Friday, November 28, 2008
Since rescuing Jalissa from the catacombs she has been smitten with me. Before we found her she underwent a terrible ordeal and it nearly broke her. She was fragile, vulnerable, and desperate. And then she saw me and everything changed for her. She clung to the hope that she would be rescued and that hope became reality. She felt she had lost everything, and when I freed her she felt like she needs to offer me everything she had in return. She keeps thanking me for saving her life. I have told her repeatedly that it was the efforts and heroics of many people that lead to her freedom, but she doesn’t hear any of it. I believe she thinks she’s in love with me.
Clearly the feelings stem from the circumstances of her capture and rescue. She would feel the same way about whomever she first laid eyes on. Had Braddoc gone into that room first this would be his problem and not mine.
But eleven days have past and Jalissa is still enamored with me. She has had plenty of time to show a change of heart. She is back in her home surrounded by her friends and family. She should feel safe here. She should not be acting out of character. So does that mean that she is developing genuine feelings for me? It may be naive of me to thinks so, but what if that is exactly what’s happening. I’d be a fool to turn away the advances of such a beautiful woman. She is everything I desire.
If I take the reward Jalissa is freely offering me, the people of Delver’s Dale and my own companions might think I have violated her trust. They may scorn my reciprocation of her affections. Well, that’s just something they will have to deal with. I will spend one night with Jalissa before we leave for Flamekeep. Accepting her love may seem inappropriate now, but repressing my own desires and later discovering that her feelings were genuine would make me feel stupid for a long time to come.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I was surprised to receive your letter. We are doing well and resting after rescuing some prisoners from Delver’s Dale. Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Upon arriving in the Dale the town quickly came under attack. The group ran to assist the local militia however the attack was a diversion and several townspeople were kidnapped and priceless artifacts were stolen.
We managed to rescue all the captives but one. Unfortunately, Kartenix fought to free himself and was killed. Also, we failed to recover one of the items. A crown of some sorts, the teifling Skamos seemed to think it had great value. I feel that I have failed you, the Guild, and most importantly Kartenix. We were to escort him to Sharn and instead we allowed ourselves to become distracted.
However, this is all in the past. We will of course travel to Flamekeep, though without the information Kartenix could provide I feel that we will fail again. It is a hard thing to feel so helpless.
Otherwise, things have been well. I continue to keep write my journal as you suggested. At first I was hesitant; however I believe it a good way to reflect on how I have grown. I must confess Master that I enjoy the thrill of battle in a way I could never have imagined. My thoughts run dark as I envision new ways to battle and bring down my foes. I fear I delight in the pain of my enemies too much.
I must confess I was puzzled when the boy Tharunn, Kartenix’s son, delivered your letter to me. My puzzlement turned to wonder as I noted the smaller envelope inside the first addressed only to me. As the others were present when the letter was delivered I slipped the second envelope into my bracer. I do not believe the others noticed this and having read your private letter I realize this was a wise course of action.
I thank you for sharing your discoveries with me. This brings trouble I long thought buried back to light. I will tend to these matters when I return to Sharn. If you could see to it that she is looked after, I will repay any expenses. As for justice, or perhaps my final vengeance, it will have to wait.
Regarding your final request, I will of course keep my eye out and report back to you on my findings.
Olladra guide you,
10 Vult, 998 YK
We have returned to Delver’s Dale, our mission mostly successful. We were able to rescue seven of the eight prisoners. Unfortunately Kartenix, Ragnolin’s friend and the man we were here to meet, was killed by the monsters that inhabited the catacombs. I have no doubt that Kartenix fought bravely to free himself and his son before being killed.
Kartenix’s son, Tharunn, was greatly affected by the violent kidnapping and then by knowledge of his father’s death. He was extremely taciturn in the days following his rescue, but he is young and strong. I have no doubt that he will recover quickly. I have spent time explaining the cycle of life, death, and renewal to Tharunn. I don’t know if it’s helping him, but I know it’s the right thing to do. Having lost mother when I was a boy, I can greatly sympathize with his current situation.
Over the past couple of days he has taken a shining to the party. When he is not in the care of Jalissa, another one of the freed captives, Tharunn follows us around Delver’s dale. I’ve even seen him imitating us and pretending to be an adventurer battling monsters. I suspect that he is reenacting how he would have saved his father if he was bigger and stronger, like we are. Again I have become a reluctant role model.
I have worked with the local clergy to council the other kidnapping victims as well. My training in diplomacy and human interaction has proven remarkably effective. I have made many friends in Delver’s Dale and I know that my efforts have provided the victims with some comfort. In many cases they just needed someone they could talk to, someone who would not be judgmental. I was happy to do it and could feel the flame burning within me as I helped so many people deal with such a terrible ordeal.
We have pressing matters in Flamekeep and will be leaving in the next couple of days. Hopefully we’ll have time to stop in Sigilstar along the way. I miss you greatly and long for the familiar sights of the home.
We decided that it is best for Tharunn if he remains in Delver’s Dale in Jalissa’s care for the winter. Bringing the boy on the road is too dangerous at this point. When we depart Delver’s Dale I hope that Tharunn will not revert inward and shut himself off again. I have spent time with many of the townsfolk assuring that the boy has the love and support he will need in the coming months.
Hopefully I will see you within the next month, father. Flame keep you safe.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
After Sinruth's so-called trial, the party made their way back to the Rusty Kettle Tavern. The strains of the rescue were beginning to subside as bruises and cuts began to heal. Rest and ale can do wonders - especially when it is free of charge. Rescuing the cook of the establishment has its perks.
In the days since their return they could hardly spend a moment outside without someone singing their praises and thanking them. Jalissa made frequent visits to dote upon Delian. Each night Sertanian and Adronsius ensured that everyone in the Kettle knew of the heroic deeds of the group. Even crotchety, old Zerriksa nodded her head and thanked them. The innkeeper noted it was the most cordial thing he had seen her do in years.
Today was different. For once the group was left in peace - or so they thought.
A breathless Tharunn hurried into the main room. A quick scan of the patrons and he marched determinedly over to Ethan. "A message for you Ethan. Sealed and everything." He handed the parchment over.
As Ethan opened the letter, Sterling appraised the recent orphan. While the warforged had not known the boy prior to his rescue, he was sure that the lad had changed in the last week. More determined, sullen, and focused. The death of his father was a hard blow to take - especially for one so young. Even now he watched him gaze intently on Ethan. The lad's attachment to the rogue was incredible. The boy watched his every move. Sterling had even caught him imitating some of Ethan's attack moves one evening. While the warforged held Ethan in the highest regard, he wasn't so sure if this was what the boy needed at this time. Perhaps more of Tharunn's time should be arranged with Jalissa. At least until they could get the youngster back to the guildhall and under the care of Ragnolin.
A low whistle escaped from Ethan. "Looks like we aren't heading to Sharn." The group looked a little confused. Ethan kept them in suspense a moment until he noticed Braddoc's eyebrow raise and Nenia's face turn slightly red. Even the usually stoic Jonathon seemed ready to snatch the parchment from Ethan's hands.
"Ragnolin needs us to head to Flamekeep. Looks like we've got ourselves in up to our necks with this Skamos fella. Ragnolin wants to nip this in the bud before anyone else in the guild meets an untimely end."
Sterling put out his hand to receive the note. He read it aloud to the group.
Hail to thee.
I trust that you have all fared well and have located Kartenix by the time you read this. Some things have come to light since your departure. Based on the events, I must make an unorthodox request of your talents.
As you know all of Kartenix' previous group have either met sudden violent ends or can not be located. He can tell you more of them if wishes. We are almost certain that the circumstances surrounding these tragedies are directly tied to the recent job they performed. I am sure that you have conveyed the news of Hi'relle's death to my old friend by now. We believe this Skamos character hunted your fellow guild members down to find the location of an item they procured. I am unsure of the exact details but some information has come to light that suggests that it was part of a set of items. Sets like this are rare. The individual items contain potent enough magic but when used in conjunction they are devastatingly powerful.
It behooves me to ask you to return with Kartenix to Flamekeep. He needs to locate whatever sources of information he used to track the item down in the first place and try to determine the true threat. A reclusive historian by the name of Thelio, a paladin by the name of Jaryn, and a mage named Kristoff seem to ring a bell from my previous conversations with Hi'relle. Kartenix should be able to assist you there.
Give my regards to Kartenix and the rascal Tharunn. I look forward to seeing them when you finally get back to Sharn.
Delian noted Ragnolin's seal at the bottom of the letter. "It seems we better find the best route to Flamekeep."
Braddoc's eyebrow flew up. "You holy rollers have ale there right?"
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
- Party moved east down pillared hall.
- encountered a group of undead led by a Deathlock Wight. Group consisted of 2 gravehounds, a boneshard skeleton, the wight, and 5 decrepit skeletons that kept reanimated until all 5 were dead at the same time.
- Sterling tried to intimidate the wight to no avail. Trading insults was fun.
- Party eventually conquered the challenge and recieved some nice loot.
- Went back west then north into an old shrine with an obelisk. Inside were 2 more wererats, a bugbear warrior and a sneaky little gnome arcanist. A nice bonus to the party was when the bugbear charged Ethan flinging a pew out of the way and subsequently knocked one of the wererats prone.
- The party made quick work of the wererats and the bugbear but the arcanist was able to sneak away and flee. In the room was some of the missing artifacts.
- Two options left to explore. The first ended up being a room with a scrying pool. Nothing overly exciting. Would have been much more useful earlier in the dungeon romp.
- The second and last option was a stair leading up from where they found Jalissa. It led to a pitch black room containing several tall thin menhirs that emitted cold. While trying to determine if it was a freeze trap or something, the party threw water on and between the first two to see what would happen. At that point a door opened on the far end of the chamber and laughter echoed through the room.
- It was none other then their previous aquaintance Skamos the warlock who killed Hi'relle. He held a crown of sorts in his hands. After some brief posturing he set two of his lackeys on the party and retreated back through the doors.
- The lackeys were in fact Sinruth the hobgoblin leader of the raid and his bodyguard Gorax. Some well played tactics made this fight much easier than it could have been. Sinruth was unable to use his spiked chain to full effect in the midst of the menhirs and Sterling's grasps kept Gorax from being the threat he could have been. In the end Gorax was killed and Sinruth was knocked unconscious.
- Skamos returned to taunt them and then retreated some once again. The party gave chase. Bursting through the last doors, they caught a last glimpse of Skamos reading a ritual from a scroll and teleporting to some unknown location.
- Phats loots were found. Crown in Skamos hand turned out to be the Helm artifact they were supposed to retrieve for the townsfolk.
- Party gathered the rescued hostages and headed home. On the way they collected the griffon egg from the clifface. Nenia had a particular interest in it.
- Slow but uneventful journey to Delver's Dale took another 4 days putting them to 2nd of Vult upon their return.
- Received quest reward for hostages. Received quest reward for items even though 1 was missing. Bringing Sinruth back alive made up for that issue.
Two days following Sinruth’s trial the party met in the common room of the small cottage the grateful people of Delver’s Dale graciously provided for them while they remained in town.
Delian unrolled a map of Khorvaire on the table and motioned for the others to gather round.
“Ragnolin wants us to go to Flamekeep,” he said pointing at the capital of Thrane, clearly marked with a star and labeled on the map. “Our route and method of transportation is largely dependent upon our time and our resources.” He paused a moment allowing the party to take this in. “I’ve been working with a few of the town elders to determine the best routes for our journey. We’ve come up with two options.”
“The first option is to head to Hatheril and get on the lightning rail. Which means that from Delver’s Dale we take the King’s Road South and then East to Hatheril,” Delian said as he traced the route on the map with his finger. “It’s roughly 400 mile and on horseback would take about ten days. Or we take a more direct route to Hatheril through the gap in the Greenhaunt Woods. It would reduce the distance by almost 100 miles and could save us as much as three days.”
Delian noticed a few of his companions nodding so he continued. “From Hatheril we can take the lightning rail all the way to Flamekeep. It’s a 1,400 mile journey that will take a mere two days,” he paused. “But it’s not cheap. The standard fare for each of us would be 277 gp.” Delian noticed one person fidget and heard another gasp as the enormity of the cost shocked two of his companions. “Steerage fare is a little bit more reasonable at 42 gp each, but it would be an extremely uncomfortable two days.”
Waiting for a few brief second, Delian continued. “The second option in to travel north and make most of the journey on horseback. We take the King’s road north for five days to Craigwar covering 200 miles.” Delian drew the proposed route on the map with his finger. “Then we cross the boarded into Aundair and continue North-east to Marketplace. That’s another 150 mile and will take four more days.” Delian knew that crossing into Aundair should pose no problems for the others, but his nationality and religious beliefs could generate some unwanted hostility if he ran into the wrong people. But he wasn’t going to let his fear show in front of the party.
“From there we cross into Thrane and travel cross-country to Sigilstar. That’s 310 miles as the dragon flies, or 400 if we stick to the King’s Road. Under optimal circumstances the direct path will take us eight days and keeping to the roads wil take us ten.” Delian traced his finger on the map across the flat, featureless centre of Thrane, tapping it twice on the large circle marking Sigilstar. “Once in Sigilstar we can travel the 300 miles north to Flamekeep by the King’s Road. It usually takes eight days.” At least it had on the many occasions Delian had traveled that road himself over the years. “Or we can take the lightning rail for the final leg of our journey. It’s a ten hour ride. The standard fare is 60 gp for each of us, or we can tough it out in steerage for 9 gp each.” Delian noticed the barest hint of a smile on his companion’s face at the mention of avoiding eight more days on horseback for the mere cost of 9 gp.
“This option is 17 days of hard riding to Sigilstar. From there it’s either an additional half a day by rail or eight more days on the road.” Delian pulled back from the map, standing up straight. His companions leaned a little closer to the map and took a few seconds to take in the options he just presented them with.
“Of course,” Delian said as if just remembering some insignificant detail “this is the best-case scenario I’m talking about. The harsh winter weather has just begun. As we travel north into Thrane the snow will get deeper and the wind colder.” One companion pulled their cloak a little tighter as if Delian’s mention of the cold wind had just chilled them.
“The King’s Roads are travelled all year round, minimizing the likelihood of prolonged snow build-up. Traveling the King’s Road also provides some security since it is so heavily used.” Delian paused. “Travelling by our own path makes us an appealing target to bandits or monsters,” Ethan nodded in understanding and Delian thought he detected a hint of excitement from Ethan at the possibility of fighting such enemies.
“The lightning rail is not hampered by weather.” Again, Delian paused to let his point sink in and to let the group contemplate options in their head.
Taking a breath, his demeanor serious and positive, and his voice slightly diminished to force the group to lean ever so slightly towards him to hear him clearly, Delian went on. “My recommendation and preference is to take the lightning rail from Hatheril, travelling in the steerage car. The 42 gp fare is a lot of money, but it will get us to Flamekeep the fastest.”
Delian continued in a sterner demeanor speaking clearly and a little bit more slowly. “I’m hesitant to travel across Thrane’s heartland during Vult and Zarantyr. If the weather gets really bad we could end up stranded in some small community for weeks. And if we’re unlucky and cannot find suitable shelter at all then I doubt we’ll ever make it to Flamekeep.”
“Regardless of which route we choose we’ll need to pass through Sigilstar.” Delian smiled and his body language clearly showed a more relaxed posture. “On a personal note, while we’re there I would like to visit my father. I’m sure he would like to meet all of you. I write him regularly and have been telling him of our exploits. If nothing else, it will be one night in a comfortable bed surrounded by friends and family. After days on the road or hours in steerage, I suspect a fresh meal and a warm cup of tea will sound pretty good to everyone.”
“Let’s discus which route we’re going to take. The sooner we leave the better our chances of avoiding the inclement weather.”
Monday, November 24, 2008
A hushed silence descended on the crowded chamber as he was led in. Khyber take them all. He controlled the momentary flash of anger that rose in his chest.
The four days immediately following his defeat had been a blur. He couldn’t remember the exact details of how he had come to be here. Snippets of tripping, impossibly tight bonds, and meager meals floated on the edges of his mind. What he did remember in exact detail was the damnable tiefling. The emissary’s words had somehow lost their power and promise as he had trudged with these filthy creatures back to this hole of a place. He knew that he had failed the test. It nagged at him. The tiefling had used him. Test indeed. It was of little consequence whether he and his bodyguard had bested the intruders or not. The blasted warlock had already claimed his prize and secured his escape route.
He would pay someday. Revenge would be exacted. Today was not that day however.
His thoughts drifted back to his predicament. He had been held in some pit of a cell for nearly a week as far as he could figure. His guards had shown him no mercy. It was expected. He had shown none to his own prisoners. Use them for information and entertainment before turning them over to the wight. Such was the manner of their arrangement – sacrifices in exchange for use of the crypt. Simple and effective.
His head was pounding from lack of food and his beatings but he wasn’t about to show fear to these worthless beings. He held his head up high and glared at anyone foolish enough to catch his eye. Oddly enough the only creature able to return his stare for more than a few seconds was the young human who he had captured two weeks ago. Utter defiance and hatred was in the child's eyes. The hobgoblin almost felt a little respect for the orphan. Almost. A sudden jerk on his bonds snapped him back to his surroundings.
Clinking chains were the only sound as the procession stopped in the centre of the semi-circular dais upon which his apparent judges were settled. The four humans and one half-elf look down on him with a mixture of disgust and anger. If only he had his spiked chain. A quick flick of the wrist, a trip, and a stomp to the head would make quick work of these pasty aristocrats.
After a moment the half-elf spoke. “Are you the hobgoblin known as Sinruth?”
The hobgoblin’s only reply was a carefully orchestrated spit and a nod.
“Then, Sinruth, under the laws of our lands you are charged with murder, kidnapping, robbery, and general hatemongering. Should you be found guilty of these charges you shall be put to death. What say you?”
Sinruth thought for a moment. These people had already sentenced him. He could see it in their eyes and demeanor. No use in parlaying with these fools.
“I say that my only mistake was not finishing the job. Mind if I borrow my weapon for a few moments?” He spit again and leered at one of the humans on the dais.
Surprised gasps ran through the crowd. A shout of “Hang ‘em high!” echoed throughout the room. The half-elf raised his hands calling for silence. As his wish was granted he spoke again.
“I take your reply as admission of your guilt. Your fate will be determined by this council within the next few days.” His gaze moved to Sinruth’s guards. “Return him to his cell.
As he turned he caught sight of the group that had captured him. They would pay. If he had to return from the pits of hell, they would pay.
- Party decided to check out the stairs going down near the entrance. Was a room full of mushrooms, 2 rage drakes, and goblin sharpshooters.
- Good fight. Mushrooms did nasty things if you stepped on wrong ones, drakes and sharpshooters worked well together.
- Found Zerriksa. Crusty old crone trapped in magical trap. Nenia's excellent Arcane knowledge made quick work of the trap. The party took a tongue lashing from the old bag before returning her to the rest of the rescuees.
- Headed upstairs where they met an ambush of hobgoblins melee, some drakes, a hobgoblin hexer, and some crossbow turrets. Solid fight. Ended in victory after some solid tactics by the PCs. In room to the south the team found Jalissa bound to a wall. She instantly clung to Delian as he was the first one into the room. He basically has the most devoted groupie ever now.
- Team headed North. At a 4-way interestion they went east. Found Thurann tied to a fountain in the dark. No monsters around that could be seen. They didn't tell him that his father was dead until he was returned to the safe area.
- Team returned to intersection and was surprised by a partol of ghouls and skeletons. Undead retreated into the room they just left and slammed the door closed. Turns out they wanted to fight upon a black swirling area of negative energy that gave them regeneration 5.
- Braddoc got in one of the most devastating blows of the campaign so far by dropping 3 of the undead from 1/2 hps to dead with one Sweeping Blow.
- Proceeded West into t room with a raging demon. The beast seemed trapped in an invisible 20 foot square prison. On the far side was a human tied to a pillar and surrounded by dire rats. Noting that the demon was unable to get to them the group quickly split up and went around the "cage". That is when the trap was sprung. The human uttered a command word and released the demon.
- When the party got closer they saw that the human was indeed a wererat. Two of the direrats changed to their bi-ped form and accosted the group.
- Excellent tactics made quick work of the demon and its cronies.
- That is where we ended for the night.