Across The Land

Introduction to The Land

May 11, 2011
(page is post-date-stamped for chronology)

Welcome to The Land! Adventures here have thus far only taken place in the SE portion of a large island continent known simply as … The Land. A relatively peaceful part of the continent, the adventurers – many over the years – have tried to find the source of and put an end to the Goblin Menace, have answered a call from merchants to investigate the disappearance of family members in the Sunless Citadel, traveled to the mountain hold of the reserved Dwarves to return an artifact, and have tried to uncover mysteries of their past.

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Kratos' Beginnings
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The Captives Speak
Revelations at the Inn

Hidden in Arteign’s room, Balen and the wharfrat “Spunk” tell he and Kratos of their ordeal in captivity. They had been forced to work hard labor on the docks, and show deep gratitude and relief at being freed.

“Spunk” cries when she mentions how badly she misses her farm animals.

Balen speaks of the day Jorn took him from the orphanage, promising to deliver him to his new “family”. Little did he know the family was his new “owners” aboard a work barge, who forced him to separate raw ore from dirt. Broken hearted, he worked alongside many others that were shackled along with him. He remembers seeing King’s Port for the first time from the deck of the barge, eventually arriving only to be forced to work the docks, loading and unloading ships. They have worked many ships over these many months, unloading the ore that is taken inland and loading on the ships heavy crates that are marked with this symbol:

Caliphate

One of the ships they helped to load is a large black dragonship, but he has only seen it once.

They are constantly under watch by their captors, but are most afraid of the large hooded figures that like to rough them up. They are very tall, somewhat hunched over, and smell badly. Balen can not understand what they say, but all speak with a gravelly voice.

Balen is worried that the other children at the Orphanage may be in danger of the same ordeal. He urges Kratos and Arteign to save them.

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Enter the Priestess

Priestess Cordelian Araxie, Arteign, Kratos, Balen, “Spunk”, Kerbow, Sorah, Brontus, the baby-faced Dwarf

With Arteign and Kratos having rescued Balen and “Spunk” from captivity on the docks, Kerbow has seemingly already put a plan in motion. As they wait in the dark backroom, a knock on the door demands everyone’s attention. Kerbow opens the door, and Sorah leads in two figures – one obviously a priestess of the Temple of Odo, the other a small child in a dress and bonnet.

The priestess introduces herself as Cordelian Araxie. In the faint light, she still shows signs of her elven heritage, though her human features are just as evident.

The child, meanwhile, removes its bonnet, and in a gruff, gravely voice asks “Where’s the Baby!?” Most in the room are taken aback by the full-grown, adult Dwarf who begins removing his disguise. Kerbow walks over and takes the disguise from him (and places something in his hand) as Sorah begins to clean up “Spunk”. Cordelia also approaches “Spunk” and checks her health.

As the women’s attention is on “Spunk”, Kerbow explains to the group that in a city the size of King’s Port, there are many orphaned or uncared for children. He is member of a dedicated group that sees to their welfare, and the Temple of Odo takes in many of these children. He has made plans for “Spunk” to get out of the inn and to the safety of the Temple. You feel there is more to the story than he is letting on.

The baby-faced Dwarf – with newly acquired gold in his pocket – wishes to retire to the common room for a drink (or two or three), so Kerbow sees him out.

Kratos and Arteign tell Cordelian about their plans to visit the old Orphanage to save the orphans there, urged by Balen, and invite her to join them. Seeing the opportunity to spread the work of Odo, she agrees and plans to return to join them after delivering “Spunk” back to the Temple.

With “Spunk” cleaned and clothed in the disguise, Kerbow leads one of his bouncers in, Brontus. Brontus will trail Cordelian and “Spunk” as they make it back to the Temple, just in case they come under scrutiny by anyone watching the inn. The two of them leave, followed immediately by Brontus.

Upon her return, she meets up with the party again. Kerbow questions Brontus and he relates how he did, indeed, have to “rough up” someone that was following the child on the way to the Temple. He has a bloody wound to show for it, but Cordelia patches him up, shaken by the fact that she had been that close to trouble.

The party make their plans to rescue the orphans at the Orphanage. They re-supply and purchase horses, leaving King’s Port, travelling without incident all the way to Jasper, where they attempt to contact the Magistrate. Lt. Walen informs them that the Magistrate deputized him and left him in charge before he left with his wife and Captain Del Brekmann to urgently meet with the King in Aga Forsythe. The Magistrate was distressed that the King had recalled the Guard of the Land back from their patrols and fears that the Goblin Menace will only get worse now that the Guard will not be patrolling the surrounding lands. Rumor has it that the Land is threatened by a darkening shadow, and the King is recalling his forces to counter it. For Jasper, the recalling of the Guard only spells disaster as the goblins have gotten bolder and their raids will surely increase without the Guard on patrol.

After meeting with Lt. Walen, they leave Jasper. On the road to Pebble, they spot smoke coming from nearby farms and decide to investigate. As they approach one of the farms, they spot 2 goblin wolfriders, who in turn spot them and ride swiftly away. The party investigates the farmhouses and manages to save one farmer, but find two others already dead. They heal him back to health after spending the night camping by the road, and send him back to Jasper. His one request is to see to his family’s proper burial. The party agrees and they return to the farm to give them their last rites. They are, however, ambushed by three goblins and 2 worgs. The goblins and wolves are killed, searched and burned. The party administer final rites to the farmer’s family members. The party continue on to the village of Pebble.

On the way, they are confronted by a small group of bandits, who swiftly run away after Kratos tramples one of them with his horse. The leader is intimidated into dropping his shield and weapon but is allowed to run into the woods for his life. The others had already taken the hint and run away as well.

The party then makes it to Pebble and settle in to rest.

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No Longer Home

The party – Arteign, Cordelian, Kratos, Kellen and Khallador – arrive in Jasper. Arteign finds old acquaintances – mainly folks that he used to deal with in running errands at The Orphanage for Jorn. The party hears that there has been no contact from the Orphanage for quite some time, and Jorn and Ilga have not been heard from either. And the goblins have become even more of a danger in the last few weeks – farms have been found burning or looted; livestock taken or killed; and several farmers and their wives have been found dead in their fields. Many refugees have fled from further west, and complain that the Guard of the Land has “abandoned” their region.

The party replenishes supplies and continues on to the Orphanage and arrive unhindered. As the party heads up the trail they notice it is oddly quiet – nobody in the yards, on the trails or anywhere in the gated property. They ride up the trail to the front of the main building and hitch their horses.

The party splits up as Kellen and Khallador explore the grounds outside; Arteign, Kratos and Cordelian enter the front door.

Kellen stumbles into a snake nest while exploring the shed. He is bitten several times but manages to avoid being poisoned. The mage tries to help dispatch the reptiles but runs away to find the others for help. They all come outside to find Kellen exiting the shed with a large snakeskin around his neck.

Despite the dangers, Kellen and Khallador decide to continue exploring the outer grounds. Meanwhile, the other three return to the house, where they also split up – Kratos entering the kitchens and Arteign and Cordelian exploring the sleeping quarters. Kratos disturbs a nest of stirges in the chimney and a tense battle erupts there just out of hearing of the other two. They, meanwhile, manage to find a diary hidden in the bedding, and notice a glint of light coming in from the ceiling. Kratos desperately holds on while taking several life-draining hits from the stirges, eventually howling in rage in a fit to save himself. Hearing the barbarian’s savage roar, the other two come to his aid, finally chasing off the last stirge.

Returning to the sleeping area to investigate the “marble” in the ceiling, Cordelia finds it emanates scrying magic, but they can not reach it to remove it from here. They make plans to go upstairs immediately.

Meanwhile, the Ranger and Wizard finish up their explorations outside and make a morbid discovery atop a trash heap – a shriveled up goblin hand with strange markings on it. They take the hand with them and start heading back toward the house. On the way they search the overgrown orchard and the well. Kellen is set upon by two giant centipedes crawling up from the well, but dispatches them with a little help from the Sorceror’s Acid Spray spell. They rejoin the others before heading upstairs.

The upper rooms are barren also, but Arteign is struck by a spear trap the more they search. They make it to Jorn and Ilga’s old rooms, where they find a secret door to the roof above the sleeping quarters. It conveniently allows access to the scrying device, evidently used to spy on the kids sleeping below. They successfully remove the device and take it, but leave an urn and a large statue.

After thoroughly searching the upstairs, they double back to the kitchens to search the cellar, smoking out any stirges left in the nest as they pass by. In the cellar, they find the body of a goblin missing his hand, stripped bare with evident lash marks on his back. Digging further through the refuse in the depths of the cellar, they find bits of goblin armor and the body of the old orphan caretaker, long dead and buried here.

Afterwards, the party has recoverd the following in their search of the Orphanage:

  • the scrying device
  • the old diary
  • the goblin hand
  • the snakeskin (Kellen)

Arteign thinks that one of the markings on the goblin hand resemble the twin peaks called “Khaelyd’s Drums”. goblin_hand.jpeg

The scrying device is an intricate, magical contraption and can probably be sold for much gold in a town like Talonton or even better King’s Port.

The diary has passages written in it such as “Arteign left”; “Jorn and Ilga are madder than ever”; and “all the kids are in timeout”; “scary spider cheek man comes”; “we’re going to see the salty water”…

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Journeys North
Following the Clues

(post-dated for chronological order)

After finding The Orphanage abandoned (see No Longer Home) and uncovering clues that point to the twin plateaus, Khaelyd’s Drums, the party ventures north towards the towns of Fahrnsworth, Keitlyn and Branton, as well as the Deepdown Mines. Along the way, they encounter refugees from the Frontier heading south to Jasper and Talonton. With the Guard of the Land pulling back to the cities, the Goblin Menace has gotten more troublesome, and the bandits have been emboldened. Attacks on the people have only gotten worse. The people flee to the safety of the cities.

The party looked for a guide to lead them to Khaelyd’s Drums but to no avail, so they headed north on their own. Arriving in Keitlyn, they found it overrun with refugees looking nervous and anxious.

Information gleaned from the townsfolk of Keitlyn:
-The Guard of the Land have abandoned the Frontier. Many refugees have come to town, to escape the goblins.
-The goblins have raided our houses and our farms, and have killed several people. Food is starting to get scarce as the farming village of Bia can’t safely get her wagons here.
-Townsfolk from Farhnsworth report that the Dwarves are worried about their iron shipments from Deepdown, the Iron Mine.
-“The Hill Bandits will get braver now that the Guard are pulling out. They’ve been a minor annoyance, nothing like the goblins, mind ya, but they’re still out there, they are…”

After resupplying and bumping elbows with the refugees in Keitlyn, the party heads north to Branton. They run into a few groups of very nervous refugees who would rather avoid strangers on the road, but the party talks to each one as they allow them to pass.

Information from the refugees on the road fleeing south from Branton:
-“The Guard of the Land have abandoned the Frontier and left us to our doom.”
-“The goblins are already more threatening, and have raided our houses and our farms. They have even raided some of the ore wagons from the iron mine.”
-“And now bandits have come out of hiding. We can’t stay now.”
-from a child: “Please save my dada! The big one had a whip, and was hurting him.”
-“The Branton Bell has been taken! It must be returned or the village will cease to exist!”

Approaching Branton, the sound of a battle can be heard. As the party nears the outskirts of the town, they can see on the far side of town two groups in combat – humans within the village and goblins attacking from the edge of the hills. The party decides to join battle to help the humans and together the goblins are despatched. But as the party begins to assess the damage, they see several carts and wagons laden with all manner of goods from the town, as well as a man tied up in the town square apparently being tortured, and come to realize these humans are actually bandits plundering Branton. Azuel is cornered and knocked unconscious, bleeding out of sight of the party. He had found a pair of bandits readying a wagon with a large bell upon it, and tried to warn the party before being knocked out.

The bandits are beaten and run off, but not before getting away with a couple of large wagons worth of goods – AND the Branton Bell.

Azuel is found in the nick of time and his wounds are treated by Cordelian Araxie, just keeping him from the edge of death.

Kratos “Twigsbane” realizes later that the lead bandit was the same bandit he had let go on the road weeks before.

The party finds that the tortured prisoner in the town square is the mayor of Branton, and that he was captured while watching the last of the townsfolk leave Branton. The bandits tied him up and beat him, and took all that was left in the town. However, he expresses the greatest remorse at the empty bell tower. He moans that Branton can not exist without the Branton Bell…

The party tends to his wounds and decide that they need to resupply, so they escort him to Keitlyn, there in hope to reunite with his family.

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