Friday, December 12, 2008
Who is Jaryn?
"Jaryn is a stalwart of our faith and a veteran of countless campaigns against the cult. He and a group loyal to him undertook a mission a year ago that would have struck a mortal blow at the heart of Naarash."
What was Jaryn’s mission?
"While our order defends the villages of the frontier, Jaryn and four companions sought to take the battle to the heart of the cult. Naarash’s faithful are based in a great temple in the Moonsfall Mountains. The Pillars of Night, they call it. Jaryn swore to break the cult by destroying its leaders."
What happened to Jaryn and his group?
"Our last contact with Jaryn was a sending ritual four weeks ago that placed him deep in the borderlands at the head of a trail he called the Black March. We have had no further word."
Who else was in Jaryn’s party?
"Four faithful of Pelor—Andressa and Annika, sister-clerics of our order; the fighter Kelma; and Dajani, a tiefling sworn to the Flame's cause."
Who is Naarash? What is the Hand of Naarash?
"Naarash is said to be a hobgoblin prophet of Bane but no history speaks of that name. The Hand of Naarash arose as a hobgoblin cult five years past, though it now counts all of the borderlands’ races among its members."
What activities does the cult engage in?
"They prey on the most isolated frontier villages for converts and spoils. Townsfolk are given the choice of joining the Hand or accepting the salvation of death."
Why do you need our help?
"Our own operatives are too well-known among the cultists. Two groups have tried already to follow Jaryn’s path. Neither returned. Acapable party unknown to the cult might succeed where others have failed."
Information and rumours found in the frontier:
"I saw this paladin of yours. He and his group were headed west. I told him all he’d find west was cult trouble. He was smiling as they rode off."
"The Hand’s enforcers were always after silver and gold, but that’s changed. More of their death squads are on the hunt for arms and magic now."
"Used to be, the cult’s hobgoblins were thugs that a strong threat and a pitchfork could drive off. Now, they fight like soldiers."
"We were hit by the Hand twice in the past year. Your Jaryn and his group came through, told us not to worry about the Hand no more. Cult came back just the same."
"I never saw him, but I heard about him from three different villages northwest. Jaryn and his band of Pelor faithful were going after a Hand chieftain named Larkazh—foulest hobgoblin Hell ever spawned."
"Heard about a fight between the paladin and a force of Hand members come down from the north to hunt him. Didn’t see it, but the crows were thick over the hills."
"That fight was eight months back. Naught there but hobgoblin bones now and three cairns on the field, each capstone painted with the Silver Flame."
"I heard a story from a refugee family out of the Harsmad that met a holy knight of the Flame. Said he looked like a wild man—mud and brambles in his hair, a string of hobgoblin teeth around his neck."
"Caravan of refugees came through four months past on its way south Refugees said they met a knight heading the other direction. Shared a campsite with him. Said he preached the faith of the Flame. When they woke up, he was gone. But there by the fire was his gear—armor, shield, and all. He took his sword and waterskin and naught else, heading straight for the heart of the hills and the Moonsfall Mountains beyond."
Clothes Make the Cultist
All the cultists you have faced wear the symbol of Bane— either painted in black on a loose-fitting gray tunic (worn over leather armor if applicable), or painted directly onto heavier armor.
Monday, December 8, 2008
- The party opted to take the Soarwind ship to Merylsward. It took 13 days and cost each member 64 gp. (Be sure to deduct it from your gold)
- They arrive in Merylsward on 10 Zarantyr at about 4 AM.
- They follow the captain’s advice and head into town to an inn he recommended. Jonathon went up the street to stay at the small Church of the Silver Flame. (If you want to call it a church. It is the Eldeen Reaches after all. More like a makeshift shrine than anything. The only reason it is tolerated is because they have been assisting the local refuges.)
- After a few hours rest the group begins the quest to find out where Jaryn might be located. Several inquires within the town divulge the following:
The area outside the town wall known as “The Pits” is swelled to capacity with refugees fleeing the frontier lands. A cult known as the Eye of Naarsh has been recruiting members – or “saving” those who refuse to join.
Jaryn had been in town a number of weeks back. He had arrived via an airship with 4 companions. After a short stay he headed west into the frontier to deal with the cult once and for all.
- Assuming that the group would be heading into the frontier the party stocked up on some supplies and Sterling looked into hiring a tracker to help them navigate the lands.
- With no other leads within the town, the party headed into The Pits under the pretense of assisting the Silver Flame people with doling out food and clothing to the refugees.
- A short time later the party found themselves near the western edge of the camp when they heard screams of terror and saw people fleeing toward the town gates. A cult death squad (as the locals called them) was raiding the edge of the encampment.
- Quickly the group jumped into action and (quite a while later) they were able to defeat the mage, 2 guards, and 2 bandit humans. Jonathon’s attempts to rescue a refuge trapped under a fallen tent were thwarted when he inadvertently killed the unlucky soul with an area blast spell.
- The group killed all but one of the attackers. However when they removed a curious necklace made of a ring with a red gem in the centre from around his neck, the gem dissolved and the captive died.
- As the battle ended a half dozen battle-ready people ran into the camp seemingly in pursuit of the now-dead assailants. Emblazoned on their gear was the mark of the Silver Flame.
- Their leader – a female human named Emesha – thanked the party for their assistance. They had been tracking the death squad for 3 days. She asked if she could meet the party later to discuss some matters of import. The party agreed to meet her at the inn around the dinner hour.
- During the meeting Emesha informed the party that she was a cleric of the Silver Flame. She was specifically of an order called the Light of the Sun. They were dedicated to fighting the Hand of Naarsh as the cultists have named themselves. She wants the party to try and find the location and/or fate of a champion of the Flame named Jaryn (dun-dun-dun!) His mission was to strike at the heart of the cult by taking out their leaders. However, it seems they lost contact with him several weeks ago. He simply stopped replying to their periodic sending rituals.
- (I’ll put the specific info learning in another post.)
- The party was able to hire a tracker and they set out the following day. (12 Zarantyr)
- For the next several weeks the group wandered the frontier looking for signs of Jaryn and his party. They came across a number of small hamlet and farmhouses dotted throughout the region. While most people were reluctant to talk to the group simply out of fear of reprisal from the Cult, a number of them were able to provide the group with hints and rumours.
- (Again, I’ll put the specific info learning in another post.)
- Finally, one dusk, they arrived in a very small village called Erstlin in the NW of the Eldeen Reaches – almost on the foot on the mountains marking the border of the Demon Wastes. Here they were met by the town’s leader named Perren Auldwyl. He was polite and offered a place to stay for the night but forbid the party to ask about the Cult. He seemed adamant that the town was able to walk the line with the Cult and they didn’t want to stir up trouble.
- However trouble found them. They group was surrounded and attacked in Perren’s home. 2 Bugbear warriors, 2 hobgoblin archers, and a hobgoblin warcaster laid a beating on the group. However they were able to overcome their adversaries and were rewarding with a +2 magic rod that the warcaster was carrying. Their attire confirmed that they were members of the Eye of Naarsh.
- The party was able to revive the unconscious Perren and learn the following information:
Perren rubs his head and says “Unless you’re planning to stick around to take on the group that comes looking for this one, you ain’t done us no favors.” Auldwyl pulls aside the curtain to the bedroom, showing the crates stacked there. He opens one, revealing a brace of black-fletched arrows. Another crate contains longswords, and a third is packed with steel helmets.
“The Hand is running weapons north,” the old man says quietly. “Erstlin’s a stop-off point, last town short of the wilds. We give their smugglers free run of the town, the Hand leaves us alone. You folsk will have to clear out at first light.”
The next day the party followed Perren through the village. To their surprise the place was a bustle of activity. It seems the story of the battle had spread through the night and the locals wanted to see the victors. As they neared the last of the small buildings a young woman steps forward.
“Name’s Shandra. Hobgoblins killed my pa when they first came. Said it was a warning. I followed them, meant to take revenge but I couldn’t keep up. But I saw where they went. I can make you a map for finding their Black March. Take my advice though. Only a fool would fight their way in. The pass is well-travelled by the Eye.”
The map leads into the mountains to the west. Your tracker says he will take you until they have found the path but no farther. The lands beyond Erstlin turn to hilled forest, offering better shelter and obviating the need for Endurance checks. Three days out, they stumble upon an ancient ruin shrouded in stunted spruce – a shrine or temple reduced to a foundation pit and a half dozen pillars among the trees. They decide to use this place a shelter for the night.
The date is 6 Therendor. (You were in the wilderness for quite some time folks.)
Sunday, December 7, 2008
I hope that this letter finds you well. I have sent Grandor Smithhammer to Sharn to make contact with you. He should be there on the 7th of Zarantyr. I ask that you meet with him upon his arrival. He will be in Sharn on family business with the local Houses. Please make yourself available to assist him on this important family deal. He can elaborate further in person.
Yours in Steadfastness,
Chief of the Stoneshields
The next time you want to check up on me, come yourself.
Your Son in Exile,