The Cleansing of the Shire

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Summary

Adventure: The Cleansing of the Shire
GM: Jacqui Smith
Session: Winter 814
Night: Friday (Starting the 20th June)
Location The house of Smith
Level: Medium
Rules: ?

Mission

The Party

Scribe Notes

It was either go into the depths of the warzone to give healing to those who needed it, or find an adventure to go on. It had been a while since I had done so, and, well it would be nice to do so again. It was even better when Rowan said she was planning to go out as well so it seemed appropriate that we would end up in the same meeting room – going into the warzone – or at least somewhere nearby.

In the meeting room with us were:

  • Sau Rus – the human necromancer
  • Serra Angelus – the elven earthmage with an alcohol dependency
  • Sooty – the elven 'ash' mage with some rather interesting extra abilities

I'm Phaeton, a human solar celestial healer, and Rowan is an elven female binder and mechanician well known for her companion, Eylor, the sentient 'eyeball', on her staff. Since we all had adventured together before, most of the introductions were glossed over, apart from updating each other.

We could hear cackling from next door, which seemed a bit unnerving but it was soon put to the back of our minds as we were introduced to our party employer. He introduced himself as a Knight, naming himself as Sir Roland from Silverstream, located in the south part of Ranke. His Lord needed help dealing with all the refugees that were coming in, as well as wandering monsters. He also wanted us to plumb lakes for gold so he could pay his debts to a Fae Court. As well as that, the Baroness is looking for her sister who has mysteriously disappeared and, if that wasn't enough he had three wiccans pacted to a deity, known only as 'the Goddess', who want to go into the 'badlands' and start cleaning them up.

The pay they were offering was any extra gold, over and above what was required, and blessings from the fae. I was rather cautious about that as fae are rather capricious creatures and one cannot be exactly sure that what you get is exactly what you asked for. Still, some interesting possibilities came to mind. The Solar Flare spell for instance or maybe the ability to rank my accumulated collection of counterspells - or better yet, get the branch Counterspell option and rank that - be a darn sight easier.

We then discussed what buffs we could do. Since Rowan can add more protection to armour (+3 to FT protection) and Sooty could add other protections (+5 EN and 125 ablative), instead of the drow robes I was thinking of, I should wear my chimera armour (8pt). In addition, we would go for Armours of Earth during the day and Wraithcloaks at night. Spectral weapon spells would be put on weapons (which included my wand) unless we were fighting elementals where Sooty's weapon enhancement spell would be utilised.

Sierra became the party leader, I was 'nominated' as scribe while Rowan became the primary military scientist with Sooty as backup.

After the meeting, Sau Rus and I went to the library to research up on the 'Mother Goddess'. Could it be Gaia? Isis? Or even Chantris? We doubted the latter.

After that, I obtained a Guild Greater (using normal myrrh, as I didn't trust the cheap stuff) and permanent Lesser's from Serra.

The ship we were leaving on was the 'Cry of the Serpent' – which wasn't leaving until the early morning of the 3rd so we spent the intervening time getting ready.

3rd Frost

We were introduced to Theo Docherty, the First Mate, and the captain, Samuel Ramsey. During the trip Sooty set us up to do flying patrols. The rest of the trip I spent below still trying to design clockwork orrarys. It would take us a couple of days to get there.

4th Frost

At Lunchtime, a waterspout and it started raining .. a lot. Speculation was rife about whether this was a magical effect and whether or not a kraken was involved. We finally had to pull in to shore for shelter, not leaving there until the next morning.

  “Yes I know Lath is mad … but that doesn't mean her island is” - Phaeton.

5th Frost

By lunchtime we reached a small port called Dar, which was a fishing/trading port. The place was too busy and there wasn't room for the ship to dock. The inns were full as well so we continued up the river, finally reaching a large lake, Darwent, at dinner time and set anchor.

It was fish pie for dinner. Afterwards we noticed a group setting up an encampment on shore about a thousand feet away. Sometime near midnight, we heard a feminine scream and sounds of roaring. So we armoured up, added Phoenix Wings, and Wraithcloaks and took off to investigate. During that time there was more screaming and commotion.

Sooty and Sau Rus fired spells at the attacking ogres while I put down a Wall of Darkness to protect the encampment on one flank and Serra put up a Wall of Stone on the other flank. Rowan identified the ogre commander and blasted it with Eylor. I then followed up with a pink bolt of starfire as an experiment, the result leading me to the conclusion that pink does not appear to have extra effect against a target affected with necrosis. I then followed up with a meteorite shower which squished the ogre leader and a few others. The rest were routed back into the darkness.

We then returned back to the encampment and discovered that there were fifty of them, most of whom were suffering from internal injuries and bruising from blunt force trauma. They were refugees on their way to Brastor, so we did what healing we could to keep them alive and Sooty sent them to the Guild for further treatment.

The loot consisted of large crossbows, crossbow bolts, cudgels, and rusty chain armour off the ogres (although I suspect it won't be rusty for long though). While the others dealt to the ogre bodies, I headed back to the boat as I considered that my work was done here.

6th Frost

The next morning, we continued traveling up the lake and reached Silverstream, around mid morningish. We could see the castle on the promontory where the two rivers met. Once ashore, we followed Sir Roland into the hexagonal castle where we discovered that the Great Hall was rather busy. Sooty brought up the suggestion of the landless stipend as our reward and Baron Helmut said he'd think about it. We then went to find the three wiccans who lived in a cottage outside the castle, which looked like it had just been … put there. From inside, we could smell a distinct odour of what we thought may be baking gingerbread, which was confirmed when we discovered someone inside was baking. A young woman in leathers under witches' robe and the obligatory(?) pointy hat answered the door. She introduced herself as Margaret Allsop. The cheery faced plump and rotund older woman at the stove was Fanny Oggam while the third one, who was an elderly, stern faced, grey haired, woman sitting in the corner, of indeterminable age but could definitely be someone's grandmother, was introduced as Granny Beeswax. Three rather suspicious looking broomsticks were leaned up against one wall, and three cats also occupied the cottage. A large ginger cat and a black cat with a white bib were asleep by the hearth while the third, a young kinlease seal point, had decided to rub against my legs while purring. Said cat ended up in my lap being stroked.

Fanny served up tea and freshly baked gingerbread, which was delicious by the way, while Sooty determined the three witches capabilities and Margaret, who was doing most of the talking, explained that they wanted to try and refresh the land that has been ruined by strange magical effects by some sort of ritual dedicated to the Mother Goddess. Apparently all sorts of magical effects had interacted during the drow invasion causing the land to be cursed and the ritual required a three wiccan team. I started theorising that several three wiccan teams reinforcing each other's rituals would do the trick which ended in me getting into a magical theory philosophical argument with Sooty – and not for the first time either. Margaret also mentioned that they don't do Hellfire but have something similar to Sinking Doom. Also, they were rather experienced in something called 'headology' which seemed to me to be messing with other people's minds - rather like certain mind mages.

We returned to the castle to determine the other things that needed doing. Celeste Astara, the baroness' sister was still missing. She had just disappeared one morning. The Baron also wanted the local villages repatriated. Some of their occupants had been sent through to 'the other place' to help supply produce. As well as that he wanted us to check on Windermere as there had been no news from there but they believed that Dottery was okay. Woody Hollow, where the three witches had came from, had an attack that was repulsed, but the witches wanted to do their rituals in peace, not in pieces, which is why they came here.

There were reports of a very large giant upriver and we got the name of the refugee who reported that. Talking to him led us to the conclusion that there could be a cloud giant up there.

7th Frost

Next morning, we headed off on horseback to Avonhithe. Initially we traveled alongside the Blue water river before turning eastwards. The bridge at Avonhithe was still intact and it's construction suggested that it either had bound earth in it or was shaped. According to the guards, no undead or fantastical creatures were here. There was a tent city of refugees from Bowcourt here though.

Next place was Dottery. There was nothing unusual here either and Dottery was looking rather prosperous. We spoke to Flamis's brothers who told us most of her wards were still intact. They did say that someone was saying there's a giant in the lake.

At Castle Carlow, a square keep structure, they told us that they have got problems with a flock of over twenty harpies who were using magics and annoying refugees as well as stealing sheep.

  “Choir of Harpies? Don't you mean Cacophony?” - Phaeton to Sooty

We decided to bait the harpies using illusionary sheep, much to the guard's relief. I guess they thought we were going to use real ones. The weather that night was largely overcast, and the moon was close to first quarter which made it rather dark. Sooty made five illusionary sheep out of ash while Rowan constructed three more from stuff lying around.

  “Should we put a shepherd's crook on Eylor?” - Serra
  “You want to tell him that?” - Phaeton.

8th of Frost

Dawn arrived without incident. That was when Sooty spotted the harpies coming out of the sun. I just missed them since I was scanning the horizon with the spyglass. Two dozen of them in total. Their attack started with an agony spell from the harpy leader. Half a dozen of the harpies swung off from the main bunch and went for the flock of sheep. Most of them vanished into ash while Rowan's three 'sheep golems' start grappling the harpies that caught them. Meanwhile the main flock passed overhead throwing harpy feather darts – fortunately they all plinked off the armour spells. In retaliation, Sooty, gleefully, set us all on fire – with a sickly-green scourging flame that counteracted the agony.

Serra and Sau Rus, identified the two spell casters in the flock which they targeted with missile fire. At the same time, Eylor let loose a lighting bolt at the main flock while Rowan's golems appeared to be doing mid-air wrestling with the harpies that had them. We all got hit with necrosis – great – my tummy hurts again and we haven't had breakfast yet – and one of the soldiers is discovered to have a really strange taste in females.

More darts came in, not enough to hurt, but just enough to be annoying and my meteor spell failed. The harpies must have figured out something was up with the sheep as one of the golems was dropped – fortunately not on us, and a second one followed a second later. The third one still hung in there but fell a few seconds later.

Eylor blasted lightning at another one which got knocked out of formation which became an easy target for the archers among the guards. Another burst of necrosis and it it looks like I'm going to have to tap the powerstone – and my spell fails for the second time. Sooty fired off a guided pyroclastic fireball, centred on the one that he had identified as the military scientist. Something about that must have spooked them as they peeled off in a retreat. I suspected that the blast also took out, or damaged, at least one caster.

  “Let's get the flock out of here” - Harpies

As they flew off, Sooty, Eylor, and Sau Rus was able to fire off a couple more spells which dropped a few more – some vapourising into clouds of green mist, but my Meteorite strike just refused to go off for the third time. So I ended up taking a restorative in case I had to cast Wings on everyone – which we didn't in the end. Instead, after looting the fallen, we headed back to Castle Carlow.

The loot turned out to be a collection of nipple rings which soaked up agonies, and enough ingredients to make harpy musk grenados – very useful versus goblins.

9th Frost

We had a day's down time at Castle Carlow, which was time enough to catch up on reading, writing, and herb gathering. The night was quiet as well.

10th Frost

The next day, we resumed our trip to Windermere. Near lunchtime the path went downhill into the woods and, in the middle, we encountered a palisaded village in the middle, which was being plagued by goblins in the woods. We left them nearly all of the harpy musk apart from a small amount I was intending to see if I can figure out how it works.

By evening, we reached Windermere, which was located on the southern edge of the lake. The town was full of people, more than the town's accomodation could handle. One of them was a heavily pregnant lady who could give birth any day and even the stables were full. We were conducted to the Mayor, Roland DuLuac who explained the problems he was having, one of which was some sort of large creature out in the lake that was terrorising the fishing fleet and blocking them from the main fishing area. The lake itself is really deep in the middle but most of the fish are found in the shallows. Lights have been seen emanating from the depths in the past. We talked to someone who had seen it and he described a man mountain. Either he was really exaggerating or we were dealing with something the size of a small titan.

11th Frost

Midnight, the screaming started. Sooty was on watch so he started assisting with the delivery. Later on, I took over and by dawn, a new baby boy had been brought, protesting, into the world. Meanwhile Sooty had arranged to send the refugees to Silversteam by his fire teleportation ritual.

  “Can I keep him?” - the mayor, referring to Sooty.
  “He may come with side effects” - Phaeton

Last night, before sunset, I had been using my Crystal of Vision to scry for anything unusual that was casting long shadows and the scry revealed a suspicious structure that looked like it was sitting on the beach. It might be the giant, but then again it might be a pile of rocks. So this morning, we obtained a boat and headed north, scanning the shoreline for suspicious objects. Motive power for the boat was from Rowan's golems.

I was sweeping the shoreline with the spyglass, looking for the pile of rocks when Sooty called out that there was a moving rock ahead. By the time I turned to look, there was a surging wave of water heading towards us. Behind it was a rather large humanoid.

We managed to survive the wave and Sooty called out to the giant humanoid. We soon discovered that his name was Grond and he wanted to go home. Detect Auras told us that his home was on the Elemental Plane of Earth, he was an Earth Titan and he was an Earth Mage. What he told us that he had suddenly arrived here in a partially submerged stone circle, and he had seen a dark elf nearby who had immediately ran away. He had been stuck here for the next thirty days and was bound to the area by the summoning. The only reason he was annoying boats was because he was bored and really grumpy. I guess I can't blame him for that.

He led us to a circle of rocks that was hip deep in water. From what we could tell, there was something weird with the magic here but it was definitely a place where the planar boundaries were weak. Drow runes on the rocks basically said “Go Away” and it was a place of power for Earth magics. Presumably the drow had been trying to get an elemental, got an overpowerment backfire and got Grond instead. It was obvious we needed a Namer.

 “Send him to the Guild with a note saying “Return to Sender?” - Serra
 “Don't you mean Plane of Origin?” - Sooty.

After suggesting to Grond that he splat goblins instead, we told him that we were going to find him some help with his problem. So we itemised the boat and flew back to Windermere. There, we were able to find a Namer with the Expulsion Ritual, who turned out to be Father Patrick, a Gabrielite Priest.

Flew back, along with Father Patrick, who wasn't used to flying and, upon arrival, introduced him to Grond and explained the problem. While Father Patrick conducted the ritual we passed the time in general chit chat. Somehow, a philosophical discussion on the nature of magic got started. I reckoned that 11 dimensions were required to describe meta-magic fields while Sooty was sure there should be 14. I pointed out that 3 of his dimensions were in imaginary space. Also, whether or not magical concentrations causes dimples or pimples in magical space/time.

  “It's more spelling than maths” – Serra.

Once Grond had been sent home, Father Patrick told us that the area in the circle was a high mana zone for earth mages and there were additional bonuses for summoning as well.

Back to Windermere by wings and dropped off Father Patrick, Serra gave him a Lesser Enchantment blessing, then returned the itemised boat to the owner, along with instructions on how to un-itemise it and a warning to be careful. Rested the rest of the day.

12th Frost

The next morning, we continued our journey. Our next job was to go deal with some villages that had been reported to be infested with undead. To get there, we travelled up the western side of the lake and, just before evening, we found a really good campsite, which was already occupied by a collection of refugees from Bowcourt.

13th Frost

Continued up the lake the next morning until we reached the top. Up here, the area around the lake was basically marshlands and swampy so we turned westwards into low rolling hills. The sky, which had started out clear was filling with clouds which were definitely getting grey. Light rain drizzled down as we entered a forest. Somewhere in there was supposed to be at least one of the villages - High Loggerim.

According to the map we were given, High Loggerim was located in a valley, presumably with a small river flowing through it. We were expecting to encounter farmlands before we got there but, as we started to descend into the valley, the area was still woodlands but there was signs of logging. Also visibility was dropping.

It was finally decided to stop just under the lip of the valley as, according to the map, we weren't that far from High Loggerim but something didn't feel right. So we sent out Rowan's owl golem to scout ahead and report back. It wasn't long until the owl returned saying “Path go valley, valley all grey. It's really hard to program a golem with an artificial intelligence.

What we deduced from that was that the entire valley was covered in fog. That seemed a little odd, but not beyond the bounds of reasonable probability, so we continued on. Definitely getting foggy as we continued but something about the fog didn't seem right. Several DAs later, we had learnt that there was a very slight magical aura, the Nature of the Magic was Obscurement and it had been put there by some sort of ritual. Getting rid of it would probably require a Namer. Of course, Sooty and I had to have the inevitable philosophical 'discussion'.

   “Would the cloud be an area or an object?” - Sooty
   “Dunno – it's a rather grey area” - Phaeton

The inevitable argument of whether or not the cloud could be counted as a single object or an area for the purposes of magic was cut short as we heard the slow rhythm of axe chopping, followed by the enormous sound of a tree falling, followed by more chopping. From the sounds, there were two axes involved and some of us thought it was a bit odd no one had yelled 'TIMMBEEERRR'. Also I noted that the further on we went the aura in the cloud was getting stronger. It hadn't been conjured from offplane though.

Finally we saw the woodcutters. Yes they were undead, still clothed and looked recently dead. The GTN was Plague Golem, the time since death was only months, nature of plague was Zombification, nature of cure -no answer, current magical ability was infectious plague. They had no specific weaknesses and were not resurrectable. It initially looked similar to the zombie disease that I had encountered in Pasifika but here, they were acting as if they were still alive, instead of turning into a flesh eating ravenous horde.

The effect of the cloud on the zombies was resistance and the zombies were under control. The vampire theory that I had been postulating was looking more plausible. Sau Rus probed for more undead and concluded that there was a lot more down where the village was. No sign of a Greater Undead but it could be hiding under a scryshield. Because of the risk of infection we decided not to stay around and reversed out of the mist, stopping only when we were out of the valley. Fortunately checks determined that neither us or the horses had been affected.

Sooty did his ritual of gazing into fires and saw the village smithy pounding away at the forge. We then sent Bear (Rowan's bear golem) into the mist but detected no effect.

After some planning (and arguing) we head back in, near evening, with six 9ft tall wood golems at the front, us in the middle, and ash and earth elementals at the back. The formation we had adopted as we rode in was Sau Rus and Rowan at the front, myself in the middle, with Sooty and Serra taking up the rear – basically an 'X' formation.

As we came within sight of the palisaded village, which I estimated from the curve of the wall, to be roughly 500ft across, the gates were slammed shut. Crossbowmen on top of the palisade started firing crossbow bolts at us. So Sooty let loose with a hot ash plume, targetting a spot just beyond the gates. Meanwhile I starting attempting to clear the palisade with Sunrays while Rowan sent the golems in to push the gate open after she partially disintegrated it.

Between Sooty and I, we cleared the palisade of shooters although the golems and some of our horses, including my unicorn, had taken hits. Once the gates were opened, we could see the ash plume behind it. The village was basically intact although some of the thatch had been blown off. We could see six larger zombies advancing from behind the human sized ones which we soon determined were hill giants. I was thinking of dropping a meteor shower on them but changed my mind when they dispersed to attack the golems from two fronts. Besides, the baron wanted his village back in a relatively intact state.

  “Let's kill Phaeton for the death buzz” - Serra (I really hope she's joking)
  “No no .. for once he's being useful” - Sooty
  “Besides, if you do .. I'm NOT going to let you out of the duckpond” - Rowan (for some reason she had been threatening to throw Serra in a duckpond for most of the day)
  “So maybe we should kill Serra for the death buzz instead?” - Sooty
  “I'm an elf – it doesn't count” - Serra

I was getting rather worried that the light levels were going to drop too low for me to cast without aid from magical light but decided that, by then, this fight was going to be over, one way or another. Rowan's wooden golems were getting knocked down while she was trying to reinforce them with clay golems. The hill giant zombies that no longer had golems fighting them peeled off, and went for Sau Rus and Rowan's backup golems. Meanwhile Serra was hacking away the smaller zombies while Sooty was using his hot ash clouds (pyroclastic balls I was calling them) to damage one flank of hill giants while I dealt to the other flank.

That was when I remembered the wand I had that, when a weapon spell is put on it, the effects of the weapon spell is added to any spell I cast. So, while mentally kicking myself, I prepared the wand then the next Sunray really tore into the zombies. They didn't last long after that.

It actually didn't take much longer until we mopped up all the zombies with not much damage to ourselves. Next thing to do was to investigate the village, find out what had happened here, and hope there weren't too many nasty surprises waiting for us.

Well the first nasty surprise was that, a few minutes after we dropped the last zombie, the first ones started exploding, presumably spreading the disease into the air. We backed off a fair bit while that was going on but, fortunately, none of us got infected.

  “I had a Greater put on my horse – it was cheap” - Sooty.
  “I'm still sure that I don't trust that surplus myrrh that came in” - Phaeton
  “Neither did I but the horse only farts pink occasionally” - Sooty

The aura of disease took an hour or so to dissipate, but the mists still lingered – and it was getting darker. We went in to investigate, and were drawn to the village well, where we discovered this was the source of the mist. The well was nearly full with water with the well bottom being thirty feet below ground level and the water level at ten below. There was no aura in the water and since Sooty was the only one with enhanced vision, we had to wait for a while until he detected the magical stone at the fifteen foot level. The stone was magically trapped, warded, or cursed with plague and was the source of the necromantic fog.

It took us a while to extract the stone, using Rowan's golems, so much time that dawn was starting to break. The stone was a rather distinctive black granite block which had drow runes on the back. Guesses of 'This way up' and 'This side away from water' were quickly disproved when the runes were finally deciphered as 'Do not touch' followed by a name. The hammer and anvil were fetched from the smithy, and we stood a safe distance back while a strong golem, wielding the hammer, pounded the stone block into powder – which Rowan collected. As the stone was pulverised, the magic on it faded and disappeared.

14th Frost

The fog burnt off naturally just after dawn, and we spent the rest of the day repairing the damage we had done, especially to the main gate, then checking the village over. One of the large buildings turned out to be a hill giant lodge where the hill giant lumberjacks lived. In that building were several barrels of cider which Serra decided to liberate, especially after Rowan constructed a cart. In other buildings some small caches of coinage was found in various places.

Night was spent in High Loggerim and was rather restful.

15th Frost

Come daylight, after morning rituals and buffing, we headed off to the next village, Casterford, following the logging track until it met up with the road that ran down the valley near the river. A waystation was located at the intersection. The waystation was also abandoned but had been properly secured.

A bit later on, south of the waystation, we heard the sounds of a group of people coming towards us. So we got off the road and waited. What it turned out to be was a bunch of panicked people running as if the demon hordes were behind them..

 “Peasants. Why are you running towards an undead village?” - Serra

They had neared the village we were heading for, after coming down the main road, but they had been panicked by something that grabbed one of them and tore him apart. It took us a little while to calm them down but Serra's tea definitely helped. Something ghoulish had attacked them so they turned around and started running. One of the kids told us that he saw a black cloaked undead on a black horse.

After telling them about the empty village they could occupy, we continued on. About half a mile before we reached Casterford, it started getting really misty and Saurus started detecting undead. There was a similar aura in the fog but not exactly the same as the last one, although I started wondering if a difference that made no difference is no difference. Went a bit further and Sooty, with his enhanced vision, detected figures with pitch forks, definitely lesser undead. Most of them stopped when they hit the range of my 50ft undead shield amulet but three more continued on until they hit the 30ft barrier. One managed to make it to the ten foot barrier. These ones DAed as 'farmer ghouls'. They didn't seem to be bound so Saurus attempted to bind the one ten foot away but it kept resisting. We came to the conclusion that this mist was also providing the undead with enhanced resistance. He also detected 100 or so more lessers and nearly ten greater undead as well. Greatest magical defense of the farmer ghouls was no answer bit their greatest magical attack was paralysis.

  “Girls, Ghouls .. they all fluster him” Serra (about me when I was fumbling for a DA question)

So Saurus and Sooty, both on horseback and wielding lances, charged the nearby ghouls. It took a while but they soon impaled all six of them and dropped them. Saurus also managed to determine that their were only six or seven greater undead, one of which was a dread ghast, and at least two of the others were ghasts.

It was decided to try and cap the well to prevent the mists issuing from it so Serra tried to get an elemental. It took a while to turn up and, much to our surprise, and his I bet, it was Grond. Definitely a magical oooops. So, after a quick explanation and apology, we asked him to go block the well and get the magical stone out but the summoning must have dissipated before he got there.

The next plan was to lure the ghast out to take it out on our terms so we started 'sanitising' the area by knocking down farmer ghouls to get his attention. After a while, we heard hoofbeats coming from the direction of the village, but the dread ghast refused to be provoked and returned to the village.

We then approached Casterford and saw more farmer ghouls on the walls. Looks like we had no choice but to reclaim this village on the dread ghast's terms so we retired for the night at the way station and made plans for a full frontal assault in the morning.

16th Frost

Which was what we did. All buffed up, and ready to fight, we advanced on the village of Casterford, being cautious as the entire area was enveloped in thick fog. A defensive ditch had been dug around the village and, if there was a bridge over it, leading to the gate, it wasn't there now. That didn't stop Rowan though, she made her own.

Saurus, Sooty and I were on horses, the rest on foot. Rowan was accompanied by Bear and Donkey and she had already sent an advance force of golems ahead. When Saurus's horse passed the gate threshhold, it went into a wild panic. Saurus managed to get his horse under control but, having proven there was a fear effect in the area, we waited while he took his horse back with the others and returned.

Just beyond the gate was a row of houses, with their backs towards the wall separated by a ten foot gap. Sooty turned left while the others went right. I followed Sooty but, as yet, there were no signs of undead. Just then, there was a commotion, showing that the others had engaged the enemy, who had been lying in ambush. Sooty put a pyroclastic ash wall ahead of him and we turned back to support the others. What we discovered was a pack of farmer ghouls.

It took a little while but, what with Sooty's spells, and Rowan, Serra and Saurus's weapons, it took a little while to dispatch them. Fortunately the last one fell, with little damage sustained by us. That was when we heard the sound of tromping in the fog ahead of us. So I timed a meteor strike to land, hopefully on top of this lot when they arrived in view.

Yes .. this was the main force. The dread ghasts in armour and more efficient weapons, accompanied by ghasts, one of which was a Namer, and a forward row of farmer ghouls. Sooty had fallen back to where I was, in anticipation of playing 'counterspell hopscotch' with the Namer, while the others prepared to hold the line. That was when the leader dread ghast, on a zombie horse, charged right through our line, right over Serra, and onto Sooty and myself, and multihex striking the both of us. Sooty smacked him back while I retreated so I could continue the barrage of meteors.

Sooty was using a magical weapon to heal himself while damaging the dread ghast, which led Serra to call out “Make it known in the Seagate Times that Sooty was sucking off the Undead in the middle of combat”. Well, whatever it was that Sooty was doing, it was definitely working, while the others were holding their own in the combat. Meteors rained down on them as well as other magics, including Rowan's Smoking Magma, as well as weapon play from Serra and Saurus. After what seemed to be a long time, we were finally victorious – battered and bruised but victorious. Now it was time to take stock of the situation.

Since there was rapid rotting from the corpses (again), we backed off quite a bit until things settled down. Once it was established there was no threat from airborne vapours, we carefully headed to where we thought the village well would be – the centre. However, there was no well. We had instead stumbled onto the village common.

There were irrigation ditches in the common so we followed them to their source. Finally, after some blundering in the fog, we found the canal from the river. On the canal in a water mill which was powered by an underrun waterwheel. Rowan was so sure that it would be in the millrace, most likely in the wheel wheel itself, that she offered to swim down and have a look. It was finally decided that, to speed things up, all three of us that could detect auras or enchantments, that being Rowan, Serra, and myself, went to have a look.

Of course the water wasn't clear, and we must have been right in our hypothesis as we encountered six ghouls in the murk, presumably guarding the enchanted stone that was the source of the persistant mist. I was able to stab one then started preparing a Sunray in the hope to dispatch them quickly. Flashes of light told me that Eylor was discharging lighting. A rather nasty stab in the chest from a ghoul prevented the first Sunray from going off so I started another one. Meanwhile there was a concussive blast in the water as Sooty dropped in one of his cinder block fiery iceballs.

It didn't take too long to dispatch them all but, I had to leave the water in case the chest wound got infected so, while I started the healing process, Serra and Rowan continued the search for the stone.

They finally hauled the stone up, with the help of a clay golem. The runes on this one said - “Do not touch” and it's aura told us that it had the same consequences of destruction as the last one so we destroyed it the same way. We had to chuckle when we Daed the golem and discovered that it was now cursed with becoming an undead.

The fog started to dissipate as we collected the armour and weapons. The dread ghast had been wearing gothic plate with a rose crest, and wielding a weaponsmithed, silvered glaive. We also discovered 5 suits of light plate with the same crest, and the Namer had been wearing wyvern skin with Gabrielite markings. There were also six weaponsmithed hand and a halfs.

In the manor house, we found the village records and the house ledgers, and the three volume holy books of Gabriel. Sooty also found a scroll that indicated Celeste Astara had been here and those ghasts wearing the crested armour had been her retinue. She was being hunted by a drow and we had to conclude she had been captured and was possibly at the Caves of Blood. Unfortunately, we had no idea where that could be.

So, we portalled back to Silversteam to report, discovering it was nearly dinner time. A quick flick back to Seagate to get the Guild Librarians working on the problem then back to Silverstream for dinner.

After dinner we informed Baron Silverstream about our progress to date and asked him if we had any idea where the Caves of Blood might be. He hadn't heard of any place specificallt called that but there were caves in the hill near High Loggerim (renamed New Hope by the new settlers). The caves had been noted but not explored because the foresters were concerned that there were goblins in there. On the maps were marked five cave entrances, one of which could be the cave we're looking for.

Further discussions managed to eliminate two as being unlikely as one was used for storage by High Loggerim and the other was occupied by a were bear. We decided to scry the others in the morning. In the meantime, Sooty portalled the three witches, as well as three hundred villagers to reoccupy Casterford.

17th Frost

Next morning, we headed out to a point that is within seven miles of the other three cave entrances and built a fire. Sooty used that for a flamesight ritual but the only fires he could detect within range were in the villages. So we carefully headed out to check the cave entrances. We found wildlife tracks at the first one, the second one wasn't much of a cave, while the third one had a bunch of refugees in it, mostly children, that had escaped from High Loggerim. They knew of caves to the north but they turned out to be the two we had previously eliminated.

The refugees were taken to Casterford, where we stayed for dinner then went up to New Hope (formally High Loggerim). New Hope was nearly exactly as we had left it, except for the refugees settling in and no sign of undead. No fires were detected in the two nearby caves so we bunked down for what proved to be an uneventful night.

18th Frost

Morning. We purified, buffed, had breakfast, then set out to investigate the supply cave. Carefully, we stealthed our way up into the forested hills. After a while Serra detected some pit traps with rather nasty sharp spikes in them. After avoiding those, we detected small humanoid creatures in the undergrowth and trees.

In the vain hope that they were friendly, we tried calling out to them but soon realised they were in fact hostile when a volley of arrows flew at us and someone in the undergrowth started chanting. The fight was on.

It wasn't just goblins we were dealing with, as the goblin shaman finished his summoning and a bunch of rather angry vicious wolves charged us. They were soon followed by an insect swarm. The wolves were the bigger problem (literally) but the insect swarm was so irritating that casting was out of the question. Instead I was forced to fight, in close combat, by using my drow wand as a dagger.

  Serra to Saurus – “You're wearing bone and you smell of death. Of course they think you're a chew-toy”.

To my surprise, I was actually fortunate enough to dispatch both my wolves, the second one with Serra's help, and that resulted in me being titled 'Phaeton – Slayer of Wolves'. Well, that's better than some of the things I have been called in the past. Sooty also proclaimed himself to be 'Dances with Wolves”. Given the way he was dodging their attacks while throwing magic at the goblins, I guess that was rather accurate.

While the rest of us prepared to finish off the rest of the goblins, Sooty flew off after the goblin shaman, and attempted to spearcharge him from the air, which made him a real tempting target from the remaining goblin archers. Didn't help the shaman though who ended up falling from the high branch he was squatting on.

With the goblins dispatched, we continued up to the cave.

Saurus had 'spoken to the dead goblins. Were they working for a drow? – No. Were they based based in a cave? – Yes. Was the cave within five miles? – Yes. Were they ambushing us in particular? – No. Is there a drow in the area? - Yes.

After replacing all the willow runes and, splinting up Rowan's arm, we headed off. A short while later, we saw, rising up out of the trees is a cliff. Halfway up the hill is a cave entrance. A stream flowed out of a hole at the base of the cliff. A human shoeprint was spotted just off the trail.

There was a clear space between the tree line and the cliff so we went Unseen and moved across the cleared area towards the cave. That was when we got shot at – with ballista bolts. They had come from up the cliff but there was nothing obvious visible. One gave me a rather nasty hit which triggered my Willow Heart Rune

  Serra - “Phaeton – the token dwarf in the party – shortest, slowest and possibly the hairiest.”  

Sooty flew up, created an ash cloud, and managed to avoid smacking into the cliff. The rest of us raced to the base of the cliff. Because of the wound I had to resort to half stumbling, half running, and upon arrival, I targetted the cave entrance with a meteor strike.

Once the area was clear, we headed on up the path to the entrance. We also discovered, once the dust cleared, that there were two other cave mouth, above and to each side of the main entrance, that had ballistae mounted. They had been hiding behind an illusionary terrain spell. I had to admire their foresight.

A ward on the way up was removed with a Wiccan Special Counter but, unfortunately, no one spotted the trap which resulted in a bit of a slip and a missing step, as well as Rowan's golem, which was taking point, falling on her. Up the top was a bound stone door with another ward/trap pair on it. The ward contained a curse so that was removed with another Wiccan special counterspell.

I was running out of potential spell power so I had to scrounge a restorative off Sooty. Must stock up as it seems I had ran out when I wasn't looking.

Past the door, there was a cross passage with the two side passages going up to the weapon platforms. There was another door ahead. Upon opening that, Serra was shot at. Beyond was a large cavern with a pool at the back, with a waterfall pouring into it. There were several orcs, six of them with crossbows that were doing the shooting. The biggest orc, yelled out “We have the women, they will die” That was when we noticed the 6 bound hostages with knives held to their throats.

We headed in. I blinded the 4 archers on the right with a light spell before advancing. In reply, their spellcaster, a female orc wiccan, located behind the hostages, blasted us all with a Hellfire. While Saurus fired a Necrosis back, the others moved in. The wiccan cancelled my Light spell with an equivalent Darkness. She managed to drop off a Wall of Thorns but had to cancel the next Light I dropped right on top of her. Saurus is firing off necrosis while the others move in. The light suddenly get cancelled by a R20 dark. Rowan was turning the orc's wooden barricades into golems which the orcs have to take time bashing down while Serra and Sooty were also bashing orcs and Saurus continuing to drop necrosis.

We had eliminated most of the orc fighters when the orcs decided to kill themselves and the hostages. Sooty attempted to stabalise the wiccan but discovered she had used some mechanism to leave an illusion of her unconscious body behind while invisibility escaping. Meanwhile I was able to stabilise four of the hostages and raised the other two. A search of the place revealed a room that the orcs had been using as a brothel.

What we managed to find was weapons and armours. The orc bows were more powerful but required more strength to use. Sooty then fire jumped to New Hope to organise sending the ladies through. No sign of the one we were specifically looking for. While he was doing that, we discovered a concealed exit in the back of the cave.

Once the ladies were sent through, Saurus created an orc zombie to open the door. Beyond was a passage winding down into the depths. Sooty then destroyed the zombie.

With Serra in front, we headed down into the depths. It was warmer down here – and dark. As we progressed we discovered it was getting darker and we were wondering if magic was involved, maybe some sort of diffuse Darkness. Saurus couldn't detect undead ahead.

After a bit, the tunnel opened up. I was asked to start casting Light, starting from where we were and keep going to fill up the chamber with blocks of light. There was an odd smell down here as well.

That was when we were attacked by spiders. That was also when we discovered Serra is afraid of spiders. I managed to get a Wall of Light up to block off all the spiders bar two then some Blackfire blasted through at us. Meanwhile Sooty dropped some ash clouds to deal to the spiders beyond the walls.

The blocks of light started to reveal we were standing on one end of a ramp that crossed some sort of chasm. The spiders were large black ones with red hourglass shaped markings on their backs and the webs they were leaving were thick, goopy, and non-flammable. A Wall of Darkness was revealed a bit beyond my Wall of Light, and something beyond our vision was firing spells at us. Saurus scared off the spiders with a Smoking Magma. I was still getting the light blocks up along the ramp when we were snared by magical webs. Fortunately they were relatively easy to cut and, once Eylor cleared the two walls, we prepared to advance.

  Phaeton – "Do I have to put my foot in a Smoking Magma?"
  The rest of the party in chorus – "YES!"

A new Wall of Darkness appeared as well as another blast of Blackfire. Sooty's ash cloud also dissipated.

   Sooty – "I'm lunar aspected."
   Rowan – "Yeah, he's a luna-tic. Haven't you noticed?" 

With the cloud gone, spiders started swarming up from under the bridge. Saurus cast necrosis, I stabbed a spider really well, while the enemy spellcasters attacked with whitefire and blackfire in succassion. Sooty charged down the bridge and the two spellcasting driders jumped on him. He smacked one down but the other smacked him back, rather hard. By the time we got down enough to see what was going on and assist, Sooty had managed to knock the other one down as well.

Now that the area was clear and lit, we could take stock of our surroundings. The ramp was crossing a pit and twenty foot down was a red mass. It looked like a pool of blood but was actually a dense mass of red pond scum suspended in liquid. Several Das later, we had ascertained that it had no magical ability, could infect living matter and had nothing to do with the diffuse magical darkness down here.

Wildfires were cast on us, in case we had to run for it, and we kept going. There was another tunnel at the far end of the ramp but it wasn't long before it opened up into another dark chamber.

This time, I had sent out just over fifteen blocks of Light, working outwards from where we were, before provoking a response of arrow fire. It was basically a repeat of the earlier fight with the orcs although this time it was reptilian creatures shooting at us and the back line casters were drow. Our tactics were roughly the same too although I had a shield wall of four golems to protect me as I kept laying down the blocks of light. This time, when we closed in on the casters, a few of them managed to escape though a portal but the rest were felled by a rather powerful necrosis from Saurus.

The lady, we were looking for, was found but the drow had been experimenting on her with flesh shaping, turning her into some sort of strange abomination. It was going to take us a while to fix that but, fix it we did. It was basically a team effort. Rowan's arm was also fixed and, once the lady had been fixed up, we spent the next few weeks escorting the three witches around the place while they did whatever it was they were doing. I guess those lakes full of gold will have to be deferred for another time.

Oh, we did get our rewards from the fae as well. I'm now able to cast spells from all the Celestial branches now. More spells to master.

Persons of Interest

Loot

  • Nipple rings of delaying agony
  • Harpy Musk Potions - used for repelling goblins
  • Armour & Weapons from Escort Knights (Ghoul Village)
  • Assorted Goblin Weapons & Armour, Ranked.
  • Shaman Items
  • Assorted Orc (Blessed) Weapons & Armour, Ranked.
  • Drow Magical Weapons (Rk 10 Weapon Smith, count as Magical, no actual magic bonuses)
  • 2* Drow Mage Robes (8/2, some protection against dark magics)
  • 3* Drow Breastplates (10/2, slightly lighter than normal)
  • 5*Amulets of Natural Armour
  • Invested Wraithcloak(s?)
  • Lizard Weapons & Armour. Ranked.

Seagate Times

Buffs & Mil Sci

Long Term (assumed always on)

Magic (caster) Rk Effects Dur (Enhanced) Ph So Se Sr Ro Wi
Enhance Enchant 10 +10 Ranks duration.
Enchanted Area 9 Shares Spells Recipient pays Ft.
Ash Armour (So, 1) 20 125 Elemental Ablative 31 Hours Y Y Y Y Y Y
Charcoal Shield (So, 1) 20 +42% Defence, Can take extra counterspells, Requires prepared shield. 20.5 Hours
Thermal Control (So, 1) 11 3 Gauge towards 7, Immune Smoke/Fires 22 Hours Y Y Y Y Y Y
Ash Shroud (So, 2) 8 5 Endurance Armour (Non stacking) 8.5 Hours Y Y Y Y Y Y
Greater Heart Rune (Ph, 0) 6 Heals 6 EN 7 days Y Y Y Y Y Y
Rune of Willow Healing (Ph, 2) 6 Heals 3 EN for 8 pulses 12 Hours Y Y Y Y Y Y
Witchsight (Ph, 2) 12 See in Dark, Invisible. 11.5 Hours Y Y
Strength of Stone (Se, 1) 14 +14 PS or +14 EN 25 Hours Y(En) Y(En) Y(En) Y(En) Y(En) Y(En)
Armour of Earth (Se, 1) 14 30 Def absorbs 1 Dam per strike 12.5 Hours Day Day Day Day Day Day
Necrogency (Sr, 1) 20 -6 Drain,-25 Infection,+65 Fear resist 25 Hours Y Y Y Y Y Y
Wraith Cloak(Sr, 2) 14 +23def,+15 Stealth,-4dmg* 12 1/2 Hours Night Night Night Night Night Night
 

Short Term

Magic (caster) Rk Effects Dur Ph So Se Sr Ro Wi
Weapon of Cinders 11 +12% SC, +6 DM, +11 Vs Elementals 16/26 Min. Y (for elementals)
Spectral Weapon 14 +15% SC, +5 DM 19 Min Y (std)
Branch Counterspells 6 +26 MR vs a branch 11/17 min
Resistance to Light 6 +14 MR vs light magics 70/130 mins
Resistance to Light (Phaeton) 20 +42 MR vs light magics 210/410 mins Y
 

Watch Order

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Sau Rus Serra Phaeton
Sooty Rowan

Marching Order

Skirmish Formations (Front)
Double File

Sooty Serra
Phaeton
Rowan Sau Rus

Single File

Sooty
Serra
Phaeton
Rowan
Sau Rus

Travel Magic Options

Star Wings (Rk 12 260/460 Miles)
Wild Fires (Rk 11, 240/440 Miles)
Fire Portals (Rk 6, 175 Miles)

Other Milsci stuff

Primary Roles

  • Sooty: Buff/Blast mage. Healer.
  • Sau Rus: Blast/Buff mage. Academic.
  • Rowan: Milsci. Creator of expendable minions
  • Phaeton: Ranged magics/Healing
  • Serra: Buff mage, Healer, Front rank

Calendar

Winter: Frost 814 (7)
Moonday Duesday W'ansday Th'rsday Frysday Reapsday Sunday
Moon2.jpg Samhain 1 Guild Meeting 2 3 4 5 6
Moon3.jpg 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Moon0.jpg 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Moon1.jpg 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Moon2.jpg 28 29 30 1 2 3 4
Winter: Snow 814 (8)
Moon3.jpg 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Moon0.jpg 12 13 14 15 Solstice 16 17 18 Yuletide
Moon1.jpg 19 Days of Chaos 20 21 22 23 24 25
Moon2.jpg 26 27 28 29 30 Twelth Night 1 2
Winter: Ice 814 (9)
Moon3.jpg 3 4 5 6 First Plough 7 8 9
Moon0.jpg 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Moon1.jpg 17 18 19 20 21 22 23
Moon2.jpg 24 25 26 27 28 29 30