Journal Posts

Ever Onward
While we were resting, another kobold named Aga wandered in, escorting Trinique. Sparrow and Smalls leapt up to escort her back. Meepo was still looking pretty bruised from the revenant fight, so I used some of my magic to heal him. It wasn't much, but it was nice of him to act so impressed. Frank and I examined the black candle a bit closer, too. It was weirdly cool and wouldn't go out or catch on anything, and covered in arcane runes. Frank decided to take it along for more light, and Trinique left to scout ahead.

The eastern side of the hallway up ahead ended in a cave-in, while the western side had another door. Shuffling tracks that looked like they came from the twig blights went south down the hall towards us. Further north the hall was lined with cells, with scurrying noises coming from the inside. I wanted to avoid those. At the end of the hall it opened up into another room, but a large open pit trap blocked the way. Another one was open on the west end of the room too. Trinique said she could see a similar looking dragon fountain as before, but according to Candy this one read, "Let there be death".

We decided to avoid the rats in the cells and the pit traps, and instead took the first hall door leading west. It was plain and nondescript, and none of us heard sound beyond it so we proceeded onwards. It opened up into another empty room, but we found more human-sized boot prints leading to another door on the north wall. I noticed some damage on the door, like someone had hammered three nails in a triangle formation about two feet off the floor. We thought the door might be boarded up, but it opened easily when I tried the latch.

I slowly eased the door open, and found the source of the nails to be a large metal bell nailed to the center. If anyone swung the door open too quickly it'd ring and let anyone up ahead know we were coming. The room up ahead was completely dark, but by the light of my lantern I could make out scattered caltrops on the ground just in front of me. Jax walked on ahead without taking any light, wincing as he accidentally stepped on one caltrop, then crying out when he hit another. I could barely make out his shadow 30 feet in front of me when two arrows shot out from the darkness beyond, clattering against the wall. It was another trap!

Trinique threw Frank's candle to get some more light in the room, and I ran to to bring my lantern as well. Just beyond the edge of the lights radius I could make out two shadowy figures hiding behind a battlement wall. We all returned fire but the darkness and the wall made it hard to land a hit. Meepo ran in to help Jax and I in the attack, but two more goblins joined the fray and rained down arrows on the three of us. Screeching, "Retreat!" Meepo ran back to the cover of the door, just as another arrow got me in the stomach.

Next thing I knew, Jax was leaning over me, softly singing a healing song. Candy took down one of the goblins, and I threw out a pinpointing spell on the three ones left. But it failed.

I panicked. I ran. Obad-Hai, I thought Jax was right on my heels. I should have grabbed him. I should have made sure he made it out with me. I should have been better. Gods damn it.

Three arrows sank deeply into his chest as Jax sprinted forward with a strangled cry. He went barreling over the wall, and another goblin shriek rang out as he took it down, then eerie silence. A moment later, a low whistle from Frank using the Night Caller.

I peeked out. Incredibly, Jax was up again! He bashed the brains out of one goblin while another, also risen from the floor, attacked the final creature. My heart leapt to my throat but Jax looked... wrong. His movements were jerky and unhinged. Jax was gone, and whatever magic Frank called upon with the crystal whistle turned him into someone awful. Finally it was silent.

I pulled the bell off the door and stuffed it in my pack. Trinique swept through the room and collected all the caltrops. We made our way across the room to the battlement to survey the remains. Beyond the wall, another door opened into a hallway leading south. Around the corner to the west side we found a larger empty room covered in straw, with the zombified bodies of the goblin and Jax lying still in the center. Globs of glowing ooze dotted the walls, casting a dull green glow. I could make out 5 practice dummies lines up against a similar battlement wall, with 3 doors to the north, northwest, and southwest. Frank suggested we burn Jax's body before the goblins could find it, so Candy, Trinique, and I helped sort through his belongings.

Jax had an interesting collection of supplies on him. Deep in his pack we found a very fine set of robes, like what a noble would wear. Candy found a letter that looked to be for a noble from Brindol, and a surprisingly delicate, elven-looking signet ring. Maybe those will help us find his family when this is all over. I added his song sheets, ink, and quill to my own writing bag. I'm sure his relatives will want his music. As a memento.

We set a pyre and continued onward. There are people we can still save.

The southwest door was held shut by a heavy lock, and we could hear high pitched voices just beyond. Frank managed to break the lock, and inside were four small cages. Three of them held kobolds, and Meepo eagerly bounded in to open the locks. The last one held a gnome, and his face broke out in the biggest smile at us.

The gnome introduced himself as Erky Timbers, and said a goblin ambushed attacked him on the Old Road a few months ago, and he's been forced to dig tunnels as a prisoner here ever since. Obad-Hai, I can't imagine being underground that long. The constant darkness is getting to me after barely a few days. I asked if he'd seen any human prisoners recently, and he said Talgen, Sharwen, and Sir Braford were here a few days ago, but were taken to Belak. Karakas was killed before they were taken prisoner. We're too late. Again.

Erky thinks Belak is some sort of spellcaster, and he and the goblins have an enchanted grove where golden fruit grows from something called the Gulthias Tree. The name doesn't make much sense to me; history says a man named Gulthias secretly lived as a noble in Brindol by day, and vampire feeding on the common folk by night. He was a scourge in the city until he disappeared, and no one knows what became of him. I don't understand how a tree named after such a monster of a man grows a fruit that brings life. The deathly white apple does make some sense, though.

Erky and Meepo eyed each other uneasily, and the gnome seemed on edge at the idea of us rescuing the kobolds' pet dragon. I tried to explain it, but I think I just made it worse. Now Meepo was upset too. Frank said something in gnommish to Erky, and he seemed to relax a bit.

The northwest door led to where the goblins live, according to Erky, so we went through the north door instead. Beyond, we found another hallway leading to the west, with a door directly ahead and another at the left end of the hall. More ooze lined the walls, and when I took a closet look, it was weirdly solid and rough, almost like bark, and smell like dirt and sulfur and something else I couldn't place.

Trinique and I heard goblin voices from the northern door, while the west one just had quiet thumping beyond it. Meepo said it smelled like sweets! None of use could pick the lock on the door, so we had to resort to breaking it down again. Loudly. The door swung open to reveal a small white dragon crouched on a table! Meepo was ecstatic! Frank and I, not so much, as the white reared back to unleash a flurry of icy breath in our direction. We managed to slam the door shut just in time, but turned around to see four goblins had joined us in the hall from the northern room.

We were surrounded. Uh-oh.

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Epic!
Unexpected Allies
Candy translated Meepo's cry of "Ticklecorn!" for the rest of us. Apparently it's draconic for "coming through, don't shoot" which is good to know moving forward. Meepo rushed ahead, and I guess we lost Trinique in the twisting tunnels. She left a note, though, saying, "back soon". Of course she'll be fine. She kept her head and turned our encounter with the bandits around. Someone like her can hold her own here. I hope.

Sparrow was right behind us heading into the ravine, and joined us as we moved through the kobold tunnels. Eventually we reached a large marble room lined with marble columns made up of intertwined dragons. Murals or dragon scenes decorated the walls, depicting dragons soaring in the sky, raining fire down on villages. One central mural illustrated a dragon with five different colored heads; one red, black, blue, green, and white; surrounded by hooded figures bowing down before it. It would have been beautiful if not for the thick layer of dust and cobwebs covering every surface, and piles of trash and crumbling stone lining the room. Three more kobold stood guard in the room, but relaxed once Meepo called out the signal word again. There was an open doorway with a huge curtain drawn across it, separating the room from the one beyond. Meepo lead us through, chattering in draconic to any kobold we passed. Candy translated again, and this time he was saying, "They are going to find Calcrex. They will help our tribe."

We passed through the curtain, and the next room held a raised dias with a huge stone throne. A stone dragon leered over the top as if to pounce, holding a large stone key in its mouth. Another kobold, this one wearing white robes, sat on the throne. Meepo said something and bowed, so we did the same. The kobold on the throne switched to Common, thank Obad-Hai. She introduced herself as Ustriel, leader of the kobold tribe.

I asked if she or anyone in her tribe had seen a troupe of humans traversing the tunnels recently, and she replied that the humans were captured by goblins a few days ago, and some of them were injured. She offered us a deal: if we recover Calcrex, the kobolds will assist us in rescuing our people since we'll be friends of the tribe. In the meantime, Ustriel offered Meepo's aid in finding Calcrex and bringing her back. As a further reward, she showed us an altar with a magic feather, 3 scrolls, and a flask containing healing elixer; we can choose two of the items to take with us later.

Now in agreement, we tried to gather as much information as we could before moving forward. Calcrex is a young white dragon, and kobold consider themselves mighty beasts heir to all dragons. They came to this holy site where dragons were worshiped years ago, and found Calcrex along the way to guide them. When I asked about the Red Hand, Ustriel said a few moons before the goblins stole Calcrex, some kobolds saw human-sized figures in dark robes who came down on the goblin side of the tunnels.

Thoroughly exhausted, we decided to make camp with the kobold colony for the night and start fresh in the morning. Meepo led us to another area that housed at least 50 kobolds, some clearly small children and others old and wrinkled. For all the mess and trash everywhere, the kobolds were so earnest in their hospitality! They offered us dinner and drinks, and even told us the stories of their tribe. Moons ago, the tribe lived far away but still had Ustriel leading them. She had a vision of a dragon that directly served Tiamat, the five headed queen of chromatic dragons. The tribe traveled from the north through the Thornwastes until they found the hole in the ground hiding a mighty fortress. The tribe was much larger before, but ongoing war with the neighboring goblin tribe has reduced their number to a quarter of what they were. The goblins live in a part of the fortress called "the Grove" under the leadership of someone called the Outcast. Another name they've heard the goblins call him is Belak. Could this be the same person Garon said was asking about the Sunless Citadel a decade ago? It's too much of a coincidence not to be. I wonder if his pet toad is still around somewhere too. The kobolds said the only pets of the Outcast are the twig blights roaming the area. Apparently this whole fortress used to belong to a cult of people led by a goblin hundreds of years ago that worshiped Tiamat. The kobolds found Calcrex when she was newly hatched and took care of her as she grew many times their size. The two tribes lived in relative peace before the Outcast showed up and started the attacks.

*****

We left early in the morning, and went straight back to the room we found Meepo in. A small door on the northeast wall led to the goblin area. Past that, we found another twisting hallway leading to an empty room with more boot prints, with another room beyond it containing an ornate dragon fountain on the eastern wall. A large stone door stood on the western wall, and directly ahead to the north the room opened up to another hallway. Sparrow was intrigued by the fountain, and found that it was covered in a strange sulfurous residue and draconic runes reading "let there be fire". It seemed dangerous to me. The stone door contained more draconic, saying "rebuke the dead, and open the way". Since the door was decidedly colder than the rest of the room, I thought the white ice dragon might be hiding beyond the door. Unfortunately, Frank triggered the trap before Smalls could open it, but we pushed onward.

Inside we found another altar with a single black candle casting flickering shadows around the room. Five coffins lined the north and south walls. The altar seemed to have something else on it, so Sparrow and I went in to take a closer look. He found a crystal whistle that said "Night Caller" in dwarven script, and explained that duergar made whistles that could animate the dead if blown in darkness or under the night sky. I was just examining a flask I found on the altar when the coffins started to open. It was a trap!

Meepo, Candy, Jax, Smalls, and Frank all poured in to fight the undead creatures. Sure they surprised us, but we could make short work of them if it's just five against seven. At least that's what I was thinking until one of those skeletons knocked Sparrow out, and another hit me from behind.

Darkness.

The face of an orc, then swirling shadows closing in. The skin faded from green to tan, a long beard instantly growing on his cheeks. Deep heavyset wrinkles around his eyes. It was a dwarf now.

The rhythmic clink... clink... of a blacksmith working at his forge. Echoing in the darkness

The scene explodes in fire and smoke, the ringing is gone again.

From the flames five interlocking rings rise. One blue, one black, one red, one white, one green. Each gleaming like steel in the flickering light.


I woke up with a start. Sparrow was still unconscious, and now Meepo was too. I made my way across the floor to Sparrow and gave him my healing potion, and he lurched awake as I sighed in relief. We cut down the revenants, but Candy had barricaded the door from some twig blights who heard the commotion and lumbered over to attack.

We stabilized Meepo, and the kobold explained to us that the blights are dumb creatures, walking through fire without even noticing their bodies burning up. At his suggestion, we gathered up the cloaks of the revenants in front of the door, doused them in flame, and I readied a burst of fire as we swung the door open and braced for another fight. Luckily, this one was won much more easily that the first, and everyone fired arrows as I set the cloaks aflame. The twig blights did exactly what Meepo said they would, and crumbled to ash before reaching even halfway across the room. Victory!

We decided to take this opportunity now for a short rest, and I examined the flask more closely. It smells like cinnamon, and the words "essence of the dragon" are carved into the side. I'd say it's definitely something that could come in useful. We've still got a dragon, Belak the Outcast, and who knows how many goblins up ahead.
Session: Game Session 4: In the company of Meepo - Friday, Feb 08 2019 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Tags: Journal , Quinn
Descent to the Citadel
We found the ravine easily enough. There were broken pillars covered in goblin graffiti hanging over and around the edge of the cliff, and strangely an outdoorsy-looking fellow was taking a nap at the base of one. The man, Frank, claimed cliffs are an excellent place for a nap, since the views are fantastic. Never mind the inherent risk of rolling over the edge, but to each his own I suppose. He offered to join us in our quest to rescue the Hucreles and their companions, and took the lead in scaling down the ravine. Almost immediately a swarm of rats sprung out from the rocks and attacked! I fumbled my slingshot and dropped it over the edge, so I tried scaling down the rope while Trinique, Smalls, Jax, and Candy shot arrows down at the rats. I thought maybe I could at least defend and heal our new friend, but I lost my grip and fell. Next thing I knew the fight was all over, and Frank and I were lying on the ground surrounded by rat bodies. Not exactly a promising start to the day, but at least everyone else made it down the cliff in one piece.

The platform below the cliff edge led to a winding staircase the went even further down the the bottom of the ravine. I could just make out a large building in the distance ahead, with a courtyard leading to a smaller mound directly in front of us. Derrick took the lead this time, and triggered a pit trap in the yard and leap out of the way just in time. Two more rats were in the pit, waiting to attack anyone who fell in. I took care of them with my lantern fire. Better to put the pests out of their misery now than get another bite taken out of Frank or I later.

Inside of the mound was eerie. Small goblin bodies, probably dead for a few days, were scattered around the room. There was even a spear pinning one of them to the far wall! I'm guessing the party we're following is responsible for this. That's at least one fight we know they won.

There were 2 other doors in the room, with some shuffling boot prints and a strange claw print leading to the one on the right. We followed the tracks, and came across a hallway with three doors; one straight ahead and 2 others leading left and right. The left door had a crude drawing of a dragon, or maybe it was a fish? It was locked, with a low hissing noise coming from behind it. The door on the right opened to what looked like a meat storage locker. It was empty of anyone, so we turned to focus on the door straight ahead. Trinique swore she heard crying from beyond the door, so she snuck ahead to take a look, then reported back.

The room beyond had a depression in the center, like a pit. Off to the side there was a small hut, where the person we heard was hunched over, crying. He was covered in scales and was speaking draconic to himself. So there's definitely more people down here than just goblins, it seems. Jax took the lead in speaking to the creature, who introduced himself as a kobold named Meepo. Apparently a tribe of his people live down here as well, and the goblins stole their pet dragon, Calcrex, from them. Meepo immediately latched on to the idea of us rescuing his pet, and jumped to introduce us to his leader, Ustriel. He said if we rescue Calcrex, Ustriel will like us, and help us in our quest. I'm not sure how a dragon would even fit in the tunnels down here, or how we'd even go about finding a lost pet, but any help in finding the Hucrele's party would be good.

I hope we find a source of light somewhere up ahead. These dark tunnels are making me anxious. I really don't like being underground.

Meepo is running ahead and yelling something. It sounds like... ticklecorn?
Session: Game Session 3: Into the Sunless Citadel - Friday, Jan 11 2019 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Session 3: Into the Sunless Citadel

I apologize but this summary is more summary than narrative, just like the third summary. It is also incomplete and unedited but I will go back and complete at some point.







“Now what?” asked Quinn.

Trinique pointed to a bundle of clothes near the rope. “Why don't we ask him?”

Light snoring was coming from the bundle.

“You there,” shouted Quinn. “Wake up and tell us who you are. Why are you here? Are you Braford or Talgen?”

The man was leaning back on a large pack with a hat pulled down over his face to keep the sun from his eyes. He slowly looked up but showed no sign of surprise or a concern. "No. I'm Frank. Don't know anyone by the name of Braford or Talgen."

"Well, that's disappointing," frowned Quinn without realizing how rude that sounded.

"So what are you doing here, sleeping during the day, next to a potentially Goblin filled ravine in the middle of adventure?" Derrick wasn't sure such a person could be trusted but could probably handle himself. The armor the man wore lent credence to that view. Not expensive but well worn and still in good shape.

"Well, I did not know about the Goblins but that makes sense for the tracks I saw. Personally, I was just heading to Oakhurst. Heard that good trackers and wilderness guides are always needed. Did you need a guide?" Frank smiled at the various members of the group. None smiled back.

"You know your way around these parts then?" asked Trinique.

"No, not particularly but I am learning. I can swing a sword and shoot a bow though and generally, I don't get lost in the woods."

"Sounds good enough for me", Jax chimed in. He extended a hand and helped the man to his feet.

Trinique mumbled under her breath, the portions of potential treasure appear to be shrinking every day. Candy heard and nodded in agreement.

Jax, Frank and Derrick began tying a new 50’ rope to one of the pillars.

***


The battle of the rats

Party explains the situation to Frank.Frank volunteers to go into the hole and to the first ledge to scout it out.

Rats start coming out of the holes. Party remains at top firing arrows. Frank gets bitten multiple times.

Quinn rolls 1 and slings her sling into the ravine.

Quinn, looked at the existing rope and the one that Frank had used to get down to the platform. If no one went down, the newest member of the party was sure to die. "Don't worry Frank, I am coming." Though she had never rappelled before, she remembered how the builders in Brindol scurried like monkeys on their long ropes and clambered over rickety scaffolding. Surely this could not be so hard. She stepped over the edge began her descent before Trinique could caution her otherwise or let her know that tying the rope around her waist might be a good precaution.

Arrows from her companions whizzed by her head and she felt as if she had been doing this sort of thing her entire life. That us until her foot caught on the side of the cliff wall, sending a shower of stones down upon Frank and the rats. "Look out down below," she said, smiling at her own wit. But that lapse of concentration was too much, her hands slipped then lost their grasp, she tried to recover but as if in slow motion, she fell the last thing she saw before closing her eyes to avoid the impact was Frank succumbing to the bites of the rats and him collapsing. She did not hear herself hit the ground but she did with a horrific smack and then lay unmoving.

The group was stunned. Did two members of the troupe just die?

Jax natural 20 on last rat

Trinique falls on rope but revived Frank catches her

Party takes a short rest on first landing then proceeds extremely cautiously

Find pit trap then kill rat in the pit

***


Finding Meepo and the wet nest

***


Meepo urged the group to follow him closely. He walked to the far door, swung it open with a flourish then screamed at the top of his lungs, “Ticklecorn!”


Session: Game Session 3: Into the Sunless Citadel - Friday, Jan 11 2019 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Session 2: Oakhurst

I apologize but this summary is more summary than narrative, unlike the first two. It is also incomplete and unedited but I will go back and complete at some point. Here is a link to the image summary I shared at the beginning of Session 3.







“Now what?” asked Candy.

“Let’s find an inn and see what we can find out,” said Trinique. The group sullenly trod into town. Quinn fed Daisy a carrot and smiled at the old draft horse. She and Daisy were just happy to be in Oakhurst finally.

From the townspeople at the edge of town, the group had found out that the only inn and tavern in town was the Ol’ Boar. Just like the name of the town was a misnomer (there being precious few oak trees), the tavern was not named for a wild pig but Reslin Kine’s former adventuring partner, a Half-Orc named Gramogasha Oakhurst. Apparently, she had retired when Reslin died and set up this tavern and inn instead. She has long since died and ownership passed to a wealthy family in town.

The inn was crowded with townspeople discussing the events of the past few days. Cattle and goats were already disappearing in greater and greater numbers, driving most to keep a close watch on them. Those that were found were occasionally partially eaten by wild animals, but all exhibited strange puncture marks, scrapes and twigs inside those punctures.

***


Ala and the Ol’ Boar Inn

Ala adjusted in her chair and hunched towards Derrick. "Well, you know, I do remember a story about the Red Hand. It was a cabal of necromancers in Rhest. They were secretive but eventually wiped out by the Paladins of Erathis and Bahamut. If they have crawled out of the ruins of Rhest, that is bad news for all of us. However, it makes sense that necromancers may want an item that restores life."


Derrick nodded and looked over at the newcomers. They had clearly heard Ala's explanation. Time to find out more about them . . .

***


The group spent the next several days waiting for news of the Hucrele’s and gathering information in town. The villagers were generally welcoming but many expressed concern that the peace party would not be well received, and Goblins would descend upon the lightly defended town. The Constable, Felosial, spent much of her day re-assuring nervous townspeople. However, she was not too busy to notice that the new strangers had taken up with Derrick, whom she did not trust.

Garon, the barkeep at the Ol’ Boar was particularly useful. Besides showing Sparrow the statue of Reslin Kine, Gasha Oakhurst and Rowan Nackle in the center of town, he tells the group of the last traveler he knows of who went to the Sunless Citadel. It was a grim human named Belak or Belchek, thirteen years ago. What Garon remembers most is the huge frog that he carried everywhere with him.

The party discovered that:
1. The Goblins appear to be camped in the Sunless Citadel. No one knows for sure what the Sunless Citadel once was, but legends hint that it served as the retreat of an ancient dragon cult.
2. The old road there skirts the Thornwaste. The unnatural desert is attributed to the long ago rampage of Tiamat herself. It is now ruled by The Ghostlord and no one goes there unless they want to be condemned by him. He is a bogeyman of whom many a parent warns their wayward child.
3. Cattle herders don’t graze their stock too far afield these days. They’re frightened by stories of new monsters that maraud by night. From time to time, cattle and people who have gone out alone at night have been found dead the next day, bearing dozens of needle-like wounds. No one has seen the creatures that cause this mayhem, nor do they leave a discernible trail.
4. The missing adventurers include a fighter (Talgen Hucrele), a wizard (Sharwyn Hucrele), a paladin of Pelor (Sir Braford), and a ranger (Kara¬kas). Sir Braford was not a local, and he had a magic sword called Shatterspike.

***


“I think we should try to figure out what is attacking livestock. I have a theory,” announced Quinn.

The cownapping of Bessie
The Battle of the Cowbell

Appearing from around the camp shambled six creatures, best described as small walking trees. Each was about five feet tall and creaked and snapped as it walked towards the center of camp.

***


The witch of Oakhurst

Sparrow was quite enamored with the Gnome witch, Helda. She was a Dennovar graduate so he had not expected too much but she was very friendly and more importantly, smart and open to his questions. Plus, she knew more about Reslin Kine than did he. She and her sister, Corkie Nackle, were the daughters of Rowan Nackle and while neither had ever met Reslin, their father spoke often of the old adventurer. Sparrow was determined to use the time he spent with her well even though he wished he was with the rest of the group. However, if they were to successfully find and get into his great grandfather’s tomb, it would require as much knowledge as possible. One thing he could not seem to find out was what a Sryix was. The only description was an item of immense pride and value to Reslin.

***

Conversation with Madam Hucrele
Why do I have a cow bell?

***


Reaching the edge of the Sunless Citadel

Session: Game Session 2: Oakhurst - Friday, Dec 28 2018 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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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?
Session: Game Session 2: Oakhurst - Friday, Dec 28 2018 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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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.
Session: Game Session 1: Drellin's Ferry - Friday, Dec 14 2018 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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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.
Session: Session 0 - Friday, Nov 30 2018 from 6:00 PM to 9:30 PM
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Tags: Journal , Quinn
Session 0: And so it begins


“Now what?” Trinique adjusted in her seat and strained to hear what the young magic student was saying. He was called Sparrow, but the rumor was that he was the great grandson of Reslin Kine, the famed adventurer. And as some knew, Kine’s fortune had never been found. It seemed that Sparrow was booking passage on a caravan to Drellin's Ferry. Was this related to the treasure? Perhaps it was just an errand for his masters in The Citadel.

Every time she thought of that name it made her laugh. The Citadel sounds so foreboding. Indeed, the Brindol Academy of Magic Arts was headquartered in a large tower complex near the middle of the city, but it was by no means a citadel. Yes, there were some magical wards around the place but there were also mortal guards and any mortal guard was a weak point in any defense. Of course, while they had not been sufficient to block her from getting inside, they had been more than enough to keep her from gaining any magical training. Even with her father's influence and wealth, she had not been able to make the planets align for her to be admitted as a student.

Yes, he was booking passage. The mage was trying to convince the man to take him all the way to Oakhurst but there was no way the caravan master would agree to that. He was one of the Black Knives men and he would surely be arranging a way to steal the cargo before they hit Drellin's Ferry. Perhaps to rob young Sparrow and leave him for dead too. So, if the mage was going, Trinique would make sure to be on the trip too . . .

*****

A golden apple? Why was she dreaming about a golden apple? That and a death white apple, twirling in torchlight. And those beasts with their pointy ears and feral eyes? There was something to it. Were they the ones who took her from her family? No, that was not it. She touched the scars on her neck. Then why did it terrify her so much? Surely an apple could not grow in darkness whether it was golden or not. But she got the distinct feeling that that apple was in her future and it was not in a place in which she would be comfortable.

This was not the first vision Quinn had had. Ever since she had “returned” she had a jumble of dreams which were surely more than just her brain trying to figure out the day. Sometimes they were premonitions and guided her in the face of danger. Sometimes they led her to new discoveries including her new ability to cast spells. But this golden apple was new. She needed a sage to help her explain.

Quinn splashed her face with water, ran her fingers through her hair since she had no comb, then shouldered her pack. It had been a long time since she left Witchcross. Too many days to count. However, she should be in Brindol City by night time and perhaps she could get an answer about this golden apple.

*****

“Hello little one. How was your day?”

Trinique did not think her sister even knew the possible darkness in her future. If she could not find a way to buy her freedom, Jasmine would definitely become a prostitute or a gangster’s wife if she stayed here much longer. The money Trinique was able to scrape together for extra jobs was enough to keep her sister in the kitchens away from the worst of the crowd but she could tell by the way the rougher men and women looked at her, that it would not be long.

Jasmine, covered in the smell of cooking all day, looked up from the wash basin where she was cleaning dishes. She broke out into a smile at the sight of her sister. “Hey you. What are you doing here?”

“Checking on you. Going to be away for a while. Have to go to Drellin’s Ferry for work.” Trinique came around the side of the wall, grabbed a dish and began drying. Jasmine frowned, “work? What type of work? Is it dangerous?”

“Nah,” said Trinique, drying another dish. “Just a little bit of an armed escort. But the pay may be good enough that we could leave this place behind once and for all.” With that Jasmine smiled but her mind was elsewhere.

The sisters washed and dried in silence for a while then Trinique moved over to Jasmine and brushed hair out of the young one’s eyes. “I will get us out of here soon, Jaz. I promise.” Trinique left the room and went back into the streets.

*****

Quinn did not like this city. It was big and fascinating, but it also stank, felt stifling and was way too noisy. She did find a respite. The garden within the walls of The Citadel was quiet and filled with plants, flowers and trees. She could not exactly ignore the walls that seemed to jail the growth of the wild things, but it was better than nothing. She also found information about the golden apples. Talking to an apprentice who had the misfortunate of being assigned to the entry and public question area on the day she arrived, she discovered that the golden apple was real. The apprentice was named Sparrow and he said that he was on his way to Drellin’s Ferry, near the place known for the golden apple, Oakhurst. He invited her to share his wagon at least that far. He was to meet a priest named Derny who had information about his great grandfather, an adventurer of some sort. Apparently, the old adventurer had hidden away some treasures and Sparrow believed there were things too important to be left to the dead.

As for the golden apple, Sparrow said that legend has it that a goblin tribe from near Oakhurst has turned from raiding to trading with the town (that in and of itself sounds like a tall tale). However, every year, slightly after the summer solstice, these goblins sell a single piece of magical fruit to the highest bidder in Oakhurst. The fruit, apparently an apple of perfect gold hue and shine, heals those who suffer from any disease or other ailment. The townspeople sometimes plant the seeds at the center of each fruit, hoping to engender an enchanted apple tree. When the seeds germinate in their proper season, they produce a twiggy mass of twisted sapling stems. Not too long after the saplings reach 2 feet in height, they are stolen — every time. The townsfolk assume the goblins send out thieves to ensure their monopoly of enchanted fruit. Of course, this must be a myth, but it is the only story that seems to involve a golden apple in this area of the Vale. How could a band of wretched goblins ever possess such a wonder, and how could they steal every sprouting sapling grown from the enchanted fruit’s seed without the townspeople noticing? This is a mystery worth pursuing.

*****

Sparrow was apprehensive about the caravan driver and his crew. Luckily there were other passengers heading his way. There was safety in numbers. And at least he had met Quinn, a traveling Druid, and Trinique, a guard of some sort, before the start of the journey. They were the only passengers with him on the way to Drellin’s Ferry. Of course, Quinn was going beyond, all the way to Oakhurst. But it would be good to have their companionship on his journey.

For now, they had been on the road for several days, stopping in the towns of the Dawn Way and either dropping off or picking up goods. Mostly it seemed just heavy barrels and crates with markings indicating linens, ceramics, weapons and other sundries. Nothing too exiting and hopefully nothing that would attract the attention of ruffians. Today they had left behind the last of the towns before Drellin’s Ferry, Terrelton. The only memorable thing about Terrelton was the smell. In the early summer heat, the smell of the tanneries that lined the way into the town from the east, hung low over the entire place, making being outside difficult. Luckily, they were there just one night. Tomorrow, they should reach the banks of the river and his destination. He hoped that Brother Derny had received his letter and knew he was coming. To think that he was close to finding his great grandfathers tomb and treasure was exciting. Particularly exciting was the thought of bringing the Sryix back to the Citadel. Magical artifacts were too important to be left to the dead and had to be studied and observed and used to better the lives of the living. That is exactly what he would do even though he was not sure exactly what a Sryix was . . .



*****

“We have to pull over and water the horses,” said Goran, the caravan driver. The man hopped down from the first wagon and motioned for everyone else to stay put. He then walked a bit away to the side of the road, making no move towards the barrels of water on the second wagon. Shortly thereafter, a group of armed men came out of the woods. While Sparrow was consumed with reading over the notes from his great grandfather’s old journal, Quinn looked up from her notes long enough to notice a man in leather armor and a crossbow hiding behind a nearby tree. She started to say something but Trinique put a hand on her shoulder and shook her head to indicate they should not do anything quite yet.

One of the armed men, clearly the leader, began a friendly looking conversation with the caravan driver but the words were indiscernible as they were too far away. Goran soon returned to the party though and explained that he needed their help in making one of their deliveries. The men were concerned about receiving their shipment in town due to bandits and decided that they could just have the items they were expecting offloaded in a nearby cave. It would go quicker if the three adventurers would help with the unloading.

The cave was just a short distance away from the trail. It was clear that it was an encampment of some sort and had been for some time. Quinn and Sparrow began helping with the cargo while the man with the crossbow climbed into their place and observed. Trinique made no effort to hide that she recognized the men as Black Knives and spoke to the leader.

“So, what is the plan here?” she asked.

“Well, which one do you like the least? We have to kill at least one of them to make this look good. Perhaps both of them.” He laughed harshly and wiped spittle from his red beard.

“That’s not going to happen” Trinique said calmly. “Seems we are going to have to lose two of your men on this job.” She looked him in the eyes without hesitation.

“Fine, we can just hurt them if they will play along. I will talk to them.” The man walked away from Trinique and entered the cave.

“Hey, you two look like smart people who could use a few kronas. You may have figured this out already but you see, this here is an arrangement. We help unload some of this cargo early, make sure it looks like bandits attacked the caravan then we sell it and the owner gets some insurance money for his loss. Everyone wins. You can win too, 10 krona for the two of you to split. But to make it look real, I am going to have to hurt one of you. Fair?” The man looked at both Quinn and Sparrow expectantly.

“Fifteen” said Sparrow. “Just not in the face. I know how this works. I’ve been through this before.” The mage braced himself for a punch to the gut. When it came it was a bit more painful then he expected but not too bad. Quinn looked very uncomfortable. Between the darkness of the cave and this whole situation, she was starting to hyperventilate and panic.

“Well,” said the man, “that’s not enough. I am going to have to hit you both . . . a few times. You’ll heal.” He grinned and took a step towards the hunched over Sparrow. In a flash, Quinn and Trinique were there. The fighter stabbed the man in the shoulder as he looked on in horror. “Trinique! What are you doing? Your father will never stand for this!”

“I am not my father,” Trinique said as Quinn struck with her staff and pushed the man backwards.

Sparrow scooped up a pebble from the floor of the cave and gripped it tightly while saying something arcane. Light burst into the cave, illuminating it like sunshine and the wizard dropped it to the ground. “Now that is better,” he said. Quinn said nothing but appreciated the darkness’ retreat.

Seeing the other men beginning to enter the cave she raised her hands and pleaded to Obad-Hai. The patch of ground around the cave mouth quickly sprouted into a tangled mass of vines, flowers and shrubbery. The bandits barely escaped being entangled in it.

The bandit leader was alone in the cave with the three adventurers now but underestimated their battle prowess. He quickly succumbed to their blows but not before scoring a hit on Trinique. He was supplemented by bolts from the crossbowman but none of the others dared cross Quinn’s barrier of flowers and brambles. After his death, they were at a stalemate.

“Come out and no one gets hurt any worse than they are. We can work out something,” the bandits outside the cave yelled.

Sparrow cupped his hands around his mouth and they glowed ever so slightly. “Leave here and you will be spared. Stay and be doomed.” His voice came out as an incredible deep and loud bass, echoing in the cavern and shaking the leaves on the trees just outside.

There were a few chuckles from the bandits and two ran off at the direction of the caravan driver. He had shouted something about bringing wood and oil to the cave mouth. The closest bandit growled into the cave saying that the adventurers would soon be crispy unless they surrendered. None of them seemed concerned about Sparrow’s trickery.

Quinn responded by producing a ball of flame in her hand and flinging it at the man. He screamed in agony as his beard disintegrate in a twist of foul-smelling smoke. Hands slapped the fire out but not before dropping him to his knees from the pain.

Quiet settled in again as the bandits awaited the arrival of the fire making materials. The three adventurers stayed out of sight as best as they could but occasionally a crossbow bolt streaked into the cave, letting them know that they were trapped. Quinn and Trinique quickly consulted each other. Perhaps there was a way out after all.

Quinn stepped into the light and held her hands outstretched. With a whoosh of air and tinkling like icicles snapping in the wind, a snowy, icy dagger of pure ice appeared then streaked toward the ruffian. It struck him in the chest then exploded in a shower of jagged crystals, showering both him and the Goran in a storm of deadly ice. Both men were knocked back then fell into the dirt. Their faces were pocked with bloody shards which began to melt and their beards were frosted as if from a blizzard. Their eyes flickered and remained open, staring at the sky above but without any sign of life.

Sparrow again cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted for the men to abandon their siege. A crossbow bolt was returned in response. Still an impasse but the effort to smoke them out would soon be underway.

Trinique looked at Quinn and shouted, “Now!” Instantly the bramble of flowers and vines were gone and Trinique was in a run. She passed by the bodies of the dead and leaped up towards the wagon’s side, vaulting over it and right beside the crossbowman. Her rapier flashed and was at his throat before he could blink. “Drop your weapon,” she said through clenched teeth. He did and got down on both knees, his hands in the air.

Quinn and Sparrow followed quickly, rushing out of the cave with fire bursting from Quinn’s hands and Sparrow’s booming magical voice echoing through the cave and out into the clearing beyond. Fire sparked from the balls of it that Quinn threw, none hitting their marks but certainly adding dramatic effect. The remaining bandits surrendered without further combat. But one, Jarrald Halfgiant, who had been returning with a load of branches, turned and ran. Trinique sent the remaining wagon driver after him but the tall bandit eluded him.

The adventurers searched the dead, finding numerous kronas (gold pieces), soldats (electrum pieces) and talents (silver pieces) as well as a heart shaped bloodstone. The crates and barrels were filled with mundane items which may fetch some krona, but were not worth the trouble of having to fence them by the party itself. Trinique told the remaining bandits to carry on with their theft and insurance scam but add that a rival gang, perhaps the Shadowbanks, had attacked and killed the others. They all swore to Trinique that the true events would be kept secret and there would be no hard feelings.

Once everyone had their stories straight and the dead were buried in the cave, Trinique motioned to the new caravan driver and they continued on their way. She could not help thinking that allowing Jarrald get away would present a problem but also knew that he was a coward and would likely disappear for long enough to allow her to make appropriate arrangements. Either that or she could ensure that he turned up in the Elsir River after a tragic accident.

The rest of the trip was uneventful and before nightfall, the thatched roofs of the village could be seen up ahead and the caravan entered the town of Drellin’s Ferry . . .




Session: Session 0 - Friday, Nov 30 2018 from 6:00 PM to 9:30 PM
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