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Origins: Krovosos

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It’s not Khara Thel but it is my writing.

A Roadside Picnic and STALKER game inspired novel about two veteran Stalkers returning to the Zone. It follows Luka and Sasha on their trials as they try to rejoin the “Sons of Liberty” and make it big. Planned release will sell for PayPal and Bitcoin.

OriginsKrovosos_cover_draft_01

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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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Kiltayre: Session 23 review, part one

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Allabrahni was in front of Felghanis’ eyes when he awoke. Her visage at once gave him hope and sorrow.

“You have earned a reward, Felghanis. What would you have that is suitable in the eyes of Araytor?”

“I would know what the Church want with the books,” Fel answered as the sleep seemed to wash from his mind and body as if born away by Allabrahni’s aura.

“That is unclear. It is certainly possible that the collection of the books are for their use, as you well suspect. What else would you know?”

“Where is Jonas headed?”

“To Dwarf Town. They plan to use the altar there.” The angel seemed to be expecting more questions.

“Where is the Titan’s Tear?”

“In the final tomb of the Hrimpursar elders.”

“And where is that?”

“At the feet of the Iron Teeth Mountains, in the silver forest. The trail is marked with stacks of carved stones.”

“How does Hydraxus fit into this?”

“Unclear, although Hydraxus claimed to be beyond the reach of cold when he claimed the throne of water on this plane.”

Felghanis was troubled. Hydraxus was a god, and on this plane? Does that mean the elemental lord of water walks Kiltayre? He shuddered.

“Will Araytor accept my worship?”

“Araytor accepts all worship,” Allabrahni smiled and gently caressed Felghanis’ brow as a mother might. “Be at peace and have Aid for this day.”

Felghanis was suddenly looking at the ceiling for Allabrahni was gone.

In Kalista’s room the young animist-wizard awoke.

“Ah, my girl. Araytor is proud of you,” Allabrahni beamed and took Kalista into an embrace.

“Now, what reward do you think is suitable from Araytor?”

“ I have given this much thought, and to answer the question: something to help me Defend the People and Reveal the Truth? The answer is myself. So all I ask is this: To have the Strength to Defend those that do not. To be quick of body and mind so as to act when action is needed. To have the endurance to persevere through the thickest of storms. To recognise truth from lies, good from evil, and for the wisdom to judge accordingly and lastly, the patience and pressence to lead the people to the truth and encourage others to do the same.”

“Of course my child,” Allabrahni touched Kalista on the forehead. A silver glow swelled and Kalista felt an energy surge through her. It was like her mind removed blocks and needles complexes – her soul grew.

When Kalista opened her eyes it was to a murky room without the safe warming glow of Allabrahni.

Don’ was already downstairs in the common room eating with the Dwarves. They all seemed distant and quiet, yet happy and content. Allabrahni had left a mark on their hearts and the enjoyed its lasting warmth.

“I had some questions answered,” Felghanis said as he joined them. He shared his impromptu interview with the angel to nods and smiles of approval.

“What should we do next?” It was Aenir who asked it once they were all fed.

“I’m not sure but my components are thin so I at least have to visit the markets,” Kalista said.

“The library likely holds answers for me. I want to know where the Iron Teeth Mountains is exactly and find out more about the Hrimpursar elders. Goran’s body needs to be buried. I can’t leave it there.”

“Goran’s body can wait, or someone else can take care of it, Felghanis.” Donhallan’s distaste for this was clear.

“What about the Scours?” Kellor aksed. “We might be able to catch them.”

“They’re too far gone,” Don’ said. “They have nearly a day’s head start on us and in the high plains it’ll be almost impossible to catch their trail.”

“You’re a bundle of joy,” Aenir mumbled into his beard.

Don’ scowled, “What we ought to be doing is finding out if Lady Sipran intends to go back to Vrim and then inform Lord Tovran.”

“Yes. Then let’s go see her,” Felghanis said.

“All of this is in one direction and we can stick together,” Kalista put forward, pleased that there was no need to separate.

The did so and at the Beaming Censer found the pompador they met last time.

“Ah, hello again. How may I help you?”

“We would like to speak to Lady Murelle, or Varnia, Sipran.”

The pompadour sat them in the lounge and returned shortly.

“Did you see an angel by the library last night, by chance"?”

“We saw a woman in a cloak,” Don said quickly, as Kalista covered her mouth in surprise.

“Oh. There are people looking for her and they’ll pay well to find her. If you see her do let me know.”

They were all distracted by the heavy footsteps of the shield guardian that shadowed Murelle Sipran to the lounge. Pompador left with a hurried bow.

“My young friends,” Lady Murelle said warmly but there was no smile.

The conversation was brief. Lady Sipran would be returning tomorrow.

The door of the Beaming Censer closed behind the last of them.

“She really had no idea what a treasure was passed down to her in the books,” Felghanis mused.

“It’s her dreams that bother me. She has so many that she can’t interpret them all. It’s sad,” Kalista added.

“Whatever the case she has been gracious and helpful. We will tell Lord Tovran.”

In the library they approached the keeper of books: the Blakh who was in four places at once. It smiled briefly.

“Is there a book on the Hrimpurar’s last tomb?”

“Hmm, this one may aid you.”

History of the Hrimpursar, Meyendir Aravalon – archmage & scholar.

The book was well-written and led them through many facts about the Hrimpursar, their society, and how they were exterminated by Kentos and his army. What stood out most to them was the Wunder Trial and how it was a requirement to enter the moot where debate for leadership of the clan could take place.

To Felghanis it was something else that stood out. Some of the elders who went to sleep, from which some would rise as Frost Titans, died or never came out of the last tomb. What if Hrimpursar had a ritual like a Baelnorn; undead guardian of a people? It caused tumultuous excitement but he contained it.

Brannighan was there for farewells and they left through the ‘private rooms’ of the Sipran family. Felghanis collected Goran’s corpse, two day old entrails fell all over him, and only Aenir would help.

Lord Tovran was pleased with their report and sent two servants with Felghanis to make the burial. He was surprised when Felghanis said he would bury Goran in the chapel’s graveyard.

The ground was hard and icy. With the rest of his party away Felghanis took a few spells on the shovel. It had been almost a lifetime since he’d unearthed a grave, or even dug one, and all that strength was lost. The servants were well used to labour and they kept at it far longer.

When Goran was interred Felghanis said a few words and instead of the normal closing line he replaced it with, “May Davinus watch over your soul.”

Something flew out of the grave. But it was so fast Felghanis thought he was seeing things.

One of the servants laughed, “That’ll teach him.”

The other answered, “Worshipping the wrong figure head. Everyone knows Davinus is the true head of the church.”

Felghanis was shocked. Not only did these peasants assume everyone knew that he felt something inside him. It was calling.

“Avenge me and I will aid you with the power of death.”

“What are you?”

“I am Goran.”

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Kiltayre: Session 21

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“In business we have a saying. Deal with a problem before it grows too large and becomes beyond your ability to fix,” Aenir said.

The group had be back-and-forth over options and tactics.

“Well, the Beaming Censer is on the way to the North Gate,” said Kalista. “We can see Lady Sipran on the way.”

“And keep our pledge to Lord Tovran,” Don’ added.

“I really must ask you to reconsider. It is quite dangerous in Stonecrest,” Brannighan’s careful voice warned.

“Thank you but we must perform this task,” Kalista responded.

“Then, seeing as you have refused my aid and counsel seven times, I am realised from by bonds to protect you. I wish you luck in finding who, or what, you pursue.” With that he left and went about his business.

They too left the library and entered the streets. It was not as cold as they expected but the sky was  strange bruised peach colour. Dark clouds, grey-purple, striped the sky. The streets were busy with foot traffic and people pulling rickshaws carrying richly robed figures.

“I expected wizards flying about the city and displays of powerful magic,” Kalista muttered.

“That would be wasteful,” Felghanis answered.

It was a dozen yards or more before they identified what was disturbing.

The Beaming Censer was close and they entered quickly. It was richly appointed with polished wood panelling and carpets from wall to wall. They felt out of place and even Aenir seemed unsure of himself. A concierge approached them with a warm smile.

“Are you seeking rooms?”

“We seek a guest here, or at least we think she’s here, Lady Sipran of Vrim.”

“Ah, yes. Please won’t you wait in the lounge whilst I pass on the message. Who shall I say seeks her audience?”

“Lord Mikhail Tovran sends us.”

The concierge bowed his head politely and departed.

Hanging on the walls of the lounge were numerous paintings. Most depicted the city under wheeling clouds that spiralled over the tall tower dominating Stonecrest’s skyline.

“What is that, you suppose?”

“A storm?”

“Who is it that seeks Lady Murelle Sipran?”

The woman’s voice was strong, commanding even, and when they turned to face her she wore a veil covering her face from below the eyes all the way down. Behind her stood a shield guardian.

“Lord Tovran sent us to find Lady Murelle,” said Don’.

They exchanged words and Varnia was bristling; even defensive. She took a fighting stance.

“Who are these people, Varnia?” An older woman’s voice approached.

“They claim that Mikhail sent them, Mother.”

“Why did he send you?” The lady asked as she entered the lounge. She seemed very old and moved slowly as if in some pain yet bore it with dignity. Varnia hovered at her left seeking to attend to her. The shield guardian was at the doorway.

“To find out why you fled the keep.”

“To save my family line,” Lady Murelle said simply. “We are the last four of the Sipran blood. The last women of the line and against the fiend that attacked our home we had no chance of victory.”

“But your a powerful spellcaster?” Don’ protetsted.

“Who told you that?” Lady Murelle was wry. “Once, I was a competent sorceress. Age has taken that away leaving me with only a few talents and my visions.”

“You did not see it coming?” Felghanis was incredulous.

“No. My visions have never been so accurate and simple. I had a recurring dream in these last months. The winter…” she waved it away.

“We seek to stop that winter from returning.”

They explained the books of Fimbulwinter and Lady Murelle did not know them. Even after Felghanis stated that Lord Kentos had left one with the family generations ago she had no idea.

“It makes sad sense, though. I saw a hand of stone and bears, a pair of them, chasing three trees that even though didn’t move were elusive. I saw winter setting in all the year round and far away an empty throne. The empty throne of Davinus.”

“Davinus? That was Kentos’ liege,” Kalista said

“Davinus, was the great-thane of Kiltayre, the first king, and ascended to become the true god of the Church and all Kiltayre.”

Felghanis, Donhallan, Kalista, Aenir, and Kellor were all stunned.

“What? Davinus is the god of the Church?”

“Yes. It was Davinus who ascended to the throne of Kiltayre and founded the Church. It is why in Vrim we do not follow the teachings of the Saint. But I must leave you now. I am so tired and so struck with grief. I take my leave.”

Varnia escorted her mother from the room and the shield guardian followed them with heavy footsteps.

“Someone is trying to become a god,” Felghanis conjectured.

“In business we have a saying. Deal with a problem before it grows too large and becomes beyond your ability to fix,” Aenir said.

Kellor nodded, “We need to stop Jonas and take back the book.”

The party flew into a torrent of speculation. Kellor and Aenir stood to one side and spoke quietly. It seemed to motivate the others and they collected their gear to head out into the streets again.

North of the Beaming Censer was the markets. A large square filled with stalls, stands, tents and carts selling goods ranging from mundane food to exotic focii, and services from basic healing to forging of magical staves.

“Maybe we can find a way to heal my arm?” Aenir said. Together with Kellor the split off to search the sellers for a cure.

“There’s the Amorrensis Trade Guild chapter house,” Donhallan pointed to a three storey narrow-house near the north gate.

Felghanis, Kalista and Don’ pushed open the doors and came into a small room with a counter. Two men were standing to one side waiting. Each was kitted out with packs and ropes as if going on an expedition. They gestured to go to the counter and made room. A man in lead-grey robes looked up as the door closed and Kalista saw the Captain from the stone ship.

“Ah, this a surprise.” The Captain said. “Have you brought me Fenris?”

Kalista’s heart skipped a beat; he remembered them.

“No. We have not but we did see him.”

Felghanis chipped in, “He’s compelled by some force, probably the lords of Elemental Water. I don’t think he’s in control of himself.”

“That may be the case and could explain a few things,” said the Captain, musing on the idea.

“How did you come to be here?” Kalista almost blurted out.

“Well, it was a bit of bad luck and good luck. After the ship was destroyed I was going to be banished from the guild. Luckily I had, well stole, the crystal you were carrying and that enabled me to purchase my station but with a transfer to this chapter house. I will miss the sea but at least I am still with the Amorrensis. I really should give you my name. Villeroy Morgane, Captain.”

“Morgane; isn’t that Fenris’ name, too?” Kalista asked.

“Yes, he is my cousin. Thankfully he takes no issue with me personally. He is a dangerous man, and luckily I can keep tabs on him through his sword. Which I knew I’d probably not be able to prevent him recovering. Maybe I should have had twice as many guards.” He sighed, “It is done now. He has it back that horrid blade of man bane. But enough of me, how can I help you? Maps, guides, travel, other services?”

“We plan to go through the Rift Weave, can you help with that?”

“There is a storm coming so at the least tie yourselves together. The guards told me that some people left recently through the gates.”

“That’s who we pursue.”

“People from the Church?” Villeroy asked. “Well they left nearly two and a half hours ago. You’ll have a hard time catching them, if indeed you even can. I could help you for a price.”

“Well, we know of a place you can get more of those crystals, possibly.”

“That seems a fair trade to me,” Captain Villeroy was excited. “There’s even a way I could perhaps help you close that gap in time. You see after some research over the last weeks I have found that with enough spell energy and will one can travel a short way through time’s passing by riding certain currents in the Rift Weave.”

Felghanis was drawing a map on a scrap of parchment. He finished it and handed it to Villeroy.

“Ah, I know this place. It makes sense that a mine may be there.”

They talked a little more and it was decided. Villeroy would help them cross back to when the Scours left in exchange for that map of the Deep Earth Crystal mine at the Hand of Gulresh.

“My arm!” The door flew open and Aenir burst in with Kellor beaming a huge smile behind him.

“It’s healed.” He flexed his hand a few times. “I think it’s even stronger than it used to be. Kellor, let’s test it.”

They gripped hands and tried to crush each others palm.

“Aye, I think it is stronger,” Kellor nodded.

With a renewed Aenir they left Stonecrest to be met with a roaring wind. The Rift Weave was ahead of them. A swirling mirage-like scene of wavering landscapes covered in snow and backed by tall mountains. The storm was closer and the Rift Weave seemed almost alive. Parts of it seemed to reach and grasp. They tied themselves together and approached.

“You may see some things in the Rift Weave that appear as visions. Pay them no mind. It’s some time of time leak. In the storms they are more active and will be quite visible. Head forwards,” Captain Villeroy said loudly to be heard.

They walked forward, a bit stumbling because of the rope at first, and entered the Rift Weave. Creatures or spirits started swirling around them pulling at their clothes and brushing their cheeks.

“Pay them no mind, they’ll leave soon …”

But Felghanis bristled at the attention. He surged with negative energy and the things harrying the others surged away to congregate on Fel’.

“Don’t do that. They feed on that energy. You’ll have them all trying to drain you,” Villeroy warned.

Felghanis ceased instantly and then there was a pull on the rope. The landscape swirled and darkened. He saw a flare of purple lightning and a tear of blackness. Beyond his Uncle seemed to be sitting at his desk.

“Uncle?”

The dread necromancer unlocked and opened a drawer, retrieved a large crystal ball and began peering into it.

“Uncle?” Felghanis asked again.

“Felghanis? What… what are you doing?”

“What is your plan, Uncle? What are you doing?”

“I…” Fel’s uncle seemed to be struggling against some force. “I won’t tell…”

Faint traces of purple electricity ran from the orb up Uncle’s arms.

“Tell me!” Felghanis pushed.

Like he was straining against it physically, a compulsion of the mind, Fel’s uncle suddenly seemed to wilt. “I… I will seize the bell and with it raise an army. Then, then, I will take the throne for myself!”

With a mewling scream Uncle fell forward.

Kalista was in silence. The Rift Weave seemed to have gone quiet. A curved wall seemed to loom into view. There was the sound of battle and fallen bloodied men lay about. It was the Iron Tower’s library where the Scours were killed by the steel dog. Jonas and another man fought the construct and suddenly Fenris seized the other man driving a dagger between his ribs from behind.

Jonas pushed them both away and felled the steel dog with a might blow from his war axe. Fenris scrambled to his feet and Jonas seemed to simply no longer be there. The Scour had seized the book of Fimbulwinter and moved through a door. He pushed it closed as Fenris rushed him with a wicked looking arming sword. Try as he might Fenris couldn’t get through the door.

It was suddenly dark. Kalista could see a figure kneeling in prayer before an old altar. Suddenly a second figure was standing there. The scene lightened and Kalista recognised the chapel at Vrim. Jonas stood and turned to Mellevictus and they seemed to be talking but she could not hear any of their words.

They were standing before Goran. This time she could hear.

“You will go to the inn and ransack the necromancer’s room. Then place his rapier under the girl’s bed.”

Kalista could see Felghanis’ old rapier in Goran’s hand as the Scour went out into the snow.

A swirl of deep purple like the worst type of contusion. Jonas and all the Scours save Goran were standing at the narrow path to the Sipran Keep. He drew out the Iron Flask.

Mellevictus protested, “You can’t do this.”

Jonas said some arcane phrases and threw the flask down. The demon appeared in a haze of rust streaked smoke and surged up the path with its terrible blade held high.

Twisting, a wrenching sensation, in her perception and Kalista saw Goran in a cell. Jonas approached and seized the door. The Scour, the werebear mentor of Thiridea, ripped the door from its hinges, iron bending like clay. Jonas seized the cowering Goran by the collar and threw him through the portal to the waiting demon. It cut Goran down in two swings and that was just enough time for Jonas to step through and cast the Dismissal which sent it back to the Pale of War.

“They’re evil. So evil and cruel. The Church is lost,” Kalista thought.

Like a ship heaving beneath them they suddenly found themselves in a cold biting wind. Ahead of them the Scours were gathered around Jonas.

“Quick, hand me the book,” Jonas says to Mellevictus.

Thiridea reacts first. “Enemies!”

Before anyone can respond she hurt Felghanis, some telekinetic effect launched him with enough force to nearly knock over the dwarves crushing him in the rope, and advanced with her poleaxe.

Felghanis cried out, “I claim sanctuary in the Saint’s name.”

“Necromancers have no protection from the Church,” Thiridea yelled back.

“Wait!” Jonas commanded. “I would hear what he as to say.”

“My uncle plans to steal the throne using the Bell of Thullemon.”

“You know where the bell is?”

“I think so. In the Iron Tower, the crystal in its base.”

Jonas nods and then, annoyed, pulls Thiridea back. “Get back here.”

Felghanis pushed, “My Uncle wishes to overthrow Davinus.”

“Has he retrieved the bell already?”

“No I don’t…” That was as far as Felghanis got with his response.

Jonas cast a spell. Fire and divine force smashed down on the party. Felghanis, Kalista and Aenir fell to the ground. Then Thiridea leapt to the attack. With Willem’s long spear and Frellan’s Spiritual Weapon to support her she finished them quickly.

“Finish them…” Jonas commanded but he was struck by a powerful blow of ice.

A figure had risen out of the ice to attack. Thiridea lead the charge.

Guards, the lizardmen, came out of the Rift Weave.

“Ah, there. The fire of gods led us here. See… it is as the old one said.”

They gathered up the party and bound their wounds.

“We take them to Villeroy. He might help.”

“And he close,” added another.

In the trade guild Kalista was woken first.

“This is a surprise. I didn’t expect to see you again. Have you found Fenris?”

“No… didn’t we already have this conversation?” Kalista strained against her disorientation.

“I haven’t seen you since you left me at Plateau Point…” Captain Villeroy trailed off. “The guards said they found you outside the Rift Weave. Had you just left Stonecrest, by any chance?”

Kalista nodded sadly. They had come back before they left and this Captain Villeroy had indeed never met them since Plateau Point.

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Kiltayre: Session 20 review, part 2

Comments Off on Kiltayre: Session 20 review, part 2

A large pavilion tent had been raised in the courtyard of the keep. The stables were cleared out and long sheets of silk were being hung as if to dry. Don’ looked it over in awe. A small fortune was in front of him.

“Ah, Ghanis,” Tovran addressed Felghanis. “I’m glad you have brought your friends. We have found something… odd. Perhaps you can tell what it is?”

The bottle that he showed them was polished iron with a brass stopper. Inlaid in silver were arcane runes and glyphs. It had a faint trace of magic when Kalista cast her spell. Together Fel and Kalista figured out what the Iron Flask did and reported to Lord Mikhail Tovran.

“It’s an Iron Flask. It’s used to summon creatures from other planes into the container. With the right command words one can release them into  a service after which they return. This one has a fine crack in it, like it was only ever meant to be used once.”

“Where was it found?”

The guards showed them the base of the path to the Sipran Keep. Don’ checked carefully for depressions in the mud under the snow and he found some. Five sets of boot print at least three of which were people in armour. Again the guards of Vrim were awed with his skills.

It was now that Kalista confessed her encounter with Jonas and Mellevictus.

“I gave them the book,” she said.

“You what?” Felghanis yelled. Then he stamped about cursing in Draconic until Lord Tovran’s face wrinkled in disgust.

“Cease this man’s rantings. They offend my ear,” he ordered the guards.

Kalista explained.

“Jonas was… friendly. He willingly offered information. There’s a conjunction coming, of the stars and planets, and that’s worsening the winter. It is only in this time that the Fimbulwinter can be brought back and the Church aim to stop that by securing all the books in the Vatican. Under the Saint’s own protection they will be safe.”

“But they’d only need one book to prevent anyone performing the ritual.” It was Donhallan’s stoic logic.

“The only reason to have them all is to perform the ritual,” Felghanis agreed, then frowned. It didn’t bode well when the agreed about the diversion in this very keep.

“Nevertheless, they have the book and when we left I tried to scry its location but it was nowhere in this town. However the third book is here and we must find it. Jonas said there is a portal in the keep that leads to a library and that is where the third book of Fimbulwinter resides.”

Tovran swore them to secrecy and allowed them into the keep.

“Lady Murelle showed me this many years ago. It will not allow you back through for some time so you must be sure you want to pass.”

Everyone went through the shimmering field and on the other side were met with the grisly corpse of Goran. His body cleaved from shoulder to navel.

Felghanis quickly cast Speak with Dead and pulled back Goran’s memories. They moaned and wailed.

“Let me go.”

There was no such mercy. Of the three questions only one bore good fruit. It was Jonas who had the Iron Flask. When the spell ended the sigh of Goran’s mind leaving sent chills down their spines. The dwarves were nervous and kept looking at the portal which would not let them out.

A large shaft let in a soft pink light and in that diffuse glow was a table and three large chairs. All around bookshelves were well-stocked and there must have been a thousand books in that place.

“I didn’t know there were so many books in the world,” Donhallan mused aloud in wonderment.

Felghanis snorted.

Bloody tracks led about the shelves but they were so crossed the Don’ couldn’t tell if it was one shelf they stopped at or all of them.

The cornices were in a strange script and whilst the others helped with the tracks Felghanis deciphered them.

Stonecrest Library

Davinus, Lord of Kiltayre across all planes

Page, spine and tome. Wisdom across the ages.

Branner, Marquis of the High Western Fief.

“The book is not here”, Kalista sighed after what seemed like hours of searching.

In the next chamber they found a large statue of a bearded man seated on a large throne. The whole thing was on a dais and the inscription, although in an old form, was legible to all of them.

Davinus, Great-thane of Kiltayre.

Ahead was the last doorway. As Felghanis and Kalista walked through they felt the pull of teleportation magic. Sound still passed through and they were able to reassure Aenir and Kellor enough to follow.

Polished flagstones lined the colonnade on which they now stood. In the centre was a kind of square full of tables and what was like a forest of bookshelves beyond that. Felghanis squealed with delight.

Everyone else looked at him wide-eyed. They’d never heard him make such a noise or look that excited about anything.

I didn’t think he had it in him,” Aenir mumbled.

A vigorous discussion of higher arcane-physics was being held at one edge of the square. One elf seemed to be holding a kind of impromptu lecture. It was going well until a half-orc began to counter the elf’s points and the others left as they argued.

Excuse me,” Kalista said to a handsome man.

The man smiled pleasantly and looked up at her. His eyes were purple and his skin had a silver glow about it.

I’m sorry… but what are you?”

Quite alright. I am Brannighan and well it’s a bit complicated really. You see my father was an angel and my mother an archon. I suppose that rally makes me free of the heavenly host since I am neither. For that I am ever thankful.”

They talked briefly and Brannighan warily cast a spell, announcing it to everyone, to determine Kalista’s place in ‘the way of things’.

His eyes began to glow blue and he said gravely, but with kindness, My dear. I am afraid you shouldn’t be here.”

It wasn’t long before Kalista had asked about the Scours. Brannighan had heard that such people were in the library.

I will  look for them if you promise to wait here. Out there, people are much less… civil.”

Kalista nodded like a child. Brannighan had effortlessly cast an Arcane Sight, a tier four spell, that she only just recognised. If he was nervous then she was doubly so.

He had been gone and Kalista had shaken off most of the reverie that had come over her from being in this place and talking with Brannighan. Like Felghanis she thought to read a book that was here. It took her little time to find one and she noted that all her companions had begun to read a volume or three – like Felghanis.

Felghanis was just beginning to concentrate on the text in the Draconic tongue when a gentle voice said, “Excuse me. I couldn’t help but overhear that you are looking for someone. That happens to be my expertise, people and things; finding them that is. Who are you looking for?”

Felghanis answered, “Four men and a woman in armour bearing a quadrant of grey green blue and black. Some have heraldry on it. A red bear rampant on a black field with a gold poleaxe.” He described the complex healdry of the Inquisition Exarcanum that Mellevictus and Frellan wore.

Why ever would they have those symbols?” The thin man seemed taken aback. “It matters not,” he dismissed it with hand-wave. “They left the library a few hours ago. It was quite odd because not long after it seemed they were followed by two women and two girls. All of them having come from the same private room that you and your friends did.”

That surprised Felghanis, “After; are you sure?”

“Yes, quite. Perhaps we can come to an arrangement for me to find them for you?”

What would that be?”

You take this little quartz crystal statue to a tomb in the Iron Teeth Mountains and place it on the bier, there.”

Why? What will that do?”

The strange man, who had eyes the colour of rust and ruddy-grey-skin drawn taught over a thin frame suddenly stood up. “Never mind. Thank you for your time.”

Felghanis blinked as the man strode quickly through the forest of shelves and was lost from his sight. He picked up the book and went off to find the others to report.

Brannighan approached them all. “I have found where they went. To the Beaming Censer hotel, but they have left through the North Gate. This is bothersome because they may not find their way back to the same place as the one they arrived from.”

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Kiltayre: Session 20 review, part 1

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Smoke the colour of lampblack billowed and disappeared leaving the huge form of an Ogre’s corpse, but it stood, and began brandishing a great club of knotted wood. This it swung at the sword demon but the fiend was too fast for Felghanis’ summoned help.

Suddenly the demon seemed to swell with prowess and it swung that terrible smokey-steel blade into the side of Kalista’s head. She fell and before her body hit the ground the fiend had back-stroked Felghanis. Kellor was raising his axe against what was a feint and with a snapping hiss Aenir’s arm was severed to fall across Kalista’s legs with Aenir collapsing in a heap. Kellor bellowed and the blade of the demon slid under Kellor’s guard, puncturing the gorget, sending the doughty dwarf back against the wall.

Don’ fought desperately to try and drag them away. The ogre zombie swung at the demon and connected well enough that it caused some cracking of ribs. It wasn’t enough. With a well-timed slash Donhallan fell face-down clutching the back of his head.

While the leaping-fire, the energy of life from the Fey, repaired Don’s tissues, the sword demon duelled the ogre zombie. It was brute power versus infernal competence and the zombie lost in short order. Somewhere deeper within the fiend heard a door slam and it lumbered forwards cursing in its horrid language; unused to the sensation of fatigue.

Don’ flickered his eyes open and struggled to his feet. He was so tired. Fionnghal was lost. The poor hound’s ribs were split open and the shepherd boy turned away. Aenir’s arm was still pumping blood and he quickly used the Hyloka to stop the flow. Everyone else looked likee they could be saved and Don’ did so with the remaining oils in Kalista’s possession.

“This keep was almost our death,” Kalista said after she regained her senses. “We are leaving.”

They gathered their wits and what mettle they had left.

“What has the Saint-damned church done?” Felghanis exclaimed.

Entering the great hall and the carnage laid about they were all numb with shock. Somehow they struggled down the stairs and then heard a voice.

“Jonas said it might be waiting for us.”

“It is I, Kalista. Who goes there?”

A helmeted head peeked in the doorway. They heard a voice, male, say, “It’s those villagers from the Crypt.”

“Come back. Leave the keep.” Another gruff voice ordered.

The rattle of armor quickly vanished and the group from Felk Bay struggled into the courtyard.

“I want to check these stables,” Felghanis said limping to the closed doors.

Inside was the wagon in what Goran was transported to the Sipran Keep and a few twitchy horses that flared their nostrils at necromancer.

The snowstorm had not let up. Thunder still shook them and it was dark as night. Descending the path from the Keep they saw five figures arrayed in church colors. Each held a weapon at the ready.

“What has happened to you?” A broad gruff man called out. It could only be Jonas since he wore the crest of Ursa Bellor.

“A demon attacked the keep. We tried to fight it off but failed.” It was Kalista who answered.

Jonas said resolutely, “Then we must pursue it. Move aside.”

They complied and the Scours hustled past. Thiridea glowered at them all. In her hands she held her poleaxe. Somehow recovered, or purchased, from Cyne.

“Glad to see the back of them.”

At the Whalers’ they were almost leapt upon with concerned people. Their story made faces blanch but Daldra Urdron was inciting a group to get up to the keep and burn it to the ground.

Felghanis countered well, “Lord Tovran would not be happy about that.”

“Let’s ask him,” Daldra said and led three others to find out.

Exhausted, shocked, and fighting tears from coming so close to death they each retreated. Don’ slept, Kalista rested and meditated, Felghanis kept his counsel to one side. They took meals and slept early then rising late assembled in the common room.

Over breakfast they said little.

“I have something to tell you…”

The door flung open and everyone looked. A young guard in the Tovran colours approached their table, eyes focusing on Felghanis.

“Ghanis? Lord Tovran seeks your presence and that of your companions at the Sipran keep. He wants your counsel on a matter.”

Interrupted they left for the keep with Kalista setting aside her words for a more appropriate time.

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Kiltayre: Session 20 ideas

Comments Off on Kiltayre: Session 20 ideas

The players have encountered the “diversion”: a sword demon. A feararkh blade from the Pale of War. It has been giving them a serious smack down. All the foreshadowing of its power was ignored by one player and the rest stuck with them anyway to try and keep Felghanis alive.

Fate Points were burned! No-one has more than two left after starting with four each.

I think they can salvage it without spending more and technically they can’t spend more since the Fate Point wasn’t intended to ignore a blow and stay in the fight. It was intended to keep the PC alive after the blow and use the narrative to explain why they didn’t die. Good example is Kellor after being struck by Thiridea’s poleaxe. It certainly looked like the dwarf had his head smashed in but when they checked him Kellor was alive, unconscious and missing his ear along with a swath of skin off the side of his head – making the mess they thought was his skull’s contents.

Unfortunately I was caught up in the excitement and fear of the confrontation with the Feararkh and allowed, if not encouraged, the use of the Fate Points in that way. And to top off the bad GM’ing brought in Fenris as a TPK preventer (god mode Sue?). I reneged on that and ret-con’d it after the session ended. It was fairly pointed out to my face that was what I had done and although it cut a bit it felt good to “undo” it.

Given the party are in a bad tactical situation I have to think of some narratives to save the day.

1) The fate points already spent will still do what they were meant to. OOC explanation will be made up front to clarify how FP are intended to work and what the IC ramifications are going to be. That is PC’s will be “saved” by the FP already spent but still go down and look dead. In future that is all that FP will be able to do.

2) Intervention: there is a caster within the keep, Lady Murelle, who could intervene and possibly save the party.

3) Aftermath: FP based survival has the characters “wake up” to the aftermath.

I don’t know what’ll happen, and I have a few more ideas that I won’t list, but I’m hoping to get it back in the good zone after my GM stuff-ups.

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Kiltayre: Session 19 ideas

Comments Off on Kiltayre: Session 19 ideas

The trial should be fun. There’s a bit of a twist in that for the players that will put them off balance and realise that the NPCs are actually thinking & strategising. Also one of the PCs will gain a visit in an uncomfortable way. I’m hoping to arrange a one-on-one time before the main game so this can take place. It’s possible that they party will try to intercept a creature they can’t handle so it will be likely that Fate Points are required.

But this is conjecture. The main thing is that a reveal is coming up which should really make it a bit more confusing about the main plot element, yet brings the realisation that much more is at stake than they realise.

Probably too much information but I have to put it up anyway.

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