Salvation

Jadeflame
The beginning of something big.

Lorday, 12 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The heroes continued their exploration of Opha'copa, the Jade Ziggurat. Their encounter with the basilisk was deadly and nearly defeated the team; however, the two who were turned to stone reverted back to normal upon the realization and learning that this was a lesser basilisk.

The group also encountered the undead remains of a naga, which guarded the crypts of Opha'copa. After taking out the guardian, Misae found a snakeskin cloak which she later identified as a cloak of protection.

The group then found the final gem needed to open the door, the Ruby of Shim, but had to fight a black pudding in order to claim it. After this combat, the group agreed to bar the door to the room they were in and risk spending a night in the ziggurat.

Although the group was not attacked, they were greeted by a visitor in the night; something attempted to get inside the room, but could not get through the barred door. This confirmed the groups' suspicion that something knew they were there.

Arday, 13 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The heroes took the four gems to the large door and inserted them into the slots that fit the puzzle. A mechanism ground the four gems into dust and shards; when the heroes picked up the shards, they discovered they had become infused with the Weave, and were Woven Relics now. 

Upon entering the room, they found a massive chamber that housed a single object; an artifact crafted of gold that looked like an ornate sword hilt without a blade. It hovered in the air above an altar, and light shown down on it from a window above.

Just then, the group was ambushed by the troll that they had been hunting. The troll grabbed the hilt and attempted to wield it, but the weapon reacted to Ubah's presence, and a jade-colored flame erupted from the hilt. The troll, terrified of fire, threw the weapon aside, and charged into battle with just its claws.

Having prepared for this fight, the group made very short work of the troll. Arnold summoned a fire elemental and Taegon scored a very fortunate, gruesome, and critical hit on the troll. Ubah cautiously approached the weapon that seemed to call to him, and Tomren issued a word of warning, but it was too late: the hilt flew to Ubah's hand, and the flame blade burst forth. This summoned an intense booming sound that knocked everyone in the room prone except for Ubah. An enormous column of brilliant green light issued out of the sword and into the sky. Tomren also saw a vision of a man he thought he recognized. And then the ziggurat began trembling and collapsing.

The group made a desperate exit out of the ziggurat, but were stopped in the entry hallway by the guardian of the ziggurat: an opha named Tenoss. The group valiantly fought against Tenoss while the ziggurat threatened to consume them in collapse. They ducked and doged through falling debris and slew the serpentine creature. They made their daring escape just in time, as Opha'Copa exploded behind them. The debris knocked several members of the party unconscious, but all had survived. The enormous pillar of green light still existed, likely visible for miles around. Upon further recollection, Tomren knew the man's name to be Aethyr Phane, and that he had been one of the founders of the Towers of Ten. He also read the words inscribed upon Jadeflame, and knew them to be the words of one of the Towers, but could not recall which. Finally, each heard a voice in their head tell them the same message: It begins. Misae, however, did not hear a voice.

Truday, 14 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The group spent this day traveling back to Dunezar.

Norday, 15 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The group returns to Dunezar triumphant. They immediately travel to the Hunter's Take lodge to claim their money. Leodolf apologetically explained that he cannot issue payment because Floriano had yet to deliver the money as promised.

The group decided to seek Floriano out, but he beat him to the punch; the door to Leodolf's office open, and Floriano strode in with two of his lackeys. Floriano explained that he felt insulted by the group's unwillingness to help him immediately, and said he was only willing to pay half of what he agreed upon. Leodolf, a fan of contracts and rules, warned Floriano that that was not how the rules worked. Floriano then responded with a threat of violence. Leodolf, quicker than his appearance would suggest, produced two flintlock pistols and, with two shots, killed Floriano's men. Floriano produced a dagger, but Leodolf's blunderbuss was already in his hands; he shot over Tomren's shoulder, and the spray of shot hit Floriano's arm, causing him to drop his knife. Leodolf lit a cigar with one of the still-smoking pistol barrels and walked over to Floriano. He used Floriano's knife to carve out the shot, and then used the cigar to cauterize his wounds. He searched Floriano's person and found a bag of gold—an amount equal to the agreed-upon amount. Leodolf told Floriano he knew he would bring the full amount, because Floriano is a coward. He then demanded that Floriano leave, which he did. He turned the money over to the group, who were relieved to no longer have to worry about Floriano, at least for now.

Ruminating on what their next move should be, Tomren identified Jadeflame as an incredibly unique and powerful artifact that deserved further research. He realized then that, after all business had been resolved in Dunezar, the group had one place they needed to go for answers: the Library of Sjet in the country of Bratana, far to the south.

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The Jade Ziggurat
Turns out, opha just love traps.

Lorday, 12 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The heroes spent this day exploring the inside of Opha'copa, the Jade Ziggurat. It did not take long for them to learn that the ancient building was a death trap, and nearly every room or corridor held a deadly trap to deter invaders. They agreed to put Misae in the front to utilize her trap finding abilities.

After a number of traps triggered, some traps disarmed, and a handful of fights against orogs and barbarian slaves, as well as an entire fight circumvented by Haseya speaking to some angry venomous serpents, the group found an enormous door with an intricate and gruesome carving. The door was emblazoned with opha hieroglyphics. Arnold cast comprehend languages to decipher the script, which read:

" The Lady of Torture desires your tears;
The Lord of Slaves demands your blood.
The Lady of Death wants a drop of venom,
The God of War demands the royal gem."

After experimenting with a couple of different ideas, the group abandoned this puzzle to continue exploring the dungeon. After a time, they discovered a giant diamond. Although it held no magic, they began to question if this diamond's purpose was tied to the door. As they continued exploring the dungeon, they discovered a sapphire and an emerald of equal size. During this time, they also encountered a pair of fire snakes that they battled, Misae acquired an elaborate and deadly magical bow, and the group circumvented an encounter with pyfron slaves by trapping them inside their quarters.

The group now approaches what appears to be the entrance to some sort of shrine. Before they can open the door, however, a reptilian hiss issues forth from behind them, and they find themselves cornered by a dangerous new foe: a basilisk.

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A New Path
Old enemies are taken care of and new allies are found.

Norday, 8 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The group rushed with all urgency to Harubel where they made their way to the Croc-Arena. After discussing various plans on how to get underneath the arena, eventually they found stairs leading below. This led them "behind the scenes," where they were led to the shower and locker rooms by the writhing green worm that Tomren kept from the Father of Worm's lair. In the locker room, they discovered Grok "the Croc" Grokson. Arnold used his way with words to convince Grok that a great evil was threatening the arena, and Grok agreed to join them.

After stumbling for a time to find the secret entrance, Arnold's stonecunning picked up that part of the bas relief on the wall was recent: a carving of a worm with a lamprey-like mouth lined with rows of teeth. The worm was twitching spastically at this point, so Tomren made the decision to let it out. It quickly crawled into the carving's "mouth," unlocking a way to a secret chamber.

After dispatching his carrion crawler minions, the heroes came face-to-face with the Father of Worms, who was in the middle of a ritual to resurrect the ulgurstasta. The warlock had tied the abducted travelers to the walls around this room and had been gradually letting their blood to flow into the center of the chamber where the ulgurstasta remained. Thanks to some very powerful blows by Grok's fists and the justicar expertise of Tomren, the group made fairly quick work of the Father of Worms and his minion, a phase spider named Voidwidow.

The heroes had discovered also that one of the abducted individuals was Leyne, so as soon as the battle was over, Grok and Haseya rushed to Leyne's side, healing him and carrying him out. They quickly reunited with Jorr, who was beside himself with worry and thanked the heroes endlessly.

When the heroes returned to the Blackened Bones Inn to celebrate, Tomren and Haseya each had letters waiting for them. Although they chose to keep the contents of these letters to themselves, Haseya was provided with enough gold to provide the menagerie everything it needed. She gave the coin to them, and they were astonished, speechless, and beyond thankful. Additionally, Tomren received his promotion to Justicar-Strider, meaning he could now leave Molentius whenever he wished.

Venday, 9 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The group awoke and found Farlock waiting in the harbor district. He was happy to let his old friends onto his barge to travel back downriver. Because they were his only passengers, he allowed Princess to surface and the group learned that she is something of a softie, and even got to pet and feed the plesiosaur. The trip downriver took the day, which was pleasant and uneventful.

Taursday, 10 Deadtree, 6934 EY: The group arrived back in Dunezar early in the morning. Herod Elwald, the guardsman, was waiting for them at the docks, saying that Zafar had posted him there until their return. It seemed that there had been a break-in at the Hunter's Take guildhall, and although the burglar was apprehended, Haseya was somehow implicated in the whole mess.

Zafar escorted the group to the Jungle Watch Keep and into the stockades, where Haseya found her old friend and compatriot, Misae, who had already unlocked her cell door with a stowed away lockpick. Zafar was baffled and made uncomfortable by this new acquisition, and told Haseya to keep an eye on her. Relieved to be reunited with her old friend, Haseya introduced Misae to the group. The wood elf immediately made an impression by being confrontational with Tomren due to his race and affiliation with the Towers of Ten.

On their way to the Hunter's Take guild hall, Haseya was spotted by the farmers who were left in charge of the terror wings. It turned out that the winged reptiles had fallen ill, and the workload of keeping the barn clean was too much for the farmers, and their living space had become disgusting. Haseya spoke with the terror wings and learned they were dying from the lack of a vital nutrient only found in Tongo thistle, which grew in the high peaks of the Tongo mountains. As Haseya was making plans to find this thistle, Manora showed up to see Arnold. Hearing about this thistle, Manora offered her assistance to go find the thistle, along with Winket, Herod, Adlyth, and Archie. The heroes then spent six hours scrubbing every inch of the barn free of terror wing droppings, save for Taegon, who ventured back to Zafar to declare these conditions unacceptable. Zafar had been unaware and agreed with Taegon, and also agreed to speak to Floriano.

This led to Zafar coming to the group in the middle of their cleaning to let them know Floriano refused to speak about a new home for the terror wings to Zafar and instead insisted upon an audience with the heroes. The group acquiesced and traveled to Floriano's mansion.

Floriano was, as always, arrogant and confrontational without being outright hostile or impolite. He made it clear he felt insulted that his contract had been put on "the back burner" and if the group could "afford to turn up their noses at good coin then they could pay for their birdcage themselves." Misae, new to both Molentius and Dunezar, proceeded to say a deluge of incredibly unkind things to Floriano, who handled it calmly, but politely asked one of his guards to add Misae's name to "the list."

The group retired to the Hunter's Take guildhall to rest and prepare to begin their troll hunt the following morning.

Oathday, 11 Deadtree, 6934 EY: In the early hours of the morning, Taegon and Misae had a conversation about many things, particularly their connection as fellow elves, Taegon's origins, missing being in a proper forest, and, mostly, how Misae conducts herself around others. Taegon tried to make it clear that they could have powerful enemies, and even if these enemies were despised, the group had to be careful about how they conducted themselves around these entities. Misae apologized for her brashness and expressed hope that she could make a better second impression.

Once the rest of the group had awoken, they set out and headed west into the jungle, following a trail Ubah had picked up that seemed to belong to a troll. With Leodolf's wisdom in their minds, the group began looking for some manner of ruin.

Along the way, the group stumbled into a wizard of the Black Tower who stood on a giant, undead beetle. The wizard was being attacked by a pyfron warband. The group easily dispatched the pyfron, and the wizard introduced himself as Sam Nibley. While some thought his beetle, a husk strider named "Mister Peeper" was neat, others thought it was an abomination, and others didn't care and wanted to focus on the mission.

The group traveled for a few more hours before making camp that night.

Lorday, 12 Deadtree, 6934 EY: Less than an hour into their travel, the group stumbled upon what appeared to be an intact and undiscovered ophan ruin. The tracks of the troll led directly to this ziggurat, and so the group followed in. Despite being very careful, they sprung a trap that destroyed the way in to the ziggurat, which nearly also killed Haseya. Now in what seems to be a central chamber dominated by a giant green statue, the group prepares itself for the dangers of Opha'Copa, the Jade Ziggurat.

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Archdruid
A legend appears.

8 Deadtree 6934 EY: Arnold awoke in a cell, having spent the night in the stockades. Unsure of his fate, he had passed the time annoying the jailor with his harmonica. Eventually, a mysterious benefactor entered and paid Arnold's hefty fee of 5,000 gp. When Arnold was let out, he learned his benefactor was none other than Cal Cabboway and the Beasts for Peace. The money used to bail Arnold rendered B4P mostly broke, but they handwaved Arnold's concerns, claiming they were done with Molentius and ready to travel south to Dalorene to make it big.

Arnold met up with the gang at the Blackened Bones inn and caught up on the goings-on. Tomren let slip about Ubah's encounter with Ruzazel, but the team took it in stride, understanding that it was just an additional threat to be aware of.

The team plus Moras traveled to the menagerie to meet the Black Circle druid, who turned out to be a hard-headed halfron woman named Malory Fairgold. Malory was reticent to help the group, but when it was made known that contact with the Black Circle had been entirely cut off, she grew concerned enough to agree to accompany the group to the Black Circle territories.

The trek was uneventful and unpleasant. Moras had a conversation with Haseya about how they became druids. He then asked her about Ahiga and his health, and then entered a heated debate with Ahiga about which parts of a chicken are the tastiest.

As the group traveled westward, the bogs and swamps gave way to dryer marshes interspersed with islands covered in tall savannah grass. This marshland marked the transitional lands between Molentius and Perilar. The soaring mesas and plateaus of the thragg'ar lands could be seen from this location.

It was here the group discovered the Black Circle refuge, and that it had seemingly been completely abandoned. The Black Circle lived in huts of straw and mud, and as the group explored the Circle, they were suddenly attacked by human and ursith zombies. After a long battle with the particularly resilient ursith druids, Moras made an emergency trip to the Throgswald via a tree stride scroll and an old thorn acacia tree.

When Moras returned, he was accompanied by Archdruid Thro'gok of Clan Ulgar, more colloquially known as Throg, a living legend and arguably the most powerful druid in all of Pryme. Throg was accompanied by his animal companion, a beast of legend, the lioness Lya. Throg was shaken by the state of the Black Circle. He commanded Malory to take the reigns and become the new leader, but Malory declined, citing her work at the menagerie as her excuse, and that she would make a poor leader in general. This irritated Throg, who sent Moras to return to the Throgswald and return with Lyra Sprig and 2000 gold pieces.

While Moras was gone, Throg exchanged much wisdom with the group. He admitted that he knew Haseya's parents, particularly Sani, her father, and that Sani had been instrumental in regrowing the Throgswald. He spoke to Taegon about his question and that the soul of the planet had only told Throg that Taegon must look "beyond the storm." Throg was also impressed by Lya's apparent affection and subservience toward Taegon, and mentioned it may be a clue to his answer.

Regarding Haseya's peoples' sickness, Throg could only say that such maladies are common in Ethovan folklore where fae are involved; the fae enjoy curses of sterility to harm shepherds and farmers. He admitted it wasn't much help, but to remember that kernels of truth exist within folk tales.

Throg had rather harsh words for Tomren, as Throg has little patience for the undead or necromancers. Tomren began to defend himself, but Throg was quick to make it apparent that he was not in the mood to bandy words with a justicar, and Tomren wisely accepted that he should pick his battles and remained silent.

Throg warned the party that the Towers were the lapdogs of the Empire of Realm, and the Empire of Realm had zero interest in anything other than the wellbeing of the Empire itself. When Haseya defended her friend, Throg pointed to the undead corpses of the ursith which had unsettled the ursith druid, and commented that, in time, Tomren would be capable of creating such creatures, and would likely not hesitate in doing so, and urged Haseya to meditate on that information.

Moras returned with Lyra Sprig, a vibrant but aging beauty of a human druid, and a satchel with the requested money. Throg explained the money was for Moras that he might continue his mission, and then asked Lyra to take command at the Black Circle. Lyra was ready for this, and accepted. Malory and Moras offered to stay and help rebuild as they could, and Throg, using his instincts and heightened senses, confirmed Haseya's suspicions of an unnatural cause for this atrocity. Throg said to travel east of Harubel, and to follow the insects.

The group did as Throg suggested and were eventually assailed by a group of giant maggots and flies. After a repulsive battle in which Taegon found himself overwhelmed by the overgrown vermin, the group was victorious. Haseya, in tiger form, heard a droning from afar, and made a beeline to a small hold in the ground mostly obscured by moss. This hole led into a cavern system. After a short rest, the group ventured in.

Cutting straight to the heart of the cavern and circumventing most of its horrible denizens, the group found what appeared to be a bedroom that was unoccupied. They ransacked the room of its valuables, which included a strange green worm held suspended in formaldehyde yet still twitching with life, or perhaps unlife.

Records recovered by Tomren detailed the ascent of a man originally named Kai Johannson who, after being diagnosed with a wasting disease, traveled to Molentius for answers. Dissatisfied with the healing the druids provided, Kai sought more immediate answers. This attracted the attention of Shuddemal, an outer plane entity. Kai took Shuddemal as his patron which caused some manner of physical transformation in him. He then returned to the Black Circle and killed them all for being inefficient and not providing Kai with the answers he needed.

The notes then described that Shuddemal had commanded Kai, now calling himself the Father of Worms, to awaken one of Shuddemal's ancient servants: a horror entity known as an ulgurstasta that slept in a crypt beneath the Great Croc-Arena. This awakening would kill everyone in the arena, reviving them as an undead army that the Father of Worms could use to usher in a new age of horror and despair. Panic overcame the group as they realized this ritual was happening tonight, at the apex of the festivities of Crocomania, which was due to begin in mere hours. Without further hesitation, the group fled back to Harubel, hoping they could make it in time.

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Crocomania XXXVII
Welcome to Harubel -- City of the Croc Arena!

6 Deadtree 6934 EY: After wrapping up some loose ends in town, including commissioning a mythril odachi be made for Taegon by the ardo smiths, the group finally set forth northward to Harubel. They bought passage aboard a barge called the Mistress which was ran by a plucky halfron named Nichol Farlock. Aboard the ship, the group met Jorr Keber, a reserved farmer from Dunezar, and his energetic eight-year-old son, Leyne Keber. The group immediately took to Leyne, despite Jorr's reservations toward his son bothering a group of potentially dangerous strangers.

Upon questioning how Farlock's boat moves upriver, he refused to give an answer. Curiosity got the better of Haseya, and she transformed into a giant toad and dove into the water, where she was immediately attacked by Princess, Farlock's friend and means of conveyance, a great pleisiosaur. Although he was less than thrilled about having his secret revealed, Farlock remained friendly toward the group.

That evening, Ubah was visited by an entity in a dream. The entity came to him in the guise of Floriano Stricklen, but introduced himself as Ruzazel, or 'Rue,' for short. Ruzazel was accompanied by two succubi, and the apparent demon explained to Ubah that Ubah had stolen something from him. Normally Ruzazel wouldn't seek retribution against someone who killed one of his pact-wielders, but when Ruzazel looked into Ubah's past, present and future, he liked what he saw, and he wanted in. Ruzazel offered Ubah a contract for infernal powers, but Ubah declined. This infuriated Ruzazel, and he ended the conversation with a vague threat—"You and me ain't finished."

7 Deadtree 6934 EY: Much to Leyne's thorough excitement, the group arrived in Harubel on this day. Although its population is less than half of Dunezar's, Harubel exuded a sense of vibrance and excitement. There was an electricity throughout the city, and it radiated from its central hub—the Great Croc Arena. Arnold was quick to convince Taegon to visit the Croc-Arena, while Ubah and Tomren went to the Tower District to find the Tracer that could analyze Ubah's potential. Haseya went to the Lawn, a menagerie of animals kept in captivity in the city.

Arnold and Taegon were quick to find out that tickets for Crocomania had been sold out. While discussing what to do next, they were approached by an old friend and a familiar face—Moras Graymoon. Moras was thrilled to see his old friends, and quickly launched into an adoring rant about croc wrestling. It seemed Moras had procured a fistful of tickets by gambling on previous croc wrestling matches, and while he was going to sell them, he instead was more than happy to give them to his friends.

Meanwhile, Haseya was investigating the menagerie, and rapidly disliked what she saw. Although the animals seemed well-kept and did not live in squalor, their enclosures left much to be desired, and a few of the animals were desperate for companionship. She spoke with the animals and learned much of their histories, their complaints and their compliments. She spoke with the pair of keepers who operated the menagerie who turned out to be earnest and passionate people but who were severely underfunded as most of Harubel's money went to the Croc-Arena. Haseya seemed to contemplate donating, but after discovering that renovations would exceed thousands of gold, put the idea on the backburner.

Ubah and Tomren met with the Tracer who lived in the wizard tower in the Tower District, an eccentric-looking wood elf named Star Eyes. Star Eyes didn't hesitate in examining Ubah's mind for magic potential. What he found there befuddled him. Ubah's magical potential was the equivalent of Gage Truthseeker's, one of the greatest wizards of the age. Although it would require years of training to achieve even a portion of Gage's ability, the potential was there. Star Eyes urged Ubah to join the Towers immediately, warning that it would take years to learn the ways of wizardry. Ubah asked if he could just be taught by Tomren, but Star Eyes insisted that it was expressly forbidden by the Towers. Ubah declined the offer, explaining he had much to do and couldn't give away years of his life to the Towers. Star Eyes offered one last test which revealed that Ubah's special affinity was with the orange weave, that of duty and sloth, which governed the arcane school of conjuration.

Once the group reconvened, they all attended the penultimate evening of Crocomania XXXVII. Arnold was able to convince Taegon to participate, using his lenses of charming to seal the deal. Tomren used this time to bet on some of the matches, making a small amount of money. Arnold used his Vicious Mockery spell to cause Grok "The Croc" Grokson to lose his match. Although he did it just for fun, he was quickly identified as having disrupted the match and was escorted out of the coliseum and thrown in the stockades. Haseya watched the entire affair with extreme scrutiny, being sure that the animals weren't actually being harmed during the show. And while Taegon did not perform as well as the coliseum predicted, he did an admirable enough job to earn a handshake from legendary croc wrestler Grok "The Croc" Grokson, who also gave 'autographs' for Moras and one for Leyne, should the group see him again on the trip home.

After discussion with Moras about his mission to find the druid Circles and that the Black Circle seemed completely gone, Haseya mentioned that the vet on staff at the menagerie was a Black Circle druid, and it might prove useful to Moras to visit her. Moras agreed and made plans to visit the menagerie in the morning. The group realized that this druid might have information on the Father of Worms and possible rumors or leads that would help them on their mission, and agreed to accompany Moras to see this druid in the morning.

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New Friends, New Adventures
A new chapter begins.

3 Deadtree 6934 EY: That evening, the group spend time mourning their lost. Tomren made a small cairn to remember Eza, Leylam, and Bannet. Tomren made a speech about focusing on the living, not the dead. The group rested in relatively high spirits.

4 Deadtree 6934 EY: The group began the morning with an early morning assault on the Valley of Chains at last. The group caught the slavers unaware, and an intense and prolonged bloodbath ensued. Many slavers died, including their azer forgemaster. During the battle, the slavers attempted to unleash an ursith slave they had thought to be broken, but the ursith turned on them, transforming into a dire wolf and ravaging them without pity. The Lord of Chains, now former interrogator Jon Treehill, showed up at last, but did not enter battle as his armies had been laid to waste. He put down his weapons and pled mercy, for his name was a noble name in the Imperial city of Blueholt. There was a brief discussion on Jon's fate, and ultimately Ubah knocked him unconscious and he was brought back home to Dunezar, along with 27 slaves and the ursith, who introduced herself as Haseya of Sipaku. Haseya had been traveling to find a cure for her people, and she had been caught by the slavers to allow her elven companions to escape.

In Dunezar, Zafar thanked the group for help with the slave ring bust. He became emotional for perhaps the first time the group had ever seen, but would not detail why. Haseya, Taegon and Arnold visited with Elder Nazu of the ardo to give him the mythril they had found. Nazu tried to answer questions, but sadly had little true information, although plenty of wisdom. He allowed Taegon to keep half of the mythril—enough to craft a single weapon.

Ubah visited with Magda, the commoner woman he had helped with. He gave the woman a considerable amount of money from his earnings from taking the slaver's bounty—200 gold pieces. He instructed Magda to buy a house. With this money, Magda could afford to purchase a house for her and her children in Hightown District. Magda was speechless and beyond thankful.

A discussion was had regarding what to do next: the group had two tasks ahead of them in their contract from Floriano Stricklen to take down the troll, and Tomren's justicar assignment to handle an entity called "the Father of Worms" in Harubel. After some debate, it could not be determined which was the best course of action. The group agreed to consult with Leodolf in the morning and called it a night.

5 Deadtree 6934 EY: The following morning, Leodolf met with the group over breakfast. They explained their dilemma, and Leodolf said that, simply put, the group needed to handle whichever the biggest perceived threat was. The group expressed concern regarding the wrath of Floriano if they didn't do the Hunter's Take contract right away, and Leodolf was quick to dismiss fear of Floriano, calling him a "fucking asshole" and urging the group not to worry about him. At this, and with Ubah wishing to be tested to see if he had capabilities in magic, it was decided that the group would head northward to Harubel before seeking to slay the troll.

Arnold then came upon the idea to use the cover of a traveling performer's group to hide their identities in case they were ever being hunted. The group agreed to this ruse with Ubah being the most hesitant, but even the normally straight-laced hylo agreed to the idea, under the stipulation that he was taught the arts of deception to help sell the idea of a traveling group.

Before the group could catch a barge bound north to Harubel, they were summoned to Junglewatch Keep by Zafar. The captain of the guard said that, via magical communications, the Treehills of Blueholt had been reached. The noble family wanted nothing to do with their wayward son as he had become a warlock and a slaver. Zafar said that normally he would mete out justice, but in this case he wanted to allow the group to decide the slaver's fate. Initially it seemed the group agreed on imprisonment, but after discussion, minds changed to execution. Speaking with Jon did the man no favors; he remained arrogant and unashamed, even in chains. Tomren would have no part in executing a man and left the room, while Zafar loaned his magically-enchanted falchion, Falconsong, to Ubah to do the deed. Before it was done, Jon had final words to say: "The Eyes of Hell will always be on you, Ubah Memburu."

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Into Razorspire Mines
A Nightmare in Waiting

2 Deadtree 6934 EY: The war party arrived at Crade's Spire in mid-afternoon and, following instructions as laid out by the notes left by the dwarven miners, found the entrance to Razorspire Mine as the sun began to set. Zafar suggested setting up camp outside the entrance. The milita folk began discussing their lives outside of the militia, and spirits seemed high, until an unnatural wailing emitted from the depths of Razorspire Mine. The noises set the camp ill at ease until Heigard, Belmelia, Taegon, Remi, and Arnold formed an impromptu band to play music and lift the spirits. The plan succeeded, and, with the help of Barin's surprisingly quality food, the group was able to forget the imminent danger.

Manora dragged Arnold away from the campsite to engage in a bit of intimacy. After finding a quiet place, the pair was interrupted by a dwarven entity clad in black leathers. The entity emitted a sense of amazing power and admonished Arnold for "wasting time" with the slavers when so many important things were about to happen. Shaken by the encounter, the couple returned to the camp.

Eza chose to spend this evening sleeping with Tomren as she was too afraid of the following day to sleep on her own. Zafar invited Taegon and Ubah to sleep in his pavilion tent, as they did not own tents.

3 Deadtree 6934 EY: The group finally entered the Razorspire Mines. Nearly immediately, they are beset upon by a horde of arachnid humanoid creatures called 'chitines.'  The group bravely warded off these attackers, losing only Leylam Mudeya, a militia man, to the onslaught.

Heading northward and deeper into the caves, the group resisted the urge to explore any more than they had to. They stumbled into a nest of gazers, lesser beholderkin that were led by a spectator. These creatures were quickly dispatched, and in this room was found a sizable crate of mythril, as requested by the ardo.

Venturing northward more, the cavern opened into an immense quarry of purite. Here, thousands of feet below, the group could see countless chitine scrambling to avoid the light being refracted off of the seams and veins of raw purite found here. The group tried to hurry through this cavern, but was stopped by the arrival of the creature known as the Abortion: a pale, ghastly aberration roughly beholder in form but with pale white skin and a bleeding red eye.

A terrible battle was fought, and many were injured. Bannet Dofrey and Eza Nyafor both had their lives claimed by the monstrosity until Belmelia landed a lucky strike of holy energy, destroying the creature completely.

Finding a pathway that seemingly led to the Valley of Chains and feeling that they had left the horrors of the Razorspire Mine behind them, the group decided to camp to recoup, regroup, and prepare for the final push on the slavers.

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Gathering Allies
The time for retribution draws nearer

30 Brownleaf 6934 EY: Tomren received word back from Professor Geldimbrag of Dunezar University on this day. when he arrived, he discovered that the Valorous Family, Realm's rulership, had discovered the couatl brain and had sent a representative named Child Temperance. Child Temperance requested the brain be relinquished to Imperial control; after Temperance had left, Tomren confronted Geldimbrag, who explained he sought the opinion of a colleague at the Imperial Academy and it must have been intercepted by the Valorous Family.

Taegon made a plea to the Hunter's Take to help with the mission against the slavers. Heigard explained that he would only take a paid contract to hunt beasts. Manora, on the other hand, was more than ready to relinquish her role as an officer of the Hunter's Take. She also introduced Taegon to Elder Nazu, the leader of the ardo in Heronsflight, who cast an animal messenger spell to send word to the Viridian Wardens for aid.

31 Brownleaf 6934 EY: Arnold officially graduated from the college of satire on this day and was rewarded by learning the "swamp blues" style of music as well as being given a harmonica. After B4P left, he was approached by their trombonist, a hobgoblin named Thunder. Thunder explained that he knew the group was about to travel into a dangerous place and that hobgoblins were a tactical, ordered, warlike people, and he grew up in that tradition and felt he would be a useful asset. 

On this day, Ubah discovered an old journal from a long-forgotten expedition beneath the Tongo Mountains. It described untold natural riches discovered under the mountains, but also an ancient evil called "the Abortion" that seemingly killed the miners to a man.

With this knowledge, the group met with Zafar to discuss further plans. Zafar introduced the group to the nine watch men that would be joining them, as well as the three lieutenants he had requested waiting for their return: Eza Nyafor, Barin Gunny, and Remi Thobard. 

1 Deadtree 6934 EY: While preparing the chain of command while he was gone, Zafar said it would be two more days before the group could move out. During this time, Leodolf summoned the group to his office because there had been a new contract put out and they had been specifically selected to fulfill it. The contract was from Floriano Stricklen himself, the "big boss" of Dunezar, who was present in Leodolf's office. Floriano made a point of being a contentious, arrogant sort who made it very clear he expected this hunt to be a priority and for it to be a successful one.

Also during this day, Heigard and Belmira approached the group. They explained that they had seen the fresh and raw recruits being sent into battle against the slavers and it troubled them. Heigard explained that the one thing he hates more than anything is seeing young soldiers die. And so, despite the fact that it would anger his old friend Leodolf and likely put his officer position at risk, Heigard and Belmira gave themselves to the cause, as well as recruiting their friend, Archie Trueshot.

On this final night before the expedition, a large party was had at the Silver Monkey with most of the warband in attendance—Zafar recused himself, as did Ubah. During this party, the group paired off with a number of women: Arnold with Manora again; Tomren with lieutenant Eza Nyafor; and Taegon with a vulpini woman, with the help of wingman Remi Thobard.

2 Deadtree 6934 EY: The group at last set off toward the Tongo Mountains to plumb the Razorspire Mines for the entrance to the Valley of Chains. As they were leaving, they were stopped by a man in a rainbow cowl: none other than Kellam, son of Eidarel, of the Viridian Wardens, who had heard Taegon's call and traveled this long distance to help them fight whatever they may face. Another ally and a new hope in the face of a looming and unknown evil.

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Eight Nights in Dunezar
Some Much Needed Downtime

The Hunter's Take guild offered the new recruits a feast. Most of the leaders of the Hunter's Take were in attendance, and the group met the following new faces: Archie Trueshot, a halfling bowman of some renown; Heigard Rauss, a legendary member of the Hunter's Take; Belmelia Rauss, Heigard's loving wife and cleric of Elsabene Earthtender; Jared Koner, the guild's foremost trapsmith; Manwulf Wann, an eccentric dwarven knight with a boar mount named Frida; and Winket Frimar, the newest recruit to the Take outside of the group themselves.

After much song, story, food and drink, the group retired for the evening. Concluding an evening of flirting, Manora joined Arnold in his bedchambers.

25 Brownleaf 6934 EY - On this day, Ubah held a meeting with Leodolf in an attempt to convince the guildmaster to lead a counter strike on the slavers. Leodolf explained that it was outside the purview of the Hunter's Take to initiate such a charge; he instead suggested that Ubah discuss the matter with Zafar Blackgrace, the captain of the Jungle Watch. Zafar seemed less than thrilled to see Ubah, but upon hearing his plan, his countenance changed considerably. Zafar revealed that he has long sought a way to end the slavers, and asked for a week to rally his lieutenants and formulate a plan to strike out at the slavers for good.

Meanwhile, Tomren sought out a professor of magical beasts at Dunezar University to discuss the strange, magically-inert brain of the couatl he harvested. He was introduced to Professor Histum Geldimbrag, a haughty and eccentric gnomish professor who insisted on calling Tomren "Wilkins." After finally convincing the professor that he wasn't a student, Tomren relinquished the brain to Geldimbrag's possession, who in turn promised to divulge any information he learned about the brain to Tomren.

26 Brownleaf 6934 EY  On this day, the group heard rumors of a unique band playing at the tavern known as the Deep Darkness. When the group went to watch, they discovered the band was composed of members of the low races-an orc, an ogre, a bugbear, a hobgoblin, a goblin, a gnoll, and a kobold lead singer named Cal Cabboway.

Arnold was very impressed by Cal Cabboway and the band that called themselves "Beasts For Peace." Cal agreed to take Arnold under his wing in a crash course—his tuition would be paying the tabs for the band for five straight nights of insane drunken revelry.

27 Brownleaf 6934 EY - Arnold awoke this morning in the Broken Spear tavern, naked but for a g-string with a note from a mysterious individual named "N." Tomren received a mission from his organization instructing him to travel northward to Harubel to dispose of an individual named the "Father of Worms." Ubah began recruiting individuals for the strike force on the Valley of Chains.

28 Brownleaf 6934 EY - While training with Ubah and Winket, Taegon noticed a loon flying through the air. Knowing this bird to not be native to the jungles, Taegon followed it into the jungle. It led him to a statue that took the form of Tarathiel, his goddess. There, Taegon took his oath of the ancients in the light of his goddess. Meanwhile, Arnold awoke this day in an orphanage where he had apparently stumbled in and eaten all of the children's cookies.

29 Brownleaf 6934 EY - Arnold awoke this day in his own bed, but strapped with leather bindings, naked, and with a foreign object lodged in his nether regions. When produced, it turned out to be a magical rod. This rod of wonder is capable of creating thousands of unique effects, but they occur at random. On its first use, Arnold granted sentience to a chair, which immediately began panicking and screaming in existential crisis. Meanwhile, Zafar called a meeting with Ubah, Taegon and Tomren to discuss their plans for attacking the Valley of Chains. After several plans were discussed, it was beginning to look like there are no easy way to make the strike happen. Taegon resolved to make contact with the Hunter's Take guild members to see who might be interested in joining, and he also planned on contacting the Viridian Wardens in hopes that they might send aid. Ubah meanwhile endeavored to research the Tongo Mountains in the hopes of finding an underground passage into the Valley of Chains.

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Escaping the Valley of Chains
A Flight From the Dark

Taegon began this session in a cell situated across from Manora. Manora seemed terrified—she explained to Taegon that they were in a place beyond their ability, and that they would surely be killed if they attempted to escape. Taegon didn't heed her advice, and instead used his abilities as a mystic elf to teleport out of the cell and assault one of the guards. Using the guard's key stone, he helped Manora to escape as well.

In another cell, Tomren and Arnold were helpless to find a way out. They shared their cell with an unconscious man—none other than Moras Graymoon, the druid from the rival team. A death dog watched them like a sentinel, but when Moras awoke, he used his druidic powers to charm the death dog into doing his bidding. He commanded the death dog to get the keys and used them to help Tomren and Arnold escape.

Ubah found himself isolated in a torture chamber with a thin human man. The human man very briefly tried to get Ubah to submit his will, but Ubah instead resisted or ignored the man's requests. After a couple chill touches, the man left Ubah to stew for a few days. When the man had left, Ubah's manacles came undone and dark whispers urged him to help free another slave. He found a felice woman in an isolation chamber, beaten to unconsciousness and completely naked. This woman was Emanaya, and upon being released and brought to consciousness, she revealed herself to be a powerful warlock who agreed to help Ubah find his friends and escape the compound.

After ducking and dodging through the compound, the three groups coalesced into one. They found the armory where their gear was being kept and re-equipped. Arnold found a new lute here and added it to his repertoire. They crossed the outside yard without being detected and made their way toward the terror wing roost. On the way, they had to fight a group of a half dozen slavers. Because they chose to linger and loot the room, the suspicions of the compound rose enough to raise an alarm.

The group hurried on to the roost where they found the terror wings were remarkably well trained animals that allowed everyone to clamber on board. Moras insisted on staying back to buy the group some time. The rest hijacked terror wings and took off toward Dunezar.

Although the group initially felt as if they had found safety, they quickly learned that they were being pursued by none other than Buzum, the Lord of Chains, as well as a retinue of 30 slavers and two kyton, or chain devils. As Taegon, Tomren and Ubah focused on flying the mounts, Manora and Emanaya launched a barrage of attacks. Eventually, Moras caught up wild shaped as a goose, and commandeered a terror wing of his own.

As the group neared Dunezar, the Jungle Watch trained their ballistae onto the oncoming swarm of terror wings. They shot down Ubah and Taegon's terror wings and a large fight broke out in the city.

After a large amount of confusion and chaos, guard captain Zafar Blackgrace was able to slay the Lord of Chains in single combat. Zafar was furious at the group for leading the slavers in full force to Dunezar. He threatened to imprison them, but ultimately let them go if in exchange they handed over their terror birds that the guardsmen may train them and breed them.

Returning to the Hunter's Take guildhall, the group met with Leodolf Roltermann and collected their reward. They were then led to a secret room within the guildhall where they were introduced to the guild's secret benefactor—a naga named Rhyoulis. Rhyoulis explained the true nature of the Hunter's Take guild: it is a guild of capable warriors who Rhyoulis is training so that one day she might have an army to destroy the opha, that the naga might reclaim the jungles of Molentius for themselves.

The heroes each received their Hunter's Marks and bid farewell to Emanaya and Moras. The session ended there.

 

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