This site is an online accumulation of the Post Reports for my current ongoing D&D Campaign - for anyone who might be interested in reading them.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Meet 29, Adv 5, 5/31/08

When I wrote this, I had originally planned on having the party meet up with an NPC to help out - since the group was a bit outclassed in the magic department. I changed my meeting story about two weeks before this game when I learned that one of my player's daughter was going to be here for the summer (14 years old) and wanted to play. So Evian Merrywidow was conceived and placed squarely in the party's path to help out.

I think the group was surprised at the staunch resistance of the outer wards of the Circle of Thorns - really expecting to just saunter in and do their thing. And sadly, it only got worse the next two meetings or so - so much so that one of my players voiced his dissatisfaction with the tone of the adventure. Not everyone felt the same way he did, but his words did register and one of the things I learned as a good DM - Always Try to Listen to Your Players. Always.

Write up follows:

It was Watermonth the 10th, just past noon and our lunch, and we had noticed that to our west the horizon had a darker green smudge upon it; indicative of the expansive forest and environs of the Circle of Thorns (according to our directions). We continued on our way, the sturdy wagon easily taking the brunt of the abuse over land while a few of our members rode their own steeds.

Shortly afterwards, we noticed near a copse of nearby trees (perhaps a 20 count of oaks and elms) a proud looking white stag was standing there watching our party's passage. It was a majestic beast, 14 points and about 6' at the shoulder. However as we (read: Detheron) made an attempt to approach the beast, it turned tail and bounded off across the plains eventually losing itself to distance.

About 15 minutes of travel later we saw another white stag, also looking surprisingly like the first one. This time we didn't approach it, instead riding around the beast as it fed off the tall grasses. Zoltan and Detheron made comments that we were most likely on the right path as the animal (or one like it) had been mentioned in the Dargan's Folley volumes as well as these sort of animals are sometimes used as omens for the gods.

With the forest coming closer now and more distinct, we saw ANOTHER stag – more convinced that this was the same one each time, and it sort of led not directly towards the forest but at a canted angle to the right. We discussed the meaning of it and then decided to follow the beast's trail – hoping that it might be leading us someplace in question.

About 30 minutes shy of the wood line, we were approached – once more by the stag but ALSO with a person walking with it. She is just under 5' tall and weighed about 80 lbs. Her long hair was the color of molten honey as it blew around her heart shaped face. The tips of her ears pointed through the curls of her hair, attesting to the fey and/or elven character of the woman. Her skin was flawless and smooth, her flesh unmarred by weather or sun. The bodice of her dress was deep green while the lower portion was sunshine yellow. She sported a rucksack across one shoulder and the rough wooden handle of a cudgel hung from the belt loops of her waist.

The stag snorted as they approached but the woman placed a comforting palm on the great animal's neck and said, "At ease, Fantas. Thank you for telling me of their approach." She gave the party a welcoming smile, her eyes twinkling in the afternoon light. "I bid you welcome, travelers. I am Goloriana Meadowsweet, and this is my friend Fantas. I would ask your names if you may, as there are precious few wandering personages of good fortune wandering these sad lands."

We spoke to the woman, deciding to hide nothing of our purpose as well as speak to her of who we were and where we came from. In the next hour of conversing we learned that she had lost her sister about two years ago to an attack by "orcs, druids, and the wizard Djohrgahd" when the two women (and presumably others) attempted to enter the forest protected by the circle and "correct the balance of nature" (sounds ominous – and most likely not pleasant for those OF the Circle). During the conflict, Goloriana's sister was weakened, hurt, and her head removed by Djohrgahd with "a single blood rending bolt of his foul wizardry".

She spoke to us of druidism and how it works. There are traditionally 3 schools of druidic magic: 1) Shamanism – where the druid draws his strength from the animal world and kingdom (As followers of Frey and our own Detheron is a practitioner of), 2) Wardens – where the druid draws his strength from the plant world and its kingdom (As followers of Idun and most druidic wild elves are practitioners of), and 3) Elementalists – where the druids draw the bulk of their strength from the elements themselves.

However, there are sometimes cabals, covens, or circles who seek to delve into places best left untouched – and that is the augmentation of blood. With the right subjects and a constant "bleeding" – a skilled enough (or determined enough) circle of druids, or Sanguinists, can up the effects of their influence in an area. However – this unnatural taint often soils or negatively impacts such a place – and according to Goloriana – the Circle of Thorns is party of such rituals and rites.

This blooding has made the earth almost like a poison to the purity of Goloriana's kind (she definitely seemed to be much more "pure" elven or natural fey than most of the others we've ever encountered) – hence why her sister was seriously weakened when they tried to enter years ago and slain. She has spent the last few years watching the Circle carefully, culling the weak of them when they emerge from the forest, and trying to find recruits to help her in taking the Circle out.

About a year plus ago, a party of 4 members led by a High Elven woman named Evian Merrywidow attempted to enter the forest. It seemed that Evian had been friends to someone who had gone missing, abducted by slavers. Through much coin and personal sacrifice, she paid a seer in Reeterstrod to divine where her friend was – learning that he was "in this forest of growing poison, in a circle of thorns, warded after by a cruel elf named Tehpaguar, and destined to be slain with the greatest amount of pain."

They came here after acquiring 4 wolf headed amulets from accosted sentries outside the circle's environs, and tried to storm the interior. They made it less than 2 dozen paces in before they were all beaten down and slain. Goloriana managed to drag the dying Evian away from the forest and hide her in her home – slowly nursing the battered and beaten elven woman back to life and health.

We talked with the two of them (Goloriana and Evian) for some time and decided to ask/accept Evian's accompaniment with us. It seemed Evian was a skilled warrior and wizard and even though she had not made it far at all (the forest is estimated at 6 or 7 miles radius) – she did have first hand knowledge of what worked, what didn't, what they would face in there – and was filled with a vengeance.

We decided since the forest was thick, we would NOT be taking our wagons or horses with us – and Goloriana offered to watch them, happy to do so. She told us that if we could interrupt the Sanguinist (blood druid) ritual at the forest's heart, it would weaken the taint enough for her to eventually come in and help if possible. Good news.

Finally she gifted Detheron with a wand called "Blossombane" – telling him that she had been crafting it over the last year after her conversations with Evian and it would help. It could only be used once per day by a person – and would stay active until the person either died, passed out, or willed it to end. What it would do though was dampen any and all ambulatory plant movement in a given area (about as large as a spear toss she told us). It draws it strength from the wielder though – so using it too long could kill whoever held the wand.

She had Fantas lead us to the forest's edge where the stag then turned away and we checked out the place. The description read as follows:

As you approach the forest itself you note the edge of the forest is disturbingly regular. It appears as if the tree line shows no natural wavering one would expect from roots, twig, or branch. In fact, on closer inspection, the ground along the "front" of the trunks appears to be churned up and piled as if it was pushed from behind.

The occasional rounded stone pokes amongst the tree line, standing alone and perhaps a bit menacing for some reason. The fading light of the sun fails to penetrate more than a handful of feet into the gloomy interior of the foreboding forest, the deeper portions shrouded from the thick canopy of vine wrapped trees branches above. The underbrush appears to be thick and rife with thorn and sticker bushes.

We figured we could see into the green shadows about 50' and then maybe another 50' beyond that with difficulty – after that – there was little to see. Zoltan went first (the wolf head medallion grew warm as he passed through the edge of the forest), made it in about 4 paces before the vines and thorn bushes grabbed his pants and pulled him down. He had to pull and yank and twist himself before he was able to back away out of the forest. Ok – ward's are up. Detheron tried it next, concentrating on his ability to leave no trace while walking – and made it only a few paces beyond that but he too was being accosted and had to retreat.

We talked about using the wand now and figured we MIGHT need it at a later date – so we made a wedge formation with Karis, Evian and Gwyn in the front with axes, swords, and scimitars at the ready – then on the wings was Amal and Osgar with their own axes, and the rest of the party behind and in the middle – and we chopped chopped chopped the underbrush away.

We were making good headway but the two orcs were starting to have problems after 25' odd feet so we tightened up the formation and hacked further. Then Gwyn was grabbed by more ivy and thorn bushes and he was pulled down. Puck fired a Flaming Hands over the dwarf's head – burning LOTS of the underbrush beyond the dwarf, while Karis worked on cutting the dwarf free. Meanwhile the vines and thorns and brush and whatnot from behind us and to the sides were filling in the hacked up and trampled ground at our back slowly – cutting off the path we were making OUT of the forest. We kept on.

After 50'-60' the wards stopped making the underbrush come alive and we all got to a clearer area – and then the strange forest defenders that Evian warned us about arrived. About 4 to 5' tall, they were roughly humanoid but composed entirely of ivy, brush, leaves, thorns, branches, twigs, and burrs. They burst upon us (4 of them) and we drew up battle lines to fight them off.

Their blows were not very punishing and we were not worried at first – until we noticed they began swelling, pulling the plants they trod upon into their bodies – and then each of the Thallids (as the strange plant men were called by Evian) actually SPLIT into two! Doubling their attacks upon us, we took the threat to heart and effected to take them down swiftly (as the doubles were now beginning to swell).

Each one that died though exploded in a ball of spraying branches and wickedly sharpened thorns which found their way against every nick and chink on our armor – whittling hit points away slowly. Flaming arrows were loosed by Kalarig and Puck fired another Flaming Hands – but it was Detheron's most impressive summoning of a 5' ball of rolling flame that cleared the way through the last of the Thallids and ended the threat against us for the time being.

And we ended it here. Already a bit wounded and surprised at the intensity of the foes against us. And we were only 90' into the forest.

Meet 28, Adv 5, 5/17/08

The party wrapped up their time in Ponyboro, now thinking they have a heading and direction to find both Caer Dargan and the Circle of Thorns. We spent the majority of the night roleplaying which was fine for me as the players were having a good time in town. Typical town adventuring though, the "outdoorsy" characters had little to do - ie the druid. For the rest of the group, they did well and we left Ponyboro behind and entered the wild.

Write up follows:

We picked up in Ponyboro, Watermonth the 7th, just shy of 8 o’clock. Puck and Gywn went down the foyer of the Rampant Griffon where they met with Steward Beldric Cooperson who was going to take them both (his treat), to see the Minstrel show. The show was about two hours long, and most of the audience laughed uproariously, a few merely chuckled (such as Gwyn) and some just sat there stoically. On its completion, Steward Beldric invited the two party members to join him in some drinking in the Inn's tap room and some serious alcohol imbibing occurred.

Steward Beldric, before he was slobberknockered, confessed a bit about his own life and the envy he has for Gwyn and the adventuring style. Sir Kona Cooperson (his father) was slain in a duel 5 years ago and the young Steward has been in a strange position as he has not been either knighted or lorded – instead continuing to administer his family lands as best he is able to. This has led to a situation where girls from high born families are not presented to him, as it would be seen as marrying below their station – and girls from wealthy merchant families want to marry him, but he shies off as it would actually be (assuming he gets knighted or lorded) marrying below HIS station.

Around 11, seriously inebriated (no thanks to Puck trying to get Gwyn drunk and the dwarf happily sucking down the free drinks poured his way), Steward Beldric's retainers took him home, paid the bar tab from the Steward's pouch, and wished Puck and Gwyn good luck.

Meanwhile, Karis went to pick up Yolanda Skeerous from her home, the elven sheriff wearing an attractive gown, her lithe frame belying her smooth strength and comely shape. They went for dinner at Eight Acres Black, and then conversation and light wine (water for Karis) and listened to the local skalds play a song or two while others came up to relieve them. At one point there was a song being sung that Karis recognized as some of the actions his own party had done, but there had been no names mentioned – only the Local Heroes, The Local Heroes of Orihalcus. Hmmm…who was taking their deeds and turning them into song? And why? What reason?

As the night wore on and Yolanda admitted she was getting weary, Karis offered to lead her home – eventually the half ogre templar getting bold enough to confess his feelings to the elven woman and ask to spend the night with her. Yolanda didn't say no, and informed Karis of a few things. That she was 174 years old and Karis was not even 20, that she was not looking for a long term or even exclusive relationship, that she liked Karis but not for him to get his hopes up for anything more, and that she had had 3 other "human" relationships before – one of them ending with her paramour dying of sickness and age in his 50's. The knight understood and agreed that he was aware of all this - and just wanted the opportunity to be with her – as his first time.

So Karis became a man in the Sheriff of Ponyboro's bed that night and then after the 2 minutes passed (chuckle), Yolanda took the rest of the night to patiently teach him what it was to be to be a lover.

Zoltan hung out at the Rampant Griffon with Detheron, Kalarig, Amal, and Osgar – lightly joining in the banter and jocularity as everyone took the time to learn to play Wolves and Jackals. Eventually a page came to the hotel from Stewardess Serilinis Cooperson, looking for Zoltan who left and went back to the Cooperson Demesne. Serilinis was happy to meet again with Zoltan and was willing to entertain him. Some light kvass and fruit was laid out (and two guards REAL close by but not TOO close) and the two of them talked.

Zoltan (Captain Zoltan as his honorific was, chuckle) thanked the Stewardess for her candor and honesty. Serilins then talked about her family and that those were the tenants her father espoused and as long as she tried to live up to his standards, then she was a good person and he was not forgotten. Zoltan talked about the little girl and mysteries and eventually brought up the name of Dargan Cooperson. She hadn't heard of him, and Zoltan gave the thought that it might be a cousin and it was from 50 odd years ago. She asked why and he said that there was some story about Dargan and some druids – and there is a chance the self-same druids are the ones mentioned in the tales as being the ones involved with the little girl.

They went to the records room/library (again, like other aspects of the Cooperson Demesne, there were missing books, scrolls, and artifacts from here) where Serilins was able to find out some more info on Dargan. Dargan was Nathanial's cousin, and Nathanial was her father's uncle. There is talk about Dargan did not go north with the 3rd Crusade and should have been the lord of the Cooperson Demense, but he gave it up to Nathanial as he was part of an adventuring group and found a dwarven mine or city. Was building a keep and becoming a lord on his own, but the records just end around the year 127 – two years into the ogre war (which lasted 4). She didn't see his name or reference anywhere afterwards either.

Zoltan thanked her and they chatted a bit more and then the bard left and promised to come back this way again when their search for the lost girl was finished. He stayed until Steward Beldric was brought home and Serilinis took no pity on her drunkard brother, instructing the seneschal to place a platter under the drunk Steward's head and leave him on the rug to mull over what he did stupid (again) by drinking so much and so long.

And finally Detheron had a hard time getting Amal and Osgar to learn the details and tactics behind Wolves and Jackals, the two orcish fighters instead mass moving their pieces around to chase the prey or resorting to shoves and hitting to accentuate points and moves. At one point, they began shoving pieces of the game into their mouth, snarling around the wooden and stone pieces and saying, "I'm a wolf and I'm eating your jackals."

Detheron had to tell them repeatedly to spit them out.

Kalarig and Detheron talked for a while about the archer's skill and ability and some of the things he's done and learned. He came from Tarkis, then did work in Principia, Ironshire, Seneshia, Cymbarton, and eventually ended up in Ponyboro where he was hired out often as a scout and bowman. At some point he asked Detheron if the druid liked Puck, asked him what he thought of him. Detheron hedged his answer and said that he liked Puck as he knew about him and where he was coming from, blah blah blah. Kalarig replied, "Hmm, weird thing, because I mean, I liked Puck-o a whole lot, right? Like he could do no wrong, and then one day, BAM, he just rubs me the wrong way. Can't explain it."

Detheron did a great job deadending this line of revelation and had Kalarig speak on the rest of the group. Eventually he was tired and the night broke up. He heard Puck come up to his room and vomit in his wash basin. Twice. He heard Gwyn come to bed and within a few minutes drop off to sleep. He heard Zoltan come back and go to bed as well – and then the druid fell asleep.

Party awoke the next day on Watermonth 8th and broke their fast. No Karis. After breakfast, Zoltan took two mugs of chicory coffee with him and wandered toward Sheriff Yolanda's house where he knocked on the door. The two of them, naked and under the covers, were startled and Sheriff swept on a night dress, slid a leather vest on, and took her sword, heading downstairs to see who it was. Zoltan said, "I want to report a missing person. It's a half ogre goes by the name of Karis. If you see him, give him one of these and tell him his friends are at the Rampant Griffon and getting ready to go."

Yolanda thought it was funny and went upstairs to tell Karis it. Karis was put off and went to the window and made to throw the coffee mug out at Zoltan's retreating back, but misjudged and splashed hot coffee all over himself and breaking the clay container. Yolanda and he laughed and he was trying for a morning quickie but she was too fast and got dressed, telling him he had to move on. They left together and kissed goodby and Karis went back to the Rampant Griffon.

Zoltan returned and went with Detheron and Kalarig to go to Vermyzier's Tradegoods to get food, water, and feed for another week (since it’s 3 days at least out of Ponyboro and most likely 3 days back). They made all the arrangements and then told Vermyzier to get it ready while they went and got the horses and cart.

Meanwhile Karis arrived at the tap room and wolfed down breakfast, Puck sitting there holding his head, The two orcs talking about the game, and Gwyn eating whatever was left. Where was Zoltan? Um..don't know. Maybe they went to get horses?

Zoltan and Detheron gathered the steeds and paid Conner for stabling them and led them and the cart BACK to Vermyzier’s where they were loaded up and then headed back to Rampant Griffon.

The other half of the party went to the stablers and found out they MISSED the two friends who had left with the horses and cart. Both sets decided to stay where they were and wait for the other half of the party to find them until Karis and Co. said to go back to Rampant Griffon. All joined up now (and some snide words and comments regarding not waiting, and jokes, and coffee, and how big were Yolanda's …er, and then dwarf smacking) the party followed the road to the Cooperson Demesne, picked their way past the mill and Cheshire Lake, and followed the game trail to Deep Lake.

It was overland travel and the druid did his best to keep up on a SW direction. The day was cool and clear and the party eventually camped for the night in the shallow hills near a copse of oak/elms. We had some people keep watch (Zoltan and Karis, then Puck and Kalarig, then Detheron and Gwyn, and finally Amal and Osgar). Karis thought he heard drums at some point during the night, but Zoltan didn't. Detheron was awoken to be told: There was a foul omen – an owl flew overhead. Then he was told: There was another omen, Amal heard drums. No one heard them now, and Osgar swore Amal made it up – some funny banter but it was ended here with Detheron telling them to ONLY wake him on REAL big emergencies they BOTH heard and agreed to.

It was Watermonth the 9th and the party moved on. We continued SW until we saw on the horizon something slender sticking out of the ground. The party was treated to this description:

You've seen the shaft of stone sticking out of the ground for a few miles now, the only thing that has marred the horizon of almost non-existent hills, sparse pines, and tall grasses for some time. Aptly named the Monolith, it is a single spire of dark granite standing like a shaft out of the earth itself. It is canted at an angle, maybe ten or fifteen degrees from the vertical, settled into its position after who knows how many years.

Drawing closer, you can see that near the top there are two sets of four deep gouges in the stone itself, the deepest of the regular furrows closer to nine inches deep. The granite spear reaches almost fifty feet out of the ground, the entire length roughly three feet by half that at its widest point.

Numerous bits of pigment and scrawls have been scribbled along the lower portion of the monolith – testament of those who've visited the area before and felt the need to make their marking.

We checked the entire thing over and discussed it a bit – where it came from, what it means, etc. Most of the markings were not just common but dwarven, elven, halfling, orcish, ogrish, goblin, kobold, and a half dozen other languages and forms the party couldn't identify.

A few of us smelt faint cooking meat and scouring the countryside (Zoltan from ONTOP of the monolith after climbing up and donning the leather wolf's helm) we spotted a low encampment about a mile or so west of here – the same direction Matriarch Cassandra had told us to go after reaching the monolith. What to do? What were they? Who were they? Do we avoid and go around or ride up?

Detheron went behind the monolith and gave his clothes and belongings to Amal and Osgar and then concentrated REALLY hard – his body going strangely light and pulsing and green and glowing until POOMPH – he transformed himself into a large hunting falcon. Then the party was treated to a show as the falcon spent 20 odd minutes learning how to fly and get off the ground – while Detheron did his damnedest to stay air born and learn how to use his new senses and abilities as a falcon.

He eventually strafed the camp – 12 to 20 tents sort of around a campfire, stew on it cooking, maybe 25-30 orcs here in makeshift and poor armor bearing spears and clubs – one of them taller than the others and sporting a rusty serrated broadsword on his back. The orcs watched the strange falcon pass over them (most likely a bad omen! Chuckle) and then Detheron came back and landed…er…I mean crashed and rolled to stop against the muddy ground, changed back, got dressed, and told us what he saw.

Party wanted to engage them. Zoltan, Gwyn, and Puck snuck up to camp with sleep spells, charm spells, and poisoned crossbow bolts at the ready. Karis rode ahead of cart with Detheron and Amal in driver's seat and Osgar in back with Smokey, Fodder, and Kalarig being hidden and arrows out and ready.

As the orcs massed to shout out words to Karis who was having Amal say he was from Ogrelords and visiting and whatnot, Zoltan crept real close and fired off his sleep spell. 15 HD of orcs dropped to sleep – which was HALF the camp! Then it was battle time.

Kalarig plugged the leader 3 times with arrows (first time the party saw him in action – he really IS good!) and Puck charmed one of the orcs. Amal charged forward, taking a spear to the belly for his efforts, but mowing a feral orc down and hacking him to bits with his axe and shouting out blood cries as he did so.

Gwyn shot the wounded leader in the head and critically struck him, killing him – and then the orcs broke. Dropping weapons and begging for mercy. We rounded them up and Amal and Osgar wandered about the sleeping orcs, counting coup on them (read – smacking them in the sleeping skulls with a bladed hand axe and killing them) – until Amal was ordered to step forward and translate for them as the orcs did not speak common.

Orcs didn't know of Ogrelord. Been here since “Ravens of Odin chased ancestors away. Ravens were huge with eyes and breath of fire.” They said they don't know druids. Hunting party wandered into some trees a day or so ago towards setting sun and many of them just turned and started walking home for some reason. A few were actually lifted by the branches and killed by the forest. Orcs spooked, heading home. Clan is referred to as K'Narsimu.

Survivors were put to the sword and the party rounded up what trinkets the orcs had – mostly fetish jewelry and simple fare – except for a thick odd metallic black rod. 3 feet long, three fingers wide, one end was metal fatigued as if it was bent/pried off something else. Group kept it. We went on (taking the stew pot and the stew!) for an hour or so and made camp. Sleep was good this night and we all got a good night's rest.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Meet 27, Adv 5, 5/10/08

This meeting had the party wandering all over Ponyboro. I was paying special attention to the way they talked to the populace and what kind of things they were saying. Most of what they do (or any good game world) would and will come back to them as the campaign progresses and their behavior was going to start to impact the way the NPC's (ie: everyone else!) were going to treat them.

Write up follows:

We reconvened the game on Watermonth the 3rd, effectively the first month (and week) of autumn. We were in our newly renovated home and were discussing the Dargan Folley books in details – trying to explain some of the things we had discovered to not only Zoltan and Gwyn (who had not had the opportunity to read such tomes), but also to bounce ideas, notes, comments, or other points and items of interest to one another.

There was much discussion and everyone had many points that were not only well thought, but also generated much inter-party discourse. Eventually the evening wound down and we decided that since we were leaving on the morning of the 5th, we had a good day remaining back in Orihalcus before we were going to depart. After work (usually around 3:30/4:00), Puck was going to go back Sir Walter Slaine's Manorhouse and spend some time going through the records there one last time, hoping to dig through the genealogy records if they were there and available. Meanwhile, Zoltan (and Detheron) were going to pay a visit to Malcath's Traders to speak with him about any rare or strange herbs or the like he might have ended up getting from his counterpart in Ponyboro (Vermyzier).

On the 4th we awoke early and did our duties as needed until the majority of the work day ended. Zoltan and Detheron went to Malcath's, the gnomish trader's shop was busy. With the influx of settlers coming out to Orihalcus, he has had more business, much more than he usually had before. We had to wait a few minutes for him to speak with us, but once he did so, Zoltan and Detheron wasted no time getting to the meat of their visit. Malcath had no knowledge of druids so to speak, but he did admit that roughly every 3 months or so, he would get some rare Tarbark Mushrooms from Vermyzier's in Ponyboro.

Tarbark Mushrooms don't grow locally and the fungus is poisonous to harvest. Principally it's used as an ingredient in a soporific potion and when he does get some in (a small bag – containing roughly 6-8 mushrooms), One-Eared Quint buys them to aid in his physicking and doctoring of those who get injured while working and need some stitching. He informed us also that the small bag usually sells for about 85 crowns (a rather pricey amount for half a dozen unrendered mushrooms) and that it often goes the first or second day he has it to trade.

The two of them then purchased feed, food, rations, and some other light supplies for the journey to come, paying for their purchases and bringing it back to the house that evening.

As for Puck, his efforts weren't nearly so productive. When he arrived at Slaine Manor and made his way to the library/records room – he was surprised to see Sir Walter's nephew, Kalt sitting there. The rude and arrogant young nobleman was reading a number of books and the two of them engaged in some verbal sparring – Kalt telling Puck to go and get him some new wine. Puck did so, attempting to fire off a charm person spell on his way back in at Kalt, but it didn't seem to affect him. When Puck indicated he wanted/needed the tome that Kalt had pulled aside, Kalt put down the book he was reading, took the other one, and informed Puck he could have it when he was done.

Some stewing and silent grumbling followed and Puck tried to reverse psychology Kalt about the tome he wanted, but the nephew got up and made some jibe about the smell or the company, and then left – tome in tow, supposedly going back to his room to read it in peace. Puck was thwarted.

At home that night, the party discussed what had happened and what they learned or didn't learn. Karis divided out the 300 the party had gotten for half payment for the adventure they took and then the half ogre said he was going to pay a visit to Sir Walter. Once there, he was informed that the nobleman was eating dinner but he was let in and welcomed. Slaine's wife Arian was there, as well as their two younger daughters Elisa and May. And Kalt.

The girls were excused and Karis reminded Sir Walter about them leaving the next day. Mentioned that since they were going out, Orihalcus could use the 4 draft horses they brought back in exchange for stabling fees for them. It was agreed. Then he gave a letter to Sir Walter to send off to Dragonhole, to the Melbourne monastery. And finally, he informed Sir Walter about a tome that Kalt had taken (and was reading at the table) and that Puck could REALLY look at the tome and needs it sort of now, since we are leaving tomorrow morning.

More verbal jibes with Kalt and Arian getting upset and then Kalt leaving, book in tow again, to go back to his room. Sir Walter was frustrated but asked Karis to be the better person in this matter. We were wished good luck and well wishes – and then Karis left.

The next morning, we went down the stablers and made sure our mounts were outfitted (for Karis and Zoltan) as well as taking the cart (we have a cart and a wagon now) and the two sturdy mountain ponies (being as it was decided that if we did go overland, would be better off to have a cart as it could maneuver the wilderness with less trouble). And then we were off. The trip to Ponyboro was uneventful. There were more people on the roads then there had been before.

In addition, the group saw a patrol of 14 of Cedric's Dragoons – professional soldiers and peacekeepers handpicked and charged to defend the safety of the County. The leader was named Yanz and was succinct, but courteous as he informed Karis that they were riding off to Orihalcus. Was a bit worried as Orihalcus had no problems or crimes so to speak, but Yanz informed us that since there was a growing interest in the distant town and much talk about the citizens and the adventuring party that makes their home there, Sir Cedric wanted the place to be visited on a regular basis and ensure the roads to and from were safe. (No dragoons had been to visit Orihalcus for at least 10 months).

We arrived in Ponyboro in the latter half of the 6th, weary from the road but happy to be there. We went on our way to Lord Daernhorse's Demesne to pay our respects, with both Zoltan and Detheron departing at the Town Circle to go right to Vermyzier's Tradegoods now and see if they could get any info before the day gets too old (it was about 4:30 pm at this point).

Once there, they spoke to the elven merchant who remembered the two of them after some prompting. They discussed Tarbark Mushrooms and druids and Tehpaguar and wild elves. What they got from him after some lengthy conversation and prompting and deepening questions was that he has had dealings with the druids. At least two he knows of (Tehpaguar and Faranath). They all seem to look the same to him. Come in every 2 odd months and often buy wool items and garments and silver and bronze knives. As for trade they mostly offer rare fungi, medicines, and difficult to find herbs. Once in a while, they do sell off strange smooth silver and gold coins but not many and only rarely. He thought they might have been stolen coinage as they seemed to be "slugs" (unstamped and raw coins) but they were too thin and smaller to be so and seemed to be just old.

Conversation sort of wandered around a bit until when they did ask about the wool garments, Vermyzier admitted that he didn't directly sell to them and instead they go to the Cooperson Demesne and make their purchases for raw wool and skeins and garments from them. We thanked him and Zoltan wandered about, eventually settling on purchasing something esoteric from the trader – a hand carved ivory statue of a naked ogre woman pleasuring herself from some erotic artist in McKenzy. As he said – one day – this piece of pornography was going to save the party's life!

Zoltan went on to the Twisted Forelock and Detheron went on the Daernhorse Manor to catch up with his friends and companions. They meanwhile had stabled their horses and ponies with Conner, and were sharing a dinner with the elder and friendly Lord. We were regaled with stories and tales and whatnot and we told him that we were here investigating the abduction of a young girl.

Couldn't let us stay in the hovel that we had been in last time, but suggested the Rampant Griffon and said there was a new show there, some Minstrel showing and supposedly rather funny. Also offered to let us "borrow" Inokis tomorrow to review some records here and wished us luck.

We got a room at the Griffon and everyone got relaxed. Karis wandered to Sheriff Yolanda's house and spent some time with her talking, making a date for tomorrow night at 8 PM. Puck went to see the Minstrel show and thought it was funny and entertaining. Zoltan spoke with Gilof from the Ponyboro thieves guild and said "hello" and that they were here getting some info on a abducted girl and Tehpaguar and Vermyzier and whatnot – Gilof told him they'd speak with him tomorrow when they were done fact finding for him.

Group slept and the next day (the 7th) was rainy and crappy. We discussed what we had learned and thought about our next step. Inks was given a list of things to look for and he assured us he'd be back by 1ish with some answers. We decided not to go to the Cooperson as of now even though the trail seemed to point there and instead, reviewing the map, we tried to plot out our next destination.

Gilof came to Zoltan and told him that the druids do indeed visit Vermyzier but it seems to be on the up and up. The druids also seem to come in from the game trail near Deeplake and not one of the three traditional roads in and out of Ponyboro.

Inks discoveries led to: Bower Lane is not nor has ever been located in Ponyboro – and seems to be a street in Cymbarton (this was mentioned in Dargan's 1 as the place Cyric Mulholland (the scribe of the book) had a home and family). The 7 Swords was an adventuring party from 60 to 50 odd years ago, but all charters were retired at the start of the Ogrewar. No record exists of who was in such an organization (according to the Dargan's 1 – was the name of Sir Dargan Cooperson's adventuring group). There is a Tunis family in Seneshia and they are known and sought after engineers and architects (in fact, they are so sought after and well thought of/paid – that there is talk that given enough time, they could be knighted as a family). And finally the only record of a local (within 3 days) circle of stones/menhirs was between Seneshia and Tarkis and had been described as double circle.

We thanked Inks and talked about our game plan and what was next. There was a movement to go to see this circle of stones near Seneshia (and talk to the Tunis family on the way – to see their records) but then we talked about speaking with the Coopersons. Decided then to NOT speak with the Coopersons (so as to not tip our hand or revive any knowledge/interest in Caer Dargan) but to instead try to talk to the family Steward. Once there we noticed the family grounds were a bit shabby and in less than noble standards and conditions.

We were introduced eventually to a woman about 25-30, pretty and pleasant, who called herself Serilinis Cooperson, and Stewardess. We were escorted to the waiting room and made comfortable with bread, water, butters, and jams while Serilinis spoke to us – her two children running in and out now and again. We talked about wool and druids and wild elves and she admitted that maybe they did business with them, but her brother, Beldric, would be the better person as the wild elves didn't want to trade/deal with a woman.

While chit-chatting, she remarked on the name of the party and that their symbol/standard was talked about by her ex-husband. Was a teamster by trade who did some work recently and reported seeing the party's symbology. He had come back to town, accusing Serilinis of sleeping around and hiring assassins to kill him. Was raving and wild and was eventually arrested by Sheriff Yolanda and placed in the stocks for 5 days. He left after that and the marriage was annulled by the church of Thor.

Puck admitted that he thinks he's met her ex husband before (chuckle).

Beldric came in at this point, family resemblance to Serilins and a few years older. Said he was the Steward and had much of the knowledge of the Circle of Thorns and Tehpaguar at his finger tips once he gathered his record books. In the interest in helping the party to track down a lost/kidnapped girl and their already known efforts in saving the town's children before, they were very helpful and forthcoming. The druids come every 2 odd months or so and buy lots of wool skeins and undyed garments. They pay with medicines and worn coinage without much speaking or comment. They've been coming in and out of town like this for the better part of the last decade and can prove this by looking backwards (his father Sir Kona Cooperson kept the same sort of records before he died 5 years ago). He doesn't know where they live, just that they have some grove of somesuch south or southwest of here.

His parting comment was that after they were done with him, they usually went right to Cassandra Silverbough, high matriarch of the church of Frey and then left. We thanked him and made our way out. An outing was planned for Beldric, Puck, and Gwyn (and maybe Zoltan) to go to the Minstrel Show at the Rampant Griffon tonight – Serilinis was not interested and said the show was juvenile and moronic. Chuckle.

While walking to the temple of Frey, we discussed what we had learned. Figured it was STILL best to not mention anything about Caer Dargan and not to tip our hands yet to the Coopersons. Maybe after we hang out and chat a bit- might be different.

At the temple, Matriarch Cassandra was out in the fields and would return later. Detheron and Karis stayed – group went back to Rampant Griffon and got dinner and ready for their night. Karis spoke with a priest named Skuning and talked about Tyr and being touched by him and things that he feels now and thoughts and whatnot.

Skuning gave Karis some info about priests. Gods are real, miracles happen. But not everyone who prays to the gods are priests. And of every priest who bends his knee to his god, maybe one in 50 of them are actually "touched" by their god and able to call on his divine will. To be a conduit for the gods is a special and rare thing – and the gods will often expect their "special" followers to be more of a paragon for their teachings than others – hence why Karis was told by Tyr (in the vision) that he would be tested over time.

They there was an attempt to channel Tyr's essence through the half ogre who called upon his light and blessing to appear. He sort of was surprised and lost his "cool" (trying to shake the light/flames from his arm) but he eventually calmed down and learned to channel and control the flow of light. Hooray – Karis' first spell.

Matriarch showed up and she coldly told Detheron to follow her to her office. Karis came too and they spoke to the no nonsense priestess (elven female, indeterminate age but the feeling the party has is a few centuries – at least; hacked off shoulder length hair, tanned body, rough hands). After getting her to open up and talking about the wild elves and abducted girl and whatnot – she told the group much about Tehpaguar. She admitted that she visited the Circle of Thorn's once, about 8-9 years ago, just after they had established themselves.

It was about two days south and west until they get to some sort of monolith. And then from there, west for one day to the Circle lands. Lots of trees. A large hill with some stones at the base. On top of the hill was a dilapidated keep. Tehpaguar was nice but a bit guarded. Faranth was talkative and friendly but had a raspy voice. Glitterbell though was cruel and capricious, harsh, most likely only interested in hurting others and seeing them get hurt.

She had last seen them 5 odd weeks ago and didn't expect to see them come back to town for another 3-4 weeks. We thanked her and left. Now we have even more information.

It's Watermonth the 7th at 7:30 PM and when we left off the following things were established: Puck and Gwyn were going to the Minstrel Show with Steward Beldric Cooperson at 8 PM. Zoltan had penned a missive to Stewardess Serilinis and asked her if she was willing to talk about her ancestry – he was waiting/hoping to get some answer tonight. Karis was meeting Sheriff Yolanda for a date at 8-Acres Black at 8PM. Detheron was going to spend the night at the Rampant Griffon and play Wolves and Jackals with Amal, Osgar, and Kalarig.

And we ended it here.

Hope you all had a good time, I know I did. We now have more info on where to go and it seems the description of the Circle's lands does match or imply the same at mentioned in Dargan's Folley of Caer Dargan. We will most likely hit the open road (or lack of road) on the morrow and journey to see if this is so. We know it is supposedly 3 days journey give or take to get there – but we do have a cart, ponies, and horses – so this should whack some time off the trip.

Addon, Adv 4, Perton

The last book they found was called Perton's Cannon on Thanatelix - the Scourge of the Vermillion Guard. It told of the last of the Marron line during the waning days of the Ogrewars and was found with the other two books as well as the strange damascus bladed sword the party found called "Wyrmsteel Discordia".

Book follows:

Perton’s Cannon on Thanatelix – The Scourge of The Vermillion Guard

Bragi strike me dead and never to sing or drink again if a single word of this tale is proven to be false or misleading as these eyes did so witness first hand the death and eradication of the House of Marron to the last surviving person and the destruction of the Vermillion Guard bound to serve and protect the Steward and his people. I am Perton Fingersong and I served the House Marron as skald and troubadour and was there to see this accounting first hand and without influence.

* * *

The bog has grabbed the last wagon wheel and from the storm choked sky above we can hear the shrill roar and scream of the winging dragon as it draws closer. There is a ship awaiting us at the port in Eider if can but get there, but harried for three days by the Wyrm Thanatelix has sapped the strength and heart of the Steward Thandar Marron and his family and warriors.

* * *

The teamsters are not aiding the situation, their voices raised in shouts and angry cries of accusations that there should be another solution that what has befallen us – but it matters not. We are held good and fast in the clinging mud of the Eider Downs and now we must attempt to flee on foot.

* * *

Grimfest wants us to stand and fight. There is wisdom in his words, but the women and children in tow make any attempt at aggression against the Wyrm dangerous.

As the Steward said though, what choice do we really have?

* * *

I have never fired a bow, to say nothing of this crossbow they have given me, but they assure me that all I have to do is point it overhead and pull the trigger when the dragon wings closer.

I count seventy-three of us armed and ready – roughly half of them members of the Vermillion Guard – the elite warriors and bodyguards tasked to defending the Earl’s line and those of his family.

The other ninety-two who make up the non-fighting assortment of our retinue have sought shelter in the nearby thick cypress and swamp trees. The horses and oxen have been cut from their traces and are making their way to better land.

As for the treasures and belongings we thought we needed to take with us to the sea and ship and safety – it no longer seems to matter and sinks slowly in the foul waters of this stretch of Gehenna.

* * *

Sweet Bragi I’ve never felt such terror in me life. The Wyrm dove out of the clouds perhaps a hundred yards over our heads. Its shadow caressed me like a sheaf of ice, freezing my blood and terrorizing my mind. The beast was huge, larger than anything had a right to be. It’s scales were the color of storm tinged twilight and the rustling creak of its leather wings as it soared above assaulted my ears like heated pins.

A few of the men fired the weapons uselessly overhead but not a single shaft came close to striking the mark due to the extreme range and the dragon’s passing.

As for Thanatelix, he merely looked down on us as he winged over as if taking stock before rising back into the clouds with a shrieking roar.

* * *

The Wyrm dove at us and someone yelled to fire and I in my terror did so but knew that my own pitiful shaft wasn’t even pointing at the ferocious beast striking down like Mjolnir. Clothyard arrows and stout quarrels did rise like a cloud of hornets and hit against the Wyrm, bouncing away like toothpicks and pine needles for all the good they did.

The Wyrm arched his wings and arrested his fall just before striking the earth, his two rear claws slamming two different men into the mud, the talons piercing armor and flesh. And then he soared off again, leaving the broken men to fall back into the swamp a spear throw away – dead.

* * *

The Steward railed at the dragon but his cries had as much impact as if he hurled them at the sky.

* * *

Thanatelix struck again and this time his great jaw snatched up the upper half of a man and swallowed it in a single gulp. His wings snapped out and buffeted a half dozen others too close to his prodigious bulk.

Swords were drawn and the Vermillion Guard for all their credit and bravery did attack.

* * *

The clang of blade and axe and mace against the horny scales of the dragon will stay with me till the day I die, punctuated under the squelch of mud, the fall of rain, and the deafening roar of the incensed dragon. I do not know if the blows being done truly injured the great beast or annoyed him, but I too found some measure of courage and hoisted my own rapier over head and tried to ply it against the great lizard.

* * *

Thanatelix has the storm within him. He opened his jaws wide and belched forth a stream of fire tinged lightning that scoured across the marsh slaying a dozen fighters arrayed against him. The reek of burning bodies was horrific and the dragon ate another one of them that wandered too close to his fanged maw.

* * *

The Steward is dead. Thanatelix’s tail smashed the Earl’s brother against the bole of a tree, shattering his chest and crushing his internal organs. The Vermillion Guard tried to redouble their efforts and pierced the dragon flesh deep enough the draw forth some of the great beasts hissing blood.

But no blow could revive the fallen Steward who stared sightlessly up at the raining sky.

* * *

Thanatelix then turned his anger and fury on those still standing with claw and tooth and tail and breath of flaming storm powered lightning. The cries and shouts of men grew fewer and fewer. In my shame I remained crumpled in the mud where the Wyrm’s backhanded sweep had tossed me aside like a kitten to land with a broken arm and dazed senses.

* * *

From the hidden copse where the women and children and infirm were hiding, Yersibal, the Steward’s Arcanix hurled a globe of fire at the Wyrm. The fireball engulfed the dragon’s head and neck and made the beast howl. But the fire died against the thick scales and the dragon then launched itself skyward again only a short distance till it landed now amidst those who were unable to defend themselves.

* * *

The screaming was terrible. Women and children and the elderly all crying for succor. The Vermillion Guard, or at least the dozen and half remnants of it, ran to offer what aid they could but I could see it was going to be too little, too late.

The Steward’s own son was crushed under the dragon’s tail. The Earl’s younger sister was bitten in half. His half son was ground under the wyrm’s settling midsection.

* * *

The carnage was terrible and I cannot say how long it went on. I did spy Grimfest ramming his watery steel blade into the side of Thanatelix’s side just under the wing joint. The blade went deep, the magics on it still holding strong even against the Wyrm’s thick and resilient hide. For his own, I can say that Grimfest fought like a man possessed, not stopping his strikes on the dragon even after he took wounds that would have slain a lesser man.

But human flesh cannot withstand the same assault as dragonflesh and Thanatelix was able to bite Grimfest’s sword arm and weapon clean off at the elbow, spitting the offending appendage and weapon aside.

Grimfest fell at last and to my poor senses, I passed out unable to see anymore.

* * *

I awoke some time later to the wreckage caused by the Wyrm. It’s parting cry is what roused me from my slumber and I saw it winging back westward which I note now as odd, because it had come from the north originally.

I picked though the bodies and besides myself, there were three other survivors. None of the guard survived and the entirely of the Marron line has now been destroyed. Not that there is much of the duchy left. Ashes, mud, and dust.

We gathered what we could and scaring up a few of the still unslain horses we took what we were able to.

I took Grimfest’s blade and was filled with a resolve to give chase to the wyrm but I knew it was only to go to my death. His Discordia would need to be wielded by hands braver and more capable than my own before it could be plied in vengeance against dragonflesh again.

* * *

When we arrived at Eider it was to see the wharf ablaze and the ships that were to carry us to safety burned to the waterline.

Death came here. Death came from above.

* * *

And so passed the last of the Marron line and the Vermillion Guard who swore and oath to defend the House of Marron to the death. And that they did.

Meet 26, Adv 5, 5/3/08

At this point the group was hovering between 4th and 5th levels and it was time to ratchet things up a bit. The 1st part of the adventure was going to be a mystery where the party was going to have to follow a string of clues to learn where the Circle might be hiding. Then it was going to be some intense fighting with waves and waves of druidy/fey sort of stuff. And finally the adventure was going to be a tactical approach and assault of the Caer and the Circle of Thorns there.

Write up follows:

It was still Battlecry, the tournament on the 16th of Workmonth to honor Odin and Thor, and the party was in attendance at the fairgrounds in Ponyboro. We took a bit of a break and watched some of the other bouts before Gwyn was recalled to the field for Spear on Foot. He was arraigned against a rather doughty fighter who took the dwarf's measure before the two of them charged each other. Once close, they feinted and jabbed at one another, circling around the field but not getting close enough to strike. The mood of the crowd went from cheering to dissatisfied and then cabbages and tomatoes began raining against the two fighters.

They clashed and the cheers resumed. Gwyn was outmatched and before you could scream out, "Toss the Dwarf" – the bout was over and Gwyn was destroyed in the first heat. Awww – poor Gwyn!

Then some time passed and it was Karis called for Sword on Horse. He rode up and faced off against…poor sap, a skilled knight for the first heat! They rode against one another again and again, and Karis was fairly battered, but managed to unseat his opponent. Opting to be chivalrous, he dismounted himself and they completed their bout on the ground. The half ogre still lost, but it was a fair fight.

Then the church of Frey called for the animal bouts and Smokey was all set…and Detheron's bear's first heat was against…The Famed Gunnarson Elk! Holy crap! It was a behemoth, giant, huge, and Smokey appeared to be very upset about the fight. But it started and the bear was getting his ass kicked. A couple of good blows were delivered on the elk, but in the end, Detheron threw in the towel and the bout came to a close – Smokey eliminated on round one.

We walked around, saw the sights, and had a good time. Zoltan picked up his green spinel headband and then turned over his rapier to have some crystals attached to it. And then the Battlecry was over and the group went back to Ponyboro to finish training and work off more of their bondsmanship.

There were roads to mend and fields to harvest and autumn and winter crops to plant. The days passed slowly but onward. Eventually Karis was approached by a representative from the new Frey sponsored orphanage called the Blessed Children of the Wilted Leaf – a Mister Dardis – about getting the half ogre's help in settling a disagreement regarding the numerous women and their children we liberated from the Kuluk the Terrible's K'Tharkian slave harem 3-4 months earlier.

It seems that after we brought the women (11 of them) and their children (14 of them) to town, the group lost track of them and their plight and went on with what they needed to have done. Turns out that they needed to be cared for and Marzen of the Copperworks took them in, indenturing them to him for a year and a day; effectively paying 20 crowns per woman to cloth them, set up lodgings, make sure their children would be fed as well, and gave them gainful employment in the mines as rock loaders.

The children were in the mines with the women.

Karis took Dardis that evening to meet with Sir Walter (and Sheriff Phozarn) where they gave the absent minded lord the run down of what was going on. Dardis wanted the children to be under the care of the orphanage while the mothers worked - as children between the ages of 1 and 3 should not need be in the mine. Marzen arrived and the group then had a lively discussion. (We Larped here – Jason played Marzen, Mike did Sir Walter, and Kyle did Dardis – Matt played nameless guard with a spear #3)

Settled on the fact that the children no matter what would be taken from the mine (Marzen was fine with that) and if the Sundered Chains wanted to pay for the bondsmanship costs to Marzen for the 11 women (at 15 crowns a piece – the remaining cost due back to the Copperworks for his outlay) totaling 165 crowns. This was a legal loophole since OFFICIALLY, the party saved the women first – and they owe a debt (should the party want to pursue it) to the group first.

Karis spoke to the party who debated the fact for a while and Gwyn and Puck opted not to be a part of it. The other three chipped in 55 crowns and the women were then paid off and allowed to find other employment should they wish. 10 of them went to work for the Greengrocer Coalition, one remained on at the Copperworks.

We wrapped up training and then talked a while about the books. We spoke of things to do and places to go, and what was going to happen next. Group had gotten their butt kicked and frankly, a revisit with Vanir would result in more ass kicked. We needed to do better and get better equipped and gear.

We spoke with just about everyone in town during the last month about the things we did and names and places – hoping something would bear fruit, while still unsure about where to go next and what to do – and even if we could/should go out there again.

Then Solkissa, Detheron's Druidic mentor, came to him with a mission. She wanted to hire the adventuring party – the Sundered Chains, to find a kidnapped girl from a dozen years ago. Northeast of here in the Barony of Dilabria, there lies the town of Huntington. This area had suffered much during the Ogrewars but there were some skilled elven clans living there. Wild elves; they were normally very distrustful of humans, but sided with the men and were able to cause lots of grief for the orcs and ogres.

One of the clans, Qu-Eshya (pronounced COO-ay-CHya), had been wronged a bit over a dozen years ago. A promising druidic student named Tehpaguar (same as mentioned in Vanir's letters) had abused their trust by taking a young half elven/half orcish girl (25 years old at the time of her abduction – which made her roughly 8 in human years and maturity) with him named Lavender who showed remarkable promise as a potential druid. The wild elves believe strongly in reincarnation and were growing to be convinced that Lavender was a powerful druid once named Marissa – and Tehpaguar's "removal" of her was a horrible blow to the xenophobic and tight knit community.

Tehpaguar had disappeared and has remained at large and his whereabouts unknown for a long time – until the party brought back word. Solkissa has been in contact with Ironshade, a leader of the Qu-Eshya clan of wild elves. She has been authorized to hire the party for 600 gold crowns – half now, half at absolution of the blood debt. If Lavender is still alive – another 600 for her safe return.

The description given was Tehpaguar is a wild elf – about 6', 145 lbs, wiry, greenish hair, brown skin with triangular tattoos all over his cheeks. His Circle is most likely to contain at least two others: Faranath another wild elf about the same height and weight but with red hair and two long scars on his neck and Glitterbell, a treesprite about 2' tall, black hair, thin, and with a mean temper. These two disappeared around when Tehpaguar's theft occurred of Lavender.

A circle could be from 6 to 13 druids. Most likely animal companions will be there. Maybe others – don't know. Rangers are a possibility. No other clerics – no mages most likely.

The group discussed it and a few of them were right off the bat – hell yeah, let's do it. A round robin had a unanimous vote and the group then went to talk to Sir Walter about being let go to do this. Solkissa went on ahead to smooth the wheels. Puck detoured to Sheriff Phozarn to see about the possibility of hiring Kalarig, the archer we had "charmed" and liberated from the slavers – who was now in town working as a guard of Orihalcus. Sheriff said – he'd think about it should Sir Walter agree to letting the group go.

Sir Walter was difficult about it, and asked the party for 6 days (1 week) to finish up some of the tasks they were doing. It was the 29th of Workmonth, and we agreed, knowing that it would be officially fall on the 1st. We got Kalarig to agree to come with us, accepting a fee of 25 crowns up front, with an additional 25 crowns for every week we were out (payable up front) and a ¼ share on the assumption that the party will fully extend any support or healing to him as well as an equal with the rest of the party.

Then the group spent time looking around for any records or notes, or anything that might be a potential lead as to the location of the Circle of Thorns, or Tehpaguar, or the Dargan's Folley. What they came up with after 4 odd days was: In the fall and winter months of the year 125, a Sir Dargan Cooperson placed an order for 3 shipments of 14 tons of quarried stone to be sent to "Ponyboro environs, Cooperson Demesne". That and that if the druids did come into Ponyboro every few months, chances are they would visit with the trader/general stone almost exclusively. And if that is so, then some of the rarish druidic found herbs or the like would most likely make their way here to Orihalcus via the trader here as well. Zoltan was talking about visiting Malcath and following this lead. They have been also getting information on any sighting of a circle of stones that might surround a hill – but are getting sketchy results on this.

We ended it here. We have another 2 days in town and then we can move out to someplace else. We have purchased SOME potions and re-equipped ourselves. We need to buy food, fill our skins, and decide what horses and either cart or wagon we want to bring with us. And we need to decide where to go next.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Addon, Adv 4, Dargan's 2

This was the 2nd book I had handed out and the party devoured it after reading the 1st, trying to put all the pieces together:

This is the second book of four of the accounting of Sir Dargan Cooperson and his discovery of the abandoned dwarven halls where he erected keep and wall to protect the people of his land away from the open fields of Ponyboro as told by me, Cyric Mulholland, gentleman, sword swinger, scribe, and squire to the selfsame Sir Dargan.

* * *

The finished walls of Caer Dargan were finally ready to house those who would need to stay there – a simple fact of truth that Sir Dargan has sort of glossed over during the entire period spent building his edifice.

Over a cup of kvass we spoke on this and he let me know that he felt the troubles and wars that were still north were going to come further and further south and in time threaten the barony of Umbaria and even Ponyboro.

My initial response was to bark with disbelief but the truth of the matter was that two baronies had already fallen and a third was in danger of sliding next. The weather was warming up and the tales from the refugees and teamsters coming south was that the greenskins were on the move.

How far south would they be come the fall?

* * *

The biggest problem with Caer Dargan was the fact it was three solid days from Ponyboro – which made its effectiveness as a fall back defendable point useless. This fact was glaringly maddening to Sir Dargan who bemoaned the issue almost daily.

* * *

Finally! King Daro has committed twenty-five thousand troops from the heart of the kingdom to march north under his own banner to help shore up the battlefront beyond. With the fresh call for able bodied troops the Steward Thandar Marron has sent out this spring, I am hoping, as are many of us, that there will be little need for keeps such as Caer Dargan.

* * *

A dovecote has been established at the keep. Frankly the flying rats make good porridge and nothing else.

* * *

Sir Dargan has been reading those strange books he took from the dwarven tunnels again. He’s been rather engrossed in them, flipping the pages one at a time, the blocky script of the dwarven language interspersed with odd spidery symbols that made my eyes ache to look at while I glanced over his shoulders.

I know my liege has seen me watching him, but so far has said nothing about or against his reading material.

* * *

I finally asked him and he went into a convoluted tale about the dwarven warrens we had came upon and the mountain dwarves who lived there. Proud people who were skilled and touched and blessed with the power of Odin and Thor. And how they were given a glimpse of what was to befall their people and the mighty magics they called and the artifacts they created and the riches they amassed.

And according to the books that all went on here a long time ago.

I wondered, what if this was a tale from history past and the riches that were here had been taken away when the dwarves left?

And Sir Dargan told me that he had found gold and silver. Lots of gold and silver. And the bags that he had brought out and used to pay off all the debts were just a portion of what was still under the floor tiles of Caer Dargan.

Sweet Frigga’s Asscheeks.

* * *

Sir Dargan was forthcoming on some of the stories and mysteries under the keep, but he kept his counsel and his lips sealed. He admitted he had accidentally found the cache of coins on the layer below the one the surface. He wouldn’t say where, and I for my own place, didn’t ask or badger him – although I was burning with curiosity.

I asked him why he has not gathered a team today and gone after the riches and he smiled, telling me that the treasures of the long departed dwarves has been hidden and safe from the eyes of men for a century or more and with the uncertainty and conflict going on above why risk having such treasures taken out and possibly stolen?

I couldn’t fault his reasoning.

* * *

The church of Odin has been given a sizeable donation to erect a circle of menhirs around the base of the hill that Caer Dargan sits on. Obviously it’s not going to be a continuous encirclement, but a fifteen count of stones all with the raven of Odin on their faces. For their efforts, I understand that Sir Dargan is going to also set aside a portion of the keep’s interior for Odin’s clergy should they want it.

* * *

The rent moneys are coming in from Caer Dargan, as well as the stipend Sir Dargan is getting from the brewers, traders, teamsters, and other services he has established. It’s a far cry from making the place liquid, but it’s nice to see the “throwing of money” into the hole that is Caer Dargan so far is finally coming to a stop.

* * *

Expedition time!

Sir Dargan is mounting a twenty person team to explore the upper level of the dwarven tunnels and maybe map it. There will be much cleaning needed to happen and retrofitting some of the more dangerous sections (I still remember the suddenness of Indath’s passing), but it is good work. Plus the interior can double as a final fallback position should the walls of Caer Dargan fail during a siege.

Perish the thought!

* * *

Some of these rooms can be worked better. Lots of wasted space.

* * *

Stone masons are ecstatic with what they’ve seen so far and are anxious for the chance to ply their trade on the long abandoned tunnels.

* * *

We are commissioning barrelmakers to make some special sized casks and cisterns and Sir Dargan is going to place them along many of the large rooms as back up water sources. He assured me in private that there is a natural spring somewhere else down below (which we still haven’t gotten to yet), but he would rather the people have a closer and safer water source at their behest.

* * *

There is a map here. It’s not much and somewhat simplistic, but it shows 4 layers of the warren with the third being the largest and most cavernous. Is that the ancient dwarven city? What was it called? How far is it from here? I would like to see it very much.

* * *

Two of the men are sick. Their eyes are rheumy and they have been hacking up phlegm all night (at least I assume it’s night. Who can tell?). When they started to get the shakes Sir Dargan decided that we should go back topside and at least start work on what we’ve learned so far.

Sounds good to me.

* * *

All of us are feeling a bit poorly. Just a general weariness. I think it’s from being under the ground for so long. It’s fine for dwarves and gnomes, but men weren’t meant to be away from the sun for so long.

* * *

We’ve got our strength back. Caer Dargan is growing. Over four hundred make the keep and the nearby lands their home now. The dairymaids have been churning the milk into butter and I for one am happy to have a proper meal of nut bread, sage and butter again with my stews and soups.

* * *

Sir Dargan returned from Ponyboro with some posts, news, and another fifteen count of artisans and architects and stoneworkers. The greenskin army is now assaulting the Sanward Barony, striking at Castle Blackstone with a number that according to reports is closer to thirty thousand strong.

A man can reach the Sanward Barony in two weeks on a stalwart horse.

Odin help us.

* * *

Some representatives from the Steward’s offices came today to see Caer Dargan. They had some conversation with my liege and when they were done, Sir Dargan was furious. He spoke with his men at arms and guards and this evening, thirty of them were drafted into the latest muster and gathered their gear to report to Cymbarton before marching north.

Thandar Marron is a twit. He’s bleeding the duchy dry of able bodied men. Whatever tactics they are using to blunt the greenskin assault isn’t working.

* * *

Well, we’ve moved another two hundred people from the Cooperson Demesne in Ponyboro to Caer Dargan to work the land around the keep as well as replace the men that the Steward’s representatives drafted.

I also learned that Sir Dargan passed control of the Demesne to his cousin Sir Nathanial Cooperson, instructing the younger man to not neglect the defenseworks of the ancestral family home as well as to be fair and equitable to the serfs and tradesmen working the acres.

I was in shock and wondered why until I remembered the untouched riches and ancient mighty dwarven magics under our feet and realized that this was the better choice and solution.

* * *

The work in the tunnels is proceeding apace. Sir Dargan has taken to calling this area of the former dwarven vaults, The Stronghold. He’s got his own vision of how it should be set up and I know it is at odds sometimes with the men working for him, but they know which side their bread is buttered on and do his bidding.

Speaking of butter, I think the last batch went bad as not only I, but a good thirty or forty of us have gotten the runs and cramps.

* * *

Sir Dargan yelled at a child today. Was a pure accident, but the young girl was running through the halls being chased by her brother when she slammed into the nobleman as he was walking and reading his ever present tome. The book hit the ground and at that instant Sir Dargan was in the girl’s face shouting his head off at her, hands flying like some wild banshee.

The girl was flustered and upset (no surprise) and she fled hysterical while Sir Dargan picked up his book and carefully examined its battered state with a critical eye. I told him it was an accident but the look he shot me was so venomous I was afraid he was going to yell at me next.

* * *

A wolf got into the henhouse. Blood and feathers were everywhere. No holes were in the wire and the fence was sound. The young man in charge was given five lashes for not latching the door closed but even as the last leather strap struck him, he swore his innocence.

Sir Dargan didn’t care and instructed the trader to bring another twenty-five count of hens back with him on his next visit.

* * *

Something’s going on here. I don’t know what it is, but it’s not sitting well with me. Too many people are always sick, and there have been too many flare ups of tempers from everyone as of late.

Sir Dargan is the worst of the lot. I wish he’d stop reading his book long enough to build up some morale and help lead the people who are here.

* * *

The artisans have established a number of rooms capable to double as living quarters in the Stronghold which has Sir Dargan smiling for the first time in weeks. He paid the men in more of that smooth gold and silver coinage which struck me as unfair as he must have gone into the deeper portions of the dwarven tunnels to visit the hidden vaults to get the treasures.

I was hoping he’d have brought me.

* * *

The men had a scare today. A small party of orcs, no more than eight, came out of the woods. Ballistas fired and long bows were bent and I know the men mounted up and gave chase and the orcs were slain to a man, a fact of which Sir Dargan was most pleased. He paid a bounty of 6 silvers per pair of ears to the men who did their jobs.

The orcs were geared up for long range travel and scouting which made us feel better as there was no army following right behind. But it was disheartening to know that the greenskins have come so far and so deep into our homeland.

* * *

We’ve another expedition planned. This time we are going to explore and catalog the last of the Stronghold level which will take us throughout the large and sprawling vaults at long last. This should fetch us near the stairs I found Sir Dargan at long ago and from there, once we are finished, we can go to the next area where the mountain dwarves lived.

And hid their treasures and magics.

* * *

Damn the dwarves were really good at what they did.

A section of the floor we were cleaning and scouring actually shifted under some of the worker’s ministrations which had me frantic in the half remembered instance with the long forgotten trap that did in Indath. But in this regard is was not another pit threatening to swallow some of us whole, but a hidden cache of weapons and armor!

Admittedly some of the leather had cracked and turned brittle over the century or so, but the metal work was astounding and the sheer detail and work that went into each piece was enough to make any man who owned a set treasure such an heirloom for generations to come.

We have no dwarves in our party and I am hard pressed to remember where an enclave of the current denizens might live, but I know there are some skilled smiths and armorers who make their trade in Cymbarton and they can incorporate some of our findings into a proper suit for any of us.

* * *

I think we’ve done all we could down here. There will be months of work still to do to get the Stronghold to 100% of Sir Dargan’s specifications, maybe more if the hostilities to the north continue to get closer.

As for Sir Dargan, he’s preoccupied with his books and has been only paying half attention to us and our prattlings.

I wonder…is there more to the tomes he has spent months reviewing than he has told me? Normally I would believe Sir Dargan without fail, but lately I don’t know.

Maybe it’s the oppressive nature of the under ground chambers again getting to me. I look forward to getting some sun on my skin by tomorrow.

* * *

A dairymaid has gone missing. She was supposed to report for milking duties and failed to show up. Her room had been slept in but the shutters were open and there was some signs of dishevelment in her bedchambers.

A search has gone out. I am hoping that she was a victim of young lust and a midnight tryst instead of anything more foul.

* * *

The body of the young woman was discovered today in the Stronghold itself. She was in one of the side chambers and her body had been beaten and battered most cruelly. Her nose had been broken, cheek bones shattered, fingers twisted and joints bent the wrong way. From the purpling bruises across her throat she was also throttled.

But her clothing was not disturbed and according to the Deathspeaker she was not violated.

What happened? Who did this? Sir Dargan is livid and has ordered the guards doubled. I am been appointed to finding the culprit and settling justice upon them.

* * *

The dairymaid was buried as per accordance but the Deathspeaker spoke to me in private afterwards, telling me that the girl’s spirit was not at rest.

In fact the girl’s spirit was strangely not near her body nor on its way to its final reward.

When I pressed him for an answer he claimed frustration and said that his skills were not up to the task, as only the adepts of his order could truly know the secrets of the departed souls.

You know. Adepts. Like Earl Marron brought with him on the Third Crusade up north before he and every other manjake and skilled personage disappeared off the face of the earth.

This is not going to go over well.

* * *

The dairymaid rose from the dead this evening and attacked two other people here in Caer Dargan. It took four men at arms to put her down and it was only after she had been carved up like so much beef steak that her mortal coil finally slumped over and remained dead.

* * *

Sir Dargan seemed of good spirits this day, most unusual considering the mood around Caer Dargan as of late and the string of foul luck affecting us. Some of the men have made a few benedictions to Loki, asking the trickster to turn his attention elsewhere for a while.

Me? I give all the gods their due, but no more so than they deserve. When the All Father comes to visit me personally and answer a few of my questions, then I’ll give him more than a hasty prayer and a tossed coin at Almsfest and Yuletide.

* * *

Today I signed for a strange delivery for Sir Dargan who was exploring the deeper halls and depths of the dwarven vaults below. A score of solid leaded glass balls, each one roughly the size of a closed fist.

When Sir Dargan came out at supper I asked him about the odd spheres and he assured me that there was nothing to be concerned about. I didn’t say I was concerned, only curious as to their purpose.

He grew evasive but not until he said that if all went well, they might just help turn aside any threat of orc or ogre or giant that would dare to array itself against us here at Caer Dargan.

Sounds like good news to me.

* * *

This ends the second part of my tale of Dargan’s Folly, the Dungeon of Sir Dargan. I will be continuing this tale in the next book.

Meet 25, Adv 4, 4/26/08

This was one of those nights where most of the party was in a really good role-playing mood. With the exception of the combat portion of the tournament, there had been little if any dice rolling the entire meeting. And for my own part, it was the group on their own jelling together and being good role players without my own interference.

One of the things that I did enjoy though, was the prop I had prepared for Dargan's Folley 2. I like to give out things, as it heightens the enjoyment of the game to have an item in your hand to read or review or look at. And for this 9 page tome, I had glued a second page on the back and used very light ink on the printing so it wouldn't show through. Then after the party discovered it, they gave it to the bard and the dwarf who spent 25 minutes in real time deciphering the message for the rest of the party.

Honestly, I was more proud of the group or these two guys than any time in the game before. It's times like this that I enjoy as a DM.

Write up follows:

We spent some time rewinding the clock just long enough for us to see how Smokey was going to do at the dinner hosted by Lord Artis Daernhorse. There was some jocularity and well wishings and then Detheron asked for a few moments to talk to his bear. Tried to lead him away and Lord Artis made a joke about not swapping Smokey for some other bear.

Detheron did Speak with animals and got to talking with his oversized buddy about what was to be expected of him. Smokey did his best to understand and promised to try to use the fork and knife as requested. It took the promise of more honey buns and Detheron willing to take a crap in the woods with the bear to get him to do it (Smokey was complaining about stomach cramps) but they went back to the table. A brief final prayer to Frey to give Smokey a serious bonus to dexterity (Cat's grace) and it was time for the bear to do his thing.

This was to be the first of many "gosh, whenever it's Detheron's turn to have the dice rolled, we can't get anything less than a 17" periods of the night. Smokey did great, not exactly the picture of Miss Manners at the table, but enough food came up on the fork and knife to make it to his mouth. Lord Artis happily paid the reward and even Lord Gunnarson and Magistrate Cottson added to it (as they had taken the wager as well).

That night, Detheron and Smokey went for a midnight walk for the "private time in the woods" – deciding to use the treeline on the outskirts of the Silverbough Demesne as a place to "fertilize the verde". Smokey was cramped up and when both of them finished (yes, Detheron did crap), the druid was surprised to hear metallic clinks in the bear's scatting. Looking at it, and rinsing it off, sort of with water from his skin, he recognized it as thin bars of platinum, raggedly cut in half, stamped with the royal seal of King Daro. Three of them

And it came from his bear's ass.

Furious, he did the Speak with animal thingie again, and got Smokey to tell him about when he started to feel like this and when, and who did it. Smokey said it was one of Detheron's friends when he fed him honey buns a few days ago. Which one? Why…the friendly one who talks funny.

They went back to the house (Detheron feeling that there was more “up” Smokey still to come out) where the druid went in, with the three half platinum bars, and stalked into Zoltan's chamber where he tossed them on the sleeping thief…er…bard, I meant bard's chest and they had some heated words. It didn't go over so well for Zoltan who was caught red handed (or at least with shit on his hands) and promises were made to never do that again and yadda yadda yadda.

Next day, Workmonth the 5th, the group was getting loaded up to go and were talking with Lord Daernhorse about the wagons to be loaded back up and ready to go. Promises were made by the party to come back for Tournament on the 16th ("Battlecry" – to honor Thor and Odin) and Karis made noises about entering. Zoltan took a detour to Ikthandar's Leathers to speak with the frightened man about what it is he wanted from Zoltan for the chance to see his "maps".

Ikthandar had some history with Frau Gail of the Greengrocer coalition in Orihalcus and wanted our gypsy friend to steal Frau's medallion that was copper, shaped like a tree with nine leaves, of which 3 of the leaves were gold and bring it back to him. Zoltan nodded and agreed to think about it.

Detheron meanwhile said goodby to Deidra and her children Gregor and Hani. There were tears and everyone wanted things to be different, but Detheron had to go. Promise was made to come back at tournament and Deidra offered Detheron the possibility to stay here on his return at that time.

It was a day and a half back to home. During the night, Detheron and Puck had some heated words AWAY from the camp where the druid and sorcerer argued about spell usage, the danger to the party, and the lack of discipline regarding the safety of everyone – human and animal companion alike. It got rather tense and their voices were heard by some of the party members back at the encampment – but the two men came to some sort of an accord and they came back quietly (Although I am sure Puck stayed behind to choke a chipmunk out of frustration – chuckle).

The party arrived on the evening of the 6th where Atring the gate guard stopped us and there was some talk about the 2 ORCS (Amal and Osgar) we were bringing back as well. Sheriff Phozarn was called and we vouched for the orcs and we were led in – not only with the cart and 2 ponies we originally had, but the NEW wagon loaded up and the 8 draft horses we commandeered from the slavers as well.

Some teamstering happened as the goods were off loaded and our stuff was brought home. The three kobold women were thrilled to see us and we were told that Ilva was being very well behaved while we were out. Group was tired and we stowed our stuff away in the small flop house, now even more crowded with Kalarig, Bosvild, Amal, and Osgar to stay with us too.

The next morn we were getting breakfast and getting ready and dressed when a page came to inform us that Kegana Attwalt, Sir Walter Slaine, and a number of others were waiting for us at audience at the courthouse. We all went and discharged our bills to Kegana and got paid for our work. Then we told of the duplicity of Lord Artis Daernhorse's Reeve and the fact that there needed to be better controls on our end as Sir Walter is being robbed. Marzen grew cross at this, saying it was NOT his dwarves and it must be entirely on Lord Artis' side. Kegana was upset as she had suspected this had been going on before. She was going with the next caravan to Ponyboro and would settle the matter first hand.

Karis had not been sleeping well and his wounds have not been healing. Party was wondering, was it a werewolf that scratched him? Was he doomed and damned? What was going on?

Sir Walter was happy with party and mentioned that he would use them again should he need something special delivered or moved in the future. The matter of the numerous horses we've brought back turned to what we were going to do with them. Stabling was going to be at 1 noble/day/horse and the party sold off 4 of the horses here and now to Marzen and the Copperworks for 85 crowns/head.

We spoke for the orcs and then it was time to talk about our living quarters. Sir Walter had nothing really better to offer the party, but told them that the OTHER house next door was abandoned. They could have BOTH of them AND the services of a 4 count of carpenters for six days total, and the cost would be only 4 nobles/day for their services. Group would have to pay any material costs on their own.

We stayed at the Blue and Dancing Minepick Inn for the 6 days (except for Zoltan who stayed at the Rumbling Gut – a bit cheaper, but friendly to his ilk) which cost more money, but we worked with the 4 carpenters, both Karis and Gwyn chipping in their own skills, and added walls between both homes, removed fences, and even added a second floor and had the roof thatched. Now the flop house wasn't so small anymore and we had room to spare for everyone.

Group decided to not hire on Bosvild and Kalarig as teamster and archer – setting both men free and on their way. They agreed to leave slaving behind them. Bosvild went to Kegana Atwalt to sign on for a caravan trip elsewhere. Kalarig was talking with Sheriff Phozarn about getting a job on the Orihalcan Guard. Amal and Osgar were not going to leave and were fanatically loyal to Detheron. Their own deals and rates would have to come up at another meeting.

We also spent our free times when we weren't training, reading up on the three tomes we found. Perton's Cannon on Thanatelix had been written by a skald named Perton and told of the last of the Earl Marron's family, their attempt to flee to safety during the dragon attacks almost 50 years, the last of the Vermillion Guard who swore an oath to protect them all, and the devastating attack by the terrible blue dragon and how it killed almost everyone and most of the attacks didn't do much to it – except for a water bladed sword wielded by the Vermillion Guard Captain named Grimfast. There is thoughts that the Wyrmsteel Discordia that Karis took from the same office is the sword from the story – the only real weapon that seemed to hurt the dragon.

Then there was Dargan's Folley 1, the Dungeon of Sir Dargan Cooperson, written by Sir Dargan's bondsman named Cyric Mulholland. Told of an ancient dwarven warrens and city found by an adventuring party. Sir Dargan buying it and not going north during the 3rd crusade. Turning it into a keep to repel the orcish brigades should they get that far. How expensive and large it was. Sir Dargan's fascination with some books he found in the warrens. Almost bankrupted the Cooperson family but at the end of it, Sir Dargan took two ponies INTO the caves and came out a day later, both of them laden down with smooth faced silver and golden coins that he paid off everyone and everything with. The party has found a number of the same sort of coins as described in this tome, which took place 50 years ago. Karis wants us to find it and go there.

Finally there was Dargan's Folley 2. Supposedly there are 4 books, we have 2 of them. Tale continued about going deeper to the dwarven city and what they saw. Some of the difficulties. The march of the war and its effect. The approaching orcs. Sir Dargan getting strange and short tempered, spending a lot of time in his books. Morale issues amongst the people.

It was at the end of the tome that Detheron and Puck noticed the back page of the journal seemed thick. They peeled at it slowly until, they discovered a secret page with strange dwarven styled runes on it. Both Zoltan and Gwyn then spent some time deciphering the runes painstakingly at the table one after one, translating the note which read:

Druid volunteered to cap the Folly.
Duped Circle into helping.
They don't know the treasures beneath their feet.
Trapped a valkyrie as warden, that should keep it closed.
Good job guys – I know it was difficult. Very proud and happy.

Karis was getting pretty bad off until after a week, had a horrible night's dream and felt the presence in his room/mind. Some conversation and he realized that his prayers for healing and rest were being answered by his god Tyr, who charged the budding knight to do justice and exemplify his name and works. And Karis took the next step towards becoming a holy knight, a templar, to Try – god of justice, courage, and the sword.

Sir Walter agreed to let us go to tournament and the group made the trip to Ponyboro where we joined in the merriment and fun. We took a room at the Rampant Griffon except for Zoltan who went to the Twisted Forelock (thiefy inn) and Detheron who went to Deidra and her kids. Deidra was thrilled to see him and her house was being boxed up. She was moving to Orihalcus to open a chapterhouse of the Blessed Children of the Wilted Leaf Orphanage there under the protectorate of the Church of Frey. Detheron was very happy and he and her and her family had a nice night.

Karis signed up for the Mounted Sword and the Joust – Gwyn signed up for the Spear on foot and the Sword on foot. Detheron signed up Smokey for the animal fights. And then it was the 16th of Workmonth – “Battlecry” - tournament day.

We had lots of fun and then it was combat time and betting ensued and then the fights went down. Gwyn did well enough, making it to the 3rd round before getting eliminated. Then it was the joust and Karis made it to the 4th round where he went the full 5 tilts against his opponent and didn't get unseated. Good man!!

And then we ended it here.

Was a full night. We are roughly half way through our training (for Karis, Zoltan, and Detheron) and took a "break" to go to the tournament. We'll wrap up our fun there and then go back to Orihalcus to finish our training and mull over what's been going on and what we've learned.

Questions remain. Lycos Suns as an organization are scattered and done. Vanir is nowhere to be found. There was talk from Iohanas about they were to link up with Druids? What druids? If it was that Circle of Thorns as mentioned in Vanir's office notes – where are they? How to find? And the wolf/werewolf – was it a druidic totem or a servant of Vanir? Strong, powerful, dangerous.

The bronze wolf head medallions? Where else can they be used? It was hinted at but where?

And finally Djohrgahd. He is still out there. He has had his ritual spoiled and can no longer use the circle of stones at Wolverton Estate – but he is somewhere and he will want to further whatever it is he is doing. And that means at some point, some children are going to be assaulted and enslaved whether Vanir is going to be a part of it, who can tell. After fighting Vanir, you have learned that as a group you are not as powerful as you hope to be – and it is glaringly obvious that you are lacking. The party should and will do things to remedy this shortcoming soon.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Addon, Adv 4, Dargan's 1

The party uncovered a few books in the course of the adventure. Normally that happens now and again, but these books were special. They were found in the Lycos Suns offices - in a locked office that had no key on the ring to open it - of a person who did not appear on the payroll but had a place nicer than Vanir's - in a closet that was locked and trapped with some sort of flaming glyphs.

This is the first of the three books: Dargan's Folley, Volume One of Four:

This is the accounting of Sir Dargan Cooperson and his discovery of the abandoned dwarven halls where he erected keep and wall to protect the people of his land away from the open fields of Ponyboro as told by me, Cyric Mulholland: gentleman, sword swinger, scribe, and squire to the selfsame Sir Dargan.

* * *

The call came from Earl Marron to venture north and see what or who it was that seemed to swallow whole the two crusades that went before them. I remember clearly the day Sir Dargan Cooperson got his papers to march for king and country. There was much ballyhoo and his fathers and uncles and brothers wanted him to hoist banners high and join them.

Sir Dargan wrestled with this, I know he did. He would speak to me at night after the dogs were asleep and the shepherds bedded down, wondering if he should abandon the Seven Swords and do as his family asked of him. What could I tell him? Bonds of family and vows of brotherhood should not be entered into lightly and must be weighed out each of their own merit.

* * *

The last words Sir Dargan made to his father were ones of anger as the nobleman rode northward toward Maronnia and our Earl with his sons and brothers in tow. I wonder often how many times Sir Dargan replayed that encounter in his mind?

* * *

It was a cold day when the first reports came to light of the Orc raid on Caer Ushar in Timbleton Baronny. There were shocks and noises and tsks tsks made but for the most part, I know the populace gave it no thought. Some assault on a distant place on the other end of the Earldom meant as much to them as the stories of cholera in the slum districts of Darkwaters did trickling northward.

It was Sir Dargan who I remember looking pensively over the horizon and saying, “Cyric my friend, I think this is the beginning of something calamitous.”

* * *

The Seven Swords were actually looking to bag the white stag for sport when the ground opened under Rinigar’s mount and the animal snapped its foreleg. The hilltop was lightly forested and the hole seemed deep as evidenced by the echoes heard within and the stale air that wafted out. Rinigar’s mount was given a clean death and it was Sir Dargan who prodded the hole with a 10’ staff of ash, widening it as the dirt and loam fell free.

We rested that night and went in with rope and piton and saw that it was some sort of long forgotten dwarven halls. Some bats and insects sought to disturb us as we explored but the place was so old and in disrepair that the Seven Swords lost interest and we returned home the following three-day.

* * *

Orc raid was spoken about on Harrowdale up north. Don’t know anyone that far north, otherwise I’d have been more interested. There was talk though, where was Earl Marron and the Third Crusade? Shouldn’t they have been able to deal with an orcish raid?

* * *

Sir Dargan, I, and a team of architects went back to the same dwarven halls discovered last month. My lord made sure to take numerous measurements and sightings, making a detailed drawing out of charcoal and vellum. We stayed here just about one week before heading back. Talk around the inns is some keep or fort (again, far north) was attacked and overrun by Orcs. According to my lord this was the 7th such occurrence in the last 3 weeks.

* * *

Steward Thandar Marron has called for a dissolution of adventuring guilds under this time of concern and aggression. I can only imagine the Earl’s nephew trying to appear tough and decisive with kohl on his thin chin whiskers as he stands outside the manor house and attempts to muster the populace and keep them calm.

There is still no word of the Third Crusade which I am sure upsets Sir Dargan.

* * *

Sir Dargan and I made a journey to Cymbarton where my lordship registered the same dwarven warren he discovered as his own discovery and made his first tax payment upon it. The Exchequer wouldn’t record it under the Cooperson Demesne as there is an outstanding lien on the family holdings for some other property outside of Karon, so it was under the name and recognizance of Sir Dargan himself.

Long and short, he fails to make good on the debts, it comes out of his pocket. And currently his pocket IS the Copperson Demesne! If his father was here, I know he’d stripe Sir Dargan’s back for this.

At least I was able to visit with my family for a while. Grettel is getting so big and Juru is as proud a mother as possible. I gave everyone fond farewells and left Bower Lane with a smile.

Little did I know that when I returned again it would be at a world changed and shattered.

* * *

The place is a wreck. We went in a bit further and it’s nothing but empty halls long abandoned and taken clean and clear of anything that wasn’t nailed down in the first place. Told Sir Dargan this and he made note of it.

I think he likes it.

And I don’t think he cares that no one else does.

* * *

We’re going to need some local artisans to help us on this. Urgic brothers have a handy knowledge of architecture, and there is the Tunnis family in Seneshia that has done some work before. But we are going to need lots of local and imported help on this, especially on the plans I’ve seen Sir Dargan cobbling together.

How we going to pay for all this?

* * *

Limers, carpenters, masons, smiths, riveters, welders, laborers, teamsters, caskers, mortarers, leatherworkers, glass blowers. And that’s just off the top.

And where are we going to get the stone from? The quarries here in Ponyboro are substandard at best, but we’ve gotten a 35% confirmation agreement on 9 months output so there will be plenty for forming and foundation.

* * *

Winter is not helping and we had to make next tax payment. Nothing there but fencing and raw goods and scrape lines in the hill top and half erected walls and foundation blockings.

* * *

Radergast was plundered up north. Big city too, almost 40 thousand I heard. That’s a lot of people to assault. What the hell are the bloody greenskins doing?

* * *

Ogres. Orcs and ogres and some sort of giants as well. Talk around Eight Acres Black is that thousands were unable to flee Radergast and were slaughtered or captured for slave and food by the humanoid army.

War is not coming any more. It is here. And it is moving south.

Sir Dargan says nothing, but I know he is aware that his father, brothers and uncles are never coming home.

* * *

We have stone coming in. Purchased great quantities of it, and for that I am finally happy. Can’t build a keep out of wood – not unless you want it torn down within the first hour of the siege.

I asked Sir Dargan the price and then pretended I hadn’t wanted to know. This keep is going to bankrupt the family.

* * *

The Steward Thandar Marron got approval from King Daro to muster an army to, as hawked in Town Circle, “draw a line between the ferocious barbarians who threaten our lives and families.”

I’m sure the Earl’s Steward then asked for a cookie and had his nursemaid change his diaper.

* * *

Architect is worried that the north side of the keep is going to punch through the vault below. We barely have the upper area searched to say nothing of surveyed. The ceiling is thick but there is concern as to whether it is shelf or table stone or compressed and compacted earth.

Sir Dargan is putting a team together. Guess which man is going to be seconding him in there? The things I do for my liege lord.

* * *

Many rooms, some cramped. The dwarves who lived here did so in style and with an eye toward defense. It’s a bit confusing with some seemingly straight runs dead ending and other narrower places leading to many chambers and vaults. But its been abandoned by the dwarves for a long long time. Seems a bit sad too.

* * *

Came upon the place where the north side of Caer Dargan is going to be situated and had the diggers do their thing. Took a few hours but its confirmed – table stone above thick enough to support three Caer Dargans.

I hope this means we aren’t going to make the place bigger.

* * *

Eldon was taken this week. Some sort of fishing village and home to twelve hundred people. Gone. That means the orcs are on the other side of the Firetail Hills and have successfully cut off almost half of the Barony of Nosarin.

The Steward has mustered over nine-thousand able bodied and sent them north. Trying to effect a breakthrough the greenskin lines I understand.

Sir Dargan has taken this news as more reason to fortify not only the holdings here in Ponyboro, but to redouble his efforts at Caer Dargan.

* * *

At this time the keep’s inner walls are finished and the lower rings of the towers are set. The outer walls should be tackled within the next couple of months. Last count, the Exchequer informs me that we have almost 900 bodies on the payroll just at Caer Dargan, with another 300 coming on in the ramp up and completion over the next and final four months.

And I know that another tax payment was made. Sir Dargan had to borrow from the family holdings in Karon to do so. This will not go over well if he can’t make payroll, tax, or material costs.

* * *

Another muster was called for. This time they are looking for fifteen thousand. I guess the “breakthrough” didn’t go over so well.

Where’s King Daro and his forces?

* * *

Sir Dargan has been missing for almost three days now. At first I didn’t really worry as he’s been taken to wandering the dwarven tunnels on his own. He came back now and again with the odd bric a brac and artifact long corroded and rusted from under the ground. But no one’s seen him come out of the dwarven tunnels for some time now and I don’t want to alarm the workers by organizing a large search party.

I think I’m going to have to hand pick a small sampling, five stout fellows with truncheons and keen eyes, to help me find Sir Dargan.

I hope to Odin he’s not hurt.

* * *

This place is much bigger than I guessed. And it’s not as abandoned as I suspected. I’ve seen at least two signs that scream goblin to me. And they aren’t nearly as old as the dwarven tunnels. A year? Two? A sharp eye is to be kept from now on out.

* * *

Indath is dead.

It happened so fast. A door was stuck closed and Indath pressed his shoulder to it and there was some sort of grinding sound and just like that, the ground opened beneath him and he fell to his death on some ancient spikes.

I am not so sure we’ll find Sir Dargan alive. We’ll take Indath out. I know his father will want to have the body home. I’m going to send Frintz and Leifsig back with the body.

I’m pressing on.

* * *

Found Sir Dargan. He was unconscious and dehydrated at the top of some wide avenue stairs that lead even further down. Down? There is another level? Dear gods, how big is this place?

He had an ancient and cracked leather carryall stuffed with some moldering tomes and cake like fungus. His waterskin was pretty empty but the water that was in there had a reddish hue to it, testament to the fact that he found some other water source elsewhere down here.

* * *

We’ve been in Ponyboro now for a week and Sir Dargan is awake and mending well. He seems changed, as if he knows something. The books he had with him were closed and I tried to sneak a peak, but no amount of prying could get the pages to open, not even a knife blade was able to slit through the pages.

The orcs are still rampaging across northern Marronia. Prices are beginning to rise. And I know that other lords are working on defenses as well.

* * *

I worry about my friend as I feel he’s too weak still, but he has picked himself up and gone back to Caer Dargan. I was going to put my foot down and not let him go into the damned dwarven tunnels alone this time, but he surprised me by having some of the ironworkers begin work on a large door. I seems he wants to have the entrance closed off from casual exploration.

I applaud his decision on this and look forward to seeing it done.

* * *

The payroll is short. Exchequer came out and said it. And we have 1,167 workers looking to get paid next week. I hope Sir Dargan has a pile of coins somewhere because I know his finances are stretched thin.

* * *

We had a walk off today. Almost three hundred laborers refused to work. Sir Dargan grew furious. Madder than I’ve ever seen him before. He cajoled and begged and threatened.

Then he had the roustabouts start cracking heads and the bowyers fired a thirty count of clothyard shafts into the crowd.

* * *

Forty-three workers died in the scuffle last week and eighty-seven were wounded. Sir Dargan has had the area around the Caer patrolled and any man found attempting to leave the site is beaten without question and brought back to the worksite.

This is not the man I’ve known all my life. Why the driving need to have this place built?

* * *

As I suspected, the timber we were expecting is not going to be delivered. The lumberers are claiming that Sir Dargan has defaulted on the last two deliveries and still has not paid. They won’t send anymore unless he makes good on his current debts.

I can’t in good faith rewrite the number of colorful expletives I heard him shout, merely because I’m sure one day my mother is going to read my memoirs.

* * *

Sir Dargan has been reading one of his books for a while now. I don’t know how he got it open, but he’s been really engrossed in whatever some long dead dwarven scholar penned down. I tried to talk to him about it but he told me that it was pretty frightening and esoteric stuff.

I wonder if it’ll tell him how to pay back the creditors?

* * *

We had new timber come in. Seems Sir Dargan took a loan out with the Wolverton estate. I asked him the percentage and he told me 30% without blinking. 30%? Sweet Frigga’s Asscheeks! 30%!?!

Why, oh why, would anyone take out a loan at such delirious rates? I tried to counsel him on it but he told me that this was the last of the timber we would need and then Caer Dargan would be finished.

I think the Cooperson family is finished.

* * *

Sir Dargan had the doorway to the dwarven tunnels opened this morning and he went down there with his books and two stout ponies with empty bags. I asked him what he was going to do and he told me he was going to get the money needed to pay everyone off. He told me to keep everyone away from the tunnels and not let them know where he went. Promised me he’d be back within half a day with payment.

I guess he’s going to pay them in cake mushrooms, rocks, dust, and spiderwebs.

* * *

Gold and silver.

Sweet Odin, gold and silver. The two ponies were staggering under the load they were taking out. The bags were bursting and Sir Dargan himself was dragging a large sack behind him stuffed with gold and silver.

I asked him where he got it from but all he did was smile.

* * *

The size of the bonus he paid to each worker was almost the same as what he got paid for the entire job. He paid the suppliers handsomely. He paid the next tax bill without concern. Every artisan, every person, every teamster, every lien holder was repaid in the smooth faced gold and silver coins that Sir Dargan brought out of the dwarven depths.

No one else but me knows where he got such coinage. And outside of just knowing that he got it from the dwarven tunnels which from what I have been conjecturing is as expansive as any city, I couldn’t imagine where down there he found such coins.

But I hope he is willing to share such information with me soon.

* * *

This ends the first part of my tale of Dargan’s Folly, the Dungeon of Sir Dargan. I will be continuing this tale in the next book.