Dragonbone Kingdoms

Craytzia
Mission Update Re: Platinum Expeditions (PE)

Note from Cyrus Corel to Altuaris Pegason
Mission Update Re: Platinum Expeditions (PE)

- While busy exploring ruins, the thief known as Dyne escaped the group’s captivity. Current whereabouts unknown. Previously associated with group that attempted to burn down an inn full of innocents for personal gain. Associated with Conor Damilus. Should be apprehended immediately if found in Kestral. See attached profile/description. Create file at LM’s discretion.

- Came upon a series of stone bookshelves containing stone books emblazoned with enchanted coins. Their true nature continues to elude us. Further research may be suggested, although what they protect may or may not affect the Shadows. LM’s discretion.

- Discovered heretofore unknown lock & containment system. Full description attached. Summary: Series of runes and locks activated by quarterstaff-sized key and coordinated/protected by humanoid construct/golem and reptilian construct/trap mechanism. Archaic, but effective. This representative is unskilled enough to explain, or even understand, specific technicalities. Research team deployment suggested to add to the archives. Map attached.

- Subject of above containment system was an individual humanoid female. Claimed name: Craytzia, surname unknown. Claimed age and history far and above even that of enchanted creatures. Unable to verify her claims (Dragon? See attached transcript), but knowing that she was imprisoned for an extended period without any apparent food or water leads this representative to believe she holds considerable power. Allowed to leave under own power, but received a vial of blood in exchange (a pact of cooperation with members of the PE). Will attempt to retrieve a sample of blood for Shadow alchemists to research. Profile/description attached. Dossier creation highly recommended.

- Treasure room discovered. List of contents attached. Much left behind, team deployment suggested.

Group analysis:

- Human Cleric Carol (File 325-1) is developing a growing, and disturbing, reliance on necromantic arts. Her expansion to reanimating various beasts is morally more comforting than resurrecting human corpses, this may simply be a matter of necessity than anything. She treats them as her children, yet sends them in ahead of the rest of the party to take any damage a trap or dangerous creature may deliver. While her mercenary nature leaves her one of the few members of PE agreeable to the Shadows’ incursion, as her power develops further one can only imagine a situation where she will create a pile of dead bodies merely to form her own army. Her temperament may be a poor fit for our organization beyond an enforcer role such as my own.

- No word from Illumian Wizard Loreguard Kelnyeldau (File 325-2) since leaving PE following the orc attack on Kestral. Any information leading to his current whereabouts and status may help gain the trust of PE.

- Elven Bard Tamadril Merrilyn (File 235-3): Mostly Harmless. Support role with mostly sub-par infiltration and fighting capabilities. Charismatic nature may prove beneficial as ambassador for the cause, but unreliable for primary role in Shadows.

- An interesting case in Raptoran Ranger Vashara Le’Sheen (File 235-4). While she has gone out of her way to tell me (repeatedly) that she does not agree with the Shadows and our policies, she is the most qualified member of this party, outside of Brundle Vin (File 235-6, see below), to benefit our work. Her sharpshooting skills with the bow are impeccable, and her Raptoran heritage gives her a unique advantage in reconnaissance, escape, and long-distance assassination. While she may personally be difficult to turn, this representative suggests a recruitment expedition to the Stormpeak Mountains may prove beneficial.

- Dyne left in custody of Halfling Druid Thistle (File 325-5). Ease of escape raises additional doubts about her reliability. May prove a liability to the Shadows despite shapeshifting enhancements. See dossier for additional information/concerns.

- Gnome Thief Brundle Vin (File 235-6) is a near-perfect recruit for the Shadows, and an example of why we should invest more into our recruitment of the Whisper Gnomes. An excellent thief with a developing mastery of illusion magic, Vin could be placed in nearly any situation with little chance of failure. His only weakness, in this representative’s opinion, is a tendency to fall into berserker rages, which may draw too much attention or collateral damage in our more stealth-reliant missions. Also has a history of self-reliance and mercenary activity, leading me to think it will be difficult to convince him to fully embrace the Shadows as an organization. Not an uncommon issue among thieves.

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Whereat Carol Reports to Her Temple

The morning was laughing praises to Olidammara and I selected my spells with utmost care. My undead tool led the way into the deep dungeon entrance and selflessly sacrificed its unlife in order to protect the rest of the ungrateful party. No one lamented the loss of this soul which was a brave fighter in life and a valuable safeguard to them in his death. I’m beginning to question whether this group has the proper compassion and gratitude for their protectors.

The human zombie was destroyed by one of two earth elementals standing guard for lost centuries in what I presume is a tomb. Channeling the energy given to me by our ancient deity, I easily dispatched the first elemental single-handed. The second I allowed the others the opportunity to destroy, however my gnome insisted on dropping everything he owned instead and got caught up in his gear. The others were locked in fear and stood unmoving. I had to defeat the second one myself in the end. It was simple.

Next we encountered a room of two stone bookshelves which clearly had an alteration magic tied into the gold coins/discs set within them. My archer, although carrying a powerful magical item which allows her to read languages, is evidently using it incorrectly. She could not understand what the symbols meant. Clearly I need to assign this important piece of equipment to another, more worthy servant of the cause.

The others struggled pitifully to untangle the meaning of this room so I chose not to explain it to them. I understand that being a good leader is to encourage your subjects to feel confident and did not wish to crush their self-worth by revealing the utter simplicity of these stone bookshelves.

On the way to a room containing a stunning crystal garden, not as lovely as the one I grew up with, of course, my clumsy gnome then trapped himself between two portcullises. Perhaps his height restricted him from seeing the obvious sections in the ceiling? I fear he is too daft to realize that traps can descend from above as well as at gnome height. I intend to lecture him on his short-sightedness.

After casting a remedial True Strike, I used rope to secure the gates open and my party continued on our way into the crystal garden.

Inside we encountered a crystal undead which was a fascinating example of its kind. I found it so interesting, I chose not to Turn it and watched its natural behaviors in combat. It had fascinating capabilities! First off, it would absorb the blood of victims and heal itself with their pain. Secondly it could shatter its body without harming itself which it did twice during combat. The shards would reform some distance away back into its original shape! In addition, it could reform over an enemy! My bard was simply not prepared for this kind of advanced battle strategy and was hurt by this latter attack.

Do you know of a way to create such a powerful ally? I would hope we can use these to further Olidammara’s goals!

Not surprisingly, my meager party was no match for its power and I was required to intervene on their behalf. I sacrificed my only Tanglefoot Bag to immobilize the creature, cast True Strike again and then returned it to rest with my Sling of Undead Destruction. Again, simple.

Afterwards I educated my adventurers on the finer points of crystal flowers and harvested two which would get a good price back in a larger city. Or perhaps I’ll donate them to our temple? They would look lovely by the wet bar.

The crystal garden held another odd treasure. Near the far wall was a long dead bugbear with simple loot which made my party gleeful. Oh, remedial adventurers! They are so sweet!

I, on the other hand, was particularly stuck by the unique staff the creature was carrying. It has many odd, geometric shapes placed along the shaft. Yes, I said shaft. I find even I, with my incredible wisdom provided by our god, cannot discern what the use is for this staff. I am confident I will unravel its mysteries shortly and will report my findings then.

On our way to the next room, the manacle room, I’ve chosen to call it, my gnome was struck by yet another trap. I would imagine his short stature would have made finding a low-lying trap obvious. Isn’t he aware that traps are not always above, but can be at a gnome’s eye level? What am I to do with him?

In the manacle room, my bard drew fire from two drakes and an ambush drake. I selflessly rushed in to save him from certain death and struck the ambush drake (the largest of the three) so hard, I broke my rapier. Even weaponless, I saved my charges from these vicious enemies and created a new skeleton from the remains. My army expanded tenfold with this powerful new addition. I am proud that our god allows me to protect my charges even better than before.

A round room presented itself afterwards where vicious scourges nested. I advised my group to flee and save themselves from peril but, nooooooooooooooo. Did they listen? Of course not. Instead they forced me to kill the enemies the slow way rather than in one simple channel.

On the other hand, this was a pleasant condition in which to test my new skeleton companion. It performed exceedingly well rescuing my archer. Even my own creations surprise me with their capabilities.

At the bottom of the round room, about 60 feet down, was a large pool of water. I commanded my gnome to take a closer look whereat he found a backpack, but more importantly another door leading into a deeper level of the tomb. My poor, sweet gnome was so afraid so I sent the annoying one down to guide him. I think there was a human fighter somewhere, too?

Meanwhile I and my children were guarding the upper floors and thankfully so! I was ambushed by an army of ettins! After quickly dispatching them with the aid of Olidammara’s gifts, I and my army leapt the 60 foot drop at great damage and peril to our persons, beasts, lizards and rescued the party in the following room. Again, did anyone express concern for our undead tools and the damage they took from falling to the aid of others? No, no. Just complaints for their smell.

The square room gained by the door in the round room was inhabited by misunderstood undead. I am sure that had I entered the room first, rather than little miss poopy feathers, I would have been able to communicate with the most intriguing spell stitched therein. His army of undead, though meager in comparison to mine, would have been interesting to study to say the least. Nevertheless I was forced to destroy them all by myself. Again. As usual.

In a nearby room, which I will title the Ghoul House, was some crap the others were excited about. I wanted to rest here believing that it was safe and dry, however my party craved sunlight and we were forced to trek all the way back to the outdoors. We spent time here rejuvenating their injuries. My excellent prowess at battle and our divine shielding left me unscathed from the entire journey that day.

When they are strong, we will reenter the tomb and I will update you on our successes.

…I really should head back to the tavern and replenish my supply of whiskey…

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Session 17 A (a conflicted gnome)
As Brundle steps into the nearly empty bar he wonders if there has ever been a time in his life when he has felt more exhausted than he does at this moment. Why then does he find himself standing erect at this late hour? The events of the day weigh heavily on his conscience. Thistle had done her best to clear his mind and help him relax but even page 24 of their favorite book couldn’t help him settle down for the evening. Brundle takes a seat, lights his pipe, and tries to distract himself with the performance on the bars small stage. The male and female duo don’t hold a candle to the strumming of the melodious Merrilyn, but then again few songs sound better than ones that have actually kept you alive on the battle field. The tune the pair addresses the crowd with, while catchy, seems horrifically simplistic in structure and seems to just dole on and on forever. “Ow! Kristen Schaal is a horse, Kristen Schaal is a horse! Look at her dance and look at her go! Look at her dance like a horse! Ow! Kristen Schaal is a horse, Kristen Schaal is a horse! Look at her dance and look at her go! Look at her dance like a horse! Ow! Kristen Schaal is a horse, Kristen Schaal is a horse! Look at her dance and look at her go! Look at her dance like a horse! Ow! Kristen Schaal is a horse, Kristen Schaal is a horse! Look at her dance and look at her go! Look at her dance like a horse…” Brundle is forced to wonder if his day will ever come to an end just like this song doesn’t seem to, at which point the humorous repetition of the chorus slowly ceases to amuse him. He turns his attention away and begins reflecting on the nights activities. In an attempt to save Captain Maler, the team rushed from thwarting an assassination into the muck and filth of the sewers. Only a brief amount of time would pass before the team would find themselves engaged in confrontation with a seemingly endless sea of goblins, orcs, and bugbears. The battles were won but not gained without the unpleasantness of trudging through the sewage. Prestidigitation spells would abound by the time the day was through. The team would come across an encampment of 50 or so unfriendlies and a plan was created in an attempt to draw some of the teams forces away. The encampment didn’t empty but they did send an ogre named Tiny to join into the fray some of the team was already engaged with. Merrillyn made brilliant use of his fascinate ability to lure the ogre into the perfect spot for an ambush and Brundle and Vash dispatched him before he even had the opportunity to counter. With the orcs still arming themselves in the encampment it was apparent the party was going to have to find an alternative route to locate Maler and his men.

The team headed down an old metal ladder that lead into a cave filled with spider webs and cocooned orcs with a warning written in orcish to stay away. A badge of one of Maler’s men lay at the tunnel entrance. The group decided to venture forward, burning away the webs as they traveled. Eventually they would find themselves in a room with giant rats, centipedes, and an enormous spider. Upon attempting to attack the vermin a swarm of rats spilled into the room transforming into a druid, Slytha, vermin druid of Vinter. She was furious about the attack but eased some as we spoke to her of our allegiance with Captain Maler. Eventually we convinced her to help us and she informed us how to avoid the various traps and pitfalls as we continued on our journey.
The team would end up in a place acting as some sort of torture chamber or cell. Two of Maler’s men, Mar Pannett, and another guard were able to be rescued but the team failed to arrive in time to save Maler or the rest of his squad. A bugbear champion lead a team against the heroes who struggled extensively during the battle. Some of the party found themselves frozen in place, others just failed in execution all together. The fates would eventually land on the party’s side but it definitely felt to Brundle to be one of their least successful ventures. They recovered a n evil holy symbol from the champion which they broke, a Magical heavy pick and an amulet of earthbinding. The rats returned and hurried the party and the rescued men back to the surface where a team awaited the upcoming battle with the orcs. Vash and Keneda stayed to hold the line despite Brundle’s insistence that they really needed to rest. He returned with Merryl and Thistle and now finds that rest impossible to obtain.
Upon further reflection, Brundle decides that there are multiple influences ruining his slumber. One of which was the allies he left on the front line. He feels like taking the time to recuperate was the wise thing to do but worries that some horrible tragedy might befall them in his absence. A sin he doubts he would ever be able to forgive himself for. He also reflects on Kenada and Vash’s strength of moral character and wonders if his lack of passion over Maler says anything about his own moral character. After all, he didn’t really know the man personally, he just hired him to do jobs from time to time, they had never shared a laugh a cry or even broken bread together. Then again, the party had known him longer than he did. None the less, Brundle definitely debated whether taking work from the laughing man was the correct choice or not.
As Brundle finishes the last drag on his pipe, he had found no peace. He threw some coins on the table, nodded to the band still drolling on with the same old chorus, and headed out of the bar to see if his compatriots had managed to return home.

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Session 17b: Sgt. Pannet's Debriefing
An Alternate Point of View

Sergeant Marr Pannet, Northshore 4th District.

We were volunteers, all fourteen of us.  We got a heads-up that Maler was putting a team together to tackle something in the sewers.  We’d all heard the stories: orcs and worse down in the tunnels, getting bolder, sending small raiding parties at night.  Maler announced it was more than that.  He said his sources confirmed that they were building, gearing up for a unified attack.  He gathered us up; volunteers he could trust, who trusted him.  We’d have followed him into the Nine Hells, but we didn’t expect the hells to rise up and meet us.

The Captain had a plan, so while the rest of the Guard, and what militia-men we could gather in time from the lake-towns, prepared to defend the city and its people, we got out-fitted to go hunting.  He said we were a reserve strike force, that we’d be ready “just in case” to go in and cut off the beast’s head.  In case of what he never said, but it looked like he was more surprised than we were when he told us we’d be moving out.  Maybe not surprised.  Grim, I guess.  If we needed to know, we trusted Maler to tell us.

The plan was to rendezvous with the Captain’s contact, and take a secret way to the Warlord’s camp.  If we could take him out, the Captain hoped it would fracture the tribes and lessen the blow of their offensive.  Maler had been a part of similar operations back during the wars, when some greenskin remnant would try to take advantage of the chaos.  We had a pretty good route through the first leg of our journey.  We hit a couple of patrols, sure, but they weren’t expecting us on their turf, and we took them out quick and quiet, with no trouble until we got nearer to one of their larger camps.

One of their berserkers got in too close; it was already dead when it tagged Jarret, it just hadn’t figured it out yet.  It’s like the damn thing didn’t even feel it when Rayl’s halberd took its arm of at the elbow; just kept coming and skewered the corporal on the jagged stump. (He shudders)

Poor kid.  Of all of us, Jarrett was the one who had to beg to join up.  Not that we didn’t trust his skill or his guts – he was one of the fastest I’ve ever seen with a light blade – but we all thought he was meant for greatness.  He used to run with a street gang before the Shadows moved in, and the Captain turned him around.  He was a smart kid, and had a pretty new wife.  Maler said “no” the first few times, but the kid begged for the chance to help out.  I remember the Captain told him he didn’t want to have to tell that young woman she was a widow.  Looks like that might be my job now.

We did what we could for Jarrett, but we had to keep moving to meet up with the Captain’s friend.  I met her once back when I served under Maler in Northshore -she was odd then, talking to rats like they could understand her -but now she was downright frightening, crawling with all manner of bugs and vermin and riding on the largest spider I’ve ever seen.  I don’t know the whole story between her and the Captain but she looked up to him like he was her father.  Like the rest of us I suppose.

With her help, we went straight to the Warlord, and found him rallying his lieutenants. We were able to slip in to the chamber and surround them before we attacked.  Things went well at first; we managed to take many of them down quickly – Maler even got in close enough to the Warlord to land a couple good blows, wounded him pretty bad.  The bastard took a cut to leg, then the face and it looked like we had him.  Then their second wave hit us.

A wash of green light hit the Captain, locked him in place mid-swing.  A screech like the Dragon herself tore through the chamber and Rekkah and Tavig just hit the ground in bloody heaps.  A bugbear, a real mean son of a bitch led this new group, back by some kind of magic.  Orrill said at the time that it was probably divine in origin.  He had some luck countering it, before that goblin got the drop on him.   The second wave broke us, wiped us out, and the Captain, trapped by the spell, had no choice but to watch it all.

After we were beaten, the four of us who still lived were bound and tortured, one by one, by the bugbear, who referred to himself as a Champion of the Reborn Talon.  He said he wanted us to know that our city was doomed, to know a portion of the suffering our nations would feel, “now that the Blades could no longer protect us.”  He also said, and this is more troubling, that “that foolish elf at the University thinks he controls us, that we will stop at re-taking this city.  The Reborn Talon will soon let all of you pathetic slave races see that the might of the old Empire will return.”

Something about it seemed like more than boastful posturing.  Maler held on though.  No matter what the Champion did, the Captain would not break, that the kingdoms would endure through any planned assault.  He held strong right up until the bugbear killed him. Then the bastard killed Warrick and strung me up like he did the Captain. I swore to Maler and all the gods I knew that I would die before I let the bugbear get to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful that these adventurers showed when they did a few minutes later, and got Rayl and me out of there, I am.  We weren’t expecting any rescue.  I’m glad they killed that bastard, but a part of me wishes they’d let me die with my Captain.

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A Conversation With Evelyn the Minimum-Wage Teenager
The Party Takes a Job, Stops a Mass Assassination, and Makes Flirtinis

Mother, I’m home! Sorry I’m—

No, I— Mother, it— It—

Mother, calm down. Breathe. I didn’t stay out with Jasmine and the others. The party just ran late, is all. I think…

Let me explain, okay?

The party ran late. Or, well, we did, at least. Time came around for our shift to be over, the time when we were told that we’d be let go by Miss Marela.

Only the time came around and, well, Miss Marela wasn’t there anymore.

No, I don’t know where she went. No one did. That’s why I didn’t… well… Okay, so since she wasn’t there to let us go, and none of us wanted to get into trouble with her, you know what she’s like, we just kept working. After another hour, we still didn’t see her, so me and the other hired help just sort of slipped off into a corner, talked it over, and decided to go home. The party was pretty much dying, anyway.

I don’t think I’ll get in trouble with her. All six of us left at the same time, so if she fires me she’ll have to fire all of— No, mother, she’s not going to fire all of us. Besides, we weren’t the first ones to leave. Carol left way before the rest of us, and I don’t think she got fired or anything.

Oh, Carol? Really nice girl. It was her first day, but she seemed to know her way around the drinks. She made something called a flirtini, it looked really tasty.

I don’t know, Miss Marela might have gone off to work one of the private rooms, or something. I know Carol had been doing more than her share of vanishing into other rooms.

Mother! I know people say that Miss Marela’s that kind of woman, but that’s just talk. You’ve never met her like I have, she wouldn’t take a platinum to bring one of the higher-ups into a private chamber, let alone a gold.

Two platinum, maybe…

Mooooother, I’m joking!

It was fun, yeah. Busy. Crazy. But it wasn’t like any party I’ve ever worked before. There were so many different people I’d never seen before. There were Illumians, and Raptorans, and a whole bunch of others from all over.

Conor Damilus was there, too. Yes, I know, I thought he had left the city, too, but I guess he’s back. He must have had his name cleared. I knew he was a creep, but I seriously didn’t think he did what they said he did.

He seemed to have a good time, too. He actually left with a couple girls. Well, okay, more like he was carried out by a couple girls. He smelled like he had been drinking a lot, and they were a Raptoran and a halfling, so, yeah, I have a feeling his wits weren’t totally about him.

But I guess if that’s what he’s into…

There were a few other interesting people there. A gnome named Fflewddur Fflam and his minstrel were running around trying to make a name for themselves. They even got in to talk to the Carthians. No, I haven’t heard of him, either, but I suppose when it comes to the government types they change around so fast—

Oh, and that’s not even the craziest part! I heard there was a giant scorpion outside! I know, weird, I didn’t know there were any around here, either. Must have escaped from the zoo, or something. Anyway, a couple guards brought the Carthians somewhere else when it happened. I guess they thought the Carthians were in danger, or something. Don’t know why they didn’t warn everyone else, though…

The Carthians weren’t too happy about it, though. They left right after the scorpion disappeared.

So, um, yeah, that’s why I’m late. I hope Marela wasn’t too mad at me for leaving. Who knows where she went?

What? A… a barricade? No, I didn’t hear about that. No one said anything at the party. Where was it being set up?

I hope Uncle Davin’s okay….

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Progress Report: Relerian Interests
Carol Rescues an Old Friend, and Discovers Important Information

Sir,
Good News; the team you sent to disrupt the Red Masks in Caron were successful in their mission. Smart to include C, as her personal interest in matter and divine abilities made her integral part of group (although I am a bit concerned about her use of undead; morally questionable and hardly low-profile).
As I hear it, they started by abducting a member of the gang and getting from him, through interrogation by G and Sf, the location of the Masks’ secret prison south of the port (see the enclosed area map and plan of the prison level itself, as reported by P). The captive did warn, prior to his death, that the beach entrance was guarded by local wildlife -and indeed the group were attacked by Dire Lions and a Manticore on the beach. They dispatched the group, although with substantial injury, and entered the cave leading into the prison.
Sm mentioned that the corridor inside was rigged with a troublesome trap -a mixture of magical and mechanical components made for a potentially lethal trial, although with focused teamwork the group was able to breach the defense safely. Notes on the trap’s configuration from L and Sm are enclosed -the complexity of it suggests far older construction than the Masks’ occupancy, possibly even predating the Empire; still, we could adapt elements of it to our own use.
The Red Masks were alerted to the infiltration when the team attacked the guardroom inside. G managed to barricade the door before any Mask agents of particular skill were able to join the counter-attack -fortunate, as it appears that Talinos himself was in the fort.
The team knew that they needed to hurry, as fortress above was on high alert, so they pressed into the next room, a large holding area that showed signs of considerable seismic damage (possibly due to the Crownfall earthquake, possibly older) Several Mask soldiers held the line there, aided by a sorcerer of notable power (recruited from Mendoros?), but the team overpowered them as well. G decided to explore the flooded caverns revealed by the cracked floor, but did not return before the team was forced to move on -I fear he may have met with disaster.
In the final room of the dungeon the party found a senior Mask operative with a captive dragon! Not the winged beasts of legend, but a strong, four-legged creature with a great horn on its head and the ability to project blasts of lightning. Troubling to see that some of the Great Enemy’s creations remain, more so to discover that the Masks have had some luck taming them.
When the operative and his pet were slain, the party was able to rescue the girl; much as you thought, she held vital information (although not as much as the enemy feared). As I already reported with my sending, she overheard talk of an assassination attempt at the High Council; she did not know the target, but with mounting tension between Carthia and Howlett, it seems logical to suspect that one of those ambassadors is at risk.

Yours,
-D

Response:
I must remind you again to avoid scholarly conjecture in your missives -supposition too often leads to misconception. Sorry to hear about G, I know he was an old friend.

-Laughing Man

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Session 13: From the Pen of Thomadril Merrilyn

Part I: Letter to Winsom

Gentle Winsom:

Little has changed from my previous letters—I maintain the current company and feel as if we have developed a working relationship. I debate with myself often on that which brought us together, but I’ve shared this with you already and don’t wish to retread ground, as there is something I wish to share with you, as it concerns both me personally and the outcome of our current endeavor.

After our most recent escapade, we acquired a tome for the Lorekeeper Rendalyes from the estates of one Meron Conrell. The bargain arranged with Conrell to enter his estates was conditioned on showing him the tome. We made haste for I was eager to be rid of it. I had deep suspicions of its nature, though this came only from intuition and not from any real knowledge of seemingly-magical volumes. But even the Illumian, with his natural predilection for books, knew nothing of its magical nature and was wary of what was within. The temptation to examine it bore upon him, even though we’d been given strict orders not to open it. In the trek back to Kestral, I watched him closely, and often he would caress the book longingly. The want of it stirred in his eyes. Often he claimed his only desire was its return to the Lorekeeper, but knowledge is a potent drug for any any man and I had fear in me about what he could unleash if he gave in to temptation. I am glad to say my suspicions were for naught, as he kept to his duty. We later rid ourselves of the tome, but not without some trouble.

Conrell was not at home when we called upon him, and instead we were greeted by one Jatta Ioll, who claimed to be there on behalf of Conrell. We had intended on showing Conrell another tome we had in our possession as we had agreed that the actual tome might have some dire pull on him. Before our ruse could even begin, Jatta at once identified the real book and asked for it by an accurate description. We had little choice but to comply. He offered us a price for the book, but the Illumian and Feathers were adamant in their desire to keep it from him. Jatta was a jumped-up man—think of him as a dishonest Farian—and I had to likewise agree with them. A battle ensued, something I’d much like to put to song, but the prose here is unsuitable. It is for another time, perhaps when we’re alone.

Jatta was joined by one Selia Tellare—an elf. I had seen her upon entrance to Conrell’s and I was instantly struck by her otherness. She held herself differently than other elves, and her face was unfamiliar to me—she was not someone I had encountered in my criss-crossing of the Wychpine. Throughout our battle, I continued to observe her sorcery. It lacked the stylistic movements common to Wychpine wizards and mages, and I had to conclude she had been trained elsewhere. I spent long hours watching Tamadril conduct arcane rites, and she lacked his poise and confidence—she was easily flustered, and took a great deal of umbrage when I distorted her spell casting abilities.

Despite their brutish nature, her magicks were effective enough, as she was the last one standing once we’d dispatched Jatta and his underlings. I attempted to negotiate with her, as I wanted to know more of her life outside of Wychpine and why it had brought her to a questionable mercenary life. There is something conflicted about her, but before I could make much headway, she uttered these parting words: “Kimble has taught you well,” drank from a vial she had concealed on her person, and vanished into the floor.

I have not shared the meaning of those words with the others, but I’m sure you’ll know their full import. Though I seek clues of Kimble’s whereabouts and if he still lives—as our line of communication remains severed—I am more concerned that her words bear a knowledge of my person and history. The origins of such knowledge are clouded—she has either had contact with Kimble or has visited Wychpine. Information I have gathered myself has confirmed my suspicions that she was raised outside of the Wychpine, but I cannot rule out that she has visited in the past, and I’d like you to make some discrete inquiries. As I mentioned, this is a personal request, but this Selia may be making a detrimental impact on our relations with the other races, something we are attempting to improve. There’s an opportunity for her as a liaison between our peoples, but there is also potential for disaster if she keeps her current mercenary ways.
I have included a description of her that you may find useful. My whereabouts may be somewhat fluid, but our network is growing and I am not uneasy to find, which is starting to prove troublesome.

Yours,

Thomadril

Part II: Letter to Lorekeeper Rendalyes

Esteemed Lorekeeper,

I am inclined to skip pleasantries as I’m certain one of your stature hears enough of them and your long talk with Vashara will likely put you in a dispirited mood. I ask that you forgive her persistent nature—like many of us, she has her people’s best interest at heart and will go to great lengths to see that their well-being is served.

Loreguard Kelnyeldau holds you in high esteem and I have no doubt that the tome you now carry has found trustworthy hands. He also speaks highly of the training you gave him and I have made inquiries to confirm your abilities. The demonstration of your powers to myself, Brundle and Kelnyeldau further cements my faith.

I will make no secret that the tome you now possess weighs on my mind. That it has some connection with the scourge herself and appears sought after by reprehensible characters causes me great concern. Though I am glad to be free of the book, I fear that it is not yet gone from my life, and you yourself have given further hints at its true nature.
There is one of my number, Farian Dandel, who has trained under my father, the wizard Tamadril Merrilyn, and might be interested in further study under your tutelage. He is a talented spellcaster in his own right, and may be of some use to you. I ask as a personal favor to me, that he might be used as a go between amongst our peoples should the tome reveal sinister portents.

Please send your response as soon as you are able. Doubtless it will find me.

Humbly Yours,

Thomadril Merrilyn

Part III: Letter to Farian Dandel

Farian,

In my previous correspondence I have made mention of the company I have joined and the jobs we’ve undertaken. Though all of them have had elements of danger and have even hinted at a greater unfolding conspiracy—our most recent escapade has unearthed a potential threat that leaves me uneasy. What it is I cannot say outright, as I fear this letter may be intercepted.

I must ask that you leave your current endeavor to Varin—she will be able to continue on her own and I have need of you in Kestral. Seek me out there and I will have more information on this threat, along with a specific task that has been agreed upon by me and one other, which should prove useful not only to our people but to your current goals. I know you thirst for knowledge beyond what my father and our people could teach, and the opportunity lies here. Make haste.

I hope I am proven wrong about the threat, but only time will tell. When you reach Kestral, you may have to do some searching—we have recently moved housing, as one of our number seems to have fallen on the wrong side of a snake cult. We’ve had multiple run-ins with them in a short period, and it would appear it’s time for us to be more clandestine about our activities. Even though I’ve undergone healing, I still feel twinges of phantom pain suffered not an hour previous when we were attacked in broad daylight. When you arrive, make a search of boarding houses and inns and I will leave the usual signs.

Regards,

Thom

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Session 12: The Burned Manor

To The Council-
We were just finding our bearings again when I heard a horrible whinny; before I had a chance to think the sound through, Brundle (the odd little gnome) ran off towards the noise like a swooping falcon. As it turns out it was Artax, I understand why he ran off so quickly now. I grew to like him more with that, had it been Kree crying out in pain nothing could have gotten in my way. It seems an ability to bond with another creature is something we have in common with Whisper Gnomes. He found Artax surrounded by wolves; it was odd, they almost seemed organized. Myself and the rest of the group quickly followed Brundle to help him dispatch the wolves and help Artax. Thankfully, we did arrive before too much damage was stricken upon Artax and were able to slay the beasts.

Unfortunately one of the wolves was able to get away, he ran towards a howl in the nearby woods; at the time all I was able to see was a large shape in the shadows; it seemed to be watching us. We chose to head to one of the small homes we had just rid of gnolls to bandage our wounds and rest. I do not understand why the other species find comfort in being surrounded by walls; do they truly believe they are safer? Walls only get you trapped in a corner and restrict everything. I took a position on the roof of the structure they retreated to, it was not very high but was at least a better vantage point than on the ground.
Merrilyn joined me on the roof to keep watch; he is an intriguing man who seems to understand how to make a fight work to his advantage. I hope to pick up some of those skills from him; he seems a scrappy fighter. I’d never say it but I rather enjoy that he calls me “feathers”; I feel a bit less like an outsider. One wolf did approach during the night to examine the dead bodies we had stacked up away from the structure but did little else. It was of great use, I was able to track it the next morning after everyone had broken their fast.

Curiously, he had come from the manor house we had been sent to investigate. We scouted the area around the house, I was able to get to the second floor and found there the large wolf from the shadows in a small room. We devised to go in from the second floor to try and pin the wolf in a confined space, he too believed walls would help him which only helped us corner him and bottle-neck the smaller wolves coming up the stairs. It mostly worked. It took Brundle going into a rage and half dead to finally fell the beast.

After we cleared the house of wolves we began to search for the book we were sent to find but have thus far been unsuccessful in finding it. However while myself and Kaneda were searching the library he fell through the floor to discover another level. I do wonder what the experience of being in a ransacked library is like for Kanada? I have a great reverence for libraries from my father, but I cannot imagine it is on nearly the same level as it is for him. I hope it was not a terribly traumatizing experience.

Despite not wanting to, I followed him into the lower levels. We found a dilapidated conservatory wildly overgrown with tangles and bushes with a set of double doors at the back. Brundle and Merry searched another path that seemed to lead to the doors from the other side but they were locked. I went into the conservatory towards the doors, I should have listened to Kanada about being slow and careful traversing the vines. I was too rash in going into the room. As I reached the middle of the room I was attacked- by a plant. Once I looked more closely at my attacker I recognized it as a Blood Thorn, which was very peculiar as they are not native to this region.

Once we were able to destroy the Blood Thorn we discovered an archway behind it, and Brundle was able to find a hidden door leading down. Down, down, always down, I do not understand this illusion of safety underground. We found two deep pits in the first room we came to, what they were used for I do not know. As we were searching the area, four earth elementals appeared and attacked us. Brundle once again went crazy and after we dealt with the elementals he sprinted down the hallway that was rigged with blots, he was riddled with holes by the time he reached the end of the hall. The trap, thankfully for the rest of us, did not reset and Thistle was able to heal Brundle’s wounds. Their’s is an odd relationship, I’m still unsure how that came about.

We found a cavernous room beyond the doors with an underground lake and island in the center. Upon the island we found four pillars and a chest in the center, and at last the book we were seeking. There is something very satisfying about finding one’s quarry, I am beginning to greatly enjoy the feeling of completing a quest. Unfortunately it was not the end. The water was uneasily still, and Merry saw that the book and one of the pillars was emanating magic. When Kanada picked up the book the column revealed itself to be some sort of guardian which took on the form of a woman with a large sword. We attempted to talk to her to try and understand more about the book but she would not respond.
As Kanada began to walk with the book she charged him. I was very wary about fighting this construct, I know nothing about this book, were we doing a good thing taking it? I do not trust that we were. but I do trust Kanada; thus far he has shown his quality. The guardian destroyed Brundle’s sword, so Kanada left his for him and ran with the book to make sure we completed our goal. We were able to destroy her, but my heart is still uneasy about that.

We are currently camped for the evening between Shale Creek and Outwall. I will report additional findings when I can. And to my great joy I have taken my first flight on my own from the ground! I am progressing in my abilities, and am confident I will be able to return home when the time comes.

-Vashara La’Sheen

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Session 11: To Shale Creek

From the log of Loreguard Kelnyeldau

After days of investigation and travel, I have finally found the opportunity to sit down and update the journal of my travels. I hope, as always, that they will benefit our glorious Loreguard Cabal in their quest for knowledge.

Currently we are camped for the night roughly a half day south of Outwall. The elements have begun to favor us, but it does not make much difference as Vashara the Raptoran and Thistle the halfling have found us adequate shelter for the evening. My sigils should adequately do double duty of keeping away wild beasts while giving me enough light to continue my writing during my watch.

I am eager to speak of the nature of our journey, but I should first continue where I left off in my previous entry, with the defeat of the Carthian spy Treynal Merinden and the rescue of Davin Maler, the captain (a sort of subarbiter for those readers unfamiliar with the justice system outside of the Cabal) of the Northshore area of Kestrel, and one of my companions’ greatest resources.

Upon conversing with the captain, we learned that his capture had been little more than a happy coincidence. Merinden’s plan originally was to recapture Conor Damilus, the wastrel we had encountered earlier, and regain the plans that he had originally purchased from Berrick before Thistle and Buttercup chased him down. However, with Maler practically falling into his lap on a routine patrol, Merinden switched to a Plan B that he didn’t know he had.

With Conor and his family currently hidden away in a undisclosed location, we turned our attention, for now, to two of the wizards that had been employed by Merinden. For the first time I had the opportunity to read two spellbooks besides my own. Although the wizards themselves are in a class not much greater than my own, the writings contained within are absolutely fascinating. The codes, the notations, the language involved in some of these spells… Well, they probably wouldn’t hold the attention of the Arcana Keepers, but I’m entranced. I have already taught myself one spell from the books, and am currently researching another. But that is for another time, and perhaps for another journal.

Within these books we found two pieces of writing. The first is a piece of, for lack of a better description, vulgar anthropological smut, of no use to the Cabal as far as I can tell. I have handed it off to Thistle, who seems continually interested in the baser nature of things, but if I learn that Cabal would like writings of cross-species erotica (perhaps for the closed stacks) then I can probably coax it back from her again.

The second is a letter from one of the wizards to his female companion back home. It discusses his time at the Mendoros school of magic in Carthia, as well as their recruitment into the Carthian plot. He also talks about a kind of magical enhancement herb, which we find on both wizards. After a discussion with Maler, as well as experimentation by Brundle (how he could find the insanity to do such a thing is beyond me. I’m willing to jump into a sewer, but that’s nothing compared to inhaling the smoke of an unknown plant), we discover that it is a boosting drug called Arcanite. We are keeping it on hand for now, although I personally am loathe to use such a thing.

As for the Mendoros connection, I’m hoping to gain more information, and it may be an avenue we pursue further in the future, especially with a personal connection within our group: Brundle’s niece is a student there.

The next day or so are not worthy of much detail, except to say that Thistle and Brundle have become close in a way that forced Thomadril and I to sleep further away from their rooms while Vashara has nested on the roof of the inn in order to get some rest. In addition, we have enhanced our equipment, including a lightning spear and Drakeskin armor for Thistle.

Also, we have temporarily lost a companion. Carol, the human cleric of Olidammara, has awoken from her drunken stupor long enough to embark on an unknown quest with some of her fellow compatriots. Her note to us has stated that she will return to us soon, and we only hope that is the case.

On to the matter at hand. Earlier in the day we were visited at the inn by Loreguard Rendalyes, the esteemed Lorekeeper for the Loreguard cabal. While there, he charged me with a task for the cabal: to retrieve a book from the land of one Meron Conrell. We do not know the name of the book, only its physical description. As for its contents, I have been asked by Rendalyes not to open it, so of course it will stay closed.

And then… the rest of my compatriots began to negotiate terms of payment. I know I should not speak of personal feelings in this log, but you understand how egregiously shameful this was for me to watch. This was Rendalyes. Our Lorekeeper. What he asks for Loreguard, we do for Loreguard. There is little doubt that this book is important for the cabal. It may even be a tome from the Library of the Sublime itself. I would give my fortune, I would give my sigils, I would give my life for such a thing, and yet here they were, bartering like it was nothing more than a piece of pottery at the market.

Nevertheless, it appears that the Black Table agrees to the importance of the book, as Loreguard Rendalyes has been given permission to pay my colleagues for the return of the book. Even then, they questioned it. Vashara especially. She even forced Rendalyes to shake her hand to seal the deal. Clearly this is an important task.

So we are on our way. After a brief encounter with the thief Dunphy, who gave us payment and information on the so-called Laughing Man (he works for him, it would appear) we met up with Meron Conrell at his estate in Outwall. After agreeing to terms (again with terms, how someone cannot just say “Please, you can have the book, as it is vitally important” is beyond me), we are now traveling south towards Shale Creek, the location of the Manor and the book. There has apparently been trouble there. Of course. And we will most likely have to fight. Of course. But this is the Sublime we’re fighting for, and that’s the most important of all.

But, according to Brundle, there may be Dire Wolves.

I think I’m going to study my spells a little more. And maybe sharpen my blades…

the following information has been hastily jotted down on a separate slip of paper

We were just ambushed by a group of gnolls and their hyena attack dogs upon our arrival at Shale Creek. We were victorious, but just barely. Almost lost Brundle. Vashara, as well, but the bard Thomadril Merrilyn reacted just in time, hitting the leader of the army with a Fascinate spell, song, whatever. This allowed Vashara to escape the net that she had become entangled in, as well as giving us the opportunity to wipe out the remaining fighters before turning our attention to the imposing leader.

Our magicks are improving. I used Mage Armor for the first time, with effective results. Thistle appears to be able to make a giant fireball in the air similar to that used by Merinden, and Thomadril can make duplicates of himself appear out of thin air. I’ll have to try to find that spell myself…

The group is currently splitting up the spoils from battle as I write this. There is a burned and ruined building off in the distance. That must be where the book lies….

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Session 10: Spy vs. spy
Letter to Peony

Sweetest Peony,
How is my little Halfling princess? My apologies for not finding the time to write before now but I have been tangled in a series of misadventures. I hope your schooling is doing well and that you are getting along alright. I have fallen in with a fun and interesting band of adventurers, one of which has magics of about your talents. I’ll see if I can acquire some of his spells and send them your way in the near future. As you insist I will inform you of what life is like beyond the walls of your school and tell you about one of our latest escapades, as demanded I’ll do my best not to sensor any of the good stuff:
After a successful day of adventuring my band celebrated our success into the wee hours of the morning. Some drank, some retired to study, I had a pleasant business interaction with the local thieves guild and continued to drink with a Halfling friend named Thistle until I eventually took to slumber. I awoke, pipe still clenched in my teeth, to find my companion Vash, a weird bird thing, eating breakfast aside another compatriot of mine lying on the table. ( I don’t think I have seen her stand upright yet for any period longer than half an hour.) Vash found a mysterious key and Carol, the boozer, appeared to have some sort of letter tucked behind her ear. The letter revealed the location of a store room that we figured likely the destination for the key’s insertion, so I gathered up Merrilyn, another comrade of mine, from the lap of a half elven female and the group of us went off to investigate.
In the locker we found yet another note, this one had a simple illusion I bet you would have found clever on it. It told us about some shenanigans in the back room of a pub called the Dented Tankard. It had the seal of a thieves guild and was signed “Laughing Man”. On our exit the clerk said a man with a blonde wig delivered us another note which warned an incident had taken place earlier involving the local guard.
Out of sheer curiosity we decided to take a look for ourselves and parleyed with a man whose fishing business was right across the bar. He was very prudish and a lot of fun to make fun of.
The Drunken Tankard was a run down, dilapidated and appeared to be failing miserably, but after only a few inquiries however it was proven to hold a whole litany of undesirables that were more than happy to die on the end of my blade. An old pig farmer inspired by our musical bard sprung to his feet and relived the memories of his former glory by helping us in combat. I wish I could have watched it more closely, he was awesome, and Merilyn hasn’t stopped singing about him yet. There was one however that didn’t want to meet his just desserts and made me chase him all around town, the wuss. After several altercations and one hell of a horse chase I destroyed his cart in epic fashion and the two of us clashed steal. My compatriots made short work of the rest of his band with well laid arrows, some dog biting, and even a spell or two while I kept the roguish spy at bay. The spy had at this point also taken captive a captain of the guard and our other deft handed fellow Keneda managed to free him. In the end it was our handsome bard that managed to land the last blow on the cowardly yet talented spy. I like that; most bards are lookers on, but Merrilyn dove into the nitty gritty and definitely wins my respect.
Anyhow, that was my day yesterday. I have included 30 gold with this letter to help with school or books or whatever you may need. When you hear from your mother send her my best, and study hard. I’ll try not to be so long between correspondences in the future.

Love,
Uncle Brundle

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