Save the Demon

From DQWiki
Revision as of 20:28, 24 February 2009 by JeffC (talk | contribs) (Seagate Gatherings)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search

GM - Jeff Leddra

Time - Thaw 808 WK

Day - Wednesday

Level - Medium


Seagate Gatherings

  • Keshah – A Male Elf, known to discuss Philosophy after indulging in some discrete assassinations
  • Hamish – A Human Wicker & handy with a butcher's knife
  • Zanak - A Human Pirate, with some abilities to influence the mind and heal the body
  • Mira - A Human Fighter with some Earth Magics
  • Elenna - An E&E Mage. A shy human, not very pretty but quite practical
  • Falco – A Human Celestial, known for disappearing when the going gets tough
  • Garrick – A dwarf Illusionist, thief and alchemist
  • Dwork - An Orc, likes the 4 Fs, Fire, Food and Fornication

In quieter moments Zanak can be seen scribbling notes documenting the events of the day

Dear Diary

1st of Thaw – Mission Briefing

Guild Security have brought our party to a room where a Blue Dragon construct has appeared repeatedly saying "Will you help rescue my master?". Members of the guild have been divinating it while the guards fetched us.

The party questions the construct in the normal fashion. Dwork gets on the dragons bad side on only the second question. Falco rescues the day by saying he doesn't like Dwork either. The dragon seems to like Falco now and answers his questions to the best of his limited ability (he is a construct after all), followed each time by "Do you agree to help?". When the questions get a bit emotive the construct changes to a Blood Red Bird.

Guild Security has warned us not to agree too hastily as it is likely we will be transported to the dragons realm instantly.

Some clever questioning, and the results of the divination, reveal the constructs creator needs help to rescue his Demon Master and we would be transported to the Middle Realms. Whilst the constructs creator has little money he assures us the Demon Master will reward us handsomely with magical weapons and armour.

The party steps into a separate room and decides to take on the contract. Nothing is known of the Middle Realm so precautions need to be taken. We stock up on healing potions and each purchase a Greater Enchantment for 500SP.

Preparations begin...

2nd of Thaw - Preparation

We continue preparing through out the whole day

3rd of Thaw – The Adventure Begins

Li Pao and Plum

At daybreak we go back to the Blue Dragon Construct and ask a few more questions, then agree to help. The dragon is a bit perturbed we took so long but since no one else has agreed to help he accepts our offer.

There is a blinding flash of light and we find ourselves standing in a small room where the walls are made of paper. There is an old man sitting over the bowl from which the Blue Dragon was constructed. Placing bowls of steaming liquid on a table is a very pretty young lady.

The old man starts speaking and gesturing in a welcoming manner. Most of us stare blankly at him (Dwork at the young lady) with complete incomprehension. Fortunately Keshah identifies the language as Eralaine and is able to introduce the party members and explain that we don't understand the language.

Li Pao (the old man) introduces his daughter as Plum and offers to cast a spell to teach us all Eralaine (rank 7).

We all accept and after a moment we can understand him properly.

Plum offers the party a drink of tea. We all graciously accept, except Dwork. The tea has a calming/relaxing effect on us.

Li Pao asks Dwork to share in the tea. Dwork says no. He could have refused graciously but what can we say, he is an Ork.

Li Pao asks Dwork to step outside so the polite company can have a conversation. Dwork seems taken aback but finally steps outside, muttering about burning down the paper walls.

Garrick places an illusion on Dwork so he looks like an old woman and won't scare the locals.

Li Pao tells us about Kai Wren, his demon friend, who has gone missing.

Kai Wren

Kai Wren is a very powerful demon who is also known as a GodSlayer or Lord Kai. He creates his own little pocket dimensions inside bottles and even lives in one.

He had a friend called Keith who was murdered by Hedge Demons. Kai Wren, seeking vengeance, learned that Tuvoone (a fellow demon known as the Smoke Ghost) had commissioned the Murder. Kai Wren, who already had a Spirit Sword crafted by Seven Fingers (Demon Weapon Maker), challenged Tuvoone to a Duel. (Spirit Swords are one of the few weapons capable of killing a specific demon)

Just as the Duel was about to start Tuvoones mother Vliss (of the Terrible Tongue) appeared and convinced Kai Wren that her son had been framed for the murder of Keith.

Kai Wren then left on a quest to seek out the true culprit who had commissioned his friends death.

He travelled to the Demon Realm to seek the advice of the Demon of the Towers of Light. This demon was one of a few who were born on the God plane and is well respected by both Demons and Gods. Here he sought to scry for the being responsible for framing Tuvoone.

This was the last message Li Pao had from Kai Wren before he went missing.

Li Pao has successfully scryed for Kai Wren and has located him on a feudal state called Barrecho. He appears to be drugged and has no powers left. Li Pao asks for the parties help in rescuing him.

We agree to help and Dwork is invited back in.

Both Li Pao and Plum will accompany us on this mission.

Li Pao is a Kite Maker and a powerful natural mage, although he is still untrained.

Plum is a master of Feng Shui.

Li Pao claims the bowl can transport us to Barrecho.

A Hedge Demon Appears

Meanwhile Garrick has been doing the unthinkable and has tried to help the party by casting an illusion so we all look like the indigenous peoples (Chinese).

Unfortunately he backfires and a Hedge Demon appears in the room. Hedge Demons are the degenerate children of Demons and take many forms. This one appears in the form of a dog and, after taking the party by surprise, it bolts out through the paper wall and disappears in the distance. Garrick then promises to be more careful, although we suspect he had his fingers crossed behind his back.

Elenna offers to cast a greater enchantment on our companions before we leave, which is gratefully accepted.

While the party is waiting we ask for more information on the realm and Demons in particular. Li Pao arranges for an expert in demonology

Plum serves some lunch and some more tea as the expert enters.

A History Lessen

Gods and Demons both existed in the same Realm.

There was a war between them and eventually the demons were defeated and ejected to the realm between the newly named God Realm and the Middle Realm, where the human worshippers live. The new realm is called the Demon Realm. It was a deserted wasteland but the demons found a small portal to the Middle Realm and over time brought back Chi (life force), materials and life forms. The Demon Realm became a place of wonder and beauty.

The Gods became jealous and sought to take over the Demon Realm.

The Gods waged war on the Demons but after an age it became obvious a stalemate had occurred.

Kai Wren fought an epic battle against the God Caarholdruarne and killed him. This was the turning point in the war as the Demons rallied and successfully fought the Gods back to their own realm. A truce was forged between the Demons and the Gods by Lite (the Demon of the Towers of Light). The most powerful weapons were sealed away in the Vaults, never to be used again.

The Demons and the Gods keep to their own realms mainly although the portal between the Demon Realm and the Middle Realm still exists in the far West of the Chin Empire.

To Kai Wrens Home

Li Pao mentions the Vault was damaged in a natural Cataclysm a few weeks ago.

Keshah casts RuneShield on Plum and then Li Pao, using the bowl, transports us to Kai Wrens estate.

Li Pao is concerned that the Dog Guardians are missing. These dogs were breed by the Gods to battle Demons but after the truce they were abandoned. Kai Wren befriended them and offered them a peaceful life on his mansion.

Li Pao enters the bottle world in which Kai Wren lives as he must ask permission from the Guardians before the rest of the party can enter safely. He reappears almost immediately in a distressed state. He quickly informs us one of the Dragon Guardians is dead and the whole dimension is disintegrating.

With a sense of urgency we enter as we need to get what clues to Kai Wrens location or plans before the bottle world collapses entirely.

Once inside we can see the grass is either dead or dying, the ocean is boiling, the mountains are crumbling and Kai Wrens Mansion is in ruins.

Between the Mansion and ourselves is a dark sphere. A figure steps out and races towards us. She has Black Armour and is gesturing wildly at us. Within seconds she is close enough for us to hear her shouting " danger ! Leave now...". She identifies herself as Spilling Moonbeams, the daughter of Seven Fingers, and she is betrothed to Kai Wren. This is news to Li Pao.

She says the enraged guardians are drawing on the power/structure of the pocket dimension to battle the invaders and this is causing the destruction we can see.

A humanoid creature pops up from behind a bush and begins to attack us. Spilling Moonbeams yells to us to follow her back to the sphere where we will be safe for the moment. We make it to safety and the creature wanders off.

Spilling Moonbeams admits she isn't officially betrothed, although Kai Wren and Seven Fingers have discussed the possibility of the betrothal.

She also confirms that Tuvoone and his mother Vliss captured Kai Wren after he left the Towers of Light. Lite may know more of Kai Wrens plans before he was captured and imprisoned.

Tuvoone and his troops were in the Bottle earlier and killed the Dragon Guardian but he has since left, leaving some of his troops.

Li Pao believes he can regain control of the remaining Guardians if he can get to the mansion to cast a spell. Spilling Moonbeams offers her armour as protection from Tuvoones troops. Li Pao braves the short trip to the mansion and successfully gains control of the Guardians. The remaining troops are quickly dispatched.

Plum asks Keshah to assist her in starting the healing process for the bottle dimension.

Spilling Moonbeams spends the afternoon talking to us. The most alarming piece of information shared is Tuvoone attacked with his own troops and with several Gods!

She offers (tells us) that she will be joining our party in the rescue attempt of Kai Wren.

Plum and Keshah are exhausted on their return in the late afternoon. He comments to us that Plum was drawing on his Fatigue.

We all enter the mansion and search for any valuables or clues to Kai Wrens mission.

Kai Wren had his own vault which appears to have been looted. Li Pao is upset that all Kai Wrens treasures have been taken. Some more diligent searching by Hamish reveals a small bottle amongst the debris. It has a golden dragon emblazoned on the outside. The bottle itself is sealed and where the glass is expected to be translucent it seems to be opaque. Curious! Li Pao has not seen this bottle before. After a few moments we establish there is another pocket universe contained within. Some debate is had as to who will hold the bottle for the rest of the adventure. Falco has quite a bit to say but no one seems to be listening to him. In the end Zanak quietly puts the bottle into his backpack.

Plum serves some more tea and remarks to Keshah that the clouds seem odd. This was not what she expected to see in the healing process. None of us have anything useful to offer and the subject quickly changes to leaving the bottle.

Return to Li Pao’s Home

We all buff up before Li Pao concentrates and we disappear.

In a blinding flash we are deposited in the small room from which we entered this world. There are 3 Hedge Demons shuffling around the room, looking for more loot. There is a hole in the wall and there appears to be a whole mob of Hedge Demons outside. Being seasoned adventurers we take the small group inside by surprise, although Zanak privately thinks we are screwed.

Dwork leaps into attack mode and hits a Hedge Demon so hard it goes flying through the paper wall and lands unconscious in the canal.

Mira takes a wild swing to the Hedge Demon next to her but misses and lands a blow on Dwork instead.

Hamish strikes the last Hedge Demon.

Spilling Moonbeams leaps through the wall and 10 Hedge Demons burst into flame and become a pile of ashes. We are impressed !!! We suspect it is Hellfire and she obviously knows how to use it.

Garrick jumps through the hole in the wall in an effort to escape the wild swings of Mira.

The Hedge Demons seem insistent on the battle and leap into the fray.

Miras one attacks and knocks her claymore to the ground. This leaves an opening for Dwork and he dispatches it with a single blow.

Hamish is attacked before Zanak can knock it unconscious.

Garrick is leapt on by a Hedge Demon but he quickly and efficiently kills it. An insane laughter comes from him. He seems to be enjoying this too much.

Spilling Moonbeams incinerates another 10 Hedge Demons. They finally come to their senses and turn to flee.

Elenna casts Slow on the retreating creatures and 4 of them lag behind.

Garrick races up to one and hogties it while Spilling Moonbeam casually turns another 10 into ash. The rest disappear in all directions.

Garrick drags his captive back to the room. Keshah and Dwork search the bodies and find some coins. Keshah finds 6 large coins while Dwork finds 10 smaller ones. Li Pao explains they are Chi Coinage and contain Chi (Mana).

The captives are quickly interrogated and reveal they were hired by a Demon to trash the house and retrieve any bottles. They were to meet again in 20 minutes in the central park.

Garrick disguises us all.

Li Pao realizes his bowl is missing. Since we need the bowl to help free Kai Wren we offer to help him retrieve it. That is made more certain once Elenna locates the bowl in the same direction as the meeting with the Demon is scheduled.

An Evening in Town

There is no time like the present so we race off to the Demons last known location. It becomes obvious the bowl is in the same place.

It is about 5pm and the streets are deserted, although we can hear a large group of people in the distance. This is very unusual but since we are brave and stalwart adventurers we pay little heed to it.

We make it to the park and see 10 Hedge Demons between us and a 12 foot, ebony skinned, flaming eyed Demon.

We begin to contemplate our course of action but Spilling Moonbeams races through the small group and engages the Demon.

Keshah, Mira and Garrick race forward to engage the Hedge Demons.

Keshah and Mira strike an invisible barrier and bounce back. Both are hurt although they aren’t stunned. Garrick manages to slip through the barrier, feels the effects of a curse, recognizes that his fellow combatants haven’t got through, sees the group of Hedge Demons approaching him, and slips back through the barrier. He claims it is so he can guard Keshah and Mira till they can regain their feet but we suspect there is a generous portion of self preservation involved.

Spilling Moonbeams and the Demon are engaged in a ferocious battle. The pyrotechnics and smoke are enough to obscure them from us.

The Hedge Demons step through the barrier and engage our party.

Garrick kills one outright.

Elenna slows 4 of them. Garrick manages to strike 2 of them while Mira swings wildly again, missing the Hedge Demons completely and just barely missing Dwork, who has leapt forth into the battle. Dwork does hit one but the return blow stuns him.

Garrick and Mira kill another one each.

One of the hedge Demons indicates he wants to surrender but Zanak knocks him unconscious with a Mental Attack.

The battle in the middle of the park seems to have ceased. Both Spilling Moonbeam and the Demon have vanished.

The remaining Hedge Demons shape shift into fluffy bunnies and surrender.

Elenna finds Li Paos bowl in one of their bags along with 19 small coins.

While Zanak heals Dwork and Mira the group questions the captives.

It seems these Hedge Demons were hired by the flaming eyed Demon.

They heard him talking to himself (or maybe to an invisible demon) and the name Devor was mentioned. It seems that Devor has been to Kai Wrens bottle on occasion and had some information on the murder of Keith, Kai Wrens friend.

Zanak and Hamish work in concert to Heal the party and create Restoratives.

None of us have any idea where Spilling Moonbeam has disappeared to, but it seems likely she lost the battle and has been captured. Elenna can’t locate her.

Plum thinks we have had a long day and need a bit of respite before we attempt to rescue Kai Wren. We follow her to a local restaurant. The meal is excellent and the company is very pleasing.

Dwork and Zanak go upstairs with a couple of friendly ladies but return within 10 minutes. Zanak seems quite happy and explains “hey I’m only 19, of course it isn’t going to take long. And I got a pretty new dress for my collection”.

Dwork seems less than happy. His lady moves along side Plum and makes a gesture. Both ladies have a little giggle, Plum explaining that Dwork had some issues “getting it up”.

Falco seems disgusted with both Dwork and Zanak but no one else seems particularly surprised.

Rescuing Kai Wren

Li Pao prepares to use the bowl to transport us to Barrecho. Meantime we buff up. We are all Quickened and Invisible.

Going In To the Demons Den

Its about 9pm so we rent a room for the evening, just in case the bowl doesn’t come with us we want it to be safe.

We plan to come out in the woods to the west of the main building but once we arrive we find ourselves right next to the east wall of the Reception Hall. Fortunately the bowl has come with us and Li Pao secures it away.

We remain still for a moment while 5 guards and their wolves pass us on the perimeter by the woods. The wolves don’t scent us which is a great relief.

We head northwards along the wall and creep into the garden area. Mira comments she isn’t very stealthy and we get inside quickly.

At that point several nubile maidens open a sliding door from the main building and enter the garden. They chat amongst themselves for a moment then head back inside muttering about “bad vibes” outside.

Zanak points out that this building is unlikely to be where Kai Wren is being held captive as nubile maidens and torture chambers don’t normally go together. The group consensus is “lets get inside and try a locate spell” so Garrick and Hamish sneak ahead and enter through another sliding door.

The reception hall has a central courtyard with a corridor all round and rooms leading off that.

Plum feels that a Demon lives in this house. Her Feng Shui skills seem to be coming in quite handy…

Garrick and Hamish check the building layout and find an empty room just passed the servants quarters. We all head to the room. Falco stumbles and Elenna makes a noise. One of the servants comes into the hallway to investigate. He doesn’t make it back because Garrick has knocked him out, dragging him into the empty room.

A quick discussion ensues about when will the other servants miss this one, so Dwork trots down the hallway and lobs a gas grenade into the servants rooms. All but one is quickly asleep and he is quickly subdued and tied up.

Li Pao does a ritual to locate Kai Wren and establishes he is in the Temple building, further to the south.

Dwork notices a large moth-like construct on the wall in the corner of our room. We realize our presence has been detected, presumably by all the magic we have been casting. Dwork, in typical Ork fashion, bashes the construct into dust, getting some up his nostrils in the process.

Outside we can hear the wolves howling. The room temperature seems to have dropped a few degrees. We can hear movement in the hallway outside our room.

These are not encouraging signs!!!

Mira tunnels through the southern wall and we peek out to see the Temple is about 180 feet away and is guarded by 20 archers. The Servants quarters are about 100 feet away with the Stables slightly closer but off to the east.

They should have listened to Zanak

The odds aren’t looking good. If we step out of the room, even though we are invisible, we are likely to be scented by the giant wolves and attacked by an unknown number of well armed guards. Not to mention being pin cushioned by the archers.

We are in a small room with two solid stone walls to the south and east (baring the opening Mira just made) and only paper walls to the north and west. There are an unknown number of guards approaching from the hallway.

Falco masterfully regains control of the party and orders Mira to start Tunnelling a passage underground, heading south to the temple. Despite her protestations about her lack of skill it still seems to be the best option available. The rest of us spread out and prepare our most lethal spells.

The north west corner door is sliced open and a guard leaps in. Dwork explodes a Fireball behind him and captures four in the blast. Hamish throws up a Wall of Thorns from the middle of the north wall to the middle of the west wall, effectively cutting off the guards entrance.

Mira starts tunneling downwards and to the south.

A hail of arrows penetrates the southern entrance (Miras initial tunnel), ricocheting about and slightly wounding Keshah. Li Pao and Plum follow Mira into the tunnel while the paper walls burst into flame.

A guard bursts through the west wall, directly in front of Keshah and bumping into him. Keshah becomes visible and dispatches him quickly. Falco makes it to the entrance of the tunnel.

In quick succession another Fireball and Wall of Thorns are cast.

Pandemonium erupts as Mira backfires her tunneling and herself, Plum and Li Pao are forcibly ejected from the tunnel as it fills up. Falco, Hamish and Elenna are knocked down and it takes a moment for the six of them to recover and stand up again.

Meanwhile another fireball explodes in the hallway and a guard is knocked unconscious with a Mental Attack. Some guards have managed to get past the fireball area and have opened the north east paper wall. Garrick focuses on dispatching them with some very lethal darts. In the next few minutes he kills about five of them.

In the hallway we can hear the guard captains bellowing orders and more well armoured troops are arriving. Mira casts Tunneling again and unexpectedly the hole opens directly under her.

A wolf leaps into the fray from the stone opening on the south wall and a furious battle ensues with Keshah. This is no ordinary wolf as Keshah feels the influence of cold magic as well as the savage attack.

Hamish creates a third wall in an attempt to delay the remaining guards swamping us.

Dwork changes tack and lets loose a Firebolt on the wolf who howls in pain and rage.

Elenna has been casting Slow on the guards as they come into sight and manages to help block the entrances.

Falco has been casting Web of Darkness in the hallway, again slowing the advancing troops.

Keshah does a mighty attack on the wolf, who responds even harder and knocks Keshah unconscious. He lets out a blood curdling howl before turning to face the rest of the party. A wave of coldness permeates the room, doing more damage to the guards than the party.

Dwork gets another Firebolt off and the wolf explodes in a shower of icy daggers, again damaging the guards more than ourselves.

More guards, including a captain, fall asleep as another fireball explodes in what is left of the hallway. Dwork is getting very excited about the amount of flame in the building. The rest of us look a little worried.

Hamish races over to Keshah and pulls off a stunning feat of Healing to revive Keshah.

Falco pulls out the big guns and Shadow Holes remove a guard and a captain from the battle.

Keshah glances out the southern entrance and sees another wolf approaching with a squad of guards following behind. He quickly casts RuneWall to block the entrance but the wolf manages to get through.

Another well armoured guard approaches what remains of the north east wall and is savaged by Garrick.

Zanak, who has given up casting Mental Attack, helps Keshah attack the second wolf, and surprises himself with how much damage a fire powered cutlass can do on a cold aspected wolf.

In the meantime Mira, with Plums Feng Shui assistance, has managed to successfully tunnel two thirds of the way to the Servants quarters. The group focuses on dispatching the wolf, with similarly devastating effects on everyone when it explodes. In the hallway we can see a very commanding human approaching.

We all drop into the tunnel but Dwork is caught unawares by the commanding figure and is blasted into the tunnel, severely wounded. In fact his blood appears to have turned to ice.

Li Pao closes the initial tunnel (the 30 foot drop) and together with Zanak they stabilize Dwork.

Li Pao also identifies the person as a Demon, presumably the owner/occupier of the estate.

Garrick managed to drag a captains body down into the tunnel and loots it for the armour and the sword, a wakizashi.

Zanaks reminds the party they should have listened to him when he surmised the Residence, with nubile maidens and servants, was not likely to be the place where powerful magics are performed while torturing captive Demons, such as Kai Wren.

The Temple Spirit

Mira completes the tunnel and we enter a cavern below the Temple from the far north.

The cavern itself seems to be natural but two stone rooms, perfectly square, have been built in the centre of the chamber. The rooms border a tiled square on the Western and Southern edges. The White tiles appear to have Black symbols written on them. The top left corner of the square has a fountain with a small amount of mist floating above it. There is a steel ladder going from the centre of the square directly up to the ceiling where a trap door is visible.

Standing in the centre of the tiled square is an 8 foot tall humanoid. He has brightly coloured skin and fangs. He appears to be a Temple Spirit but Li Pao doesn’t recognize him. He turns to face the tunnel which has appeared behind him. Only Keshah is visible.

Zanak, Dwork and Elenna fail their spells, Falco casts ShadowHole but the Demon shrugs it off.

Mira fires a magical arrow at him. After a heated discussion on how effective it was we discover it has scratched his toenails.

The Demon smiles and disappears. The party has a whole second to think “hooray we won!” before he reappears in our midst. Immediately Hamish and Elenna feel the effects of Disease.

Hamish falls unconscious as his penis rots and falls off, sliding down his trouser leg and oozing to the floor.

Elenna’s left breast decays into a rotting mass inside her bra.

Oh Crap !!!

In a matter of seconds our battle hardened group formulates a plan and executes it. Zanak and Falco focus on casting spells against it. Garrick drinks a Strength potion and the rest attack with physical weapons.

The battle is short lived but furious. With every attack our party makes another member feels the effects of Disease. By the end of the battle Hamish lies unconscious with the skin melting off his face and Elenna and Mira are both painfully rotting away.

Li Pao and Plum attempt to stabilize and heal Hamish. Zanak tries to stabilize Elenna and Keshah uses Rune Healing to assist the rest of the party.

Meanwhile Dwork, Garrick and Falco move into the centre of the room and investigate the tiled square area. The mist from the fountain appears to induce sleep. Dwork prepares a fireball while Garrick weakens the strength of the ladder, effectively changing it from steel to rope. Falco checks the cubes and as expected the doors are locked and have magical traps, probably some form of Icy Death.

Li Pao identifies the symbols on the tiles as “the Writing of the Gods” and although he can’t read them he does confirm they are not magical.

From the temple rooms above the cavern we can hear a huge number of guards approaching. The trap door opens and before anyone can leap through Dworks fireball erupts in their midst. The stench of burning flesh should be overpowering but some resilient guards drop through the trap door.

One drops straight to the floor in front of Dwork while the other attempts to climb down the swaying rope ladder. Keshah easily picks him off from range with his Bow and Arrow, and he tumbles to the floor.

Dwork engages the first guard, easily dispatching him. Zanak takes control of the second while Garrick plants some Cowtraps at the foot of the ladder.

A third and fourth guard leap into the cavern, aiming to soften their landing by crashing on Dwork, but they both miss and land in the cowtraps. Despite that they both attack Dwork and inflict enough damage for Dwork to swallow his pride and call out for help.

Garrick throws a Lust Grenado through the trapdoor. Based on the noises from above it seems to have an instant effect.

A fifth guards tries to climb down and again Keshah knocks him off with some superb archery skills. Unfortunately for Dwork this guard is feeling the effects of the lust grenade and leaps onto Dworks back. Dwork is momentarily stuck in a conundrum. The guard is trying to rip his armour off to “get down and busy” with him, he wants to get the guard off him because “he isn’t into that sort of thing”, but he also has to defend his front from the other 2 guards who won’t give him a moments break.

Garrick leaps to Dworks rescue by engaging the guards from behind while Falco casts a column of darkness which blocks the trapdoor entrance, or at least prevents the remaining guards above from seeing down in to the cavern.

Meanwhile Zanaks controlled guard approaches the cell on the west side of the square and touches the door !!!

A huge icy blast erupts across the tiled square, effecting everyone except Garrick and Falco. All the guards are dead, bar one. Garrick remedies that quickly.

Garrick, Dwork and Falco engage Zanak in a discussion about “couldn’t you have waited till we were clear of the blast area?”. Zanak doesn’t seem too perturbed by the damage he has caused, but he is a pirate so what more should they expect. Causing a bit of Chaos is part of the trade after all…

Meanwhile Li Pao, Plum, Keshah and Zanak have been continuing to stabilize and heal Hamish, Elenna and Mira.

Roasting the Guards

Falco tries picking the lock but fails. Time seems to be against us so Mira tries to tunnel through the northern wall of the untrapped cell but her first attempt is unsuccessful.

The cavern has a natural entrance in the far North West corner which slopes upwards on a gentle curve. We can hear a huge number of guards approaching as the first dozen round the corner and fix their sights on the wounded party members at the northern edge of the cavern.

The party reacts swiftly and throws a succession of spells into the group. There are Webs of Darknes, Rune Walls, Fireballs, Mental Attacks, Blood Boil and Slow being cast as quickly as we possibly can.

This furious assault serves the dual purpose of blocking the entrance with slowed and dying guards, preventing them from reaching our wounded party members, but also buys some time for Mira to try Tunnelling again. The plan is to free Kai Wren and then use Falcos ShadowHoles to help us escape the blocked cavern.

It is a good plan especially once we realize we can hear the Ice Demon in the temple room above the cavern.

Two black garbed guards (ninjas?) drop down from the ceiling but are quickly dispatched. Curiously some tendrils of snowflakes appear from the column of darkness. There are 8 of them, one for each of us. This can’t be good.

Mira finally gets a tunnel opened to the western cell. Inside is a bright shimmering shape. It seems to be expanding slowly. The energy and light can be seen from the main cavern and Li Pao calls out it is God related. While Dwork and Garrick take care of the 2 Ninjas Mira prepares to enter the cell. Falco launches a devastating BlackFire into the bunched guards in the north west corner and virtually wipes the whole lot out. The wounded and dying desperately try to escape back up the cavern entrance.

Mira and Falco decide to enter the Gods cell as a shortcut to the other cell, which must be Kai Wrens, as it seems too dangerous to come out and round to the other cell, particularly with the snowflakes tendrils increasing in size and length.

It seemed like a good plan at the time but straight away Falco disappears. Mira stumbles around for a moment then wisdom gets the better of her and she leaves the room. Li Pao closes the tunnel in the wall but a small white floating disk forms outside from a tendril that had already escaped the cell confines. It floats around Hamish as all hell breaks loose.

The Ice Demon Enters

It seems the only choice we have now is to rescue Kai Wren and hope he can help us escape. The group decides to gather by the Southern Cell (it must be Kai Wrens), even though we have to brave the snowflake tendrils.

Dwork strides into battle and, using his flaming glaive, hits the closest tendril. It retreats about half way back to the ceiling trapdoor but Dworks Flame is extinguished. He is not a happy Ork.

Keshah targets the trapdoor (the source of the tendrils) with some DragonFlame and inflicts enough damage to give us all a bit of breathing room. Garrick uses a firewand to shoot into the room above and the Ice Demon howls in Pain and Rage.

Elenna tries to locate Falco and Spilling MoonBeam but neither of them appear to be anywhere near.

Hamish uses his staff to block the trapdoor with a pile of bones. It is surprisingly effective.

Mira tunnels a hole into Kai Wrens cell. We can see a plain slab floor with an average sized human lying unconscious in the middle. The walls have Shields affixed. They are all solid colours, either Black, Gold, Silver or White. Closer inspection reveals them as construct entities. The room is filled by a green light.

Zanak takes control of the human and walks him out of the cell.

Half way across the cavern ceiling we can see cracks forming. The Ice Demon is making a lot of noise.

Li Pao identifies the human as Kai Wren. As he steps out of the green light he screams, collapses and starts dissolving. Mira and Zanak have time to say “not what we expected” as the roof collapses and the Ice Demon and some guards fall to the cavern floor. The Ice Demon appears to be incredibly fast and uses a Trident to pin Hamish to the ground by the leg. The snowflake tendrils have reemerged in to the room from the hole in the ceiling.

This does not look promising !!!

Mira and Zanak push Kai Wren back into the cell and the strange green light, which appears to have been keeping Kai Wren alive. Zanak enters the cell to help Kai Wren. The shields quickly detach from the walls and transform into cloaks. Zanak attempts to keep them busy while Li Pao and Plum try to save Kai Wren.

Hamish, who is already pinned to the ground, thinks he should do something to attack the Ice Demon. Unfortunately he takes too long and the Ice Demon skewers him with his sword and nearly ends his miserable life. The party doesn’t take too kindly to this sort of treatment, although in quieter moments we wonder why since Hamish has spent most of the whole day either unconscious or stunned.

Dwork and Garrick both use fire spells and target the Demon, inadvertently hitting the white god essence disk floating by Hamish. The disk hums with excess energy and expands its size. A guard is enveloped by it and vanishes. Dwork is struck by the remaining guard. Keshah calls out for everyone to keep out of the path between himself and the Ice Demon as a ferocious DragonFlame erupts and envelopes the Demon. When the flames clear the Demon is but a crispy carcass lying on the floor. All the snowflakes by the Demon have been incinerated too, although they are still pouring in from the hole in the ceiling.

Dwork struggles with the guard till the god essence expands to touch the guard, who disappears.

Garrick races into the cell to save Zanak who has been put to sleep by the Gold cloak which has entwined him. Garrick hacks the Black cloak to tatters before succumbing to the Silver cloaks potent effects.

Keshah touches the god essence and attempts to banish it. Nothing happens.

Mira reaches the wall to the Gods cell and creates a tunnel through. Immediately a blinding flash of light escapes into the cavern and everyone except Keshah, Elenna, Garrick, Zanak and Kai Wren disappear. Keshah notices that the snowflakes seem to be unaffected by the godlight. Within seconds Garrick, Zanak and Kai Wren disappear.

The snowflakes react to the loss of so many of their targets and begin firing huge amounts of ice daggers. Elennas rune shield fails and she falls unconscious, then disappears. Keshah struggles on for a few more seconds before disappearing. The god light retreats to the cell.

Meanwhile on a Deserted Island

Falco is mildly surprised to have been transported to another place but he retains his wits and remains unseen. The island is small, only about a 50 foot diameter, and has a black altar with a flame. Asides from that it is just a mound rising out of the ocean.

The ocean seems unnatural and appears quite viscous, not like regular water. The current seems to be circling the island and in the water swords and shields can be seen bobbing about. The waves don’t quite lap onto the beach properly. They appear to strike an invisible barrier.

In the distance Falco sees another island about half a mile away. It is too far away to discern any details.

After a moment two guards appear. Falco remains unseen and listens to them discussing this turn of events. They believe they have been transported to a “sideways dimension” and it is not a good thing as none have every returned.

The rest of the party arrives. Zanak and Garrick are still asleep, wrapped in the cloaks. Kai Wren starts melting again. Li Pao leaps to Kai Wrens defense and turns him to stone, halting the melting of his now human body. Mira tries to free Garick and Zanak from the cloaks but is unsuccessful till Plum steps over and assists.

Falco becomes visible and calls for a truce with the two guards. The guards, realizing their imminent danger, gratefully agree to the truce. They quickly answer our questions about where we are and how we got here.

It seems the temple was devoted to Zaphand, a God of moderate power. The Ice Demon who currently rules the temple and its surrounding buildings is called Dialmial Musaki. He rules with an iron fist and suffers fools for only as long as it takes to extinguish their pathetic lives. The island is surrounded by the World Creature and the barrier is the only thing stopping it from swamping the island.

Rising out of the waters a humanoid blobby shape (World Creature Semi Motal) manages to slip through the barrier, grabs one of the guards and drags him in to the swirling water. The guard screams in surprise and pain as the creature touches him. The scream is cut short as he hits the water and we see that the body is quickly dissolved. His armour and sword are all that remain, bobbing in the current.

We all retreat to the centre of the tiny island, being cautious not to bump into the altar.

We pay more attention to the water and we can now discern that what looked like waves cresting are actually more of the humanoid looking blobs seething up and down in the current. The current seems to be going faster.

A huge bolt of lightning erupts from the sky, even though there are no clouds. Our illusions and magical effects cease to exist. The fire on Dworks Glaive extinguishes but reignites after 10 seconds, as do our illusions. Falco observes that the bolt of lightning occurs roughly every 5 minutes, since he saw one on his arrival.

A blob erupts from the seething waters and launches itself into the air, striking the domed barrier near the apex, and explodes. Nothing seems to leak through on to us.

We seem to have leaped from the frying pan into the fire. Falco sends a mechanical bird towards the other island. The bird has to fly at quite a height as the waters erupt several times with blobs trying to reach it. From the birds eye view Falco can see the other island has some old ruins. There is no flame or alter visible and the ocean seems to be lapping at the shore in a more natural fashion. The island appears to be a bit hazy. Based on this information we decide it would be better to fly across to the other island than remain here.

Just then three humanoid blobs emerge from the seething ocean and penetrate the barrier. Hamish leaps forward and strikes one with his dagger. The creature turns into a full bodied human. Dwork fireballs them, knocking them back a bit. Zanak, using his portal lizard, opens a portal back to the temple.

Mira, for reasons of her own, grabs one of the destroyed cloaks and hurls it on to the blazing fire on the altar. Garrick and Falco call out “take it off !!!” but it is too late. The fire gutters and goes out. The invisible barrier, the only thing holding the blobby creatures away from us and certain death, fails. Fortunately it was invisible and it may take the creatures a moment to comprehend what has just happened. It turns out Mira was trying to feed the flames, thinking the barrier would strengthen.

Li Pao and Plum call out that they need help to move Kai Wren back through the portal. Being made of stone he is now quite heavy. Garrick dispatches the human blob, grabs Kai Wren and leaps through the open portal. Dwork lets loose a fireball through the open portal and destroys the visible snowflakes. The party follows Garricks lead and races for the portal.

The ocean has surged forward and is climbing to a crescendo looking to splatter across the whole island in one foul swoop.

In the last moments Falco and the remaining guard roll through as the portal snaps shut. Some of the corrosive blobs make it through. Luckily for Falco they land on the guard, whose heroic sacrifice is remembered in quieter moments, although some splatter lands on him. Zanak and Keshah stabilize him while Hamish and Garrick battle the cavern full of snowflakes. Hamish grabs the Ice Demons trident, applies some flame and opens a path through the snowflakes until he is overwhelmed and rendered unconscious again. Dwork keeps an area free of snowflakes, by using his fireballs, for the party to huddle in. Garrick seems to be impervious to the snowflakes and their ice darts and performs an elegant dance of death through them, scything them down like wheat in the field.

Escape From Barracho

The snowflakes eventually fail and the group climbs the ladder through the trap door and into the room above. There is an altar which appears to have been the source of the snowflakes and dozens of scorched bodies. As we move forward to the next room we meet some more guards. Before a battle can ensue they prostrate themselves to us and babble about us being the new Lords and Masters of the estate. Garrick takes the lead and instructs them to make a private room available for our esteemed party and for refreshments to be served.

The way in which the guards and servants respond to us reaffirms what the other guards had said about the previous lord and how grateful they are to have a new, more generous master. They quickly find a cart to carry the statue of Kai Wren and our valuables.

We make our way back to the main residence and are escorted to the Ice Demons private chambers. The room itself is quite sparse. The only piece of furniture of import to us is a wooden chest, which is obviously trapped. Keshah feels lucky and attempts to open the chest. The rest of us stand well back.

Before we have a chance to marvel at Keshahs success a knock at the door is followed by a servant entering with the requested refreshments. He also informs us that some guests of the previous master have arrived at the outer gates and have demanded an audience. We quickly establish that the guests have not been informed of the previous masters demise and tell the servant to guide them to guest quarters where they are to wait till the master is finished his current endeavours. The group seems quite pleased with ourselves as this will buy us time to use Li Paos bowl to transport us back to his place.

Our basic plan is to rest and then take Kai Wren to some powerful allies like Seven Fingers (Spilling Moonbeams father and Kai Wrens friend) in the hope of finding a cure for him. For this we will need to leave this realm and enter the Demon Realm. The portal to there is in the North West of the land, in a vast desert.

Within moments we hear the shrieks of people as servant s and guards alike are being horribly killed by several very powerful figures. They are recognized immediately as Vliss and Tuvoone. Once again our well laid plans are rent into tatters.

Quickly all but Dwork, Keshah and Falco enter Kai Wens green dragon bottle. The remaining three cast shadow wings and fly us off in to the waiting darkness. Keshah casts Darkness over the estate in a further effort to mask our departure but glancing back he sees an eruption like a white flare, and silhouetted against the light are the forms of two giant bats.

We head in a North West direction, aiming for the towns that sit outside the Great Wall, so that we can gain passage to the desert and the portal. After flying a small distance it becomes obvious the following demons are catching up so we land in a secluded valley. Quickly Falco casts ShadowHoles on us and we disappear for 90 minutes. When we reappear the demons Vliss and Tuvoone are not anywhere near.

It is coming on midnight so we decide to put up a guard and rest till daybreak.

4th of Thaw – A Quiet Day at the Tavern

Inside the bottle Li Pao does a little scrying to establish what is happening outside. He sees peace and calm and so we venture out of the bottle. With the dawn of the new day our group feels quite refreshed.

Some of us are so relieved to have survived the previous day that our optimism levels are absurdly high. The day seems incredibly bright with possibilities. There is a cloudless sky and the birds chirp with the promise of a lazy autumn morning.

The group busies themselves with making a meal and some nice tea (thanks Plum). The plan is still to reach the portal to the Demon Realm and seek aid for Kai Wren.

To get there we need to pass through the Great Wall. There are several towns which border the wall and offer passage to the other side. Then we need to traverse the desert road to the portal, all the while watching for the nomadic tribes that call the desert their home. Whilst they are nomadic they still are quite warlike and savage. They frequently attack any small parties that they come across. Most caravans that shuttle goods to the demon realm are heavily guarded while on the “Silk Route”.

Historically this was a thriving and industrious route as the demons, upon being displaced to the demon realm by the gods in the ancient wars, sort to transfer all manner of items to their realm to make it worth living in. They bought in raw materials for building and construction, trees to create a wilderness, grains and crops for farming, and all manner of animals to populate the realm. Within a very short time they had created a realm of wonder and beauty and the gods, being jealous of the demons success, started the second war, which only ended when Kai Wren slew the God Caarholdruarne.

The day starts in a relaxed manner while Li Pao uses his bowl to transport us to a city Plum has been to before, which is only about 30 miles from the great wall and the closest town with a passageway.

We appear in a secluded park near the center of the city. The city looks quite prosperous with its red lantern lines streets. The inhabitants scurry about taking little notice of a group of strangers. Plum guides us to a local hotel that she has frequented in her journeys. The innkeeper greets her warmly and offers us some rooms, fresh baths and hot food. Plum gossips to the innkeeper while we retire to the rooms. After a few minutes Plum follows upstairs laden with sweetbreads and cool refreshing drinks. While we take our fill of the treats Plum manages to free Garrick from his curse (when he cast a spell it had a random effect).

Inside Kai Wrens Bottle

Since we are all quite well rested we decide to take all our loot and put it in Kai Wrens bottle, along with most of the party, so it can be divinated in peace and Kai Wrens mansion can be explored further. Li Pao also plans to divinate the cause of Kai Wrens illness.

Dwork Zanak, Garrick and Hamish stay in the hotel room to guard the bottle.

Li Pao and Keshah are quickly able to sort out that Kai Wren has had all the “demon” sucked out of him, rendering him effectively human. It seems his enemies have used his bottle dimensions, which are a construct of his powers, to drain more energy from him than he can easily regenerate. They have also infected him with a magical (demonic) dissolving virus. We are going to need the services of a high level healer to save him. It also appears that he has been under the effects of some magic for a very long time, possibly even hundreds of years. It seems like some sort of “love potion” is affecting him, but he is also “less social towards his fellow demons”. The mystery deepens…

The loot in the chest from the Ice Demons estate has an orb of transportation, a healing crystal and some chi coins. The orb appears to be targeted on the demon realm. The healing crystal can restore limbs and has a one-off charge of healing 40 endurance points. There is also the possibility the crystal could heal Kai Wrens melted state. Each chi coin can be used to focus the energies needed to cast spells. In this way the caster doesn’t use their own spell fatigue. Each coin holds 10 points of chi (mana).

The group inside the bottle feel very pleased with themselves and fail to notice the inn burning down outside the bottle.

Meanwhile Dwork, Zanak, Garrick and Hamish have got into a bit of strife !!!

Outside Kai Wrens Bottle

Shortly after the group enters the bottle Dwork, Zanak, Garrick and Hamish are quietly lounging around in the room discussing the women they have had and the numerous positions they have had them in.

A knock on the door reveals a merchant in a shabby black cloak. He offers us “the finest charms and magical objects money can buy”. He looks shifty and the group want little to do with him. Zanak, being young and emboldened by the discussion of loose women, feels a bit cocky and engages the man in some silly conversation. Because of the groups mistrust Zanak attempts to get the man to enter the room so some “meaningful discussions” can be held. You know – things like, who told you we were here? Why are you spying on us? Surely the four of us can “convince” him to answer our questions.

The man is loath to enter the room. He seems a bit intimidated by the Ork with the flaming glaive for some reason. He quickly departs, asking us to join him in the bar for a drink and to properly see his merchandise.

The man is barely gone a minute before the door is completely ripped off its hinges and a huge dog leaps at Hamish’s throat. The dog is followed by six armoured samurai warriors. We don’t recognize the symbols on their armour.

The surprised Hamish is knocked down by the dog and bitten in the shoulder. The bite mark seems to be bigger than the mouth should have given. Garrick shouts out the beast appears to be concealed with an illusion.

One of the samurai throws a grenade and a purple flash of light leaves Garrick and Zanak blinded.

Garrick tries to attack the dog but misses and damages Hamish instead. The dog takes another deep bite into Hamish and his rune armour is the only thing which saves him from a critical blow. Dwork and a warrior battle, but in the confined room neither of them can get a lethal blow in. Zanak, unaccustomed to being blind, stands in the corner wondering what to do.

Garrick pulls out a grenade and hurls it at the samurai. He was hoping to get the sleep grenade but gets greek fire instead. The warriors leap around in a panic as flames erupt over them. Some splashback hits the dog, Hamish and Garrick. But Garrick isn’t finished yet. He grabs another grenade and hurls it at the panicked warriors. Unfortunately the throw is very poorly aimed at it hits the roof, exploding and covering us all. Also it wasn’t the sleep effect he wanted. We all become lusted towards our companions. The only ones to resist this are Dwork and a samurai, who engage each other in combat.

Things aren’t looking good for Garrick. Somehow the dog has managed to get on top of him and the term “rough love” is as descriptive as Zanak can bear to write down.

Dwork disposes of the warrior and hurls some fireballs into the confusion, making mincemeat of the other samurai warriors. The dog is damaged slightly but doesn’t seem too concerned.

Dwork pulls Hamish out from the bottom of the pile and tries to give him a healing potion, but the sight of Garrick being humped by the dog is just too much and he spills most of the bottles contents on the floor. Realizing that Hamish is again in serious trouble he focuses and manages to get another healing potion successfully down his throat.

The greek fire continues to expand as the building is made of wood and paper and within minutes the floor boards under Garrick, the dog and Zanak collapses and we fall through to the common area. The lust potion appears to have affected everyone down here too. The Innkeeper and one of the buxom barmaids are engaged in some gentle loving on the bartop, well certainly far more gentle than what Garrick is receiving anyway.

Dwork leaps through the hole in the floor, just after ascertaining that the bottle is safely in Hamishs possession. It would be truly unfortunate if the bottle was destroyed in the flames, particularly since we have no idea what would happen to the pocket universe which the rest of our group are currently inhabiting…

Dwork manages to roll Zanak off the top of the pile and batters the dog into unconsciousness. The potion effects start to wear off so Dwork goes about putting out the fire in what is left of the hotel. Zanak and Garrick awake and Zanak, taking pity on the damaged body of Garrick, lays his hands on Garrick (in a non sexual way, let it be noted) and heals his physical wounds. The psychic wounds may take a lot longer to heal as even the sight of the dog sends Garrick into a whimpering curled up ball.

The innkeeper doesn’t recognize the armour on the samurai either and demands we take them and ourselves some other place. Hamish, who seems to have a thing about butchering (we should remember that when he is on guard duty), threatens the innkeeper with telling his wife about the lusty romp with the serving girl unless he lets Hamish use the kitchen for his barbaric practices. The innkeeper reluctantly agrees, but insists we leave right after that.

Hamish ties up the legs of the dog and starts dragging him into the kitchen. The dog awakes and breaks the binding with ease and again takes a massive bite out of Hamish. Dwork leaps in and tries to subdue him again. Hamish manages to stab the dog with his enchanted dagger, causing him to become human, although the dog illusion is maintained. Dwork easily dispatches the dog and it reverts to its natural form. It is a “Diamond Scales Dog”. The skin is as tough as diamonds and even though Hamish still wants to skin it (or something like that) we talk him out of it as the rest of the party appears from the bottle.

The Journey Continues

The rest of the party seem a little surprised by the chaos which has been inflicted on the hotel in their brief absence and resolve to never leave the four of us alone again.

Plum does her best to placate the innkeeper but it seems the last little battle with the demon dog has frayed the innkeepers nerves and he demands we go, taking the bodies and armour with us. Hamish and Zanak quite fancy the armour and don a set each.

Keshah triggers the healing runes on Dwork, Zanak, Garrick and Hamish, because lets face it, they can use all the help they can get…

Keshah also gives the innkeeper 200 SP and he is a little happier, but not enough to have us stay a minute longer.

We leave.

We search the town and buy some rations, horses and a cart and generally prepare for the trip to the Great Wall. All the stuff we have bought is placed inside the bottle for safe keeping.

The plan is to fly half way there (we are currently about 30 miles away), land in a deserted area and interrogate the dead samurai, then rest for the evening.

The flight goes well and the interrogation reveals that the samurai warriors and the diamond dog were sent to kill us by none other than Tuvoone, Vliss’s son. The name of the other demons in his party are unknown but the god seen with him is called Botis. The dog had been able to follow our portal and then sought us out by scent. Tuvoone has one more dog like this one.

5th of Thaw – The Approach to the Demon Realm

We awake fully rested on a high plateau. The surrounding lands are barren and despite the early morning coldness Plum predicts a nice sunny day with some light fluffy clouds floating about. Plums previous experiences in the garrison town lead her to warn us of the dangerous nature of the townspeople and the surrounding areas.

Plum tells us to beware the Nomad tribes in the desert as they have weapons that cause fear and shields that deflect some magic. We also need to purchase some amulets to safely traverse the portal to the demon realm.

Garrick casts an illusion across our party so we all look like bodyguards to Plum and her aged father, who are merchants. Kai Wren goes back into the bottle and we ride the horses towards the town.

We pass a few caravans with carts, wagons and even some camels. They are all heavily guarded and each group gives the other a wide birth. There is little love lost between the guards of each caravan. Plums warning about the population of the upcoming town seems to be right on the button.

In the distance we can see the great wall rising. It stands about 20 feet tall and is wide enough for guards to walk several abreast while patrolling the area closest to the town.

The portion of the wall surrounded by the town is heavily garrisoned. The town itself is rather shabby looking, being formed of mud bricks and timber framing. There are several two story dwellings but from this distance they look weather beaten and barley sturdy enough to stand. Plum assures us the structures are safe.

As we approach the outer dwellings of the town we are accosted by some beggars. They are wearing tattered clothing and appear emaciated but they are also sprightly enough on their feet. At first we ignore them but their cries for coins become irritating and we tell them to be gone. Unexpectedly several of them spit at us. Dwork takes offence but Plum convinces him to ignore them. If he had left the safety of the party he would have been coaxed down a side alley and beset by dozens of them. As we enter the town proper we can hear the beggars laughing harshly at our backs.

As we approach the centre of the town we see the huge gates are closed. The best looking house so far is where the gate garrison is housed. Plum goes inside and negotiates for the required amulets. They are 100SP each and we get enough for all the party. Falco DAs them and notices they can be tracked. We suspect it is so we can be tracked while on the demon realm and if we take them off we might suffer some horrendous fate. Best to keep them on we think.

As we leave the building a crowd outside scatters. It seems we have attracted the attention of the local street urchins. As Plum leads us through the town to an inn she is familiar with called the “Demons Balls” we notice a large cloaked individual shadowing us. As we go round a corner Garrick slips off into the shadows and surprises the man as he comes round. The man doesn’t fight or run and instead asks us if we could assist him in a business venture. He comes to the inn with us.

He gives a name but it is obviously fake. He has some business associates who need a package delivered to a particular demon faction in the demon realm. It needs to be dropped off by the Harp Sculpture. From there another agent will pick it up. Falco asks some more pointed questions as to the risk to our group and to the contents of the package. Eventually we learn it is a “sphere of information” and it is protected so only a particular demon can use it.

Falco and Garrick seem to be dubious about the request and decline to assist. Zanak, being young and foolhardy, accepts the offer and receives 1000SP. Now the group is committed to the action, and Zanak puts the money in the group pool.

The man departs and Plum introduces herself to the innkeeper. She makes it obvious we are seeking to join another caravan for added protection and he gives her some introductions to two caravan masters who happen to have rooms upstairs.

We go to the first room and are greeted (accosted might be a better description) by a big burly guy in black armour. He will only let our party leader in to see his master. Keshah steps forward as Plum is still downstairs securing rooms for us for the evening.

Keshah enters the room and is greeted by a short petite woman called Jianbua Mingxing. She pours some tea and asks what we have to offer her that is better than the other freelancers in town? Keshah demonstrates a simple magic spell and casts a runewall in the corner. She is unimpressed till her guard throws himself at it and is knocked flat on his back. After a bit more negotiating Keshah comes out with a signed contract for the 3 day journey at a rate of 50SP for each party member. They are to leave in the morning and we are to meet them at dawn. We should blend in well as the caravan size will be no more than any other normal one.

It is the mid afternoon so we start perusing the local market. Hamish buys a sparkling new butchery set and seems very proud of himself. Elenna purchases some exotic and common herbs and spices. She is also in quite a good mood.

We notice the street urchins are taking a particular interest in us so Falco stops one and asks why. After slipping him a few coins he reveals that other people are following us. He suspects they have been hired by a foreign samurai, who has been asking around for information on a group of strangers. Apparently the samurai will be back tonight to gather his information.

Elenna comes across a merchant, if he can be called that, with a small cage with a polecat in it. Elenna lets the group distract him while she speaks to the caged animal. It seems the polecat, a female, had been captured in the desert and only wants to be let free to get back to her mate. The scruffy fellow seems quite desperate to get rid of the creature and claims it can turn people into marble when it gets excited. The rest of us are busy laughing when Elenna confirms this. The polecat has said if Elenna frees her in the desert then she will be a gracious friend and will turn anyone Elenna dislikes to marble. The polecat suggests a few of the group members could be changed as they seem quite obnoxious. Elenna is undecided about freeing the polecat but Keshah steps up and offers the merchant some money. The merchant is ecstatic and dances around the corner proclaiming loudly about his windfall. Unfortunately for him a few misfits bash him on the head and steal his money. Our group doesn’t seem that concerned. In fact some of us have a quiet chuckle.

The polecat seems to like Elenna and hangs around her.

Another Quiet Dinner is Interrupted

We have a cunning plan.

Since we know there are people looking for us we will rent a room at the inn to make it simple for people to locate us. In the meantime though Keshah will have made a portal to the previous evenings camp site. In this way we hope to spare the town any ill effects of the search for us and to keep our pursuers confused.

Keshah wanders off out of town, unseen of course. He then flies to last nights camp site and performs the rune portal ritual. He sneaks back into town in time to have dinner with us prior to retiring for the evening. He needs only to cast the second rune portal in our room to open the portal to our previous evenings destination.

Dinner is served early at about 5pm, plenty of time before our mysterious samurai come back to locate us, or so we thought. Just as we are finishing the hot roast meal we see a fleeting glimpse of a samurai face at the inn window. We dash upstairs and Keshah begins the 1 minute version of the rune portal spell.

Just as he starts we hear a loud crashing sound below which is quickly followed by some horrendous blood curdling screams.

Hamish fills the hallway with a wall of thorns while Elenna casts quickness on all of our party. Before we have a chance to react any further the side wall disappears and some arrows come flying into the room, distracting Zanak. From our upper story vantage point we can see six armed bowmen and a large shaggy dog. This seems familiar !!!

One of the bowmen hurls a grenade into the room and a purple flash blinds Mira, Elenna and Hamish. Dwork responds by hurling a sleep grenade into their midst. Falco casts several webs of darkness and captures all but one. Zanak manages to take control of the dog, which we expect to be another demon diamond dog. Dwork does a fireball and Garrick throws some darts. Even the polecat gets into the action by spraying out of the hole in the wall and turning a few people to marble. Elenna would be impressed, if only she could see.

The surprise attack on us is quickly overcome but just as we start to relax the street outside becomes very dark. Shadows seem to be engulfing the area. In the shadows we can see some even darker forms. This is powerful magic and we know it has to be some demons.

Hamish, even though he is blind, manages to form another wall of thorns where our outer wall used to be. This slows down the shadows from outside but they are still seeping in through the mass of thorns. Keshah doesn’t have time to complete his ritual so Falco casts wings on Keshah and himself. The rest of us follow Li Pao into Kai Wrens bottle, which Falco scoops up. They agree to meet at last nights campsite.

Falco casts Shadow Holes on Keshah and himself and as they disappear they realize the screams from the common area of the inn have stopped.

Two hours pass before we pop back into the real world. Falco is just east of the town and Keshah is slightly south west. As they glance back at the town they see the central area is in ruins, or at least what is visible outside the vast black column which seems to consume all the natural light.

Because the portal spell was never completed we feel reasonably safe in our campsite but we post double guards to be on the safe side.

Before we bunk down for the night we agree get up very early and use the cover of darkness to tunnel under the great wall several miles away from the town. From there we will meet up with the caravan on the road to the demon portal. Elenna gives the polecat an amulet to ward its dreams, for which it is very grateful. It snuggles up next to her.

6th of Thaw – The Demon Portal Beckons – Day 1

Keshah wakes up and seems to have a more commanding aura. He has a different plan and manages to convince most of the group it is a good idea.

Let it be noted Zanak argued against the change in plan. I suspect this is going to be another case of us barely surviving the day, if we are lucky.

We mosey on back to town and meet up with the caravan master Jianbua Mingxing in the central park. There are 3 caravans departing this morning, each looking to consist of about the same size and makeup. Ours has four well covered wagons and one long thin cart. There are some camel riders and six other guards.

The destruction in the town doesn’t seem to have stopped the normal commerce of the garrison town and we approach the guarded gate. The guards do look a little edgy and question Jianbua Mingxing about her business. They allow our caravan to pass through but only after doing a spot check on the guards. They ask us individually where we have come from and our names. Elenna seems very nervous and gives out a girlish giggle. Coming from an illusion of a burly guard this seems suspicious. Hamish also seems to struggle coming up with a name. Both of them are detained while the rest of us pass through.

Elenna and Hamish are escorted to the main room of the garrison and ordered to drop their weapons. They are questioned and threatened with some torture unless they begin making some sense. Elenna starts talking about various torture techniques which throws the guards off for a moment.

They are escorted to a separate room and ordered to strip. The polecat, which has been curled up around Elennas neck, awakens and senses her friends distress. She sprays the six guards, causing three to turn to marble, then another two. The last remaining guard lets out a shout as he slices the polecat in half.

The door opens and more guards rush in.

Meanwhile, Another Rescue Plan is Hatched

We have journeyed about 5 minutes outside of the town, into the desert when we stop and ask Jianbua Mingxing about our fellow party members. Given last nights disaster in town it seems likely they will be found guilty of “something” and will probably be executed.

We have a short half-hearted debate about going back for them (we know we will but it seemed like fun), after all Hamish has spent most of this adventure unconscious with parts of his body rotting off, but Elenna has been genuinely useful.

Jianbua Mingxing tells us she will slow her caravan down a bit but we need to return in two hours or she will be too far into the desert for us to locate her. She also threatens us with dire consequences if we get caught and implicate her in any way.

Our plan (yes we have another one) is to put everyone except Keshah, Mira and Falco in the bottle. The remaining three will have an extra allusion so they look like garrison guardsmen. They will ride back and open a tunnel in the wall into the room where our friends are being held. Li Pao will scry for them and identify the right area. We will all join the battle and once they are freed, and their gear has been recovered, we will race into the desert on our speeded horses.

As plans go it seems relatively simple and straight forward. Based on our last couple of days though it will no doubt fall apart in the most catastrophic way imaginable.

The Rescue Attempt

Li Paos scrying shows them in a room with a three sided cage underground. They are naked and bound to the cage bars by some cold iron handcuffs. They are also trussed up a bit. They don’t seem too comfortable. There is a third prisoner in the cell and it looks like his fortunes have been very low for quite some time. Based on the look of him we think he will smell really bad. None of us seem to keen on rescuing him.

Dwork asks Plum to do some positive feng shue to help Garrick in casting his new illusions. Plum is initially surprised that Dwork is recognizing the power of positive chi and mistakenly voices a belief that Dwork is more civilized than she thought. After our parties outbreak of laughter is brought under control Dwork is confused as to who to punish first, Plum for calling him civilized or the rest of us for knowing him so well that even the suggestion is a cause for amusement.

As luck would have it the first part of the plan works well. Keshah, Mira and Falco make it to the wall without incident. We know they are very close to the main gate so Keshah tries some ESP to locate the distressed emotions likely to emanate from our hapless party members. They seem to be slightly off to the right of the main gate.

The gate starts opening as Mira casts her first tunnel. She sadly backfires and becomes long sighted. The wall in front of her is a bit blurry. Her second attempt is much better and a tunnel forms on a gentle slope and opens into the top corner of the cell. A guard on the top of the gated part of the wall calls out “Hey. What are you doing down there?” Falco replies “we found a hole in the wall. We will investigate. You stay there and be on the lookout for raiders from the desert”. Keshah, Mira and Falco enter the tunnel with their horses.

Keshah and Mira drop into the cell. There are two guards outside the cell and one of them races towards the stairs and the door. Falco casts a web of darkness across the stairs and traps the guard. The second guard is a few steps behind the first and starts hacking at the web, hoping to free his comrade and open his only escape path.

Mira casts another tunnel leading from the other cell corner upwards but just short of the ground level. Falco shadowholes the two guards while the rest of the party emerges in the first tunnel. Dwork and his flaming glaive spook the three horses. We aren’t sure if it is the flames in the confined space which have unsettled them or the smell of an Ork but to play it safe Dwork heads back up the tunnel to provide cover for us if any gate guards get curious.

One of the horses leaps forward and drops into the cell then dashes up the newly formed tunnel, while Plum and Zanak calm the remaining two.

The door opens and Keshah and Mira use the first guard as an archery target. He doesn’t look well. Falco finishes him off with another web which blocks the doorway and part of the outer room. A few more cries of alarm are heard from the doorway.

Garrick frees Hamish and Elenna by making the handcuffs all rubbery.

Elenna casts Quickness on the party in the cell and demands we get her clothes and gear from the room above. Hamish doesn’t seem to have a problem with running round naked but he would like his newly purchased butchery set back…

Mira creates a tunnel through the ceiling but by the edge of the cage so Keshah can climb the cell walls and leap into the upper room. A guard unexpectedly drops through the hole and lands on Mira. The spiky bone armour she is wearing fills him with fear and he runs in to the second tunnel with the panicked horse.

Keshah encounters two guards still upstairs. Hamish, feeling the need to inflict some pain after the obvious beating he has received, casts blood boil on them. Keshah yells at them to seek a healer if they want to live. Both guards run away, not realizing there is no help for them. They will die in unspeakable agony. This makes Hamish very happy.

Dwork sees some guards poking their heads around the entrance to the tunnel and promptly fireballs them. After the initial screams die down he hears “bring the mage killers!!!”.

Garrick casts something but backfires and a very nasty looking Hedge Demon appears. Garrick takes a moment to kill it, mostly thanks to the smite spell previously cast on us all by Keshah.

Dwork has summoned a large Black Jaguar and has commanded it to “kill the mages I point at”.

Three beaver like creatures approach the entrance to the tunnel. Naturally Dwork fireballs them. Instead of the usual fire enhanced carnage all the energy seems to be sucked into the three creatures. This upsets Dwork so he commands the Jaguar to attack them instead. It leaps forward and engages the first one with its powerful jaws and sharp teeth. The creature explodes on the first bite. It looks like a miniature fireball. The Jaguar survives and tries to rend the second one, which promptly explodes too. Zanak manages to control the last one and orders it to leave the area.

Meanwhile Keshah, Hamish and Elenna have located their gear and have got fully dressed again. Their backpacks are also found but a few items seem to be missing.

The last remaining guard (the fearful one in the second tunnel) comes to his senses and asks us to knock him out or his buddies will think he is a coward. Garrick obliges.

In the momentary pause in hostilities we decide to all hop in the bottle, except for Mira, Keshah and Garrick. Keshah will trigger the runes of healing to help us all and Garrick will make us all invisible. Mira will complete the second tunnel and we will spring forward on the speeded horses and dash away, before the guards can mount an effective response.

As per normal the plan is well thought out but executed poorly.

The biggest problem is Mira backfiring three tunnels in a row. She is deafened and forcibly ejected from the tunnel as it fills up. Fortunately the rest of us escape out the first tunnel. The cell continues filling up (it is a bit of a shame for the third prisoner who we didn’t untie but it didn’t look like death was far away for him anyway). Mira and her horse are smothered in the first tunnel as it finally collapses, leaving her trapped only a few feet away from the surface.

Keshah casts some darkness to obscure our retreat but the remaining beaver creature is still close enough to absorb the spell effect.

Getting quite desperate Keshah summons an Earth Elemental, which takes everyone by surprise. The elemental is so huge and physically daunting that all the guards make a hasty retreat to safer places. Keshah commands the elemental to reach down and bring Mira and her horse to the surface.

Mira is in no fit state to sit astride her horse, evidenced by her falling off, and so the Elemental lifts her up and strides with us into the desert. The remaining guards and archers give us a wide berth, for which we are very grateful.

An Evening with the Natives

We catch up with the caravan in only an hour. Keshah dispels the Earth Elemental before we get back and because of the fun it has had it gives Keshah a rare living diamond. We divinate it later in the day and find out it is alive and it glows in the dark.

As sunset approaches we see a gathering of Centaurs in the distance. They appear to have the standard bows, shields and swords. They will probably have some battle mages in the clan. Jianbua Mingxing tells us they are very warlike and only respect strength. Any sign of weakness from us will only increase their natural aggression tendencies. So far they aren’t taking any particular notice of our caravan or the other two.

Falco and Dwork are curious about the 40 foot long crate on the long thin wagon and ask Jianbua Mingxing about it at dinner. She is quite evasive and doesn’t give us any straight answers.

After dinner the centaurs start massing a short distance away. Jianbua Mingxing and the other 2 caravan masters circle the wagons into a protective barrier.

An incredibly muscular centaur struts over towards our encampment and bellows out something. We can’t understand him but his meaning becomes very clear when he fires an arrow into the centre of the camp. Dwork picks it up and Jianbua Mingxing identifies a character on the shaft as a challenge. Jianbua Mingxing explains the challenge is a “fight to the death” in single combat. If we accept then a 300foot wide circle will be formed and the two combatants will use any means necessary to win. It is quite clear to us that spells and dirty tricks are to be expected. Should a combatant try to flee the circle they will be ripped apart by the onlooking centaurs.

The debate goes on for a few minutes and the last one to see sense and to refuse the challenge is Dwork. Zanak is a little disappointed as he had been encouraging Dwork to “be an Ork” and to “show no fear”. Zanak explains afterwards that he can’t improve his Healer skills if he can’t practice on wounded people, and it seemed like a very good way to get VERY wounded.

Dwork, feeling like his pride has been wounded, asks Garrick to make him 8 feet tall, just in case.

There are currently about 30 centaurs grouped together about half a mile away. They seem to be working themselves into a lather. Despite the fact there is a clear night sky and the moon is shining down Falco insists on giving witchsight to each party member as they take on guard duty.

Li Pao and Plum help Mira to overcome her deafness and long sightedness.

Now that the three caravans are in close proximity some socializing happens. Our caravan guards and the second caravan guards have done several journeys together and are quickly swapping stories around the campfires, not to mention a few jugs of ale. They don’t seem too perturbed by the Centaur gathering or the offer of a challenge.

The guards of the third caravan are keeping slightly apart. They seem a bit more disciplined than the others and don’t partake of any alcohol. They are also eyeing us up from their corner of the encampment. We get a few baleful stares if we look in their direction for too long. They are all dressed in black and just don’t seem trustworthy or someone we would like to entrust our lives to. Keshah goes over to chat but returns after only a few minutes without learning anything useful.

Dwork notices another 30 centaurs joining the original group. We are outnumbered nearly two to one so Dwork takes a precaution and performs a ritual to wreathe his weapons in flame.

Another 20 centaurs arrive. By this point all the caravan guards are getting a bit nervous. Centaurs in this area are normally tribal and nomadic. For this many to join together is uncommon. They have started a very large bonfire and are definitely working themselves into a frenzy.

Another flaming arrow buries itself in the side of a wagon. Dwork quickly retrieves it. Jianbua Mingxing reads the attached note. The centaurs are demanding some objectionable cargo is destroyed within an hour or the centaur war party will descend on us, leaving no survivors. The three caravan masters quickly confer and discuss the general contents of the wagons to see which one the centaurs are all angry about. The third caravan master (Kung Hao) won’t reveal what his contents are and storms off. His 20 black garbed guards take up defensive positions by their wagons. They are as concerned about us attacking them as the centaurs attacking.

Falco DAs them and gets a consistent necromancer theme from them all. The only good necromancer we have come across was a lady claiming to be a Seer on a previous adventure.

Jianbua Mingxing and the second caravan master engage Kung Hao in another round of discussions to distract him while Keshah casts a ghostly spectre to check out the wagons. Keshah is shocked by what he can see through the ghostly eyes. The wagons are filled with very young children. Other than being dead, they appear to be completely unharmed. He reports back to our party and the two returning caravan masters. No wonder the centaurs are wanting to attack. Even for us this is quite an abomination.

We quickly decide to separate ourselves from the third caravan but first we need to send a delegation to the centaurs so they don’t mistake our leaving the camp for anything untoward.

Elenna nearly gets Skewered

Elenna casts “speak to enchanted animals” on herself and leads our party out to the halfway mark between our camp and the centaurs. A group of 20 centaurs detaches from the main party (not that they will be missed as another 50 centaurs appear on the horizon) and meets us in the middle neutral ground.

The largest centaur commands our attention. He is a good 2 feet taller than the other warriors and holds a huge two handed sword as if he was born to it. Around his neck hangs the petrified remains of six human heads. Elenna steps forward to engage him but he immediately barks some harsh commands at her. Even though she is surrounded by Garricks illusions of a burly male guard he recognizes her as a female and demands she grovel at his feet and kiss the dirt he walks on. Elenna shows some previously hidden gumption and refuses, standing her ground. He barks at her to grovel on the ground like any good female should or suffer the consequences. Elenna bows slightly towards him but offers nothing further.

The huge centaur, who we now recognize as the War Chief, is insulted by this behaviour and gestures for his warriors to skewer her on their spears. The blind shaman standing next to him quickly confers with the group and convinces them to hold off on killing her. The War Chief is still in an enraged state and swings at Elenna. She staggers under the unexpected blow but holds her ground. The centaur is surprised a mere female has remained standing and readies a further blow. Elenna realizes this approach is not getting us anywhere and lowers herself to the ground, opening herself to a killing blow should he choose to do so.

The war chief instantly regains control of himself and his demeanor changes to one of joy in victory. He commands Elenna to get back to her feet and talk to him like an honoured warrior. The rest of the party lets out a collective breath as the tension breaks.

The war chief, whose name we can’t even begin to pronounce, demands that the wagons filled with children be destroyed. We inform him the caravan master and his guards are necromancers and the other two caravans want nothing to do with him. We plan to return to the camp and move our two caravans away. What the centaurs want to do with the necromancers is none of our business, and as we are peaceful merchants we would be very happy to be miles away from those evil people.

The war chief, pleased with Elennas courage and simple honesty, agrees to let us leave in peace. We have 30 minutes to make ourselves scarce. Elenna bows deeply to him and we return to the camp.

Kung Hao, upon hearing of the deal we have made with the barbaric centaurs, spits on us and demands that “you cowardly lot run from my sight and pray we never meet again!”. He starts preparing some very nasty looking defensive spells.

We move on very quickly. Some foolhardy people want to stop just a mile away so we can see the battle but the groups common sense overrides this and we continue on for the whole night.

7th of Thaw – The Demon Portal Beckons – Day 2

As the dawn light begins shining we camp for a few hours to shake off the effects of our close call the previous evening.

At midday the group considers the actions for the rest of the daylight hours. Hamish is feeling quite emboldened and volunteers to be the leader for the day. The group discusses this and are finally swayed by Hamishs passionate plea that he hasn’t been unconscious for several days now. Despite Falcos unease at this development we all agree to follow his lead (at least until he is knocked out again anyway).

The first thing Hamish does is use a crystal of vision to spy on the previous nights campsite. The campsite itself is shrouded in an unnatural blackness but the unmistakable column of smoke identifies that some heavy casualties have befallen the necromancers. The only moving forms are centaurs who are dragging their own dead to a massive bonfire by their original gathering site.

Hamish tries to talk us into going back to loot the necromancer camp but he is finally convinced that the centaurs might not look favourably on this. Jianbua Mingxing points out that we have signed a contract with her to be guards and since she is continuing to the portal then we are expected to accompany her.

The day passes uneventfully and in the evening more socialising occurs as the two caravans count their blessing on still being alive.

8th of Thaw – The Demon Portal Beckons – Day 3

Zanak, encouraged by the quietness of the previous day, talks the party into letting him be leader. Again Falco protests letting a young rogue of a pirate be in charge but Dwork speaks up on his behalf and quietly offers to Falco to “bash the pirate” if he causes any trouble. Zanak, despite the threat, feels petty good.

About midday a herd of 30 gazelle run passed. There appears to be a large grey cat following them. It would be at least 20 foot long and has a spiky tail, almost like a club. Hamish shoots one of the gazelle. The cat leaps on the dying gazelle and drags it away. Hamish is disappointed as he wanted to practice his butchery skills and to have some fresh meat for the evening dinner.

After another uneventful day Falco does a “night sky reading” and tells us that powerful enemies wait for us on the other side of the portal. He thinks we lack the required knowledge to defeat these enemies and the portends only show our deaths.

Li Pao and Plum, not so happy about this reading, try their own astrological augury. They get a slightly better result (well more optimistic anyway) and on the other side of the portal they see a park surrounded by a wall, a door, names and keys. We decide we need to know the names of the people with the keys to open the door.

Falco and Keshah, followed close behind by the rest of the party, talk to Jianbua Mingxing and ask about what lies on the other side of the portal. There is indeed a park, called the Origin Park, surrounded by a huge impregnable wall. The park itself is very beautiful and has a very high chi level. The trees, bushes and grasses are lush and vibrant, more so than their counterparts in most other regions of the world. There are sculptures of objects which the park builders found appealing imbued with magic. She rattles off a few which includes a large Harp statue.

Zanak remembers he has been paid to drop off the Sphere of Knowledge by this harp and asks for directions to it. Apparently the park isn’t very big and all things are only a matter of several hundred feet apart.

Inside the park you can also find the occasional demon supervising the delivery of his or her wagons. Each wagon is directed to a large transportation disk in the centre of the park where they are unloaded. Once each caravan load is completely on the disk an amulet is placed on the disk which signals the appropriate Demon, who then triggers the disks teleportation abilities to their own estate.

Jianbua Mingxing is carrying goods to a demon called Bralack. The other caravan master is transporting ore and other materials to Seven Fingers.

We will be at the portal tomorrow so we decide to write a letter to Seven Fingers to include in the cargo, seeking his help in healing Kai Wren, just in case we strike any troubles and are unable to be teleported with the cargo to his estate.

9th of Thaw – Through the Demon Portal

Given that we are on the verge of reaching the portal you would think the group would be conserving their energy, knowing there is likely to be a battle in the park. But no. Hamish has been having a few drinks with a loud mouthed guard from the other caravan from the previous evening and has got himself into a bit of mischief.

Hamish the Torturer

The guard has been writing notes for a novel he hopes to publish. After all you don’t want to be a guard all your life. He has a chapter on torture techniques and made the mistake of showing this to Hamish. Hamish, with his butchery skills, tells him he has much to learn about real torture techniques as what he has written seems a bit “soft and fluffy” and doesn’t show a true intimate knowledge of the subject. The guard foolishly says to Hamish “how good are you at torture?” Hamish has some skills in this area and offers to demonstrate them on the guard-come-novelist. They have obviously had way too much to drink as neither of them sees the implications of this conversation.

After what was probably a full night of drinking, while the rest of us prepared the campsite to move on, Hamish and the guard find a quiet secluded corner. Within moments the quiet morning air is punctuated by the screams of the drunken guard. His fellow guards get to him before we do and witness their friend hanging upside down in midair, writhing in pain. One of the shocked guards cries out “Black Mage!” and runs off to get the caravan master. The others begin attacking Hamish. Being quite drunk himself he is unable to resist the half dozen experienced guards attacking him. He is quickly kneed in the groin and then kicked about. The guard being tortured drops to the ground, sobbing uncontrollably and swears to destroy his notes and take up another line of work.

By the time we get there the guards have trussed him up and are carrying him to the caravan masters for sentencing and punishment. It takes quite a bit of effort but we finally convince them to release Hamish to our care and supervision. To show our commitment to keeping him under control we cut him up a bit. (Zanak is happy to practice his Healer skills when the crowd dissipates). Dwork seems to be quite keen to slice a few appendages off but Plum points out how much effort she went to to stabilize him last time.

Other than that the day moves on without incident.

Into the Portal

The portal itself is in the bottom of a large crater about a quarter of a mile down. There are guardians to the portal, namely giant wolves, earth elementals, sand worms and rocs. They pay little heed to us as we move down the road to the portal. It seems the amulets we are all wearing protect us from the guardians as well as the effects of the portal passage.

The guards that have been here before see nothing untoward about the guardians.

When we make it to the bottom of the crater each wagon takes its turn going through the portal. As we step through we are assaulted by some green demon fire but the amulets absorb the damage. Once through we notice the amulets have gone quite dull. One of the guards mentions they are a single use item, ensuring people can’t sneak through the portal multiple times.

The park is more lush and vibrant than anything we have seen before. Asides from the trees and bushes there are beautiful waterfalls and birds and animals of many descriptions. We appear to be in a natural amphitheatre with lots of tall statues. The bright shiny disk is in the centre. In the distance we can hear the sound of a harp playing.

The second caravan begins unloading its contents on the disk. It should take about 30 minutes to fully unload the contents of the various wagons before the master puts the amulet down to activate the teleportation spell.

Behind a tree Mira notices a humanoid with a solid top but an insubstantial bottom. He looks vaguely familiar but she doesn’t have enough time to ponder it before she is distracted by Zanak and Falco arguing.

Zanak does something REALLY Stupid

Zanak wants to drop the Sphere of Knowledge off by the harp, as instructed, but Falco believes this is a really big mistake. Zanak reiterates that he was paid to do a job and by golly he will do it. Falco and Keshah want to stay by the disk and divinate it, and they don’t want the party separated. After a heated debate Garrick, Dwork and Hamish agree to help Zanak deliver the sphere.

As a precaution Dwork casts a protection spell on himself but it backfires and gives him a heart attack. Zanak pauses a few minutes to ensure Dwork is ok. Elenna quickens the four departing party members, even though they are only going about 400 feet to the harp.

The group of four races to the harp and Zanak places the sphere at the base of the harp, still wrapped in the cloth. As he turns to leave the cloth covering the sphere bursts into flames and a brilliant continuous bolt of lightning streaks from the sphere to the portal. The sky begins to darken.

In a fit of desperation Zanak reaches down to retrieve the sphere, hoping the lightning will stop, but all he succeeds in doing is shocking himself unconscious. Dwork throws a blanket on the sphere but it bursts into flame. Then he picks Zanak up and races back to the main party and the disk. Garrick and Hamish bravely attempt to put a bound gold cloak under the sphere and, holding it on both sides, they scoop the orb up and race to the portal, hoping to toss it through before too much trouble happens. They manage that and then race towards the main party too.

In the sky above a dragon appears. On its back is a figure about 9 foot tall and purple, holding a lance. They are about 300 feet up and as they begin spiraling down a devastating bolt of lightning erupts over the area where Hamish and Garrick are. Garrick is knocked senseless by the blast while Hamish barely keeps his feet.

A second dragon and rider appear. He has a lance also.

Hamish, realizing another blast will surely kill both himself and Garrick, drags Garrick to the portal entrance and leaps through, knowing he can’t get back.

The dragons spiral down towards the main party. Dwork and the unconscious Zanak have made it back and have leapt onto the disk, seeking some protection from the wagon contents.

Li Pao calls out to get the masters amulet (key) and trigger the teleportation spell to Seven Fingers. Mira, thinking quickly, leaps on the caravan master and knocks him to the ground on the disk, forcing the amulet to make contact and start the process. Unfortunately none of us know how long the process will take. The caravan master is trapped under Mira and is also in contact with her fear causing armour. Unfortunately for him he can’t get away and nearly dies of fright.

A third dragon and rider appear.

We all crowd onto the disk hoping it will activate before the demons can assault us again. As per normal our luck is running extremely low and a lightning blast stuns most of us. Keshah is immune to lightning. A further blast kills Mira and Li Pao is looking pretty critical.

Keshah is our only hope as he quickly casts a spell and all the sentient beings in the immediate area are turned to stone. We resemble 6 foot high Menhirs, just like on the legendary Stonehenge. All except Mira that is because she is no longer sentient.

Meanwhile Hamish brings Garrick around. The guardians are no longer ignoring them and so they cast a fire arc which transports then about 315 feet up the side of the crater. They reach the top and cast all the defensive spells they know and then hide for a few minutes. The guardians seem to be ignoring them now so they resolve to return to the necromancer camp and search for some more amulets. Of course this will take at least two days as they are on foot now.

Back with the main party we are completely aware of our surroundings even though we are made of stone. One of the dragon riders throws some fireballs down on the remaining surviving humans and crisps them all. His rage is indiscriminate. Only two other guards were turned to stone with us. Everyone else is soon dead.

The three dragons land and the demons jump off to survey the damage. One of them kicks a stone over (one of the guards) but the stone remains intact. He is 8 feet tall and has furled golden wings. The larger of the three demons stands among us and tells the other demons off. He is the same humanoid Mira saw earlier and we now recognize him as Tuvoone, the Smoke Ghost. His bottom half is completely insubstantial and on his top half he wears some very antique armour. We suspect his armour will cause people to burst into flame on contact.

Falco is busy DAing them and realizes their major spells of attack resemble the celestial college of magic with things like “Flash of Light” and “Meteor Storm”.

Tuvoone addresses us, even though we are indistinguishable from stone, and demands we give up Kai Wren. Kai Wren is in the bottle universe, which is in Plums possession, and is masked by the stone spell. Tuvoone believes we can respond and again demands Kai Wren in exchange for his being merciful on us. The fact that he follows that offer with a wicked smirk tells us what he really means.

The three demons are looking about a bit nervously as if the portal is about to bring through adversaries. They quickly search the caravans and smash up anything they find. After a few minutes they give up searching for Kai Wren and decide to take us, Mira included because of her unique armour, through the portal and to “have some fun with us”. That sounds a bit ominous but we are all turned to stone. What can we do about anything? The demon with the golden wings pulls out an amulet and places it on the disk. He also takes an orb from his pocket and puts that on the disk too. A quick DA reveals the orb will remove any record of the destination of the teleportation. The disk starts humming and we teleport away.

A Swim in the Pool

We emerge in another crater. This one has lights going down the sides at regular intervals. In the center of the crater are 2 large black pyramids, one being balanced upside down on the pinnacle of the bottom one. It looks a bit like an hourglass from this distance. The vegetation in this area is quite sparse and the only creatures visible are manticores and black unicorns. There are some elementals around.

There are quite a few pools of water, each with an iron grate covering the top. In one we can see a Kraken.

Tuvoone looks leeringly at us and then at the pools. He wanders off.

Dwork uses his talent to start fires and ignites the clothes of the demon with the golden wings. The flames are put out quite quickly and all Dwork seems to have done is piss him off.

Tuvoone comes back with an unusual creature. It seems to be a “Gravity Elemental”. It slowly picks us each up and drops us into the nearest pool. The pool is roughly 200 feet by 70 feet and 70 feet deep. Being stone we drop to the bottom only a short distance from the edge. In the distance we can see some fish with very sharp teeth (shadow piranha) and a very large squid (shadow squid). It looks about 50 feet long and is at the far edge of the pool. An iron grate is placed on the top of the pool.

Tuvoone waits for the stone spell to wear off.

Miras body is dropped into a pile by the pyramid entrance. She has the ability to self resurrect within an hour and remains aware of her surroundings during that time. She still appears to be dead.

After two and a half hours the stone spell dissipates for all of our group except Li Pao and Plum. Asides from Zanak, Dwork, Keshah, Falco and Elenna there are two guards who suddenly find the ability to breathe quite difficult. Dwork has a ring of water breathing but the rest of us just hold our breath. Tuvoone laughs as we realize even if we can get to the surface the grate prevents us from getting any fresh air.

Keshah immediately swims to Li Pao and touches him. Li Pao vanishes. Plum is next to Li Pao and she vanishes when touched by Keshah too. He appears to be using a banishment spell.

Even from this depth we can hear Tuvoones cry of alarm as his “guests of honour” begin disappearing. Elenna casts slowness on Tuvoone, which catches him by surprise.

The piranha are swimming towards us. Their teeth look very nasty. Zanak controls each of the guards and swims them slowly towards the fish. The squid is moving slowly towards us too.

Falco casts a wall of light around our group which seems to keep the shadow piranha at a safe distance. The piranha swarm over one of the guards which acts as a distraction while Keshah banishes Zanak and then Dwork.

The squid shoots a dark jet of ink in the remaining party members direction and the area goes instantly dark. Keshah takes out some sticks which enable him to see in the darkness.

Falco casts another wall of light before being banished.

Just before Elenna can be touched by Keshah the squid comes close enough to wrap Elenna tightly in its tentacles. Its crush forces the breathe from her lungs and knocks her unconscious. Keshah manages to get to her side and attempts to banish her but she unconsciously resists. Keshah pauses for a moment. The squid gives another squeeze and Elenna dies. Keshah grabs her and then banishes himself. Elenna gets banished too as she is now an object in his possession.

10th of Thaw – The Party is Separated

Keshah, Falco, Dwork, Zanak, and the body of Elenna appear on the boundary between some mountains and a vast plain. The plain has a meandering river flowing through the centre. Elennas body is preserved by the use of a Spirit Feather.

Keshah and Falco recognize the area and claim we are on the Plains of Grass in the Broken Lands to the east of Seagate. The current area is known to belong to some shape changers who prefer the shape of Tigers.

The group starts flying back to Seagate.

11th of Thaw – The Hamish and Garrick Adventure

Hamish and Garrick make it back to the necromancer camp. They are still using concealment spells. There are 2 large columns of smoke. One from the necromancer camp and one from the centaur pyre. There is no sign of the centaurs so they begin searching the necromancer bodies for a few amulets. While searching they find no evidence of the dead children. The centaurs must have removed them or disposed of them.

After a thorough search they seem deflated when no amulets can be found.

As they prepare to leave they hear a voice calling for help. They locate a necromancer, and although he appears to be dead, there is no denying the voice belongs to him. He says his name is Que Ju Feng and that he is just pretending to be dead. He begs for some blood from Hamish to bring him back to proper life. Hamish refuses till some questions are answered. Que Ju Feng eagerly volunteers all sorts of information.

The children weren’t really dead either. They were in a “feigned death” state, although he doesn’t elaborate on how this was done. They were being taken to a demon called Devor who it turns out is a friend of Kai Wren.

There is also a cache of amulets hidden in a secret compartment in one of the wagons which wasn’t completely destroyed in the battle. Garrick rushes over and locates the compartment but sees it is trapped. He peers inside the compartment and sees five amulets. Four of them are already blackened and useless. As he tries to remove the trap it explodes in his face. A huge amount of corrosive vomit hurls towards him. He manages to resist the effects and the vomit gets sucked back into the compartment.

Hamish and the Necromancer are having a thrilling conversation when Hamish mentions he isn’t afraid of Dragons and Demons. Instantly a dragon riding demon appears in the sky. The necromancer calls out for Hamish to fulfill his end of the bargain and give him some blood but Hamish just laughs and refuses and says “what are you going to do about it?”. The necromancer curses him. Garrick mumbles to himself, after witnessing this exchange, “keep your mouth shut or even more calamities will befall us”.

The demon, spiraling down on the back of the black dragon, points a trident in Hamishs direction. Instantly the wagon beside him disintegrates. Hamish, still invisible like Garrick, hurls a curse at the dragon. It coughs and chokes and has trouble controlling its flight path. The demon points at another wagon and it too disintegrates. Hamish dives for cover by the necromancers body. A third time the demon points his trident. This time he hits Hamish and the surrounding area. Hamish manages to resist the effects of disintegration but Que Ju Feng is not so lucky. His agonized death scream is cut short. Hamish casts blindness on the demon and succeeds. The demon and dragon, both disorientated, vanish in a puff of smoke.

Garrick and Hamish confer on the next idea and decide to head back to the garrison to find some more amulets.

12th of Thaw – Seagate

Keshah, Falco, Dwork, Zanak and Elenna (her preserved body anyway) make it back to Seagate. The first thing they do is seek out someone to resurrect Elenna. Then they begin preparing themselves to get back to Plums world, although how they will achieve this, they have no idea.

13th of Thaw – Plum Revives

Plum reverts from stone to human form and wonders why Li Pao is still stone. She divinates him and realizes he will not turn back for nearly 3 months. She uses her powers to open the bottle and puts her father away for safe keeping. She now has to get both her father and Kai Wren some serious healing. She is on her own on another continent of her world and seeks out a quiet and secluded area to gather her thoughts. She chooses a plateau on the side of the mountain where the old ruins of a temple are barely standing. It is quite high up and the air is getting very crisp. In the distance she can see some short black haired barbarians but they don’t appear to have noticed her.

She can’t return to her normal home as Tuvoone and his allies are bound to be looking for her.

She realises her only hope is to get her fellow adventures back and continue the journey to Seven Fingers. She is not as experienced as her father but she tries to use the bowl to summon the adventures again.

14th of Thaw – The Journey Continues

Keshah, Falco, Dwork, Zanak and Elenna are enjoying a sumptuous breakfast when the blue dragon appears again and asks for their help. This time they are all prepared and accept the offer first time. They appear at Plums side and she faints from exhaustion.

After a few hours rest and some healing from Zanak and Keshah she sends the blue dragon to find Hamish and Garrick.

What is your Name Hamish?

After a long couple of days they make it back to the garrison town. Garrick casts an illusion so they look like the necromancer guards, all dressed in black. They wander up to the gates and explain that they were assaulted by the centaurs and are the only two survivors from the caravan. The town guards ask for their names and this time Hamish gives his real name. The guard captain consults the travel book, looks at Hamish, asks his name again, and on receiving the same name asks them to enter the guard house. They are told to sit still and wait for the commander to arrive.

Garrick asks the captain before he departs what the problem is. He replies that they are wearing the armour of the third caravan but their names are listed against the first one. He questions why they would be wearing someone else’s armour when he never mentioned the first and second caravans as part of the assault.

The captain leaves. After a moment Hamish casts quickness on themselves, quickly followed by invisibility from Garrick. The remaining guards shout to raise the alarm and draw their weapons. They advance on the spot where Hamish was standing and swing wildly. Hamish gets struck but quickly darts aside and races out the door with Garrick.

They manage to avoid detection and get to the outskirts of the town.

By this stage it is early afternoon. The blue dragon appears and they gratefully accept its offer to bring them to Plum. They are elated to find the rest of the group, minus Mira. Plum offers to send the blue dragon after her to complete the party.

Getting Mira Back

Because she is sending it to the demon realm she asks Garrick to cast an illusion on the dragon and to alter its aura, before sending it on its mission.

For this journey she focuses all her training and mental energies. She commands the dragon to find Miras body first, then to seek out her gear. If it becomes too dangerous the dragon is to return with only Miras body.

The dragon disappears.

Minutes later Plum screams from a form of psychic attack and passes out. The bowl goes black.

Garrick casts multiple illusions on all the party members to assist should we be attacked. He backfires on Keshahs attempt though and suddenly finds his right arm turning to wood and sprouting flowers. This is not a good thing as his blood is really a poison and his wooden arm is now fighting for its life from the constant poison assault.

Zanak manages to wake Plum and despite a massive headache she confirms the blue dragon has been captured.

Meanwhile Keshah has begun divinating the bowl. Before he has a chance to complete the ritual Mira and the Blue Dragon reappear.

Mira is dressed in her armour and seems well enough, all things considered. She says she woke in the demons pyramid. She took her time to crawl out from under a pile of dead bodies, she didn’t see any of us and then started to explore. Next thing she knows the blue dragon appears before her and they teleport back to Plum.

Most of us are a little skeptical, Dwork more so and voices an opinion about the blue dragon. Strangely the blue dragon is silent. On all our previous encounters with it we couldn’t get it to shut up. Dwork asks if we should kill it. The blue dragon flies to the top of a mound of rock only a few feet away. The mound is about 8 feet tall and about 10 feet wide on the top.

Plum has been attempting to command the blue dragon via the bowl, but the bowl is still black.

It is 6am on this continent and as the sun rises in the east a long shadow is cast over our campsite. Falco uses this to hide himself.

Seven people sized whirlwinds appear completely surrounding the party. Inside each of the whirlwinds we can see hundreds of shards of ice and a pair of very sharp swords. The whirlwinds leap to the attack but manage to strike our illusions on all but Dwork and Keshah. Thanks Garrick! Dwork is stunned.

Hamish and Elenna quicken the party.

Garrick attacks the whirlwind moving towards Plum. It explodes and showers us with ice shards. Hamish strikes one with his polymorph dagger and it becomes human before being stunned.

Keshah banishes his Whirlwind opponent but is set upon by another one. Falco sneaks up behind it strikes it. Dwork is taken by surprise and battered twice by a whirlwind. He gets enraged and bellows “I HATE COLD BEINGS”.

Mira is moving towards Zanak and his whirlwind. Zanak feels his danger sense kick in and casts mental attack on Mira. She resists and smacks him. The whirlwind moves on to another target. Mira smacks Zanak again and this time he turns into a frog. His danger sense really goes berserk now (as if he needed any more warnings about Mira) and he hops about trying to avoid Miras attempts to stand on him.

Plum dashes aside to get some protection from the mound the blue dragon is sitting on.

Falco, seeing the young pirates plight, attempts to shadowhole Mira and some of the whirlwinds. Only one of the whirlwinds disappears.

Garrick attacks and kills a whirlwind headed towards Elenna.

Hamish tries to cast harm entity on Mira but she resists. With a frustrated howl Mira leaps in the air and stomps down on the frog, squishing and killing him. Zanak turns back into a human. Only seconds later Falco successfully shadowholes Mira and one more of the whirlwinds.

Garrick kills the last of the whirlwinds just as 6 more appear. He leaps into the fray and engages one. Elenna slows most of the new enemies just before Falco shadowholes 3 of them. Dwork finally comes out of stun.

Keshah triggers the runes of healing and uses true sight on the blue dragon. He is recognized as a demon called Pigeon Eyes. Keshah shouts out the demon in disguise is the true enemy. Garrick and Dwork continue fighting the whirlwinds while Falco, Keshah and Elenna take on the demon.

Unfortunately for Elenna she backfires twice and starts hearing voices then loses a third of her spells to amnesia.

Keshah manages to get behind the demon and prepares to launch a devastating blow. Of course he fumbles and nearly drops his weapons. The demon laughs and smacks him.

Meanwhile a meteor storm has just crashed into Garrick, Dwork and Elenna and they all fall over.

Keshah manages to regain control of his weapons and hits the demon who gives up the illusion of the blue dragon and reverts to his normal shape of an 8 foot tall demon. Dwork looks up and thinks the demon is quite ugly which says quite a bit coming from an Ork. Falco gets rid of the last of the whirlwinds and everyone concentrates on the remaining demon called Pigeon Eyes.

The demon faces Keshah and gets in a good blow. Keshah is saved by his rune armour. Garrick climbs the mound and, from behind, gets in a good blow. Keshah manages to knock him down and the demon tries to activate a wand to teleport himself away. Before the wans can activate though both Keshah and Garrick put in devastating blows that knock the demon unconscious. In fact he looks like he might almost be dead.

The group strip the demon and for safe measures Hamish pokes him with his polymorph dagger to make him human. That seems to have been the last straw though and the demon dies. Hamish feels a death curse affect him.

Garrick notices the time is 6 seconds past 6 minutes on the 6th hour. We think if we hadn’t won this battle very bad things would have happened to us.

Keshah uses a resurrection potion to bring Zanak back and then feeds him a healing potion as well. Plum does a curse removal on Elenna and Garrick. Hamish, despite having 2 death curses, decides to “wing it”.

Zanak really wants to kill Mira, or the thing that looked like Mira. The rest of the group just want to capture Mira. We all hop in the bottle except Keshah, Garrick and Falco, who fly up in the air and wait for the shadowhole to return Mira to our dimension.

Mira and the whirlwinds reappear but Mira vanishes immediately. Zanak feels very put out.

Back to Seagate

We are feeling a bit on the poorly side so the group asks Zanak to open a portal to Alusia. The lizard is able to follow the portal the blue dragon created when transferring us directly from the guild.

We take the time to seek help for Kai Wren and Li Pao. It takes a whole day but Kai Wren and Li Pao are restored and healed.

In the meantime the corpse of Pigeon Eyes is divinated. His spirit seems to be hanging around and we promise to resurrect him if he gives us information on Vliss and Tuvoone. Dwork thinks he has better things to do.

Tuvoone has Mira and has turned her into a sex slave. Dworks attention is now fully focused on the mission at hand to rescue Mira and he seems quite keen to get on with it. We all wonder why since he is obviously afflicted with a curse which limits his sexual stamina.

More importantly Pigeon Eyes tells us what Vliss has been up to.

Vliss is one of the few remaining demons born on the god realm. Most of the demons, like her son Tuvoone, were born on the demon realm and the incidence of them being deformed at birth is high and growing each decade. The deformed ones are referred to as Hedge Demons. Whilst they have many demon attributes their inate power levels are being reduced with each successive generation. Tuvoone himself is half insubstantial. Vliss believes this is caused by the demon realm being of a lower chi level than the god realm.

Vliss has conspired with some of the younger gods to take over the god realm. The younger gods, like all children, see their parents failures and believe they can do the job much better. The elder gods though keep a fairly tight reign on the activities and responsibilities of the younger ones, knowing at some stage they will be toppled, as they did to their own parents.

Vliss, who had always had some affection for Kai Wren, managed to enchant him several hundred years ago and has had him making his little bottle universes. The plan is surprisingly simple. Since only a few demons can get through the portals to the god realm at any given time, and they are quite weak for a few days, she plans to use the bottles to house small armies. In this way she can transport her troops to the god realm in vast numbers with no reduction in their strength. Kai Wren is unique amongst the demons in that he can create these dimensions and the gods have no inkling of the threat they are faced with.

Vliss believes the additional chi of the so called “god realm”, where both the elder gods and demons were born, will restore the power to her children and the demon race in general.

The only flaw in this plan is Kai Wren himself. Since he created the bottles with his own life force he could reabsorb them and her troop carrying bottle dimensions will be rendered useless. Her whole plan hinges on these bottles.

Kai Wrens allies, Seven Fingers, his daughter Spilling Moonbeams, and the demon Lite, were working with Kai Wren to locate the cache of bottle universes. Spilling Moonbeams had been turned by Vliss’s promise of power in the god realm and she had been actively helping to stop our progress where possible.

Vliss and Tuvoone are very dangerous in combat but are a bit limited on the magical front, although they are probably more than a match for us. We need to get Kai Wren back up to his normal power levels so he can take on Vliss. Pigeon Eyes tells us the cache of bottles are on Vliss’s estate on Li Paos and Plums world but he isn’t sure where.

We rest of the remainder of the day till Kai Wren and Li Pao are restored. Dwork has had a set of Ninja Armour fitted for himself and he seems very pleased.

15th of Thaw – The Final Phase

Kai Wren confirms everything Pigeon Eyes has said and adds a few extra details.

To get his personal chi back he needs Li Pao to perform a ritual on any bottles in the vicinity. This process will take at least 30 minutes. It can be preformed on as many bottles as we can locate at once. He also says his personal chi was put into some bowls as well. In total there are 45 items we need to locate to get him back to full strength. He suspects these items will be secured I Vliss’s personal bottle universe, which Kai Wren made for her many centuries ago. Every bottle Kai Wren has made he has added himself to the guest list so the guardians won’t attack him. Assuming Vliss hasn’t removed him from the list it should be simple enough to get in.

It should also be pointed out that breaking a bottle is very bad.

Kai Wren knows where Vliss’s personal bottle is likely to be on her estate. There is a mausoleum guarded by zombies. No human would go near that place and according to Vliss they are “quite stupid and primitive creatures, good only for menial labour”.

Seven Fingers and the demon of Lite would assist us if we could get a message to them. Unfortunately we have no way of doing that right now.

We decide it is time to rescue the real Mira from Devors estate on the Demon Realm. Pigeon Eyes confirms she and the Blue Dragon are in the black pyramid.

Getting Mira Back – Part 2

Pigeon Eyes, after being resurrected, decides to stay on Alusia for a few days to avoid all the unpleasant noise associated with turning to Kai Wrens side. He also helps strengthen Garricks illusions so we look more like minor demons. Devor doesn’t have any humans on his estate either and we would standout like sore thumbs. The plan is that Kai Wren looks like a major character in Vliss’s command structure so we can pass undisturbed through her guards.

Hamish makes a comment about Hedge Demons being rather easy to beat and low and behold one appears behind him. He really should learn to keep his mouth shut…

The hedge demon appears to be in love with him and it wraps its tentacles around him. One of them slides down the front of his trousers. Hamish appears a little perturbed by this hedge demon but Garrick and Dwork come to his rescue. They hack at the hedge demon and it vanishes. Hamish checks his nether regions and finds all is ok.

The lizard opens a portal back to where we captures the disguised Pigeon Eyes and then another one to Devors estate (where Pigeon Eyes had originally come from). With luck the portal opens in a room of the pyramid and Mira is lying on the floor naked. She screams out “Devor save me” before Garrick saps her. Elenna locates the Blue Dragon next door. Garrick casts multiple illusions on himself. Elenna sees Miras possessions in the corner next to the portal.

Zanak pulls his spare dress out of his backpack and picks up Mira. He intends to dress her before pushing her through the portal but Hamish opens the door leading to the Blue Dragon and is confronted by a Gorgon. Zanak just hurls the dress and her possessions through the portal with Mira. At least she is safe now.

The room we are in has four doors, one on each wall. The West one is now open and in the room we can see the gorgon guarding the blue dragon, which is suspended in a shimmering tower of light. The east door opens and a demon steps through casting a blinding flash of light. Only Falco, Hamish and Keshah resist it. Hamish strikes the gorgon with his polymorph dagger but the creature resists the transformation to human. Instead it stares into Hamish’s eyes and turns him to stone. Keshah, who was standing next to the door, manages to resist the gorgons stare and kills it with a single blow.

Dwork swings wildly towards the demon but misses. The demon retaliates but there is no apparent effect on Dwork.

Inexplicably Garrick also casts a flash of light with the end result that now Falco and Keshah are also blind. Falco is very upset with Garrick and his attempt to shadow hole the demon fails.

The demon strikes Dwork twice and finally stuns him. Garrick manages to avoid a few hits and gets a few good blows in retaliation.

Meantime Keshah has been dragging the petrified Hamish back to the portal and pushes him through. Zanak has moved in to the west room and has picked up the gorgon body and used it to batter the blue dragon from the tower of light. The blue dragon races back to the portal and darts through.

The group starts retreating through the portal as quickly as they can. Garrick and Keshah hold up the rear and fight the demon and the shadowy shapes behind it. Garrick knocks the demon unconscious and while he engages the shadows Keshah picks up the demon and hurls it through the portal. The shadows seem to be casting blackfire but Garrick and Keshah resist each time. They finally make it through the portal and Zanaks lizard closes it before the shadows can come through.

Scaring the Natives

Unbeknownst to us there were some natives around in the ruins when we stepped through to Devor’s estate. They look warily at the portal and in only moments a naked woman is hurled into their midst, closely followed by a pretty dress. Being barbarians they approach and begin poking the naked female to see if she is alive. If so she must be a present from the barbarian gods. Next a stone statue of a demon appears through the portal. It bounces on the soft ground but doesn’t break. Startled they step back, wondering what the gods have in store for them.

Falco steps through and sees the handful of natives. They don’t appear too aggressive so he attempts to talk to them, gesturing at them in a non threatening manner.

The barbarians look up from the naked woman and the stone demon to see a real live one appear. It barks at them and gestures wildly. They think “the gods aren’t happy with us being here” and they turn tail and run away, keeping an eye out to see if they are being hunted down. All they see is more demons coming through the portal. They run even faster and spread tales of the coming invasion to their tribesmen.

Into the Mausoleum

Plum and Zanak heal Mira. Zanak hypnotises Mira to remove the implanted impulses to behave like a sex slave, much to Dworks irritation. Zanak also heals the parties blindness while Keshah strips and searches the demon. Garrisk casts something that switches the stone effect from Hamish to the captured Demon. Very handy…

Zanaks lizard is quite tired after following so many portals and needs a rest for a few hours. Fortunately Li Pao says the bowl and Blue Dragon are back to normal and are quite capable of transporting us to the next destination.

Li Pao transports us to within 3 miles of the mausoleum. We find ourselves in a city park. Everything around us is dead. This really has the feel of a Necromancer haven. We don’t fancy walking through this dreaded place and use the bowl again to get us only 50 feet away from the right building.

There is a fence surrounding the mausoleum. It is made of red metal and stands about 8 foot tall. We suspect a lot of the redness is rust. Nothing about the area seems very sturdy.

There are 20 zombies patrolling the mausoleum ground, if you can call aimlessly stumbling around patrolling. Elenna casts invisibility on us all and we sneak around to the back gate. For once we have decided the better part of valour is to be unseen and unengaged in combat. Dwork feels a bit restless (he can see people to bash with his glaive) and Mira is still concerned about her lack of stealthiness.

Falco casts a tunnel of light to safeguard us from any zombies that come too close so we can get from the gate to the back door of the mausoleum. Of course the back door is warded with a summoning spell, but Mira shows her true worthiness to be a member of the party by pulling out a wand of necromantic special counters. Dwork is impressed, although we suspect he is still seeing her naked.

We open the back door and step in. There don’t appear to be any traps but there is a separate room in the centre. It is completely dark inside. Keshah gives his sticks of light to Falco so the interior can be DA’ed. Inside the room is a pedestal with a white bottle. It is made of kaylan clay and is inscribed with patterns Kai Wren instantly recognizes as the bottle he gave to Vliss. In the room there are several shadow panthers. Kai Wren warns us that they can sense life in their darkened surroundings and have a talent for causing grievous harm.

Elena steps up to the mark and uses Telekinesis to lift the bottle and float it towards us.

Instantly the blackness from the room explodes out to fill the rest of the mausoleum. We can hear the panthers stalking forward, getting set to rip our throats out. Zanak nearly wets his pants as a shadowy form leaps at him.

Falco uses something to cast a blinding light at a very high level which dispels the shadow panthers darkened environment. Instantly the panthers melt away. Zanak is somewhat relieved and resolves not to mention his near mishap.

There is no noise from outside indicating we have been detected yet so Kai Wren gets us all into the bottle. You would have thought we would take it somewhere safe but apparently not…

Inside we see a mansion nestled in the centre of a lovely spring valley. We are surprised by Vliss’s sense of taste in her environment. We had assumed since she is the big baddy she would have a castle with huge fortifications instead of a nice safe looking place.

Li Pao scrys a bit and locates the vault on the far side of the mansion next to the magnolia gardens. There are some humanoid looking guards but they are really constructs as we can see the sunlight glinting off them.

We planned to sneak across the valley but Mira is still to noisy so we opt to hop in Kai Wrens bottle again and have Falco fly over to the upper levels in his bird form, holding the bottle securely. He does this but lands on a balcony on the wrong side of the house. The balcony and the door seem safe and unwarded. This is all beginning to be a bit easy.

We all come out of the bottle in what looks like a guest bedroom. It is quite sumptuous and is easily the best looking room Zanak has ever seen. Vliss might be a baddy but she sure has good taste in furnishings.

We sneak out of the room and down the hallway to the far end and slip into another room, all without incident. Again this seems too easy.

We decide to loosen the floorboards and drop into the vaulted area but to our surprise the vault is made of solid chi. There is no way we are getting in except through the vault door, which needs to be accessed from the ground level near the gardens.

Into the Vault

After a few moments of checking out the area we all drop down to the garden and examine the door. The Magnolia garden is surrounded by 10 foot high stone walls with three solid wooden gates.

While Keshah divinates the vault door we all stand guard in the garden. Everytime Keshah tries to divinate something we get attacked so we are on full alert. Thirty minutes pass and we still appear to be unnoticed. We all have a strong sense of unease as this is way too easy.

The divination reveals the door shields teleportation spells going in and makes scrying a bit fuzzy. The warding of the door is an E&E spell. Elenna counterspells it with ease. Dwork searches for traps but finds nothing. Falco tries also and detects something but he can’t be sure where or what it is. After some debate Keshah steps forward and opens the door. We all shield ourselves form the expected explosion but nothing happens. Too easy !!!

The room is 70 feet wide and 60 feet deep. There are paintings hanging on the walls of the same sort of garish, violent battle scenes as in the main building. There is a 4 foot high curved shelf in an arc shape near the back of the room. We can see 9 bottles and 2 bowls.

There are 2 stag beetles guarding the room. They stand about 8 feet tall and have 4 arms, each holding a katana. To an inexperienced Zanak they would look like a popular cartoon on Alusia called “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” but they are obviously not the friendly type. The battle is over before the guards can actually do anything. Falco shadow holes one. The other is assaulted by Hamish (Harm Entity), Keshah (smacks it really hard) and Mira, who gets in the killing blow.

Keshah uses true sight to examine the bottles and the room. The bottles have illusions on them, as does the back wall. Falco is getting a bit itchy and says we should leave as this is obviously a trap. The group ponders this for a moment. Dwork keeps an eye on the garden gates from near the vault entrance. Zanak and Keshah take the initiative and stride forward towards the shelf and the rear of the room.

Tuvoones Challenge

Suddenly the illusions are dispelled and we can see the room has doubled in length. There is another shelf at the rear with only a handful of bottles left on it. There is a large wooden chest on the floor, from which Kai Wren can feel his person chi emanating. Standing over the chest is Tuvoone. Mira howls in anguish and reaches into her pack for an item. There are 4 more stag beetles, 45 miniature unicorns (which Kai Wren identifies are mericorns) and 30 innocuous looking bubbles.

Tuvoone speaks in a commanding voice before the rest of can react. He demands Kai Wren face him in single combat. Kai Wren holds us back while he engages Tuvoone in some debate.

Tuvoone scoffs at the observation that a challenge would be unfair with Kai Wren in a human state and without his demon powers, particularly since Tuvoone has a spirit sword. He laughs maniacally as he says his mother asked him to remove the bottles and leave the vault before Kai Wren got there, but he just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to slay someone who had killed a god.

This exchange took only a few seconds, which seems to have been long enough for Dwork, as he unleashes a fireball at Tuvoone and the creatures around him. He manages to hit Tuvoone, 2 stag beetles and kills 5 of the mericorns. The rest of the mericorns take offense at this and all target Dwork with energy blasts from their horns.

Hamish casts a spell at Tuvoone but it has no effect as it is absorbed by one of the bubbles. It looks like these bubbles are a form of anti-magic and can absorb any single target spell aimed at Tuvoone.

The 4 beetles start coming towards us. Keshah creates a zombie from the first beetle Mira had killed and sends him to attack. Garrick throws a greek fire grenade at a beetle, knocking it back a bit and roasting some more of the mericorns.

Tuvoone teleports to directly in front of Kai Wren and strikes a surprise blow against him. One of Kai Wrens images is destroyed. Thanks Garrick!

Falco casts blackfire on Tuvoone, Keshah (who Falco knows can resist it), some of the beetles and a bunch of the mericorns. Dwork releases his Jaguar again and sends it after the mericorns to wreck some havoc.

Tuvoone seems a bit surprised not to have killed Kai Wren outright on his first strike and by the damage he is taking from some fire spells. Zanak heads towards the door to be able to summon some Dire Wolves (he has been dying to do this all the adventure) but calls out that the vault is now hanging in a sideways dimension. Basically the vault is floating in a starry void on its own.

Mira activates the wand she got from her pack and a devastating blast of Dragonfire erupts across the room, engulfing Tuvoone and a good portion of his troops. Tuvoone manages to resist but this gives Kai Wren the opening he needs to thrust his sword up through Tuvoones smoky legs and into his unprotected torso. Tuvoone howls in pain as Kai Wren twists the blade.

Keshah gets a solid blow against Tuvoone. Tuvoone ignores him and stabs his spirit sword into Kai Wrens shoulder, forcing Kai Wren to stagger backwards and drop his own sword. The spirit sword doesn’t kill him as he is mostly human at the moment.

Mira takes the opportunity to engage Tuvoone and in an enraged battle frenzy she strikes him with all her might. She does a fair bit of damage but Tuvoones armour is enchanted and sends a devastating bolt of energy coursing through her. She staggers back.

Garrick and Keshah get an attack in each and avoid the armours effects. Keshahs blow is enough to kill Tuvoone. The look of horror and surprise in his eyes is mirrored by Miras scream “NO ! I wanted to kill him !”.

The rest of the guards are easily dispatched once they see their leader fall.

Zanak takes a few moments to heal Kai Wren and Dworks jaguar.

Restoring Kai Wren

Li Pao starts his ritual to move Kai Wrens chi back from the bottles and bowls into Kai Wren. These were all found in the wooden chest. While waiting Kai Wren examines the vault and the space outside. It is very clear this is a trap designed by a god and no normal means of escape will suffice. Even banishing will get us out, much to Keshahs disappointment.

We attempt to talk to Tuvoone’s spirit (it can’t escape either) and we ascertain this trap is why Vliss told Tuvoone to pack up everything and leave. Even if Tuvoone had survived he didn’t have any means to escape either.

When Li Pao finishes the ritual and Kai Wren confirms he is back to full strength, we continue discussing options of escape. After a while Kai Wren says he has a way out. For the last 1000 years he has been working on a bottle which can grant wishes. Luckily for us this bottle is in the vault. It is orange and blue and slightly misshapen. Dwork and Keshah want to know if it will grant them wishes. Kai Wren informs them it takes many centuries to learn to control the bottles powers. Dwork in particular is disappointed as he gives Mira and Elenna some sidelong lusty glances.

Kai Wren says he can get three wishes. The first is to escape this sideways universe, the second is to change the chi on the demon realms, and the third is reserved for an emergency. Changing the chi on the demon realm should enable the demons to become as powerful as if they were on the god realm, without the need of another realm spanning war. This should enable the future offspring to be fully powered, unlike the current children which often deform into hedge demons. He believes if he can crush the rebellion he can convince the remaining demons to follow his plan. For this he will need to gather some allies and engage Vliss’s army.

We all hold hands as Kai Wren uses his first wish.

16th of Thaw – The Final Battle

Crushing the Rebellion

We reappear in the Towers of Lite where the Demon of Lite resides. The towers and spires are stunning in their architectural designs. They all shine with an inner light which sooths and calms us. This is a very high mana area.

Kai Wren and Lite move off to a separate room to discuss the battle strategy. We are escorted to the main dining hall and fed a sumptuous meal. After several hours even Dwork is full. We are then escorted to the living room where we take our time to recover from the best meal we have had in ages. After a few more hours Kai Wren and Lite return. They have discovered the staging point for the rebellion. It is under the Origin Park where we were attacked when going through the demon portal. There is an underground amphitheatre hidden beneath the rostrum.

Vliss is inside a bottle having a meeting with some other demons. Kai Wren can seal the bottle, keeping her trapped while we deal with the rebellious troops.

We decide to help Kai Wren and we quickly gather more allies like Seven Fingers and Spilling Moonbeams. Spilling Moonbeams has been with her father since she battled Tuvoone what seems like an age ago but was only a matter of days. She has been a double agent for her father and Kai Wren for some time and is thrilled to finally get into the battle.

We end up with a small band of about 30 beings when we get to the Origin Park. Kai Wren uses an amplified voice and demands the immediate surrender of the rebellion. Of course his demand is met by a stony silence till the rebellious troops emerge and commit to the battle. There are 5 strong looking demons, some temple dogs, 12 Fu Dogs and 20 sheep with what looks like acid dripping from their fangs. 5 gods emerge too. They are Moxabanshy, Wenobee, Zvichy, SkyWamish, and an unknown god with a boar head.

Kai Wren is assaulted by a very strong and menacing looking demon.

Our group is attacked by SkyWamish.

Hamish survives the first blow but finds his bones feel much weaker. Dwork gets hit by a lightning bolt and flies backwards, lying stunned on the ground. Falco and Elenna focus on the other Fu dogs approaching us and either shadow hole them or slow them. Garrick tries several times to hit SkyWamish and finally gets in a hit. The bolt of lightning from the god is reflected back towards SkyWamish but it bounces off him and hits Hamish. Hamish dies.

Garrick gets another good hit on the god and this time the lightning bolt reflects and hits Dwork, who still hasn’t come out of stun from the first bolt. SkyWamish is receiving more damage than he expected from a group of mere mortals and counters with a devastating spinning attack with his enchanted katanas. Luckily for us all he misses everyone, proving even gods can have bad days.

Zanak, being quite useless when confronted with a God, glances around and sees our allies are outnumbered and on the verge of succumbing. In a brilliant flash all our enemies disappear. Kai Wren has used his third reserved wish to banish his opponents to the god realm, where no doubt the elder gods will be somewhat unimpressed by the treachery the younger gods and demons have been participating in.

Kai Wren Battles Vliss

Hamish self resurrects. He seems quite pleased with himself as all the death curses and other problems he has faced for the last few weeks are now gone.

Kai Wren and his fellow demon allies summon as many demons as they can to the park and then he opens the bottle Vliss was trapped in. He makes the offer of using his last wish to fix the chi in the demon realm, thus negating the need to invade the god realm and the associated war that will come from that. He also points out he thinks the demons are a much more structured race now that they have been living on the demon realm and the wonders they have achieved while being here. They have an hour to think this through. Finally he demands to fight Vliss in a challenge, regardless of the outcome of their vote.

Time passes very quickly as the group recuperates from the battle with SkyWamish. The demons come back with a resounding 75% in favour of Kai Wrens plan to avert another Demon/God war. They chant for him to be their leader but he declines, saying he wants to be alone for a while after today.

Vliss strides forward and accepts his challenge. Instantly they engage in the most ferocious battle Zanak has ever witnessed. Vliss is a master in most combat skills but a little weaker in her magic capabilities, while Kai Wren is a master of Magic and a bit weaker in his combat skills. The dance of death they engage in is actually a visual feast of lights and energy and twirling bodies. We are hard pressed to keep up with the blows and counter strikes.

The demons watch with a battle hardened fervour. This is a fight to the death and the victor will be respected in the ages old manner of the demon race. Even the loser will be remembered fondly for this is a battle among titans.

Eventually Vliss makes a mistakes and shape changes to avoid a killing strike from Kai Wren. She drops her sword and Kai Wren encases the spirit sword in Ice.

Vliss realises she has little hope of delivering a killing blow without her spirit sword but fights on to the end of her abilities. Finally she runs out of chi and shape changes to her favourite form of a 14 year old girl.

Vliss looks deeply into Kai Wrens eyes and begs him to kill her quickly, as is her right in the demon challenge. Kai Wren smiles fondly at her and quick as a flash spins around and delivers the final killing blow.

Dworks Little Problem

Vliss’s allies bow down to Kai Wren and accept his offer of peace.

After a quickly assembled feast Kai Wren pulls our group aside and offers us a choice of reward. We can either have a “bag of holding” fashioned by Kai Wren, or he will pay Seven Fingers to make us each a magical piece of armour or a weapon. Most of us voice an opinion of some new armour but a few hold their tongues till later.

Plum takes Dwork aside and offers to cure his “erectile” problem. After a moment of soul searching Dwork agrees and they move aside for a “nice drink of tea”.