Chronicles of Khaldun: Isle of Anhak

Session 5

Freeday, Reaping 21, 552 CY (50 AN)

Aerik Sellsword, Burdwulf the Greatly Challenged, Falrest Chisoud, Hilda Giblets, Jarq’wei Loindeen, Stefan, Tuggs Nemo (with his pony, Tugglife), and Utne Jarlson and their hired mercenaries and laborers are resting and alternating watches, attempting to recover from the previous day’s tragedy. It is early morning when the men on watch see a caravan approaching. The low songs emanating from that direction suggest it is a dwarf caravan; these songs inadvertently awaken Burdwulf. As the caravan approaches and slows, a human approaches, riding a donkey. Clad in skins, he introduces himself as Atwulf Phames. He indicates he is a scout, searching for news and hunting while traveling with this dwarf merchant caravan led by Fakrag Dalikinason. He indicates that the big news is that Dolmvay to the south is possibly going to war with the settlement of Leaf.

Burdwulf and Utne proceed to discuss business with Fakrag, attempting to resupply and also get him to part with a cart and two mules. Burdwulf convinces him to give him the dwarf deal, and the dwarfs get to work rearranging their wares to part with a cart. When asked, Fakrag indicates they were engaging in business back west, but are headed back to the dwarf city of Baritherdar.

The caravan also sets to work clearing the rubble on the way to Trastow. One of their number, an older male dwarf, says he’s not a laborer, he’s a warrior, and he’s out of here. Introducing himself as Papa Deuce, he asks to join the travelers. A young human woman, having awakened at the commotion, bids farewell to one of the human workers in the caravan and similarly joins the others. Smoking a pipe, she introduces herself as Melancholia Nightshade, evidently a cleric by her holy symbol — an amulet of a mirrored face. The group allows the newcomers to join, figuring that more recruits are useful for the dangers of the road, and these newcomers likely aren’t wanted criminals in Vor Taluum.

Outfitted, the group begins its march back to Vor Taluum to perform research. The next day, Starday, Reaping 22, the group is again interrupted around 4 AM by another dwarf caravan headed east. They inquire with the caravan master, Barakragella Skallaminsdotr, if there is anything they should know about back west, but Barakragella just indicates that business was bad; they seemed to be just behind another dwarf merchant caravan. As such, they’re returning to Baritherdar. The travelers resupply, and Tuggs purchases some liquor which he attempts to place in his bag of holding. He is rudely surprised when the bag tries to suck him inside, and to his chagrin, he determines that none of his equipment is inside the bag of holding. He vows to kill that old merchant if he encounters him again. With the excitement complete, everyone returns to camp to finish sleeping.

Travel is uneventful for a day or so until one of the men on watch hears the bleating of goats at around 2 AM on Moonday, Reaping 24. Two enormous mountain goats, the size of Clydesdales, pass in the night. Tuggs awakens and tries to lure them with food in an attempt to domesticate them, but the beasts just eat the food and continue on their way. He regrets not hunting them instead.

The group returns to sleep and sets out the next morning. Around 10 AM, they round a bend in the hills to find a group of goblins skulking along the trail. The greenish humanoids panic at the large, well-armed group of humanoids, and bolts into the hills. The travelers release a volley of missile fire, and Papa Deuce ultimately charges and manages to kill one of the fleeing goblins. The others successfully flee. Once he has been searched — the goblin doesn’t really hold anything of value — Tuggs puts the corpse in his bag of holding. To his amusement, he finds that once he wraps the bag around the goblin’s hand, it pulls the goblin the rest of the way inside, stretching to accomodate the goblin’s mass.

The group travels uneventfully, avoiding Burnthorpe at Stefan’s request until reaching Caham on Starday, Goodmonth 1. That night, they drop several hundred silver pieces on the unsuspecting village, throwing a massive party. The group covers Melancholia and Papa Deuce’s expenses; Melancholia finds an alternate revenue stream as Burdwulf seems content to cover her expenses as long as she plies him with sexual favors. The group as a whole makes drunken fools of themselves, although they mostly manage to smooth things over; Papa Deuce is the only one who truly makes a bad impression. The group on the whole finds the debauchery very underwhelming, even though they dropped over a thousand silver pieces worth of gold and gems on the party to make it spectacular. With the village still gloriously hungover, Tuggs steals all the valuables out of the back room of the tavern and loads them into the cart. The group makes its way out of the village very quickly on the morning of Sunday, Goodmonth 2.

On Moonsday, Goodmonth 3, the travelers arrive and get epically drunk in Batun. Aerik and Falrest abstain, staying with the cart. This turns out to be just as well, as the next morning, Burdwulf, Hilda, Jarq’wei, Melancholia, Papa Deuce, Stefan, Tuggs, and Utne return to the cart naked, battered, and missing most of their equipment, as they were all apparently beaten and robbed while drunk. As they go into town to investigate, they notice several wanted posters that were not there before, apparently depicting some local bandits. Asking the hungover townsfolk in the tavern, they explain that last night was completely crazy, as another group came to drink. Something happened, and they ended up conjuring a magic carpet and all these wanted posters appeared. That’s about the time the demons appeared and abducted the other gang.

The travelers suspect the bandits used the Die of Fortune they stole from Utne.

The group searches around town to track down the bandits, eventually finding a pile of their things guarded by some tall, wolflike humanoid wearing judge’s robes and a judge’s wig. After some discussion, Utne decides to speak with this entity. It indicates that their items are currently being regarded as evidence, and that the bandits from the previous night are guilty of stealing an object known as the Horn of L’krusk. They are to be judged by the infernal court. Would the travelers be willing to act as character witnesses for or against the bandits? After conferring, they agree; Burdwulf, Hilda, Jarq’wei, Papa Deuce, Stefan, Tuggs, and Utne will go, while Aerik, Falrest, and Melancholia will remain behind. The devil gestures, and it, the objects, and the seven travelers are consumed by flame.

Aerik, Falrest, and Melancholia agree to stay for a day or so while they wait. Falrest and Melancholia discuss theology, talking about the differences between Ragnock, the Rock Underneath, and Melancholia’s own nameless deity — while Ragnock represents the earth itself and the bounty it grants, Melancholia’s own deity speaks of indulgence and having a good time for oneself.

Burdwulf, Hilda, Jarq’wei, Papa Deuce, Stefan, Tuggs, and Utne find themselves in a courtroom hurtling through the void. The judge is a large, red, demonic creature with wings and a fiery whip; it wears a red judge’s robe and a white judge’s wig. The bandits from last night are all in attendance, as is some manner of fiendish bailiff. The judge asks the witnesses to come forward, and the travelers offer their testimony about how the bandits took advantage of them and stole their gear while the group was inebriated. The travelers are then ushered to another room to await deliberations. When they are recalled, the judge reveals that the bandits are sentenced to an eternity of servitude in the City of Dis for their crimes. The leader is about to speak in their defense when the judge cuts him off, and the bandits are consumed by flame.

The bailiff then explains to the travelers that their gear will be returned to them in seven to ten days, once it has been processed. The judge indicates he will see them all again very soon.

It is the next morning, Waterday, Goodmonth 5, when the travelers reappear near their cart. They decide to wait another day before they leave the following morning. They pass by the settlement of Heaminster and the homestead of Wyehill, instead deciding to stay and party in Hibluff. They arrive in Hibluff on Freeday, Goodmonth 7, and spend their silver on another epic party.

The next morning, the group awakens to learn they insulted the town elder in their drunken stupor; they make amends by publicly apologizing to him. As the villagers are about to disperse, riders arrive from Caham, indicating the travelers are thieves, that they came to their town and then stole all the gold they spent. Falrest and Utne explain that the guardsmen are mistaken; didn’t they see all the wanted posters for the bandits in Batun? Why, the travelers themselves were robbed in Batun by these bandits. The guardsmen concede that the bandits probably stole the loot, and the travelers demand a public apology from the Caham guardsmen, who willingly agree, apologizing for their rash accusations.

Later that afternoon, Clement and two hired thugs arrive in town. He finds Jarq’wei and indicates he found the wizard Eutaric’s spellbook. He did a bit of checking, and suspects it’s worth somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 sp. Jarq’wei is aghast, but agrees to meet him in five days on the steps of the Great Library in Vor Taluum. The meeting will be at noon. They each agree they can bring two guards with them. Clement stays in town for the rest of the day; when they are out of earshot, though, Jarq’wei admits he thinks Clement is trying to betray him for this book. He decides he’s going to press his own advantage when he meets back up with Clement in five days.

Clement leaves town on the morning of Sunday, Goodmonth 9, but the travelers decide to stay behind for another day. They depart for Vor Taluum on the morning of Moonday, Goodmonth 10, arriving that afternoon. They send Melancholia, Papa Deuce, and Stefan in separately, in case there is trouble. Aerik, Burdwulf, Falrest, Hilda, Jarq’wei, Tuggs, and Utne arrive within a half-hour of them, but the guards give them no issue, other than asking for their business in town.

The group convenes at a lower-class inn, The Cursed Sword, deciding to lay low after spending so much money on the road. They pay for rooms and settle for the night. In addition to research over the next few days, they would like to set up a meeting with the captain of the Black Hawk mercenaries, to discuss what happened to his men. Sergeant York is amenable to this. The next day, Hilda goes searching for information from the local criminal element while Melancholia goes to check out the Great Library at the Imperial University to assist in translating the eldritch cipher found in the cabin atop Mt. Deathfrost. Utne goes to check things at the local Church of Pelor-Who-Is-Paladine. Hilda finds that four thieves — Aenbehrt, Gaenbert, Helmund, and Jaenbald, their accomplices during the Bloodworth Estate robbery — were tried for the crime. They apparently dropped the names of their accomplices, although that information hasn’t gone into law circulation; apparently, the local Merchants’ Guild is hanging onto it. They apparently dispatched an assassin to parts unknown; he is named Osvanpyw de Rais, and he is supposed to be one of the best. He only makes one attempt on his victim’s lives, as one is all he needs, and he usually makes it appear as an accident. Since he is so skilled, his targets — Hilda and his companions, no doubt — are probably presumed dead. The assassin has not yet returned to claim his pay, although that is not necessarily so odd, as the distance he had to travel was unknown. Also, there have been a series of murders and mutilations in the vicinity of the burned-out Bloodworth Estate by some serial killer known as the Butcher of Bloodworth. Utne’s clergy contacts reveal similar information about the mutilations in the estates at the edge of town.

In the Great Library, Melancholia meets the librarian, Gerho Markenbruck, who seems pleased to see a cleric in his library. She and asks him about historical or linguistic documents. He directs her to the appropriate section, and she searches around, but finds no books to assist with translating her documents. She does, however, find a scroll bearing the symbol the others described seeing in the Bloodworth Estate and in the dungeons beneath Mt. Deathfrost, the circle with three lines. The scroll appears to be bound with a wax seal and tied with a ribbon; the ribbon is tied to a key with a heart-shaped bow. With nobody around, she slips the scroll in among her other documents and exits the library, feeling slightly guilty stealing from Gerho.

That evening, the group reconvenes. They decide to keep the scroll without reading it for now, just in case it’s cursed. When Hilda and Utne both mention the murders in the city, this prompts Melancholia to ask just exactly what they’re investigating. The group proceeds to briefly explain the horrors in the Bloodworth Estate, and the dungeons atop Mt. Deathfrost.

That evening, at the stroke of midnight, their gear returns in the middle of their rooms in a puff of brimstone. There is also an extra Kharha-style carpet they did not previously own, probably being the magic carpet reported among the bandits.

The next day, Falrest and Melancholia hit the library again to see if they can find anything further. The only thing is note is that they find a door to the older section, but it appears nailed shut and bound with beams of wood; it is clearly not in use. They think they may return to ask about that if other research yields no information.

Jarq’wei also sees if he can find information regarding Eutaric or his spellbook. He doesn’t, although it does occur to him that if he can encounter a comprehend languages spell, he might be able to break the glyphs Utne copied from the Mt. Deathfrost cabin. He does pay to borrow a wizard’s laboratory long enough to cast identify on the carpet, which is evidently a flying carpet_ activated by stating the word, "_Marhaba." The carpet holds two riders.

Jarq’wei also sets up the meeting for tomorrow, slipping money to Felix, proprietor of The Sapphire Wand, a local public bath. Felix has a secret passage to The Cracked Cup, a tavern next door, and will allow Jarq’wei and his associates to use it to escape. Additionally, he will allow them to come armed and clothed for tomorrow’s meeting. Clement and his men will be told to undress, as normal, so they’ll walk into the meeting unarmed. Felix’s staff will also take the afternoon off.

When Jarq’wei explains his plan, Utne decides to throw some money around at The Cracked Cup to lead any investigators to think they’re staying there.

The next day, Earthday, Goodmonth 13, they prepare for the meeting. Falrest will deliver the message to Clement at the Great Library, instructing him to meet Jarq’wei in an hour at the Sapphire Wand. Stefan will be acting as a porter at the bathhouse. Melancholia and Papa Deuce and will be with Jarq’wei — Burdwulf has purchased Melancholia a slinky, low-cut dress at Jarq’wei’s request. Tuggs will be in a nearby alley, watching in case something goes wrong. The others will be waiting at The Cracked Cup.

Falrest delivers Jarq’wei’s note to Clement at noon. At 1 PM, Tuggs spies Clement and his two mercenaries coming to the Sapphire Wand; Clement wears a pack on his back. From the back room, Jarq’wei, Melancholia, and Papa Deuce hear a commotion; Jarq’wei quickly undresses and puts on a towel, coming out of the back to speak with Clement. Clement is upset that he and his men have to undress, as that sounds very suspicious to him. Jarq’wei tries to allay his fears, particularly since he and his associates are clearly undressed — and Felix helpfully notes that everybody undresses in the baths. Clement calls no deal, and walks back out.

Tuggs tries to tail him, but Clement quickly spots him, shouting for guards. The guards arrive, asking if there is any problem here; Clement and Tuggs both agree there’s just been a misunderstanding. Clement then leaves.

The group meets at The Cracked Cup, indicating the plan went south. Jarq’wei, angry, contacts the local underworld and inquires about hiring an assassin for Clement. Deciding that’s too expensive, he settles on hiring someone to steal the spellbook. They agree on fifty gold pieces; 35 up front, 15 on delivery.

Hilda also takes the opportunity to research about Clement’s hired goons, and learns they’re just heavies, probably from some tavern or other. Not being official mercenaries, he lets the Black Hawks and Thieves’ Guild know.

The next day, Freeday, Goodmonth 14, is relatively uneventful, although Jarq’wei gets his book delivered in the evening. He casts read magic to decipher Eutaric’s script, and is amazed to find he’s a wizard of the fifth circle, clearly capable of potent spellcraft. Assuming Jarq’wei can hold onto the book without it being stolen or him being killed for it, he should have a potent spellbook for years to come.

The next day, the group prepares to decipher their documents. Jarq’wei has prepared comprehend languages from Eutaric’s spellbook, although his previous casting of read magic evidently lets him decipher the cabin runes.

The rambling treatise describes blasphemous rites and dark inanities such as like “Look Upon The Seven Faces of Immensity Look Upon The Breaker of All Things” and “This Is The Fifth Octacle, This Is The Greater Servitude.” Among the runes are dispelled protection runes indicating the cabin was once a magical fortress. There are also several references to a “bound and conquered god” as well as repeated references to the names The Twin Inquisitors Eizethrat Nexx and Gorgulos Nexx, Vorgen Pox, Nazir An-Azat, Exalted Interrogator Aetheldredd Aleph, Aervik Narn, and Praetor-Pontifex Cyris Carnithrax Maximus, all of whom are said to be “resting in splendor” and “gracing this place with death and that which they liberated from life” — in other words, buried in “crypts beyond the black tunnel” with their grave goods. Amid the writings, there is also an incomplete formula for trapping and channeling the energies of tortured and obedient souls in some manner of liquid.

Jarq’wei prepares to read the scroll, so the group breaks the seal, but finds no eldritch curses. In contrast to the ramblings from the cabin, this is written in archaic Common, albeit annotated by a more recent scholar. It speaks of a lost, ancient city called Duvan’Ku, ruled by the kindly King Porgotna. He had a beautiful daughter, Princess Turuvna, but she labored under a curse — when she was of marrying age, each of her suitors committed a terrible crime, causing great scandal among the royal family. Her last suitor was a general in the army, but after winning her hand, he led a massacre against innocent peasants. The King, upset that his daughter was continually hurt by these constant betrayals, put his daughter into a magical sleep so her misery would no longer trouble her. He declared that only a man of worthy heart could break the spell and claim his daughter’s hand. He sent his daughter’s torpid form to a distant outpost, to rest at the top of a tower. He sent two guardsmen to ensure that no harm came to her, and charged his court wizards with fashioning a key that would only work for a man worthy of his daughter’s love. The man claiming his daughter’s hand in marriage would inherit the kingdom and all its treasures. He then hid the key, only to be found by someone of true courage.

Meanwhile, the evil general sought the Princess, but his hate turned him to a wicked creature sustained by his hate. He apparently learned of the tower’s location, but was unable to enter, and now serves as a perverse guardian. The King was so overcome with guilt regarding his daughter’s suffering and his own spell that he died and the kingdom of Duvan’Ku was lost to the mists of history. The more recent annotations also indicate the location of the tower, to the west of the Azagirn.

The group discusses the dichotomy between the two accounts of Duvan’Ku, and wonders where they should focus their energies. Falrest and Melancholia decide to return to the Great Library to perform a little more research.

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Session 4
Death Frost Doom

Freeday, Reaping 14, 552 CY (50 AN)

Aerik Sellsword, Burdwulf the Greatly Challenged, Falrest Chisoud, Hilda Giblets, Jarq’wei Loindeen, Tuggin’ “Tuggs” Nemo, and Utne Jarlson and their hired mercenaries and laborers prepare to disembark, having rested from the previous day’s excavations. (“Rest” being a relative term — several of the mercenaries partied with the locals that evening, as did Burdwulf and Tuggs, who each managed to spend an extravagant 500 sp on wine, women, and song.) As they leave, they are accompanied by Stefan, a local Burnthorpe youth who decided to leave this simple community for a life of adventure on the road.

They take their horses and carts and ride east, through isolated valleys and rugged mountains. In the middle of the following day, Starday, Reaping 15, they encounter a single, old merchant with a rickety cart and swayback donkey. A stooped old man, leaning on a cane, he has a long white beard and threadbare robes. He greets the travelers, and as they inquire, he indicates he has wares — he opens his cart to reveal a well-stocked store. Of interest, he has a few specialty items:

1) A rifled wheellock arquebus for 4,200sp — noteworthy as the rifling makes it more accurate at long distances, and the enclosed clockwork mechanism prevents dirt and water from damaging the firing mechanism. He also carries shot and powder for sale.

2) A bag of holding for 250sp.

3) A bag containing three magic beans for 50sp. The beans are magic; the old man says one of the beans leads to the mythical Castle Gargantua, but he does not know what the other two will do.

In addition to these items, he is willing to tell fortunes for 10sp, a simple prediction of success or failure on the next major task. For 100sp, he’ll tell fortunes using the Die of Fortune — an arcane artifact that can yield fortune or misfortune on those who consult it, much in the same fashion as the deck of many things. For 1,000sp, he’s willing to sell the Die of Fortune itself.

The group takes all of these offers. Hilda Giblets attempts to haggle on the price of the arquebus, but the old man does not budge. He purchases it and gives his old rifle to Utne. Tuggs purchases the bag of holding. Utne has his fortune read — neither terribly auspicious nor inauspicious — and purchases the bag of magic beans and the Die of Fortune. It looks like a child’s top with numbers along the rim, from 0-49, but is cold and wreathed in strange, purple flames. Once they have resupplied, they take their leave of the old man.

The rest of the journey across rugged mountains is uneventful, with the travelers passing through a mountain valley and arriving at Trastow on the morning of Godsday, Reaping 17. They inquire about the town’s traditions and holy books, trying to determine if the Emerald Tome of the Devourer is kept within the town itself. Strangely, when asked about the old merchant, no one in Trastow has seen him; although he came from this direction, he appears not to have passed through the town. Burdwulf finds himself at the local public house, and finds that it is run by his uncle, Bjornwulf Granitebuster, who is there with his wife, Nurabryn, and their daughter, Garnetwulf. They give greeting, and Bjornwulf expresses surprise that he’s here, as last he heard Burdwulf was on a ship to the Sorrowfell Plains. He also notes he heard about cousin Amberwulf, that’s she’s traveling with some human holy folk from the Church of Pelor-Who-Is-Paladine.

He inquires about what Burdwulf is doing here, and Burdwulf explains his search for this eldritch tome. Bjornwulf says that the mountain that looms over Trastow, called Mount Deathfrost, is not often referenced by the locals. In the five years he’s been here, he’s learned that a few generations ago, several holy men gave their lives to vanquish a great evil on the mountain. No one speaks of it, particularly since most of the people who lived in those days are dead. The only one from those days still living is an old woman who lives on the mountain, someone by the name of Ezaya Dinclastir. Burdwulf thanks him for the information, and after reporting this to the others, Utne decides to purchase a bottle of Bjornwulf’s finest liquor — he finds an old bottle of whiskey that should do nicely — to ply the old woman’s tongue.

Armed with this information, the group begins the trek up the mountain path. Tuggs rides about fifteen minutes to a half-hour ahead to scout. It takes roughly eight hours to reach the treeline, where Tuggs dismounts because he first smells, then sees, a shoddy hut made of wood and animal hides. Everything is covered in blood and offal, and it takes him a moment to realize it’s actually just a poor attempt at animal dressing and taxidermy rather than a murder scene. Several scraps of animal skin are labeled with names, written in blood — prominently attached to a tree is a skin with the name “Marybelle Walker” scrawled on it. This sits above a wooden plaque with the name half-carved into it; several failed carving attempts lie discarded near the tree, and a set of gnarled tools sit near it. Tuggs can see into the tent, where an old, hairless woman in animal skins lies sleeping. Not wanting to disturb her, he watches and waits; after a few minutes, she awakens, grabs some tools and her stone axe, and walks off into the woods.

When the rest of the caravan arrives, Tuggs informs them of the proceedings. They briefly discuss going to find her, but Tuggs can’t find her trail, so they wait. Within a half-hour or so, she returns with firewood and returns to work. The travelers approach and she greets them, indicating she is Ezaya Dinclastir, and extending a hand stained with unidentifiable animal remains. Utne accepts it and surreptitiously wipes it off when she’s not paying attention. She is relatively genial, if somewhat grim, although she turns down the whiskey when offered. Her demeanor turns cold when they ask about her carving work and the mountain. She indicates that when she was a girl, evil lived on the mountain. It was destroyed, but had taken thousands of lives, all piled in mass graves with no markers, some of whom she faintly remembers — names, faces. She has taken on the task of giving them names again, making markers for each one. But there are thousands of names, and she is old and will never finish. When asked why she doesn’t take the book, she indicates that everything on that mountain is cursed.

Utne and the others convince her that they wish to travel atop the mountain to help her with gathering names, and she agrees to accompany them. She gathers some supplies and they set off.

It takes another eight hours to ascend the mountain. Quickly passing the treeline, the group slowly notices that all life disappears, even beyond that which would be expected beyond the treeline. The only signs that life has ever been here are the dead trees that flank the lone path up the mountain. A bitter wind cuts through the group as they ascend the winding path. As they approach the summit, the horses refuse to continue; Aerik and Jarq’wei stay with the carts while the rest traverse the mountain.

As they reach the summit, the wind stops and all is eerily quiet. The group finds themselves standing before a graveyard. Only a single tree — twisted and ancient, with a single worn, dangling rope, probably once a noose — stands at the edge of the cemetery. Several gravestones have been added, all carved in Ezaya’s hand. At the far end of the graves lies a small cabin made of stone — Burdwulf notices that it appears as though it were once made of wood and then turned to stone. As they approach, this awful, atonal, keening wail rises above the silence. They ask Ezaya about it, but she seems to be somewhat unaware of it. When they arrive at the cabin, she carefully opens the door by partially lifting it, as it appears to be off the hinges. Everybody slowly files into the main room. Underneath the sagging roof, the walls are scrawled in an obscure cipher. As they enter, they are greeted by harpsichord music emanating from somewhere deeper in the cabin. To the left is a door further into the cabin. Next to it, further in the room is a desk bearing a thick, leather-bound book. Three chairs in the room face the main door, and across the room is a large mirror; it reflects everyone in the party except for Burdwulf, Hilda, and Tuggs, none of whom appear in the mirror. In the far lefthand corner is a glassless window looking deeper into the cabin. A stuffed and mounted moose head sits above the mantle of a fireplace. An ornate waterclock, shaped rather like a cathedral, sits against the wall closest to the door; it appears to keep good time, although not accurate time as it’s several hours off. Finally, a padlocked trap door sits in the middle of the room.

Ezaya immediately gets to work recording more names, pricking her finger and placing a bloody thumbprint next to a name once it is recorded. The rest of the group decides to start examining the cabin. The room beyond the door is a pantry with empty shelves. There is a door to the left, and beyond the room, a short hallway with doors to the left, right, and straight ahead. While the mercenaries stand guard, the others examine the rooms. To the left, they find a room with belongings, as if someone stayed here. The bed is in disarray, and most of the belongings have been left behind. A comfortable bedroll sits upon it, and slippers sit at the foot. A footlocker bears a sheathed short sword atop it. Searching the footlocker finds quill, ink, and a journal belonging to one Norquist Orve, a mountaineer and embittered tax dissident from Vor Taluum. It appears to be his mountaineering journal, covering various climbs he has undertaken; the last entry reads, “The trees on this mountain seem almost agonized.” The pack in the corner has what appears to be adventuring gear, as well as climbing gear. The footlocker contains a purse with a handful of silver coins and copper coins within. The group takes a few of the items, notably the coinage, and proceeds to leave this room and investigate further down the hall. The next door on the left, at the end of the hall, leads to a sitting room. When they open the door, they see a harpsichord to the right — it immediately stops playing music, although according to others in the group, the music only stops for those observing the harpsichord — and a large painting to the right. The painting is done in a crisp, medieval style and depicts some manner of altar with a large grey skeleton statue looming over it. An open doorway behind the skeleton leads into blackness. Of note, the picture displays the old woman, Ezaya Dinclastir, centrally located in the painting, sipping from a goblet as a light shines down on her from above. Falrest and Utne are depicting flanking her, each holding a handful of small, glass spheres, each filled with a clear liquid. Everyone else in the group — Burdwulf, Hilda, and Tuggs, as well as the sergeants, mercenaries, laborers, linkboys, and the physician, but notably not Aerik or Jarq’wei —also appears in the painting, interacting or in some manner of reverie. Pyring the painting from against the wall reveals that two runes are written on the back, each in the same script as the scrawled writing in the cabin.

The party just decides to close that door, and not tell the hirelings about it.

Across the hall, they find another bedroom, largely empty save for a candle and a pouch. The pouch contains some manner of purple powder; when Burdwulf sees it, he recognizes it as the legendary Purple Lotus powder, a drug with the potential to transform someone into a god or annihilate them in the space between seconds. It is supposed to fetch a good price on the black market in major cities, so they take it.

Finally, the door at the end of the hall appears to be the back door; footprints wander out from the back and head off to the left. The group decides to close the door and investigate those footprints later.

Back in the main room, Hilda plans on unlocking the trap door, but Ezaya gets in his way, saying they must take only names, that any attempt to explore this cursed mountain dooms them all. She says it is so late already, they must return back down the mountain. She idly wonders if they truly wish to take names as they say. They indicate that sixteen hours’ march means they will not all return back to her hut, but they will travel an hour or two back down the mountain. She agrees.

After traveling an hour or so down the mountain, the group regroups with Aerik and Jarq’wei and informs them of all that has transpired. They take watches and rest until the morning.

The next day, all awaken, although some of the mercenaries complain of bad dreams. Once they have readied themselves, they set out to return to the cabin at the summit, claiming to want to cleanse the evil atop that mountain, but Ezaya disagrees, saying they must return to the village below. Despite her protestations, they push past her and trek back to the cabin.

A sickly fog greets them as they return to the cabin, and the same keening sounds as they approach. They carefully enter the cabin through the main room and Hilda Giblets unlocks the trap door. The others investigate the book; the most recent names appear to be local, but the oldest names are ancient and of no known culture. An estimate suggests there are millions of names — as Utne points out, that is far more corpses than can be buried on the mountain, even in mass graves, unless the mountain is entirely composed of bones.

Once the trap door is opened, it is revealed there is no ladder, only handholds carved into the earth, descending into darkness. The tunnel is narrow enough that a lanter tied to a belt or pack risks breaking against the sides. By tying a rope to a lantern, they determine it is fifty feet deep before striking the floor. Using that as their illumination, the group prepares themselves and descends.

Forced two abreast, they find themselves in a passageway covered in twisted faces carved in the stonework, and themselves covered in ice. Everything down here seems unnaturally cold, even beyond being underground. The tunnel continues for sixty feet before terminating in a door with a carved, fanged gargoyle’s face. The lock is in the gargoyle’s mouth, with a broze key inserted into the lock. When tested, the door is locked. Burdwulf turns the key by inserting a dagger into the ring of the key as leverage, and the door opens without attempting to sever any limbs. It leads into a small chamber — twenty feet deep, thirty feet wide — with ten small tables, roughly the size and shape of nightstands, on the outer edges, pressed against the left and far walls. Each writing desk bears a single, skeletal left hand, marked with the same runes that have been found throughout the cabin. On the right wall is a large set of bronze double doors engraved with a large sigil — a circle with three lines running down from it.

They have seen this symbol before. It was circumscribing the mutilated boy’s corpse in the Bloodworth Estate, the one whose severed tongue and penis attempted to attack them.

The group decides this is far enough, and orders the hirelings to turn around. They relock the gargoyle door with the bronze key and take the key with them. They make their way up the earthen handholds and back into the cabin. One of the sergeants asks what they found; Hilda and Utne explain they feel it necessary to return with more supplies, and more importantly, research. Hilda relocks the padlock on the trap door, and the group moves the water clock — ruining it in the process, as it is apparently attached to pipes and mechanisms in the wall — to barricade the trap door. Tuggs hammers the pipe shut. Utne then takes the time to carefully transcribe the writing on the walls in the hopes of having it translated by a scholar for further study. Finally, as a form of apology to the old woman, everybody transcribes ten names from the book to bring her a list of an additional 370 names. They agree to leave everything else, save the key and the journal and money they took yesterday, as they are now quite convinced of the old woman’s assertion that the place is cursed.

Before they leave, they decide to follow the footprints; they find a frozen man, face twisted in abject horror, only in his nightclothes, half buried in the snow. It seems a reasonable assumption that this is Norquist Orve.

They descend the mountain again, gathering the carts and horses and informing Aerik and Jarq’wei of all that has transpired. When they reach Ezaya’s hovel, they apologize, and indicate they believe her assertion that the place is cursed. They give her the list of 370 names so she will not have to climb the mountain for a while. She seems somewhat cross about the whole matter, but accepts their apology and her mood brightens a bit. They take their leave and camp an hour or so from Ezaya’s camp.

The next day, they make their way down the mountain just after midday. Arriving in Trastow again, the villagers seem mystified that they climbed the mountain and returned. The travelers make it sound as though they conquered whatever evil lies on that mountain, and that they found what they came to find — a tactic to ensure that any further travelers will be less likely to investigate the mountain and more likely to track them, which is something they can better control. The group sets out the next day, ostensibly to return to Burnthorpe and plan their next move.

As they leave Trastow and pass through the Valley of the Spine, however, disaster strikes. They hear the crack of a gunshot which triggers a rockslide, burying most of the caravan. Tuggs and his horse are the only ones that are not buried. He makes note of a sniper on the hill and takes cover. Hearing shouts from the rubble, he shouts that they are taking fire from a sniper in the hills and decides to see what can be done to neutralize the threat of the sniper. He rides through the valley before abandoning the horse to make the rest of the journey on foot, the better to take the sniper by stealth.

As he approaches, he sees the sniper scanning the valley through the sights of his rifle. The assassin appears to be a dark-skinned human wearing robes and a turban and carrying a pack of gear. Tuggs gets the drop on him, shooting him with a crossbow bolt in the shoulder, but it only appears to injure the sniper as he wheels around and fires another shot. Amid the blinding pain, Tuggs loses consciousness.

The others manage to pull themselves out of the rubble and clear it to uncover equipment. The horses did not survive, neither did eighteen of the soldiers and one of the sergeants. The wagons are wrecked. The four laborers, four linkboys, physician, two mercenaries, and one sergeant did survive; Aerik, Burdwulf, Hilda, Jarq’wei, Stefan, and Utne all pull themselves out of the rubble without incident. Falrest was found unconscious in the rockslide, but was revived through Utne’s prayers. Tuggs and his horse, Tugglife, are nowhere to be found, and calling for them reveals nothing. The group sets about salvaging what equipment they can and Utne turns the stones into a cairn for the dead. He says prayers over the fallen mercenaries. After salvaging what they can, and unable to follow Tuggs’ trail — Tuggs himself being their only skilled tracker — they camp and wait for the next morning.

Tuggs awakens, painfully, by firelight. He is hog-tied, and apparently being held by the assassin. He inquires as to what this is regards, and the assassin explains that they robbed and burned a house owned by very important people, and he is going to bring Tuggs to those people. Tuggs attempts to explain that there were terrible things happening in that house, and he is likely working for some manner of terrible death-cult, but before he can fully reveal it, the assassin interrupts him, explaining that he knows the sorts of terrible things powerful people do. For emphasis, he reveals the whip scars on his back, explaining that he was once owned by people like the Foxlowes. He cares very little; he is only in this for the money. He tells Tuggs to be quiet or else he will take his tongue.

They sit in silence for a while before Tuggs speaks again, and the assassin indicates he does not feel fully comfortable with a known thief. To ensure Tuggs doesn’t try anything, he draws his short sword and indicates he is going to take Tuggs’ hands. Tuggs, who has been quietly working at his bonds, frees himself and flees, quickly losing the assassin in the rugged terrain. He manages to pick his way back to his party’s camp within a half hour or so and alerts the others of the assassin. They form a posse and go looking for him. Hilda takes the lead, attempting to take the camp by stealth.

He manages to get the drop on the assassin as the man is cleaning up his camp. He fires his rifle and catches the assassin in the abdomen. The assassin spins around a fires a shot, but misses. Tuggs then hits him with a crossbow bolt and he falls, breathing shallowly. Tuggs then falls on him with a dagger, taking out his rage at being captured and nearly having his hands amputated, stabbing him repeatedly in the abdomen. The others comment that it might have been nice to question him, although the reaction is understandable.

Returning to camp, Tuggs explains that he was sent by the merchant family, or possibly families, that the group robbed in Vor Taluum, meaning they are likely not welcomed back there. In discussing these matters, the group decides to return to some of the villages near Vor Taluum in the hopes of setting a camp. Since the people don’t know to look for Stefan, he would be a good candidate to attempt to gather information in Vor Taluum. Additionally, Sergeant York indicates the travelers have treated the mercenaries well, and he is certain that the Blackhawks would be interested in taking revenge on any would-be assassin.

With that, they take watches and camp for the night.

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Session 3
A Single, Small Cut

Godsday, Reaping 4, 552 CY (50 AN)

After the previous evening’s debacle at the Bloodworth Estate, Aerik Sellsword, Burdwulf the Greatly Challenged, and Hilda Giblets rejoin with Falrest Chisoud, introducing him to Jarq’wei Loindeen, Tuggin’ “Tuggs” Nemo, Utne Jarlson, Gaenbert, Helmund, Aenbehrt, and Jaenbald. They proceed to sort through their underworld contacts, fencing as much of the loot as they can. Once the shares are divided, Gaenbert, Helmund, Aenbehrt, and Jaenbald take their leave. Aerik, Burdwulf, Falrest, and Hilda inform Jarq’wei, Tuggs, and Utne about Mithras Vicelord’s offer regarding The Emerald Tome of the Devourer, worth 1,000,000 silvers if they can retrieve it. The only information they have is that it may have traveled through the hands of the lost kingdom of the Duvan’Ku.

Inquiries are made, and certain underworld contacts suggest that a wizard by the name of Eutaric traveled through here, asking about the same artifact. He was also after something called the Red Bell; evidently he found the information he sought, because he took a small company of fixers and ne’er-do-wells down the road. The last thing anyone heard is that he was headed to the town of Burnthorpe, roughly a week’s travel away. He left about a week ago, so he’s probably there by now.

Inquiries suggest he did not find the information he sought among the cities academics — they consider Eutaric an asshole, and won’t deal with him — but no criminal contacts will take credit for the information, either.

Armed with this information, the group invests its ill-gotten gains into supplies for the trip. They purchase a cart, horse, plenty of food and equipment, and horses for all of them. After contacting the Black Hawk Mercenary Company and requesting a small unit of twenty-two mercenaries — ten standard infantry, five pikemen, five archers, and two sergeants — for three months, they also hire a handful of laborers and linkboys and a couple of physicians for the same period. Hilda Giblets has the idea of purchasing an entire fleet of carts and pack animals so that they can deploy the mercenaries like marines, and so he personally invests in transport for the entire party.

Preparations take a couple of days, and they finally leave Vor Taluum on the morning of Earthday, Reaping 6. While the group is traveling normally, Tuggs will ride ahead, taking the opportunity to investigate Burnthorpe and possibly determine Eutaric’s plans before the others arrive.

It takes Tuggs about three days to reach Burnthorpe, arriving around midday on Sunday, Reaping 9. He passes a church — a temple of Erathis, goddess of civilization, by the look of things — before riding into the town proper. Finding the local inn, the Crimson Kite, he investigates, but finds that no one else is currently staying at the inn. He orders a room for a couple of days and buys a beer. Unfortunately, his goal to remain unnoticed is strained when he realizes he only has gold pieces on him; she is surprised to see such a wealthy halfling, and immediately goes to work serving him.

After enjoying his ale, he strolls around town. Finding nothing untoward, he returns to the Crimson Kite around nightfall, hoping to catch conversation about any strange travelers through town. His listening pays dividends — a couple of people in the alehouse are discussing the travelers who recently came through, speculating about what they wanted. Tuggs buys them beer, and inquires further — they apparently left earlier in the week, but they seemed very interested about the church. Since Tuggs previously heard some idle chatter connecting the visitors to the church, he decides to go investigate.

Noting that candles are lit, he quietly creeps to the church and sneaks up to the window. Inside he sees a tonsured priest, who merely appears to be standing around in the nave, almost as if waiting for something. The man occasionally looks at the door, and then back to the altar. Tuggs is about to turn away when he sees two armed men, their faces ashen and their bodies covered in small, circular wounds, come running out of a hole in the floor in front of the altar. They pay no mind to the priest, who appears to be trying to talk to them, instead making a beeline for the door and bursting through it, fleeing into the surrounding woods.

The priest pulls a dagger and goes toward the hole from which the men emerged. When he reaches the edge, he apparently sees something that sends him running for the door. As Tuggs watches, a massive beast emerges, at least eight feet tall. It appears to be made of angry, red tissue — a loathsome amalgamation of stomachs, muscles, organs, tendrils made of intestines ending in biting teeth, and topped with a grotesque, whistling anus. As it lurches out of the basement, four men armed with crossbows flee from an unseen lefthand side of the room, and run out of the building. The creature reaches the door, and finding nothing living, retreats to the basement of the church.

As everyone ran in different directions, but the priest seemed to run toward the town, Tuggs heads in that direction. He finds the priest standing in the shadow of a building, trying to cut the rest of his hair with his dagger — rather like he’s trying to cover a crime. Tuggs sneaks up behind him and garrotes him; the priest manages to shank him once in the arm, but quickly goes limp. Tuggs manages to drag him over to the inn without anybody noticing, and then hoists him up into his inn room using a rope.

Tuggs binds and gags the man, shoves him under his bed, and uses the excuse of him being a halfling to explain away the fact that he purchases more food than usual. He otherwise does not leave his room, waiting for his fellow party members to arrive.

The others arrive during the day on Earthday, Reaping 13. They immediately attract the attention of the townsfolk, as over thirty people on carts and horses arrive and start setting up tents. Upon hearing the commotion, Tuggs comes to find Burdwulf, Falrest, Hilda, and Utne, leaving out Aerik because he is helping oversee the mercenaries and Jarq’wei because he is far too dandy. He brings them to his room and shows them the bound priest under his bed, explaining that he only wanted to interrogate the man after having some backup.

Interrogation yields the man’s name to be Clement. He is not actually a priest; he was hired by the magician Eutaric, along with several other rogues from Vor Taluum, to help him retrieve the Red Bell and The Emerald Tome of the Devourer. When questioned, he indicates The Emerald Tome of the Devourer is located in the town of Trastow, apparently in some complex on the peak of Mount Deathfrost. The Red Bell was buried in the crypt of the temple of Erathis in town. He also indicates that Eutaric and his crew arrived in Burnthorpe earlier in the week, scouted the place, and camped outside the town. They returned on the evening of Reaping 9 to break into the church. Clement disguised himself as the priest in case anyone came into the church in the middle of their robbery.

During the questioning, Jarq’wei comes to find the group, and seems intrigued by the prospect that Tuggs has a bound priest in his room. They quickly explain that Clement is not actually a priest.

Utne indicates that Clement’s answers please him, and so he might very well survive meeting the group. After gagging him and shoving him back under the bed, they split into groups to investigate. Burdwulf, Hilda, and Jarq’wei take a contingent of mercenaries to investigate the bandits’ camp, while Falrest, Tuggs, and Utne ask around town for any information they might be able to find.

Burdwulf, Hilda, and Jarq’wei find only the remnants of a camp about ten minutes outside of town. Whomever camped there is long gone.

Asking around, Falrest, Tuggs, and Utne learn that the standard priest of the town has gone missing — although nobody wanted to investigate the church too heavily once it became obvious he was gone — and that apparently nobody in town is aware that there is a lower level or crypt to the church. Falrest and Utne say they will investigate the priest’s disappearance, and will aid the people as necessary.

Upon reconvening, the group shares information. Returning to Clement, they ask if his group would have any sort of rendezvous point; he explains that the camp was the rendezvous, and if they weren’t there, they likely headed back to Vor Taluum. When Falrest and Utne ask what he did with the priest, he indicates he might have killed the man.

Deciding the time has come to investigate the temple, they shove him back under the bed and leave.

The travelers arrive at the church, leaving the laborers, physicians, and five mercenaries outside with Aerik standing guard. Burdwulf, Falrest, Hilda, Jarq’wei , Tuggs, Utne, fifteen mercenaries, and two sergeants enter the church to investigate. There is a faint smell of rot, of feces and offal, permeating the church. They see the open crypt before the altar, but search the church for clues first. While searching, they become aware of a giant, lumbering creature — the organ-created monster Tuggs saw a few days ago. They let fly with arrows, musket shot, and thrown weapons, while the infantry and pikemen move forward to engage, perforating the creature with swords and pikes.

The monstrous thing is slain within seconds, collapsing and turning into a greasy mist which quickly dissipates.

Once confident that it is gone, Falrest gives a linkboy his everburning torch, and the group moves downstairs, into the crypt.

The stairs lead to a hallway littered with mouldering corpses. They all appear to have been eviscerated, and none match Eutaric’s description. The group gets the laborers to pull the corpses outside the temple so they can be burned on a pyre. They then proceed.

The hallways are made of stone, and there are crypts recessed into the walls, each covered in plain, unmarked concrete shutters. Coming to a four-way intersection, they go left and shortly come to another intersection; to the left is a door, and the path to the right continues into the darkness. They decide to investigate the door to the left; Hilda gets to work trying to pick the lock, and after having no luck for about ten minutes, pries the door open with a prybar. Inside is a small room with a simple stone sarcophagus, etched with the symbol of Erathis. It is sealed and otherwise unadorned and unlabeled. The group turns around and heads down the dark passageway. After about fifty feet, the hallway terminates in another door. Hilda gets to work, and after about ten minutes working with the lockpicks, just decides to pry the door open with his prybar. This room looks much like the first, containing a simple sarcophagus.

Returning to the four-way intersection, they head forward. After about fifty feet, they come to an open door; the padlock appears to have been sawed through. Corpses lie inside the room, covered in circular wounds, and the sarcophagus lid sits ajar. One of the corpses is a man fitting Eutaric’s description. Hilda peers inside the sarcophagus and sees a desiccated corpse in rusted armor bearing a rusty sword and shield. The shield features a red bird atop a watchtower. Sitting on its side near the man’s legs is a large bell cut out of a single red gemstone and bearing minute writing around the outer edge of the bell — the Red Bell. The group fetches a laborer to retrieve the bell, but when he does, he accidentally rings it. The three corpses in the room writhe, as their insides are swiftly pulled out, forming another flesh golem, smaller this time. As it moves to attack, they make short work of it, and it is slain when Jarq’wei shoots it with his musket — temporarily blinding and deafening everyone else as he fires in an enclosed space. The laborer, Hopkin, drops the bell back into the sarcophagus in the confusion.

Once everyone recovers, the group discusses what to do with the Red Bell. Some consider leaving it, but others think the ability to generate “ass-monsters,” as they call them, from fresh corpses might occasionally be useful. Additionally, they wonder if Mithras Vicelord might be willing to pay for the Red Bell in addition to The Emerald Tome of the Devourer. Once it is decided, Hilda takes two of the sacks in his pack, carefully lifting and wrapping the bell so it cannot chime. They consider packing it in a box, but Hilda decides to just keep it in his pack.

Searching Eutaric, they find some coins, a blank scroll, and a scribbled note indicating, “Emerald Tome — Trastow? Red Bell — Burnthorpe?” A bloody sack contains some scattered coins and candlesticks, and they take them.

Before they leave, Utne wants to check one more thing. First, they go down the righthand path, finding the same hallways and locked doors leading to sarcophagi. Additionally, they return to the first room they found and pry open the sarcophagus. They find another desiccated corpse clad in arms and armor, although this one bears no additional items. Satisfied, the group gets the laborers to clean out the bodies and they leave.

Returning to the Crimson Kite, they interrogate Clement further, more or less satisfied that he has told them the truth. Since no spellbook was found, Jarq’wei inquires about it; Clement says Eutaric left it at camp, so his fellows likely took it with them. Where might they sell such a thing? Clement indicates they would probably go to the fence, Osric. Jarq’wei says he would be willing to purchase the spellbook and any other magical accoutrements Clement could retrieve if Clement can get there first. Clement agrees, and they let him go. Jarq’wei gives him a gold piece to tide him over until he returns to Vor Taluum, and Clement confirms that they are next headed to Trastow. He then takes his leave.

The group spends the night celebrating a job well done, preparing to leave in the morning. For coming face-to-face with the Red Bell and an ass-monster, they make certain Hopkin is treated well, and try to set him up with one of the local farmers’ daughters.

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Session 2
Death Love Doom

Earthday, Wealsun 21, 552 CY

Upon their return to the surface, the group meets with Professor Jorgensen to find that he is accompanied by a tiefling in black armor. In addition to the ornate sword at his side, the tiefling wears a peacock feather in his lapel. This tiefling has a couple of thugs with him, and Professor Jorgensen looks rather uncomfortable in his presence.

The tiefling introduces himself as Mithras Vicelord, and he explains that he is prepared to make the group a counter-offer to Jorgensen’s dungeon-delving gambit. He explains that a book, The Emerald Tome of the Devourer, lies somewhere on the Isle of Anhak. He requests that the group, being natives of Anhak, go to retrieve it. He is prepared to offer 20,000 gold pieces for its return — 1,000,000 silver pieces in the native currency of Anhak, and enough for the finders to be wealthy men.

He says the deal will be brokered with Rickas Gellantara, one of Vicelord’s clerk contacts in the Vor Taluum Chamber of Commerce.

Passage is booked, and the assembled party is en route to Vor Taluum and the Isle of Anhak.

When they arrive on Moonday, Reaping 3, the group hears tale of an abandoned mansion. Aerik Sellsword, Burdwulf the Greatly Challenged, and Hilda Giblets decide to investigate.

They find a group of four thieves — Gaenbert, Helmund, Aenbehrt, and Jaenbald — assembled to do the deed. Three others also arrive showing an interest — Jarq’wei Loindeen the elf, Tuggin’ “Tuggs” Nemo the halfling, and Utne Jarlson the cleric.

The gang apparently plans to hit the mansion around midnight. A half hour’s walk outside the city — in secluded, rural environs — the Bloodworth Estate is owned by the wealthy Erasmus Foxlowe. The lanterns have been dark for a few days, and all indications suggest that the Foxlowes are out of time, their fortunes unguarded.

The group agrees to the plan. Ten equal shares.

At midnight, they make their way to the Bloodworth Estate. Surveying the site, they decide to sneak in through the cesspit. After finding the hedges and fenceline too difficult to traverse, “Tuggs” Nemo cuts some of the hedges to form an impromptu ladder. The assembled thieves enter the grounds of the Bloodworth Estate.

“Tuggs” Nemo scouts ahead and finds that the house indeed looks abandoned. There is also a lake and boathouse before the inner fence leading to the manor house proper. He returns to report and the group decides to investigate the lake. Tuggs, having noted a boat in the middle of the lake that appears to contain something, informs the others. They come to the boathouse, and finding one rowboat, ask the two of the thieves to row out to the center of the lake and retrieve any valuables. They row out to the boat and row back to the boathouse much faster — somewhat frightened, they indicate they found a young woman, partially melted and covered in tar or some other manner of black goo. She was nude, and so there was nothing to loot.

Despite the odd corpse, the group decides to press onward. Entering through the back — the back door is unlocked — the group bypasses the ground floor and takes the stairs to the first floor. Quickly, they start ransacking rooms. They find the master bedroom and start stuffing all the valuables they can find into sacks. Two muskets and some shot are found and divided amongst the group, as are the contents of a strongbox under the bed. Utne takes an idol of St. McIver found on the mantleplace.

The next room is sparsely furnished, likely a guest room. It contains nothing terribly valuable, other than maybe one of the paintings on the walls, which likewise goes into the sack. Several members of the group go to investigate the ladies’ dressing room, stuffing jewelry into Hilda Giblets’ sacks (while Jarq’wei Loindeen actually goes to the trouble of gathering the dresses as they appear to be worth something).

Meanwhile, “Tuggs” Nemo has wandered off to investigate the last room on the floor. It appears to be a boy’s room, but what dominates his vision is the mutilated boy in the corner. The boy appears dead. His arms and legs have been removed and transfixed. His stomach has been cut open and his entrails have been scattered on the floor. His tongue, genitals, and part of his intestines have been placed in a circle evidently created with the boy’s own feces. The circle has three curious marks on one edge, moving tangental to the circle; it looks very deliberately placed.

“Tuggs” captures the attention of the others.

After some discussion, the group decides that the cleric and the elf — both being magically-inclined — should investigate. Jarq’wei Loindeen and Utne Jarlson enter the room and the others close the door behind them. They begin poking around the room. Utne picks up the boy’s tongue and places it in his mouth. When he does this, Jarq’wei notices that the boy’s genitals, still in the circle, begin moving, inching their way toward the cleric. He shouts and alarm, and Utne — upon seeing the blasphemous thing — impales it with his spade in hand.

After this display, the group reconvenes and “Tuggs” considers getting a jar from the kitchen to gather a sample of whatever moving body parts could be found. He dashes downstairs, first entering an office — he marks the safe as valuable so that they’ll know to hit it later — and then entering the dining room.

Blood and offal litter this room, presumably from the shattered human wreckage hanging from the ceiling. A young girl has had her ribcage opened and her limbs twisted outward to form a chandelier. Lit candles are set upon her, burning her flesh. Her entrails dangle just above the dining room table. She begins screaming for his aid, and “Tuggs” again goes to get the others.

Explaining what he found, the group leaves their valuables at the top of the stair and goes downstairs to investigate. They lower the poor girl to the table and ask what happened; she explained that her father gave a necklace to her mother, but monsters came from the necklace. The big monster told its two attendants to get the lovers, which jumped on her father and one of the maids. An argument started, and in the chaos, the big monster attacked grandmother, and then grandmother came for the girl, and now she is here.

The group quickly discusses what to do, and decides to cover the girl with a sheet and kill her so as to end her misery.

The group then returns to the office. Hilda Giblets cracks the safe, and the group starts stuffing the coin and jewelry into sacks. Utne takes Foxlowe’s ledgers, as well. Having heard about a weird necklace, they check any necklaces that fit the description. They find nothing out of the ordinary.

Content with their loot, and not wanting to run into any more weird things, the group starts dragging their ill-gotten gains out to the front of the house as quickly as possible, breaking oil lamps as they go. As they escape the house and the grounds, they set the house ablaze, hoping to destroy whatever evil lurks in the house.

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Session 1
Return to the Tomb of Theronna Onyxarm

Earthday 20, 552 CY (50 AN)

Aerik Sellsword, Burdwulf the Greatly Challenged, Conrad the Black, Falrest Chisoud, and Hilda Giblets are far from home.

For different reasons, each booked passage on a ship to the port town of Sorgforge. Upon arrival, they realize they will soon be in need of work. Outside a watering hole, they find a bulletin board with a few jobs posted, among them a professor who needs a bodyguard. Inquiries are directed within.

The group goes into the tavern and asks the innkeeper. He directs them to an old, robed man, and the group goes to inquire about his job.

He introduces himself as Professor Phineas Q. Jorgensen with Morgrave University, and he explains that he needs bodyguards because he seeks to do business in a rough part of town. He’ll pay 500 gold pieces for their services, plus any hazard pay if such happens. After some discussion, the group agrees. They agree to accompany him that evening, after midnight. Until that time, they decide to get rooms and sleep.

They awaken around midnight, and prepare themselves to accompany Professor Jorgensen. As per his instructions, they are to keep him safe as he makes a foray into the Goblin Slums of Sorgforge.

They accompany him without incident. As they arrive at a crumbling tenement block, they enter and snoop around to find a room with hobgoblins. A single goblin, riding a bipedal drake-like creature, stands in the front. Professor Jorgensen and this goblin, apparently known as Big Sendak, discuss terms before making the trade — the professor gives the goblin a pouch of coin while the goblin gives Professor Jorgensen a map. Conrad peeks at the map to find it appears to be a map of the slums, and the “X” on the map marks something labeled “Ashurta’s Tomb.”

Before the goblins and hobgoblins leave, Big Sendak asks if they felt the earthquake earlier. He then explains that, as adventurers, they ought to check out the basement.

The group of goblinoids leave.

Reluctantly, the adventurers check out the basement to find that the floor has collapsed into some sort of cavern. They are interested, but decide to check it out tomorrow, after they have rested and received their payment.

Admittedly, the fact that Professor Jorgensen offers to pay them for any archaeological finds sweetens the deal.

The next day, they awaken and talk terms. Professor Jorgensen will give them another 500 gold pieces for surveying the site — likely a ruin, he expects — and returning with a reasonably accurate map. He’ll grant bonuses if the map is particularly complete, and he’ll also give bonuses for any artifacts that are recovered.

The group goes to the market to outfit themselves, largely to buy some more rope, some paper, and a couple of healing potions. They also decide to hire a linkboy and two laborers to carry anything they find. Properly outfitted, they return to the goblin slums with Professor Jorgensen and return to the building.

After using a torch to determine that the room descends roughly fifty feet into water, they manage to secure a line to the stairs and cast it to dry rock. They descend into the dark passages.

They find themselves in a large room. A single torch flickers beside a hallway leading into darkness — Burdwulf determines it to be an Everburning Torch, and grabs it. An empty fixture for another torch stands on the other side of the hall. The other side of the room is dominated by a huge statue, a dwarf carved from the rock itself. It plunges a sword into the bubbling water. Once everyone is assembled, they decide to travel down the hallway.

After a short distance, the hallway opens into another room. Bas-reliefs line the walls, and tunnels radiate outward in four directions. The center of the room is dominated by a statue of a dwarf woman holding a hammer. The hammer is constructed of a different material than the statue. Two corpses with smashed heads lie at the statue’s feet, and the hammer is bloody. The corpses appear relatively fresh, likely less than a day old.

Burdwulf indicates that the bas-reliefs describe Theronna Onyxarm, evidently some sort of folk hero who vanquished the giants. The group decides to ignore the statue, particularly since they cannot determine the mechanism that causes it to attack people, and they move to the right.

Another enormous chamber leads to a room with two everburning torches (both are grabbed). It dead-ends at a large statue carved from the rock; this depicts a dwarf laboring over a forge. Real lava appears to bubble in the forge, although the heat is not so intense as one might think. The arcane runes around the edge of the forge’s mouth may have something to do with that. Finding nothing of interest, the group returns to the previous room and goes to the right, being the chamber directly across from where they entered.

This room has an opening on the other side, and a statue carved from the stone of the chamber sits in the middle of the room. It depicts a dwarf laboring over an anvil. The group proceeds through the opening, traveling up the stairs.

At the top of the hallway, they find several corpses, which apparently attacked each other. Examination indicates that these were not adventurers but laymen in the tomb; they bear only a little silver and a few random items. The group notes an ornate door ahead of them and a plain door to the right. The ornate door depicts Theronna Onyxarm with her hammer held aloft. They decide to go right. As they open the door, they see a long room stretching past the light of their torches. The flickering light illuminates a few more corpses, apparently battered and bashed by an unknown force. As the group enters the room, they note several suits of armor depicting dwarves with hammers. The hammers are bloody.

The group begins to walk through the room, and make it part of the way through before the suits of armor move to attack. In the melee, Conrad falls, although he is revived by his comrades, and one of the laborers is killed by the animated armors. The three suits of armor are destroyed, reduced to scrap. A fourth pile of scrap sits near the rusted, broken portcullis that marks the exit of the room.

As the combat ends, the linkboy bolts, but Falrest manages to talk him down and keep him with the group (even after Hilda threw a knife at him, although he didn’t quite notice it).

The group exits into a short hallway. It stretches ten feet to the left before ending. It stretches ten feet to the right before splitting into two passages — one which doubles back, and the other which dead ends. The group moves to the left and begins searching the wall for secret passages. They find nothing, but as they are content that there is nothing hidden within the wall, footsteps mark the approach of several shambling, rotting corpses that clamber into the hallway.

The group prepares for the assault, and they fight well. Falrest manages to force four of the creatures to flee with his holy symbol and an invocation to the god Ragnock, while the other six are swiftly killed.

The group decides to return to the surface with what they have, taking a few of the armor pieces for Professor Jorgensen. Without incident, the group returns to the surface.

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