The Labyrinth of Forgotten Kings

The Tale of Septyeux

In the beginning.  In the Luminous Age.  The Five Worlds of the Totality of Ygg – Marcus, Aphros, Aerth, Arris, and Sigurd – glittered like bedewed blossoms on a far branch of Yggdrasil.  Travel between the worlds was commonplace, riches and information were freely shared, the worlds grew fat and beautiful like noblemen’s children.  But this could not last, as all good things, and the Totality drew the Ternion to it like blood flowing in pure water.  The Destroyer, the Opener of Ways, and the Lord of Chaos descended, ad the Endless War began.  

Marcus was the first to fall – then Aphros, Arris, and Sigurd.  But Aerth was saved.  Four princes bound themselves to the King of Elfland and imprisoned the Ternion in a Moment.  The worlds were left in ruin, but they were safe.

The princes became kings in their own right and set about rebuilding their world, Aerth – now named Acheron, the world of pain.  Aesop would become king in the West, and love and marry the King of Elfland’s daughter Lirazel, magnificent and terrible in her own right as her father before her.  Rumleskaft took the mantle of the East, though as always his attention wandered, and he became quickly restless and filled with ennui.  My master Bellwart crowned king of the North, his technical skill matched only by the arcane talents of the Red Wizard, King of the South and the forbidden jungles there.

At the King of Elfland’s command these four rulers rebuilt the Alabaster Halls as a beacon, sealing its doors with four keys that they alone possessed.  The work to rebuild Aerth began in earnest, lead by my master – every road, every city and town in Aerth owes their existence to him.  He did not forget his friends either, for to save King Rumleskaft from fatal tediums my master also built the Gilded Bones, where he begins to entertain emissaries from Arris, now named Phlegethon, world of metal and fire – playing them in cards and dice and all manner of diversions.

I lose the thread here somewhat.  King Rumleskaft asked my master to build him two child automatons to satisfy a wager, and my master obliged.  Other than that, my master contented himself with building things of beauty, and travelling the stars – until the day Lord Aesop came to him, begging him for help.

It was said that Lirazel ate of a golden apple, and in doing so began her long march towards death.  Aesop begged his father-in-law the King of Elfland to save his own daughter, wife of Aesop – but the King of Elfland refused, saying that the secrets to immortality must never be revealed.  Aesop grew blind with rage and despair, and here in these very halls, just after I was given as a gift to my master, the Four Kings met.  Aesop begged the Red Wizard for help in finding the Ritual of Immortality, and Rumleskaft and my master threw their lot in to assist by building the Scintillating Athenaeum to house the research that this would take.  There was much activity then, and my master would disappear for long stretches, and at times Aesop would come here alone and pace the halls for hours in a deep fury.

Things continued on this way for many scores of years, but I recall my master returning one day with that twisted thing – Logos, a gift of intelligence from Syrinx, a lord of the blasted lands of Phlegethon. Logos helped my master rewoind the W.E.A.V.E, connecting it back to Phlegethon.  So happy was he with the work of Logos that my master placed him in his sky-ship, the Carcosa, to advise him on his journies between the planets.  

My last memory of my master was just before the Gloaming Transformation.  I was unclear what he was doing in his laboratory but finally saw something that he named "the Final Contingency".  He placed it inside of Verso, an intelligence like Logos, but it appears to have broken him.  With this contingency in place, Bellwart left to meet his brothers in the Alabaster Halls.  This was the last I would see of my master.
 

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Decrypting the Teleporters

The party, lead by Stump Beefknob, spent time mapping the mystical teleportation machine, calculating the various endpoints – including one they had never visited before, a locked room with a key card reader next to it and, written on the door, one word:

Unable to open the door of the room and feeling that discretion might be the better part of valor, the Mobos returned to the Eternal Laboratory to continue their exploration, and (it was hoped) to find the keycard to open the locked door.

Encountering another security detail, Braennan summoned forth a rolling sphere of darkness, shutting them down in their tracks.  So powerful was his spell that the he was able to control its movement, so they brought it to the mysterious building machine to attempt to shut it down – unfortunately, it appeared this machine was powered in other ways, so the Mobos used the opportunity to clear the level of the remaining security details.

Moving on to the large area south of the Workshop, the party discovered a broken (and bloody) elevator leading down approximately 30m.  Letting Stump lead the way, the Mobos lowered him down to investigate.  Herein he discovered an enormous glass(?) dome, presumably either underneath the island itself, or inside of its hollow core.  In the dark waters surrounding the dome swam a large creature – but the party had no time to investigate before being attacked by a dozen Children of the Deep, mad with hunger and hell-bent on destruction!

The Children were dispatched easily, and it was discovered they had escaped from some sort of "lobster traps" in the room.  In the eastern end of the room they discovered a tentacled brain in a vat, who babbled incoherently save to tell the party its name (Verso), and begging them to press two buttons so that it could be "released".  If pressed for answers, Verso kept responding that "only Septyeux knows!" before falling back into mad laughter and weeping.  After some discussion, the Mobos decided to leave the creature to its fate – and its wailing, mad screams of pain followed them back to the rope headed back to the upper floor of the Laboratory…

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A Lucky Break

The session opened with Braennan returning to this plane from his mystical journey "home" to serve the Iron Maiden, finding the rest of the Mobos severely burned and injured from their experimentation with the various and sundry items they found around the workshop.  Quickly healing everyone, the party decided to create a "trap" of sorts at the east door before opening it; this turned out to be an excellent idea, for when Kredique slotted in a blue key card the doors slid open directly into a Security Team, who rushed forward to attack.  Magnuss and Balthazar were put to sleep just as Balthazar struck the Repairbot with a massive meteor; the robot hung back while it repaired itself, covered by the Spellbot and Shootbot while the Fightbot rushed forward.

Braennan threw a Darkness spell into the center of the crew that hung back and they went suddenly quiet – through a war of attrition the Fightbot was cut down, but its friends did not join to protect it.  It was at this point that the Mobos realized that the robots were solar powered, and that the lights in the ceiling were providing sunlight for the machines to function.  Stump and Magnuss headed into the darkness – Magnuss destroying the inert machines and Stump finding a number of Mr. Fixits that had rushed forward to attempt to "heal", or at least clean up, their brothers.  Stump smashed all of the Mr. Fixits and the party headed north once the Darkness cleared.

The Mobos opened a door to a room filled with glowing blue crystals, lightning arcing along their surface.  Discretion being the better part of valor, they closed this door and examined the door just to the north of that, where they found 8 small, metal tents with 8 apertures along their base.  Assuming these apertures were where the Mr. Fixits came from, the party spiked the doors shut and continued to the eastern doors.

The doors to the east appeared to be guarded by two tubes at the far north and south ends of the room, each hooked to a box covered with hieroglyphics.  Balthazar examined the hieroglyphics and fought down a wave of insanity – the writing apparently spoke of ancient Gods of unsurpassed evil.    When Kredique approached the doors, the tubes seemed to "wake up" and train themselves on her; she nimbly rolled out of the way before finding out what the tubes were up to.   The party decided a different approach was necessary.

Keeping well away from Kredique, the Mobos watched as she carefully opened the box attached to the tubes, an extraordinarily difficult feat.  Kredique discovered the box was full of the blue "lightning crystals" from the room to the north.  After some discussion with the rest of the Mobos, Kredique poured some of the acid they had found in the workshop inside the box – luckily there was no adverse chemical reaction, and the crystals were destroyed, which seemed to disable the tube.  The party then headed to the northern tube where Kredique repeated the process.  It was now deemed safe to approach the door.

None of the key cards the party had in their possession (Green and Blue) seemed to open the door.  In a fit of inspiration, Kredique attempted to hotwire the lock on the door  - and in a one in a million chance, succeeded.  On the other side were the array of strange tubes and levers familiar to the Mobos in their adventures in the Labyrinth – some sort of teleporter.  The Mobos activated tube 0100, and discussed what to do – experiment with the teleporter, head back to town, or continuing exploring the southern part of the Workshop.

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The Red City

Your trip through the Trollstep mountains allowed you to move more than 150 leagues in an instant, but you are still a league away from the city of Ulaan Khot, hidden from view in the pass between the Trollsteps and Barrier mountains.  Braennan seems much calmer and more sane now, but he is preoccupied as you make your way down the road. 

The Great Eastern Road is a shell of its former self and in wide disrepair, trade preferring to travel by ship or through the Southern Road, though now that the pass between Drachen and Westlake is open this may change.  Other than the howl of a wolf and the occasional rock slide the land is cold and desolate, even as you approach the summer months.

You make camp in the rough one last night – without horses your provisions are meager, and you hope to find civilization soon.  At daybreak you set out again, coming over the final hill as the sun crests the horizon with a view of the valley below.

Your breath catches in your throat.  Ulaan Khot, the Red City, the meeting point of the Great Steppes and the Barrier Mountains, is a site to behold.  Only Kredique the Lankhmaran seems nonplussed – Magnuss and Luca stand momentarily dumbfounded as they gaze at the colossal red walls surrounding the Western Gate, said to be stained their wine color by the armies that have died attempting to invade.  You nudge yourselves forward and blend into the throngs that are beginning to make their way into the city, through vast tent villages of nomads and miners alike, for Ulaan Khot is known for the gems and jewels, gold and silver it brings to the empire.  Mingol riders mix with dwarven workcrews mix with salt-bitten sailors and merchants, and the cries of a thousand different voices and languages reach your ears just as your nose is assaulted by the smells of cookfires, fish, sweat, and refuse.  You are clearly dangerous and are given a wide berth, though many glittering eyes watch you from the shadows, and your shoulderblades itch from the stares you can feel in your back.

The gates are thrown open and bored guards keep an eye on the passersby – before you know it you have entered, the city opens wide before you.  Now to find your needle in the haystack.

Dellspero.  Where you could you be?

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The Temple of Syrinx - Part 1

It is only a few days before you leave the eastern portion of the Great Forest. No longer can you see the fjords of the frozen sea, for the north here is bordered by tall hills known as the Trollstep Mountains. You follow the Great Eastern Road, now in great disrepair, through the Cold Waste to the last known location of Dellspero – the lawless city of Mlurg Nar at the northern feet of the Uldominor Mountains (called the Barrier Mountains outside of the forests). Your journey is generally without incident … that is, except for your companion.

Horrible dreams have been tormenting Braennan, Last Priest of the Iron Maiden – he awakens each night screaming and clawing at invisible terrors, but tells you he can remember nothing. More and more gaunt he looks as the days wear on, and a feverish look begins to permeate his eye. His hair grows long, his beard thick – even Mad Tom begins to keep his distance …

One morning, he suddenly jumps to his feet during breakfast, pulling his sword from his scabbard. He points a shaking finger at the Trollstep peak known Great Stardock, and his voice rasps …

"There brothers. There! Can you not see it? We must bring them down, destroy them before they infest this world!" Spittle flies from his lips and his eyes roll back into his head.

You grow uneasy. Kredique slips quietly behind Braennan while Magnuss puts his bowl of porridge down to free his sword arm. Only Luca seems unfazed.

"See what, Braennan? What do you see?"

He looks down at her, his eyes brimming with tears of fury. "It is the Temple of Syrinx. Syrinx of the Red Star. And if It his here, Its priests must be here also. We must kill them … kill them all … and destroy whatever inside, before It destroys us!"

-

You guide your horses through the rocky terrain north from the broken cobbles of the Great Eastern Road, Braennan at the forefront, sweating and mumbling to yourself. The ground here is chaotic, and you fear that your horses will throw a shoe or turn an ankle … until, very abruptly, it isn't.

A village … or what is left of it … stands silent and cold in the afternoon light. The largest building appears to have had its eastern wall neatly removed – it lies unbroken on the ground – and the insides are completely empty. The ground – it raises the hairs on the back of your neck. You examine it more closely and see the ground is unusually clean, except here and there where stones have been neatly stacked in symmetrical patterns of 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, etc. Kredique slips into the house and returns with a puzzled look on her face – the house is absolutely spotless, as if it had been swept clean, save for a single note tacked to the wall 



You see a path roughly 3 meters in diameter leading north, and you decide to follow it, proceeding cautiously despite Braennan's reckless urging. After a few hours you come to a large black … cube, roughly 10 meters on a side and 10 meters high, crawling with green runes and with a single red star above a dial of numbers in the middle.

"This is it!" cries Braennan, and leaps from his horse and rushes forward. He makes a strange sign with his hands before the star, then wipes a strange slime from the star, and turns the dials so they read "2112". The door hisses open, and Braennan leaps inside, the rest of the Mobos hot on his heels.

Almost immediately you are set upon by a handful of large, multi-faceted, metallic creatures. The creatures (Braennan later identifies them as "Scions" are stacking boxes in a giant warehouse – much, much larger than the outside would seem to indicate) turn and announce “Organic Lifeforms Detected, Possible Hostile Intent, Terminate" and rush forward to attack. They seem to concentrate their attacks on Braennan, who after blessing weapons to strike true goes down beneath a barrage of blows. Fortunately, Braennan almost falls into the arms of the witch Luca, who heals him with a whispered prayer to Badb. Meanwhile, the rest of the party makes short work of the metallic beasts and, after catching their breath, hazard a look around.

The room is filled with boxes of all sizes, each box with a strange writing on it. Kredique begins opening them in quick succession, but they are filled with strange things. A box filled with seashells. A box filled with rocks. A box filled with leaves. You spend roughly 10 minutes opening boxes until Kredique opens a box and backs slowly away – it is filled with human limbs of all ages, all neatly severed and dissected, jumbled together in a pile.

A door to the north promises more answers and, readying your weapons, you manipulate the door so it slides into the wall and step through. 

On the other side you see a familiar site – a robotic Security Team, the same as you had encountered in the Labyrinth. The Shootbot aims its fire wands on you, and you rush forward to attack ….

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OOG Summary to this point

The party had entered the Temple of the Harrower to find out what was what.  What happened next was a bit of a bloodbath, and the Mobos ended up releasing some sort of metal construct, then burying the entrance to the temple under a bunch of rubble rather than go to Woodrow Mercer for a proper desecration of the temple.  Right after that everyone was kind of in a foul mood.  While Thali worked on The Wreck (the remains of the ship from your level 0 scrubs, and now the home base of the Mobos), you all had the same dream – that a certain Dr. Chapman of Sefton Castle (literally the first adventure we played) was trapped inside of the Grimmswood, and needed assistance from the "Three Brides".  Additionally, Joey Montelbano told your crew that the way through the Grimmswood to Portsmouth (an important trading corridor for the area) was essentially sealed off, and he needed you to open it again.  You remember also that the Baron in the area has been looking for your crew, most likely related to the Sefton Castle incident.  You had to balance this news against the news that you should find Dellspero in the Uldominor Mountains to find out why the stars are going out – a trip of no less than 4 weeks to get there.  Deciding a bird in the hand was worth two etc., you decide to visit the Baron Charming, father of Prince Charming, to see what he might want.

The Baron tells you a tale of his son's … well, weird necromantic tendencies, specifically the raising of long dead princesses.  Apparently things have gone terribly sideways once the Prince started meddling with affairs he didn't understand, and the Three Brides (as they are known) have taken over the Grimmswood, filling it with malevolent power.  Additionally the Grimmswood is a neutral zone between the Elfland (not elves like Kelsier, but a different breed) and the northern baronies, and the princesses have blurred the line between the two and causing the Elfland to spill over into the "real world."  The Baron asks you to bring him the heads of the three Brides … and you comply.

You outfit yourselves and head into the Grimmswood, and have spent the past month of game-time there off and on.  Some of the things that happened:

  • A few run-ins with the Elves I spoke of above.  They all wear tartans just like Magnuss and Torgus
  • Magnuss fought the Black Knight of the Wood – and lost.  This cost him his armor and weapons (temporarily)
  • A run-in with the Parliament of Owls, followed later by a run-in with the Murder of Ravens.  This resulted in the death and looting (by Kredique) of almost all of the ravens of the Grimmswood.
  • A battle with the Cowardly Lion (in which everyone almost died) and something people have called the "Manbearpig" (in which everyone almost died.  Seriously, Tom was fucking DEAD, I had finally killed him – and someone rolled a successful luck check when they rolled him over)
  • At one point the party found the artifact of a Patron of Insects.  They brought it back to town and tried to hide it beneath the Wreck (in the water).  That ended poorly.
  • Zombies.  Plenty of zombies.

The big things were the fight (and victory over) Cinder Ella and Snow.  Cinder Ella was pretty much a cakewalk, though Tom was badly burned.  Snow charmed Stump who almost took out Braennan, and came close to a TPK.  After the destruction of both of these Princesses (and they're subsequent beheading as well as the stripping of their wedding gowns by Kredique), Dr. Chapman would appear to everyone more … substantially, thanking them for their assistance.  He has told everyone where Beauty is, an extremely tough fight – and with her death he will be free.

So, around this time the party brings that artifact back to town.  All Hell breaks loose – the star disappears.  Luca falls into a coma, along with everyone else who was born underneath that star, and a gigantic spider appears before the town, speaking in riddles (and removing Magnuss' ear, I believe).  Giant bugs keep attacking wherever the artifact is held, and in all the chaos the artifact is stolen.

Back into the Grimmswood everyone goes – but are leery of facing Beauty.  So the party heads all the way north to Portsmouth to do a little "touring."  Something strange is afoot there, and the party is run out of town by an angry mob.  On the way back the stop at a giant hut with chicken legs that only appears at night – the proprietor is one Mr. Gold, and everything can be had … for a price.

This is where Braennan runs into trouble.  Something happens with him and he apparently is either unable or unwilling to cast clerical spells.  Kredique is driven temporarily insane by something she saw in a temple in Portsmouth (a temple to the god Dagon) and was somehow healed.  Stump and Magnuss surprisingly stay out of trouble, though Magnuss buys himself a shiny new longsword …

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The Death of Cinder Ella

5th Fireday, Frostwane

The night passes without incident, and the party opts to head back to town to refill their supplies.  Some negotiation with Joey nets a cart full of food to be hidden at the cairn at the second crossroads, near the cairn.  Magnuss purchases a new suit of scale mail, a shield, and a spear to "try some new stuff", and the party sets off the following morning.

5th Swordsday, Frostwane

The last day of Frostwane, and the last night of the Dark moon.  The trip with the cart is slow going – rather than hit the crossroads at midday as you'd hoped, you do not arrive until nightfall.  You hide the cart off the road, behind the cairn, beneath some boughs.  Magnuss ties a strip of his tartan to one of the boughs to find it more easily (OOG: The Tartan of Balmoral).  You strike camp that night outside of the cairn but, after hearing whispered voices, you opt to move down the road a few hundred feet, and pass a tense night in the rain.

1st Moonsday, Raincome
The day dawns to dark skies – you expect rain for the better part of this month, as always.  You decide to head north, over the old bridge, until you encounter an abandoned inn with the symbol of a dancing(?) skeleton surrounded by links of chain on a sign above the door.  A cursory inspection of the outside shows a stable and a well, covered with a stone.  Inside you find a rickety staircase ascending to a ramshackle second floor, and a trapdoor in the floor.

After some discussion Kredique ascends the stair and beings poking around on the second floor.  A glint of metal in the center of the floor – could it be GOLD?!?! – and she steps carefully, carefully …

Seconds later, Kredique falls straight through the floor and lands directly on her face.  Most of the rest of the second story comes tumbling down with her, landing on top of her with a crash of stone and wood.  Magnuss pulls her out of the wreckage with the rope helpfully tied around her waist.  Overcome with how awesome it is:

http://gifrific.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Yes-That-Is-Awesome-Dart-in-Neck-Old-School.gif

Braennan lays hands on Kredique and heals her to full.  You open the trapdoor and descend into a basement, filled with broken glass and several dried out kegs of beer – one of which happens to be a secret door!

-

You pass through the secret door into the deep basement of what you assume to be an oubliette.  Against the wall is a skeleton, long dead, with a broken shackle around its ankle and a dagger in its ribs.  After a few moments of investigation you a green-glowing spectral skeleton appears in the room – it does not interact until Magnuss begins to go about the process of removing the dagger, removing the shackles, and bringing the skeletal body outside.  The process of proper internment frees the ghost from its curse, and it blesses the party with a ghostly greenish aura that apparently gave you resistance to fire for a time.

You ascend the chain and come to the first floor of a cottage.  You make your way westward through the cottage until you arrive at a set of double doors, leading outside.  You investigate the double doors and find yourselves in cottage almost ten miles north of the inn you entered originally.  Looking at the cottage from the road you see a thin trail of smoke from the chimney.

You re-enter and continue west, entering a room where an woman in a wedding dress sits rocking before a giant fireplace – a single log smokes gently.  You approach cautiously, but she rises up and attacks, sending cinders into the eyes of Tom and Magnuss, blinding them.  Chaos erupts – Tom charges blindly forward, fumbles, and drops down.  Braennan attemps to turn the creature but is not strong enough, and is himself blinded.  Kredique fires into combat, striking Tom in the back – the creatures pauses to laugh …

But her laughter is short-lived.  Stump strikes true with his shortbow, the creature trips on her dress, Kredique slips behind her and slices her knife through her larynx, and Magnuss devestates the beast with a mace strike to the head followed by a horrible, crippling head butt to the temple.  She drops to a knee, and Braennan strides forward, raises his two handed sword over her head, and pins her skull to the floor.

The body erupts in a wave of flame, nearly setting the house on fire – only the unbelievable luck of the party prevents that from happening.  Magnuss beheads the beast and Kredique strips her of her wedding dress, and a discussion ensues of how to respectfully bury the headless, naked corpse of Cinder Ella.  Figuring the ship SS Respectful has sailed, the party finds a ladder going to the upper floors.

You enter into a long hallway choked with webs, and Kredique narrowly avoids the bite of a venomous spider before Magnuss pins it to the floor with his spear.  Finding three doors in the hallway, you enter into them – the first contains a broken mirror, a vanity (where Magnuss finds 18 pieces of jewelry), and a mattress with a slit in it, sewed up.  Braennan cuts open the mattress and a tiny creature jumps out and runs across the floor.  Stump blindly fires and pins the creature to the floor through its eye – it appears to be a tiny, naked, bipedal creature of some sort.  Also in the mattress Braennan finds a strange book, bound in a soft skin of some kind (not pleather).  The title burned into the cover indicates these are the "Lessons of Baron von Vanden Danderclanden" – Braennan tucks this away for later.

The second room contains two beds but is otherwise empty, and the third room is likewise empty.  You descend the ladder, head into the oubliette, and exit through the secret door back into the inn, where you decide to sleep the night.  Waiting for you is the spirit of Dr. Chapman, who congratulates you – and tells you that the hiding place of Beauty if more clear to him, inside some caverns in a mountain range somewhere in the wood.

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Return from the Harrower

4th WINESDAY OF FROSTWANE

Since your return from the temple of the Harrower, you have made your home near the banks of the Pond alongside the Wreck. Tensions have run high, and you all sleep fitfully that night beneath a darkling sky wet with rain and a low thunder. In the morning you all crawl from your tents just as Thali and the dwarves head to the Wreck. "3 days," she says curtly, and she and her men get to work just as the sun crests the far-off ridges of the Uldominor Mountains.You make your way to the Blue Box for your morning breakfast. Mercer stands on the steps of the Temple, smoking tobacco rolled in a piece of rice paper. His eyes follow you to the tavern; you can feel his stare boring through your back.

The warmth of Joss's common room embraces you, and you slump in chairs and murmur for hot bread and cool water, tea and eggs. Slowly the tension eases, and you begin chatting as old adventurers do. Just as the food begins to make its way to the table, you are all struck with roughly the same realization:
Last night, you all had the same dream – first of the metallic beast loose in the forest (though what happens with the creature … differs in each account), then of the spirit Doctor Chapman. 

Kelsier remembers the dream most vividly – the Doctor reintroduced himself to him, and spoke with him for a time  "He says there are three ladies we must face; the former brides of Charming's whelp," a quick glance to Joss; Kelsier must have forgotten that he and Baron Charming are old friends. "Prince Charming, I mean. The doctor says that these women are all bound up in a some kind of faerie curse and, because he was visiting Sefton Castle when it happened, he's caught in the curse too. He says he can't help us as thing stand right now. That said, once each of these fair ladies is restored to their proper condition – which isn't walking around the Grimmswood killing people – the enchantment will diminish – maybe event disappear. And the weaker the enchantment is, the more he can help us."

"Proper condition," says Magnuss. "What's that mean?"

"Dead," whispers Kredique, and takes a bite of bread. Braennan shifts uncomfortably, and the table grows quiet again, everyone lost in their breakfast.

After a few moments, Joey pushes his way in. He looks very tired, and he pulls up a chair and helps himself to tea and eggs. Meeting your gaze, he shrugs. "Breakfast's on me. I put that order in for Tom's suit of half-plate, but it's going to be a long time before it gets here, longer than I thought. I sent some Tonys through the Grimmswood to Portsmouth a month ago today – haven't heard back. What I'm hearing? The Grimmswood is sealed off at this point. Trade can't get through, we've got to either send things to Westlake Manor (and pay tax), then all the way the hell around the Elven Forest, then to the capital (and pay tax), THEN to bloody PORTSMOUTH AND PAY TAX." He's on his feet at this point, and almost chokes on a mouthful of bread. Coughing, he sits back down heavily. "Sorry. My only contacts are in Portsmouth at this point. I used to be able to send goods east down the Kingsroad to the foot of the Uldominor, but I haven't heard from Dellspero in .. in a long time. Hope he's OK."
"Listen. Rumor has it you might be going through the Grimmswood to investigate, after you pay the Baron a visit. Don't let him scare you, he needs you, and he's got the money and title to be helpful. You can be to the Baron and back in a day. After that, if you decide to take the main road through the Grimmswood, and you can find out why no one can get through … I'm willing to pay you a serious amount of gold, and cut you in on the money we make on an open trade route. Here's a little something I've been working on," he says, reaching beneath his cloak. He slides a map tube across the table.

With a last gulp of water, Tony pushes away, nods his head, and heads out through the door. You all stare at one another, and decide to ….

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The Wrecked Ship of Gallifrey

The week generally passes without incident. You have noticed that there is an increase of traffic in the area – more and more people are coming to stay in Gallifrey, or stopping to resupply on their way north to Westlake and Portsmouth. From there they report they are headed west along the Great Eastern Road to Galaron, or finding passage on a ship heading out of Valfours Bay to … well, no one has really thought that far ahead yet.


The passage to Westlake and Portsmouth is through the Grimmswood, and apparently fraught with dangers from "fae folk", "spirits", and "gnomes". From the east and the Uldominor Mountains, the tale is the same – an influx of night children, the wolves out of the mountains attacking the flocks. It appears the Northland is "contracting", in a sense, as more and more of its peoples cluster together to fend off the darkness.


On more mundane matters – Mercer reports the necklace is non-magical. Joey Montelbano is willing to fence the goods on the next caravan headed north (there is a trade network developing, with a caravan headed into and out of the city about once every week), and has promised to give you whatever he is able to get for it – or, if you prefer, he's willing to give you 200 gold for it now and take the risk on himself.

You meet in the Blue Box and prepare yourselves for another foray into the Shrine of the Harrower; most of you are decently well rested, though Kelsier still needs a great deal of assistance in getting to the table. A storm is brewing as Joss pours you mugs of ale, leaving you to your whispered discussions over the sound of approaching thunder…Suddenly, there is a brilliant flash of light, and a roaring sound from the south of the town. You hear screams in the distance. Gathering your weapons you rush out into the driving rain of the night, meeting Gristle and the growing militia on the road. Cries are rising from near The Pond, and you make your way as quickly as possible along the muddy road, pushing your way through the gathering throngs of people to the edge of the water.

You can barely believe your eyes. There, at the edge of the Pond, lies the wreck of a small ship, a torn black banner flying from a shattered mast. You can make out people aboard the ship – some of them armed – but they wave to you and scream for help.It takes some time to sort through the confusion. The militia demands the sailors drop their arms, and after some back and forth and a few warning shots from Gristle they seem to capitulate. Joey and the Tonys grab lumber to form a gangplank, and you demand that those who can walk make their way down carefully with their hands in the air. The villagers bring torches and light and, when they see the condition of the sailors, blankets and hot food. All told 40 sailors disembark, and of them 9 seem to be the type that might handle themselves in a fight – one dwarf holds a massive battle axe that he refuses to put down, almost causing a melee before Tom and his brothers soothe him in Dwarvish and convince him to lie the axe at his feet. The tale the sailors tell is almost too much to understand – an underground sea, chaos beasts, and a sacrifice beneath a starless sky. How they wound up here they cannot say, only that their ship was rammed through some sort of underground tunnel, and that they found themselves beneath the black water, clutching the rails and planks for dear life. Many drowned, apparently, before the ship crested the surface … here, of all places. Mercer and Marion listen with great interest, as no one has ever plumbed the depths of the pond, everyone assuming that it lay a few rope lengths deep and no more. But now untold fathoms may lie beneath your feet, giving the town elders … pause … about what to do next.Gristle takes the 9 who seem able to fight with him to the barracks, while the rest of the sailors are brought into the warm homes of the Gallifreyans, to allow time to heal their wounds. They do not know where their home is from here, nor what is left of it …

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The Harrower's Shrine
by Torgus von Torgusson

After a 4 day respite, Magnuss, Stump, Braennan, Kredique, Mad Tom, and Luca gather their mettle and set forth into the underground shrine to The Harrower. Within this web choked den of evil they hope to discover a means to prevent the loss of the star Arachis. Failure would spell doom for little Luca, not to mention all on Aerth born under this star.

The party finds the antechamber as they had left it, although the tiny spiders have replaced the webs that were cleared away. These spiders are white and yellow with a crescent – the symbol of The Harrower – on their abdomen. When the webs are disturbed the party feels, unsettled somehow – possibly due to the thousands of tiny screams bidding their master's aid.

Magnuss locates a previously undiscovered trap door in one of the alcoves. Underneath is a narrow tunnel that appears to have been undisturbed for ages. Magnuss summons Stump to the front and directs the halfing to explore the depths of the tunnel. With a solemn nod Stump quietly drops into the opening and stealthily makes his way in search of information and treasures unknown. It isn't long before Stump discovers aged frescos that describe the prophecy from the Book of Reaping. He notes four of these before his sense of caution bids him return to the party. Magnuss orders him back into the tunnel to gather more information, but Stump ain't no fool and cannot be convinced to re-enter. The party then decides to move as a group deeper into the shrine.

They make their way to the priest of the Harrower's bed chambers. It was in this room the MOBOs found poor Luca just a week ago. After inspecting the room a second time, Magnuss and Kredique roll up the one, unsoiled rug, with the intention of carrying their big payoff back to the entrance of the shrine. Unfortunately, Stump's fears were well founded and the party is ambushed by a small group of three-foot tall spiders. The creatures attack the unawares Stump before he can even loose his blade from its sheath.

Sensing Stump is in mortal danger, the dynamo Magnus, abandons his orange shag and leaps towards the spiders – violently batting poor Stump to the ground as he careens past. (The rest of the party takes a moment to marvel at the tympanic resonance of Stump's head striking the crypt floor.)
Braennan sees Stump is badly wounded and although the vile oppression of the shrine makes it difficult, the holy man successfully calls upon The Metal. Stump's grievous wounds are healed! Kredique and Luca then mount a modest counter attack, but it is their brothers in arms, Magnuss, Stump, and Mad Tom who ultimately destroy the creatures.

After the battle, Luca is convinced Magnuss was right – that the answers they seek may indeed lay somewhere past the ancient trap door – so the MOBOs (perhaps a bit addled by the recent battle) return to the ante chamber. Kredique refuses to allow the eight-to-twelve year old girl to bear this burden alone so both of the fully-grown women slip down into the darkness. And wouldn't ya know it, down there in the filthy spider hole they find spiders and the two Valkyries flee back towards the party – after burning the shit out of the tunnel. The MOBOs, gathered inside the entrance to the tunnel, have a tough time gathering their combined might and for a few moments all seems lost. Just then, Luca tears off her own face and reveals a hideous visage underneath: a luminous, shrieking, spectral hag. (So "there!" to everyone who wanted to leave her topside with the laundry.). The spiders turn and flee back into the darkness. The MOBOs have one heck of a time reigning in Mad Tom, but eventually they all head back across Yolanda's threshold, through the (not unfamiliar, at this point) halls of the shrine, past the room with the sacrificial blood basin mentioned in the Book of Reaping, and down to the second level!

The latent threats found within the first few rooms (I think I remember some undead in one room and some dangerous looking statues <har!> in another) convince the MOBOs that safe passage would require them to head back upstairs and let their own blood into the basin. All except Kredique and Mad Tom do so.

As a result Babd is pissed and Ildavir and The Metal are likely pissed as well. We're all grounded for a month… Whoops!

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