States of Light

Episode 15

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Episode 14

To assist me on this mission the Bellicus determined that Kenichi, Akra would be adequate guards and some new guy Gung-Ho , which isn’t exactly a name that inspires confidence in me but oh well… But at least we are on a mission worthy of my skills. This time the League is sending me to break into the Ecclisia’s fortress, which would be impossible for most, but I don’t think it will be that difficult, it will be just like the good ole days. The riches we steal/destroy from the Ecclesia will cripple her ability to pay her mercenaries and will cause her to quickly fall from power, which seems like quite a fun way to ruin someone.

With 1000gp in my pockets to pay for our siege’s expenses we made our way towards the Rusty Blade tavern in Madriera to meet our contact Gung-Ho. After casually blending in to the crowd I asked the waitress if she knew where we could find Gung-Ho, and while she pretended not to know, it was pretty easy to tell she knew exactly where he was. The barmaid left our table and went directly over to another table and tapped a man on the shoulder pulling him over to the bar making it pretty obvious who we were going after. Just as the person who we thought was Gung-Ho came over and sat with us, his spastic gnome friend looked up and realized he had just been talking to himself for the last 4 minutes and screamed out “HEY GUNG-HO, WHAT ARE YOU DOING OVER THERE!?!?!” making Gung-Ho’s identity secret identity no so secret anymore… The information we were dealing with was far to sensitive for that gnome to blow our mission so we decided to meet at one of Gung-Ho’s safe houses to discuss our plans.

I let the party know that to properly infiltrate this manor/fortress that we would need info on the following things:

-the layout of the manor
-the physical security
-vault
-mercenaries
-leadership
-allies
-timeline of the Ecclesia and her guard returning

To gather this info I got Kenichi magic himself into a bird and fly over the grounds, which worked perfectly. I got Akra to try to join the mercenaries that work into the keep, which worked even though Akra disguised himself as “Acra”(soft c) but thankfully his name doesn’t carry the same weight as mine so we got lucky on that one. On Akra’s first shift as a mercenary he found out that there was an ogre being kept in a dilapidated church in the fortress grounds, but he couldn’t let things go that smoothly and managed to make an ass of himself by picking a fight with one of the “small cock” duelists. The first swipe of the duelist was easily parried and Akra didn’t even swipe back, but Akra got cocky, and it got rocky… After that initial miss the duelist quickly picked “Acra” to peices thankfully sparing him in the end. Luckily our cover wasn’t blown and the only thing ruined was Akra’s pride.

I performed around the entrance of the fort trying to pick up as much information about the who was coming/going through the gate, and while one of the elven archers became a little wary of me, I slipped away pretty much unnoticed in the end. The last major piece of the puzzle we needed was information about getting to the vault itself, but Gung-Ho had just the person for the job, that fat spaz of a gnome we met earlier in the bar. The gnome Debergerac obviously wasn’t savvy enough to keep something this a secret so playing off his love of things that make him fatter we told him that “We were breaking into the Ecclesia’s vault to throw her a surprise party and we were a group of the best pastry makers from across the lands, and if he helped us out he would be able to gorge in most exquisite pastries he had ever tasted at the party, but only if we could get into the vault unnoticed”. Somehow that ludicrous plan worked and the gnome busted out some plans of the sewers around the fortress and managed to figure out a staggering amount of information from what looked like a map pretty much devoid of anything very useful. Still hyped up from the thoughts of being able to gorge on the best pastries ever created he went over to the engineering guild and found a disgruntled ex-employee of the Ecclesia. Apparently when the Ecclesia was building the vault she only half paid him for the plans he made and then threatened the disgruntled engineers life when he complained about it. But that small savings on the engineers plans are now going to cost the Ecclesia everything copper she owns as the disgruntled engineer went on to describe in great detail the intricate 3 stage lock he made, and a trap that would have flooded part of the vault drowning any who had entered. While Debergerac was finding that out the rest of us managed to piece together the timeline on when the main security force of the Ecclesia would be back, and setup a 500gp poker tournament to keep the Ecclesia’s compulsive gambler of a main assassin busy . Now I had all the pieces of the puzzle and laid my master plan into effect.

We got through the sewers and found the grate under the fortress with little problem. The distraction we paid for worked quite well as the archers didn’t notice us emerging from the sewer and slipping through(and in one cast shoving through)an open window. Upon entering the manor it was quiet and we easily made our way downstairs to where the vault most likely would be. The first trick they engineers had for us was a poorly constructed invisible wall which I easily found and saw that there was a door with the exact lock the disgruntled engineer described. Between Debergerac and Gung-Ho they made quick work of it and Gung-Ho opened the last part with a quick flick of his dagger. We moved on downstairs to discover the water trap as described, avoided it and went on to the last section which was supposedly magically trapped(the one piece of information we couldn’t gather anything on). The doors to the vault were suspiciously unlocked and as we entered further into the vault it became harder and harder to breathe. The casters ushered in some clean air by conjuring up a small wind but it was only enough to sustain us a little longer, we had to get rid of the source of this gas. Way up on the high ceilings of the vault there were a bunch of vents which after a bit of effort Gung-Ho and I closed. The last trick the Ecclesia had for us was that the chests containing her wealth were pressure sensitive and if there was ever less than 10lbs on the plates an alarm would sound. Around this time our fat little gnomish friend started to realize that this wasn’t a pastry surprise party at all and started asking too many questions. I tried to shut him up with some lame cover-up story but surprisingly he didn’t buy it. Debergerac chose the wrong moment to lose his trademark gullibility and the group quickly weighed the choice of whether we kill the gnome or risk our heist failing. And without any discussion more than a glance at each other the gnome was stabbed in the back by Gung-Ho and than blasted into oblivion by a bolt of energy from Kenichi. I think I felt worse about Akra losing to that “small cock” duelist than I did over us killing the gnome so coldly. And at least we have the 40lbs of counterweight we need for the chests. Now we just need to get out of here.

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Episode 13

“I’m come for you, Vittorio!”, Akra could be heard echoing through the hallways, although he seemed to be the only one of the heroes who realized that he was getting further and further from the exit of Fort DeWalt with every urgent pace. After his circuitous route was completed, Bellicus Demetrios stood in Akra’s path, pointing him in the right direction. Without hesitation, as though it was the direction he’d been heading all along, Akra raced out the front door and down the road, bellowing Vittorio’s name all the way. 

Hrath and Newt were effective in keeping up with the Dragonborn, with the peg-legged Kenichi accompanying the Bellicus not far behind. The sight of the two of them together drew dozens of confused looks from the other soldiers, having just been told that the Bellicus had been assassinated, at Kenichi’s own hands no less.

Well, clearly Demetrios had not, in fact been killed, his presence being proof of that, and more than a few League soldiers raced up to him to express their joy at his continued existence and their relief that there had not, in fact, been an attempt on his life.

“Oh yes there was!”, Kenichi corrected them, one of the few times in the past weeks that his voice could be clearly heard. “It was that damn Glidesh, under the Ecclesia’s orders.” puzzled, the soldiers would rapid-fire questions at the pair, but Kenichi and Demetrios couldn’t spare a moment to satisfy their curiosity – they had a shard to secure!

Once gathered at Vittorio’s pavilion, the heroes saw that their long-time teammates Caedmon and Brogia were already there, and there was much rejoicing. Akra felt little relief himself however, until his rather brusque demands to set his own eyes upon the shard were met. 

“Take a rest here, my friends”, suggested Caedmon, “and tell us what really happened. We knew you couldn’t have done what you’ve been accused of, but you should know that there’s already a significant push by Fernanda to have you – and me now too, I suppose – villified for your attempt on Bellicus Demetrios’ life. I don’t think it’ll matter a whole lot at this point that he’s, you know…not dead”. 

“Indeed”, added Borgia. “Most indeedidly so.  Fernanda – I will not continue to use her former honorific Ecclesia – has planned this event quite well. Other than underestimating your abilities, that is. It appears she’s had factions within our forces which have previously declared loyalty to her…sizable factions. As we speak they are rallying to the ships and executing loyalists. If we want to survive the day, we need to move. Now!”

“Bellicus Demetrov, vot do you vish of us? Shall I remain vith the shard?”. The question from Akra served to snap the dwarf back into the present, and he once again took the demeanor of the military leader he is. After a brief moment to ponder he burst from the tent, started hollering orders, and never stopped. There would be a battle, that’s for sure. And our heroes found themselves on the MUCH smaller side.

The melee that followed lasted less than an hour, but it’s effects will be felt for much, much longer than that. The heroes struggled mightily against Fernanda’s much larger force, at one point even causing the icy-cool Jiki Mal to cry out in despair and, although briefly, join a small group of deserters for whom all hope seemed lost. 

Kenichi, on the other hand, nearly single-handedly turned the tide of the battle. From his extended fingertips, and with many a mumbled magical verse, fireballs burst through the opposing forces, thinning their numbers until the heroes eventually outnumbered the traitors, and scattering them to the four winds. 

In the end, the loyalist forces prevailed without suffering significant losses. Kenichi nervously accepted praise from the throng which surrounded him (some of them were carrying crossbows, after all). The heroes regrouped around vittorio’s tent. Some time later, Caedmon and Newt hadn’t shown themselves. Jiki Mal, perhaps to cover his own shame at having beat a hasty retreat, suggested that the two may have fled the battlefield. Or worse, what if they joined Fernanda’s army?

Akra was angry at the thought, knowing Newt much better than that. Although, now that he thought, he couldn’t remember having seen her out there once the scene descended into pandemonium. “Not possible. Newt vould not haff fled. She vill return, do not vorry”.

“No. She won’t”. It was Caedmon, who had only just appeared through the flaps of the tent, a large bundle wrapped in a blood-soaked cloak draped across his outstretched arms . The heroes immediately recognized the grim expression on Caed’s face.

“I tried, I swear I tried. I was too late”. He dropped to his knees, choking back tears, and gently lowered the bundle to the ground in front of him. The party didn’t need to ask who was wrapped in the cloak. They knew. Jiki Mal collapsed, instantly grief-stricken. Instinct took over, and being an experienced combat medic, he moved furiously, futilely trying to breath life back into his friend, his love. 

INTERLUDE, in which we hear a tale of victory from Caedmon’s past!

                  

Days later the party had set sail for Salerno. Things were about to drastically change, and important decisions by the remaining Faces would need to be made quickly. Initially they made haste, but of course these things never last. 

The ship gets violently knocked sideways by a 40’ long predatory sea serpent! The accompanying League soldiers sprang into action and demonstrated their training. They remained calm despite the chaos surrounding them on the heaving deck. While the heroes took up strategic positions, the soldiers manned the ship’s ballistae.

“Watch where you point those things, you clumsy fools”, snarled Kenichi. “You’re going to kill somebody!”

The serpent appeared again, snapping its jaws across the side of the ship and tearing a massive chunk off the railing and deck. Spears from the ballistae deflected harmlessly off of the serpemt’s scales. Fireballs exploded in the air around it. The beast proved to be an enormous challenge. It had very few weaknesses, and only careful aim and concentration allowed any strikes to land true.  Waves crashed across the deck, and a panic came across each of the crewmen. Some of them, Akra included, couldn’t resist the terror that overwhelmed them and fled to the opposite side of the ship. 

Demetrios took up the space along the railing that had been vacated by Akra, and the heroes continued their efforts. He lifted his axe and watched carefully as the serpent twisted around, waiting for the moment to strike. Just as he lunged forward, a spear from Camillo’s ballista pierces him through the back, a near mortal wound. On his last legs, he withdrew from the railing to spare himself from an ironic death.

The heroes could see how desperate the situation was becoming. The heroic Emilio had already fallen, torn in half as his upper body was swallowed by the monster. Now Bellicus Demetrios was at death’s door. Just when they most needed a game-changing maneuver, Jiki Mal leaped across the deck with his katana flashing above his head. In one powerful stroke, Jiki Mal drew his katana along the serpent’s body, spilling it’s insides in Tauntaunian fashion. Though it fought on hungrily despite the disgusting wound, moments later it swooned backwards and fell back into the sea, sending a wall of water crashing behind it.

Rushing to Demetrios’ side, Jiki Mal once again shows his worth as a combat medic and manages to pull the spear out of the dwarf’s side. He would live, for now at least. 

With luck and calm weather the ship manages to hobble into port in Salerno. Vittorio made the suggestion that the Bellicus remain on board. The party was nervous, but Akra provided assurance that “Victor and Demetrov” could keep the shard safe while they made their way to the capital building. There a very nervous guard reluctantly agreed to let the party enter, but only on the condition that they keep a very low profile. No problem. 

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Episode 12

Badly beaten, from the battle with Darien and the evil priest Brelic, Akra is in need of healing and the group comes to his aid and stabilizes his condition. Now able to manage the pain he focuses on restoring himself to full health. Meanwhile, Hrath notices an eerie green glow emanating through a hole in the floor of the battered old farmhouse. Kenichi determines it to be arcane in nature and the two descend into the crawlspace to investigate further. They locate a shard which Kenichi deduces is very likely related to the ghoul infestation and that it not be touched. Using a piece of wood they push it into a sack and exit the crawlspace.

Our heroes now depart the ruins of Hofveld and rendezvous with the other League groups that are heading for Fort DeWalt to debrief with the Bellicus. It is immediately apparent that there is tension among the higher ranked League members and that they have split into two factions. Each of our heroes fails at gathering any significant information as to what is at the root of the strife. Most miserably, Kenichi, manages only to get into a very heated argument with another League mage, Glidesh, over a mundane tidbit of arcane knowledge and establishes a lifelong enemy in the process.

Once at Fort DeWalt, Brogia calls upon Akra, Hrath, Kenichi and Newt who inform her of what occurred in Hofveld, including revealing the documents and shard they had found. She tells the group to keep this information quiet. As well, Kenichi takes the opportunity to badmouth his new found enemy, Glidesh, to Brogia.

Next, the heroic adventurers meet with a ranking League wizard, Vittorio, who concludes that the shard is immensely powerful and to be the source of the entire ghoul outbreak! The shard is placed into a special containment chest for safekeeping and Kenichi, who transported it in the sack, is placed under quarantine. Akra is deeply concerned about losing position of the shard and it falling into the wrong hands. It caused so much trouble already and should be destroyed! He attempts to intimidate Vittorio, quite unsuccessfully, and is assured the shard is in good hands. Vittorio then firmly orders Akra out of his tent.

Akra is now intent on informing the Bellicus of the shard as soon as possible, but has to wait in doing so as our heroes are once again summoned to meet, secretly, with Brogia. Upon arrival, Kenichi ‘stirs up the wind’ so they are not heard and Brogia reveals the reason behind the strive which has occurred in the League. When she arrived at Fort DeWalt, the head of The All Church, Ecclesia, began questioning the authority of Bellicus Demetrios and Magus Katsuro. Brogia is on side with the League and it’s apparent she hopes our heroes are as well. Without hesitation our intrepid adventurers affirm their allegiance to the League! No sooner done, the meeting is interrupted by banging on the door and they are summoned to meet with both the Bellicus and Ecclesia. En route, Newt’s keen eye notes that the party is being followed by scouts who are watching Kenichi, in particular (as is Hrath).

There is obvious (to all except Akra) tension in the room when the party arrives and everyone already present leaves immediately except a number of guards, the Bellicus and Ecclesia. This is the first time our heroes have met the gnomish head of The All Church and before introductions can even be made both Hrath and Kenechi notice a guard next to the Bellicus drawing his sword. They react quickly and Ecclesia bellows to the guardsmen that our heroes are moving in to assassinate the Bellicus! Caught by surprise, the Bellicus is not able to react before the guardsman plants his sword to the hilt between his ribs. Hrath engages the guard, wounding him, as the Bellicus slips to the floor. Kenichi creates an obscuring mist which wrecks havoc for all, allowing Ecclesia to slip away unnoticed. Swinging wildly, Newt moves towards the location she recalls the nearest guard to her to be but is unable to inflict any significant damage before she finds herself surrounded. It is not long before she takes a beating from the numerous guardsmen and is barely able to remain on her feet. Meanwhile, Akra has moved past the fallen Bellicus, and out of the fog, to kick open a door through which he intends on carrying Demetrios to safety. Kenichi too moves out of the fog; he then unleashes three flaming bolts on the guard who wounded the Bellicus, finishing him off, while Hrath turns his attention on another.

As the battle continues, Newt is fortunately able to maneuver away from her attackers and Kenichi puts three of them into a slumber before they are able to close and strike again. Hrath takes out his foe while Akra locates the Bellicus and drags him from the fog and through the door he kicked ajar.

The fog lifts and surprised to see three prone guardsmen at her feet, Newt hastily takes one out before any can stir and finish her off first. Kenichi focuses a fireball on another off in the distance, who is obviously shaken by it. In prime form, Hrath fells another. Akra continues to attend to the fallen Bellicus and administers healing to stave off the icy grips of death. In short order, he is revived as our heroes gather near as they then make their way down a corridor seeking exit. They encounter a few remaining guardsmen who Bellicus orders to stand down stating that our heroes are not assassins, but are in fact saviors! Seemingly confused and to snap out of Ecclesia’s nefarious influence of betrayal, the guardsmen obey.

Most readily, Akra’s attention returns to the protect of the shard and he bolts off at lighting pace for Vittorio’s…

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Episode 11

From the letter found earlier, the heros head out for Elisa’s house, Darien’s sister. Walking through the town they hear screams and moans in the distance, but cannot pinpoint the direction. They arrive at a very old house. “Is this it?” Newt asks. Kenichi mumbles quickly, “Oh yes. There is bad news in this house.”

Dilapidated from several causes, only one window intact, the single story building has an eerie aura about it. There are stains from blood, feces, and other unrecognizable liquids all over the outside. A figure appears where the front door would be.

Kenichi caught a glimpse of something peculiar. This person was wearing ghoul flesh over top of his own. Jiki Mal recognized his voice quickly to be the evil priest Brelic Manson. Before any words from our heroes, Brelic attacked with ghouls of his own and receded into the house.

Mam was quick to act as he ran into the house after Brelic knocking him down on his first blow then spewing acid on him to boot. Kenichi ran closer to the entrance and saw Brelic on the ground sizzling and a ghoul next to him. A stream of fire erupted from Kenichi’s hands exploding on impact. The horrific stench after the blast is enough to make lesser man’s stomach turn. The rest of the group runs into the house to join the fight.

As they enter, they see scribblings scratched all over the walls, but it’s not a common language. More blood and guts cover the walls of this decrepit house. Floor boards are missing, support beams are splintering, luckily the stone frame is structurally intact.

Mam looks up and sees Darien! The boy is not the boy he used to be though. Covered in blood and other entrails he is now feeling stronger than ever. Newt hits Darien with a huge swing of her rapier, Darien disappears into thin air. Everyone has a surprised look on their faces.

Jiki Mal tries to decipher the text on the wall but it doesn’t resemble anything he is familiar with. Mam feels the walls talking to him and is overcome by the voices telling him to feast on the flesh of his ally. Jiki Mal’s shoulder gets a slice taken out of it from Mam who then eats the fresh meat of his comrade. Mam feels great for a while, but shakes the thoughts out of his head soon after.

Kenichi, with a tremendous flash of his wand immobilizes Brelic. As the group swarms, Damien runs in with a single blow dazing Akra, Newt, and Jiki Mal. He is looking rejuvenated since Newt’s big hit. Kenichi figures the source of his healing must be from the script on the wall but is unsure of exactly how to stop it.

New foes appear in the room attacking anyone within reach. The small room is busy with five heroes and three or four enemies thrashing around. The group is fighting in a state of controlled chaos. Bodies are hitting the floor, weapons are hitting flesh, armor, and the wall, yelling occurring from both sides often.

Akra, dazed, charges at Brelic and connects, finishing the evil priest. Darien enters the room with a hit on Akra who could not defend in time. Newt cannot keep the voices out of her head and bites a large chunk of Akra’s torso off swallowing it whole, and feeling refreshed afterwards. Newt focuses and surrounds Darien with Mam. Mam hits Darien with a mighty swing, another ghoul emerges and Darien teleports away again. Akra, although still dazed, rages! A stinky mist seeps through his scales as he lets out a battle cry. He takes out the newest ghoul, healing himself and everyone around him. Jiki Mal, also dazed, heals Akra. Kenichi focuses his arcane energy and is able to disrupt the conjuration in this room, still, there are five more rooms in the house.

With the first room trashed, the battle storms into the next. Mam cannot fend off the voices coming from this room as he is flanked by Darien and yet another new ghoul. Kenichi too, is overcome with voices and lashes out with a magic missile towards Newt. Jiki Mal hears the voices and begins to swing at Akra but stops himself just before he connects. Newt joins the rush, his presence is enough to shake the dazing effect from Akra, whom finally sees clearly again. Kenichi tries unsuccessfully a few times to dismiss the ghoulish magic in the room, he should’ve been paying more attention to his enemies, as he finds himself surrounded. Akra, bloodied, tries to give some back-up to the mage, but misses. The words on the wall sap energy from Akra, healing Darien in the process. “We’ve got to dismiss the magic of the walls” Kenichi murmurs as lightning shoots from his hands taking down another ghoul.

Newt, Mam, and Jiki Mal cirlce around Darien but he acts faster than anticipated and slices Mam and Jiki Mal. Akra thinks about his training with the League and it inspires him. He stands a little taller and feels a little stronger. Jiki Mal sees what Kenichi is trying to do and helps out in his own way. He disrupts the effects of the seconds room on his first try. Darien scowls at him. Meanwhile, Kenichi slips to the third room and vanquishes the evil magic there. Akra cleaves a large piece of Darien off, who teleports, and another ghould appears.

The battle rages on into room after room, leaving incredible destruction behind. The house is bleeding life from the heroes, particularly Akra, and replenishing Darien. Jiki Mal, cleanses another room, Kenichi fails to cleanse the next. Newt and Akra take hits from ghouls. Newt can’t keep the voices out and slashes Kenichi. Another ghoul hits Kenichi, he is hurt bad. The walls get to Jiki Mal again and he surely would have knocked Akra out cold if not for the dragonborn’s armor. Akra remains standing… barely.

Darien gets cornered in the sixth room. EVEN MORE ghouls appear. Mam succumbs to the voices from the walls and swings at Newt, who dodges just in time. Kenichi cleanses the room and is off to cleanse the final room. Darien lashes out at Akra with his claws and delivers enough damage to knock him out. Ghouls drop here and there, a couple more appear, both parties are running out of energy. Akra, unconscious and slipping away on the floor, miraculously gasps and awakens on the floor. Mam is straddling his body with a wide stance, fighting Darien. Akra waits for the right moment then rolls out and rejoins the fight. Kenichi dispels the last room, and as he does, his allies see Darien shrivel significantly, looking much more frail than moments before. The mage enters the room and summons a six foot tall hand made of ice which grabs Darien. Mam delivers the final blow, and everyone gives off a well deserved sigh of relief. “What… a… battle.” Akra manages to say between breathes.

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Episode 10

While Gorun agonized over the unconscious Jiki Mal, Hrath and Amalaun made introductions between each other and Newt and AkRA. Reviving the skraeling was one thing, but getting him to his feet was another. Jiki Mal urged them forward, stating that he would catch up when he was feeling better.
The newly formed group of five made their way quickly through the city to where intel had lead the League to believe the wizard Tiren’s laboratory to be. Amalaun could indeed sense an increased aura of arcane surrounded the two story building. Inside, on the second floor, a ruined library, scorched walls, and a large blood stain on the floor.
“Is that…?” Hrath said, spotting movement outside the window.
It was. Undead, that is. The five companions quickly fortified the study as several ghouls burst in through the windows and up the stairs. Hrath held the stairs while the others quickly flanked or wiped out those that had infiltrated the second floor.
The ghouls had a special message to deliver though—a high pitched, piercing message, one that shattered eardrums. Inside the small library, there was nowhere to hide from the unearthly howls.
AkRA, though, would brook no defeat. With a few shouted words of his own, he boosted morale and fortified the company’s fighting spirit. It was a messy, ugly fight to the end, though; Hrath was barely standing when he put down the final ghoul.
In the shattered remains in the library, one clue: a journal entry.
Evening approached. The company would rest the night, then push forward in the morning.
At dawn’s light, to the church moved the company, with haste. The high walls loomed over them as they approached, the stained glass windows ominously dark, the eyes of a corpse.
Outside the gates, immediately upon arriving, a hungry ghoul. More swarmed from around the buttressed, sweeping walls of the church. Hrath immediately headed off one pack on his own, mindful of the overlapping effect of the howling screams. His tactic was sound, keeping the groups isolated from excessive harm. Newt drew much of the early attacks, until Gorun was able to move up and absorb the punishment. AkRA joined Hrath once Gorun and Newt gained the upper hand over their group of ghouls. Amalaun furiously hurled chaotic energy around, onto everything except the enemy. Clearly he was having trouble focusing.
The ghouls dealt with, the company entered the church. To witness a scene from the blackest of nightmares. Bodies strewn everywhere: half consumed, bleeding out, and, more importantly, arranged. The desecration was palpable. “Calculated,” Amalaun snapped, at nothing and no-one in particular.
Gorun, digging through a pile of destroyed books, made yet another important discovery. A blood soaked clerical chronicle, detailing the last few days before the horror. The return of Darien, drugged and still afflicted, and his consequent exile to his sister’s farm. The rise of the darkness. The last stand of the survivors.
And death from within.

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Episode 9
Approaching the Devastation

While Gorun remained behind to help Byron and his family fortify their home, Amalaun and Jiki Mal connected with another League agent named Akra. Noting the urgency of their missions, the three of them decided to proceed despite being under-strength.

Though their lack of stealth lead to several unwanted encounters, they ultimately did negotiate the treacherous outer city limits and came within sight of their target.

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Episode 8
Outskirts of Hofveld

After a series of tough but successful skirmishes with the pirates, the heroes were allowed to spend a few weeks enjoying the perks of membership in The League. Ulis decided the time was best spent in the swamp testing his survival skills, but he was soon joined by several of the other junior League members along with a sizable entourage.

After their hiatus, the heroes returned to Krandor for a ceremony – in their honour! Magus Katsuro was in attendance and he spoke at least briefly with each of the heroes. He commended them for their work against the pirates and officially welcomed them to the Elite tier of League membership.

After the ceremony they were each assigned to a member of The All Church for some additional training and indoctrination. The results of the indoctrination were questionable, but at the end of the training each hero had acquired a new expression of their growing power.

Not long after the training sessions, all members of The League received urgent summons. Ulis, Amalaun, Gorun and Jiki Mal soon found themselves aboard the same ship, bound for Hofveld. En route they heard many rumours, primarily revolving around a massive disaster of some kind in or near their destination.

When they arrived, they were given a brief overview of the situation by Bellicus Demetrius himself. The scant information they could confirm indicated that Hofveld was the centre of some kind of disaster, but since no one entering the area had yet to return, details were sketchy. All available League assets had been mobilized and were now descending upon the city.

The Bellicus assigned the heroes two missions:

  1. Locate and investigate The All Church in the city.
  2. Locate and investigate an underground arcane library run by a ranking member of The League.

Aside from those missions, they were also to assist other League teams and civilians – but only if it didn’t compromise their primary goals.

They encountered a small group of undead in the forest well south of Hofveld. Jiki Mal speculated they were some sort of ghouls based on their speed and desire to consume living flesh. The team functioned flawlessly and the ghouls were soon defeated.

Not long after entering the cleared farmland around the city, the group spied a fortified farmhouse and decided to investigate. Not wanting to alarm anyone, Gorun approached the house yelling at the top of his lungs. The heroes were ushered into the house by its owner, Byron, who pleaded with them to keep their voices down, but Gorun’s yells had already drawn the attention of a few dozen ghouls.

The ravenous undead threw themselves against the door and boarded windows, eventually breaking through in multiple locations on both floors of the house. In an epic moment of heroism, Ulis threw himself at one of the ghouls that was about to eat a little girl. His action saved her life, but at the cost of his own. Before Amalaun could destroy the foul creature it leapt from the second floor, dragging Ulis’s body with it.

In the end, the heroes were able to destroy or drive off all the attackers and managed to recover a few, slightly chewed, pieces of Ulis. Gorun insisted on keeping them in case The League could resurrect him like they did Kenichi.

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Episode 7
Longblade has Fallen

As information about the pirate group continued to flow, The League decided the heroes could use some reinforcements, so they sentMam and Jiki Mal to aid in the assault.

Their timing was excellent, as Hrath, Kenichi and Ulis found themselves facing some powerful foes.

The tiefling sorcerer and a couple of swashbuckling pirates harassed the group but were quickly driven off. The heroes gave chase and soon found themselves confronting Longblade, the leader of the pirates. Longblade was aided by a crafty kobold trapmaster and a sneaky elf rogue, who nearly killed Kenichi with a single stab.

The battle was fierce, and several of the heroes were knocked unconscious, but they pulled together as a team and managed to prevail. When the dust settled, the tiefling was dead and Longblade’s hacked body lay on the cold stone floor; the elf woman had fled and the kobold had been captured.

After the battle, Ulis explored the watercourse that passed through the complex but didn’t find anything of interest. The kobold, however, proved to be more than willing to provide information. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a lot of interesting things to say. He did confirm that Longblade was the pirate leader and that there would probably be infighting now that he was gone.

The heroes left the complex via a long tunnel that lead to a secluded gully less than a quarter mile from the coast. The gully showed abundant signs of long-term occupancy and equally abundant signs of a recent, rapid departure. Among the rocks and abandoned shelters, the party found a bound and gagged man named Irfan who proved to be a member of a wealthy family from Krandor. They brought Irfan with them as Ulis followed the tracks of the fleeing pirates.

The tracks lead to a sheltered cove that had recently been the site of a large conflict. Dozens of bodies were strewn along the shore and on a large pirate ship. Apparently the kobold’s prediction was correct, as the signs indicated that the pirates had been fighting one another. Tracks of two other vessels marked the shore, so some pirates did get away, including the elf woman…

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Episode 6
Down the Rabbit Hole

Akrosios quickly yielded to the expert interrogation techniques employed by The League. The morning after the successful interception, Brogia called Gorun, Hrath, Kenichi and Ulis into the briefing room and informed them that the “package” was a vellum scroll that contained a ritual of opening.

With Kenichi’s assistance, Keiji, the League’s local arcane consultant, was able to determine the location the scroll was keyed to – a spot along the coast, north of Krandor.

The heroes decided to travel overland and they were able to reach the location in half a day’s travel. The ritual easily yielded to Kenichi’s arcane prowess and they were soon watching earth and stone melt away from the cliffside to reveal a cave mouth.

With Gorun in the lead, the party proceeded into the cave, where they woke several swarms of nasty, bloodsucking stirges. They pushed further into the cave where they were able to bottleneck the swarms and thereby minimize the damage suffered.

Unfortunately, the stirges weren’t the only occupants of the cave. While Hrath and Kenichi dealt with the bugs, the rest of the group engaged several archers, a tiefling sorcerer and the largest half-orc any of them had ever seen. The half-orc proved to be a shapechanger who eventually dropped the massive maul he was wielding as he changed into a boar. The combination of serrated tusks, crossbow bolts and balefire took their toll on the heroes, and only Kenichi avoided falling unconscious.

Thankfully, Gorun’s toughness and ability to channel natural energy into healing (along with some well-timed first aid) kept enough of the group on their feet to defeat the half-orc and all the crossbowmen.

The tiefling’s resolve collapsed when Ulis’ axes cleaved the head from the wereboar and he fled down the long hallway into the darkness. Battered and spent, the group decided to recuperate before giving chase.

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