Through A Prism

The Enemy of My Enemy

With victory so close at hand, a wicked bargain presents itself, but the true price of accepting it is kept hidden until too late….

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The Fallen Tower, Part III

After the tower’s tests take a personal and deadly turn, an end is finally in sight….

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The Fallen Tower, Part II

Ascending through the trials of the Empyrean Tower reveals new allies hoping to set things right, as well as the truth of how things went so wrong….

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The Fallen Tower, Part I

An escape route leads directly to the Empyrean Tower, where survivors of a foul betrayal have been sequestered into pocket dimensions and the tower’s trials test the spirits of any who would walk its halls….

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Thy Fearful Symmetry

A tumble through endless depths lands in an icy dimensional maze, the feed-trough of a long-forgotten godlike being. All hope of escape rests on the frantic notes of a poor soul who languished here until her gruesome demise….

As the Non-lethals wake from unconscious, they see flashes of places as they fall. They see Krusk and also Cass traveling alongside Godash and his prisoner-clad wheelbarrow; men fighting off strange dark creatures. Then everything fades to complete black once more.

When the adventurers land roughly , some find themselves with only one other member of the Non-Lethals. Some find themselves completely alone in total, palpable darkness with only mysterious stars swirling in unfamiliar shapes to keep them company. Each adventurer finds themselves lying on a reddish brown metal sheet coated in a layer of ice. Moving to stand proves somewhat difficult with high winds pressing directly on the characters from above. Everyone looks around to see that there are no walls and that the ground is slick. Walking seems to be the only option in this otherworldly place.

Ghesh and Kyra find themselves together on a rather broken down platform. Ghesh casts light on his staff and it sheds a dim glow, the dark and immediately pulls the journal he had recently discovered. Kyra listens to the white dragonborn haltingly explain what is going on and what they must do. The two make their way down a passage to their right. They make it to a place where an open archway stands against the night sky, a runic ‘s’ floating above it. Ghesh begins to flip through the journal, searching for a specific entry. Kyra stands over him, attention half focused on Ghesh and the other half on the endless starry sky.

Meanwhile, Breena struggles to her feet in a dark passageway. Completely alone, she casts dancing lights to add some color in the darkness. She creeps down several passageways all of which lead to chilly dead-ends. Terror starts to set in as she turns and heads in the opposite direction.

Kerrian also finds himself to be alone in the strange world, but thanks to Ghesh for letting him get a look at the Antiquarian’s journal, he is not afraid. He moves down one way, seeing a faint glow of colorful lights. Upon reaching the lights, he sees a scared Breena. Both relieved that they were no longer by themselves, they joined up. With Breena’s four balls of drifting light, the two set off down another open air passage.

While Kerrian and Breena are just meeting, Cana and Gertrude are moving together on their own down several passageways, keeping an eye out for the possibility of seeing their other fellow Non-Lethals. They reach a certain point where they see a gaping hole on the ground and beyond that an arch way with the glowing rune of ‘o’. Light shines from one of Cana’s daggers as the two investigate the area.

In yet another area of the icy place, Gunvor and Thyra find themselves stranded together. Thyra casts light on her hammer which lies ready in hand. They both agree to try to locate the others if they are still alive. They move down one corridor, catching a glimpse of dim grayness up ahead. The two come upon Cana and Gertrude. The four band together and talk, trying to hash out some form of plan.

While the four members of the party determine how to carry forward, Ghesh and Kyra decide to search more down other passageways. One side proves to be a dead end. The other side reveals to be another open doorway with the runic ‘h’ hovering above it. They both realize that they are stranded on an eroding metal platform with only two doorways to take them somewhere.

Kerrian and Breena travel together down different corridors looking for the others. Eventually, they find Thyra, Gunvor, Cana, and Gertrude locked in an intense discussion. Relief washes once more over each adventurer. Kerrian explains what is happening and talks of the journal currently in Ghesh’s possession. He explains that the doorways are portals to other portals on this dimensional land. They all come up a plan. Kerrian, Breena, and Cana travel down the left passageway, while the other three journey down the right one. Kerrian’s group finds another portal with an ‘r’ above it. Thyra’s group discovers the ‘n’ rune above a portal.

Meanwhile, Ghesh and Kyra stand in front of the portal labelled with the ‘i’. They each take a breath, link arms, and jump through the portal. Their feet touch down on the same icy surface and they gaze up at the rune letter ‘y’ drifting above their heads and the archway. With no hesitation, Ghesh leads the way down a corridor, Kyra right on his heels.

Suddenly an ear-shattering screech penetrates the darkness. The sound seems to hone in on the small threesome of Kerrian, Breena, and Cana. A bat with a grotesquely twisted humanoid face and a set of leathery black wings comes into view. Kerrian and Breena are horrified at the sight of it, frozen in place. Despite its vile countenance, Cana shoots it out of the colorless sky of stars. The other two groups, upon hearing the shriek, converge on its location. At last, everyone is accounted for.

With everyone there, Ghesh and Kerrian give the rest of the Non-Lethals a full explanation. The journal that Ghesh had found before falling into the strange black world had belonged to a Sister Embla. She had been an Antiquarian who had stumbled upon the discovery of a gateway to this world beneath the Empyrean Tower. This dimensional world is known as one of the byways connecting to more otherworldly lands. Ghesh and Kerrian explain that by following a somewhat complete runic key sketched out in her journal, they all have a higher—still small—chance of escaping. They both suggest that they travel to the place that Ghesh and Kyra had previously teleported to, so that they could all try to get a better idea of what to do.

The party of lost adventurers move towards the ‘y’ rune portal, a mixture of lights spread out among them. Kerrian realizing that the bat that they had recently fought, had headed straight for Breena’s dancing lights, calls out to the others to diminish their light sources. However, the ones with light hardly have time to do so when another chorus of shriek fill the air. A horde of the bat-like creatures attack the group, grappling another terrified Breena and Kerrian. The group manages to free the two, Kyra and Kerrian almost taking each other out, and defeat the monsters. During the fight, Thyra managed to determine what exactly they were: dark corrupted fiends. While some of the crew harvests a slick poison to put on their arrows and bolts, Thyra and a couple others investigate the bodies. Their conclusion was that they had once been humans and had ingested the poison in order to become bat fiends.

Continuing with a quiver of fear in their step, the Non-Lethals carry on in the blackness without light. They finally reach the ‘y’ portal. Moving to the right reveals a portal with a runic ‘k’ above it and also a lone portal on its own rusty frosted island. That one has a runic ‘t’ on it. Moving to the left of the ‘y’ doorway are another set of arched portals. One has the rune of ‘f’ on it. Another one is the runic ‘i’ and it has a broken lantern lying in front of it. The group examines it, while Cana bounds ahead by herself, stumbling into a portal labelled with a ‘b’ and a deceased woman. She investigates and finds a book, along with a crumpled piece of paper clutched in her hand.

The rest of the group catches up to her and Cana shows them the paper that is actually a map. Thyra catches a glimpse of ink on the back and tells the halfling to flip it over. Cana does so and finds a couple of roughly scratched out sentences saying:

“Same GATE TWICE. No connection to ‘t’ should be here.”

Ghesh, Kerrian, Kyra, and Cana decide to hop through the ‘b’ portal, following the directions from the journal. Before the others have a chance to join them, a bunch of the screaming bat fiends fall upon the group on both sides of the portal. Many of the party is injured following difficult fight. When the rest of the party steps through portal ‘b’, Kyra tells them that while she was temporarily in one of the fiend’s grasp, a poisonous spray of spittle flew into the back of her throat. The healers of the party appear to be worried about what might happen to her.

The party tries going through ‘b’ once more and end up coming out of the ‘y’ gateway. They all start to feel defeated by the whole process. Cana comes up with the idea of jumping across the pressuring air to ‘t’ with a rope tied to her waist while Gertrude, Ghesh, and Kerrian hold onto the other end of the rope. The moment that Cana leaps into the forceful wind, the rope pulls taunt and the three holding the rope barely manage to hold on and reel her back.

As they determine that brute force won’t work, the rest of the group begins to panic when they see Kyra’s dark hair begin to fall out. Thyra tries to determine whether or not it’s a poison that’s affecting her, but both fighters agree that she might actually be cursed. Thyra tries a Lesser Restoration spell on Kyra, but to no avail.

Kerrian finally starts to understand the pattern of the portals. The pattern is that one must go through one of the portals twice and come out two doors next to the doubled portal’s symmetrical partners. He determines that they must go through ‘f’ in order to end up on the ‘t’ island. While Kerrian tells the party what they all must do, some of them realize that Breena was missing. Gertrude recalls her staying behind at the portal ‘h’ and volunteers to run (walk) back and get her.

Gertrude disappears down the passageway, the party immediately sending Kyra, Kerrian, and Cana through ‘f’ and to ‘t’. The thin ground of the island groans slightly as they emerge out of ‘t’ and as they go back through it. Thyra and Gunvor travel through the portals next, Ghesh, the heaviest in the group deciding to wait for Breena and Gertrude.

Gertrude happens upon a cowering Breena, picks her up without a second thought and begins to make her way back. As they come out of the ‘y’ portal, a smaller band of fiends falls onto them and Ghesh. Gertrude has a quick reaction and manages to get a terrified Breena through ‘f’ and onto the feeble floating island. Ghesh is dangerously hurt by the bats and bolts through the portal after them. With the combined weight of all of them, the ice begins to crack beneath their feet. Luckily, all three of them manage to shove through the portal.

The Non-Lethals open their eyes to find themselves on the floor of a pitch black, wedge-shaped room. They all stagger to their feet, a mix of adrenaline and fear slowly fading. With a life on the line, they each know that they must hurry to find a cure.

-
end session

(added by joeybowman3)

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In the Hall of the Mountain-Thing

A Djura tribal leader offers a shortcut through the mountains to avoid Bellathirrin territory. His abrupt departure is too suspicious to resist following him into dark places….

The adventurers struggle in the fight against the seemingly evil tree and do their best to only knock the villagers unconscious. About mid-way through the fight, a young female gnome comes strolling into the clearing, playing a tune on her (instrument?). She pauses, taking in the fight scene, before leaping into the fray to knock out villagers with the party. Kyra and Cana manage to chop down the tree, the gnomish stranger assisting them. The rest of the group finish taking care of the people, but not without Ghesh brutally killing a young man with a magically crafted ice shard.

Following the fight, Thyra immediately rushes over to the dead body and gives Ghesh a talk on how it’s not right to kill innocent people. The rest of the party talks to Ellabreena, the gnome who had come to their rescue. She tells them that she is a wandering bard, learning and sharing stories of her travels. She asks if she can accompany them and she nicknames them the Non-Lethals. The party laughing with a nodding approval from the other two bards, Gertrude and Gunvor, gladly welcome her into their ranks.

The villagers eventually come to, no longer in a possessed state of mind. The villagers looking around at their surroundings with bewildered looks in their eyes, ask how they came to be in the forest. Some of the members of the Non-Lethals explain all what has transpired within the last 24 hours to them. As the group help the remaining 16 farmers return to their homesteads, a large half-orc bearing the markings of a Djura tribesman enters the clearing pushing a wide wheelbarrow carrying three bound and gagged figures. Krusk recognizes that the half-orc is Godash, a Djura tribe leader, one that he knows quite well. The two catch up and talk while the rest of the party get the humans to their farmland. Godash says that he knows a faster way to the Empyrean Tower—one that avoids Bellathirrin territory for the most part—and offers to take the party through it. The party tells the farmers to not go eating strange fruit again and then follows Godash.

Godash takes the adventuring party through a pass tucked within a rift among the mountains for two days. After passing the deepest part of the mountains that showcased a recent rock slide, similar to the one the party had encountered several days ago, the party and Godash stopped in front of a cave mouth. Godash bids them farewell and wheels his captives into the cave with Krusk right on his heels. The rest of the party argue whether or not to follow after him, Cana slipping unnoticed into the cave. Eventually, Kyra and Gertrude notice that Cana has disappeared, no doubt into the dark cave. Reluctantly, the Non-Lethals follow after the half-orc and the halfling.

When everyone enters the cave they find themselves surrounded by darkness, at least until Thyra casts light on her warhammer and Ghesh casts it on his staff. Once the room fills with light, in the center of the 15 foot tall, hexagon shaped room, is a scary-looking statue with six arms. One set of arms rise above its head ready to strike. Another set are at its side as if holding something and a third set with outstretched as if accepting something. The group crowds around the strange statue unable to identify what religion or even what cult it could be. However, the one thing that they can glean from the room is that it might have once been a temple of some sort.

Cana still hiding in the shadows, suddenly leaps onto the statue from behind, causing the statue to rock forward and open a door to the right of the party. Ghesh terrified out of his mind, races down the newly opened corridor, triggering two traps. He manages to dodge a spear-trap, but gets struck by a series of darts that erupt out of the left wall. Upon triggering a pressure plate on the ground, another stone door rumbles up into the ceiling revealing another room.

The rest of the party recovers from the jump-scare and tracing Ghesh’s steps, ultimately avoiding the places on the ground that made the traps come to life in the first place. They join him in the room which is filled with rubbish and crude valuables like goblets and leatherstrips. An altar depicting a rising sun stands in the corner, three unlit candles set into the wall above it. Ghesh and Kerrian spend several minutes trying to figure out what to do before lighting the candle on the left. Once the candle accepts the flame, another door slides open in similar fashion to the other two doors.

Like the first door, this one reveals another long hallway. Kerrian and Kyra identifies that there are four pressure plates on the ground. Kerrian uses Eldritch Blast on two of them, causing a 10-foot wall of stone to jut out of the right side of the passage and leaving a 5 foot by 10 foot walking space. Unsure if activating the other pressure plates might seal the passageway completely, the entire party crowds on the far side of the wall. Kerrian chooses correctly and another door slides up.

The new room, similar in design to the previous one, is littered with bones. The bones are knee-high in certain areas of the room; waist-high to Breena and Cana. Along one corner of the wall is another altar bearing another trio of candles, this time with the image of mid-day. Ghesh tried lighting the center and right candles, but nothing happens. Meanwhile, Breena, Gertrude, and Gunvor search among the piles of bones. Breena discovers a miniature statue of the one they had seen upon entering the place. However, the arms on the figure curl against its chest. Thyra inspects the state of the bone, realizing that they have been in the room for generations, still somewhat preserved thanks to varying degrees of frostbite. Ghesh, with some assistance from Kerrian, unlights the right candle, leaving the flame on the center one be. A door slides a third of the way down, an open gap spewing a breath of cold air into the room. As Ghesh and Kerrian turn back to figure out how to open the door more, Kyra and Cass hoist Breena and Cana up onto the partially opened doorway. Suddenly the door rumbles sharply down, the gnome and halfling barely hanging on. The two then slip into another passageway.

At the end of this hallway, the opposite wall is completely coated in a sheet of dark frost that seems to be slowly creeping towards Breena and Cana’s end of the hall. Ghesh, upon hearing them explain the wall of ice, climbs over the door and drops down beside them. Not fearing the cold—since he was a white dragonborn that was also semi-immune to the cold—Ghesh tries to melt it with fire spells. Nothing works. Cass and Thyra throw over two ropes for the two smaller women to climb back over on. The cold finally starts to affect Ghesh as well and he climbs back over.

Everyone feeling somewhat defeated, Gertrude and Gunvor play a sad melody as the rest of the Non-Lethals pace around the room, their white breath staining the air around them. Kyra accidently kicks a shiny object across the room. It is a key! Breena suddenly starts to connect the key and the strange little statue back to the large one in the hexagon room. “The statue might actually have to hold items!” she cries.

Breena, Cana, Cass, and Kyra backtracks the way the party came, searching the other room for potential things for the statue to carry. Thrya tends to Ghesh in the meantime. The four adventurers, now armed with two silver goblets, the key, a ring, and the idol that Breena found, make their way to the large statue. The rest of the group, finding the bone room to be too chilly, heads towards the statue room. The frost begins to crystallize on the door as Gertrude files out last.

Back in the room with the creepy figure, the four women piece together the puzzle. Cass places the goblets into the hands at the creature’s side. Kyra sticks the key in one of the outstretched palms. Breena shoves the ring onto the statue’s thumb. Nothing happens. Then Breena removes the ring and sets the idol on the open palm. In an instant, a door to the left of the statue opens up. With a whoop, Breena runs blindly down the hallway, forgetting to check for traps.

She gets the full blow of spears that jab upward out of the floor, nearly stumbling into unconsciousness. Ghesh magically appears on the other side of the hallway in a more safe manner and rushes into the new room. He and the rest of the group make it into the room identical in shape to the other two. This chamber only contains an altar with three unlit candles, an image on the wall showing a sunset. Kerrian and Ghesh, finally understanding how the candle sequence works, only lights the right candle wick. Another stone door rumbles up revealing yet another passageway. Thyra heals Breena, but has her hang back so that she doesn’t get hurt again.

Ghesh, wanting to be first, heads down the corridor and carefully activates the pressure plates. He pauses when he sees a skeletal corpse in the frozen motion of being punctured by a spear trap. He quickly searches it, finding a leather bound journal hiding just beneath a raggedy cape. Carrying it with excitement, he makes it the other side and into the new room.

The rest of the party chase after him. In this room they find a shovel, another altar—this time with no sun—and something different. In the corner across from the altar stands a fountain in the shape of a grotesque screaming face, spouting a bubbly clear liquid. Ghesh and Kerrian turn their attention to the candles, but when they light them and nothing happens, they give up. Instead, the two arcane users flip through the journal which holds their fascination much more. While some of the party steps up to figure out what to do with the candles, Thyra and Breena takes a look at the fountain. Thyra takes a small sample from it and some of it splashes on her finger. It stings, but she determines that it’s a liquid with a mild acidic quality.

Meanwhile, Kyra and Cana figure out that maybe the candles need to be blown out to symbolize night. They do it, and a door to their left open up about halfway. Cass, thinking back to the goblets in the six-armed statue, connects the liquid to the goblets. Cass runs back to the room they had started in armed with acid filled vials. The party waits in an awkward silence for Cass to fill the goblets. As Cass does so, she notices frost collecting in the doorway of the room to her right. Luckily, pouring the liquid into the cups work. The door in front of the party slides down the rest of the way.

This time it’s not a corridor. It’s a another square room, but this one is smaller than the others. Ghesh, Kerrian, Cana, and Breena walk in to find that the floor tilts back and forth. They steady themselves and then take a look at the wall to their left. The wall is covered in 12 pegs. Breena and Cana pop a couple off, causing a spray of the same acidic water to gush out. Kerrian and Ghesh notice the thickening wall of ice right in front of them. They all hurry and rip more pegs off the wall, more liquid gathering around their ankles.

Suddenly, the four of them watch as the liquid flows to the right of them, towards some unseen passageway. They call to the others to come into the room. As soon as Gertrude, the last of the party to set foot on the wobbly floor, the floor tilts violently to the right. Unable to maintain their balance, the Non-Lethals tumble down the slanted passage into darkness and oblivion.

-
end session

(added by lauraabowman5)

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What Is Dead Does Not Lie Still

Some tentative answers are found as questions and unexplained disturbances – armies of the dead, twisted beasts, and corrupted kinsfolk – continue to mount. The most bizarre discovery yet awaits just outside of a too-quiet settlement….

The undead army silently files past the hiding adventurers. Following their disappearance, the party gathers back on the road and Thyra tells them of their true nature. As the group discusses whether to keep moving forward or go back to Oxmoor, a disheveled half-elf stumbles out from beneath the underbrush on the other side of the road. The adventurers quickly put up their guard, but the half-elf raises his hands in surrender and introduces himself as Kerrian the Warlock. He says that he is just but a traveler in search of arcane lore and that he was hiding from the sackcloth humanoids as well. The adventurers lower their weapons and tell Kerrian that they are also in search of answers. They fill him in on the details of the wellspring and the blackened creatures and close with telling him about the Antiquarians. Kerrian willingly accompanies the group, eager to learn more magic from the wizards at the Empyrean Tower. Before the group carries on their way, Catharas leaves the group, having a newfound desire to follow the wolf tracks they had seen a day earlier.

The party—now with Kerrian in their midst—continue down the road, Krusk leading the way. After about an hour of travel the half-orc sniffs the air and says that a storm is coming. Not much time passes by, when all of a sudden a crack of thunder sounds and rain begins pouring down on the group. Krusk and Cass scout out a cavity in the rockface of a slow rising cliff. The adventurers take shelter there, only to find that they are not alone.

A half-elven couple huddles together at back of the small cave. They are both frightened by the sudden arrival of the party, but the adventurers promise that they mean no harm. They all introduce each other, finding out the man’s name to be Farakol and his wife, Crystala, who is heavy with child. While the storm passes through, the adventurers have a long conversation with the two weary travelers. The party finds out that Farakol and Crystala are (escaped?) (former?) thralls of House Sephelion and are making their way to the town of Oxmoor to live a quiet life.

Some of the party members bring up the marching people in sackcloths, minus the undead part and ask the couple if they had seen them. Farakol tells the party that he and his wife had seen them and had even conversed with them. He also tells them that they claim to be the Order of the Riven of the House Holiborn (check spelling), even though no such Elven house exists. They had been generous towards the couple, giving them rations to last them the rest of the way to Oxmoor. The party finds this news to be quite odd, given the possibility of the humanoids being draugr.

The rain fades after an hour or so and mid-afternoon is approaching. Before the group leaves, Crystala lets them know of a roadside inn further down the road. The party thanks the couple and each gives a couple of coins to them.

By nightfall, the adventurers reach Cliffside Inn, a building with a roof of sod. As the tired group comes closer to it, they see a couple of goats grazing on top of the building, along with a yellow flag telling passerbys that the ale is in season.

The group enters and are greeted with a mostly vacant interior. A dwarf with a mighty beard comes over to their table and introduces himself as Valla, the owner of the inn. He says that they missed dinner, but are welcome to sleep the night there. The party divides up to share rooms and they all get a goodnight’s sleep. The following morning the adventurers sit around their table and (idk her name), Valla’s wife serves them fish stew and mead for breakfast. As the group eats their meal, a man walks in, wearing a fine cloak and two large patches on his vestment: one displaying Mimir’s head and well of wisdom and the other a symbol of protection used by abjurers. Some of the party recognize the latter to be a common patch among the Antiquarians.

Several members immediately go over to talk to the man, startling him. They order him an ale to calm him down and he tells them that his name is Brother Geir Gibson, a member of the Antiquarians. He also tells them that he has been sent to check up on the land in this region of Northwall. The group waste no time in explaining the bizarre events of the wellspring, the oily tarred wolves, and the man whose arm grew back. Brother Gibson is slightly alarmed by all this and tries to answer them the best he can. He says that the regrowing of limbs could possibly equate to trolls that use magic to preserve themselves. The wellspring, he explains with growing interest, is considered to be a tiny part of Ymir’s soul and has the power to sustain, change, or create life. He says that its power might have been unleashed in the recent months. The adventurers question him further and bring up the traveling army of sackcloth undead called the Order of the Riven. At the mention of the name, Valla, overhearing parts of the conversation perks up and lets the party know that he has most definitely heard of the order.

About 30 years ago in Bluespring…
(a/n: i hardly remember any of this story, so some help on this part would be gladly appreciated)

Brother Gibson promises the adventurers that he will most definitely investigate the matters of the black substance infesting the areas of Oxmoor and Stonewatch. He tells them to continue on their way to the Empyrean Tower and to ask for Brother Randalf who knows a lot more about the wellspring of Ymir than most of the Antiquarians. Before the party leaves Cliffside Inn, Brother Gibson gives Thyra a blue stone wrapped in gold wire, similar to the Belathirrin commander’s stone that Cass has in her possession. He tells her and the rest of the group that if the party has any questions, they can contact him through the stone once a day. The party says farewell to the wizard and thanks the dwarvish innkeeper for his hospitality and continues on their way.

Around noon, the main road eventually transitions to a more narrow one that hugs the side of a sheer cliff with a 150 foot drop. The party stops to eat lunch before attempting to cross the cliff. After a brief break, the party carefully walks in single file on the treacherous pass. They make it to about mid-way, when Kerrian and Gunvor suddenly feel the ground shaking beneath their feet.

A tumble of boulders and gravel all of a sudden comes bearing down on the party. The crew books it as fast as they can. Kerrian and Gunvor almost slip off, but not before Krusk, Thyra, and Kyra grab ahold of them and lug them to safety. The group barely has time to recover from the near-death experience, when across the way they catch eye of a foothill that bursts open. Four stumbling corpses crawl out of the dirt and begin to make their way down towards the adventurers. As the adventurers come up to them, they see that eight more have joined the other dead creatures. The adventurers gain the upper end of the skirmish and put them back to rest once more. Further investigation on the reasoning behind them, reveals that they were once a part of the Saksa, one of the barbarian tribes in Vesterfold. The Saksa buries their dead in mounds close to the surface to animate the bodies for when Ragnarok comes.

Startled by this revelation, the group leaves the area, making their way along the road again. Closer to late afternoon, the front of the party sees smoke rising from chimneys in the distant, evidence that a cluster of homesteads must be up ahead. Upon reaching the farm homes, the party knocks on the doors that span for a half a mile along the road. They find not a single soul in the houses, as if they all had vanished into mid-air, leaving the chores unfinished. The party splits up to look around, Kyra and Cana finding the remains of half-eaten bread baked with purple fruit bits. The rest of the party finds the pear-like fruit in other things too and try to determine if the fruit have anything to do with the disappearance of the people. They try to feed the fruit to the livestock, but none of the animals will eat it. Krusk finds a small trail of human footprints on the ground, leading off into the nearby woods. By the time they had all looked around, night had fallen and the party agrees that spending the night in one of the houses was a good option.

The following day, the adventurers follow Krusk down the path for about two hours, eventually arriving in a clearing. The sight before them is one of the most bizarre things that the party has ever seen. A crowd of 17 people encircle a large tree that has the purple fruit hanging from its branches. Thyra contacts Brother Gibson through the stone, getting no answer in return. The people slumber in the grass, but as the party draws closer the people rise as if in a trance-like state and attack.

end session

(added by hbowmanlds)

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Gift for Gift Bestow

With gifts from Stonewatch, the group seeks out the Empyrean Tower in hope that the Antiquarians may know the cause of these unnatural disturbances. They soon find that the road they must travel is beset with the dead.

The night following the house fire proves to be an enjoyable one. Jarl Halvar throws a feast in the adventuring party’s honor bestowing them with gifts—some seeming to be magical in nature. The jarl also toasts to their bravery and kind deeds before allowing the townfolk and the adventurers to return to celebrating.

As the feasting continues, a rowdy trio and a quiet wood-elf enter the great hall, bearing the signs of being out at sea. The threesome joins the happy fray, while the elf attaches himself to a drink and a back wall. Thyra recognizes one of them to be Kyra, an elvish taught human fighter. The adventurers welcome the trio over to sit with them. They all introduce themselves: Cana, a halfing dressed in dark clothes and Gertrude, a bard half-elf wearing a red scarf. The original party invites the travelers to join their party as they plan to make the journey to the Emperyean Tower.

The following morning, a few members of the party go to talk to the elven stranger while the rest of the party secures passage with the ship that Cana, Kyra, and Gertrude came to Stonewatch on. The stranger introduces himself as Catharas and he explains why he traveled all the way to Stonewatch. He tells them that he has come to on a mission from his village on the subject of the people there being harrassed by black corrupt beings. The group connects the pieces to find that it is the same infection our party had witnessed in the wolves and the one-armed man. Catharas is simply seeking information on how to stop this evilness from completely ravaging his home.

Those members of the party tell him that they are also seeking information about the oily substance, along with the glowing wellspring and that he was welcome to join our party to visit the Antiquarians. The party lets Jarl Halvar know where they are heading and promise to return with information to help protect the town of Stonewatch from other dangers. The rest of the party manages to safely gain passage aboard the merchant ship. The ship left the harbor and the now larger party starts their long journey.

During one night on the ship, a strange boat appears as a small dot in the distance. It slowly comes directly at the merchant ship. The crew that still remains awake, goes below decks to get the rest of the crew that had gone to bed earlier, only to find them in a comatose state in their hammocks. The mysterious boat draws nearer, no ripples of its arrival visible on the sea.

When the boat came to the side of the merchant ship, several shambling men covered head to toe in seaweed jump on deck. The party of adventurers waste no time in dispatching the undead creatures which Ghesh determines as rana draugr. He says that they were once seafaring men that had drowned and had been forced to haunt the salty waters.

Eventually the merchant ship reaches the poor and rustic community of Oxmoor. Thyra helps purify all their food and drink so that it would last the approaching winter. The party doesn’t tarry long in the tiny village as they still have a ways to go until they reach the Antiquarians.

A day later while traveling on the main road which was heading in the upward slope of a hill, Krusk identifies canine tracks on the ground leading off into the nearby forest and tells the rest of the party to keep their eyes peeled for possible dangers. That night the party takes watches and sleeps soundly, no signs of any threats.

The following day proves to have more activity. As the party continues up the hillside, they see a pack of shuffling humanoids in sackcloth that were avoiding the main road. The party hides behind trees and the underbrush so that the group of oddly proportioned people don’t see them. As the party watches the humanoids pass by, they seemed to double in numbers of well over a dozen. Thyra stealthes closer to get a better look at them despite the protests of her companions. She uses the Detect Evil and Good spell to discover that all the members of the army were undead—and evil.

end session

(added by noreeneb20)

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At Unknown Doors

A Bellathirrin patrol is defeated, a hermit tethers his soul to a long-forgotten source of life energy, and a new evil lurking in the woods finds its way home….

The adventuring party triumphs over the Bellathirrin patrol, killing a few in the process. Krusk, Cass, and Thyra tie them up after thoroughly removing their weapons and gear. Ghesh, Gunvor, and Greta watch awestruck as the roots of Cary’s hair turn white and the rest of his dark hair with it.

Thyra takes the commander’s pouch against the she-elf’s protests. Inside are several pieces of coinage, a coded message, and an empty flask. The message looks that it will take a while to translate, so Thyra pockets it to study later. Cass finds a magic stone that from an explanation from the commander, is the patrol’s communication link to her employer, a higher Elvish lord. The stone is only used in the morning when the higher up would ask for an updated report and the squad would respond in a maximum of 30 words. Cass also happens upon a wooden box that the commander says could turn into a ship with permission from her employer.

Cary’s trance with the well ends suddenly, resulting in him fainting on the ground. The party is able to rouse him and he babbles about the well’s untapped energy. The party then waits the night out in the tomb.

In the morning, Cass comes up with something to say in the stone and in a mimicking voice of the commanding officer’s voice to say:

“We have this place secured. We had no encounters. This place will do nicely for an outpost and we will report more of our findings tomorrow morning.”

Following the false report, the party and Greta have a more coherent conversation with Cary. Cary tells the party that he plans to stay at the tomb which he calls the Shining Temple so he can try to understand the place better. The party asks him if there was another place we could find out more information about the “wellspring”. He mentions the Antiquarians, a group of secluded wizards who live just past the capitol in the Empyrean Tower. Cary thinks that they would probably know something about it. He gives the party a rough idea of directions to get there and they part ways with him, finally leaving the tomb. The party had previously agreed to leave the tied up patrol behind, to slow them down if they attempt to chase after them. Along with Greta, the adventuring party bearing lots of strange news trek back the way they had come.

In the forest, the party reaches a particular clearing and Thyra sees a wolf lurking in the shadows of the brush. Before she can alert her comrades, the wolf and several more burst into the clearing attacking the very surprised group.

The group fights the pack of wolves and notice that they are not of the natural world, having fur coats smothered in an oily, tar-like substance. Fortunately the party was successful in slaying the cursed beasts, Ghesh and Greta taking the brunt of the teeth and claws.

Gunvor sets about healing them, while Ghesh stutters out that he recalled a fight between his clan and some trolls that bore the same substance that was neither poison or disease. Thyra takes a sample of the stuff, but it turns to dust in the vial.

After the scary encounter with the wolves, the party stumbles back to Stonewatch. Greta and Thyra report back to Hostein about what happened to the rest of Greta’s hunting party, minus the tomb and the encounter with the Bellathirrin squad of elves. The two also mentions the bizarre fight with mutated wolves which alarms Hostein, at least to a small degree. Greta then asks about how the man who had lost his arm was doing. Hostein says that he recovered quickly and had returned to his home just yesterday.

All of a sudden, a shout breaks out from somewhere nearby crying, “Fire! Fire!” Hostein immediately starts passing out orders to stop the fire, while Greta and Thyra catches up to the rest of the party who are already heading towards the source of the shouting.

They all get to the house that is being enveloped in flames and Greta recognizes it as the one-armed man’s. Before any of the party members could enter to save anyone, a woman and a child burst out the front door screaming “He’s gone mad!”. Krusk and Ghesh run inside the burning building to go get him, only to find the man infested with the same black oily substance. He also had a new tar-like tendril of an arm. Instead of trying to leave, the cursed man lunges to attack the half-orc and the dragonborn. The two of them end up killing the possessed man, while Cass, Gunvor, and Thyra try their best to calm the woman down. Hasteinn and a crowd of townsfolk armed with water buckets begin to put the fire out. As the flames die down, the members of the party look to each other with expressions of confusion about all what had transgressed in the past few days.

end session

(added by noreeneb20)

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The House of the Light Unbound

When a huskarl’s messenger is dragged to Stonewatch after losing an arm, Jarl Halvor requests assistance in finding her – but one lost hunter pales in comparison to the secret now unburied after so many ages….

The newly formed group of unlikely companions now walk together, heading back into town to collect payment from Ronomir. Following the payment, the party comes across the commotion of a man, clearly unconscious and missing an arm, being brought in on a stretcher and being carried into a log house with a thatched roof. The party of five run into a frustrated Hasteinn and they ask him what was going on. He tells them that the man was attacked by a troll, sometime often unheard of in the South as trolls only lived on the Fringes. The man had been part of an eight-member hunting party, none of them, save the injured man, having returned back the town. They have been missing for several days and Hasteinn asks that if they were available, to go and figure out what happened to the hunters. They agree to help and waste no time in heading into the forest.

Traveling down the well-worn hunting trail, the group follows the stream bubbling alongside it in the foothills. As night falls, the group comes upon a man in weathered clothing, huddling next to a small campfire. They introduce themselves and tell the man they mean no harm. The man, despite looking nervous and definitely not used to being around many people, introduces himself as Cary Goodwinson and invites them to sit around the fire.

The group asks if a hunting party had passed through within the last couple of days and Cary tells them that there had been, but that they hadn’t come back this way. They further ask him about why he was living out in the foothills and he claims that there is an altar of Frey connecting to Valhalla somewhere in the mountains. A few of the party members find this to be crazy, but Cary insists and tells them that he plans to search for it in the following days. The adventuring party sleeps through the night and then leaves early in the morning w/o Cary.

They carry on in the dark of the morning, later on hearing a distress horn blare thrice into the quiet air, repeating the sequence every 30 seconds. Following the sound of the sixth horn, a loud explosion is heard in the direction of the mountains and an avalanche occurs due to the blast. The now surprised party, curious that this might be the hunters in trouble, head in the direction of where all the commotion had originated from.

They climb up into the mountains and come to the mouth of a cave. Ghesh sees that there are runes bearing the symbols of birth, creation, death, travel, and gift. Ghesh eagerly runs inside and the rest of the party follow in after him

Upon entering the cave, the party realizes that it may be more than just a cave. it reveals broad hallways that had succumb to heavy water damage, implying a weak structure. They estimate that the interior rose to about 15 to 20 feet and stretched to 20 feet wide. Immediately to the left is a stairwell leading down. Our party heads down and they find two doorways 8 feet across from each other. Ghesh and Thyra go through the left entryway and find scenes carved into the walls of what was possibly dwarvish design depicting an image of light streaming from the sky lifting up a fallen warrior. There were also many urns along the walls, Ghesh taking one as a souvenir. In the opposite room that Krusk, Gunvor, and Cass explore, they find pieces of wooden planks askew on the floor and a mural similar to the other in terms of design, showing soldiers preparing to do battle on the plains of Valhalla.

While the group gathers back together to share their findings of the place—a place that might actually be a tomb— a woman suddenly rushes down the stairs running into them. The woman, Greta, explains that she was the one to find this cavern along with her hunting party (Ghesh also claiming that he had found it first), which just so happens to be the group they are searching for. The man who came into town injured had been the messenger that the hunters had sent to tell the town of the discovery. Greta says that after the messenger had left they were attacked by something they were unable to identify. The remaining members fought off the unknown enemy, so that Greta could escape to the cave.

She joins them in our investigation and they all happen upon a strange well tucked in a room off to the side of the right wing filled with glowing white light. The party plus Greta hardly have a chance to get a closer look at it, when Cass reports from the hallway that there is a squadron of elvish soldiers entering the tomb with a commander.

Moments later, the party hears footsteps on the stairs and then a squad of elves enter the room bearing the symbol of the house of Bellathirrin: a purple field with crossed swords. At the back the party sees a beat up Cary being dragged by two soldiers. Cary catches sight of the well and begs to go and inspect it. The leading commander demands that they all surrender and leave, so that she can take over. The party ignores her commands and instead asks Cary about what the well is. He explains that this is the very well that he was talking about, before he is suddenly entranced by the light radiating from it. The commandant, now angry at the party for defying her orders, tells her soldiers to attack.

end session.

(added by noreeneb20)

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