Mists of Cariele

Chapter 23: Deja Vue

With multiple events set to transpire soon – and Mossfall Keep's less fortunate residents in danger of burning alive due to the Cambion's fires – the protagonists divided to conquer.

Harlan, Tristan, Qadira, and Tiegan met up at the spice shop.  Finding it empty but awaiting refugees to escape via the tunnel, they proceeded to loot the place for items.  Harlan, keeping watch outside, noticed the two mercenaries from the tavern approaching the spice shop, loaded with spoils from the tavern.  Extorting some coin and booze, Harlan informed the group that they were clear to use the tunnel.  Afterwards, he waited and watched, hoping to see the blacksmith and the dwarves.

Strogar, meanwhile, engaged in a noble and foolhardy assault on the slave master keeping the slaves' pens locked.  Armed with just a short sword, he attempted to position the slave master in a way to put the slave keys vulnerable.  Taking multiple blows, he persisted in his attempts…until the slave master was decapitated by a great axe swung with force.  Turning around, he saw the armored blacksmith behind him, motioning to him to help unlock the slave pens.  With the slaves being rescued, Strogar gave her directions to the spice shop and headed to the east gate to find Orvo.

Orvo headed to the east gate to meet up with the mercenary captain and the freed captives.  While waiting for them to arrive, he noticed the townsfolk moving in disarray – and no guards in site to keep order.  Taking charge, he forcefully directed the disorientated townsfolk to meet outside the east gate.

Strogar met up with Orvo, and was both impressed and concerned at the over 250 individuals that were following Orvo.  Meeting up with the mercenary and the captives, the other individuals gathered their supplies, and at Orvo's direction raided the markets on the way out.  Before leaving the group to find the slaves, Strogar's predictament became more grave…over 70 more individuals joined the band fleeing Mossfall Keep.

At the spice shop, Harlan was growing impatient and keep himself occupied by looting the shop looking for goodies.  Finding a stone safe in the floor, he enlisted Tristan's help in cracking it open.  Tristan took a massive swing on the safe and connected hard, but quickly realized that with the magic of the warhammer drained, the alchemical silver weapon was broken by the strike.  As he pondered his broken weapon, Qadira stepped in and adeptly disarmed the lock and opened the safe, taking the sole sealed parchment scroll as the loot.  

The blacksmith and a column of 75 slaves – mostly human, with some elven females – arrived at the spice shop.  Leading them through the tunnel, Harlan lingered a few minutes more for the dwarves, but only Cirian arrived with a blooded cloth tabard in his hands.  Writing off the dwarves as survivors, Harlan left through the tunnel.

As the band of slaves left, they met up with Orvo's band of refugees.  The large entourage left the eerily quiet yet brightly burning Mossfall Keep behind them, and made their way to the Eventide.  Along the way, they ran into a disconcerting site: Malec's undead army was on the march.

Parlaying with Adom and 3 Skeletal Champions, the protagonists bargained for safe passage and provisions, which Adom graciously granted as part of their alliance.  As the band encamped the next evening, a generous supply train was delivered by Malec's forces.  Keeping the undead aspect of their supplies a secret, the protagonists distributed the food to the refugees and settled in for a long evening.

With the group relatively safe – oddly enough, secure enough in their undead garrison that the watch was minimal – the protagonists sat around a fire…and began asking each other questions trying to figure out who was who and what was what.  As the eyes fell on him, Strogar began regaling them of tales of the early days of Eventide, the rise of Pavon, the bloodlines of Pyrick and Pavon, the tragic history of Jem and Jewel, Rand's history, and what he knew of Malec.

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Chapter 22: Dancing with the Dark, an Encore

As the party convened in the tavern, they dealt with a series of events.

 

As the party, sans Tristan, met outside to discuss the situation with Pavon, Harlan took Strogar to a side alley for healing.  The healing didn’t go unnoticed, causing Orvo to bribe 2 mercenaries that noticed something strange to leave.  They took the gold, and promptly went into the tavern for drinks, but the party was able to contact Pavon. 

 

After explaining the details to Pavon, Pavon insisted that they get the deal in writing from Adom, but that the terms are acceptable.  The party was disgusted by Pavon’s decision, and kept asking for what happened with the elves, but the answer was deflected until they returned to Eventide.  They returned into the tavern to relay the information to Adom sans Harlan, who left to head to the market and blacksmith.  Adom agreed and provided the treaty immediately.  Orvo reviewed it, and find it full of legalese but ultimately agreed it covered what was discussed.  As Adom left, he dropped a bombshell on the party: the slaves in the slave pen were due to be slaughtered at midnight as part of the festival.

 

Strogar became incensed at this information.  He became further enraged when Tristan perplexedly approached, stating that some fellow named Rand let slip that another of his kind was being held in the dungeons.  As Strogar quivered in rage, Tristan insisted that they rescue the lady, while Qadira mentioned they ran into Rand in the library assisting Meela, Jaromir, and Emilia.  As the party was paying attention to Strogar, trying to calm him down, Qadira noticed Tristan acting strangely.  Upon inquiring, Tristan was stating that he was heading some voice, either mocking him or inquiring with him for help .  Tristan eventually found the source – a bat hovering in the shadows – and took off following it, with Qadira in tow.  Strogar and Orvo left to find Harlan, while Tiegan left to prepare the spice shop for a hot exit.

 

Orvo and Strogar met up with Harlan, who brought ill tidings: he was able to strike a deal with the blacksmith, Peter, to defect if they rescue a child from the dungeon in the next 2 hours.  Strogar and Orvo informed him of the issue with the slave pens, and they agreed to head to the barracks and infiltrate the dungeon first.   When they arrived, they found a battle erupting throughout the barracks between the 2 factions of Five Peaks mercenaries.  Throughout the battle, they noticed that one faction – the mercenaries from Harlan’s home province of Thasbryn – had disguised Cambions on their side, but waded into the battle on Thasbryn’s side.  The leader of the Gorge faction slipped away to barricade the entrance to the dungeon, but the Gorge faction eventually surrendered, only to get slaughtered.  The Thasbryn mercenaries and the Cambions proceeded to feast on the dead, causing Strogar to get exceptionally queasy but the 3 of them ultimately went to investigate the dungeon.

 

Tristan and Qadira followed the bat, eventually to the library.  The bat, when they arrived, began acting strangely and flew off, causing Tristan no matter of confusion.  When they arrived, they find the library in flames.  They were able to bring out the bodies of Meela, who was dead from a stab wound and smoke inhalation, and Emilia, wounded but still alive.  As Tristan dealt with a reanimating Meela, Qadira healed Emilia and inquired what happened.  Discovering that the assistant, Rand, wounded both of them and escaped with an unconscious Jaromir and the notes regarding Cariliean lineages, magical artifacts of Cariele, and the Roele campaign 500 years ago, Tristan and Qadira made their way to the barracks to rescue Tristan’s jailed individual. 

 

As they made their way to the barracks, they noticed fires were popping up across the town, being set by Cambions immune to the flames and indiscriminating murdering any in their way.  When they arrived, with 3 mercenaries running past them, they come across the disgusting ritual being done in the barracks, and a quarreling Orvo and Strogar and Harlan.  Orvo asked for Tristan’s help with lifting a portcullis and dealing with a barricaded mercenary, screaming about not letting any of them in and refusing to let the prisoners be sacrificed, guilty or not.

 

Tristan attempted to recruit the Cambions to help with the portcullis, but ended up attempting to threaten them and being immediately attacked by the Cambions.  As Harlan, Strogar, and Qadira attended Tristan, Orvo struck a deal with the mercenary captain:  she was taking the 2 prisoners, a human child and a battered and bloodied humanoid female, and would meet him outside the eastern wall in 30 minutes.  Orvo headed up the steps, forcefully attempting to push them outside the barracks before the Cambions noticed the barred gate and missing prisoners. 

 

As they were leaving, Orvo and Qadira noticed a strange feeling in the air, like standing against a massive tide.  Qadira and Strogar both felt spells they had prepared dissipate, and everyone noticed their magical items weaken – Orvo’s wooden armor began to rapidly dry out and decay, his hat of disguise fading, and their potions turning into water.  Looking around, Qadira noticed the faint magical shimmering of a barrier being erected over the keep as flames ravaged the town.  With Tristan, Qadira, and Harlan heading to the spice shop, Strogar and Orvo went separate ways – Strogar to rescue the slaves, and Orvo to leave from the Eastern gate, fighting with his now stiff and decaying armor

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Chapter 21: Unburied Secrets

As the group arrived in Mossfall Keep and investigating the keep only to find it sealed for an impending festival, they immediately divided up to explore other areas of the town, learning different things  that may or may not have been shared.

Harlan immediately left for the well, trying to accomplish Pavon's mission.  When he dropped the poison, magical wards went off.  As he was accosted, he managed to bluff the guards to take him to the blacksmith, Peter.  While there, he discovered Peter was a middle aged female human hailing from FIve Peaks, crafting armor for Mossfall's forces.  She dismissed the guards, and after a brief conversation with Harlan, sent him away.

Strogar left to secure a room at the inn.  While there, he discovered that another Lord Tristan – a hulking yet charming Cambion – was in town, and the town was rife with corruption.  When Tristan and Harlan arrived at the inn, he left with Harlan to discuss the situation, leaving Tristan to talk with his cambion counterpart.

While in the alley, Harlan and Strogar jumped a drunk guard.  Absconding with his gear and taking his female slave with them, they dropped her off on Tristan and left to explore the town.

Tristan, meanwhile, soaked in information from his counterpart, finding out some facts about the inquisition he was unaware of, and questioning his lineage and gifts.  Eventually, Tristan left to explore the markets and attempting to find Strogar and Harlan.

Qadira and Tiegan headed towards the library, and ran into old friends from the expedition – Meela, Amelia,and Jaromir -  and a new friend introduced as Rand.  They caught up on what was happening, and eventually found Jaromir's notes on the undead plague.  After hours of perusal, they discovered the spell was cast by either multiple mages or one really powerful mage, and was a realm spell.  They had a few culprits from the notes: The Eyeless One from the Five Peaks, the Mage of Talinie, the Prince of Tuarhievel, or perhaps the Gorgon himself.

Harlan and Strogar eventually made their way to the mercenary encampment in the barracks, discovering the mercenaries were part of 2 separate groups from the Five Peaks.  Fighting for coin rather than honor or glory, they were ambivalent to Mossfall's failings as long as the gold was good.  After gambling for a bit, they left to explore the town's church, finding it in ruins and not worth exploring in Harlan's estimation.

By 6 pm, everyone met at the tavern to discuss events, plot strategies, and eat a good meal when unexpected events occured. 

Firstly, Orvo, arrived 5 hours after the party, infiltrating the town to check on their progress.  Armed with a Hat of Disguise and a signet ring, Orvo investigated the town as a human, eventually meeting up with the rest of the party at the tavern.  Unwilling to drop his disguise, he offered to buy Strogar from Harlan, much to Strogar's annoyance.

The bantering stopped when a final guest arrived and introduced himself as Adom Silverwick, one time resident of the Eventide and currently serve Lord Malec Elvenspite.  Brushing aside Strogar's glares, Adom offered them, in his words, a golden opportunity: in exchange for allying with Malec against Mossfall in the upcoming battle, the Eventide would be given a 6 month stay of execution from Malec.  They would be allowed to leave if they wanted, and the abandoned Eventide would be raised to the ground.  Alternatively, if Pavon would agree to leading a colonization effort in the Lost Realm, Malec would provide support for the endeavor as part of a Non-Aggression pact.  

With Adom dropped several bits of interesting information – Strogar's past betrayal and alliance with Malec costing him a finger, Jem being Malec's daughter and Jewel Malec's wife, Strogar and Orvo's role in the death of Jem's husband, and hints of Pavon's treatment of the elves being a subterfuge – Adom departed, leaving the individuals to discuss amongst themselves.  As a parting gift, he gave them a magical scroll of Whispering Wind to discuss with Pavon, and a 2 hour window to respond to his offer.

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Chapter 20: Forging Old Paths Anew

As Tristan found himself on top of a mountain peak, Tiegan reappeared in town. 

 

Tiegan informed them of very little, with Strogar reasoning that they were probably having a meeting in the catacombs and moved on with his life.  Shortly later, it was noticed that a column of magical energy struck the peak of a mountain to the south of Eventide and an object plummeted from the mountaintop.  Investigating what transpired led to Strogar, Qadira, and Tiegan meeting up with a dazed and disorientated Tristan.  Brushing off concerns, Tristan made his way back to the Eventide with Tiegan peppering him with questions whilst Strogar and Qadira examined the impact site.  Upon discovering faint transmutation magic auras rapidly diminishing, they returned to town.

 

After a night of rest in the town, they were summoned by Pavon the next morning.  Upon arriving, they were tasked with implementing the infiltration of Mossfall Hold.  Given an array of disguises to choose from, Harlan and Strogar dressed as slaves, Qadira and Tiegan as merchants, and Tristan as a Knight-Commander.  Leaving their gear behind and taking with them a magical item to transport small goods to the Eventide from Mossfall Hold that would last about a week, they made their final preparations.

 

With Strogar reluctantly contemplating the vial of poison given to him by Pavon, Tristan nursing a disregard for Pavon but clearly unsettled, and the two ladies acclimating to their disguise, Harlan left for a final drink with Vargen.  As he left Vargen, he was offhandedly asked to “take care of the blacksmith” of Mossfall Hold named “Peter”

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Chapter 19: A Most Grievous Past

As the protagonists dealt with the respective issues, there were a few days of calm in a relatively stormy winter.  Some took advantage of the situation, but it did not bode well for everyone.

 

Strogar led the 3 children east towards Eventide, focused on avoiding roaming undead, Malec’s undead legion, or Mossfall’s troops.  He eventually met up with Orvo, heading west from the Eventide to rescue the children.  After trading stories of what happened after Derek’s spell finished, they made their way East.  Orvo filled in Strogar on the elves arrival and the suspicious lack of any sounds, animals, or enemies along the road.  Strogar, keeping an eye on the children to prevent them lighting yet another bonfire, didn’t have much to inform Orvo on besides the result of the spell seemed to make Derek – whom Strogar has insisted was undead – a member of the living once more.

 

Meanwhile, the protagonists in the town were dealing with the disappearance in a variety of ways.  Tiegan immediately disappeared, looking for answers to the missing elves on her own.  Qadira attempted to track down Novra and either Jem or Jewel, but found their rooms locked and their presence absent, along with Pavon, and everyone being cagey.  Harlan spent his time with Vargen, forging his first bit of armorsmithing work – his very own buckler.  Tristan spent his time brooding and simmering over his treatment at the hands of Pyrick and Pavon, and contemplated leaving and waiting it out on his own. On the 3rd day of the Elves disappearance, Tristan’s time in the Eventide got markedly worse.

 

As Harlan showed Tristan his armor’s new ability – he could summon it quickly, but at a physical cost – Tristan used his Lay on Hands ability to heal Harlan…and it didn’t work.  Panicked, he spent the rest of the day in prayer.  That evening, during his prayer, he heard the voice of Strogar – whom he presumed dead – inquiring what he was doing.  Thinking it was a test from Haelyn, he lashed out at Strogar…who promptly punched him to prove he was real.

 

The resulting brawl brought everyone to the courtyard.  Cooler heads prevailed, but they were approached by guards and a priest of Haelyn.  Stroger demanded an audience with Pyrick, and was pointed to the barracks. Tristan was further incensed by their disregard of him and referring to him as “The Apostate”, and stormed off towards the stables.  As Tristan went to the stables and Strogar to the barracks, Harlan and Qadira followed Strogar to ask some questions of their own, and Orvo went with Tristan.

 

In Strogar’s meeting with Pyrick and Wickham, they discussed the situation with Derek, the lack of enemies or animals to the west, and the situation with the children.  As Strogar and Qadira left to round up the children and bring them to the temple per Pyrick’s orders, Harlan stuck behind to discuss the assault on Mossfall Hold with Wickham.  Tristan, meanwhile, was being badgered with questions by Orvo.  Finding his temper thin, he snapped at Orvo to shut up and leave…and Orvo stopped midsentence, turned, and left.

 

As Strogar and Qadira rounded the corner, they saw a silent Orvo being stopped by a somewhat frantic Tristan but paid it no heed and continued to the inn.  As they did, all but Harlan felt a sudden vacuum and immediate pressure wash across the Eventide.  Qadira was staggered and disorientated, with a slight trickle of blood from her nose as she felt a powerful surge of magic that she could see a physical manifestation of out in the southern mountains.  Strogar and Orvo suddenly were overcome by the smells of a spring forest – trees, brushes, blossoming flowers, and crisp water.  Harlan was oblivious to the event, but saw Pyrick tense up and immediately start muttering words that, while unintelligible to Harlan, sent vibrations through his body that only stopped by Pyrick left the barracks towards the church.  Tristan, meanwhile, felt an overwhelming burst of pain as his body reacted, with his skin burning and cuts appearing, in full view of a confused Orvo. 

 

Strogar immediately headed to the church, remembering the orb of energy he was carrying from the tomb and placed it on the altar.  Qadira left to find Orvo, and came across him standing bewildered over a cowering Tristan wondering why his healing spell didn’t work.  Qadira immediately used the wand Tristan gave her to heal some of his wounds.  Harlan, after his discussions with Wickham concluded, headed to the inn and was thoroughly confused to find a wounded and ill-kempt Tristan huddling against the side of the inn.

 

Sending Qadira along her way to meet with Strogar at the church, Harlan took Tristan to Vargen and proceeded to share some booze with him and to hear Tristan spill his somewhat horrific upbringing with Harlan and Vargen.  Qadira walked into the church to see Pyrick touch the orb on the altar and see it disappear – and physically feel the church getting warmer.  Strogar and Qadira were dispatched to bring the children to the church by Pyrick before he sat down, physically exhausted yet again.  Strogar noted Tristan spilling his guts to somewhat horrified Harlan and a blasé Vargen over some cups, and made his way to the Inn. 

 

Once Strogar arrived at the inn, he suddenly realized the import of them sharing a cup, and pawned the kids off to Qadira and he double timed it to the blacksmith to try and score some booze.  While there, he made a quip to Tristan about the confessional being in the church, only to have Tristan throw his holy symbol at Strogar, causing Harlan to take note and debate cutting him off.  Tristan, meanwhile, was lustily singing ribald campfire ballads that Harlan taught him, with a melodic voice but with a pitch and timbre more appropriate to a church chant. Qadira guided the kids to the church, and found Pavon exiting the catacombs, looking weary and exhausted, asking to find Tristan.  As she pointed the way to the blacksmith, Pavon made his way over to the blacksmith group and directly approached Tristan.  As Strogar and Harlan made a joke about Pavon’s late arrival, Pavon touched Tristan and discharged a spell of some sort, causing him to disappear.

 

As Harlan and Strogar looked at Pavon for explanations, Tristan finished his chanting ballad and suddenly felt cold.  Looking around, he found himself in a crumbling tower on a mountain peak, with a vista for miles in any direction.  Seeing some holy symbols of Haelyn carved into the structure, he was startled by the site of an elderly human-looking male, wearing clerical vestments of Haelyn, inquiring to his name.

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Chapter 18: Even Good Men Act Poorly
Season 1

As Derek began casting a spell from a scroll hidden in the antechamber of Cailen Dosiere, demons began teleporting into the tomb, looking to raid, pillage, and kill.

A pitch battle ensued, with the demons getting the better hand.  As Strogar engaged fruitlessly with Derek, Derek continued his incantations.  Qadira identified the spell he was casting and that it was taking longer than normal, but did not have the time to relay the information.  Meanwhile, Strogar and Tristan had to deal with hearing odd noises, like the very earth and wind and storms were speaking in the room.

As the protagonists began to falter, Derek finished his spell.  The resulting spell banished all but 2 demons from the tomb, and sent all but Strogar back to their rooms in the Eventide fully healed.  Strogar and a weakened Derek destroyed the remaining demons, but as Strogar began casting a spell to try to help Derek – who had fallen to his knees coughing up blood – Derek managed to gain control of himself and magicked himself away to parts unknown.  With little recourse, Strogar left the tomb, locking it behind him, and heading north to take the 3 children to Eventide with him.

At the Eventide, the rest of the protagonists woke up disorientated.  As Qadira and Tiegan examined the town, they noticed the populace was on edge and restless.  Tristan, upon emerging from his room, noticed the guards at the gate were in defensive formation and on guard.  Harlan, meeting with Pavon, found out that the elves were encamped outside Eventide, and first contact did not go well.  Orvo woke up, and rolled over, thinking he was sleeping…until he bolted awake, realizing the promise made to the children.

As Harlan went to parlay with the elves, Tristan went to question the priest of Haelyn that was supposedly injured.  Tristan's questioning did not go well, and in a fit of anger he attempted to use a charm spell on the cleric to make him more pliant.  As the spell failed – and was noticed – Pyrick was summoned to question Tristan.  Upon stating that he did not know if Tristan was under some sort of compulsion, he ordered his guards to keep Tristan under observation.  Tristan vehemently rejected the request, and outright questioned Pyrick's authority, causing tensions to spike and ultimately leading to his house arrest.  Harlan left to meet with the elves, and after some tense negotiations offered to speak with Pavon on their behalf if they lowered their weapons.  After some initial hesitation, half the elven archers complied.

As Harlan reentered the city, Orvo bolted out.  Briefly stopping to hand out some goodberries, Orvo left to go rescue the children left in the woods.  Teigan and Qadira discussed the situation with Harlan, and went with him to talk to Pavon.

The meeting with Pavon did not go well.  Pavon expressed a heavy reluctance to invite elves that came to Cariele with a mission to kill any human found into the Eventide despite their heavy losses, but eventually agreed to meet with the Elven Leader provided he entered the city alone to discuss terms.  Upon Harlan leaving to give the message and promptly returning with a negative elven response, Pavon shocked Tiegan and Qadira with his plan to let the elves suffer longer to break their pride and bring them to the table.

Harlan attempted to question Pavon's leadership, bringing up Galen's residence in the city, but Pavon was unswayed in his stance of keeping the elves at arm's length outside the walls but did concede that the elves' pride would be a barrier that could be solved, offering to reengage the next morning with Tiegan, who was half-elven like himself, as the intermediary.  Harlan left, begrudgingly accepting the news but with a feeling that Pavon was not being entirely honest.

As Tiegan and Qadira tried to talk to Jem and Jewel to no avail, Tristan brooded in his room. Simmering with resentment and dismissal of Pyrick's position, he spent his night in quiet contemplation.  When informed by Qadira of what was happening with the elves, he was uncharacteristically haughty and dismissive and left to brood in peace by Qadira.  Harlan, meanwhile, ruminated with Vargen over some spirits about the situation.  Vargen likened it to a war band that was routed and on the run, only to find their enemies in a poor position.  Vargen asked what Harlan thought would happen, resulting in Harlan stating the weakened enemy would be assaulted rather than forgiven.  Harlan left with that thought on his mind.

The next morning, Harlan went to speak with Pavon, finding Wickham and Pyrick in the war room.  He asked to parlay with the elves again, as it was now morning, in addition to Tiegan and Qadira.  When Pavon gave his blessing, he inquired with Pyrick if Tristan could be of assistance.  After some negotiation, it was determined that Tristan's enforced stay in his room at the inn would be lifted on the condition of an apology.

Harlan discussed with Tristan the condition of his release.  When Tristan balked, Harlan went for a philosophical strike and inquired if Tristan, a paladin of Haelyn, still believed in the rule of law for the good of people.  When Tristan said he did, Harlan explained that Pyrick was the head of the Church of Haelyn, and the lawful order of things was to respect his position.  With an extremely sour expression, Tristan met with Pyrick and the injured priest, growling out 2 apologies that were, in Pyrick's estimation, "barely adequate".  

With Tristan in tow, Harlan left to parlay with the elves.  As he ran into Qadira and Tiegan, they informed him that the elves were gone, with tracks leading south.

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Chapter 17: The Plight of a Good Deed

As the protagonists trekked north and west to rescue some potentially hostile elves, they observed the toll the recent struggles have taken and the unexpected resiliency of the area.   Woods had been clear cut, farms lie fallow, and animals seemingly gone – hunted to extinction or in hiding.   In the midst of the carnage, they noticed that graves were starting to become undisturbed, new plant life from the forest of the neighboring elven realm was taking root, and winter was coming to a seasonal apex as the seasonal cycle headed into spring.  A result of mixed feelings was the absence of free roaming undead – either the spell was waning as Qadira speculated, or the undead were mustered into legions by either Elvenspire or Elvenspite.

 

As they arrived at the Green Heart Grove, their silent elven companion disappeared into the thorny briars tangling up the route to the grove.  Noticing ample spots in the twists and turns in the path were specific spots for traps and murder holes, the protagonists approached cautiously.  As they entered into the grove, they came across a site depressing to some, expected by others.

 

With a few of the remaining non-critically wounded elves holding a pike wall at the opposite entrance, the grove was filled with elves – bodies battered and bruised, spirits seemingly broken.  They went to work helping the wounded as best they could, running into racial headwinds as the leaders of the elves were reluctant to take help from humans and clerics.  After some beratement by Harlan, the leader of the elves parlayed with the party.  Tristan, taking point, was successful – after a very long period of silence and negotiation – to convince the elves to flee to the Eventide.  As the elves packed up – rather quickly, as the smoke and fire being brought by the undead legion was approaching the grove – the protagonists discussed amongst themselves how to evacuate the elves – Tristan wanted to save all the members, Harlan pragmatically recommend leaning the most heavily wounded behind to avoid slowing them down, and the rest of the group silently helping the elves as best they could.

 

With time growing more precious and the party’s disagreement heating up, Galen appeared, burning a hole in the briar patch with flaming spheres with a  direct exit.  As the protagonists shepherded the elves to safety, Galen covered the withdrawal – regrowing the briar walls to make it appear to be a dead end.  As they left, the argument became whether to escort them back to the Eventide or head to the tomb.  As Harlan and Strogar debated the merits of each course, it was suggested to have Galen lead them to the Eventide.  Upon Galen’s suggestion, Tristan drafted a letter explaining the situation and to give the elves safe passage.  As Harlan used the signet ring he acquired from the abandoned Mage Tower, the letter was sealed and Galen departed.  Before they left, both Tristan and Tiegan recognized the seal: it belonged to the Dosiere Family, the Royal Chamberlains of the old Anuirean Empire.

 

As they left to go to the tomb, they encountered more inclement weather as they traveled south – sleet, hard winds, and deplorable conditions – that led them to take shelter at an abandoned cabin.  While there, they discovered the remains of a family and a few empty graves.  Investigating the cellar, they discovered 3 small children – a 12 year old girl and 2 twin 8 year old boys.  Feeding and clothing them, they left them with a few goodberries and water before heading out, promising to return in a few days and for them not to leave the cabin.

 

Arriving at the tomb, Strogar wasted no time in putting the key into the door.  As the doors opened, Qadira and Tiegan both felt the rushing release of magic, momentarily staggering them.  As they approached the main chamber, each of them felt compelled to investigating certain wings of the tomb.  Emerging a few moments later, each had acquired items from their perspective wings that now appeared empty.  Going through the final doors, they came across the main tomb.  Noticing the shattered glass case on the dias, they found themselves viewing a very large portrait of a regal human, bearing the seal of the Dosiere family and wielding a gleaning silver sword that appeared very familiar.  As they pondered what they saw, Derek emerged from the shadows, with items in his hands, politely asking them “what took them so long?”

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Chapter 16: New Journeys, New Problems

As Tristan came face to face with a new arrival in the church – an imposing individual glad in full plate, with a blood red cloak and hood, carrying a shield and a sheathed longsword – he made a poor first impression, stumbling about trying to get his bearings.  As he probed the individual for why he was there, he was simply told to go fetch the 9 fingered dwarf, Strogar.  As he left, he used his paladin ability to detect evil, and was struck by a powerful presence of it standing right in front of him.

 

Tristan ran to the town hall to get Strogar, yelling out for him as he breached the doors to the town hall.  Harlan, noticing the panic but realizing it wasn’t for him, settled back down into his room as Strogar stomped down to the first floor.  As Tristan described the situation, Strogar made his way to the church.

 

As they arrived at the church, Strogar cast a detection of undead spell and approached the individual.  Registering his nature, he dove behind a pew.  Tristan looked on in bewilderment, as Strogar began casting another spell that the newcomer effortlessly countered.  The newcomer, whom Strogar recognized as a familiar presence, bid them to indulge in some ale, bread, and cheese as they discussed business.

 

With the assurance that if they were to be killed, they would be already, Tristan ate some of the fresh bread and cheddar cheese wheel as Strogar drank the entire bottle of ale.  He introduced himself to Tristan as Derek of Seasedge, and he was in fact undead, dropping his illusion of humanity for a brief moment and showing Tristan his skeletal nature.  His proposal was simple, if a bit heavy handed: he knew the consecration of the church was failing due to Pyrick’s spell, and he could help restore it in exchange for Strogar perform a task for him: rob a tomb and break a seal preventing him from acquiring said mysterious item.  While offering them information regarding the fate of the remaining elves after Malec’s crusade – namely, where they would be if they wanted to rescue them – he mentioned the stick to his previous carrot offer: if anything where to happen to him or they crossed him, he would not recharge the effect and would inform Malec of Eventide’s precarious position. 

 

As Tristan looked in horror at the situation they were boxed into, Strogar hesistated but a moment before agreeing to terms with Derek.  As Derek removed an item hidden in the altar and magicked himself away, Strogar left to talk to Pavon about their defenses.  Pavon was a bit distracted, and told Strogar to get Vargen additional help if it’s that important, and if he needed to go on some grand glorious mission he had his blessing.  Strogar woke up Orvo, and sent him to help Vargen before he fell asleep.  As Tristan left the church, he heard a whisper in his ear: “Green Heart Grove”

 

Orvo assisted Vargen into the early hours of the morning, working with the cold iron and mithril to forge the menhirs’ pedastel.  Once it was completed, he enlisted Qadira’s help in activating the magical items.  Qadira, recognizing she was out of her league, tried to get Novra’s help, only for Pavon to tell them she is indisposed.  With much reluctance, she approached Gem and Jewel for assistance.

 

As she worked up the courage to ask Jewel, Jewel walked out of the building and began giving orders: Orvo was to carry the pedestals and put them EXACTLY where she wanted them, and Qadira was to help with the ritual EXACTLY how she was instructed.  After 2 hours, and as dawn was peeking over the horizon, the menhirs were activated.  As Jewel headed back to her room, she instructed both of them, with harsh words spoken in a lilting, melodic tone, to not bother her.

 

With the sun rising, the town stirred to life once more…to the sound of what Strogar noticed were much diminished bells.  Tristan was instructed by Adasil to help with the cooking and serving – shirtless, for sanity reasons – while Harlan spent the morning daydrinking with Vargen, who mysteriously had a bottle of potent and not all that tasty wine under his coat.  As Strogar gathered up the group to make their way to the tomb for Derek’s mission, Tristan spoke with the town resident (in hiding) elf, Galen, and discussed the situation regarding the elves.  Galen instructed Tristan to meet him at the stables in 1 hour.

 

As the hour passed, the protagonists met up at the stables.  As Harlan, Qadira, and Orvo looked on, Tristan and Strogar both pushed for their missions: Head NW and rescue the remaining elves, or head SW and go to the tomb.  As Galen showed up, Strogar relented and the party left town and pivoted north and west: the immediate peril of the elves was deemed more critical than the town’s faded protected against the undead, with only Derek’s word that Malec wouldn’t invade Eventide.

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Chapter 15: Licking Wounds

As the dust settled from the battle, the town of Eventide burned their dead in a Haelynite funeral, barricaded their gates, and retreated to the catacombs to ride out the storm.

 

2 days later, as the storm finally passed, the town came out of the catacombs and began rebuilding their town.  The first few days were spent evaluating the carnage and devastion.  Harlan attempted to help Adasil in getting the Inn up and running, but was chased out of the kitchen and told to go lift something heavy, leading him to spend time with Vargen at the Blacksmith Shop smoking a pipe and watching the druids magically melt the snow around the shop.  Qadira tracked down Jem and Jewel, discovering an Elf residing in one of the unused shops as she observed Jewel’s methods and magical craftsmanship.  Strogar worked with the priests to clear out the snow from a hole in the roof, using his stonecutting skills to fashion a stone pew into a pillar and patch.  Orvo explored the perimeter of the clearing for undead, finding and returning with a fallen standard of the undead general.  Tiegan worked to help provide relief from the cold, frostbite, and lingering battle injuries.  Tristan gathered a posse and headed out on patrol, ensuring no undead were hiding in the snowbanks.

 

After the initial cleanup was completed, raw materials were gathered and major construction began.  Vargen gathered the remaining mithril and the cold iron weapons and forged them into pillars for the menhir stones, Tristan and Harlan went out to begin logging, and the rest helped around town.  The townsfolk took the opportunity to fully settle into the town as well.  Families and single individuals began working with each other and claiming spaces in the building for permanent living quarters. 

 

The druids finished work on the home they were slowly rebuilding, donating it to a group of widows and their orphaned children.  The town hall was refurbished, with Pavon, Wickham, Novra, and Harlan taking residence on the 2nd and 3rd floors.  The second level of the barracks was repurposed for dormitories, and the first floor was converted into a proper barracks and armory for the town’s reduced militia.  The 2nd and 3rd floors of the inn were converted for space for families and less militant-minded folks, with Orvo taking a room on the 3rd floor, Tristan a room on the second, and Adasil a converted room near the kitchen.  The church was restored, with the priests taking up residence in the rooms on the second level and Strogar claiming space in the attic/storage area.  Qadira and Tiegan moved to the Market, repairing and turning the shop stalls into personal rooms and potential market locations.  The druids and a large contingent of individuals preferring the faith of Erik moved into the catacombs and the nascent druid grove set up down there, sleeping in alcoves carved from stone near the grove’s rapidly maturing tree.

 

As the town rested after their endeavors behind mostly secured restored gates, Pavon invited the protagonists to join Novra and Wickham for dinner to discuss future plans.  At dinner, the banner of the general was brought forward, allowing the protagonists to examine it.  With their assistance, Novra managed to piece together what they knew: The banner was that of a vassal lord of the Gorgon’s Crown, it was centuries old based on design drifts, and that remnants of the lord’s personal crest were very similar to that of Malec Elvenspite.  There was disagreement on how to proceed, with some individuals preferring to spread word of Eventide’s victory over the Gorgon Crown’s invasion commander to cement Pavon’s legitimacy as Lord of the province, with others proposing framing Eisar Mossfall as declaring his allegiance to the Gorgon to shatter his support.

 

As they were discussing plans, Pavon informed them of another task:  Wickham’s men were digging a tunnel into Mossfall’s fort, and they were going to raid for supplies.  As Tristan mentioned the innocents in the fort, Pavon took a hard stance: poison the wells and greatly weaken Mossfall’s armies.  As Tristan’s noble views of how battles should be fared clashed with Harlan’s harshly pragmatic view of battles, the protagonists began arguing amongst themselves on dealing with Mossfall: recruiting followers, poisoning soldiers, stealing supplies, or framing them for the most heinous of treasons. Tristan stormed out, and everyone else began filtering back to their new homes to ponder the news.  Harlan stayed behind, and informed Pavon that when the time would come, that he would be Pavon’s man and poison the wells.  Pavon expressed appreciation at the pragmatic approach Harlan held, noting that the dwarf’s newfound faith made his actions less predictably mercenary.

 

Meanwhile, Tristan prayed in the church for guidance.  In the midst of his prayers, he looked up to see the area shrouded in flickering darkness.  Turning around to see if the door was open, he caught site of an armored cleric standing behind him.   As Tristan stared at him, pondering how to proceed, the individual spoke out loud: “My, my, this place has gone to shit, hasn’t it?”

 

To Be Continued….

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Chapter 14: War is a Terrible Thing

As the town came alive at the alarms being rung, perimeters were set up, structures barricaded, and the citizenry armed.  Olvin manned the south gate with 20 soldiers, Pavon the east gate with 30 soldiers, and Wickham the north gate with 20 soldiers.  Groups of boys too young to wield arms took up positions on the watchtower, armed with sling shots and crossbows.  The protagonists took their places in the city – Orvo at the south gate, Harlan and Tristan at the east gate, Strogar at the north gate, and Qadira went to the temple to find Pyrick and the priests. 

 

Shortly after, the undead surged forward.  The towers rained down destruction on the invading undead, thinning their ranks, but were unable to prevent the undead from battering the gates.  As the gates fell, one by one, the battle was joined.  The defenders of the Eventide held their ground for a few moments, but the press of the undead – weakened as they were – overcame the defenses.  All but 4 soldiers at the north gate were killed, 12 were slain at the south gate, and 13 more at the east gate.  As the bodies began to reanimate, Pyrick and the Haelynites made their presence known.

 

With Qadira’s assistance, the priests of Haelyn assisted Pyrick in performing what Qadira recognized as a realm magic spell.  Costing them dearly, Pyrick sent out a wave of positive energy emanating from the church, destroying a large portion of the undead and healing the town’s soldiers.  As the wave subsided, Pyrick collapsed in the church, leading Qadira to venture forth and find Pavon.

 

As the town regrouped, the protagonists noted an ominous site on the hill: a skeletal undead, flanked by a grotesque demon and an inhumanely beautiful creature, were staring at the town…and flying what appeared to be the banner of the Gorgon’s Crown.  As the undead creature began casting a spell, a large horde of demons began materializing east of town, and launched itself at the town.

 

Rallying the troops, Pavon, Olvin, and Wickham prepared to receive the charge at the east gate.  Harlan and Strogar and Qadira added their strength to the barricade, while Orvo vanished into the church and Tristan mysteriously ran to the western gate.  When Tristan arrived, his worst fears were realized: another horde, similar yet composed of different creatures, were charging towards the town from the west.  He leapt from the tower on the west wall, and made his way to the east gate to let them know they were being flanked.

 

As Tristan arrived, the protagonists and ragtag army were bracing for the horde’s impact when suddenly the approaching horde was attacked on both sides.  The horde of devils that Tristan saw began tearing into the demonic horde…and the dark winged angel Strogar made his bargain with soared overhead, raining down death and destruction towards the skeletal commander and his 2 demonic companions.  As the battle was joined by the Eventide soldiers, Strogar made his way to the town hall to find Novra for additional information on what they were facing.  Harlan, Qadira, and Tristan prepared to do battle, when they heard Strogar’s voice from the distance: watch out from behind, and use cold iron!

 

Harlan barely escaped a brutal slice from a tall, thin demonic creature, dripping with caustic ooze and wielding a vicious longspear.  The demon attacked the group, gaining the upperhand until Tristan called out to Haelyn and smited the demon, causing it to teleport away…into the path of Strogar preparing to exit the town hall.  The demon, preoccupied with looking at his surroundings, was attacked and wounded by an enraged Strogar, drawing the attention of Tristan and Harlan to the town hall.  As they joined Strogar in battling the demon, it disappeared from view.

 

As Strogar blindly ran out of the town hall to engage the nearest foe – demon or devil – Tristan headed up the stairs and Harlan made his way back to Qadira….only to find the demon wounding Qadira with his spear.  Harlan engaged the demon carefully, while Strogar madly charged in.  Taking a vicious hit, he used the last of his strength to crack into the demon with his axe, falling unconscious as he did.  Tristan, making his way to the 3rd floor, saw Harlan defending Qadira from the demon, and ran back down the steps. 

 

The demon took one swing at Qadira, dropping her unconscious, and warily engaged with Harlan.  Unbeknownst to Harlan, the demon spotted Novra in the 3rd floor of the town hall.  Recklessly pursuing his quarry, the demon took a hit from Harlan…but teleported up to the third floor to attack Novra.  Tristan, hearing the screams, headed back up the stairs yet again to engage the demon.

 

When he crested the steps, he saw the demon slashing into Novra, running into magical impediments.  He engaged the demon, wounding it as he paid him no heed.  As the demon slashing viciously into Novra, Tristan landed a mightly blow, dissipating the fiend’s corporeal form.  With the demon gone, Tristan attended to Novra while Harlan used the last of his healing potions to heal Strogar and Qadira

 

With the horde’s decimating themselves, both armies began dissipating – the greater fiends began teleporting from the battle on both sides, with the skeletal champion and his demonic retainers fleeing as well.  Strogar managed to catch site of the dark winged angel flying away from the town, south into the mountains.  When he looked around, it would appear most of the town missed her departure or didn’t care to notice.

 

As they rounded up their dead, they gathered them into a pyre outside of town.  They placed the body of Olvin, who died defending a group of the younglings from a scythe wielding demon, on top of the pyre and set it ablaze with a Haelynite funeral.  With the eye of the storm passing and the raging winds and snow coming, they retreated back into town, barricading the gates as best they could and settled back into the catacombs to wait out the storm, battered and weary but still standing.

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