Shades of Shadora

A Deal with Chaos

The marsh was overgrown with only dim light filtering in with poor line of
sights, the party could not see the club thrower. Simon and Roku started
systematically moving in the cover on either side of trail. When the strange
whirring sound of the flying club was heard they would dive down. Using the cover
and their stealth skills the two were able to advance to a low tower hidden by
trees, at the top stood an Ogre wielding the throwing clubs.
Simon teleported to the top of the tower surprising the Ogre while Roku moved
to the base of the tower. To Simon’s surprise the Ogre turned out to be a Scorpion
Ogre, the surprise did not slow Simon’s blades as he cut down the abomination. The
Ogre shouted as he fell and others of its ilk and giant scorpions came scuttling
out of the woods. As the rest of the party moved up Roku killed a scorpion while
Simon leaped from the tower and killed another Scorpion Ogre. Simon moved to a
third Ogre Scorpion, Roku killed a second scorpion and Brine and and Prospero
engaged two scorpions, Lasheur let fly with an arrow aiding Prospero. After killing
a third scorpion Roku fired a pistol at a fifth Scorpion Ogre, who responded by
charging him. Prospero and Brine finished there opponents and Brine rushed to
Roku’s aid. Prospero eyed zombies shambling forward, and let fly with a rain of
stone crushing five of eight. Roku’s and Brine faired poorly, both being wounded
and Brine’s right arm was crushed in the giant pincher of their foe. Roku with a
desperate lung finished their opponent.
As Prospero finished his spell several mystical bolts struck him, none did
damage but he decided to find this new foe, and burrowed forward towards a small
hut. As he emerged he spotted an Ogre Hag that spoke, “You are a powerful wizard,
but I have knowledge which you will want. If you kill me it will be lost and with
it your battle against the Kur will fail. My life and freedom and that of my minions
for a secret and power you will need.” Prospero hesitated, not wanting to deal with
the chaotic creature but as Simon had said many times “This is war and the goal is
to win”. Prospero shouted for a parley, the fighting ended and the Hag said she
would fetch the magic that Prospero would need. The tension was high as the group
waited facing their foes. The Hag returned with a feathered wand, “I have made two,
this controls the God of the Newts, one is held by the Kur, they do not know of this
one. Continue along the trail and you will encounter the site of the ritual they
prepare. I have fulfilled my part and will depart.” Prospero nodded and the Hag and
her minions faded into the marsh.
The party started treating the wounded, Brine was upset by the loss of his arm
but was comforted by the knowledge that when we arrived at Fort Raven the damage
could be repaired by a healer. As the wounds were dressed Lasheur and Prospero
searched the Hags hut. To Lasheur’s disappointment only two scrolls and two tome’s
where found, all sorcerous in nature. These were split between Roku and Prospero.
The party moved forward from the hut and discovered the ritual site without
a problem. It seemed like a Kur festival with over a hundred of the beasts and
countless Varls. Harpies in tree tops acted as sentries but seemed more interested
in the Kur antics than on the approaches to the site they were guarding. Roku spotted
a band of hidden Newts, he conversed with the and they provided a guide to show us the
location of their God. Moving to a new vantage point the party spotted the Newt God,
a Hydra with an iron collar on one of its heads. It appeared sickly, with festering
wounds. As a game the Kur drove Varl into its reach to be eaten. Moving closer the
party sighted a cave, near the entrance was a Kur Disease Master, a High Priest. If the
ritual was completed the Mash, Ard, and Lake Raven would all be poisoned with foul
diseases. The party started planning. Out of earshot of the Newt’s Simon impressed
upon the team that the Disease Master and Hydra both must die. Further he pressed Roku
to tell the Newt’s that once dispersed by our attack that the Kur must be hunted down
and killed. None must escape the marsh.

Chaos in the Marsh

After re-embarking on the River Queen our journey to Fort Raven continued.
For some hours the cruise was uneventful, but suddenly a current seemed
to grab the River Queen and push it towards shore, branches of a giant
tree swept out grabbing at the party, two crewmen were snatched being
pulled to the trunk of the tree. Lasheur shouted out, “Its a Methuselah
Tree, a Chaotic horror that sucks out the souls of its victims.” The
party initiated an attack, Roku leapt forward and engaged a branch.
Lasheur pulled his bow and loosed an arrow, which made a woody thunk
when it hit but proved to be ineffective. Simon ran and jumped into the
tree near one of the crewman and with powerful blow cut the branches
causing the crewman to fall to the ground. Prospero while dodging branches
searched through one of his satchels. In the mean time several
Kur appeared in the tree and skeletal vine horrors dropped from the
tree around the hero’s and onto the ship.

As the party’s attack continued a band of Newts emerged from the river firing
darts and engaging our enemies. The Aquilans, Brine and Gurgle, in shark form
made quick work of two of the horrors while Roku attacked the tree and with
Newt help got the fallen crewman back onto the river boat. Prospero handed
Dane a bottle and told her to toss it at the base of the trunk and then cast
a rain of stone that crushed a good part of the tree. Lasheur attacked with
his sword driving back a Kur. As Dane prepared her throw a screeching Harpy
swept down and grabbed the second crewman lifting him into the air. Dane made
a perfect throw and as the bottle broke a fire elemental erupted engulfing the
base of the tree. As the captain took the helm and drove the ship away from
the shore the final Kur and horrors were cut down and the party leapt back
to the ship. Prospero took aim but thought better of bringing the Harpy down
with a bolt, likely the fall would have killed the crewman. As the Methuselah
Tree collapsed in flames the captain headed up stream and half a mark from
attack moved back to the shore. The party disembarked and set out to find the
missing crewman. Roku shaped some candle wax into ear plugs and handed them
out for the party to when we found the Harpy.

Lasheur lead us through the marsh seemingly in circles until Brine noted
some strange tracks headed away from our course, after a tense discussion
with our tracker it was decided to humour Brine and investigate, five minutes
later the party spotted an Ogre. From concealment Lasheur drew an arrow and
let fly, wounding the Ogre, the rest of the party moved to attack. At the Ogre’s
wail several more Ogres appeared from a Rimward trail. An Ogre near the wounded
one began pounding on an old stump, which produced several swarms of blood crows.
The party battled and killed the Ogres and the crows, Lasheur was wounded but
Simon summoned Telpurr and was able to heal him. Once healed Lasheur started
down the trail that the Ogres had come from. A large club came flying out of
the woods hitting Lasheur in the chest as he stood to see the launching point
it flew out again knocking him to the ground. Roku recovered him and Simon
called to Bandar for aid to heal his friend an ally. A bright light surrounded
Lasheur and he was healed and breathing once more. Time to deal with the club

Quiting Ard

As Simon was planning a jail break for Roku, Itch approached him with a warning.
“The Ard thieves are not natural allies, Ratimer needed you but your usefulness
has ended. You need to depart before an unfortunate case of food poisoning occurs.
I’ve arranged passage on the River Queen, a flat-boat with a Dwarf mechanic,
Anders Black Smoke, as captain.”

In the meantime Roku’s mind was racing in endless circles in his cell as an unexpected
visitor arrived. A disembodied voice broke through Roku’s dark thoughts, “My my.
Quite the kettle of fish here Roku. You appear to be quite the loadstone for misfortune
and woe." Outside the bars Pel the Unseen, a Darkness sorcerer of some power and Roku’s
former mentor stood observing him. “I saw you in the square yesterday. Seems like
history repeating itself for you.” Roku, responded “You don’t understand and never
will, they died because of my failure.” The sorcerer chuckled, “I did not expect to
find you wallowing in self pity and brooding in the dark. On your feet cub!” During his
sorcery lessons this is generally when Pel would smack him with his staff. By reflex
Roku, moved to his feet, “Leave me there is nothing you can do”. Pel shook his head, “I
taught you how to harness the darkness in your soul and use it to pass unseen, strike
your foes, and shape the world around you. Your will is strong, do not descend into a
place where you cannot be reached, even by your friends. Are you a master of the
darkness within you, or a slave to it? Rise Up”. Roku wailed “They died, I could
do nothing.” Pel, “Consider your response in light of the facts. You knew nothing about
those prisoners and yet you cast away your freedom because you feel responsible for the
deaths of strangers. They were evil men Roku, agents of Ratimer and collaborators with
the Lazuri. They helped spread the Lazuri poison about the city and envisioned replacing
Ratimer. Did they have to die. I don’t know, but they were a type of cancer that always
finds a way to spread. I don’t know much about your allies but they seem like honorable
folk who are making sacrifices and hard decisions to improve a part of the world much
bigger than themselves. Seems like a good place to be. Think twice before walking away
from that. I have to go. I’m on my way out of the city – soon it will no longer be safe
for old scoundrels like me! You are at a cross roads and need to make a choice. Reflect
on one more puzzle for your old teacher”, Roku always hated Pel’s riddles, “Are you
content to let things happen to you, or will you make things happen for you?”

As his former mentor faded into the darkness his voice came as whisper, “Trade your
rage and anger for a cause bigger than just yourself. Or stay here and bemoan your
station as a pitiful victim of circumstance with no control of their own fate.”

Roku took a deep breath, his head cleared and the cell seemed small, dingy, dismal
and the smell was disgusting. At least his thoughts had become coherent, “What was I

A moment later a second voice came through the darkness, Roku immediately recognized
Dane’s voice “You hit like a girl, are you sane?”. Roku, apologized and said yes
he had cleared up some problems and was ready to leave. Dane could free him but
his hard won equipment would be lost to the guards, “Fetch Simon”, Roku knew he
would find a way to help.

Simon sent the team on its way with all their equipment and baggage, headed for the
Marlin’s Spike. As he prepared to leave Dane arrived with word from Roku. After
procuring a sleep bomb the two set off to free the One-armed Fel. Dane lead Simon
though secret tunnels of the thieves into the corridor outside Roku’s cell. After
greetings and freeing Roku from his cell Simon using his magic, walked through the
door into the Guardroom. Becoming tangible he tossed the bomb while taking a deep
breath. Soon the guards had collapsed and Simon and Roku were able to retrieve his

Once clear of the jail Simon sent Dane to fetch the others and bring them to the
river boat Itch had mentioned. The sooner they were out of Ard the better. Roku
and Simon reached the flat-boat and negotiated with the Captain. Soon they were
searching out any food stalls that were open rounding up provender for the trip
to Raven Lake. Like most Dwarves the Captain, Anders Black Smoke, was a crabby
sort complaining at every turn. Not enough provisions, to much baggage, to many
passengers. The team made do and headed up river in the morning. As a back drop
to their departure was the destruction of the Lazuri battle fleet that was coming
to occupy Ard. It was quite spectacular with the aerial antics of Giant Ravens
and Wyvrns, the flaming bundles from countless catapults and the exchange of
spells by the different priests and sorcerers. Just as the River Queen rounded
the corner loosing site of Ard the last of the Lazuri ships died in a thunderous
explosion. Simon thought with satisfaction “so much for the occupation of Ard…”.

Like most ship voyages this one was boring to the passengers, most caught up on
some sleep although the constant noise of the infernal engine made sleeping less
than pleasant. At sunset Anders pulled to the shore and anchored, he explained
that navigation at night was a danger, he wouldn’t risk his ship to the dark.

The team set a watch, appreciated by the crew. Brine and Gurgle changed to
their shark forms and circled the boat. The shrieking awoke everyone as two giant
eels attacked. Further darts flew out of the darkness, the team killed the eels
and then moved after the unseen foes. A short distance into the marsh they
encountered a band of Newts with a Shaman riding a giant Frog. The battle was
quick with the Newt’s being driven off. The frog did not escape and became
breakfast for the team and crew.

The next day was similar to the first, but around midday a small decrepit
sailing boat was sighted, instead of steering clear it aimed for the River
Queen, as the team readied their missile weapons a voice shouted out, have
you word of Simon Telgarth late of the Thicket. Simon took pause, something
about the voice was familiar. Simon responded “We have news, come along side
but draw no weapon”, as the boat neared Simon whooped in surprise and delight,
the boat held a single Elf, Lasher, friend and companion from many adventures
in the thicket. They quickly pulled him and his gear aboard, letting his
boat drift away. The rest of the day was spent telling of the many tales of
the adventures the friends had survived since their parting.

A Lazuri Centurion was hunting Lasher’s mother, together they had escaped
him and relocated to the elves of the Thicket where she would be safe. While
in the Thicket Lasher had heard of Simon’s call for volunteers to cleanse
Broadshoulders of the Lazuri taint. As the sun set the ship moored once more.

This night instead of eels a giant tentacled beast, a swamp kraken, attacked
grabbing people and throwing them about. Using his darkness powers Roku somehow
convinced the Newts behind the attack to recall the beast. Further he learned
that there was evil a foot in the marsh. Some type of chaos was at work. The
following morning as the anchor was raised Simon and Lasher spotted some boats
ahead. They appeared to be landing but it was to far to identify who or what
they were. When they neared the spot Roku ordered the captain to the shore.
The Dwarf complained about lost time, wages, costs, and whatever else he
could think up.

The party debarked, Lasher with the help of some plants identified a trail. The
team followed the trail to a Newt village that was being destroyed by a rabid
band of Kur. Many dead Newt warriors were about with an out numbered few few
still contested the village. The dog-men were killing indiscriminately, warriors,
females and children all fell to their blades. Together the team attacked
aiding the Newts. The raiding party was quickly destroyed, as Roku spoke with
the survivors Lasher identified a ring on a dead Newt that Prospero was able
to pocket. The Newt’s agreed to let us travel in peace but we were to remain
clear of the marsh. The team returned to the ship and we resumed our journey.

Death of Foxrun the Duke of Ard

Now was the time for the attack. Simon shouted, “Protect Foxrun!”, and chaos ensued.

Roku, fired a quick shot at Volini, it nicked him but the sleep draught had no effect. Prospero
summoned two sentinels one on either side of Foxrun and ordered them to protect the seated man.
Lazuri soldiers moved to attack Prospero and Roku in the hallway. Neither hit, but Roku retaliated
by cutting one down. Prospero blasted an assassin and the Silver Lazuri Priest, killing the
assassin but with no effect on the Priest. Simon and Igmar exchanged blows while other Lazuri
closed in on Simon, Telpurr cast a second Mirror Image and three more Simon’s came into view.
The support team (Dane, Gurgle, Brine, Stromcrow, and the initiates) opened fire with their
missile weapons. Although they killed a Lazuri they nearly wounded Simon with a stray shot.
The Silver Sash priest summoned a Salamander.

As the battle developed Roku cut down the second Red Sash that had charged him and Prospero
and moved into the room to confront the Silver Sash priest. Simon battled with Igmar and
the surrounding Lazuri soldiers. Volini changed his appearance to match Foxrun, a malamorph.
Once shifted Volini attacked the surprised Duke grappling him. Prospero ordered the sentinels to each
seize one of the Dukes and to move towards the support team as he entered the room casting a banish
spell on the Silver Sash’s salamander, its flame flickered and dimmed but was not extinguished.
Grimclaw exchanged blows downing one of the assassins. The support team again fired gaining the
attention of a Green Sash, again one of them hit a bystander but this time it was Igmar.

Gurgle and Stormcrow fought the Green sash with their hand weapons while the others again fired
this time hitting and downing Stormcrow. The sentinels who had moved to the center of the room
with the Dukes where enveloped in a circle of darkness. Roku slashed at the Silver Sash priest
wounding him while Prospero swung kindred destroying the Salamander. Grimclaw exchanged blows
with the final assassin taking a deadly slash from the assassins poisoned blade. Simon continued
the dance with Igmar wounding him gravely. Telpurr summoned the light of day destroying the
darkness surrounding the sentinels.

The Silver Sash priest reached Igmar and cast a spell of healing, it aided Igmar but he was
still bleeding. Roku moved towards Grimclaw and cut down the last assassin. He quickly
gave Grimclaw the poison antidote we had gotten from the thieves guild. Prospero moved towards
the sentinels and saw the dead body of Foxrun. Simon finished Igmar, and spun and cut
down the Priest as well. Roku moved to the support team and killed the Green Sash.

As Simon cut down the last two Green Sash warriors our allies (Essa, Tessa, Aaron) arrived.
With the Duke dead and servants with the knowledge that we gained entry there was little way
to protest our innocence. At best our allies would be tainted by any aid they would give us.
Simon called for parchment, quill, and ink. As Simon wrote out a simple note to leave on the
Duke’s body the others quickly searched the downed enemies. Simon’s note was simple:

I Simon Telgarth, White Lion of the Dawn, came to request an audience with the Duke
Foxrun. I have been falsely accused by enemies of Ard and sought justice from the Duke.
The Duke agreed to judge my guilt from single combat with the Lazuri Captain Igmar, that
combat was interrupted by Volini, a malamorph. Through all my efforts I was unable to
save the Duke from his killer Volini. I leave now because I cannot receive justice in
Ard. The Lazuri are the enemy of all.

The party recovered several articles of interest, Dane quickly lead the beyond the castle
and to the sewers where they once more found sanctuary with the thieves. The team recovered
the following items from the Lazuri and assassins.
o Ring of protection
o 4 Master work throwing daggers
o Wand of Vipers
o Charm of the Warrior
o Crystal Ball
o Salamander Gloves

While waiting among the thieves word arrived that Simon and Trish had been captured and
judged, the execution would take place the following morning. Since Simon and Trish were
still with the team this seemed to be some sort of sham, but on the morrow the team was
convinced to view the execution. Going in hooded disguises they went to the central square.
Two prisoners magically gagged and shackled were shown to the crowd. Their appearance closely
matched Simon’s and Trish’s, Roku noted marks on the their clothing that was likely smeared
make-up. As the first was to be put to death Roku attempted to shout out and stop the execution,
the crowd drowned out his cries. Prospero quietly drew his sword and prevented him from moving
forward. After the second drop of the guillotine Roku disappeared into the crowd. Returning to the
hideout Roku was absent. Later Dane returned saying that Roku was in the city jail. She was not certain what
had transpired but it was rumored that Roku had gone to the jail and attacked the Sargent of
the guard. No more was known.

Although their sham deaths gave Simon and the others a degree of freedom they had not known for
years someone had died under the Guillotines blade. Simon was not pleased, he was forced into
a near hopeless rescue and then had others killed in his place. Dane brought word that the
ones executed were Ratimer’s opposition. She now controlled all the thieves of Ard. Many bad
things happen in War, but Simon decided to have a chat with his allies. Too he would need
to free Roku, his inclusion in the group from a magic accident at first seemed plausible, but
the recent event convinced Simon that the Shadow and Illusion of Bander was at work. Bander had
somehow sent the Fel to aid Simon. Why he did not know. He would have helped Roku in any event
but to ignore an agent of Bander would be truly foolhardy.

Meeting Lord Foxrun

The group assembled at the Marlin Spike, Simon and Trish had arrived early and were chatting with Aaron
when Prospero and Roku came down from their room. Aaron wears a plain dark green cloak with a clasp in
the form of an air rune. A longsword with a gold wire wrapped hilt hangs from his belt the cross piece
is engraved with lightning bolts and storm clouds. A large round shield leans against the wall with a
huge piece of true-stone in the center. A ring of air earth and water runes are inscribed in a circle
around great stone and are inlaid with silver.

The atmosphere was grim, no doubt from the suicidal plan that the team had put together. Thoughts drift
back to the meeting the with the Lord and Lady Raven the previous night. Lord Raven waved the team to
their seats and and remained standing to address those assembled. My friends the mission we are about to
embark upon will most likely get us thrown into the dungeons of Ard and may even see us rotting in the
pirate cages at the entrance to the port. We must risk this if we are to drive the Lazuri from our lands
before they can occupy and fortify their position. I have word from spies in the employ of Broadshoulders
that even now Lazuri troop ships are on their way to Ard to occupy the city and fortify their hold on the
Duchy of Foxrun. We are out of time and must free the military might of Foxrun to drive the Lazuri from the
city and sink the ships as they enter the harbour.

Simon you and your party will enter the palace as members of my retinue. At this Lady Raven rises and hands
out hooded cloaks embossed with the Black Raven on a field of Yellow. Once in the palace proper General Essa’s
men will lead you to hiding places used by servants and retainers that surround the audience chamber. The
servants will not betray you as they are both loyal to the duke and deathly afraid of Aida the mistress of
kitchens whom I believe you met. Mother Tessa will hide with you, but as the Lord Generals wife she must also
remain neutral. We will seek to reason with Foxrun but I must say that I am not hopeful that we will be rewarded
with a peaceful outcome. Other lords have tried before us and they either had deadly accidents or have gone
missing. Volini and the Lazuri scum that he has allowed to take up residence in the palace have too great a hold
on him. This I fear, is where you come in. You have been strong allies to the duchy and despite the Lazuri
attempts to spread lies that twist your great deeds, the people of Broadsholders speak of the White Lion and the
Grey Lady with both awe and hope. Even Broadshoulders has asked for news on your deeds and where-abouts now and
again. However it is with a heavy heart that I ask you to risk both your great renown and the headsman axe to
save Ard, the Duchy, and perhaps the region itself. If you manage to save Foxrun he may grant clemency, but if
he dies the kingdom will need a scapegoat to prevent a destabilizing civil war.

So you can see that the breakfast discussion was anything but cheery. To save Ard the Duke’s support of the
Lazuri would need to be withdrawn. If he decided against us or if his Lazuri handlers were able to kill him
the party would be the likely scapegoats. Without the Duke there would be political chaos and civil war, Ard
would be easy picking for the Lazuri. Lord Raven, Mother Tessa, and the Lord General would get us into the
palace. They would try to convince the Duke of the folly of aiding the Lazuri. It was rumoured that the Lazuri
and their Chaotic allies were planning on occupying Ard. If the Duke refused to change his position the team
would need to attack to kill the Lazuri and their allies while protecting the Duke. Unless the Duke could be
convinced of our Honourable intent for Ard this would be Treason for Raven, Tessa, and the Lord General. The
Duke’s youth and inexperience would work against us, he is the rightful ruler of Ard and loved by the people
but is indecisive and a bit cowardly. He seems not to understand the dangers of dealing with the Lazuri. He
like his forefathers are worshippers of Artol, if he is killed resurrection is out of the question.

The only good news came when Dane joined the group, although her demeanour was of one already
condemned, she put a full wineskin in the center of the table. “The antidote, drink up but beware it tastes like
horse piss. Lady Ratimir says I am to accompany you on your fools errand. At least death will be quick, no
battlement crow cage for me.” She carried three hand crossbows at her belt, one she passes to Roku, “you
were asking about these. I had the weapons-master rig one up for you, it can be cocked one handed by
snapping the slide like this.” She also pushed a bandoleer with a small quiver and four throwing knives to Roku.
“I also procured this for you Master Roku. The quiver has 10 bolts coated with our best sleeping poison. The
weapons-master thought you could use the hooks for your bolas or bangers if you have them. There are a lot
of one handed thieves in the guild and our weapons-master has had to learn to be innovative.” Roku thanked
her with a simple nod and smile, the first of the morning.

When the Lord and Lady Raven enter all stood. The team marvel at the Lord’s raiment, his helm is topped by
the head of a great black bird. His armor is carved with golden raven motifs and the runes of Dagaral.
A two handed greatsword hangs across his back and you see runes of earth fire and darkness engraved on the
cross guard. The pommel holds a fist sized white true-stone that shimmers in the light. Lady Raven is no less
stunning both because of her beauty and her amazing black cloak made of raven feathers sewn together in a
way that make her seem ready to take flight. She carries a staff that appears to be made of coral and is topped
with a huge blue topaz. The dark blue robes she wears under her feathered cloak mark her as a water mage of
the college of the mists. The team is surprised as Lady Tessa steps into the room behind lord and lady raven.
She seems well rested but wears a concerned frown on her normally kindly face. She set her oaken staff
engraved with ivy leaves against the wall behind her chair.

The Lord Raven speaks gravely I had have hoped to have found an empty tavern when I arrived this morning,
I knew in my heart the hero’s you are. But I offer you this one final chance, If you would like to back out it
would be no dishonor to you. There was a shuffling of feet, but no more, the die was cast the team and its
allies were committed. “As I expected”, which way will we take through the city queried Dane, “I have a surprise
for you there. I will not be held at bay by petty bureaucrats in the employ of the Lazuri. To the roof.” The team
follow the Lord Raven up the stairs and into an open air balcony. He pulled a strange ivory whistle from his
cloak and blew three long screeching blasts. After a moment a large form blocked out the sun, four giant
ravens with 40’ wingspans descend to the roof of the Marlin Spike. The roof groaned under the strain and Itch
looks nervous, the ravens wear saddles with one more ornate that the others. “Oh no – not this!” mutters
Aaron, Lord Raven teases him about last time. But that was combat and this is just a simple flight to the
palace. While strapping into the safety harness, the giant birds leap into the sky and are soon hundreds of feet
above the city. Ahead lies the palace and three dark shapes rise up from the great castle and your heart sinks,
Lazuri on Wyverns.

The Lord Raven was able to lure away one of the Wyverns while the the other two headed for the teams three
mounts. The Lazuri fired off a series of spells, primarily Sun Spears. While Simon was carving the wing off of
one the the Wyverns, Prospero’s mount practically exploded, quick healing by Gurgle prevented a deadly
plunge but still the bird was grounded. As Simon and Roku prepared to attack the final Wyvern Lord Raven’s
Mount attacked from above, its talons ripping the Lazuri from their Wyvern and dashing them to the ground,
the riderless mount fled. Fortunately those upon Prospero’s bird were uninjured in the crash and the bird was
healed. Together the four Ravens continued to the Castle and the meeting with the Duke.

The Ravens landed in the Palace courtyard, aided by the Duke’s retainers and the Lord General’s soldiers the
team easily pushed past the senschals, the noisy ones were quickly shut away in closets. Essa’s (the Lord
General) soldiers quickly guided the team into positions around the Throne Room. As the characters readied
for their assault they could hear the argument already in progress. Raven called out Violini as a traitor, Igmar
accuses Aarin of associating with known criminals. The Duke defends his choices and knows what’s best for
duchy and accuses the Ravens and Aaron of conspiring against him. As they peer into the Throne room they
see Volini lean over and whisper to the Foxrun, he seems confused but with the whispered comments his face
tightens and he orders their allies imprisoned with the other trouble makers. The guards seize them and lead
them towards an exit. Volini calls after strip them and put them in the deepest dungeon until the Lord Foxrun
decides their fate.

At this point the attack should have started but Simon could not bring himself to launch it. He is no assassin,
and the Duke is the rightful ruler. Killing off his court of Lazuri, assassins and the traitor Volini would only
alienate him against our just cause. Instead Simon simply walked into the Throne room with weapons
sheathed, the others were taken aback with surprise.

My Lord Foxrun, I Simon Telgarth, White Lion of the Dawn, I seek an audience. The Lazuri drew weapons. The
Duke replied “I have heard of your crimes and you can say nothing that will sway me, you will be seized and
imprisoned”. As the Lazuri guards started to move towards him Simon replied “My Lord I have been slandered
by Fools, Traitors and the Lazuri. I come before you as a Windlord of Bander, your lands are in danger, I am
here to aid you.” Volini replied “The fool has walked into our grasp my lord execute him and be done with this
farce”, Simon replied, “Volini you are a fool and traitor, I challenge you to single combat, let the elements
decide”. Volini turned pale, you are a trained warrior I but a simple adviser no doubt you would enjoy cutting
me into small pieces, I reject your offer, GUARDS!". Simon, “Of course if you are afraid you could always select a
champion, to save the honor of Ard and Foxrun”. As Volini was about to shout for the guards once more he
was overruled by the Duke. “Yes, yes, a champion could settle this right now. Igmar, would you be my
champion?” Simon smiled grimly as the Lazuri formed a fighting circle and Igmar stepped forward. The Duke
dropped a scarf to start the duel, Simon flitted forward and slashed Igmar. Igmar responded with a counter
stab, around Simon four mirror images burst into being, while Igmar’s spear burst into flames. After several
strikes and counter strikes Igmar was seriously wounded, Volini stepped forward and shouted “Igmar you fool
end this”, raised his hand and shot a lighting bolt at Simon. Waiting for the treachery Simon was uninjured, and
Volini had been unmasked and the honor of Foxrun stained. Now was the time for the attack.

Simon shouted, “Protect Foxrun!”, and the chaos of battle ensued.

A letter to the Lord General

From the information the team gathered over the past few days it seemed that the leader of
Ards army might be able to influence the Duke. Prospero and Roku decided to seek out the Lord
General Essa. They wandered the city discussing possible avenue’s of approach, all were
far fetched and quickly discarded. As they wandered through the market place they stopped to
listen to a young female priest named Batul hiring guards for a spirit journey to the underside
of the disk. To Prospero’s surprise he spotted the Brine listening raptly to the priest while
carrying a large basket of fish. When Brine spotted Prospero he immediately let out a shout and
approached. Moving out of the area Prospero introduced Roku and questioned Brine on what he was
doing. He said that the Lord Raven hand provided a letter for Aaron with a basket of Raven Lake
Trout, Aaron had passed the materials to Captain Ward who had assigned the task of delivery to
Brine. Prospero and Roku joined the mission seeing it as a possible way of seeing the Lord General.
The group stopped to buy additional baskets to lighten Brine’s load and explain why all three needed
access to the castle. While they were haggling over the baskets they listened to a madman predict
the end of the world in twenty days.

Outside the castle was a long line of petitioners, and it was scarcely moving. Regulars on the
street said we had come to late and would better return tomorrow. Roku, began a kerffle drawing
the attention of the guards some 50 yards ahead. Soon a private was on his way to investigate.
He tried to take the basket of trout no doubt with the intention of delivering it to the kitchen
but the team refused. The private left and returned with a corporal who left and returned with a
Sargent who left and returned with the captain of the guard. The captain agreed to our request to
deliver the Trout to the kitchen in person. Upon reaching the kitchen we meet the head cook Ada.
It seemed that she regularly accepted correspondence for Essa and wanted to know if we had a
message to transmit. We requested paper and quill and added a brief note of our own to be delevered.
“We are working on a cure for what Ails Ard. You may reach us at the Marlin Spike, seek the sign
of Prospero”. After Ada treated them to the best meal in months they departed at dusk.

Outside the gate the team saw winged worms alight upon the temple of fire, Roku said Igmar is in Ard.
The team headed for the Marlin Spike alert for assassins only to be ambushed by dwarven pirates. Adair’s
dwarven alchemist first mate was seeking revenge. He launched a tangle-foot potion catching Prospero
while Roku dodged clear. Prospero quickly got out of his robes clearing the gunk while pistol shots
from the pirates rang out. Brine and Roku attacked the near pirates while Prospero summoned Sentinels.
Soon all the pirates had fallen and the villainous First mate fled, Prospero perused and just before
he rounded a corner escaping a bolt sped from Prospero’s hand killing him. The team quickly searched
the bodies finding six flintlock pistols, a musket, 60 rounds and six potions (Power Restoring,
Greater Healing, Binding-gnome, Binding-salamander, Confusion, and Smoke). We also had the first mates
Fine Silver Chain mail and a silver dagger. Roku took the Power Restoring Potion, the Smoke Bomb and
the silver dagger. Prospero passed the other materials for Brine to carry.

Upon arriving at the Marlin’s Spike they meet all their allies in Ard. Lord and Lady Raven, Aaron, and
Dane. It was decided that the team would call in the Rune Lords (Trish and Simon) to join the retinue
of Lord Raven. Tomorrow we would enter the castle and confront whoever was controlling the duke.

Meeting the Thieves of Ard
Two plans that worked, amazing.

After consultations with Simon and the Bander Priest, Prospero and Roku decided to search out the
Thieves Guild of Ard. The first destination was Aaron’s Manor and a talk with his Majordomo. While
en-route as Prospero was revealing the secrets of Earth Magic to Roku, two assassins assailed them.
Roku spotted them on the roof top and tried to parley thinking they were thieves, the crossbow bolts
they shot corrected his thinking. The first shot nicked Roku but skittered off Prospero’s hidden
armor. Roku was off like a shot and climbed a nearby ladder, the chase was on. After several alley
jumps Roku’s bolo brought one down. Roku quickly secured him as Prospero and Wallac came up and
to ask some questions, he freely admitted and that he was an assassin and that he would meet us
again, then his skin smoked and fumed and acid ate a hole in the roof we were standing upon. He
dropped through and disappeared, shouts for the city guard came from hole. As the team stated to
move on Roku dropped to one knee, his breath coming in ragged gasps, the bolts had been poisoned,
Prospero pulled the antidote he had gotten from Simon and gave it to Roku curing him. The
team moved on before the city guard arrived and made it to Aaron’s Manor without further incident.

At the manor the Majordomo had no thieve contacts for us but suggested that the Marlin Spike Tavern
was a reputed hangout for the thieves. Also a young thief named Dane had been apprehended and was
being held in the city jail. Prospero and Roku decided that a visit to the city jail was in order.
While passing a market a Lazuri slaver with a dozen slaves and two guards passed them. Roku
immediately moved into the shadows becoming invisible. Prospero thought to free the slaves without
blood shed, offered the merchant gold for them. Like most Lazuri he was arrogant and vile, when he
tried to foist off one of the silver coins on him Prospero knocked his hand away, when Roku’s blade
came though his chest the market was hit by pandemonium. With a quick spell Prospero freed the slaves
of their chains, who then overpowered and killed the guards and escaped. The team quickly moved on
blending in with the ensuing confusion and headed to the jail.

The jail break consisted of paying of a wide cast of city guardsman from the door watch to the Master
of the Keys. Roku, used his magic and followed Prospero through the various encounters, Wallac rode in
the hood of Prospero’s cape. Ten gold pieces later we were outside Dane’s cell. We questioned her
quickly, she didn’t believe that escape was possible. But when Roku appeared, his magic exhausted she
was impressed. Wallac opened the cell door, Prospero cast invisibility on Roku and Dane, together they
summoned the jailer and where shown out. Once clear of the jail Prospero released the spell with a
small margin of power left. Dane quickly lead them through the alleys of Ard and then into the sewers.
After a winding underground journey we arrived at the thieves lair. After some argument the guards
agreed to take the team to Ratimir the guilds leader. This is what was learned.
1) Lord Routh is head of the Assassins guild within the city. Prospero took a note to mention this
to Trish and Simon.
2) The new coin was likely some type of alchemy not magic. Why it wouldn’t infect everyone indicated
some type of protection or antidote.
3) The pressure on the thieves guild was because they had the best alchemists in the city and if
an antidote was possible they would find it. Unfortunately the coinage affects were like nothing
they had ever seen before so without a sample of the antidote they were helpless.
4) Lord Volini was the Duke’s consular, people believed that he was giving the Duke bad advice.

From the information Prospero and Roku came up with a daring plan, they would capture or at least
retrieve the bodies of a merchant and his guards. It would be likely that they would have the some
of the antidote on them or possibly some type of charm. Dane was assigned to help and since the
Assassins were on our trail Ratimir provided two poison antidote potions. Prospero ordered Dane to
find them a location for an ambush and a street waif would could act.

They departed the guild early moved to a section of street Dane had selected. They rehearsed the waif,
Timmy, on his lines. When the Lazuri arrived at the market he was sent, Prospero and Roku took
cover in man-holes about 10 meters apart. Dane moved to the roof and hid herself. Wallac rode in the
waif’s bag. Timmy ran to the Lazuri merchant (priest) and shouted how a drunken Lazuri guard had been
robbed and when he awoke started attacking people for the new coin. This brought them on the run. The
waif and Wallac disappeared down a child size sewer hole. Roku started the ambush with a silence spell.
This signaled Prospero and both rose from their manholes. The guards were oblivious but the priest
understood immediately and summoned a salamander. Not to be out done Prospero summoned a pair of
sentinels. The silence was eerie, as the Stone Sentinels, Lazuri, Salamander and Fel exchanged blows.
Prospero waited outside the silence seeing if any further Magic would be needed. Roku’s attack and
the sweeping blades of the Sentinels quickly toppled the Priest but through his magic he recovered.
Again the attacks went in and again the priest fell and again he rose, Prospero stepped up as Roku
did a third killing blow to the Priest, with Kindred he neatly separated the Priests head form his
body, he arose no more. The guards were dropped as the last sentential was destroyed and as Prospero
prepared a banishing spell for the salamander Roku destroyed it with a slash of his Rune blade.

A quick search found nothing of interest. As the team gathered the bodies and gear moving them into
the sewers Dane notice that they all carried water bottles. Perhaps that is the answer. Prospero was
vigilant on the journey through the sewers, watching for signs of the Priests allied spirit or any
other follower but he saw none. Now it was up to the thieves to see if we had recovered an antidote.

Freeing Aaron and return to Ard

The party prepared for the assault on the Goblin Kings Throne
Room by attaching the severed Medusa head to one of the Hobgoblin
shields. Kubuto carried the shield with the head covered by a goblin
Simon launched the attack by doing a great leap to the nearest
hobgoblin, while in flight he tossed the last of the dwarven grenades
at the alcove where Ice Witch’s minions waited. The toss missed the mark
and bounced off the corner of the targeted alcove. The explosion did
catch two Winter Wolves in its blast stunning them. Simon landed and cut
down the hobgoblin. From his position Simon could see the Rune Lord chained
to an iron post, and a torturer taunting him with a whip. Kubuto moved in
and crossed the far side of the room. Roku moved towards the alcove to wait
the onslaught of the Ice Witch’s creatures. The others fired a volley with
their missile weapons and downed a Winter Wolf.
The surprise ended, a host of Kushna, Winter Wolves, Wargs, and giant
rats charged the party. The Ice Witch summoned some type of icy demon to
engage Simon and Goblins quickly grabbed their bows while the hobgoblins
drew their swords. The Goblin king summoned a Black Knight that confronted
Kubuto. Roku confronted two winter wolves killing one while the second let
out a blast of cold, Roku was able to dodge but Gergle and Tuck took the blast
and went down. Storm Crow moved forward to aid Roku while Simon quickly cut
down two goblins and then summoned his gnome to engage the ice demon. Kubuto
exchanged blows with a Hobgoblin. More blows were exchanged between the
combatants and the Ice Apes engaged Roku and dropped Stormcrow with a mighty
strike. Two Hobgoblins were turned to stone as Kubuto lifted the covering cape.
The Goblin King shouted to his torturer to kill the prisoner and Simon
saw him drop his whip and draw his sword. Simon ported to Aaron and cut down
his captor. As the others fought on the Goblin King summoned a second demon
of some type as a guard while the Ice Witch and a goblin archer each wounded
Simon with missiles as he was freeing Aaron from his chains. As Ruko and Trish felled
the Apes and wolves Kubuto was downed by the Black Knight. Simon gathered up
Aaron in an arm and ported back towards his allies. Unwilling to allow her prey to
escape the Ice Witch rushed to the side of the room and cast a spell encasing
Simon and Aaron in a block of ice. Simon called to Bandar “Master of Light and
Dance my plight is great, my enemies have deprived me of the dance, my light
dims, your aid I seek.” The block of Ice exploded pelting the Ice Witch, and
where had stood a single Simon now there were a dozen, each with a spell of
light turning to face his foes. The cowards fled, Mother Taessa quickly healed
Aaron and with his magic ported to the team to the Wind Sanctuary in Ard.
An old priest was stationed at the circle, but he knew Aaron and after
exchanging greetings Aaron requested our arrival go unannounced. The priest
agreed and the party split with Trish and Simon going to their temples to
renew their spells. The others remained with Mother Teaessa to be healed while
Prospero and Roku left with Aaron to get a feel for the city.
The feeling in the city was bad, Aarons estate was being watched. A guard
was captured and questioned, it appears that some Lazuri trick was in the works.
A new Lazuri coinage was available and it appeared the people where in thrall to
it. Aaron departed to gather intelligence with a visit the Duke of Fox Run an ally.
Prospero and Roku ventured further into Ard and discovered that Prospero, Trish, and
Simon were wanted and had prices on their heads. They returned to Simon’s temple
where he was being held under house arrest. They discussed their options to unravel
the mystery of the coinage. They had two possible courses of action they needed to
decide upon, they could attempt to contact the thieves guild or talk to the Priests
of Salor. A conference was called to decide the teams next actions.

Through The Thieves' Den

Simon cast cat’s eye on himself, as Telpurr cast shield on him. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he could see one of the snake women fixing another arrow into her bow, standing at the base of a stairwell leading up. He rushed her and cut her down to expose a male snake person behind her. He was different in that the humanoid portion of his body was more snakelike than the women, including a hood like a cobra that fanned out behind his head as he spun, dodging Simon’s attack. As Simon and the snake man faced off with each other, a disturbance in the pond grew into a large serpentine figure that lashed out at Simon, clamping its teeth down on him. It tried to lift him off the ground, but Simon’s struggles kept it from getting enough purchase to fully lift him. Simon turned his attention to the creature that bit him, his katana and sashi striking home to wound the creature enough to let him go. A voice came into his head saying, “You should stop struggling, it’ll be much easier if you don’t struggle”. The male snake man attacked with his scimitar and spit a glob of goo at Simon, but Simon managed to dodge both. More arrows came out of the darkness and he heard one of the snake women hiss out a prayer of some kind. He glanced behind him at a noise there, and could see a swarm of vipers falling from the ceiling of the cave. The giant serpent rose and struck at Simon again, but he teleported away, behind a snake woman just behind the snake man he had been fighting. A quick slash from his katana dispatched her, and he threw three shuriken with deadly accuracy at the snake man, killing him. He then looked to the next closest threat, and jumped to the back of the serpent in the water with all the grace of a rune lord of Bandar. His attacks came swiftly and before long, the serpent had been cleaved from brow to chin, and sank beneath the surface of the water, thrashing as it died. Simon ran across the top of the water to the other side of the cavern, encountering another snake woman with a bow on the other side. His hasty blow glanced off her scaly hide as she recoiled from his advance. As he shifted his footing on the sandy outcropping, more arrows came out of the darkness, one of them striking him well in the side and burning unbearably. He glanced down as he flicked it away from him, but he could see the dark ichor of the poison that had been on the barb staining his clothing. He killed two more of the snake women and continued to try and move away from the pond, casting a spell as he went to make himself intangible. Two of the snake men came out of the darkness at Simon, but he managed to kill them both before they could get close enough to attack him. More arrows clattered around him as he moved deeper into the cave. In front of him, he saw three of the snake women behind which he caught a glimpse of a giant snake woman with snakes for hair. He clamped his eyes shut and harnessed his Bandar training, killing the three snake women in front of him. He became intangible again as he could sense the giant creature rush up on him, then scream in rage as she couldn’t grasp him in her coils. Simon began to feel woozy as the poison in his system started to take effect, but in his most cavalier voice, he said, “You’re quite attractive. Would you mind standing still so I can take in your beauty?”

The creature screamed and slapped the water with the end of her tail as she vented her fury, “I’ll never be a prisoner again, you’re just like them!”

Using her voice as a guide, he lashed out with his blades, severing her head from her body. He then turned and ran back the way he came in an attempt to find his comrades before the poison took him.

In the thieves’ training room, Trish struggled and finally broke free of the grip of the undine that had been drowning her. She stumbled backwards towards the wall, and felt a familiar warmth as Mother Taessa healed her wounds. Trish rushed back into the fray, willing Gilliam to cast an endure spell to relieve the fatigue of fighting through the undine’s attempts to drown her. A bolt of inky darkness shot past her into the undine which shuddered with the pain of the wound. Trish thanked Artol that Roku’s magical aim was steady as she heard Gergle and Tuck overcome the undine they had been battling behind her. The sound of the other undine dying distracted her as the undine she was fighting sent a wave against her that knocked her to the ground and sent her skidding back to Roku’s feet. Roku cast another shadow bolt at the undine, then helped Trish to her feet. As she stood, Trish saw a snake man come out of the darkness and knock Gergle down with its scimitar. She lost track of the snake man as the undine sent another wave of water at her and Roku, but they sidestepped it easily. Trish rushed forward and attacked the undine again, wounding it, as one of the snake people sent arrows into Tuck who fell forward and didn’t move. One of the creatures let loose with a shrill hissing noise, and snakes began to drop from the ceiling near Roku. The swarm was forgotten when the snake man approached Roku, swinging his scimitar and spitting. Roku dodged both attacks, and the spit sizzled, steamed and popped from where it hit the cavern wall. Trish finished off the undine which dissolved into a puddle of water on the floor, and heard Mother Taessa’s scream as the snake man advanced on her. Storm Crow and Roku fought with one of the snake men as arrows fell around Trish, missing her completely. She rounded the corner, and saw one of the snake men raising his scimitar to strike Mother Taessa, and she rammed her sword through his chest, killing him on the spot. As his scimitar clattered to the floor next to his lifeless body, Trish ran back to assist Roku and Storm Crow. As she rounded the corner, she saw Storm Crow lying on his back in a swarm of snakes, as Roku struck the snake man a glancing blow with his katana. Trish ran behind him, stopping long enough to cut him down, then she went hunting for the source of the arrows. She went back into the room with the pickpocket practice dummies, and located one of the archers, who she killed without remorse. Storm Crow stood up, and as he did, Roku pushed him out of the way, activating his crown and burning the swarm of snakes to crisps. Trish saw the final snake woman in front of her, and as she advanced, the creature fired an arrow at her, but it caromed off her armor into the darkness. Trish struck her a glancing blow as the snake woman attempted to retreat, and suddenly Simon was behind her and ran her through with his sword. “There’s two more archers around the corner, and I’m poisoned,” he gasped through clenched teeth.

As if to confirm what he had said, arrows clattered around them from out of the darkness. Trish had Gilliam cast healing on Simon to remove the poison, then moved into the room Simon had just came from to search for the archers. As she moved into the room, the desecrated statues spun on their bases and spewed forth a cloud of gas. She held her breath and ran past them into the pool of water, staying to the edge. She was suddenly surrounded by a swarm of snakes, and a lightning bolt arced out of the pool behind her, narrowly missing her. Simon rushed into the room and attacked the giant serpent that had risen out of the water behind Trish, wounding it. Storm Crow moved into the room, but inhaled some of the gas from the statues and began choking, which ruined his shot at the serpent. Within the blink of an eye, the serpent disappeared.

The party waited for several minutes to see if the serpent would reappear, as Mother Taessa worked her magic on Tuck and Gergle. She then saw to the wounds of the rest of the party. Trish went up the steps on the side of the pool furthest from the gas statues, and as she reached the top, saw two snake men. She killed one reflexively as it came towards her, and the other struck at her with his scimitar, the blow glancing off her armor. She counterattacked and stunned him with a strike from her pommel. Without warning, a roar filled the cavern and struck fear into the hearts of all that heard it. Simon recovered first and bringing his horn to his lips, blew a sweet even tone that filled everyone’s hearts with courage. Trish regained her composure and killed the snake man in front of her. Simon joined her on the ledge, which was flanked on this edge by statues of Ratrona, the goddess of thieves, and by the snake statues on the other side. Roku went to recover the head of the giant snake woman, believing her to be a medusa. Simon moved across the wooden bridge, followed closely by Trish. About halfway across the bridge, it turned into a creature, with the planks becoming gnashing teeth. Trish attempted to move across the bridge to the other side, but couldn’t quite make it. She spun and struck down with both her blades, wounding the bridge creature. The roar came out of the darkness again, striking fear in Trish’s heart, and she paused in her attack. Simon tried to use his teleport ring, but the bucking of the creature prevented him from being able to concentrate enough to activate it. He drove his blades home into the creature, which convulsed even harder than before. It was also secreting a sticky substance that was hampering his and Trish’s movements more with each passing second. Storm Crow attempted to shoot the creature, but the arrow clattered harmlessly against the side of the beast. He then pulled a rope out and tried to throw it to Trish and Simon, but it mostly landed between the two of them, and just out of reach. Simon finally was able to concentrate enough to get the ring to work, and he appeared on the far side of the bridge, spinning and stabbing the creature with his blades and killing it. The creature, bereft of life, began to slip down the walls and into the pond. Trish managed to catch Simon’s arm and the rope as well, and stood on solid ground as the body hit the pond with a splash below. The snake statues began to emit gas, and Trish and Simon held their breath as they worked to topple them into the water after the bridge creature. While they were doing this, lightning arced out of the darkness, striking Trish solidly, and hurting her badly. Trish and Simon sent out Gilliam and Telpurr to cast enhance attribute on Storm Crow and Roku to enable them to jump the chasm. They made it without problems, and then helped the rest of the party across using the ropes they brought across with them.

The party decided to take a rest a bit further up the path, to help prevent more lightning attacks, and Mother Taessa finished healing the latest damage to the party members as Simon explored further up the path. The next room in the cavern held a pile of garbage that was just beneath a natural shaft headed up into the ceiling. “This looks like the place,” said Simon to himself, “They said we’d be looking for a garbage chute, and here it is”.

As they climbed the shaft, Roku heard a voice in his mind, “You killed our mother, we will kill you for this. Watch for the hooded ones who will dog your steps!”

At the top of the shaft, the party found itself in an area that was part storeroom and part garbage heap. There were smells of waste, sulfur and decaying food all around them. Light filtered into the room via torches placed at strategic intervals in the room, and they could see dim lighting in the distance down the hallway. After a brief discussion, Roku volunteered to scout, and headed out the door into the darkness of the hallway beyond. He came into a large room, but he could see the hallway in front of him seemed to go straight with small alcoves offset from the main thoroughfare. In the first alcove on either side of the hallway, he could see a sleeping kushna. Quiet as a mouse, he crept by them and further down the hall. The hallway ended at a short stairway that led down to another hallway, and as he got closer to the top of the stairs, he could hear raucous laughter, the crack of a whip, the cry of someone in pain, and even more laughter. Once he gained the top of the stairs, he could see more kushna as well as hobgoblins, who all seemed intent on what was happening in the room just beyond his vision. He snuck back and told the rest of the party what he had seen. “I can put the kushna to sleep,” said Mother Taessa, but you can’t kill them if I do this for you. I will not put them to sleep if you don’t agree”.

Trish said, “Kushna are too dangerous to be left behind us to possibly be awakened. I don’t like that plan”.

After some discussion, an ambush was planned out, and Simon and Roku crept out to the sleeping kushna who died before they woke up. Near the end of the hallway, Simon, Roku, and Trish hid in alcoves as Kabuto went to the top of the stairs and began clicking and making high pitched noises to attract the kushna. The devil dogs’ ears began to twitch, and they finally turned and started up the stairs. They passed Roku and Simon, but one of the kushna turned on Trish as it passed her hiding spot. It snapped at Trish and missed, but she slapped it in the head with the flat of her blade as she dodged. Storm Crow loosed an arrow that killed that kushna, Tuck shot and killed the second one, and Trish rushed the final one, killing it with a double swipe of her swords. The party moved back to the alcoves at the end of the hallway, and Simon picked up a piece of crusty kushna dung. He flung the horrible missile at the nearest hobgoblin, where it hit with a sharp snap, and blood appeared on the back of the hobgoblin’s neck as he whirled around. As Simon retreated to the ambush site he chuckled to himself, “If that had been a rock, I’d have severed that bastard’s spine with that shot”.

Roku and Trish took the hobgoblin down quietly, then Roku and Simon scouted to the room that where it had been standing outside. Simon’s stomach sank when he saw not only hobgoblins and kushna, but giant four armed ice apes and winter wolves. The ice witch was definitely here!

The Tavern

Though the battle in the square was over, alarms continued to sound throughout the city. Tuck guided the party to the cellar of a building within a few blocks of the tavern’s location. “This is one of our safe houses that we use when scouting through the city for information,” he said wearily, “one of the few that hasn’t been compromised by the goblins yet. I’ll set up some surprises for the goblins, should they get too close to our hiding spot”.

The party rested as Tuck left the cellar, and Mother Taessa saw to their wounds. The minutes ticked by slowly, but eventually Tuck returned with a grin. “I used some of the dwarven bangers to lay some traps for the goblins, Simon. Best to rest for now, we’ve still got a long way to go before we’re through with this adventure!”

About ten minutes later, there was a sudden explosion, followed by the sounds of goblins shouting. Then it sounded like a large brick wall fell down and the voices were silent. Tuck grinned, “Looks like that got most, if not all, of those buggers”.

Within the hour, Tuck looked at the party and said, “All right! Time for us to try and make the tavern. It sounds like the goblins have moved to another part of the city to look for us, and our next objective is close, we have to go now, before they decide to come back and do a more thorough search. The inn was a fancy place before they sacked Glynn. It was two floors tall, and I’d imagine the goblins have put it to the torch. That is likely to make our search for the entrance to the thieves’ guild…interesting”.

The sun was going down as the party moved to a ruined tenement building. Tuck motioned for the party to climb up a ladder to the roof of the building. “The roofs will be watched, but less chance of running into someone out for a stroll this way. Remember, goblins can see in the dark!”

The party moved across the rooftops, avoiding the few goblin archers they saw on the way. Suddenly, Tuck stopped and hissed through his teeth, “By my father’s beard!”. Pointing at a building in front of them, he said, “They didn’t burn it down at all! The bastards are using it as a tavern!”

Coarse goblin laughter and flickering light spilled out of the windows into the cobblestone streets as Tuck led Roku, Trish and Simon around the building to try and find a back entrance. Gurgle, Storm Crow, Kabuto and Mother Taessa all stayed on a nearby rooftop where they would be out of any direct combat, but could see what was going on in case the others needed assistance. As Tuck turned the corner, he froze and backed slowly away from the corner. He turned and told the others, “There are some windows there, but I couldn’t get a good look. The thing I did see was the kushna standing guard”.

Simon crept around the corner to look at the devil dog, then sprang lightly to the rooftop behind him. He pulled a rope from his pack, fashioning a lasso from it, before he snuck to the edge of the roof and with a perfect throw dropped the lasso gently around the kushna’s neck and jerked it off its feet. Trish could hear the kushna start whimpering, and charged around the corner, swords drawn. A swift double cut ended the kushna’s life, and Simon came back down from the roof, coiling his rope and placing it back in his pack.

Simon looked through one of the windows and could see a number of goblins swilling ale, as well as a few kushna napping at the feet of their masters. There was a small open beer garden area where some goblins were absorbed in a dice game. Tuck snuck to the corner of the beer garden, looked around the corner, then swiftly returned. “More kushna,” he said.

Simon said, “I’ll check and see if there’s a way in through the second story”. Without another word, he scaled the wall and was soon looking through a second story window into a once fine bedroom, now filled with debris from the goblin occupation. He saw a woman crouched in the corner to his right and at the same time heard the gruff voice of a hobgoblin come from the hallway directly in front of him. “Don’t be coy, my little pink morsel,” said the hobgoblin, “I enjoy the chase, because it whets my appetite, but if you make me work too hard, I’ll let you feel the full brunt of my anger”.

Simon shifted just as the hobgoblin looked out the window. “Huh,” grunted the hobgoblin, rushing forward, “Who’s out there?”

Simon scrambled to the roof as he heard the window crash below him and the woman began screaming. Simon did a flip, catching the edge of the roof and used his momentum to drop neatly through the now broken window behind the hobgoblin who was dragging his now captive slave off down the hallway. Simon’s katana butchered the creature quickly, and the slave girl ran down the hallway screaming. Goblins burst into the hallway from adjacent rooms, and Simon’s sashi caught one in the throat as it tried to comprehend what was happening.

Trish heard the screaming start, and then heard the crunch of gravel as the kushna came around the corner. Seeing Trish and Tuck, the kushna reflexively let loose with a blast of fire which Trish avoided, but caught Tuck flatfooted. Tuck dropped to the ground without a sound, unconscious, and horribly burned. Trish rushed the kushna, driving her sword deep into its chest, and then stood abruptly as a hobgoblin came around the corner, driving her second sword through his chin and into his brain. A kushna in the bar began to howl, and the goblins that had been in the beer garden came swarming through the shutters on the windows into the alleyway with Trish and the unconscious Tuck.

A kushna charged Roku, but arrows from the rooftop brought it down before it could harm him. He melted into the shadows and watched as a trio of goblins came out of the bar, and began to scale the walls to the second story of the building. Roku stepped forward out of the shadows and willed the crown to send a gout of fire towards the goblins on the wall. The one nearest to him caught the full brunt of the flames and died with a shriek. The next closest dropped to the ground and began rolling about to put the flames out, but the third reached the roof and disappeared from view.

Trish advanced on the nearest goblin, killing it, and then spun on two more of the hapless creatures that had tried to rush her, cleanly severing their heads from their necks. Arrows arced out of the darkness, lodging in her armor, but doing no damage. A second volley of arrows came from the darkness, this time finding chinks in her armor and wounding her. She killed a kushna as it rounded the corner and cut down another of the nearby goblins. Gilliam cast a shield spell on Trish, as she killed another goblin which overbalanced when he swung his sword at her, then dodged as another kushna breathed fire at her. She clambered through one of the shuttered windows of the beer garden, killing a kushna through the window as she put her back to the wall of the garden to take cover from the arrows.

Simon feinted with his sashi, then ran across the wall and dropped behind it. He killed the goblin, then spun and killed two more goblins in the hallway. He stopped dead in his track at the figures he saw coming up the stair. Lazuri! The lazuri gave the remaining goblins the courage to rush Simon, but he cut them down in short order, narrowly dodging a spear thrust from the lazuri who had set up a shield phalanx at the top of the stairs. The lazuri in the back of the phalanx threw javelins at Simon, one of which caught pierced him in the side. Telpurr cast a shield spell on Simon, who then teleported behind the lazuri and stabbed at them from behind. They appeared to have anticipated this, and he wasn’t able to make contact. Simon dropped down the stairwell, and as he gained his feet, he could see Igmar sitting next to a slaver, flagon in hand, and surrounded by lazuri.

Roku was burned badly by the kushna that had rounded the corner on him. He swung a frenzied attack with his katana, catching the beast a glancing blow with the flat of the blade, then following up with a diagonal slash that severed the dog’s head. The goblin that had been on fire growled like an animal as he stood and rushed Roku. Roku’s katana cut the air, but the goblin parried the blade away just as two feathered arrows burst into his chest, seemingly from nowhere. The goblin dropped to the ground, the light in his eyes dimmed, and Roku looked to the rooftop and nodded at Storm Crow and Gergle. He then moved to the wall, and climbed to the roof, and moved to where he could see Trish. He cast a shadow bolt, killing one of the archers that had been shooting at Trish, then dropped below the crenellation of the roof for cover.

Igmar grinned at Simon, his forked tongue flicking between his teeth disconcertingly. “Ssssimon, fancy meeting you here. Unexpected, but delicioussss…Get him!”

At Igmar’s word, the lazuri in the bar rushed Simon. Simon wounded a red sash that arrived slightly ahead of his fellows, but in no time, he was surrounded, and had been wounded by their weapons thrusting in from all sides. Simon glanced to his right and saw a window. As soon as he saw it, he activated his teleportation ring and teleported to the outside of the building. Quickly reaching in his pouch, he pulled out a dwarven banger, and threw it into the center of Igmar’s table. The banger went off, killing the human slaver, and one red sash, while injuring most of the other people at the table, including an ogre.

As Trish caught her breath with her back to the beer garden wall, she saw an ogre step through the opening from the bar area, holding a large tree trunk as a club. With a deep breath, Trish ran at the creature, slashing at it and wounding it severely. She could see goblins lining up behind the ogre, but they couldn’t get through the doorframe around its huge body. A kushna jumped through one of the windows of the beer garden, but Trish cut it in half before it could land. She wasn’t so lucky with the second one, but she managed to dodge the flame just in time. She spun back to the ogre, and could see that the wounds were beginning to heal over, and her next swipe lopped three of the creature’s fingers off.

Watching Igmar stand up from the ruined table and brush himself off without any apparent damage from the banger, Simon called to him, “What are you doing here, Igmar?”

Igmar grinned again, “I was talking to my alliesss, and the goblin king. I brought slavessss with me to provide for the goblinsss sssport. We will, however, be taking the pitiful Rune Lord Arrin back with ussss to gain the ssssecretsss of the missst”. With that, Igmar motioned to his guards, stepping on the body of the dead slaver on his way out the door.

Roku cast shadow bolts at the goblins that were still firing at Trish, killing one. He then dropped to the ground level behind another goblin, killing it, before taking cover. Simon killed a kushna and a hobgoblin as Telpurr cast enhance combat on him. A second ogre crashed through the window trying to find Simon, who had unleashed a flurry of strikes that killed the first ogre. Goblins swarmed over the ogre’s body into the beer garden, where Simon and Trish made short work of them. Trish then stooped down and severed the ogre’s head to keep it from getting up again any time soon.

Another ogre came over the wall, and Simon wounded it, while Trish caught it a glancing blow with her blade. A few moments later, the beer garden was silent again, the second ogre slain. Trish worked on setting the ogres on fire to permanently kill them, and Mother Taessa worked on Tuck, healing his burns and bringing him back from the brink of death. Horns were blowing in the distance again, and they could hear murmuring voices and shuffling on the second floor of the inn. Tuck and Roku searched for the entrance to the cellar behind the bar, finding it, and as Tuck went to tell the others, Roku snuck into the darkness of the cellar. Meanwhile, Mother Taessa healed Trish’s wounds and Telpurr cured Simon’s wounds.

Roku crept through the cellar, and could hear goblins up ahead. “If the hobgoblins knewed we was down ‘ere…” began one.

The second said with a guttural laugh, “Yeah, but they don’t knows, does they? Have another drink on me!”

Roku rounded the corner, where he saw the backs of the goblins. They never knew what killed them.

Simon took several bottles of spirits from behind the bar, smashed them on the rugs and splashed them on the wall hangings. He then grabbed one of the burning lamps and flung it into the spilled spirits, where it caught almost immediately. “I won’t have these foul beasts using this tavern for their own purposes anymore,” he muttered as he closed the door to the cellar behind him.

The party used the water from the fountain to open the tunnels to the thieves’ guild. As they climbed down the ladder that led to the tunnels, Telpurr floated beside Simon. “You have to be more careful with the lazuri, Simon,” he said, “Especially when they’re all bunched up like that. You know they have mastered the phalanx and they are very dangerous if they can get their shield wall up. I also think that Vargas is going ahead of us and warning our enemies that we’re in the area”.

At the bottom of the ladder, there were two foul smelling, rotting bodies of goblins. Mother Taessa looked them over, then said, “That’s odd; it looks like they drowned”.

Trish moved further down the tunnels, her armor catching and enhancing the light of her Journeyman candle. Ahead of her, she could see what looked like scarecrows hung from the columns of the room. They were covered in bells and fancy clothes. She could hear splashing water rimward, and Simon went past her, deeper into the tunnels. Roku went down a side tunnel, where he saw dummies much like the ones in the room Trish was in, only these were bristling with rusty knives. Trish reached out to one of the pouches hanging from the dummy with her sword and severed the ties holding it to the belt. The pouch hit the floor with a crash, spilling gold and silver coins, and one of the small bells tinkled. From either side of her, Trish saw undines form and a wave pulsed out from each of them. Trish barely managed to keep her feet as the waves washed over her smashing her back into the rocks and crushing her. Roku came back down the hallway just in time to have a wave hit him as Gergle leapt into one of the undines and began stabbing it with his trident. Trish attacked the other undine and Gilliam cast shield over her to help with the damage they were dishing out to her. Roku fired a bolt of darkness that hit the undine stunning it briefly. It shuddered, then flowed into the space where Trish was standing and began to force itself down into Trish’s throat, drowning her. Kabuto threw his hammer at the undine Gergle was fighting, and Mother Taessa cast a banish spell. The undine grew smaller and less powerful with each spell. Trish wounded the undine and Gilliam cast an endure spell on her. Roku cast another shadowbolt, then took cover around the corner and quaffed a potion to regain the strength to continue casting spells.

Simon’s ferret jumped out of his pouch and went running ahead of him into the darkness. He came to an area where there were six columns, and he could see where statues of Ratrona had been cast down and replaced with snake figures. As he looked at the statues, humanoid figures rose out of the pond behind the columns and advanced on him. Their top halves were female, but their bottom halves were snakes! Simon rushed the creatures, decapitating one with his katana, and disemboweling the other with his sashi. He killed two more of the creatures, then picked up his ferret. He heard a hissing sound as the area around the columns filled with gas. Holding his breath, he ran from the area, as the surface of the pond began churning. Arrows came out of the darkness and struck all around Simon…


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