Aversill

F#&% the Fey
Two down, one to go.

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.

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The Horse, part 2

Mostly had a huge fight with a bunch of carnage and rupture demons. This left Cordon and Brigga pretty much KO’d.

I assume we’re going to need this so I’m including it. Here are the rules for fighting in the stomach.

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CR1- The Horse's Mouth

CR1, Treasure

Inside Laboola, first chamber

Let’s see.

The characters learned that the gnolls have lost a member, Krink, who has gone rogue and who has taken the doppelgangers with them.
The gnolls are making a deal with a nearby clan of ogres to attack Haresbreath.
The gnolls do not have the horses (or the supplies) for the Thane Wizards. They claim that the horses were eaten.
According to the released prisoners, there’s a Loa out roaming the woods which they call the Old Groom.
One of the old men in the village, Epolt, was possessed by the Old Groom and has disapeared.
Epolt’s son, Teon, has disapeared looking for his father.
The released prisoners explain that, according to the legend, Laboola (the Old Groom’s horse) can be made to puke up the children it has eaten by feeding it a child who has eaten poisoned mushrooms. The prisoners are feeding mushrooms to goats in case they run into Laboola.

And then the characters got eaten by a horse.

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CR1- Fear in Fusenhase

CR1, Treasure

Inside Laboola, first chamber

CR1, Scene 4

While on guard, Voyd and Ta received a wagon that was supposed to be loaded with reinforced supplies for Haresbreath from Streckhorn. Instead of three wagons and a bunch of loaded down horses, only one wagon arrived. They’d been attacked by Gnolls coming up the road.

After the attack, the caravan driver made it to Fusenhase where they picked up a group of nobodies to take up the hill (as it turns out, is customary). The nobodies include Hap and Kep from Galton who have come to Haresbreath to get advice from the Thane Wizards about a cursed tree they cut down. They’ve got it’s stump back in their village (it has a face on it) and they have twigs from the trees to show the Thane.

Nobody asked the girl dick.

One of the pilgrims was a decorated officer of the Streckhorn guard named Nander Pry. Nander explained to Arranis that he sought out the Thane’s advice for an upcoming expedition into the Gosh Gelios. Arranis suspects deceit. Pry did not arrive with any maps, nor does his uniform suggest an explorer.

The characters on guard detected a weird aura in the air around Haresbreath, but nonetheless, when pressed into service, were sent by the Thane’s Reconatier Felsbeth to guard one of the two roads leading out of Haresbreath (the low road leading down to Fusenhase).

Utilizing disguise they snuck up on a group of gnolls who had captured a small band of Fusenhasians and their goats and tied them to a tree. The gnolls, revelling in the upcoming feast, were caught unawares and slain piteously, save for one gnoll who was knocked unconscious to await interrogation.

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Remedal Shows Her True Colors
Where did that Coon Pookah Go?

As soon as the crown was removed, Remedal became free of whatever bond to Gleneese that had held her in thrall and she, quite suddenly, was free to do whatever. She screamed out in words of power (and in Draconic), Tyrexes, guard my escape. Through the use of a potion of Dragon Control, Isdra was able to keep Tyrexes from breathing acid all over everyone, but no one could keep Remedal from grabbing Duckett and disapearing as if into thin air.

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Somebody Moved the Statue
Don't let Jub Jub out of his cage!

The battle with the white dragon was enormous. Atop two semi-permanent towers, the characters found fireworks launchers readied for the parade. The dragon took to the air and prepared itself for dire battle, and as always, I rolled much better than all the players combined—with only two rounds in which the dragon’s breath didn’t recharge.

Drawn to the public spectacle the Grieg came atop their frogs to help quell the dragon, but the real score in the battle came when Isdra knocked the foul beast out of the sky with her new bardic powers, at which point everything jumped on top of the dragon to help keep it down.

In the end, the “dragon” wasn’t really a dragon at all, but some halfling who had come in from the shire to enjoy the festival of the Ascension Queen. Somebody hit him with a polymorph potion and caused the disturbance…a powerful concoction that could have only been produced by an experienced crone.

Smaug had seen one of the gloommasks slip off from the pack and head out, a detail that the characters didn’t want to share with Mauser when he finally showed up. Mison DeLaFont, ever vigilant in his quest to get to the bottom of things, deputized the characters and sent them to Gleneese’s manor to question her and Padrigal.

When the characters arrived, however, they found the door to Gleneese’s mansion wide open. The place was empty, except for a statue of Padrigal standing in front of the cage of Gleneese’s pet cockatrice ‘Jub Jub.’ Thorin noticed that the statue had scrapes behind it in the floor as if it had been moved. Before the characters could learn what to make of it all though, four gloom masks attacked. The characters defended themselves and managed to kill three and knock out the fourth for questioning…

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Through the Bolt Hole!
Saved by Duckett, but dumped in an attic

Their fortunes having finally caught up with them, the characters were discovered in the Vault of the Ascension Queens where, having had their discussion with Daphine, they were finally hoping to make their escape back up to the surface world. No luck. The wall slick with oil, were ignited when a Preferably Dead agent named Pargus threw his torch against it. The walls turned into blue sheets of dancing flames and the characters were all but trapped until Isdre caught sight of a secret door swinging shut. Hurrying down to the platform below to wedge the door open, the characters saw the sillouette of a figure escaping down a tunnel too short to be meant for human use.

Giving chase, the party finally caught up with Duckett McGurdwho, at the last moment before the characters could grab a hold of him, cautioned their silence. The walls of the tunnel revealed a latticework of slits through which the characters could look down into the Receiving Parlor of Lady Gleneese. McGurd’s tunnel, it would seem, defied the rules of space. While the characters should have been deep under ground, they found themselves inside the walls of Gleneese’s manse.

Hidden above the scene below, the characters were allowed to listen in on a conversation between Gleneese, her crone Padrigal, and Slee Hazwhile the beautiful Sidhe accused Padrigal of stealing her beauty potions. Slee Haz insinuated that she had seen in her magic mirror that Gleneese was no longer beautiful behind her mask and that she now needed beauty potions in order to win the contest. The characters had already learned from their time in Barnaby’s Alchemical shop that the materials normally needed for brewing beauty potions were in short supply. Griffon feathers, in particular, had become hard to acquire as Kronzo’s ogres were having trouble getting enough to meet demand.

After listening in, Duckett led the characters on into an old attic. They emerged from a wardrobe onto a cleared out space where a chemical lab and mirror were situated. Duckett explained that the mirror belonged to Slee Haz, that it was her “Vanity Mirror” through which she could lay eyes on the most beautiful person in Evermeet in order to learn who was in the lead to be the next Ascension Queen.

The chemistry lab seemed to be the place where Slee Haz (or her alchemist) put together her beauty potions. The rest of the attic, though, was little more than a store room—a place where Kronzo and his family kept their old things to forget about them. Duckett began to explain to the characters the meaning of things like the attic, or at least, that they had a special meaning within the world of the fey. The forgotten-ness of the things up in the attic had an energy all of its own, an energy that was barely held in check by the light. In the shadows, it seemed to coalesce and prepare for confrontation.

Duckett explained also that he and his family controlled a thing called a “Bolt Hole”—a place of escape that seems to connect disparate locales together. Thus, Duckett was able to bring the characters from the tomb of the ascension queen to Kronzo’s attic. Duckett, convinced that the characters were in danger from Preferably Dead and equally convinced that the Bolt Hole had chosen them for some special purpose, had brought the characters to Kronzo’s attic to hide them until the end of the Ascension Queen’s Festival. He also intimated in strangely abstract terms that the characters, being from the real world, were somehow more real than the fey world that surrounded them, that the Fey world operated on rules of pretense and that the characters were cast in roles of importance, that of heroes. Duckett was also convinced that the characters worked for the Lord of Thundersparks because of their association with Vixel (evidentally a known patriot of the Thunderspark’s court).

The characters decided that they didn’t want to spend the next few days hiding in an attic so they headed out onto the streets. Before they could make it out of the attic, however, they first had to handle the strange apparitions that seemed to have formed around the lost dreams associated with Kronzo’s forgotten stuff. The shades pushed crates onto the characters and grabbed hold of them with their cold, energy draining, touch. At the end of the attic, Smaug rent the dark curtains from off the windows allowing a flood of light to drive off the shades.

The rest of chez Kronzo was empty and so, descending first through a trapdoor in one of the bedroom s closests and then down through the front entrance, the characters found themselves in one of the infamous markets of Evermeet where they bartered for new ornamental armor, and produced a new spellbook from the multiple volumes that Isdra had been carrying around.

Finally stopping in to visit a sage, they were told without hesitation that they were to leave. The sage took one look at Thorin’s palm and was stricken by a deep panic. Unable to get help, the characters left only to be greeted on the way out of the soothsayers tent by a scaly figure wrapped from head to toe in a canvas like robe. He suggested that he knew someone who might be able to help the character and asked that they meet back with him two days after the festival so that he could organize a meeting with Grigik the Goblin.

After making arrangements for the clandestine meeting, the characters headed back out into the main avenue where they were nearly run over by Uletti Berrettiand troop. Uletti, happy to see the characters again after the rescue of Gilford from the slaver Drelosol Pride, inquired of the characters and asked them whether they would be attending the parade of Ascension. He assumed, of course, that as the main guard of the Knight of the Morning Dew, they would no doubt be in attendance, but he wondered whether Isdra would be interested in joining his merry band of players as they performed the music for the parade.

The party split up with Thorin and Smaug guarding the palanquin of Vazor while Soltan and Isdra took to the stage with the musicians. As the parade started, the gloom masks first stood by their mistress and Queen, but soon performed a kind of nightmare ballet leaving Gleneese behind and swarming into the crowds, and then, quick as a flash, a section of on-lookers began to panic.

From up above the swarming masses, Isdra could see that one of the people in the stands along the parade route was turning into a young white dragon…

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Battle in the Asension Queens' Tomb, pt. 2

Tomb of RazideThe characters decided to try the first door way up at the top and found a room where two ghouls had been feeding on three bodies. The characters intimidated the ghouls in to a corner and found a satchel containing a few odds and ends and a book which, among other things, detailed an inventory of items that had been stolen by the thieves guild. At the end, it relayed a far more grim tale of five friends who had been stuck in a tomb by a wall of fire and had, because of a lack of food, been forced to resort to cannibalism as some horrible creature outside had mocked their hunger. Signs showed that someone had been dragged from the tomb.

Across the way, the characters headed through one of the open arches and down a hall where they found a message scrawled on a wall behind a statue of a beautiful woman. The message read: “Don’t look at me.” Isdre noticed that a magic mouth was attached to a stone ornament. It spoke of being chased through the streets by angry villagers throwing stones. Soltan noticed that a horrible energy enveloped the place, like some dark ritual had been cast recently.

Finally the group found one of the survivors of the room across the way, a poor girl who had been tied up and was being used by something strong to lure the characters deeper down the hall. Smaug cut her free only to notice strange bat-like cacoons hanging overhead. The party soon realized that the cacoons contained people who had been dipped in tar, hung upside down until dead, and then re-animated to live out their unlife hanging from the ceiling. Isdra wondered aloud why anyone would do such a thing while Soltan followed the code of his religion by cutting the bodies loose and setting them on fire.

The corridor branched into a large dark room and a smaller antechamber, a likely treasure room, that emminenated the aura of some horrible curse. Avoiding the anger of the gods, the characters headed into a large room that smelled of grey water. The floor was composed of various brick platforms with waterways running between them. Light was an issue so the characters finally used a sunrod to find a lone woman hanging from the bars of a cage. Using a set of planks, Soltan and Thorin headed over to the far side of the room to help the poor prisoner out. On their way, they saw a pair of rat demons who hid in the shadows to escape harm. Isdre and Smaug remained behind to cover their friends.

Unfortunately, the prisoner turned out to be the eldest of the Ascension queens who had turned because of her role as a channeler of some spirit over the years into a howling hag. Using an Affect Normal Fires ritual, she dimmed the player’s light sources and along with her rat demons and three rat swarms began her attack.

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Battle in the Ascension Queen's Tomb, part 1

While attending the funeral of Hazimeer, Thorin felt the call of a raven leading him away from the crowd. He and his fellow adventurers were led to a tomb where the raven became the phantasmal face of Tyrexes the dragon. He told the characters that he had information for them but that they would have to descend into the tomb of the Ascension Queens and seek out the judgment of Daphine. The bird then flew over to a large cement vault in the ground opened by a pit. Hot air poured forth from the mouth of the pit. As the characters descended, they found themselves entering a large bell shaped chamber surrounde on all sides by a pit. Later, they would learn that this was the lid of a might eternal flame-like contraption, that had begun to leak oil. The local thieves’ guild had been dropping bodies down the pit with the understanding that no one would be likely to find them anytime soon.

The characters dropped into the pit and into the middle of combat between 2 deathlock wights and 2 normal wights. It was a powerful battle with the deathlocks repeatedly knocking the characters off the battlefield and into the chamber below. After the characters defeated the wights, they dropped down into the chamber below and 80’tall cylander 35’ across, with a single pin in the middle of the room twirling and spitting fireballs. Around the top of the chamber were murals: the first of a beautiful women standing before a dragon with a crowd kneeling behind her, the second to a beautiful woman downing potions in front of a mirror, the third of a shadowy figure being chased through the streets by villagers with torches, and the fourth with a shadowy figure, head in hands, sitting among bats and stalagmites.

Though the chamber had four doors leading out, each was guarded by a wall of fire, so the characters descended in order to find a way of deactivating the trap. They found a hot water pool with various gears and tumblers moving in them. In order to deactivate the trap, Smaug dropped into the pit while the remainder of the party fended off attacks by three floating fireballs and three swarms of immature fire beetles. The characters were very nearly killed.

The trap defeated, and the monsters vanquished, the flame doors had fallen…we leave the characters ready to continue on in their quest for Daphine.

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