The adventure so far (covering The Sentinel and now Red Tam’s Bones)…
Something bad was going to happen in a little town in the middle of nowhere, and all this according to some temple slave working in the Abbarathian of Seacourt, city of…enormous gutters! The underling directed the characters to head off in that general direction to deal with the horribleness of it, while the Great Northern Army of Seacourt responded to the first prophesies of the Lady High Hierophant, the Oracle of Seacourt: Nosha Cruen. “Something bad cometh from the Reach Highlands!” Let us not forget that the characters’ patron turned out to be a Bane worshipper.
Well, wouldn’t you just know it. Something bad was happening in the village of… Kusnir (sorry, had to look that one up). Seems that their town had been hit by a creature that struck invisibly (uh-oh) and who seemed crazy, killing some, sparing others. Oh the humanity. The peasants were all of one mind: “we bet the little blue people had something to do with it.” And so, having X(vart) marked on your map off you went.
Detours? Oh yeah, some weird scene played out with a Loa by the name of Obo Vye, a kind of trans-dimensional worm used during the construction phase of the universe. Repulsive? Sure, but that didn’t really stop Drothe from falling in love.
Unfortunately, the old Xvart lair wasn’t guarded by Xvarts anymore. Enter Lavinia.
Lavinia, as it turns out, was interested in finding her ancestral estate, later claimed by her ex-husband’s family the Van Artogs. So, here she came into the Reach Highlands. She kicked a bunch of Xvarts out of their house and moved in. She set up a bandit brigade, and then sent her sons out to scout her old villa, and wouldn’t you know it, the Xvarts had moved in there. Even worse, one of her sons died in the process and the other son found the ancient glove artifact of the Van Artog family: the Sentinel. Which means that this favored son of the Van Artog line was suddenly called upon to take up the family business: defend Castle Alderweg against the horrible forces of the Gauntlet! Of course, being Chaotic Evil, that resulted in insanity rather than his (its) taking up the noble quest.
Here’s the snag. Nobody knows where Castle Alderweg actually is. One legend has it one place, another legend has it another place. Supposedly, the key is the Van Artog estate, but when the Skulk returns from taking his brother back to Mum and the fam, the damn estate is gone. Nothing left, but that crazy town. It’s like the villa and town are in the same space on different planes or something. If only someone were to unleash a giant proto-god hell bent on digging holes between worlds…
Characters kill Lavinia and the Van Artog five, unleash an owlbear, nearly get killed by a caterwaul (seriously?) and bemoan the loss of health potions (alas, a common refrain for our heroes). In the process they stumble upon a monk who’s been looking for the Van Artog line (or at least what remained of the monk of the Monastery of the Grey Cowl). And his books! Yes, the history of the Van Artog family. A classic if ever there was one.
What did we learn? We learned that Lavinia Van Artog was the wife of the last of the guardians of Alderweg, Quinnet Van Artog. We learned that she bore him children until they decided to leave Alderweg (nothing had attacked for decades, after all), and headed off to their villa. At that point, Lavinia began to bear him monsters! The Skulks and the half-orcs. Thus, when the Sentinel abandoned his post, his progeny became cursed.
On their way to the villa, the characters found out that the Great Northern Army of Seacourt had begun dealing with an invading goblin army. Those living in the highlands were high-tailing it out as fast as possible. The war, whatever war it happened to be, was beginning.
The villa? Long story short: the characters found it abandoned. The tunnels beneath the manor were infested with xvarts and the manor was in the same spot where the village of Kusnir once stood. After making it through the dungeon crawl, Ketal got the glove and then it all went bad. The hill that housed the manor began to float away into the sky. Unbeknownst to anyone, it was headed off to Cinderham-on-the-Moors where the last Van Artog, Katrina, was making preparation for marriage. Katrina knew information about how to get to Alderweg. Thus, the glove sought her out… This is where it gets tricky.
What do I mean by tricky? Well, for one thing, it’s a bit odd that the characters arrive just when Katrina’s about to get married and pass on her family’s heritage to the nephew of the sinister Abbot of Cinderham-on-the-Moors, right? And oh yeah, the abbot kidnaps everyone and holds them prisoner so that they can’t screw stuff up. And oh yeah, there’s an attack on the village by people posing as fey creatures and half-animals who claim to be under the command of Red Tam. Uh-oh, not the criminal bard Red Tam (dead these five years)!
Then there’s the town. Seems some time ago, back when Lavinia was first undergoing her curse, the confessor of the Van Artog family stole baby Katrina away to take care of her away from her cursed parents before she, took, became corrupted. But wouldn’t mom and dad just hunt her down? Well, no. Seems the confessor had a trick or two up his sleeve. He forced the entire town into the Fade and separated it from the rest of the world. They’ve spent the last 17 years thinking that they’re town was more-or-less out of the loop. Obo Vye, unleashed when Ketal donned the glove, opened up inroads for the characters into that part of the Fade that held Cinderham-on-the-Moors and Katrina.
When the Abbot (the confessor’s successor) discovered that the fey attack was directed by Old Tam, he seized upon a way to keep that resurrected rogue out of his business while at the same time getting a squad of player characters out of the way of the wedding. He sent the characters off to deal with the bandits who had raided the town only the night before and to capture Red Tam. Wouldn’t you just know it though, the gang was under new management: a satyr pretending to be Red Tam so as to intimidate the Abbot. The Satyr was a ruse. And the point… Really, there wasn’t much of a point except that Red Tam wasn’t back from the dead, and that the Fey world was conspiring to stop Katrina’s wedding. When the characters returned from their raid, they found Katrina turned to stone. She’d been singing a song taught her all those years ago by Red Tam himself. There was no cure. Tam took it to his grave.
The abbot, never a man to give up, thought long about the problem until he arrived at a solution. He, a cleric, needed only dabble in a bit of necromancy, and the answer would be his. If Red Tam hadn’t been resurrected, perhaps he could still be raised. All he would need was the bard’s skeleton. And so, contacting his somewhat willing henchman yet again, the abbot sent the characters out onto the moors to search out Red Tam’s secret resting place. Remember the zombie town…that was kind of cool.
What a long strange trip it was. Spiders with goblin heads. Enormous structures like giant peach pits. Strange cages in the middle of nowhere. Plague ogres. A fey court with horrible skeletal bailiffs. “Dig, dig, dig.” Not to mention, the three very fine Fey gentlemen who wanted nothing more than to mess with the characters and to keep them from finding the tomb of old Red Tam.
Somewhere in there, Sygaxxur escaped certain death only by becoming a servant of the Raven Queen, and the party got a gnome: Halomar. Nonetheless, at the end of the quest, Black Abe offered his warning to Drothe. “Beware! The forced that made that glove wants nothing more than to watch this drama unfold.” Fey do this for fun.
Black Abe’s message was clear: if you chase down Alderweg, you will eventually have to face off against the creature who made the glove and its counterpart, the powerful being whose Fey Drama was the conflict of glove against glove. What was certain to be titanic struggle in the world of mortals was only a game to this fey monster… a dangerous creature to be sure, and wouldn’t you know it, Red Tam’s muse!
What next? Captures, strange missions, torture, escape, an army powered by the developmentally disabled! Not to mention, finally, the attack of Cinderham-on-the-Moors by an army of Gnolls. Seems that something has been drawing the horrid creatures far over the Flintridge Mountains to search out the sentinel.
But the gnolls’ attack came only after the Abbot arrived, finally, at an answer by torturing Red Tam’s bones: play the magic Rebeca and awaken fair Katrina. The old Rebeca was given to Red Tam at a fey mansion, burned down years before, known as the Vernal House. The characters managed to escape the city with the statue of Katrina by riding a giant flying Frog-Bat thing, but now they faced a new challenge in the house of Red Tam’s patron.
Good news, bad news. The mistress of the house, a dark muse named Bronach (a lhiannan shee), was too busy throwing an enormous party in celebration of the success of her hellish plan to notice the characters. The bad news was, of course, that the house was filled with very bad things.
Long story short, the characters discovered that the maid of the house was a human woman named Content Not Found: gronya who had been kidnapped at birth. She could not escape her bondage because the muse had her heart. The characters agreed to help Gronya, but offering her aid proved both a bane and a boon. The house reacted out of love for Gronya. Unwilling to lose her, it shuffled the characters off into the servant’s hall to keep the characters from giving Gronya back her heart. This was something of a prison, and would have proven disastrous if the characters had been unable to escape before dawn, but their shuffling into the other side also allowed the characters to move around the house without running into the horrible monsters that were attending the party. Perhaps there’s less glamor in avoiding the great big combat, but then again, a victory is a victory.
Popping out of invisibility, Halmar grabbed the damned Rebeca out of the hands of the Dark Muse’s new artist, a bard named Content Not Found: diarmuid, and then he made a break for it (with a web and an entangle spell going off behind him). The characters ran for it, too, following Avandra’s star out of the fade with the fey monstrosities fast on their heels.
Using the Rebeca, Katrina was revived, and wouldn’t you know it, Katrina and Gronya looked so much alike that they might be sisters… Well, in any case, the Van Artog family secret was revealed. The entrance to Alderweg lay in the village of Gannaway.
So, where does this leave us. The characters have two sisters who are essentially non-combat Van Artogs, last in a long line of sentinels, or perhaps they don’t. They are in a countryside which, on one side of the mirror is being raided by gnolls and on the other side is being overrun by dark beasties from the grim places of the Fey Wyld. Bronach is certainly going to want her Rebeca back. Maybe Diarmud’s with her, maybe he’s free not. Who knows? The Abbot and the leaders of the Chain of Fools made their escape by way of frog-bats. Farlanghn only knows where they made it off to or whether they’re still players in all this. Lyndran and Sygaxxur have contracted lycanthropy. What else?
Oh yeah, you now know how to get to Alderweg (in theory) and so there’s no stopping Ketal, and his glove, on their quest. The directions have been set. Now it’s just a matter of getting through the gnolls without getting caught by a powerful fey, her powerful henchman, a powerful cleric, or his powerful henchman. Is Obo Vye still out there too?
…And now we begin The Gauntlet.