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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 12:00 PM to 3:30 PM
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Poppy
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Sword Coast and Beyond
The Second Assault
22nd - 24th of Flamerule

After fending off a small pack of giant badgers and becoming fulling rested, the group decides to infiltrate the large cave again. They watched the traffic in and out of the cave for the two/three days of recovery and they were confident whoever was inside wasn't going to come out soon.

They repelled down the side of the plateau, again. Once inside, they were confronted with another two cultist soldiers. There number swelled as others further in the cave were alerted to the attack. Fortunately, the others were not as well trained as the elite soldiers. Although their numbers were overwhelming, their skills failed them. Not to mention, Tolly utilized his connection with the weave to his advantage. Large numbers of the guards fell asleep at the command of the small halfling.

Tolly and Cappy merciously killed the sleeping cultist, at the dismay of the honorable Elissa and Dray. Draak seemed unfazed. They questioned the last remaining cultist. True to a fanatics mentality, he refused to give them any valuable information. Elissa stepped in when the group was going to kill the prisoner. "At least give him the honor of death in battle." Although diffcult to slay at first. He eventually fell to the onslaught of the group.



Elissa searched the room while the others were tending to the last cultist. Spread open on one of the tables is a simple map of the Greenfields area showing the villages the cult attacked and looted. An arrow is sketched in from the Greenfields toward the west and the town of Beregost on the Trade Way, where the arrow turns north. A separate sheet of paper that is covered with numerals in columns contains the note, "Everything must be freighted north to Naerytar. Rezmir allowed us to keep some pearls, a ring, and a handful of small stones."

Satisfied these areas were cleared, the group decides to return the the main entrance and follow the cave deeper. Cautiously, they pressed forward. Looking for any evidence of more cultist. Captain Black hopped down the small escarpment and made his way through some thick fungi. The other moved down the steps. To their dismay, the steps were rigged to cause the uninformed to slip into a batch of Violet Fungus. This triggered four or five of these rotten creatures to attack. Their tentacles waving and attacking everyone.



During his attempt to silently move past these creatures, Captain Blackheart inadvertently ran into one of the vile fungi. It lashed out at the infamous pirate grabbing his hand. It sent a surge of decaying, necrotic power through the appendage. The hand immediately seized up, curling into a paralyzed claw.
...
Session: The Return to the Game - Tuesday, Jul 03 2018 from 12:30 PM to 3:30 PM
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Poppy
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Sword Coast and Beyond
Shenanigans and Supplies
17th of Flamerule thru 19th of Flamerule



Draythas, upon reaching town, seeks out Cappy to thank him for finding his maul. Ol' Helm Hammer means a lot to him. It isn't too hard to find him at Clancy's considering he is the only tiefling in town (plus... you know... the bad reputation). Cappy immediately wants to go back to the camp. He must find out what is in that cave! "Arrr! Me damn com-piss has to be there!"

Cappy takes the opportunity to slip out of the tavern when Dray "Eggsy" insists on teaching "Manners maketh Man" to a drunk at the bar.



The Tolly tracks down some supplies and paints with Elissa close by at all times. Most times. He does slip away to find... other items after he has a meeting with Leosin. Leosin wants Tolly to get the group together for a meeting. He needs to speak with them. Most of the group is easily found. Cappy, on the other hand, doesn't want to be found. There are rumors of shenanigans and debauchery that night, even a reported attempt to break into the Keep. Sounds like something Cappy would do, but no-one knows for sure. Actually, they are pretty sure it was Cappy that tried to break into the Keep. The guards escorted him to his room.



He woke the next morning to find a rock with a strange face painted on it and a brass compass on his bedside table.



When he found the rest of the group, Cappy discovered the monk wants them to go back to the camp. He insists on getting information about what is going in to and coming out of the cave. He will be heading to Entural soon. They should meet him there with information, if he isn't in Greenest when they return.
Session: Greenest Return - Monday, May 21 2018 from 12:30 PM to 3:30 PM
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Poppy
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Sword Coast and Beyond
Greenest Return
11th of Flamerule thru 16th of Flamerule

With the exhausted prisoners in tow, it takes twice as long for the group to return. Upon their arrival, the guard immediately questions the monk and attempts to take him into custody. "You turncoat! You will answer to the Governor for your decision to join forces with the raiders!" It is at this accusation that the prisoners rally to the monks defense. They convince the guard and the Governor of his innocence. It still isn't known how such a rumor could have started.
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Sword Coast and Beyond
The Monk and Pirate
10th of Flamerule

Rest is spotty for the party and the other prisoners. Tolly takes time to search the bones and rotting flesh in the front of the cave. Looking for what? Who knows. He eventually drags out the body of Mal. She was clearly beaten and abused severely and in unspeakable ways. Tolly takes the time to search the cave for as many rocks as possible to bury her. He goes about this while mumbling. Eventually, he falls asleep curled up next to the poorly buried body.

After the long rest, the aged Elissa begins to explore the cave to the north unknowingly to the others, with the exception of Cappy. He watches as she approaches one of the piles of bones and begins speaking to it. Asking it for help. She reaches down and touches it.

The others are gathering their items and preparing themselves to escape through the camp. A few hear the fighter's words on a faint breeze coming from the north. But, Legion was clear the bones weren't to be disturbed!!!

Cappy watches as the bones begin to form in front of Elissa as they did with him. It is strange, though. The others don't seem to be forming right away. The first one forms and swings at the fighter as she asks it for help. "Help me, sonny!" What in the Realm is wrong with this woman. As that thought crosses his mind, he hears and sees the other small skeletons begin to form. They seem to bypass him and head to Elissa. They surround her as the others begin to flood into the room. Each attack her. Most miss. Not all.

With her surrounded, the large skeleton in the back begins to take shape and approach the fighting group. Draythas has taken up a position between it and the others. Draak has tried to get into an advantageous position to help Elissa, but is being forced out by the undead. The plan of getting her out of there while not attacking the skeletons has fallen apart.

The monk has laid back with the other prisoners as a last resort to protect them. This doesn't go over well with Cappy and he slips out of the room to 'motivate' Leosin to join the fray. Pulling his dagger, he puts it to the monk's throat and threatens him to fight or die. Reluctantly the monk agrees, but is concerned the prisoners will be left unguarded. Unbeknownst to everyone except the other prisoners, Cappy reaches out with his tail and unsuccessfully tries to push the monk forward as he moves into the battle.

Draythas unleashes the power of Helm to turn the foul undead away from him and hopefully an exit, as the breeze he feels from the north is quite strong now. The battle is turning as the Ghost enters the room. It appears to be extremely angry that it's orders were not followed. It approached Elissa and enters her body. As the last of the skeletons fall or flee from Draythas, it exits the seemly rejuvenated fighter. She appears younger than she did before entering the cave.

Draythas pours his hands over a crack he sees in the wall. The breeze seems to be blowing strong through these cracks. At that moment, the stone and earth collapse backward at the sound of a strange incantation/song from the Tolly. Behind it is a tunnel. Cappy rushes forward into the darkness as the others regroup at the new opening.

He follows it to a 15 foot drop with a rope dangling over the edge. A quick check shows the rope is dry rotted about three or four feet from the ledge. It seems to match a smooth delineation along the walls. Cappy retreats to let the others know of the drop off and the rope, before trying to make his way down to the lower level. He loses his balance as he tries and reaches out for the rope but misses. He lands hard on his back, before rolling out of the way of the others making their way down. Draak isn't able to make the descent without falling and grabbing the rope. Unfortunately, it breaks. Draythas does what he can to steady the dragonborn. Eventually, the rest of the group are able to make their way down.

The room circles back around to the north where they find a chest sitting near water gently lapping up into the cavern. Cappy pushes his way to the chest and checks it quickly for traps and assesses any lock that may be on the box. He pulls his weapons, a dagger and sword, to help with leverage on the simple lock. It pops open easily as he screams for the group to watch out. The prisoners jump from fright, but the party seems to maintain focus on the chest and it's contents. Inside is a mound of coin.

As the others are discussing what to do with the chest and it's contents, an argument quickly escalates between the pirate and the monk. Leosin is berating the pirate for his constant bickering with the group and disrespect he has shown everyone. Cappy counters the monk's rant with his great deeds of rescuing the monk and these prisoners! "I didn't want to be rescued! I was here to gather information! There is more..." Cappy interupts Leosin, "If you want to go back, you are more than welcome to return! Here, I will help you back up!" The exchange doesn't last much longer as the monk loses his temper and lashes out at the unsuspecting Cappy. The fist is quick and effective. Cappy is on the ground and unconscious before anyone can react.

Draythas picks up the chest. Draak picks up the Cappy. Everyone wades through the cavern pool for several hours and the Tolly gets a well deserved bath. The underground stream leads out to a spring about an hour away from the camp. Once he wakes, Cappy gathers his things quickly without speaking to the others and moves out ahead of the group.
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