Session X Numbers

Unnatural soreness throughout your body and a face full of snow … seems a fitting ending. As you gather your strength to actually move you listen to the fizzle and pop of the unstable planar rift that Ketu barely kept open long enough for you to leap through. It rapidly diminishes and thoughts drift to a favourite topic - just who’s fault this all is. Normally it would be Mabu but he took off to edify himself so, for once, it’s not him. You suppose that it began with that thrice-cursed Dwarf homesteader. If he hadn’t enlisted you to hunt those Owlbears then that nameless spirit-bear would never have gotten hurt in the Shadowfell glade and you wouldn’t have to come all this way north - in the winter—to try and coax the damm thing back to health. A smile cracks your bloodied lip thinking of how you freed his slaves and killed his boards all in the same night. Or maybe it’s that druid, Cantor (rudest thing on four legs), who decided it just wasn’t possible for you to have a little relaxation.

With a vaguest of directions - “4 wardens headed that way 2 months ago, find out what happened” (were even they were that elaborate?) - off you were sent into the wildest of wild-woods. Oh by-the-way, did we mention that “that way” was near the demon wastes and said-demons-and-devils were getting frisky lately? Wardens. It took forever to get to the shadow of those mountains and begin the search. Weeks of frigid fingers and wondering just where the hell you were and if that was the same giant oak from an hour ago. Amazingly, people were actually carving out the hardest of hard-scabble lives in small villages … and the increasingly frequent attacks by hobgoblin and bugbears raiders weren’t making it any easier. Suspicious bunch but they seemed willing to talk to Vimalk in his aura of holy Warden-ess. Goblinoid raider attacks up lately? Seem more organized lately? Better trained? Much better equipped? Just getting better and better. Same story over and over. During the next weeks as you moved from one village to another, each more burned-out and missing more citizens that the previous. As for the Jaryn and his Warden companions, they’d been there alright and, apparently, spent their days making empty promises about diminishing and destroying the evil. If the reports of the villagers are to be believed (and I have to think they can count to 4), the only thing being diminished were Wardens. Also, the descriptions of the Wardens behaviour were becoming increasingly mysterious (not the usual way either) and contradictory.

There finally was a chance to fight more than hunger and the cold in that one village. But what was the reward for driving off the slavers? Being run out of the village in the middle of the night, accused of bringing the Hobgoblin’s with you. As indignant as we were, after what happened a few nights later, mayber the yokels were almost something? The mountains loomed close when you encountered that fool of a trapper lugging armor and a giant Warden-symbol-inscribed shield across the hills. As usual, it took the clinking of coins to get the real story out of him. Things were getting stranger and stranger as he told of spending a night with Warden-Knight and his devil (tiefling) companion, stained with blood but it can be lonely to be a trapper you suppose. But in the morning not only had the camp-fire died down but Jaryn had simply left—taking no armor, no shield, no sense of reality?

You contemplate who else would think of that night as lucky. Only those who have stared down death you suppose. Lucky to find that ancient ruin that provided stealthy shelter, lucky for the hiss of snow contacting ever-lasting hell-fire, and lucky that devils are not as smart as they are fearsome. Hmmm, you were in a similar position - prone in a snowstorm - after that encounter as well as now. Ketu down but still breathing while Vimalk and Wathi barely able to stand themselves. And the “slain” devils have simply disolved back to hell, leaving nothing remotely shiny. Fucking devils. One thing was certain, Ketu’s re-occuring nightmares (he never seems that bothered by them … freaky kid) of, Belashyyra, the hellish Lord of Eyes were not from spoiled rations (one advantage of walking around in a deep freeze, you suppose).

Of course, your destination had to be on the side of a mountain and, of course, it had to be the mountain behind the mountain you stared up and up at. Onward and, sigh, upward then. It had happened in an instant - a thunderous crack, a wall of snow, Wathi and Ketu desperately digging themselves out, and, in the end, two dead horses. Fantastic. No hardy adventurer would admit it but the capriciousness of nature shook you enough to take that crazy dwarf’s offer. Wait did WE suggest it? Nah, couldn’t of. After horse-trading for, well the final horse, Lars had loaded you onto his barely intact raft and a day of white-water rapids lay ahead. At least he was just normal crazy, not homicidial crazy like …. but that’s getting ahead. We must have thought there was some kind of prize for number and variety of ways to face death in a week. Little did you know that soon another one would be added to the tally sheet - Dragonborn river pirates. Lars didn’t mention those, but in fairness both the fancy hat and air-elemental powered hover-boat were new. Mr. Fancy Pants rained acid on us, shocked us (continually), and rammed us. But between Vimalk’s winds, Wathi’s quick wits, and Ketu’s … conversational skills ( once again, more useful than at first blush ), you avoided being literally another feather the Dragonborn’s cap.

Saw a cult slave caravan, jumped them, assumed their identities (both slave and slaver), snuck into the under-construction cult fortress. Wait, you heard that one before? Of course, best to keep to the short version and not let the … less smooth … parts remain in the future tellings. Getting inside is one thing, figuring out what to do in the middle of a pitch black night is another. You aren’t sure that the heroes of old planned all their rescues while skulking in a blacksmiths’ closet, but as they say - this ain’t the history books. Unless you wanted to brush up your rock-hauling and cringing skills, you had to figure out something before the sun came up - foreboding, ancient up the side of the mountain it was. No guards? Never a great sign. Blood red, prophetic scrawl floating across the walls. Never, ever a good sign ( har, “sign”, ouch hurts to laugh ). Ketu claimed the walls were watching him, but the kid’s a little kooky, and that was before his demonic possession and needed-to-die exorcism. Still, you kept a close eye on all those engraved eyes as you descended into the temple.

The emptier it seemed, the creepier it got. You were almost relieved to discover the ruined altar room and its ecletic occupants - cultists both big and small; devils both big and small; and the new ringmaster, Jaryn the now-fallen Warden. Never saw Vimalk so enraged, you’d even say livid, the worst glowering and frowning that you’d ever seen on his face ( which would be a total of 1 now ). Gotta give it to the man though, he knows how to channel it. A mighty storm followed the towering Goliath as he strode brazenly into the room. Weapons were readied in a panic while hell-bolts lit up hands and hooves. Surronded by the swirling winds and his voice booming as thunder, Vimalk ignored the pawns and spoke directly to their new knight. Why had he forsaken his vows? Why had he given into the darkness? Why did he now serve the order’s ancient enemy? He seiged Jaryn with question after question and brushed aside his weakening answers. Impressive was the only word for it. He almost talked the Daelkyur right out of that man. But, of course, one of those devils screwed it up. A quick appeal to Narrash - lieutenant to Belashyrra himself, as the demon often pointed out - and Jaryn’s inner demon took control. On order, the cultists and devils attacked while the torn (and strangely bored) fallen-Warden watched. Luckily Vimalk provided more than enough distraction for everyone else to be ready for a scrap. Even The Bear showed up for the fight, still in bad shape but not willing to sit this one out. Cultists were dropping left and right to an onslaught of steel and primal magic. For his Ketu part had that stone statue of an eye .. yes the immobile one at the back of the room … covered. Did I mentioned he was a kooky kid? But Host bless him, that crazy intuition of his paid off - Naarash himself was set to emerge from the portal the eye created and, although he could not destroy it in time, the half-formed Naarash was blasted into our plane stunned and weakened ( game note—Ketu got to roll 1-of-each-type-of-dice, 44 points of damage, it was a great idea ). Not only did it stun the big ape, but freed Jaryn from the Daelkyur’s grasp. Overwhelmed with remorse for killing his one true love ( sorry, this just isn’t a happy story ) and fearing losing the grip on his soul again, the Warden gutted himself from belly to neck. Narrash surely would have ripped you all to pieces if not for extra-ordinary teamwork and, above all, his handicap of crystallized hands thanks to Ketu. Narrash was done, he just was too stupid to realize it. Of course, the horde of cultists banging agaist the doors to the chamber when he finally fell, they were a different matter. No more tricks left up your collective sleeves for them. That hopeless of a situation is about the only time you’d agree to jump head-first into a revolving-destination portal that Ketu could barely keep locked on one place for more than a few seconds.

And so … here you are. The sting of frost-bite is now past the tip of your noise, so you conclude now would be a good time to try and move. It seems the others have come to the same conclusion by the moans and groans. Finally a spot of good luck, Vimalk knows this grove and, although unwise to be here when the occupants return, it is only half-day’s walk from Greenhart. They have renowned healers in the Eildeen Reaches but none, you discover, more skillful than a warm fire and hot meal. Soon you are refreshed and fall quickly into a deep slumber, not even the hours of nightmares brought upon by your brush with hell can diminish the glory of sleeping in a comfortable bed. Cantor, in a likely rare bit of graciousness, gives you till sun-up the next morning until he demands a reporting or your journey and what the search for the Wardens discovered. Vimalk, his new found righteous oratory rolling right along, told the tale.

< In Vimalk’s (and Travis’) own words >

“You sent me after an unknown threat, following an old companion. You provided little information and expected me to deal with the problem. And I did.”

“But, you had to have known that there was some outside influence affecting Jeryn, even while he was still here in Greenheart. But yet you failed to inform me of that. I pieced together that information from frightened villagers.”

“And by that time it was too late. The Dael’kyr’s influence was already too great. By the time we encountered Jeryn at the site of the temple the demon, through him, had already sacrificed Enrika and Andressa.”

“But even then, even with the full force of a Dael’kyr attempting to control him, even unable to protect his companions from their death, Jeryn fought that presence and took his own life rather than allow the Dael’kyr to come even further into our world.”

“Did Jeryn make mistakes? Almost certainly. Did he have failings? Without a doubt. But did he attempt to live his life according to the precepts set forth by the Gatekeepers? Did his keep his oath to fight to keep the Dael’kyr from returning to this world? Yes, he did.”

“And if the Gatekeepers could have just relaxed their habit of secrecy, even within our own ranks, maybe we could have stopped this even sooner. While the immediate threat of a Dael’kyr encroachment has been eliminated, the cult is still solidying their power. We must strike now to ensure that they do not gain a stronger foothold.”

Stunned silence until Cantor reclaimed his ‘tude and gruffy dismissed us. But apparently they did listen. Ferocious creatures - wolves, dire bears, griffons, and more - arrived throughout the week before embarking with a group of warrior druids. I actually felt sorry for the cultists, there would be little left. I figured Cantor would think this another good task to keep us busy but I think he was pre-occupied. Besides, an old friend rolled into Greenheart this morning - Dolory Tifton - and given his “joy” (it is Vimalk after all), I don’t think even Cantor would be that callous. Actually I do, but he must have been very pre-occupied. Dolory looks much better than she did post-rescue and the girl can celebrate. You can’t believe they let her be a Warden … she’s practically normal.

The winds blow out of Greenheart now. The druids, seeing your preparatons to leave, organize a ceremonial meal to thank you and wish you safe travels. Although, not present they say the great druid himself ( an ancient treant ) created the potions and ritual regeant you were presented. They say an army of chipmunks and sparrows happily scoured the forest that day for ingredients. There is merriment and happy laughter throughout the night in the beautiful grove. A beauty you hardly notice while leaving the next morning. Unfortunately the strength of warden alcohol was a complete surprise to you … it is going to a be long walk.

The raw numbers

XP for session: 1550 Total XP: 14540

Lewt:

Potions—2 potions of Regeneration (9), Elixir of Speed (11), Elixir of Fortitude (13), CryptSpawn Potion ( I have print-outs for next-time ) Rituals and Regeants— Travis and Matt, please pick 2 rituals each from levels 6 – 8 and mark down two sets of regeants for each. Try to pick “druidish” ones if you can, but not necessary. Chime of Warding ( given to Ketu, mysteriously a replica of the one the Old Master had ) Bracers of Rejunevation ( Vimalk from his mentor )

The jewel encrusted, silver box found on Jaryn’s throne. Vimalk you examined it enough to determine that the ever-changing smokey patter on the outside is the result of a trapped fairy. This is the most striking part of the box and it is worth 600GP to sell with it, 300GP if the fairie is set free.

Session X Numbers

Shane's Campaign sruman