up her arms and keep her other possessions, and leave with the knight. The too necromancers have come out of their trances and try and call on some guys called Arishkogal and Nurgol to save them. It doesn’t happen.

We cart the evildoers into town and hand them over. Folks aren’t wildly happy to see us with more people for them to sentence, convict, and try, but they were going to have a bonfire away. Folks don’t include Abercrombie who is already ablaze with anticipation himself at the thought. We are requested to stay as witnesses but we beg off, using Reck’s little love bite and our wounded honour as a reason. I volunteer for the guard duty of the pair of necros citing my legendary tolerance for evil and get out of the kneeling and mumbling ( and associated bursting into flame ) meeting that follows. I get to sit and suffer dirty looks from the strip-chess players. They are bound with cold iron and gagged, so I take the oppor-tunity to point out the obvious mistakes they made. I hope they get an opportunity to put some of my advice, but given the mood of the crowd I don’t like their chances. Aseneth appears to have got, while the getting was good.

19th Blossom

We leave town the next morning, rather hoping to make it a quiet retreat. Provided the Necro-mancers won’t rage out of the hills and level the place, it might be fun to visit again some time.

Dramatis Personae

Seagate Locals and Tag-a-longs.

Ben Cyrus or "Coppers", a mad coin-hoarding trader with a shop in Vine Street.

"Styx", a Guild Rune-waver.

Spike and Dagger, a pair ornery war-horses.

The Locals of Keep Kendall

Brother Abercrombie, a Michaeline firebrand.

Brother Martin, a Raphaelite baker.

Sabine, the Seneschal of the Keep.

Larel and Charl, Sabine’s Guards.

Ashen the Cooper and his wife, Nariella?

Jocelyn the Tanner.

Tella the stable lass.

Wilf the hostler and barkeep.

Cob, a local huntsman, hired by the party.

Joop, another town guardsman.

Greeeves, a sanctimonious old prune running the Merchants guild house with the elderly Pitr.

Sir Robin the Brave, a wandering minstrel.

Aseneth, a young necromantic groupie.

Tomas and Holga, a pair of dodgy adventurer types.

Mendel, Shontel and Sascia, a travelling merchant and his attendant fluff.

Employers and employer’s employers

Werner, a Binder of the Mittel-Mark Haupstadt Mechanistions Guild.

Lady Nadia, a suspected vampire and current pos-sessor of the Certainty Device.

Denizens of the Caves of Chaos

Arishkogal and Nurgol, a pair of possible dark gods.

Keira and the Black Knight, a couple of roomies from the Necromantic dungeon.

An unidentified, but quite powerful Necromancer with extra metallic parrying arm.

Numerous undead, zombies and skeletons.

Some Local Rumours

Lord Devereux's Lizardman Bounty. A mad hermit called the “Bee Man”. Visitor’s to Keep Kendall

Loot, Wonderful Loot

Woefully incomplete and largely unseen.

From the Spell Casting Skeleton Pair A stone ring from the female skeleton’s glove. A bracelet of green jade, marble and gold. A gold choker chain with single black stone. A long thin silver chain with a medallion (designs of seven skulls on one side and beautiful woman on the other). A scroll case with a blank parchment. Some rich, if dusty, clothes. A scarab, DA’s as a magically cursed thing. A pouch.