Location: Forests west of Rilan
Date: Mid Dacal, 1333 Avard
The valley of Thalessa's farm hold is nestled in rocky, forested hills. Thalessa and the families that followed her after the War of the Four Winds cleared a large section of the valley and planted rye and potatoes, and brought in sheep and goats. They built homes and a barn of local stone, and nestled them together so that minimal walls were needed to complete a small fortress. They added a smithy along one wall, and put in a central building that served as pantry, smoke house, and well – and emergency hide. One wall along the cellar of the central building was a false wall, and behind it, they hid those things that the outside world did not need to know of.
Thalessa was one of the banished ogre magi. She had had her fill of violence, death, and destruction. The events of the War of the Four Winds was the final straw. Her army of ogres, orcs, and kobolds had the fewest fatalities of any ogran army, and put her forces to work against the sailors and cataphracts of the Mad God, Nabrol rather than fight against Rakore. Even though she chose Rakore as her new home, the nation of multiracial promulgation outlawed the ogre magi and banished them – those they knew of. Thalessa took on the appearance of a human woman about six feet and one inches in height, with blonde hair and blue eyes. Her actions spoke loudly, and she rallied many to her banner.
Living in peace in her valley, she sought to find out more about the rune stones, believing them key to the Rakoran forces mighty mages. She feared that the rune stones in the hands of petty thieves or thieving barons could spark anarchy and terror.
Demons and the undead found her, first. Mara and Wellby knew something was off when they approached. Thalessa and Michael (one of her men-at-arms) answered them at the main gate, but their behavior was strange. The two wanted any runestones the party had found, now. Wellby, realizing it was a trap, warned the others.
The Thalessa-like creature was composed of shadows, extending a neck and arms and legs to make her even taller. Mara and Wellby were confused, feeling that this being could be Thalessa's true ogremai form in undead presence. Michael seemed more dazed or possessed, his attacks fleeting and half-formed, yet never-the-less deadly. Worse, there were faces within the buildings, faces of being unable to enter the light, save one.
One of the families that had joined them was that of Malachite Spurbreaker, a bear rider for the Bandylegs Clan. Malachite and his mount had fought valiantly in the war, but been wounded terribly. Malachite passed from his wounds after a year in the valley, leaving behind his wife Amber and their two children. Malchite's bear, Kazak, passed away a day later from heart break. Both had been buried nearby in tradition of the olde ways.
Both had been reanimated by some foul necrotic presence, and they charged at the team.
Michael was finally subdued, but almost at the cost of Wellby's coyote friend Tumbleweed. While Silver the winter wolf pup pulled Tumbleweed to safety, something crawled out of Michael's ear, and began to unfold itself. Spider-like and yet as large as a big man, the thing fled the battle to the central building.
Mara and Gruck formed a wall of flesh with weapons, while Beth hammered at the foes with Ixlnb's magics and Eingrim unleashed a bolt of lightning. First the Thalessa mock, and then the undead bear and its rider, all fell to the team's powers.
They approached the central building carefully, but Silver raced ahead and down, into the darkness of the cellar. They found him there after too long a wait, unconscious, hammered by the same magics that the battle above had used against them.
Eingrim helped nurse Silver's physical wounds, while Gruck nursed his psychic wounds. Mara and Wellby went into the secret room, hoping to find Thalessa, but ready for anything. Signs of a battle played out all over the cellar and the secret room, demon blood everywhere and signs of necrotic damage to timbers and bindings. The rune stones were all gone from the secret room.
A book moved, in a corner, where something small tried to hide. Eingrim blasted it with lightning, and Mara and Gruck ensured that whatever was left was dead.
Shadows moved within the other houses. They moved through armor as though it were not there.
The team wisely sought to flee at a force marched, taking the unconscious and near-death Michael with them on a travois, putting as much distance between themselves and the shadows in the farm hold as possible.
Under Eingrim's physician's ministrations, Michael began to make a recovery. It was almost three days of careful tending and forced march travel towards Rilan before Michael could tell them what happened.
A black ship of undead souls had sailed in out of the night. Thalessa had sent everyone else out into the hills to hide from ship, while she and Michael stayed behind. Both undead and demons came out of the ship, and Thalessa battled them in the cellar of the central room. Michael did not remember much, after that.
The team realized that the coven they had defeated in Kashin had wrought something terrible. The coven had been a demon summoner, a necromancer, and a blood mage. The blood mage was still alive, having been turned over to the Guard – the same Guard the team had been warned could be corrupt, and serving nobles who served the coven.
Mara and Wellby were torn. Amber and the other families were likely still alive, hiding in the hills near the farm hold. They wanted to turn back and head for the farm hold, immediately, but Eingrim said he had a faster way. They were one day's march from Rilan, if they pushed it, and he said he could procure them faster travel to get help to Amber and the other families.
They reluctantly pushed on to Rilan, arriving at the Galanus River around noon, taking a ferry across, and finding rooms at the Blue Tyven. They rested there, exhausted from four days' hard marching – sometimes even through the night – while a drugged up Eingrim went to get them 'a faster way'.
DM's Notes: I had to bite my tongue so many times, during this session. There's a lot happening behind the scenes, and it's hard not to drop hints when they get SO close to figuring something out.
None to date.