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Pointer-left 2007-07-24-samtheamericaneaglemuppets_thumb
Posted by the GM
Scott RHoD
Vrath's Keep Continued, Day 2 (6/13/09)
With the assistance of the treasure map the party had that led them to Elsir Vale, the party's search of the warroom in the basement of Vrath's Keep also revealed a secret door that was VERY well hidden. Without the treasure map indicating its location, you likely never would have found it.

The secret door reveals a short, narrow passage you must crouch and squeeze a bit to navigate. The air is very stale and the dust does not appear to have been disturbed for centuries. The passage opens into a small room with worked stone walls. One of the walls has a small alcove carved in place, and a desk sits in the in the middle of the room.

Human skeletal remains dressed in tattered chainmail slump against the wall next to the alcove. Both the chainmail and the skeleton’s broken ribs indicate a puncture wound from an oversized spear, arrow, or javelin. While the skeleton and his armor have seen better days, he does wear a pair of black iron bracers, conspicuous for their lack of rust.

Within the alcove is a large wooden trunk bearing the coat of arms of Vrath’s Keep. It is sealed with a padlock no one in the party can pick, but the lock is somewhat rusted and not that difficult to burst with a solid blow from an axe or hammer.

The chest contains several scroll tubes with notes of credit (long since expired) and the deed to Vrath’s Keep. Also loose in the chest are a picnic basket (magical), a black dragon skull, two dozen teeth the size of small daggers on a thick string, a crossbow (magical), and a dwarven throwing hammer (magical).

There is also a small rosewood box containing 5 platinum pieces, several glass vials and a scroll (magical). Two of the vials contain potions of vitality, and the remainder contain a quicksilver-like magical substance.

A quick identification indicates the basket is everlasting provisions, plus a pair of flame bracers, a +2 skyrending crossbow, a +1 lightning throwing hammer, 500 gp worth of residuum, and a scroll of raise dead.

The desk contains some barely legible and crumbling papers that chronicle the day-to-day activities of Avery Vrath, the last owner of this keep. A quick review of the pages that are still legible tells the story of the keep, summarized as follows:

For centuries, trade through the Witchwood used the Dawn Way, and the soldiers stationed at Vrath’s Keep were the primary defenders of the region. The presence kept the road safe for merchants to travel.

A few years before the fall of Rhest, an ambitious man named Avery Vrath inherited control of the keep. After the Rhestilar kingdom dissolved, Avery laid claim to the entire Witchwood and sought to rid his new domain of its evil inhabitants and vermin. Chief among his targets was a tribe of giants known as the Twistusks.

Young lord Avery gathered an impressive group of mercenaries and adventurers and led an assault on the Twistusks. The battle was furious, but Avery’s men won the day, slaying many of the Twisttusks and driving the remainder into the Wyrmsmoke Mountains to the west. The soldiers burned the giant’s steading to the ground and returned to Vrath’s Keep for the celebration.
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Pointer-left 2007-07-24-samtheamericaneaglemuppets_thumb
Posted by the GM
Scott RHoD
Vrath's Keep, Day 2 (6/13/09)
Leaving the horses in the care of Jorr alongside the Dawn Way, our adventurers trekked up the path to the wreckage of Vrath’s Keep.

On approach, the party discovers the keep in poor repair. Most of the walls stand fifteen feet tall, and an intact, 2-story tower dominates the southwest corner of the keep. But both gatehouses are partially collapsed and a scouting trip around the perimeter revealed a large breach in the southern wall as well. Large boulders are strewn amid the ruins of the two watch towers and the wall breach, and a massive humanoid skeleton slumps amid the rubble of the northern watch tower. The skeleton’s hide armor has nearly disintegrated with age and a bug-eaten warclub lies next to one of its bony arms.

During the perimeter scouting trip, the party observed a hobgoblin and cave troll inside the keep who were not terribly attentive to the group’s approach. Upon engaging the hobgoblin and troll, four more hobgoblins joined in for a battle that spanned both the main courtyard of the Keep and a partially ruined barracks room.

Toward the end of the fight, two of the last three hobgoblins broke off the encounter to head toward the keep’s tower to the southwest. The party was able to intercept the two before they reached their goal.

Fearing immanent reinforcements, the party pressed forward to the tower and descended some stairs in pursuit of some voices heard below. At the bottom of the stairs, they find a fairly well-appointed chamber (large desk, overstuffed chair, massive 4-poster bed, and a large easel) containing a bugbear and dragonborn reviewing some maps and charts. The bugbear heard the party approach and blew a silent whistle, but his encounter with the party lasted less than 20 seconds. His displacer beast “pets” that he summoned were also no match for the party with the bugbear and dragonborn already dead.

Searching the area:

Hanging from the easel is a hand-drawn map of Elsir Vale, with various notes scrawled on it in the goblin language. Assuming someone in the party speaks goblin, the map appears to outline an invasion plan where goblin tribes are gathering at Cinder Hill to the northwest and will then march along the Dawn Way, sacking everything in their path until they get to Brindol.

There are additional ledgers and schedules in goblin outlining the movements of a half dozen companies of goblins and hobgoblins throughout the Witchwood and Elsir Vale. One company is currently exploring a path along Cold Creek that goes into the Wyrmsmoke Mountains to the west. Another was sent along Old Forest Road to the east, deeper into the Witchwood. Another was sent up the Dawn Way to file the latest report with Kharn (this group is due back today or tomorrow). Another was sent to be an advance raiding party along the Dawn Way, about 7 miles east of Drellin’s Ferry. Another was sent to the hills between Terrelton and Nimon Gap to keep an eye out for any dignitaries or soldiers from Brindol. The last one was sent to the roads south of the Dawn Way to attempt to seal off the dwarves of Hammerfist Holds. Each company’s tour seems to take 10-20 days and they return to Vrath’s Keep to get their next assignment.

There are also additional notes in a language no one in the party is likely to speak.

Beneath a military-style officer’s shirt emblazoned with a clawed red hand, the bugbear wore a silk shirt trimmed with silver thread. It is +2 shimmering cloth armor. There was also a cloth sack in one of the desk drawers whose inside is bigger than the outside. It is a bag of holding and also contained 3500 silver pieces.
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Part 2
Our adventurers have reached Zellara's home after many a detour. Looters, cutthroats, hellknights and a BlackJack wannabee who call's himself Siver Jake. He will charge a toll for you to pass a public street, that is until he see's the authorities in the area.

Zellara's home has been empty for weeks. A thick layer of dust coats the remains of broken furniture. She has no other family so the building wil be turned over to the city. Still, the party has a place to sleep tonight. Sleep is a strong word. The racket outside subsides at 4 on the clock. The citizens are probaly very tired after a night of rioting and looting.

A visit to castle Korvosa ensues. The group is greeted by Sabina Merrin armed with her anime type sword (read huge, unwieldly, unlikely but impressive as hell). Sabina is a good judge of character and takes the group to see the queen. The widower is crushed by grief and despair. At least there are some aventurers here willing to help their queen help their city.

Good adventurers are always needed. Good adventurers always need money. The 1200gp bounty will only last so long. So it is without hesitation the the group heads for Citadel Volshyenek. Escorted by a group of green Korvosan guards, the meet yet again with a Hellknight named Bart Labour. This heavy breathing, plate clad terror seems to watch the group wherever they go, trying to catch them doing something illegal. If only something could be done about him.

With the scream of the name Neffi, a drunken soldier approaches Baltazar, inviting him for a drink. It has been such a long time since they saw each other in Sanpoint. No amount of reasoning can convince Grau that he is mistaking Baltazar for someone else. But Grau is resilient, after being beaten up by muggers, and saved in extremis by the escort at the request of the group which continues toward the Citadel he is taken in custody and helped with lesser restorations. A few nights in jail should do the trick.

Field Marshal Cressida Kroft does not like drunkard's. But what she hates even most are deserters. Verik Vancaskerkin is just that, and the worst kind. Not for family, not by conviction but for personnal gain.

Will the group accept to take on the rogue seargent and his accomplices? It is night, there is a light in the upstairs appatment of All The World's Meat, and the adventurers are on the roof, waiting to open an upstairs window. Does that answer the question?

To be continued....
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Tending Talia: Tops and Trousers
Written by Amanda and Sonja

Talia turns to Felina as Aric goes out the door. "So...shall we discuss the wedding first? Or training?"

Felina smiles, "It's up to you. What would you like to do first?"

Talia grins suddenly, a gamine smile that makes her look impish and fifteen. "Both! We can discuss silly things like colors while I learn how to move about in shockingly tight trousers!"

Felina raises an eyebrow. "Shockingly tight trousers, huh? Why don't we start with well fitted, and we'll move on to shockingly tight later." She looks over Talia, "Now, about what size are you? We're gonna have to find you some trousers first."

She rattles off her measurements for dresses, which at least gives Felina an idea.
Perhaps not surprisingly, she's a size or maybe two bigger than Felina. They're the same height, but Talia is...well, a little plump. Not in a bad way, but she's a well fed young lady who's never had to do anything enormously strenuous other than getting into her corset every day.

"Alright. Looks like we're gonna have to see a tailor. I don't have anything that will fit you myself. Unless..." She pokes her head out into the hallway in time to see on of the maids walking down the hall. "Ah, just the person I was looking for! Rachel, would you mind if Lady Talia borrows a pair of your trousers?"

Rachel blinks at Felina in great surprise. A tall young woman who some might call "rangy," she just happens to be one of those who'll be a close fit to Talia's figure.
"Uh, no, m'lady, I mean, yes m'lady...I'll get them for her." She hurries off to the servant's stairs, although not without a quizzical look over her shoulder.

Felina glances back over her shoulder at Talia, "I think we've just given poor Rachel the strangest request she's ever heard." She laughs.

Talia chuckles a little. "Indeed." She starts to rummage around in a chest at the end of the bed, sorting through various embroidered items. She's clearly been doing a LOT of needle work, to judge by the amount of supplies and partially finished stuff in the chest.

"Wow! Beautiful work! I imagine, though, you must be getting tired of embroidery by now."

"Oh, I don't know if I'd ever get so tired of embroidery that I'd never do it...but there are times when I'd really rather just be with Aric. Or at least be out of the house. For all that I hated being around my stepmother, at least she insisted that we go shopping or out to teas and making calls every day. I spent more time out of our rooms than in them, but then again..." she makes a face. "At that time I was on display. I was nothing more than goods to be sold off for the best advantage to my father. All I could hope for was some measure of success in steering that choice, so that I would be tied to a man who was not completely loathsome." She looks up at Felina. "I suppose you know more about that kind of thing than I do. I don't mean to bring up bad memories."

Felina gives her a soft bittersweet smile, "Yeah, I know all about that. I'm glad that you found Aric though. I know he'll be good to you. Better than most men. Most wouldn't even think of teaching you to fight or to roof walk. Aric, though... he seems pleased to be able to teach you. I can't see him ever being the type to tie you down either. He knows the value of freedom."

Talia smiles and looks out the window, staring at the high, puffy white clouds. "I hope that I have something to teach him as well..." She glances over at Felina. "After all, I know that he will most likely outlive me. I want to make sure that he remembers me." She colors a little, and looks down.

Felina walks over and lays a hand softly on her arm, "He will remember you. He loves you."

A small, wistful smile crosses Talia's face. "I hope so. He's going to have a hard time of it, and that more than anything scares me." She gives Felina a sideways glance. "I guess you might think I'm very cowardly, always afraid of things I can't even articulate. But that's why I'm trying to learn how to do some of the same things you and Aric can do. Maybe knowing how to protect myself, how to run and hide well, will keep me safe from the kinds of dangers Aric seems to throw himself at." She laughs, a short, somewhat bitter sound. "I can't profess to understand why he throws himself in the path of danger. But I won't let it stop me from being with him."

Before any more can be said, Rachel comes to the door. "M'lady, I have them..."

Felina turns, "Ah, thank you, Rachel. Could you also see about getting Lady Talia a couple of pairs of these in her size, please?"

The pants she has brought are plain homespun brown, made of heavy canvas, cheap and durable.

"Rachel, I realize these are very odd requests, and I appreciate you playing along. The pair I'd like to get her should be in a nice moveable fabric, perhaps a blue and a dark brown or black pair."

Talia goes into the bathing chamber and comes back in a shift and the pants.

Rachel blinks and looks at Lady Talia, a little doubtfully. "Er..."

They're a little long on her, perhaps two inches, but they're tight across the hips.
She is grinning like mad. "I feel kind of naked!" she says, giggling and blushing a bit.

"Wow, we're really gonna have to get you a top to go with that," Felina says.

Talia glances down. "I've seen women wearing these about in public before." She looks back up at Felina. "Or am I missing something?"

Felina laughs, "You've not seen respectable women wearing that in public. We'll need to get you something more suitable."

Talia wrinkles her brow, thinking. Then, "OH!" Her hands fly to her cheeks. "I - I thought those women were merely very good friends with the men they were...uhm...nevermind."
Cooling her blushes by furious fanning of her cheeks with her hands, she says, "Yes, whatever you think is best, Felina...I certainly don't want to give Aric the wrong idea!"

"Certainly not." Felina says grinning. "Come on. I think I might have a loose winter top that might fit you." She opens the door and proceeds down to her room.

Talia follows. Her feet make a shushing noise on the carpet runner in the hall, but she's nearly silent on the steps. Quite light on her feet, which might bode well for her learning the art of moving quietly and being unseen.

The two make it down to Felina's room where Felina crosses and opens a chest and begins to dig for the top she's looking for. "It might be a bit wrinkled. I don't have room to hang my winter and summer clothes in the wardrobe." She finds what she's looking for and utters an exclamation of success. "Here it is!" She holds up a blue crushed velvet blouse that laces at the top. "I usually wear a corset over it and let it blouse out, but it should be fine like this for you."

Talia takes the blouse and holds it up against her. "It's very nice. I wouldn't think..." she stops, blushing fiercely. "I'm sorry, I almost put my foot in my mouth."

Felina smiles, "Go ahead. You can be frank with me."

Talia reddens even more. "No, would have sounded like an insult." She touches the fabric of the blouse again, thoughtfully. "You must be very successful as a bard to afford such nice things."

"I've worked very hard to make it on my own here in Ceranna. It took many years for me to reach the success I have now. I've always believed that hard work pays off in the end."

Talia makes a face. "My father would disagree. He always said that the best way to profit was to have an edge over everyone else. Even if that edge happened to be sword point." She gives Felina an apologetic look. "He always laughed, as if it were a joke. As I grew up I realized that although he found it amusing, he wasn't exactly joking."

Felina frowns slightly, "Your father and I would certainly disagree on a great many things... but that's neither here nor there." She motions to the blouse, "Go ahead and try it on."

Talia manages to get the blouse on, fumbling a little as she tries to be extra careful of it, as if it were gossamer and not velvet. It fits her, although it's a touch tighter in the shoulders and chest on her than on Felina. The color makes Talia's hair and eyes somehow deepen in color, complementing the slight flush in her cheeks.

"Ah, that looks nice on you. A touch small, but it'll do for our purposes until we can get you some tops of your own."

She looks suddenly apprehensive. "I just, ah, thought of something." She is blushing again, this time so much so that it looks painful. "How am I to pay for all this?"

Felina crosses her arms and gives her a lopsided grin, "Tell you what. When you're queen, we'll work something out. As for now, though, you're my friend, and friends take care of each other. So I've discovered..."

Her brows furrow. "Oh, but...are you sure that's alright? I...I hadn't thought about any of this..." She sits down on the nearest chair, frowning deeply. "The King was so generous, giving me plain gowns and then providing me with supplies to embroider them myself. He was very kind when I first arrived here, you know...he acts so much like an especially nice grandfather, it's easy to forget he is King. At least, within these walls..." She shakes her head. "But that's beside the point. When I was with my stepmother she provided for everything I needed and many things I didn't need...but of course now I can't draw upon my father's name or money." She looks at her hands. "I sold...what I could obtain...of my jewels. But I wasn't able to get to most of them." She looks at Felina. "It has just occurred me that I am literally at the mercy of the King and anyone else. I have...never had to earn a living. I don't even know how to earn a living!"

She rubs at her eyes, clearly trying not to burst into tears. "I can't accept your offer, Felina...I might not even become Queen, and then where would you be? No, I must figure out something I can do make my way...or something."

Felina walks over to her and pulls her into a warm hug, "It's ok, Talia. We'll figure something out. I was helpless too once, but I found people to help me get back on my feet. To find myself. I know how you feel. I also know that it's not the end of the world. You have friends here, and we're going to help you any way we can."
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Tending Talia: For Her and Nothing More
Written by Andrew, Amanda, and Sonja

Aric gets up and sits on the window sill looking out over the city. Shadow stands, his paws on the window sill and barks at two birds as they fly by.

"Its alright boy." Aric says patting him on the head.

Getting up out of the window sill he leaps back inside and stands at the closet looking over the clothes he had acquired over the weeks there. Looking over his royal uniform his adventure gear and Brother Simon's robe, Aric looks over the clothes and back to Shadow.

"What do you think?" Aric asks.

Shadow tilts his head.

"That's always your answer." Aric says.

Aric pulls on his adventure gear and walks to the door. Opening it Shadow pushes past him. "By all means go ahead."

Shadow stops in the hallway growling at someone who has startled him.

At Shadow's startled growling, Felina turns, "Shadow, it's just me. See?" She holds out her hand for him to smell, "Yeah, I know. I always smell like someone different and that just throws you for a loop doesn't it?" Shadow peers at her, cocking his head to the side. Felina laughs.

Aric appears in the door way, closes the door and walks up to pat Shadow on the head, "Would you relax?".

Looking to Felina Aric smiles, "Morning I was heading for that jeweler to get something, could you tell me where the shop is located?"

"Going to pick up something for Talia I presume?" She looks up, "You'd better. Seems you've been in the dog house lately. No offense, Shadow."

"It's my own doing." Aric says, "I have been obsessing over this Shavris business. it drives me crazy that he asked for me and I do not know why. She's just been worried about me."

He hesitates for a moment then says, "I'm not sure what kind of things she would like so if you have any advice that would be most helpful."

He then steps closer lowering his voice, "Also she's been suffering a little cabin fever and I thought a great wedding present would be for her to have a polymorphic scroll or better yet an object like that hat you lent Violet recently. Any idea where I might be able to get something like that?" Aric felt out of place, the last thing he had ever given a woman was Elisabeth and that was when he was twelve.

Felina nods, "It's understandable that she should be worried. This business looks to be getting more and more dangerous. The hat of disguise I have was given to me as a gift, but I can certainly check around for you to find out where we might could get one. Of course, she's welcome to use mine until we can get her one of her own." She puts a finger to her cheek and taps it in thought, "As for advice... hmmm.... Perhaps a butterfly piece? A hair pin or a brooch... That seems pretty appropriate. Butterflies are symbols of transformation and new life. After what she's been through and the upcoming wedding, I'd think that'd be just the thing."

"Thanks." Aric says, "I might take you up on that hat offer. Talia has been getting quite nervous lately." He rubs Shadow's head and looking up says, "Have you heard from Pale?"

Felina looks down at the floor, a worried look crossing her face, "No."

"Any thoughts as to where he might have gone?" Aric asks, "I've been taking some excursions outside the city walls I could keep an eye out?"

Felina shakes her head, "I have no idea. I've only ever seen him here in the city. I've been checking the temple of Pharasma and checking back at the Forge and Furnace to see if he went back to see his friend, but so far I've turned up nothing." She sighs, "I just hope he's alright."

"Let me deal with this and we'll start tracking him. We can use Shadow to help track him. Other than a bottomless pit of a stomach he has a pretty good sense of smell." Aric says.

Shadow barks looking up at Aric who rubs his head smiling. "If it helps Talia could use some help planning the wedding," he suggests.

Felina exhales, "Maybe so. You could say I have some experience planning weddings quickly. I was only engaged a month before I was married, after all." She manages a small smile, "I'll go help her. Thanks for the suggestion, Aric."

Aric thanks Felina and heads to Talia's room, motioning her to follow.

As Aric walks up to Talia's door, Shadow rushs ahead of him, pawing at the door. "Ease up boy I'm sure she's there." Aric knocks on Talia's door waiting for her to answer.

Talia's maid opens the door just a crack. "Oh, Lord Aric..." She dimples at him. "I'll just let m'lady know you're here."

Shadow pushes against the door, and the maid lets him have his way. Grinning the wolf promptly flops to the floor just inside the door, giving Aric a one eyed yet somewhat smug look.

Aric returns Shadow's gaze then looking to Felina,

"Sometimes I wonder who he really loves more." Aric smiles and holds the door allowing Felina the chance to enter.

Felina laughs and follows him inside.

Aric steps in and lets the door close behind him. He finds a chair and sits down.

After perhaps three minutes Talia comes out from the bathing chamber. Her hair is still very slightly damp and she's wearing the least elaborate of the gowns she now owns. The dark blue sets off the paleness of her skin and makes her brown hair look darker. She smiles and gives Aric a small hug and a genteel peck on the cheek. She seats herself, and Shadow comes over to her and leans against her leg, accepting her pat on the head as a king accepts obeisance, making a satisfied grumbling sound in his throat.
"I'm sorry to keep you waiting, my hair took a little longer to put up today," she says. Looking at Felina she smiles, "I'm glad to see you today Lady - uh, Miss Felina. I hope you're well?"

Felina simply smiles and nods at her as Aric steps up to greet her.

Aric tries to maintain his concentration trying not to focus Talia's sheen from recently having bathed and says, "My lady I want to first apologize for the way I have been behaving over the recent days. I was not in my head and emotion had taken the place of logic and reason. I have been given many good things in my life and when good things do happen to me I tend to focus on the bad things trying hard to keep them from coming." Aric shakes his head break his sudden rambling, "What I am trying to say is that I am no longer planning a trip to the southern countries. I know now that the trip would be too much trouble and thusly defeats my reasons for wanting to go. I am here now for you and nothing more."

Aric moves closer to her dropping to one knee. "My love if you'll still have me I would like nothing more than to start this new chapter of my life with you."

She looks at Aric, her cheeks growing pink. "Aric, I should also apologize. I have thought a great deal about...our last argument...and I was also wrong to try to tie you down so fiercely. I do forgive you, if you'll forgive me." She takes his hands in hers. "I focus on my own fears and problems much of the time, but you deserve more than to see me fainting with hysterics all the time."

She tugs on his hands. "Stand up, dearest, you don't need to make your knees sore on my account." She then looks over at Felina. "I wanted to ask you this first, since you are so very free and so you think you could help me learn a few things?"
Looking between Felina and Aric she says, "I think it might be a good idea for me to learn to move in something other than a court gown. And perhaps even," she smiles at Aric, a dimple showing in her left cheek, "learn to roof walk."

Felina smiles at Talia, "Of course! I'll certainly be glad to teach you whatever you wish to learn and help you find some more suitable clothing."

"Nothing would please me more than to teach you this very special talent." Standing up Aric says, "My lady I will still be searching for this killer Shavris but I will have back up I promise. Also, Felina has given me permission to allow you use of a hat that you could use to disguise yourself for when you really need to get out. But please when you do be safe."

Talia looks up at Aric. "I think that perhaps the only way I can be safe out there, at least so long as my father is here, is to be by your side." She gets a determined look on her face. "I will try my hardest to learn, and I won't ask to go with you until I am at least able to look after myself. But I don't want to sit here doing embroidery forever."

Aric stands up. "I will be glad to teach you to fight we can even wait till after sundown if you'd prefer it that way. For the time being, Felina here has agreed to help you with any wedding plans you might need assistance with."

Moving to the door Aric says, "Unfortunately I must be going. I have cultists to seek out and dance lessons to complete." He lets out a brief sigh, turns and leaves. From the hallway, Aric can hear Talia suppressing a giggle.

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