Shaintar - A legend begins

Hunter Hunted and Finding the Crucible Mine

The Rangers get ready to hunt some werewolf, and gather as much information on such creatures as they can. Roberre has even prepared a few items that might help stave off the curse of lycanthropy if needed.

They leave Black Eagle Fort quickly before it’s surrounded by the forces of Kal-a-Nar & Childer, pick up Morg’s trail and head west, but after a few minutes they are met with Trevanya the dark elf.

She asks if they found what they were looking for and Vandien tells her that they did not, the papers were torn out and stolen. Trevanya suspects that Morg most likely has them and tells him that he is heading due west and that she can help them avoid the patrols of Flame in order to reach their prey. She doesn’t hide the fact that she needs them to stop Morg and reunite Roberre and Saiderin.

Trevanya’s veil does seem to shield them from the eyes of the enemy and they make good time, resting only for a short periods. They reach the western edge of the woods and see in the distance the form of a large wolf running for the shore. They also spot, the silhouette of a 3 masted ship as the sun sets over the waters, anchored a short distance.

The Rangers spur their horses on, and as they reach a bridge over a fast flowing river they hear a wolf’s howl and the answers of more wolves further away. From the cover of some thick woods on the far side of the bridge, Morg taunts the heroes and then emits a frightening Howl, shaking almost everyone except Toji and most if the horses (except Vandien’s). The Rangers manage to dismount quickly without harm and let the beasts flee (again except Vandien’s). Then Morg rushes out of the woods with a large piece of bark and pushed Vandien’s mount to the bridge planks but Vandien managed to avoid getting hurt. Then the battle is joined.

Vandiens inspires his allies, swipes at the creature’s legs while Vanessa and Toji fire their white silver tipped arrows. One of Toji’s arrows strikes Morg’s jaw and he snaps the shaft of the offending projectile before spitting it out. Afterwards Malen summons an Ancient Bear which grapples and pins their large werewolf opponent. After an intense fight, Toji finally puts the werewolf down with a well placed arrow thru the eye. The last surviving garou of the pack, turns tail and runs. Vanessa only manages to graze it before it disappears.

Vanessa looks thru Morg’s belongings, now that he’s in a human form, and finds the papers that mention the location of the mine. Meanwhile, Malen and Roberre tend to Vandien’s wounds. Luckily for him, Vandien was spared the curse of lycanthropy (there was a 95% chance of being infected, and I rolled a 96).

The Rangers gather their gear and their horses, and make their way towards the Korg Humps. Passing thru Tolm and Korg where that replenish their supplies and acquire some mountaineering gear as well. They also ask around about the hills and the Maklo’s Peak in particular. They eventually find the markers that the dwarf Hamner Crucible left that indicate the direction of the mine. And on the 11th of Dancing Clouds, they find an entrance to the mine. This was a small dwarven mining settlement centuries ago, but for some reason it was abandoned. The Rangers find evidence of fairly recent tracks of dwarven feet, wheel tracks, and a set of human sized boots as well. Tracking them to a little used part of the mine, they discover part of the tunnel was excavated and lead thru a short twisting tunnel, to a strange round door with equally strange symbols and designs, as well as 3 dials on each side.

Malen was able to discern that ancient powerful magics hid this tunnel and door, but it is fading. And Vanessa vaguely recalls rumors and legends about a race of ancestors or cousins to the dwarves. Vandien examines the doorway, the columns and the dials and manages to find the position that the previous group used. The motion of mechanisms are heard…

…and we will discover that lies beyond, at a future session.

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Murder at Black Eagle Fort

Murder at Black Eagle Fort

The Ghost Wolves squad manage to stay ahead of the advancing Maelstrom & Childer forces, despite encountering various scouting/raiding parties.

They eventually meet up with Trevanya, who lets them know a bit more of the threat of the forces of Flame heading in the same direction as they. She impresses upon them the urgency of their mission and the lack of time to find what they need. She them departs as suddenly as she arrived.

The Rangers begin encountering people who seem to make their living and live their lives in the great forest. All of them are laden with as much of their possessions and are also heading to Black Eagle Fort. Vandien decides they will offer an escort to the fort. Vanessa takes the time to asks questions about the people, checking their stories and whereabouts, making sure no spies try to infiltrate the stronghold. They are also told of how Lt Oldrun was killed recently in an altercation with Childer.

Once inside, they are instructed to see Sgt-Minor Gurn, to which Vandien asks, what happened to Capt Renault? He simply told to ask Gurn.

The entire fort is busy preparing for a siege. They stable their horses and gear and them go see Gurn, the now ranking Ranger of the Fort. He is at the gates wit Corp. Bairs overseeing things and giving orders.

The orc commander bring them up to date, hoping they are the advance scouts of reinforcements. Sadly, no. He is disappointed but not surprised. They tell him they need to look thru the archives for a claim to a mine filed a few years ago.

He gives them the permission to search, but while they are here he also requests that they investigate the murder of Captain Renault, who was killed just last night.

Horak, who managed to catch up with the squad, and Vanessa head to the archive rooms and Vandien & Malen inspect the captain’s offices and rooms. Meanwhile, Toji and Roberre, and the rest of the squad help in the Fort’s preparation.

The Rangers discover the following things;
1- Nothing special is found in the Captain’s rooms
2- At the Inn, where the body was found and where it’s being kept, find puncture wounds but no blood and frostbite marks on his neck, in the shapes of long fingered hands.
3- In Shayna’s room, where the body was found they detect a lingering Darkness and frostburn marks on the wall where the body leaned.
4- Shayna was asked by the trader Olag to lure the Captain to her room, under pretense that she had info about his brother Lyle.
5- Vanessa and Horak didn’t find the claim papers as they seemed to have been ripped out of the ledgers, but saw animal paw prints indoors.
6- Vandien speaks to Beck & Simms who also wanted to speak to the Capt. but locked themselves in their room since the murder. They reveal that they are Black Lantern agents and wanted to see if Lyle left some info with his older brother.
7- In Olag’s room they find some wolf-like fur and a small parchment with a sketch of statuary, different from the regular statuary in the Fort’s hallways.
8- A few people mention that Olag gave off a weird vibe, and he left very early that morning.
9- Corporal Bairs reveals that she found mangled deer and boars outside, about a league est of the Fort, and large wolf paws.

The Rangers discover the statues that resembles the sketch and pull the torch sconce and reveals a secret door to further underground tunnels. Here they hear a hollow voice wailing against a recent betrayal from the werewolf, who tricked him into killing the Capt for him.

The voice comes from a spectre, trapped in the fortress. It detects intruders and a tough fight ensues. And both Vanessa and Vandien are frightened by the sight of the grim ghost and spend the early part of the fight cowering in fear. Eventually, the spectre abandons any strategy and tries to finish Malen off, thus allowing the Rangers to defeat it and put it to rest.

A quick search of the catacombs-lair reveals a laboratory/library (various books, scrolls, reagents, etc) and in the burial chamber they find the body of Master Jarvis Fayne (along with an enchanted dagger, a magical rod and about 200 gold pieces worth of gems and jewelery).

Malen performs a simple ritual to hopefully pout to rest the spectre’s soul, before heading back up to the surface.

It seems that the Rangers must be ready to hunt a werewolf in order to retrieve the mine claim papers.

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Three Full Moons

Three Full Moons

Our heroes get to Eldara, bloodied, bruised and battered. They were hounded by the forces of Flame almost every league they moved thru the elven woods. Sometimes they managed to avoid detection thru stealth, but other times they were forced to choose between fight and flight. They lost a few horses and supplies along the way, but, after a few harrowing days and nights, they made it to the outskirts of the elven capital and escorted by a patrol of elves to the gates, where they are greeted by the crown Prince Kurim Eridor and his retinue.

They are then shown great courtesy as they are brought to spacious rooms where they can relax, eat, drink and get clean. Attendants see to their needs, all the while the sounds of conflict all are around them. Despite the cacophony, they all fall asleep, so great is their fatigue.

A few hours later they are awakened by the silence. They are soon summoned by attend the Quo Unias Ciradis Eridor. They meet with him on a rather small ornate balcony. He bids them to sit down while he finishes with giving orders to his captains. Vandien hands over the dispatches from Lady Grayson and has the misfortune of telling the ruler that no additional help is forthcoming from the Grey Rangers.

For the delivery of simple dispatches, it would not require such a large group of Rangers, so when Lord Eridor asks about their true purpose here, it is his with a heavy heart that he tells them he has not been able to contact Saiderin the Eternal Wanderer. And in these dire times, his counsel and power would be of great help. For now they are free to stay in the citadel for as long as they like or until it needs to be evacuated.

They spend some time at their own leisure, only Malen request to speak to an elder druid for advice or knowledge about the living tree citadel. Shortly after their lunch, Toji appears with a sealed letter that his brother Koji was given by a mysterious pale elf.

The letter asks them to meet her in one of the western gardens at the late ten bells, in order to give them information about where to find Saiderin.

That evening they set out amidst the bustle of the citadel, nobody seems to pay them much attention. It seems like to presence of Grey Rangers is not an uncommon sight. They find themselves in a beautifully manicured lovers garden, with artful sculptures, fountains and topiary. From a shadowed archway, emerges a darkly cloaked elven form.

In a lightly accented Galean she tells the Rangers that she knows at least where they can find the location, where The Little Brother is caged.

They must travel to Black Eagle Fort, near Layla’s Meet. The commander has archives that includes a mine claim a dwarf filed a few years ago that mentions things not normally found in a dwarven Clanhome. This might be a Builder Citadel, hidden by powerful magic that seems to be waning now. This is where The Raven is kept.

They agree to meet up with the dark elf after they’ve gathered all their things and have passed the perimeter of elven patrols and thru various groups of Childer.

On the early morning of the 33rd of Festival Moons, both they and a large group of ratzin encounter each other along a dear path, many on both sides are surprised, but a fight ensues anyway. With a combination of arrows, blades and spells, the ratzin fall. The night of the three full red moons is full of noises and wild shadows as the forces of Flame roam the woods. Sleep is difficult reach and the next morning all Rangers are a bit sluggish and grumpy.

Later the next day, our heroes are suddenly attacked from above by gargoyles. During the melee, a thratchen dervish appears, slashes at both Malen and Vandien and disappears. Vandien stays alert for this new foe, while the rest of his squad deals with the stony assailants. But by the time all the gargoyles are dead or destroyed, Omark has fallen under their claws and Vandien only managed to cause a minor wound upon the thratchen when it reappeared one last time.

And still no sign of Treyvania.

To be continued…

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Journey to Eldara, part II

The citizens of Berell Town awoke to a fire in the stables of the Alehouse, and while Rangers were fighting Rangers, they fought the flames to prevent their home from burning down and rescue the horses. They managed to extinguish the flames with minimal damage to the building.

Once Vandien’s squad has defeated Reagar’s team, it is discovered that two junior Rangers were tied up in Reagar’s rooms. Apparently these two were not turncoats and Reagar made sure they would not interfere.

The town sheriff, Horace Black demands to know what’s going on, and after a thorough interrogation and recounting of the events, he seems to believe our heroes. Their reputation and history in Berell Town is definitely a benefit here.

Under Sheriff Black’s watchful eye, Vandien questions Reagar about his motives and who managed to turn him away from his Rangers vows.

‘’It’s not too late Vandien, you and your team could be on the winning side in the upcoming war. The Queen of Hell is coming, you’ve all seen the signs. The moons are becoming red and they will be full soon. The Hell Gates will be wide open and her followers will spread like wildfire over the Lands. But her arrival is only a prelude for what’s to come. There’s a greater force gathering…’’

That’s when red-white lighting erupts from his pocket and surrounds his body, as well as all the other traitors. They scream and writhe in pain as the red lightning courses thru them. After many seconds, the lightning disappears and all that is left are burnt husks. Blackened coins are found on all their corpses, any marking melted away.

The two other Rangers, Malcolm and Dilan, had been assigned to the team recently, but they hadn’t been turned against the Rangers yet by Reagar. They, along with Sheriff Black, will return to Kythros with the bodies and a full report.

…It is with troubled spirits and a heavy heart that Vandien’s squad leaves Berell Town to continue their mission and head towards the entrance to the Hall of the Well, but they leave behind Erdan & Horak to scout out the area and make sure no other troublesome Rangers are about, and Vandien suspects Erdan wants to speak to Shanssa the herbalist as well. He orders them to join back up as soon as they are finished.

Once the remaining squad reaches the clearing to the Portal, Malen gathers the various ingredients required to open the door, picking up “decoy” items too. Once to door opens, both Vanessa & Toji sense something is watching them out among the trees. Further investigation reveals the tracks of a very large wolf, whose paw prints shift between a quadruped and a biped wolf-like beast. But then the tracks disappear as whatever made them, decides to pull back further.

The Rangers decide to move quickly and get the horses blindfolded and down the tunnel to the Hall of the Well, before whatever was lurking returns with reinforcements.

They open the portal and guide their mounts thru with only minor issues. When they arrive at the other Hall of the Well, they find it illuminated by enchanted torches and the premises are cleaned up.

As they step outside and walk away from the cave entrance, they are stopped by two figures astride large stags ahead of them and camouflaged forms with drawn arrows all round them.

Luckily, Vandien recognizes the two mounted men as Lord Adamar’s son, Seiveril Keletheryl, who commands this outpost, and Joridyn Iliphar, his son-in-law, second to Seiveril.

“Halt and identify yourselves, and states your business.” asks Seiveril. Vanessa steps forward carefully, leaves her bow on the ground and tosses the wooden amulet to him. He catches it and them whispers something to it. Part of the amulet slides and Seiveril peers thru a hole that glows blue and looks intently at the Rangers and Roberre.

Vandien vouches for Roberre and says they are on an urgent mission to protect and escort this man to the Quo Unias, Cyradis Eridor. Seiveril tells the Rangers of the recent troubles with bands of Childer becoming more common and the strain on the elven forces across the forest. He will assign Joridyn and 5 of his men to guide and escort the Rangers.

The Rangers are amazed that they seem to be moving almost effortlessly thru the dense woods. They are guided thru secret shortcuts and pathways and the landscape blurs around them at irregular intervals. At the end of the first days’ travels their elven companions reveal a few snipets if their secret ways, and Malen performs his river stone ritual and Laylana’s image reveals various secret lore concerning Druidism and nature.

The night goes by quietly and a few scouts return as the rest break camp, reporting that childer are close by and closing in. Their Ratzin scouts seem to detect the various magical items upon the Rangers.

The squad must use more circuitous routes to avoid their enemies, but soon realize that will not be possible. Joridyn gives Malen a whistle that will summon woodland guides to help them while he and his men will draw the childer away.

Only a little time later, Malen noticed that no other showed up to lead then. They discovered why soon enough. A group of Minotaurs and ratzin had picked up their trail. They hoped to lose them by racing onwards, but the speed of the Childer were more than equal to the task of pursuing their quarry. Eventually, one of the Rangers’ lack of riding skill caught up to them and Vanessa fell off her mount, but still managed to avoid wounding herself.

Lucky for her, the two Minotaurs had been dispatched a few moments before and not she faced a few ratzin. She need only to delay them until her twin Vandien could arrive and lend her a hand. Of course, he’d never let her forget this. And with both Malen and Toji close by, the three ratzin didn’t stand a chance.

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Journey to Eldara, part I
Sheep's Clothing

The Rangers return from Greensway, with their four prisoners. Once they’ve stabled their horses and stowed away their gear, they then file their reports about their recent activities. Sgt Guz was somewhat upset that they left without orders or much notice, but after the debriefing, he fully understands and will pacify Sgt-Major Mindril before they meet him personally.

Erdan’s time is split between crafting poppers and potions, and sparring with Vanessa, now that he’s got a brand new staff, laced with everwood. Malen gors to see his bowyer contact, with Roberre in tow. Roberre assures Malen that he can help craft the bow much faster and better than anything the bowyer could make himself. Vandien meets up with Neala who is in the city for a short while, along with Jenna.

Before leaving on his next mission, Vandien commisions from a whitesmith, a ring of white silver with an inscription, to be delivered to Neala Elsamunerys once he’s left. Vanessa helped with negotiate the price and chip in with her ugly twin’s efforts.

They are summoned to none other than Lady Valinda Grayson’s offices, where they also see Mindril, Guz and Roberre. Lady Grayson gives them a very special and secret mission, to her new Ghost Wolves. They are to escort Roberre to Eldara where he will ask the Quo Unias to contact Saiderin, so that Roberre can finally bring him his message. They will be carrying dispatches as well as a cover. They are to tell no one about their true objective, nor about Roberre, since it’s obvious that there’s at least one faction that wants Roberre captured or dead.

Once the meeting is done, they prepare their arms and armor, and check on the rest of their gear and the horses. They get some rest as they plan to leave in the morning, at first light.

Before they leave, the bowyer and Roberre present Malen with “Toji’s Wrath” bow, along with a brand new bow sheath/quiver.

When they get near Berell Town, they meet fellow Rangers, Reagar, Filbur and Ssukko and the rest of their team, just on their way back from a patrol run in the area. The two groups decide to meet up in the Town’s Alehouse, where they carouse, exchange info, but Reager especially is asking many questions about Roberre, as well as rumors that the Ghost Wolves squad has been restored to active duty.

Despite some ale being passed around, Vandien and his squad don’t reveal much or deflect some of the inquiries. Eventually everyone agrees to retire to their own rooms.

At one point in the night, Horak awakens to the smell or smoke and the noise of horses panicking. Most of our heroes follow the ogre down once he wakes them up. Vanessa climbs out the window and up to the roof.

The familiar silhouette of the dregordian and the dwarf, and at least one man can be seen and they engage the Heroes. Others assailants appear form the shadows and get surprise on our Heroes.

After an short intense fight, their foes are defeated, some are killed but a few are captured.

to be continued…

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Trouble in Greensway, part III

After defeating Uggabaa, the Bloody Cleaver, an abyssal brute of remarkable strength, a thratchen, some ratzin and the ritual master Fervan ki Krasaros, Erdan goes about the bodies of the childer and demon to collect some fresh exotic reagents for future use, they then secure the perimeter and Malen and Erdan pour over the manuscripts and scrolls in order to discover how to deactivate the summoning circle and the portal, without causing a backlash. The facts that the magical construct is part of an old Druidic Loci, slowly corrupting it and that it’s a very different arcane theory (Thaumaturgy versus Sorcery and Channelling), is the main reason for the difficulties encountered.

Also, Erdan finds a letter that is apparently written in his brother’s handwriting. It tells about his new vocation as an Acolyte of Ceyrana and the research he performed for the ritual, its location and time, as well as the true name of the Abyssal brute. He even goes by a new name; Agoskus ki Seberzarna.

Vandien decides to split the squad in two, due to the urgent news that other childer and demons as well as Kal forces, are heading towards the village of Greensway again. Erdan and Malen will try to close the circle/portal (Dramatic Task) and Toji and the three junior Rangers will remain to protect them. Vandien takes Vanessa, Horak, and the lumberjacks in an attempt to save the villagers.

Thru the ‘’heat-haze’ kind of effect that the circle emanates, both Erdan and Malen occasionally see the trees beyond the Stones, burning. A foreshadowing of their possible failure. With this grim thought, they bend their will and mind towards quickly but safely close the portal.

As soon as the spell-casters begin tampering with the circle, the War-Priest Traszany Arolya feels the effect somehow. She orders her subordinate acolytes to keep going towards the village, along with the ratzin, minotaurs and horde fiends. And she doubles back with her own group of followers to deal with the troublesome Rangers.

After what seems like an hour or so but is actually no more than a dozen minutes, the energy of the bloodied essence fight Malen and Erdan’s combined efforts and opens a rift and summons half a dozen ratzin. In a stroke of good fortune, Malen and Erdan re-establish the connection to the forest, and the offending childer are quickly dispatched.

And while the struggle at the Standing Stones is taking place, Vandien’s group encounter a returning force of Kalinesh that includes Traszany, as well as her Battle-Leader Kellef ki Felsoalva, 6 Kal warriors and the Minotaur battle master she summoned personally. A small stream separates the two groups. They maneuver the terrain in order to engage in combat. Fire blasts are felt, arrows fly and eventually, metal clashes against metal. At one point, Traszany burns the dwarf lumberjack, and impales him on her bloodsteel blade.

The Minotaur charges in a blood rage, across the stream, bellowing loudly in an effort to frighten the enemies, but from out of nowhere, a thick branch hits him in the face, making him stagger and look rather foolish rather than intimidating.

At one point, Vandien sees his chance and leaps on a nearby rock and slices at the hairy beasts neck, cutting it open, blood sprays all over him as he rides the monster down as its body falls like a felled tree.

Soon after all the Kall soldiers lay dead, and Traszany attemps to flee. Vandien, Vanessa and Horak give chase (Chase scene) thru the woods. Serpents of fire and arrows are launched, as well as the occasional sword stroke. The combined efforts of the Rangers eventually gets the better of the War-Priest. She is incapacitated.

Bound and gagged, they return her to the Standing Stones, tired, battered and bruised themselves. As they reunite, they are joined by Ents, but Oakhorn is missing. They tell of how he gave the last of his life force to help return the Standing Stones to their original state. They are saddened but thankful for the Rangers’ assistance.

They find some wagons, horses and gear near the Stones, which they commandeer and return to Greensway as quickly as possible. At the village they see the people slowly returning, tired and bruised as well, but mostly alive. They see Cecilia, the village reeve, standing with a rolling pin in her hand, next to three beaten, hogtied Acolytes.

Cecilia tells the Rangers that they were trying to flee as fast as possible when they were beset by more childer, demons and these three Priests. Just as they thought they were all going to die, the summoned monsters disappeared, leaving the bewildered and now outnumbered Priests, who quickly surrendered.

As the villagers return to their homes or to what shelter their neighbors offer. Celicia thanks the Rangers and offers lodgings in her own home/inn. Plans are already discussed for rebuilding the village and for the funeral ceremonies for their fallen friends.
They don’t have much to offer the Rangers as a reward, but their heartfelt thanks and gratitude. They will always have a place to call home here if they wish it (Renown card played; +1 CHA if recognized, 50% chance).

The following day, after much needed rest, Malen heads into the forest, towards the Standing Stones. Once there Malen pays his proper respects to them for their loss. “I knew Oakhorn, not all that well, but enough to know him as a being worthy of much respect, and it was my honor to call him a friend. He shall be missed. Let us not mourn his passing, rather let us celebrate his life, honor and courage.”

“I wanted to ask a boon of you here. My friend and fellow ranger Toji is a good person and deserves a weapon worthy of his heart and dedication. I have commissioned a bowyer to make a bow for him. In order to complete it I need Everwood and Ironwood. I wonder if you could help me realize this gift for my companion. I understand I am asking a lot and am willing to owe you a favour in exchange.” 

At this point Malen sits down and quietly await their answer. Eventually the druid hears the creaking of branches and the rustle of leaves that he hopes is Entish. 

Hours pass and he falls asleep, but when he awakens refreshed he finds a few long branches of wood. Some are the familiar silver and gold veined ones, and the others are mostly blueish-grey which are likely ironwood. As Malen leaves, he thanks the forest and its residents for all of its gifts and heads back to Greensway. 

Malen also notices that his oakhorn staff seems different. A quick Detect Arcane spell reveals that it’s now linked more strongly with the forest and the Standing Stones. Of course he doesn’t quite know what this stronger link with the woods may mean or what consequences it could have. Perhaps with great power comes great responsibilities. While he ponders these implications, he realizes that what took almost two hours to reach the Stones, now only took a quarter of the time. Very peculiar!

(On the body of the Minotaur Battle Master, Horak finds an item that looks to be of goblinesh make, wrapped around its belt. Once he cleans it, he recognizes it as a Mantle of the Fierce Beast; once the dire wolf pelt is wrapped around his shoulders and the buckles fastened, he knows that this helps one of goblinesh blood to resist fear (+1) and possibly enhance his fighting skills (boost trait: Fight, Throw or Shoot only; 5 essence)

(Erdan is given a sprig of everwood that was once part of Oakhorn the elder Ent. Once he takes it in his hand, it twists and moves towards his ironwood staff, entwining itself around and into the weapon’s structure giving it a light and dark marbled texture. Ever curious, Erdan spends his time analyzing it. It seems that he can tap into the staff’s reserve of Essence (10 points, usable for his Sorcery principles). There seems to be more, but for now it’s keeping its secrets under a tight guard, perhaps more research and time will reveal them)

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Trouble in Greensway, part II

Once Oakhorn has given them directions to the Circle of Standing Stones, the Rangers head out as quickly as possible that way. The sun begins to set on the 16th of Festival Moons, and two of the moons will be high in the sky, not a perfect alignment but it will lend some power to the Priests of Ceyrana’s ritual,

Very soon after Malen changes shape into an owl, the group is ambushed by ratzin archers who quickly fire at them and then melt back into the forest. Two gargoyles drop down from tree branches and attack Malen-owl, who quickly flies back down to join his friends and return to his true form.

Suddenly, a thratchen appears right next to Vandien and attacks him with both it’s blades then it disappears.

The squad decides not to follow the fleeing childer and continue towards the Stones. They eventually reach the Circle and as they spy the area, they see the intricate ritual circle glowing in angry red and orange light, seven cultist standing motionless on either side as well as one acolyte at the far end of the Stones who seems to be wearing a horned helmet under his cowl. They also see a human male, his skin covered in red cuts and welts.

Vanessa takes aim and launches her arrows and just as the first arrow is let loose and birdcall is heard and the figure disappears and reappears right next to the naked man. The acolyte is really a thratchen, who plunges it’s dagger into the man killing him and completing the ritual to summon Uggabaa the Bloody Cleaver, a large, nasty, and exceptionally wicked abyssal brute who wields an enchanted meat cleaver like axe named the Cleaver, of blood steel.

The four lumber jacks start to quake in their boots right after an Acolyte steps out from cover and throws a explosive fireblast spell at our heroes. Vanessa fires two magical shafts, in quick succession at the Acolyte, hitting the eyes. The priest of Ceyrana’s body falls as he screems in pain, and Vandien manages to taunt Uggabaa which seems to help the lumber jacks’ resolve. The fight is a tough and bloody one, and it’s made more difficult when some ratzin archers show up and a thratchen dervish also pops in. And once Uggabaa wades into melee range, the Rangers soon realize that this demon will be tough to take down, if possible at all. Their task is made more difficult when they realize it’s weapon helps him regenerate his wounds very quickly. After a prolonged battle, both the demon and the thratchen dervish fall.

The lumber jacks & the three Rangers (Althea, Rafe & Omark) who managed to catch up with their leaders, return wounded but victorious against the ratzin.

Now, what to do with this open portal to Hell that is still open? And the news that the junior Rangers saw a group of Kal warriors and childer are rushing towards the village of Greensway?

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Trouble in Greensway, part I
Fire & Brimstone

Shortly after the big fight with the Impostors from Camon, the Ghost Wolves Squad gather for the evening meal. After some small talk, Vanessa notices that Malen’s everwood staff, propped against the wall behind him, is smoking.

Malen reaches for his staff and even before he touches it, he feels the heat emanate from it, and when his fingers close around it, he falls to the floor as if struck physically. His eyes shut tight, smoke billowing from him as well as the odour of burning wood & leaves.

Malen is a silent witness to a barely familiar forest, burning. People he recognizes thru the smoke and soot are fighting both the flames and creatures that look like rat-men and bull headed giants. As Malen looks around, he spots Oakhorn, the ancient ent engaged in combat with a large minotaur and goat-headed creatures that seem to blink in and out of sight.

The vision ends with the Ent’s voice entreating aid as urgently as possible.

The Druid relates his vision to the others and they all agree to leave for Greensway, straight away. Our 6 heroes push their mounts all thru the night, while the 3 junior Rangers, Althea, Rafe & Omark, bring up additional horses & supplies at a slower pace.

Once in the village,  they see the remains of a recent attack. The buildings on the northern side of the river are all burned down. Many of the one on the southern shore show damage and burns. many people are wounded, tired and demoralized. Seeing the Rangers so soon, brightens their spirit considerably.

Vandien and company quickly organize an evacuation and get a little rest after their mad rush.

They then decide to head out and track the Childers who assaulted the village and the Ents. Fanning out while heading north thru the forest, the manage to find Ratzin & Minotaur tracks. After about an hour or so, they are ambushed by those same creatures. 

The fight is short and bloody, and the Rangers come out victorious. But the war is not over, these creatures came from somewhere and the villagers and Malen’s vision mentioned humans dressed in foreign garb and armor.

Erdan collected some key bits of anatomy from the both the minotaur and ratzin bodies.

While Erdan is about his grizzly business, Malen tries to communicate with Oakhorn, thru his staff. The Druid does form a link, tentative as it is. The Ent shows him the way to find their hidden location. They quickly set off with Malen and Toji in the lead. After a few hours of forced march set by the Druid, they arrive at a small, seemingly empty glade. Eventually Oakhorn and his fellow Ents reveal themselves. They all bear marks of violence (cuts, breaks and burns) that cannot heal while the forest itself is injured and still under attack.

They are very glad to see them and have begun telling them the tale of the last few days. Despite using the elven tongue, it takes a while for the tree-folk to get to the crux of the matter. 

Acolytes from the Kal-a-Nar empire, along with soldiers have begun corrupting an old forgotten circle of Standing Stones and are using it to open a portal to Norcan Darr, the Hard Lands to call forth Childer, and then possibly Demons. 

to be continued…

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Galean Guests

Vandien and company are given some R&R time, and while they are all keeping busy with personal projects (Malen manages to use Laylana’s River Stones to learn the Sentry gift), they hear about the arrival of the most recent batch of Galean Knights & Soldiers for the purpose of an exchange of training and culture.

A few days later, on the 9th of Festival Moon, the Galean contingent arrives in Kythros. They display cool confidence, sharp coordination as well as much condescension and disdain towards Sgt-Major Mindril and Sgt. Guz. Vanessa steps forward to take care of the horse of one of the Lieutenant, who goes by the name of Pieron, a bowman. They chat briefly, and the man finds Vanessa quite interesting and she finds he is also worth getting to know better.

Mindril asks Vandien and his squad to keep an eye on their guests, as he suspects something is not quite right. Vandien briefs his group. Erdan attempts some magic but nothing exceptional is revealed. Vanessa invite Lt. Pieron for an evening out on the town and the two of them get to know each other quite intimately. Not much is revealed by the soldier.

And while they are on maneuvers, Vandien does a B&E into Capt. Rasul and Lt. Pieron’s rooms. The only thing he finds is a few dry fleck of blood here and there, and a couple of recent cuts in the clothing or uniforms that show recent repairs. They also check out their horses and gear, and the find some dried blood there as well. Vanessa doesn’t remember Pieron having any recent scars or wounds.

They decide to try to back track the Galean’s path. With some skill and luck they find the area that the tracks of a large group of mounted troops regained the main road. They follow that to the edge of the Silverwood forest, where they come upon a grizzly sight, over a score of bloated, and rotting bodies. The only identifying marks are some Galean military tattoos. They continue to back track and find Prelacy uniforms & gear, buried in burlap bags.

Once they’ve warned Sgt-Major Mindril, he tells them to be ready tonight during the farewell feast. When confronted by the uniforms, chaos ensues and the battle is joined.

Battered and bruised, they eventually eliminate or subdue the imposters. Luckily, they capture Lt. Hadrian after stabilizing him, as well as a few other soldiers. Once they are awake, they reveal that they were to pose as the Galeans, shake the Ranger’s confidence and try to kill as many of the high command as possible. This would of course cause much trouble between the Rangers and Galea.

Sgt-Major Mindril rewards Vandien and his group with a bounty on the gear, arms & armor as well as the mounts and their gear. Some of it will go towards the families of the actual Galeans, some towards the families of the rangers who perished and the rest to Vandien and his squad.

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RETURN TO KYTHROS

You finally make it to Kythros in the wee hours of morning. You rode all night, hoping you wouldn’t be attacked again during the night. When the gate guards see you, exhausted & dirty, they simply let you in immediately and even offer to escort you thru the morning traffic to Ranger HQ.

You report at least your presence to Sgt Guz, the ogre and aid to Sgt-major Mindril, semi-coherently. He acknowledges your arrival and orders you to get some much deserved rest. Even if he hadn’t ordered it, you would’ve done so anyway. You thought he said he’d take care to find quarters for Roberre. Whatever.

Hunger wakes you, late in the afternoon. You all stagger to the mess hall at various times, and sit together, more or less. Then you clean yourselves up, get a new change of clothes and square away your gear.

Vandien files his official reports, along with the corroborating reports of fellow Rangers and various peoples of note you met during your mission.

The next morning finds you all in better spirits, as some much needed sleep and good food was supplied. Sgt Guz summons you to the offices of Sgt-Major Kork Mindril, the Rangers’ non-com officer (a dwarf warrior).

Roberre is there, seated just outside his office. He nods a greeting to you, as you enter to see your commander.

Mindril is looking at Vandien’s reports with interest as you enter. He signals for some of you so sit (there are only two other chairs) and with Horak and Guz there, it’s a tight squeeze.

’’I’m extremely please ‘bout your capture of Ballok and some of his gang. Apparently Lord Erevan and Capt. Devan will be keeping an eye out for more trouble there and the reputation o’ the Rangers is most likely on the mends.’’

‘’Guz was right. Ye really are the best o’ the lot. I’m placin’ you under a special command unit, effective right now’’

He hands over to you, Vandien a letter, sealed with the mark of the Rangers and the personal seal of lady Grayson herself, and then saiz while looking you very seriously, directly in the eyes;

‘’This be a Letter of Orders, signed by me and counter-signed by the Lord Commander, Lady Grayson. If’n anyone else of rank questions ye about your orders, your mission, or your business, ye are t’show ‘em this, let ’em see the seals, and respectfully be on yer way – without explainin’ more’n ye have to about what ye be doin’. Don’t be rude, an’ respect the chain o’ command, but ye be on Command business. That be no one else’s place to interfere, officer or no. I hope ye understand’’
Ye might hear the term ‘’Ghost Wolves’’ among other rangers. It’s an un-official name that’s been used in the past to refer to a squad o’ Rangers outside the regular chain o’ command. Don’t deny or confirm anythin’ if somebody asks.’’

‘’Now it’s time for y’a to introduce yer new friend there, Roberre, and tell me more about ‘im and this message he’s s’pposed to deliver to the Raven’’

Vandien opens the door and asks Roberre to enter. Both you and he relate how you met and Roberre stresses the urgency of delivering his message.

When Sgt Mindril tries to push Roberre for more information, Roberre simply re-states; ‘’It is a very important, but also a very confidential matter. I can assure you that it has much to do with the days to come, but I can say no more than that.’’

Mindril then dismisses you all for now. ’’You’re free for the day, but put on your dress uniforms for the dinner at the late 6 bells (i.e. 6PM).’’ he says.

When you enter the mess hall, later that day, many other Rangers are there, standing at attention on either side of the hall. And the Sargeants Mindril & Guz are there as well as few of the respected teaching staff, at the far end of the hall. You all make your way down the cleared floor to trumpet fanfare. Sgt-Major Mindril announces that the Rangers before him are to be rewarded with a promotion in ranks, due to their outstanding service and courage.

Vandien is promoted to Sgt-Minor, Malen is now a full Sgt., while Vanessa and Toji become Corporals and Erdan & Horak are raised to Rangers 1st-Class. Everyone applauds and a feast is enjoyed by all.

The next day, Malen spends time with Jenna, who’s still recovering from the shock of her grievous wounds, some of it mental.

Vandien had searched for Neala, but was told her and her squad are off on a mission to escort a Duke back to his home of Olara. But while you’re relaxing and simply going about some personal business, you get to see some Rangers you haven’t seen in a while. Sgt-Minor Reager, Sgt Ssukko (a dregordian warrior), Corporal Filbur Ironhand (a dwarf warrior) and a few others. You and Vanessa trained with him a few years ago. You exchange stories and he asks about the stranger you guys arrived with the previous morning. You only speak in vague terms and he says he understand that you might be under orders to keep quiet. These are troubled times after all.

Toji and Horak spend some time together, sharing stories about their goblinesh origins.

Vanessa and Erdan, as well as Malen (once he can be pried away from Jenna) are introduced to a man called Helroth (see picture attached), a powerful Arch-mage from Mindroth’s Tower. He says that he detected the recent use of the Portals in the Halls of the Well.

When he was younger and travelled about, with his companions, much like you Rangers, he discovered the Halls of the Well. He spent much time researching them, experimenting with them and exploring their various locations. He’s kept them a secret to avoid the enemies of the Southern Kingdoms from using them. But since you Rangers know about them now and have used them (and now some elves in Landra’feya as well), he figures you may as well be armed with the proper information.

There is the Hall near Berell town, one north of Ey’Dreigh (in the great elven forest) and the ruined one near Haven (where you fought the fish-like creatures, but Helroth has blocked access to/from that one Hall).

Helroth requires all three of these Rangers to commit to memory the proper combination for the Berell & Ey’Dreigh Halls, as well as a third Hall, to be used only in extreme emergencies. This third Hall is the one beneath his tower in the Peace Woods, near Mindroth’s Tower. He also instructs them on how to lock the gates behind them, should the need arise.

He warns about using and abusing the waters of the Wells in each hall. The Berell Hall had been corrupted by the mad alchemist, and its waters seemed to affect a living being’s heath and vigor. Helroth is looking into cleaning it up and purifying it. The Ey’Dreigh Well, affects ones physical strength (Erdan will most likely find this very interesting).

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