Regent of Jade

Session 16
Summary of Session 16

Guillaume was in the caravan on his way to Kalsgard. Arach gave some encouraging words to try and make him feel better about leaving behind Brinewall castle, saying that on its own a castle is nothing more than a fancy cave. Guillaume also saw Maia practicing a two-sword technique with sticks. Maia explained that the sword from the visions appeared to be a katana, a longer version of the curved Tien swords the party had found earlier. She is a bit rusty on swordplay, since her father had looked down on her learning such things. Guillaume and Maia appear to be back in a holding pattern of tolerating one another.

Guilluame was impressed at Kalsgard’s size, and Arach got the caravan through the gates easily enough. Once they were set up in the Bones Quarter (otherwise known as the slums), Arach had Guillaume bring Maia to the shrine of Shelyn, having made some arrangements earlier with Bjorn. Maia was a bit stiff at having to go to the shrine, but went along, to where she was set up in one of the priest’s cells down in the basement.

While Guillaume was making conversation with Bjorn (who was very happy to have the painting of Shelyn in place), the shrine doors opened and Rehoofa, Elsa, and Marcel entered. Reunited, the party went back to the caravan for a little privacy so they could get Guilluame up to speed and distribute the funds from the sale of the Aril’s Hammer.

At the caravan, Marcel directed Meckrin towards the Hall of Splendid Valor, instead giving him directions to Madam K’s parfumery in the Jade Quarter. Elsa was in in the prank as well, giggling to herself.

Guillaume was a bit less than happy that Marcel and Elsa had blabbed about “exiled royalty” to the Rimerunners Guild, but was pleased that the party had discovered so much other information, like the name Asvig Longthews and the Frozen Shadows. He also steadfastly refused to ever pretend to be exiled royalty.

Kaellara was missing by the time the party came out of their meeting, having indicated she had something to take care of. Ulf Gormundr had also said he was going to deal with his ex-employers, and Kaellara had passed on that Ulf would be at his usual bar that evening, if the party wanted to meet him.

The evening came and the party decided to go see Ulf. Marcel reminded Elsa she had a date with Karl, and Elsa ran off to go meet him.

Elsa’s date with Karl went fairly well. After dinner they went for a walk by the river, where Karl introduced her to a friend of his, a strange mermaid-thing-man who leapt out of the river and transformed into an elderly man. Introducing himself as Uksahkka, the old man had a look at Elsa, asking who her mother was. He said he’d known a woman some years ago, a water-creature with magic powers who had mentioned a daughter she’d left behind in Varisia. He said that the water-woman had become a creature of snow and ice and left the city, but not before falling in with some questionable people. One of those people wanted to meet Elsa: at that, a familiar-looking blood feather raven landed nearby.

The blood-feather raven spoke fluent Druidic, and introduced himself as Wodes. Offering a professional apology for the earlier attack, he said that he represented the Frozen Shadows. Furthermore, Wodes has plans to install his friend, Goti Runecaster, as the leader of the Frozen Shadows. Apparently the party’s actions so far has left the Frozen Shadows questioning whether their leader, someone named Kimandatsu, is capable.

Wodes and Elsa came to an arrangement: if the party stirs up enough trouble, they’ll erode Kimandatsu’s power base and let Goti take over. In return, Wodes will tell them where to find the sword Suishen, and make sure they can leave the city unharmed. First, though, he tested Elsa’s dedication, sending her out to kill the young pickpocket who’d been spying on them earlier. Elsa agreed, went out, and, with some effort, dragged the pickpocket into the river and killed him.

Elsa swam away, passing by another mermaid-thing, who magically protected her from the freezing water and then swam off to take care of the body. Elsa climbed out, meeting Uksahkka again, who warned her she was going down a very dark path.

Elsa went out and met the party, who had been waiting at the bar for Ulf all night, and had seen no sign of him. She managed to convince the party she was soaking wet because her date had pushed her into the river.

On the way down the street, the party ran into trouble: a pack of citizens, led by an irate Gorvald, the hired muscle from Fynn Snaevald’s house. Gorvald started shouting at the party, accusing Rehoofa of having stolen golden arrows from Fynn’s house. The party soon found out that magic was at work: when Gorvald told Marcel the charges, for a moment Marcel started to remember seeing Rehoofa steal the arrows. It was almost like the big, beefy Gorvald was casting the spell himself.

Elsa calmed Gorvald with a spell, and some talented wordplay from Marcel managed to disarm the crowd. Marcel’s Countersong ended up carrying the day, canceling out the magic that was at work.

The party left, going to Kelda’s house to spend the night. In the morning Kelda ran through quick introductions and then snuck out with the party to go look for clues at the fighting pits. She thanked the party for not asking why she had to sneak out.

The fighting pits did not have much to offer, unfortunately. The party found out more about Asvig Longthews, how he had an honest shot at being a jarl someday soon, now that Snorri Stone-Eye was dead. Marcel and Elsa joked about going to crash the funeral, which Guillaume was having none of. The party found no immediate enemies of Asvig, at least not that the party could get the ear of. They did learn where Asvig’s farmhouse was, though, and made plans to go to it that night. The party also developed many new mispronunciations of “Asvig.”

While out at the pits, Elsa snuck off and met Wodes again in an alley, where he scolded her for talking to him in the daytime; he takes a great risk of being discovered by talking to her. Still, he was impressed with her work and told her go to Madam K’s parfumery for directions to the sword. He said that Asvig Longthews was at another farm that night, with the sword at least until morning, but that might change soon. He said that killing Asvig would send huge ripples through the Frozen Shadows, and lead many to question Kimandatsu. He also said that to avoid giving away her identity to the Frozen Shadows, Elsa would be smart to leave no one at the farm house alive.

The party then stopped at Fynn Snaevald’s again to introduce Guillaume to him and see that the golden arrows actually had been stolen. Fynn apologized for Gorvald and also gave them a signet ring to show they had his backing in tracking down the thieves who had attacked his house, now twice.

Elsa and Kaellara went back to Madam K’s, where they heard about the goblin (Meckrin) who’d come looking for “companionship” and ended up getting beat up when he didn’t take the hint. One can only guess what a goblin who worships the goddess of revenge will do now.

Elsa said the passcode Wodes had given her, and Madam K led them to a back room, where she dropped her thick Tien accent and let Elsa into a room full of high-class merchandise, most likely found through “back channels.” She gave Elsa a book that had been set aside for her; the book was written in Tien, but included a note in Druidic giving her directions to Asvig’s party. The note also said he looked forward to making her a member of the Frozen Shadows, and that the book was useful to initiates. Now if only Elsa could read Tien…

Kaellara, who had followed Elsa into the back room, stared at an amulet on the wall, which she indicated had been Ulf’s. Elsa bought the amulet and found that a warrior with a lion’s head arm ring had sold it to her that morning.

Elsa let the rest of the party know where the sword was, though there was a lot of suspicion about how she knew. The party made preparations to head out to where Asvig Longthews was holding a party that evening. They told Kelda about their plans, and at her offer, they took her along for the ride.

The party made it out of the city with minimal trouble, and was on their way. Now they’re off to crash a Viking party. Guillaume has correctly pointed out that all they really have is circumstantial evidence that Asvig Longthews’ men might be involved in some of the things that have been happening. The real test may be just to knock on the door and see if Asvig Longthews greets them with an ale or a sword.

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Session 15
Summary of Session 15

Elsa, Marcel, and Rehoofa got ready to set off in their liberated boat.

Arach explained that it’s customary in Kalsgard to carry weapons. To that end, the party brought along some of the battleaxes from the Ulfen warriors, along with some trade goods and supplies for the trip.

Arach warned the party to keep a low profile, and also mentioned that the trading may be difficult in Kalsgard, since most trading is handled through trade guilds, and trade guilds tend to look down on Varisians. The Ulfen living in Kalsgard don’t have much respect for Varisians in general, believing them to be a nation of weak-bodied thieves and murderers.

On the way, Kaellara pricked her fingers on some nails someone had left in her clothes; the party believed this was a petty prank from Maia.

Rehoofa challenged Kaellara to a rematch in archery. Kaellara accepted, and after some waffling around, set up Elsa in front of the mast with an apple on her head. Everyone took turns trying to hit the apple; Rehoofa and Kelda both managed to hit Elsa, while Rehoofa and Kaellara managed to hit the apple. The result was a tie for Rehoofa and Kaellara. Rehoofa and Kelda were both very sorry about hitting Elsa. Kelda in particular swore she would make it up to Elsa, in any way Elsa asks.

The boat continued on. Kelda had warned the party about the cold temperatures, and it turned out she was right: by the end of the trip, nearly everyone was suffering from chills. The only exception was Kaellara, who appeared unaffected by the cold. She even loaned her cloak out to Marcel, and then sat on the boat with her arms bare.

After three and a half days on the water, the boat came into Kalsgard, finding it an enormous city with thick walls. The river led them straight through the city and to the harbor. On the way, the party got a view of the Bones Quarter (the slums), the castle of High Linnorm King Sveinn Blood-Eagle, the Fire Quarter (bars, fighting pits, nightlife), and the Ice Quarter (general shopping).

Landing in the harbor, the party took some time to find a buyer for their boat, the Aril’s Hammer. Things went well, bringing in 1500 gp for the party. Kelda explained as they left that the buyer was most likely going to turn around and sell it to a trade guild. Kelda took the party to her home in the Horn Quarter (laborers and farmers), where they met her aunt and uncle, Brand and Helba Oxgutter, owners of a butcher shop. Kelda and her family shared one bed, while the party slept on the floor. Kaellara took care of her own lodgings, going off somewhere else.

The next morning, the party set off on their errands in Kalsgard. They picked up Kaellara at the palace of the Linnorm King. Then with some searching they found a dwarven blacksmith, Rogar, who was willing to finish the dragonscale armor and resize it into plate mail for Elsa; Rogar said to come back in a few days with 300 gp. When they went to go buy cold weather clothes, Rehoofa noticed they were being followed by a cloaked figure. With some work, the party laid an ambush for him, leading him past an alley where Rehoofa lay in wait, and Rehoofa jumped him and dragged him into the alley. The party questioned the man, who turned out to be a simple day laborer who’d taken a job keeping eyes on the party and leaving reports under a barrel at the docks. The party decided to let him go, telling him to leave another report and then letting Kaellara lie hidden to see who picks it up.

The party did some searches of the trading guilds, finding the Rimerunners Guild was the original owner of the boat that had attacked the caravan. The boat had been stolen, so they were very happy to have their boat back in the city. Although the Rimerunners were closing up for the day, they said the party could come by in the morning and tell their story.

Feeling like they were doing quite well, the party checked out the Fire Quarter. Elsa and Marcel ended up staying at the House of Splendid Valor, a very prestigious pillow house that catered to their every desire. Rehoofa stayed at a standard inn.

The next morning, the party again found Kaellara at the palace of the High Linnorm King. She looked like she was being mugged, but it turned out she’d just happened to run into an ex-boyfriend: Ulf Gormundr, a man she’d adventured with 15 years ago. Apparently the two of them had a reputation of doing things other people didn’t want to do. Ulf had recently had some tough luck: a job he’d done for some local ring-givers had fallen through, and rather than pay him for his trouble, the ring-givers had had their warriors beat him up and throw him out. He invited the party out for a drink that evening.

Kaellara indicated that she hadn’t seen anyone pick up the note that had been left under the barrel. She pointed up, to the ravens overhead. The party felt they had been watched by ravens since entering Kalsgard, and perhaps there was some truth to it.

The party went back to the Rimerunners Guild, where some kind words from Marcel and Elsa got them the attention of a merchant factor, who took them into one of the back rooms and listened to their story about the attack and the adventures at Brinewall. The party asked if he could get the caravan a better place to stay than the slums, and he said that he could only do that if the caravan had something that really made it stand out from the others. Marcel ultimately let the man know that they were traveling with royalty. He was skeptical, but said if they could bring the royalty in and give some kind of proof of the royal blood, he could certainly make some arrangements. Rehoofa gave the merchant factor the address of his inn, telling him to send word if anything comes up about the boat or anything else.

The party also showed the lion’s head arm ring to the merchant factor, who identified it as being from Asvig Longthews, a local ring-giver. Their later investigations would show that Asvig is a fairly powerful ring-giver, and has recently come into some good fortune. The jarl he served under, a man named Snorri Stone-Eye, “the Mad Reaver”, has died recently, and now Asvig and stands to inherit from him, and maybe even make a play for his title.

Since the Rimerunners guildhouse was in the Jade Quarter, the party explored that quarter, finding Madam Kuwoh’s house of overpriced perfumes and buying some new scents: mountain springs from Tian Xia for Marcel, and cold Linnorm rivers for Rehoofa.

The party investigated the sword they’d seen in their visions, and tracked down Fynn Snaevald, a collector of Tian artifacts. Fynn was not seeing visitors though, and the huge strongarm who watched his door said the party wasn’t coming in unless they had some Tien thing for Fynn to look at.

During their explorations, they found another kitsune, a Jade Quarter puppeteer name Omoyani, who was glad to meet Marcel. Omoyani had thought that he was the only kitsune on this side of the world. He and Marcel met later in the day and talked about their various adventures so far, including the adventures in Brinewall, Kikonu, and the curse that made “their friend” sick. Omoyani did not seem interested in joining the caravan; he has a job and a life in Kalsgard that he is not ready to leave behind.

Elsa and Rehoofa went to meet Ulf and Kaellara for a drink while Marcel was meeting Omoyani. They found that Ulf and Kaellara had used to be very close, and also found out a few things about Kaellara, how even Ulf has rarely seen her smile, she’s bisexual, and she’s capable of giving a very, very cold stare when she’s annoyed. They also found out that Ulf was an accomplished guide for the Crown of the World. Although Ulf was less than enthusiastic about guiding a caravan when it’s already autumn, he seemed like he would do it. Kaellara, though annoyed, agreed he was a good guide.

After drinks, Rehoofa went back to his inn room to find it had been ransacked, everything torn up and rooted through. The only clues were an open window (presumably how whoever-it-was got in), and a single large black feather on the floor. For safety’s sake, the party stayed at Kelda’s house that night.

The next morning, the party met Kaellara again. They told her about their troubles with meeting Fynn Snaevald, and she surprised them by producing the cold iron wakizashi with the hidden compartment they’d sold back in Brinewall. When asked if she’d stolen it, she just shrugged.

The party headed off for Fynn’s, but heard that a caravan had just arrived. Going to investigate, they found it was indeed Arach’s caravan, which had been pushing hard for the last couple days to get to Kalsgard. Arach was a bit annoyed at Marcel talking so much about their adventures so far, saying he’d break Marcel’s nose if he weren’t trying to keep a low profile right now. Arach said he’d sent Guillaume to take Maia to the shrine of Shelyn, which annoyed Marcel quite a bit.

Marcel, Rehoofa, and Elsa set off to Fynn Snaevald, this time getting entry past the large bodyguard at the door. His house was quite well-appointed, with many artifacts, including a set of golden arrows that caught Rehoofa’s eye. Fynn was a kind old man, who had indeed bought the sword from the party’s visions, almost 60 years ago. The sword was named Suishen, the ancestral blade of the Amatatsu family. The party had no idea who the Amatatsus were, but Fynn showed them a picture of the sword, confirming it was the same one from their visions.

Unfortunately, a few weeks ago Fynn’s house had been broken into. Thieves had killed nearly all of Fynn’s servants and had stolen several items, Suishen among them. Fynn had been out of his house that time, and so had been safe himself, but has responded by beefing up his security. The only other clue Fynn could offer was that one of his dying servants had mumbled something about “paying the lion’s due.” The party is now very convinced that Asvig Longthews was behind the theft, though they don’t know what they can do about him yet.

The party did some more searching, asking about the ravens and about the big feather, which Fynn had indicated was probably a tengu feather. The party found out that there is apparently a dark sorcerer name Goti Runecaster somewhere around Kalsgard. Goti is rumored to have some kind of power over ravens, and is also rumored to be from Irrisen, a country everyone in the Linnorm Kingdoms hates.

The party also learned from the tengu that there is a thief’s guild rumored to be in Kalsgard. The guild is called the Frozen Shadows, which is said to have mystical, supernatural powers. Significantly, the Frozen Shadows supposedly always leave a calling card of a single large, black feather. The tengu themselves knew nothing personally. Anything they knew was rumors and secondhand stories. At least, according to them.

The group finally headed for the shrine of Shelyn back in the Fire Quarter, Marcel intent on giving Maia a piece of his mind for being in the shrine of his god. Outside the shrine, they met Karl, the driver of the priest Bjorn’s wagon. He said that Guillaume was inside with Maia. He also rather shyly asked Elsa out to go see the river of Kalsgard with him that night. Elsa agreed, to much “ooooh”-ing of Marcel.

The party opened the doors of the shrine of Shelyn, and went inside.

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Session 14
Summary of Session 14

The caravan headed out from Brinewall, off into the Linnorm Kingdoms. They soon found out that Spivey has the ability to remove fatigue from tired travelers, which gives the caravan a longer travel day; the caravan now covers 32 miles per day, giving them a much-needed boost. They were now able to get to the next city before their meager supplies run out.

The trip to the next city is not uneventful, though. A few days into the trip, the party drew Maia and Arach aside to talk about the visions the PCs and Maia experienced, and what it could mean. Maia seems hesitant to form an opinion on them, and Arach, having not seen them himself, did not have much to say. Rehoofa brought up that in the visions, they saw two silhouettes: a bird-man and an elf-person, apparently being sent to investigate the artifact that had been uncovered at Brinewall. The PCs agree the bird-man must have been Kikonu, which leaves the question of who the elf was. Rehoofa personally suspected it might be Kaellara. Kikonu could take voices, which might explain Kaellara’s muteness if she’d worked with him in the past. Also, Kaellara’s motivations to come on this trip are unclear.

Maia was willing to suspect Kaellara: her disdain of the elf is no secret, and she told the party that she knows Kaellara is a thief, so it’s not much of a stretch that she’s into other dark pursuits. The rest of the party was less willing to accept this theory, at least not without better proof. Guillaume brought up that Kaellara couldn’t have known what was going on in Brinewall castle or what they would find there. In response, Maia said that there are forces at work none of them can understand. She can still “hear” the Brinewall artifact in her head, letting her know that it wants to go home to Tian Xia, the continent on the other side of the world. In a situation where a magic statue can have a will of its own, perhaps Kaellara could know things she shouldn’t be able to.

Arach was the most vocally against this suspicion of Kaellara, telling the party that he trusts her, and he will not abide paranoia in his caravan. Rehoofa agreed to stay quiet about it for now, but Maia let the dwarf know that she believes him.

A few days after this discussion, the party ran into a broken-down wagon, carrying a Shelyn priest named Bjorn and a young wagon driver named Karl. They were transporting a beautiful painting of the goddess Shelyn to Kalsgard, taking a tour through the Linnorm Kingdoms on the way. Or that was their plan, before their wagon’s axle broke, leaving them stranded in troll country. The party decided to help them out, repairing their wagon and letting them travel with them on their way to Kalsgard. Bjorn was quite happy with this, and also worked with Arach to give him some of the painting supplies they were transporting. Karl was quiet, though he nursed a very obvious crush on Elsa.

Also on the trip, the party noticed they had a flock of crows and ravens behind them. This on its own is nothing new; all caravans attract scavengers. However, one of the ravens was unusually large, and had a single red feather on its breast. Some of the more supersititous caravan riders recognized this “blood-feather raven” as an omen of bad luck, but the other caravan-goers were willing to just keep an eye on the bird.

The caravan made stops in Tomgruv and Solskinn, where they sold their loot, finding that Varisian caravans are greatly discriminated against in the Linnorm Kingdoms, giving them much less profit than they expected. Still, they were able to resupply, and Arach presented Guillaume with a beautifully painted shield, now decorated with a custom crest of Guillaume’s design. Additionally, Maia made sure to stop by Marcel and let him know that it’s nothing new for bastards (like her) to get insulted daily by court-goers and legitimate nobility, but she has remembered she is an owner of the caravan and technically his boss. Marcel seemed to take the hint.

Marcel took Kelda out for dinner, having a decent enough time with her, though with an awkward end to the evening as Marcel didn’t want to get too pushy and end up getting punched. Kelda seems to like Marcel enough, but Marcel may have some competition for her attention: Kelda seemed quite interested in showing Guillaume around.

After Solskinn, the caravan headed into the Grungir forest, where they ran into trouble: a rampage of forest drakes attacked the caravan. The party fought the rampage’s alpha male, taking him down with some effort, but the rest of the drakes did a great deal of damage to the rest of the caravan. They managed to rally and drive off the creatures, but they were limping on their way into Losthome, the next stop on their trip. Losthome lies on the far side of the Thundering River, so the caravan camped at a ferry landing across from the city, where it took several days to lick its wounds and patch its wagons. Around this time, Guillaume also talked with Meckrin and convinced the little goblin to fix Spivey’s eyes. The spell worked perfectly, and Spivey was overjoyed at finally having her sight back.

Freshly repaired and resupplied, the caravan set off again, following the Thundering River northwards, then turning west and following the Rimeflow river towards Kalsgard. It was about there that they ran into trouble again: one night outside of Skalsbridge, Marcel heard a sound of muffled rowing. He had barely managed to raise an alarm when Ulfen warriors (=Vikings) rushed the caravan in a horde. At the very beginning of the strike, a familiar blood-feather raven could be seen taking flight, vanishing into the darkness.

The caravan rallied and fought off the Ulfen warriors effectively enough. The PC’s took on a dozen of the warriors on their own: Elsa took a couple of bad hits, but survived. As the dust settled and the surviving Ulfen were running off into the night, the party found their boat, a small longboat named the Aril’s Hammer, beached on the riverbank. With no cities immediately nearby, it became very clear the caravan had been specifically targeted by these warriors. There were very few clues beyond that, though: one warrior that Elsa and Marcel tried to interrogate died very suddenly and painfully, struck down by a magical curse of some kind. It seems that whoever sent the warriors knows how to cover their tracks. Beyond that, the only clue was that each warrior bore an armband decorated with a lion’s head. Lesser lords in the Linnorm Kingdoms are called “ring-givers”, because they literally give out rings to their warriors, to show who their lord is. No one knows offhand what ring-giver has the lion’s-head symbol, or if that ring-giver was even the one to send the warriors.

The following morning, Guillaume and Maia had a meeting in which Maia asked Guillaume what he thought of his new shield crest, commenting that it had been some of her best work. Guillaume laughed, figuring out that Arach had said he would paint the shield himself while he’d actually handed the shield off to Maia to be painted. Maia looked annoyed: Arach had told her that Guillaume had asked for her to paint the shield. Maia told Guillaume she wasn’t ready to stop hating him, the privileged rich boy, but still reconciled with him, or at least agreed to be something closer to civil.

The party and the caravan NPCs debated what to do: Kelda wanted to take the boat into Kalsgard, while Arach was more concerned about staying inconspicuous. It’s the end of the trading season in Kalsgard, so while there will be many caravans in the city, he doesn’t want to be the only one that came in with a boat. The party ultimately decided to split up: Kelda, Marcel, Elsa, and Rehoofa would take the boat to Kalsgard, while everyone else stayed with the caravan. Kaellara gave them a little surprise, electing to join the boat crew, giving Guillaume a note that said “watch the little bird for me.” Guillaume got the meaning.

The sun was rising and the party was getting ready to head off. Kelda showed a brief interest in wearing one of the arm rings, but put it away when she was discovered wearing it. All archers are on notice to shoot any large ravens on sight. The ‘booze cruise’ is about to leave, while the caravan will need a few days to repair before heading off again. We will have to see what happens when the party leaves Guillaume behind for a few days…

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Session 13
Summary of Session 13

The party was headed into Brinewall, psyching themselves up for the fight they had ahead of them. The sky threatened rain, and the winds were picking up. This time around, fate wasn’t going to wait for them to come: as they arrived at the castle, they saw Kikonu waiting on the battlements. He demanded they leave, saying that as a servant of Pazuzu, he wouldn’t die. He then called up Corbies armed with heavy crossbows to shoot at the party, while he jumped down to guard the gate.

The party soon figured out Kikonu was an illusion, as Nindinzego appeared on the far side of the gate house, blasting Guillaume with a firey beam. Guillaume ran ahead to fight the monster, hitting solidly several times, but getting as good as he gave. Marcel and Elsa concentrated on keeping him standing, while Rehoofa provided fire support with magical arrows. Though Nindinzego fought strongly, he was ultimately brought down, and the Corbies cleaned up shortly afterwards. The party finally stood victorious in Brinewall castle!

More had to be done, though. After looting Nindinzego and the corbies, the party moved into the dungeon and found Nindinzego’s lair, including a discarded egg shell (possibly Nindinzego’s birth spot) and several treasures left as tribute to the demon-octopus. One of these treasures was a bird-man statue that cursed Guillaume with unnatural weight. Another treasures was a peculiar beetle statue, which accepted the beetle wings they’d found on Kikonu. It started to play a simple musical tune. Shortly afterwards, a disembodied light appeared, which led them through the castle and back to the small dungeon under the main tower. Playing the music-box beetle there made the floating light dissipate with a sigh of relief. Then a portion of the wall shifted, and the dust of the ground rose up as a vengeful wraith.

The party tried fighting the wraith, but it was strong and their weapons seemed to pass right through it. Marcel and Elsa stumbled onto the answer, saying they were there to save his granddaughter, and reminding him of the name Rokuro Kaijitsu. The wraith shifted, becoming a ghostly version of an old Tien man. He asked the party to take “the seal” away, saying he was no longer worthy, before he disintegrated.

The party investigated the shifting wall, finding a secret compartment with 3 chests. The first chest contained an ornate box, which revealed a small jade statuette just for a moment before it let out a huge flash of light and struck them all unconscious. The party experienced a series of visions: the box being opened once before; a horde of monsters descending on a foreign Tien land in a storm; an emperor struck down by a friend who transformed into a jade giant; shadowy humanoid figures, one elven and one birdlike, dispatched after the beam of light; a young Rokuro Kaijitsu selling a beautiful sword and scabbard to an Ulfen man while the sword watched the party; Brinewall burning in a brutal attack; and Maia standing in regal armor, drawing a sword and smirking as she turned to face an army of monsters.

Not sure what to make of the visions, the party looted the rest of the chests, finding valuable treasures. Declaring Brinewall castle cleared, they returned to the caravan after a brief stop at the lighthouse, finding it was the likely roost of the disembodied light from earlier, as well as a skeleton key to the rest of the castle. After that particular smack-the-forehead moment, the party returned to the caravan. Overhead the sky finally broke, and rain began to fall.

The party returned to find Maia was awake and recovering. With Arach to keep her in line, she was at least tolerable. Once she had recovered her strength, the caravan’s spirits were lifting and Maia/Arach called the party in to discuss their next move. Maia explained her parentage, how she was the half-sister of Ameiko Kaijitsu, the granddaughter of Rokuro Kaijitsu. However, she was related to Ameiko through her mother instead of her father, so she should have had no relation to Rokuro. All she knew was that Ameiko had sold her “everything that was hers”, including the Rusty Dragon Inn, and Ameiko had also said that Maia could treat the Kaijitsus as her own family. Apparently that had been enough for the curse to home in on her.

The party knows they should probably get moving, since the seal apparently announces their location to the Tien demons. Maia wants answers to what happened to her, and the only clue she has is the supposedly intelligent sword that was sold to a man from the Linnorm Kingdoms. Add in Kelda, who wants the party to take her back home to Kalsgard in the Linnorm Kingdoms, and their next destination became clear.

The party packed up and got ready to go, finding out along the way that Spivey can remove fatigue from people once a day, which may let the caravan work a longer day than usual. There was also some various NPC interactions, with Meckrin de-cursing Guillaume, Elsa befriending Arach and Maia, and Marcel getting under Maia’s skin well enough that she slapped him in the face. This incident earned Marcel a cold, unreadable stare from Kaellara. Arach told Guillaume that he may be able to help get a shield decorated, and Guillaume is waiting for Maia to make the first move to see how she’s changed, if at all.

Marcel also took this opportunity to finally reveal to the party that he is a kitsune, a fox-person who can shapeshift between human and human/fox hybrid forms.

The Linnorm Kingdoms lie ahead, a harsh place where the route through the deadly forest is the better route because “the drakes keep the trolls away.” The party had best be ready for anything.

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Session 12
Summary of Session 12

The party was in the courtyard of Brinewall castle, having just killed Kikonu and Zaiobe, and driven off Buttersnips. The battle had left them drained however, and thin on daily resources. They were ready to pull back to the graveyard, but Spivey was worried about leaving Megus for yet another day. She persuaded the party to push on in the hopes of finding her mistress. The party began to explore the upper level of the castle, finding a giant bat in a solarium, the pet of a Corby cleric who worshipped Nindinzego, the tentacle monster from the basement.

The party had to fight the bat and the cleric, who both unleashed sonic attacks that left several of them stunned and/or staggered. They also had trouble with tight spaces; most of the battle took place on either the battlements or the upper level of the ballroom, both of which left the party struggling to maneuver. Elsa took a spill over a railing, hurting her pride quite a bit. However, the party was able to strike down both the corby cleric and her pet bat.

Not wanting to push their luck any further, the party pulled back for the night. They again saw the lighthouse was lit at night, though the light turned off suddenly when an otherworldly roar came from the castle. The party is pretty sure that roar was from Nindinzego, though it was hard to tell if the thing was angry or happy.

Morning came with cloudy skies, threatening rain, but much of the party was stronger, feeling refreshed and ready to take on the castle yet again.

The party went back to the castle, this time leaving Spivey and the horses behind at the graveyard, with instructions to watch for Buttersnips. They explored the upper levels of the castle, finding a lot of doors and a lot of mold. They found several more Brinewall clues, giving them at least some idea of what happened in the village and the castle so many years ago: there was an attack by men in black robes with throwing stars, bird-people, and giants. By anyone’s guess, no one survived, meaning the attackers were both vicious and ruthlessly efficient. There was some evidence for this as many of the bodies were decapitated, the heads nowhere to be found.

The party’s search revealed the quarters of the corbies, Kikonu, and Zaiobe, the latter of which roosted in the tower library, where they found some eyeglasses and some moldy books. The party also found Kikonu’s near-unreadable notes, covered with notes about finding “the right sound,” as well as a note, quite possibly from Buttersnips, saying something about assassins to the north, and it should only take her a few days of travel. Considering Buttersnips’ speed, “a few days” could take her quite far. But it seems the quickling has left the castle.

The party found a small shrine to Desna, heavily defiled by the corby cleric, and holding the dead body of Megus, who had apparently died in a ceremonial sacrifice of some kind. Megus had been dead for over a week, so the party could take some cold solace in knowing they hadn’t been just a little too slow. The party made an effort to clean up the shrine before moving on.

As for the remaining monsters, the party also fought a couple of corbies, and a strange undead child-thing that hid in a storage closet. It was a disturbing foe, in how it could drain their vitality and steal voices (namely stealing Elsa’s), but they managed to kill it. As for what it was, they had no idea.

The party ran into a couple of haunts which evaporated quickly, one of them saying “the fiend has been vanquished.” Then they moved into the basement, first checking a small area under the tower, which was heavily locked and gave them a feeling of being watched. This strange prison-like area had a dead man with once-fine clothing, and a scabbard for a Tien sword. There were a couple of empty cells and a lot of dust, but aside from that, the area was empty. Very curious…

At long last, the party felt ready to take on Nindinzego. However, they decided to check a small area in the dungeon that turned out to be a washroom, inhabited by semi-sentient mushrooms. Guillaume took a bad hit, losing a lot of blood to powerful spores. They resolved to pull back again and heal before taking on the tentacle monster. Recovering Spivey (and breaking her heart with the news of Megus), they recruited her and returned to the caravan. Spivey was received with mixed results (Kaellara’s not sure how she’s supposed to communicate with a blind person, Kelda’s a bit confused about which small fairy-creature is evil, etc.). Maia had shown no change, except to wake up briefly the previous morning before passing out again.

The party lucked out with Meckrin, who appreciated the gift of new eyeglasses. He had a few heals ready and a Lesser Restoration which restored Guillaume’s health completely. After checking in with the various caravan members (Marcel managing to get a sort-of kiss from Kaellara for luck), they headed out again. They are now on a hard timeline: the caravan has barely enough food to reach a nearby town as it is. The caravan has to get moving in the morning, or they won’t have enough supplies to get anywhere.

On the way back to the castle, the party engaged in some of the joking and ribbing that has become their standard. Marcel and Elsa were nudging Guillaume to make a go for Kaellara, which he did not seem interested in. Rehoofa made some comment about a hydra that may not be forgotten soon. Overall, the party is in good spirits, and ready to go after the tentacle beast that very nearly killed them all just a few days ago.

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Session 11
Summary of Session 11

The party was in the main courtyard of Brinewall Castle, where they decided to investigate the rest of the ground floor. Going inside the main doors again, they cautiously explored while staying well clear of the haunted area. Over the space of a few hours of searching, they found that the castle was effective at frustrating invaders. Brinewall castle has almost too many doors to count, some of them hidden.

In the course of their explorations, the party found an inner courtyard, lost to weeds and decay, with its center pool hosting a giant water beetle. Elsa jumped into the water to try and outmaneuver the beetle, only to find the pool was much deeper than she expected. Guillaume leapt in after her, but by the time he was in there, the beetle was already dead. The two of them climbed out and dried off, and continued explorations.

The next find was a room covered in trophies and taxidermy, clearly the lair of someone twisted and more than a little sadistic. This person revealed herself soon: the doll-thing Rehoofa had spotted earlier. The doll-thing was a Quickling named Buttersnips. She turned out to be almost as frustrating as labyrinth of doors, able to slash up the party with her tiny, poisoned sword and move away before anyone could counterattack. Buttersnips homed in on Marcel particularly, seeming to like him as the prettiest party member.

The party ultimately waited in a tight corridor for Buttersnips, hoping to intercept her, but she chose discretion and ran away instead. She showed up later, when the party continued exploration and ran into the ogrekin Muhtildah. Muhtildah was a dangerous opponent, cleaning Guillaume’s clock with a critical hit and knocking around several of the others, but she was ultimately overwhelmed. Buttersnips, again choosing not to stand and fight, ran away.

The party looted Muhtildah’s corpse and healed up. Their resources spent for the day, they confirmed that the ground floor was fully explored, and then collected Spivey and left for the graveyard, where they made camp.

Overnight, the party saw the Brinewall lighthouse lit up. They learned that Kikonu had once sent Corbies there to investigate, and they had not returned. Rehoofa also heard a shrieking noise of some beast out hunting at night.

The party also encountered the harpy called Zaiobe, who came to speak with them. “Speak” is a relative term here, as Zaiobe was mute and communicated through telepathy. Speaking mostly with Marcel, she asked the party for their help in killing Kikonu. She and Kikonu were once lovers, but have had a falling out. His crazy pursuit of “the right sound”, while originally attractive to Zaiobe, has since become tiresome. Also, Kikonu has somehow copied Zaiobe’s non-existant voice for his own use.

Zaiobe made arrangements with the party, and the next morning she met them at the castle gate. Using a telepathic link with Kikonu, she called the bird-man to her, while the party lay in ambush in the stable. Kikonu arrived and appeared happy to be called by Zaiobe. He also showed her his true face, peeling off his Tengu face as though it were a mask. Underneath, he was humanoid with wings, his face looking like an animated kabuki mask.

Kikonu acted first, blasting Guillaume with a firey beam. Rehoofa countered with a few arrows, and then Guillaume finished it with a head-on mounted charge, spearing Kikonu dead-center with his lance. Kikonu proved difficult to keep down, regenerating slowly until Elsa finallly hit him with an alchemist’s fire.

The fight wasn’t over, though. Buttersnips had appeared with Kikonu, and once Kikonu was dead, Zaiobe turned on the party, seeking to kill Spivey. Spivey hastily explained that Zaiobe hated her: Kikonu had lost interest in Zaiobe over time, and had become interested in Spivey. Zaiobe, living up to her namesake as a harpy, was murderously jealous of the little azata.

A harrowing few minutes followed, in which Guillaume ran away from a Cause Fear spell, Zaiobe peppered the party with arrows, and Buttersnips sliced up anyone she could reach (still focusing on Marcel). It ended when Elsa faked out Zaiobe, announcing that she was taking Spivey away while really leaving Spivey with Marcel. Zaiobe fell for it, chasing after Elsa. When she landed to keep up her chase into the castle, she met her end: Guillaume, finally back from Cause Fear, charged in and hit her, finishing her off when she tried to get away.

Meanwhile, Buttersnips again lost interest and left, her strength whittled down. Rehoofa seems to have discovered that cold iron arrows hurt her the most, but this will only be useful if the party can pin her down.

Now the party stands right where it was at the beginning of the session: in the courtyard of Brinewall castle. However, they have learned a bit about teamwork, and there are at least two fewer threats to worry about now.

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Session 10
Summary of Session 10

The party left Spivey at the graveyard, trusting she would be safe. She mentioned that the “smelly people” never came onto the graveyard, and whenever they came close she’d play a prank or two to drive them away. She seemed excited when they said that Megus had been in the castle.

The party rode back to the caravan, where they introduced Kelda to everyone. They checked on Maia, confirming that she was in a magically-induced coma, and did not eat but did not appear to be deterioriating. She is asleep, waking briefly to babble in Tien. One of the party asked if someone had tried kissing her awake; Arach answered that yes, “someone” had tried, with no results. On the subject of “someone,” Meckrin had been keeping track of Maia’s condition, though he was always observed by Arach or Kaellara. He complained that Maia was not as interesting as he thought. Referring to her as “damaged goods,” he said that below the collar she’s not quite what he expected.

Meckrin was more than happy to meet Kelda, saying she could call him Scribbleface, a name he seems to be warming up to. Kelda was less enthusiastic, leaving Meckrin with a bruise in the shape of her fist. Kelda explained that where she is from, swordmaidens make men “work for it”.

Meckrin did an examination of Elsa and Marcel, doing what he could to help them recover from the poison, but he said that Marcel was suffering from energy drain, something beyond his power to heal. Marcel would have to fight off the energy drain himself within 24 hours, or else the drain would become permanent, requiring powerful magic to undo.

The party had some interaction with Arach, who said that the caravan had been unharmed so far. Apparently the monsters in the castle didn’t come out this far, and other creatures of the countryside knew to avoid the area. He also said that he knew Maia’s father was dead, and had been dead since the day Arach had met Maia. Arach didn’t know the whole story, just that Maia’s father had been a servant in the Kaijitsu household, and had left after a tryst with the lady Kaijitsu, which had presumably resulted in Maia.

The party was fairly confused at this point, but realized they don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle. What they know so far:

-Maia is a bastard of the Kaijitsu family, sharing a mother with Ameiko Kaijitsu.
-The Kaijitsus have a checkered past at best when it comes to heirs: Ameiko had also shared a father with a bastard half-brother (who was a half-elf).
-The Kaijitsu family had been a strong presence in Brinewall. They had had not been the owners of the castle, but they had been successful merchants. With their economic power, they were undoubtedly on great terms with the lord of the castle. They might have left a shop or other property in the village, but the party didn’t see anything like that in their brief search.
-Notably, the Kaijitsus’ paternal line had ties to Brinewall. What connection Maia, coming from the maternal line, has to this place is unknown.

The night passed uneventfully, and at dinner time the party found out that Kelda was a decent singer. The next morning the party headed back to Brinewall. Their first stop was the graveyard, where they found Spivey was gone. While looking for her, they ran into none other than Kikonu, who appeared on top of a small mausoleum. In his whiny voice, he tried to ask the party to bring back the pretty Ulfen woman with her great voice, and also to bring back the fairy creature and her pretty music. He said that if they did so, he would peacefully let them come and go from his castle, so long as he could finish his work.

The party was less than convinced. Guillaume charged, spearing Kikonu with his lance. The hit was little more than a deep scratch to Kikonu, but the bird-man reacted violently, screaming melodramatically, spreading large wings, and flying out of reach. He then shot a firey beam into Guillaume, hitting him dead-center. Marcel managed to get a net around Kikonu and Guillaume dragged him down to the ground, but right as Kikonu hit the ground, he vanished, reappearing a hundred feet in the air. He screamed at the party to go away and never come back, and then he flew back to the castle.

Marcel, having had some time to learn a few things (he had been studying with Grigori), made a few observations. He said that Spivey was some kind of outsider called a Lyrakien Azata, something like an angel, but more free-spirited. He also said that Kikonu was not of this world either, but he couldn’t tell exactly what Kikonu was.

The party went back to the castle and had to breach the gate again; it had been reinforced by a pair of troglodytes, who were backed up by another two trogs and a giant lizard from inside the castle. The fight was a brief challenge, resulting in everyone taking a few licks, especially Guillaume’s horse, which was poisoned but survived. After the battle, the party investigated some whistling from the stables, finding Spivey in there. She had come to the castle searching for Megus, but upon getting this far, she realized her blindness was going to be a real problem, so she’d hidden in the stable to try and figure out her next move. The party decided to leave their horses in the stable with her, and hope she’ll be safe there.

Now the party sits in the castle courtyard, ready to head back inside and see what the cursed castle has in store for them today.

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Session 9
Summary of Session 9

The party found themselves in the bowels of Brinewall castle with Guillaume unconscious and Rehoofa exhausted from carrying him out. Though they had closed the door to the crypt, hopefully sealing Nindinzego inside, the demon-octopus-thing was not sitting quietly. It screamed at the party to come back and die, and then shouted for someone (or something) called Nevkali, screaming that “your god calls you”.

The party decided it was time to get out. Kelda came running up to find them, wondering what all the noise was. Seeing Guillaume on the floor in a puddle of blood and his armor ripped to shreds, she agreed that it was time to get to safety. Using her Rage for the extra strength, she picked up Guillaume while the party picked up their discarded belongings and quickly made their way to the secret passageway they had come in by. They managed to get in and close the door just as a search party came down. While the party hid and stayed quiet, they heard scuffling outside the door, along with a strange, whiny voice saying that there were apparently parts of this castle he hadn’t yet discovered.

The searchers were apparently unable to open the secret door, because no one came in after the party. The party spent a rough night sleeping on the ground of the secret passage, after Rehoofa did a check of Guillaume to confirm he was alive by some miracle, even though his injuries would have killed most men. Kelda, hearing what happened, said that Guillaume must have succumbed to the “blood rage”, a common problem of the men of the Linnorm Kingdoms, where she is from. Her people believe that the blood rage means the gods have chosen you to meet your fate that day. However, where she is from it is common to leave such a man behind during a retreat; after all, the gods only chose those that man to meet his fate, not him and the 3 men it would take to drag him away from the fight. Kelda seemed to approve that the party dragged Guillaume away, however. Perhaps his fate was to live, at least for that day.

Guillaume was first to awaken the next morning, and had a (possibly concussion-related) glimpse of Marcel brushing a long, foxlike tail. Marcel quickly hid his tail and changed the subject. After the rest of the party awoke, Kelda offered a few words of encouragement to Guillaume and the rest of the party. She also gave a rough description of the ogrekin (otherwise known as half-ogres) who had taken her: 2 stupid brothers who had captured her, and their smarter sister, Multildah. Kelda also warned the party about Kikonu, the leader of the Corbies. She said that he was smarter than the rest, and also seemed like something just wasn’t quite right about him. She doesn’t know why Kikonu kept her prisoner instead of killing her, but she had some ideas involving her ogre jailer: new ogrekin have to come from somewhere, after all.

The group discussed their next move, whether to risk going back in through the secret passage or back out the way they’d come in and finding another way in. Plans ranged from scaling the wall to tunneling through it, until Kelda suggested the classic Ulfen tactic: bash down the front door and kill anything that gets in your way. Going with this plan, the party snuck back out the passage and around the castle wall (with a hair-rasing moment when a guard almost spotted them), they got to the front gate. Elsa used a Warp Wood spell to bend the gate off its hinges, opening up the gatehouse, and the breach was on.

Inside the gatehouse were the 2 Ogrekin brothers. Though they were dumb, they were also dangerous: powerful, misshapen muscular creatures wielding spears. On the castle wall, the Corbies were now armed with heavy crossbows, and peppered the party from above. An Unnatural Lust spell from Marcel made one Corby jump off the wall to cuddle up with Elsa for a disturbing few seconds. While that was happening, the party dealt with the ogrekin, Guillaume and Kelda leading the charge. Once the two ogrekin were down, Kelda stayed behind to decapitate them and break open the door to the courtyard, while the rest of the party ran up some stairs to the wall and fight the Corbies. They all took some hits from crossbows and claws. Marcel got slashed up when he had a moment of bravado and tried to take on a Corby on his own. The party also learned that Corbies are unnaturally tough: even when they’ve suffered injuries that should have them bleeding out on the ground, they keep fighting.

With the Corbies down, the party had a few seconds to breathe, but only a few seconds. Rehoofa jumped down off the wall and twisted his ankle when he landed wrong. He caught a brief glimpse of a strange, doll-like creature that looked at him, laughed, and then dashed off almost too quickly to follow. Then he had other problems: a giant spider ran out of the nearby stables, charging him. The party rallied and fought this beast off, but then its master, a human-spider thing no one could identify, ran out to extort some angry justice. This creature was far more dangerous, poisoning both Elsa and Marcel. Guillaume, slowed down both by his heavy armor and from starting up on the wall, arrived halfway through this fight. They finally put the creature down, and it died sobbing that it couldn’t save its pet spider.

The breach of the wall successful, the party took a moment to patch up its wounds, and looked to the main door of the keep. From inside came an odd, terrible singing, like a chorus of crows. They decided to investigate, though Kelda stayed behind: she’d had her blood vengeance, and had no interest in dealing with Kikonu or any of his minions. Leaving Kelda behind as a rear guard, the party entered the keep. That’s when things got weird.

Inside the main door was a large hall, probably used by the castle’s lord for public appearances back before Brinewall fell off the map. The party found it was now some kind of rehearsal room, with 4 Corbies practicing for some kind of musical, headed by a large raven-man, Kikonu, sitting on the small throne at the back. Far from upset that the party was breaking in, Kikonu welcomed the party and asked them to watch rehearsal and give their opinions. Speaking in Varisian (even though the Corbies didn’t understand it), he set the scene: they were crows whose wings had been taken away by humans, and now found the human thieves, the PCs. At Kikonu’s direction, the Corbies attacked. The battle was a tough one, Guilluame and Rehoofa dealing with 3 Corbies at once while a fourth hassled Elsa and Marcel. In the back of the room, Kikonu did not participate in the battle, but continued acting like this was a rehearsal. Apparently acting as the lead singer as well as director, he started singing 2 parts, male and female, with a decent level of skill. He only broke when a troglodyte peeked out of a side room, and ordered the creature away, saying it was not an actor or a singer in this scene.

When the party finally struck down the Corbies, Kikonu became very upset that the party didn’t know how the scene was supposed to go. Saying he was so close to finding “the right sound”, he stomped out, stepping behind the throne. When the party tried to follow, they found nothing: he had disappeared, possibly through another secret passage. The party’s investigations found no passage however.

The party tried to figure out where Kikonu had gone. Finding a heavy iron door in the north part of the chamber, Rehoofa did a search, finding nothing significant. Guillaume did find something though, when he tried to open the door and got a load of bricks dumped on his head from a deadfall cleverly hidden above the door. After Rehoofa picked the lock (requiring several minutes of work), the party progressed onwards, finding shortly that the “haunted” rumors were true: they found a haunted chamber, in which soldiers made of blood appeared, fighting opponents the party couldn’t see. The effects terrified most of the party, sending both Rehoofa and Guillaume running away, while Elsa and Marcel ran in the other direction, further down the passage. They found out why that was a bad idea a moment later, when an undead warrior stepped out of a door, attacking them. Marcel was hit by the creature’s sword, having some of his life-force drained away, and then he succumbed to the fear effect of the haunted room. With Marcel running away and Elsa cornered in a room with no visible exit, things were looking bleak.

The party managed to pull through, however: Guillaume came back, using his tactical training to quickly switch places with Marcel. Meanwhile, Elsa tried out a new spell, Flaming Sphere, on the undead. The creature was very resilient, walking out of the fire and attacking her, but it ultimately fell to the flames.

The party pulled out of the haunted space and investigated the area. The undead creature, identified by Rehoofa as a wight, wore an ornate dragon-decorated helmet that Marcel recognized as the classic headgear of the captain of the Brinewall guards. The wight also had a magic sword that Guillaume was quick to claim. The rooms turned out to be the guard captain’s office and bedroom, which had a few notes giving hints on what had happened in Brinewall decades ago, and an odd key the party found in the ruin of his desk. Guillaume, watching the blood-soldiers fight, could tell that whatever they had been fighting, it was creatures about their own size, using slashing weapons of some sort.

Drained of spells and still fighting the effects of spider venom, the party decided to pull back for the day. They got out without too much trouble, recovering Kelda and going back to the graveyard, finding Spivey and their horses unmolested. Spivey stayed behind, wanting to stay there in case Megus came back. The rest of the group, Kelda included, headed back to the caravan to check on Maia and unload some of their spoils.

We shall see what awaits them there.

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Session 8
Summary of Session 8

The game started with the party approaching Brinewall castle. Marcel explained that he thought the crow-men on the walls were Tengu, and he laid out what he remembered about Tengu from the days of his youth. However, this turned out to not be helpful. When the party tried to talk to these crow-men, they screeched back in a language no one understood, then started throwing their droppings at Marcel. They quickly upgraded, moving out of sight and one of them coming back to yell commands back inside the castle. Shortly afterwards, there was the THUNK of a siege engine and the party found itself running from masonry chunks launched out at them. Rehoofa got off a solid parting shot, and the party pulled back without further incident.

Turning to plan B, the party started looking for any secret entrances they could. After spending a few hours going through the houses on the lagoon and finding nothing, the party started walking along the cliff edge around the peninsula that the castle sat on. This search had a few tense moments, as Marcel learned that telling jokes doesn’t help a stealth mission. At one point, Elsa looked up briefly to see a humanoid face looking down at them from over the cliff edge, but nothing else came of it. The party lucked out and found a secret entrance in the cliffside, Rehoofa managing to open the lock and get everyone inside right as the wall guards came back around. Guillaume, the last one in, heard the wall guards talking to someone above him, right as he closed the door.

The party made its way through the caverns beyond, Rehoofa’s lock-picking skills coming in handy in getting through the doors. They ran into a small tribe of troglodytes in the castle’s old mess hall and arena areas, and plowed through them with some effort. The stench was unsettling to everyone but Guillaume, who turned out to have an iron stomach. The troglodytes’ leader turned out to have some grasp of tactics, pinning the party in a tight space and doing some damage to Guillaume. Fortunately, a smoke arrow from Rehoofa and some healing from Elsa kept them alive. Ultimately, the trog leader was slain.

After looting the rooms they found (including an old armory that had a crossbow and a case of alchemical-somethings), the party continued on, finding the castle’s dungon. There, they found a true menace: the ogre Slugwort, whose stupidity was second only to his brute strength. He pounded the party quite solidly, nearly killing Marcel when Marcel tried to shoot an arrow too close to the ogre. However, ultimately the party brought him down.

With the ogre downed, the party talked to the one prisoner in the dungeon: a stoic Ulfen woman named Kelda Oxgutter. Though Kelda was standoffish to start, Elsa and Marcel’s talent with words ended up getting her to open up. Kelda explained that the “Tengu” were actually creatures called Corbies, led by someone called Kikonu. Kelda had come as part of an Ulfen raiding party to look for treasure, but after killing the drake in the lagoon, the survivors of the party, a few ogrekin, turned traitorous and threw in with Kikonu. Kelda also mentioned she had been prisoners with an old woman, possibly Old Megus the witch, who was taken away some time ago and has not come back; the trog leader seemed to think the witch has been fed to some god of the Corbies.

Kelda wants to go back home to the northlands, and has agreed to join the PC’s caravan if they will take her home. She is quite interested in taking “blood vengeance” on her traitorous party, but was not so interested in going through some haunted caverns looking for a curse. So she hung back, letting the party continue to explore the dungeons while she watched for reinforcements.

Guillaume led the party deeper into the caverns, where they found a crypt dedicated to the goddess Pharasma. A ghostly image outside of it seemed to indicate they should leave their weapons outside, however. Worried, the party got the lock open and went inside, leaving their weapons at the door. Unfortunately, it was here that their story almost ended.

The crypt was the home of a strange, dark creature that called itself Nizindengo. Looking like a large, flying octopus with ten tentacles and a huge mouth, Nizindengo nearly butchered them all: he resisted Rehoofa’s arrows, he had a wand that he used to shoot flaming bolts, and when he felt like it, it swooped in to churn through the strongest fighters with his tentacles, claws, and teeth. Guillaume was completely dedicated to this fight, calling the party cowards as they suggested retreat, and saying they would not be able to retreat without being shot down. However, the battle did not go well. It ended with Guillaume finally going down for the count, shouting “Shoot him! Shoot him!” Rehoofa dragged Guillaume’s limp body out, along with Elsa and Marcel.

The party is alive, but the battle has left them drained: one of their healing wands is completely expended, and a magical cold iron morningstar from the trog leader has been abandoned back in Nizindengo’s lair, falling from Guillaume’s limp hand as he went down.
The conscious members of the party are now left in the bowels of an occupied, possibly haunted castle, wondering what their next move will be.

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Session 7
Summary of Session 7

The caravan had just rolled into Galduria. They spent a day there selling off trade goods and goblin equipment, and restocking for the journey ahead. The party also bought a few things for the key NPCs: arrows for Maia, writing materials for Arach, and potion-brewing equipment for Meckrin. Leaving Galduria, the caravan made a 1-day journey to Wolf’s Ear, to find they were preparing for a pagan ritual for calling in fall. Wolf’s Ear has a myth of a one-eared white wolf god who apparently served the town in ages past, and Wolf’s Ear still has celebrations in its name, “Rogha An Da Dhiogha,” or “Rowah” for short. Elsa recognized this name as a bastardized Druidic for “Sky’s Knee,” though no one has any idea what that is supposed to mean.

The caravan set off north through Churlwood. When Marcel confronted Meckrin about whether the little goblin still owes the party (and should give a discount on potions), Meckrin responded by saying that as shaman, he has had a vision of someone in the caravan coming under “a terrible curse”, which would make that person forget who they were. He clearly intended this for Marcel, and spent the next few days pestering him with cries of “terrible curse”. Marcel also (perhaps by accident) angered Arach when he suggested that Maia is good for nothing, and/or should be left behind.

On their last night in the Churlwood, Maia rode off on her own, finding an old shrine. When the party went to track her down, they arrived in time to find a missing hunter from Wolf’s Ear, Zandu Quinn. Zandu emerged from the brush, but was then attacked by a large white wolf. At the same time, the caravan came under attack by powerful, intelligent wolves. The resulting fight was a dangerous one, in which the caravan suffered much damage, and in which Marcel and Maia were both bitten by the great white wolf. The white wolf showed it was intelligent, even able to talk. It was struck down finally, and the party rode back to the caravan to fight off the wolves.

Zandu explained that he’d come out here to try and call the ancient wolf god to aid Wolf’s Ear, since the town was suffering from a bad harvest this year. The party pointed to how this white wolf had both ears, however. Further answers were denied when Guillaume chose to execute the white wolf instead of question it. This earned him the sarcastic nickname “godslayer” by Maia.

The group split up then, the caravan continuing on to Roderic’s Cove while the party escorted Zandu back to Wolf’s Ear, where they were rewarded with what the town could manage to scrape together, along with a pot of magical face paint. The party also joined in the pagan celebration to the wolf god, Marcel getting the most involved, sporting a fox tail and ears for a little while.

The next day, the party made their way back through the Churlwood and made their way to Roderic’s Cove, where they met up with the caravan around the time it finished repairs and healing from the wolf attack. Marcel tried getting on Kaellara’s good side, giving her flowers. Her reaction was unreadable, however.

The party loaded the caravan to the brim with provisions and set off for Brinewall. They were not attacked again, though the trip was not uneventful. Along the way, they noticed that Maia was becoming sicker and sicker, though there was no visible reason why. When Elsa rode out with her all day, Maia did nothing out of the ordinary, yet still grew weaker as the day went on. At one point Guillaume approached Maia, trying to bury the hatchet and get on good terms with her, but at the time she wasn’t interested in changing her mind.

It all came to a head when the caravan stopped for the night outside of Brinewall: Guillaume found Maia wandering towards Brinewall, and when he stopped her, she started babbling in Tien before she collapsed. He carried her back to the caravan, to find Kaellara, who apparently could understand her babblings. Meckrin studied her, finding that her body was stable, but she was being cursed by some great power from a distance, too strong for his magic to heal. It didn’t take long for the party to decide that whatever this power was, it was coming from Brinewall.

Kaellara transcribed Maia’s babblings, writing them out in Varisian for the party:
“One treasure beyond two seals in the third vault.”
“Beware the birds who wish to fly but cannot.”
“A key you seek lies in the grip of the ten-handed one – his fear is your greatest ally.”
“Beware the cuckolded cuckoo – it is in his shattered silent love you should seek aid.”
“Grandfather waits in the dark, but he knows not who he was.”

Some confusion rose over one of the things Maia said: “Grandfather waits in the dark.” A worried Arach admitted he knew that Maia is a bastard half-sister of Ameiko, on her mother’s side. Therefore, her grandfather would also be Ameiko’s. It was possible she was referring to Rokuro Kaijitsu, the author of the letter that had brought them here. (Though something still seems off about this).

The party headed into Brinewall the next day, investigating a lagoon. There, they fought carnivorous lobster/eel things and studied a dead lizardlike creature in the lagoon. They then looked into the town itself, finding everything falling apart from the passage of time. Notably, there was a half-sunken ship at the pier which looked relatively new, though it suffered from claw marks and lightning scars, possibly from the dead lizard-thing in the lagoon. Any survivors from the boat were suspiciously absent.

Answering ghostly whispers they were hearing, the party then headed to the graveyard, where they found a fairy-like creature called Spivey. She explained that she’d come here as the new familiar of Megus, the vanished swamp witch. Spivey explained that Megus had changed her own mindset with a spell that removed her anger and shot it into the swamp (perhaps unintentionally sparking the troubles the party had originally dealt with). Spivey is also blind, struck down by Megus’ jilted ex-familiar, the ratling the party had killed back at the swamp. Spivey is unsure of what has become of Megus: Megus left almost 2 weeks ago to investigate the castle, leaving Spivey behind to make a safe haven for her. There has been no sign of Megus since then, but Spivey knows the castle is dangerous, full of creatures that smell bad and are bad singers, sounding like a chorus of crows.

The party was left with 2 spots to investigate: an old lighthouse to the north, and the castle. They chose to go to the castle, approaching and wondering if there were any hidden entrances anywhere. The gates were shut, and the guards walking the walls were bizarre, anthropomorphic crows. The party so far has decided to go up and try to talk to these creatures.

In other words, trick or treat.

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