Return to the Pillar of Flame

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  • Adil Nadhi. Knight sailor, captain of a small ship.
  • Cedvik Nightingale. Wizard criminal. Sight magic.
  • Elden. Wizard scholar. Travel magic.
  • James Thorne. Scoundrel criminal.
  • Robin. Elven Scout, Woodscraft.

Kan Vazaz. Scoundrel criminal. Remained on the boat for this one.

IRL 5.8.21

The Way In

As the scoundrels were gathering wood to build their miniature crane, they encountered Robin. The elf had his own boat and had made landfall on the island to refresh his water supply. He agreed to join them on their expedition, defeating the undead was a worthy goal. He waved off the idea of a share of treasure. Vazaz elected to remain with the ship and make sure their exit plan was secure in case they riled up something and had to leave in a hurry.

Hefting the big pulley repurposed from the ship rigging, and the support posts and parts, the scoundrels hiked back to the stone temple over the Pillar of Flame. They entered cautiously through the secret door.

Riled Up

The emberdead milled around in the entry chamber. The raiders cleared them out quickly, knocking a pile down before the energies destabilized and the rest fell apart. Cedvik once again focused his magical energies through his amulet; since his had been destroyed, he had borrowed Thorn’s amulet the day before. (Vazaz also loaned out his Simmerbrew to the active adventurers.) Once again, Cedvik miscalculated the energies, and detonated the overtaxed charm.

Moving on to the doorway, they saw another big batch in the hallway. Cedvik threw up an illusion to deflect their attention, and the raiders considered how best to proceed. Another battle, or wait for them to lose interest and discorporate or wander off? They withdrew to the jungle outside and rested for a while, recovering from incidental injuries from the fight.

When they returned, the hallway was fairly clear. They hustled to the balcony without further incident, building the crane while posting guard to get warning if another wave of emberdead closed in.

Staff Meeting

Thorn was the lucky raider who got to ride the slowly swaying tarred rope down into the heat mirage to retrieve the Emberstaff suspended in its magic, about a hundred feet below. Adil and Robin handled the windlass, and Elden used his travel magic to steady the swinging rope, while Cedvik posted lookout.

Shrugging off the rippling waves of heat that dried out the soaked and tarred rope, Thorn endured the long trip down. He managed to get the rope swinging enough for him to snatch the staff without being thoroughly cooked himself. As the tar began to melt on the rope, causing sticky problems, he struggled to climb while also holding the staff. His training as an acrobat thief were invaluable as he hauled himself up the rope, keeping the momentum going even as the windlass crew dealt with jams and delays as the makeshift equipment got gummed up by wet and tarry rope exposed to heat.

Thorn reached the balcony with the prize, only lightly toasted. Lady Urli, the scholar who funded the expedition, was eager to claim the Emberstaff on the spot. Adil hesitated, considering they were still in danger (and he was unclear on the difference between a scholar and wizard, so the stakes of her getting the staff were certainly unknown.) The rest of the raiders shrugged, and Urli insisted, so she got the staff and demanded they escort her out.

Tactical Withdrawal

The Pillar of Flame was sluggishly rousing defenses, but the raiders got clear. They carried the Emberstaff, the pulley, and enough of the steaming rope to have some insurance in case rough weather or disaster complicated their voyage home. (They abandoned the rest of the equipment used to make the crane.)

Reaching the ship, they planned their next move. Urli was done going into the Pillar of Flame, she got the Emberstaff and was keen to get to work studying it. Cedvik asked the other scoundrels to give him one of the enchanted amulets to repel the undead, but no one else was willing to give theirs up. Urli offered Cedvik her fancier, sturdier amulet in exchange for a chunk of deathbrittle the size of her head. He took the offer under consideration, accepting a bag of the proper size (but a bag made of leather only, with no protective properties; just to give him a sense of the size.)

The raiders remained interested in recovering the Ashlord’s amulets and solving the mystery of the resting place of the Lovely Three.

Scouting the Pillar of Flame

In the morning, the raiders returned through the secret passage. This time, Cedvik had a different plan. Rather than chopping their way down through the Pillar of Flame’s many dangers, he would use a ritual to project his point of consciousness. The ritual rendered him insensible to the waking world, requiring all his concentration, but he could skim through solid matter. He would not be able to see magical energies, but he could see in the dark, and pick up visual information for about ten minutes moving at high speeds. Once the raiders entered the Pillar of Flame, he arranged himself and sent his magical vision through the stone corridors.

He reported his findings with a sing-song tune; he could sing, but not hear the other raiders’ responses.

Second Level

  • He found a sacrificial table and shrine with expensive knives and jewelry, guarded by creepy statues.
  • Also, a strange table with spikes on it. A kneeling shrine for priests to prepare themselves.
  • A long hall, supported by bone pillars, where cultists could ritually complete the journey from life to death. At the end, a reflective black plate of Deathbrittle, the end of the road.
  • The blocky corridor in the center wound down around the central shaft, leading to the third level.

Third Level

  • A statue of the Ashlord overlooked a large chamber deep with crematorium dust where emberdead uneasily slumbered, forming and crumbling. To one side, a crystal chamber deeply crusted with deathbrittle.
  • Off to the other side, there was an audience hall of sorts, where someone could stand at a podium and address the gathered followers. Behind curtains, a long chamber with more reflective deathbrittle plates mounted on the wall.
  • Through an ornate door connected to that chamber, Cedvik found what appeared to be a tomb kennel for the tarry hounds, and through a connected door, the burial chamber for the Master of the Hunt. Quiescent, the undead monster was buried with a blade matching the depiction of the Sundering Blade on the first level.
  • On the far side of the level, a wide and crooked hall housed thousands of corpses stacked in standing position, waiting for the necromancers to wake them and summon an army. Another of the black wall-mounted plates was in this chamber, flanked by braziers.

Fourth Level

The duration of the spell was running out, so Cedvik withdrew hastily to his body and awoke.

Sobered by the dangers and treasures below, the raiders withdrew to form a plan of attack for their next expedition.

3 experience for the humans, 0 for the elf.

The Ember Staff

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  • Adil Nadhi. Knight sailor, captain of a small ship.
  • Cedvik Nightingale. Wizard criminal. Sight magic.
  • Elden. Wizard scholar. Travel magic.
  • James Thorne. Scoundrel criminal.
  • Kan Vazaz. Scoundrel criminal.

The volcanic island of Pallspreader is studded with deathbrittle, impossible to settle because of the restless dead. The Pillar of Flame is an underground fortress from which the Ashlord, an undead warlord, ruled a modest seafaring territory with emberdead aboard blackened ships.

Urli, a scholar from Tecnica, believes she has found the location of the Pillar of Flame. The fortress was buried in stone and warded by a Tecnican warlord to assure none of the slain Ashlord’s lore or artifacts would escape the site to cause further trouble. Urli offered the scoundrels 200 gp, talismans called Amulets of the Six Sages that would help protect them from the emberdead, and a Simmerbrew healing potion each to come along. Also, she knows of the way in, and has studied. All she wants is the Emberstaff, and the scoundrels can keep anything else they find.

Enter the Pillar of Flame

The ship dropped anchor off the coast, and the scoundrels (along with Urli) sloshed ashore and headed through the jungle to the stone temple built to cap and restrain the Pillar of Flame. Urli conducted a ritual to disarm the entry, and they pushed their way through the big stone door. They sensed their intrusion reverberating through the place, and the emberdead began to pull together to assault them.

They passed a big portrait frieze of the Emberlord by the entrance. Further in, they found a balcony overlooking a massive 120 foot drop, a vertical shaft that appeared to only be accessible from the balcony at the top and entry at the bottom. In the center, a dome of embers radiated a heat mirage up the center of the shaft, and at the center of the mirage at the bottom hung what appeared to be the Emberstaff.

Depictions of Treasure

The heat was daunting, so they decided to look for another way down. Continuing on, they passed three works of art on the wall depicting the Emberstaff, the Master of the Pack’s Sundering Blade, and the Amulets of the Lovely Three. Urli gave them a little background on each, delighted to show off her research.

She told them the Lovely Three were undead consorts to the Ashlord who were slain beyond recall by the Witherfeather Archers, then entombed somewhere in the Pillar of Flame along with the Emberheart amulets the Ashlord crafted for them. Apparently one of the craftsmen forced to work on the Pillar of Flame escaped, and before he died of madness and injury, he whispered something about the access to the tomb of the Lovely Three being guarded by the burning blood of the slain monarchs.

Emberdead managed to shamble towards them. The slow-moving and suffering manifestations were easily dispatched.

Behind the Door

The raiders reached an intersection with two doors and stairs leading further down. The door appeared to have a chunk of polished deathbrittle in the center. They hauled it open and cautiously went inside, discovering two pillars made of bones as well as two artistic frames. The frames contained crowns on skulls embedded in the artwork; perhaps these were the slain monarchs.

As the raiders puzzled over these elements, more emberdead arrived. The raiders closed the stone door, but the emberdead were able to transport through the deathbrittle at the center of the door, entering the room and taking them by surprise. Cedvik concentrated his magic through the amulet, boosting its effect on the emberdead to damage several at once with a single burst rather than repelling them. In the fierce fighting, Adill struck one of the bone pillars, attempting to shatter it and possibly disrupt the undead.

The Tarry Hound

A horrible tarry hound slid out of the pillar’s center and assaulted the raiders, putting them in desperate peril. The wavering energies of the emberdead gave out, and they collapsed into heaps of ash as the raiders finished off the tarry hound–but before the battle was over, Cedvik lashed out at the other pillar–and another tarry hound emerged.

The horrific monsters occasionally concentrated their energies and regenerated their vitality, and also in the heat of combat they burst into flame, causing further damage. The raiders struck them with weapons, only to have those weapons tugged out of their grip by the tarry substance of the bodies. (They recovered most of their weapons.)

Battered and keenly feeling their mortality, the raiders struggled with whether to retreat or double down. As they pulled back to the hallway, Thorne tried to open another stone door, but the rest of the raiders pulled him along as they retreated down the stairs, deeper into the Pillar of Flame rather than heading for the exit.

The surviving tarry hound gave harrowing chase. They threw canteens of water at it, but the flame was only dimmed and not extinguished. Cedvik attempted to concentrate power through his amulet again and it burst, overloaded.

Despairing of outrunning the beast, they turned on it and managed to slay the foul thing. Breathless and harried, they had a rapid conference on next moves, and decided to head back towards the surface.

Consolation Prize

Returning to the skulls and crowns, Thorne and Vazaz broke the skulls and pulled the crowns free; a nice payday. Reluctant to retreat, they pushed open the other stone door and discovered a chamber with another portrait of the Ashlord–and stairs up. They discovered the interior side of a secret door built on the exterior, a way to enter and exit without disrupting the seal that was supposed to hold the Pillar of Flame inert below.

The scuffed-up raiders retreated to Adill’s ship to rest, refill their sheaths for weapons lost, and then put together a block and tackle. Using that and the tarred rope, and maybe some quenching magic to keep the rope and frame from setting fire, perhaps they could get down to the Emberstaff first thing on the next expedition…

Book Keeping

  • Thorne gave his amulet to Cedvik, so he could tune to it overnight and use it on the next expedition.
  • They got 2 crowns worth 500 gp each.
  • They build a block and tackle, and pull together about 150 feet of tarred rope.
  • 3 experience each.

Housewarming Party

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Played 4.10.21 IRL. Humans!

Adill Nadhi. Knight sailor, captain of a small ship.

Cedvik Nightingale. Wizard criminal. Sight magic.

Elden. Wizard scholar. Travel magic.

Evict the Lord of Gums from Spike Isle

Magistrate Jaron, ruler of Tecnica Isle, hired these scoundrels to go to Spike Isle and wipe out the Lord of Gums and his necromatic cult before they established a foothold. Fr. Inmon went along to confirm the Lord of Gums was actually killed; the adventurers left him with the first mate of the boat and the crew, to assure they had an exit even if things went terribly wrong inside.

An interrogated prisoner explained that there were two entrances to the underground lair; one that suckbats used to come and go, and one the cultists used (and guarded.)

Entry

The adventurers chose to enter through the suckbat vent, with Adhill leading the way after Cedvik enchanted his allies so they could all see in the dark. He spotted a resting suckbat, and took a swipe at it with his hammer–the whole swarm rose up and attacked. Elden blinked out to safety as the others managed a “fighting withdrawal” with Cecvik popping a startling flash as they retreated. They crushed most of the suckbats, and the rest withdrew.

After resting for about an hour, they made another attempt, this time pushing past the few remaining suckbats and entering the lair, following the winding unfinished stone corridors.

Home Defense

While the others lagged behind, Cedvik scouted ahead, using his magic to see in the darkness while the others relied on torchlight. As Cedvic crossed a chamber, a droprock almost impaled him. His screams of terror attracted slavering servitors, undead with massive claws and lamp-like eyes. Two of them raced out of the darkness. As Adill and Elden battled one, Cedvik hurled the droprock at the other and ran for his life.

The servitors were driven back, and the adventurers followed Cedvik, catching up. They saw lights and heard chanting, so they followed the corridor. Cedvik scouted again, but he got too close, and the robed cultists spotted him. They attacked.

Again Cedvik flashed the incoming cultists, disorienting them so the adventurers quickly won. As they knocked the last cultist down, they realized there was only a door between them and the Lord of Gums (and his slavering servitors.)

The Lord of Gums

The necromancer was tending a ritual braizer full of deathbrittle and other components, seeding the chamber to make a geode of death in this lair. He would be able to reanimate and empower a much larger force, should he succeed.

One of the slavering servitors that had been following them attacked, and some of the adventurers fought it off while Adill struggled with the servitor guarding the necromancer. Elden tried to magically hurl the brazier into the necromancer, but dark forces countered and rebuffed him. One of the cultists spasmed and became a slavering servitor on the spot, and a rush of power flowed through the necromancer and struck down Adill; reeling, the warrior tried to fight on, but the pain of his wounds overcame him.

Retreat

As the Lord of Gums channeled more dark power into his servitors to increase their unholy armor, the two wizards snatched up their fallen warrior and managed to stagger out of the lair, collapsing once to catch their breath before finishing the mad rush to the ship. Once they had some water between the haunted shore and the ship, they took stock of the situation. With Adill badly hurt, it seemed best to retreat and reconsider their tactics.

Experience: 3 each.

The Gathzar Stash

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Played 3/20/2021 IRL, 12/11/2122 IG.

Clan Rumbleseed Dwarves

  • Thoreson Grimeater (Anders) Berserker, Chef, Healer.
  • Vanmil Glowhide (Kriss) Vanguard, Adept, Jeweler.

Clan Caskbound Dwarves

  • Devron Leveller (Mark) Berserker. Chosen, Mason.
  • Korvask Wyrt (Michael) Vanguard. Enchanter, Scholar.
  • Dandel “The Dan” Deeptunnel (Simon) Berserker. Carouser, Miner, Brewer.

On the Way

Ivo got clipped by shrapnel from the imploding Void ship, and some kind of residue on it knocked him out, sinking through his resistances and endangering his life. The dwarves were determined to get him to safety in Stoneshadow. Also, The Dan was challenged to a drinking contest with some of the Void sailors, and they gave him something with some cosmic blood or something in it that knocked him right out. Meanwhile Captain Del thanked Vanmil for protecting her during the battle by giving her some sun-infused honeymead.

Neeveedia, the sorceress, gathered the dwarves for an update on what they were about to do. The captain agreed to detour to pick up the dwarves because they would be useful as “marines” for the upcoming assault on the Gathzar Stash. The captain was after some magical throne within the stash that would allow her to flush the life out of someone and bring someone dead back to life, and doing this would let the captain break one of the four curses she carried (placed by the daughter of a dead man, broken by his return to life.)

Lord Zularia pursued them; a champion of law and order, devoid of compassion or respect for nuance, the zealot had acquired Blokka Wedge (a member of the Coven alongside Neeveedia) and planned to revive the Angel of Vengeance that had been destroyed. He was determined to get to the throne, and since it only worked once per century, whoever reached it first would be the only one to use it. Neeveedia shared a map of the interior of the stash, showing them where they could get into the forest of pools, and warning them about the mysterious Guardian of Veins.

Angel Assault

With a jolt, the Void ship came under fire from Zularia, in hot pursuit. Vanmil and Korvask assisted the helm, Busaris, in coaxing more speed from the Void ship. Zularia released an angel to attack them, first trying to force them from their path and then assaulting the helm. The commotion of its landing woke the Dan, who joined the fray as the dwarves battered the angel. It was defeated and recalled to a magical shield Zularia carried. Redoubling their efforts, the Sunspinner pulled ahead, sure to reach the stash first. Devron led a brief service to remind the dwarves of their strength and history, bolstering their Resolve.

The Gate

They arrived at the gate, which appeared open and undefended until an energy maze manifested around it, complete with stalking guardians. Vanmil and Kovask combined their resources to touch the maze and sense the mind directing it. Vanmil shared the image with Neeveedia, who told them the wizard was Father Siski, a cultist dedicated to protecting darkness and mysteries.

The adventurers divided into four teams. With Siski running the maze, Neeveedia preferred to stay back and guard the ship and crew. Captain Del and Busaris and some crew headed into the maze to flank Siski. Vanmil and Korvask concentrated through the maze, preventing Siski from shifting and adjusting the modular maze protecting the pulpit and the gate. Devron led the rest of the Fellowship through the maze, closing in on Siski.

Vanmil and Korvask baffled and defeated Siski, preventing his full control of the maze, polluting him with horrific thoughts and marking the dwarven trail with runes. Devron’s infiltrators kept up steady progress towards the center, eventually ambushing him before any of the maze guardians could catch up to them. Devron’s massive attack with his mace drove the wizard apart into a swarm of bats that swirled away as the maze broke up.

Zularia’s ship boomed into view as Busaris took over the pulpit and generated a new maze to keep the zealot back. Dragging Ivo’s unconscious form, the Fellowship joined with the captain and headed into the tunnel that accessed the stash.

Guardian of Veins

As they passed through the stash, they found a mass of dead intruders that were arranged sitting, waiting. Witch lights settled into them, beginning to wake the corpses, so the Fellowship moved on fast.

As Zularia burned through the maze protecting the gate, Del’s map key artifact and Vanmil’s helm control opened the gate; the Gathzar ghosts liked the air of killing that hung around Vanmil. Elsewhere in the compound, the Guardian of Veins was forming. Hustling in to find the throne room, they were ambushed by the Guardian of Veins. Korvask barely survived a massive bite by sacrificing his enchanted shield (which he willed to re-form before they left.)

The Guardian of Veins began to rise as soon as it was defeated, so the Fellowship moved fast. As Del finished the resurrection ritual and Zularia burned through the last of the gate defenses, the Fellowship collected a magical ring crown, enchanted orcish polearm, magical garrotte, and magical axe as well as some arm-loads of expensive trophies. They raced to the balcony overlooking the Stone Forest of Pools, leaping down and using Korvask’s connection to the Mind Shard Nexus to look for home.

As Zularia was bogged down fighting the reanimated dead and his angel was ambushed by the Guardian of Veins, Captain Del’s curse triggered monsters rising from the gates, so she ran to take another exit and abandon ship. The Fellowship found the synched portal and jumped through, headed back to Stoneshadow at last.

Veinsluice Forge

At last the Fellowship returned to familiar lands, reaching the Forge by tumbling out through the Mind Shard Nexus that coated its inner walls. They met with the sub-archon of Clan Caskbound, in their clanhome Whiskey Forge, finally telling their tale.

3 Ledger.

Into the Void

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Played 1/2/2021 IRL, 12/10/2122 IG.

Clan Rumbleseed Dwarves

  • Ivo Flynt (Imre) Support, Gunsmith, Engineer, Delver.
  • Thoreson Grimeater (Anders) Berserker, Chef, Healer.
  • Vanmil Glowhide (Kriss) Vanguard, Adept, Jeweler.

Clan Caskbound Dwarves

  • Devron Leveller (Mark) Berserker. Chosen, Mason.
  • Korvask Wyrt (Michael) Vanguard. Enchanter, Scholar.
  • Dandel “The Dan” Deeptunnel (Simon) Berserker. Carouser, Miner, Brewer.

Awakening

The Dan boarded the corpse of the giant sea monster, adrift in the Void and petrified. Following the light of the Nexus of the Mind Shard, he found the Fellowship that had been banished when the Sea Thresher fell out of the world. The shard melted as it shone into Korvask, and resonated through him to wake the others, transforming their petrified state back into living flesh. Vanmil was dismayed to discover her samples taken from the Seathresher were not thawing as well as she was, and might lose their potency.

Busurus was a dwarf, and the pilot for the void ship Sunspinner, and she accompanied the Dan in. She carried a keg of his award-winning brew, to help the Fellowship rouse. Once most of them could walk (Ivo was slow to thaw, and Korvask was deeply involved with the Nexus) the Fellowship hauled their gear and companions along as they returned to the skiff, and from there, to the void ship.

The Sunspinner

The Fellowship boarded, meeting Captain Del and Neeveedia, a wizard. The Sun Spinner was eager to get underway, as they were in something of a race with other ships, all pursuing access to the Gathzar Stash, a void pirate treasure vault.

Neeveedia chatted with the Fellowship as they rested, helping them get an idea of what was going on. Yaru, a wizard known to the Caskbound dwarves, sent an amulet of the sea with the Dan. If they entered an astral pool, Yaru might be able to sense their signal and pull them back to Stoneshadow.

Neeveedia proposed they help the Sun Spinner break into the Gathzar Stash. Within was a famed Forest of Pools. The pools were portals that opened to many worlds, and that would be a safer way to return home, rather than trusting to Yaru’s vigilance, skill, and commitment. Plus, treasure. The Dan confirmed that Caskbound and Rumbleseed kicked in a lot of treasure to mount this rescue, and it might be nice to compensate them somewhat. The Fellowship decided to pursue the Gathzar Stash, their homesickness could wait.

The Spiral Current

The Sunspinner reached the Spiral Current. It was an energy twist that ran through space, assisting fast travel. Those on the deck of a void ship would have to face their fear, and if they held firm, they would exit the current near their destination. Those who failed would be hurled into the deeps of the Void, and it could take weeks to travel back to traveled routes.

Since Captain Del was under 4 curses, she didn’t ride on the deck; too much feedback. Busrurus needed to run the helm, and some of the Fellowship volunteered to ride out the trial. Korvask and Vanmil weathered their fearful visions, only Thoreson shivered in the face of his; they exited somewhat near their destination.

The Eyedrinker

Before they could refocus, the Spiral Current pulsed, and another void ship sailed out. It was the Eyedrinker, a horrible vessel with a tattooed elf at the helm and a horned demon captain screaming encouragement as the helm belched out waves of undead to board the Sunspinner.

The Fellowship acted quickly, with the Dan working with Ivo to weaponize the last of his brew, firing it as an incendiary to set the side of the Eyedrinker aflame. Korvask painted a multiplying rune on the ballista spear, so it split and jammed many spears into the side of the oncoming void ship.

Boarding Action

The Eyedrinker fired out a cloud along its whole deck, launching a wave of undead through the Void to board the Sunspinner. Battle was joined, with shadowy wraiths zooming across the gap between ships first and tangling with the berserkers. Ivo raced up to the helm deck to get a better line of fire on the helm of their attacker. He sniped the elf at the helm, so the captain had to stand in.

Vanmil tried to take on the helm, but overloaded, unprepared to direct its intricate energies. She fought the undead clambering up the side of the ship, closing in on the helm, protecting Busurus. As the berskerers Thoreson and Devron battled waves of undead, the Dan managed a running start and a heroic leap, clearing the distance to land on the deck of the Eyedrinker, blasting out a gust of flaming alcohol and torching some of the undead.

Scuttling the Eyedrinker

The Eyedrinker shuddered when its helm-elf was shot down. With the helm absorbing the captain’s attention, a shadowy elf ambushed the Dan and stabbed him with a barbed dagger that forced him to be silent. The Dan was about to be overrun, but Vanmil and Ivo combined fire on the helm and sniped the captain. Rudderless, the Eyedrinker began its implosion.

Korvask won free of his attackers, scooping up a grapple line the captain tossed him. He leaped up on the railing of the Sunspinner and bet it all on a long shot, hurling the grapple towards the Dan–and hooking him! The Dan fell off the Eyedrinker, badly injured, just before the Eyedrinker imploded with helm feedback.

The embattled Fellowship managed to hold out against the last attacks of the boarding undead before the corpses lost their animation with the destruction of the helm that spewed them out. Vanmil charged to the captain’s rescue and diluted the hostile focus on her long enough for her to survive the rush.

Captain Del thanked the Fellowship for their assistance, and the Sunspinner set a course to continue their race to breach the Gathzar Stash.

The Fellowship received 3 Ledger they can redeem when they tell the tale. The Dan received 4.

The Meat Mine (part 2)

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Played 11/14/20 IRL, 4/20/2122 IG.

Clan Rumbleseed Dwarves

  • Ivo Flynt (Imre) Support, Gunsmith, Engineer, Delver.
  • Thoreson Grimeater (Anders) Berserker, Chef, Healer.
  • Vanmil Glowhide (Kriss) Vanguard, Adept, Jeweler.

Clan Caskbound Dwarves

  • Devron Leveller (Mark) Berserker. Chosen, Mason.
  • Korvask Wyrt (Michael) Vanguard. Enchanter, Scholar.

The dwarves prepared their defenses, expecting the shadow elves to close in as soon as it was dark enough for them to jump through shadows in surgical ambushes. Ivo climbed a tower and worked on enhancing one of the crude cannons from the pirate ship, looking to take aim at the elven ship. Korvask assisted, enchanting chained cannonballs designed to tear up the mast and sails. Others worked to prepare bile barrel explosives, and to organize the disoriented and fearful pirates.

Ivo fired the cannon at the platform where the elven commander Lady Litiska set up her operations, damaging the mast supporting the platform so it listed almost to the waterline, but the cannon was badly damaged and it was risky to use it again.

Thoreson and Devron took the Sea Scout and flew over the elven ships, dropping explosives on one of them and sinking it. In the process, Thoreson fumbled the bombs, so while one of the ships sank they didn’t have enough explosives to try to sink the other one.

Unexpected Rescue

Lady Litiska and her agent Nevesti signaled frantically. An unnatural fog sprang up, blanketing the surface of the sea. The elven ship was scuttled, further out to sea. As the sun sank, the Sea Witches made their move, sending monsters swarming over the elven position.

The dwarves took a risk, sending a boat out to rescue the elves from their precarious and damaged platform. Vanmil swirled the fog out of the way with her adept energies, and Devron helped pick up the contingent of surviving elves. Lady Litiska was still haughty, but toned it down in the face of annihilation the hands of the Sea Witches.

Now What?

Regrouping on the central platform, the dwarves allied with the humans and elves to survive the Sea Witch threat. Litiska revealed she was tasked with retrieving the Elemental Lodestone from the Seathresher’s head; a rare object that allows for the creation of a flying wizard tower or dimensional nexus. It was the occult biology of the monster that allowed it to navigate dimensions.

If they could get that, the greatest treasure in the meat mine, and then escape, then the elves would forget the offenses of the pirates and dwarves in seeking to loot their site.

Devron and Thoreson had their own reasons for wanting to delve into the fleshy chambers underfoot, and the dwarves agreed to assist the elves and retrieve this treasure. They could keep anything else they found on the way, so long as the elves got what they were after.

Racing Through the Veins

The humans pulled back from the site with the elven survivors. Only Nevesti accompanied the elves into the deadly corpse. She brought along a pixie, Plick, who could provide light and scouting service.

Buzzfeeders burrowed out of the walls of the fleshy passages, attacking, and the dwarves sorted them out in short order. They also faced a platecrawler, a larger parasite growing desperate as the life energy of the Seathresher waned. Eventually they battled their way to the resonance chamber in the head where the lodestone should be; the burned passages through flesh seared by the flame constructs that Iskavol controlled diminished their hopes they would get there first, and sure enough, the lodestone had been wrested from its seat in the monster’s head. Their treasure was gone.

Stuck in Its Craw

Devron was determined to get to the craw, as there was a legendary treasure that might be found there. Thoreson was keen to travel deeper in towards the heart, though he was not forthcoming about why. The adventurers headed into the throat and found the craw, and Devron cut and squirmed his way into the grinding organ. He emerged, unspeakably befouled, but clutching a large chunk of secretions and debris.

Clearing it off, he revealed the Maul of Forbiddance. The weapon was a mace with the skull of Hazandar, one of the Gods of Ur, mounted as its head. Hazandar could head-butt creatures from other worlds, forcing them out of this one. Suluun, a mighty hero of Bloodcrag a thousand years ago, met her end diving into the Seathresher and blasting it out of Stoneshadow. The Maul survived in the monster’s craw, and now Devron possessed it.

The Sea Cone

Korvask and Vanmil were working together to sense the energies in the decaying monster. They felt the Sea Witches working their way into the flesh from the other end, the tentacles and ventral side. Vanmil detected a swarm of life in the corpse. She realized the elven word for this monster roughly translated to “sea cone” not because of its shape, but… there were some pine cones that only opened to release their seeds in the heat of a great fire.

What if the Sea Witches summoned this beast and sent it against the elven navy for the express purpose of getting it killed? The dwarves realized there were many unborn young through the corpse that were rousing, and the Sea Witches were here to harvest them and cultivate a whole mass of gargantuan sea monsters. It was almost too late to stop them, and this modest force of warriors was not enough to stand against the Sea Witches and their horde.

A Desperate Plan

The Fellowship steeled themselves to try a bold strategy. They fought their way back to the resonance chamber where the lodestone had been seated. From here, the dimensional reverberation traveled through the whole beast, allowing it to move between planes.

Devron was determined to pit the Maul of Forbiddance against the presence of this corpse in Stoneshadow. Perhaps it could be driven out of the world altogether. The other dwarves had the opportunity to escape before the attempt (and the elf did, taking the pixie with her.) Thoreson wanted to go deeper into the body, and was not ready to escape. The other dwarves decided to stand together, and gamble all their fates on the outcome of this bid to deny the Sea Witches their monstrous prizes.

Devron dug deep in his Resolve, and hurled himself and the Maul of Forbiddance against the seat of the lodestone. Impossibly, the still-potent energy of the God of Ur resonated through the fibers of the Seathresher’s corpse, driven by inexorable dwarven stubbornness.

The entire body of the Seathresher, and all it contained, were driven from the plane, cast out into the Void…

Ledger

The Fellowship banked Ledger they could redeem when they tell the tale.

Thoreson, Vanmil, and Ivo banked 3. Devron banked 4. (He succeeded in an additional objective in service of the clan.)

The Meat Mine (part 1)

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Played 10/24/20 IRL, 4/20/2122 IG.

Clan Rumbleseed Dwarves (Last adventure 1/19/2122 IG)

  • Ivo Flynt (Imre) Support, Gunsmith, Engineer, Delver. (Apprentice, Tella)
  • Thoreson Grimeater (Anders) Berserker, Chef, Healer.
  • Vanmil Glowhide (Kriss) Vanguard, Adept, Jeweler. (Fleshpacter, Fishel)

Clan Caskbound Dwarves (Last adventure 9/10/2121 IG)

  • Devron Leveller (Mark) Berserker. Chosen, Mason.
  • Korvask Wyrt (Michael) Vanguard. Enchanter, Scholar.

Control the Meat Mine!

The Seathresher, a mythic sea monster, washed up on the shore of a distant island. The dwarves wanted to secure control of the beach grave to harvest as many of the rare and wonderful materials from the corpse as possible, but there was sure to be competition.

Rumbleseed Background

Torala Dunn (Clan Rumbleseed, House Dunn patriarch) sent Ivo to lead Rumbleseed agents, including Thoreson and Vanmil. The group had to be small, as they could only reach the site quickly if they traveled by airship. Dunn sent Master Delter, a human wizard who could take on the form of a crow, to find a nearby Clan Caskbound airship that was searching the coast for something. Delter returned with word the Caskbound dwarves agreed to a joint venture.

The dwarves were in the Shallows, away from the Various Garden expedition, because some of the expedition leaders were worried about Thoreson’s increasing irritability and morose disengagement, and the fights he picked with locals (friends, foes, and concerned healers) were becoming a problem. Vanmil agreed to go with them, haunted by memories of the sky (which she had not seen before she went out into the winter snow.)

Caskbound Background

Yaru, the dragon wizard, reached out to Korvask almost 3 months ago. She was worried because the sea witches used her life force and Crossroads magic to open a portal big enough to drag an epic monster into this world’s seas, and they sent it against the elves, who slew it with their navy.

Five weeks ago Yaru hired them to look for where the monster corpse washed up on the beach, to make sure it died. While the Sea Scout airship (piloted by Nymeer, a Caskbound topsider who captained the craft) was scouting remote island beaches, they were intercepted by Master Delter, a human wizard who could crowshape. Keen to confirm the monster was dead, the dwarves agreed.

Thorn Peak

The Sea Scout airship would meet the Rumbleseed dwarves at a local mountain peak, distinctive from a distance. Ivo, Thoreson, and Vanmil packed up plenty of containers to harvest magical and culinary material from the corpse, and Ivo brought his granddad’s trusty long rifle as well as a big load of explosives. Ivo’s apprentice Tella brought porters along to help carry the gear, and took responsibility for getting them home safe; she wouldn’t go along. Vanmil didn’t bring Fishel, who was not keen to visit the surface in violation of treaty (and common sense.)

The airship couldn’t easily land at the meeting site, so the dwarves struggled to manage getting the gear up to the ship (especially the explosives, that swung wildly in the wind at one point). There were also some embarrassing falls, but no one toppled too far down the mountain, and everyone made it up into the airship.

Thoreson shared out some exquisite nibbles, specialties of his style and his clan, and the Caskbound dwarves shared The Dan’s award-winning Beetle Back brew. With proper gifts and etiquette out of the way, they headed for the Grave Beach.

The Approach

They closed in on the site, seeing the smoke from several campfires rising into the afternoon sky. Nymeer let Korvask peer at the site through her spyglass, and Korvask persuaded her to let Ivo use the treasured device too.

The dwarves spotted a mass of human warriors who apparently dismantled a couple ships and built scaffolding to support efforts to harvest materials without touching the toxic corpse any more than was needful. Cannons from the ships were mounted on platforms and towers, guarding the site. The bloody waters around the corpse were thick with poisoned and crazed sharks.

There were also two ships from the Desell Glade’s elven navy standing off a ways. Boarding parties took a couple of the platforms, pushing the humans back, and the situation looked tense.

The dwarves agreed to pursue a closer look, so the Sea Scout buzzed the site as fast as possible, evading the cannonfire from the platforms and the magical and ballista attacks from the elven ships. Even from a good height, the stench was nearly unbearable.

As they zoomed closer, Ivo spotted his target. Torala warned him the elven assassin Lady Sann was expected to be supporting Lady Litiska, and instructed him to kill Sann if possible for the honor of the clan. The elves had wraith-like shadow warriors, led by Lady Sann! Before the elves could reposition, the keen-eyed dwarf swapped the spyglass for his rifle scope, and used his granddad’s monster hunting rifle to pull off an exquisite shot from the swaying airship that exploded the elf’s head before she knew she was in danger–Lady Sann was no more.

Vanmil picked up elemental conjuration magic of an unfamiliar type from the central platform, strange flaming constructs haunting the site. Also, the humans seemed to be ensorcerelled somehow. Korvask recognized the amplified work of the wizard Iskavol, member of the secretive Keyin Protectorate, a loose and secretive network of mages (and sometime-partner of the wizard Yaru, who was also a member.)

The Sea Scout circled around to drop off the Fellowship for a ground approach. Nymeer stayed with the ship.

Under the Influence

The Fellowship approached the head of the mighty beast with caution. Ramps and platforms had been placed there, and tough-looking pirates guarded the entry. They were led by Darveen, previously a bandit who clashed with Rumbleseed and was driven out of a lair. His partner was a wizard, Carroway, that the dwarves though they slew, but he looked healthy enough now. Darveen met them at the platform.

He was not himself. Vanmil could see the nimbus of influence that saturated him and his pirates. The Fellowship name-dropped Iskavol, and Darveen took them to her. On the way they passed mounds of harvested flesh, and big barrels full of explosively flammable bile and secretions.

The horned wizard Iskavol had a powerful enchanted gem she was using to control the pirates, and a brazier to summon and control the flame constructs (flamejekts) she was using to keep the elves back and root around in the monster corpse.

Negotiations Begin

Her ability to maintain control of the situation would apparently last until sundown, as the shadow-jumping elves would easily dispatch the pirates in darkness. Still, the dwarves negotiated with Iskavol, who granted them access to the top half of the monster if they helped her maintain control.

Ambush!

During negotiations, a handful of shadowbounder elven skirmishers attacked the humans. The dwarves knocked them down ruthlessly, but didn’t score any kills on the retreating attackers.

Negotiations Continue

Iskavol pulled back into the ship cabin lodged in the corpsemeat, and the Fellowship geared up to approach the elf-posessed platform connected by walkways.

Vanmil humbly apologized to Thoreson, who still resented the interference that tore the Conqueror Worm from him in the Gilded Tower. Thoreson was not ready to accept an apology.

The Fellowship approached the shadowbounders, and a confident shadow-stepping commander agreed to speak with them. Captain Demros was confident in his position and unimpressed by the interlopers; he would claim the Grave Beach for his glade. The Fellowship contested his claim, but he did not recognize they had any rights in this situation.

Negotiations End

Talks deteriorated to the Fellowship attacking, but the uncanny elves were nimble and evasive. A counter-attack pounced at them from the shadows, but the Fellowship fended the elves off.

Captain Demros pushed off in a boat, headed back to the ship with a handful of his people and some meat treasure from the platforms. Ivo knew the tense captain could dodge a bullet–so he took aim at a barrel of explosive bile. His aim was true, blasting the elves at point blank range and scattering their boat to kindling, so they could only fall into the waters boiling with enraged sharks.

Misdirection

The pirates were groggy, coming out from under the influence, and the suspicious dwarves returned to Iskavol’s throne area. After there was no response to knocking, they opened the door to find she had a burned escape route into and through the corpse. She took the things she wanted the most from the find, and retreated, leaving the pirates and dwarves on their own. The flamejekts started to wane and flicker, soon to extinguish.

Chasing her energies, the Fellowship headed to the beach, where there were traces of a big teleportation spell. The wizard had likely escaped some distance, enough to be out of reach for now.

Not Over Yet!

As the sun sank towards elven domination, the Fellowship had to act fast.

Vanmil and Thoreson got to work checking the eyes for Everlamp, a mystical substance generating an eternal shine. Iskavol had drained the big eye, but there were other smaller eyes–Vanmil found one that had enough Everlamp for her purposes, and she harvested it successfully.

Devron was quietly looking for something specific. He prayed to his mysterious god, trying to sense whether there were any traces of recognizable energy in the corpse. If there were, the impressions were too faint to be detected in a quick look. He wanted to stay for a deeper dive.

The Fellowship wiped out Lady Sann (for sure) and Captain Demros (probably) but they also “chased off” Iskavol and “liberated” the pirates led by Darveen and Carroway. If they were going to get more treasure out of the site, they would have to deal with murderous humans and elves, knowing more treasure-hunting factions could arrive at any moment.

Ledger

The Fellowship banked Ledger they could redeem when they tell the tale.

Thoreson and Devron banked 3. Ivo, Vanmil, and Korvask banked 4. (They succeeded in additional objectives in service of the clan.)

Open Table, October 24

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RSVP IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.

This is an open table invitation. Only respond if you are able to attend. If you sign up but are no longer able to attend, please let me know as soon as possible (and I don’t need to know why.) The game will go forward as long as there are 2 confirmed players plus myself.

Attendance is first come, first serve for five players. You RSVP here, then I confirm with you. If I do not confirm with you, then you will be on the waiting list and I will notify you if a spot opens up. 

Please make a character ahead of time. We play on Roll20 here: https://app.roll20.net/join/5979643/fXhc5g

Need rules? Here’s the quick start. https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/296327/Axes-and-Anvils-Quickstart-Rules?manufacturers_id=5544

These are the adventures of Clan Rumbleseed. You can read about the clan and their exploits so far here. https://axesandanvils.com/play-reports/

So what’s the plan?

Control the Meat Mine!

A monstrous sea creature was slain out in the gory waves, and it sank beneath the carrion froth. Now it has washed ashore–and everyone wants to dominate the grave beach and dig into the meat mine for rare treasures. Claim the site for Rumbleseed!

RSVP Confirmation

  • Vanmil Glowhide (Kriss) Grimeater Family. (Facebook RSVP)
  • Thoreson Grimeater (Anders) Dunn Family. (Facebook RSVP)
  • Ivo Flynt (Imre) Dunn Family (Facebook RSVP)
  • Devron Leveller (Mark) CLAN CASKBOUND (Facebook RSVP)
  • Korvask Wryt (Michael): CLAN CASKBOUND (Facebook RSVP)

UPDATE

They completed the first half of the adventure, and will play the second half on November 14.

The Gilded Tower

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Played 6/27/20 IRL, 1/19/2122 IG.

  • Thoreson Grimeater (Anders) Berserker, Chef, Healer.
  • Ivo Flynt (Imre) Support, Gunsmith, Engineer. (Apprentice, Tella)
  • Vanmil Glowhide (Kriss) Vanguard, Adept, Jeweler. (Fleshpacter, Fishel)
  • Cagroot Hopstrider (KC) Skirmisher, Brewer, Delver.

Projects on the Side

Thoreson and Ivo had access to chitin, workshops, experts, and materials in Roachseat. They collaborated on crafting a prosthetic leg for Baron Rennet; Ivo spent 1 Ledger to secure all the needed elements to get the leg built.

Vanmil redoubled her efforts to gain the rank of Master as an adept, studying the intriguing possibilities of animating corpses without brittlestone. She also took steps (arguably reckless leaps) to develop a form of melding driven by adept energy, expanding her consciousness and creating conduits to link souls.

Meanwhile, in the shallows, Cagroot had some terrifying dreams about Baroness Elenor Rennet drifting apart in his psyche so he would not be able to release her and would be reminded for the rest of his life of his broken promise, a promise he could no longer keep. Anxious, he sent word to Thoreson to ask him to return to the surface long enough to take the baroness’s ashes to the Gilded Tower.

Vanmil heard about the situation in conversation with Ivo, and was enthusiastic about the possibility of studying a haunted dwarf first-hand in a situation with no brittlestone involved in the haunting. Even though the surface was rumored to be awful (she had never seen the sky) she decided to accompany the Fellowship on this errand to expand her experience and resume for her studies.

To the Shallows

As the Various Gardens Expedition Council assigned missions to teams to secure Kalara Heights, Ivo left Tella behind to remind the others of the Fellowship’s contributions. The Fellowship headed for the shallows, about seven days of travel from these deep territories.

They met with Cagroot at a crossroads where he waited for them. He seemed exhausted and haunted, and Vanmil tasted the death rolling from him in waves. They caught up on some basics, and traveled together to the surface. Ivo gave Cagroot a slingshot to use with his explosive beetles.

Vanmil’s first exposure to snow was deeply unpleasant. Winter in high mountains was unforgiving, and she immediately caught a head cold (and several snowballs from playful companions.) The Fellowship traveled their secret roads and entered human lands, closing in on Rennet Hall.

A Hall of Shadows

Casic the butler was pleased to see them and offered them hospitality. For supper they met with Baron Rennet, who had become haggard. Vanmil sensed his energy, and discovered that some humans bond so fiercely that their souls can bleed into each other; he was tortured by his undying wife’s suffering.

While Rennet was initially cool to the prosthetic leg the dwarves offered, he warmed to it; the fit wasn’t quite right as his body was still adjusting to the loss (and he lost a lot of weight) but they could fix it up overnight for him.

After supper the dwarves had some time to themselves. Vanmil was ready to dive into Cagroot’s mind to meet this ghost she had heard so much about.

Melding

Vanmil was very successful in her meld, and Cagroot was helpful. They entered a shaped memory space like a Sithic common hall. Vanmil sensed a predator outside, and also the ghost in another room; she ushered the ghost in, and encouraged Elenor to take on a fleshy form. Elenor’s memory was damaged by the predator that slew her.

She shared the terrible memories; the worm twisting in and killing her, slurping out her guts, snuggling in the gore of all the corpses and drawing their spirits to its multi-dimensional furnace to be consumed.

Then the dwarves arrived, penetrating its far-flung psychic field. As it hammered into them with the echo fever she slipped into Cagroot and out of the worm’s grasp; Vanmil briefly relived the worm striving to dig her out, and Cagroot sheltering her in his life force.

Elenor also shared that her family had experience with ghosts, and had a number of mediums, and her best chance to escape lie in the Gilded Tower. They agreed to carry her there.

Before they left, Vanmil escorted Cagroot as he wandered through his mind, brushing off dust and sediment, finding glorious memories stretching back over a century of encounters with alchemists and their studies. Able to see the entire history all at once, he swelled with pride and knowledge as his experience fused and became a new secondary skill.

The Worm Within

Returning to the real world, Vanmil sensed the energy of the predator nearby–in the same room. She locked eyes with Thoreson and saw something wicked within him.

The Fellowship had a terse discussion. When Thoreson pursued the worm into the pit by Lebrim Manor, he was supposed to slay it. Now it seemed he had not, and he was infected with a sliver of its consciousness. He didn’t give them permission to try and free him of it; it was none of their business if he had some alien and hostile parasite riding along.

Thoreson also showed them the crystal he tore from the heart of the spiderstalker. It had been corrupted to red when he ripped it loose, and that was because the worm within had given him the strength to finish it off; now the crystal amplified its consciousness, its hold, and its power.

The Fellowship didn’t press the issue, but they rested uneasy.

To the Painted Valley

The next morning before dawn they loaded their gear onto a coach, and discovered that Sir Marl was visiting to drive them to the Painted Valley and assure they did not run into trouble (as dwarves were not always popular.) He was especially taken by the first female dwarf he had ever seen.

Baron Rennet entrusted Cagroot with the urn of Eleanor’s ashes, and bid them farewell.

They traveled through human lands until mid-afternoon, when the trail up to the Painted Valley was seen as overgrown and too obstructed for the coach. Marl waited, setting up camp, and the Fellowship continued on foot.

Chilly Greeting

As they found an old run-down cabin, an equally old and run-down caretaker greeted them from the woods. He was distracted, but affable–until he told them to leave.

Vanmil immediately detected the purplish energies swarming through him and the surroundings, and the Fellowship challenged the consciousness that told them to get out. Ignoring the befuddled caretaker, the Fellowship pressed on.

The energies of the valley shied away from sunlight, but handled the shadowy woods just fine. Many mounds of fungus concentrated the energy; Cagroot examined the fungus and determined it was specialized in handling the transition from life to death to life and so on, and collected some.

The energy swelled through a fungal mound, activating some violent necrotic specimens; the Fellowship cut and shot them down, picking up their pace along the overgrown path.

The Gilded Tower

Finally the Fellowship spotted the rickety tower. They cautiously approached, and as Ivo examined the front door Vanmil rounded the tower looking for alternate entrances. Two fungal masses swelled up, mighty and dangerous. Vanmil hacked at them then retreated as Ivo blasted them with a well-placed grenade and Cagroot rushed in to blow fire across them and finish the creatures off. Thoreson kicked the door in, and the Fellowship rushed inside.

The tower was festooned with black vines and long thorns. They wasted no time prodding the dusty corners, and instead they mounted the stairs. They passed the floor with memories and paintings, and Thoreson cut through the thorn masses to gain access to the top floor.

A statue of a mourning woman was embedded in the cloud of thorns, and it animated, gleeful in its intent to murder; the masses of thorns seemed to spill out of one shattered stone casket in particular.

Release

Vanmil was astonished by the scene, taking in the “thin place” between life and death that the tower had been erected to contain here above the ground. She took the spiderstalker crystal from Thoreson, thinking to use it to seal this leak between life and death. Taking a desperate risk, she pulled Cagroot into a meld even as they were swathed in hungry black thorns.

Not only did she pull in Cagroot, but the frantic joining tugged in the worm from Thoreson and the crystal, as well as the Mortis Node bloom in the coffin that connected to their blood through the thorns jabbing into their flesh. And, of course, the baroness’s ghost.

Tossed on a rolling sea of thorns, the desperate mortals and ghost seemed to be doomed. But the gateway out of this life hung in the sky like an expressionless moon. Vanmil focused all her energy and tried to free the ghost, tearing her from the thorns but unable to push her to freedom–until Cagroot lent his stubborn will and concentration.

Elenor was free.

As Vanmil protected herself in a jewel of energy, keeping the various threats out of her life force, Cagroot foundered in the thorns. He managed to use his skirmisher agility to win clear and land on the leathern hide of the worm as it thrashed on the thorns, but still, his fate was sealed just as Vanmil concentrated on focusing her will through the jewel to seal the portal of death.

As a parting gift, Elenor sent a beam of light from the portal that drove Cagroot out of the meld and back into the desperate struggle in the tower room.

Alone with the worm and the node, Vanmil hurled the gem through the closing portal. The shock of the portal closing shuddered through the worm, and it twisted in the thorns as the node screamed; cut off, it would starve without the filtering ethereal energies from beyond.

Vanmil managed to escape as the meld disintegrated. Thoreson dropped, the feedback from the shocked worm coursing through him.

Conclusion

The thorns seemed brittle and lackluster in the winter chill without the mortis node flowing energy through them. The Fellowship cut their way out of the tower, now more like gardening than fighting, and moved out into the bleak winter sunlight.

(Returning was not complicated. They earned 5 Ledger.)

Slaying the Spiderstalker

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Played 6/20/20 IRL, 1/8/2122 IG.

  • Thoreson Grimeater (Anders) Berserker, Chef, Healer.
  • Ivo Flynt (Imre) Support, Gunsmith, Engineer. (Apprentice, Tella)

Preparing to Go

The Various Gardens Expedition Council took some time to deliberate on the Silkpurser offer to turn over Kalara Heights to Rumbleseed in exchange for slaying the spiderstalker beast that hunted in their Screenhall so they could return home.

Meanwhile, at the Hollowing Party, Thoreson won a cooking competition against a local favorite, an elderly engineer named Chef Jaya whose cooking tended to aim for mass production. Many locals were steamed at him for being an arrogant shallower and disrespecting their local culture and customs.

Assuming they’d get permission to go after the spiderstalker, Ivo and Tella worked on a portable ballista and an armor-piercing harpoon Ivo dubbed the Tickler. Ivo’s teachers scoffed at his idea for an explosive-tipped armor-piercing harpoon that would latch inside armor and be anchored to a cable to keep the prey from escaping. The rope would be too heavy and too frail, and the force of the harpoon wouldn’t be enough to do what he wanted. He feverishly worked on the harpoon and anchored it with spidersilk cable; this was his chance to use a field test to prove those “experts” wrong. Ivo and Tella also weaponized their cosmic spores from the Golden Vent in a short-range explosive blaster. Just in case.

News

The Rustad family earned a major victory as Lady Jeet ran into a “clotting” of fungal ogres and cut them back to stone, burning the area out and laying the foundation for a forge keep at the head of the Roaring Stairs. Her family continued mounting assaults against the trolls that the fungal ogres had kept in check.

The Timaron family was not so fortunate. They suffered a major setback as Marralease, one of their leaders, was missing in action. Her team checked the Cinnamon Swell area, and only one survivor made it back to the expedition. The Cinnamon Swell was full of a very fine tan dust, and it was not only toxic and irritating, it was explosive. The team faced off with hulking shrimp-like creatures that could vent plasma attacks, and when the dwarves opened fire they detonated the fog.

The Mission Was Authorized

Ten dwarves were assigned to the Fellowship, two squads to hunt the spiderstalker.

Oria’s Gunners were assigned from the Dunn family, led by a Chosen. Ivo was pleased to take command of that squad, and he inspired the Chosen to bless his ballista.

Burava’s Slayers were assigned from the Grimeater family, close assault specialists under Thoreson’s command. Burava was impressed by Thoreson’s perspective and experience, and offered her services as a delver (and her squad in support of the hunt.)

Equipped with armor-piercing rounds and dwarven resolve, the Fellowship headed out to the Golden Vent with Sypert as their guide.

Journey to the Screenhall

They passed through spore-laden winds, and when they were half a day out from the Screenhall they camped so they would arrive fresh and dangerous. Tella asked them how they managed their anxiety; through preparation and bottling up violence to release at an opportune time.

As they approached the Screenhall they saw swarms of wasps ganging up on targets and stinging them to death. They were jumped by swarms of finger-sized wasps at one point, and Thoreson’s legendary weapon tore through one mass with a burst of energy as Ivo’s firebombs sorted out the rest. Vanmil managed to use her energy to create a vortex to whisk the wasps away until they could be otherwise discouraged. The Fellowship was increasingly cautious as the wasp swarms buzzing past got bigger and bigger, some the size of their forearms.

Luring the Spiderstalker

Once they saw the grand ruin of the Screenhall, they decided to lure the spiderstalker out rather than going into unfamiliar territory after it.

Thoreson and a team located some vent spiders and pounced, and after a little back-and-forth they managed to kill a few to harvest their glands to create a scent lure.

Ivo and a team created a spider-like shape made of explosives in a serviceable ambush site. When the others returned, they made the bait more realistic by adding some actual spider legs and scenting the trap. Then they hid and waited.

The spiderstalker didn’t show.

Growing impatient (because it was her idea) Burava took some spider lure and headed towards the hall, Thoreson backing her up. She managed to lure the spiderstalker out, and it casually tore her apart before Thoreson could intervene. He got its attention in turn, and as it pounced on him he deflected its attention with a burst from his legendary weapon, and managed to scramble to relative safety long enough for the bored super predator to lose interest–and pick up the scent of the actual lure.

The Battle of Screenhall

Ivo triggered the trap, blasting the spiderstalker at close range with all his explosives as it approached the trap. The spiderstalker squeezed out horrific sludgy defenders out of its abdomen; it was a multi-dimensional being with some sort of parasite monsters tucked between its plates.

Tickler hit, blew a hole in the carapace, and lodged; the cable held, and the spiderstalker could not retreat.

As Ivo’s shooters poured bullets into the monster, Thoreson rushed it from the far side and led his warriors into battle with it. The spiderstalker swept its mighty horn across the attackers, badly hurting some of them, but they managed to hack at it as bullets banged and ricocheted around them.

Thoreson tore into its flank, breaching its thorax and roaring as he plunged into its innards. He sensed its life force, a crystal matrix in its center. As the meat crushed him all around and stings stitched through him, he clutched at the crystal and tried to drag it free.

He was blacking out and the crystal was too slippery and secure; he found something else deep in his rage, another presence that combined with him and lent him strength to tear the crystal loose. It changed from glowing bright yellow to curdling with blood and pulsing red.

Ivo ran down to the dying beast and rescued Thoreson from its guts, reviving the berserker and marveling at the crystal.

Conclusion

The dwarves wasted little time hacking some trophies loose, and they relocated quickly. The death of a super predator is a tricky thing to manage, and other inquisitive responses would likely be incoming. They retreated back to Roachseat with their prizes and Told the Tale. Kalara Heights would soon be theirs.

They earned 6 Ledger.