Mists of Cariele

Game 8: Dire Plans for Destiny

As they recuperated from the ambush, Strogar gave Lord Elvenspite the letter from Pavon with his counter offer.  After a few moments, Elvenspite let out a low chuckle and penned a response.  Sending Strogar, Orvo, and Rand back to Eventide as his emissaries, he teleported back to his manor with Wickham and his entourage in tow…along with a grief-stricken Jem Greenleaf.

Back in Eventide, Pavon received Elvenspite's letter and everyone retired for the evening in anticipation for Elvenspite's midnight deadline.  

As noon came around the next day, Strogar stalked around the town looking and lurking, finding Adom to be utterly missing.  Rand helped the loggers acquire mass quantities of wood, and Orvo worked the forge.  After lunch was served, they were summoned to a meeting in the church with Pavon, Norvo, Pyrick, and Olvin.

The contents of Elvenspite's response was read – consisting  of threats, demands of utter capitulation, and eventual undeath slavery – and the Eventide was preparing a response.  Pavon demanded the protagonists make a decision to support the Eventide or Elvenspite, as after midnight they would be in a state of war.  Strogar pointed out the lack of preparation and poor timing of the declaration given the Eventide's state, which prompted Pavon to state they had no choice at this point.  Pyrick mentioned the cursed rings that Strogar and Rand were wearing and offered to take care of it if the protagonists chose to stay.

The protagonists met with each other to determine which faction to side with: the more goodly-aligned but weaker Eventide, or the more powerful but exceptionally morally questionable Malec Elvenspite.  After an hour of deliberation, Rand and Orvo cast their lot with the Eventide while Strogar left to join with Malec.

Pyrick made good on his promise, and Orvo and Rand witnessed a site they had never seen: an up close view of what Rand determined was priestly Realm Magic as Pyrick revealed a long-held secret: he was a scion of the bloodline of Andurias.  As Pyrick called upon Haelyn and the power in his blood, a large quantity of gold and material components were consumed as a massive burst radiated from the Church, shattering the cursed ring on Rand and flooding the area with holy, positive energy.

Strogar, meanwhile, headed back to Elvenspite Manor…and felt the aftershocks of the spell from Eventide.  When he arrived, Malec decided to bestow upon Strogar his most precious gift: eternal undeath.  As Strogar struggled, learning he was to be turned into a mindless undead thrall, he noticed Jem was being held down by another undead and the mysterious Iron Maiden was lowered to the ground.  As Strogar was rendered unconscious and the Create Undead spell was about to be cast, Wickham and his crew broke into the room.

Armed with spells rendering them invisible to the undead, Wickham and his soldiers rescued Jem, the Iron Maiden prisoner, and Strogar while quickly fleeing from Elvenspite Manor.  Before the Hide from Undead spell wore off, Wickham noticed Elvenspite's cursed ring start affect Strogar and removed his finger most violently with a handaxe.  Another of Wickham's soldiers used scrolls to cast mount spells, with the prisoners and Wickham's crew heading South and West back to Eventide while Wickham and Strogar braved elements and frigid waters to reach the human Druid grove.  

Shortly after midnight, Orvo and Rand were approached by Pavon and ordered to head to the human druid enclave to recruit any druids they could, as they knew Malec would target the human druid enclave to conscript allies.  They left for the 4 day hike, with their meager supplies and goodberries to tide them over.

The protagonists all met up at the human druid grove to find it under assault by forces loyal to the Elvish Druids.  After a pitched battle, the elven druid forces were defeated and 6 of the 12 human druids were rescued.  Looting the weapons from the fallen before the grove erupted into flames, the party made their way back to Eventide ahead of Malec's forces, hoping to avoid the undead and Elvish forces.

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Game 7: Best Available Options

After being rescued by Lord Malec Elvenspite, Strogar and Rand were teleported to a revised and reformed Elvenspite Manor whilst Orvo marched back with an escort of undead soldiers.

At the manor, Rand and Strogar engaged with Malec and his priestly advisor Derak of Seasedge and had a nice meal from an ever-filling banquet table and flagons of Dwarven ale.  After the meal, they proceeded to head to sleep.  Orvo marched until the early morning hours before succumbing to exhaustion, and being awoken at Elvenspite Manor being attended by a priest.

Delivering their news to Lord Elvenspite - a sealed letter from Pavon, and word of the human druids battling the elven contingent – they spent a day walking amongst a renovated Elvenspite Manor.  Strogar tried and failed to investigate the Iron Maiden in the dungeon room, Orvo explored the house, and Rand explored the grounds and the solarium.  They met up and shared what they found: the undead were organized and showing signs of tactics, the grounds around the manor house resembling spring conditions, and the house was heavily enchanted.  Both Rand and Strogar also came to a separate conclusion: the bearer of Elvenspite's signet rings were able to bypass the traps in the house and wards on the doors.

Armed with a letter to give to Pavon and another letter to give to Jem Greenleaf, Malec teleported them to the edge of the town, near the river, and set a meeting in 2 days at midnight.

The protagonists set about their duties in town to mixed effect.  After meeting with Pavon and learning some of Malec's terms – fealty to him and desecration of the Haelynite Catacombs – they disbursed to the city.  Orvo met with Wickham and informed him of Lord Elvenspite's existence and the state of his men, with Wickham asking probing questions about Malec's intentions and worth as a Lord.  Rand delivered the letter to Jem, causing her to experience intense grief and cause Sigur to threaten to kill him.  Strogar began working with Adom on tunnelling from the town hall to the Catacombs to sneak out bodies without the Haelynites knowing.  At the appointed hour, they gathered Pavon's response and left to meet with Malec.

Upon meeting with Malec and exchanging Pavon's response, they were ambushed by a party of Elven and Halfling druids led by Sigur.  The tide was in the favor of the Elven contingent until the arrival of Wickham and his soldiers, who sided with the protagonists and Elvenspite.  Sigur fell in combat and was immolated by the halfing druids before they transformed into ravens and fled, and 3 of the 4 elven druids were slain.  

As the party regrouped, introductions were made with Wickham and his men swearing allegience to Lord Elvenspite in his quest to rid the land of the Elven menace, and a pyre was made for the Elven Druids at Wickham and Orvo's request.

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Game 6: Consequences

As both parties returned to Eventide, the mood began to turn sour.  

Rand and Strogar gave their report and supplies to Pavon, resulting in Rand storming out as Pavon did not award him a weapon made from the Mithral ingot and dumping the heartwood beam in front of the town hall before sulking off.  Strogar, meanwhile, noticed the negative effect the Elvenspite signet ring was having on him whilst in the town and left to make a camp just outside the wall.

Orvo met up with Pavon late that evening and informed him of the Druidic situation.  The human grove, while smaller, was more amenable to negotiation and mutual assistance in light of their equally precarious situation.  The elven grove was far more organized but zealously militant, demanding fealty and adherence to strict draconian laws…and turning them down was tantamount to declaring war.

Their sullen moods were shaken to apprehension as guards reported heavily armed strangers approaching.  Meeting the band at the gate, the leader introduced himself as Wickham, a knight from Cairlinien sent to Mountainsedge to investigate rumors of elves engaging in their Great Hunt and slaughtering human logging encampments.  When Pavon asked him how he found their safehold, Wickham informed him that he ran into Orvo whilst destroying some undead and was offered safe passage.  With Orvo backing his position, Wickham and his group of 4 soldiers were invited into town…provisionally.

The next day brought more chaos to the town.  Upon seeing the heartwood beam, Jem and Sigur Greenleaf were visibilty shaken by the sight and left to head to the Chapel of Haelyn.  Rand, noticing the issue, proceeded to shrug it off as Pavon's problem and left to set up another camp outside the gates, mirroring Strogar's actions.  Strogar spent the day hunting, whilst Orvo talked to Wickham about his intentions, learning about the loss of over 20 of his soldiers due to undead and particularily powerful animals attacking the encampments.

As night began to turn into the evening, the town was drawn to an uncomfortable sight: Pavon and Pyrick, with Sigur and Jem behind him, were having a very loud and passionate disagreement about the deals made by Rand and Strogar with Lord Malec Elvenspite and how the elves would view the use of the heartwood as a most vile act and turn their attentions towards the town.  When Orvo and Strogar crossed paths and got into each other's way, they began brawling on the front steps, leading to Orvo behind arrested after using his magic to burn Strogar. 

As night fell, Rand took another walk in the woods, meeting up with his mysterious patron.  After venting about the inequities of his treatment, the lady offered a novel solution: take the heartwood beam, and find a way to get it into Mossfall's hold and direct the elves to his settlement to weaken it.  On the way back, he thought he noticed a small human child in a tree observing town, but when he blinked, a murder of crows flew out of the tree.  At the same time, as Strogar was beginning to set up camp to sleep, he noticed an odd and disturbing site in the woods: a tall, thin individual was observing the camp, and when noticed, disappearing behind a tree and a large stag bounded away.  

With all individuals coming back to the town, they convinced Olvin to double the guard and informed Pavon that Orvo was most likely followed, and the elves know their location.  Rand took the opportunity to mention his new plan of dealing with the heartwood.  With Pavon's blessing – and urging of quickness to avoid having the heartwood in his town – the three of them began to prep for traveling to Oakhearth, where Pavon would utilize a spy in Mossfall's keep to lure them to the heartwood.  

As morning came, Rand slipped into Jem's shop and stole 4 bottles of wood filler to cover the sigils carved into the heartwood whilst Orvo and Strogar gathered supplies.  They set off after breakfast, and made way to Oakhearth.  They were given a letter by Pavon addressed to Lord Malec with his seal to deliver before returning to Eventide, but were given leave to use their own judgement on which came first.

As the journey began, tensions immediately began to fray.  They worsened when a human druid approached the party 2 days into their journey inquiring as to the state of their offer to the town.  With Strogar informing them that their requested weapons were being forged, the druid noticed the heartwood beam and offered them another solution: the druids would use the heartwood to craft arms and armor to battle the elves and use their reverence of it as additional protection against Elven aggression.  

The situation worsened when Rand refused to hand over the heartwood to the human Druid, while Strogar and Orvo fought him to obtain it.  Rand escaped into the woods, with Strogar in pursuit.  As Rand eluded him, Strogar stalked back into the clearing, where he ran across a worsening situation: Orvo, standing alone in the clearing, was being surrounded by undead, including 2 skeletal bears!

As the dwarves engaged the bears, Rand crept back to observe the fight.  Noticing how outnumbered and bloody Strogar was, engaged in the fight.  The bears were destroyed, but Strogar was knocked unconscious and Orvo was in a fighting retreat.

As Rand engaged the Skeletal Champion, Orvo spotted a dreadful sight: an armored individual, almost 6 and a half feet tall, appeared in the clearing suddenly…and from what Orvo could tell, via teleportation magic.  The individual used magic to control the undead in the field, and used potions of healing to bring Strogar and Rand conscious.  

As Strogar awakened to see a rested Lord Malec Elvenspite standing over him with 8 undead soldiers his vanguard, he weakly informed him that he bore a message from Lord Pavon.  As Rand looked on, he glanced at Orvo as they both noticed the same thing about the undead: they were wearing the same tunic as Wickham and his soldiers.

They were shaken from their contemplation by a loud and bellowing laugh, equally infectious as it was terrifying, coming from Lord Malec Elvenspite.  Helping Strogar to his feet, a smiling Malec informed him that they all indeed needed to have a talk.

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Game 5: Options

After returning from their excursion, Strogar and Rand settled down for a few days with their pet projects: Rand in searching for animals to domestic, Strogar in search of food and ore.  

While pitching their ideas to Pavon, they walked into a discussion between Pavon, Vargen, Olvin, and Sigur.  Pavon was being courted by each member to get additional support for their viewpoints: Sigur wanted to boost the food stores, Vargen improving the arms and armaments, and Olvin the defenses of the outpost.  Debating all options – Strogar preferring Vargen's option and Rand Sigur's option – they eventually threw support towards Olvin's plan.  

As Sigur and Vargen left, Pavon deferred judgment on their proposals until the next day. That evening, Strogar resumed his investigation of the catacombs beneath the church, and Rand visited his mysterious benefactor.  She gave him a letter, "taken from a skeleton", that detailed a supposedly abandoned manor home 3 days north of Eventide that would have supplies…and an item she needed obtained secretly.

The next morning, Strogar looked around town earlier in the morning but found that Sigur and Gem Greenleaf were missing, alongside Vargen.  Fearing the worst, he left to confront Pavon and Adom…only to find Rand their pitching a mission to an abandoned manor home.  Finding that Sigur and Gem took the woodsmen to hunt animals for domestication and Vargen took his apprentices to look for ore near the river, Strogar agreed to accompany Rand on the adventure if only to see him bleed.

Gathering supplies, Strogar met with Novra and Pyrick to get more information on the manor house and catacombs.  Pyrick explained to him the 3 deities shown in the catacombs: Erik, the Lord of the Forest; Haelyn, the Lord of Rulership; and Cuiriecan, the Lord of Battle. Novra explained a little more detail on the manor they were investigating: long abandoned by a minor lord whose family purchased royal title a century ago, the Elvenspite Manor had a reputation for being haunted, with it's last patriarch known for both the quantities of Dwarven ale served at his galas and his zealous hatred of all things Elven.

Armed with supplies, they camped overnight to get acclimated to the weather.  While Strogar was off hunting, Rand had another visit from his mysterious associate.  She gave him a bag to assist on his adventures, and bid him farewell.  As Rand pondered what was up with that, Strogar returned with enough food for the journey.

Arriving at the manor house 3 days later – after electing a quicker yet more dangerous trek up the mountain paths – they found the manor in disrepair, front doors open and barely on the hinges.  Exploring the manor, they ran across enemies consiting of animated suits of armor and coats of arms, magically trapped doors, pit traps, and poison-tipped crossbow bolt traps.  They found coat rooms with faded and ragged yet clearly regal clothing, a shattered alchemy lab cloaked with an illusion of a lavoratory, and a hidden room filled with potions of healing.  They also noticed the extreme quality of the wooden doors – thick, heavy, and resistant to slashing damage.

When they approached the grand hall, they entered to see a room in ruin, with a long table in the middle with a skeleton on the throne chair.  As they entered, the skeleton animated and confronted Rand and Strogar, demanding why they were in his manor.  Strogar threw holy water on him, but missed the mark.  As they engaged the skeleton, one of the doors was battered down from inside, with 3 skeletal Elves pouring out.  

The skeletal lord immediately engaged the Elvish Skeletons, screaming obscenities at them, and Rand and Strogar assisted in the assault.  Dispatching the skeletons, Rand elected to attempt a parley – and it worked.

After a tense few moments, the skeleton retreated to his room, and 5 minutes later came out appearing as a humanoid with glowing red eyes. He introduced himself as Lord Malec Elvenspite and offered them a safe night's rest.  Remembering the custom as an outdated relic of the Empire of Anuire, frequently dimissed by current nobility, Rand accepted the gift. 

Staying the night, Rand observed Lord Malec destroying the alchemy lab in a fit of rage and magical fire, snuck into his room to see a wonderous mountain view, a bookshelf with old and rare tomes, and an ornate chest bound to have valuables that he didn't dare touch.  While examining portraits in the throne room and looking at a half-elf in chains that he could have sworn was Gem Greenleaf, he went investigating a noise from Lord Malec's "pleasure room" filled with torture devices, he came across an Iron Maiden…with some creature inside trying desparately to get out.  Rand fled back to his room, where the magically enchanted bed lured him off to sleep.

Strogar, meanwhile, immediately fell asleep and woke up 8 hours later feeling refreshed and well fed.  When he woke up, he examined the wood the furniture was made from and discovered a disturbing fact: the wood was Elven Heartwood, deemed sacred by the elves and blasphemous to cut down, and all the glyphs cut into the wood were mockeries of the Elven people.  He also found out from Malec that the Elves sided against the humans at Mount Deismaar and followed the god of Evil, Azrai.

When morning came, Lord Malec Elvenspite offered a gift: in exchange for willingly subjecting themselves to a spell and ensuring his secrecy, Malec would gift to them magical items and supplies.  Strogar and Rand violently argued over the matter, with Strogar not willing to take the deal and Rand seeing magical items in their future. 

Eventually being persuaded to take the deal, Lord Malec offered them signet rings being his house insignia.  Putting them on, they each could feel the immediate magical compulsion: they were to keep Malec's undead state a secret.  Malec also enchanted Strogar's axe and gifted Rand a magical light mace, handed them provisions consisting of a bag full of magical goodberries, a 10 foot long beam of heartwod, and a mithral ingot, and gave them a tome of Carielian history dating from the time of Emperor Michael Roele.

As they left, they looked behind and saw the manor house was magically reforming into it's former glory: the doors were repaired, the windows restored to their stained glass glory, and the roof patched.  With an eerily picturesque manor hiding an undead Lord behind them, they left to return to Eventide.

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Game 4: A Necessary Risk

With supplies running low and many pressing needs, the survivors looked to Pavon for direction, and progress was made.

Sigur set a large amount of fish traps to catch the cold water fish in a nearby stream, Olvin set to work on guard rotations and securing the outpost, and Orvo was dispatched to the druid enclaves up north to arrange whatever bargain or supplies he could obtain.  Strogar discovered new things about the church – alarm bells ring at dawn with no bell tower, the inside being warmer than the outside, and a deep crypt beneath the church full of dead bodies.  Rand found himself practicing his tannery skills, and trying to obtain raw materials for his weapons.

Strogar and Rand were later dispatched to investigate a rumor brought to Pavon by some of the new "citizens": a ranger hunting lodge used by agents of Mhoried during their incursions to Cariele.  The trek was long and perilous, but they arrived 3 days later at the hunting lodge…and things began to go sideways.

Strogar was cornered by two undead – displaying a frightening amount of coordination – and Rand was ambushed by another.  Rand was critically wounded and rendered unconscious by one, who followed instructions barked out by a gore and blood drenched leader skeleton and fled into the woods.  Strogar, noticing a trapdoor to the cellar being banged upon by something underneath, tapped into his primal fury and dispatched the other 2 skeletons before succumbing to his wounds as the trapdoor shattered.

Waking up moments later to a young human priest of Haelyn – heavily armed and armored – Strogar, barely conscious, assessed the situation: Rand was stabilized but unconscious, the gore drenched skeleton kept attempting to reform, the priest was out of healing, and there was a large supply of weapons and armor in the Mhoried cache.

Dragging Rand out to the woods, Strogar and the priest named Pyrick took their pick of the supplies and weapons from the store room, and went to bury it before taking Rand and fleeing from the undead reinforcement…after Pyrick rigged the building with alchemist fire to burn the undead reinforcements.

While they were out digging, they came back to Rand barely conscious with an empty potion vial in his hands.  As Rand attempted to form coherent thoughts, it came out from him that it must have been a wandering druid that healed him…and set the lodge ablaze.

Grabbing their cache, they made their way back to their village – named by Novra as the Evening's Tide outpost, colloquially known as the Eventide – and found it much transformed.  Olvin had a wooden palisade formed, and a makeshift smokehouse was created.  

Introducing Pyrick to Pavon - and then grilling him about the crypt – Strogar settled in for the evening.  Rand ate dinner and excused himself for the evening, taking a stroll through the woods before coming back in. 

More challenges awaited tomorrow, but for now, with full bellies and spare arms, the town slept peacefully.

 

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Game 3: A Lord Declares, a Rival Challenges

After leaving the ruins of the village with the survivors in tow, the protagonists left with the intention of heading to Cairliniean, the capital of Cariele.  However, soon after departing, Strogar and Rand had a difference of opinion on which way to proceed.  With the survivors backing Strogar, Rand left to follow his own path.

After a few days of travel, Strogar and the group realized that the warding mists extended along the borders of the Mountainsedge province.  From his vantage point, Strogar concluded that Cairliniean was beyond the northern mist wall, but there was a large encampment a few days to the East that merited investigation.

Meanwhile, Rand came across another village in the midst of the unfortunate result of being either defiant or poor: the village was burned, the elderly or infirm put to the sword and thrown to the fire, the able bodied men beaten and placed in chains, and the women and children tied together.  Only the wealthy was spared the fate at the expense of a good portion of their wealth.  As he observed, the group of soldiers – wearing a familiar tabard – marched north to an unknown destination.  Rand pursued them, but fell slightly behind as he had to stop and forage for food.

When Rand finally caught up to the group, he discovered a large shanty town outside of a stone keep that appeared to be recently repaired.  A large wooden palisade kept out the close to 200 poor villagers on the outside, with a second stone wall inside and a 4 story keep behind that.  He observed the gates being open, and a rush of peasants behind held back by spears as the enslaved villages were led inside.  Rand spent a day observing the area, determining this is where the frightened and hungry masses fled to once word of a new provincial Lord being appointed due to the disappearance of the previous Lord.

As Strogar and the group approached the town, they made camp a bit out and elected to send in 2 people to scout the keep.  Adom volunteered to escort Strogar into the keep, and noticing the parade of slaves dressed up Strogar as a captured slave with a makeshift tabard.  As they approached the gate, they timed their arrival with that of another soldier patrol – all the while being stalked by Rand, intent on killing Adom for turning on the group.  As the gate entered, Adom bluffed his way into the keep with Strogar as his prize, and Rand slipped in past the spears with 2 other peasants as over a dozen others were grievously wounded.

Once inside, Rand gathered more intelligence on the workings of the keep, finding that those that risked life and limb to get inside and succeeded were allowed to stay inside, and that the rest of the people in the outpost seemed to be the best of the available townsfolk: the prettiest women, the strongest men, the smartest and quickest of them both.  While he was gathering intelligence, Adom and Strogar went through town to the slave pens, listening as the new slaves were assigned to the mines or household chores.  As they went to brand Strogar, the man took a look at  his uncovered torso and visibly blanched:  over 6 previous slave marks were visible…including that indicating he was a slave in the Gorgon’s puppet state of Mur-Kilad. 

All of them noticed the arrival of the Lord of the keep…a man they recognized as their previous commander, Eisar Mossfall, and his faithful castellan.  As Eisar rode roughshod through the peasants, Adom moved in to grovel to the castellan and deflect attention from Strogar and himself with choice words and select posture.  As Eisar rode off, with a contingent of armored knights and 2 robed individuals in tow, the group met up behind a building near the palisade.  Rand was threatening Adom and arguing with Strogar when Adom brandished a letter lifted from the Castellan.  Breaking the seal, they learned more about their current state:  the mists and the undead were apparently the product of some sort of Realm magic, the previous Lord disappeared under odd circumstances before he could be “retired”, and Eisar was ordered by the King to hole up and ride out the winter and reduce the amount of victims for the Undeath Plague…which the Castellan had noted would be to poison and kill all the individuals outside the keep and burn the bodies.

They formulated a plan: Rand would acquire supplies and either a map of the province or the poison to be used, while Strogar and Adom would find a way to make an exit.  Rand was partially successful, having acquired a guard’s uniform and requisitioned supplies, but took too long and couldn’t find the map or the poison.  Strogar and Adom managed to acquire a bag of metal ingots for crafting, some food, and a disguised.  Their exit was a bit spectacular: Adom used a quantity of alchemist fire to burn down a small part of the palisade, and used the ruse of 2 guardsmen to alert the guard of the breach and the offending dwarf they were pursuing.  Outside the gate, Strogar walked on crates and had a large robe to disguise himself long enough for the guards to shift their gaze to the masses huddling at the gate.

Once back with the group, they had a spirited debate on how to proceed, with Rand arguing for rescuing the villages and with Strogar pointing out the difficulty in feeding so many with limited supplies.  Rand looked at Adom in horror when he pointed out the brutal merits of Eisar’s approach – it would prevent a slow death of starvation and freezing to death, along with adding more corpses to the undead hordes – and managed to convince the group that rescuing the huddled masses was the right thing to do. 

As Strogar and Rand left for the city to try to save as many as they could, Rand noticed Adom having a quiet argument with Pavon with Adasil the Barmaid holding a bundle of cloth behind the two of them.  Bearing it no mind, Rand and Strogar tried to convince the people that Eisar had ill intentions towards them.  Making marginal headway – the smell of a roasted boar getting closer from the Keep competing for the peasants’ attention and winning – Adom arrived with Pavon.  Adom then went into the role of Herald, proclaiming Pavon as a member of the Cariele family and the rightful Lord of the province, with Eisar Mossfall the usurper and cause of the undead hordes.  Rallying a large portion of the peasants to their cause, they used Adom’s remaining alchemist fire to set the shanty town a blaze to cover their retreat.  Once they safely escaped, a little under half of the peasants came with them. 

Heading East to escape Eisar’s keep, Rand caught a final sorrowful glimpse at the keep: the peasants fell silent, and soon a towering blaze was visible.  With the druid mentioning the Elven Druid enclaves to the East and Novra mentioning an abandoned outpost near the Markazor bordered long abandoned due to goblin raids, the group headed east, with Pavon casting the final decision – over Rand’s objections – to head to the outpost and avoid the Elves.

After a long journey, they arrived at the outpost.  Finding it in ruins but still serviceable, they spent a few days settling in for the long winter, and discovered that both the well and the church had residual magical energies yet to be determined.  Sleeping in the repaired Inn, the protagonists knew the next day would bring uncomfortable decisions:  how to survive, and what they could do about it.

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Game 2: Road to Cairlinien

The party departed the ruined outlook tower and headed along the edge of the mists, keeping to the space between the woods and the mountains.  After a few days of travel, foraging for food and shelter, the party noticed they had a visitor.

A dwarven druid approached the camp late in the evening as the party was roasting some boar and deer.  After a tense exchange, the dwarf introduced himself as Orvo, a druid whose grove was near the outlook tower.

In exchange for the fire and some food, Olvin convinced Orvo to tell them a bit about himself: originally from Baruk-Ahzik, he bucked his people's traditions and abandond Baruk-Ahzik to wander Anuire for a while, eventually joining a nearby grove.  He informed them that the druids were killed by undead, and he ventured forth to find out what killed them and stop it.

The next morning, Pavon woke up the group to prepare for travel.  As they departed, they noticed smoke coming from over the hills.  Scarlet remarked that the towns throughout the hills were generally small hamlets, some law abiding and some rogue secret holdouts, and that they tended to be either farms or supply depots. After a quick discussion, the group made their way to the theorized hamlet to either meet up with survivors or get supplies.

Along the way, they passed multiple graveyards and abandoned hamlets.  Some hamlets bore the signs of struggle and death – with no corpses remaining – and some were merely deserted.  Orvo mentioned the signs of struggle as the undead swarming the land and bolstering their ranks, while Adom mentioned that the conscription efforts from a few years back may have also caused wholesale abandonment of some small hamlets.  Scarlet focused on determining if magic was to blame, and let the party know that strong abjuration magic was present in the mists, and the ground fairly radiated necromantic energy…which could have caused some spoilage of foods so they should be careful.

They approached the hamlet billowing smoke around 7 pm.  When they arrived, they found a small hamlet overrun by skeletons – they destroyed some of the barricades and were sieging the remaining building that still had some living denizens.  They noticed a destroyed forge, abandoned shop, and a burning building before engaging the skeletons.

Orvo flanked to the side to douse the burning building, dealing with 2 skeletons on his own and indirectly causing a burning skeleton to leave the building and head to the party members.  The rest of the party assaulted the front gates.

With their bladed weapons less effective against skeletons than zombies, the party had some troubles eliminating the skeletons, with Adom and Olvin taking serious wounds and Strogar pinned down by undead.  Eventually securing the tavern/inn – and expending some resources in the process – the party searched the town and talked to the survivors.

Meeting with the survivors, they found a rural town barmaid, a historian from Cairlinien, a herbalist and woodsman/craftsman from another land, and a blacksmith holed up in the inn.  Looting the ruined town, they found 50 gold pieces, 5 heavy crossbows, 10 suits of chainmail, 10 light steel shields, and 10 morningstars.  The herbalist also gifted them with her remaining stock of potions – 10 cure light wound potions – and they appraised them of what they knew of the situation.  

A lord from Cairlininen was amassing troops in a somewhat functional keep a few days north, near the edge of the province.  They were approached by a representative, but they were unwilling to pay the rather hefty protection toll and were left on their own.  The blacksmith reacted by withholding the supplies he was making for the outpost network, and the town was soon sieged by undead.

The party then rested and regrouped, deciding what to do next.

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Game 1: Outpost Outlook

Cariele was a country in peril.  After a disasterous war between Dhoesone, Mhoried, and Tuarhievel resulted in Cariele being treated as a thoroughfare, Count Entier Gladanil was convinced by the leader of the Guilds, Guilder Mheallie Bireon, to garrison the borders.

Enacting harsh conscription laws, the nobles of Cariele raided orphanages, prisoners of war, the slave markets, and any other source of able-bodied poor individuals to draft them into the army.  Bolstering it's size with 6 full companies of recruits – at the expense of it's populace – a series of forts and outposts were garrisoned along the edges of the kingdom.  At first promising a series of castles and true fortifications, the expense of the endeavor led to the outposts being hastily constructed wooden outposts or repurposed old battlements.   Armed with mass-produced and poor quality arms and equipment, the nobles paraded their troops through the capital…and promptly forgot about them.

Outpost Outlook was one of the forgotten posts.  Using the ruins of an old battlement from the time of the great Emperor Michael of Anuire, a local noble of minor repute and terrible temperment led a motley crew of conscripts:  an uneducated brawler, a bard that slept with the wrong noblewoman, a mysterious stranger of little words and an excessive protection of his sword, and an old castellan charged with protecting the ill-mannered noble.  They were joined by a male dwarf pressed into service after fleeing his homeland, an orphaned male human with no prospects in life, and a failed female half-elven wizard.

2 years went by, as the outpost program slipped into obscurity.  The promised improvements to the battlements never materialized, the gear remained sub-par, and the pay was miserable.  Fending for themselves, as rations became more and more scarce, the group kept their vigil…until the mists arrived.

In the late hours of the night, deep in the heart of winter, human orphan named Rand was keeping watch along the ruined top level of the tower, with the female wizard Scarlet on the mid-level and the bitter dwarf Strogar patrolled outside.  They all noticed a sudden stillness in the night: the snow stopped falling, the winds were still, and no animals were making any noises.

Rand was the first to notice the mists forming across the trees, and called to Scarlet to wake the others.  Scarlet, noticing the mists was some high level magic she couldn't comprehend, proceeded to try to wake the mysterious stranger, who brushed off her concerns as ravings of a silly girl, and then the other warrior.  Strogar, noticing the migration of animals, was spooked at the mists – he knew they were unnatural given the weather – and headed back to the tower.

With everyone now awoken, the air was full of tension.  Strogar immediately began gathering provisions, and was soon joined by Scarlet.  Rand tried to awaken the seneschal, and was nearly stabbed for his efforts.  As the others donned their armor and gear, the mysterious stranger was acting excessively nervous and appeared to have been  ready to depart at a moments notice.

Strogar was the first to make a move, loading up his pack and immediately heading out to flee the area – he suspected foul magics, and was extremely fearful of what they foretold.  Scarlet and the mysterious stranger followed behind him, with Rand trying to get the bard and the warrior to hastily follow.  They all departed the tower in a panic, leaving the castellan and the commander in the tower, still donning their heavy armor.

As Strogar blazed a trail up the pass, Scarlet noticed movement in the graveyard and reacted by blasting it with a magic missile.  As the party stopped, sans Strogar who kept going forward, the graveyard erupted with zombies!

With 6 zombies heading towards the main pack of adventurers and 2 quicker zombies chasing down Strogar, the battle was joined.  Scarlet was heavily wounded in the battle, but was kept alive by the bard.  Rand engaged 3 zombies, defeating one of them, while the fighter and mysterious stranger dispatched the rest.  Strogar was immediately wounded by the zombies, but managed to stabilize during the fight.

After the battle, the ragtag group looted the bodies of valuables, searched their graves, and tended to their wounds.  As the bard healed the wounded and donned his armor, the fighter finished getting into his armor in case of more battles.  Rand and the mysterious stranger searched the graves, Scarlet went to check in on the commander, and Strogar stormed off.

Scarlet came back a few moments later with horrid news: she witnessed the seneschal and their commander in the barricaded tower talking to someone with magical means, and mentioned an invasion of undead before teleporting away, leaving them stranded.  With the rest of the loot from the zombified old knights of the Anuirean Empire divided up – Strogar getting a nice Waraxe and breastplace, the fighter a silvered long sword, Rand a chain shirt, and Scarlet a wand of unknown spells – the party convened and decided to abandon the tower and their posts, fleeing deeper into Cariele as they hoped to avoid the mists and the undead.

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