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SessionReport

Adventurers

Character Class Description
Gabriel Faria Elf level 1 Cravatted silk shirt and a gold-encrusted rapier are all this 7th son of a duke needs to carve his own empire.
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.
Rux Cleric level 1 A humble priest of Dyrantril, God of Alchemy.
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.
Taaaz Fighter level 2 Tall figure whose skinny frame is hidden behind plate armour he never takes off—including the helmet.
Remli Smither Thief level 2 Crooked, squat-looking figure with boil-covered face and tar-black fingernails.

Kallahan's and Remli's reports linked at the end of the post.

Sweetrain 9th, Fireday

“You recusant scum should face your reckoning any moment now!” the lead gate-keeper was frothing, pacing nervously between Brother Kallahan and rest of the party. Aimon and Samlan seemed quite anxious with the whole things, whilst Taaaz was primarily concerned about his sack of fermenting monster parts.

“Oooops...” Gabriel exhaled slowly, as he “accidentally” dropped one of his coin-filled sacks “How clumsy of me!” His ploy worked—even the guard whom was scribing notes in the corner lifted his head with curiosity.

“Perhaps we could come to an arrangement? You fetch your letter-boy back, and let us pass without any hassle? In return, you get 200 gold pieces—years of salary!” Gabriel ignored Amanda's quiet protestation “Oh my, you'll crash the local economy.”

“Come on Pol, it's a good offer! Grand Inquisitor has been executed, these poor folk were merely his victim. Look at them! Tell me, have you seen more honest folk around here?” one of the guards pleaded with the gate-keeper. He was soon pushed into another room by other guards.

Rux, a fresh arrival was observing with great interest—an action that Gabriel hadn't fail to notice. “Young man, today is your lucky day! Would you like to earn such treasure that you can afford to bribe people with such coin without worry?”

“Indeed, my day had been blessed!” Rux clasped his hand piously “It'd be an honour to follow your path.” Perhaps he wouldn't be so enthusiastic if he knew Gabriel's actual path, but that is for some other story.

“Enough of this peasant life. We shall have the finest Antil has to offer!” And so they went to Friend's Arms, where one is pampered and well-fed and provided a private room with proper iron-frame bed for ten gold coins a night.

Amanda, though, opted to head for the “beach” with two blonde hunks. After all, girls just want to have fun.

Sweetrain 10th–12th

Three-day shopping spree and a funeral.

On first day, Amanda continued partying, meeting Hulking Rocco. She had him around her finger, doing her bidding as she pleases. Taaaz sought a buyer for his rotten monster parts at the Walled Bazaar. Most shooed him away—given his bloodstained and unkempt appearance—sans one ardent merchant.

“I'm afraid I have no use of this son! But anyone brave enough to skin such beast is surely brave enough to fetch me some Wyvren spit! Trust me son, I will pay good coin for that. In fact, I'm happy to give you 10 gold pieces right now for that sack of rotting flesh—as goodwill. What do you say?” few pats later, Taaaz had a list of bodily parts, fluids, and excretions, Great Orbaal is willing to pay for.

Gabriel, Kallahan, and Rux went to the main square to see if any accommodation was offered at the bulletin board. They were proper adventurers now, rich and famous, and they ought to purchase they own place. An abandoned whorehouse and impounded vermin-infested warehouse were on the offer.

“Oi! You pointy son of a bitch! Oi!”

Kallahan and Rux turned around to see an angry looking dwarf charging Gabriel, his battleaxe swinging through the air.

“What has gotten into you?!” another dwarf ran after the raging one “Calm down Goreaxe!” Alas, he was too slow, but luckily, Gabriel was quick enough to avoid the blow.

“Pathetic strike, dwarf!” Gabriel Faria never forgets faces. And he knew this one quite well, for he was always on the lookout. This was a jeweler he charmed many weeks ago. “I'll hack you, limb by limb!”

“Oh, will you now?” elf quipped back, chanting arcane words and waving his hands. “Oh no, not again, you won't!” the dwarf grunted through his clenched teeth, spittle flying out, his eyes becoming even redder—in fact, Gabriel could see few of the capillary tubes pop.

Kallahan and Rux mixed in with the crowd. Gabriel turned around to flee. Goreaxe's battleaxe sunk in between his shoulder blades, sliding down all the way to his tailbone. Masked avenger fell to his knees, vomiting blood.

“Calm down! Come on! What are you doing!” the other dwarf finally reached Goreaxe. “Come on, you are a pacifist, what are you doing?!” But his words fell on deaf ears. Enraged dwarf was hitting Gabriel's lifeless body. Again. And again. And again.

“That soon of a bitch! Look what he did to me! And I was abstaining for fourteen years!” he yelled as five dwarfs grappled him. By now local guards got involved as well.

Kallahan ran up to chopped up Gabriel, unleashing exasperated “Noooooooooo!” as he fell to his knees. Rux attempted to consoled him, albeit a bit awkwardly.

The elf might've been a harsh master, but he willed all his belonging to Taaaz, his squire. The party arranged that his body will be delivered to Faria family, where he shall receive a proper royal burial.

Taaaz wiped his tears with all the coins he inherited, and went back to Friend's Arms. There he met abhorrent Remli Smither, whom he happily recruited. The rest went back to Hare's Head Inn, where one can sleep and eat well for one gold coin.

Over the next few days they procured a wagon and two draft horses, two canoes, plethora of adventuring and delving equipment, as well as three new retainers: Arian, Balfour the Faun, and Rocco.

They set for lake tower on the morning of next day.

Sweetrain 13th, Earthday

Spring was in the air. Birds chirping, flowers blooming, nature erecting itself as far as the eye can see. The tower was not even a day's walk away.

There it stood, sixty by sixty by sixty cube of gray stone, smack in the middle of intrepid lake with green moss and vegetation demarcating it from the water it poked out of.

It had some unique quality of solemnity and silence to it. In fact, unlike the surroundings, there was very little wildlife here.

A massive twenty by twenty feet wooden gates, some twenty feet above water level, were the only visible feature. Kallahan and Remli boarded one of the canoes and went to investigate.

Rux sought a safe camping spot, for night was about to fall within an hour or two. Amanda worked on hand drills with Rocco. Taaaz and retainers watched guard over lake explorers.

The tower seemed to be of rough, but solid, build. It did look a bit uncommon, as if it was cast out of one piece, versus assembled from hewed stone. Either way, nothing to alarm our enterprising Remli.

Working his nimble limbs, he scaled the wall, and gates themselves, trying to wedge his fingers in the clearance at the top. Alas, the gates—which now seemed to be some sort of drawbridge—were too bloated to be moved. His keen eyes did notice three slits in the walls: one above him, and two to the side.

Climbing further up, he could see the slit was ten feet wide and two fists tall. Wedging his knee inside, he tied a dagger to one end of the rope, and pushed it into the tower to create a makeshift anchor.

Kallahan carefully pulled on it as a test. That, indeed was a smart choice, for the dagger wobbled and fell out, almost piercing the priest. Rux, having secured a perfect camping spot, was now watching with interest from the shore.

He could see Remli falling straight down whilst maintaining a very stiff body posture—as if he was paralysed or petrified. He could see Kallahan jumping backwards, as if to stabilise the canoe, and then jumping forward, as to grab Remli. Alas, it was too little, too late. The thief rotated mid-air, scrapping his face for at least twenty feet, ultimately ending up as a broken mess.

A brief burial later, and the party was discussing their further course of action. “This looks hard. Lets kill some lizards instead.” Taaaz proposed.

What will they do next?

Player Session Reports

  • Kallahan's Painting:

  • Remli's Haunting:

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Brother Kallahan Cleric level 1 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 2 Tall figure whose skinny frame is hidden behind plate armour he never takes off—including the helmet.
Gabriel Faria Elf level 1 Cravatted silk shirt and a gold-encrusted rapier are all this 7th son of a duke needs to carve his own empire.
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.

Taaaz's, Kallahan's, and Gabriel's reports linked at the end of the post.

Flowerbloom 20th, Spiritday

“This?!” a heavily armoured figure mounted on a light-brown horse roared at Kallahan “This is what you came out with 'brother?!' Oh, how you disappointed me!”

Grand Inquisitor Dwarvard Blumer was anything but subtle in his display of disapproval. His gaze focused; his voice booming; his inquiry unrelenting.

“Have you no tongue, mute? Speak up!”

But Kallahan, Amanda, Samlan, and Otsus stood there as petrified. They were to busy fleeing with sacks of coin to notice Inquisitor and his retinue waiting for them just outside. By the time they looked up—it was too late. The holy man waved his hand, shouting “Might makes right!” and they were stopped still, right in their tracks.

“You there! This one doesn't speak. What do you have to say!”

The Grand Inquisitor waved eagle-topped iron pole at Gabriel and his crew—Taaaz, Aimon, Wyninn, and earless Dyffros—demanding an answer. Silver-tongued duelist was more than ready to abide.

“We are returning from a mission we've been hired to do. Now let us pass.”

“A mercenary you say. And what was this mission you speak of? For, all I know is that you've failed it in all regards!”

“We did what we were hired to do! Might makes right, does it not Grand Inquisitor? Sister Silenete was the one who failed—she was weak, and we were mighty. Now let us pass!”

“Indeed, might makes right! You've earned your leave. But this one” waving his totem at Kallahan “this one I have unfinished business with. Begone now!”

Unwilling to leaver their partner in crime, Gabriel and the crew hesitated to move quite yet. Finally, trembling and with shaky voice, Kallahan spoke up.

“G-G-Grand Inquisitor, what seems to be the matter?”

“Haven't you been recruited to recover holy relics from the maws of evil? And have we not understood each other that's what I'll be waiting for outside? And what have your brought out instead?”

“B-But I did work on that, but there is a horrible monstro–”

“Do you trust me?! Do you!”

“N-No, not really. You've surrounded me here and are yelling like a mad-man about to deliver some jungle justice. I find it difficult to trust you!”

And to that Grand Inquisitor unleashed a hearty laugh “This is the most honest you've been with me so far!” toning his voice down, almost to deep murmur “You know what you have to do, brother. Atone! Make me proud!”

Dwarvard waved his hand, and Kallahan could feel his muscles again. He was free to move. “Y-Yes, Grand Inquisitor!”

The party turned around, and went back into the dark caves.

“Might makes right!” roared behind them.

“If you were mighty, you'd be going in with us!” Gabriel shoot back “Weak, weak, weak!”

So far they always went north, following a series of tunnels and corridors to the beast's lair. “We have to lure it outside... If we are lucky, it'll butcher those zealots.” Making an educated guess that south corridors might go straight into the lair, they opted to explore exactly that route.

Indeed, they entered a chamber some 40 by 40 feet, with slopping ceiling revealing a ledge some 30 feet up. While Amanada climbed, others set up a security perimeter on all sides. Taaaz took to guard the rear. Gabriel went to the mouth of the chamber, which seemed to exit into a truly cavernous cavity. His lantern could illuminate anything but the limestone floor.

Amanda managed to get up—after few unsuccessful tries—only to find a large, abandoned nest. It reeked and was peppered with small bones and pebbles. Putting a handkerchief over her face, she drove in, searching for any valuable.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA”

A horrible, and familiar, screech echoed down the cavernous chamber Gabriel was looking into. Heavy, galloping thuds followed. The elf chucked a burning oil flask into the darkness. Flames scarred the darkness for a brief enough moment to reveal the elephant-like body covered in warts, topped by seven disgusting heads on long, tubular, veiny necks.

Everybody bravely fled—tactical retreat, as some called it—whilst Amanda hid in the nest. Kallahan stayed behind, pretending to fight the creature and walking back slowly. The acolytes chuckled at Gabriel “Who is weak now, coward!”

“Shut up and form a shield wall, for a great monster is coming!” hesitant at first, they obliged and formed a 40 feet wide perimeter. Taaaz said “fuck it” and stood all the way back, by the donkey. Kallahn was last to run in, heroically fighting the darkness away.

“Sons! Make me proud!” Dwarvard roared, casting Bless on the brave men.

Giant, deformed human head with horse-like jaw poked out of darkness. Two more joined. Then three more. Final one was erect. It was still screaming.

The party unleashed arrow and oil bombs. The creature responded by charging in, each head attacking with unconstrained violence. One acolyte was swallowed whole, his muffled screams still heard from the beast's pulsating throat. Otsus managed to survive a blow from one head, but alas, it dazed him too much to avoid a bit from another.

The monster dove its rotten, blunt, yellow teeth into his collarbone, biting him diagonally in half. Then it bit him by the hip, lifting him up, and chomped him into pieces. Blood and gore splattered all over Kallahan.

“Oh, this will be glorious!” Grand Inquisitor quipped as he joined the fray. They all took a swing at the monster, cutting and battering it wherever they could. Gabriel stumbled and fell into prone position. That did not go unnoticed.

One of the heads lifted him by the belt, and slammed him straight into the cave wall. Others—all but one—missed their mark. Wyninn tried to jump over a sweeping head, but was too slow. The creature bit both of his legs off, including his lower abdomen. Guts were strewn all over the holy warriors on the eastern flank.

A hulking paladin jumped over the mutilated corpse, driving a long sword with all his might into the creature's body. The screaming head finally shut up. The beast stumbled, and collapsed.

“Goronwy, you are truly the strongest of my sons!”

“Might makes right! Might makes right!”

Inquisitor's' crew was so delighted with this challenge that they started to jump with join, fist- and chest-bumping with each other. Kallahan rushed to heal the broken Gabriel.

“Is this why she had chosen you?” Inquisitor softly said whilst placing his hand on Kallahan's shoulder. “How come you have divine blessings, even thought you haven't undertaken the Pilgrimage?”

“It's a gift Grand Inquisitor I've always had.”

“Come. Your fear has been alleviated. Take us there.”

And so they marched into the creature's lair. All but Taaaz. He stayed behind to carve up the monster.

“Brother Kallahan, we'll take these holy relics to Antil. Now, I've been thinking... Would you be interested in continuing Sister Silente's mission? Let's speak once we are back.”

The party, of course, stayed behind to clean up a bit. After all, those thousands of coins won't sort and pack themselves! A watch, twelve sacks, and a donkey later, the party was fully encumbered with 2 000 copper pieces, 4 000 electrum pieces, and 3 000 gold pieces.

Alas, since Dyffros deserted, and Taaaz insisted on hauling monster parts, they had to leave a sack of copper pieces behind. Opting to march around the Windgod Hills, they reach Antil in nine days.

Sweetrain 9th, Fireday

“Names and purpose of travel” the guard asked, as always.

“We are returning from our pilgrimage. We'll br heading to the temple of Shang Ta.”

“Pilgrimage? What's with all the clacking sacks and donkey? You look more like merchants than pilgrims to me?”

“Silence! We are here on behalf of Grand Inquisitor Dwarvard Blumer! Now let us pass, for he expects us.”

By the time Kallahan's lowered his voice, more than a dozen of guards were surrounding the party.

“Why, yes of course. How about you follow me into the tower as we summon the Grand Inquisitor.”

“No, we want–”

“Get in, you heretical scum!” the guards pushed Kallahan in, while the rest of the party reluctantly followed. Some of the guards spat at Kallahan, who replied in kind.

“Dwarvard was executed for heresy days ago! We knew he had more collaborators, but we didn't know they'd be stupid enough to announce themselves!”

One of the guards ran out of the tower.

“The High Priest will be here any moment. Might makes right!”

Player Session Reports

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Brother Kallahan Cleric level 1 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 1 Tall figure whose skinny frame is hidden behind plate armour he never takes off—including the helmet.
Gabriel Faria Elf level 1 Cravatted silk shirt and a gold-encrusted rapier are all this 7th son of a duke needs to carve his own empire.
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.

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

Flowerbloom 14th–18th

Having recovered a little over thousand coin, our enterprising gang was eager to head back for more—despite the horrific monstrosity they've encountered. But rest and recruitments was in order before any further adventuring.

Taaaz spent his days skimming through “The Complete History of Botany,” and looking for the biggest helmet 8 gold pieces could get him. Brother Kallahan prayed for guidance, and then held a fiery sermon at main plaza. Many asked to join him, but only Otsus and Samlan were worthy of his attention. Amanda was nowhere to be seen; she was probably sampling various recipes at the Walled Bazaar.

Gabriel, drunk with power and promise of treasure, nailed the following notice at the docks:

NOTICE of GREAT IMPORT

All ye Elves of pure sylvan blood, a new Martial Company is being founded in this city, and if ye are of brave character, and strong in skill with both bow and blade, then come seek out the Royal Faria in the ——Quarter. Pledge allegiance to your generalissimo and earn a monthly stipend of 4 gold pieces per calendar month.

Some of ye may earn the title of Lieutenant, dependant on skill, and with such graces be able to fill thy fists with treasures unheard of.

He too made a trip to the legendary Walled Bazaar; purchasing himself a mean looking mastiff. One of the stalls he passed was of a cartographer whom was selling the “finest map of Antil one can find, with all the True names and Locations of highest importance” made by “the best cartographer in all of the Known World, Dwarkanath Forlong!” Price was 28 g.p. “a bargain for such masterpiece.”

“Five gold pieces.”

“I thought you were a man of culture! Such art is well worth the asking price! Say what, how about I include a nice leather protective tube with the map?”

“Ten gold pieces!”

“Sir, I believe you need to educate yourself! I don't think we'll reach a mutually beneficial agreement!”

“I never forget a face. I shall see you about town.” and with those words, Gabriel dramatically turned and left. He made a mental note that if he sees him again, he shall cut his face.

On the evening of the second day a young, bald man asked for audience with Gabriel. Although the man was dressed in simple clothes, Gabriel noticed that he was quite tidy and clean. He was confident, but not cocky, with his request.

Careful man our Gabriel is, and thus he only agreed to speak with this new face outside in the public. Turns out a wealthy patron has some sensitive business to be taken care of. Paranoia getting the better of him, Gabriel requested a meeting at the city market at noon.

“As I said, it's sensitive business. I can either take you to him right now, or inform him that you are not interested. Perhaps you are not the right man for the task if you are afraid of your own shadow?”

“Then lead the way. I shall talk with your master.”

“Gladly.”

Bald man accommodated Gabriel's marching requests, leading him through winding alleyways. Elf noticed that his guide was unarmed, a rare sight on streets of Antil, and moved with certain lightness about him.

After some half an hour, he stopped in front of a nondescript building wedged between two larger ones. It seemed to be one story high, and sported nothing but doors at the front. No windows, decorations, or marks of any kind.

“We have arrived. Master awaits beyond the door.”

He stood by the door, prepared to open them.

“Are you ready?”

“Absolutely.” with those words Gabriel waved the man aside, and pulled the doors open. A room some 25' wide and 15' deep, bereft of anything but two chairs revealed itself. There was another, similarly looking, door across Gabriel. Two lanterns placed on the far ends of the room were the only sources of light.

“Where is your master? Noone is within?” Gabriel inquired.

“Master is a careful man. Treachery roams free on the streets of Antil.”

“You understand why I am cautious then.”

“Would you like me to step inside first?”

“I shall go in alone.”

“I will close the doors and stand guard so you have privacy.”

Gabriel carefully inspected the northern wall and doors. The room was eerily quiet. Finally, he decided to attempt the handle.

“Ser Faria, it seems I've invited the right man.” a voice in fluent elvish spoke from behind Gabriel “I value your trust at this dark hour.”

“You move silently, a valuable skill. I am the Royal Faria, seventh son and Herald of my lineage. Whom may you be?” Gabriel followed his words with a bow.

A red-skinned man with silver-gray hair framing his square face stood in front of him. Similar to the man who brought him here, this one was also dressed in clean but plain clothes. The man moved slowly but with grace, almost as if he was gliding through the air.

“Pleasure to meet you. Years spent with your kin are something I fondly remember.”

His fingers were adorned with several rings, that Gabriel immediately recognised to be of gold and platinum only a noble-man would dare wear. His belt buckle seemed to be made of precious metal as well. There were no visible weapons or armour.

“I'm a man in need of peculiar help. Ser Faria, I wish not to waste our time with trite pleasantries. Can I candidly speak of my... Difficulty?”

By the time he finished speaking he sat himself on the right chair.

“As you desire, I can respect a man who likes to get straight to business.” the elf sat across the figure “Please, tell me what ails you?”

”'Might makes right' they like to chant, and yet so many questionable figures have found home in this wonderful City. One such figure dabbles in arts unfit for any man of good faith. As it usually goes, one of his 'experiments' got out of hand... And even worse, out in the world. Ser Faria, I'm looking for a man to erase any evidence of that experiment. Quietly. Gracefully.”

“Humans often dabble in the arcane, they don't have the longevity to understand its subtlety. Tell me the experiments nature, and, if you know it, its location.”

“Are you afraid of snakes?”

“My friend I fear nothing.” Gabriel chuckled “The mercenary trade is not one for the faint of heart.”

“You will find the 'experiment' near Latevamp, a hamlet east of Antil, just before the jungle. It lairs in one of the nearby caves. You are looking for an abominable mix of snake and man, nine in total. One of them is female, potentially capable of reproduction. Their fangs secrete lethal venom. All must be erased. If I may suggest—fire would be ideal.”

After some pause, the man continued “Am I speaking to the right man, Royal Faria? Can you take care of this?”

“Well my friend, that does sound like quite the infestation. It shouldn't be too much trouble I assure you. There is the delicate matter of payment, rather uncouth of me to mention, but it is after all my business. How much to destroy these vermin?”

“Why don't you tell me?”

“How about 50 gold pieces a head? 450 in total.”

“A true professional knows their worth. That shall await you upon your return. And please accept the following as advance. Make sure to drink it before the venom reaches your heart.”

He handed Gabriel three small vials with dark brown liquid in them.

“A pleasure my lord. Always a pleasure to do business with cultured men such as yourself. What should I call you?” the elf inquired, whilst extending his arm as to shake his hand.

The man returned the shake, and answered with a subdued grin “I value our cooperation too much to endanger it with such trivialities.”

Gabriel hurried back to his abode, and excitedly told his co-adventurers of this new mission he got for them.

Next day brought forward even more good news. Arelael, an experienced elven mercenary with a company of four elves—Dyffros, Deldrach, Aimon, and Wyninn—came in response to Gabriel's aid. Together they worked out a monthly deal sufficient to ensure their loyalty.

A party of twelve marched out of Antil on the morning of Flowerbloom 18th, Earthday.

Flowerbloom 20th, Spiritday

It was high noon by the time they reached the monster's lair. Retracing their steps, they went straight to the waterfall cavern. Intent on recovering thousands and thousands of coin, they set up a pulley system using block and tackle, ropes, and iron pitons.

Alas, their march was soon disrupted by a cauldron of giant bats. All but four flew over them, going on about their own business. The four descended with bloodthirsty fury. One was so disoriented by all the light sources, that it rammed the limestone wall, knocking itself unconscious. Another one was much more successful, biting off both Dyffros's ears.

Kallahan accidentally threw his sling into the pond, whilst a short-bow slipped out of Amanda's hands. Luckily, the retainers were obviously quite eager to prove their worth, and quickly dispatched of the bats. In true display of leadership, Arelael comforted Dyffros, restoring his poise.

With the bat threat out of the way, secret tunnel was the next stop. Watches and tripwires were set, guards assigned, and machinery prepared. But whom was to go in first?

“Pssst.” Aimon called out to Gabriel “Lights incoming!” The party readied themselves, preparing an ambush.

“Who goes there!” a booming voice inquired.

“Merce–” Gabriel's response was interrupted by Brother Kallahan's shoulder taps “Remember, we are here as saviours, on a holy mission, you know...”

“Gabriel Faria and his adventuring party, on a mission to recover some valuables...”

An average built man dressed in chainmail with feathered shoulder pads entered into their sight. Brother Kallahan recognised the insignia—same order as Sister Silente and Brother Theo—Shang Ta.

“Brother! What leads you here?” Kallahan asked.

“Brother? If we are brothers, then you surely know our salutation?”

“Might makes right!”

“Might makes right, indeed, brother!” the man enthusiastically responded, beating his mace against the shield. “Now brother, tell me the truth. What are you doing here?”

“As Gabriel had said–”

“You are in the presence of Grand Inquisitor Dwarvard Blumer! Speak true!”

By now, Taaaz felt all the strength leaving his body. It was as if his legs cannot carry his weight anymore. Unbeknownst to all, he leaned against the cave wall; sweating profusely.

Even mosquitoes stopped buzzing, as Kallahan tried to answer the man. He told him all.

“Perhaps this will be your pilgrimage brother. You know what you have to do. Do not disappoint me. I'll be waiting outside. Might makes right!” and the man disappeared back into the darkness he cometh from.

“I'll crawl into the lair... For three shares!” Amanda offered.

“No, two shares.” Gabriel countered.

“I'd go in, survey the area, find where the monster is, and distract it long enough for you to extract the treasure.”

“Well... That does sound like risky business. It's a deal for me! Taaaz? Kallahan?”

“Why yes, that indeed is risky.” mosquito ridden priest chimed in.

Amanda dropped on all four, and worked her way through the tunnel. She covered the lantern with some cloth, allowing only a minor ray to guide her path. A horrific sight greeted her. Massive mangled humanoid head with horse-like jaw was staring at her. It was lying on the ground sideways. Amanda crawled back slowly and informed the party.

“My service will be five shares now.”

“Nonsense. What is this? You wanna give shares away?” Taaaz protested “I'll do it for four shares. Step aside.”

“Remove you armour boy! Let's oil you up!” Gabriel had already popped open a small oil vial, ready to lube the warrior.

“The hell are you on about? Step aside, I'm going in in full armour.” rebuffing all oiling offers, Taaaz dropped on the ground and crawled through. The same sight greeted him. The creature didn't seem to respond to light. Nor to the stones the warrior flung at it. Brave (or foolish?) Taaaz stepped into the chamber; finding three more monstrous heads lying there. All were attached to long, veiny, tubular necks; rotting and emanating horrible stench.

“Carefully,” he unveiled his lantern and walked over to the treasure pile. There it was... Untouched. So vast. So marvellous.

There was nothing to be seen down the corridor the monster came through last time. But something was different—there was a faint sound akin to a mother's lullaby. Ignoring it, Taaaz went to the tunnel and informed his friends that the lair if free for looting.

Oh, and looting it they were. Taaaz, Kallahan, Gabriel, and Otsus were the only ones to specifically look for golden pieces. Others were stuffing in whatever they could grab.

Since the secret tunnel was barely wide enough to have two people crawl through it, the party needed quite some time to assemble in the cave. Amanda was watching over the corridor whence the monster cometh from last time. As an added layer of security, Gabriel pinned his dog's chain to the ground, despite its protestations.

A smart but selfish move. After nearly an hour of stuffing their sacks, the dog started barking and jumping frenetically. It ripped itself free, and fled with a whimper.

“Well, this is our signal boys!”

Alas, they were so encumbered with all the treasure, that they were moving at snails pace. Amanda was the only quick enough to flee through the tunnel without seeing the monstrosity.

Gabriel made a daring escape, sprinting right by the hulking beast. Confused by its bravado, only three of the heads got to attack—and all missed! Lady luck had indeed blessed Gabriel Faria on that day.

Taaaz, Kallahan, Otsus, Arelael, and Deldrach made it to the tunnel at the same time—but resolved to violence in order to answer “who goes in first?” Otsus managed to crawl through during the commotion, while other four were deadlocked. Brother Kallahan, in a bout of inspiration, managed to push both elves and Taaaz aside, to crawl in next.

The warrior, properly pissed off by now, threw Arelael and Deldrach over rotting heads, and made his way through. Blood chilling screams echoed behind him. Perhaps even more chilling was the realisation that these two were carrying most of the treasure haul...

Amanda, Kallahan, Otsus, and Samlan fled for their life. Taaaz waited for Gabriel, unsure of his fate. Gabriel was sprinting through unknown caves, following the walls. He managed to find a passageway so narrow he had to turn sideways to get through. He joined Taaaz just in time to prevent a fistfight with Aimon, Wyninn and Earless Dyffros.

“They died a valiant death. Follow me; we will avenge them later!”

As they fled out of the caves, an unexpected sight greeted them:

Brother Kallahan, Amanda, Samlan, and Otsus standing as petrified in front of a mounted figure yelling at them.

“This?! This is what you came out with 'brother?!' Oh, how you disappointed me!”

It was the same booming voice as they heard earlier—of the man whom introduced himself as the Grand Inquisitor Dwarvard Blumer. Seven heavily armoured figures joined him: two by his side, three surrounding Kallahan, and four in front of the cave entrance.

The sun was setting. Will it set forever for this group?

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Brother Kallahan Cleric level 1 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.
Sashundo Dwarf level 1 A cube-shaped dwarf with with massive, floor-sweeping braid and very long eyelashes. Dressed in black-and-yellow plate mail.
Gabriel Faria Elf level 1 Cravatted silk shirt and a gold-encrusted rapier are all this 7th son of a duke needs to carve his own empire.
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.
Taaaz Fighter level 1 Tall figure whose skinny frame is hidden behind plate armour he never takes off—including the helmet.

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

Flowerbloom 9th, Fireday

“Good to see you back... Where is your silent friend?” Theo greeted Gabriel and Arradir as soon as they walked though Gates of Antil. “My condolences, he seemed like a good squire.”

“Come, Sister Silente is waiting for us.” he guided the duo through the unfamiliar streets “She instructed me to take you to the Hare's Head inn. You've been smart to carefully wrap the totem.” he explained as they walked far from the shade thrown by the Sky God's monumental temple.

The inn was as unique as its name—it'd be difficult to imagine a more generic place—and so were its patrons. “She is waiting for you on the second floor. This is where I take my leave.”

“What kind of sick game are you playing!” luckily, Gabriel's tongue was faster than Silente's mace. Only now he realised how big of a woman she is. Silente listened to his whole story, all the while holding her mace up high. She relaxed after some time, but kept squinting at him.

“This is Brother Bartwell's eagle. He set out two weeks ago; and we'd expect him back in some two weeks from now.”

“I don't trust you.”

“I want you to take me there. Gather whatever and whomever you need by next sunrise—we leave at the earliest hour.”

“Why don't you trust me my lady? Have I not done your bidding. Have my subject's blood not been shed in order to return to you this sacred object, which, as it happens, is exactly the object you described to me. And I have told you there is a second totem in the same place. I will be happy to guide you to the location, so long as I may claim my own reward; the coins I mentioned earlier.”

“Deeds speak louder than words. If you speak true, then you will join me in glory of vanquishing this beast and recovering our holy symbols! All coin therein are yours to take for might makes right!” as she clasped her forearms audibly.

“Then it shall be done, let us make merry and toast the dead. Let me warn you that whatever creature haunts the dark caverns is from the underworld, I only saw it wreathed in shadow and was chased away by its minions. It will be a deadly mission. I may require even more goods than before, companions, and even some retainers.”

Gabriel continued “Do you know any goodly youngmen fit to make a nobles squire?”

“Brother Theo will bring you all the mundanes you might need. Just give him your list. Antil is full of virile men. Remember that this is a covert mission. I don't want anyone whom might recognise me or what we are doing. Drunken Whore, Hare's Head, and Seven Vultures might have the right persons for the task. And so might the docks.”

“Pah, no dock worker is fit to be a nobles man aid. This you surely know. I shan't be in the company of peasants. I am looking for a good strong yeoman of clean blood.”

“I'll ask brother Theo to join us. This shall be a good test for him.”

“Excellent my lady, am I understanding you correctly that Theo shall be entrusted to me as squire?”

“Absolutely not. He will join me on this holy crusade!”

“Then point me in the direction of the lesser nobles of this city. I require a seneschal!”

“Then go and find one, what do I care!” she picks up the totem—with much more ease than Gabriel did—and went for the doors “That pouch is for your 'services.' Tomorrow at dawn—by the gates!” and out she went.

Gabriel squinted at her insult, but picked up the purse none the less. It counted 51 gold pieces. Not to be discouraged, he went on to squeeze Brother Theo for information about his potential new squire. Alas, the acolyte wasn't of much help, but did manage to remember Thorkild Caltrap, a noble from faraway land whom settled in Antil some 12 years ago. His sons are respected fighters.

No stranger to courtly manners, Gabriel sent a peasant boy to announce his arrival at Caltrap manor. Further, he made sure to bring appropriate gift with himself—a move that surely helped him get much desired audience.

One of the guard took Gabriel's gifts and disappeared in the manor. He returned some ten minutes later, joined by a finely dressed older man with a noticeably different complexion.

“It's an honour to have an envoy from such distant land.” his soft voice did not match his firm stance. “I'm Fellow, and I'm Head of the Manor in Lord's absence. Please, join me to the courtyard.”

He took Gabriel to a small, rectangular courtyard, with a square table for six, covered with shade of two apple trees. Wine and fruits are already served.

“Ser Gabriel Faria, please pardon my ignorance, but I know very little of your family and land. Would you care to tell me more?”

The elf spoke in great detail about his noble family, omitting minor details like himself stealing his father's sword and running away in anger. “I am hoping to take a courtly squire who will assist me and that I might train in the Arte, and in return I will pledge allegiance to this great house as a knight and do my lords bidding.” Gabriel explained.

Fellow carefully listens to his request. “I'm afraid I can make no such arrangements, but I will convey all you've said to me to Lord once he arrives. In the meantime, allow me to introduce you to Young Lords Bowie and Krom Molder, whom are currently in the manor. Both yearn to test their mettle in the world.”

Bowie joins them first. A young, healthy and eloquent fellow of some 20 years. Krom, two heads taller and three shoulders wider than his brother, joined with a significant delay. He threw himself in the chair, almost breaking it. “Who is this Arte you've been speaking of?”

“Why ,the Arte of the blade of course. Have your servants fetch wasters, it will be an honour to spar with you. We must sharpen our skills, for there is a beast in need of slaying. In a fortnight you will return here with beasts blood dried on your blades, and sacks full of coin.”

And so the deal had been made.

Flowerbloom 10th, Spiritday

With first ray of newborn day, our group of adventurers met at the agreed upon location. A respectable party of eight: Gabriel with his two new squires—Bowie and Krom Molder Caltrap—and two new adventurers—Sashundo, a dwarf in black-and-yellow plate mail, and Amanda, a mousy girl with a soft spot for cute guys like Bowie—as well as Sister Silente's crew of Brother Theo and Brother Kallahan. The latter being a rather sinister looking fellow. And let us not forget Delphine, a mule hired solely for the purpose of brining back all that wealth Gabriel had seen. They marched out with purpose and vigor.

Interlude

The last Taaaz had felt was a giant beetle, weighing what seemed like a metric ton, taking him down to the ground, its mandibles crushing through his neck guard and ripping out his throat. The warmth of gushing blood was soon replaced by the coldness of limestone beneath him.

...

Violent jerks brought Taaaz out of his slumber. No, jerking is too subtle of a word. It felt as if someone was swinging him through the air. But what he could see made no sense whatsoever. There was no discernible ground—or any land for that matter.

The air was filled with a thunderous roaring of such volume that he felt his whole body vibrate in pain. There were moments when he could've sworn that his eyeballs and eardrums burst; and yet he could still see and hear.

Titanic visages filled the air; their features indescribable by human words; were they real or imagined?

After an eternity of flying and swirling through the air, one of the colossal horrors pierced Taaaz with a thousand spears and pinned him to an ice cold surface. Taaaz could feel his helmet ripped off, as well as every last piece of hair on his head. That was followed by an intense pain; as if his skin and face melted off; followed by sharp pain as if hundreds of needles were stuck all over his head.

Despite all the noise and hurt, he could clearly hear P U U L K R E A K I V Z I again and again in his head. Taaaz's ordeal lasted for a century.

...

He woke up in a dimly lit cave with a splitting headache; his armour covered in dried blood. He could feel no helmet on his head. His face hurt horribly whenever he even attempted to touch it. The room smelt of body odour. Taaaz recognised two artefacts on the far side of the room—wooden figurine and a cowbell.

Unwilling to go around helmet-less, he made an improvised cowl out of hides he had been resting on. After initial exploration, which had been at a snails pace due to all the hurt and pain, he decided to go through the moss drape on the south-west side. Struggling to speak, he only managed to make a few grunts before “Pullkreakivzi!” slipped from him mouth.

Another cave, albeit larger then the one he came out from, housed two broad-shouldered, squat humanoids by the fire. Some pantomime and broken common later helped Taaaz piece out that they dragged his body here and tended his wounds. He bid them goodbye, and went looking for an exit... But not before attempting to collect all the treasure he left behind!

Following the sounds of rushing water, he managed to find the waterfall his party descended. He soon found out that underestimating his own wounds nearly proved to be a fatal mistake. Few steps after he begun to descend down the rope, a sharp pain in the spine took away all his bodily strength, sending him down in a freefall manner. It was by sheer luck he faceplanted the underground pond instead of limestone.

Since dying once wasn't traumatic enough, Taaaz was once again fighting for his own life. Unable to walk normally, he crawled the same path as last time, ultimately reaching his place of demise. Nutriel and Pusgic were still rotting away, but he cared little for them—only for his backpack full of treasure. Alas, he was to weak to carry anything of weight! A man of culture he is, he pried out “The Complete History of Botany,” and crawled back to the cave with two hairy humanoids.

Flowerbloom 11th, Airday

Gabriel led the party to the caves he fled from days ago. “Lead the way” Silente commanded. In they went, retracing his steps. By the time they descended into second chamber, something most curious had happened—the circle of rocks with cowbell in the center was restored.

Further, there was a thick gray fog with cinnamony smell in the connecting chamber, something that hadn't been here before. Sashundo used his (lack of) height to enter it first. He couldn't see further than his own outstretched arm. “GO BAK... GO BAK... GO BAK...” a monotonous voice boomed. But only the dwarf could hear it. Since nothing else seemed to be happening—Sashundo was still alive—rest of the party entered as well.

It didn't take them long to step into the stream they'd be looking for, and find their way to the waterfall chamber. Gabriel and Amanda took to inspect the overhanging rope, dwarf inspected the south walls, and the rest formed a protective perimeter. The rope was frayed, as if from heavy use, but unsuspect otherwise. Sashundo hearing cowbells from the mist was enough to send the party down the rope.

Half an hour later Gabriel had led them to the secret tunnel where he found the holy totem and piles of coin. The crawlspace was so tight that only two could go at once, and even then, they wouldn't be able to turn if they had to.

The treasure was where they left it—a pile so wide six men could easily roll in it. Everybody but Amanda, Silente, and Theo dove straight into the pile, stuffing their sacks with as much coin as they can. A pile of mangled deer corpses next to it were no concern of theirs.

“This can't be...” Sister Silente went pale. “What is it?” Brother Theo inquired “This... This is the High Priest's totem... This... This can't be here...”

“Ahem—Boys!” Amanda coughed loudly, pointing down the dark corridor they haven't ventured through yet.

A massive human-like head, adorned by long, greasy, lanky hair—imagine armpit hair half-a-meter long—with horse-like jaw hovered high in the air. Its diabolical cackle revealed a sickening array of ghastly, yellow, rotting teeth. True horror was revealed only after it'd made few more steps forward.

Lantern light now fully illuminating the figure, revealing its elephant-like body covered in warts and blisters. To further the nightmare, ten more heads like the first one—with varying degrees of balding—were connected with thick worm-like veiny tubes to the body.

It rushed the party with child-like glee.

There was a silver lining in all of this chaos. Four of eleven heads seemed to be dead or dysfunctional, as attested by them simply being dragged on the floor.

That was all silver lining though.

Silente and Krom Molder counter-charged, each meeting a grisly fate. The priest was drawn and quartered by four heads, while the warrior screamed his guts out as the creature shattered limb after limb with its blunt teeth. One of the heads stood up high and unleashed a deafening high-pitched scream that made it impossible for adventurers to hear each other.

Gabriel managed to set the beast on fire, although doing minimal damage. Amanda sneaked in for a backstab. Sashundo and Brother Kallahan failed to have any impact at all, while Brother Theo hugged the cave, paralysed with fear.

The creature roared as it burned, unleashing its full rage on young Bowie whom charged in to avenge his brother. Brave but foolish. His battle-axe hadn't even made a chip on the creature's hardened skin. The monster battered him mercilessly, turning him into nothing but a messy pulp. Amanda stabbed the creatures behind, dealing so little damage it hadn't even turned around one of its heads to check on her.

Brother Kallahan the Wise, and Gabriel the Swift, were first to reach the tunnel, crawling for their life. Before fleeing with two sacks of coin, Amanda slapped enough sense in Theo for him to get eaten alive by the demon. Sashundo made a run for it, but dumbly decided to jump over the corpses, landing into the maw of two heads.

The surviving trio returned the same way they came in. The creature's shriek was echoing through the cave. Alas, there was one more surprise awaiting them—a barely visible figure stood in the fog, blocking their exit.

“Who goes there?” Gabriel yelled. “Identify yourself!”

“Taaaz... My squire, is that you?!”

“Speak so if you are!”

And indeed it was, leaving Gabriel without words, an amazing feat achieved by few. He quickly explained that some cavemen tended his wounds, and helped him recover. Gabriel's hug was prevented by Taaaz's outstretched arm. “What are you doing my boy? Get over here and pick up our stuff! Without any further delay!” and so was the dynamic duo reunited.

“Real gentlemen carry coin—they don't make petite girls carry it for them!” Amanda protest's fell on deaf ears until the party reached their donkey.

Stopping to sleep for only one watch, Gabriel, Taaaz, Brother Kallahan, and Amanda reached Antil On Flowerbloom 14th, Fireday, with their biggest treasure haul to date—1060 gold pieces and 340 electrum pieces.

How long will it last?

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The events below happened at the same time as events described in session 9.

Adventurers

Character Class Description
Gabriel Faria Elf level 1 Cravatted silk shirt and a gold-encrusted rapier are all this 7th son of a duke needs to carve his own empire.
Taaaz Fighter level 1 Tall figure whose skinny frame is hidden behind plate armour he never takes off—including the helmet.
Pusgic Fighter level 1 A hero of a long forgotten battle.

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

Flowerbloom 1st, Airday

There it was, a gaping maw sixty feet wide, splitting into two cavernous corridors, one leading left, another right. The party decided that Arradir will stay behind and guard the entrance, while newly met man-in-black, Pusgic, was to join them in their delve.

Both tunnels were of significant size, the right being slightly wider at some 40 feet. Left hand path was chosen as the preferred option. Just as they were ready to light up one of their last three remaining improvised torches, Gabriel noticed a greenish discoloration on the cave wall. He threw a rock at it, and it went straight through. Pusgic came up close and poked it with his polearm. What looked to be some sort of moss drape had proved to be most easy to move around.

Brave man he was, he decided to face check what lies behind. Darkness. And a smell of rotting leaves intermingled with body odours. Gabriel finally lit up that torch, and passed it to Taaaz, whom then stormed the room together with Pusgic. A dead end it was. Small, elongated cave with some bunched up leaves alongside south-east wall.

Disappointed with lack of any treasure in the first cave they stumbled upon, the party decided to follow the left tunnel, which led north. After some time they reached an what seemed to be a crossroad. Shining more light revealed that it wasn't really, for turns to the right and left were nothing but more dead ends.

Gabriel lit up a candle and then used some wax to glue it to the top of Taaaz's helmet. That must be that ingenious resourcefulness that adventurers are known for. A blue pouch could be seen in distance, covered by rubble and debris. Taaaz bravely poked it, provoking a giant centipede nesting beneath it. It proved to be no match for the armoured brute.

Eighteen electrum pieces, seven copper pieces, a wooden dish, a rusted metal spoon, and several moldy rags. Pusgics inspected the rags with his tongue, leading to a burning sensation and bad breath. There was a narrowing in the cave, which led further down.

This time they emerged in a simple chamber, with a twisting tunnel leading downwards. A most peculiar arrangement was presented on the far side of the cave: a brass cow bell placed in the in circle of oval stones. Taaaz the Inspector poked that as well—no bugs coming out on this occasion—discovering a three foot long iron bar and a broken horse-like wooden figurine. Sound of rushing water could be heard coming from down below.

Downwards they went, finding even larger chamber. A stream of water, seemingly emerging from the cave walls, ran through the depressed part of the cave, turning into another corridor. Ignoring the wide tunnel to the south, the party opted to wade through the ice cold water.

Now they were in a truly cavernous chamber—so large that their torch revealed no walls in front of them. The sound of rushing—or falling?—water filled the air, making it very difficult to hear each other. Trash detector Taaaz found a distressed leather backpack. Within it were another wooden figurine of a horse-like figure, a golden hair brush and a poorly bound book with a bare wooden cover. The spine read “The Complete History of Botany, by Brardarn Stoneshovel of the Hillforge clan.”

The party soon learned the source of noise: a waterfall that terminated some thirty feet down. Whilst Gabriel and Nutriel were setting up some pitons with rope, Pusgic yelled “CANNON BALL” and short-circuited the whole process by throwing himself straight into the lake below. Luckily for him, it was deep enough to avoid breaking his legs, and shallow enough to avoid drowning outright. Others refused to follow his lead, and descended down with fastened rope.

Twenty feet wide tunnel leading up was the only exit the party could find. It progressively got narrower and narrower, and was winding right quite often. At one moment the elves noticed a slight discoloration of the ground—a small area that seemed to be a lighter shade of gray. There were also some scratch marks on it. Kneeling down to investigate, Gabriel could feel a draft of fresh air coming out of small crawlspace close to the ground. It was barely wide enough for one average human, and tall just enough to scrape someones ass.

They could also see the tunnel terminating in a two way split: one wider, and one narrower. Smell of rotting meat was coming from the former. After no deliberate planning, Gabriel light up a candle and went to investigate the previously discovered hole, while Taaaz, Pusgic, and Nutriel went for the narrow tunnel.

Gabriel soon found himself scrapping the ground with his elbows, messing up his silk shirt in the process, to be the price of this passageway. Alas, once he did find his way out, the candle had proven to be too weak to reveal the true nature of the cave. The air seemed fresher here, but there was also something disturbing in the darkness.

Courageous fellow he is, he decided to follow the wall, moving as quietly as he could. He'd have to pause every few steps to make sure his fickle candle doesn't blow out... An eternity later unbelievable sight had entered his vision—piles and piles of coin in front of him! So much that his puny candle could illuminate them all! He immediately lit up a torch. Thousands and thousands of coins laid strewn around the cave—so much that six men could roll in them easily. More importantly, he saw what they came here for originally: iron rods adorned with eagles, the holy symbols of Shang Ta, staked into the ground.

Alas, he couldn't carry both for they were much heavier than they initially seemed. That priest must've been quite strong to bear one with such ease. So he grabbed one and went back to inform his fellow adventurers of this most stunning findings.

Whilst Gabriel prowled through darkness, remaining trio explored the narrow corridor. It proved to be quite short, merging with the wider tunnel at the end. Peeking around the corner uncovered a surprising sight—a humanoid figure dressed in robes with feathered shouldepards sitting at a large wooden desk. Pusgic carefully approached it, only to find it turning towards him, tongue hanging where its lower jaw was supposed to be. The unholy undead lunged at the man dressed in black. Pusgic responded by cutting it in half. Another rotten figure rose from the rubble, butt naked, only to be taken down by a headshot from Nutriel.

Taaaz managed to find yet another bag. It contained some chalk, a small leather pouch with gray sand, and a necklace made of hide and sinew. Pusgic rocked the table, discovering a large secret compartment filled with coin. A total of 2120 copper pieces and 44 silver pieces were found, if it is to believe Taaaz's counting skills. Unfortunately, demonstration of his packing skills was interrupted by the approach of three glowing orbs. Unwilling to take any chances, the party retreated back to where they came from.

At that moment Gabriel crawled out of the small tunnel, finding his friends engaged with what seemed to be large flying beetles. Taaaz and Pusgic were engaged in melee, whilst Nutriel was shooting from behind. One of the beetles was killed with a thrust through its thick head, courtesy of Taaaz. Alas, the other promptly rammed the plated warrior, throwing him down on his back. It quickly scaled him and crushed his Adam's apple with its strong mandibles.

Pusgic killed it, but too late to save his friends. Blood gargles were supplant with silence. Gabriel took of with the totem, Nutriel missed with all his arrows, and Pusgic made his final stand “You go. It's gonna be all right.” he smiled as the last remaining beetle downed him. In desperation, Nutriel rushed it with dagger, only to find his arms snapped in half by unforgiving mandibles. Gabriel threw arms severed from one of the unfortunate acolytes, and fled for his life.

He made it to the cave exit against all odds. Arradir looked at him in disbelief. The duo managed to return to Antil undisturbed. They retrieved the totem—but at what cost?

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The events below happened at the same time as events described in session 8 and 9.

Adventurers

Character Class Description
Gabriel Faria Elf level 1 Cravatted silk shirt and a gold-encrusted rapier are all this 7th son of a duke needs to carve his own empire.
Taaaz Fighter level 1 Tall figure whose skinny frame is hidden behind plate armour he never takes off—including the helmet.
Arradir Elf level 1 A freckled, flame-haired elf on the run, looking to start a new life.

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

Dewsnap 15th–Flowerbloom 1st

Following a three day bender, Gabriel and Taaaz were sufficiently motivated to head out into the wilderness. A map from Sister Silente marking the usual pilgrim routes proved to be most useful. And let's not forget that our dynamic duo has now transformed into a dynamic quartet: Nutriel, an elf they hired at Drunken Whore, and Arradir, a red-haired elf that joined them at the end of their debauchery.

A group of acolytes, led by a priest dressed in chainmail adorned with feathered shouldepards and carrying a large iron staff topped with an eagle-like symbol, marched through Gates of Antil just as the party was discussing their best way forth. “Might makes right!” the man grunted as he hit the ground with the totem. Then he set off with such an incredible pace that his men almost had to run to keep up with him.

Assuming they too were pilgrims, our adventurers decided to follow them from a “safe” distance. They indeed seemed to be heading towards Windgod Hills. Good weather served both parties well, and they almost reached the foot of the hill by the sundown. Adventurers broke camp while the pilgrims continued marching. Everybody had a good night's rest—everybody except Taaaz, that is. He was pissing fire throughout the night.

Sun shone on the next day as well. By the end of the first watch our party had caught up with pilgrims. In fact, they found the priest pouting in front of some tents. “These men of mine... Never will they make it in this world! Look at them, still sleeping and lounging—and we haven't even yet set foot on the Mountain.” While Gabriel and Arradir spoke to the man, Taaaz used the opportunity to inspect the eagle-staff. All parts seemed to be iron, and it was covered in scruff marks all along. Was it also used as a weapon? Alas, his inspection was cut short by the priest's volatile response to elven provocations. Apparently, asking “Should we make this a little competition?” was enough motivation for him to set off further up—alone.

The party opted to follow him few paces behind, making their presence well known to him. Unperturbed, the man kept his impressive pace for two watches straight. Not even the setting sun deterred him. Unwilling to be upped, our quintet started burning through the torches in order to keep up with him. The ascent was difficult enough during the day, but traversing the jagged edges at night was completely different game. Every now and then, they'd lose the priest out of sight, be it for the rocks, turns, or distance.

“Come at me!”

It was the holy man's voice.

“Come! What are you waiting for cowards!”

He was shouting angrily. But it didn't sound like it was meant for them. The party quickly dropped to the ground, hiding in the bushed and behind rocks, in order to assess the situation. Three elves could see heat signatures in the dark, but Taaaz's mortal eyes could see only moonlight. Gabriel and Arradir prowled ahead, while Taaaz was led by Nutriel.

“Might makes right!” THUD. THUD. THUD. THUD. THUD.

Sounds of iron striking the rocky ground permeated the air.

Elvish duo came close enough to make out the priest's heat signature. There he was, standing in a power pose, facing something in front of him. Crawling a bit closer, they noticed three horse-like heat signatures some 50ish feet ahead. They seemed to be moving left and right, but not coming forward. Unwilling to wait any further, Gabriel and Arradir joined up with the man, whilst Taaaz and Nutriel caught up from behind. The creatures ran away, but the man had nothing to say to our party.

Exhausted from the march and adrenaline rush, the adventurers decided to rest for the full day. They made their camp on a small elevated clearing, well protected from all sides. Priest and his acolytes camped across them, but only rested for a brief moment before continuing their pilgrimage.

Onwards to glory, as they say. In this case it was upwards to sweat. The hills turned even steeper and more difficult to pass, often requiring adventurers to get on all four in order to proceed. Perhaps it was his helmet obstructing his vision, or the sun blurring his mind, or exhaustion stepping in. Whatever it was, Taaaz tripped over a body lying in the pool of blood he'd failed to notice. Turning the corpse around revealed a familiar face—one of the acolytes they've met earlier! His torso and face were ripped to shred, his innards strewn about. The blood trail lead eastwards, between a narrow passageway.

“Whatever might've been taking away the totem is probably that way...” Arradir's words of wisdom broke his fellow adventurer's reluctance to follow danger. Not before Gabriel and some others followed up on his macabre suggestion to carve up the corpse and carry some of the extremities in case “Some horrible creature needs to be fed!” The trail led downwards in a sharp zig-zagging descending pattern. They could see another man sitting at a small clearance overhanging the descent further down. “Hey!” went unanswered.

Taaaz poked the man with a sword, tipping him over. Another mangled corpse. That one was too relieved of its worldly possessions by our squire-in-practice. It did get to keep its body intact though.

The trail led them to the foot of the mountain, with a grassland clearing between them and the forest ahead. They could see the priest standing, again in his power pose, facing the forest. The area he was in seemed to be bereft of grass, extending behind him as some sort of a cape. Silence was his response to any hails coming from the party. He also hadn't responded to a rock being thrown at him.

Gabriel and Arradir went south whilst Nutriel went north, circumventing the grass-less ground. Taaaz went straight ahead and tried to pull the man backwards. To his surprise, the man was solid as a rock, refusing to budge even an inch. Frustrated, he stepped in front of the priest, only to be met with a grisly sight: his clothes were torn, his chainmail barely held intact. The man was covered in blood, little stream running down his arms and legs.

“Might... made... right...” he whispered barely audibly.

“I... was... not... worth... it...” were his last words before he collapsed to his knees and lifelessly hung his head.

FFIIIUUU! Nutriel whistled and motioned to a thick tree behind Taaaz. The party was quick to surround it, revealing a trembling man behind it. “Leave him alone!” the man shouted through tears. “Speak!” Gabriel demanded. “Leave him alone you animals!” But Gabriel wouldn't have any of that crap from a snivelling man. He slapped and spanked him “Speak!”

“I was trying to keep up, but my blister were bleeding and I was thirsty so I took a break. By the time I caught up he was already down here. He summoned it! He called it out! Oh how he fought! But the horror! I couldn't bare to look at it! So many head! So many! Horrible heads! it left once it ripped the holy symbol from him! Oh, you bastard!”

“Have you seen where it'd go? Lead us after it you peasant!” more slaps and spanks were all the additional motivation this broken acolyte needed. “I hope you all die! I hope it rips you all apart! May you be mangled so horribly your ancestors won't recognise you in the afterlife! You—” his flurry of insults was cut short by Taaaz backhand to the lips.

“Oh, I can never return to Antil now... I've brought such shame to my order...”

Upon reaching the creatures lair, good man Arradir persuaded his peers to release the acolyte. And so our party readied themselves to descend into darkness.

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The events below happened at the same time as events described in session 7.

Adventurers

Character Class Description
Gabriel Faria Elf level 1 Cravatted silk shirt and a gold-encrusted rapier are all this 7th son of a duke needs to carve his own empire.
Taaaz Fighter level 1 Tall figure whose skinny frame is hidden behind plate armour he never takes off—including the helmet.

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

Dewsnap 10th, Spiritday

Romilion sea was gentle to Slim Whale, a caravel boarded by Gabriel Faria and his squire Taaaz. What choice did Gabriel have but to steal his father's treasured weapon once he'd learn that his brother would be the future king? That went as expected, so he boarded the fastest ship in town—no questions asked. Little did he know that he would sail to most barbarian lands in the whole world...

The colossal eagle-like statue entered their sight much before the port did. “Aye lads, yer in the landz of the sky god now!” the blind captain giggled. And so the duo landed in Antil, the largest bastion of civilisation in the Barbarian Altanis.

It wasn't long until they've been accosted by a group of suspiciously looking men. “Till, at your service newcomer! Pardon my directness, but you do seem a bit disoirnted. Would you like us to escort you to a fine establishment worthy of your rank?”

What seemed like a good offer at first, quickly fell through for logistical reasons. Till insisted that he'd lead with Gabriel, while his three “associates” would walk behind with Taaaz. Few harsh words later, and our dynamic duo was off on their own.

“Can't go wrong with following the gigantic statue!”

The main street was wide and littered with loud men and women manning their small booths. All kinds of fruits, vegetables, and meats were sold. There were also bands of urchins crawling between all the stalls—and Taaaz, in his infinite wisdom, decided that best course of action is to interrogate one of the dirty orphans.

He dragged one into the dark alley and pinned him to the wall. “Speak!” he growled. Spit in the face and kick into the shin is all he got, to which he responded by tossing the kid into the wall. From now on, several gangs of urchins followed the magic duo.

In flash of inspiration, Gabriel tried to frame urchins for stealing from one of the local merchants. That also went as expected, so now they had gangs of orphans and an angry merchant chasing after them. The duo took a sharp turn to one of the many alleyways, cutting a booth canopy in an attempt to slow down their pursuers. Straight, right, down, no, let's go back, pause!

Alas, their break was not meant to be. A familiar figure stepped from around the corner, blocking off their route forward. It was Till and one of his “associates.”

“Gentlemen, this doesn't have to be violent!” unfortunately for Till, Taaaz woke up desiring nothing but violence. He swung his massive sword downwards, cleaving Till in half. Adding insult to injury, he splashed the associate with Till's remains. Without missing a beat, he swung upwards, cutting him open from chest to face. The remaining associates fled in terror, whilst Gabriel was making “Uh! Ah! En garde!” sounds.

And then they took a casual stroll through the alleys, ending up beneath the Sky God's temple surrounded by many acolytes. One of them, presenting himself as Theo, was more than delighted to tell Gabriel everything about the Temple of Shang Ta, the sky god, their ceremonies, beliefs, and such.

Gabriel listened—or pretended to—whilst waiting for an opportunity to offer his services. After all, the coins won't make themselves, and temples are usually full of the, are they not? Naive Theo was happy to take them to Sister Silente, a chaplain of his section. Perhaps he wasn't wrong, for she had also trusted the ambitious duo with her worry.

Several of the pilgrims went missing, and so did the sacred regalia they carried with them. She needed that investigated—covertly—because there is a big religious event coming up, and this would be most inconvenient. She agreed to equip the party with all the adventuring stuff they might need.

Drunken Whore tavern was their next destination. Gabriel promptly jumped on the table and made a display of his swordsmanship. “Who wishes to join us and get rich?” Talent attracts talent! Tarwick and Wolgos, two burly looking men, approached the boisterous elf. Negotiations went quite well, resulting in Tarwick getting stabbed through the head by Gabriel, and Wolgos jabbed in stomach by Taaaz. Our brave duo was quick to loot their bodies, and even quicker to leave the tavern. “This is Drunken Whore, not Bloody Whore, you gits!”

At least one of the patrons had been impressed with their unadulterated display of self-control and fine diplomacy. An elf named Nutriel followed them out, expressing his desire to join such talented individuals. He was warmly welcomed.

“Gabriel, you won't believe this. We're rich! One of this bloody bastards has some coin stored with the jeweler!”

Naturally, that was the next best place to go to. A small store with numerous colourful gems at display was headed by stout dwarf. He inspected the blood drenched note for few seconds, before disappearing behind thick wooden doors. Ten minutes later he was back with a small pouch.

“There are some coin missing... Have you counted them right?” Gabriel inquired.

“Cleaning fee.” the dwarf replied.

Taaaz was quick to swing, but dwarf was faster, hitting him with a battleaxe he always keeps under the counter. Elf managed to charm him before he'd have a chance for the second strike. Nutriel stared in disbelief, as the party dragged him outside.

A celebration was to be had! Gabriel got himself a fine courtesan (or at least that's the story he kept telling himself), while Taaaz went for the cheapest street rat. The duo burned through their coin in two days. As an added bonus, Taaaz managed to contract gonorrhoea and who knows what else.

Now they were ready to seek the missing holy symbol.

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Isembard Halfling level 1 Tall halfling dressed in worn tweed jacket. Always chewing on something, his jaw accentuated by thick chestnut coloured mutton chops.
Pusgic Fighter level 1 A hero of a long forgotten battle, now Isembard's bodyguard.
Jimmy Three Fingers Thief level 2 Small, unimposing elf-wannabe. So bad at playing lute that he lost two fingers whilst doing so.
Cigam Magic-user level 1 Wears a bright red hat as tall as himself.

Jimmy's and Isembard's reports linked at the end of the post.

Flowerbloom 1st, Airday

Isembard, an aspiring cook and intrepid adventurer, gathered a party to seek his long lost cousin in third-knee, Bobil Tightpants. His cousin was a well known chef; his cooking so legendary that he was apparently hosted by kings and demons alike. But he went missing twenty-seven years ago, never to be heard of again.

But Isembard was about to change that. He managed to track down what seemed to be last Bobil's note, describing a particularly large tree in a marshy area beneath Lagh Anon. “Mushrooms as tall as me, and tasty as elvish tears! To die for!” the note read.

And here he was, only wetlands standing between him and the tree that matched his cousin's description. He assembled a party others would envy him on: Pusgic, a tough-as-nails-all-dressed-in-black bodyguard to whom he owed money; Cigam Resu, a master of arcane arts so confident that he marched the earth with a hat everyone could spot miles away; and Jimmy, a man of such strong convictions he had no issues pickpocketing his own fellow adventurers.

After careful deliberation (and attempted communication with a pack of giant weasels), the brave team decided to seek out a log they could float on through the marsh. It was Pusgic's keen eye that found one, and soon the whole party was neck deep in murky waters. Lush green vegetation intermingled with sulphurous bubbles made the whole swamp seem like one big, breathing, organism.

Caution was name of the game on the island as well. Despite the tree clearly in their view, the adventurers decided to take it slow; prowling and observing. It didn't take them long to notice numerous pathways criss-crossing the island. They looked as someone dragged something round through the mud, without any sense or logic. The island was indeed peppered with thick, phallic mushrooms as tall as Isembard.

Unmolested, they approached the massive tree at snails pace. The tree was so thick that a group of twelve would have to hold hands to reach around its base. Isembard was convinced that this is the spot—but where was the entrance? If there was one at all?

It was Jimmy's brilliant idea of gently tapping the bark at different spots that helped them find a hollow point. It was no door, but a rather large part of especially heavy bark that seemed broken off from the rest of the tree. Despite its condition, it was so heavy that it required brains instead of brawn. The party threw grappling hook on top, and then pulled down with all their might. The bark finally came down after several attempts, revealing a dark, black hole.

Torchlight only revealed a sharp descent, nearly vertical. So our brave gang made an improvised anchor, tied some rope, and begun their descent. There were no stairs; only roots and soil. Walking was tricky and difficult, so easy to trip. After some twenty minutes of descent, Cigam stepped on a bloody piece of cloth with a symbol of fish on it. “Fish worshipping cult underneath the tree?” one of them wondered aloud. Downward they pressed. They ran out of rope—twice—before finally exiting into a round chamber.

It seemed to be a cavernous chamber some 40 by 40 feet. The air was stale, with nutty and smoky aroma in the air. It was so dark one couldn't see their own hand in front of their eyes. The floor was mostly roots and soil; the walls primarily roots. The party had enough light to see there are three paths: north, east, and west.

Eastern passageway slopped further down and had a whiff of something rotten. Northern led into another chamber dominated by a large pile of weapons and armour. In fact, there was enough of it to fully equip ten or more men. Alas, closer inspection revealed that most of it is broken or ripped to shreds. All were covered in blood.

Undeterred, the party went west. Jimmy sneaked in front, at the edge of light, Isembard straight behind; Pusgic and Cigam watched the back. This corridor led them to what seemed to be a large wooden bench and three metal hooks affixed to the rooty wall. There was a moth-eaten coat hanging from one of the hooks. It was large enough to fit two men. The passageway twisted north, terminating in thick, gray drapes. Careful listening revealed a female voice—singing? Crying? Whatever it was, it didn't sound particularly happy.

After some careful poking of the drapes, Jimmy crawled underneath it. He prowled through darkness carefully, attempting to follow the wall. “Is this another one of your games?” a female voice asked him. Isembard, whom had followed him in the darkness, did not understand a word of what has been said.

Jimmy, incapable (or unwilling?) to pass an opportunity to hit on whatever might be behind such a sweet voice, immediately responded; painting a vivid, if unrealistic, picture of this brave band of heroes on a mission to find the halflings long lost cousin.

“Come closer, so I can see you...” was enough to have him prowling the other way. He lit a small candle, which provided just enough illumination to see few steps ahead. A distressed marble figure of beautiful dame was followed by a stone dais on which a gorgeous lady sat. Long blonde hair accentuated her captivating amethyst-pink eyes, almost hiding any signs of stress from her situation. Her exquisite but weathered clothing only confirmed what Jimmy suspected:

“I've been captured here by the black demon for years; forced to entertain him! He fancies himself some sort of an art aficionado, but is nothing but a mere brute! He tricked me to wear these cursed shiny red shoes—if I take even one step of the dais I will suffer fate worse than death.”

“Oh dame—sexy lady—worry not—Jimmy Boy is now here—first I'll save you—then I'll marry you!”

By now the whole party was in the room, their torchlight revealing it was a dinning hall of sorts. A large table dominated the center, with a single large chair of black wood facing the dais. Walls were littered with what seemed to be paintings of various figures and vistas. Most of them were in poor state. A makeshift fireplace stood at the opposite side from whence the party came.

“The black devil hid the key in his chambers. Quick go there before he comes! I implore you to find a sleek red box encrusted with red rubies, for it holds a solution for my predicament!”

She motioned towards a disk-shaped stone just behind the chair “That where his chamber is. Please, waste no more time!

“Don't you worry baby girl!” Jimmy uttered. Another set of drapes rustled, those right next to the fireplace, revealing two halfling-sized yellowish blobs. Each had six legs, supporting a veiny egg-shaped torso. Two worm like protrusions, one extending from each side, seemed to function as arms. Nothing resembling eyes could be seen from the front, in fact there was just a snout-like appendix hanging from the creatures' highest point.

Our brave band acted in unison by fleeing as fast as they could. “Forget mapping, forget the dame, just get out of here!”

“You cowards, they are more afraid of you then you are of them!” the lady screamed after her husband-to-be. One of the blobs disappeared behind the drapes it came from, while the other ran to the other side of the room and forced himself into some hole. Sad farting noises was all that could be heard.

Isembard, Jimmy, Cigam, and Pusgic were out much faster then they were in. They didn't even care to stop and attempt to cover the entrance they came through—straight to the shore they went. Blinded by terror, they failed to notice a wobbling mushroom. The latter responded by unleashing a chilling shrill.

They boarded their driftwood without delay, with Pusgic sitting on top as sentry, while the other three submerged and started to paddle furiously. Alas, shrieks were so disturbing our brave party failed to notice their impending doom in the shape of a bear-sized crocodile. Red hat was all that was left of Cigam.

The rest made it across, wet and heavy-hearted. With a sigh, they went back to their camp...

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Alric Fighter level 1 Tall, broad-shouldered avatar of masculinity. Obligatory horned helmet and majestic blonde mustache included.
Melvin Magic-user level 1 Introduces himself as “Melvin the Magnificent.” Known as “Melvin the Mediocre.”
Belanor Elf level 1 Mohawk-rocking ex-slave on a path of vengeance.
Gon'd'elf Elf level 1 “Surely magnificent, am I not?” is his favourite opener. Works every time, 40% of the time.
Lir Cleric level 1 A tall lanky worshipper of Ragtha dressed in grand blue robes covered with fish motifs.

Dewsnap 20th, Spiritday

Having buried Richter, our band of heroes was ready to find the treasure so many have already died for. With nothing but their memory to count on, they decided to follow whatever notable markers they could remember.

It was a marvellous day, sunny and bereft of any wind. As soon as they set off, they've encountered a most curious thing—a piece of leather armour standing upright, as if someone invisible is wearing it. Traumatised by their previous experiences, they opted for circumventing it in the broadest possible arc.

Next thing they've encountered was what seemed to be a piece of wall, standing all alone. Their cautious approach to it paid off, since Alric, their vanguard, was greeted by a warning shot between his legs. “Not a step closer!”

Banter ensued, and our brave adventurers managed to persuade the defender to let them in, in exchange for a nice cup of tea. As they came closer to the structure, it became apparent that it was a wall of an old building, now long gone. They also noticed there was a smaller, supporting wall, which they couldn't see as they approached it. Two sides still stand but the grassland has reclaimed all the area around the walls. The two walls, only a story high, are at right angles to each other and protrude awkwardly out of the plain.

To their surprise, the inside of a bigger wall was covered in a magnificent mosaic, depicting a scene of a mountain above a blue lake, beneath a clear blue sky. No such scene was around them.

Cullan, Eoghan, and Donnan, three men with unerring likeness, made this ruin their home. They invited the party to their humble campfire, each sitting on a box. The latter seemed to fascinate Belanor to no end, and he struck up a bargain to take a peek into one. Few rubs and a peel later, he found that the contents were indeed what the men had told him—dried food, oil, bedrolls, and some trinkets.

Disappointed, our party left. “Watch out for the ogre!” was the last thing they heard from these open-air connoisseurs.

Elves were the first to pick up the crushing sound of rapids; something they went towards to. There it was, a powerful river was running rampantly in the chasm some sixty feet below them, frothing and crashing against boulders. A make-shift “bridge” was withing sight as well. If one could call a large tree rolled over the chasm a bridge, that is. A fine specimen, probably some hundred feet tall in its heyday, now laid there, devoid of any branches.

One by one; each party member carefully crossed the bridge; finding themselves in a thick, dark forest. It was a lively day, and wildlife was abundant. Songs of thousand birds could be heard, sometimes in sweet unison, sometimes in deafening cacophony. Gon'd'elf tried to sing with them, but alas, it wasn't always as melodious as he might've thought.

Trying their luck, the party decided to veer off-path, in order to cut their travel time. After some time they found themselves at a proverbial crossroads—the path in front of them seemed to descend into marsh, wetlands covered by tall woods; whilst the path north seemed to go deeper into the forest.

The ground surrounding the junction was completely blanketed with a vibrant, blue clover, the bright full blooms almost glowing in the gloom of the woods. Hundreds of rainbow-coloured butterflies were hovering and darting above the clovers. Idyllic scene was interrupted by a viper ambushing Belanor. But wait! His elvish fast reflexes allowed him to grab the assaulting viper mid-air, grabbing him right behind the head. A milking conversation ensued, resulting in poor viper being squeezed for two drops of its venom... Before they smashed its tiny head on the ground.

Satisfied with their heroics, our band opted for the northern, drier route. It didn't take them long to notice that the forest here seemed to get quieter and lighter. There seemed to be less trees, but those there were, were indeed astounding in their size. Some of them were towering over hundred feet tall, spanning ten to twenty feet across. There was some solemn quality to the air; as if they are entering a place of care. That and mushroom covered ground. Hundreds of tiny red-headed mushrooms carpeted the ground. Lir could smell their poisonous nature just in time to prevent Melvin from rolling in them “for academic purposes only.”

Their journey was driven to a halt by two ginormous trees that have grown toward each other over millennia past, their great roots intertwining and forming a latticework wall that completely barred the path. Melvin did notice that part of the roots resembled ladders, so, as all careful mages do, decided to check where do they lead to. Face first.

Surviving the climb, he found a small nest at the top, some three feet in diameter. There were some tiny clothes and shoes there, as well as small iron box. He was wise enough to ask one of the heavily clad warrior folk to inspect it further. Belanor was next to climb, replacing Melvin, for the ladder was wide enough for barely one person. Just as elf was reaching out for the box, he felt an immense force pushing his chest, sending him flying some twenty feet back. Surprised, and distressed, the party threw some rocks up there, only to find them flying back straight at them. They were quick to leave this place at rest.

Wetlands it was.

Swamp has penetrated through the forest edges, soaking the ground for meters. Intense smells lingered in the air—sweet aroma of blooming flowers intermingled with stench of decaying wood and sulphurous bubbles. The whole place seemed to have a life of its own.

The party formed a single rank file, treading mush grounds as carefully as they could. It wasn't long until they found themselves waist deep in chilly water. Wading through they encountered a portly rat grinning at them from distance, smelly bubbles popping around him. No one was in the mood for that. They did see a large tree some hundred feet away from the, too. And it seemed to stand on a dry piece of land, something they desired the most at this very moment.

Some twenty minutes of wading through chest-deep marsh later, and they were finally there. Isn't it weird how sometimes things seem much closer than they really are?

The “island” seemed to be bereft of any living trees, except the particularly large one. There seemed to be some human-sized mushrooms around.

“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”

Parties exploration was abruptly interrupted by a piercing shriek.

“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”

Another one joined in.

“IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!”

And a third one went of.

“Uh, it's time to go.” Gon'd'elf uttered just as towering, gaunt, lanky figure stepped out of the tree's shade.

There it stood, its black, leathery and warty skin glistening in the dim sunlight.

There it stood, its nose hanging like a limp snout, its two bright-red eyes gazing straight into the soul of our brave adventurers.

There it stood, its jaw wide open, drool dripping down its chin.

“Fall back behind me!” Alric shouted, positioning himself between the black horror and other party members.

The creature took its time, strolling menacingly towards Alric. It was only then our brave warrior could see how large the deformed horror was, towering over him by at least three heads.

The creature swung its sharp talon—missing Alric by an inch. The warrior rolled masterfully, confusing the creature in the process, making it slip whilst attempting to catch him. The demon face-planted with might, and was seemingly dazed and disoriented.

Belanor shot an arrow which found its target, and the rest, encouraged by Alric's dodge, ganged up on the creature.

Bravery or stupidity?

No hits connected. They kept going at it, but alas, their weapons have proven to be most ineffective. And they could all see the moment creature got back to its senses. Oh, they could.

Melvin felt the creatures claws ripping into his shoulders, its strong grip squeezing him with no mercy. The last thing he saw was a gaping maw full of disgusting, rotting teeth.

The creature bit his head off, popped his skull like a cherry tomato, and then spat the remains at Alric. The warrior was next. The creature clawed into him with disturbing glee, cackling at Alric's impotent allies.

Alric tried. He really did. But he passed out from the grievous wounds; wounds that would've killed any lesser man.

“What are you crying for?!” the creature mocked Gon'd'elf in its broken tongue. It torn asunder Lir, throwing his limbs and jaw into Belanor, downing him next. It was perhaps Belanor who had the most luck of all, since his death was fast and only moderately grotesque.

Gon'd'elf fled, crying, running, begging, pleading, praying, sprinting, swimming... He fled, as the creature cackled and mocked him. He fled, as the creature dragged the bloody remains of his friends into depth, into hell.

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Adventurers

Character Class Description
Richter Fighter level 1 Ugly looking figure with ruddy face, belching speech, and single tooth.
Melvin Magic-user level 1 Introduces himself as “Melvin the Magnificent.” Known as “Melvin the Mediocre.”
Tsielpffn Elf level 1 An imposing 4 foot 9 figure rocking a crazy goatee and embodying multiple personalities.

Later

Character Class Description
Alric Fighter level 1 Tall, broad-shouldered avatar of masculinity. Obligatory horned helmet and majestic blonde mustache included.
Gon'd'elf Elf level 1 “Surely magnificent, am I not?” is his favourite opener. Works every time, 40% of the time.
Belanor Elf level 1 Mohawk-rocking ex-slave on a path of vengeance.

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

Dewsnap 10th–15th

Our heroes took a full week of rest to recover from their most recent ordeal. Majority of them engaged in menial task around Rantar's keep, as well as some carousing and drinking with the locals. Owsley, an outdoorsman deprived of human touch, decided to hit on one of Rantar's wives. A brave man he is. Either that, or easily motivated by his peers and some fermented barley. His attempts fell flat; and luckily for him, Rantar wasn't around to liberate him of his head.

Richter the Ruddy also went big on drinking, spilling his guts to whomever had the patience to listen: “When I was a boy, my father, who was a peat digger, came home one day and took a solid look at me. ‘All day I shovel shit, and for what,’ he said, ‘so I can come home and look at more of it!’ And from that day I was made to sleep in the hog pen with the sow. The local children were cruel. They called me the Hogling and screamed oink oink at me. When I stood up for myself and told them to stop, they whipped my hide with reeds. Whipped my rump raw!”

Lir, the priest of and only honest man in this party, spent his time meditating. On one occasion he attempted to commune with his deity by divining over a cup of tea. The tea started swirling; slowly at first. Then it kept getting faster and faster, and just when he closed in and squinted to understand it better, it suddenly took the shape of a watery spear and rammed straight into Lir's pupil. He didn't have good time.

Owsley, liquid courage still in his veins, decided to befriend a guard on duty, so he could steal some spears. His plan was simple: sing some shanties, have some good time, and then quickly nab some spears and pretend they were always there.

Barry's ocean-blue eyes welled “Ou- Owl-” he stammers “OVULY!” “Is that why we've had such great time!” Barry is an honest man in his early thirties, his family in a nearby hamlet. He told Owsley everything about his sheep, his gorgeous Jannette, and their three children. He's been serving Rantar for some years now—much better pay than tending the fields. He couldn't hold back anymore, and was bawling by now “IS THAT WANT YOU WANT!” shaking his spear “AND I THOUGHT YOU WERE A GOOD MAN! A FRIEND”

“Hey hey, come on now. It’s nothing personal! I’m still your friend! It’s just that I need some more spears to support my livelihood but I’ve got no coin to spare for it!” Owsley put his hand on Barry’s shoulder. “I shouldn’t have done that to a friend like you, Barry. How about I go hunt us a nice critter and l’ll cook your family a nice meal and this can all blow over, yeah?”

“Are you for real? Or is this another of your tricks?” Barry inquired, wiping his snots.

“I swear it on my honor as a Ranger, Barry. May the great Baytnorn, God of trees, make a tree fall upon my head and kill me if I lie.” Owsley replied.

Barry wiped his snotty face “I knew you were real. After all, real eyes realize real lies!” A branch from a nearby tree fell off.

Indeed, our fine heroes spent their rest days well. Richter was seen going out and about, until he returned one day looking all sour and smelling of cat piss. From that day on he painted his shield as follows:

Smart as they are, our enterprising adventurers decided to recruit some meatshileds—ahem, retainers. Richter managed to recruit Euin, a local drunkard, while Melvin and Tsielpffn convinced four local boys to join them:

Samton, a burly man who ends 90% of his sentences with “eh?;” Nolgar, a sheperdboy looking to get rich quick; Larlo, thirsty for goblin blood and Tsielpffn's mentorship; and Gryx, the only one with actual weapon and armour—spear and leather.

On the morning of next day, they set out to recover riches Arder told them about.

Dewsnap 18th, Earthday

After two days of unmolested travel, Euin led the party to ruins of Deeridyll. What once was a hamlet, now was nothing but four dilapidated huts.

“The boys! The boys are back!” an old, stuttering figure shouted, emerging from the darkness of one hut. An old man, Altanian if it was to be judged by the colour of his skin, slowly approached the party. Despite his enthusiasm, Richter and Tsielpffn responded by pointing their spears at the old man.

“What? Why would you do treat me so? Boys...?” old man's eyes revealed nothing but child-like innocence. He did look to be in a rather poor shape, with flaking yellowish patches of skin hanging from his limbs. “Come! Come to my home. Come boys!” he uttered and dragged himself back into the hut.

Melvin followed; Richter took watch from outside; and Tsielpffn took Nolgar and Gryx for a crash course in wilderness surveying.

Old man's hut was dirty and unkempt. Ground was nothing but soil; a pile of straw was a bed. There was a pot hanging over some embers in the corner; a dark-brown stew rested lazily in it. The hut smelt of bodily odours and smoke.

Old man only spoke of “the boys” and how happy he is that they are back, despite Richter's and Melvin's best attempts to find out what has happened here. Euin said that there were some people that refused to leave the hamlet, and that perhaps the old man was one of them.

Unlike his colleagues, Tsielpffn did manage to find useful intel—a black spire to the north-east that looked very similar to the landmark on their treasure map. Plans were made to head there first thing in the morning.

Old man was delighted to offer his hut to he party, but only Melvin, Samton and Larlo took him on it. Richter and Euin selected another hut, while Tsielpffn and his mentees selected yet another.

Dewsnap 18th, Earthday, Night

Crrrraaaaaack.

Crrrrraaaaaack.

Shhh-hhhss-ssshhhh.

Tsielpffn's keen ears picked up sounds of cracking branches and shuffling leaves. Something heavy was moving outside of his hut. He quickly but slowly jumped up, and instructed Nolgar and Gryx to ready themselves in darkness.

Richter, in another hut, heard it as well. He kicked Euin awake, and they readied themselves, opting to stay in darkness of the hut.

Old man and Melvin heard it as well. “Oh no, oh no” the man stammered “follow my lead boy, if you wish to live!” He started to rub himself with dirt and dried feces. Melvin obliged, and so did Samton and Larlo.

The cracks were gone, now replaced with heavy thuds.

Tsielpffn could hear them coming closer and closer. “Ready yourselves” he growled through his teeth “do exactly as I say!” Leaning against the rotten planks, attempting to see anything in the darkness revealed little. There was something out there, but what?

“Boy, lie still, lie still...” was the last thing old man said before dozing away. Melvin and his compatriots obliged once again.

Richter's hut was filled with the sound of Euin's trembling jaw. “Get it together!” didn't help him at all. Richter positioned himself just behind the improvised doors—nothing but a plank of wood leaning on the ramshackle hut—to stop whatever might try to come in.

Euin was now trembling proper. One could hear his knees clicking, his jaw clacking, and the his back gently tapping the wall of the hut. “Come on, get it-”

Just as he was about to finish his admonishment, the hut came crushing down, revealing a massive owl-headed hairy figure towering behind Euin. It tore through him in a blink of an eye. Just as he was to avenge his fallen comrade, Richter immense pressure behind him, followed by unimaginable pain. He went up and down, his flesh torn to shreds; massive beak ripped his muscles; he could see Howla and Vannis clearly as he flew through the air; landing face-first on the soil in front of the old man's hut.

Tsielpffn and his team carefully opened their doors, intending to surprise whatever might be out there. Alas, they were unaware of the fate suffered by the Ugly One. Only the elf could make sense of what was happening, for they all fought in the darkness. He weaved his hands, attempting to sleep the massive bear-like figure in front of him. Alas, he only succeeded in attracting the creature's attention. It went through the hut like it was made of paper, crushing Gryx in it's charge.

The elf put up a bloody fight; cursing and growling at the cursed creature with his every breath. He was clawed, he was bitten; his body was torn to shreds, but his resolve remained unbroken to the very end. Nolgar shared the fate of his master.

Melvin decided he couldn't lie in wait any longer. “No boy, don't! Don't!” the old man pleaded, but his words fell on deaf ears. “Light up the torch!” Melvin instructed Larlo.

What a sight it was. Ricther was lying in front of them, resembling a collection of strips of flesh. Nothing but planks and bloodied remains were where once a hut stood. And on it a monumental bear-like creature stood, feasting on whatever was left of Euin. It raised it's unholy head, revealing massive beak and owl-like features.

Driven by raw instinct, it immediately charged the light source, severing Larlo in half. As did the torch extinguish, so did any remaining atom of courage in Melvin and Samton. They fled for their life in blind panic, each going their own way.

Melvin ran through the night—a man who used to sleep whilst others were exploring the keep—stopping at nothing and for no one. “The black spire, the black spire...” he braved himself, hoping to reach it as soon as possible... But running and finding direction is difficult in darkness, even with two moons...

Exhausted and expended, Melvin stumbled out of the woods with the first rays of new day. His tired eyes had seen what he yearned the most for—glorious flowing handle-bar moustache and muscle-bound python-like arms of Alric the Fighter. There he stood, at the base of great black obelisk.

Was it a mirage?

“Alric?”

“Melvin?”

Finding strength, the wizard stood back up and continued his march.

“Alric!!!”

“Melvin!!!”

By now the fighter was running, ready to embrace his beaten comrade in his safe arms.

“You have to save them! We have to go back! Richter! Tsielpffn! The boys! We have to go back!”

“Back where? What happened! Speak man!”

“They were hacked! Smashed! We have to go back!”

Alric was joined by two elves. Belanor, a mohawk-rocking ex-slave on a path of vengeance, and Gon'd'elf, a silver-headed and silver-eyed magnificent specimen. Neither of the two were too enthused with the wizard's plea. But Alric had a soft spot for his friends. And so they marched back.

The found four huts as they left them. Utterly crushed. No bodies in sight. Only bloody remains. “The boys are back!” Oh, the boys are back!” The old man was still in his hut. There lay Richter, pale as the robes of Priestess of Feninva. “Richter!” Melvin and Alric gasped simultaneously. They knelt next to him, and tried to shake him back to life. Alas, nothing but a corpse laid before them. “He is hungry boys, step aside please...” the old man muttered, and fed the cold corpse some of his stew. It spilled all over Richter, enraging Alric “It's enough old man, he's dead! Please, stop!”

They buried Ricther by the black spire, leaving his shield on his grave.

Taken too soon. The pantheon has one more Saint in its ranks. You may have only had two points in charisma, but you were beautiful. Good night sweet prince. Rest in Peace Richter the Ruddy. Torn asunder by an owlbear at the ruined village of Deeridyll.

The Gods of Wilderlands can be cruel in their mercy.

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