A World Asunder

Chapter 71- "And from the arrow, I watch"

Benavin and the remaining Partizans rendezvous with you five miles north of the estate. You are still close enough to see the glow of the blaze against the low-hanging clouds.

High Marshal Falan is still unconscious on one of the horses. Benavin looks more relieved than happy.

“You got the bastard. We’ll make sure our people didn’t die for nothing. Thank you.” Benavin rips the unconscious officer from the saddle with somewhat more force than necessary.

“Did you get what you came for?”

players answer

“Good. We’ll go our seperate ways for now, but you can consider us allies. I’ll find a way to sail to Polaris when I have the chance.”

Players go to the tomb
It takes a two-day ride to reach the woodlands described in the map. Soon the treeline begins to tighten and the undergrowth thickens. The horses, save for Irythan’s mount, spook and refuse to go any further.

Players go deeper into the woods
The woodland floor is thick with thorns dead shrubs. It takes several hours to go a single mile. Night is beginning to fall, though the difference is scarcely noticed under the dense canopy. Black, leathery vines reach up the trees like tendrils. The vines reach higher up the trees the deeper in you go and an unsettling black fog begins to obscure vision like a whisp of charcoal dust. At the edge of your vision, just poking out of the fog, is a ruined archway covered in leafy vines.

Players approach archway
The top of the archway is almost entirely covered in plant growth. Poking through it is a tarnished gold seal depicting an arrow piercing a sun disk, the holy symbol of St. Laerta.

(Spot DC 35)
You note that some of the vines have gathered themselves into a roughly humanoid shape and wrapped themselves around the ruined archway.

Someone attempts to grab the seal (Probably Sam. If I’m right, he’s buying Pizza next time)
The vines lash out at your wrist.

Players enter tomb
As you pass under the archway, you hear shifting in the vines above you. A large clump of them drops down from above, having formed into a roughly humanoid shape, sans head.

Combat. Corrupted Vinemass.

Players defeat Corrupted Vinemass

The creature lets out an unsettling shriek, despite having no discernible vocal chords. It seems to dissolve into a fog that looks more like a gaseous sludge and scatters into the wind.

Players enter tomb

Despite the massive size of the entrance, an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia begins to gnaw at you. Christine lights a torch and tosses it into the void.

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Chapter 70 -"We're sending 3/4 of the High Marshal off this balcony""

Benavin is waiting for you at the treeline with a group of ten. You’re on a hill overlooking the High Marshal’s garden across the river. It’s about an hour until sunset.

A group of farmhands is still working to round up the pigs that were released the previous night. The guards are still at their posts, looking somewhat amused. Benavin reports that she only saw two of them come out to catch the seven pigs that escaped. As you wait for darkness, Benavin pulls you aside.

“I know you have your own aims in this, but if you get a chance to capture high marshal Falan alive, it would be an enormous help to our cause. If you can’t capture him, make sure he’s in no position to pursue us ever again.”

Players wait until dark
The guards change shift at sunset, with the new guards taking their posts before the old leave. By the time night falls, the farm hands have returned the pigs to their pen and gone home. The estate grounds have sparse torch light, and two squads patrol it with no discernable pattern.

players use rat swarm
The chirping of a massed swarm of rats attracts one of the patrols. After noticing what they were up against, they begin waving torches at the ground and shouting for assistance. Five guards emerge from the house bearing torches and two guards leave their posts to assist in driving off the rats. (Roll d8 to determine if guards are in room, rather than d4)

Atrium
The door opens up into a marble-floor entryway flanked by two wide-turning staircases. Weapon plaques and paintings line the walls. (roll for guards twice)

Kitchen The servants’ entrance opens to a kitchen. There is a large butcher block in the middle under a rack of cooking tools and pots. Embers are still smouldering in two fireplaces. (no guards)

Servants’ quarters
The door creaks open to reveal a small room with 8 bunk beds. Five of them are occupied by sleeping figures. (order move silently checks).

Dining room
You enter a dining room with a long table in the center and a fireplace on each of the long walls. The table is meticulously set with silverware and delicate ceramics. (roll for guards once)

Atrium
(see above)

trophy room and armory
You enter a room with racks of weapons and trophies mounted on the wall, as well as various suits of armor on mannequins. A stuffed dire bear is positioned on its hind legs in the center of the room. (roll for guards twice, one on balcony, one on ground)

barracks
(if players diverted) The next room is approximately the same size and has two columns of bunk beds with footlockers, most of the beds have folded Faskian military uniforms on them.

(if players did not divert) The next room is approximately the same size and has two columns of bed with footlockers. There is a group of Faskian soldiers playing poker at a round table on the far end of the room. (call for hide/move silently checks)

upstairs
The staircases crest to a balcony overlooking the atrium and a wide bridge leading to an outdoor balcony. The walls are lined with busts of men in military attire.

Guest Bedroom
You enter a small bedroom with a carefully made bed and mirror on the far side facing a basin.

Library
You open the door to a small library with a desk in the center, the shelves lined with Faskian literature and texts on military theory, history, and post-scourge archaeology. (roll once for guard)

Child’s bedroom
You see a bedroom with a pair of small beds occupied by a young boy and a girl, sleeping soundly. Toys are scattered at the floor.

Master bedroom
You enter a large bedroom with an ornate four-poster bed in the center and an empty arrmor rack next to an oak dresser. The bedding has been tossed aside and the room is un-occupied.

Study
The door creaks open, revealing a room with a few small bookshelves and a fireplace on the wall. In the center of the room is a large scattered with maps, journals in various languages, and archaelogical texts. At the far end of the room is a desk with the chair pushed aside and a man in dress-armor facing the window, the moonlight reflected off of his salt-and-pepper hair.

“My guards were ordered not to disturb me and my servants have all retired for the night, would you care to tell me who you are and why you’re in my home?” the man asks.

allow players to answer

The man turns around, revealing a gaunt face that looks to be in its late ’30s, with eyes that look a good two decades later.

(if players deployed rats)
“I see. And the rats in my fields, that was you as well?”

The man tosses a book on the table in the center of the room and says “I’m no fool, and I do not relish killing, even that of elves. If you’re looking for the saint’s tomb, you’ll find what you need in there. Take it and leave my home.”

Players ask why he’s giving it
“That tomb has a tendency to find itself new occupants. If those who would threaten the security of Fask would add themselves to it, I would be happy to have helped. Gods know it’s taken enough of my men.”

(players refuse to leave)
“A shame. If I must die, I will die on my feet like a soldier. Let us avoid guns if you find yourselves honorable, I’d prefer not to wake the children.”

(Players leave)
As you walk out, the man says to you: “That tomb has a tendency to find itself new occupants. If those who would threaten the security of Fask would add themselves to it, I would be happy to have helped. Gods know it’s taken enough of my men.”

Combat, High Marshal Falan

Players read book
The book contains glyph rubbings and scribbled notes detailing a search. Near the back is a map of a location near the northern section of the Faskian-Weslythan border and a sketch of the entrance to a tomb that was never supposed to exist.

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Chapter 69- "I'll grieve in Wyrlat blood"

You’ve been tracing through the woods for the better part of a day when you reach a ruined structure half buried and covered in roots. Benavin signals you to stop.

She says “Standard Practice is to shoot anyone we don’t know. I’ll go in ahead and tell them you’re okay.”

A little over a minute later, you hear her yelling: “Alright, come on inside”

players enter

The inside is a large atrium, not unlike that of a temple. The mansonry is overgrown with roots and moss. About 40-50 rebels are inside, many of them resting, some practicing archery on captured sets of Faskian armor, others fashioning tools, weapons and arrows or passing the time with a book or a card game.

One of the rebels asks Benavin “What happened?”

Benavin replies, more to the room than to the individual: “We lost Tharil and Maqin, but we got the bastard.”

The rebels show no sign of reaction to the news, as if that kind of result happens on a routine basis. Benavin gestures to you to follow.

Benavin leads you into a small room with a makeshift table in the center, the table is scattered with maps, documents and faskian propaganda posters. Benavin says: “Listen, we need a favor. I don’t want to ask after you saved our hides back there, but we’ve lost a lot of people trying to handle this ourselves. If you get it done, you’ll count on our full support in searching for Laerta’s remains.”

“One of the oldest justifications for hatred of elves is visual similarity to vampires, what with our slender forms and pointed ears. The claim is that we’re barely a step removed, that we’re a lesser form of vampire that can walk in the light. The stories say we have an alliance and that we drink the blood of humans to please true vampires in the hope of becoming vampires ourselves. The latter part is often dismissed as an old nursemaid’s tale, but many people still believe that there’s an alliance.”

“Dawstyn has become the hunting ground of a vampire, and the bastard has been smart enough not to hunt elves. The townsfolk and the guards believe it’s the prelude to some kind of uprising. The magistrate we killed came up with a plan to deal with ‘the elf problem’. He started rounding up elves and branding them with holy symbols. Many were tortured to try to find out where the vampire was, but naturally none of them knew. That was likely what awaited you if that guard had brought you in.”

“With the guards chasing their shadows, the real vampire has had free reign at the expense of our people in Dawstyn. We managed to track the bastard to his lair, an old orcish wayfort in these same woods. He keeps killing our people if they get close and we’re short on hands as is.”

“As a show of good faith, we can start setting up for whatever plan you come up with. We’ll be ready by the time you come back with the vampire’s head. Let me get you the information we’ve got on that officer.”

“He has an estate outside the Great Capital. It’s no fortress, but there are a lot of guards. The man’s paranoid, so all his food is grown on the estate and he harvests it himself. He and his wife are the only people who cook for his family. He’s got two sons. Ages seven and fourteen. We’ve been looking for a way in but no luck, and unfortunately we don’t know anything about the layout inside the house. A frontal assault would turn into a stalemate until Faskian reinforcements showed up. That would take an hour, maybe two if the roads are muddy.”

(players don’t want to hit his estate)
“That might be the safer option, but there’s no guarantee he’d have any useful information on offer. If you want your answers, you have to get into his study.”

(improvise answers to questions)

Players finish planning

You leave the room. Benavin waves over one of the rebels, an elf barely an adult, and says: “We need someone to guide the Paragons to the vampire’s fort. Can you take care of that?” The elf nods his head and waves for you to follow.

players reach the wayfort

It is late afternoon by the time you see the wayfort. The structure is the size of a small cottage, with a large stone watchtower on the end. The ancient orcs used to station small forces in these to protect nomads as they travelled. The structure itself has aged quite well. The clay brickwork covering the windows is considerably more worn than the ancient stone masonry of the walls roof.

Players try door
The reinforced wooden door won’t open, but you see no sign of a lock.

players get inside
The cottage is one large room supported by hexagonal stone columns five feet thick. What little light shines through the door provides a fairly clear picture of the layout. Whatever it was before, it is currently arrayed like a dining room. A long, well made wooden table straddles half the room. A human corpse in farmers’ garb is shackled to the table near the single dining chair at the head. His skin is pale even by corpse standards.

(Spot DC 27 failure)
There is no sign of the vampire in this room. (vampire gets surprise round)

(spot dc 27 success)
You see female humanoid figure, athletically built and wearing the hunting outfit of a Heptusian noblewoman, perched on the ceiling. The figure bares its’ fangs, locks eyes and draws a kama.

Combat, Vampire Shadowdancer

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Chapter 68 - "I'll need to see your papers"

“Laerta’s left tit, Harxen. Fish or cut bait.”
Harxen puts his hand down and shoves a small pile of silvers in Christine’s general direction. Christine puts down her cards, face up. King high Flush. Hearts.

“Good call, Jethrali. Better luck next time.”

You hear a bell from the deck, signalling a port in sight. After two days on a fishing boat, everyone is eager to get off. Having the cart taking up space hasn’t helped the conditions.

You disembark on to the cleanest pier you’ve ever seen. The picturesque village of Dawstyn slopes up a gentle hill toward a somewhat spartan looking manor home at the top. Terrace farmland and cottage homes advance up the hill with steep staircases. The stonework railings along side the terraces have firing parapets at regular intervals. It seems that even the gentle villages are fortified in Fask.

An officer in the Faskian Home Army approaches you with a ledger. A pair of pistols are prominently displayed on his belt and he is flanked by two Faskian Halbardiers.

“Purpose of your visit to Fask?”, he says.

“I’ll need to see travel papers for you and your workers, and my soldiers will search your vessel.”

Players do not have travel papers

The officer has gone from bored to Irritated: “We’re at war, foreigner. You’re lucky I have more important things to do than detain you. The magistrate of Dawstyn lives in the house at the top of the hill. He has the authorization to write you new papers. Go be his problem before I change my mind.”

Christine says: “We’ve got time to get the papers. I’d rather go to the Inn first. My contact sent someone there to watch for me.”

Players get new travel papers
The magistrate’s manor is even more imposing up close and looks more like a keep than a mansion. A guard outside the main gate asks you to state your business.

Players state business
The guard replies: “The Magistrate is currently occupied. I can issue temporary travel papers free of charge. You will have to return tomorrow with the appropriate fee. And I would leave your thorn-ear hirelings behind. The magistrate finds the lesser races to be… Unsightly”

Players go to the Inn
The local inn is positioned on the north end of a market square. There is a sign outside it that says “No elves, no gnomes, no gambling”.

Christine says, in a somewhat rude tone: “Wait outside by the cart. I’ll be back.”

The tavern door closes behind her as she walks inside.

Players Wait
The market itself is arrayed in rows circling a monument depicting what is described by a plaque as “The Liberation of Dawstyn”. The depiction is of a human in full plate bearing a pistol and a sword. Some kind of musky incense is fed into the pistol so that it is always smoking. The same figure is striding over three dead elves.

The crowds are wearing an even mix of farmers’ garb and Militia uniforms, though many of the uniforms are hemmed with matching shades of dirt. The Militia members are all carrying flintlock carbines on their backs and shortswords on their hips while they browse. Most everyone who passes gives a look of either apprehension or disgust.

After about a minute, a group of guards approach looking more hostile than disgusted. One of them, an officer, levels his carbine and barks in Faskian: “Stay where you are, all of you. Face the cart and put your hands in the air.”

Players disobey
“I said put your hands in the air, you scum! You’ve got three seconds! Two”

Bang! A gunshot echoes across the plaza. The guard that was counting collapses. A hooded figure at a nearby fruit stand drops her pistol and hurls a bread basket at an expensive looking carriage that is traveling along the edge of the plaza. (Combat. Refer Below)

Players obey
(to Sam) The guard in charge, a sergeant, addresses you directly “What’s your business here, Skippy?”

(if not answered) he asks you as a group “Are you all together.”

Players answer yes
He says, half to you, half to the four guards with him:
“Well, you know what they call more than two treefuckers in one place? A conspiracy. Round them up now. I don’t want them around when the magistrate’s carriage comes through”

(refer to interrupt below)

Players answer no
“I’ll need to see some identification papers”

(players do not have ID)

“No papers?” The officer looks irritated and gestures to hist retinue.

Interrupt
The guard on his left pulls a set of wrist irons from his belt. As you assess your options, you, and apparently the guards, hear a crash on the edge of the plaza. A stall has been tipped over in the path of a carriage and the horses have spooked. The carriage comes to a halt. Then it explodes, sending splinters flying and a broken wheel rolling in front of you.

Combat, 4 guards, plus or minus an officer

(One player action)
The crowded market quickly erupts in a panic as citizens run away from the blast. Militia members move to draw their muskets and orient themselves in the chaos.

(another player action)
Several militia members are caught off guard by people in the crowd wearing assorted green cloaks and masks. They’re armed with knives. The five or so attackers leave their knives in the soldiers’ throats and take their weapons.

(one round in)
Christine bursts out the door of the inn. She looks around and draws a hidden pistol. “What the seventh hell did you do?”

(next player action)
A group of three elves near the edge of the market drop their hoods, pull weapons from under their cloaks and walk toward the wrecked carriage. A man in a dress uniform is clawing himself from the wreckage. He looks at the approaching group and begins looking around for a weapon. He finds nothing, so he puts his hand up and starts pleading. One of the elves, a woman in her 30’s or 40’s with short, black hair, says “Beg all you want, tyrant scum. My dead brother says hi” and drives a crossbow bolt into his left eye.

(next player action)
One of the cloaked attackers fires a stolen musket at the stone statue, taking a chunk out of its’ face. The black haired elf shouts: “Forget the monument. We got the real one. Let’s get out of here before more Wyrlat show up.”

(next player action)
Christine fires her pistol at a militia soldier, wounding him in the arm. “My guess,” she says, pointing to the attackers “These are the last arrows and one of them is our contact.”

players ask Christine about attack
“Yeah, they told me all about it. I thought it would be a nice surprise ‘welcome to Fask’ party. I even ordered a cake and a keg of ale. NO! They neglected to mention this part.”

(Next player action)
One of the rebels that approached the carriage checks the horses and starts undoing the tack. “This one’s wounded. She’s not going anywhere soon.”

The dark haired elf shouts back “Dammit, We’ve lost two people already. We can’t stay here.”

(next player action)
One of the rebels retreating toward the destroyed carriage bellows to the dark haired elf: “We can’t all fit on one horse. Any ideas, Benavin?”

(Christine’s turn)
Christine (describe combat action), then turns to you and says: “Without these people, we’re not finding St. Laerta’s remains.”

Combat ends
As you clear the market and soon, the town of Dawstyn, the dark haired elf offers her hand and says: “Thanks for getting us out of that one, now who the hell are you?”

Players Answer

“Benavin. You already know what I do. So you’re looking for the remains of St. Laerta?”

“Well, we’ve got no idea where they are. We think the Faskies have some kind of lead, though. One of the colonels in their Homeland Army has developed a very public obsession with finding them. The kind of obsession that could get him fired or shot, were he not so good at his job. He’s probably the one they’ll send to hunt us down after that stunt we pulled in the market, which makes finding him a fairly simple matter.”

“It’s going to be a few days before he gets to Dawstyn to start his search. For now, we’ll need to ditch this cart and disappear to throw off the garrison chasing us. We’re camped out in some old ruins in the forest.”

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Chapter 67: "We have to go now"

You arrive back at the fort to find Christine waiting for you at the Eastern gate, cleaning her Pincannon. Fetrian and two Fusiliers are with her.

Fetrian approaches and says: “We heard about the attack on your people. I convened a meeting of the Freeharbor Guard and we voted unanimously to devote all available necessary resources to finding the bastards responsible. Thirteen healers came with us and are already at work.”

Christine slings her pincannon over her shoulder and approaches. She hands you a message written in Faskian and says: “It’s long, so I’ll summarize: The note details a Faskian plan to find and seize the first temple of St. Laerta. I was unable to determine the location of the temple or what the Faskies plan to do with it. What I WAS able to do was arrange to meet a Partizan commander with the Last Arrows in the coastal village of Dawstyn. Unfortunately, the meeting is in two days so we don’t have time to go after Lantis just yet.”

(What is the Last Arrows)
“They’re a group of Partizans in Fask. Freedom fighters or bandits, depending on who you ask. The group has been inactive and in hiding for decades. When Fask declared war on Termalyn, they saw an opportunity and started targeting supply depots and hijacking arms caravans. The former nuisance became a serious problem in a short amount of time.”

(Knowledge check DC 15)
-Faskian cities have checkpoints at every gate and anyone within Fask’s borders is subject to search.
-Swords are banned for civilians.
-Bows and axes may be carried in wilderness areas, but no more than 10 arrows may be kept at any time.
-Daggers, quarterstaffs, sickles, picks and hammers are not banned, but can still raise suspicion in some cases.
-Armor stronger than leather is banned.
-Spellcasting is illegal.
-Everything listed is punishable by jail time in varying amounts.

players plan journey to Fask

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Chapter 66- "Remind me never to piss off Farens"

Farens is halfway through transforming and is already rushing at the assassin.

Combat Ends, Farens survives
Farens, still in a rage, begins raking his claws at the corpse of the assassin, shredding her armor, limbs and torso.

Players attempt to interrupt Farens
Farens snarls at you and adopts a defensive posture, like a feral dog protecting his dinner.

Players do not attempt to interrupt Farens
Farens tears open the assassin’s abdomen and removes her liver, dashing off into the woods on all fours carrying it in his mouth.

Combat ends, Farens dies
The assassin falls dead, her blood draining toward the sea and joining the pool of dark lycanthrope blood around Farens’ remains.

Players search Assassin’s body
You find a blood-stained note that reads: “We’ve been hired for hush job. Your assignment is to meet with a group of people under the employ of “Four-Finger Lantis”, a gang lord based in Gildenport. They have been told to expect someone to transport them off the Island. You are to pose as their way off the island, find out what they know and who they’ve told, and eliminate them. Collect your payment from their corpses. If there is any less than 24,000 gold present, you may collect the difference from our contact at the Red Diamond.”

Players return to Freeharbor

The Dawn of Orthalyn is still undergoing repairs. Reilly sets you up with a single-mast caravel that should arrive in comparable time. You reach Freeharbor in two days’ time. From the sea, you can see 3 massive Tebuchets erected in the old slums, dwarfing most of the two and three story tenements. More of them appear to be still under construction. You can see campfire smoke outside the city and the burning wreck of a seige tower half a mile from the walls.

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Chapter 65 -"Four-finger Lantis"

You make your way to the docks to trace the path of the box. Reilly informs you that she has already had someone she trusts gather the shipping manifests. It has been 12 hours since the attack began. During that time, a temporary infirmary has been set up in a tent in the mid-ground courtyard. The weather has been mostly favorable, save for a dump and done rainstorm seven hours ago. The sea gate has been closed and all outer cannons and ballistae have been loaded in preparation for an attack.

(To sam)
As you walk pas the makeshift infirmary tent, you can see two exhausted nurses sitting on the ground with their backs up against a tree. They’re sharing a flask of whiskey with the label “Oakenhearth Distillery”.

Players talk to nurses

(Where did you get that?)
“We found it at the west beach, by the woods when we were evacuating a wounded soldier. I knew what kind of shift we were going to have, so I slipped it in my pocket and held on to it until we were done treating the wounded. Good thing, too. The rain might have washed it back into the sea.”

Players go to the beach
The western gate opens up directly to the beach. The sandy beach tapers off to the north and is bordered by jagged granite cliffs. The south side of the beach goes up a hill and is broken off by a treeline leading to the woods.

(call for search and spot checks)

(Spot DC 20)
You see a faint line of smoke rising from beyond the treeline.

(Search DC 20)
You find a scrap of torn cloth stuck on a thorny vine, with a smattering of mostly-dry blood. One of the thorns has some dried-up blood on it.

(heal check DC 20)
Given the comparitive age, it would seem that the blood on the cloth came from the same source as the blood on the thorn. In addition, the drying of the blood given current humidity would indicate it is between two and three hours old.

Players delve into the woods
(If players have Robyn)
Robyn goes to work, following footprints and blood drops. Whoever it was was alternating between running and a brisk hiking pace. Along the way, you find scraps of a cleric’s vestments which were removed. Robes, circlet, cloak, sandals. Robyn stops a mile in and points out where moss was scraped from a fallen trunk. Combined with a cluster of bare footprints and bootprints leading away. There are at least four distinct pairs of feet. Robyn ventures a guess that whoever made the trail changed clothes here and met with co-conspirators, then continues on down the trail of bootprints.

(If players do not have Robyn)
Without a tracker, you must spend extra time searching for more obvious clues. Make a search check.

(DC 18 search, nat 20 skips a step)
-You find a discarded circlet of Pelor’s clergy a few hundred feet behind the treeline.
-A robe and a cloak are found in rapid succession a half a mile in
-You find a pair of sandals in the center of a small clearing and a pair of footwraps on the southern edge of the same clearing. One of the footwraps is smeared with blood that is beginning to dry.
-A few hundred feet into the woods from the clearing, you note a scene that even an untrained tracker would notice. Moss is stripped from various trees and cigarette butts line the pete-covered ground. Several distinct pairs of feet have all made their mark on this spot. Everyone present appears to have gone the same way, trampling the wet ground and leaving obvious bootprints behind them.

Players tracked with Robyn or succeeded in all search checks
Following the large group of footprints, you soon begin to smell the smoke of a campfire and hear mumbling voices (DC 20 Listen check below).

Players successfully eavesdrop
You hear a frantic, but hushed argument. One voice says:
“Where the seventh hell is that boat? We were told to expect pickup before dusk and the sun is already starting to go down.”

Another one retorts: “I don’t even think that boat is coming. Lantis is just going to hang us out to dry. Maybe if Kyran had disposed of that whiskey properly instead of just dumping it.”

“Hey!” Another voice, presumably Kyran, retorts. “I risked my neck going back there. Not my fault those damned vestments are such a trip hazard.”

(if Robyn is with them) Robyn snickers and remarks: “Something tells me we’re not dealing with professionals.”

Players approach the cove
You eventually emerge from the woods to see a small, sandy cove dotted with boulders. Four people are gathered there around a fire, huddling in the damp, cold air.

Players enter the cove and are discovered
One of the conspirators curses under his breath and kicks the dirt “Dammit, Kyran. You led them right to us.”

Players Draw Weapons
Three of the conspirators instinctively raise their hands. One of them says “Please, don’t shoot. It’s not what you think.” A fourth, Kyran, takes off running.

Foot chase

Players talk to the conspirators

(Who sent you)
A gang lord in Freeharbor. Goes by Four-finger Lantis. Paid us 6,000 gold a piece.

(What did you think you were doing)
Lantis said we were placing Scrying beacons for a client. We didn’t know they were going to explode. If we had, we would have turned the job down.

(Who’s Lantis’ client)
He doesn’t give out that kind of information. We didn’t need to know and we had 6,000 shiny reasons not to ask.

Players failed a search check
You eventually emerge from the woods to see a small cove. It took longer than expected to arrive. There is a small catamaran beached near the treeline tied to an oak. In the cove, you see the smouldering embers of a fire and four bodies with blood pooling around the sides. Two of them are quite near the fire, lying face up with their throats sliced open. The other two are farther away, sprawled on the ground with a single arrow in each of their backs. A masked woman in dark clothing is pulling an arrow from the back of one of the dead men. A dagger in her left hand is still dripping in blood.

(Players succeed on hiding)
She makes no sign of having noticed you. (allow players to set up)

(Players fail hide checks)
She is scanning the treeline, but makes no sign of having noticed you. (Assassin gets a surprise round)

Combat with assassin

Combat ends

(There is a note in the Assassin’s pocket)
You find a note that reads: "We’ve been hired for hush job. Your assignment is to meet with a group of people under the employ of “Four-Finger Lantis”, a gang lord based in Gildenport. They have been told to expect someone to transport them off the Island. You are to pose as their way off the island, find out what they know and who they’ve told, and eliminate them. Collect your payment from their corpses. If there is any less than 24,000 gold present, you may collect the difference from the usual location."

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Chapter 63- "You have to protect me."

The final casualty count for the attack is 153 dead, 211 gravely wounded. Most were citizens. 26 volunteer fighters died in the ensuing fight with demons. At least a hundred Scourge cultists lie dead along with a handful of small flying demons.

The initial sweep of Detect evil reveals that the entire fortress is riddled with a mild evil aura, combined with patches of moderate and strong near the explosions and around the portals that spewed demons and cultists. (knowledge: religion check)

DC 15: Your experience fighting against magic of evil origin leads you to believe that there could be harmful residual effects from the spells within the area they affected.

DC 20: You recognize this specific spell. The Arkali commonly use it during raids as it provides rapid dominance by way of shock and awe combined with instant deployment behind the defenses of whoever they were raiding. After the raid, a lingering aura would curse the minds of those who spent more than a few minutes inside, causing them to go blind, deaf and mad in a matter of hours. The only ones immune were Arkali.

(players begin interviews)
Reilly set up a room for questioning in one of the outer guard towers. For hours, the same questions net the same answers. The place is crowded enough that everyone has an alibi. They’ve got many reasons for joining. Some for safety, some for the cause, the occasional glory seeker. Most came through Gildenport, though a few travelled on their own boats.

After 3 hours of checking and questioning, Reilly enters the room halfway through someone’s life story and says: “Sorry to interrupt. I’ve got someone outside who says they might have some information. Should I let them in?”

Reilly opens the door and a teenage dwarven boy with a short goatee steps inside and sits down.

(players ask a question)
The dwarf interrupts you partway through. “Hold on.” he says, “I didn’t know what I was doing. I know a lot of people will be angry, but I need to be alive to take care of my little brother. You need to promise me that no one will know what I told you and that I won’t be imprisoned, otherwise I won’t tell you anything.”

(kid will not agree without that promise)

“Okay. We came over on my dad’s old fishing boat. I used to provide fish for the others, but after Kaptal started sending patrols, it became too dangerous. So I started volunteering in the infirmary. We had a Cholera breakout a week back, so they needed extra hands. I was going down to the sea to fetch water for boiling and a soldier came up to me. He asked me to bring a crate to the infirmary. Said it was hooch for his friend who was wounded. I knew it wasn’t allowed in the infirmary, but he was one of the freeharbor fusiliers. A bloody hero. I took it up there and the next day the place blew up. I don’t know for sure that that was it.”

(What did he look like)
“Mid 30’s and Tall. He had shaggy black hair with grey flecks and a beard. He had kind of a gruff voice.”

(describe the box)
“It was about this big” The boy spaces out his arms to describe an approximate cube about a foot on each side. “It was labelled ‘Oakenhearth distillery, Gildenport’ with a burning oakleaf emblem.”

Inform players: "you recall “oakenhearth” was the name of a distillery that was destroyed during the gildenport uprising."

(players exit room)
Reilly is waiting for you outside: She says: “Messenger came by while you were questioning people. Christine found a lead on St. Laerta’s remains and she’s on her way back. Wants to meet at the Anchorman’s Rest. What did the kid say?”

(players tell Reilly)
Reilly curses under her breath. “His name is Farens. Good fighter. Story goes he destroyed a Kaptalis trebuchet by smashing it with half a broken barricade during the uprising. He was supposed to be on the expedition with us, but he sprained his ankle a few days before hand. He’s probably in his quarters right now.”

(players meet Farens in his quarters)
Farens is missing from his quarters, but his bunkmate said to try the dining hall.

(players go to dining hall)
You find him sitting at a table, sharpening a Kukri. He stands and salutes Reilly, then asks “Reilly, what’s going on?”

Reilly delivers a kick to the side of his knee, then twists his saluting arm around his back and holds his head to the table with what’s left of her right arm. “You betrayed us. That’s what happened.”

“Reilly, you know me better than that.” Farens turns to you: “What the seventh hell is she talking about?”

(players tell Farens)

“That’s what this is about? I ordered Jaren a crate of whiskey from the plant we used to work at. When one of us got injured on the job, their mates would arrange for a crate of whiskey to go missing and turn up at their hospital room. When Jaren took an arrow in the knee during a scouting run on the mainland, a few of us decided to continue the tradition. We ordered the crate directly from another distillery and put the Oakenhearth label on it for old time’s sake.”

(how did he get hurt)
“Scourge cultists ambushed his party on the outskirts of freeharbor. They barely got back to the city alive.”

(players ask which distillery)
“Emerald Orchard. Most of the folks from Oakenhearth went to ply our trade there after the uprising.”

(players end questioning)
Farens, rubbing his twisted arm, says: “Reilly, I know what I did was against the rules and I expect an earful from Cora about why they don’t let whiskey into the infirmary. If you’ll have me, I’d like to come with you to sort this out. I know people who work at Emerald Orchard and I’m looking for some payback for the attack.”

Reilly glances at you as she walks away and replies: “Not my call. I’m going to go check on Enfys and prepare the Dawn for departure. Hopefully they’ve patched her up enough to make it to Freeharbor.”

(note player decision on Farens)

Scant hours later, you board the Dawn of Orthalyn and cast off for Freeharbor. The sails unfurl to a favorable wind and the frigate begins to push off. The ship’s cargo hold has been cleared of all but the essentials to make for a swift voyage.

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Chapter 62: "I think we can rule out faskian blackpowder"

The shattered glass from the explosion is still falling. Even Reilly is in shock. Cora turns to Reilly and says:

“Look at me, Reilly. You know what to do. Let me take care of Enfys.”

Reilly regains her composure and begins issuing orders: “Fusiliers, search the grounds. Look for any explosives or arcane devices and report them to Harxen. Healers, follow Cora’s lead! Everyone else, get to the barracks by the dock.”

Reilly approaches you directly and says: “Get Niirithani to a safe location. We have to assume she’s a target and she’s too damn important to risk losing.”

(players remove Niirithani)

You get Niirithani under guard and take up positions to defend the room. You can hear rushing feet scraping the gravel and shouting outside.

Niirithani curses in draconic and flicks off blood from a minor gash sustained during the escape. “I’m alright, just nicked myself on a piece of glass”

You hear a distant secondary explosion and another unearthly howl, followed by gunfire from firepikes and shouting.

Niirithani says: “Lorraine, look behind you!”

Droplets of Niirithani’s blood have begun to expand and pool into a sphere in mid-air.

The sphere bursts into flame and explodes, leaving behind a human in a breast-plate. He has covered his face in ashes and matted his hair down with blood.

He says in an almost serene voice: “Surrender the Elder Wyrm and we will not reduce this island to ash.”

Combat with Scourge Aspirant

(combat ends)

The assailant falls dead, his breastplate clattering loudly on the floor and nearly drowning out the sound of a voice just outside the room.

“It’s Robyn Niles. I’m coming in. Stay your weapons.”

Robyn walks in, quiver empty and sword dripping with blood. She notices the body on the floor. “I see you’ve met one of our uninvited guests. We fought off quite a number of them ourselves. They poured out of the infirmary after the explosion. We took casualties, but our fighters took down every last one of them. Reilly has called a meeting in the Armory to begin sorting this mess out”

(players go to meeting)

Reilly has cleared off an armorer’s bench in the center of the room. Already present are Bakario, Myran, Milo, Harxen, Cade and Gareth, who is supporting himself with a cane.

Robyn closes the door and bolts it behind you.

Reilly begins:
“It’s not hard to see who attacked us today.” She holds up a red orb inside a rigid copper frame and places it on the table. “This is a device that is designed to open a door to the Abyssal plane and detonate that portal with the howl of a thousand tortured souls trapped by necromancy. This is what went off in the infirmary, killing the occupants and placing Enfys in critical condtion.”

“Given the wounds on the agents who protected Niirithani, I think we can assume she was a vital target of this attack. That means either someone in this room told the Scourge worshippers her identity or they were able to surveil us without our knowledge. We can also assume that they have informed the Arkali of her existence. At this point, the only one of us above suspicion is Enfys, and she may not ever wake up. We have two priorities: Get Niirithani off the Island safely and ensure that we can prevent further attacks.”

Niirithani says: “Give me a small boat. I’ll get myself off the island and take Milo as a guide.”

Milo replies: “And I’ll remind you this was your idea when I get sea-sick all over your boots. I’ll leave a message with Fetrian with instructions on how to signal us when you’ve determined it’s safe.”

Reilly says: “Next order of business: We need to find out how they got in, how they set up the attack and how they found out Niirithani’s identity. In spite of my experience, I will not be leading this investigation. I’m too gods damned angry to keep a clear head about this.”

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Chapter 61: "Let me find us a starting point"

After a few hours and some false starts, you have grouped up the survivors of the Calamity and are moving toward the surface.

The intact, yet crumbling stairway that led Reilly and the group she has taken to calling the “Freeharbor Fusiliers” to the ancient, nameless city. The stairway leads to a long artificial cavern and eventually a cistern. On the other side of the cistern, you can see the smouldering remains of an iron door blown off it’s hinges from the outside. Behind the iron door, the passage continues around a corner. Three fusiliers move forward to check, then wave the safe passage signal.

The passage eventually emerges into a cliffside with ropes rigged up for descent. The fog from the Blizzard has cleared and you can see clear down the rest of the mountain to the woods below and miles off to the west, you can see the sun rising over Caer’Fathis.

The descent the rest of the way is much simpler. Teams had been set at the most difficult points to rig up improvised bridges and ziplines. By noon, you make it back to a base camp at the foot of the mountain, Hidden off the path by underbrush. Tobryk lowers his firepike and waves you in.

“Good timing.” he says “Our scout should should be back soon. She went to check out a Weslythan army regiment that set up camp about 10 miles to the east. Gareth is stable, but Enfys should probably…”

The Dwarf peters off when he sees Enfys halfway through changing one of Gareth’s bandages.

You can hear a voice in the back of your head. “They aren’t going to like this. What the hell could Weslyth hope to gain from this?”

An elven woman who you didn’t notice behind you then says: “Hey, I’ve got some information you’re not going to like. There’s a Weslythan army camp to the east. I was able to infiltrate and eavesdrop on the commanding officer. They’re planning to go to war with Fask and Kaptal in alliance with Termalyn. It sounded like the invasion is due to start in a few days, but I couldn’t tell exactly how long. Seems like everyone has forgotten there are still Arkali in Irythan. Got in a fight with a unit of them on the way back. Took a bolt to the shoulder.” She points to an improvised field dressing.

(players discuss next moves)

Tobryk says: “The ironjack is waiting for us off the Faskian coast. They’re moving in every night to look for a fire on the beach. I’ve sent scouts to find a spot on the coastline. We’re supposed to meet up with them on the Faskian border. Hopefully we won’t get caught in a battlefield.”

(players rest)
You set camp and prepare to bed down for the night. Robyn passes out a few Venison skewers from a hunt. It’s not Milo’s mutton stew, but it fills you up before you sack out for the night.

You wake up to the sound of water dousing a campfire. Enfys sets the bucket down and says: “Come on. We need to get moving.”

The journey to the Faskian Border is a day long slog through the woods. There are three scouts waiting for you who reveal themselves when you approach.

The scouts have agreed on a safe location to board the ship by night, the beach you arrived at had been reinforced, but only by two guards. As the scouts put it, both of them tripped and fell on a dagger during the night.

Bakario directs the people the ancient city to stay low as you make your way through the woods to your beach. It takes him the rest of the journey to adequately explain what boats, ships and oceans are.

Robyn and two fusiliers move forward to light an improvised beacon. Minutes later, Cade approaches on a rowboat. The first to approach is a group of Orcs and Drow, some bearing children. Cade says: “Gods of all planes, I thought Brill was the last of you. Get in the damn boat.” Bakario translates, partly, and they board the craft.

After an hour, everyone has boarded the Ironjack and the voyage is underway. Milo has prepared an absurd amount of fish stew and everyone eats well for the first time in days or the first time in their lives.

Niirithani seems to be enjoying the open air more than most and spends much of the voyage in the crow’s nest regailing the lookout with old stories.

Favorable winds put you off the coast of Polaris in two days. You dock the boat and find Declan and Cora there to greet you. Declan practically tackles Robyn in a hug and Robyn can barely hold themself steady. Cora beckons you to follow.

(players follow)
“Gildenport has been taking on refugees from the war between the northern alliance and Termalyn. They’re pushing capacity right now so we took some of them on. We’re waiting for an answer from Weslyth on whether anyone can settle there. Many of them are orphaned children. What few adults are capable are helping in whatever way they can, but many of them are sick or injured. I’ve set up a makeshift infirmary in the keep.”

Enfys grabs her pack and heads to the keep. Cora yells after her: “Second Floor, Enfys! All of it.”

“Oh, yeah. Harxen wanted me to inform you: We’ve had a few run-ins with Kaptalis gunboats. We drove them off before they could get in range, but it looks like they’re testing our defenses. As for volunteer fighters, Reilly’s got her.”

Cora is cut off by a loud boom from the keep. A split later, fire erupts through the shattered windows with an unearthly howl. Reilly drops the pistol she was cleaning in shock.

“Oh, gods. What just..? ENFYS!!”

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