Of Goblins and Vampires
The Goldmine of Sarrieth Dreadbane

The adventure continued, but hit a snag. The adventurers were quite worn out from their earlier encounters with the Hobgoblins that inhabited the Goldmine of Sarrieth Dreadbane – many were gravely wounded, and the spellcasters were nearly out of spells. After several minutes of debate, the party decided to camp right where they were, in a natural pit in the cave, right next to a door to the next room. Garek took the first watch, whilst the others tried to get some sleep. It wasn’t long into the first watch that a hobgoblin stuck his head out the door. Garek did his best to intimidate the goblin – it seemed to work, as he pulled back and closed the door.

However, 20 minutes later, three goblins came out wishing to talk. Garek woke Portia up to talk to them. The unarmed goblins spoke to her and gave her an offer – to avoid pointless fatalities on both sides, the hobgoblin chief would fight their strongest warrior in a one-on-one battle to the death. Portia agreed, on the condition that they were allowed to rest so that their warrior would be at his peak. The goblins agreed, but didn’t seem happy about it.

8 hours later, the party awakened, somewhat refreshed. Portia and Garek stalled for more time so that the casters could prepare their spells. Tamera revealed that she had some healing magic, and proceeded to heal Garek a small amount. After an hour, the casters were ready. Lissa healed Garek the rest of the way and followed the goblin envoys through the door to a cavernous opening, apparently the throne room of the Hobgoblin chief. The chief, a burly hobgoblin dressed in Scale Mail armor and wielding a greatsword, stepped forth to meet Garek in battle.

The fight ensued, and Garek sprang at him with his new-found magical Greataxe. Tamera strummed her lute to create an ambient background for the battle, and also to subtly boost Garek’s morale. The Chief swung his mighty greatsword and sundered Garek’s Greataxe; a flash of light engulfed the cave as the magic was destroyed. Unphased by this, Garek pulled out his Ranseur and continued his assault. This, two, was soon sundered under the goblin’s axe. All the while, they traded hits, and the others waited to spring in should Garek fail. Seeing that Garek was seriously injured, Donovan finally broke and threw a Fire Bolt at the Chief, killing him. The goblins stared in stunned silence for awhile; however, the new chief ordered them to leave, and they all slowly filed out of the cave. Garek went and sat on the chief’s throne, exhausted by the fight. At this point, he also claimed the chief’s sword.

After a few minutes, the party decided to go check out the parts of the cave they hadn’t explored. At the end of one of the paths, they found a treasure chest full of gold and silver pieces and various gems, as well as magical boots (Boots of the Winterlands) and magical Spectacles (Spectacles of Minute Seeing). They also stumbled across a deceased Cleric of Reidman, who carried with him a Potion of Cure Light wounds and a scroll case. After exploring for awhile longer and claiming some rocks with gold dust in them, the party left the cave. On the way out, Donovan read the letter inside of the scroll case picked up from the dead priest.

The letter described the priest’s mission to seek out some hidden ruins rumored to be located around this area. The writer cautioned that the ruins may contain very powerful magical items of divine significance, which should not fall into the wrong hands. The letter was signed by Elden Merril, High Priest of Reidman. Realizing the possibility of powerful magical items, and figuring the cleric must have mistaken the goldmines for the location of the ruins, Donovan suggested they spend a few days looking for signs of the ruins before returning to Sarrieth to claim their reward. The party agreed, and so they searched for three days. During this time, Tamera asked if she could tag along with them, and explained her skills: though she was mostly a traveling musician and stand-up comedian, she could also fight a little and cast spells. She said that she had bombed as a comedian, though, and so started adventuring. No one seemed to object too strongly to her coming along, though Portia remained somewhat suspicious. She continued to exchange jokes and discuss the nature of humor with the party.

Tamera’s bad joke of the week: Four Orcs walk into a bar. The Fifth one ducked.

She later wondered if it would be funnier if the fifth orc simply crashed through the bar, as this seemed reminiscent of Orcish fighting tactics.

After finding no sign of the ruins, the party decided to return to Lady Sarrieth. They arrived at her manor at nightfall, and her servant, Wardwin, led them to the dining hall where she waited. A feast was already laid out. Sarrieth asked how the mission went, and Portia told them that they were successful. Sarrieth then instructed her servants Wardwin and Roger to fetch their reward, which was a large chest of 10,000 gold. However, upon picking up the chest to leave, Garek noticed that it felt way too light, despite the jingle. He plopped it onto the ground and opened it, revealing a small pile of copper and a note on top. The note read I.O.U 10,000 Gold Pieces, and had strange runes on it…the note exploded in Garek’s face, also catching Portia and Lissa in the blast.

Sarrieth seemed quite disappointed that they survived the blast, and instructed her servants to kill them. Thus, the battle began, with Roger and Wardwin confronting the party unarmed and unarmored. Donovan opened dramatically by jumping onto the table and nailing Sarrieth with a critical blast of electricity, which also created a beam of light to guide his next targeted spells. Sarrieth screamed in agony, revealing her sharp fangs, then likewise jumped on the table and fired an explosive bolt of energy at Donovan, injuring him dramatically. Portia, Garek, and Ari confronted Wardwin and Roger, while Lissa rushed to heal the injured Donovan and Tamera attempted to buff the party with her spells.

Garek eventually dispatched Wardwin, and then with a dramatic snap cut Roger in half. Meanwhile, Sarrieth had Donovan held helpless with a spell. She took this opportunity to bite him with her fangs, draining some of his life blood, which trickled down her face. Lissa managed to dispel the enchantment, but then Donovan was dominated. Before Sarrieth could turn her pawn against the party, Garek swung his new Greatsword, cleaving into the vampire. With a shriek, the Lady Sarrieth dissolved into a misty form, which then drifted past the stairs into a narrow slit near the floor. Donovan quickly came to his senses.

Worried that she was not dead, the party began to search the house looking for her. They eventually came to the kitchen, finding a hidden door in the cupboard. The door opened up to stairs leading down, into a dark corridor. They first saw a large, iron door, which had a space for a keyhole, but was quite locked. Realizing that none of them could pick locks, Garek resolved to simply dismantle the door with his tools, as it had hinges on the outside. After a few minutes, he succeeded, ripping the door out of the opening, and the party was allowed to continue on. Donovan opened the next door, and was surprised by a Fire Trap. He flung the door open, revealing three more vampires inside, who called out to them: “WHO GOES THERE?” Donovan responded with a Fireball, scorching them. Ari jumped forth and stabbed one with her silver rapier, destroying the scorched vampire. Garek and Portia quickly dispatched the others. Each of them likewise took on a gaseous form, and drifted into different coffins. The party dispatched the vampires by opening the coffin and cleaving off their heads.

The final door was unlocked, and led to a place where a coffin was put under a stone grating. A chest, full of platinum pieces, lay on the other side of the grating. Garek first bored through the head of the coffin with Lissa’s Halbered, eliciting a shriek from inside. They stabbed it several more times, getting no response. Finally, Donovan fireballed the room, destroying the coffin and eliciting a piercing shriek. Not much was left where the coffin formerly was.

Donovan claimed her spellbooks and a monocle that sat at her desk in the tower.

For good measure, the party dragged the coffins outside and opened them, in hopes the sun would obliterate all traces of them. Update: the next morning, the coffins were filled with ashes. Realizing that Sarrieth probably didn’t send the letter she had promised, the party resolved once again to leave for Valens, the Castle City of Valendia, in the morning.

Valens at Last
The heroes have arrived, but will it do any good?

The party started out on the road to Valens, the capital city of Valendia to report the news of Silas Dreadbane’s takeover of Silvertown, as well as Sarrieth Dreadbane’s subsequent betrayal. The journey was for the most part uneventful, with the party hunting for food. The party also listened to some more of Tamera’s jokes.

Tamera’s Jokes of the Week:

What do you call a Paladin that’s been frozen solid? A popsicle. …you get it? Because they’re a block of ice with a stick up their ass.

What do you get when you cross a half-orc and a pig? Nothing, there’s just some things you can’t get a pig to do.

On the 3rd day of their journey, the party saw another merchant cart. However, it was immediately attacked and tipped over by a marauding Ogre. The driver was thrown out of the cart and hit the ground hard, injured and terrified. The party quickly hopped out of their cart to help, attracting the Ogre’s attention. The Ogre charged towards them in a rage, taking a Seeking Ray and a Fireball from Donovan and two arrows from Ari before he got anywhere near the adventurers. Lissa and Tamera began to buff the party with spells. Once he was somewhat close, Garek lunged at him and took a large chunk out of the Ogre with his Enchanted Greatsword. The Ogre fell quickly to this maelstrom of spells and swords, and the party tended to the poor merchant.

The merchant was unconscious from the attack. Lissa tended to his wounds, while Ari and Donovan began to gather the scattered merchandise. Among this assorted junk Donovan found a small box that contained a small fortune in platinum and gold pieces; Donovan quickly gathered them up and put them back into the cart. After a few heal spells from Lissa, the merchant stated that he was heading to Kentgrove, a place that was previously attacked by a goblin wizard. Garek took a couple of hours to fix the guy’s cart and also instructed him on the use of a crossbow, so that he could better protect himself on the road. Very appreciative of his rescuers, the man set off on his journey with renewed vigor.

Three days later, the party arrived in the Outer City section of Valens. They passed many inns and restaurants and shops on the way. Despite the alluring smells of cooked food, which was a huge distraction to Garek, Portia was determined to keep on her course. They were momentarily delayed by a procession of soldiers, headed by the legendary Thunder Hooves. More delays were to meet them at the front, as the soldiers had to search their cart before they allowed them into the city proper. They finally arrived at the Marketplace district of Valens, with the castle visible from the entrance. After some gathering of information, they found that one of the gates was located in the Residential District, and passed through the Guildhall District to get there.

Yet more delays awaited them at the gate, as the guard had to consult with the king before letting them in. But they finally achieved their long-awaited audience with King Arturos Knightblade, as he was recently freed from a meeting. King Arturos is an aging man of at least 60, with long, gray hair and a goatee. He dressed in blue noble finery, wearing a Silver Holy Symbol of Reidman, a circlet, and a longsword at his side. Portia quickly spilled the story about Silvertown, with help from the rest of the party. Portia urged for his help in this matter, perhaps sending troops with them to retake it. However, Arturos stated that he could not make acts of war without consent from Parliament – and because of their lack of love for him, he would need some time to get a plan together. Portia became very frustrated at this, and resolved to find a way to liberate Silvertown herself. Arturos, apparently somewhat flustered at this lack of respect, stared her in the eye and stated that he would retake Silvertown if he had to go swing a sword himself. He told them to stay in the city while he had time to think it through, and that he would find them when he needed them.

Still, the heroes left somewhat disappointed. At the gate, Lissa told the party that, now that this job was complete, she had other authorities to report to. She bid them farewell, saying she hoped to see them again, and headed off into the city, much to the party’s dismay. Donovan still possessed the scroll from the High Priest of Reidman – he thus saw it as his duty to report the death of their deceased clergyman. So, he and Ari went to the Guildhouse District, to the Temple of Reidman. The High Priest, Elden Merril, was in the midst of a ceremony in which he anointed the swords of a couple of knights, saying a series of prayers to Reidman. Ari and Donovan waited patiently for the end of the ceremony, then confronted the priest, telling him of his fallen comrade. The priest and the knights were grieved at the news, and said several prayers. Donovan ventured an inquiry into the nature of the ruins the priest had been looking for, but the High Priest dismissed it, saying that it was for members of the church to look into.

As he walked out of this temple from a strange religion, Donovan reflected that the ceremonies of Reidman were quite similar to those of Tiernach, contrary to his idealized church.

Portia decided that she still needed to take more immediate action – and that involved getting drunk. She and Garek found a nice looking inn, The Hearty Knave, and immediately ordered the house special. Garek resolved to drink only milk with his 16 oz steak, but Portia immediately downed two of the inn’s specialty drink, also called The Hearty Knave. She became drunk with relative speed, and so began a wild night. Tamera later showed up and began to play her mandolin for money.

Meanwhile, Ari and Donovan began searching for shops to sell their loot from past battles. After wandering a bit from the main street, they found a shop on the corner called the Devil’s Luck. As they entered, the shopkeeper, a short woman with devil-like horns, was arguing with a town guard, insisting nothing illegal was going on. The man left in a frenzy, bumping Donovan on the way out. Ari and Donovan then began to conduct and discuss business with the woman. After selling several of the acquired enchanted items, Ari was able to afford a +1 Flaming Scimitar that the tiefling possessed. They next visited an Armor shop known as Bastion of Bargains – the scarred, shirtless man that ran the place bought their spare chain shirt and studded leather armor, and offered them a 25% discount if they bought a shield and a suit of armor at the same time. Donovan inquired about Mithral Armor, and the man said that he’d have to special order it. Unsure of the amount of time they’d spend in Valens, Donovan backed out. The two ended their trip at Dryxie’s Spells and Scrolls, where Donovan sold his (useless) scrolls of Feather Fall and bought a Cloak of Resistance +1. Ari likewise sold the Boots of the Winterlands.

Satisfied, Donovan and Ari went to find an inn or Temple of Aeneas, when they heard some raucous singing coming from the Hearty Knave Inn & Tavern – unmistakably Portia’s voice. Donovan almost continued, but stopped when he heard a familiar melody played on a mandolin – obviously Tamera. Thus they entered the Hearty Knave, where a man in worn-down armor immediately placed a drink in Donovan’s hands, and stared him down while Donovan took a sip. Accepting this brutal hospitality, Donovan sat down, confused. After awhile, another man ordered a drink from the bar – despite the man’s cheery disposition, the bartender seemed terrified of this man, and didn’t even charge him for the drink. As luck would have it, the man sat down next to Donovan, introducing himself as Zacuren. Donovan likewise introduced himself, and the man furrowed his brow and checked a paper, and further asked what his last name was. Donovan replied, after a moment’s hesitation, that it was Donovan Kent, and the man laughed. Zacuren stated that, as luck would have it, he was supposed to kill Donovan. And he said that he would, though not right now – he was having a good time. He said Donovan would know when the time came.

Donovan pressed the man for information, finding out that he was only interested in Donovan himself – and was in fact unaware of his traveling companions. The man eventually got up and left, leaving a few copper for Donovan to buy himself another drink (“You look like you need it, pal”). Portia eventually passed out from the alcohol consumption, and Garek carried her to her room.

The next morning, the adventurers awoke to a hearty breakfast in the Hearty Knave. Portia possessed a massive hangover, and wanted coffee to help ease the pain. The Half-Orc innkeeper complied, and then Garek and Portia went shopping, stopping at Eberk’s Armaments, Bastion of Bargains, and Dryxie’s Spells and Scrolls. Portia picked up a red Cloak of Resistance +1, while Garek picked up a Handy Haversack and 7 of each of several different kinds of weapons to store in it. On their way back to the inn, the two travelers saw a woman get mugged on the street, and both began to pursue the thief, with Portia yelling “GUARDS!” as she charged forth with her sword. They chased the thief into a dark alley, where he suddenly stopped, and was unresponsive to all of the commands from Portia and Garek. Garek grabbed the purse from his hands, and Portia took the opportunity to grab him, and at this point the man apparently came to his senses, wondering aloud where he was. As the town guards caught up with them and carried the man away, he noisily proclaimed his innocence, to which the guards regarded with skepticism. Garek personally returned the purse to the woman it was stolen from, along with some money to eat with for a week. She thanked him and gave him a hearty hug, then went about her day.

The adventurers returned to idle some more at the inn, wondering what they should do. At this point, Tamera suggested that they should join a guild to make some money while they wait for the king to get his ideas straight (“If he’s caught up in a bunch of political nonsense anyway, this could take longer than he’s letting on…”). At this point, Portia remembered the party’s membership in the Emerald Gauntlets, and wondered if they would possibly come to their aid in Silvertown. Apparently rejecting this idea, Portia recalled the legend of Morgan Squared, who liberated Silvertown from the first Dreadbane in the first place, and wondered if she could be magically contacted. Ari likewise revealed her membership in the Scales of Lotanokos, and attempted to give Garek the short version of the story of Valendia I. She said that, other than Morgan, Lucilia Delgado might come to help the city – she was, after all, in the same party with Morgan. Portia and Ari resolved to try, and asked Donovan along, since he knew about this weird magical stuff.

As they walked down the street to Dryxie’s Spells and Scrolls, Donovan was accosted by a man with a knife, who told him to give all his money. Donovan thought he was acting a little strange. Before he could act, Portia drew her sword and disarmed the man, sending his knife flying. The man continued to stand before Donovan, apparently awaiting his gold. Portia finally just punched the man, knocking him unconscious with a single strike. As the town guards showed up, seeing the commotion, Donovan stopped them from dragging the man away, telling them that he suspected Enchantment, and that he’d like to question it. He pointed to the inn where he was staying, and the guards agreed to come pick up the man later. Thus, Donovan decided to question the man at the inn, abandoning the quest to Dryxie’s.

After questioning the man, Donovan learned that he was delivering supplies to the Normandy Academy of Martial Arts, when he suddenly blacked out. He also noted that this was located next to the Valens Arcane University.

The girls and Garek went to the shop anyway, asking Dryxie if she knew of the Heroes of Valendia; specifically, Lucilia and Morgan. Dryxie seemed surprised – “Knew them? Hells, I sold them magic items!”. They then hired her services in sending the heroes a message, 25 words or less. Dryxie first prepared a message to Lucilia, which pleaded for her help to revive Silvertown.

Lucilia’s reply: That’s terrible! I’ll see what I can do.

Not encouraged by this response, Portia paid for a message to be sent to Morgan.

Meanwhile, in a distant meadow…

Morgan sits on the ground under a shady tree, watching a couple of rabbits jump around in the tall grass. She sighs, wondering where to go next. Suddenly, a vaguely familiar voice echoes in her head.

“Morgan! Silvertown has been seized! Please come liberate it once more!”

Morgan stands up, surprised by the voice, and draws her sword, which had been napping peacefully in his sheathe.

“How did you get this number?!” Morgan exclaims, awakening her sword with a sputter.

“Morgan,” Gerald’s ringing baritone moans. “Who are you talking to? People will think you’re weird if you keep responding to the voices in your head.”


Thus, Donovan uncovers an odd happening in Valens, while the others attempt to gather strange allies to decide Silvertown’s fate. What will the final outcome be? Find out next time maybe, on D&D!

(Great session, guys, almost completely role-playing and no trouble. More action next time, probably, whenever that may be. Meeting in the library could be a good plan. If you guys have any other ideas, feel free myspace, call, or OP me! Thanks again for a great D&D experience.)

Silvertown Liberated

Quick Recap: After retrieving the Crown of the Aeon King and defeating a Green Dragon, the group returned to the Emerald Gauntlet Guild, where they regained their membership. As they walked through town later that day, a large man in a brown cloak confronted them and told them to follow him, by Order of the King.

The man brought them back to the Emerald Gauntlet Guildhall, and in one of the siderooms they met up with King Arturos and his Head Librarian, Alazlam. The king smiled and said, “So, how you’d like to liberate a city?” The man revealed himself as Vincent Silver, the famous Knight and Hero of The Battle of Tyras. With that, they outlined a plan, though not before the King asked some pointed questions about the trustworthiness of Tamera, the Bard. The adventurers, accompanied by Vincent, would use the Teleportation Circles in each of the Emerald Gauntlet Guildhalls to travel to Silvertown and attack it from the inside. A small force of soldiers stationed in Southern Valendia would attack at the same time, hopefully providing a distraction so that the party could take out Silas Dradbane. After freaking out Portia a little bit with ideas about teleportation magic, they were transported to the city by Alazlam.

They arrived in a similar room to the one they had just left in the basement of the Guildhall. Upstairs, they met a group of Emerald Gauntlet adventurers, most of which were getting drunk. They agreed to help in the battle if it appears to be going in Valendia’s favor, but they would not risk their lives for a lost cause. Outside the guildhall were the city gates, which, to the party’s surprise, were opened. Several dead soldiers were lying around, some apparently killed by arrow wounds an others with a massive sword. In addition, the sign that said, “Welcome to Silvertown” had been chopped in half. A new sign made of wood ripped off of the nearby Inn read, “IT’S CASTLE OCEANVIEW DUMASSES”.

The party made their way through the town, fighting off several groups of Dreadbane soldiers. As they were fighting off one of the groups, another group appeared. This one was led by a giant of a man in leather armor, who wielded a large Greataxe. This man transformed before their eyes into an even bigger, monstrous wolf-like creature, still wearing his armor and wielding the Axe. Vincent Silver stepped in, saying that he’d fight the creature while everyone else fought off the Knights. As the rest of the group made short work of the remaining soldiers, Vincent was locked in mortal combat with the werewolf. Finally, the creature grabbed him and took a large bite out of Vincent. Vincent was unable to get free, and was bitten again. Donovan finally blasted a smoking hole through the creature with Scorching Ray, putting it down for good and freeing Vincent. Vincent, severely injured and bleeding profusely from several wolf bites, was left gasping for breath and told the others to go on without him. They soon arrived at the Castle Gate, where once again the gates had been opened. These, however, appeared to have been smashed down with a large sword. They entered the castle courtyard. Portia kicked open the doors to the main castle, and began to storm forward. They went up the stairs to the Master Bedroom, where moving aside a large portrait revealed a hidden door. They followed this door down stairs and through an illusory wall…right into the Throne room, where Silas Dreadbane was overlooking the book they had retrieved for him with a man in a black cloak. Dreadbane’s two guards gave a shout, and the battle began.

Silas, wearing black spiked armor and carrying a wickedly curved scythe scowled and yelled, “How did you get in here?!” Garek responded by charging at the cloaked figure, clobbering it with his greatsword. One of Dreadbane’s Guards pursued Garek, while Ari elected to fight the other one on one. Portia moved to confront Silas herself, while Donovan stayed back and casted support and attack magic. Tamera began to sing and attacked with her shortbow. The mage that was previously decimated by Garek stepped back and casted a spell of exhaustion on him, which was quickly dispelled by Donovan. Garek then made short work of the mage. Meanwhile, Silas tripped Portia before whaling on her with his Scythe, dealing tons of damage and grievously wounding her. Ari dispatched her opponent and rushed to help. Garek, seriously wounded from the attacks of Dreadbane’s guards and his previous battles, jumped on top of the altar where the book was and charging jump-attacked Dreadbane, staggering him with the force of the blow. After recovering, Dreadbane quickly retaliated, smiting Garek with his scythe and ending Garek’s life.

Before long, the group converged on Dreadbane and finished him off. Before they could grieve for their fallen friend, a tall man dressed in a dark blue robe appeared. He had a long, crooked nose, disheveled tendrils of black hair, and several stones floating above his head. He walked forward and took the book, dusting it off slightly. “I’ll take that.” He looked over the party and said, “Well, bye.” Donovan asked where he was going with the book. The man wrinkled his nose. “What do you care? You’ve been nothing but irresponsible with it. You’re the ones who handed it over in the first place!” Donovan conceded the point. “Now,” the man said, “if you’ll excuse me, I have places to go. If you’re ever in Cesalene, maybe you can drop by for a visit. Anyway, bye!” With that, the man disappeared in a puff of (smoke). A stunned silence descended on the confused adventurers. It was broken at the same time the doors to the throne room were, as a red-haired woman wielding a greatsword kicked the doors down and entered with a battle cry on her lips. Surveying the dead tyrant, she said, “Oh, I guess you guys took care of it. All right, then, I’m off.” Portia ran after her to question the warrior, but the only reply she got was “I don’t talk to knights”. Portia tried to keep up with her, but the warrior was at least twice her speed. As she left, the warrior yelled, “You should really lose some weight!”

Over the next few days, order was restored to Silvertown. The merchants and people that fled the city returned, and the town was rebuilt. A memorial service was held for the soldiers who fell during the battle, including Garek, who was buried in the town cemetary with his greatsword (just one of his many trusty weapons). The city was successfully liberated, though the victory was bittersweet. A friend has fallen. Vincent Silver, the town’s namesake, is nowhere to be found. And there are murmurs in the town about how King Arturos has overstepped his power…

Dragonfire and Brimstone
Meet the new tank, same as the old tank.

The party spent three days in Syrraco, recuperating from their injuries. On the 4th day of this recovery period, King Arturos’ court Librarian, Alazlam, appeared before them. He came bearing rewards for the party’s service in taking down Silas Dreadbane. For Ari, Boots of Striding and Springing, increasing her speed and jumping ability. For Donovan, a Bolt Tunic, which allowed him to instantly teleport up to 60 feet, leaving a trail of lightning to his new destination. For Portia, one of the highest honors of the Valendian Military – a Medal of Valor, which gives her a +1 bonus to the DC of her Knight’s Challenge abilities. It came with a letter of thanks from Arturos. Alazlam also alerted the party to the political difficulties now faced by the aging Paladin – no King had so blatantly disregarded a ruling of Parliament since its formation. The nobles are now in an uproar.

Alazlam was unable to stay, however, as he was required back in Valens to manage the political fallout. In addition, he told the party that he had been called in as a special investigator in a rash of enchantment crimes. He turned down the party’s offers to help on this count, as the group’s presence in Valens may be detrimental to his attempts to remedy the political situation. With that, he took his leave.

Over their days of downtime, Tamera was unusually quiet – she didn’t play any music, and she told no jokes. After Portia’s (failed) attempt to make her feel better, Tamera asked Donovan if he would go for a walk with her. She commented that she couldn’t get death out of her mind lately, and shared with Donovan her forays into dark comedy.

Tamera’s Joke of the Day: Knock Knock. <who’s> The town-guard. <the> Your wife is dead.

While walking, they were confronted by three armed men in leather armor. They addressed Tamera by name, and invited her to step into an alley. Donovan accompanied her into the alley, where a man dressed in white noble’s clothing was waiting. He immediately asked Tamera where she had hidden “it”. She stared him down and said, “Hidden what?”, to which the man responded by punching her with considerable force, staggering Tamera. Donovan responded to this attack with a nonlethal attack spell, effectively magically punching the man in white. Tamera told Donovan not to hurt him, but the man in white was not so kind – he commanded his men to kill the Wizard.

Augustus, a wandering Paladin recently released from military duty, observed the men escorting Donovan and Tamera into the alley, and leaned against a building outside of the alley to keep watch. Once he heard the command to kill, he sprung into action to save the damsel in distress. The men in leather armor took out daggers and began to attack Donovan. Donovan responded by teleporting up to the roof using his new tunic. He used his high ground to rain down spells on the foes. Tamera caused one of the men to fall over laughing with a hideous laughter spell. Augustus, meanwhile, clubbed the crap out of them. The man in white returned to nonlethally attacking Tamera, with a pair of skillful kicks. Donovan ended the battle with another nonlethal spell, knocking them out.

Augustus introduced himself, and Tamera and Donovan offered him a membership in their group. Augustus, having nothing better to do and seeing this as a way to spread the word of Lucia, agreed. He would just have to be cleared with the boss.

Portia, now in possession of Silas Dreadbane’s Scythe and spiky armor, decided that it was time to recruit. She headed to the Emerald Gauntlet to see if she could pick up a new Garek. She went through many different potential recruits, including an elven wizard (“Nope, don’t need more magic.” Also, baggage) and a dwarf (“No scottish accent? Are you sure you’re a dwarf?”). After some time doing this, Donovan and Tamera, with their new potential recruit in tow, arrived at the guildhouse. After much convincing, Portia allowed Augustus to join.

Tamera then stated that they should probably get out of town for awhile, and explained at least a small part of her situation. “That guy we knocked out has connection to noble families.” At this point, Augustus remembered the symbol the man in white wore, and identified him as having some connection to the Barerra family, and said as much. To this, Tamera nodded. “The Barerra family’s youngest son, Alton.” When questioned about why they were after her, Tamera said, “I took something from them, something very valuable. And they want it back. But it’s hidden, you see, and I’m the only one who knows where it is.” Augustus, taken aback, asked her why she didn’t return it. “Believe me,” she said, “If you knew what it was, you wouldn’t want me to return it.”

Still, the group needed income, so they decided to take some jobs for the Emerald Gauntlet. They were given a choice between two jobs. The first job involved investigating a branch of the Emerald Gauntlet in Syrraco that they had lost contact with. The second job was to find Elbert Payne, an ex-soldier and murderer, who was last spotted in Northcourt, a city in Northern Valendia. Portia, seeking to prove her herself, accepted both jobs, eliciting a sigh from Fran, the receptionist.

They decided to first head for Syrraco, using the teleportation circles between the Guildhalls. Thus, they arrived in Audentia. Once there, they bought two battle-trained horses and a wagon (after much debate). Then, the party got rooms at the Gemini Inn, save for Augustus, who received free room and board at the Temple of Lucia. Taking no time for sight-seeing, the group set out bright and early. After a day of travel along the forested country side of Southern Syrraco, they camped for the night. Before long, they heard a hideous wail, that sounded as if its source was in serious pain. Portia quickly woke up the group and they headed towards the sound.

Donovan sent his bat to scout the area, and he came back reporting that there were 12 of them. Donovan walked forward, Mage Handing his glowing dagger out in front of him. They stepped into a clearing, where a group of Orcs were gathered. Augustus shouted at them to surrender and drop their weapons, to which they replied with the only common words they knew, which were various curses. A battle ensued. Tamera hasted the party, Donovan blasted the Orcs to various Hells with his fire magic, Ari became a spinning, blurry incarnation of death, Portia split an orc in half with her newfound Scythe, and Augustus smote them with his holy mace. The Orcs were quickly dispatched and everyone got back to sleep.

The next day passed uneventfully. On the third day, however, they came upon some bodies on pikes on the side of the road. That’s when it began to rain. Tamera became sick at the sight, and became sick again at Portia’s speculation that they were still alive when they were put on the pikes. In the distance, they could see a group of buildings. Without delay, they headed there. Once in the middle of the small town, they found more bodies on pikes, arranged around a center fountain. Most of the buildings were smeared with what appeared to be dried blood. One building was easily identified as the Emerald Gauntlet guildhall. This building, they entered first.

Portia smashed open the door and entered. Inside, amongst a pile of bodies, was a woman who was chanting over a body. She stopped briefly, when questioned, but simply returned to her chanting. Through his knowledge of magic, Donovan recognized the words she was chanting as a big fire spell. Augustus cracked her with his mace, before attempting to restrain her. Attempts to question her failed, and all she said was, “You must not interfere here, or you will be reduced to a pile of ash.” With that, Augustus ended the woman’s life. A heated argument between Augustus and Portia ensued about this action. Portia thought it was dishonorable to strike her down that way, while Augustus pointed out that she was evil and would only try to kill them if they let her live. Both concluded that they didn’t like the other very much at all.

After this debate, they continued their mission and surveyed an adjacent room. They opened it up to a bunk area, where four more red-robes stood around a pile of burning bodies. Three were human, with shaved heads, but one was covered in red scales and had reptilian eyes. They were also chanting. A battle-ready Portia cried, “Who are you?”

The red-scaled being hissed and said, “We are the servants of the Dragon-God, and you will be incinerated!” Ari instantly recognized what they were – servants of the Red Dragon demigod, Falazuriax, a little-known Material Plane-dwelling deity. The cultists attacked by hurling balls of flame at the party. The red-scaled being, meanwhile, began to chant. Augustus charged forward and struck down one of the cultists in a single blow, while the others advanced to dispatch the cultists, who wore heavy armor under their red robes. Donovan, recognizing that the red-scaled monster was charging a channel pyroburst spell, countered it with his own prepared burst. The monster responded to this by spewing forth a burst of fire from his mouth, severely burning everyone in the area, including two of his cult members, who succumbed to the flames with a look of joy in their eyes.

The last of the cultists was dispatched, and the red-scaled thing was knocked out. Ari tied him up, and Augustus revived him with a cure spell for questioning. They spoke in draconic, and the being spoke of the destruction they were seeking to wreak upon the area. When asked for what purpose they do this, the being replied that destruction was its own purpose. Donovan, realizing that they were not going to get very far with this, put the creature down for good with a Shocking Grasp spell. He then told the group that they’d get more information about what happened from looking around than from questioning this creature.

The Adventurers have gained a new party member. Though he has philosophical differences with the self-proclaimed party leader, he has shown himself to be a valuable asset to the team. Tamera’s “turbulent youth” appears to be catching up with her, and Ari has uncovered an attack by the dragon cult she has sworn to fight off. What is the cult’s purpose in this small village? Will Augustus and Portia ever come to an understanding? What will become of King Arturos?

It is clear that many questions remain to be answered in the world of Valendia.

Ari the Magical Headless Elf

The party stepped out of the burning, corpse-filled remains of the Emerald Gauntlet Guildhall only to find more cultists gathered outside. Three of the cultists wore red robes, and another red scaly humanoid (a half-dragon) wore light armor and wielded a fiery Greataxe. Another wore heavy armor with a dragon’s head design etched into it over his red robes. He called forth a ferocious red-scaled Manticore, which perched on the roof and peppered the party with spikes. Ari engaged the three minions, a whirling dance of death. Donovan immediately bound the dragon with magic, and Augustus finished off the helpless creature. The armored one wreathed himself in flames and began bashing with his sickle. Donovan fired a scorching ray at the Manticore before finding that it was immune to fire. The battle was going in the party’s favor when the Manticore decided to engage them directly, jumping to the ground and breathing fire over most of the party. Tamera coated her sword in blood and stabbed the thing, but it quickly put her out of commission.

Dispatching the rest of the enemies, Portia and Augustus moved in to kill it. They succeeded, but not before it landed a killing blow on Ari, knocking her head clean off with a well-placed claw attack. A silence descended on the flaming battlefield after that. It was soon broken as a dark-skinned human woman in red and black robes appeared and, surveying the destruction, mistook the party as cultists. She drew her staff and prepared to fight. In response to this, Augustus and Donovan reached for their holy symbols. They eventually convinced her that they were not her enemy, and the woman introduced herself as Susannah, a sorceress battling the advances of this very cult on behalf of a powerful Brass Dragon. Donovan revealed what he had gleaned from the chanting of the cultists – the chant was a verbal component of a spell that would cover the world in flames. However, to cast the spell, immense magical power – and Circle Magic – would be required. In addition, they showed Susannah their fallen comrade.

“Wait,” she said, “I recognize that elf…hold on.” She then took the body and it’s severed head and disappeared. While she was gone, the party picked over the equipment of the fallen cultists.

Ari awoke to find a gigantic dragon head in her face, which immediately exclaimed, “Oop!” and everything went black again.

Susannah and Ari re-appeared about 15 minutes later. Susannah told Ari that she was a valuable member who they couldn’t afford to lose, so the dragon provided a resurrection in exchange for the money she had on her. “Of course, we can’t do that too often. Our resources are stretched pretty thin as it is. Be more careful, okay?” After telling her this, Susannah said that, as a reward for defeating the cultists and giving them a clue to their plan, she’d teleport them anywhere they wanted to go. Naturally, Portia decided to pursue their other bounty, and requested a transport to Northcourt to hunt down the fugitive Elbert Payne.

Susannah dropped them off at the mountain village of Northcourt. Once there, they immediately sought refuge to rest and regain spells for the night. They decided on the nicer of two inns, The Wandering Swordsman Inn and Tavern. Once they walked inside, they came across an old friend – Lissa Drakreth, who they had parted ways with in Valens. Lissa revealed that she, too, had come to search for Elbert Payne on behalf of the Church of Celia, enforcers of Valendian Law. Portia pressed her for information, withholding information about her task for the Emerald Gauntlet.

Lissa told her that Elbert Payne had been accused of the murder (and possible rape) of a member of the Silver Robes, a group of arcane casters in the Valendian army. He apparently murdered the Wizard and fled the battlefield with his group of soldiers. She apparently tracked them to Northcourt, where they had fled into the mountains. Lissa had been unable to pursue them further, as she was alone and a trek into the mountains would be dangerous. She then asked if they would like to accompany her. Portia agreed, and the party rested in preparation for the trip. They agreed to meet at the central monument.

The next morning, the party gathered supplies, while Portia waited impatiently at the monument, where an old man sat, telling tales about the statue to any who passed by.

The statue was a realistic depiction of a man named Torc Wolfbane, a mighty warrior who holds a sword in a defensive position in front of him. The plaque reads: Ser Torc Wolfbane – Hero of Northcourt. Protected the city from an army of raging Frost Giants, insuring our eternal solidarity with the Dwarven Kingdoms.

“Fantastic work, isn’t it? So life-like – the artist got the proportions perfect, that’s hard to do. And the HAIR – just look! Fine work, fine work. He was a real hero, Ser Wolfbane. History won’t ever forget his name, and this statue does him justice. I met the artist once, you know. Yeah, odd fellow – slim, wore goggles all the time. He came by about 15 years ago and said he had to do some maintenance on the statue – wear and tear and erosion and such. He took it down and came back a few days later with the newly redone one. Remarkable work. Amazing that this one hasn’t eroded much, too.”

After the man rambled on for awhile, the party arrived. The man escorted them to the entrance to the mountain range, warning them to beware of Frost Giants and telling them that the quickest way to Gilnorra, the Dwarven city, is also the most dangerous, as it passes by several Giant settlements. Augustus wondered if this old man was a deity in mortal form.

With that, the party ventured into the mountains. They followed the roads, camped for the night and heard wolf howls. After crossing a rickety bridge, they came across a Dwarven caravan. Portia took it upon herself to warn them of the fugitive on the loose.

“Be careful, there’s a criminal hiding in these mountains.” “Oh, aye? Wha kin’ a criminal?” “A rapist.”

Gravity's Revenge

The party met up with a dwarven caravan, which was transporting dwarven wares from the city of Gilnorra to Northcourt. One of the dwarfs asked them to describe the person they were looking for, at which point Lissa pulled out some parchment and read off the physical description: Tall, middle-aged human. Dirty blond hair with a shaggy beard, thin face, green eyes. The dwarf said that he had sold an axe to a man fitting that description two days before, and that the man had said he’d be heading away from Gilnorra. The dwarf concluded he must be going across the Diamond Lake. He then gave the party directions and drew them a rough map. Portia thanked him for his support and flipped him a gold piece. He also warned them that the temperature would drop soon.

The party continued until they had to make camp. That night, the temperature dropped to well below freezing. However, the well-equipped party was able to withstand the cold until morning. After praying for spells, Lissa was able to cast Endure Elements on the whole party, making their trip through the mountains much more comfortable. They arrived at the place where the path took a sharp turn to the East, and went off the path entirely, climbing down the mountainside so that they were standing on a frozen river with mountains on two sides. Although most of the party made it down without incident, Lissa fell and cracked the ice slightly upon landing, damaging her pride. They carefully walked down the ice-covered river, with Ari nimbly leading the way.

Though the visibility was poor due to the snow and misty wind, Portia suddenly spotted a giant blue humanoid on top of the mountain, as it picked up a rock and hurled it at her. She shouted a warning to the other party members, who attempted to fight it with ranged weapons and spells while navigating the slippery ice. Portia kept tripping when she tried to move, but hurled insults at the giant, no doubt damaging its self-esteem. Augustus tripped, but crawled to the edge of the river and began to scale the cliff, planning to take the fight to beast. Another rock from the beast missed Ari, but broke the ice around her, causing her to fall in. Fortunately, her Endure Elements spell kept her from experiencing the worst of the freezing water. Once out of the water, Ari, along with Lissa and Tamera, attempted to pepper the thing with hits from ranged weapons, but did little damage.

Donovan, on the other hand, bombarded the giant with fire spells from a distance. He kept the giant from retaliating with rocks through his Enchantment spells, each time forcing the giant to throw it at something else. Eventually, the giant took too many fireballs to the face and retreated. The party decided to climb up the cliff as Augustus had done, to avoid the mobility problem they experienced while trying to fight on the ice. Eventually, they reached the mouth of the river (and edge of the cliff), where it opened up to a large, ice-covered lake. They climbed down and began to cross the lake, keeping an eye out for anything that might look like a camp. Once again, Portia spotted it first – an elevated cave in the side of the mountain, the inside glowing with torchlight. After Portia pointed it out to the other members, Augustus took out the supplies he acquired in Northcourt and began to climb up. Portia led the way, and found a guard just inside, sleeping peacefully with his back against the wall. She waited for the rest of the party to arrive, and they discussed what to do with him in hushed whispers. Finally, they decided Augustus should hold him while they woke him up and interrogated him.

Augustus slapped him awake and covered his mouth with his metal-gloved hand. “I’m gonna take my hand away, and you’re not gonna scream, you’re gonna quietly answer our questions. Nod if you understand.” The man nodded emphatically, but when Augustus removed his hand, he immediately yelled “CAPTAIN!” before being punched. Portia thought they should throw him off the edge, since they were done, but the others objected somewhat. Instead, Ari tied him up and Augustus held him in front as they walked down the cavern.

At the end of the cave, a bearded man sat on a rock, as several soldiers knelt with bows trained on them party as they arrived. The man scowled as they approached, saying, “McKinley, you got yourself caught? You half-witted clot!”

“Sorry, sir! It won’t happen again!”

“Captain Elbert Payne, I presume?” Portia asked.

The man surveyed the party, and concluded they must be after him for the bounty. “Will it matter to ye at all that I’m innocent?”

Donovan shrugged. “Well, it’s not really our responsibility to determine whether you’re guilty or innocent. That’s for the courts to decide. Regardless, the order is to bring you in so that your guilt can be determined.”

Lissa turned to Donovan and said, “Have you considered a career in law?”

Portia said, “So, not really, but we’ll listen to your story anyway.”

“Good,” Payne said. “Now, release my man and we can have a nice, civilized discussion.”

The party reluctantly yielded to this request, and McKinley was swiftly untied by the others.

“So, you say you’re innocent, then.” Portia began.

“Of course I’m innocent, ye dog-hearted flap-dragons!” The Captain snapped.

“What’d you call me?” Portia said, stepping forward.

“Wait, wait, wait, my apologies, m’lady, just military talk, I meant no offense. These ill-bred worms don’t understand any other language.” He motioned to his troops. “Anyway, of course I’m innocent.” He began to recount the tale:

“I was with my men, fighting off Orcs in the low country. We were camped there with the rest of the Valendian Army, including an assortment of oh-so-precious Silver Robes. Not that we needed them, my men were swimming in Orc blood! Anyway, so commands are comin’ a bit slow, and the Orcs try a charge. Huge numbers, more than we thought there were in the hills, all headed at our flank. And the mages were there a-castin’ and a-chantin’ and being generally useless, so I broke rank and shouted at my soldiers to follow. Oh, it was glorious. We really clobbered ‘em. But the mages couldn’t hold ‘em off, by themselves, on account of bein’ useless, so apparently two of their dainties bit it. Not that my group went without losses.

“So, once the Orcs are routed, I get back to this twig woman who’s cryin’ over her lost men, sayin’ it’s my fault and it’s gonna be my head for breaking formation. I mean, sure, it’s unfortunate, but I don’t think I was really at fault. I tell her so, and she goes off on me, and says that I’m an ignorant low-life waste of flesh or somesuch, and that she’s reporting to Captain Sharsek that night. So I figured I’d give her time to cool down and talk to her that evening. So I get to her tent late that night and what I see is a damned horror show – the twig’s been killed, but not just killed – clothes ripped off, gashes all over the place, terrible look glued to her face. Blood everywhere. A damned nightmare. And worst of all, it’s my knife stickin’ out of the poor cunny’s heart. And I don’t even have a minute to figure out what happened before some guards show up and try to haul me away. At this point, I’m thinkin’ – there’s not a court alive would fine me innocent. Plenty of witnesses saw us exchange heated words, I was caught at the scene of the crime with my dagger in her heart and her blood on my hands, and so I gently put the guards down and escaped. But not before I explained the situation to my unit, who vowed they’d follow me to the grave. For a bunch of pox-marked joltheads, they’re damn loyal. Smart, too. Out-foxed the country’s finest enforcers of law and order on our criminal journey.”

So according to the fine country of Valendia, I’m a murderer, a rapist, a deserter, and now an outlaw. But hey, who needs civilization anyway? I figure we can live off the wilderness here. A might cold in the winter. And all manner of beasties and giants live in this parts, there’ll never be a shortage of battles – a blessing for fightin’ men like my crew. Still, we’ve lost most of ‘em – 1 killed during our escape, 3 caught by the guards in various towns, 3 died to the Frost Giants we encountered a few days ago, 2 died of the cold…So, then, ya elf-skinned maggots, whaddya think of my sorrowful tale?”

Augustus sensed that something wasn’t quite right about the story, but that the man seemed sincere.

“If you’re innocent, I’m sure the courts will find you as such.” Portia said.

“No, didn’t ye listen, lass?” The captain said. “The evidence is stacked too high against me.”

“So what? I’ll be on your side, and hey, the King of Valendia owes me a favor. If you come with us, I promise no harm will come to you.”

The man was silent. “On your honor?” he asked finally.

“On my honor. It’s all I have left.” Portia said emphatically.

“Alright, I’ll go with you, then. We can set out first thing tomorrow.”

The parties decided to rest for the night in the cave, sharing rations and stories. During this time, Tamera told Donovan that she couldn’t believe they were doing this. His story was clearly bullshit, according to her. Donovan shrugged and told her that at least they avoided a fight and got him to come back, which would still get them paid.

They set out the next morning and trudged back across the lake. They came to the mouth of the river, and climbed up the cliff to avoid walking on the ice. They didn’t walk far before they saw a familiar face – the Frost Giant that had run off the first time, still scorched, but now with company. The scorched one stood across the frozen ravine from them and hurled rocks. Donovan was pleased that he’d get to send more fire at this one. Elbert and his soldiers got into battle formation, and the entire party was able to gain the benefit of Elbert’s commander spirit – his inspiring words and orders helped them to defeat the Frost Giants in short fashion.

Augustus, empowered by the commander and his holy might, unleashed a charging smite attack with his Heavy Mace, and Ari quickly finished the thing off. Augustus smote another one, and Elbert’s soldiers finished it off, but not before one of them fell to its Greataxe. Donovan finished scorching the other Frost Giant, and it fell into the ravine, breaking through the ice and sinking like a stone. They then continued on the way to Northcourt over the next three days. They rejected Elbert’s proposal for a forced march.

They arrived at Northcourt without incident. Once there, however, they noticed that the city was unusually bustling. Many people were gathered in the Village Circle, where a crier stood on top of the statue foundation and proclaimed, “Hear ye, hear ye, the lord of our fair land, our good King Arturos Knightblade, the last of his line, is dead! Assassinated in his throne room at the Royal Palace! Attempts to revive him by the High Clerics of reidman have failed. Dark days lie ahead for our kingdom!”

Upon hearing this, Captain Payne began to have second thoughts about his agreement to be taken in. He told Portia as much, and she said she didn’t blame him, as her favor with the king was now worthless.

“So, I’ll just be retreatin’ to my mountain stronghold, come and get me when you can prove my innocence.”

At this point, Lissa stepped forward, absolutely livid. “Are you actually thinking of letting him go?!”

Portia said, “I swore on my honor that no harm would come to him, and now there’s no way to guarantee that, so yes, I’m letting him go.”

“I’m not letting that happen,” Lissa said, pulling out her Halberd. Several of the party members drew weapons, and a tense moment of silence passed. Donovan broke it by casting a spell, unleashing an invisible assault of magic on the minds of Captain Payne and his men. The spell knocked out all four of his remaining soldiers, but Captain Payne resisted. Augustus attempted to bash him non-lethally, but the Captain nimbly dodged. Captain Payne responded by tripping Augustus and attacking Lissa. Portia charged at Donovan with her Scythe, to prevent him from further magical assault, yelling at Elbert to make a break for it. Her scythe cut deeply into the Wizard. Tamera, who had been shouting at the party to stop their fighting, then snapped and stabbed at Portia with her rapier, which she enhanced magically with her own blood. Donovan responded by shooting magical charging unicorns at Portia, pushing her back quite a bit. Lissa broke Elbert’s axe with her Halberd and attacked him. Augustus got up from the ground and smashed Elbert once, nonlethally, with his heavy mace. Now unarmed, Elbert decided to make a break for it. Ari continued to assault Portia, and she was eventually put down. Augustus then charged at Elbert, finally knocking him out.

The tense battle over, Lissa manacled Elbert. She turned to Donovan, still shaking with anger. “The only reason I’m not arresting Portia as well is because of our past adventures together. She may just be misguided here. I sure hope so, because she’s accomplished so much good before this that I’d hate to see her end up in prison.” By this point, some members of the town guard had arrived, and Lissa directed them to move the unconscious soldiers to the prison.

Ari, Donovan, and Augustus moved Portia to the inn, where they took away her weapons and armor, bandaged her wounds, and put her in a bed. Augustus healed her just enough to keep from waking her up. Tamera got very, very drunk.

Portia awoke the next morning, attempted to piece together what happened. She sat up, suddenly resolved, and began to look for her armor, tearing apart first her room and then Ari’s room to find it. All the while, Ari and Augustus tried to get her to calm down, but she would not be pacified. She trudged straight to the City Hall, with the party members following a short distance behind, partly to keep her from doing any more harm, and partly from curiosity. Portia walked past the guards with barely a word and managed to meet with the mayor, a Dwarven man named Brid Belack.

Upon meeting him, Portia knelt and said that for the good of the nation, he must release the criminal Elbert Payne into her custody, and hers alone. The dwarf was taken aback by her claim, and of course refused. However, after much persuasion, the dwarf drew up a document. He attempted to ascertain who her allegiance was to now that the King was dead, but Portia, not wanting any complications, dismissed him.

She then presented this document to the city jail, where the guards, in stunned disbelief, released Elbert Payne into her custody. Payne, equally surprised, was roughly escorted right through the town gates. Augustus shouted at Portia, “Where are you going with him?”

Portia did not turn around but said, “I’m going to Valens. You can come if you want.” She then scowled at Payne and said, “You better be innocent after all of this, or I’ll kill you myself.”

The party, still puzzled at where this was going, followed behind.

In order to defend her honor, Portia has bent laws and attacked members of her own party. In addition, King Arturos Knightblade has fallen, leaving a vacuum of power that three mysterious possible heirs now seek to fill. What will become of Portia and Elbert Payne? How will Lissa react when she finds that Portia has absconded with the prisoner? Find out next time, on D&D: Valendia II! cue cheesy theme music

((Note: Only really good role-playing lets your characters fight without players getting angry. Way to stick to your guns, all of you. Genuinely good session. Let’s just see where it leads…))

Intimidatin' Manner

With her prisoner in tow, Portia began the long trudge back to Valens, Valendia’s capital city. The party followed her warily, fearing pursuit from Lissa Drakreth, their former comrade. Several days out of Northcourt, however, and no pursuit was evident. Portia finally responded to Elbert’s complaining, and outfitted him with a sword and shield. He still had no armor, but resolved to make do.

Elbert also expressed relief that they were heading to Valens, rather than the court-martial he was awaiting in Northcourt.

After a few days of traveling, the party came to a large stone bridge over a river. Donovan first inspected the bottom of the bridge, and found a spot where sharp rocks had trapped several corpses from the current. They were full of arrows, and had been stripped and thrown off the bridge. Portia decided to continue trudging across the bridge while the other party members investigated. She got nearly halfway across the bridge when the terrain began to shimmer and change, and a large group of bandits, apparently led by two elves, appeared where there had been only stone. With nearly ten longbows trained on them, the bandits demanded they surrender everything valuable they owned – money, weapons, and armor.

Ari noted that one of the elves wore twin scimitars, same as she did. She challenged him to a duel – if she won, the group could pass unhindered, and if she lost, they’d surrender their items. The duel began, and it became clear that while Ari had the agility advantage, the elven bandit was stronger. Rather than let Ari die, the party jumped in to aid her. Augustus helped Ari take down the scimitar fighter, while Elbert and Portia began to work on the Archers. Early in the battle, the other elf, a sorceress, attempted to hamper the party with spells. However, Donovan turned her into a rabbit, rendering her harmless.

After a tough battle, the party claimed victory. Ari looted the scimitars from the deceased elf, Portia claimed the elf’s armor for Elbert and the bunny for herself. In addition, a chest was found near the pile of crates where the archers took cover. Donovan opened it up, revealing quite a bit of gold and silver, and some magic items. One of them was particularly eye-catching – a sword with a white blade and golden runes etched into it. It was recognized as the legendary weapon, Queensguard, but nobody knew where the sword had come from. All they know is that the powers change depending on the wielder. When handled by Portia or Augustus, the sword began to glow. Not knowing its powers, and lacking longsword specialists, the party decided not to use it.

The rest of the trip passed somewhat uneventfully. As they reached the Outer City of Valens, Tamera began to grow visibly uncomfortable, and finally elected to stay in one of the Inns outside the wall. Donovan asked her if she’d be safe there, to which she replied that she didn’t know. He agreed to meet up with her at the King’s Road Inn once his business in town was finished.

Portia directed herself and her prisoner to the Temple of Celia in the Garrison District of the Inner City. She turned in Elbert, and requested an immediate trial. The clerics of the temple refused, saying that three days was required for all those concerned to reach the city. Portia attempted to protest, but Augustus quickly pointed out that three days was quick for the court system. Portia reminded Elbert that if he was guilty, she’d carry out his execution herself. They carried him off in manacles.

Portia then attempted to enter the castle, but, after much argument, was stopped by the guards. She was able to find out the names of the three possible heirs to Arturos’ throne, however.

The Albion family are close cousins of the Knightblades, and consist of many honorable knights.

The Orren family are more closely related to the king before Arturos, Albert Lothar and his line.

Yet another family, the Locke family, claims to have the one legitimate heir – the secret son of Arturos Knightblade.

What lies ahead for our heroes? Find out next time, on D&D!

Some Catching Up

The party took care of some business in town, but Portia never made it to Elbert’s trial. At a bar, she met a former Cleric of Odon who had worked as a guard for the courts of Celia. His name was Meric Bowman. As Portia shared a drink with him, he shared his desire to fight for his own cause, and not for the cause of any deity. She offered to let him serve her, and introduced herself as the Second Liberator of Silvertown. Meric agreed to accompany her on her journey, as he could provide valuable healing and knowledge of the law and politics.

Tamera Ravengard enlisted the party’s help to fight their way out of the city after she was attacked. After fighting off two separate groups of assassins, Donovan used a recently purchased Teleportation scroll to escape to the Goldmine of Sarrieth Dreadbane, at Tamera’s request. Once there, she revealed that her family was descended from a long line of assassins in service to a mysterious deity – the Goddess known as Sidhe. Her family, the Ravengards, as well as several others, trained their children from a young age to be assassins. Using a powerful artifact known as the Eye of Sidhe, the family would spy upon members of the nobility and decide their fate. If the noble failed to measure up to their exacting standards, the family would send their “Sin Spectres” to dispose of them. The Eye allowed them to carry out the assassination flawlessly and efficiently, leaving no witnesses.

Tamera worked as an assassin for her family for most of her life, but questioned the morality of these actions. When she left, she took the powerful Eye of Sidhe with her, and hid it in some ruins deep within the Goldmine. It was there she was imprisoned by the hobgoblins, until the party broke her out. She instructed Donovan to teleport them there, as she no longer felt the Eye was safe in the mine.

Inside the goldmine, another party was already on the verge of discovering the ruins. A black-bearded man in heavy armor, wearing the holy symbol of Macrathe blocked their entry, claiming that he possessed the rights to the Goldmine. His associates included a half-orc with an axe, a freckled half-elf, and a quiet bald archer. The cleric offered to sell them the right to explore there. The party declined his exorbitant price and combat began. As it became clear the cleric and his associates were no match for the party, he began to lower his price. However, the tenets of his religion prevented him from giving it away for free, even if it eventually cost his life. Once his allies were defeated, the archer surrendered, and asked if he could take his wife (the half-elf) and leave. The party graciously agreed.

Upon looting the body of the cleric, they found a bag of holding. Inside was a large amount of gold and a deed to a property in the guildhall district of Valens.

Tamera instructed the party move the throne, belonging to the chief of the hobgoblins, aside. Beneath it were some dusty, narrow stairs, which the party followed deep into the ground, into darkness. They eventually came to a point where the walls seemed less rocky and more sculpted. Here, they found a large stone door. Two people were needed to turn the levers to open it. It moved, and the party found themselves in a dark hallway.

Tamera quickly moved to a spot next to the wall, where she picked up a small leather bag. However, she was shocked to find it empty! The Eye was gone. Tamera had a small breakdown, and the party resolved to press onward. They arrived at a point where their magic briefly stopped working – a point where the magical fabric that enveloped the world was damaged and frayed. They lit a torch and continued on. They came to a fork, and then to a door. A giant stone golem guarded the passage. While their weapons were ineffective, Ari and Augustus took some rope and tripped the golem, which crashed to the ground. Due to its stiff body, the golem was unable to stand.

The party came to another large door. Upon opening and stepping through it, their weapons regained their glow, and Donovan again felt his arcane power at his fingertips. They found themselves in a gigantic open room, with a stone path that floated hundreds of feet above the ground. The entire cavern was aglow – magical energy gathered around the outline of a gigantic many-armed skeleton in the floor below. The party followed the path to another large iron door.

On the other side, standing upon a raised platforms, was a 12 foot tall monstrous skeleton. It was vaguely humanoid in shape, but had seven arms, each holding a different weapon. In one of its clawed hands, it held the Eye of Sidhe. He grinned at the stunned party.

“I thank you for your offering, human! With this divine item, I can return to the realm of the living!”

“What are you?” Portia demanded.

“A God whose time had passed…until now.”

“What is your name?” She demanded of him

She received only a battle cry in reply.

Meanwhile, by Augustus’ side, the golden sword known as Queen’s Guard began to glow. Astounded, he pulled it from its sheathe – its powers had previously been undecipherable. Now a feminine voice said evenly, “You who would fight against the darkness, YOU ARE WORTHY!”. The sword glowed with a golden light, illuminating the entire room.

The creature grimaced at the brightness, but sneered. “How adorable, you’ve brought me another tool of the Gods. I shall use these to become more powerful than ever!”

An epic battle ensued. Augustus charged headlong into the fray, dodging the worst of the creature’s flurry of attacks, and knocking the creature back with the force of his mighty smite. Donovan pelted the undead deity with spells, but was discouraged by its spell resistance. Ari and Portia moved to flank. Augustus was nearly put out of commission by the skeleton’s counterattack, but a healing spell from Meric sent him back into the fray. The battle raged for a short time longer before the Augustus layed another mighty smite on the beast, ending the fight.

The skeletal figure collapsed on the ground and began to melt, losing cohesion. It dropped its weapons and the Eye, which rolled to the wall, and grabbed at his throat.

“Now will you tell us your name?” Portia said, watching as the god died.

“I…I don’t remember…” the God said somberly, and fell into pieces.

“Good riddance to such evil.” Augustus said, and sheathed the Queen’s Guard, whose glow had dimmed but hadn’t disappeared.

Each of the deity’s weapons carried a bonus. Tamera collected the Eye of Sidhe – a large sphere that resembled a great yellow eye – and put it back in the bag, shuddering at its touch. “Who knew this thing had such great power – to resurrect a God.”

The party walked back in silence – the vast cavern was now dimmed, and contained only the beast’s ancient bones. At the exit to the cavern, they were stopped by an invisible wall – shortly thereafter, a man with a pointy black goatee and a blue robe appeared in front of them. He was the same man who had taken the magical book back in Silvertown. He cleared his throat and held out his hand, “The Eye, please. You mortals can’t be trusted with something so powerful.” After some debate, Donovan agreed to relinquish it in return for a favor at a later date. The man’s eyes twinkled. “Interesting…I accept.” However, after grasping the eye, there was a great eruption of electricity, and the man gasped in pain and dropped the eye to the ground. “That’s odd. Alright, you can keep it for now. I must do more research…” With that, the man disappeared.

They camped outside the goldmine, and contemplated what their next move should be.

Some Catching Up, Part 2

Having just slain a God, the party was camped outside the goldmine of the now re-deceased Sarrieth Dreadbane, licking their wounds and contemplating their next move. Tamera offered the Eye to Donovan, and further explained its powers as a powerful scrying device, said to actually be made of the Eye of the Goddess Sidhe. There was debate over who it should go to – Tamera wanted no part of it, and Donovan did not want to be tempted by its power. Ari decided to carry it, as she couldn’t use its power.

Meric offered to explain the political situation in Valendia, as it could directly affect their next actions. He explained it thusly:

There is disagreement amongst the noble families regarding the succession to the throne. When King Albert Lothar, the former king, was on his deathbed, all of his possible heirs had died of disease or in battle. The Knightblade family were close cousins, and Arturos had built up a reputation for heroism amongst the people from the days of his adventuring career. The King chose him as his heir, much to the disgust of the Orren family. Since Arturos left no heir, the line of succession would normally fall to the oldest male of the Albion family, who are most closely related to him. However, the Orren family has disputed whether King Albert’s deathbed proclamation was legal – the decision was never formally approved by Parliament. So their position is that Arturos was never King to begin with. Further, there’s no statute of limitations regarding challenges to succession – therefore, the matter must be put to Parliament. To further complicate things, another young man has stepped forward claiming to possess documentation that proves him to be Arturos’ legitimate heir – Artemis Knightblade, formerly Artemis Locke.

Portia’s honor required that she follow one of them. However, she was beginning to have different ideas since her experience with Elbert – perhaps the knighthood was dead. Perhaps none of these nobles deserved the crown – perhaps she should be the ruler of Valendia. She then decided – she would follow her own path, as Meric was doing, and try to win the crown for herself.

After some rest, the party returned to the city. Tamera decided to lay low again, and stayed outside the city gates. She also stated that she had some errands to run.

Meanwhile, Donovan and Augustus went to Dryxie’s Spells and Scrolls to sell some loot from the temple – notably, the magic weapons they obtained from the dead God. After their business was done, Dryxie told them to keep an eye out for a dirty half-elf who had been stealing her potions – she didn’t want him dead, just beat up. Donovan spotted the guy after leaving the shop – he offered to sell some potions to him in an alley. Hoping to teach him a lesson, Donovan cast a Shocking Grasp on the guy – and was surprised when his low-level spell killed the thief.

Portia first checked up on Elbert, and discovered that he’d been released from custody. She located him in the Emerald Gauntlet Guildhall, and asked how his trial went. He recounted the tale of his trial – how the priests had spoken with the corpse he had been accused of murdering, and found that she had never seen her attacker. They thus had only circumstantial evidence, and could not convict him. Portia congratulated him, and offered him a place in her future army if he desired it; he heartily agreed.

She then decided to check out the property that they now possessed the deed to. It turned out to be a run-down two-story building in the Guildhall District. The windows were broken and boarded up, there was no door, and several vagrants were using the place as a hotel/bathroom. Portia chased them out and surveyed the place, deeming it worthy to become her new base of operations – she’d start her own Guild, just like the Emerald Gauntlets.

When she met with Donovan that night, he reminded her that the deed technically belonged to the whole party, and so they were entitled to a portion of the proceeds from her guild. Portia decided to allow this, on the condition that Donovan put some money into rebuilding the lot. Portia then worked to name her guild, and decided to call it The Order of the Black Phoenix. Donovan contacted the Craftsman’s Guild with Portia’s specifications, and paid the appropriate fees. They told him the renovations would be done in a week.

Meanwhile, Portia began scouting for recruits. After stealing several workers from the Emerald Gauntlet hall, she spread the word that she would be paying for booze at the Hearty Knave Inn for all interested prospective members of this new Guild.

The next morning, Portia resolved to visit the rival noble families (whom she now viewed as her competition) and assess their strengths and weaknesses. The party followed, though they wondered what she was up to – her talk of overthrowing the kingdom was starting to get to Augustus. From Meric, she learned that the Albion family ruled over a large chunk of Valendia from Bluemarsh to Westerport; however, they kept an estate right in town. The Orren family, meanwhile, lived a short distance north of Merridell, which was near the border with Syrraco. Portia chose to investigate the Orren family first, for reasons only she understood.

The party set forth on the path to Merridell. Though they were briefly interrupted by Bulettes, they continued on their path.

Note from the DM:
Finally got around to writing these summaries, but there’s such a huge gap between sessions that my memory has grown fuzzy. If you spot any error or if I’ve left something out, please let me know in the comments.

Divine inspiration or delusion?

Don’t have time for a long write-up – here’s the abridged version.

The party got to Merridell, a bustling trade city. While there, Portia began gathering some information about public opinion regarding the Orren family (mostly neutral, though some acknowledged the vital role they play in protecting them from Orcs). While visiting the soldiers, looking for recruits for the newly formed Order of the Black Pheonix, the air rippled, and a ship suddenly emerged from an apparent breach in the space-time continuum. The ship was accompanied by strange extraplanar beings (later found out to be Githyanki) riding red dragons. The ship lowered ropes and shock troops, consisting of both warriors and arcane casters. They began attacking the city – the dragons set buildings afire while the Githyanki caused as much destruction as possible.

An epic battle began. Portia rallied the scattered and confused militia and fought them off, before climbing on the ship to take the fight to them. The rest of the party dispatched some Githyanki that had appeared in town. Donovan cast a Hold Monster spell on a dragon, causing it to plummet. After dispatching the dragons and ground troops, Donovan channeled a powerful spell that blew a hole in the ship. The ship also plummeted to the ground, taking out a city block in the process.

After the fight, Ari, thinking that the Red Dragon Cult might be involved, sent a message to Lucilia Delgado describing the situation. Lucilia replied that she would meet her in Merridell within a week.

The party afterwards went to seek out the Orren family in their castle to the North of Merridell. On the way, they met a green-robed Wizard, who introduced himself as Edmund Orren. He was on the search for his younger brother, Wilhelm, who had recently become involved in the cult of Rika, and believed himself to be on a holy quest. The party agreed to help him, and after searching into the night, they found him; he had been ambushed and robbed by thieves. After killing one of the thieves and sending the other to turn himself in, Wilhelm described his vision, in which the goddess Rika had appeared to him and told him to reclaim the fabled Sword of Tiernach, the blade she wielded during her time on the Material plane, and sealed away before ascending to her celestial realm.

Seeing that his brother would not be persuaded to abandon his quest, Edmund instead begged the party to protect his brother, and began his journey back to the castle.

The party followed Wilhelm, who seemed to stumble blindly through the dense forest. Just as they were beginning to doubt his vision, they came across some moss-covered ruins.

The floor of the dark temple was covered in spider webs. Some were big enough to menace the party somewhat, though the party dispatched them in short order. However, a spider as large as a dragon awaited them in the antechamber. Though the melee fighters fell victim to the strength-draining venom, the party eventually overcame the monstrous creature.

They continued on and reached a door that required a combination puzzle. Augustus finally found the correct answer (hymn), and they reached a teleportation circle.

On the other side, a group of devils guarded the final door. Augustus smote their leader, an ice devil, and killed him in one shot. The battle was hard-fought. Erinyes archers sniped them as the stronger bearded devils advanced their melee attacks. They finally banished the devils, and left the final chained door open.

Portia claimed the sword, and unwrapped it from its chains. She then disappeared.

Portia found herself standing in a large black void. A huge humanoid figure dressed in black armor towered over her atop a large throne.

“This sword was meant for my daughter. If you are to become its wielder, you must become my daughter. Do you understand?”


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