Date: Early Dalan, 1333 Avard
Synopsis: A map found buried in the ground in Chasadan leads the Ducal Mage and his brother to hire explorers to investigate. What they find in the Stonehelm Mountains nearly kills them – rot grubs and dire wolves.
Morning of Dalan the 1st, 1332 Avard.
A form letter appeared throughout the nation of Rakore in the first month of spring. It was posted in taverns and on message poles, but no criers were sent; only those that could read would know of the letter's intent.
1st of Lan, 1332 Avard. To all who read these presents, greetings. Meridian Explorations seeks experienced and enterprising individuals to fulfil our mission statement: recover lost histories for the betterment of Rakore. Only the top four applicants will be chosen, to receive a stipend of 10 silver pieces a day, reasonable expenses including travel, and half-cut of any physical treasures found in the name of Meridian Explorations. Applicants must be team players, willing to travel by land and by sea, and able to delve the darkest ruins or the farthest rumors. Merchandising experience preferred, as Meridian Explorations seeks to open new markets. WARNING: explorers will occasionally be seeking arcane or even divine artifacts, and the threat of the Inquisition or curses is possible, as is the threat of bandits, pirates, and competitors. Applicants will meet at Stamp of Peace monastery in Chasadan by the 1st of Dalan, 1332 Avard. Signed this 1st of Lan, 1332 Avard, by the Ducal Mage of the Janissaries.
A dozen people showed on the 1st of Lan, and half of them fled as the mage Hershel Kavris wove a snake-like thread of lightning over their heads and between them all, seemingly intent on destroying them all. Those that held their ground, were allowed to interview for the positions advertised. A tall desert elf with a bow and a stout dwarf with a huge shield got into a fight, and nearly killed one another. A farmer hoping for a new beginning pissed his pants, and then passed out in fear.
And that left three. Hershel sighed, and led them onto the grounds of the monastery with his brother. Falling in behind them was a tonsured monk with chain mail on beneath his cassock; the monk said nothing, but merely followed at a discreet distance, acknowledged as he was by Hershel's brother William, a fellow monk. The details of the hiring were discussed, and when the three explorers agreed, they were released, to meet back at the Ducal Mage's tower on the morn to receive the specifics of their mission.
Balasyr and William Kavris hit it off quite well, both being scholars and scribes, and so Balasyr stayed the night at the monastery, where a number of the monks were fascinated at seeing their first dragonborn. Murdoch and Sorsha worked a bar over; Murdoch being an experienced-looking swordsman, ans Sorsha a beauty with a voice and harp to ensorcel the weak of mind.
The next day, Hershel told them of the cashe of documents found by the Church of Mikindim, detailing the travels of one Valen Talross. Valen's Village had been thought lost during the ogran invasion, but Hershel and William felt that a man of Valen's world-wise travel would be smart enough to have hidden resources. The explorers were tasked to explore the ruins of Valen's Village, and determine whether anything remained after the ogran invasion and pillaging. Hershel's familiar, a hawk named Meridian, would observe them from a distance and ensure they did as they were instructed. Otherwise, they would suffer the wrath of the Ducal Mage.
The party set out to leave, Murdoch having a warhorse of his own, and Sorsha having an enchanted figurine that would summon a mount of obsidian. Balasyr had thought to use a special spell on his familiar and ride his imp-like familiar as the others rode their horses – but realized two problems with that only as they began to leave the city. The familiar would be much slower than any horse, obsidian or flesh – and the holy warriors in the city of Chasadan would destroy his familiar on sight, because it appeared to be a demon to them.
Balasyr went back into town and took up the brothers William on an offer to cover travel expenses, and obtained a riding horse that would accommodate his dragonborn bulk. The horse, it turned out, liked to bite him when no one was looking.
The three of them made good time east out of Chasadan, across the plains, and to the foothills of the Stonehelm Mountains. They camped out that night, finding the bones of a kobold child half-buried in the dirt near their camp site. The kobold's bones had been gnawed upon, as the ogres were want to do. The next day proved to be foggy and chilly, with a frost upon the ground.
They made their way up the western flank of Mount Kugrin, rising with the rising fog, continually stuck in it's muffling wetness. Valen's Village was right where the map said it would be. Most of the village had been destroyed; rubble surrounding flagstones was the majority of the area. In some places, the remains of a building column supported part of the roof, but all wooden beams had been ripped out of the village, and only stone remained.
There were two larger buildings, and one of medium size, in a village of a dozen smaller homes. The first of the larger buildings was the remains of the church, and it almost killed them. They had seen lone tracks of snowfell – great white wolves that lived up in the snowline. Snowfell were pack hunters, and lone tracks were unusual. In the remains of the church, there were the freshly exposed, bloody bones of a snowfell. And then the snow began to move.
Maggots the size of sausages, arrayed in a swarm that writhed along the ground at impossible speeds, moved to attack the fresh meat available to them. Murdoch's warhorse and Balasyr's riding horse were the first hit, with the giant maggots burrowing into the flesh of the horses and writhing up their legs beneath the skin.
A nasty battle ensued, with Murdoch doing his best to save his horse and attack as many of the maggots as possible. Murdoch's sword would kill maggot after maggot, but the swarm flowed over or around fire and acid, much to Balasyr's chagrin. The three of them let loose a flood of arcane powers, finally destroying, freezing, and burning the last of the giant maggots. Murdoch and his warhorse would bear scars of the attack for the rest of their lives. Sorsha's skills in the healing arts and her arcane powers were all that kept them on their feet; without her, they would have found themselves in dire straights.
Murdoch, in particular, was incensed. Death by such rotting grubby maggots was so ignoble as to make his many tattoos glow with arcane wrath.
An exploration of the remains of the church turned up no new maggots, though they did find a flagstone that had hidden something in the past – but the wooden cache was empty. Given that the ograns had torn all other wood from the buildings, that there was wood beneath the flagstone indicated the ograns had not found it.
They decided to investigate the other large building in the village – and were immediately attacked by two snowfell, and a horse-sized giant snowfell that quickly knocked Balasyr's horse over, and the dragonborn with it. The three gaunt snowfell attacked with a ferocity that was frightening, only enchanted armor and Murdoch's spell wards keeping them from becoming a meal for the starving snowfell.
And then it was over. The giant snowfell, great plates of dermal bone sticking out of its fur and a skull as large as any horse's, attempted to flee, only to be struck down by one of Sorsha's thundering spells. Of the two regular-sized snowfell, one lay dead, its skull burned by Balasyr, and the other fled. Murdoch chased after the fleeing snowfell, and beat it into submission, taking it as a prisoner.
After they had rested a bit, they explored the remains of the manse – and found a huge flagstone half buried by debris. The snowfell had been scraping at the flagstone, scraping away snow and frost and years of dirt… for what? Two large warhorses, one of obsidian and one of flesh, easily moved the debris off the flagstone.
Beneath, they found Valen Talross' mummified corpse, along with all the women, children, and elderly of the town. They had hidden there during the ogran invasion, and become trapped.
Sorsha had no trouble walking amongst them, cutting purses, taking items of interest. Neither did Murdoch, though Balasyr felt at least a pang as the mummified remains collapsed at their passing.
Inside the small, hidden cellar, they found a hidden door. Moving a mummified corpse out of the way, they found a treasure trove – chests full of arcane- or divinely-infused items, a chest of gold and gems, and the greatest treasure of all, a chest of moth-eaten maps and scrolls and parchments and books, written in the ancient Karatikan language.
Afternoon of Dalan the 3rd, 1332 Avard.
I'm not sure who started it, but the raunchy jokes and comments went on all the night long. I think the church I drew, because of it's nave, happened to look like a penis to people with their minds in the gutter. Things went downhill from there, humor-wise. :) I'd get a statement half-way out of my mouth, and realize it was going to go badly. “Yes, there's a bit of wood, there.” “Yes, there are bushes near the nave.” “Yes, white stuff covers the ground.”
Not a bad start to a new adventure. I think the most entertaining part was Ross, who stated, “We are not allowed to die by rottgrub.” Open DM defiance! I lurves it!
Sorsha: 6033 (5th-level)
Murdoch: 6033 (5th-level)
Balasyr: 6033 (5th-level)
Thinking I need to look up the aura killer weapon… :)
Death by rottgrub? Dont even bother writing me in the memories of my closest friends, let alone the annals of history.
Nikto the book imp especially loved the jokes >:)
For the record, it was a pretty cool scene when the tiny imp jumped off Balasyr's shoulder and turned into a large imp which Bala then jumped on to ride - only to remember that the imp moves at the same speed as people and not horses hehe