The Lost Lords

The Story So Far

In ancient times, Gods walked alongside their mortal children through the world they sculpted, their paradise. For centuries peace reigned, until an event known as the Gods-war, and the ensuing Shadow Wars. For more than two ages, the war desolated the land, and most of the mortal races. Their safety came about when a God known as The Deep One ushered the survivors into great cities underground, where they lived until the war above passed.

When the various races of Folk emerged, the Gods were gone from the world, and the forces of Shadow with them. Most found it was time to rebuild, and set about recreating life above-ground. It was here when the Nation of Rhyssia rose from the ruins of the God’s greatest city, and expanded rapidly across the face of the land. They subjugated their fellow man, and pacified the Elves in the West. To the East, they drove the Shadow-corrupted Orcs into the badlands and deserts, and began erecting a great wall to keep them out. For Two Centuries the Rhyssian Empire has thrived, colonizing in the South, and keeping the barbaric Greenskin forces at bay in the East, while the wall crawled ever Northward, splitting the continent in two.

Recently, during a great skirmish with an Orc horde by forces lead by the Emperor himself, a great meteor struck across the sky, and slammed into the frigid North. Since this event, the Emperor and his army have disappeared. Meanwhile, another Orc Horde struck deep in the South of the Empire, in a Nation-State known as Sojourner’s Rest, The Duchy of Darmondy was quickly lost, and now the rag-tag band of adventurers finds themselves in the Duchy of Norgas as a horde of orcs descends upon them.

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Session One: The Siege of Norgas
Sewers, Beacon Hill, Troll Encounter - August 5, 2018

A Rude Awakening

Our unacquainted heroes, linked by nothing more than having chosen to spend their night under the same roof awake from their sleep to the sound of screaming and ringing bells, outside the peasants appear to be fleeing as the glow of fires can be seen and crashes heard. One by one the heroes leave their rooms and instinctively join up as they leave the second floor of the Inn and make their way downstairs to find the innkeeper behind the bar preparing his crossbow…

Captain Hargrave, A red haired woman named Cass, and several guards rush into the inn to find refuge, some of the guards are wounded, apparently there is fighting against an Orc attack on the city with the lower level of Norgas having been breached, the attack was a complete surprise. The party helps fortify the defenses of the Inn before Hargrave asks them to depart through the sewers and escape the city to the northwest, to light the signal fire to call for aid.

Our heroes accept and leave back around behind the inn and enter the sewers through a grate. Relying on Valner to lead the way with his lanterns through the maze of tunnels our party eventually comes across a small band of some half a dozen goblins. The goblins are busy bickering among themselves, too preoccupied to notice our heroes sneaking up to them… Marcellus leading the way, falling upon them with surprise our heroes quickly slay them all and recover a serviceable map of the Sewers, apparently highlighting a plan to infiltrate the upper level of the city through the sewers….

Saving the map for later, the heroes continue on their way through the stench of the sewer for some time before they come upon the end of the Sewer and fresh air.

Moving Unseen

Our heroes covertly make their way to the base of the cliff side where the beacon tower is standing, some 5 Orc camps stand in their way. The party makes there way past each camp in turn, sometimes relying on N’jall to speak in the Orcish tongue to cover their mishaps… to spite a few close calls the party makes it past all 5 camps and up to the base of the tower.

With the door unlocked and no apparent light reaching out from within, they enter to find a gruesome sight, Orc and Human parts midst puddles of blood strewn throughout, a bashed makeshift barricade against the far wall…. Our heroes close and lock the door behind them, a severed human hand touches Valner.

With the doors shut, midst the darkness, a lamp is lit as they first explore the basement to find a roughly dug tunnel veering away to the outside, an apparent entryway used to bypass the tower’s defenses.

The second floor is filled with similarly gruesome sights to that of the first. There was a fight for the tower.

“I’d like to place an order”

As our heroes prepare to head up to the third floor they hear the sounds of Orcs above them talking about food and orders. N’jall, leading the way, slips and is discovered, The Orcs’ yelling down to him in question, N’jall states that he’d like to place an order…

The Orcs within the third floor slam open their door and rush down after N’jall who is struck almost by surprise…. Further down the stairwell is Valner leading the way, then Marcellus, then Darion…

Completely caught by surprise Marcellus makes no move to reverse down the staircase or move passed Valner to aid N’jall, Valner curses at Marcellus for not grasping the situation and getting in the way, Marcellus then figures out whats what and tries to squeeze past Valner in the dimly lit narrow stairwell, but fails…. Darion then tries to bull rush past Marcellus and Valner but gently bumps into the back of Marcellus and stops…

A frail N’jall facing an Orcish onslaught decides it best to jump down the stairs, over Valner and the others, using his feather falling to ease his fall…. The stunt mostly works, a lightly wounded N’jall grinds down the circular wall and lands prone at the base of the steps…. Darion then retreats down the steps and pulls the prone body of N’jall out of the way before Marcellus and then Valner follow. Marcellus moves out of the way next to Darion as Valner move back further and they all prepare for the Orcs…

The lead Orc rushes down and hurls a javelin at Valner who’s the first apparent target directly ahead… Valner becomes visibly wounded and Marcellus move in front of him using his shield to protect himself and Valner from anymore darts; once out of javelins the Orcs begin rushing down into Marcellus’ position one by one, Darion waiting to the side of the stairs and Marcellus cleaves into the Orcs as they come down, unexpectedly butchering them as they come down, before they know what hits them….

The bloodbath quickly sends Darion into a rage.

They have a Troll…

When the last Orc falls dead our heroes assume the way is clear and prepare to make their way up to the third floor where they encounter a terrible sound… A troll bustles down the stairs and busts through the thin interior wall between the 2nd floor room and the stairs, immediately engaging Darion and Marcellus.

The party fights the Troll off with some difficulty, the Troll visibly regenerates the wounds suffered almost as quickly as our heroes can inflict them…. Eventually a devastating searing smite from Marcellus lights the Troll a blaze and begins to  burn it down with damage the Troll is incapable of recovering… the rest of the party piles in to finish the deed, the Troll falls; N’jall and Valner collect some of its blood.

With the troll now dead Darion now fully enraged charges up to the third floor ahead of the party, quickly slaying the last orc and goblin chef in the process. The rest of the party finally moves up to the third floor where they find a lone goblin chef midst a gory makeshift kitchen where the human captives are being butchered and cooked to feed something. The Goblin is unceremoniously slain and the few remaining prisoners are lowered and freed.>

The tower is secure and our heroes in relative safety.

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Session Two: Tower Defense
Loot, Counter Attack, and Warband - August 7, 2018

The Troll’s Horde

Taking stock of the tower…

Valner jumps into action, quickly stabilizing the prisoners who are visibly weakened after having been imprisoned without food or water, Marcellus gives them some rations and the party questions the sergeant on what transpired.

Valner sorts through the Troll horde, a pile of apparent trash and trinkets offered to the Troll, using detect magic to recover what valuables are contained within, Very fine gauntlets, Gold and silver chalice, Engraved copper Ring, Necklace with red stone, Engraved pole of metal/wood, Necklace with engravings, and Banded mail are recovered and distributed.

The party, with the help of the Sargent and the two of the 5 guards who can walk take stock of the tower and begin fortifying it. Marcellus goes to the ground level and stands watch over the gate, N'jall watches over the orcs from the top of the tower while Valner begins obsessively searching for a clean container to make some water… Darion plots with the Sargent upstairs.

What are Bombs?

The Sargent takes Darion to the basement and takes two devices out of a hidden chest and leave the potions to Darion as thanks for being rescued… The Sargent, his few able guards along with Valner and Darion make a sortie out from the tower to use the devices to attack the camps on the slope….

They light the devices and roll them down the hill, after the disappear into the darkness two large explosions shake the entire hillside as light glows up  over the edge of the cliff. The two devices were bomb of either ancient or entirely new make, completely unfamiliar to our heroes. Despite the deafening bang and the shaking earth, the sargent claims the bombs did not meet expectations, and the group retreats to the tower with the sounds of rudely awakened Orcs at their backs.

Death From Above

Alone at the ground floor, Marcellus begins desperately calling out for help as the orcs begin beating on the gate; Darion refuses to evacuate through the tunnel without carrying the debilitated guards out to safety, Valner continues to focus on first aid… The struggle at the Tower entrance intensifies as the wood starts to splinter and the orcs show little sign of letting up.

Suddenly a massive explosion occurs right outside the door…. The Door is instantly exploded along with most of the orcs outside… Marcellus is thrown back several yards from the door with minor wounds and some fringed hair… what few orcs were not caught up in the blast retreat down the slopes…

Meanwhile on the top of the tower, N'jall: meet your maker, Orcs! (holy shit that was cool).

N'jall’s fireball probably saves the party from certain disaster.

The threat now gone, the beacon is finally lit, and in the distance, another beacon can be spotted, their initial purpose for coming is complete.

Blue Banners and a Green Archer

N'jall reports from his lookout position on the tower that the surviving orcs have mustered and are apparently aware of the party’s position in the tower and are blocking the way back down the cliff. Darion decides to lead the group together with the disabled survivors down the tunnel in the basement to escape the tower and down the hillside past the orcs, but the tunnel is now collapsed due to the explosion and the leg of a large dead spider wiggles in the debris. The leg is recovered and Darion begins digging through the debris and the dead spider in a futile effort to fix the tunnel

Marcellus and a guard go back to the tower to keep watch and guarantee nothing was left behind when they see blue banners  begin to make their way past the crossroads at the foot of the hillside; seeing an opportunity to link up with the apparent Imperial band the party evacuates the tunnel and prepares to sortie out again in the early pre-dawn hours as sun begins to dimly light the sky.

Eventually the orcs waiting along the cliff become visibly engaged from their rear and our heroes charge down the hill to join the melee and relieve their apparent allies… In the confusion of the rush Marcellus and Darion overextend as they rush into the orcs, Darion’s heroics are noted by a Green Archer on the opposing side of the melee before the archer is severely wounded and hauled off the field…. Eventually Marcellus and Darion are confronted by a Goblin mounted on a Warg, the two engage, Marcellus is able to mortally wound the Warg before Darion finishes it off. Valner continues losing bolts from his crossbow into the back of orcs.

The Goblin attempts to get away but is halted by some Dark Magic, first a pit of spikes, then tongues Tendrils… Darion finishes off the Goblin… The battle, now turning in our heroes’ favor, Marcellus breaks and charges the next group of orcs (now with the men from the tower joining the fray as well), After quickly dispatching on orc, another charges Marcellus, wounded him grievously as he falls unconscious. Valner rushes to his aid while Darion and N’jall push the remaining orcs back, killing or forcing them to retreat.

By this point the allied war band has already retreated into the darkness and is nowhere to be found..

Three of the heroes are mentally scarred by the use of Dark Magic midst the fighting… Darion now has an uncontrollable strange appetite, N’jall begins to shake uncontrollably, and Valner is struck with random screaming fits.

Valner stabilizes Marcellus and carry him back up to the tower to rest with the rest of the guards. With the immediate threat to the tower gone our heroes can finally rest after a very long night having started in the inn in Norgas, now ending the following morning in the beacon tower up in the hills overlooking Norgas.

Their initial goal of lighting the beacon is a success, but there is no indication where they must go.

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Session Three: The Cathedral
Psychosis, The Cathedral - August 13, 2018

Strange Cravings, Loud Screams, Literally Shaking, Oh my.

After driving off the orc warband outside the tower our heroes retreat back to the tower to rest, Valner tends to Marcellus’ wounds and gets him on his feet again while N’jall and Darion wrestle with the temporary insanity from witnessing dark magic during the previous fight, Darion fends off the strange desire to eat orc flesh while N’Jall shakes uncontrollably.

After resting Darion and the Sargent discuss what is next and decide that the party should go to the nearby Cathedral to prepare the way for refugees and investigate the the warband that went in that direction, and to find out what happened to the skirmishers they witnessed in the last fight.

On their to the Cathedral our heroes witness the full scope of the destruction occurring down in Norgas and the surrounding countryside, the entire valley appears to be in flames.

Along their way Darion continues to fight his insatiable desire to feast on the fallen orc’s littering the path up the mountain, a furiously shaking N’Jall is a disturbing sight to behold, while Valner’s random screams occasionally startle the others. The path is littered with the bodies of fallen orcs and Humans, as the Humans apparently fought a heroic rear guard action up the path towards the Cathedral.

While only a mere 3 miles, the rough and windy passage takes them some 3 hours to navigate.

As they draw near to the cathedral Darion is able to spy out makeshift traps in their path and avoid them, but between the random screams coming from Valner and the general lack of stealth used on the approach, several orcs spot the party as they approach and retreat inside the Cathedral.

Who needs Recon?

Hearing the sound of battle, our heroes rush to the entrance in pursuit of the orcs.

Arriving at the entrance  our heroes see some dozen orcs led by a chieftain fighting a lone Knight upon the altar at the heart of the cathedral. The orcs are prepared, Darion, Valner, and Marcellus move to the sides of the entrance as the orcs begin chucking their spears at N’jall to who is wounded before he can get out of the way.

A stalemate ensues with a small struggle for the door while Valner shoots what remaining bolts he has left and then proceeds to use his adamantine gauntlets to open up another entrance through the wall of the cathedral…, N’jall drinks one of the funny blue potions to get on his feet and back into the battle. Marcellus tries to bait the orcs into the doorway to no avail while Darion melees with one around the corner…

Rage, Rage, and more Rage!

As the Chieftain continues to muster more orcs from an adjacent courtyard our heroes decide to leave the safety of the doorway and push into the Cathedral; Marcellus takes up defensive while Darion RAGES and rushes straight past and into the enemy. Fresh out of bolts Valner attempts to start throwing orc javelins back at them while N’jall shoots his heavy crossbow into the ensuing fight.

Marcellus and Darion are quickly surrounded as the Chieftain rages and rushes in to join the fight with his minions, swamping Darion quicker than he can cut them down. With the Chieftain now in range Marcellus abandons his defensive posture and invokes the power of Saint Sabinus to strike at the Chieftain with Smearing Smite, the attack is super effective, passing the Chieftain’s heavy plates to draw blood, and lighting him ablaze… The Chieftain counters and Marcellus begins to waiver as nearby orcs turn their attention to them….

Throughout all of this the Knight on the Altar continues his struggle to survive and hold off some half dozen orcs, a few peal off to come fight with their Chieftain at the entrance.

Things begin to look desperate as Marcellus and and Darion fight side by side against a wall…. N'jall uses his last bound fireball to thin out the ranks of the orcs while Darion move in with him… In an act of desperation N’jall pulls out his whip and harasses the backend of an orc focused on Marcellus… Marcellus having taken some minor hits from the orcs appears visibly staggered, Valner move in to use his cure light wounds to shore up Marcellus and perhaps save his life…

Refreshed, Marcellus and Darion continue to hold off some 10 orcs in a losing struggle making minor hits on the Chieftain and other orcs… An orc makes his way around  behind Marcellus to break his defense… noticing the threat Darion turns and throws everything he has at the orc to save Marcellus, unfortunately with his back now turned Marcellus takes a devastating hit from the back, dropping to the ground, unconscious, with severe wounds, leaving Marcellus alone  to face the (now visibly wounded) Chieftain and the remainder of the Horde, hope is fleeting.

The Kinky Castor Delivers…

In an act of pure desperation Valner comes in and starts striking at the side of some of the orcs to draw their attention away from Marcellus to no avail when N’jall leashes a bolt dipped in alchemical fire into the Chieftain at near point blank range, the apparent insignificant wound is enough to drop the already wounded Chieftain, causing his minions to break and flea to the side courtyard.

It is about this time the Knight at the Altar slays his last opponent and comes up to pursue the remaining orcs (some 4 appear to have fled) while another lone orc huddles in a corner, surrounded by Marcellus and N’jall….

With the fighting apparently over Valner immediately rushes to Darion and tends to his wounds, helping to stabilize him….

The Cathedral appears to be secured.

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Session Four: Trivial Pursuit
Christoph, Stones, and Swamp - August 14, 2018

Christoph

Previously our heroes were pitched in a fight against an orc warband in the Cathedral, hope was fleeting until quick thinking on the part of N'jall finished off the orc boss causing the remaining orcs to flee. The mending skills of Valner were put to the test to save Darion  while N'jall gained some valuable information about the orc invasion from the last orc they had cornered.

The lone fighter remaining in the cathedral after the fight introduces himself as Christoph, a knight dedicated to The Three, sworn to protect the cathedral. Introductions are exchanged and what little hospitality Christoph can offer is extended to Marcellus, Darion, N'jall, and Valner who are now exhausted and hurt after the fight. N'jall shares the information  he gained from the orc about the different chieftains in and around Norgas. Christoph explains his situation and the state of the Cathedral, destiny would have it that the chalice recovered from the troll horde in the watch tower the previous night was looted from the Cathedral, Marcellus returns the chalice.

Together they bury Christoph's fallen comrades with honor and as much ceremony as their time permits. Marcellus will appeal to Christoph to accompany them the following day to guarantee his comrades did not die in vain. A reluctant Christoph will agree to accompany our heroes when they continue their journey up the mountain the following day. 

N'jall and Darion help burn the orc dead and Darion claims the orc boss' oversized black plate for himself. 

 

Talking Rocks

Everyone rests for the night in the Cathedral before setting out the following morning in pursuit of the remnants of the imperial warband with the green archer they had ran into at the watch tower and presumably the orcs that chased them. As the ascend into the mountains visibility down and around them dissipates as their path leads them up a narrow way lined with odd markers. Eventually the party becomes disturbed by the continued markers and discusses their being… it is decided that Darion should try and communicate with the stones in dwarvish, the tactic works and the magical markers return vague but accurate answers to simple questions confirming that our heroes are on the right path. Every time  a new  marker is reached Darion sits down and converses with the marker in a tongue unknown to the rest of the party, asking questions, and relaying answers. Some of the anxiety is relieved as any questions regarding their chosen path are confirmed.

Mud Diving

Eventually the path opens up into a wider green valley before ending at the gate to a dwarven stronghold on the far side. Whether through some natural anomaly or powerful magic it is not known, but the ground is unusually wet. Fearing for false ground in the mud everyone ropes up as Marcellus leads the way initially though the marshes. All goes well as they approach a tree before Marcellus quickly plummets becoming completely submerged. Valner, the next in line, is also pulled in after trying to steady the heavy Marcellus to no avail… it takes the combined strength of Christoph, N'jall and Darion to pull Valner and then Marcellus out of the pool.

A now visibly shaken N'jall refuses to remain in the rope and chooses to lead the way without a lifeline; the order of Marcellus and Valner are switched in the lifeline and the party continues. A short while later N'jall quickly falls into a pool much the same way Marcellus had earlier. Impulsively Valner dives in after N'jall to grab him as the rest brace… after a short struggle in the mud N'jall is retrieved and pulled topside. Everyone continues more cautiously from then and eventually reaches the far side safely. They fine a partially ajar dwarven gate and a pitch black interior.

Everyone prepares themselves for the continued journey down into the dwarven stronghold and whatever trials await them there, lanterns are lit and gear is put away and prepared.

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Session Five: Into the Mines
Dwarven Mines, a Puzzle, Daren's Warband, and the Orcs - August 15, 2018, 2018

The Ruby Throne

 Having spent the morning traveling up the mountain from the cathedral and crossing the swamp our heroes, Christoph in tow, reach the gates to a forgotten dwarf stronghold and prepare themselves to delve deep into the mountain in pursuit of warband and the orcs chasing them. 

The interior is ruinous. Statues are near unrecognizable, handrails are missing, stairs are unreliable, rubble is everywhere. The entry opens up into a foyer of statues; only one name appears recognizable name remaining being AENHILDAE as translated by Darion. The party comes across a fork and chooses the right passage where they eventually come across another room that splits off… one way leads to a massive open chasim that appears to be caved in and near impassible, the other goes to a long downward winding stairs. N'jall leaves an arcane trace behind to help the party retrace their steps as they double back to the other fork to the left. A narrow passage opens up into a large room strewn with orc dead before a giant stone and ruby throne.

Behind the throne two doors, to the left an apparent vault, to the a stairwell up.

Darion, Valner and N'jall take a brief look at the vault… It is a complex lock w ith 2 concentric rings inside 3 dwarven symbols; after a few tries the party grows bored and ventures up the stairs to the right where they find a ruined garden naturally lit by an encased lava flow. Darion is able to save the party from a few traps as everyone searches from one room to the other. A few longdead skeletal corpses and ruined weapons and armor are found but nothing of signifigance. As the party is about to leave Marcellus takes a keen interest in the garden to search for any rare herbs that might have medicinal value… in the moss he finds another corpse with a strange steel rod he pockets.

With the upper chambers clear everyone returns back down to the vault door where prolonged attempts are made by Valner, Darion, and N'jall to crack the code and unlock the door. Marcellus holds the steel rod to the center and the middle piece glows and a about oa third of the glyphs light up but nothing else happens… with Darion as translator everyone begins the process of guessing the pattern using just the glowing glyphs while a bored Marcellus sits and strolls around the throne room keeping watch for some time before he's struck with an epiphany: AENHILDAE! Not knowing dwarvish, he reintroduces himself to the would-be vault breakers and asks them if the name from the statue in the entry foyer could be a clue.. the  glyphs are arranged to match the name and the door is unlocked.

Inside rests a suit of ruined armor, in the same manor the armor upstairs was found ruined with age, but the breastplate is remarkably immaculate. Looking to be a good fit Marcellus claims the prize and immediately changes into it.

Descent into Darkness

With the left wing of the stronghold apparently cleared everyone doubles back to the other side they were at previously and begins to descend the stairs they found previously. The winding steps take the party down until it ends at a small passage jutting off to a sealed door. A careless Darion strolls up to the door and is shot by a bolt from an apparent trap, our heroes grumble among themselves for a moment before they hear common through the door… they've found the imperial remnant. 

The leader of the men steps forward and introduces himself as Daren, he has some dozen men all of whom are wounded to some degree or another. Introductions are exchanged and Daren informs our heroes of the current situation: they face repeated attacks from some 20 surviving orcs from the next set of stairs descending down into deeper portions of the mine. Daren asks for Darion to lead a foray down to attack the orcs… The archer from the tower fight gifts Darion his bow as its now useless to him since hes lost an eye. 

Darion, Marcellus, Valner, N'jall, and Christoph begin descending down the steps but are quickly encountered with a stray javelin and then a few more. Darion charges ahead down the narrow ledge to meet the dwarves, Marcellus takes a heavy hit and is  kept out of battle as N'jall and Valner support them with fire from above. Christoph rushes down to support Darion and Marcellus; after first blood is drawn Darion spins into a wild rage and begins hacking down everything in his way. At a critical juncture in the fight a dwarvish yell is heard as a lone dwarf jumps out and begins attacking the orcs from their side before becoming severely wounded.

Eventually the orcs are broken and the few survivors fall back down into the darkness yet again. Valner rushes to the aid of the Dwarf and stabilizes him. His name is Huldan, before going unconscious he's able to explain to Darion that he's one of a party of dwarves and that he needs to continue through the mine to find the source of the orc invasion. Darion takes up the orc bane sword and together Huldan is brought back to landing where Daren and the other imperials wait. 

Christoph pledges to take Huldan, Daren and the others back to the cathedral as the party will continue deeper into the mines.

 

 

 

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Session Six: Through The Mines
The Bridge, the Climb, and Nightmarish Screams: - August 26, 2018

The Mines are Perilous

After routing the Orc warband and saving Huldan the Dwarf our heroes part ways with Christoph, Daren and the rest of his men as they venture deeper into the mine. Darion, Valner, and N'jall work with the supplies on hand to construct a makeshift gangplank across the shattered bridge while Christoph and company return back the way they came to leave the mines through the east gate and the marshes.

After crossing the chasm the party begins a perilous journey through the rest of the mine, following the directions the dwarf gave them to seek answers in the west.  At the top of a winding octagonal stairway a half collapsed room gives way to the chasm below giving a much grander, and sobering, view of the depths below… Our heroes cross the skinny part of the ledge over the chasm one at a time; first Marcellus carefully edges across followed by Valner who tows a rope for the others. An unsure Darion begins to shed his armor when the floor shifts and shifts again, he and N'jall quickly skurry across the portion before more of the floor collapses, N'jall almost falls… for the first time. 

A narrow archway and a cracked door at the other end of the collapsed room leads into a much larger room with a strange object of curiousity stren around the center. It takes N'jall some time to dicern that the object was a Dwarven Automaton, or Golem. Long since retired there is nothing useful around the remains… The party continues towards the narrow end of the room and up onto a raised platform towards a pale blue haze lighting the distance. In the accompanying room a strange glowing tree is found; no evil is detected as Darion, Marcellus, Valner, and N'jall try to dicern the nature of the tree to no avail…. a sample of the soil beneath the tree is stored away for later use.

The remaining climb out of the mine becomes much more dangerous as the integrity of the stairs and rooms in this section of the mine have delapedated much worse than the other sections… Tethered together with the same rope that led through through the marsh the four companions carefully venture up the delapedated stairs: Darion in the lead, then N'jall, then Valner, followed by Marcellus. A slip to either side spells disaster as the  fall from this height would be deadly. For a short segment the glowing tree can be seen far below to one side, but the rest is darkness. With caution the four proceed up to a landing that gives way to a missing room and a steep cliff where stairs once lay.

With now here else to go but up, Darion takes the lead to make a lead for the others to use as they climb up the cliff towards the exit. Marcellus anchors the rope as Darion proceeds to the first landing. Next is N'jall who tries to use the rope to assist his way over to Darion, but he almost immediately falls, only the rope saving him from sure death… Valner scampers up to the ledge to pull N'jall up to safety… Next Valner tries but he too nearly falls to his death and is saved by N'jall in the same manor… With N'jall and Valner back to the relative safety of the starting side, N'jall is sent to attempt the climb one more time and does so with great difficulty…

Darion continues to climb all the way to the top with Marcellus still at the other end anchoring. N'jall is able to carefully follow up after Darion, but the more heavy laden Valner refuses to budge… Marcellus uses the last segment of rope to tie around Valner as Darion pulls Marcellus up as he climbs… Then Marcellus pulls Valner in much the same way until all four are safely at the top of the rise before a door and stairway upwards.

The mine here is much more structurally in tact. As our heroes proceed theey come to a large room with rays of natural light coming through a large fortress like gate at the farside. Amidst the room are strewn the skeletal remains of many fallen dwarves around several black armored behemoths with thick legs and spiky spines of unknown origin. Nothing else of consequence can be found, but the remains look to have ben there for some time. 

As they venture outside for the first time they come to an overlook high up in the mountains looking out over much of the western valley which is scorched the same as the southern valley around Norgas… The Great Wood can be seen alit in the far distance and our heroes surmise that the Orcs in Norgas came through the Bullwark. 

Terror In The Night

It now being late in the day the four decide it best to camp for the night in the relative safety of the foyer just inside the gate. Marcellus prepares a fire while Valner performs some first aid for everyone. As the light outside the gate disipates soon only the dim light of the fire remains as the four begin to sleep on watch. 

The rest of the night goes without incident until late into the night during Darion's watch a disturbance is heard from deep in the mines… Darion and Marcellus go a bit back deeper into the mines to hear nightmarish sounds echoing up from the depths. The sounds appear to be distant and not getting closer to everyone returns and goes back to sleep. Nothing else happens…

 

 

 

 

 

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Session Seven: Into the West
The Descent, Being Hunted, The Tower, The Ore, The Chimera - August 30, 2018

Beginning the Descent 

The party wakes up early in the morning on the 25th of High Heat to begin their descent down the mountain. 

There is only one path that leads down from the Dwarven Gate that our heroes choose to follow. Shoddily carved steps guide them down a steep path that quickly descends into narrow winding gorges. Visibility is restricted to a relatively short 30 yards or so in any direction. Thd descent takes most of the morning.

Several hours into the climb a thunderous roar from a beast out of sight comes at the party. Jumping from ravine to ravine the beat is massive and powerful… the clattering of the rubble beginning to slide down the slopes onto the path and the ferocious sound of the beast drives them forward at a frantic pace down the path and into an open area. 

The open area is unlike the previous track; its wide and fertile with grass and a few small trees. To one side of the plane on a small hill a ruined tower stands… Without thinking the four begin to sprint towards the tower to escape the beast. Valner almost trips but is helped up and remains afoot as one by one the four make it into the relative safety of the tower… looking out behind them there is no sign of the beast.

The interior of the tower appears ruined.  The first floor is strewn with fallen beams and broken furniture. The second floor is partially collapsed with the exception of a small area with some archaic symbols on the floor and some spell components that N'jall quickly claims. The third floor no longer has a roof as its been caved in… everything is the room is ruined with the exception of a remarkably well preserved book that is locked. Marcellus takes the book and together with Darion no sign of the beast can be spotted from the vantage of the top of the tower… regrouping on the ground level Darion and Marcellus decide to explore the basement… Darion almost kills Marcellus when he drops a beam accidentally… then again when they try a second time and the floor itself gives way as they both fall a short 10 feet into the basement.

The basement is a cadavers laboratory… countless glass jars are filled with the preserved remains of every sort of animal… at the far end of the cave like basement broken chains, a talon, and a broken ceiling giving way to daylight show where the beast hunting them likely was imprisoned for a time. N'jall takes a jar of snakes and empties several more jars out to save for a later time.

Coming back up to the ground level Marcellus tries to force open the lock to the book but is quickly jolted and lit aflame by the trapped lock… Valner quickly helps put out the flames, but a visibly scorched Marcellus gives the magical book to N'jall for safekeeping.

It's about midday, our heroes plot their next moves from the relative safety of the tower.

Hunted

Having spent the first half of the day traveling down a narrow path through the rocks from the Dwarven mine, the party is attacked by an unknown beast and takes shelter in a ruined tower. Inside they find a sort of cadaver's workshop apparently belonging to a wizard, including a book Marcellus catches ablaze trying to pry open… With a shook Marcellus recovering from the trapped book, Valner and Darion plot their next moves while N'jall inspects his recently acquired jars. With no signs of the beast from their obscured vantage inside the tower they decide to move out. With an option to leave to the left or right they decide to go left, assuming it heads in a more southward direction towards their destination…

A cautious Marcellus is sent first, cautiously poking his head left right and up out the tower there is no sign of the beast in the immediate area but he does sight what looks like moving tree branches off in the distance near the left path… looking again the movement is gone. the 4 companions cautiously advance in formation across the dryer ground through the clearing into the western passage. The path continues in a similar manner to the path leading into the tower opening but is more rough… some of the four see what seem like sparkles catching in the air that appear then vanish without cause.

The Black Ore

Coming to another fork in the path the party chooses to head right, leading to a dead end; at the end there appears to be a deposit of hard black ore. Upon closer look the unknown ore is hard. Without a way to mine it Valner attempts to break some off with his gauntlets but only small fragments break loose, N'jall warns of the risk of an avalanche from the disturbance, but the party pays him no attention. The canyon echos with the sound of the impacts that carry well over into other ravines; pausing no response is heard but as they leave a small rock slide quickly grows into an avalanche… Marcellus and Darion are able to brace and resist the raw force of the tumbling rocks while Valner narrowly escapes, but as the dust settles N'jall is no where to be seen…. Frantically searching through the loose rock a visibly injured, but alive, N'jall is uncovered and drug out; a triggered Valner won't forget this.

Heading back out to the fork our heroes veer right and head deeper down the ravine….  another wide opening is reached that slopes from left to right before narrowing again at a small passage bridged by a natural rock… cautiously approaching the bridge, Marcellus faintly hears what appears like a screech similar to the ones hear the previous night in the mine, but upon a second attempt nothing… Unable to see the bottom the party cautiously crosses the natural bridge and continues… Marcellus in the lead… Passing several smaller passages they continue, after some time a delirious Marcellus loses his orientation and begins to tumble forward down a steeper section of the path… N'jall rummages through Valner's pack to find something to throw at Marcellus, by the time he finds the rope and throws it Marcellus is already halfway down the slope and beyond the reach of the rope. A visibly confused Darion does nothing.

Marcellus receives some minor scrapes but stands up under the shadow of an overhang in a den of bones. Some are humanoid, some are clearly animal like an oxen. Speculating that  it could be the beast's lair Marcellus quickly recovers himself and scampers back up the fall to the other three. N'jall says he tried throw a rope while Valner tells him to drink some water to help ease the heat… At the dead end of the den our heroes double back and veer off down one of the smaller side passages they bypassed.

It's a Chimera!

Almost immediately they reach a larger opening ending at a collapsed dwarven gateway; before the gateway lays a scattered pile of partially clothed corpses between some small worn pillars. Before they can move in closer to investigate the ruins a roar and the flapping of wings disturbs the peace as the beast swoops in and lands amid the clearing.

Now clearly visible it is a Chimera, a large lion like creature with a snake in place of a tail, horns, and wings.

The Chimera takes an aggressive stance to confront our heroes; having been stalked all day by the beast and with no hope of outrunning it to safety they draw their weapons and prepare for combat.

Before they know it the chimera bellows forth a fiery blast, Darion and Marcellus are able to avoid most of the flames but Valner is lit ablaze and suffers serious damage before being able to respond… a still visibly injured N'jall is barely out of reach of the flames and quickly scurries to the edge of the cliff while Darion rushes the chimera with his falchion drawn and begins hacking at the beast, a more cautious Marcellus braces his shield for the next attack, putting himself between the beast and the others.

The chimera focuses all of its efforts on Darion, snapping at him, slashing at him, and even bitting at him with its tail. Taking some injuries Darion becomes enraged and begins attacking the beast more ferociously than before. Marcellus closes with the chimera and calls upon the power of Saint Sabinus, first healing the burns and then leasing forth a powerful searing smite, cutting through the chimera and setting its mane ablaze while Valner and N'jall continue to loose crossbow bolts into the beast.. Valner and N'jall  scurry in and out of cover while Darion and Marcellus hack at the beast… a pint of oil is thrown at the flames to intensify the blaze. 

After a devastating blow from Darion's falchion the Chimera staggers back then leaps atop an outcropping to recover itself, but before it can recover Darion draws Skylance, the bow gifted in the mines, and looses a magical arrow to finish the Chimera off… it's limp body stumbling down before their feet.

Apparently victorious, Darian, Valner and N'jall begin to dissect the Chimera while Darion and Marcellus searches the rest of the den for anything of note where a set of masterworked half plate is found on one of the dead while the other is the wizard from the ruined tower and  the creator of the chimera; on the wizard'd remains a silver key, a silk robe, and a signet ring with an inscribed name are found. N'jall immediately uses the key on the locked tome to uncover the notes on chimera research used to create the beast with the second half being a list of spells.  N'jall takes the spoils along with another salvaged chimera claw. Valner claims the breastplate and sees to the wounds of the others… examining Marcellus he notes nothing wrong with his condition despite the battle.

Marcellus gives some quick prayers to the Keeper as the others collect their loot and t he party moves to leave the den and continue their trek out of the mountains.

The Temple

The four companions double back to the clearing where the ruined tower stands and take the only other exit out of the area, the one N'jall had previously recommended… The heroes proceed for a short time before coming across a low wall  blocking the ravine with a small doorway and ruined door in the middle of the path. A cautious Darion throws a rock at the door causing the aged wood to fall off the hinges and crash to the ground with a loud thud… With no apparent trap the party precedes through the doorway.

Inside they find an open air temple with weathered columns in two rows going from left to right; straight ahead another doorway and wall like the one they just entered, exiting to the path continuing down the mountain…. to their left shuttered earth and pits separating them from some ruins and to their right a large doorway hewn out of the stone and some steps descending into darkness. They cautiously approach the doorway to the right and are met with the scent of honey… With no signs of traps the four descend down steps that wrap back around and under the temple above… before them is a roughly cut out cavern with a few unmarked pillars, natural light seeps in through the cracks in the ground above and before them is a fountain, the apparent source of the scent.

A beleaguered Darion rushes at the small pool and jumps in while a skeptical N'jall and Valner hesitate to even approach it…

 Marcellus reaches back into his religious knowledge to conclude this spring is a sacred pool that had a temple built around it; these natural springs sometimes carry magical almost mystical powers, some are greater than others…. Usually large holy sites are constructed around them; some are more well known than others and the most well known sacred pools become pilgrimage sites for devoted followers…. Marcellus also moves forward and begins to touch the water and enjoy the refreshing cleansing held within…

Darion strips down and begins floating and swimming around with little reverence for the power of the pool while a mortified Valner looks on before accepting it and approaching… 

The pool has great powers, it cleans clothing and armor without soiling the  water, it tastes fresh, and it heals wounds. Marcellu s and Valner fill flasks with the sacred water while Darion fully submerges and fully enjoys the water. A skeptical N'jall doesn't get close to the water…

After some time has passed the others manage to pull Darion out of the water and resume their trek through the Temple and down the mountainside. Marcellus feels drawn to the far side of the temple but resists the urge to explore the perilous slopes and pushes down with the others. After traveling for a few more hours the sun begins to fade into the distance as the four companions arrive at the Bulwark.

 

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Session Eight: The Bulwark
Scaling the Bulwark, New Heroes, The Siege

The Battle of the Bulwark

Having spent the day coming down out of the mountains and through the hills to the eastern most part of the Bulwark the four companions find an intact siege tower standing at the eastern end of the wall, allowing for a way up onto the walls. As our four heroes approach they hear the brutal sound of Orcish talk from atop the ramparts as a human body is tossed from the wall… With hopes of finding more imperials atop the wall and alive they rush up the siege tower and immediately rush into an unprepared orc party around several chained captives.

With the sun light quickly fading over the horizon the fight begins. Marcellus charges out at the nearest beserker off to the right on a siege balcony and begins a deadly duel with the ferocious orc. Darion charges down the steps to the left and engages the other beserker while N'jall and Valner look on from the relative safety of the siege tower…

An unexpected javelin is loosed from the lower platform impaling N'jall.

The Orcs now distracted the halfling among the captives immediately starts working out of the chains and helps others lossen and run out to grab downed weapons littered atop to fight back against their orc captives. Darion brings down a devastating blow upon the Beserker but is then immediately hit back with a powerful hit from the Beserker; Darion lets out an enraged yell and brings down his falchion again, this time cutting deep into the beserker's chest as it drops limp… intimidating the half dozen orcs now staring up at him. Marcellus trades blows with the other beserker as Valner and he take a devastating side swipe and pushes Valner back where he tends to N'jall's wounds from the relative safety of the siege tower.

One of the captives now freed, Alkinas, immediately rushes into the fight unarmed to tackle an orc from behind but instead takes a devastating slash across his gut. A hooded femail ranger, Ta, a mage, Argus, and the halfing scurry about to avoid the orcs as Darion starts moving from orc to orc and unceremoniously killing them, saving the captives.

About the time Darion and the others mop up on the lower platform the sounds of fighting on the siege balcony cease. Marcellus has been cut down by the berserker and begins moving towards the steps….

A wounded Darion continues towards the second berserker in his rage and makes combat with it, the captives following up. Darion trades blows with the berserker before it is finally slain…

In a brief moment of apparent safety the survivors greet their newfound friends as N'jall's limp body is brought out next to Marcellus' and the others begin to search around the immediate area…. It is not long after the fighting stops that a large orcish war cry is heard from the south side of the wall and continual volleys of arrows start hitting all over the wall and beyond from the south side…. There is a massive fight about to happen.

A random arrow kills the wounded Alkinas outright while the others scramble to  destroy the siege tower or disable it from use by the approaching orcs….  Valner tries punching the tower's door ramp but the others throw some tar onto it and light it ablaze… They then scurry around and into one of the towers taking the bodies with them. They barricade the north tower and start fanning out… after a short time they come back to find a large spider  sinking its fangs into N'jall and another one crawling on Darion… they are quickly killed and Valner checks over N'jall's wound for venom.

As they hear loud shutters against the south wall the entire company is transitioned to the north tower where they fortify for the night…. 

Kreensnik

Argus, the Halfling, and Ta continue to look around… they start to poke around the catwalk on the south side of the wall, ignoring an arrow loosed at them, missing and striking the wall behind them…. the halfling ignores the warnings and advances down the catwalk to be shot down at the other end and then decapitated by an orc…. calling it quits for the night  they retire to the north tower… Argus decides to send a message with his falcon horace to the imperial camp in the south.

Following some rest, Marcellus and Darion awake from being downed to find themselves held up inside a tower, introductions are made between the  new arrivals… Ta is a female human ranger with long blonde hair that partially covers her face, clad in leather, Argus is a male sorcerer clad in darker robes. Everyone is introduced and brought up to speed. 

Our heroes emerge from the tower to a scene of carnage from the battle that occurred last night; many orcs lay slain along the wall that were not there the previous night. The sounds of battle have mostly subsided. Following Darion the party begins to traverse the lower catwalk towards the next tower, where the halfling died the previous night… Darion is met with a bolt from the door and the party rushes forward to engage the remaining orcs in the next tower.

The fighting ensues as the party struggles to gain entry through the narrow doorway into a room where a Bugbear and several Orc Defenders are fortified, Darion and Marcellus lead while Argus supports with casting. Eventually an Orc is downed and the other runs away…. The Bugbear surrenders and our heroes begin interrogating him. N'jall leads the interrogation using a mix of tongues, only some of which is comprehendible as common to the rest of the party… with some threats and promises of safe passage out of the tower they are able to discover a few details… There's an Il-Khan named Treereaver held up in the citadel by the gardens who Kreensnik fights for, the orcs are not so much invading as they are escaping from a Sky God, a darkness that came on wings and set fire to the Greatwood, chasing the orcs south; aftter learning a few more minor details about the citadel ahead Kreensnik is released and he flees down the tower and out to the north towards the orc camp…

N'jall and Kreensnik share some incomprehensible words as he scampers away.

With the  Bugbear gone, the party quickly moves about to secure the rest of the tower. In a lower level, out on a siege balcony, the party comes across a quirky female named Phoebe, an aparent druid of some sorts who is about the Bulwark looking for her captured friend "Liz"… Introductions are made and Phoebe is accepted into the band as they continue their way around.

Anxious to get on their way and continue with the Mission a gungho Marcellus leads the way out of the tower towards the central citadel. There is a large explosion.

A visibly injured Marcellus stumbles back and yells for a retreat back inside the tower, the victim of an improvised landmine set atop the walls… The party scurries back inside the tower, wary of a follow up attack from any orcs alerted by the explosion. Valner tends to the wounds of a now visibly dazed and discouraged Marcellus while Ta leads the others to scout the catwalk along the way as an alternative to braving the rampart and risking additional traps…. The way is clear save for a small gap in the catwalk that has crumbled away, damaged by some siege engines from a previous battle. Darion carries one of the large oak tables out from the tower to cover the way across while Valner shames Marcellus into continuing onward.

Despite a few uneasy steps across the gap everyone makes it across safely and continues across into the citadel.

 

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Session Nine: The Citadel
Finding Liz, The Hall of Fire, Darryn's Men

Dinosaurs and Evil Armor

They enter into a room that was apparently used to intern some of the captives now in the party…. Some noises are heard and Phoebe astonishes the party by transforming into a Raptor and rushing away, deeper into the Citadel; the party follow with difficulty and still fail to keep up.

Together, they emerge into a large room littered with the dead bodies of orc and human alike around the chained corpse of another raptor. This is Elizabeth, "Liz", the companion Phoebe has been looking for… A visibly distressed Phoebe begins frantically scratching and biting at the chains to free her friend while the others search for a key to release the lock. The key is found and Liz is freed and healed. Phoebe, realizing no one can understand her transforms back into human form and explains herself to the others who, despite being surprised, still welcome Phoebe and Liz to remain with them on their mission to fight the Il-Khan and escape the Bulwark.

Continuing through the citadel the party comes across a great room littered with some corpses and blood, they choose the follow the blood to another room where a dozen men lay dead around two massive creatures clad in great Black Armor. Darion gently presses his fingers up to the armor but is immediately rebuffed by a strong burning sensation. The party fans out and investigates while Marcellus fixates on the  Black Armor and determines there are multiple evil auras emanating from them; Marcellus warns everyone to avoid the Black Armor. An inquisitive N'jall ignores the warning and attempts to touch up inside the armor but immediately recoils in shock, falls to the ground, and immediately begins convulsing and foaming at the mouth. Instinctively, Valner rushes over to N'jall to administer healing to him but he too immediately drops unconscious upon contacting N'jall. An astonished Marcellus jumps into action, covers his hands with holy water and begins some rushed prayers and rites over the two…. while this goes on for a few seconds the two of them experience terrifying lucid nightmares that fill them with new fears: N'jall experiences a terrible feeling of vast emptiness filled with an evil presence, Valner experiences being buried alive under a tumble of rock and earth while  slowly being crushed.

The two come to again and appear visibly fine and Marcellus again reminds the party to avoid the Black Armor if that wasn't abundantly clear.

Darion continues on to find a storehouse filled with siege supplies, disassembled ballista, bolts, extra carpentry, and other supplies. Being of no immediately use the party reassembles and continues through to a hallway lined with bunk rooms.

The Hall of Flames

Hearing a commotion up ahead our heroes set up an ambush and let Argus cast dancing lights to lure the orcs into the waiting ambush. This does not go well. While they are hiding they hear the heavy slow clanking of heavily armored steps approach and then stop momentarily before a terrible fireball is loosed out down the hall.

A terrible fire explodes and begins to spread.

Valner, and N'jall are now trapped in their room with the fire blocking the exit. Ta is cornered and consumed by flames while Argus manages to jump away and pat the flames on himself out. Darion, Marcellus, Pheoebe and Liz are safe in the most forward room but do not emerge to do anything as the fire continues to fill the hallway, it creeps towards the siege supplies, and begins to encroach into Valner's room. Valner pulls out his gauntlets and begins bashing through the wall to reach Marcellus and Darion, this eventually creates a hole large enough that one person at a time can fit through…. Not wanting to leave their companions behind the party begins to throw every source of water they have at the fire… this works in small patches, but the fire continues to spread. Finally Valner magically creates fresh water over the most intense portion of the blaze which allows Argus to escape to rejoin the rest of the party and allows for a visibly burned and unconscious Ta to be rescued… They rush away from the flames just in time as the flames reach the siege supplies and large explosions begin to ring out from the store room at the other end…

Our heroes hustle away from the fires and explosions into a hallway…. down one end they see a gate being defended by Orcs bracing against the apparent battering of a ram from the soldiers outside… They run in the opposite direction to run into a friendly face… a man holding a crossbow who rushes them up the steps to find Sargent Darryn and some of his men… (Darryn is the sargent rescued from the mines a few days past).

Darryn explains the predicament he and his soldiers are in and asks for the heroes to continue up to fight the Il-Khan before he escapes… They agree and lobby the band for any volunteers to join them, They're joined by a Dwarf named Horace and a halfling named Eclipsa. Daren gives what few healing supplies he still has which are quickly handed over to Valner.

Struggling with Ta…. Darion decides to take off his necklace and place it around Ta… Which provides enough strength to narrowly bring Ta back to her feet and continue the fight.

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