Episode 1: The Inheritance: Harvest festival - 1st August Edit
Rising early, everybody gathered for the annual inheritance ceremony.
Borrath got up, handed off a fresh brewed batch of honey beer and went down to visit his teacher and guardian Ash Skyrunner (The large boisterous troll that ran the only inn in Three Kaers) and was reminded about the Inheritance day performance. He went out of the city to collect Quill the self-proclaimed "Forest Lord" from his home in a house on the edge of the cultivated land where he lived with his mentor Azure Heka a Dwarven Beastmistress who patrols the area around the city and manages the majority of hunting parties.
David the Tall had gone from his home above the main gatehouse and collected Golliath from the village smithy as well as Magrat and Mar T'Zik from the school house near the main green where traders and settlers alike were preparing for the festivities with a handful of contests and events in the background.
A large stage was being erected and the hogs were put out to roast.
The group took interest in a group of T'Skrang Traders here to enjoy the festivities.
Their captain K'Skrill told them of the providence of his wonderful Sextant of Shantaya's and maps. Which they managed to bargain for in exchange for a cask of honey-beer and 140 silver pieces of their inheritance.
They attended the Inheritance ceremony performed their art and their trade before the assembled villagers and acquitted themselves well.
They also celebrated the newly made wine, but it was so bitter as to be almost undrinkable.
After the ceremony Draka asked them of their intentions and was pleased that they were eager to leave and establish their legend. She gave them Draka's Knapsack an item that served two generations of heroes well and wished them the best of luck.
With a full pack of food and silver in their pockets, they group agreed to passage on the T'Skrang trader boat captained by K'Skrill. For a handful of silver he gave them passage downriver (Peaceful except a show of force against a despised rival or good friend which never went further than a show of force and name-calling) to the T'Skrang trading town of Tansiarda. Pausing to admire its statue garden and extensive markets before setting off North up the Old Theran Road.
After a few days on the road without incident they were greeted outside the town by a pair of Dwarves one male and one female. They welcomed them in with open arms to the settlement of Tureem and demonstrated their Arts. Plying them with free drink and offering them rooms for the night at no charge. They saw Goliath and, because of his imposing appearance and great weapons, it appeared mistook the group for another party of adventurers they had requested aide from.
The Majors name is Turan and he explained that there have recently been a spate of deaths in the area. Large creatures have come out of the forests to the west and have killed people, even venturing into the town. Several farmsteads have been abandoned in fear.
The group asked for a chance to sleep in a farm near the woods where the creatures came from and rested overnight in the company of a surely dwarf who spoke very little.
In the morning he advised them to visit Graka.
When they did they encountered an elderly female Ork, she bestowed upon them Graka's Gifts a pair of valuable potions likely worth more than the combined contents of her shack, on the condition that they would return them if they are not used and that they each help the next traveller they find on the road, escort them to a place of safety at their own expense and tend to their wounds. For the nearly 900 silver pieces worth of alchemy the promise was made.
Then with idealistic notions of youth the group set off to find their prey in the dark of the Western Woods.
Episode 2: Into the Woods (21th August) Edit
Entering the woods to the West of the village Magrat walked along with Goliath tracking. However as the sun approached its peak they found themselves delving into increasingly boggy ground. Magrat had to admit he had lost the trail and was trying to pick it back up again.
So rather than retracing their steps, they ventured out of the forest and followed the river back up toward the villiage of Tureem again and entered. Mar T'Zik took over this time and was able to spot where Magrat had mistaken a deer trail for the arachnid tracks they were looking for and this time kept them on a straight path.
Goliath took the fore again and unfortunately missed his footing in the dense woodland as they approached the top of a small valley. He and David tumbled, ending up sprawled against a sheet of thick sticky webbing which held him fast.
David swung down and was able to hack him free as they fought a pair of large wolf-sized spiders with support from the spellcasters still at the top of the valley. They made short work of the creatures, Goliath's tough skin and David's speed allowed them to avoid the terrible poison in the spider bites, which Quill dutifully collected.
They discussed that the webbing might burn, but Quill pointed out that in this hot weather it could start an uncontrolled wildfire that they might not be able to escape. Morag on the other hand pointed out that they were here to earn their legend, and the people who defeated monsters in glorious combat would be better than the people who accidentally burnt down a vast forest in an attempt to kill a few unknown beasts.
They travelled along the bottom of the valley following a small stream when they spotted a pair of ominous shapes descending from the thick webbing. At a distance they may have appeared like obscenely overgrown spiders, however the astral pollution and the human faces pointed to Jehuthras. Terrible constructs and experiments of the Horrors designed to create the fear and suffering that they need to remain in our world.
One coated its terrible fore-limbs in sharpened ice the other threw an ice web at Goliath. Pinning him briefly before he was able to break free. Borrath managed to pin one of the beasts by controlling its skeleton.
After a fierce fight David managed to take one down and they had the other pinned by a bone dance spell. Then suddenly the whole area went dark. Strands of web-like iron had burst from the ground and wove its self into various tunnels, each one separating each member of the group from the others and cutting out all light from the surroundings.
The Jehurhras that that they thought they had killed still lived despite it's grievous injuries.
Goliath heard David through the walls and tried to break through with his hammer. Morag moved towards the centre of the tunnel network to find a cavern where the tunnels converged. Mar T'Zik was blind in the dark as Goliath had the light crystal, but found himself brutally assaulted by the beast, left for dead with his eye gouged. Morag in the middle of the maze played a homecoming song on his whistle.
The beast moved back to the centre of its web where Morag was waiting. He panicked and blended himself with the surrounding walls. Thankfully the beast did not immediately spot him, but paused seeking him out. Meanwhile the first beast approached David and Goliath in their tunnel, cutting off their escape route. Despite a frenzied combat, David and Goliath had trouble scratching the thing's rock-like thorax. However working together Goliath caught it on the side of the head allowing David to land a killing blow.
Borrath joined Magrat in the centre where they teamed up and eventually took down the last of the beasts. With a display of wild magic that pierced its hide with an ice spear.
The Iron-web spell faded a few minutes after its masters death, allowing them to recover and save Mar T'Zik, but not his left eye.
Episode 3: The Hidden Kaer (22nd August) Edit
In the immediate aftermath of the battle Magrat and Borrath worked together to stop Mar T'Zik from bleeding out from the wound of his eye.
The group rested in the hollow of an old oak tree whilst night closed in around them.
In the morning they returned to the Jehurhras' lair and found the clearly desiccated corpses of a number of the villagers as well as an ancient skeleton wearing a strange silver amulet showing a starburst design with a blood-stain upon it. Magrat discovered some hidden pit traps laid by the monsters.
In total they found about 26 silver marks and 2 Theran gold coins. They bundled up the bodies and took them back to Tureem where they were given a heroes welcome and asked what they wanted to be called. After a hasty decision settled on "The Unveilers"
They were hastily invited to drinks by eager villagers. David, Goliath and Magrat
David and Mar T'Zik went to visit the healer Graka. Mar T'Zik lied and said that both potions had been used (When in fact neither had been needed) but Graka treated his injured eye not realising she had been duped.
Meanwhile the villagers held a funeral, burning the bodies of the slain on a funeral pyre and saying kind words about their lives.
They took a break from the celebrations for Borrath to do some shopping (he picked up some thick leathers and a short bow) and to perform the spell Experience Death on the corpse that held the amulet.
He experienced himself in the body of a human calling Dirac Tol Amarra, fighting a 30 meter tall Horror that looked like some grotesque centipede-like creature. His friends were behind the door of a Kaer rolling a boulder over the entrance. He prayed to the passion Galen to let him live long enough to destroy the beast. He then stood up to the creature beating it despite horrific and seemingly fatal injuries. Once the creature was slain, his body collapsed and he passed from this world.
As Borrath awoke from his trance, his body had sustained a dozen injuries, each one mimicking the fatal blows of Dirac.
However this provided an insight. There was a Kaer hidden near the valley of the Jehurhras. They set out to find it.
They retraced their steps close enough and came to the valley, after hours of searching they found an entrance covered by a landslide and then the boulder that the Kaer's inhabitants rolled across the entrance. Digging them out with Goliath's brute force, they found an ancient door sealed with trace leaf paint of Oricalcum for warding. A carefully crafted song was able to open the door.
Once inside the dark and seemingly abandoned Kaer, they found a single chamber down a ladder. Inside were 6 upright coffins of brass and glass, each one etched with magical runes. In the centre was a piece of True Earth suspended by its own repulsion over a bowl of True Water.
When they pressed the True Earth down so that it mingled with the True Water, both elements were destroyed and the surge of magical energy released was channelled to open the caskets.
Inside were 5 living people. 3 humans and 2 elves.
- Alexia - The leader of the project, a wizard who spoke only very hesitant Throalic.
- Ambrosia - An older female veteran warrior covered in scars.
- Demon - A young but reserved Nethermancer who did not contribute much to the conversation.
- Helene - An older Elementalist who was the main spokesperson, as she spoke fluent Throalic.
- Hypatia - An eager young Troubadour who was overjoyed to hear the story of their rescue and the defeat of the Jehuthras.
They spoke of their fallen comrade Dirac Tol Amarra who bravely held the entrance against the Horror.
They were at first alarmed about the amount of time that had passed, thinking that it had been nearly 900 years rather than 500. However it turned out that the Throalic and Theran calendars have very different starting dates.
After some conversation, they were adamant that Thera was a great Empire dedicated to reason, enlightenment and preservation of life against the Scourge. They believed fully that slavery was limited and well regulated.
They were a research team trying to test alternative methods of protection from the scourge using cryogenics.
The Unveilers tried to convince them of this, but they remained sceptical, although they did believe that the outside world was more dangerous than anticipated and that their Theran gold would be poorly received, so they exchange their gold for silver at an absurd mark-up. They seemed to recognise this, but allowed them to get away with it, as they were grateful that the Unveilers had revived them despite the failure of the automatic system.
Episode 4: The Road to Haven Edit
Helene (The Elf elementalist who spoke the best Throalic) asked about the fate of Parlainth, a sister project to their Kaer to hide the city outside of reality. The Unveilers explained that that project failed, because the city was rediscovered a few years ago broken, abandoned and inhabited only by Horrors and their servants.
Their troubadour Hypatia drew them up a copy of the tale of Dirac Tol Amaar and the battle against the horror Adugank that claimed his life and promised to record their tale as well and store it in the Great Library of Thera if they would do the same with any Great Libraries they came across about their tale and that of Dirac. They also mentioned other ways in which they had tried to make shelters against the Horrors.
The Therans parted ways politely and decided to set off toward the coast and try to return to Thera, a journey that could take nearly half a year if they were not careful.
After this the Unveilers returned to town to find the inn being re-branded as the Unveiled Arms. When they returned to town, everybody was busy bringing in the new harvest.
Magrat stayed and gossiped with the locals. Hearing stories of a renegade Theran airship and its uneasy alliance with a Dragon.
Goliath tried to impress a pretty young human woman, but ended up misunderstanding and getting chased out of the town for the night.
Borrath gave Diracs bones a full burial and laid them under a proper headstone which recounted his legend in Theran and Throalic on front and back.
Mar T'Zik recovered from his injuries with David and got merrily drunk at the bar.
In the morning they were given supplies for the journey and wished the best of luck before setting off for Haven again.
After a few days they were overtaken by a well secured and careful caravan led by a female Ork called Grishelda. They kept to themselves for fear of a bandit ambush but were otherwise polite.
Several days later still a small wooden airship with great metal nets was seen near one of the mountain tops. It is unclear who they bear allegiance to or if they are anything more than a civilian harvester of True Air.
They encountered some other foot traffic from the Haven direction, a handful of failed adventurers and merchants coming in small groups, telling tales of paying off or fleeing the Scorchers of the area.
They encountered a band of Scorcher cavalry, that swept down out of the hills after them. They tried to hide in the woods and built a fire they hoped might discourage the Scorchers, however they came into the woods anyway grateful for whoever started the evenings fire for them whilst the unveilers hid and snuck off by hugging the riverbank that night. Thankfully it looked as though the scorchers were going the other way.
Finally just a days walk outside the city they found a flock of wild gryphons descending on a pack of zebra. They tore the herd to shreds for a few moments, until a great dark teardrop descended from the sky accompanied by an unearthly loud clap of thunder.
It roasted the gryphons and their meals and took to the sky again all within a few seconds of each other.
The group risked the dragon's vengeance by running in to steal the remains of its meal putting down the one injured gryphoe that remained.
Then they entered Haven proper.
The entirety of Haven seems to have been built out of the scavenged stones from the old city walls of Parlainth that once stood nearly 10 meters tall and several meters thick. However the Haven walls are significantly shorter, a still impressive 4 meters tall, but only 2 meters at its base and 1 meter at the top.
The entrance to the town was lined with a mix of beggars and hawkers with a lot of blurred lines between the two. People offering to sell hard won map fragments, cryptic shards of pottery they claimed had a hidden message, good luck charms and items that they swear hold magical properties.
Inside the gates the town gave way to proper stalls of wood and stone where several Dwarven and T'Skrang merchants plied their wares. Mar caught one of these distant cousins in conversation and enquired about his magical wares and the location of Agraman's Import and Export.
They made their way past the T'Skrang's pavilion, a large tent open at the sides covering a large area which combined an open air market with an auction house, a social gathering and a debating forum.
They examined the wares, but they wanted to get to know the area a bit better before diving in to buy magical trinkets which would, at the very least, strain their purses.
Then they went to visit Agraman, a fat wealthy looking human who lived in the old quarter of the city. He welcomed everybody into his shop, where valuable patterned items lay behind expensive thick glass. After some shrewd negotiations from Borrath was more than happy to deal for the changing of the Theran gold into local currency (640 silver Marks for their 80 gold). He also mentioned that the principal person hiring at the moment was the wizard Hiermon, who had funded an expedition into the city that had returned successfully only today.
They stopped off at the major inn; Loak's Legacy. The Inn was large and roomy with several communal tables. They met up with another group who had just lost their leader to a rather unpleasant drowning trap inside the city and had nearly lost more to a score of cadavermen. They were drinking and having something of a wake.
They got a room for the night and heard a few rumours about Hiermon having retrieved something called the Everliving Flower. Not much is known about it except that it was a rare treasure lost before the scourge and is enclosed in crystal.
Before the evening ended they got a large single shared room for themselves at Loak's legacy.
Before turning in for the night, they decided to visit the various drinking establishments. The Last Brick, a cheap tavern near the city gates frequented by those too poor to drink elsewhere, for whom the promise of endless riches of Parlainth turned to dead friends and squandered fortunes. It was cheap but the beer was sub-par and wealthier individuals came here to hire cheap labour for less risky projects. There was a bard who offered to play for a silver and managed to strike up a cheerful tune called the Madman of Tormaline about a man who predicted the future and was ignored by all he tried to help. In the end those who dismissed him suffered terrible fates whilst the man in question went on to live in prosperity.
Their next stop was the Screaming Fountain, a place near the bazaar, once popular and prestigious and certainly more upmarket than the Last Brick. The bazaar had taken its core business of wealthy merchants and left them as a middle ground drinking establishment. Its once proud murals and painted walls were peeling. However inside were a group of merchants who had tried to trade with the Blood Wood and came back with stories of skinned people and Theran spies. Fortunately they managed to trade with a different group and managed to pick up some True Earth which they wanted to trade in Haven. They listened intently about the tale of Dirac and the Frozen Therans as well as the heroics of the Unveilers themselves earning a few rounds of drinks.
Finally they went to bed and rose in the morning to a hearty breakfast at Loak's Legacy.
In the morning they visited Brenula's arms. Brenula herself was dressed fashionably and carried only a small handaxe of magical construction for defence and observed them through a crystal pendant before introducing herself.
Magrat ordered a ringmail shirt for himself and they admired Brenula's wares. Golliath turned on the charm and tried to woo Brenula, who was at least receptive to his limited charms.
They mentioned the Amulet of Dirac and she locked up her valuables and went to speak to the wizard Hiermon.
She bid them to go upstairs to see Hiermon, an an old dwarf looking to be over a hundred, in a cluttered room.
They showed him the amulet and impressed upon him its story. He explained that he could unravel its mysteries if they would be willing to undertake a journey on his behalf to collect some Blood Moss from the elves of the Blood Wood.
He stressed that the journey may be dangerous, but nothing that they could not handle and after some careful negotiation from Borrath he agreed to part with a moderately valuable golden eye that allows people to perceive astral space and give the Unveilers access to some of his magical collection for long enough to learn a spell each. In addition he provided Goliath with a simple booster potion and letters of credit for 50 silver marks for each member of the party.
However he also insisted that a blood oath be sworn by a member of the party, something which Goliath volunteered for. It would weaken his constitution until the oath is fulfilled and has dire consequences for failing to uphold it.
Heirmon agreed to uncover the secrets of the item before they left and provide the payment described. In exchange Goliath swore to return to him with a living sample of Blood Moss within 4 lunar months (apparently the moss has great utility in age extension potions when used with True Wood).
True to his word he uncovered the 5 questions of the Amulet of Dirac:
- The name of the item: "The Amulet of Dirac" (adds +1 to your armour value)
- The name of the passion he invoked as he died - "Galen" (Adds +1 to mystic armour value)
- Dirac’s Full Name - "Dirac Tol Amarra" (Acts as a healing potion - Self only once per day, but causes fatigue)
- His dying words - "Galen give me the strength to defeat this creature, though it means my life" (Acts as a desperate spell or desperate blow blood charm - Against horrors only but causes a -1 penalty to vigour for 24 hours afterward)
- The name of the Horror he slew in battle - "Adugank" (Acts as a last-change potion - resurrection can cause fatigue, loss of vigour and other problems.)
After picking up some supplies with their letter of credit (An extra light crystal and a healers kit) and collecting their loaned horses. They set out through the city gates to the Blood Wood.
Episode 6 - The Ambush Edit
The greatest challenge was the horses. Coming from a settlement that never had much in the way of horses, the Unveilers to a man had never ridden before. So the first few hours were a contest of wills between riders trying to make every option but forward as undesirable to their mounts at possible and their mounts desire to be anywhere else, thankfully after a the first few hours the horses largely conceded.
Late in the day the group passed employees of House Syrtis, mostly humans and orks wearing aquamarine blue with an embroidered silver dragon upon them. A sign that anybody interfering with them would draw the wrath of their normally peaceful employers. With axes and sickles they were cutting back the Thornspike Jungle away from the path, gathering plenty of fuel in the process onto two large carts keeping the rough path through the jungle open for trade.
The first night was accompanied by struggling to get the horses in and out of their tack and saddles, But they set off again in the morning only to be greeted by an armed patrol of name-givers dressed in sombre silver and black uniforms emblazoned with skull motifs. Each one carried weapons with the professional demeanour of an Adept who knew how to use them. Their leader called a brief halt and greeted the group. Enquiring how far they were from their destination in Parlainth and introducing himself as a Captain of the Grim Legion. As his group removed their helmets and gauntlets, their bodies showed the scars of torture and wanton mutilation.
Borrath had heard of them, survivors of Horror attacks, often the last survivors of their groups or settlements. Fanatically dedicated to the destruction of the horrors even at the cost of their own lives. Their mission is to throw themselves bodily at the Horrors with steadfast determination until every last one has been banished from the world. They are few, but tend to be fierce and unstoppable opponents, but they bid the Unveilers a good day and proceeded onward to their almost certain deaths.
The following day was more sombre as they passed by some foothills where the trees seemed to close in around them.
Then Goliath found an arrow had been inserted underneath his breastplate and a haughty voice spoke out urging them to surrender their valuables and threatening instant death to those who refused. Saying that he had them surrounded by skilled archers in the undergrowth.
However in an instant, Borrath threw up a sphere of inky darkness and hid himself which confounded the archers, as they fired blindly into the blackness. Magrat blended with the surroundings and Goliath moved to protect Borrath, which was fortunate as the most skilled of the attackers managed a lucky shot that almost hit him, but instead only winded Goliath as it dented his breastplate.
An unseen illusionist tried to break the darkness with a light incantation, but was't able to overcome Borrath's enchantment.
Another rain of arrows missed their mark except for another glancing blow against Goliath. But only Borrath could see out of the darkness. But even with the advantage of his life-sight the attackers were too heavily concealed for him to spot them.
Finally the illusionist broke the spell, opening everybody up, with some of the attacking archers exclaiming that their boss hadn't told them this was a party entirely composed of adepts.
Magrat spotted one of the attackers in the canopy and struck them with an ice spear and another fell to Borrath's bone dance whilst Goliath covered him. He tried to throw his hammer up, but with it's weight it was a slow and ponderous projectile and barely glanced his target.
Then the illusionist shouted to their leader "here, make this count" and the few traces of her that were visible disappeared. The master archer was on the ground some distance away and shot and arrow that split into a three more and peppered Magrat. However the Amulet of Dirac not only saved his life, but allowed him to shrug off the injury almost completely.
With only one of their hirelings left, the illusionist and the archer, the archer focused on Goliath who was able to absorb the blow. The illusionist tried and failed to bewitch Goliath and the hireling managed only a glancing shot on Magrat.
The final hireling appeared to be left alone and was easily knocked from their perch whilst the illusionist seemed unwilling to reveal herself and the master archer had fled.
They almost persuaded the illusionist to give herself up, but she decided she was safer running.
The hirelings it turned out were from the Last Brick inn, where they had been hired by a Human named Sogora to retrieve some "stolen property". Particularly the chest that they were carrying. They also mentioned the illusionist was hired as well. A female ork called Autumn. Before they left Magrat told them to spread the story of what happened to others, which they agreed to.
They tried to track Autumn but with her illusions it was easy for her to evade them. They let the ambushers go, taking some of their chain armour which Goliath adjusted as they travelled. Although it was a bit too heavy on Borrath's shoulders. They rode for almost 2 weeks more, hitting open countrysides, with understandably cautious farmers, who were reluctant to let them share their fires, but were willing to concede space in their barn.
Eventually they came to the gates of Midland Trading Post, where their silver and art were welcomed, at least provisionally and they were directed to the nearest inn.
[You will have a level 1 reputation in the Parlainth area next time you go there, giving a bonus to social rolls due to people recognising you and your deeds, both in Tureem and with the bandits]
Episode 7: The Midland Trading Post Edit
The Unveilers arrived in the trading post mid-afternoon, where their horses were stabled, and they were invited into The Disillusioned Elf for a drink. Legbreaker who worked the bar offered them cheap drinks and offered to arrange rooms and to store their valuables in the vault if they wanted, Goliath found his drink tasted odd, but was offered another instead. They all drank very heavily that night and retired to their rooms. They had 2 rooms available, Magrat and Goliath took one, Borrath and Mar T'zik took the other.
In the middle of the night Magrat awoke quietly. Somebody was in their room rummaging through Draka's Knapsack. The figure grabbed the box from Hiermon when Magrat woke, confronted the thief who turned out to be Legbreaker. and she confessed that her younger cousin Azure had been kidnapped by Sogora last night and he threatened to kill the boy unless Legbreaker took the box to a pre-arranged location.
The Unveilers said that they would rescue her cousin and to that end set-off in the middle of the night to a large valley, almost a mile across. with thick woodlands on either side of the valley. Magrat dressed in Legbreakers cloak took a sack with a lump of wood in it and rode out to the tree stump where they were instructed to put the chest.
The others went into the Southern side of the valley into the treeline on foot. Mar T'zik unfortunately stood on a wasps nest as they moved through the forest, giving away their presence to an extent. An arrow shot out from the south and hit the tree trunk near Magrat with a message on the arrow demanding he left and Legbreakers cousin would be set free.
Borrath used his life sense and caught a glimpse of a figure in the distance, they gave chase. The Nethermancers darkness and then his Bone Dance allowed the group to catch up to Sogora. They piled onto him and restrained him without too much trouble.
However he refused to talk, even after a day of being tormented by Borrath, he would still not crack. Eventually he offered a deal. He would be allowed to go free and tell them of his employers in exchange, he would tell them of the boys location. They agreed, and he told them he was hired by Agraman in Haven to retrieve an item called the Everliving Flower. He then led them to a distant bit of forest, where they found Azure, badly fatigued and dehydrated tied professionally to a tree. He had had a finger removed by Sogora, so although they stayed true to their word, they cut off Sogora's little finger as well and left him naked to find his own way back home.
They were welcomed back into Midland as heroes although Gert wanted to punish Legbreaker more severely for fear of the Harbingers, he decided to instead exile her from the settlement for a year and a day. Despite offers of assistance, she made clear that she was being fairly punished and refused kind offers of assistance. She would take the road to Throal where she has some family and try to find work there instead before she returned. In the morning, the Unveilers were ready to leave, fully provisioned by Gurt out of his own pocket as an apology for the breach of hospitality that he took so seriously.
Episode 8: Strawberry Fields and the Blood Wood Edit
Leaving the Midland Trading Post full of supplies, they headed East across open and exposed fields out toward the Blood Wood. On the second day of their journey, they were accosted by a dozen Ork Scorcher cavalry. Mercenaries apparently hired by Sogora to retrieve the box. They approached confidently and demanded the box, however using Earthblend Magrat had taken their money and the box and concealed himself using an Earthblend spell.
Borrath claimed that Sogora already had the box, a claim that the short orkish leader clearly didn't believe for a moment as Sogora had hired him only a few days ago. Borrath invited the Scorchers to search the group, which they did, not finding the chest. The leader of the orks knew about the missing member of their team and Borrath claimed that they had gone out scouting. The leader clearly suspected this was a lie, but after a fruitless morning of searching, they called it off and headed back to Midland.
Concerned about further interruptions, they sought a less travelled route and went North to an area called the Strawberry Fields. An area of Theran magical experimentation, where before the scourge they had experimented with using magic to grow crops of unusual size. The place became a battlefield when the first significant Horror incursions began and a large Theran force was utterly wiped out. Today the area is filled with vast strawberries and covered in wildlife. Although the Strawberries themselves have grown bitter to the taste and astral space has been horribly tainted for centuries.
As they travelled the outskirts of the Strawberry fields, Magrat picked up one of the small rusted daggers from the field as a memento.
Staying to the edge of the fields, they managed to travel almost a week without incident and as suddenly as they began the fields stopped and the route became light copses of trees and tundra.
After another two days Golliath spotted carrion birds on the horizon. a large flock of crows, ravens and other scavengers. Approaching the place, it reeked of death, with ten dead and their two wagons in ruins not including several mules and horses.
Mar T'zik used his golden eye to see into astral space and saw that it was horribly corrupted from the recent events. Suspecting a Horrors involvement; Mar, Goliath and Borrath retreated to a safe distance, keeping an eye on Magrat.
Magrat investigated the bodies and found a few tokens (Some indicating that they were allies of House Sythis) as well as a hastily scrawled note from a dwarven merchant that read: "Day 30 - Still no sign of the others, ran out of water, have been trying to drink the dew from the morning grass to survive" despite him clearly dying no more than a few feet away from his companions.
Among the dead, he inspected a corpse that against all odds, still held a very faint spark of life, his breath was barely discernible and his body wracked by thirst and exposure. His limbs had been twisted by some strange magic leaving him unable to fend for himself or even move.
Calling the others over, Goliath dismantled some of the carts axles and fashioned a hasty travoir to carry the injured man in. They left almost immediately, despite seeing shining silver in the undergrowth leading to the woods. The victim could not speak and was only able to murmur incoherently for the two days it took to ride South.
They crossed paths with a farming family on their way back home after visiting a larger market settlement and paid them to escort the man they rescued back to somewhere that they could find him more serious medical aid.
They shared a fire with the settlers that night and Goliath received a dream. A beautiful troll woman in a white dress that seemed oddly familiar, extending her hands to him. She was distrustful of the vision and declined her invitation to take her hands. Only in the morning after breakfast did he recall a statue to Galen in one of the Kaers that closely resembled the troll in his dream and spent the day regretting his choice to withdrawn his hands from her.
The settlers departed South and the group headed back out towards the Blood Wood.
They reached it a few days later, finding the forest increasingly thick and dense. with a sweet rotten smell of composting earth and thick pollen even in late autumn.
The trees grew so close together that even during the day, it was like moving at night and they had to dismount or risk injuring the horses.
After some time, Goliath became aware that they were being watched and indeed he suspected, had been surrounded.
When Borrath realised this, he called out a challenge to the people surrounding him and when one of them stepped out into the light, he issued a challenge to them in the elven tongue of Sperethiel, demanding they show themselves.
A figure seemed to fade into view from the undergrowth. His armour was made from the same bark and leaves as the trees themselves.
He introduced himself as Kalourin, a warder of the Blood Wood. They refused to discuss their business, but showed him the tokens given to them by the wizard Hiermon. stated that they had been invited by Warder Takaris. Rather bluntly Kalourin directed them to a previously invisible avenue of trees that lined a trail and gave them strict instructions not to stray from the path.
Mar T'zik told them the tale of how the Wyrm Wood became the Blood Wood. The Elf Queen Alachia too proud to use the Kaer knowledge of the Therans. She had her citizens weave magic into the wood its self to keep them safe. However after only a few years the defences began to break down. They were almost over-run by the horrors when it was discovered that those already in unimaginable suffering were passed over by the horrors. So in desperation, Queen Alachia ordered the casting of the ritual of Thorns, a curse on her subjects and the Wyrm Wood its self that caused sharp thorns to grow in the flesh of all elves of the area. After this, the cursed place became known as the Blood Wood.
They rode nearly 2 days in single file until they came to a vast clearing. The trees here had been twisted and bent together into structures, it was beautiful in a way but also disturbing.
The elf who confronted them previously, the haughty warden Kalourin, was now dressed in fine robes and enquired again about their business, saying that Warder Takaris was aware of them and would be joining then shortly.
Until then he showed them to a room clearly designed as a place to entertain guests. He spoke to them a little, but finally their host Warder Takaris arrived. The two Wardens shot each other polite, but cold looks and Kalourin was dismissed.
Takaris welcomed his guests and invited them to take a seat. He said that whilst he was happy to collect the Blood Moss, he did not have any prepared at the moment, as he had been busy investigating a band of Theran slavers not far from the edge of the Blood Wood. However he said that if the Unveilers would be willing to investigate the matter on his behalf, then he could fetch the Blood Moss swiftly.
The Unveilers agreed and Takaris invited them to stay the night as guests, extending them his hospitality and a servant who would see to their needs.
Episode 9: The Slavers Edit
Accepting Blood Warder Takaris's invitation, they stayed for the evening. Mar asked for one of their poets, and there was a round of warm baths in a clean copper tub, followed by a massage.
They were clearly good hosts, but very stand-offish, reluctant to reveal very much and careful to politely insist that their guests did not leave.
The Poet told an epic of the Elven creation myth, that they were created by Jaspree (Passion of nature and life) to be the companion to the Great Oak that lives at the heart of the forest and were given custodianship over all elven-kind. He also read the lament of Queen Dalia, who was cruelly eaten whole by the Great Dragon Alamaise as she travelled out of the wood for the first time on a diplomatic mission.
Above them, a portrait of the current Queen Alachia rested, watching over them,
They were fed a carefully prepared meal with Blood wine (A dry red, with a kick like well-aged brandy, but with a thick consistency vaguely akin to blood.) and Estelian wine (A white wind that tasted pleasantly like a blend between pear cider and spiced mead)
The starter was cress soup, Wild deer served in a glaze of red onion, red-purple carrots and bitter orange served with a vegetable tart, roasted dodo stuffed with rose petals and a dessert of caramelised plums.
After a restful nights sleep they were met by one of Takaris's minions, a scout named Shadow.
She escorted them out through the populated clearings and moved them down onto a narrow avenue of trees. Occasionally stopping to leave the path, either to change paths or avoid some unseen danger.
Mid-way through the second day, they break through the trees, out onto the open plains, where Shadow says she will wait for them for as much as 7 days, after which she will leave unless she has heard from them.
Magrat casts a Find-home spell to mark the place and they ride off to one of the nearby settlements. A suspiscious pair of common elves greet them from over the top of a palisade, but they brush-off Magrats attempts to get any information. So Mar leaves and comes back just under an hour later in the guise of an elven bard. Persuading them that his money was good and that he didn't want to stay long, he managed to get in to visit the general store. He discovered that the village had been harassed by a caravan of 3 covered wagons and their escort of a dozen odd-thugs.
The attackers were turned away by the villagers at the wall, which explained their prickly demeanour. Still Mar purchased a few supplies, including a bag of strawberries and they went on their way in the direction that the villagers indicated.
They rode late into the evening, but Mar's horse was uncooperative. Come morning they found a settlement with earthworks, as they approached they found a mostly aged population clutching at spears fearful and angry. They reported that several of their people had been taken by a band of slavers who had turned from the settlement and headed back towards the Blood Wood.
They rode to try and catch up but Mar's horse threw a shoe. Thankfully Goliath had some spare scraps of metals and was able to fashion a make-shift replacement and Magrat was able to help the horse recover from the resulting limp. They rode through the night and came across a camp of three wagons and a couple of large tents.
Ambushing them at night Mar shot flaming arrows at the tent, forcing those inside to run out unprepared.
Borrath snuck off to help the prisoners, whilst Goliath charged in, supported by ice-spears from Magrat.
They began quickly hacking down the alarmed slavers, but Goliath was struck several times by darts rich in powerful tranquillisers. It took 3 darts before he fell that would likely have knocked a lesser being out in an instant.
Mar attempted to help and Magrat also came to his aid, but Mar sensed a powerful Horror that descended on the battlefield in the form of a thick mist, hurting both ranged attacks and attempts to draw down magical power.
The horrors power struck and stunned them both giving Warden Kalourin (the source of the poisoned darts) a chance to come out and join the fray. Golliath briefly roused and managed to cut the Blood Elf badly across his face, before being taken down again, this time for good. As Mar and Magrat dealt with the last of the attackers, Magrat was taken out by more darts and one of the last survivors of the caravan fighters managed to restrain Mar.
The Unveilers had been captured, and their captors debate their fate...
Episode 10: Kaer Akarem Edit
Waking up on the cold hard ground of a dark room, the Unveilers nursed tender heads from the drugs that has knocked them unconscious. They were in a room of black stone, sodden and bare, except for a small hole in the wall serving as a window and a thick wooden door plagued with rot.
Mar related what he heard from the slavers before he was knocked out. There was a human who emerged from the covered wagon after the fight was over, named Fegis Kul,
He began to argue with Warder Kalourin about the disaster, unhappy about the death of his men. The blood elf retorted that he and his people were expendable and that he was more valuable to Fegis's masters than Fegis himself was. Stating that it was Kalourin's patron who warned of the incoming attack and prevented Fegis and his whole caravan from being killed by the Unveilers.
He began to raise some of the dead guards as cadaver men and forced them to chase down one of the caravan guards who was trying to flee. He said they would be sent to Kaer Akarem to feed the Mist. Then Mar was knocked out and his story ended.
Goliath recounted a surreal dream he had just had about taking a written test on a sailing ship that kept tossing from side to side, he was trying to do cursive writing but the pen always got smaller making it impossible to hold. Then he had somebody come to him in his dream and say that he should trust art.
After some digging around where Borrath discovered some graffiti on the ceiling that said “Dance is the language of the soul, listen to it, even if it is hard to hear.” and Magrat looked down at the village outside from the window entirely shrouded in mist, but with some signs of life.
Most alarmingly when Borrath tried to dance, he found the steps did not flow one from the other, but left him moving around from one position to the next gracelessly and mechanically. When Mar used his astral eye, it appeared that each of them bore the mark of the Horror that dwelt here. Mar could recall there were several ways of removing these marks, but he could not remember them all. Certainly a powerful wizard could unweave the spiritual scar and staying over 100 miles away from the horror for a year and a day was also a possibility. Magrat suggested maybe killing the Horror could be effective.
They did not have their weapons and so decided they should get out of there.
In astral space they tried to quiz a nearby Earth elemental, but it corrupt nature led it to snap at Magrat and depart without saying more than to insinuate that they were food for the Mist and it would soon claim them.
Magrat tried to batter down the door, but ended tripping and running into it head first. Whilst Goliath managed to punch it off its hinges on the first try. Their weapons were piled up not far from their door and they quickly re-armed.
They were in a rough half-destroyed stepped pyramid that was once hidden beneath a mound of earth and left hastily, relying on the Sextant of Shantaya, however after nearly half an hour of moving away from the Kaer, the sextant reading changed and they emerged back in the village on the other side of the Kaer.
Entering the settlement, the people were listless and barely responsive. One person they quickly grabbed gave a handful of tired sounding lies, looking like he had been drained utterly. The buildings were simple stone structures with clay tiles, that were in a poor state of repair, but there were no inns, schools or farm houses they could see, nothing but rows of bland black stone homes.
They resolved that instead of going elsewhere, they should seek out the cause of this misery inside the ruined Kaer before it sapped the life and will from them as well.
Inside they found the central spiral stairs and descended nearly 10 flights before narrowing down and being replaced by metal bars that served as a ladder. On seeing this and that the drop appeared to be nearly endless, Magrat panicked and hugged the wall, loudly stating that he would not go near such a long drop.
There were numerous side-tunnels as Borrath and Mar descended, Mar used his rope trick spell to safely secure himself to the bars with the rope as he climbed down. Borrath reached the bottom first and found that the ladder ended in water and that there the bottom was not easily found. They saw some shapes in the distance and climbed back up to report.
Deciding that the bottom of the Kaer was a logical place to begin their search, they went down. Goliath knocked out Magrat and carried him down on one shoulder.
Arriving at the bottom, they were frustrated by the lack of a floor and threw Magrat in the water to wake him up.They clutched onto the rope as a swarm of Krilworms flew up to them. They swarmed at bit at them all, particularly Borrath who suffered the worst of the injuries.
They could fight them, but on such poor footing it was difficult and they decided to climb back up. Thankfully some Krillworms are poor at gaining altitude and they were able to outdistance them by climbing up. Although the panicked Magrat got off at the first available side-passage.
This particular one led to a cavern full of buildings like a marketplace, plenty of shops and businesses, oddly well preserved, but no houses.
Then Goliath and Borrath spotted movement between the buildings. They had spotted a ghostly humanoid figure which they ran after.
The figure looked at them lonely and cold and gestured to them to join her in a dance, which Borrath accepted.
Her dance was wild and kept increasing in speed as she moved. Borrath gained tiny flickers of memories. The Kaer being breached by the Mist, it turning people mad and against each other.
However as he was at breaking point, Borrath looked into her eyes and saw the person herself, not just the information she held. He felt her pain and loneliness for a moment and she slowed her dance, a vision revealed a ritual that can be used against the mist.
The mist holds a white pearl within its self. The pearl must be taken to the shrine of Garlan, placed in front of the hearth whilst it is lit and the name of the village is spoken. Unfortunately they do not know the location of the shrine or the pearl, but they are one step closer to unravelling the mystery.
As she revealed this, her ghostly form faded and melted into light leaving the Unveilers alone in the dark of the Kaer.
Episode 11: The Mist Edit
As Borrath sat down exhausted by the dance, Magrat came over to have a look at his injuries. Whilst the wrenching and racking of his body was bad, he had escaped largely unscathed. However he did have a number of bites the oozed with puss due to bites from the Krillworms.
Magrat quickly applied a salt compress to draw out the toxin from the wound and applied some purgatives and sought refuge at a small forge where some remaining coal was still available to make a fire. Unfortunately this meant they needed to stay put for nearly a whole night to rest and recuperate.
After a night of troubled dreams and whispering sounds from the darkness, they woke to continue their search, from the bottom of the Kaer to its peak. Travelling through several tunnels they came across some of the residential areas where homes were built over several levels carved into the cliff face of the cavern.
Beyond this and down a steep stair, they came across another set of homes, but this one had signs of a struggle. Corpses mummified by the sterile environment were locked in what must have been a fight to the death which nobody won.
Borrath managed to spy a wearing of the stone that led to an apparently solid wall of packed earth, which had numerous holes in it. Unable to see too far beyond it, Goliath took his hammer to the wall and smashed through. Beyond was a catacomb, individual graves were dug into the rock face and sealed shut with stone plugs.
Searching for the pearl they were told of, they broke open some of the graves. Magrat saw the dead wearing silver clasps around their burial shrouds, well made and probably worth a fair amount of money. Magrat was uninterested and Goliath didn't want to appear disrepectful, but as they searched for the pearl Borrath decided to grab a few, so he had his head inside a tomb when the Mist manifested and began animating four of the long-dead bodies that had been uncovered as a type of near skeletal Cadavermen.
It manifested as an ethereal cloud of fog nearly impossible to discern from its surroundings with a skull-like face glowing in its centre.
It roared, freezing Goliath to the spot in terror and throwing its weight at Magrat.
The cadavermen crawled from their graves except for one that Borrath caused to seal its self back into its crypt.
they tried to strike back, but they wisely realised that it was almost impossible to harm with conventional weapons due to its ephemeral form.
Thankfully Mar's ephemeral bolt was able to overcome its resistance and scored some deep initial wounds.
Borrath managed to deal with most of the Cadavermen aided by Goliath. either sealing them away or bone-dancing them down deep drops or being reduced to paste by Goliath's hammer.
However the Mist focused all its energy on beating him down and only a timely intervention from Magrat stopped him from being drowned. However the Mist eventually broke Mar's defences and with a gut wrenching blow to his sternum, Mar was out of the fight.
The Mist had lost its followers, but it had taken down the only one able to easily harm it.
So it turned its attention back to the rest of the Unveilers, particularly Magrat.
Goliaths hammer was unable to significantly harm the ethereal creature, and Magrats ice-spears were only able to get the occasional hit, driving the beast back momentarily. Borrath tried to vary his efforts, trying to capture parts of it in a bottle, shrouding it in magical darkness and otherwise trying to come up with a new angle of attack.
Eventually with Magrat on the ropes, Borrath found that the simplest of his cantrips, wet/dry was oddly effective against the creature. Magrat resorted to blood magic and drawing on the power of the amulet threw a blood red spear of ice into the creature, but the mist recoiled from the worst of the harm.
The lone cadaver-man managed to break out of its prison and mauled Borrath, which was finished off by Goliath. Then Borrath let out a final attempt at blood magic slashing the veins on his other arm and fatally wounded the spirit by destroying its water vapour causing it to disappear into the Astral leaving behind the white pearl that the Spectral dancer had shown them.
Borrath's wounds were severe but with a booster potion he was able to be roused back to conciousness
Mar was not quite so lucky, his body struck by the immense force of the Mist was badly injured. Something that would require a master to heal, but alive.
Episode 12: Cleansing Edit
With Mar, Borrath and Magrat all badly injured and Goliath being the only one standing tall, Goliath knelt down to scoop up the pearl left by the Mist.
Recovering their breath and tending to their numerous wounds, Goliath and Magrat heard faint sounds coming from one of the tombs.
Goliath broke the seal on one of the tombs and within they found some of the slaves that had been taken by the Fergis Kul and the blood elf warden Kalourin. They were able to free half a dozen of them and helped them back to their feet with food and water. They were evidently being kept alive as a source of pain, fear and suffering by the Mist to feed upon.
With the pearl they now needed to locate the shrine. With the help of the rescued victims they climbed up through a pair of large store rooms and another residential cavern. Passing a long abandoned hydroponics facility, an administrative area and a former garden lit by light crystals that was now dangerously overgrown. Magrat stopped to grab a couple of the remaining crystals.
Heading across the other side of the Kaer they discovered an old library, where it appeared, the last brave librarians had barricaded themselves inside with the aim of preserving the Kaer's precious knowledge.
Not wanting to revisit the long central shaft of the Kaer, Magrat stayed in the library with Borrath whilst Mar and Goliath explored one of the largest caverns in the Kaer.
This one proved to be a series of underground fields. However the only plants remaining were those that eked out a living beneath one of the few remaining light crystals, leaving the area both barren and overgrown at the same time.
Regrouping back at the library contained a record of the Kaer's history. Originally built as a salt mine by Akarem the Mage-Builder before the scourge, the mage re-enforced it and expanded it to create a Kaer on the eve of the scourge and invited people to join him.
Records indicated that nearly 100 years before other Kaers opened their doors, a mist seeped into the Kaer. It spoiled food and frayed tempers, the starving population were kept together by an appeal to their communal spirit and food was rationed. However it was discovered that a group of guards who had been tasked with investigating a disappearance had themselves been responsible for the crime. They had killed and eaten several people before their cannibalism was discovered.
After that, the people of the Kaer separated out into their own groups, many barricaded themselves away only to starve to death, or close to it.
The librarians recorded no further.
Heading upwards they found a guard outpost with bodies littering the floor. When examining them however, several animated and pounced on the heroes. They had the hungry eyes of Ghuls, undead creatures driven by a cannibalistic urge.
Thankfully they managed to overcome the creatures and decided to rest inside the zigurat. The people they had rescued managed to go hunting and come back with some rabbits that they cooked up.
After some solid rest, they set about exploring the rest of the zigurat. Heading to the top floor, they found a large ornate pair of double doors, decorated in silver, gold and bronze depicting a forced perspective of a grand banquet.
Mar's astral eye spotted some enchantment upon the door frame and Goliath recalled that the passion Garlen did not like weapons inside her sanctuaries. So they left their weapons outside.
Inside the shrine was well decorates displaying all sorts of art. There was also a large hearth fire (lit from below in the forge), a grand table and a statue presiding over everything. A female figure with her arms outstretched and in front of her was an ornate staff, red and silver metals twined around each other raising to a metal hand clutching a gem at the end.
Goliath performed the ritual, speaking aloud the name of Kaer Akarem whilst holding the pearl above the hearth fire of the shrine.
As he did, the temple began to crumble around them, the top and outer walls fell away harmlessly, giving them an unobstructed view of the nearby village.
The pearl began to glow with light and shine out across the area, piercing the mist. People stumbled from their houses, young and old and began to climb the pyramid towards the light. As they ascended its steps, they seemed to age, growing visibly older with each step, until they reached the pinacle, thanked Goliath, turned to the statue and embraced it, crumbling to dust, their spirits visible for a few moments afterwards.
In the wake of this the astral taint of the area vanished and the mist cleared completely.
The survivors that they rescued offered to take them to a nearby settlement where they were welcomed with open arms.
Despite being unexpected and roused early, they gave up their finest beds and the services of their healer. Slaughtered a boar and made the Unveilers welcome. Serving them with a rich type of mead made from a very sweet form of tree sap and refreshing their supplies. They had no horses, but were happy to gift them a donkey that could be used for carrying their gear.
The following days with some of the wounds much healed, they made their way to the Blood Wood where they agreed to meet their guide Shadow.
However whilst the path still remained, she was gone. A brief search found her body hastily hidden about 10 paces in. She had marks from the same darts that Blood Warder Kalourin had used and further searching found one of his stray darts.
They took her body with them and proceeded deeper down the path.
After a couple of hours travel, humanoid-figures made entirely of twisted thick thorns burst out of the undergrowth towards them, but with quick reflexes the Unveilers cut them down in seconds.
Running after them came a band of Blood Elves who took the Unveilers captive upon seeing the body of Shadow and hearing their explanation that they were there on orders of a Blood Warder. They demanded the surrender of the unveilers weapons but swore a blood oath that they would defend them with their lives on their way to the capital. The patrol were unmoved by their stories as they had not been told of the Unveilers mission in this area.
They were escorted for 2 days and returned to what appeared to be the same settlement they stayed at last time.
Blood Warder Takaris was overjoyed to see the group.With news that the Unveilers had information that would destroy his rival utterly, he had prepared ample amounts of Blood Moss and hinted at further rewards. However until then they were able to avail themselves his hospitality again.
Episode 13: Gratitude of the Blood Wood. Edit
The Unveilers were invited to stay the night again in the same lodge where they were kept previously, the one seemingly designed with guests in mind.
They were concerned about their safety despite the presence of Takaris's own guards. However they were wined and fed to their contentment, before in the evening, an elderly Blood Elf came to visit. He introduced himself as Mereth a senior advisor to the Queen and wanted a full account of the betrayal of Warder Kalourin.
His assistant drew a circle of what seemed like salt on the floor and performed other arcane observations before inviting the group to sit in its center and tell him about the events surrounding Kaer Akarem. IF they spoke a lie the circle would glow red, evasions or half-truths it would glow yellow and truths would show a muted green.
After a whole evening of questions Mereth seemed satisfied and advised the Kalourin was being hunted for his treason, but had left the Blood Wood only a short time ago, heading South East. He also suggested the Mar's wounds might be healed by the power of the Everliving Flower, if he wished to visit the gardens tomorrow.
They slept in their armour that night, concerned at what the night might bring. However their fears were unfounded, and aside from stiff backs, they were none the worse for it. Takaris offered to escort them to the gardens and took them on a 2 hour hike through the Blood Wood leading them into a more densely populated area.
On the way the Unveilers saw a procession with people dressed in fine robes and carrying two young elves, each about 12 by human standards, on a palanquin. Oddly the two young elves lacked any indication of the thorns shared by the adults.
Eventually they broke through the mass of trees into a clearing of sorts filled with a vast hedge-maze that comprised the Queens gardens. In the heart of the maze, 6 grand oaks were twisted together to form a single palatial structure.
Guarding the entrance to the maze were 4 heavily armed elves, each one wearing what appeared to be wooden plate armour. However they parted and allowed Warder Takaris to lead you in.
Inside were miles of close thorny hedge separating small garden enclaves, each one with its own theme.
Magrat found an arbour, a passage with flowers growing like a roof over the top of the wider path. Embedded into the walls were bells, chimes and whistles that were carefully arranged to play a delicate tune.
There was an Aviary, in which the plants below ensnared the smallest and slowest of the birds, wrapping them in tendrils and leaving only skeletal remnants.
Another clearing contained nothing but butterflies and caterpillars. The caterpillars seemed to either emerge as butterflies or go into ever-more obese forms of consumption, whilst the butterflies grew almost to the size of dinnerplates and your guide advised you to avoid touching them as their wings were fragile, but sharp as razors.
Mar discovered a tiny hidden garden, where plants were arrayed in tiered flower beds, although their colours were somewhat unsettling, some petals were an odd hard-to define colour between orange and blue, others were shades that merged red and green, the entire place induced some quite potent headaches.
Eventually Goliath came to a clearing with a large tree that seemed to weep and spread an intense sense of melancholy. Beneath the tree was a young elven boy with his back to the group. When they introduced themselves he turned around, revealing a face ruined by thorns, that pierced his eyes, nose and mouth in a disturbing mess that likely left him blind.
He said he was a Prince and asked if they were in his mothers favour.
Being a seer he could offer a glimpse of the past present or future.
Magrat declined, not wanting his path to be dicatated for him. Although he did enquire to Legbreakers health and was happy to know she was with family in Throal.
Mar asked about the present, who or what wanted to do them harm. He said that the Mist still lay before them.
Goliath asked twice about the future, presumably getting the benefit of Magrat's question instead.
Borrath also queried the future.
- “You have two paths before you. One leads down the fools road of ancient Parvainth. The other leads to Bartertown, where the world may pivot upon your words and deeds if you accept a task from the lone exile though you will not know its significance.”
- “There is a laughing man tied to the mast of the ship, he knows the truth. When the bolt slips, jump JUMP, JUMP, NOW!”
- “When you receive an invitation to the opera house, arrive early and take the front seats. You will be needed.”
- “The zealots say she is touched, they are right, but they know nothing of her importance, her soul is blue, do not fight them or innocents will die in the crossfire and you will lose your chance.”
- “The son is not the equal to his father, but he will only accept your aid if you offer it wisely and in the right moment.“
Then the boy excused himself, saying that he felt fatigued and left into the maze.
Takaris escorted them further in to the maze, past a display of topiary beasts all arrayed along the path. However he touched them each in turn and nothing happened.
Eventually they came to the garden of the Everliving Flower, something that must have been constructed or re-purposed only recently. There was a single stone plinth and the Everliving Flower floated above it entwined with strands of True Air that hung there delicately. Takaris mentioned that if he wanted to gain its benefits Mar would need to prick his finger on the throns.
When Mar did so it sent a bone-deep ache through his body, leaving him wracked with pain for a few minutes. However when the pain cleared, so did Mar's breathing problems and the wounds from the Mist's blows melted away.
Escorted back out of the garden to the lodge again they were invited to rest and Takaris was delighted to hear that the Unveilers did not intend to stay a moment longer than necessary. Magrat did enquire about Elven bows and supplies.
Come morning they were greeted with their horses, each one saddled, refreshed and loaded with supplies.
As a parting gift Takaris offered them a long box containing an Elven War-bow and a dozen arrows. A work of art Goliath could see the exquisite craftsmanship involved. The limbs of the bow were made from layers of 12 different types of wood and the string was arranged in a re-curve style. Giving it the punching power of a cavalryman's lance. Although the downside is that it needed somebody of nearly Goliath's strength to pull it at full draw.
They left the wood after 2 days, arriving about 40 miles South of where they had first entered the wood, they rode to the trading station. Setting out cross-country they rode until they came across a settlement raised up on a Mesa of rock surrounded by cultivated farms.
They spoke with the guard and were able to use the ox-driven lift to reach the top of the Mesa nearly 10 meters up.
Inside the Dancing Boar Inn, Magrat became instantly popular by buying rounds for the bar and starting a wave of other people to buy rounds. Leaving a happy innkeeper who offered them the use of the common room for free for the night.
Before sleeping Magrat's new friend Harold drunkenly muttered that they should not go into the mine as it might disturb "The Sleeper".
Episode 14: The Return Edit
They woke in the
morning early afternoon on the floor of the tavern, well and truly hung over.
Among the group of recovering inebriates was a young T'skrang wearing the colours of House K'Tenshin, the house of nine diamonds.
He approached Mar T'zik and thanked the unveilers for an excellent night of boozing before sticking his head in a water butt and coming back in. He mentioned that one good turn deserved another and that he had somebody to introduce them to. He introduced himself politely as K’soto K'Tenshin and ordered the hair of the dog to help them wake up.
Kaer Mesa is a large settlement, built in a rocky mesa that rises out of the surrounding plane. The region has a lot of mild volcanic activity with plentiful springs and soil rich in both fertility and rare elements including silver.
They wandered through the stone streets of a settlement not geographically much bigger than their home village, but more densely populated and focused more on skilled trade than farming. They passed a large central square dominated by a bronze statue of Chorrolis (Passion of Wealth, Trade, Desire and Ambition) where a man appealed for clues about his missing son who vanished some months ago. The town made most of its money by silver-mining, preparing and selling rare herbs as well as being an important centre of learning.
They approached the highest side of the Mesa dominated by two large buildings. A hospice of Garlen and the Mesa Medical and Alchemical academy. Visiting the hospice, they were introduced to a dwarf named Zoltan Chivay, the sole survivor of the caravan attack that the Unveilers saved some weeks ago. He did not recognise the Unveilers as he was unconscious at the time, but was soon happy to heap them with praise and a promise of reward for their heroic rescue.
With him was a human named Lambert, wearing the black armour and white skull helm of a member of the Grim Legion. He did not stay to talk, but Zoltan said that Lambert had managed to heal his twisted limbs with Nethermancy and was speaking to him about the possibility of joining the Grim Legion himself. As the sole survivor of a Horror attack, he was both eligible for membership and likely to begin developing a legend. The Legion offered to help train him. Zoltan was uncertain, but the Unveilers persuaded him to investigate the possibility of training as a healer.
He described the attack as eerily without violence. He simply became separated and trapped within a loop of space. Unable to eat and only with a small dirty pool for drinking water, he began to hallucinate and die of starvation of a period of many weeks. He was only saved after he passed out by the Unveilers.
An old lady clearly not in her right mind came over and began to pester Borrath believing him to be a relative of hers called Roger. However eventually the hospital staff took her back to her bed, with Mar subtly making the delusion more powerful. The Unveilers gifted him with the books of Kaer Akarem after Zoltan expressed an interest. He explained that Mesa was also constructed by Akaram the Mage Builder. Although it was always a mystery about where he went after this and where he gained his stash of True Elements. They filled in some of what they had learned from Kaer Akarem.
After overstaying their guest time at the hospice they went to visit the aerial gardens of Mesa, where thousands of different species of hanging plants were grown with hydroponics high above the ground. Borrath caught the attention of one of the gardeners and they went off to discuss herbology.
Magrat went out to buy some nicer more formal clothes (a kilt, short black leather coat, slashed with blue fabric showing through and a couple of nice shirts red and yellow with embroidered designs)
Mar went to talk to the local librarian at the Academy who he regaled with the stories of their adventures. The librarian showed him some texts on Horrors and details about Akaram when he discovered that they held the staff, he said that many people would dearly love to buy it from them.
Borrath met and exchanged the rare herbs of the Blood Wood for a large collection of hallucinogenic herbs. Although he said they dealt mostly in sedatives.
Meeting back up they tried to plan their next move, but instead drank a poppy-seed extract infused dry white wine (Called the Doctors Cure) and got terribly drunk again. Borrath had ground up some herbs into a liquid he planned to spike their drinks with. Meanwhike Mar paid a local troubadour to compose and sing an hour long epic of the adventures of Roger the Necromancer and his quartet of dancing skeletons. Unfortunately for him, he choked on some food and reached for Borrath's preparation of herbal extracts instead of the wine. Drinking a huge quantity, he became terribly delirious and more than a little sick and woke the next morning in a sack, suspended from one of the rails in the aerial gardens.
Magrat was nearby keeping an eye on him (although he was also the one that put him there in the first place)
They decided to decline the offer of people to bid for purchasing the staff and would instead keep it.
Leaving the next day they set off, well rested and healed over the bumpy heath-land.
After a couple of days journey they encountered a group of very stand-offish settlers. The one who spoke to them, a male human, said hello and was quite stone-faced, eventually bringing over some of their breakfast as a token of good will. Mar on the other hand saw their auras. They all had some sense of magical presence, which is very unusual, although it is hard to tell at a distance, the difference between a magical affliction and a horror mark, so it could be either. They carried only the most basic of weapons and lived without the protection of a wall and yet their large group of nearly 50 tents, seemed to be thriving. The Unveilers decided to live and let live and not ask too many awkward questions.
A few days more and they arrived in the Midland Trading post. They stopped off only briefly with Gert the Obsidiman owner greeting them at the gate in person.
Things appeared to be well, although the tavern was a bit tense, because the new bartender (Leg breaker's cousin that they helped rescue) was not experienced enough to break up a proper brawl. So people were taking pains to remain civil to each other to avoid a messy bar brawl.
Other than some free restocking, they headed off once again, travelling for several days before reaching the edge of the Poison Forest. Then finding the path they left from and passing the same work crew they saw last time, still fighting back the tangled mess of a forest and collecting firewood whilst they were at it.
They camped for the night just a few hours ride from Haven where their quest would finally be over.
Episode 15: The Vengence of a Blood Warder Edit
After a long journey the Unveilers arrived back in the settlement of Haven, passing up the long slope through the gates. They decided against a mid-afternoon beer and instead went straight to Brenula’s arms, the Ork weaponsmith who Hiermon lived above.
However when they arrived the shop was closed. They shouted up to Hiermon, but instead Brenula answered the door and ushered them inside.
As she did so, she was ushered into a back room by a cadaverman and the exterior door was closed behind them by a human.
The infuriating voice of Kalourin came through their heads from upstairs to everybody except Mar T’Zik who had had the horror mark removed by the Everliving Flower.
He explained that he had planned to overthrow the Queen of the Blood Wood for the greater good of his people. Her pride had both cursed all of his people to agony since puberty and every night he heard the screams of the newly transformed.
The Unveilers countered that they should have sought their aid rather than conspiring with Horrors and that if they were able to thwart his plans then his hand was not strong enough to have any chance of success at liberating his people.
The door from the workshop opened and a horde of cadaver-men came in (The remnants of the slaver-band that the Unveilers themselves helped kill, let by the now dead Fegis Kul).
They tried to overwhelm the unveilers, but simply managed to keep them occupied. Meanwhile from above Kalourin used the link they shared with the Horror to try and shatter their bones. He threw several of them but only seriously injured Borrath.
Goliath tried the door but it was shut and the stairs leading upward were blocked by other cadavermen.
As the fight progressed blood began to spill from the upper floor between the floor-boards down into the room and the cries of prisoners quickly turned to gurgled last breaths as Kalourin drew his power, not from his own blood, but from the sacrifices of others.
Mar T’zik decided to set the room on fire and managed to start a blaze on some of the curtains when a scrawny man burst into the room and fled to the door.
Kalourin continued to throw magic into the room and Magrat realised that the magical connection could be traced both ways and fired an ice-spear back along that same connection. The second spear managed to take Kalourin down.
By this point both Borrath and Goliath had tested the door and been unable to force their way through, but the man cried for his companion to open it up and immediately the door flew open.
A cadaverman caught Borrath and knocked him out, whilst the fire began to spread.
The two human conspirators tried to flee, but were quickly flagged down by an Ork woman in exotically coloured cloths and appeared to surrender to her.
Magrat dragged the unconscious Borrath outside and fed him a wound healing draught.
Blood rained down from the upper floor in implausibly large torrents and where it hit the floor it burst into a pulsating red mist with a skeletal face.
Meanwhile the entire lower floor was ablaze and it was rapidly spreading upstairs.
Borrath tried to use blood magic of his own to contain the mist by drying out the interior of the building, mist included, spilling enough blood that he lost consciousness again.
The mist managed to survive the spell itself but the boost to the conflagration managed to injure the Horror.
Goliath realised that the wizard Hiermon, to who he still had an unfulfilled Blood Oath, was inside the building and would burn to death unless he was rescued. So he charged through and up the burning stairs, managing to credle the old wizard in his arms and retreated past the flaming cadavermen out into the clean air.
Meanwhile Magrat and Mar both pelted the Mist with spells as it tried to leave the house and eventually a final strike from Mar drove in back onto the flames where it perished.
As it died the Unveilers felt the mark vanish from their souls and they were free of the Horror’s influence.
Borrath and Heirmon were both critically injured but rapid rescue had saved them from being burned alive.
Autumn, the Ork illusionist that had escaped them in the forest, had apprehended the two Theran conspirators of Kalourin and Goliath was able to complete his Blood Oath and return the Blood Moss to the wizard in plenty of time.
Heirmon’s home has gone and the smoke inhalation left him to week to help oversee rebuilding. He plans to retire to the Great Library of Throal and live out his remaining days there in peace. A fronteir town like Haven is no place for somebody as old as him. Brenula was thankfully able to slip away out back and survived, but now faces the prospect of rebuilding her business from scratch.