1. A Book in the Sands

March 12-14, 213 Tyr

The story began in the eastern country of Firofel, The Great Desert. The Capital City of Nassarak shone in the morning light as Arden Flint, a weary Tyrish traveled and his animal companion, a small bear named Mazzerel, stopped off at a walk-up (pub) for some water. The unscrupulous owner charged Arden an outrageous price for his drink, however Joules, another customer at the walk-up, intervened and demanded that Arden be given a fair price. Joules, a rather loudmouthed and inebriated entrepreneur, was in the middle of conducting some questionable business transactions with a local merchant, and noticing that Arden was a fellow foreigner, the two struck up a conversation discussing how, as outsiders, they need to stick up for themselves lest they be taken advantage of by the Nassari.

Meanwhile, a Dossari rider clad in black was spotted racing towards the city in a bee line for the Combine’s spire. There a guild-worker was spending a lazy day in the upper levels with his friend when he too saw the rider kicking up a torrent of dust. He headed downstairs, and after a brief meeting with the Quartermaster, was given a pair of writs to deliver to the travelers at the walk-up.

After their serendipitous meeting, and a reluctant agreement, they set off towards a rather suspicious, partially constructed tower where a cave-in had trapped a handful of workers. Upon their arrival the team went to work overseeing the excavation and rescue effort. They uncovered their first trapped worker only to discover that the worker’s legs had been mangled and bloodied with spider bites. As excavations continued, bear-sized spiders spewed forth from the tunnel, attacking the heroes and the surviving workers. After these creatures were easily dispatched, the work teams uncovered three out of the four remaining workers under the suspiciously intense gaze of the white-haired supervisor of the tower’s construction. Further digging revealed a small tunnel that Sid foolishly explored. A few feet into the tunnel he found himself breaking through the floor and tumbling onto the floor of a larger cavern, rendering him unconscious and surrounded by darkness. After a few minutes without word from the spelunker, Arden entered the tunnel hoping to find what had become of Sid. After repelling down with the assistance of a safety rope, Arden discovered Sid, and through the use of healing magic he was able to revived his fallen companion. After a brief conversation the pair where joined by an oddly nimble falling bear (Mazz doesn’t like being too far away from Arden, even if that means diving into a spider infested tunnel) and a slightly more sober Joules.

Once the party was gathered they inspected the cavern, finding the final missing digger, unfortunately reduced to only a mostly eaten corpse, as well as an ornately carved door. They recovered the body and sent it up the rope. The wizard, Joules, somehow managed to unlock the mysterious portal and the group explored the newly revealed chamber. Inside they discovered a vault containing several sarcophagi, the largest of which was sealed by three locks. Sid skillfully picked open the locks, and flung open the lid. As he did so, six very animated skeletons sprung forth from the remaining unopened sarcophagi and attacked the three explorers. A fierce combat ensued, with the skeletons threatening to overwhelm the adventurers by sheer numbers, however in the midst of battle the group was joined by a mysterious wolf who appeared out of the shadows, helping to even the odds. Joules proved surprisingly proficient in the melee, using his arcane talents and quarterstaff to strike down several of the skeletons with his staff, while Sid commanded the ground itself to rise and grapple with the remaining undead monsters.
Once they had lain the corpses back to rest the group turned its attention back to the large casket, discovering several treasures including an ancient tome. Despite Joule’s and Sid’s best efforts the volume proved indecipherable, however the group decided to take it and the rest of the treasures back to the Nassarak for further study
After some effort they were able to climb back to the surface, however they hid their discovery from Elmin, the white-haired construction supervisor. Despite the late hour the group began the trek back to Nassarak deciding that they would rather travel at night than camp in the dessert and risk encountering more spiders or other desert beasts.

2. Trouble at Kyrahi Spring

March 14-18, 213 Tyr

Following the party’s return to Nassarak, Guinthe paid and congratulated them on their work. Word had reached the city, however, that an important trade-route oasis, Kyrahi Spring, had suddenly dried up. An outside contractor familiar with the trade-routes, Gan Kefmahl, was sent alongside the others.

Gan joined the party!

The trip was largely uneventful, save for an ill-conceived attack by bandits hiding in an abandoned wagon. Not only were the brigands handily dispatched, their ill-gotten goods were divided amongst the party. Upon arriving at Kyrahi Spring, the party discovered that not only was there a dearth of water, there was evidence of increased sandworm activity. As if to drive the point home, the party was quickly set upon by one of the giant beasts. The beast was sickly, though, and battle-hardened adventurers do not constitute a standard foodsource, and so it was quickly slain. Arden, moved by the beast’s plight, shed a single tear.

A strange desert nomad was present to witness the battle, and explained to the party that many worms in region have been suffering from a strange affliction. Before the party set forth into the Annelid Sea, Elmin arrived and demanded that his belongings be returned to him. The party, particularly Gan, was confused by this, but Joules produced a tome and gave it to the man.

3. The Warlock King

March 18-26, 213 Tyr

Shortly after felling a desert worm, the party is approached by a mystic who begins to speak of the worms and a disturbance in their livelihoods. Before he can finish, however, Elmin bursts into the Springs with a few men, wasting no time in demanding an item from the party. It belongs to him, he explained, and must have been recovered by one of the mercenaries sent by Nassarak to help with the rescue effort at the tower. At first, the party rebuked, but the resistance was quickly vanquished when an offer of 600gp was made by Elmin. Elmin, who revealed himself to be a master in The Order of Ether, spoke about taking the book back to Nesline in Eaglecrest. Joules, who hails from that small town in the Skyrake Mountains, questioned Elmin briefly about his business with Nesline in Eaglecrest, but was met with dismissal and quickly lost interest.

After Elmin left, the mystic resumed speaking with Ardin and gave him an amulet which he claimed was imbued with the Song of the Worms. He told Ardin that the worms’ livelihood was in some sort of danger, and that a successful investigation of this danger could result in a handsome reward from the Nassarak government (perhaps even access to the legendary Nassarak Vault). At this suggestion, the whole party agreed to venture forth and reconnoiter.

On the way to the worms’ living grounds, the party encountered two worm corpses. They died young, in an unusual manner, and one was accompanied by a large, empty caravan wagon. Gan searched the wagon and discovered a journal which spoke of a tunnel, and he immediately suggested moving the wagon on a hunch that the tunnel lay underneath. Correct in his assumption, the party moved the wagon and journeyed down into the cave.

Once inside, the cave proved to be a curious bundle of tricks and dead-ends. A warlock began to terrorize the party, employing reverse-gravity spells and wards of fear to cause certain members of the party to repeatedly strike spikes with great force. A large cubical room with random, alternating gravitational orientation proved particularly troublesome, but was eventually braved by Arden, with assistance from Sid and Gan.

Once out of the cube, the party was addressed by the warlock, who seemed to single out Sid during the taunting he offered while they struggled through the tunnels. After a little pontification and a hasty striking down of Sid, Joules succeeded in putting the warlock to sleep inside of the tomb where he sat. Then, in an impressive show of strength and skill, Gan repeatedly forced a sword through the warlock’s vital organs, killing him in the process. The party then destroyed the gargantuan crystal which seemed to be sucking the life forced out of Sid—and out of the worms in the region, no doubt.

4. The Festival of Threes

April 3-5, 213 Tyr

- Archery, Melee, and Magic contest. The party wins all three and gets the Cup of Many Sips
- Lana, the Duchess of Knott explains that she is in danger of attack from her bodyguards (the Steward of her Kingdom wants her dead) and needs the help of the Champion of Threes
- The party dispatches her would-be dispatchers
- Sebastian Veridis, an orcish bounty hunter warns the party of of Lady Shadowmeld, but allows them to flee the city with the duchess as their new charge

5. Murders in Darrow Pt. I

April 5-17, 213 Tyr

Escaping Nassarak with their regal cargo in tow, the party makes its way northward across the scorching sands. Their destination is Darrow, a metropolitan hub in the northwest of the great desert.

The session where we got really drunk.

6. Murders in Darrow Pt. II

April 17-18, 213 Tyr

The party continues their investigation of the recent murders in Darrow. Their search leads them to the Eastway mine, an abandoned side shaft of the main Darrow mine that now is now infested with the desert spiders. Unfortunately their progress is blocked by a large stone door which they are unable to open.

Upon returning to the surface the group is met by a messenger from the city guard. Apparently Marreesh, the Overseer of the Drag, had failed to report for duty that evening and the guard has yet to locate him.

The party hurries across town to search Marreesh’s apartment, hoping to find some clue as to where the missing man may have gone. They scour the apartment and find notes which reveal that Marresh too suspects that some criminal activity was going on at the Eastway Mine. The party also interviews one of Marreesh’s neighbors who reports that he had heard someone rushing off from Marreesh’s apartment several hours earlier, heading towards the Eastway district.

Despite the late hour, the group follows this lead to the Stonefire Inn in the Easway District where they interview the patrons, including the boastful Lord Hanley, in hopes that one of them may have seen Marreesh. No one had, however as the group is about to leave the inn Sid spots a large figure dashing down the street towards the old Eastway Mine. They noticed that the figure was carrying a large bundle, but the stranger quickly was out of sight.

The party was able to follow the stranger’s trail all the way to the old Eastway mineshaft and the mysterious locked stone door. However this time Gan takes decides that no imposing stone door is going to stop him; he takes up his sword and in a feat of brutal ferocity smashes his way through the carved stone.

On the other side the party finds a store room which has been converted into some sort of torture chamber. Strange alchemical components and vicious looking weaponry lie next to a table stained with what Arden is able to identify as the blood of one of the recent murder victims. However the mysterious figure they had chased across town is nowhere to be found. Realizing it is too late and the party is too tired to continue their chase, they alert the town guard as to what they had found and rent rooms in an upscale inn for the night.

In the morning, the party discovered that the duchess was missing. A note had been left behind by Gil Halfcutter, the owner of the Stonefire Tavern and a local crime lord, demanding the payment of 2,000 gold in return for the duchess. Gan informed the party that he once worked for Halfcutter and left the man’s employ after a botched job, but he didn’t go into the specifics. After brief preparation and strategizing, the party marched down to the Stonefire Tavern to retrieve the duchess and ensure that Halfcutter wouldn’t interfere anymore in their affairs.
The fight was short and decisive. Gan engaged Halfcutter with reckless abandon, throwing lit bottles of oil around the bar to confuse and frighten the enemy; Halfcutter’s flunkies were incapacitated by Joules’ sleep magic; Sid rained eldritch power down on their foes from the ceiling; and Arden and Maize burst through a window, flanking the defenders. Lord Hanley was present, and he attacked Joules (fairly) unprovoked, but once Halfcutter was bested and the party turned their attention towards the belligerent noble, he beat a hasty retreat.
The party carried Halfcutter upstairs to question him, and told the various remaining patrons and the just-arrived local constabulary that they were agents of the Combine on official business. They said that Halfcutter was involved in a plot to kidnap a visiting dignitary. After a brief and brutal interrogation conducted in Lord Hanley’s room, Halfcutter revealed that the duchess was in the care of the alchemist Wilhelm. Halfcutter continued to spout threats at the party despite being severely wounded and tied to a chair, and knowing that his pride would never allow him to swallow his losses, Gan dispatched the crime lord with some lantern oil and a flame. What effect Halfcutter’s horrifying and sudden demise will have on Darrow’s underworld politics remains to be seen.
A quick search of Lord Hanley’s room revealed a Witch Hunter’s talon stashed in a box underneath the bed. Coupled with his unprovoked attack on Joules, this would seem to suggest that he is a member of the magic-hunting group. A dagger emblazoned with his sigil was left behind, to confuse the local law enforcement and help build a case against him, if it comes to that.
Wilhelm proved very cooperative when the party confronted him with the knowledge of his role in the duchess’ kidnapping. He claimed that he had been forced to by Halfcutter, and he seemed far too terrified (and not enough of the criminal sort) to have been lying. He turned over the duchess in short order (indeed, he had little reason to keep her with Halfcutter dead,) and promised an assortment of discounts and unquestioned cooperation in the future.
With the duchess back and Halfcutter dead, the party’s next move seems to be returning to the mine and investigating the tunnels. A day and a half remains before Amarak destroys Darrow…

7. Murders in Darrow Pt. III

April 18-19, 213 Tyr

The party solves the murders. Ends with Lord Elmont busting in on the trial of Hanley.

8. Trial By Combat

April 19 – June 23, 213 Tyr

Following a few days spent under close guard, the party faced Lord Elmont and his chosen champions: the magician Amix, a giant from lands far to the west, and Lord Hanley. The fight was short but brutal; Gan dispatched the wizard in short order, but received a crush retributive strike from the giant, Maz and Sid felled the colossus, and in a display of unbridled arcane might, Joules incinerated his erstwhile foe Lord Hanley. Elmont, outnumbered four-to-one, surrendered in short order.

The party’s innocence proven through combat (Commonwealth traditions will always seem rather odd to desert folk,) the party decided to accompany the duchess back to Knott. After some day’s travel, the party stumbled across that famous troupe of performers known as the Commonmirth. Beloved by the hoi polloi and tolerated by the wealthy, the Commonmirth were traveling to Knott to perform for the duchess when they had been beset by a great, many-headed beast. With some difficulty, the party managed to slay the beast, although the exact mechanism of their victory was something of a mystery. But then, it’s said that any magical beast you can walk away from is a good one. As a reward for saving them from the beast, the Commonmirth performed their traditional ballad, “The Captain’s Wife’s Lament,” and promised all members of the party roles in one of their shows.

Exhausted from their journey and their fight with the beast, the party went to sleep under the open sky. Their rest was cut short, however, by the duchess’ blood-curdling scream as the assassin Lady Shadowmeld stabbed a knife into her chest…

9. Journey into the Roivelle

June 23 – July 18, 213 Tyr

The duchess’ life is in mortal danger, having just been stabbed in the chest by Lady Shadowmeld. Thankfully the party, though exhausted from the fight with the hydra, awakens in time to prevent the assassin from killing Lady Lana. A frantic combat ensues in which Gan’s might proves too much for the Lady Shadowmeld as he tackles her into a tent and knocks her unconscious. Meanwhile Arden attempts to treat the Duchess’ wounds only to find that the assassin’s blade was coated with some sinister substance that prevents any magical healing from having effect. Forced to employ first aid methods he hadn’t used since his service in the army, Arden manages to stop the bleeding and stabilize the Duchess, however the poison prevents her from making a rapid recovery.

With the rest of the camp now awake from the all of the commotion the party decides to set forth despite the late hour, hoping to get the Duchess do a proper bed where they will be better able to care for her. After three or four hours of travel they arrive at a farmhouse, and the owners agree to let them stay until Lady Lana is healed enough to travel to Knott. Gan takes this opportunity to interrogate Lady Shadowmeld, and ends up paying off the bounty on Lana’s life and allows the would be assassin to go free in exchange for evidence proving that Lord Elmont had hired the Black Wind to kill the Duchess. Meanwhile Lana’s wounds continue to heal and after a day she is well enough to complete her journey home. The party arrives in Knott and receives a hero’s welcome at the palace. They spend the night celebrating, and the next morning they are all rewarded with enchanted cloaks as symbols of Knott’s debt to the group. As the ceremony the Duchess asks one more favor of the adventurers, to travel into the depths of the Roivelle Forest and find out what has become of Sir Reed, a knight of Knott who has recently gone missing. The party agrees to this task and heads into the forest.

While making their way into the dense and oppressive woods of the Roivelle, Mazz notices the tracks of a large band of lizard folk. Following these tracks leads them to a kobold encampment guarded by several of these forrest dwelling lizards as well as a huge wolf. A minor battle takes place and the party eventually is able to scare off the kobolds. Upon searching the camp discovers Sir Reed locked in a large cage, he reveals that his company of soldiers had been attacked while traveling in the woods and he was taken captive. He does not know what has become of the rest of his men, and he urges the party to help him search the forest for any other survivors…

10. Seeking the Order of the Claw

July 18-22, 213 Tyr

The party continues it’s journey in the Roivelle Forrest. Having rescued Sir Reed from the kobold tribe the group agrees to help the stranded knight find the rest of his men. Sir Reed tells of how he and his men were ambushed by giant bats while making camp, and that many of his men perished in the fight. He guides the party to the site of the battle where the group finds the still-fresh corpses of the Knott regiment scattered across a clearing in the woods.

As the group goes about gathering the bodies to give them a proper burial they find that one of the men, Sir Reed’s squire, is still alive. Some quick healing magic gets the wounded man back on his feet and the party continues to gather the corpses. Sir Reed is about to offer some works in memorial to the fallen men when a giant beast burrows its way out of one of the fallen soldiers. This tentacled monstrosity paralyzes Sir Reed with a venomous bite, however the rest of the party is able to put down the creature and Sir Reed recovers after a short while. As a precaution the rest of the bodies are burned to destroy any other such creatures that may be incubating in the fallen soldiers.

With the battle field finally cleaned, Sir Reed reveals to the party his true reason for venturing into the Roivelle. He tells of numerous reports of viscous forrest animals attacking the towns and villages neighboring the great forrest, and he had led a company of men into the woods to find the Claws of the Wild, a group of mages rumored to have some manner of control over the forest creatures. He reveals a sheet of parchment that is his only clue to the Claw’s whereabouts. To most of the party the parchment contains nonsense, strange scribles and weblike scratches, however Arden is able to decipher a poem of sorts:
At the bank of the Eternal Mirror,
stone that sparkles,
water that chills,
the sweetness of the fresh kill,
Hear the crackle and the smoke soothes.

The group suspects that this poem is some sort of clue as to how to find the claws, and suspecting that the “Eternal Mirror” is a lake, they follow Sir Reed to a large lake he remembered passing with his company. Here they find a strangely still patch of water near a waterfall, and after some searching they discover a stone with ceremonial markings on it. Following the lines of the poems they present sparking stones (diamonds form the kobold camp), cold water (in the lake), a fresh kill (a deer caught by Mazz), and soothing smoke (forrest herbs burned over a fire). As they do so a cave emerges behind the waterfall, which the party explores finding a strange and magical path through the woods. Sid finds himself overwhelmed by the magical forces at work when he tries to sense the source of the enchantments surrounding the strange glade, however Arden discovers that his own arcane powers are elevated by the mystical surroundings.

As the party ventures along the path they find they passage blocked by a large stone. Suddenly they discover the surround trees are closing in around them, threatening to crush them, however through a combination of might and magic the group is able to move the stone out of the way and proceeds along the trail once more.

The path leads them to the edge of a canyon, a river rushing bellow them, and a path visible across the gap. Arden notices that the parchment now reads “Step as one”, and taking this to be further instructions, has the group step out into the open air suspecting that some magical force will provide a bridge across the canyon. For a moment it seems the plan has worked, their feet finding momentary purchase in the void, but then the hidden bridge evaporates and the party plunges into the rushing water below.

Sid and Gan are able to cling to the cliffside and escape the current, while the rest of the group gasps for air, nearly drowning in their heavy armor, as the rushing river pulls them along. Eventually the group washes ashore as the river flows into a sandy beach. They find a new path leading from the beach back into the forrest, and following this they come to an alter of sorts, bearing a large hunting horn. Arden checks the parchment and finds it now reads “Call on Jaroque (sp?)”. Joules recognizes this as an elvish name for a Giant Cat, and warns Arden not to listen to the parchment, but Arden stubbornly follows that instructions and sounds a great bellowing call from the ceremonial horn.

Moments later Jaroque appears, and Arden, sensing some strange connection with the giant beast, attempts to reason with it, however the cat is not pleased with Arden’s attempt and it pounces on the party. A fierce combat ensures. The adventures find that they cannot pierce the hide of the great cat, however they are finaly able to bring it down after numerous blugening blows and magical attacks.
They proceed once more down the forrest path, only to be assaulted by dozens of arrows flying out of the trees. Unable to see their attackers, the group retreats back to the clearing. After debating their options Joules has a sudden stroke of insight. He uses his magic to levitate the corpse of Jaroque, which with its impenetrable hide is impervious to arrows. The party takes refuge under the dead beast and is able to pass through the flights of arrows unscathed.
Finally the swarms of arrows abate and the party finds they have arrived in a grove of great beauty and tranquility. The spot seveal people gathered in the glade, one of whom introduces himself as Kyrenar (sp?), the leader of the Claws of the Wild. He is clearly impressed that the party was able to make it down the path to the glade, however when Sir Reed reveals the reason for their journey Kyrenar is not pleased. He asks why shouldn’t the forest creatures be able to hunt, as they naturally do? Arden enters the debate, arguing that there has long been peace between the forrest creatures and the people of the plains, and that the recent attacks threaten to break this uneasy coexistence, leading to a war that would be of no benefit to either side.
Kyrenar takes a special interest in Arden and Mazz, and recognizing the nature of Arden’s magic, asks the traveler to sign for him. Arden does so, evoking in song the sprits of the great worms of the desert sands and the spiders from the dark places beneath the earth. In the song’s final notes Kyrenar joins in harmony and for a moment the music achieves a deep and sublime power beyond mere sound and sensation.


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