The Dalemark Gambit

Ruined Priory Pt 4: Into the Undercroft
The Wheatoning

After taking a moment to focus her spiritually sharpened senses, ranger Dixn confirmed the presence of numerous undead in the passages below—and warned the group that they would be too much to handle in their present state. Disregarding this, the others decided to descend despite Dixn's dire dissuasions.

The stairway leads to a darkened stone chamber, lit only by the faint glow of a mysterious marked pillar in the middle of the room. Reasoning it must be a trap of some kind, Artificer Razi knelt down to attempt disarming it, when an arrow shot past from the darkness of the stairwell and struck the strange sigil in the center of the stone pillar—causing the glow to fade.

Somewhat annoyed by the interference, Razi took notes on the design of the now ruined rune and the group continued their search of the undercroft.

The four side rooms off of the central chamber yielded little of interest, merely an array of tools and tables that suggested this was once a place for preparing the dead for the permanent peace of interment. Two hallways led off in opposite directions, and the party chose to pursue the path to the right of the stairs. Though Dixn remained out of sight, her pet panther padded ahead. Atop his head was a glowing flower crown shaped like a middle finger, which seemed to indicate the ranger's thoughts on the group ignoring her warnings.

Descending another staircase, the group found themselves in a broad passageway which split off in two directions—one path opening to a series of side chambers, and the other leading to yet another descending staircase.

After narrowly avoiding a trap set in the center of the passage, Razi disabled it and then turned his attention to the detailed frescoes engraved upon the stone wall to their right. The carvings ran right to left, depicting idyllic scenes of nature, shifting from a summer scene filled with frolicking beasts and fey, to a winter scene featuring foxes, will o' wisps, and hunting sprites. Between the two was a large image of a dryad-like creature emerging from a tree. The carving appeared to be divided in half, the right side depicting a smiling dryad holding out one of the many pieces of fruit that hung from the boughs of it's tree, while on the left side the dryad looked angry and was surrounded by thorny vines. Investigating the side passage next, they found little of interest besides some splintered furniture and a block of resin-based incense which proved to be non-magical.

Growing tired, the party decided to heed Dixn's advice at last and retreated back to the library, where they barricaded themselves in for the night and managed to get some sleep—which proved fitful, but ultimately uneventful.

Heading back down the next morning, the group silently snuck through the same stone halls they has searched previously. They continued deeper into the lower levels of the catacombs, followed a zig-zagging passageway until Carrion accidentally clutched his bagpipes too tightly, letting out a wheezing squeal and causing Cade to facepalm hard enough to echo down the corridor.

Shortly afterward, a massive, decaying form shambled around the corner, wielding a huge iron mace.

 

Cade, took point, calling upon an aura of peace as the others prepared to attack from a distance. Though the halfling monk held it at bay, the zombie ogre refused to fall—even after Carrion blasted it's arm off with a blistering black bolt of eldritch power. As more zombies approached, the ogre finally broke through Cade's spiritual ward, forcing the monk to sidestep as it's mace slammed down, splintering the stone where he had stood. In retaliation, the halfling drove his enchanted spear into the ogre's stomach, finally felling the foul undead.

More zombies shuffled slowly from the shadows, crowding around the corridor where the courageous adventurers made their stand. Razi felled one with a flung flask of fire, incinerating it's chest down to the bone, while Cade launched into a series of spinning strikes—crushing one zombie's neck before segueing into a spinkick and then sprinting into the room.

As the halfling's torch illuminated the chamber, he discovered a withered, wicked, wrathful creature wreathed and waiting in the shadows—a wight!

 

Rushing back to the others, they continued to hold the hallway entrance as the zombies pressed forward—but the undead's tactics seemed to improve with the wight leading them. Distracted by his minions, Cade was just able to duck under the wight's sword—but was caught unprepared as it reached back with a withered hand pulsing with a cold, dark energy. The strike seemed to drain the halfling's life force even as it clawed his flesh, and even his healing hands held no power to close the wound.

To make matters worse, another zombie ogre emerged from the shadows, striding across the room and forcing the party back into the hallway they'd emerged from.

Charging in, knight Treize lunged forward, his rapier piercing the undead abomination's dry, desiccated heart before following up with a blast of thunderous magic—but the wight just snarled and held it's ground even as the ogre zombie was pushed back. Seeing an opening, Dixn rushed forward—drawing her sword and slashing open the wight's throat as Ser'Racha snapped and harried at the undead warrior. Following their example, the others focused their attacks on the wight. A spell from Carrion caused it's sword to glow white hot and smoke to curl from it's hands, ruining the creature's aim as it lashed out wildly—but even as the wight missed, the zombie ogre caught Dixn with a lucky shot, delivering a crushing blow with it's enormous spiked mace. Having noticed that the wight seemed resistant to non-magical attacks, Cade handed his magic spear to Dixn, focusing his ki to heal the injured ranger in the process. As the halfling monk retreated, Dixn ran the spear through the wight's body—but the ranger's efforts earned naught but a defiant snarl.

Their foe seemed unstoppable, but as Carrion continued to concentrate on his spell, the undead warrior's smoking hands suddenly burst into flames! The rest of it quickly followed, and the wight finally collapsed into a pile of ash—it's sword ringing hollowly on the stone as it fell.

With their master destroyed, the remaining zombies seemed to become less organized—once more reverting to a pack of mindless brutes. But as the undead ogre advanced towards Knight Trieze, a sinister shape slithered from the surrounding shadows…

Session XP: 1,300

GM Note: As of this session, you guys are 150 xp away from level five, and currently fighting 1,700 xp worth of monsters. So yeah, definitely going to level up the next time you get a long rest.

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The Ruined Priory Pt 3: Second Floor
Spooky Shifty Specters

With the foul, festering, fungus-infested foe finally fallen, the group briefly debated what to do next. Having already proven hardy enough to resist the spores that billowed forth from the (now unmovign) corpse, knight Treize was quickly volunteered to search the room it had emerged from. The half-elven knight's thorough (and thoroughly unpleasant) investigation revealed little besides sacks of rotting, moldy muck that may once have been food, and bits of splintered wood scattered across the stone floor. Looking up, he discovered a large hole in the wooden ceiling that appeared to be covered by some kind of rug or tapestry on the other side.

Making a mental note of the hole's location, the group prepared to ascend the stairs and investigate the second floor. True to form, Dixn crept off to take the stairs in the guard room of the eastern wing, ordering Ser'Racha to follow Carrion and the others as they ascended the western staircase in the main hall.

Both groups began a simultaneous search of the second floor, moving clockwise from opposite corners of the building. In the southwest corner the main group found a room whose walls were hung with ancient, decaying tapestries—it's lacquered floorboards bearing a familiar circle of mystical-looking symbols. In this case a large rug lay partially across the circle, which Zakariya attempted to carefully roll away from the mysterious runes. However, the only obvious result was a billowing cloud of dust accompanied by the faint sounds of some small creature scrabbling about in the rafters.

Finding one of the doors to the next room already ajar,  Zakariya and Treize each took up position at one of the entrances and burst into the room together, hoping to surprise any creatures within. However, it was knight Treize who was surprised when an iron bear trap fell from the top of the partially opened door and snapped shut over his shoulder. The hapless half-elf found himself unable to move from the doorway, as the trap was connected by a heavy chain to a spike that appeared to have been driven into the wooden doorframe with great force.

After two unsuccessful attempts, artificer Razi was finally able to dismantle the trap painfully pinning his pal in place, and the party proceeded to painstakingly prowl the premises. Inside they found numerous cloth bundles that had once been small, plain bedrolls—now little more than rags—and odd tracks in the dust that covered the floor. As more sounds of scampering and eerie chittering drifted down from above, the party determined that the tracks resembled those of a raccoon—but one lacking any flesh. This prompted a brief discussion as to the possible origins of such a creature. Was it a necromancer's familiar? Or simply another result of the strange, sinister sorcery that seemed to suffuse the southern section of the forest?

At some point, Carrion wandered away from the rest of the group, following the balcony that overlooked the mystic circle on the first floor. As Treize and Zakaria began searching the upper level of the northwest wing, Ser'Racha and Cade chased after the tiefling bard. The halfling cleric was attempting to assure him of the advantages of sticking together, when they both heard Zakariya's sudden shout…

First one, then another, then three skeletal raccoons appeared in the rafters above Treize and Razi's head. Ghostly, transparent flesh clung to their bones like violet flames, and a cunning light shone from their eyeless sockets as the creatures stared down at the pair of adventurers. At Razi's yell, Dixn emerged from one of the rooms on the eastern side of the building, leaping onto the balcony railing and dashing past Cade and Carrion on her way to assist. As she passed, a fourth feral phantom leapt down to land beside the tiefling bard, and the others sprang to attack Zakariya and Trieze.

Knight Trieze valiantly engaged one of the (not quite) furry foes, but the dastardly dexterous demon deftly dodged his deadly blade as the remaining duo dogged the distressed alchemist. Reeling back from the vicious assault, Zakariya hurled a flask filled with a fiercely flaming substance, which fully engulfed two of the phantoms but failed to destroy them.

Meanwhile, Ser'Racha nimbly leapt behind the phantom threatening Carrion, distracting the spectral beast long enough for the bard to dispatch it by driving a dagger deep into the eye socket of it's skull, as Cade joined Dixn in racing to aid the others. Reaching the room first, the halfling monk burst through the doorway in spectacular fashion—smashing a phantom's skull with a swing of his staff and punching another to pieces before healing the ragged-looking Razi with a ki-infused touch. As the others caught up, knight Treize finished the final phantom with a fell flourish, piercing it's forehead with the blade of his rapier.

The battle ended, Cade collected the creature's bones, contemplating crafting a soup from them. In the process, he discovered a tinderbox clutched in one of the creature's skeletal paws—which knight Treize quicky recognized as his own. This prompted the party to peruse their packs for potential signs of petty pilfering, leading Dixn to the disconcerting discovery that her share of the magic arrows were missing. Stalking off, the ranger soon retrieved said arrows from the remains of the fourth phantom.

With that completed, the group resolved to finish their sweep of the second floor, starting with the large room off of the south side of the balcony. As Treize and Cade inspected the double doors facing the stairs, artificer Razi found Dixn in a darkened corner examining the door opposite the first room they had searched on this level. Both sets of doors appeared to be barred or barricaded from the other side, but after some effort the party managed to push them open far enough to slip through.

Inside they found the remains of what appeared to have been a library. Rows of bookcases lined the walls, their contents now crumbled to ruins. Tables lay scattered about, and the south and west entrances had heavy furniture piled against them. A circular pattern of scorch marks and ash filled the eastern half of the room, the wood cracked and charred, at the center of which lay a humanoid skeleton sprawled across a low table.

A detailed investigation of the library revealed many things. Dixn discovered a staircase descending down from a secret nook behind a dilapidated tapestry in the southwest corner, which appeared to have once been behind the bookshelf that was moved to barricade the western door. Inspecting the shelves, Zakariya found a total of five scroll cases, their contents sealed and seemingly still intact. Opening one revealed a roll of parchment penned in the same primordial language they had previously perceived in this place.

Examining the skeleton, the group deduced that it was a more recent addition than the ones which had guarded the courtyard. Charred scraps of clothing befitting a modern-day adventurer clung to it in tatters, and judging by the shape of the skull and proportions of the limbs, it had once been a half-elven male. It appeared they had backed up against the table in fright, before being caught in the heart of a massive, fiery explosion. From this, Zakariya was able to identify the corpse as the order of the wolf's half-elven sorcerer, whose wild magic must have fatally backfired, engulfing him (and much of the room) in a ball of arcane fire.

No sooner had they reached this conclusion, than a wave of force slammed into Cade's back. Whirling around, the halfling monk saw no sign of his attacker—though he did see a table lift into the air seemingly unaided and fling itself towards Treize. Using his goggles to pinpoint the source of the magic, artificer Razi was barely able to make out the spectral form of their invisible opponent, calling out it's location to the others. Dixn lit a bundle of sacred herbs and placed them in her facemask as Treize, Cade, and Carrion blindly attacked the space Razi had indicated, managing to score a few lucky hits despite being unable to see their foe. Then Dixn charged forward, drawing her blade and putting her undead-fighting skills to use by scooping a handful of ash and dust from the floor and flinging it at the furious phantom, the particles clinging to it's form and rendering it visible as holy smoke began billowing from her mask.

Further enraged, the poltergeist unleashed it's forceful fury, flinging Dixn upward to slam against the ceiling before retreating back to the opposite side of the room—phasing through Zakariya in the process and shedding some of the dust and ash that covered it.

Cornered by Carrion and beset by a snapping, snarling, Ser'Racha, the dusty spirit ducked a blow from Cade's staff—only for the halfling monk to slip behind it and catch the undead entity in a chokehold. With his hands behind it's spectral shoulders and the back of his arm pressing against it's ghostly throat, Cade drove backwards until both the spirit's neck and it's will were broken. As the spiritual force composing it's form popped like a soap bubble, Cade swiftly placed an empty jar beneath the dissipating phantom to collect any ectoplasmic residue it might leave behind.

Following a brief discussion, the group decided to investigate the last remaining room on this level before descending the hidden staircase. Exiting the library through the eastern door—the only entrance that had not been barricaded—knight Treize remembered his earlier discovery and pulled the rug in the hallway back to reveal a gaping hole directly above the disgusting, mold-filled pantry on the first floor.

Studiously avoiding this, the group entered the next room to find it nearly identical to the one on the other side of the library. Both contained a scattering of windows, wall tapestries, and a ring of mysterious runes inscribed on the floor that were partially obscured by an ancient, worn rug. When moving this carpet, however, the group found it stiff with what appeared to be dried blood, which had soaked through the fibers and adhered to the floor, leaving behind ghastly stains.

The party also noticed the rather spectacular view from the room's windows, as the setting sun cast it's light across the forest and the mountains to the south. Looking out, they could see the bare trees surrounding the clearing gradually give way to greener foliage more appropriate to the current season. The one exception to this was a winding band of autumnal-looking trees running east along the foot of the mountains, appearing to follow a stream which could occasionally be glimpsed between their bare, brown boughs.

Despite Dixn's suggestion that they stop to rest for the night, the party continued down the spiral staircase, finding themselves in a hidden room behind the kitchen on the south side of the structure. A sealed door lay to their right, presumably an entrance to the kitchen which had been hidden behind the barrels they remembered seeing stacked against that wall, while another lay ahead to the east. Further investigation revealed this door had no handle, but a hidden catch caused it to swing open, revealing a secret armory full of similarly shattered spears—and one which remained intact.

Discovering that the intact spear was magical, Zakariya began performing a ritual to identify it's enchantment as the others finished looking around. A concealed door at the other end of the armory led to another short passage containing a second door to the kitchens and a broad stairway leading down into darkness.

After about an hour, during which time the others were able to open the two side doors and confirm they led to the kitchen, Razi was able to identify the weapon as a Spear of the Hunt—a magical weapon whose enchantment can mark any creature it strikes so that it's wielder may follow them.

Despite continued concerns that they should camp for the night—especially now that the sun had finished setting—the party decided to venture down into the deep, dark, dreary depths, to see what dangers and demons (and possibly deaths) awaited in the dungeons below….

Magic Item:

  • Spear of the Hunt

(Currently attuned to Cade)

This bronze-headed spear must be attuned to a specific wielder, and counts as a magic weapon for them. In addition, once per day on a successful hit, it's wielder can mark the creature struck as a bonus action. This mark is invisible, and lasts for 24 hours (unless dispelled or otherwise suppressed), or until the wielder uses it to mark a different target. While the mark remains active, the wielder gains advantage on any Wisdom (Perception) or Wisdom (Survival) check to find the creature bearing it.

Session XP: 650

Inspiration: Treize, for continuing to charge in and face his enemies head-on, in keeping with his character's personality and motivations.

GM Note: Unless something unexpected happens, everyone should level up again by the end of the next session—or the session after, at the latest. So you might want to start planning out your options for level 5, if you haven't already.

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The Ruined Priory Pt 2: First Floor
Something's Rotten in the Pantry

Aided by Carrion's "restful" bagpipe playing, the group quickly recovered from their injuries as artificer Razi studied the stone obelisk in the courtyard. Though extremely weathered, he was able to make out carvings that appeared similar to the pictographic language they had found in the bear cave mural—though these carvings appeared more sophisticated and elegant. After conferring with the others, the party was still unable to translate the symbols—but did conclude that the writing in the cave appeared to be a degenerate form of the language, rather than a primitive precursor. Unable to discern anything further, Razi made a rubbing of the symbols for later study.

Deciding to explore the grounds surrounding the ancient building before trying to enter, the party managed to spy out a large portion of the first floor through various window openings—but found no sign of inhabitants, living, dead, or undead. Comparing notes, their roguish reconnaissance revealed several possible options for entry:

Though narrow, the first floor windows could provide entry with a little squeezing—though it would be a tight fit for most of the party.

The windows on the second level looked larger, but would require careful climbing to reach, as the ancient cobblestone walls were covered with loose stones and yellowed patches of dry, dead razorvine.

The balcony overlooking the courtyard was another option, as it had doors opening into the two side wings. Of course, that entailed the same hazards as climbing up to the upper story windows.

Finally, the party resolved to simply try the enormous front doors (after checking them for traps of course), though as this consensus was reached they realized that Dixn had disappeared again. Assuming she was off scouting around, the others attempted to pull open the enormous, heavy wooden doors. Eventually succeeding in prying one from it's rusted hinges, the door fell to the ground with a resounding bang and promptly collapsed into splinters and sawdust.

Stepping inside revealed a large, open room dominated by a circle of strange symbols marked on the floor. Twin staircases led to a balcony above, while numerous closed doors led off to other parts of the building. Scattered stains and marks from weapons spoke of battles both ancient and recent that had been fought here, and a strange air of simultaneous decay and timelessness seemed to hang over everything.

As the others began cautiously examining the ring of symbols, Carrion simply walked over to stand in it. Despite his companion's distress, nothing appeared to happen—though a muffled thump and what might have been a string of curses did sound from one of the other rooms. Before anyone could stop him, the tiefling bard then cut open his palm and began smearing the blood over the symbols in an effort to "activate" them—again without apparent effect. Completing his investigation, an exasperated Razi soon confirmed that the symbols carried no magics or enchantment, though they appeared to be yet another offshoot of the same archaic language found on the obelisk and the bear cave mural, with some elements bearing a resemblance to the sylvan and goblin tongues.

Meanwhile, Dixn had managed to free herself from the window she had gotten stuck trying to climb though, and finished examining the back room she had entered. Finding little of interest besides the fact that it appeared to have once been a study and the general disarray of the furniture, she proceeded to open the door and make her way across the main hall to the door immediately opposite without being noticed by the others—who were busy lecturing Carrion on the recklessness of his actions.

A few moments and some lockpicking later, both Dixn and Razi found themselves opening doors into the same room—Dixn entering from the south and Razi from the east. Examining the small room revealed it to be an armory—or at least it had been before every weapon therein was methodically and maliciously mangled.

Moving counter-clockwise, Dixn continued opening doors—discovering what appeared to be a barracks or guard room in each of the wings flanking the courtyard. Both were in similar disarray to the other rooms they had seen, with tables and benches knocked over and seemingly flung about with great force and anger, and each contained a flight of stairs leading to the second floor.

As this was going on, Carrion attempted to kick in one of the doors on the opposite side of the main room, but succeeded only in stubbing his toe—and then hitting his head when he instinctively bent forward in pain. This was followed by one of the other party members examining the door, and then opening it outward—revealing what appeared to be a large kitchen and dining area taking up most of the back portion of the building. A stone fireplace was set into the far wall, while various barrels, tables, and baskets filled the right-hand side of the room. As the group proceeded in, they spotted movement in the shadows among the barrels, and a shrill, hungry squeaking began…

A multitude of vicious rats boiled out of the shadows, quickly swarming over Cade and Carrion as Treize and Zakariya hurled spells and flasks at the tiny furred beasts. The alchemist's concoctions splashed friend as well as foe with viscous, volatile vitriol. With a whistled command, Dixn sent her cloud leopard companion, Ser'Racha to help—though his assistance may have proved disconcerting to those already engulfed by the swarm as he batted and snapped at the teeming rodents. But at last, the rats were defeated—if with a bit more collateral damage than some would have cared for.

Meanwhile, Dixn had discovered another armory—though this one contained a locked chest in addition to racks of broken spears. Razi came over to join Dixn, and the pair soon discovered that the chest contained a stash of arrows and crossbow bolts. After determining that they were enchanted, Razi began a ritual to identify the ammunition's properties, while Dixn and Treize moved on to investigate the room in the south-east corner of the building.

This room appeared to be yet another study, nearly identical to the one Dixn had climbed into except for a wooden door to the east. Unbeknownst to them, Cade and Carrion were currently in the kitchen contemplating another door which opened to the same area as the one the knight and ranger were examining. Both doors appeared to have swollen in their frames, and were stuck fast. As Treize attempted to force his door open, Carrion surreptitiously brought up his tail to attempt to pick the lock without Cade seeing what he was up to—doing an excellent job until he realized that the door had no lock.

After some effort, knight Treize managed to force his door open—only to be greeted by a wave of dry, noxious stench and the low groans of a hideous, shambling figure:

[DM Note: Image Redacted. I spent too long googling for a suitable pic and now I feel ill.]

The mold-covered zombie lurched out of the ancient storeroom amidst a choking cloud of spores and decay, but knight Treize's hearty constitution left him unaffected. Dixn focused on the foul abomination, assessing it's weaknesses with senses honed by mystical training before sending an arrow into it's throat and calling out a simple strategy:

"Kill it with fire."

The pair continued to assail the undead horror as Dixn called Ser'Racha (who had been dining on rats in the kitchen) to her side. Choosing the shortest path, the big cat barreled past Cade and Carrion, shouldering the other door open and plunging into the miasma-filled pantry. Beset from both sides, the mold zombie finally succumbed when Treize tore it's rotting head from it's shoulders with a rapier thrust—not the first time he'd accomplished that particularly impressive feat.

Having once more claimed victory, (though Ser was briefly quite ill) the adventurers were left to wonder what other horrors lurk within the ruined priory, waiting to be discovered…

Magic Items:

  • Seeking Arrows, 1 quiver (20)
  • Seeking Bolts, 1 case (20)

This enchanted ammunition counts as a magic weapon and grants advantage on attack rolls made with it, but each arrow or bolt is destroyed upon use.

Session XP: 600

Inspiration: Carrion, Dixn

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The Ruined Priory Pt 1: Courtyard
Dem Bones

The next morning dawned clear and bright, in stark contrast to the oppressive gloom of the previous two days. Taking it as a good omen, the adventurers continued their journey south, confident that they would soon find and eliminate the source of the undead infesting the southern woods.

After a few hours, they came upon a large clearing. The morning sun slanted down over an ancient, ruined building with a sheer mountain ridge rising behind it in the distance. The sinister stone structure stood two stories, and was shaped like a squared-off "C", with the east and west wings extending forward to create a partially enclosed courtyard. A weathered stone obelisk rose in the center, surrounded by dry grass and scattered piles of dry bones.

Ruined Priory

Leaving cleric Enlail to guard the horses, Dixn stealthily scouted ahead and confirmed that the bone piles were actually dormant undead—sinister sleeping skeletons sure to attack if startled. Attempting to take them by surprise, the party snuck slowly through the sylvan surroundings as Dixn took up a sniping position along the side of the building.

It was all going quite well until Carrion tripped on a root, accidentally blasting a blaring bleat from his bagbpipes.

Awakened by the noise, the bone piles rose up—assembling themselves into a pair of skeletal minotaurs wielding massive axes, and a trio of accompanying archers.

Minotaur Skeleton

Seeing the undead rise, Dixn cast a spell which illuminated half the courtyard with spectral flames that clung to the skeletons as they passed through it. Taking this as his cue, knight Treize began loosing arrows—the flames of Dixn's spell seeming to guide them to their mark. Moving as one, the skeletal archers stepped forward and fired, one of their arrows catching Razi in the shoulder.

In the brief but breathless battle that followed, Carrion revealed previously unknown powers, hexing and blasting the skeletons with strange spectral energies as the others fought from the cover of the tree line and Dixn flanked the undead from behind. Monk Cade stepped to the fore, drawing the skeleton's attention, relying on his aura to quell their violence—and his reflexes to catch an arrow bare-handed when one of the skeletons managed to resist.

Seeing this, knight Treize hurried to Cade's side and the two warriors proceeded to anchor the battle, fighting the skeletons head-on as the others attacked from a distance. As Carrion's arcane blasts sundered the last of the skeletal guardians, the party emerged victorious—though several had been injured in the short but serious skirmish, some severely so. Spying no further signs of danger from the weathered building or the surrounding woods, the adventurers agreed to take a brief rest and recuperate before continuing on. Treize, Zakariya, and Dixn also took the opportunity to try and collect useful components from the skeletons, while Carrion simply took a large tooth as a trophy.

Session XP: 1,075

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Deathless Foes
(Bear) Ghosts and (Zombie) Goblins

Hearing Carrion's pained yell (and impassioned cursing), Treize had rushed to the mouth of the cave to see if the others needed help. He arrived just in time to see the doleful, cub-like bear spirit emerge from the cavern floor next to Zakariya. The spirit's gaze swept over the party and the slain bears, then the apparition let out an eerie, reverberating howl as it swelled into a enormous, wrathful phantom.

As the sinister specter surged from the stone surface, Dixn sprang into action, reaching under her facemask as she dashed to the front of the group. Zakariya backed up, for once at a loss for facts about their foe as he hurled a flask of acid which smashed harmlessly against the far wall. Trieze, however, recalled that such beings are often weakened by sunlight and called for the others to lead it out of the cave as he unleashed a salvo of magic missiles.

A strange, wispy grey smoke began billowing out of Dixn's face mask, filling the chamber and seeming to hinder the ursine phantom as she and Cade held it off while the others fell back to the entrance. The halfling monk's peaceful aura protected him from the spirit bear's attacks, while Dixn's accurately aimed arrows seemed to disrupt the apparition's hold on this plane, until at last knight Treize burned it away with a withering barrage of arcane bolts.

Wary of any further traps or dangers, the group carefully searched the rest of the cave, but found only relics of previous adventurers and ancient, seemingly primitive inhabitants—including the limed-over skeleton of a strange humanoid near a pool of water. The party gathered what they could of the relics and artifacts, (as well as leftover adventuring gear and assorted parts harvested from the bears) but were unable to take the skeleton since it was fused into the ground and only partially visible.

Adventuring Gear:

  • Various coins, 71 gp value
  • 1 spear
  • 1 crossbow
  • 1 quiver
  • 12 arrows
  • 12 crossbow bolts

Ancient Relics:

  • A worn marble figure, about the size of a fist. Chipped and cracked in places.
  • Arrowheads (and fragments of arrowheads) made of polished obsidian.
  • Charcoal rubbings of a strange, pictographic mural carved into one of the cave walls.

With treasures and trophies in hand, the party continued south—noting a gradual, ominous shift in the environment. Though spring was at it's peak, the woods here seemed to linger in autumn's grip. Many branches remained bare and drifts of multicolored leaves littered the forest floor long after they should have decayed into new earth.

The group was wary of what might be lurking in the woods, especially after finding a series of strange, shuffling humanoid footprints. Drawing upon mystically-honed senses, ranger Dixn confirmed the presence of dozens of undead—the majority of which seemed to be gathered roughly six miles to the south. Mindful of the threat, the group took extra care to find a defensible location to make camp, and artificer Razi rigged up a makeshift trap consisting of a crossbow attached to a tripwire.

The next day brought more of the same. More bare trees, more dry, dead leaves, and more ominous tracks crossing and re-crossing one another. Darkness fell early, and the party's concerns intensified. Forgoing a fire for fear it would attract foes, the adventurers supped on cold rations. Artificer Razi deployed both his alarm-stake and jury-rigged crossbow trap this time, and the group kept watch in double shifts, with an unlit torch staked out at the edge of camp where it could be quickly lit in an emergency.

These preparations proved prescient, as the party was woken in the dead of night by eerie groans and the sound of soft, shuffling footsteps—shortly followed by the twang-thunk of the crossbow trap and the warning ring of Razi's alarm stake. Emerging from their tents, those who could see in the night's darkness (which was nearly all of them) found their camp surrounded by a shambling horde of undead goblins!

As the others readied themselves and debated the proper term for the creatures (they settled on "Zomblins"), Knight Treize lit the prepared torch with a bolt of arcane fire, and the battle was joined! The fight was at turns desperate and comical, with Dixn's holy smoke rendering the party all but untouchable to the foul little undead. But the zomblins pressed forward in seemingly endless waves, and for every one that flopped face-first on the forest floor from a frenzied, over-eager claw swipe, another remained standing even after being run through the neck with a rapier or shot through the eye with a well-placed arrow.

The brave adventurers continued to fight, bashing, stabbing, shooting, burning, and melting their way through the rotting horde. Knight Treize somehow decapitated a zomblin with a rapier-thrust, ranger Dixn downed another by shooting an arrow through one ear and out the other, and the pirate-bard Carrion blasted another to bits with a potent thunderwave—showering the unfortunate Razi with it's remains and flinging two more at monk Cade, who proceeded to pummel the pipsqueaks to a pulp three at a time with furious fists and a swiftly swinging stave. At last, artificer Razi finished the final foul festering fiend with a flask of fizzing face-frying acid.

Exhausted and spent, but feeling curiously wizened by their experiences, the party settled down once again to rest and keep watch through the remainder of the long, dark night—knowing tomorrow would likely bring them to the source of these deathless abominations.

Session XP: 700

Inspiration: Zakariya

(DM Note: You've been really good about portraying your character's drive to seek out/preserve knowledge for it's own sake, such as trying to puzzle out the language in the bear cave mural and making a rubbing of it for future study.)

Note: Level up! After completing a long rest, each party member will advance to fourth level. Congrats! Huzzah! etc.

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The Sprite's Test
Hunting Party

Following a night's rest, the party parted ways with the perky peddler and continued their quest to find Lady Nyra and the Order of the Wolf. Completing their exploration from the previous day, the group turned south to look for the tree where Izzir claimed to have found his silver pendant. A pendant which Carrion had recognized as belonging to the Order of the Wolf's hard-drinking cleric.

Late in the afternoon, they came upon a tall, withered oak with patches of missing bark and several broken limbs. Not wanting broken limbs themselves, it was decided that Cade should be the one to climb it, as he was the lightest of the group.

Despite concerns that he had yet to master the technique for falling safely, the halfling monk made his way into the upper boughs, where he found the remains of an old bird's nest. This seemed to confirm Izzir's claim that he had found the pendant while searching for eggs. Cade had just relayed this discovery to his companions on the ground when a tiny humanoid figure with iridescent wings appeared in the air before him, brandishing a miniature bow and shouting "Halt!"

Two more of the creatures appeared below, keeping their weapons trained on the party as the one above demanded to know if they were the "foul villains" that had destroyed the pixie nest. The group recognized these little beings as sprites, more militant cousins of the perpetually pacifistic pixies, with a proficiency for poisons and the ability to perceive a person's penchant for good or evil from the palpitations of their heart.

Realizing that the true culprits were likely the Order of the Wolf, the party proclaimed their innocence and informed the sprites that they were also searching for the ones responsible. At this, the little warriors proposed a test: The party would choose one of their number to represent them, (at which point Dixn began to push Carrion forward) and the sprite's leader would listen to their heart to judge whether they were friend or foe to the forest. (At which point the others quickly shoved the tiefling bard to the back of the group.) After a brief discussion, Cade stepped forward, his kind heart easily passing the sprite's test.

With that matter settled, the party inquired if the sprites had any leads as to the true culprit's whereabouts. They responded that their search had led them here, but that a squirrel had informed them that a group of adventurers had entered "the bad place," and not all had been seen to leave. When pressed for more information, the sprites explained that the bad place was an old ruin "about a day and a half's flight" to the southwest, that was apparently infested with undead.

From this, the party concluded that the Order of the Wolf must have entered the ruins and that their cleric (and possibly others) had died there before the rest were able to escape. They further reasoned that a bird must have plucked the cleric's holy symbol from his corpse and used the shiny silver item to decorate it's nest, leading to Izzir's later discovery of it in the mostly-dead tree.

Once the group expressed interest in going to "the bad place" to look for clues, the trio of sprites became very excited. Declaring it "the next test," the went on to say there would be three:

  • The Test of the Heart - Which they had already passed.
  • The Test of Courage/Intent - Entering the "bad place" and eliminating the source of the undead to prove their commitment to aiding the forest.
  • The Test of ??? – The sprites seemed to have trouble coming up with a name for this one, demonstrating great zeal, but lacking in focus and attention span.

After further clarification, it appeared the sprites intended to continue searching for the "villains" who made it out of the the bad place, and would share their location with the group when and if they succeeded in eliminating the source of the undead. It seemed the third test, (and possibly reward?) would be to hunt down the remaining "villains" and aid the sprites in expelling them from the forest.

As evening was beginning to fall, the party decided to make camp. As usual, Cade prepared dinner, taking the opportunity to swap cooking tips with the little fey warriors. Afterwards, the sprites informed the group that they could not assist them in their second task, but would be watching to ensure it's completion—at which point the trio winked out of sight, having apparently turned invisible.

The next morning the party headed southwest, continuing to explore as they made their way toward the ruins the sprites had told them about. Shortly before noon they came across a set of large bear tracks, which soon led them to a cave. The entrance was a downward sloping tunnel in the side of a large, brush-covered boulder, and the numerous tracks surrounding it indicated that a family of bears dwelled there.

After a brief discussion on whether bears were considered "hostile creatures" under the terms of the gambit (and thus whether they would get a bounty for slaying them), Cade, Razi, and Carrion decided to go for it—only to realize that their guide, Dixn, had vanished. Thinking she might be nearby, some of the others called out to her, but there was no response.

Deciding to carry on anyway, the party left Treize and Enlail to guard the horses, and took up positions around the cave entrance. They discussed the possibility of using fire to smoke the the bears out into an ambush, but realized that the slope of the tunnel would cause the smoke to escape out the entrance rather than filling the cave. Finally, Artificer Razi simply threw a thunderstone into the cave, hoping that the noise would flush the bears out.

Sure enough, a large brown bear soon emerged from the tunnel, bellowing out a threatening roar at Carrion, Razi, and Cade. The trio fell upon the beast, which soon delivered a viscous bite to the tiefling bard. Reeling from his injuries but still standing, Carrion loosed a string of words in the infernal tongue so foul-sounding and full of malice that the bear actually burst into flames. At almost the same instant, Dixn emerged from the underbrush beside the cave entrance, firing two arrows which finished off the now-smoldering beast.

There was a brief pause as the party stopped to heal their injuries and examine the slain bear, which appeared to be female. The tracks around the cave indicated at least two cubs were likely still inside, though Dixn noticed that the tracks for the other adult seemed older, as if it had not returned for some time.

When they were ready, Cade and Razi both lit torches and took the lead, as Carrion followed and Dixn and her leopard companion vanished into the shadows behind them. The main tunnel continued on ahead, with side passages opening to the left and right. A pair of smaller (but still the size of a large human) bears emerged from these passages, attacking from either side. This time, Dixn remained hidden as Cade, Razi, and Carrion fought the two cubs. Despite this unexplained reluctance, the other three managed to prevail virtually without injury, with Cade delivering the final blow in the form of an impressive running dropkick against a creature more than twice his size.

Ahead they saw that the main tunnel opened up into a larger chamber strewn with bones and what looked like a few scattered weapons or treasure, but as Artificer Razi moved forward to investigate, a glowing, spectral form rose out of the floor before him…

Session XP: 475

Inspiration: Cade

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Into the Woods
Izzir's Got Yer Nick-Nacks

After using Artificer Razi's plentiful, perishable, potions to tend to their wounds, the party continued south along the banks of Brambles. Soon the razorvine disappeared entirely and the trees grew further apart—though the forest was still dense enough to limit their pace and visibility somewhat.

After a thorough exploration of the surrounding area, their guide, Dixn, and the bard Carrion discovered a strange sight: What appeared to be the remains of a very large, iridescent wasp's nest at the base of a large tree.

Upon investigating, Dixn realized it was in fact a pixie nest. Bespelled against wind and rain, something clearly must have knocked it out of the tree intentionally. Finding no sign of angry, newly homeless pixies in the area, Artificer Razi set about trying to harvest pixie dust from the broken, rain-soaked husk. Though hardly fresh, he did manage to collect a small amount from the papery nest before Carrion placed the pieces gently back in the boughs of the tree.

Recalling that pixies are shy, tiny fey creatures that love pranks and abhor violence, the party wondered if the adventurers they sought might be responsible for destroying the nest, and wondered what might befall those who earned a pixie's ire. A short time later, Razi discovered another Wolf's Head marker carved into a tree beside the creek, and the party followed both to the south. 

As the daylight began to fade, they made camp for the night—with Razi setting up his strange alarm device and Dixn offering to take the first watch, since she didn't require as much sleep as the others. After four hours, the taciturn ranger turned the watch over to her leopard companion, Ser'Racha, only to be nudged out of her elven rest-trance by the large cat shortly after midnight. Following the perceptive feline's gaze, Dixn heard the rustle and snuffle of a large animal foraging through the underbrush a short ways from the camp. Stalking after the source with her bow at the ready, she soon identified it as a bear, and proceeded to watch carefully from the shadows until it ambled off to the southeast.

In the morning, the party picked up camp and continued their journey south, only to discover a veritable maze of Wolf's Head marks pointing in all directions. Artificer Razi immediately checked for magical traps, but found only a faint aura of ambient magic suffusing the forest—too weak to be an actual spell effect or enchantment. Other than the remains of a campfire circle that Dixn found half-buried in the mud—presumably exposed by a recent rainstorm—there was no other signs of the Order of the Wolf or which way they had gone. After some discussion, the party speculated that angry pixies might have used illusions to lead the mercenary company in circles, and decided to begin a systematic search of the surrounding area.

Starting their search to the north east, near the region where they had found the broken pixie nest, they discovered another creek—this one surrounded by dying plants and a faint odor of decay. Further investigation revealed that it was slightly brackish—a mixture of salt and fresh water—and wound from the east to the north instead of flowing due south like the Brambles. Intrigued, the group resolved to follow it upstream.

Soon the light began to fade, and as the party stopped to set up camp they heard a curious sound coming from nearby. Someone was singing. Badly.

Leaving Knight Treize and Cleric Eanlail to guard the camp and finish setting up for the night, Cade, Razi, Dixn, and Carrion went off the investigate the odd singing. A short distance to the north the found the source—an ugly little green creature with a frog on his head, an eye-smarting pink floral curtain draped over his shoulders like a cloak, and a huge, jangling pack strapped strapped to his back.

Recognizing it as a goblin, they were surprised when—instead of attacking them or trying to flee—the creature gleefully introduced himself as "Sir Pomp Adillious Izzir Nic Nak the 4th (but call me 'Iz')," and asked if they wanted to buy any of his wares. At the group's cautious assent, the little goblin merchant began excitedly producing an odd assortment of items, ranging from small bits of jewelry to strange potions and the prize of his collection (according to Iz, anyway)—a jar of dirt.

Scanning the items with his goggles, Artificer Razi determined that many of them were actually magical, prompting him to ask if they could inspect the items more closely. Carrion convinced Iz to agree to this, and Razi proceeded to identify their properties over the course of the next hour. Although some were decidedly unconventional—such as the potion of Ooze Breathing—it seemed there were also a few genuinely useful items being offered at a significant discount.

Among the non-magical trinkets was a small silver pendant shaped like the face of a laughing satyr. Razi was able to determine that it was a divine focus of some kind, though no one in the group could tell what religion it was associated with. Carrion, however, realized that he'd seen it before—worn by a cleric who'd almost beaten him in a late night drinking contest about a month ago. In fact, he now remembered that the cleric had belonged to the Order of the Wolf—the same mercenary company they were trying to find!

Questioning Iz about the pendant, the goblin merchant told them that he'd found it the other day hanging up in the boughs of a tree. "Too high for even elfies to climb," according to him. When asked about the location, he told them it had been about six miles to the south.

With this information in mind, the group finished selecting their purchases:

  • Bronze Ring, notched on one side like a key (1 gp)
  • Jar of Dirt (25 gp)
  • Potion of Storytelling (10 sp)
  • Rope of Climbing (5 gp)
  • Wand of Friends (10 sp)

Carrion fronted the coin for the purchases, with the agreement that the party would sort it out after returning to Lairwood. (When, presumably, everyone would have a good deal more gold.)

Dixn also purchased a small packet of flowers and herbs from the goblin. This was apparently part of some prior arrangement, though she didn't offer any explanation to the group, and they didn't ask.

With business concluded, the party invited Iz to come eat with them back at their camp, which he happily agreed to. The experience was generally amiable, though Cade and Iz differed somewhat in their opinions of the proper preparation and palatability of poultry. Carrion seemed to get on particularly well with the strange little merchant, even taking some of the dry, ashy dirt that he had purchased and rubbing it over his incisors at the goblin's assurance that it was "good for teeth."

Session XP: 100

Inspiration: Carrion

Note: Now that the site's back up and you can check your character sheets again, just leave a message if there's anything else you want to buy from Izzir Nic's inventory. Ditto for those of you who missed this session. Since we left off where we did, I figure there's time for some after-dinner trading before people turn in.

Also, I'm going to try and be better about remembering to hand out inspiration in the future. There's been some really great roleplaying so far, and I want to make sure to properly reward and encourage that!

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Lairwood
Papers, Please

After three days of travel, the party had arrived at the outskirts of Lairwood. A garrison town standing at the (current) edge of the forest, it had recently grown to twice its original size with the addition of a sprawling city of tents and caravans outside its western gate.

Upon reading the scroll their guide had given them and learning that two additional scrolls were needed, the party looked up to see the young messenger already making his way through the dense crowds. Unable to catch up, Artificer Razi briefly considered using one of his thunderstones to clear a path—but that notion was quickly discarded when he realized the crowds were mainly composed of well-armed adventurers and a scattering of frazzled-looking guards.

Instead, the group tailed their former guide through the impromptu village and into Lairwood proper. Passing though the city gates without incident, they noted that many of the "permanent" buildings in Lairwood were built on stilts with wheels or rollers at the bottom—apparently intended to be mobile. The group's artificer deduced that magic must be involved in their construction, and resolved to study it further.

Soon after, their pursuit was interrupted by a disturbance in the market square as a cry of "Thief!" rang out from a nearby fruit stand and a diminutive figure rushed past, overturning a barrel of apples into the street in front of them. Zakariya and Treize spurred their horses over the fallen produce and maneuvered through the crowd to give chase as the culprit quickly vanished behind a stack of crates in a blur of movement. Upon catching up, the pair found no trace of their quarry—only a strange, hooded figure who appeared to be picking something up off the ground. Suspicious, but unwilling to accost the individual without further proof, they rejoined the rest of their band and eventually caught up with the young messenger just outside the Gilded Tree Inn—a grand, three story wooden structure somehow poised on stilts and rollers, like many of the buildings in Lairwood.

The boy, who introduced himself as Gil, apologized profusely and explained that he had thought he was supposed to deliver the other two scrolls himself. Seeming oddly relieved to discover this was not the case, he handed the scrolls over to the party and provided them with directions, informing the group that "The Brambles" was the name of the stream that flowed past the city's western gate. These scrolls appeared similar to the official missives the party had received previously. Each bore a red wax seal with the crest of House Dalemark, and were tied with a ribbon bearing the name of their intended recipient—in this case "Dixn," and "Carrion." Gil explained that Dixn was a scout who lived in a hut to the south of town and kept watch on the southern woods, while Carrion was a mercenary of some sort who was often seen wandering the town and patronizing (or being thrown out of) it's various taverns. Both seemed to have a less than savory reputation, at least in the young messenger's opinion, but were employed by House Dalemark in some capacity and one of them was likely the "agent" the group was supposed to meet with.

Turning their attention to a nearby notice board, they found a flyer written in Common, Undercommon, and Celestial warning people not to enter the south forest. The notice also bore a rather—unique—illustration, and a post-script appearing to attribute the artwork to an individual by the name of Carrion.

With the day now drawing towards evening, the party left the city and were informed by the guards that the gates would be closing for the night at sundown. Following the stream to the south, they came upon a strange hut with an abnormally large cloud leopard curled in front of it.

Ser'Racha

They tentatively addressed the creature, thinking that it might be the scout in animal form, only for it to get up and walk away dismissively. Checking the hut itself brought them face to face with Carrion, a spectacularly foul-mouthed (and very drunk) tiefling.

Carrion

After some initial misunderstanding regarding currency and constabulary, Carrion took the scroll that had been addressed to him and directed the group around back. There they found the mysterious Dixn, apparently in the midst of some kind of meditation.

Dixn

Though the mask and emblems she wore were intriguing, the party was unable to discern much about her—even her race. Nor did she volunteer much, the terse scout proved just as antisocial as her companion, though less vocal and profanity-laden about it. After a brief exchange consisting largely of single-word responses, she advised the party to visit the registration office and then simply walked off—leaving them to their own devices.

Once they had clarified that they should return in the morning, the group headed back to town—arriving shortly before the gates were closed for the night. Proceeding to the registration office (a large tent just inside the gates) they spoke with a pair of gnome clerks who registered their team and explained the rules of the Dalemark Gambit:

  • Each group must register in advance, and is assigned an area of the woods to explore. Tokens are provided to each registered member verifying their status, with the official documentation being held at the registration office in Lairwood.
  • Bounties are paid for mapping the assigned region, eliminating dangers such as hostile creatures, and for any artifacts or relics recovered. All bounties are awarded at the discretion of designated officials, with petitioners presenting proper proof prior to procuring payment.
  • New members can be added to a group after registration, so long as an existing member accompanies them to add their name to the official records.
  • An official "group name" is not required, but can be added or changed at the registration office.

After completing the party’s registration and giving them tokens for each member, (including Dixn and Carrion) the clerks informed them that the mayor would be giving a speech in the morning—and that the Gilded Tree Inn keeps rooms set aside for employees of House Dalemark. Resolving to take advantage of this, the group headed to the inn for the night. Once there, Cade volunteered to help in the kitchens while the others ate and gathered information about the young noblewoman they had been sent to find.

The Gilded Tree Inn was bustling with activity that evening. The group spotted their young guide, Gil, sitting at a table near the bar drinking and conversing animatedly with a group of slightly older youths who also wore the garb of official House messengers. They also spotted the suspicious cloaked figure from the market sitting alone in a shadowed corner by the door, and a group of fur and bone clad goliaths drinking and celebrating loudly at a long table on the opposite side of the inn.

From various conversations, they learned that they were to be part of the second ‘wave’ of expeditions for this year, with groups being sent out roughly one month apart. The most notable of the previous month's teams was a group of knights from the northern lands who had apparently discovered an ancient library within the wood. Artificer Razi was intrigued by this news, but was unable to find any further information on the library’s location—only that the knights had entered the forest on the north side of "Tower Hill", the ruin-strewn butte that rose beyond Lairwood's eastern gate. He did learn that the remains of a great, ancient kingdom supposedly lay somewhere deep within the forest, though so far only scattered, isolated ruins (such as those crowning Tower Hill) had been found.

The party also learned that a swordswoman matching Lady Nyra’s description had been seen in the company of a mercenary group known as the Order of the Wolf. Led by a burly female half-orc, other members of note included a pair of halfling twins who had earned quite a reputation for sneakiness and troublemaking among the inn’s employees. According to the kitchen staff, the night before they set out the twins had stolen every spoon in the inn and placed them along the crossbeams in the rafters. They further learned that the Order of the Wolf had been assigned to the southern section of the woods, (the same as the party, and the same section that Dixn’s flyer had warned against entering) and had not been seen since. In fact, it seemed that no one had returned alive from the southern woods since the previous Gambit five years ago—which was why that section remained uncleared. Local wisdom held that being assigned to the southern wood was a death sentence, or worse. Even more foreboding were the tales of those whose corpses had returned—as mindless undead.

Wishing to know precisely where the Order of the Wolf had entered the forest, the party considered trying to obtain a map of their starting location from the records office—before learning that there was only one path into the southern wood. Apparently the valley in which Lairwood sits was once overgrown with razorvine, the remnants of which now form a formidable barrier stretching from the foot of Tower Hill to the South-East of town to the rolling downs to the South-West. The only passage though this “Thorn Wall” was a path cleared along either bank of the Brambles—the stream having apparently been named for the deadly vines that once grew so rampant around it.

Awaking at dawn, the party chose to skip the mayor’s opening speech in favor of getting an early start. They met up with Dixn and a surprisingly sober Carrion at the hut before following the stream to the edge of the woods. There they found the path, carved like a great, thorn-lined tunnel though the dense foliage, as well as a possible sign of their quarry—a palm sized mark in the shape of a wolf’s head carved into the trunk of a tree.

The razorvine tapered off and the trees grew less dense as the party ventured deeper into the woods, though the path remained just wide enough to ride their horses in single file along the bank. Perhaps ten minutes in, a trio of wolves emerged from the underbrush and attacked. After a brief but brutal battle, the party paused to inspect their injuries, and prepare for the path ahead…

Session XP: 150

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The Adventure Begins
Salty Birds

Upon invitation from Lord Dalemark, Knight Treize, Monk Cavadin "Cade" Bolger, Cleric Eanlail Karr, and Artificer Zakariya Razi all attended a dinner hosted by the noble lord. Afterwhich Lord Dalemark held a private audience with the summoned adventurers.  
Lord Dalemark hired the adventurers to investigate the disappearance of a young noble woman from a rival family who joined the local adventuring 'festivities' under a false name. The party she was with has reportedly vanished several weeks prior just outside of the event area— past the garrison town of Lairwood. 

Upon negotiating a healthy fee of 50G to each successful surviving adventurer, the party set out.

The first couple days were uneventful beyond the playful pillaging of personal properties by a small clockwork crab created by Artificer Zakariya. Yet, on in the early hours of the third day they were not so lucky. While passing by a peaceful farmstead, the party heard an alarmed shout. Over the building crested a Giant Eagle with their newly won piglet prize.

Treize, being of quick mind and quicker hand in the early morn, was the first to act as he quickly loosed an arrow at the flying beast.  The arrow pierced deep into the wing, however, unlike normal beasts the eagle seemed to think that a more hostile approach was preferable to running away.

A raucous screech was loosed from behind the building as another eagle appeared. This one carried the small form of a stolen chicken.

The party fought in fervor against the frenzied fowl and bested them with acid and mighty blows.  

The eagles once known as Steve the Magnificent and Bob the Mighty were now  Bob the defeated and Steve the Melted. (400exp) The party then healed the injured farm animals, collected the giant eagle remains and spoke to the locals. While Cade spoke with the farm cook,  Eanlail, Treize, and Zakariya spoke with one of the farmers who, when questioned, mentioned a curious observation.

She noted a ring of desirable beauty that seemed to have a gem that had a glowing symbol within it.

It took the party most of the day before they finally reached Lairwood. Upon their arrival, the young and possibly starstruck guide handed the party a forgotten scroll before wandering off towards the local tavern.

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