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Winter’s End: Sessions update (29-32)

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After tracking the cultists into a fortress at the end of a grotto the party blitz-assaulted their base and routed the forces. Villagers were rescued and politicking carried out. It was the magic on one of the girls who shed light on the leader of the cultists, Milel, being a mage of some sort. Milel had been feeding on the girls essence. The forces were tracked to their rallying point at Anvil Rock. A defense was prepared and battle sought that night. A mantlet assaulted from the front and scouts tried to infiltrate the rear. It was another rout. Too well-organized and supported by a pack of summoned Dire Wolves the cultists never stood a chance. Until Milel drained the girl almost to her death and summoned a huge earth elemental. It collapesd the fortress around them methodically. All escaped with minor injuries and camped in the cold night. Milel escaped and probably with what ever they were trying to dig up.

The Sheriff took the villagers back to their homes. The allies (Lorco, the vampire hunter, Dalldra, the axe-woman, and Artan the wizard) continued to accompany the party. They had split ways and were beyond the borders of Vrim. Milel’s forces were tracked for two days when it became apparent they were headed towards the Keep of Kentos. That was one of the locations the Vampire Queen Marcelline could have been. It was only another day and everyone was convinced it was no coincidence: Milel was her servant.

One night they were awoken by Lorco calling out, “Be gone in the name of the Rose.”
He had turned some form of undead creature. Perhaps a wraith or a shade.
Later it came back and Felghanis rebuked it – gaining command. It was cemented now that the queen had sent this as a scout – this Allip. With agreement Fel’ pushed it away and Lorco destroyed it.

The next day they were within sight of the keep. Spells and familiars scouted the fortification. It was stout with an outer curtain wall and inner bailey where the donjon sat proudly. At least 40 lesser undead guarded the walls and manned the gatehouse. It didn’t inspire confidence. They had to act soon. Kalista was able to make out their shelter from the walls with her Arcane Eye spell. That meant anyone else could see it as well.
As they prepared the buzzing they had not noticed caught their attention as it rose to a thrumming drone. Lorco whipped open the shutters.
“Swarm!” He yelled, and loosed a fireball.
Slamming the shutters closed he looked pale and scared. “Locusts… a mountain of them.”
They fell upon the secure shelter like some kind of dark wave and the party shuffled closer together, touching shoulders, looking nervously at the roof.
“They can’t eat stone. We need more protection,” Don’ said. “That spell, the one that shapes stone.”
The roof was under assault. A multitude of nibbling mandibles were working their way through the old seasoned timber. Kalista shaped the stone floor up into a dome with fine holes for air. It was only a few minutes before the roof collapsed and the locusts filled the shelter with their angry insect noise. The cold was too much for them and before long they were silent. Goran was sent out by Fel’ to find out what happened. The locusts were all frozen in great swathes of icy chitin.
Dalldra freed them with a few swings of her axe and the gathered their supplies.
“We have to act now.”
They advanced through the strong wind driven snow. As the ground turned rougher and more steep they stopped to prepare their forces. Kalista cast speak with animals and as she was preparing a summons something fell from the sky exploding in rain of burning oil and potsherds.
“Catapult!” It was Lorco who yelled.
They broke and ran for their lives. The girl, Nullia had fallen and it was Don’ who bound her wounds and hoisted her over his shoulder.
Chests heaving and throats raw from the icy air they gathered in a gully’s steepest point between two hard rocky outcrops. The rest of the plan was put into action and Nullia was left behind.
The dire bats were enhanced and the flew out into the snowy gusts.
As the closed on the wall, a mere 200 feet away, large arrows streaked into their flight. The first bat fell, and then the second, but the others were fast enough to respond to Kalista and catch the falling allies.
On to the walls they assaulted the watch tower. Inside they fought skeletons and Felghanis seized control of their animus. Then they stormed the gatehouse. Dalldra’s axe splitting the door in one massive strike. Here they found a Rot Reaver, running for its hide, and skeletons poured down from above – only to be struck to dust by Lorco’s turning.
The keep’s walls were breached and the gatehouse taken, but the donjon remained to be stormed.

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Kiltayre: Session 24 and Session 25

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The beast appeared at the gate dragging a mountain goat. They launched their attack. Artan and Lorco hit it with fire spells. Lorco, a Fireball, and Artan an Aganazzar’s Scorcher. The bear was then trapped in the gateway by Kalista’s summoned dire wolf. It did not fight long before they killed it. Dressing the large carcass took some hours and they returned to the Secure Shelter to rest. Lorco agreed to go to Muddy Cape and hunt clams with them but he had to cut Dalldra in for a share as well as pay for her services – albeit at half-rate.

Overland the journey was tough. Exposed to the dastardly cold north west wind that came straight off the sea ice they took comfort that at least it wasn’t snowing. Digging about with their one shovel they found a clam after an hour. Then Kalista used Locate Plants and Animals and it was easy to find another score of clams. In all they had three pearls and it was deemed enough clam meat for Madam Lim.

When they returned to Vrim it was only three days to the full moon and Don’ needed to be ready to fulfill his role to the Fey.

It was Lord Tovran who added the complication. They should have known by the serious looking man with the scars and the old wound of a shallow fractured cheek bone, Sheriff Daeus.

“You may have heard that Sheriff was investigating something to the east. That much I know was being talked about. What you may not know is that he has found a troubling thing. Tell them, Daeus.”

The Sheriff complied and let them in on what had happened days ago. A young girl had wandered in from the east frostbitten and alone. She claimed that people had been rounded up and taken by the cult of Ath-Voarnus. Those who resisted were put to the sword, and those who fled were butchered from behind. They had found abandoned farms and buildings. No livestock and a few bodies in the snow. Then they had run out of food and had to return.

“I ask you to aid Vrim again and help us rescue these people, or at least put an end to this cult’s raids on Vrim’s citizens.”

“We have just enough horses,” Daeus said quietly to Lord Mikhail.

On the ride out the next morning they asked about Herath. Daeus had seen a man briefly but assumed it was one of the few lone trappers who lived on the margins. He didn’t try and talk to the man.

Cultists had moved into the area and at first kept to themselves. Then they had become aggressive at getting people to convert. It was the little girl, the lone survivor from the nearest village, that had told Sheriff Daeus the background. Many had fought on the fateful day but the cultists cut them down and that cowed the rest of the villagers. All were marched eastwards, with every last scrap of food and feed, for the livestock. Each village was bare of people and food. Corden, Villyme and Puldup; the farthest. Don’s tracking was superb, as always, and he followed the trails as well as a bloodhound might. They past no campsites but when the reached the fifth bridge, a marker of the furthest reaches of the fief of Vrim, they found heavy destrier’s tracks – as if the horse wore barding.

“A knight?” Don’ asked Daeus.

“Perhaps invaders. Maybe the Livruss and Kulvuss left a contingent behind.” The sheriff mused.

They weakened the fifth bridge, removing recently added bolsters, and did the same at the bridge near Puldup – hiding the material in the woods underneath snowdrifts. Then they rode hard back to Vrim as was promised by Tovran so that they might deal with the Fey in the Lutemakers Woods. The lord understood the need to Don’ and his peoples’ craft guild, and thus livelihoods. The Dwarves had secured the promise of the guildmaster to aid them and continue to provide a beast each full moon. All that left was to deliver the beast Lord Tovran had provided. As he left the area outside the stables Lord Mikhail announced that Daeus would be going with the party, and that Lady Varnia Sipran would also be attending – now that the Sipran family were back in their castle.

“Is she bringing the shield guardian?” It was an innocent enough question from Kalista.

“They have a shield guardian? Why was it not used when their keep was attacked?” Tovran was angry, infuriated actually. He stalked off muttering venom about letting innocents die.

It was the end of the 98th day since they left Felk Bay, that they dined with Lord Mikhail Tovran’s family and retainers, but not Lord Mikhail, who sent his apologies at being in a mood most foul that he would not be polite company. Freyald has many tales to sing, though, and regaled them with a long epic ballad from Iron Claw; Hadramyr the Griever. It didn’t help the feeling.

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Kiltayre: Session 23 review, part two

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Lord Tovran had asked the rest of the party to lodge at his keep.

“You will be my guests and have my hospitality. Your services to Vrim are worthy and I wish to repay you in at least this way.”

When the party reformed they had been to the Whalers’ Retreat to find their arrangement settled by Lord Tovran and a message from Arthur.

“Lorco is looking for you lot. He seemed a little annoyed.”

Walking into the keep felt strange. They were moving up in the world. Guards eyed them carefully but were respectful. It was the retainers, Lord Mikhail Tovran’s knights, who were a little snide, but only the one named Freyald. They ate lunch and were entertained by a bard but Lorco’s annoyance was tugging at Kalista’s conscience.

“We should try and catch him. If he only left this morning he can’t be more than 6 hours ahead of us at most.”

Don’ agreed and they quickly assembled their gear setting off at once. They pushed hard across the foothills of the Great Frost Mountains and did indeed catch Lorco on a wide mountain trail. His distinctive hat giving him away.

Lorco was with Dalldra, the Corssiff mercenary, and another plain looking man, Artan – who bore the trappings of a wizard.

That night they slept in a Secure Shelter that Kalista conjured and were waited on by an unseen servant. It was a restful night not having to stand watch outside the warmth of the campfire. Heavy shutters made the hut defendable and strong. When they arrived at Highgate Monastery they were wary. A vampire queen was no trifling enemy. Even Jonas would be challenged, it occurred to the dwarves Aenir and Kellor, and would be careful in his approach.

Bear tracks were in the snow. Fresh and deep.

“It must be a big grizzly,” Don’ said checking them.

The creature had been lairing in the old stables. Inside the monastery they found it abandoned but in pretty good repair.

“Wait.” Felghanis was looking at the doors ahead. “I sense undead in there. Four of them, and strong.”

They carefully opened the doors and saw a large room with four translucent figures circling a raised pillar-like sconce, chanting in distant haunting voices. Lorco called to them and they talked.

“Bring us the abbot, let us have vengeance, for taking the bowl of Ath-Voarnus,” the ghost hissed.

Artan knew of Ath-Voarnus. It was a spirit, of sorts, that could prevent ageing and increase vitality to those that gave it services. Ath-Voarnus longed to be made physical and lured people to it wherever it went.

“Sumbrad told me of this in the Red Stagg. He is pursuing what he claims to be  the cultists of Ath-Voarnus and looking for their hideaway & temple.”

“Another complication, then, it seems.”

They talked at length and then settled in to wait for the bear. It would be worth a lot of coin.

 

 

 

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Passing the Rift Weave

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Around Stonecrest is a rift in the weave of time and space. This makes Stonecrest a place that is slightly out of time and space of the island of Kiltayre, and perhaps other places.

Traversing the Rift Weave requires intent and power. Stonecrest is therefore the home of various wizards, sorcerors, geomancers, clerics, priests and archmages.

The mechanic for traversing the Rift Weave is a pretty simple Will save. Base DC is 20 to get through to within sight (0-5 miles) of the location (Kiltayre of Stonecrest). Failure means you’re a random distance in a random direction from the target location area and you take subdual damage equal to the failure margin – which is also the distance in miles.

Example: Base DC 20, Will save total is 14. Displaced 6 miles in random direction and take 6 subdual damage.

However, you can alter the time of arrival by 30 minutes forward or back if you pour power into the travel. This raises the DC by 5 per 30 minutes. Each SL of power added to the group’s travel, if they are tied together, adds to the Will save. A guide, or guides, can add power but not go through the rift.

Minimum power required is 1 SL per person. If time alteration is intended the minimum is 3 SL per person. There is no discount or surcharge for large or small creatures.

Example: a party is going through Rift Weave with a guide. The total SL added to the travel is 16. Each party member who is tied together can add 16 to the Will save. The guide stays behind.

If the DC is 50 or higher, then the power requirements double. This restricts time traversed to 3 hours.

Using the Rift Weave to traverse time more than your level in hours per week has some nasty side-effects– like long-term spell-energy drain (lose PP, or SL, available per day), negative levels, ability drain and in rare cases internal anti-magic matrices that prevent the recovery of any magical energy whatsoever (even Supernatural Abilities).

The last effect of traversing the Rift Weave is the energies can dispel existing enchantments. Roll 2d20 as a caster level check against each effect.

It is a potentially dangerous things and it keeps most hostile spellcasters out of Stonecrest; since they rarely want to arrive depleted.

In light of all this the Rift Weave still has secrets. The time-travel component is not widely known and there are entities within, some attracted to negative energy, others attracted to positive energy. In all it is a risky move and each trip is different.

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Kiltayre: Session 19 review, part two

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Felghanis was hustling along through the snowstorm. The wind would have frozen their lips shut but Kalista’s spell protected them so well it felt like a cool autumn wind. Still, their visibility was cut severely by the heavy fall of wind driven snow, and what sounds they could hear were only from a few yards away. It was like the world had gone grey all about them even the colour of the sound had been washed out and lessened.

“Jonas is in the Sipran Keep. I just know it,” Felghanis said. “If you can Locate Object for a Ursa Bellor heraldry piece we’ll know.”

They debated briefly but Kalista did as Fel’ suggested.

“Odd. There’s one that way. On the other side of that mill, I guess.”

“It could be Thiridea.”

“It could be Jonas. They’re the only two with the Ursa Bellor heraldry who could be anywhere near here. So much for Jonas being in the Sipran Keep.”

Felghanis pushed the pace and the form of the keep loomed above them in the white-grey of the snowstorm. As soon as the young necromancer saw the path leading to the gatehouse he broke into a full run, but the path was treacherously icy and he slipped. It jarred his wrist but he stood up and pressed on. The others took it slower and safer.

The gates were open, it seemed to Fel, but as he closed to a distance where detail was apparent he realised the half a foot of oak was severed as if by a massive chopper; the wood might as well have been nothing more than straws of carrot. Guards lay about in pools of blood, their bodies cleaved open in a pile of still steaming innards, each looking like they were cut down in a single massive blow. When the others arrived at the gate Felghanis was already in the main hall; guards, men, maids and children were in blood-drenched piles.

Somewhere above an inhuman voice laughed, “This door will not stop me.”

“Coward!” Felghanis yelled in challenge, the most real feeling of anger he had sensed in years. He moved past the dead and saw bloody hoof prints led up the stairs. Don, Kalista, and the dwarves caught up to him.

A splintering sound echoed from above. Screams and the smashing of armour reached the party’s ears. Together they raced up the steps in time to see an onyx skinned figure draw its double handed sword from the body of a retainer.

It faced back towards them and laughed. “More to the slaughter. Kill everyone in the keep.” It began to rush forward.

Felghanis uttered the curse of Blindness but it seemed to shrug off the magic. Don’s dogs were invisible, they could smell the infernal stench of the creature, and even though scared the hounds leapt into the battle.

Kalista wavered in her resolve. This… fiend was responsible for all the carnage and now it was bearing down on them. It was so strong, its blade swung almost impossibly fast, and it tore their defences to shreds. Even Kellor’s normally stalwart shield-work was no match for its dusky great-sword.

“Coward?” It laughed mockingly, eyes on Felghanis, and slipped past Don’ to fell the necromancer in a single stroke. “You cannot prevail.” It laughed again, berating them with its amusement at their efforts.

They stabbed at it and the hounds bit its legs trying to pull it down. Too strong, too steady on its feet, shrugging off the dogs’ attempts neither of the hounds managed to upset its balance.

Don’s shield shattered and the female dog used its Dimension Door ability to avoid what would have been a lethal blow to its skull. Felghanis hit the demon with a Ray of Enfeeblement and it visibly sagged. Kalista’s summoned dire ape battered at the fiend with little effect until the demon dispatched the conjured creature with a rapid volley of slashes.

Kellor’s shield was shattered, the dwarf knocked prone, and then in a blink of the eye Don’ was disarmed then felled also.

“I’ve been so stupid,” Kalista admonished as she drew one of the oils of curing they had after bartering with Madam Lim. With a few well-placed lobs and one passed to Aenir Felghanis and Don’ were healed enough to fight back.

But it was not enough. Kellor was trying to fight from the ground, as was Felghanis, and suddenly Fionnghal used his Dimension Door to escape the battle.

Kalista screamed, “We must run!” But she had to heal her friends, or at least try.

Aenir tumbled along the wall and got to the animist mage’s side. “You’re right, girl. Can you stop it chasing us?”

“I might be able to,” Felghanis commenced the summoning of a powerful undead creature from the nether plane.

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Kiltayre: Session 19 review, part one

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Donhallan and Felghanis returned with the posse to the Tovran watch-house. The sergeant was a simple chap but stern. Goran being locked in the cell disturbed the sergeant.

“Breaking a window is not equal to freezing to death in a stone cell.”

The sheriff normally would sit in judgement of such things but some events had his attention to the east of Vrim. Sergeant Parvellen had the means and he sent a page to the Tovran tower to request the Lord, Mikhail Tovran, come down to judge the crime as soon as possible.

While they waited they chatted amiably. Fel’ mostly kept quiet but Don’ seemed to have one some kind of trust with the senior watchman. He was impressed with Fionnghal’s tracking and said as much.

“A great hound. Would you care for another? I have a young bitch, much like that one, that I can barely feed. The poor thing is beginning to starve and I feel terrible. Maybe you could look after the dog?”

Don’ was pleased and a little humbled, “I’d be very thankful.”

“It’s a bit odd, though, that dog. It seems when chasing rabbits last spring that the grass would sometimes seize the conies and the dog relished pouncing on them like a cat.”

Don’ laughed politely but he knew the hound had to be fey-touched in the same way as Fionnghal. He was happy to take it under his wing and went with the sergeant.

Back at the Whalers’ Retreat Kalista was developing an idea. Bolstered with sudden courage she swept out without the dwarves seeing. In the heavy snow she headed over the river and towards the Sipran Keep. As she closed on the narrow path that led to the gatehouse a broad figure was walking towards her; wearing the colours of the Church and the red bear rampant on a black background. It had to be Jonas. The Scour stopped and held out a hand somewhat in her path.

“If you please, miss. Stop a moment.”

Kalista stopped, her heart was racing though, and kept her composure as best she could. This ‘man’ was said to be far more powerful than Thiridea and that ‘woman’ had nearly defeated them all, almost single-handedly.

“Jonas, I presume,” she tried for the upper hand.

“Yes and you must be… Kalista. Is that right?”

She nodded politely.

“I would speak with you. Out of this harsh weather, if you would,” he said, gesturing towards some partially standing buildings. Ever-present reminders of the attack by the Kulvuss and Livruss fleets.

Kalista thought to run but it might provoke Jonas to use force.

Out of the wind and snow it was more comfortable but still cold. Jonas set about making a fire, simply rending the shutters from the frames, and once it was burning he stood back – giving Kalista plenty of space.

They fenced, politely, with words at first. But Jonas was amiable and shared information. The books were for the Church. He had recovered one from the Iron Tower and it was back in the Vatican.

“There is a conjunction coming, of stars, planets and the tidal forces in the ley lines of the whole island. With it comes winters, harsh and long, and these cycles allow the Hrimpursar to return. Without the winters the ritual from the tomes cannot even be attempted. We need to make sure these tomes cannot be used. There’s no safer place in Kiltayre than in the Vatican under the Saint’s protection.”

Kalista was humbled. It made sense but she still had distrust from her time in Dwarf Town. She shared her knowledge of Fenris.

“He summoned a giant in the sea, that’s why we think he serves the Frost Titans,” she finished.

“It does not sound like that to me. Frost Titans do not swim if they can help it and definitely do not live in the ocean. I think he serves another player in this. The elemental lord of water.”

Again, the Scour made sense. Snow was water and it explained how he left no tracks, perhaps in relation to who it was Fenris had made a pact with.

Jonas’ hand fell to his weapon and his eyes looked out into the snow.

“Who goes there?”

Kalista could hear crunching of boots through the icy flakes.

“Jonas?” A voice called back.

“Mellevictus?” Jonas responded recognising the voice.

Kalista put her back against the other opening, opposite to where this Mellevictus was approaching from.

He entered the house wearing the vestments of a scour but on the normal field of the Church’s colours was the heraldry of the Inquisition Exarcanum: witch finders and demon hunters.

Kalista’s heart raced. She felt like a cornered mouse between two Scours. One a werebear, the other an inquisitor, and her alone.

“Goran has been arrested,” Mellevictus said.

“For what?” Jonas seemed to be getting angered.

“Breaking into the inn where… her friends are staying. He sought the book to redeem himself.”

“It matters not. His treachery has ever been a burden. If it weren’t for his cousin the Cardinal of Fergusdale, I’d never have let him in the group.”

“Then we let justice prevail,” Mellevictus said vehemently.

“Aye, but Kalista, what will you let prevail? The risk of the book falling into the hands of the Hrimpursar? You know it will be safer with the Church. Directly under the protection of the living Saint.”

Kalista said, “It would be good, but what of the other book in the Sipran Keep?”

“Lady Murelle would not see me, but she will, in time. The book is not in the keep but in a space between the keep and Stonecrest. A library in a space between space. A kind of pocket dimension. There needs to be a way we can convince Lady Murelle to see us and hand it over for the good of all Kiltayre.”

“We could work together, but separately, aiding the recovery of the last book. That way we can read it before it is taken back to the Vatican.”

“Aye we could,” Jonas said.

Kalista, had she been from a city or wealthy social family would have seen the slightly sad glance at Mellevictus, and then the nod the inquisitor returned, but she was not so savvy.

Mellevictus let the spell be triggered, “You know, Kalista, that the book would really be safer with us. Hand it over and we’ll make sure it can’t be used to bring back the Hrimpursar.”

The still spell was strong and Kalista succumbed instantly, “Yes, of course, Scour.” She took it out and handed it to Mellevictus.

Jonas nodded with a grim smile.

“And there is no need to worry your friends with our meeting. We know that Felghanis, at the least, would not understand at all.”

It was true, Mellevictus was right and clearly trustworthy and Kalista nodded, “Yes. Of course. The Saint will protect the books better than we can.”

“We must send this back to the Vatican, Jonas,” the Inquisitor said, and with that they left Kalista to make her way back to the Inn. She had no idea the Charm Person would last nearly half a day.

Don’ and Felghanis left the Tovran watchtower. Lord Mikhail would arrive after midday and the trial would begin. But until then they may as well get some food and sit somewhere less austere than the watch-house.

The Whalers’ was busy, full almost, with people mainly talking. Kalista was sitting near Aenir and Kellor but the dwarves were regaling a well-dressed man with war-stories. The Felk Bay people sat together and shared a meal. People began to leave and so did the whole group, albeit separated, to the trial.

Lord Mikhail’s guards were about and the public were rowdy, yet not violent. Goran sat manacled, looking at his feet, on a stool between two knights. The trial proceeded and Felghanis was asked what he had lost.

“I have lost a sense of safety in this town, a trust of the lord’s watch, and of the inn keeper Arthur’s property.”

“And what was taken?” Lord Mikhail asked.

“I cannot be certain. I have many notes and journals that were strewn about the room. There has not been enough time to read them all again to see if anything is missing.”

“Goran, what say you in your defense?” Lord Mikhail said strongly.

“I have done this because I am cursed,” Goran said meekly but his voice rose in volume as if gathering confidence. “Cursed by Demons from the Pale of War.”

“Cursed? Stop this man from speaking. Gag him and take him from the court.”

Lord Mikhail looked troubled. “Goran of the Church, you are found guilty and must pay the sum of repairs to Arthur’s property plus 10 gold pieces to Ghanis.”

Vrim’s people were still railing at the admission of a curse. Run him out of town, burn him, drown him under the ice, where the various cries. Lord Mikhail bowed to his scribe, Tivvus whom Kalista was trying to find, and they whispered in the din of the folk of Vrim. Don’ boosted his hearing and caught some words.

“That is the lady’s dominion to judge, yes?” Lord Mikhail asked.

“Aye, m’lord. He must be sent to the keep in chains,” Tivvus answered.

It was over quickly.

They filed out of the court, Don’, Kalista, and Fel’. They took shelter under the eave of a large house near the watch and threw ideas about. The folk of Vrim were hurrying back to their houses. Heavy dark clouds were rolling in from the west and a sudden bolt of lightning lit up the town with harsh blue-grey shadows.

“Oh no,” Felghanis said. “It was all a diversion.”

“I was troubled by the same thought,” Donhallan affirmed.

“How?”

“He was meant to be caught so they could get Goran in the Sipran Keep.”

The storm drove them back to the inn.

Herath had his bags and was agitated, fearful even. “My friends. We must leave,” he said gravely.

“Why?” Felghanis asked.

“It is the Shadow of the Face of the Dragon. There will be death this night. Much blood will be shed in this town. We must leave while we still can.”

Donhallan and Felghanis looked at each other. “It must be bad if we agree.” Fel’ said.

“I am leaving. There is little time.”

The storm was closing in on Vrim. Thunder and strong wind shook the roof and window shutters. Arthur interrupted politely and Kalista cast Mend on the shutters Goran had broken.

“In this we will need protection.” She cast Endure Elements on everyone.

Felghanis nodded, “We must get to the keep as fast as possible.”

“No, we need to leave Vrim this night. The omen is clear. There will be death and blood.”

“Are these omens always right? Does anyone even try and stop them in your tribe?”

Herath’s hand twitched towards his large knife but stayed away. “I leave with or without you.” The tribesman went to the door of the Whalers’.

“As I do in heading to the Sipran Keep,” Felghanis hefted his bag and strapped on his rapier. The staff lay unclaimed in his room.

“I can’t let you go alone,” Kalista said reluctantly.

“Neither can I,” Don’ added.

The dwarves looked at each other. Their kind were superstitious, too, but they were soldiers and they stuck with the Felk Bay people.

“We agreed to stay with you and aid you all in this quest of yours. We will go to the keep with you.”

Herath nodded, “I will be heading East, up river, if you change your minds.” He left without another word. They were fools, to his mind, not to listen to the fates.

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Kiltayre: Session 18 Review

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Kalista’s player, Chris West at buygameshobbies.com, has written a fantastic entry which I’ll link to instead of writing my own review.

Winter’s End: Session 18

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Kiltayre: Session 17 Review

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Don’ dreamed again, of a misty forest circle with tall thin figures moving about within. They would turn their heads as if hearing or sensing him on the outside of the circle but never founds him in their gaze. The trees were old and thick boled. Don’ awoke. Was it a summons? The imagery was stronger this time and he mentally shared it with Fionnghal. The dog, though fey-touched, was still a dog and did not understand but the memory was now there.

Whatever tension that was had with Felghanis seemed to ease at breakfast that morning. They sat and ate, talking about their plans and things they had seen. It was so good to be with people again. Everyone of them in the party were all so much more relaxed than travelling the snowy wilds.

Don and Herath went into the markets and asked about the surrounding lands. They found out that food prices were 50% above normal, when they could be had, and all the good furs were sold out as soon as they were offered. Each trader was keen for more, having sized at least Herath up as a good woodsman, and they offered good prices.

It was the Lutemakers Woods that had Don’s interest and the traders dismissed it out of hand as haunted. Don’ seemed unfazed by that and determined to have a visit, since it could be done in a day at less than 10 miles away. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to tell the others they planned to go there.

Turned out the rest of the group, except Aenir and Kellor, wanted to go to. Even Fel. Whatever their spat last night seemed to have vanished. A good night’s sleep can solve many things, it appeared.

On the way out of Vrim Don’ led them to scout old buildings. Abandoned after the Livruss and Kulvuss fleet attack.

“We could take one of these over.” Don’ was excited at the idea. “Maybe just pay a notary or something a lease-fee.”

He knocked on the door of the nearest neighbour. They were wrapped in blankets and making crafts. Their small fire barely enough to heat the hut, but they were happy for visitors. After sharing information they asked Don’ and his friends back for drinks, song and cake. It was agreed.

They set off over rocky hills that were wind-lashed. On the other side they descended to the margins of the woods and saw a miles wide stand of various good timber trees. Spruce, maple, birch and cedar. All growing straight and tall. The predominant northwest wind seemingly not reaching them here.

Fionnghal suddenly went on alert, growling towards the trees. As they thought to ready themselves a great four armed beast leapt from under a snowdrift and raked the dog with claws. Herath acted first lunging in with his spear and the thing was quick to respond. Rending the hunter’s face almost from his body. The man fell into a heap blood staining the snow about his head.

They fought hard and the thing tried to run off with Herath’s body, but a black ray from Felghanis weakened it so much it dropped the hunter and fled into the massive trees. They had won out. Herath was healed by Kalista and they gathered themselves.

Don’ described the stones that surrounded the circle in his dream and asked Kalista to try and locate one. She cast her spell and searched out. There was nothing close but her spell would last long enough that they could cover another furlong or so. The forest became older, darker, and more still. Mist gathered between the boles and Kalista sensed a stone like Don’ described. They cautiously approached and then Don’ gestured they stop.

Don’ moved forward and knelt, starting some ceremony, to place three torches and three silver pieces on the ground. He chanted briefly and then removed his touch. It was almost as if he had summoned the three figures that appeared in the mist. Each walking towards him from a different position. One in silver mail, another dark armor, and a third in brown clothes that might have been made from bark and leaves.

Each had skin like leaves, hair like grass and dark eyes like set amber, and seemed completely disinterested in everyone save Don’. They spoke to him.

“Our forest has been desecrated.”

“Too many times have the men come into our place and taken our old beautiful trees.”

“A price must be paid in blood.”

The three seemed to know what must be said. Like they were reciting some old prose.

“The next hunter that enters these woods.”

“You must bring to our circle.”

“And make an offering of to pay the price.”

Don’ was shocked. A blood price for the Fey. “What about a beast instead?” He had no want to be a murderer.

“Aye.”

“A beast for nine years.’”

“Each time the moon is full.”

The question was how.

“You will do this service for us.”

“Make right the wrongs in our realm.”

“Or the price will be paid by you.”

Each took a torch and a silver piece, turned, and after a few strides seemed to melt away into the mist.

The party said little as they left. It seemed too close the edge of the forest and that elicited comments.

“We may have to delay the journey with Lorco,” Don’ said.

When they returned to the Whalers’ Retreat Aenir and Kellor were waiting for them.

“We saw our friends from the Crypt,” Aenir said gravely.

“That means Thiridea has made it back to Vrim.”

This made things even more dangerous if Jonas, Thiridea’s mentor, was still there in the chapel on Manduran’s Hill.

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Kiltayre: Session 16 Review

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The inn was warm and cosy. It was a great change not to breath freezing cold air all night. They slept well, except Don’. He was visited with a vivid dream. Figures in a mist forest circle were milling about, as if edgy with each other, and they kept looking about for him as if sensing Don’s presence. When we awoke he was a little disturbed, but it was just one dream.

After Kalista rejoined them from her long bath they discussed their plans. All the fine weapons they’d looted from battles past had to be sold. The money would be helpful even if the food Felk Bay needed was not to be had. They had asked Arthur, the Innkeeper, about the Rhett attack and he had no news of it. Too far north it seems for the news to have travelled.

Aenir and Kellor would pursue weapon and armour smiths to trade the looted items with. They had been in that business in Dwarf Town and Aenir was described as a silver tongue with other merchants, by Kellor, and the older warrior was skilled in crafts able to easily recognise good work versus pretty work.

It was barely decided when the door opened and a quartet of guard stamped into the common room of the Whalers’ Retreat. They rubbed their hands and glanced about settling their sight on the group. Nerves ran high as the guardsmen approached, rattling in their mail with weapons at their hips.

“Well young ones. Where have you come from?” The sergeant started.

The questioning was short. Hard eyes of the sergeant watched them all and relaxed as they answered.

“From the south of the island?” he laughed incredulously.

It was enough for the guards to think the young troop were no threat and they left. Likely back to their warm watch house somewhere near or in the Tovran tower whose heraldry they wore.

With that stress over the party split up to deal with their various needs. New boots, clothing, backpacks, trade-in weapons and armor, and find supplies for Kalista’s spell working. It was a long list and in a new town it might take some time.

Madam Lim’s was the apothecary everyone pointed them to and when they arrived Kalista was so happy to see the variety of materials that she almost cried. Lim had everything, from canis root, to fulgurites, to quartz, to mummified donkey hoof. It was amazing.

Whilst Kalista rummaged the store and looked at every last thing in case it was what she might need the others, mainly Fel, asked Madam Lim about the history of the area. They were richly rewarded. She told them that Vrim, and most of the coast from outside the Saints Valley all the way to the Greywynd River, was awarded to Kentos by the Great Thane Davinus. Kentos later divided his lands and awarded Vrim to a Sipran lord. Many Sealer Nomads chose to live on the land instead of in the fleets and changed their life. A century or two ago the land was divided again with the Tovran being awarded the south of Vrim in murky details, or secrets.

Madam Lim asked the group if they would be willing to collect clams from the Muddy Cape, over the mountains to the north, and they agreed. She said that any pearls she found in the clams she’d give to them on top of a fee. The clam meat being useful in boosting the power of healing potions – which many needed after the attack by the Livruss and Kulvuss fleets.

They met the Dwarves at lunch and the battle-brothers were excited to share they’d found the two armorers in town. One had less stock than the other but rumor had it Cyne, who had more stock than Alfwin, sold cursed weapons. With bellies full of food that wasn’t seal or bear meat they visited Alfwin. It was true. The smith had little stock and nothing they were interested in so it was off to Cyne. A good salesman Cyne traded most of the group’s won prizes for a few hundred gold coins and some other weapons: a long spear of giant bane, a staff of rapid attack, and more.

Lorco was next on their list and with the dwarves they located him easily enough at the Red Stag. Aenir had already come across him that morning. They entered the Red Stag only to have Kellor and Aenir depart to talk to a Margad woman in a bright yellow cloak. She was broad and massive with purple eyes and bright bronze skin. Herath followed looking on with infatuated eyes.

At a small table Lorco pondered a map. His broad hat and long arming sword sat next to it with a tankard of ale. Rough old travelling clothes and fine brigandine armor gave him the look of a well travelled ranger or scout. His long beard and wild hair made him look like a typical travelling wizard.

“What do you know of vampires?” Felghanis opened.

Queen Marcelline was Lorco’s target. He claimed to have killed 6 vampires before and aimed to make her the 7th. Lorco said she was turned away from her fief, banished, by St. Fergus in the early part of the church’s ascension to power. That was some 400 years ago. Felghanis swooned over the knowledge a creature like Marcelline might possess.

“Don’t worry about him,” Don’ said.

Fel huffed and stood up. Leaving without a word. Kalista and Don’ were surprised. Not understanding but Lorco was here now and they kept talking to him. Highgate Monastery and a large fort on the edge of the marches were the two locations Lorco suspected she was holed up in.

“Experimenting on creatures,” he said.

“Like otyughs?”

“Yes. She seems to do this everywhere she goes, experimenting.”

They talked at length and decided when the group was ready Lorco would be accompanied to investigate Highgate Monastery. Lorco had Daldra on retainer for the expedition so he’d have a potentially strong mercenary at his side. It was agreed that they’d leave in 2 days and the group would part ways once Lorco had enough information to determine if Queen Marcelline was in the old monastery – the group heading on to the Muddy Cape to clam for Madam Lim.

Don’ chased after Fel and caught him in the street. Heated words were thrown about and a threat from Fel had Don’s back up. They parted company.

Felghanis walked the streets then decided to find the chapel that Frellan had said the Scours were using as a base in Vrim. As Felghanis got closer to the area known as Manduran’s Hill he could see that the chapel was being rebuilt. A snowball crunched at Fel’s feet and he glanced about for who threw the thing. From around a wall the hard weathered face of Fenris beckoned him with a hand. Too curious to refuse Fel’ approached and Fenris spoke in a rushed whisper.

“I know you’re not following me so you’re safe. Jonas is inside. Consider this an apology.” Fenris looked like he was physically making himself stay, against some compulsion. “There’s more going on here than you can know. I don’t know what it is, yet, but it’s more than the Church and these books.”

Felghanis nodded then said quickly, “Next time you need something send a message.”

Fenris managed a thin smile, “I’ll try.”

Whatever force was compelling the traitor, the Night Wolf, it won and Fenris trotted away nearly silent. But what brought a look of shock to Felghanis’ face was the man’s feet never broke the surface of the snow.

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Kiltayre Session 16 Ideas

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They’ve made it to the first town since Dwarftown, where they were pretty much imprisoned straight away. Vrim is filled with side-plots and has the added complication of Thiridea’s Scours being based there. What the players will do in regards to that I am not sure.

Coming up is a bit of rest & recovery. I’m anticipating that they’ll want to try to locate the other book, not the one in the capital, and recover it. That is fine and planned for. However, I’m hoping that the rich background and potential side-quests are a good lure, too. Unloading loot is coming up and there’s hooks for other quests in that, as well. Basically Vrim is like the major town in a video RPG with hooks on every corner. I may have overdone it.

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