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SessionReport

Adventurers

Character Class Description
Dingbatt Barett Thief level 3 Ginger, skinny, and scrawny copy of Johnny Depp; speaks like a moron.
Kenobi Thief level 3 Short, elderly man dressed in blue leather armour with a matching scarf.

Warmshade 7th, Waterday

It's been nearly two months since Dingbatt joined the Hydra Company. And it's been as much time since he went out on an expedition. Everyone seems to get to do cool stuff but him.

“Go shovel some bale.” “How about you rearrange some boxes?” “Hey, all these men need to be trained. Show them some of your tricks.”

Oh the injustice! But Dingbatt had an idea; nay, a plan! He will show them all how valuable he is. Two weeks ago he ran into an older man. Kenobi was his name, thievery his trade. Remembering how Winslow used to test new recruits, he challenged him to a climb-off. The man gladly accepted.

And so they went to the warehouse Hydra Company calls their headquarters. There, they faced each other, climbing on the beams and old cranes, swinging around like monkeys. Dingbatt was first to fall down, proving that Kenobi is indeed a better simian.

Following their bonding experience, the two accomplices decided to thoroughly survey Antil for any interesting marks. Now, they reconvened to discuss their findings:

  • The Windgod Temple, a 200 feet tall, monumental statue of an eagle spreading its wings, towers over all of Antil. Heck, it is visible for miles. The High Priest and a hundred of mightiest acolytes are housed there. It swallows and regurgitates endless stream of pilgrims day by day; many of them leaving donations. Brother Kallahan believes most of the treasure is deposited in the underground vaults, and not on the higher levels.
  • Seniskell manor, a large walled estate with a sea view. Resting at the edge of Pilgrim's Quarters from the time before the quarter was even established, and owned by a supposedly quite old and rich family. Locals consider them mad, and rumours run amok for they rarely, if ever, leave their estate.
  • The Black Spire, a 50 feet tall tower with no discernible windows or gates. Although a source of many mysteries, residential buildings now surround it. Locals mostly ignore it, and children play at its base.
  • The Temple of Jamboor, although in slums outside of the Walled City, the rumour has it that it is only a front for more sinister matters. They pick up street urchins, beggars, panhandlers, and other lowlife, and “get them to see the light.” They've been refused to establish their temple in the Pilgrim's Quarters.

“Old, rich dudes make for the best target!”

“But how do we get closer without looking suspicious?”

“I know! We have an old rowboat. We'll pretend to be a father and son fishing, and we'll use the opportunity to survey the manor.”

“Who will be father? Who will be son?”

A day of pretend-fishing did not go entirely as planned. Two rowboats with six armed men each, intercepted them around noon, demanding they “stop ruining Lord Seniskell's view of the sea.” The men wore colours of the City Guard, and threatened immediate violence. “Father” and “son” were quick to row back, muttering profanities under their breath.

“We shall strike on the night of following day!”

Warmshade 8th, Earthday

Two master thieves came up with another bulletproof plan for surveying the manor—offering street urchins a dagger in return for intelligence. “Why give you coin, when I can give you a dagger, and then you can earn your own instead?” Dingbatt attempted to close the sale with a heavy wink.

Alas, the children were more interested in their own coin purses, and were quickly all over them. “Why don't you earn something first and then come back to us?” one yelled. “Ha, look at these losers!” another one chimed in. The duo responded in kind, slapping and belting whichever kid they could lay their hands on.

With the justice served, Dingbatt and Kenobi were now ready to rest until nightfall.

Howla and Vanis, the Sister Moons, were high up on the sky in their full might, providing illumination to the writhing life underneath them.

The thieves approached the walled estate from the east side; a dark alley rarely travelled. The young helped the old climb over the ten feet wall. Gardens were eerily quiet. Numerous windows were covered with what seemed to be black curtains.

The manor, although of olden design, was quite sturdy. It was a one story affair with a simple slopped roof. The duo quickly scaled the building wall, finding themselves on the top. There they lay in total silence and spent some time observing and listening. Nothing was to be heard from anywhere.

Finally, Dingbatt determined it was time to act. Kenobi tied a rope around his waist, and then he descended down to inspect one window. Like the rest of the building, it was of sturdy make. There were no bars or securing mechanisms of any kind—or to be more correct, the thief hadn't found them. A simple latch was on the inside, a trifle for Dingbatt.

Carefully moving the curtain to the side revealed little. It was pitch black and the moonlight wasn't at the right angle to penetrate the darkness. The room had a feint smell of feces. He pulled on the rope gently, and climbed back up to share his findings with Kenobi.

This is what they came here for. No time to chicken out now.

And so, down through the curtain they went.

It took them nearly an hour to scan the room they found themselves in. Spanning nearly hundred feet, and nearly as wide, this was obviously some sort of a master suite.

A massive, four-poster canopy king-sized bed was set against the northern wall, flanked by two teak nightstands. A grand piano dominated the north-east corner; two harps, a harpsichord, and a cello were neatly arranged in the center of the room; two seven feet high, four feet wide wardrobes, and four dressers rested against western wall. An oak table with four chairs stood close to the musical instruments. There was a matching end table with a silver tea service. Double doors on the southern side were flanked by suits of plate mail holding halberds.

Everything was covered in dust and cobwebs, with rat and mice droppings here and there.

The duo rummaged through stuff, finding mostly moth-eaten clothing and more droppings. Few items of value were found: a gold earring, a pearl necklace, and two gold cufflinks.

But the most interesting findings lay underneath an ornamental wooden box in one of the wardrobes. Kenobi recognised something was amiss with the floor panel. A secret entrance? He ran his fingers on the ground, finding a notch running on one edge. Sensing great riches underneath him, he stuck his fingers in, and pulled.

Dingbatt was listening at doors when we got startled by a loud “thud!” sound coming from his right. To his surprise, Kenobi lay there, face first, bum out, in the wardrobe. Unwilling to touch him, he pulled on one of the halberds. The statue offered no resistance, and went down to the ground, causing tremendous noise.

Unwilling to waste no time, he ran up to Kenobi, only to discover him quite stiff. There were no prick-wounds on his fingertips, although his hands were all hues of purple all the way to his elbows. Sure that all kind of guards will pour through the doors, he dragged stiff Kenobi and rolled him under the massive bed. Scarf was all that protected his face against feces underneath.

Next, he went for the doors, and tied the handles together. And then he hid in one of the wardrobes.

KNOCK. KNOCK. KNOCK.

Three loud knocks could be heard.

It is difficult to say for how long have they been hiding, but long enough for Kenobi to regain control of his limbs. Nobody tried to open the doors. No further knocks were heard. Both listened attentively, but the manor was as silent as when they first entered the estate.

This is what they came here for. No time to chicken out now.

And so Dingbatt proceeded to make a trap-like contraption connected to the doors. If someone tried to pull them open, they'd have to break the bed. At the same time, Kenobi tied grappling hook to a rope, threw it over a hanger in the wardrobe, and then gently jammed the tip into the notch. Then he pulled on the rope from safe distance.

The panel gave easily, opening up into a staircase below.

And so, down they went.

Sneaking on, they found themselves in a stone chamber, some forty by twenty feet. Two wooden coffins laid on raised stone platforms. Between them stood a simple stone column with a pedestal on top. On it, a crystal ball rested. South-west wall seemed to be ajar, as if someone forgot to close a secret doors or something of a kind.

One of the thieves threw a sack over the orb, while the other secured their escape route by wedging some iron spikes into the trapdoor they came through. Dingbatt's attempts to lasso the covered ball were unsuccessful. Taking a deep breath, both entered the room.

The younger of the two approached the column, and carefully tied a rope around the base of the orb. The older approached the suspicious looking wall. He took a peek inside. It was pitch black; unnaturally dark. But he could see Her, the most gorgeous woman ever. And she called him; and her gaze was irresistible just like her passions.

When Dingbatt turned to his right, Kenobi was nowhere to be seen.

“Kenobi?”

No answer came back.

“Damn... Oh, damn!” Dingbatt cursed “Damn, damn, damn!!!”

“I should run... But I cannot leave him behind!”

Steeling his resolve, he covered his eyes and burst into the room, yelling and swinging. Peeking between his index and middle finger revealed little of the room, except a gorgeous woman with pale skin, and Kenobi slowly walking towards her.

He could see him take few steps, and then stop, as if he is hesitating. But then he'd take few more steps.

“Leave him be!” Dingbatt shouted as he threw his lantern. Alas, darkness, adrenaline, and covering his eyes, did not help at all. The lantern flew somewhere... And was caught by someone.

The true nature of his predicament rapidly uncovered itself. There was a pentagon-shaped depression in the center of the room filled entirely with thick, red liquid. Over it hung a naked human body suspended with a series of wires, still dripping into the pool below.

The grisly sight dominated his attention so much he barely heard the maniacal laughter that filled the room, nor did he register sinister laugh as the secret doors behind him closed.

“Are you lost, friend?” a warm male voice inquired. There stood a pale gentleman in fine clothing. It was obvious this was a true gentleman; someone who will care for Dingbatt much more than those “officers” of Hydra Company. This man right here was worth following, nay!, worth dying for.

“Friend, I have some work I need help with. A little bit of clean up and organisation. Would you be willing to do that for me?”

“Oh yes, Master! Anything for you, Master!” Dingbatt squeaked with delight.

“Come, come into my embrace!” the woman beckoned Kenobi. And he did, and they hugged and kissed. And Dingbatt watched Kenobi shrivel and grow even older right in front of his eyes.

“Would you like to meet my husband?” she asked gingerly “Oh, isn't it too early for that? I mean, I just met you?” Kenobi retorted confusingly “Don't be shy on me now. Come, let' go...”

Wondering how he found himself in an upcoming threesome, Kenobi took a step into darkness. Alas, he tripped over something, and fell face first into what felt like a pool of gooey substance.

“Oh, you dirty pig! How dare you!” he heard the dames enraged voice. He felt someone lifting him effortlessly, and then swinging him around like a ragdoll. Next thing he felt was cold, hard stone, breaking his spine. The last thing he heard as life abandoned him was a male voice “Oh, come on Esmeralda, why'd you have to kill him! We could've drained...”

“Follow me friend. We will be here soon.” the surviving thief was more than eager to make his new patron happy. He will prove himself!

“Here we are! You see that pile of bodies over there? I need you to separate hands and arms into one pile; ankles, feet, and legs into the other; torsos one the third; and finally, anything remaining on the fourth. I want them really neat. Can you do that for me?”

“Oh yes, Master! Oh yes! Do you want me to do it on all four with my teeth? Because I can do it like that if you want me to!”

The man looked at him with a surprised face. “Quite devoted, are you? Go ahead!”

This is what he came here for. No time to chicken out now.

And so Dingbatt dove straight into a mass of mutilated, gnawed corpses, and started sorting them out. He could hear cheers of approval from behind—unlike anything he ever heard from his supposed “comrades” in the Hydra Company.

He had found his true home at last.

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Francis Goreaxe Dwarf level 2 A son of a jeweler aspiring to become a great chef. Wears apron over his copper plate mail, and cast iron pot instead of a helmet.
Morfindien Elf level 1 Seeks a cure for his genetic ugliness. Despite his great strength and intellect, his face is only barely acceptable in elven circles so he is treated by them with disdain.

Later:

Character Class Description
Mac Thief level 1 Young and stuttering rogue looking for his lucky break.

Unknown date

Who knows how long they've been stuck in this burning hellhole in the middle of nowhere. Kod'l locals call it. More like Chock'l! Scorn of the society forced the unlikely duo of Francis Goreaxe and Morfindien to collaborate in their attempt to get out of here. Trading ships go down the river every few days, but since neither had coin to pay for their travel nor enough charm to convince the ferrymen otherwise, they've been forced to loiter around.

Their luck turned for the better when a fine looking man approached them with a most generous offer:

“You look like the hardened type that'd be up for some delicate work... Couple of hours from here is an abandoned temple that holds deep within a large golden egg. In fact, it is as big as an adult dwarf!”

“Retrieve it for me, and I will take care your journey is a most pleasant one. The temple has two entrances. The front is on top of the ziggurat. Three large stones hide the back entrance. Beware the birdmen. Oh, and make sure you do not open the egg. I will know. You might find the following useful...”

The mysterious patron handed them over hundred feet of rope, two oil flasks, a small mirror, and a healing potion. Too poor to get themselves anything else, and too ugly to find additional help, the duo set out for the desert temple.

Following their patron's instructions, a ziggurat with two tiers came into their sight after some four hours of walking. It looked faded brown, bleached by the unforgiving sun. Although stone bricks were chipped by time, the ziggurat stood strong.

Opting to go for the secret back entrance, the duo spent and hour looking for the described three stones. The man wasn't lying—an opening into the temple was just behind them. Francis rushed towards the passageway, and then slammed himself to the side. The elf followed. Peeking around the corner revealed a piece of ground that looked much cleaner than the rest, almost as if it had been swept.

Morfindien prevented the dwarf from further rash action, for he wanted to inspect this curiosity further. What if it was a trap? He took out hundred feet of rope and threw the bundle on the cleared area. As the sand started setting, his elven eyes noticed a find stand spanning the whole width of the hallway.

Next, he tied an unlit torch to one end of the rope. His plan was simple: throw it over the strand, and then pull it back in order to activate the trap from safe distance.

IOUUU! IOUUU! IOUUU! IOUUU! IOUUU!

Oh, and activate it he did! Loud, repetitive shrill could've been heard echoing from the inside. A quick glance between the two was all the communication needed—they were sprinting out. Both rushed behind one stone and did their best to push it toward the opening. Alas, they weren't strong enough. So they did the next best thing—run around to the front of the temple and hide underneath the ramp.

It took them half an hour to collect enough courage to move on. This time they opted for the main entrance. A sharp smooth decline is all that greeted them. Progressing carefully, the quickly reached a large chamber with three doors.

Each had a small bronze plaque on them. From left to right, they read: Dexterity, Strength, Mind. They beefy elf knocked down the middle door; vicious bites from a feral dog being his only reward. Heavily armoured dwarf pulled him out of the danger. They took care of Rex with speed. While Morfindien explored the chamber, the dwarf decided to practice his butchering skills.

Moving on, the duo came into a T-shaped junction. Three doors were down the corridor to the right; a door and corridor into darkness to their left; and a sprawling chamber straight ahead. To the left they went.

Another turn, another dark corridor. Their torchlight illuminated a skeleton propped against the eastern wall. The duo quickly frisked it, finding nothing but bones. In doing so, they raised enough dust and sand to notice yet another tripwire. Francis took of the skeleton's head, and placed it by the wire, to serve as the reminder when they come back.

It took the duo nearly ten minutes to move on because the wire was at hip-height for the dwarf. He had to take his backpack—pots, and all—off, crawl under, then get his stuff from elf, then put it back on... Proceeding, they arrived to yet another turn, and then yet another T-junction.

A familiar looking chamber was to their right, and a rather large door to their left. Opting to go right, the duo found themselves in a large chamber with four stone statues in the middle. They all looked like primitive take on human figure, with blocky heads and limbs. Their torsos were facing in different directions, but their heads all faced toward the center of the room. There a stone slab stood, slightly elevated compared to the rest of the sandy floor.

“You know what? I gonna do it.” and with those words Morfindien stepped on the stone dais. Rumbling sounds immediately filled the rooms the statues' bodies turned towards the center. One of them rotated a bit too fast and feel down to the ground. The remaining three promptly started pummeling the confused elf in the middle. A stone punch to his gut brought him down to his knees; two stone hammer fists to his face turned him into a bloody mush.

“Oh no! My face will be even uglier now!” were his last thoughts.

For a second Francis looked in horror. Not longer, because he fled out of there as fast as he could. Unwilling to abandon the golden egg, he rushed toward the large doors. It took him three tries to get in. Nothing followed.

“A-a-are you here to save me?” a weak voice addressed him. Mac, a young thief, was caught by a group of armed birdmen whilst sneaking around. They roughened him up and threw him into this arid, dark chamber.

“Get up boy!”

This was by far the biggest chamber they've found so far. A large nest, full of bones and small carcasses, was in the north-west corner. Three dwarves could've easily snuggled there. Opposite of the entrance was a passageway with tall arch. Fresh air was emanating from there.

A quick investigation revealed a circular room with a hole in the centre. Looking down, it seemed as if there was water below. Indeed, that was confirmed once Francis lowered Mac down. It was some thirty foot descent, which terminated with a square chamber barely illuminated by the torch. The water was dark and chilly, but otherwise nothing else stood out. Except a dark corridor to the east.

“Pull me up!” the dwarf couldn't resists pranking the thief by lowering him instead “Hey, don't be an ass!”

BAM!

Somebody—or something—burst open the doors to the south. The very doors they came through moments ago. Mac quickly hid in the shadows and prepared his bow. Francis tensed his grip on his trusty butcher's cleaver in right and lit torch in his left. And then he charged forward.

He met four human figures with crow heads. Two of them had spears, and two from behind seemed to drag some humanoid figure between them. In the ensuing confusion Mac took down two of them, the dwarf butchered one and in return got stabbed twice, and one ran away. The figure turned out to be puréed remains of Morfindien.

Helping themselves to the elf's possessions, Francis gulped down the healing potion, while Mac put aside a long sword and a “spell book.” And then they went back to the chamber with the hole in the ground.

They came up with a brilliant plan: use grappling hook and iron spike to create solid anchoring points, tie hundred feet of rope together, and then throw it down. Francis took off everything but his underwear with sausage motifs. Down they went.

The water was even colder than it seemed, but both managed to swim to the east corridor without too much hassle. This time it was a sharp ascend, nearly 45 degrees. They found themselves in a rectangular chamber. To their left was a three feet wide opening on the wall, and to their right were two large wooden chests and a massive golden egg on a pedestal.

“Watch this, boy.”

Francis took off his underwear and used it to cover the opening on the left wall. Then they both proceeded to rummage through the chests. Thousands and thousands of gold coin. Both silently wept at the realisation they have no way of taking all of it out. Mac stuffed his large sack as much as he could, but that wasn't even a tenth of the coins there. Francis went for the egg.

The moment he touched it, the water started gushing violently out of the opening behind them. His underwear was nowhere to be seen.

“Time to get out!”

Mac was out first, lugging a sack of coin with him; Francis barely escaped in time, hugging the golden egg with one arm, and pulling himself up with the other.

“Come on, we have no time to waste! Let's leg it!”

The dwarf remained naked, sans the butcher's cleaver, iron pot on his head, and the golden egg. The thief quickly threw the backpack on his back, and together they took a run for it.

Alas, they did not get far.

A large, deformed human head emerged from the darkness. It hovered nearly ten feet above ground, and was tilted sideways; contorted in some sort of maniacal expression.

“Kh-kh-KHRO!” the spittle flew out from its crooked lips. The monstrosity soon revealed its horrible secret—the horrendous head was joined to a body of a giant crow. It threw out a fat tongue, like an innocent dog, and licked its lips suggestively whilst twitching incessantly.

And then it took a few steps towards the naked dwarf and the trembling thief.

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Sinai Cleric level 3 White-robbed beduin, worshipper of Bukera, The Silent Scorpion.
Rhovar Fighter level 2 A generic Nordic guy.
Adkin the Butcher Fighter level 2 A hot headed warrior quick to fury trained by Marco Vitelli, retired quartermaster of the army of the Invincible Overlord.
Rad Thief level 1 A young, short and malnourished rogue.
Amanda Hugencuise Thief level 4 A new girl in town, claiming to be foreign exchange student, up for some “exciting missions” and enjoying the local cuisine.
Gon'd'elf Elf level 2 “Surely magnificent, am I not?” is his favourite opener. Works every time, 40% of the time.

Sinai's report linked at the end of the post.

Warmshade 6th, Airday

“Please, I keep dreaming him! I see him in a black, tar black hole. He is suffering! But it is not a dream! It is real! I know it is! I beg of you, please rescue him! Please!” a heavily distraught woman pleaded with Rad, a Hydra Company officer. “He is in a dark hole! Lost and scared! And there is this hairy creature with him... Oh, please, I beg of you!”

“Miss, please calm down. We will take care of it. Can you tell us more about his location or anything?” alas, the woman was getting more and more upset, and had little to offer except possibility to inspect her husband's workshop.

A month passed since she visited Rad, and she was overjoyed to receive his visit. The party rummaged through his belongings while she described her dear husband “Oh, he stands over six feet tall with long, gorgeous blond hair. A smile that melts peoples' hearts! Very wise and gifted man. We were so happy, but one day he decided that he wants more for us. He joined a band of adventurers who sorely needed his arcane talent. It went fine for some time, but then they went missing...”

Indeed, most of scroll and books were on arcane matters. They did find mentions of a “lost city” with a supposedly “vast library of long forgotten knowledge.” No maps could be found, although the entries indicated that the entrance might be where from “whence the Whitecrown Stream emerges.”

“Penelope, we will take care of your husband. But we must research more about his whereabouts.” Unfortunately no sage was to be found in all of Antil. They did learn about Drommo, a divination extraordinaire. Apparently, he visits Antil once a month.

“You know what? We could visit those peasants that sought our help as well. I mean, they are on our way anyway, right?”

And so the party consisting of Sinai and his three followers Herat, Phelim “The Scorpion”, and Norna “The Repulsive”; Rhovar, Adkin “The Butcher”, Rad, Amanda, and Gon'd'elf with his two trusty retainers Ariad and Ehrman, started preparing for their expedition.

Warmshade 8th, Earthday

What a sight to behold! Heavily armed and armoured party of twelve, ridding their magnificent steeds through the Gates of Antil! A banner depicting the purple, three-headed hydra, fluttered against the wind as they galloped along the coast of Romilion Sea. Fearless! Glorious! Unabated!

They scoffed at villagers of Kestizar; crossed the River Highcourse unchallenged; and rode to the heart of Bathdawn with gentleness of Great Thabrian Khans of Old. Peasants fled for their lives—some threw themselves into the wheat fields, others ran into their modest huts, and whomever remained soiled themselves.

“Fear not, we are here to help!” Adkin The Butcher announced striking the Hydra banner into the ground. An eternity later, two young—broad shouldered and red skinned—men walked out to face them. Both were visibly shaking, but tried their best to hide it.

“Y-You said you a-are here to h-h-help us?”

“Indeed!”

“D-Do you know Winslow? T-The fighter we asked for help in Antil?”

“I know not him; but he too was an office in our glorious company! We are here to offer our assistance with your problem!”

Colden, the cool one, and Eilif, the stuttering one, did their best in describing the happenings that have been plaguing them for months now. First, some cattle went missing. Then, people started going missing as well. They are all perplexed since there are no carcasses left. They did find some sort of sticky white residue from time to time, but it was so unfamiliar they've simply ignored it.

Whilst searching for his brother, Eilif found his armband close to the rocky banks of a small river in the hills. The trail disappeared down into a fissure in the limestone rock. He was too scared to go into the darkness... Hence they sought out warriors who'd be willing to help them.

“Take us there!”

Leaving Herat behind to guard the horses, the party followed a fast-running stream into the fissure... They traversed a narrow and uneven path, ever watching not to hit their head on the hanging stalactites, nor to slip on the treacherous floor. They were chilled by the fresh stream. After some half an hour, they found where it terminates—a waterfall.

Rad, secured with a rope around his waist, edged closer and closer. A fungal (or mossy?) overgrowth crusted on the southern cavern wall caught his attention. Alas, it was so interesting he slipped and lost footing. Waterfall was quick to pull him down, and gallons of ice-cold water poured down his back. Luckily, his friends quickly pulled him up.

Unsure how to proceed, the party spent an hour discussing different plans. “How about we build a dam?” “What about re-routing the stream and waiting for whatever is inside to come out?” “Maybe if we get a bunch of sheep and use them as bait?” “That moss is evil! We have to scrape or burn it!” “Anybody got climbing hooks? We can nail them to the ceiling and have one of the thieves traverse it from above?”

“Maybe I can take another peek?”

And so Rad approached the waterfall once more. Having learned his lesson, this time he went on all four, ensuring he doesn't slip. The crusted fungus looked like it sprawls down into the darkness. There seemed to be holes in it as well, as if for climbing. Another curiosity caught his attention as well. There was a wooden pipe, roughly five feet below the waterfall, that seemed to be fed by the flow of water. It hung in the air and followed the northern cave wall.

“Hold me guys, I'm going down!”

And down he went. A large, wet cavern it was. The stream continued south-east. Following it led him to a narrower tunnel flanked on both sides by an extraordinarily ugly plants. Both looked as if they were growing straight out of the rock. A group of tendril-like appendages hung from their bottom side. Rad took a shot at one; it responded by releasing some goo and flattening itself against the cave wall.

Unwilling to proceed further alone, Rad inspected the cavern once more. This time he found that the stream actually splits in two before reconnecting. The smaller flow seemed to run through a hand-made canal that has a small pool to the side. There he found a small wooden casket which contained a wooden key. He went straight back to inform other adventurers of his findings.

“Are we sure these plants are evil? I'm not willing to go around exterminating life on potentially erroneous assumptions.” Gon'd'elf offered. After some back and forth, Amanda decided to come closer and see if plants actually do anything. Indeed, as she came within ten feet of the northern plant, it attempted to lash out by flattening itself against the cavern wall, and then bouncing of it. Amanda was too quick and experienced to fall on such trick, and was quickly out of danger.

It didn't take long until both plants were filled with arrows.

Down the tunnel was yet another waterfall, but this time so wide there was no clear access point. There was a round wooden indentation on one side of the tunnel, and a small wooden box on the other side. The latter had a keyhole. Lo and behold, the key Rad found fit in perfectly.

Turning the key triggered the round door-like wooden indentation to come out and divert the flow of water to a narrow canal to the side, revealing natural looking wooden-rung ladder going down. After brief descent, the party ran into a four-way intersection. A large growth of the wood in the middle of the junction divided the stream into three parts, guiding them down the central channel of each tunnel. So far all the encountered wooden object seemed naturally grown.

Without any leads, the party decided to flow the west tunnel. Even without a dwarf they could feel they are descending. It was a long, winding tunnel. Nothing but the stream and their armour clanking could be heard. After some time they passed by a cavern whose entrance seemed blocked b ropy pillars of fungus growth. They moved on, following the stream.

Much to their surprise, they encountered a waterwheel connected to a large wooden box. A funnel fed into it. Clicking and creaking noise came from inside the box, as did a strong smell of fish. One of the members dared to open it, revealing some sort of mincing device producing a pinkish paste.

Proceeding further, they encountered a T-shaped junction. The southern tunnel continued visibly downward, and the stream seemed to speed up as well. Stalagmites covered the uneven ground, and stalactites were more numerous then so far. It looked quite difficult to descend. Hence they opted for the eastern tunnel.

They quickly found themselves at what seemed to be another large cave. Nine crooked trees in large earthenware pots were illuminated by bluish light from numerous strands of glowing moss hanging from the ceiling. The floor was grooved, creating three channels from the stream. Each was flowing under three pots.

Sinai felt something was horribly amiss. A feint, but constant, murmuring could be heard. It filled the chamber, and sounded like it was coming from every imaginable direction. The tree closest to them started shivering. Its branches descended down, as if they were arms, and it pulled itself out of the pot. Stretching its warped frame revealed its true size, towering nine feet tall.

Two more trees joined it. The hateful sounds became louder.

Player Session Reports

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Rad Thief level 3 A young, short and malnourished rogue.
Gon'd'elf Elf level 2 “Surely magnificent, am I not?” is his favourite opener. Works every time, 40% of the time.
Sinai Cleric level 3 White-robbed beduin, worshipper of Bukera, The Silent Scorpion.

Longrass 15th, Spiritday

“Retreat to safety!” the elf commanded. Rhovar was grievously wounded in the ambush just moments ago, and he required immediate care. The party managed to slay their hobgoblin enemies, much due to elven arcane tricks.

Once they were back in safety of their camp, they decided to observe the mine entrance for the rest of the day. A tall, broad shouldered figure dressed in white hooded robes, approached their camp. The man was Sinai, a desert cleric from Queans Waste. He quickly demonstrated his worth by healing Rhovar.

Not a soul came in or out of the mine.

Longrass 16th, Airday

They came here to explore the mithril mine where Aergal Firebeard's son went missing some six months ago. Unwilling to risk another ambush, Rad scaled the hills by the mine entrance, in search of any other camps or entry points.

Lo and behold, nearly an hour later he found a shaft with primitive elevator. The hole was bounded by simple wooden fence. Three wooden pillars were connected with a cross above, and a simple—but sturdy basket—was suspended with two thick ropes. Rad felt like two persons could fit inside. There was a crank on the outer side of the right beam. The whole contraption looked old and unused, but still functional. The thief quickly found his way back, and informed the party of his findings.

After some discussion, the following adventurers went to explore: Rad, Sinai, Gon'd'elf and his two retainers—Ehrman and Ariad. Elf noticed a sight most terrifying, just as they were approaching the sight: a great black dragon was flying far above. The brave heroes quickly hid in whatever bushes and overgrowth they could find around. It seemed as if the dragon came from the direction of the Romilion Sea, and went further south-west.

It took them some time before they emerged from their hiding spots. Had to make sure the dragon is really gone!

How does one explore a shaft that leads deep into the mountain? The party tried throwing stone, lowering the lantern on a rope, staring intensely into the darkness... They learned one thing only: it is deeper than 50 feet. Finally, Rad had enough, and asked to be lowered down in the basket.

Old and unmaintained, the contraption creaked and moaned, as Rad went deeper and deeper. It took some thirty minutes, but the thief had emerged into a cavernous chamber. It was full of foul smell. Rad could see five sacks filled with straw. Three were roughly human sized, and two were much larger. His light barely illuminated two exits, one to the east, and one to the south. Too scared to investigate further on his own, he shook the rope, hoping his friends above would understand the signal.

“Take him out!” the elf commanded. Rad's relief didn't last for too long—two arrows that came from souther darkness barely missed him.

“What now?”

“Main entrance?”

“Main entrance.”

What followed is best described as extremely cautious delving. They party took their time and advanced with great care and slowness. After few hours, they arrived to the same room Rad was in before. It was an irrefutable fact, supported by the evidence of the shaft, five sleeping sacks, and two arrows stuck in the beams leading up to the ceiling.

Collecting their courage, the party went into the south corridor... Only to discover noone there. There was a split, a T-shaped junction leading west and east. Both sides descended further down. West side terminated in a stone wall with large reinforced doors, while the east side seemed to curve further. Leaving Ariad behind to watch their back, the party went to investigate the eastern tunnel.

Another dark cave—albeit with a small difference: a bloated trapdoor in the south-east corner. Rad failed to open it—thrice! Gon'd'elf watched guard, omnipresent being he is, while Sinai took a look around. Alas, this was no desert.

“Master!” Ariad's alarmed voice rung down the tunnel. “I need reinforcements, Master!”

The party quickly ran back, ready for some violence. By the time they arrived, Ariad was locked in melee with a large hairy brute and a massive deformed wolf. Everybody but Rad joined in the brief, but brutal melee. Ehrman decapitated the wolf with his greatsword, while Gon'd'elf skewered the hairy monster with his polearm.

“They burst from the doors to the west. You've taught me well master—and I kept my watch as you instructed!”

Unwilling to risk further assaults from behind, the party descended down the western tunnel, intent on exploring what lies behind the doors. A fifty foot long and thirty feet wide chamber it was. But this was no natural cave; it was a man made chamber. Two long wooden tables, flanked by wooden benches, indicated this might've been a mess hall once. Iron rings and manacles in the north-west corner told a story of their own, as did the scratch marks on the floor... Was this where the monstrous wolf was chained?

The door far west side of the room led into a broad tunnel. Onwards and downwards the party went! An hour or so later—it's difficult the tell the passage of time when one trods through dark and monotonous tunnels—they emerged into a chamber so massive their light showed nothing but darkness.

Rad and Gon'd'elf could pick up feint sounds of metal hitting metal, and metal hitting stone, echoing from somewhere far west.

“Let's crawl east-ward, alongside the northern wall...” Indeed, after another half an hour or so, the party found a tunnel framed with wooden beams. The sign to the side said “Exhausted mithril node.”

“Well, if one were to keep prisoners, they'd probably throw them in some dead end like this?” the adventurers were quick to hypothesize. Only one way to find out.

Following the tunnel for another half an hour or so, they arrived to a dead end. The tunnel was cut short by a pile of rocks and stones, that seemed to be some sort of cave-in. Just before the cave in was a hewn chamber. There was a small wooden desk, and two rotten chairs, as well as some mining equipment strewn around on the floor. Old-looking ladder in the north-east corner went up into a claustrophobic-looking shaft.

While exploring the chamber for any valuables, few of the members picked up on the weird grumbling noises coming from behind the debris in the dead end. Stopping to listen, it definitely sounded like some sort of language. The voice seemed agitated. It went quiet once Rad came closer and asked a question in common.

“I am Bergal Firebeard, and this is my mine! I've been stuck here for months! Can you please get me the fuck out of here?! There are some pickaxes by the side. Start by removing the rocks by the left side, that will prevent further cave in...”

Following Bergal's instructions, the party was able to set him free after an hour of work. The dwarf that came out had the most offensive smell imaginable. His beard was large and scruffy, and apparently home to few fungi as well. Sinai almost offered his water, but then decided to drink it himself, instead.

“I've been working here with my crew when we got ambushed by those foul hobgoblins. I'll kill them all with my two hands!”

“How about we get you out first, and then you can come back for vengeance?”

And somehow that was enough to convince this half-mad dwarf to follow them. It turned out that the ladders led into the cave chamber where Rad was unable to open the trapdoor. Luckily, he was able to open it from this side. Moving quickly, the party reached their camp unmolested.

Having had a brief moment of respite, they asked Bergal to rest in the VVagon, and then took off for Antil. The dwarf was complaining all the time “Six months gone, and my father sends someone just now? What a greedy bastard!” They arrived on the morning of Warmshade 1st.

“You know, I'm not as mad as I seem. You have saved my life, and for that I will be forever grateful. Once I retake my own mine, I promise to craft a mithril weapon or armour of your choice—for each one of you. Rad, Guha, Rhovar, Sinai, Francis, Dolgo, Ariad, Ehrman, and yes, even you Gon'd'elf—I'll remember your names forever!”

Player Session Reports

Sinai's map:

Mithril_mine_map

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Rad Thief level 2 A young, short and malnourished rogue.
Winslow Fighter level 3 A dirty warrior reeking of urine, body odours, and rotten wood.
Guha Thief level 1 Handsome and trustworthy gentleman who fled the jungle because it got “too hot.”
Gon'd'elf Elf level 2 “Surely magnificent, am I not?” is his favourite opener. Works every time, 40% of the time.
Deter Darker Magic-User level 2 A stable boy whom got tired of shovelling horse shit.

Later...

Character Class Description
Rhovar Fighter level 2 A generic Nordic guy.
Francis Goreaxe Dwarf level 1 A son of Goreaxe, master jeweller of Antil.
Dolgo Dwarf level 1 Francis's friend.

Longrass 11th, Airday

After carefully considering all their options, the party opted for the one they perceived to be the least amount of work for the most amount of gold—investigating Eargal Firebeard's mine and fate of his son whom went missing some six months ago.

With five adventurers, two retainers, VVagon full of equipment, and four mercenaries-in-training, this was a guaranteed success. While the rest of his peers spent their time preparing for the expedition, Guha decided to hit questionable inns and taverns for some rumours about influential actors in the city.

Nothing much came out of it (except some lost coin), but he did learn about the existence of the “Underlight Guild at the Walled Bazaar” from a man named Tabard.

The party set out, following the coast south-west. By mid-day they encountered a gross sight—vultures picking clean the carcasses of several slaughtered animals. The scene was gory, with blood splattered all over the coastal rocks. They smartly adjusted their course further south, to avoid the scene and whatever might've caused it.

The sun was up and spring was in full bloom. Winslow, whom had the rearguard duty, felt something was amiss. Sudden howls and barks did not surprise him. Seven wolves broke out of the woods, some with their muzzle still bloody, and charged the party without delay.

Winslow positioned himself to protect Deter, a fragile magic-user whose life he had already saved once. Alas, this time his noble act was rewarded by a wolf ripping out his throat. Another canine managed to take a bite of Deter, but he survived. Two mercenary trainees were lost to panic. Rad, Guha, and Ehrman, managed to down one each with a relentless barrage of arrows. Gon'd'elf's wizardry put the remaining wolves to sleep, finishing this brief, but brutal encounter.

The warrior was buried nearby, and the party continued their journey after brief moment of mourning.

Longrass 15th, Spiritday

“What are you doing?” a fine looking man dressed in gold-yellow cloak asked Deter. It was the third segment of night-watch, and it was the young cripple's turn.

“I'm chilling by the fire. Wanna join me”

“Chilling? What does that mean can you explain it to me?

“Well, you just sit down and don't do anything. Just enjoy yourself.

“I don't understand. Why would you do that?”

“It's a human thing...” Gon'd'elf interjected, awoken by the discussion.

“Ah, why didn't you say so earlier! Oh humans, I never understood their habits...”

“What are you doing here? Why are you out and about in the hills at this time?”

“I went out for a nice walk—to stretch my legs and enjoy some fresh air!”

“And where are you from? Where is your home?”

“Oh, just across the sea, at the Castelian Mountains. You ought to visit once. Well, I leave you to your “chilling” and off I go “chilling” in the hills.”

Bejewelled by the man's gilded cloak, Deter quickly grabbed some rope and followed him in the darkness. He snuck up on the man, but failed to surprise him. The figure turned around, with eyes glowing gold, and asked with stern voice “What are you doing?” Young mage already made up his mind, and went forward with his plan.

Calling it a plan might be an overstatement. An idea, perhaps, would be a better fitting word. Either way, Deter's intention was to quickly tie up the man, and take whatever valuables might there be on him. After all, someone who hikes in golden cloak must be full of treasure.

The figure easily overpowered Deter, and the whispered a word in a language so alien that it sounded like gentle breeze caressing the morning dew. At first Deter felt nothing but warmth and solace. That feeling was soon replaced with a tickling sensation in his fingertips, which then evolved into feeling like his skin was being twisted with great force.

He could see his fingers shrivel and wither; the effect soon expanded to his palms, then forearms, then elbows, and it didn't stop until his arms were nothing but two pathetic twigs. Golden-eyed figure blew some air, and Deter's twigs fell off.

Armless, the mage retread back to the camp, and hid himself in his bedroll... Perhaps he hoped none of his peers would notice his latest deformation.

Indeed, morning did not bring a flurry of questions. Other adventures were obviously too polite, or too self-absorbed to notice. They packed up their camp, and marched on in their quest for the mine.

It was high noon when they found it. There it stood, a gaping mouth on the western side of the Windgod Hills. An old wooden table and some chairs stood in front of the entrance. There were some dice on the table. The damaged sign said “Mithril Mine, Property of Firebeard.”

“That's the place. Let's go.”

Rhovar, a fighter whom the party met on their way here, took the lead. Armless Deter took the rearguard, while others were in between.

The mine entrance opened up in ten feet wide and tall corridor. Part of it was natural and part of it was hewn. Daylight didn't penetrate any further than 30 feet in.

The fighter was first to see the descent, but before he had any chance to inform the others, two large hairy brutes surprised him out of the darkness. They beat him unconscious.

At the same time, three armoured humanoids, whom Gon'd'elf recognised as hobgoblins, surprised Deter from behind. Alas, the Armless mage was pathetic opposition and was quickly killed.

Elvish tricks once again saved the day—once he put the three hobgoblins to sleep, everybody focused on the hairy brutes up front. One of the two slipped and dropped his weapon, while the other fled down into the darkness.

Francis and Dolgo, two dwarf buddies, joined the fray by jumping down from above, crushing the heads of two sleeping hobgoblins. The party rapidly wore down the sole standing monster, and then quickly retreated to their camp some two hundred feet away from the mine entrance.

Although wounded, withered, and demoralised, they arrived at the right place. What will they do next?

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Gon'd'elf Elf level 1 “Surely magnificent, am I not?” is his favourite opener. Works every time, 40% of the time.
Amanda Hugencuise Thief level 3 A new girl in town, claiming to be foreign exchange student, up for some “exciting missions” and enjoying the local cuisine.
Rad Thief level 1 A young, short and malnourished rogue.
Deter Darker Magic-User level 2 A stable boy whom got tired of shovelling horse shit.
Winslow Fighter level 2 A dirty warrior reeking of urine, body odours, and rotten wood.

Deter's and Winslow's reports linked at the end of the post.

Longrass 4th, Fireday

After few long weeks, the Hydra Company Headquarters were cleaned up. Whatever wasn't deemed to be worthy of adventuring had been either sold off or thrown out. Outsides have been repainted, windows refitted, and roof retiled. Spartan bunk beds have been procured—just enough so every company officer has one to sleep in.

Further, the company had plastered calls for employment at the main square, inviting “young men with brave hearts and hungry bellies. No equipment necessary as all training will be given. 1gp/per month, with room and board.”

56 people showed up, mostly locals, all eager to get their gold coin, some warm food, and a place to sleep at. Most are ganged up in front of the freshly painted entrance, eager to speak with Hydra Company officers. Sailors and dockworkers seemed to be slightly annoyed with this crowd, as they made their job more difficult.

Winslow devised two tests:

  • First, he took them on a thirty minute run, followed by calisthenics.
  • Second, those that still stood were interviewed one by one. At the end of the interview he handed them a sword and asked them to behead the horse. If they flinched and thought about it, but ultimately walked forward to hit the creature he'd stop them and told them they are hired. If they refused, they weren't hired. If they took the sword and went to do it with enthusiasm, they also weren't hired.

In the end, 14 men passed both tests. Winslow paid each a gold coin for their first wage packet. As men came to collect the coin, he'd whisper “Hail Hydra” in their ear. Some were confused, and yet others simply repeated the words.

“Welcome all you young lads of strong body and courageous heart, welcome to your new abode, it isn't much now but its home. Take a bowl of this stew and a good cup of ale. We are all family now!”

Longrass 5th, Spiritday

“We can't clean the cellar given all the lepers down there. And we did promise to help them retake their home... In return, they will show us what they know of the sewers.”

Winslow, Rad, Gon'd'elf, Amanda, Ariad, Ehrman, and Deter Darker prepared for the sewage crawl. Ariad and Ehrman were tasked with carrying a ladder. Winslow picked out Hamnet as the most promising recruit, and assigned him torch-bearing duties.

The leper led them through a secret passageway in the cellar. They traversed in a single file through a dank and dusty corridor for almost an hour before reaching the “sewers.”

Part cavern, part hewn stone, the tunnel was 15 feet wide with a three feet wide gangways on both sides. Trench running through the middle was filled with filthy, offensively malodorous, chest-deep water.

Unwilling to risk contracting leprosy, the party moved in a single file on one gangway, while the diseased guide walked on the other. Their steps echoed down the seemingly endless tunnel...

“We need to extinguish the torches before moving on... A massive swarm nests in the coming room... We have to be quiet and no harm will come to us.”

The party obliged. Gon'd'elf carefully took the lead, leveraging his elven infravision. The man wasn't lying—there were hundreds of tiny heat signatures above him, forming a domed shape. It was as if a gigantic, moth-eaten canopy was hung above him.

“We are here... I dare not go further! The hairy monster dwells there!” It's been nearly three hours since they descended in these foul tunnels—Winslow the only one who seemed unphased—so this were rather welcoming news.

The party could see a corridor connecting to the tunnel, albeit no sewage went into it. “We made this our home because no one passes here. It is, sorry, was, abandoned.” Rad peeked around the corner, only to see a number of thick spider webs.

“Light up?”

“Light up.”

Few oil bombs later, some of the webs were burned away. What little light that provided revealed the corridor expands into a triangle-shaped room filled with even more webs.

Rad took few steps in so he can throw fire deeper into the room. As he was about to lit up a new starter, a massive spider lunged out of the darkness. In fact, it was so large that it filled the full width of the corridor.

Winslow jumped forth to protect the scrawny thief, while the rest quickly formed ranks in the corridor; for fighting in the tunnel itself would be very perilous.

In the ongoing chaos Rad managed to set the spider on fire, while Winslow successfully defended him and avoided the spider's relentless assault. Alas, Ariad accidentally shot the fighter in the back, nearly killing him.

Gon'd'elf's quick tactical suggestion ensured that Ariad and Ehrman take the front rank, switching with wounded Winslow and fragile Rad. The monstrous spider jubilantly dove in Ehrman, downing him with shocking ease.

It did not get another chance, for Rad took it down with a shoot between its many eyes. The spider twitched, stumbled, and finally, fell over... completely blocking the corridor.

The ladders came into play, allowing adventurers to enter into the room one by one. Deter was the first, followed by Rad and Winslow. Gon'd'elf tended to Ehrman, for he noticed the man was still breathing.

The room was full of debris composed of broken wood, torn clothing, and skeletal remains of small critters. What little web was left held three cocoons. Rad watched in confusion as Deter ran to cut each one open.

A desiccated diseased corpse fell out of first one. Second one revealed a robbed corpse with nice looking backpack. Deter respectfully ransacked it, finding a spellbook, some coin, and golden statue of a bear. Third, final, cocoon, took him by surprise.

Perhaps it was greed, perhaps it was tiredness, perhaps it was the awkward position of the cocoon itself. Whatever it was, a desiccated leper fell straight on Deter, pinning him down to the ground. Their lips nearly touched in the process. The mage quickly threw corpse to the side, scuttling up as fast as he could.

“Thank you! Oh, thank you so much! We will leave your cellar as soon as possible. Could I please ask you for one more favour? Could you move the spider out of the way? Some of us are in a quite a poor shape, and any physical exertion might kill us.”

“I want to milk it.” was Deter's response. He took out an empty vial, and starter massaging the giant spider's corpse. When he found what he believed to be glands, he squeezed, until few tiny drops formed on the mandibles. Lo and behold, he managed to capture one.

Unhappy with the quantity, he asked others to help him chop up the corpse, so he can continue working on it in their headquarters.

“Oh no! He is here! The albino hunter is here! Run! Run!” the leper was long gone into the dark tunnel. Amanda, Deter, Gon'd'elf and his retinue bravely retreated, while Winslow and Rad covered themselves with one of the open cocoons.

A massive albino crocodile emerged from the sewer trench. Poor Hamnet never stood a chance. He looked in confusion as men he looked up to scattered in different directions, without telling him what to do.

The crocodile bit him diagonally, crushing his collarbone in the process, and then dragged him down into the sewage. And then they disappeared into the darkness.

It took our courageous adventurers half an hour to gather enough courage to check if the albino hunter is gone. Indeed it was. Unwilling to spend too much time in the sewers, Deter had to settle for “just” chopping off the giant spider's head. And so they marched back home...

A little bit over two hours later, they saw the light of day once more.

Deter Darker spent the next five days dissecting the giant spider's head using two spoons. His hopes of extracting any venom were obliterated by woefully incorrect assumptions that the process is akin to milking a cow.

Player Session Reports

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Winslow Fighter level 2 A dirty warrior reeking of urine, body odours, and rotten wood.
Dingbatt Barett Thief level 2 Ginger, skinny, and scrawny copy of Johnny Depp; speaks like a moron.
Rad Thief level 1 A young, short and malnourished rogue.
Basso Halfling level 1 A stable boy whom got tired of shovelling horse shit.
Gon'd'elf Elf level 1 “Surely magnificent, am I not?” is his favourite opener. Works every time, 40% of the time.
Amanda Hugencuise Thief level 3 A new girl in town, claiming to be foreign exchange student, up for some “exciting missions” and enjoying the local cuisine.

Winslow's and Deter's reports linked at the end of the post.

Meadowlark 3th–9th

Having returned to Antil without their protectee, Sir Fondleroy, but with his purse containing ten shiny pearls, the party was ready to move on with their ambitious plans—world domination.

Deter, now a chunk of barely living flesh, has been left in the capable hands of the Shang Ta healers. Winslow even threw in some extra coin for the Windgod's blessings.

Establishing a mercenary company was determined as a first step towards the world domination. Brother Kallahan and Winslow spent a week gathering information on how exactly to do that. It turns out all one needs is some coin, a “headquarters,” and a name.

They also learned that Antil is politically aligned with the City State of the Invincible Overlord. The Overlord pays good money to Antilian mercenary companies.

The rumour has it that Overlord's grip of Altanis has been severely weakened by the defeat he suffered few months ago. Although he personally led his Vasthost in the march on Viridistan, the Green Emperor's armies routed him.

Now Zothay, the largest port in Altanis, has fallen into the hands of Skandik and hobgoblin armies, an unholy alliance forged in the depths of cold north. Old South Road is in great peril.

Measly politics aside, the most interesting piece of information was about the deed for an abandoned warehouse on the docks that will go up for auction on Meadowlark 10th. It would've sold for 30 000 gold pieces, or more in its heyday.

Rad spent his days paying off old debts and creating new ones. Young thief managed to rack up a debt of 500 gold coin. Alas, he had to pay back interest as well, totalling his repayment up to 550 gold coin. Luckily for him, he got to keep all his extremities.

Then he decided to go to the Friend's Arms for a hearty meal; a place he usually couldn't afford to visit. Indeed, at first he was almost kicked out, but was admitted after flashing his newly filled coin purse. He ordered the house's biggest pheasant with a side of vegetables. After eating nothing but terrible rations for weeks, he scarfed it down in a beast like display helping him forget his loss of 50 gold that was eating away at him after it happened.

With full belly and heavy purse, young Rad decided to gamble.

Seven Vultures was a known place for knaves to throw dice, knives, and lives; perfect for what Rad was looking for. The place was filthy, and reeked of body odours and cheap alcohol. Somehow it was quite dark, even though it was broad daylight outside. Rad worked his way to a small round table with a scruffy looking man in dirty clothes.

“You put in the bet. No coin, no bet. No payment, no hand—the house chooses which. You throw three dice. Following results win...” the rough croupier explained. And so Rad started rolling, putting in maximum best of 20 gold per round.

“Almost! ... Would you like to roll again? Fortune favours the bold!”

“I’m gonna keep rolling till I win one!”

“That's the spirit! Drinks for this young man!”

Few questionable ladies gathered around their table and begun cracking inappropriate jokes. “Oh my, look how big his pocket is!” “Oh, but it is getting drier and drier... like a little plum!”

“Woo, won one!”

“OH MY!” two of the wenches start screaming, and one spills ale all over you. A gang of ugly looking bastards have gathered gathered around the table by now; everyone observing the commotion. “240 gold coin for the young knave!” the croupier announced loudly.

“Ey boy, pay a round for us, we've been cheering for you all the time!” and Rad paid up, and kept playing.

“Yes. Lady Luck smiles upon you... Do you dare bet higher?”

But the smile was gone.

“You'll get it all back! And more!”

“Come on, do it vulture!” the fat lady screamed as her tits fell out and she rolled off the table.

Annoyed with the crowd, Rad now threw in 60 gold coin for a bet.

“Wooo!” “Cocky!”

Another loss.

“Loser!” “Booooo!”

“SHUT UP!” Rad yelled as he threw in another 60 gold coins.

The crowd burst into uproarious laughter as the dice once more favoured the house.

Rad being pissed off at his luck failing places the last of his 108 gold “All or nothing!” and raises his hand in the air for applause.

Disappointed gasps and sighs came from the crowd.

“Ah, almost young vulture.”

The rogue got so mad he threw the dice on the floor and started stomping them. He was quickly “calmed” by the patrons, and luckily only his ego was bruised. After finishing his pint he realised he has no money left for a hovel he was staying at... So he slept a cold wet night on the street, his only comfort being having nothing on him worth stealing.

He spent the rest of his days bumming around with bottom-dwellers, gathering some intelligence in the process. Turns out beggars know a thing or two about gambling. Kelman's Rumble, an annual event by the mysterious Lord of the Kelman House is the place for serious gamblers. Those who attend never say a word! Invitees seem to be selected at random.

“The rumour has it Vorn's imbecile son gambled off his own sister in the last year's Rumble... Haven't seen her since.”

“Kelman's House servants are strange looking. I call them the Hollow Men, as they lack personality. And hair and skin color too I may add!”

Not only that, but Rad also heard about the same warehouse Winslow and Brother Kallahan learned of “I heard a that haunted warehouse will soon go for auction. Good luck to sorry gits who buy it!”

The party pooled their coin and prepared for the auction.

Meadowlark 10th, Spiritday

Amanda the scout surveyed the warehouse at dawn. It was an unremarkable two-story building with a humble dock attached to it. Most of the windows were boarded up or covered in dirt and grime.

A finely dressed woman, surrounded by six armed men wearing colours of the City Watch, was nearby as well. Amanda quickly found out the woman's name—Aina—and worked out a deal that would allow her party to pay the deposit and bring the rest of the coin within the hour of auction closing.

Indeed, our adventurers came to the auction in great number: Winslow, Dingbatt Barett, Rad, Basso, Gon'd'elf, and Amanda. They even brought along Ehrman and Ariad, two of their retainers.

“Welcome. The warehouse is sold as-is. No complaints, no returns. Immediate payment.”

As Winslow made his way to the front of the crowd, ready to bid on the party's behalf, Gon'd'elf scanned the mass for any signs of danger. It didn't take him long to notice three shady characters with poorly concealed weapons and ill-fitting armour.

“The starting price is...” Aina continued, shuffling through her papers “No, this can't be right. Oh well.” she stammered, and then cleaned her throat “The starting price is 728 gold pieces. Offers?”

Winslow immediately raised his hand and voice, signalling that he matches the opening bid.

“800!” came from the odd looking trio.

“850!” Winslow fired back.

By now Gon'd'elf and Amanda were closely watching the trio, and they could see them elbowing each other. Some aggressive motioning and whispering later, the loudest shouted “Nine hundred and eighty four gold coins!”

“One thousand and one hundred coin!” Winslow roared, throwing a mean stare their way. They reciprocated with a select choice of insults, some spit, and then promptly stormed off.

“Any other offers? No...? Sold to the hairy man, then...”

Aina handed party the keys once they've paid up—God King's tithe included—a total of 1 210 gold coins. “Clean this place up. It cannot remain at the docks in this state.”

Oh, how eager Rad was to just go in and turn the place upside down! The rest barely convinced him to take care of registering the company first. And thus was Hydra Company born.

“Hail Hydra!” the adventurer's could be heard, fist-bumping, as they were strolling back to their newly acquired, dilapidated, headquarters.

By the time they arrived, Rad was shaking with anticipation. He just grabbed the key from Winslow, and went straight in through the main doors. A trio of bells rung, announcing his entry.

Gon'd'elf, Amanda, Ehrman, and Ariad stayed out, and investigated attached docks and large wooden gates on what looked like a cargo hall. The elf could hear some murmuring coming from behind.

Rad, still impatient, made his way through several rooms, one emptier than the other. He did notice dusty footprints leading down the stairs. Dingbatt went straight for the wide wooden doors. They proved to be quite heavy, so he pushed them open with a loud bang.

A large room, some thirty by sixty feet, full of boxes and crates presented itself. At the far end was a group of angry men, armed with knives and clubs, whom seemed to be shouting at a wet, half-naked figure hanging upside down from the ceiling.

Curious as ever, Dingbatt the Bright came closer to inquire what is this all about. “This bastard here owes us some coin!” “Ya, he's been stealing from us!”

“Lies, all lies, you delusional scum!”

“A captain he called himself! And he stole from us!” and with those words, few of the angry men hit the captain with clubs.

“Oh, that's horrible!” Dingbatt was full of sympathy “How much did he steal?”

“Five hundred coin!”

“Horrible! How about we beat him up, and then you join us? We are hiring brave men like you!”

“Oh wow, that sounds amazing!”

“What? What?! What are you talking about! No, please, no!”

Alas, it was too late for the poor captain, for Dingbatt crushed his skull with a club he borrowed from one of the angry sailors. Then they cut the rope and let his corpse fall down to the shore beneath the warehouse.

Only now did Dingbatt realise that part of the warehouse was actually extending over the shoreline, and that this large trapdoor was used to load or unload cargo from smaller ships that would moor beneath.

“What the fuck is happening here? Who are all these people?” Winslow burst in through west doors, sword drawn.

“Ha!” Gon'd'elf swung the south doors wide open.

“Oh no!” “The guards are here!” “We are doomed!” the sailors yelled exasperated “It was all his idea!” they pointed to Dingbatt. Four jumped into the sea bellow.

After some back and forth, the party sternly asked them to leave, and so they did. Elf tried to charge them with some rent, but alas, his request did not find fertile soil.

Rad emerged from stairs that led down. “There are more squatters here than us! What is this! Did they check this place before selling them at all!”

It turns out that the cellar housed thirteen humans in a rather poor health. Lepers, they call them. Even worse, they are often killed on sight, so they have to hide in the Antil's sewers. They were forced to find another place because of the horrible beast that kicked them out. “Sewers, you say?” Winslow twisted his whiskers. “We will aid you, and in return you will act as our guides to the Underworld. You can stay here until then. Just don't come up.”

“How much are we going to charge them?” could be heard from one of the unnamed characters.

“Oh, thank you!” “Thank you!” cries of gratitude filled the damp cellar. “Please, whatever you do—do not open the coffer in the loft!”

Of course, that mean that the party promptly went to investigate the loft. There indeed was a coffin there, just beneath the window looking west. Locked steel doors, unlike any other in the warehouse, were of interest as well.

As the party carefully approached the coffin, they were spooked by an old lady coming from an adjacent room. “What are you doing here? Who are you? Why are you here? Where am I? Why am I here? Why is your place so dirty? Oooh, why don't you clean more often!” she seemed to progress from confused to all worked up because of the scattered mess. “Clean up, right now!” and with those words she dissipated in the air.

Winslow quickly retrieved some flowers and placed them by the coffin. “Let us know how can we place you to rest.” “Tarantis. That's where I was to be buried.” The plaque read Dorothea Burser.

Whilst this was happening, Amanda worked her way into the room behind steel doors. Oh, what marvels did it hide! An intricate dry fountain of entwining serpents, five delicate garden statues of exquisite make, and four breathtaking paintings.

And so did the Hydra Company begin.

Player Session Reports

And Deter's portrait:

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Rad Thief level 1 A young, short and malnourished rogue.
Deter Darker Magic-user level 1 Cloak-wearing body-modification aficionado.
Winslow Fighter level 2 A dirty warrior reeking of urine, body odours, and rotten wood.

Winslow's and Deter's reports linked at the end of the post.

Sweetrain 19th, Fireday

Leaving their fighter to the doom of his making, the party successfully fled the pursuing mass of monsters. While most were into recovering and lollygaging around Antil, Rad and Winslow felt a bit more ambitious.

They remembered Sir Fondleroy, whom offered Taaaz 500 gold coin for a “simple escort and protection service.” On their way to him they've encountered a slender man dressed in cloak and shorts, the latter revealing his hairy thighs and legs. Shoes with curls pointing upwards adorned his feet, and a half-mask concealed his face.

The man in question was Deter Darker, the most uncharismatic mage to ever step foot in Antil. That, of course, did not deter Rad and Winslow to invite him to join them. The more the merrier!

Sir Fondleroy took some convincing from the trio before taking them on as his escorts. He'd already hired Mahlon, Xaver, and Whippold, three locals, but was afraid they'd betray and mug him as soon as they left Antil.

And so they set off.

“We are looking for a magical tower that allows only the select few in. Those who manage to pass all its tests and tribulations are rewarded with a vast kingdom, breathtaking princess, and endless riches.” Fondleroy answered Winslow's inquiries.

“I've travelled all of Wilderlands, paid many thousand gold coins to sages and wise-men, and looked into more then one unsavoury place. It was many years of work—but I believe I'm on the right trail now!”

“My friends, if my notes are correct—and there is no reason why they shouldn't be—then by tomorrow evening all of you will have posts in my kingdom. Rad, you'll be my bailiff! Winslow, captain of the guard! Deter, I'm sure we'll find a post for you as well—one where no one can see you!”

Three guard Fondleroy hired before trailed the party, frowning and sulking behind them. What will their posts be? Why are they being snubbed so?

Either way, the day was coming to an end just as they reached the jungle which was supposedly hiding their kingdom...

Sweetrain 20th, Spiritday

“Winslow, Rad, please come closer gentlemen. Do you remember I mentioned trials? Well, the first one is by the entrance. There is supposedly a creature—some sort of guardian—whom bars others from entering the tower. The legend says it was a warlord unworthy of the kingdom who is now cursed to watch over it forevermore.”

“Now, if my notes are correct—and there is no reason why they shouldn't be—this creature is awfully slow. So my plan is that the two of you sneak as far away from me as you can, and then pelter it with arrows and stones. When it is sufficiently distracted, I'll make a run for the tower and get in. From then on, just keep it distracted until I come out.”

“Under no circumstances should anyone follow me into the tower. Is that understood?” and just as Fondleroy finished, the party had found what they were seeking.

It's been hours and hours of working through the thick jungle. What stood in front of them barely made any sense, but it was what they were after none the less.

A monolithic tower nearly 150 feet tall, sparkly and blinding, reflecting the sun into whomever tries to lay their eyes on it. It was surrounded by an acre of green, lush meadow. Blush red bushes ringed the base, hares grazed the grass, and few deer frolicked on the far end of the field. It was truly a sight to behold.

“This must be it! Make small camp here. Mahlon, Xaver, Whippold, and Deter, you stay in the camp and watch that no one disturbs us. Rad and Winslow, you make your way west and shoot at the guardian... With that being said, where is it?”

There was a ten feet tall black obelisk that stood right in front of the sole entrance into the tower. It looked crooked, and black than the blackest black—as if it was sucking in the surrounding light into itself. Rad and Winslow instinctively pointed at it “That thing.”

And so they set the plan in motion. Winslow went as far west as he could; Rad hid in the overgrowth and readied his shortbow; and Fondleroy crouched behind some broken trees, ready to make a run for it.

The adventurers had been right. The obelisk reacted to the arrows and stones by transforming into a twenty feet tall pole, with two appendages hanging on each side. Both seemed to terminate with horrid hooks. Whatever was shot at it seemed to disappear. It approached the attackers slow, so slow. It didn't seem to walk, but rather levitate or glide towards them. It creaked and shivered as it moved.

A minute later, Fondleroy was almost ready to make a run for it. He was so focused on the reward that awaits him, that he failed to notice Deter sneaking up behind him.

One Rad realised he is wasting arrows, he opted to use his voice instead. Shouting profanities and provocations seemed to work quite well. Winslow managed to creep up all the way to the tower. Being so close, he could finally see the tower is really made of—some sort of blue-gray speckled stone.

“Now!” Sir Fondleroy muttered to himself, and sprinted off for the large wooden gates reinforced with iron bars. Deter followed, observing the noble making his way in. He could see him stand in front of the doors, making specific hand movements, and then operating an ornate box next to the doors. Finally, the gates opened, and he went in.

Using the opportunity, Deter sneaked up to the doors, and realised that Fondleroy hadn't completely closed them. They were ajar just enough to barely see in. Pausing to listen, Deter heard several female voices speaking in order:

“Those who would have a kingdom must be pure in heart, trusting and peaceful.”

“One must throw away the weapons of war and don the garments of love!”

“Only the pure and the worthy may break the seal and awaken the princess.”

“To the princess’ groom will pass the right to rule over the Kingdom of Duvan’Ku and possess its treasures.”

As this was happening, Rad heard Umber Fury—Fondleroy's war horse—neigh. Making his way towards the camp unveiled a confusing sight. It looked like Mahlon was trying to pull something off the horse, while Xaver and Whippold were wrestling each other.

Being the “shoot first, ask later” type of guy, Rad immediately downed Mahlon by an arrow to the head. The other two stopped wrestling, and pulled their swords on each other.

Deter decided he listened enough. He is going in. A horrific sight materialised in front of him as he was to lay his hands onto the doors. They transformed into a writhing mass of tentacles and teeth, dripping with gooey saliva-like substance. Some of the appendages lunged at him, and pulled him into the opening manifesting in front of him.

Was it through arcane means or sheer willpower does not matter, for Deter somehow managed to survive the crushing hug of the monster. Alas, that meant that he was conscious as the horror started to fuse with him.

Winslow circled the guardian obelisk, and was about to run back to them camp, when he'd seen his fellow adventurer pulled in by the doors. Unwilling to leave him be, the fighter ran up, and pulled the mage out of the horrific doors. Chunks of flesh and muscle were ripped from Deter's bones, but at least he was now on the fighter's back.

But their return was about to get even more exciting.

Twenty-foot tall levitating obelisk started to buzz and tremble. It lifted off the ground, and then fell apart into four pillars connected with a plus-shape on top of them. A deformed sphere formed beneath the crossing of two pillars. Looking into it filled Winslow with unexplainable sense of dread and doom.

“Ghjhhh... Agghhh! Hjjkklkjjj...” he growled and spat and murmured; but he pressed on, with Deter on his back. Whilst this was happening, Xaver and Whippold still fought each other, both failing to inflict any significant wounds. Rad resolved their score by head-shooting Xaver.

The transformed guard moved much faster than the levitating one. In fact, it galloped straight at heavily encumbered Winslow. But it came to sudden halt, smashing into an invisible barrier. The fighter just stepped out of the idyllic meadow, and it seemed the creature was incapable of following them. Fool's luck!

The horses were restless. Even Umber Fury, whom has seen many battlefield, seemed unnerved by something. Rad frisked the corpses while Winslow bandaged mutilated Deter. Then they made a campfire, and threw the two dead Altanians into the fire. Whippold didn't seem to protest.

“What now?”

“We wait for Sir Fondleroy...”

Four hours later and Vanis was out in all its glory. What a magnificent full moon was it!

“Ghhh... Ahh! Don't look! Don't look at me!” Winslow grunted as he howled. The horses went mad, ripping out the stakes and galloping off into the jungle. “HHssshhh! Aggghh!” Rad looked in horror as the fighter deformed into a hairy beast, his clothes and leather armour bursting at seams. He readied his shortbow as this creature ran into the jungle. Two yellow eyes were the last thing he'd seen of Winslow.

Whippold was too tired to say anything. This was all way too surreal for him. What the fuck has he gotten himself into?

“We watch guard until the dawn.” Rad ordered. And so they did.

Meadowlark 1st, Airday

“Not a word to anyone about this. Not a word.” Naked, bloodied, and filthy, Winslow returned to camp in the early morning. Unbeknownst to the fighter, Rad was most upset about lost horses. “Do you know how valuable these are! And you scared them all away! You git!”

“What's in there?” a small silk pouch was hidden on the right side of the Umber Fury's plate mail barding. “By the Barangorn!” Ten pristine pearls were in it.

“Listen, he'd be done by now. It'd be best to head back to Antil. Our friend here needs some care anyway!”

Player Session Reports

And Deter's portrait:

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Winslow Fighter level 2 A dirty warrior reeking of urine, body odours, and rotten wood.
Rad Thief level 1 A young, short and malnourished rogue.
Rux Cleric level 1 A humble priest of Dyrantril, God of Alchemy.
Brother Kallahan Cleric level 2 Crooked, broken nose; big bags under eyes; long hair, bald spot hidden under old pilgrim's hat; and emaciated figure. Mosquitoes and the smell of dampness always accompanies him.
Taaaz Fighter level 3 Tall figure whose skinny frame is hidden behind plate armour he never takes off—including the helmet.
Gon'd'elf Elf level 1 “Surely magnificent, am I not?” is his favourite opener. Works every time, 40% of the time.

Taaaz's and Winslows's reports linked at the end of the post.

Sweetrain 16th, Airday

“What shall we do next?”

“Let's escort that noble, that seemed like easy coin!”

“What about that orc artefact? Didn't that sound alluring as well?”

“Yes, but we are dirt poor and wilderness is scary—will even reach the ruined fort alive?”

“Fine, what about crocodile gizzards? Let's take a walk to the jungle and seek some...”

“Oh man, jungles around here are just vile! Wyvrens, giant spiders, and all kinds of horrors lurk there!”

And so were Taaaz, Kallahan, Rad, Rux, and Gon'd'elf discussing their next adventure, when a dirty figure interrupted them.

“Lads, there is a bandit keep full of treasure just south-west of here. My friends were slaughtered like pigs, and I was left for dead, but its riches remain unspoiled!”

It was difficult to assess what was more offensive about the figure—its smell or visage—but its words were enough to motivate our brave band of delvers.

“Winslow's the name. I'll be happy to lead the way should you be interested.”

They packed their supplies into VVagon, fed their draft horses, and assembled their impressive retinue of fighting men: Samlan, Balfour, Ariun, Ehrman, and Ariad.

And off they marched, leaving the Gates of Antil behind them.

Sweetrain 17th, Waterday

By the end of first watch, two ruined towers connected by equally dilapidated gatehouse were within sight. Dividing themselves into smaller groups, the party marched in line with some hundred feet between each team.

Rad was leading far ahead—his petite figure would surely allow him to scout the ruin efficiently. It was sunny, as most days in Altanian peninsula are. Birds were chirping and wildlife was freely moving around. It was as nature gave little care to this ruined keep marring its halcyon vista.

For two hours he carefully prowled to, and through the gatehouse, and then to west and east ends, finding absolutely nothing but bare stone, collapsed walls, and overgrown cracks. He did find four entrances, two to each tower.

Both towers had large wooden doors on their south side. Gatehouse had two facing doors midway its corridor.

The party came up with a devious plan:

  • Brother Kallahan, leading Samlan and Balfour, will sneak up to west tower and spike the doors.
  • Taaaz, Winslow, Rux, and Ariun will sneak up to east tower and spike the doors as well.
  • Rad, Gon'd'elf and his retinue, will hide some two hundred feet away, with bows ready to rain hell on any opposition that might emerge.

Once the tower doors would be spiked, the party would enter through the gatehouse, and slaughter all there is to be slaughtered.

Spiking teams approached the towers slowly, ensuring they move as silently as possible. Archery team found a safe spot and crouched between some bushes, rocks, and broken trees.

“Why are we spiking this? Why don't we just go in?” Taaaz inquired as Winslow and Rux took out mallets and iron spikes.

Gon'd'elf saw them first, some three hundred feet to the east. Three towering figures, each at least two metres tall, followed by six human-sized figures. It was difficult to see them clearly, but all seemed to be heavily armoured and well equipped with swords, spears, maces, and bows.

Unwilling to reveal his position, he opted to fire an arrow towards the east tower as a warning signal to his friends.

“That's it; this is the signal!” Taaaz yelled enthusiastically, and went straight through the doors as a living incarnation of a battering ram, his retainer bravely rushing in. Winslow and Rux looked at each other, and fled in Gon'd'elf's direction.

Kallahan and his crew just finished spiking the west tower, and opted to flee on the first sight of commotion.

The approaching figures started sprinting toward the east tower, yelling and roaring. The elf recognised smaller humanoids—hobgoblins. The larger were unfamiliar, but had a rather imposing frame, with bulging muscles covered in fur. Their faces were akin to tiger's—if the tiger had been hit with a shovel.

Approaching monsters seemed oblivious to anything but the man who just broke into the east tower; they moved with hunter's intent.

“Oh... Ooooh, the Reverie calls!” the elf entered an entranced state so deep that Rad couldn't wake him up, no matter what he did. He tried slapping, pouring water, licking his ear; everything he could think of!

Taaaz bashed in through another doors, finding a dark junction in front of himself. He motioned to his equally bloodlusty retainer to come closer so he can hand him the lantern, but a sudden scream was all he could hear. Ariun fell into dark pit, not a sound to be heard from him.

“Hey... Are you OK? Are you alive?” Taaaz's questions went unanswered. He ran into the closest room he could find, but was caught by two tiger-headed creatures, followed by a number of hairy humanoids.

Layout worked in his favour—since corridors were barely five feet wide, the pursuers were forced to fight one by one. He placed the lantern onto the ground in the corner of the room, unheated his great sword, and faced the towering monster.

Three hobgoblins and one tiger-faced monster were still outside, unable to squeeze in. “Fire!” Gon'd'elf roared as he snapped out of his narcoleptic attack. Rux, Kallahan, Samlan, and Balfour rushed them, oil flasks at ready. Winslow fell back, hid behind some rock, and started pelting the monsters with stones.

Alas, all but the elf repeatedly missed. Rux, being the first to come within throwing range, also missed with his oil flask. Hobgoblins used the opportunity to mob him. One of them grabbed him by the arm as he was about to light another flask, and chopped it off with its axe. Other two then wrestled him down to the ground, and beat him to a pulp. He was defiant until the very end.

Taaaz, inside the east tower, was trading blows with the monster. Both were strong and pumped, dexterous and agile—but the fighter was better! Not even a crab spider dropping from the ceiling broke his concentration. The monster swung its morningstar, missed the warrior by an inch. Taaaz responded by dropping his greatsword low between the attackers legs, followed by a might swing upwards; cleaving the monster in half.

Then he grabbed its big head, smashing it with his gauntled fist; ripping out its still pulsing throat. Unrelenting in his brutality, he grabbed still the monster still twitching remains, and threw them into the hallway he fled from, slamming the doors behind him.

Outside, the party rained arrows, rocks, and oil flasks at the charging hobgoblins. Gon'd'elf took two down, and Balfour set one alight. Large, tiger-faced, monster charged in, swinging wildly. It took four arrows and six blows to take it down. It was Balfour, still enraged with Rux's death, who mercilessly clubbed the creature on both sides of its head.

“Shall we go in to save our friends?”

“Nah, he made his bed. There'll be time for revenge!”

“Who is in there?”

Taaaz, dripping with blood of his enemies, and breathing heavily observed the room he was in. It was small, with a wall-to-wall gold-green tapestry. He could hear a sound of crashing doors from behind it. A similar creature to the one he just eviscerated stepped out from behind the gold-green tapestry and lunged at him with its bare hands.

Brushing off its blows, the fighter struck it several times, bringing his sword down on its skull. As the monster dropped to its knees, Taaaz continued hammering its head with the pummel of his greatsword, until there was nothing but mashed brain jelly all over the floors, walls, tapestry, and himself.

The room now thoroughly reeked of blood and fur. A quick frisk of the corpse revealed eight gold coins. Scuttling could be heard from behind the tapestry.

“Let's head back to the camp. We can regroup there and figure further course of action. It's just four hundred feet away. Let's go!”

The warrior used his two-handed sword to unhinge the top-left of the tapestry, provoking the crab spider to lunge at its own death, impaling itself on Taaaz's greatsword.

Wounded and exhausted, the only logical course of action was to plunder this small room for all its riches. A closer inspection of the tapestry revealed a motif of a hart chased by hounds and riders. The colors are now faded, and several large holes ruin the composition. Moths have also been at the tapestry, and any light shone on the far side of the tapestry is visible as pinpricks of light coming through the tapestry's surface.

He also noticed a chest by the north-west wall. It was old and with a broken latch. Some rubbish and silver coin were all its contents. Taaaz knelled down, and started folding the tapestry so he can put it into his backpack.

As he was doing so, both doors burst open, and the small ten by fifteen room was flooded by goblins and hobgoblins, surprising the fighter. He tried to swing, but alas, missed them all.

The sheer quantity of small critters was too much for Taaaz to handle, and they quickly crawled up his legs and pulled down on his arms. One of the hobgoblins squeezed him in a bear hold, while the other smashed the warrior's helmet with a mace.

Wrestling him down to the ground, one of the goblins gleefully clawed out the fighter's eyes, while the others repeatedly stabbed him into the neck.

“Maybe we should go back for him? He is one of us after all...”

As they ran to their camp to take a breather, a mass of creatures poured out of the eastern tower. The largest of them carried a bloodied greatsword.

“Into the VVagon!”

Player Session Reports

And Taaaz's illustration of the keep:

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Taaaz Fighter level 2 Tall figure whose skinny frame is hidden behind plate armour he never takes off—including the helmet.
Bobins Halfling level 1 A curly-haired, dagger-wielding halfling in search of adventure.
Amanda Hugencuise Thief level 1 A new girl in town, claiming to be foreign exchange student, up for some “exciting missions” and enjoying the local cuisine.
Rad Thief level 1 A young, short and malnourished rogue.
Rux Cleric level 1 A humble priest of Dyrantril, God of Alchemy.
Gon'd'elf Elf level 1 “Surely magnificent, am I not?” is his favourite opener. Works every time, 40% of the time.

Taaaz's and Bobins's reports linked at the end of the post.

Sweetrain 14th, Fireday

There it stood—calling them, teasing them. A gray featureless monolith, sixty feet wide and sixty feet tall. One of them already died scaling it.

Taaaz was the one who found it. Taaaz was the one beckoned by it. Taaaz was the one who convinced the party to go back. Taaaz was the only one who hadn't entered the canoe to inspect it up closer.

Large wooden gates on the west face were the only discernible entrance. They stood twenty feet above the water—for the tower was in the middle of sprawling lake—without any obvious platform or gangway.

It was quiet. Solemn. There were no birds chirping. No fish or other aquatic life disturbing the tense water surface. No game came to satiate their thirst.

Rux, Rad, and Bobins canoed their way to the tower, intent on discovering its secrets. Rad, the scrawny thief, decided to go for a dive and investigate what lurks underneath. The tower went deeper than twenty feet. If Rad was to dive there, he'd have to risk his very existence.

After some tinkering, the party came up with a set of ingenious solutions—repurpose vials and waterskins as oxygen containers, and tie a rope to Rad so they can pull him out. Now, well resourced Rad was ready for another deep dive.

A hit!

Some thirty feet down, he found a circular hole in the wall, covered with large iron grate. Pushing his luck, Rad swam up to it and tried to pull on it. Alas, his body failed him, and he gasped for air. His friends evacuated him before his lungs filled with water.

Having had enough water, Rad opted to scale the tower instead. The further up the central line he went, the colder the stone was.

The top was as featureless as other faces. A flat sixty by sixty plateau of solid stone. It didn't look chiselled or hewn. It looked as if it was one solid piece, just dumped here. Rad's strikes echoed through the wilderness, confirming that he is indeed hitting stone.

He had a flash of inspiration whilst rappelling down to the canoe—why not burn the gates down? So he doused the with all the oil he had and light it up. Alas, they did not go out in flames as expected. Fire was humble, but it was there, slowly peeling the layers of bloated, damp wood.

Having exhausted above ground options, the party decided to revisit the underwater grate.

Taaaz, and his buff retainer Arian, were monitoring from the shores. Perhaps they were too entranced by the tower to notice a figure some hundred feet away from them.

”...You want this, don’t you? The hate is swelling in you now.” a gentle breeze carried said words to Taaaz.

“Who goes there? Identify yourself!” Taaaz shoot back, running up to the figure, weapons drawn.

“Take your weapon. Use it. I am unarmed. Strike me down with it! Give in to your anger! With each passing moment, you make yourself more my servant...”

Taaaz shrugged, and then backhanded the figure with all his might.

“Oh my! Where am I? What is happening? Oh; I was in the reverie... Why did you strike me!” it was clear that the knocked figure was an elf. He indeed looked genuinely confused.

“You asked me to slap you so I did. You serve me now.”

“Nooooooo!”

“What were you doing here? What were you looking for?”

“Ancient scriptures tell of The Tower of Ghshushuahmen and its riches. It comes and goes; but I found it. I tried to get in, again and again; but I was taken by the Reverie...”

The elf in question was Gon'd'elf, a sole survivor of the encounter with the black bog horror treading the cursed marshes at foots of Windgod Hills.

Joining their forces, the party regrouped at the shore and evaluated their options. Ripping off the grate won as the preferred way.

Gon'd'elf, the agile elf he is, took a dive and tied a knot to the grate. Taaaz and Rux pulled with all their might. At first they felt great resistance, then nothing, then great resistance again.

Bobins, a skilled swimmer, was the next one to take a dive. He pulled himself down, using the rope tied to the grate. Although they hadn't managed to rip it out as planned, it was bent enough for the halfling to crawl through.

And so Bobins swam into complete and utter darkness. From time to time he could feel mushy lumps of different consistency than the water. Swimming straight for some ten minutes, he hit into a solid surface. Gently caressing it revealed that it terminate to the right side. Alas, this was the moment he ran out of breath, and was saved only by his fellow adventurers' quick reaction.

Whilst Bobins was taking a dive, Taaaz remembered reading about herbs used for water breathing potions in “Botany, The Complete History.” Rux confirmed that alchemists do know how to brew such potions. And then they both remembered the Great Orbaal, a master alchemist they met in Antil.

Deciding they did as much as they could, the party gathered up their belongings and returned to Antil.

Sweetrain 15th, Spiritday

The party broke off into the city, each with their own mission.

Bobins hit the lowest of the low, frequenting inns like Drunken Whore, Hare's Head, and Seven Vultures. It was in the last one he met a self pitying old man whom kept talking about how “everybody is dead because of me and my ambitions.”

With some words and liquid of encouragement he disclosed that he is a historian and archaeologist specialised in Orcish artefacts. He was following a lead to a “legendary spear whom allows the wielder to unite Orc clans.”

The man was too distressed and drunk for other details. He did manage to scribble on Bobins map the approximate location of the ruined fort “where all are dead because of me.”

Rux visited the Great Orbaal and endured his inane stories. The alchemist agreed to brew a pot of Potion of Waterbreathing for 300 gold coins, some crocodile gizzards, and details from racy encounters with mer-folk.

Gon'd'elf went recruiting, hiring two fine warriors—Ehrman and Ariad Simner.

Taaaz spent the day at Friend's Arms, an upscale tavern in Merchant's Quarters. There he was approached by a young noble from distant lands. The man requested protection services, because “local thugs” aren't trustworthy. He offered to pay Taaaz 500 gold pieces, and make him his warlord “if all goes according to plan—and it will!” He is eager to leave Antil as soon as possible. After all, his destiny awaits!

Which path will the party choose next?

Player Session Reports

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