Storm of Shadows

Session Five
In which the party reach the ruined tower, release a Lantern Archon, disturb some rats and encounter a ghoul!

Sleeping late on the morning of the 8th September to try to catch up on the broken night, the group finally get going after a snack of freshly butchered wild boar. Regretfully leaving the majority of the carcase to the scavengers, the group retrace their steps, and finally find the lake again, this time completing their treck to arrive at the ruined tower they had spotted from the opposite side of the lake. The area in front of the tower had a number of earthy mounds, some seemingly freshly dug, some older with weeds growing on them, though nobody seemed very keen on investigating them.

With the afternoon mostly gone, the group decided a quick exploration was in order, starting with the tower from which Slarti had seen a glowing light a couple of night earlier. The tower is half-collapsed already, one side of it having fallen away to reveal the remains of a spiral staircase acending to half-a-platform at the top. Deciding the stairway looked too dodgy, Kurell uses a grappling hook to secure an easy ascent on the outside of the tower. As he climbs it becomes apparent that the entire structure is very unstable. Near the top, the stone holding the grappling hook comes loose, and he only just manages to catch hold of the wall itself and cling on as a massive lump of stone falls past him, barely missing him.

Clambering the rest of the way, he find only one thing of interest up there – a lantern. Taking it down, he decends by the remnants of the spiral staircase, nearly coming a cropper, but managing to make it down in one piece.

As Slarti throws stones at the odd rat seen down in a large collapsed pit, the others start to examine the lantern, which seems to pulse and glow. Symbols are noticed on the glass, engraved on the inside – minute magical runes which finally attracts Slarti’s attention and he wanders over to have a look, determining after a few moments that it is some form of abjuration, and possibly summoning type magic. The concensus seems to be that opening the lantern would be dangerous, but – when glow starts flashing in a discernable pattern, Katerina starts to ask questions, suspecting some intelligence behind the flashing (though Kurell seems more interested in keeping the lantern as a free, albeit unreliable, light source!)

Through yes-no type answers, the lantern seems to indicate that it wants to be released and that it means no harm. When Tregarin peers more closely at the runes he finally recognises some words in Celestial written on the inside, and hearing that, Katerina comes to a decision and flips open the lantern’s door. A ball of light bursts out, a Lantern Archon, who explains telapathically to them that it had been tricked into the lantern 100 years ago by an evil spirit that still haunts these woods – a will-o-wisp – the same one that had been giving the party such restless nights. The Archon explains that it had modified the lantern so that it would act as a trap (“who-you-gonna-call?”) to destroy the will-o-wisp, but that it needed the will-o-wisp to manifest first – which it would only do when someone was near death, as it feeds on the emotions of those in dire peril.

Healing the party of all their various injuries, the Lantern Archon bids them farewell, and departs to the Celestial plane, but not before warning them of some other evil that festered in the ruins below the tower.

Deciding to investigate, the party decended into the pit, where an archway into darkness could be seen. Using a light spell cast on Kurell’s shield to see by, the four entered the passage, which after a flight of stairs down, split into three directions. To the left, the group found a partially collapsed room with numerous small bones scattered everywhere. As Slarti approached to investigate the hilt of a magical dagger he’d detected, rats swarmed out of the rubble, scratching and biting as they crawled all over them before they could burn/stomp enough of them to disperse the swarm.

To the right, the group found another partially collapsed room, with a further passage leading off, choked with rubble. A magical aura hinted at something buried in the rubble beyond the blocked doorway, but as Tragarn had a closer look, again, rats swarmed out of the rubble and attacked them for disturbing their lair.

As the rats were finally destroyed, Kurell was surprised by a figure that came out of the darkness, an undead creature slathering as it tried to claw and bite him, though luckily he manages to fend it of and hack it down before it could do any damage. Deciding it was getting late and they didn’t fancy exploring this place any further when it got to night time, the group returned to the surface, gathered the two ponies and headed a half-hour’s walk away from the tower before camping for the night. Katerina takes first watch, and is disturbed by the moaning of what sounds for all the world like a zombie shuffling its way towards the camp. The halfling wakes the elf Tregarin, who casts light on a crossbow bolt for Katerina to illuminate the area. Whatever was making the noise cannot be seen, and Tregarin, assuming the will-o-wisp, returns to his tent. Other noises come and go in the night, disturbing the sleep of all bar Kurell.

In the morning of the 9th September, they have another long lie in to refresh themselves, before returning to the tower…

Session Four
In which the party are ambushed by Kobolds, find the remains of the missing merchant, and have another disturbed night.

Waking tired, the group decide to simply spend the morning resting to catch up on their disturbed sleep. Finally, just after midday, they decide to continue, feeling fully rested at last. Deciding to head towards the only man-made landmark they’ve seen so far – a stone tower situated on the far side of the lake, about a mile as the crow flies, they decide to head left around the lake . Almost immediately, it becomes clear that it is going to take a fair to make the journey, as the shore of the lake is anything but smooth, surrounded by boggy areas and various rivulets and gullies that require them to back-track into the woods further to get around, adding considerably to their journey. Nearer the end of the afternoon, on one such side-trek to avoid a particularly overgrown area, Kurell is surprised as he steps into a noose trap, that with a sudden twang of a nearby tree, launches him into the air, to dangle by his foot.

As if this was a sign, the bushes suddenly burst into life and the party are surrounded by a group of kobolds. Unsurprised by this turn of events, Slarti fires of a magic missile, the bolt slamming into one of the five that rush up to thrust their spears at the dangling Kurell. Two charge at Slarti, three at Tregarin and their leader, dressed in coin studded armour and wielding a flail, tackles Katerina.

Kurrell struggles, but can’t free himself from the noose trap, so risking life and limb, Slarti casts a spell of fire, burning four of the kobolds around Kurell, but also burning through the vine that trapping the warrior. Scorched and bruised from the fall on his head, Kurell starts to methodically take out the kobolds, with dagger and hand-axe.

As Tregarin is first stabbed and then grappled, Katerina tries to run and hide from the kobold leader, but he keeps a close eye on the bouncy halfling, and chases after her. Even as she tumbles around, trying to avoid being hit by the muscled kobold, she manages to help Slarti out by taking out one of the two goblins trying to take the gnome down.

As Kurell finishes off the last of his opponents, Slarti makes a point of burning his second party member for the day as he steps forward to burn the three kobolds on Tregarin. The one grappling Tregarin is killed as the elf slams his flail into its face, the other two scorched ones turn on Slarti, one of them laying the gnome low with a spear to his gut. The other one, realising all but his leader were dead, turns and flees into the woods, following after another one who had fled slightly earlier. Within a few moments Kurell takes out the kobold leader and the battle is done.

Calling on the Starbinder, Tregarin summons forth a surge of healing power for a second time, and Slarti comes around. Looking around, the party realise that the two ponies had run off into the woods at the start of the combat, and Katerina heads off to find them. The others ransack the body of the kobold leader, finding a fairly ornate ring on it as well as a roughly made dagger made of some sort of shiny metal. Deciding to follow after Katerina, they eventually hear the sound of am epic sword fight (well, lots and lots of misses) in the distance and break into a run. By the time they get there however, they find Katerina lying close to death in the middle of what must have been the kobold camp, her opponent having fled at the sound of their approach – taking one of the ponies with it. A tent, made from what once must have been a gentleman’s cloak, held down with tent pegs made from a broken rapier, contains a small box that reveals various papers, the still readable ones including a letter of reference, a recruitment poster for Blackwall Station, a trade agreement and a hand written letter that makes little sense.

With Katerina revived, albeit still barely conscious, they head in search of the lost pony, eventually catching up with the sole remaining kobold who is killed by a magic missile from Slarti before he even realised the party had caught up with him.

With the woods now virtually, dark, the group make camp, deciding to give most of the watching duty to Kurell.

The first half of the night is disturbed as Kurell spots a glimmer of light, then something crashes through the undergrowth towards the party, before stopping and growling ominously. Slarti and Tregarin are awoken as Kurell screams out a challenge to whatever was growling from the bushes, and the thing, whatever it is, seems to slink away. Slarti detects some faint magic moving away, and grumbling, goes back to bed.

Again, and three more times, Kurell is disturbed by the sound of something crashing through the undergrowth towards the party, and a couple of times, he chucks lit torches in the direction of the noise, only to have it fade. Finally, it happens again, this time from a slightly different direction. Kurell, standing off to one side, is surprised as this time the noise is not illusionary, and a wild boar crashes wildly into the camp, trampling poor Tregarin in his tent. Felling the boar with a couple of chops from his axe, Tregarin heals himself a little, and, having repaired his tent as best he can, goes back to sleep. Kurell, entertaining himself by butchering the boar, watches for the rest of the night.

XP gained since the game started:
Kobold Leader 500
16 x kobolds: 1600
1 boar: 600
Pit Trap, 400
Arrow Trap, 400
2 x giant centipedes
Role playing in first couple of sessions: 1100
TOTAL: 5000
= 1250 each

Session Three
In which the party encounter some kobolds and have a disturbed night, during which Slarti nearly drowns in a swamp.

The sneaky followers turned out to be a group of six kobolds, small critters distantly related to dragons. Surprised by the party turning around to hunt them they unleashed a volley of sling stones. Slarti burns two of them, Katerina guts one from the shadows, Kurell hacks two apart with his hand axe, and the last is scared by a spell from Tregarin and flees off into the undergrowth.

Healing the minor wounds they’d received from the kobolds, the group continue on, reaching a tiny rivulet that crosses the path. Deciding to head up stream, the group reach a large lake as night is falling. A mist seeps in off the lake, and they decide to make camp a short way away from the marshy area around where the rivulet drains from the lake. During the first watch, Kurell hears a distant screech, and then later the sound of someone trying to creep towards the camp, and wakes Katerina. Peering into the darkness, neither of them can see anything however, and so decide to wake Tregarin instead, who casts a light spell onto a stone and hurls it towards the sound. The forest is illuminated for ten minutes, but nothing is seen, though there is the noise of someone heading away. They decide to light a fire and by the time it is lit, Slartbartfast is also awaken by the noise. Katerina arms Kurell with a flask of oil in case she needs to create a fire in the woods.

The party start to go back to sleep, but a little later, Kurell hears someone creeping back again towards the camp and this time muffled voices can be heard. This time Katerina slips into the shadows and Kurell hurls the flask of oil, and the party are again all awake as Slarti tries to understand what they are saying, convinced that the language sounds like Draconic, but can’t quite hear well enough to understand what is being said.

The party go back to sleep, and eventually Kurell ends his watch. Looking for Katerina, he can’t see her, and hands over to Tregarin instead, telling him that the halfling is missing, last seen slipping into the shadows much earlier.

During Tregarin’s watch, a sudden cry from a few hundred feet away sounds, turning into the crying and sobbing of a young child in pain – being tortured perhaps. Tregarin wakes Slarti and the two of them decide, after kicking Kurell awake and having a rummage through Katerina’s equipment, to go and see if the noise of the crying child was in fact Katerina or someone completely different. Heading towards the noise, Slartibartfast suddenly finds himself in the middle of a bog and sinking fast. Tregarin manages to throw him a rope, having been foresighted enough to have brought his entire pack with him, and manages to drag him out. Casting a spell of detect magic, Slarti deduces that the noise was probably illusionary and as such returns to camp, muttering something about will-o-wisps and dripping mud.

After a quick wash in the rivulet, a cold and tired Slartibartfast eventually returns to his bedroll. Not a restful night.

In the morning, the mist has cleared over the lake and the party can see a ruined tower on the far side of the lake – probably over a mile away. The lake stretches away to each side however, and it looks like it will be a fairly long walk around the edge.

The party will start the next session with DC15 FORT saves else be fatigued from the disturbed night.

Session Two
In which the party waste a lot of time and eventually find the plot

On the morning of the 2nd of September, the human fighter Kurell, the gnome Sorcerer Slartibartfast, and the halfling entertainer Katerina awoke on the cold damp grass out in the open next to the graveyard outside Alinsport. After eating most of Katerina’s rations her being the only one to have actually had some on her (or on her tiny halfling sized pony at least), the three of them decide to search again for the cart tracks they had see the previous evening, having noticed a particular mark in one of the wheel marks that indicated a distinctive notch in the wheel. Picking them up again, they follow them eastwards into open countryside for a couple of miles, loosing them shortly after they seem to turn to the north.

Spotting a shepherd in the distance they wander over and speak to the lanky youth, who looks at the unusual trio in aprehension. Katerina firstly starts asking if the youth had spotted any carts passing this area recently, however the lad had seen nothing, so she changes tack and decides to claim to be a cart inspector, and wants to know who has carts in the area. Suitibly impressed by the gift of her gab, albeit slightly concerned at the implication that they suspect his father as being complicit in the body snatching from the graveyard, the lad gives them directions to his parent’s farm. Slartibartfast take the opportunity to speak with a raven, who seems to consider the missing dead to be food but doesn’t remember seeing any recently.

At the farm, they again bluff their way past the farmer’s wife and get to inspect the farmer’s cart, which predicatbly has wheels that don’t show any signs of the distinctive notch. Returning to where they had lost the tracks, they again attempt to find them, and eventually do, tracking them in a big loop that ends up on the north_-west_ road between Greenfields Oakhaven (*) and Alinsport.

The three return towards Alinsport. Whilst Kurell and Slartibartfast hang around the graveyard, disturbing a local mourner come to visit the grave of a lost relative no doubt, Katerina goes into town to purchase some more rations and a tent or two from Kristian’s Mercantile so that the group would be better equipped for their expedition to survey Lord Bergin’s land. Returning to the graveyard, the group make preparationus for another night in the open, before a looming thunderhead in the distance makes them suddenly miss the comfort of a bed in a proper inn. They return to town and retire for the night.

On the morning of the 3rd September, the day of Lord Enfield’s daughter’s wedding, the three spilt up to do different things around town. Kurell also visits Kristian’s Mercantile to stock up on his own rations, and (with a little prompting) starts to ask questions about the land they are intending to survey. He finds out from local Cashwa in town that they believe the “Old Woods” cursed by bad spirits – strange lights and noises at night and many years ago, many of their folk got sick there, so none of them go there these days.

Mid afternoon, the group head off to the wedding, intending to crash it, since only Tregarin actually had an invitation. The wedding is already in full swing, but Katerina sneaks in through a rear entrance and joins the throng, even partcipating in some impromtu acrobatics on the dance floor. Slarti and Kurell persuade the guard to let them in, having fetched Tregarin first to vouch for them. Slarti starts to get himself drunk whilst Kurell spends a short while chatting with Tregarin, telling him about what he’d heard about the Old Woods, before leaving and heading back to town to one of the taverns there.

Meanwhile, Katerina spends the rest of the evening socialising, speaking with Lord Enfield’s daughter and Lord Bergin again as well as several other people present. She hears a story about a merchant named John something who hadn’t turned up at the wedding. Apparently he had been in town a week ago, but had left suddenly – perhaps a business deal gone bad. She also hears about the blacksmith’s son who had apparently gone to the Old Woods to seek out the ruined tower that was rumoured to be there. Though he could have just run away from home instead.

Slarti, half-cut from drinking the “mildly” enchanted ale, returns to town, seeking out Kurell. In a bar, he goes up to a pair of quiet drinkers, perhaps thinking of insulting them to start a bar-brawl, but they turn out to be the Captain of the Guard and his deputy, off duty. Kurell quickly removes the troublesome gnome from the situation before he is arrested.

The next morning, the 4th of September, the group assemble at the crack of dawn, some more bleary eyed than others, at the gates of Lord Enfield’s estate. Lord Bergin meets them there, surprisingly bright eyed and dressed impecably again. Lord Enfield is also there, but looking a little rough around the edges, obviously having been celebrating the night before.

The group are provided with a pack mule, already loaded with a week’s worth of dries rations for the group, water skins and the ink and parchment they would need to survey Lord Bergin’s land. With instructions on how to get there, the group leave and finally set off on their quest.

Pausing for the night in Oakfalls, a small hamlet a day’s walk from Alinsport, the group awake on the 5th of September and continue, following the road eastwards, the river Konnash on their right. Finally, as the various farms start to thin, they finally approach a large wood ahead of them, stopping briefly at the last farmhouse. Here, they find that the farmers were keeping the horse of a merchant who had passed through over a week ago. Deciding to forgo the possible comforts of staying at the farmer’s house for the night, they press on to the woods, fording the small stream known as Smokey Creek via the remnants of an old stone bridge that was now nothing but large stones in the water.

Once on the other side, they pressed on into the woods themselves, following what they thought could be the remains of an old road, but could just as easily be a game trail. As it gets dark, they camp in the woods. In the night, Kurell hears a distant unearthly scream and later on Katerina’s watch, the camp gets attacked by three giant centipedes, which are easily dispatched.

The following day, Kurell and Katerina almost fall into a pit trap that had been built across the trail, and then later, Kurell is just missed by a large arrow he triggered. A little later, Tregarin, bringing up the rear and trying to make notes for the survey, spots some small creatures following them… As Katerina disappears silently into the bushes on one side of the trail, Slarti crashes his way through the bushes on the other side and Kurell and Tregarin start to reverse their steps, intending to confront their sneaky followers…

Session One
In which the adventurers meet and agree to do a survey. Some investigating of a graveyard also takes place.

Session One was supposed to be recorded, but for some reason, the recording failed :-(

Summary: Game Date: 1st September 1901 (Dwarven Reckoning)
The elf Tregarin had been in the town of Alinsport for a few days already, having arrived from Pacedonia delivering a message to Lord Enfield. As a respected Selacari priest, he had been invited to stay a few days to attend the wedding of Lord Enfield’s daughter and had agreed.

Three days before the wedding, a barge arrived from down-river, bringing with it three newcomers to the town.

The gnome sorcerer Slartibartfast, on his last errand for his master Galen, was escorting a shipment of four barrels of (mildly) enchanted ale, which he was under instruction to deliver to the Alinsport wine merchant.

The halfling ‘entertainer’, Katerina d’Silva, looking for excitement and escape from her past.

The human warrior Kurell Strongarm, fed up of life in the Island Kingdoms and looking for adventure away from the ocean.

By chance (aka DM manipulation :-), the group found themselves all arriving at the wine merchant’s premises at the same time. Kurell was there to look at the Job Board that advertised various jobs there. Tregarin was there to purchase a bottle of good wine to provide as a token gift at the wedding. Katerina, having met Slarti down at the docks and persuaded him to allow her to help transport his enchanted ale with the help of her pony, were making good on the delivery.

Overhearing Kurell talking to the wine merchant about some of the jobs available, the other three decided to join him to investigate the opportunities further. The first posting was asking for a survey team – to be hired by Lord Birgen, a newly arrived lord from the Old Country (Pacedonia). A meeting was hastily arranged via a street runner, and about an hour later, the group were in front of Lord Birgen and his host, Lord Enfield. A sum of 50 gold imperials each was offered, along with a weeks worth of rations, parchment, ink and quills for doing the survey. Lord Birgen passed across a copy of his Land Grant for the party to have a look at, which defined the area they would need to survey.

Katherine manages to bluff Lord Enfield into believing that she is part of the entertainment he had hired for the forthcoming wedding, and the group agree to start the survey the day after the wedding.

Leaving Lord Enfield’s estate, the group go the the town Garrison, to see the Captain about the second “job” that caught their eye from the notice board – investigating into the recent “incidents” in the graveyard, which they had already managed to determine was something to do with body-snatching. Slarti is goaded by Katerina into making up a story, which quickly starts to get out of hand. Tregaron can only look on in disbelief as the Captain is initially taken in by the gnome’s web of fiction. Finally, Katerina and Slarti reign in their imagination and leaving a disgruntled Captain behind them, they rapidly exit the Garrison before he can arrest them for wasting Police time.

Heading out of town with the afternoon rapidly drawing to a close, they decide to check out the community’s graveyard themselves. Sure enough, they find twenty or so empty dug up graves in the graveyard, and start to search for other clues. Slarti lives up to the his stereotype by using ghost sound to play a minor practical joke, angering the warrior Kurell, who stalks off outside the graveyard, followed by Katerina, only to find tracks on the far side of it that hint of perhaps a cart having been used to carry the bodies.

Tregaron, deciding that his comfortable room at Lord Enfield’s estate was a better place to stay the night, takes his leave, and the other three decide to camp out instead, getting a restless night in the open.


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