Near the center of a continent, separated from the Great Eastern Sea by the Golden Plains and unforgiving desert, lies a small, thinly populated but fertile valley known as The Elsir Vale. Stretching from east to west for almost 250 miles, and averaging about 70 miles from north to south, the Elsir Vale is the heart of what remains of the fallen kingdom of Rhestilor.

The people of the Elsir Vale have lived in relative peace for the past decade, rejoicing in the bounty of their valley and trading with the kingdoms of both the east and the west. While there are those who maintain the noble titles of the long lost kingdom, there is no one king and the people look after themselves.

It is into this land that the characters are born. Each was touched at birth by the Gods and is destined for great things. But will those great things be for good or for evil? Will these few make a difference in the eternal struggle between Law and Chaos? Will they achieve the dreams of the Immortals or become Immortal themselves and overthrow the very Gods who created them? All remains to be seen for even Ioun, goddess of prophecy, remains silent on their fate.

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Investigation at Oakhurst
If only we had gotten here sooner! The golden apple sold yesterday, and when the winner of the auction was announced, four black cloaked figures in masks attacked the buyer, stole the apple, then disappeared in a flash of smoke. A man we met named Derrick heard them yell, "For the pride of the Red Hand!" in Goblin, and the crowd attacked and killed the goblins in town selling the apple. No one saw where the figures went, but apparently the poor buyer carried symbols from both the Brindol and Dennovar academies of magic. According to Sparrow they've been buying the Golden Apple every year since the first, but even he was surprised to hear the schools were working together.

We met Derrick and another man, a musician named Jax, in the Old Boar Inn after getting into town at dawn. Jax told us all about the group of adventurers that Oakhurst sent to the goblin's hideout to try to smooth relations over. Talgen and Sharwyn Hucrele, the son and daughter of a rich merchant in town, a local ranger named Karakas, and a visiting paladin named Braford set off towards the Sunless Citadel yesterday, and should be back in a few days.

I can't help thinking about the woman who was killed. I just know we could have done something to stop it if we had been there!

*****

I spent the day working on the herbalism kit Avarthel gave me. I finished the antitoxin, and should manage to put the healing potion together tomorrow. Sparrow's been off studying with the local wizard, a gnome named Helda Knackle. She's helped him find the location of Razorfalls, and it shouldn't take us more than a day's ride with Daisy to get there. Sparrow's been working on crafting potion he needs for the vault, and insists we stay in town for a few days while he works on it.

Candy is much more familiar with the area, and she's been telling me stories about the Thornwaste. Oakhurst is on the end of the land before the Ashen Plains, said to be created by the raging Tiamat after being summoned hundreds of years ago. A huge coalition of humans, elves, dwarves, halfings, and orcs banded together to finally banish her, but the wasteland remains to this day. Candy says horrors of every kind roam the Thornwaste now, none worse than the spirit of a powerful sorcerer who once served Tiamat called the Ghostlord.

Jax was trading stories with Garon, the barkeep at the Old Boar Inn. Apparently it's named that after the half-orc companion of Reslin Kine. The four adventurers are apparently the first people to go to the Sunless Citadel in over a decade; before them, a funny guy named Belak, who carried around a pet frog under his arm, was asking about it ten or fifteen years ago. It's at the edge of the ravine by the Thornwaste, and if you climb down you'll find the old fortress. It's completely overrun with goblins now, and no one in their right mind would go near it.

There's hardly any trees around here, much less one that grows fruit like an apple tree. It doesn't feel like the land here would be fertile enough for that either. I wonder how the goblins grow the apples, and what they've been doing with the white one every year.

*****

I finished my healing potion today. Sparrow is still working on his potion and plans, so it looks like we're staying in town another night. Trinique hasn't picked up any leads on where the four assassins disappeared to. You'd think with that much of a crowd turned out for the sale, someone would have had to see something! It seems like most people closest to the buyer were out-of-town folks like us, here in Oakhurst to see the apple. Most of them cleared out after the attack.

Derrick's been trying to learn more about the Red Hand from a woman named Ala. She seemed edgy around Trinique, and I think she might be in a similar line of work. She was a good source of information, though, and told Derrick that the Red Hand haven't been heard of or seen in hundreds of years, but back then they were a band of necromancers you didn't want to meddle with.

Candy visited the local temple, and spoke to a woman named Dem Knackle, who works as the town priest. I wonder how she's related to Helda. Sisters? Mother and daughter? It's hard to tell age with gnomes. Rumor has it, according to Dem, the Sunless Citadel used to be a dragon cult worshiping Tiamat. They must have been the ones to summon her all those years ago. Their temple collapsed to the bottom of the ravine during the battle that banished her.

I haven't dreamed again since we got here, but I can't shake the sight of those tree monsters from my mind. They must be connected to the source of the golden and white apples somehow.

*****

I'm restless. There has to be something I can do, besides just sitting here in Oakhurst. I feel useless. Trinique's been trying to find more information about the Red Hand from her own sources, but the only new thing she's turned up is they were a band of goblins. They're scary enough with how dark and deep their hideouts go, but necromancer goblins? It's terrifying. But if the Red Hand is a band of goblins, why steal the apple at the festival with so many witnesses? And why steal in it the first place? Are there two tribes fighting over the source of the apples? Why?

Jax met the mayor of Oakhurst, a man named Verner Lang. He's starting to panic about the adventurers not returning yet, and worried about the goblins laying siege to the town as revenge. On an interesting note, his grandfather was apparently the first person to buy the Golden Apple a decade ago, and it healed his sick wife after she ate it. I can't imagine being so desperate that you'd put your faith in the words of goblins.

Candy heard word of cattle being killed on the outskirts of town in the middle of the night, with needle-like wounds dotting the bodies. Some said they've seen walking trees roaming at night. I bet if we camp on the outskirts of town we'd see those tree creatures again. I don't want to risk Daisy getting hurt, so I wonder if we can find something else to bait the creatures.

*****

Success! Derrick convinced a farm woman on the edge of town to lend us her cow, Bessie, for the night. She's skittish and clumsy, but gentle once she's comfortable with you. I stood watch with my lantern for a few hours, before switching places with Candy to get some sleep. A whole swarm of tree monsters showed up a few hours later, and we managed to catch one and destroy the rest, and we returned Bessie good as new. We brought the creature to Dem, who said it was a twig blight, created when magic pools into the woods. She thinks it may have grown from the seeds planted every year after the festival that disappear as a sapling. The goblins haven't been stealing them; they've been walking away on their own!

We visited the Hucrele's shop after that. After the fight with the twig blights this morning I realized I need a less destructive ranged attack than using my fire, so I purchased myself a camping tent and a sling with 20 bullets. We met Talgen and Sharwyn's mother, who is worried sick for her children. It's been four days, and they were supposed to be back by now. She offered us 250 kronas each if we can bring her children back in one piece, and 125 kronas if we can at least retrieve the signet ring they both wear, with knowledge of their fates.

Trinique, Jax, Candy, Derrick, and I are about to set off for the Sunless Citadel. I'm worried about what could have happened to the other people if they got caught in the crossfire of two warring bands of goblins, especially if some have magic. What will we find down in the ravine?
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Drellin's Ferry and Onward
We've finally arrived in Drellin's Ferry much later than I hoped to, but Sparrow and Trinique say they both need to see some folks here before moving on to Oakhurst. At this rate I won't get there til the day after the solstice. Hopefully whoever buys the apple will still be around. Maybe I can convince them to let me take a look at it.

The ferry guard, Sergeant Hersk, gave us directions and mentioned another druid lived in town on the west side of the river. We got a room at the Green Apple Inn, and I think picked up a new friend along the way. A girl who was sitting at the gate followed us to the inn and joined us for a meal and some drinks. Her name is Candy, and she seemed happy to take up Sparrow's offer to go looking for Restlin's vault near Oakhurst. First thing in the morning we'll go talk to Brother Derny at the temple, then Sertieran the wizard at his mansion, and hopefully pass by the druid's standing circle on our way out of town.

*****

We went straight to the temple in the morning at meet Brother Derny and his acolyte, Jator. Derny seemed delighted to see Sparrow and discuss his search for the Syrix. He told us all about the old adventurer Reslin Kine; apparently he lived in Oakhurst and sealed his fortune in a vault behind a waterfall in the Skysplinter mountain. Reslin died before his daughter Nera was born, but put together a journal for how his heir could enter the vault. Nera disappeared years later searching for it. Sparrow, as Reslin's great grandson, thinks he can find the vault in Razorfalls. Brother Derny seemed pretty smug at putting it all together.

I asked him about the golden apple of Oakhurst, but Derny seemed dismissive of it even existing. He said it was just an old wives tale for tourism, not even worth the day trip it would take to see it for himself. How can you live less than a day's travel from something renowned for healing people for over a decade and not even send an acolyte to see it? It'll be good to see Sparrow win his bet that the apple is real. Besides, if it was a hoax, why would I have seen it before? Why would the white apple be real too? According to Brother Derny the goblins sold a white apple on the winter solstice 10 years ago, but it killed the person who ate it. It all has to mean something, I just know it!

*****

Sertieran's mansion was interesting, especially all the dogs he has! They were so sweet. The wizard, not so much. He knows Trinique's father; they're both part of a band of bandits called the Black Knives. That explains why Trinique knew the men from yesterday. She seems more trustworthy than just a bandit though. The business Trinique talked about turned out to be asking Serteiran to train her younger sister in magic. Has Trinique trained in magic?

*****

Candy, Sparrow, Trinique, and I crossed the river, picked up a horse named Daisy, and had time to visit Avarthel the druid on our way out of town. The standing circle woods felt familiar, with much older and bigger trees like back in Witchcross. Avarthel is a Keeper of Eth! I didn't recognize him, but it was good to meet someone from home. I wish Sparrow hadn't made him nervous to talk much, but he knew more about the apples than Brother Derny. They probably come from the same source, since nature tends to balance good and evil, healing and hurting. Avarthel was very kind giving me the herbalism kit, but it was too much to just take, so I gave him a deus in return. The healing elixir and antitoxin I can make with this are worth far more anyway.

At last we're traveling to Oakhurst!

*****

Some tree looking creatures attacked us in the middle of the night! It was a good thing Candy kept watch and woke us before an ambush. I think I went overboard again with the fire. I need to be more careful, even if people are getting hurt. At least we all managed to fend them off in one piece. I wonder why they smelled like apples.
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The Apple Problem
The apple doesn't concern me, rather the consequences of the townspeople's rash actions. The goblins would have had observers hidden in the distance, and by now their leaders will be deciding what to do. If we don't defuse the situation events will quickly spin out of control. The villagers may well get what they have coming, but dozens of goblin war parties combing the area will make our task more complicated if not impossible. We will have to contact the goblins, make a deal and convince the villagers to go along with it. If we save the town, so much the better. I hope the goblins know our language, I sure don't know theirs.
Session: Game Session 2: Oakhurst - Friday, Dec 28 2018 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Session 1: Drellin's Ferry & Beyond



“Now what?” asked Sergeant Hersk. The burly town watchman rose from his favorite log and peered up the road. Seems that two wagons were slowly making their way towards Drellin’s Ferry. “Sorry, Miss Candy. Duty calls.” The sergeant and his two fellow town guards, a woman and a man, picked up their spears and came to attention. Candy, their conversation companion did not stand. She had been aware of the strangers’ approach just slightly ahead of Hersk but it wasn’t her place to keep an eye on the road and so she could care less.

“Stop right there and state your business,” called out Hersk. He looked like an accountant in chain mail than a soldier with his registry book and quill pen.

“We have come to deliver goods from Brindol but were attacked by bandits between here and Terrelton,” said Trinique. Indeed, the four travelers did look a little bit ruffled and bruised. Especially the cowering driver of the second wagon. Their two wagons were devoid of anything except some feed, obviously for the horses, a few barrels of water and the personal items of the travelers.

“Bandits you say? Not Goblins?” Hersk seemed eager to hear about Goblins but bandits on the roads did not really pique his interest. Candy on the other hand was paying rapt attention and shushed the guard who was talking to her.

“Aye, bandits. We barely escaped with our lives, but they took all of our wares and killed the caravan master. We wound up burying him in a cave about a half day from here.” Trinique looked back at the assistant driver to make sure he made no indication that something else had happened.

“Well, you are lucky to be alive. Now that you are in Drellin’s Ferry, you are safe. And I like it to remain that way. The name is Hersk . . . Sergeant Hersk and you can find anything you need here in the town and we welcome all kinds as long as they are no trouble. Trouble will get you in my jail or dead if you understand me.”

Quinn spoke up, “thank you sir, we will not be any trouble. We are just looking for a place to park the wagons, get a good meal and a good night’s rest. We are not staying long as we are heading further west to Oakhurst.”

“Ah . . . apple seekers, eh? Okay.” The sergeant looked the group up and down and clucked his tongue. “well then, I recommend you stay at the Green Apple.” Under his breath, Hersk added, “Yeah, you look like Green Apple types.” He looked back at Candy and winked.

“Just park your wagons in the common and then walk due north and you will find the Green Apple. Tharrma serves a good meal even if the place is not very fancy.

“Thank you, sir,” said Quinn, Trinique and Sparrow in unison as they urged the draft horses back into motion.

“One last question, sir?” Quinn asked as the wagon started moving. “Is there a Druid in these parts?”

“Yes, Avarthel out at the Old Ones across the river. He is our only Druid. Young but talented and good hearted.” With that the sergeant turned to Candy. “I know I said for you to stay at the Old Bridge. I like the Old Bridge, myself and you seem to be a respectable sort. Those folks had a rough ride and look like rough folks. In fact, I don’t quite trust them, especially that obvious Brindol wizard who did not speak. Tell you what, I will pay you 5 talents if you will keep an eye on them until they show they won’t be any trouble today. Five pieces of silver would pay for a good meal at the Green Apple at least.”

“Sold,” said Candy. She was not sure why the sergeant trusted her, but people always had. That effect had been impacted by her training and it was very, very useful for her job. Candy was very, very good at her job.



“Are you following us? Quinn turned around and stared at Candy who was a few paces behind them.

“No, just going in the same direction. Beautiful day, eh?” Candy looked up at the sky and held her hands up, palms facing up.

“Well, it feels like you are following us. Sorry, my mistake.” Quinn reached out a hand. “My name is Quinn and you are?” The Druid noted that the person in front of her wore well-worn but obviously high-quality gear. Leather armor, a cloak with no obvious stains or tears, a well-kept mace hanging from a belt and a long bow whose ebony riser crossed her chest.

“My friends call me Candy,” the leather wearing woman said, grasping Quinn’s hand and giving it a hearty shake. “Pleased to meet you.”

By now, the party was standing in the green. Having helped the assistant driver with the horses and wagons, Trinique and Sparrow also came over and greeted Candy. They were not sure how, but the assistant driver had disappeared. At least he had not made mention of their recent combat to the sergeant.

“Well, you may not be following us, but we welcome your company,” smiled Sparrow. “We are bound for adventure and glory and it looks like you could handle yourself in the wild. What brings you to Drellin’s Ferry and are you looking for work? We split things equally in our crew. Except if we find my great grandfather’s Sryix. That I have to study myself.”

Candy looked puzzled. “What’s a Sryix?”

Trinique and Quinn looked at Sparrow. The mage coughed and then smiled. “Well, I am not sure, but I imagine it is worthy of magical study. As for other treasures, we will probably get all the gold you can carry.”

“Can I bring a wagon?” deadpanned Candy.

Sparrow stuttered a response while Quinn and Trinique giggled. “Um . . . I suppose . . . I am not sure how much that would be . . .”

Candy smiled and punched Sparrow lightly in the shoulder. “I’m just joshing you kid. I am always up for an adventure.”

The group had arrived at the Green Apple which was not exactly an elegant establishment, but it was moderately full with locals. Particularly Dwarves, Candy noted. Tharrma, the innkeeper, fussed over her patrons and made sure everyone was fed and comfortable. The primary fare was a mound of bacon piled high on a fresh baked small loaf of hearty bread. All of them but Candy partook. Thinking there would be nothing she would want, she was surprised when a plate of freshly made Elven bread and slices of apple appeared before her. They all agreed the food was delicious and soon it was time for bed. The group had a full day of it tomorrow ad decided that they wanted to see Brother Derny to see what he knew about Reslin’s tomb. Trinique was particularly interested in visiting with Sertieran, the town wizard and Sparrow figured a meeting with a fellow Brindol wizard could not hurt. Quinn really wanted to meet Avarthel, the local Druid who Sergeant Hersk had described.



The next morning, the party found Brother Derny outside his small church, berating a huge man in plain brown robes. “Jator! Did you really just spill every drop of this morning’s milk? Go back this instant and get more!”

When the large man turned, the group saw that he was a Half-Orc and it appeared as if he was going to cry. He grabbed two empty pails which were resting in the dirt at the center of a widening patch of mud and started shuffling away. “Mornin’ everyone,” the man said dejectedly as he left the area of the church.

“Oh. Excuse my manners,” said Brother Derny. He was not a large man but a rotund one and what he lacked in height, he obviously made up in personality so that his presence seemed much larger than it should be. He deftly moved to Sparrow and grabbed him by the shoulders. “You must be Sparrow. It is so good to finally make your acquaintance. Come in! Come in!” The priest led the group into the small church and sat them in the first pews they reached.

Derny noted his pleasure that Sparrow had made the journey safely and had chosen some companions for the adventure ahead. He explained that he was a historian of sorts and since he was a child had enjoyed the legends of Reslin Kine and his band of merry adventurers. When he had received the pages of the Old Journal, he had embarked on a quest to find a living relative of Reslin Kine and found that Sparrow was a student at The Citadel. Along the way, he had discovered quite a bit more about Reslin:

The intrepid Reslin spent many of his years as an adventurer in the western part of the Elsir Vale, having been born near Oakhurst (back when it was called Waystop). A life of exploring ruins and fighting monsters garnered Reslin a modest reputation and a modest fortune, enough so that he could retire young from the dangerous career to live out the rest of his life on his plunder. Unfortunately, the rest of his life would come too soon. It was only a week after he learned his wife was with child that Reslin fell ill to the malady which would ultimately lead to his death. He would be denied the chance at being a father, but he would not be denied giving his son his inheritance. In the few short months before his passing, Reslin spent his remaining energy, and plenty of gold constructing an elaborate, underground vault with the help of the legendary Dwarf, Durgeddin. The vault was secured in the mountain Skysplinter, its entrance hidden behind a waterfall. The entire thing was created in secret, and Reslin spared no expense in its making. He employed the talents of the skilled dwarves to carve out the vault, and the magic of wizards to secure its treasures. Upon its completion, Reslin ordered the majority of his wealth, including a Sryix – a magic relic of beauty and the crown jewel of Reslin’s finds – to be moved there. The vault was sealed with a magic ward thereafter. Reslin kept a journal (the only known, surviving pages are those that Sparrow now possesses) throughout the vault’s development, addressing each entry to Nero, his unborn son. The journal contained many of the instructions Nero would need to find the vault, enter undeterred, and claim his inheritance. Reslin entrusted the journal to his wife to give to their son when he came of age, passing away days after the vault was sealed. Nero would turn out to be Nera, for Reslin’s wife bore him a daughter instead of the son he had hoped for. While there was little doubt Reslin would have loved his daughter, the matter of her inheritance was more complicated. When Nera came of age, she was bequeathed the journal Reslin had kept with the details of his secret vault. The young girl had her father’s drive for adventure, and she soon found herself seeking out the secret place. In her adventures, she found Creed, a wily and muscular man a mere two months her elder. Nera and Creed were cut from the same cloth, sharing a passion for life and ad-venture. The two became lovers, then spouses then parents but before long, the pull of Reslin’s tomb swept them up. The two left together for the vault hidden in Skysplinter for a chance to stake a claim at its treasures within. Unfortunately, it appears that Nera was lost, and Creed returned a broken man. He gave up the adventuring life and settled down to raise his children, one of which was your mother, Sparrow. Creed apparently never spoke of what happened to Nera and he never remarried, dying many years later of a still broken heart.


Derny took a breath to make sure the group was following his tale. They were so he continued, “Many have looked for the tomb now and they have never found it. But I think that is because they did not have those pages. Do you have them with you Sparrow?”

The mage produced them from one of the many pockets in his robes and moved towards the altar. “Let’s spread them out here. I can move these old tomes . . .” Sparrow moved aside the candles and books on the ornate altar before Derny could stop him but not before the priest could form a withering stare. Sparrow was oblivious to the reaction, but the others held their breath. Derny moved the papers onto the floor in front of the altar. “No, they would be better down here,” he said, his voice trembling a bit in his shock and anger. “Oh yes, yes, right,” said Sparrow. Candy and Trinique stifled giggles.

“You see,” said Derny, pointing to the map on one of the pages. “there is a reference at the beginning to Razorfalls. That is the clue that no one else had. Razorfalls is now known as the Hollow but back in Reslin’s days it was well known as Razorfalls for the way the water cut through the rock like a razor. It is in the foothills of the mountain itself not on the mountain and is a small waterfall that has carved out a series of holes in the ground and a natural cave system below the surface. It is in that cave system that you will find Reslin’s tomb.” Derny stood up, crossed his arms and smiled smugly.

Trinique looked at the priest. “So why would you give this information to us and not find the tomb yourself?”

“Oh, because I am no adventurer. That is a young one’s game. Besides, I imagine that if our little parish is helpful to the recovery of a family’s prized heirlooms, that family may remember the assistance and take care of the parish as is customary.” Trinique nodded her understanding.

“Thank you, Brother Derny,” said Sparrow. I am sure that some arrangements can be made. For finding something as historically relevant as this, I imagine at the very least, the Brindol Academy will show its appreciation. We have taken up enough of your time and hope to get on the road to Oakhurst today.”

“But wait, Brother Derny,” Quinn spoke up. “Since we are going to Oakhurst, have you heard anything about the golden apple that they sell every year?”

The priest laughed. “Old wives tales put to use to sell tourism in a dying town I am sure. Oakhurst has nothing except the Hucreles’ propping it up. Seems to me that the apple is too good to be true and I have never seen anyone who has been healed by a metal apple. How would one eat such a thing anyway?” He laughed again.

“You have never taken the time to go check it out yourself, Brother?” asked Quinn.

“Why would I want to do that? Have you ever been to Oakhurst? Dusty. Lackluster. Totally devoid of oak trees despite the name. And lend credence to a tall tale? I have my flock to attend to here and that is both more pleasant and necessary.” The rotund cleric gave a full belly laugh this time.

“I bet you a krona that it is real,” said Sparrow.

“What? Derny sputtered. “I should not take your money.”

“Really. I will come back and prove that there is something to this legend. I can feel it.” Sparrow showed a gold coin to the priest.

“Okay, if you insist,” Derny smiled then shook Sparrow’s hand. Candy wondered why the wizard was so sure.





Sertieran's home was located on a bluff overlooking the river, on the north edge of town. The buzzing of bees was in the air and the warm summer air carried the smell of strawberries and the sounds of excited dogs. The party found the wizard at play with those dogs, all beagles, perhaps 20 of them, surrounding him and begging for his attention. As they drew near, Sertieran looked up and all of the hounds stood at attention and fell silent. The mage quickly sized them up as strangers but there was one that looked familiar.

"Trinique, I believe it is. Am I right?"

"You are master wizard. Well met. But I have not come on business for my father. We have a few questions of you if you would be so kind." The words were kind, but the tone had an edge. Sertieran responded with arrogance.

“State your business. I do not have all day for your kind, Trinique of the Black Knives.”

“Actually, Lord Wizard, I wanted to speak to you,” Sparrow had stepped forward and thrust his chest out to make more prominent his Brindol Academy badge. The two wizards then walked away from the rest of the group, deep in conversation. In order to get a better idea of what was being said, Quinn cast a speak with animals spell and attracted one of the beagles over to her. While the little dog was obsessed with food, it did trot over and sit and listen to the two mages but upon its return, proved a less than competent spy. Food, the obtaining of future food and something about a big pig were the focus of this dog whose name was Isabel. Quinn could not help but show a bit of disappointment. Candy patted her on the shoulder and said at least it was good for a laugh.

Sparrow later filled them in on the whole conversation anyway. Sertieran was at first confused that Sparrow might have been sent by the Citadel to collect the golden apple but thought the sale would have occurred already. The wizard claimed that the Brindol Academy had been buying the apples secretly for the last several years, always paying top dollar but its efforts to find out the source had been stymied. Sparrow had also asked about Reslin Kine and though Sertieran recounted a story of Reslin and the Wild Boar (which was another name for his Half-Orc friend who had started out as an adversary), he had precious little to offer. He also said that he would need 200 krona and a few days to fashion a potion of water breathing at Sparrow’s request, but the price was too steep. It seemed that if he had been alone, the price would have been a bit more reasonable but Sertieran hinted that Trinique and her family could afford a bit more than the usual price. As a final note of interest, before rejoining the group, the mage told Sparrow to be careful of trusting Trinique as she came from a well-known family of miscreants and killers.

Before the group left the wizard’s yard, Trinique asked a favor. “If I pay for all room, board and materials, would you be willing to take in my little sister, Jasmin as and apprentice?” The wizard eventually agreed, noting that even if he had no magical talent, he could probably use some help with cooking and taking care of the beagles. The two shook hands on their agreement and Trinique vowed to send her sister as soon as possible. A great weight was relieved from her shoulders knowing that soon she would get enough money to free Jasmine then would be able to provide for a safe place where she could discover how to protect herself.



Figuring that they would pay less if it was just them and no horses or wagons, the group decided to use the ferry then find a stable on the other side. From the ferry landing, the old stone pylons of the once mighty Dwarf Bridge stood out in the rushing river. Two enormously thick ropes spanned the Elsir River here, affixed to a huge wooden capstan. A pair of draft horses harnessed to the capstan turned the device, drawing the ropes, to which a large flat-bottomed barge — the ferry — was secured. Another capstan and team on the far bank worked a second ferryboat, if needed. When drawn by two horses, the ferry crossed the Elsir in just over 6 minutes. The boats themselves were 30 feet long and 10 feet wide. A stable by the riverbank housed the draft horses, and nearby work sheds held spare ropes and various other materials for keeping the capstan, barges, and hawsers in good repair. The ferry was operated by Drathgar, a great-grandnephew of old Drellin himself. At least that is what the captain today said. This one was named Doranda and she was some relative of the ferry owner. Drathgar himself was away on business in Brindol City. He employed about two dozen assistant captains, horse-handlers, carpenters, and porters to run and maintain the ferry. It cost 1 talent to cross on foot, or 3 talents with a mount so Trinique was right about saving money. By long-standing tradition, Drathgar doesn’t charge townsfolk for the first two crossings they make in a single day, but it was clear that the party was new to Drellin’s Ferry, so they paid a total of 4 sp.

Right before they got on the ferry, a town guardsman approached and spoke with Candy quietly. He gave her a small leather pouch about which Quinn inquired. "Gambling debt he owed me," Candy said. With no reasons not to believe her, the party forgot about the exchange and enjoyed the ride across the river.

The stables on the western bank were a part of Sterrel’s Provisioning, a decent looking store for all manner of supplies. However, the owner, Ben Sterrel, said that he only had one draft horse and one cart for sale and together, he would sell them for 62 krona and not a florin less. The group agreed to give 12 krona of coins and the bloodstone to Ben in return for Daisy, the draft horse who looked past her prime, and a small cart with wooden and steel wheels. Quinn took the time to use her ability to speak to animals and found out that Daisy the horse, while appearing old and swaybacked, was full of vigor and eagerness to do some pulling. Quinn picked a large wildflower from the area and stuck it behind Daily’s ear and told her how pretty she looked. If horses could blush, Daisy would have. She neighed her approval and thanks and the group left content in the noon day sun.



When the party arrived at the Old Ones, a group of ancient standing stones, they found the trees and flowers to be much more vibrant than the ones around the village proper. Not that there was anything wrong with the foliage around Drellin's Ferry; it was beautiful and well maintained ed universally by the townspeople. But the trees around the standing stones were much older and larger and the aura smelled of the many blooming flowers exalting in the radiance of the silent stone tablets. Clearly, this was the mark of a talented Druid. And there he was, I possibly young but it was clear that he was Half-Elven with his slightly pointed ears and flawless skin. Who could truly guess the age of one who shared Elvish blood?

Avarthel was gentle and kind, instantly recognizing Quinn and as adherent of the natural faith. She saw that he was a Keeper of Eth and a memory of her home in Witchcross flitted through her and she was at peace in Avarthel's presence. In their conversation, it was clear that he took a liking to her as well but then Sparrow spoke and asked about magical elixirs that could help one breathe underwater. A dark cloud crossed the Druid's face and he immediately assured that he knew the rules of Brindol and Dennovar and sold no magic other than healing draughts and farm blessings to the local populace.

"No, you have it wrong, friend. I am not trying to trick you. I do not represent the Academies," Sparrow pleaded. But it was too late. Avarthel was skittish and wary of a trap. Sparrow knew that there was no love lost between the users of arcane knowledge and those that derived spells from the divine. He rather enjoyed discussion and debate of how the two were related but he could see that he had gotten off on the wrong foot. The party settled for obtaining a healing kit from Avarthel and the ingredients to make both an antitoxin and a healing potion. Quinn was taken aback by the generosity but Avarthel was adamant that they take the supplies. Quinn pressed a Deus into the Druid's hands and said to keep it safe until her return or use it for charity, whichever he thought best. He smiled and held onto her hand a little longer than necessary then blushed. He hurriedly thanked her then gave a small blessing of Daisy, noting how beautiful the flower behind her ear was. The party departed the Druid's company, glancing back more than once to see Avarthel still waving goodbye and good luck.




“Wake up!” hissed Candy to Quinn. “There is something in the woods.” Quietly, the Druid and Ranger woke their sleeping companions. After they had agreed to move away from the main road to make their camp, they expected the night to be quiet. It was a warm, summer night with a full array of stars in the sky and the first two watches had been uneventful.

The group stood arrayed around the embers of their campfire facing outwards. Noise was getting closer from the south east and it was definitely not a normal animal. “Perhaps it is a wounded deer,” said Quinn. Trinique looked at her skeptically. Sparrow said a few words in some unknown tongue and a bright light sprung to the tip of his staff, yet they could still not see anything. Taking his queue, Quinn too muttered some words and a section of the darkness was banished by dancing eerie green lights. Emerging were two shambling, roughly humanoid batches of sticks and vines. If a tree could walk, this was what it would look like.

“What in the Seven H . . .” started Trinique.

The tree creatures were close enough that the snapping and twisting of the twigs that composed them could be heard and they were heading straight for the campfire.

“Hey!” shouted Quinn. “Go away!” A ball of orange flame appeared in her hand. The twig creatures appeared undeterred. Trinique moved quickly to her side with a rapier drawn and Candy let loose with an arrow, but it went awry and was lost in the darkness. One of the creatures reached out at Trinique and wooden claws that were as sharp as razors raked her, piecing the armor that protected her shoulder and drawing blood.

The combat was quick and brutal, chaotic and obscured in darkness. Flashes of fire were thrown by the Druid, inadvertently starting several fires around the fight. In the swirl, Candy’s arrows continued to miss their mark and Trinique was hit again. Quinn launched a fireball that landed in the crown-like structure on the head of one creature and for a second, time stopped. Neither side knew what the effect would be but then time resumed, and the fire raced down the creature’s body, streaming a glowing path of sparks from inside. With a whoosh, the creature exploded in a shower of glowing embers, covering both Quinn and Trinique with ashes. In her next move, Quinn attempted to push the other creature into the flames, but she was manhandled instead. The creature grabbed Quinn with both claws and its vine-like fingers dug deep into her as it pulled her close. But then, like a flash, Sparrow rushed forward with his staff raised above his head. With a warrior’s cry that even he did not know existed in him, the iron shod stick crashed into the tree-man and split it in two. Quinn noticed a strong hint of apples as the branches fell off around her.



After the fight, the darkness took over again and the night was silent. Though the group rested uneasily, they did rest and restored the powers they had used the day before. In the morning, they were quiet and went about the business of breaking camp then getting back on the road. Though it was a gorgeous day, no other travelers were seen on the road. The terrain changed and became dustier and rockier, not providing the oak trees they expected in a town called Oakhurst. Candy commented that they must be getting close as Oakhurst was the last town before entering the Thornwaste. The rumor was that the Thornwaste was also known as the Ashen Plains and had been created by the ravaging of Tiamat herself when she was summoned centuries ago. She was only defeated with the combined force of Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Halflings and Orcs who opposed her. Now the vast wasteland was the host of unimaginable horrors including the Ghostlord, the spirit of a powerful sorcerer who once served the evil dragon goddess. The story raised goosebumps on Quinn’s neck and took a few minutes to shake.

As night was falling, the group arrived in Oakhurst, which was not as they had expected. Instead of a festival, they found the populace somber and guards were posted on the edge of town. A light shone down on them from the old tower overlooking the road into town and their approach was challenged by several serious looking guards with spears and short swords. From the guards and the patrons of the only inn in town, The Ol’ Boar Inn, the party discovered that the apple had been stolen and the buyer attacked by black robed figures who disappeared in a puff of red smoke. Some thought they heard the black clad figures speak Goblin to each other, so the crowd became upset with the small group of Goblins who had brought the apple. A rock was thrown, and a brawl ensued, leaving the Goblins dead and a few townspeople injured. The buyer had paid the Goblins 500 krona in gems and coin. Curiously, the buyer had the badges of both Wizard Academies in her pockets and lots more gold and gems. At least another 500 krona worth. Once cooler heads prevailed, the Town Council was quickly called. Four young adventurous types left with a few others to pay weregild to the Goblins. Talgen Hucrele (a trained fighter) and Sharwyn Hucrele (a Dennovar trained wizard), brother and sister, and children of the wealthy Hucrele family led the way. The Oakhurst heroes pledged to smooth things over and should be back within four days. That was a day ago.




Session: Game Session 1: Drellin's Ferry - Friday, Dec 14 2018 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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The Road to Drellin's Ferry
The days are counting down to the summer solstice, and I finally found passage to Oakhurst that's faster than walking. Running in to Sparrow was the best luck I've had in a while. He seems friendly enough, if a little odd. I don't know why he thinks he needs to carry all those scrolls everywhere. One good storm and it'll be nothing but mush in his pack. I did get a good look at some of his papers, at least. I wonder what the spot covered up by those ink blots says.

Trinique makes me nervous. She's clearly not talking about something, and all those weapons make me think the reason for that is decidedly not good. She claims her dad is sending her to Oakhurst for a business deal, but I've never seen a merchant as scary looking as her. Wouldn't that make it hard to trade goods, if people are scared of you?

The cart is stopping for something.

*****

Obad-Hai that was not good. Were they really going to kill us? It sounded like those men worked for Trinique's father. Can I trust her not to attack me for killing them? I don't think she'd care that I didn't mean it. That cave was so dark and he started hurting Sparrow and there was nowhere to run away. How did Trinique stay so cool through all that? What kind of merchant carries a whip? Whatever her deal is, I want nothing to do with any insurance scams or black markets. Father always said that kind of dishonesty just brings doom sooner or later. At least the road is safer now without them. I hope nothing else turns up like this on the way to Oakhurst.
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