The Eroding Empire

Of Last Stands and Lucky Boots
Session 32

The earth around the party began to shake as they took a rest after rescuing Thybalt from his… doctors. Deciding to immediately head back upstairs they made their way back to the kitchen. They found the staff being evacuated by the guards, and when they made their way outside the snow was melting and the sun was shining. The main hall was filled with people and the visiting dwarves. Rats began to evacuate the depths and the orcs then entered the hall. Taking this moment to make their exit, they found the courtyard filled with guards guarding a red hot well. Vorax and Rawdon went to the defense as a fountain of demons erupted from the well.

Biding time for the guards to enter, the party closes the door; with a few guards not making it in time. Taking stances among the various entrances, the dwarves and orcs are helping in the defense. Stragor Solace tells both Sarfu and Bluefist that they need to work together, but whoever can get Thybalt and his sword to the crusader will receive aid in their battle against the other. The main door caving in under the pressure of thousands of demons, Rawdon hefts his axe against the door and keeps in shut for those few precious moments. The decision is made to get Thybalt out using Vorax’s boots. No time for sleeping, they decide to have Rawdon punch him out. After some deceiving of orcs and dwarves, Rawdon punches Vorax out but the boots do not activate immediately. The door bursts open then and the stairs creaked as a glabrezu declares itself the rightful wielder of Aegis Losthvir; along with a toad-like demon bounding down the stair. Vorax finds his consciousness roaming through a path. In the waking world, a glabrezu cast a bolt of pure pain straight through Rawdon, sending him into a rage. Then, the toad-like demon went to go for Vorax, but Big Meanie intercepted with his knuckles. Nimona imbues Rawdon, Big Meanie, Thybalt, and Nimona with divine strength after an onslaught of bat-like demons. A vrock slashes at Lythvard with filth-covered claws. Vorax, still dreaming, notices a shadow puppet fight between what might have been Thybalt and the Crusader, their shadowy silhouettes projected onto the fog in front of Vorax. He dissipates the shadows with a stream of golden butterflies. Lythvard blasts away half of the bat demons with a loud crescendo spell, and Big Meanie continues to pummel the toad demon. Thybalt runs up and curses the glabrezu, while Big Meanie and Rawdon mop up the bat-demons. Nimona heals Vorax and Rawdon and goes in to join the fight. Vorax continues his search for the Great Gold Wyrm, and ends up falling down an endless void with a draconic shadow falling with him. Lythvard death strangles the vrock. The glabrezu summons fire under Vorax and Thybalt again. Rawdon slams into the glabrezu. Tybalt slashes at the glabrezu. Nimona heals vorax, and then smacks the toad demon.

Suddenly, the world around the entire party shimmers, and they each find themselves isolated in a dark and scary forest. Rawdon finds himself with a dwarf and an orc from Droskyn Keep, who seem intent on killing each other. Rawdon slams the orc to ground and tries to stop the dwarf from hitting the downed orc. Rawdon finally get the orc and dwarf to stop fight by making them hate him more than each other.

Meanwhile, Vorax emerged from the teleportation to find himself ca¥¥face to face with the glabrezu. The glabrezu launches itself at Vorax. Vorax slashes at the glabrezu, but it slaps the blow away. Lythvard runs through the forest towards Vorax, using a beehive to clear a path through a field of elf-eating carnivorous plants. Thybalt finishes off the glebrezou with a “splitting headache” from the trees.

Burning Spines and Fighter Jelly
Session 31

It’s a cold winter morning in Droskyn Keep. The party has just awoken with a hangover from a night of heavy drinking, with the exception of Thybalt, who is being treated by the keep’s doctors with their best efforts, and Rawdon, who is still happily snoring away. Vorax, meanwhile, is already up and sharpening his blade.

A discussion ensues between Lythward, Nemona and Vorax, and the party decides that the best course of action would be to go looking for Thybalt. Lythward remembers that he once researched Droskyn Keep, and that it was famous for channeling the magic of a hell hole. He suggests to look for Thybalt near the mouth of said hell hole.

Then Rawdon wakes with with a bad hangover, and Nemona offers him a home remedy for it.

Out in the courtyard, Vorax spots a soulless-looking, heavy armored formation of soldiers. Their eyes are nothing but blank stares.

The party steps into the courtyard and starts searching for a way down.
Unable to find a staircase down, they decide to lower Nemona down the well in the center. Vorax takes the winch while protesting that this was not his idea.
The water down there turns out to be lukewarm, and there is a glooming light under the water, to the side. Vorax then convinces the others that this would be a very impractical entrance to a chamber where they would hide Thybalt, and the party keeps exploring elsewhere.

  • scene change *

Meanwhile, Thybalt has been brought to a room where old men are gathered. He is placed on an altar with a red cloth, and different methods of medicine are being tried on him, one more painful than the other, but to no avail.

  • back to the party *

The party keeps exploring the keep, snoping around the kitchen and different corridors. In a room full of armor, Rawdon discovers a tunnel that was dug by giant rats (possibly a signal by the High Druid?). Crawling through there, Rawdon finds a set of gauntlets.

Lythward then hears a muffled scream of pain, which he assumes came from Thybalt. Apparently it came from behind a wall.
The party follows the direction, and comes upon a strange room littered with dead bodies, and a strange ritual going on with a large vat of a hellish liquid…

Nemona starts a conversation with the men performing the ritual, and she is told that this is an area where no guests are allowed. Asking for Thybalt, they tell her that the treatment is still ongoing and she should not disturb it.

Lythward sends Big Meanie (his skeleton) forward to where they believe Thybalt is held. One of the castle inhabitants tries to stop him, but wasn’t strong enough. The presence of a skeleton scares the castle inhabitants, and they run away calling for the guards.

The party uses the confusion to press forward. However, the way forward is blocked by two gelatinous cubes. Or rather, a purple gelatinous octahedron, and one green dodecahedron. Vorax tries to reason with the guards, but to no avail. His attempts at diplomacy were interrupted by Thybalt’s pained screams.

Combat ensues, and Rawdon pushes the dodecahedron into a side corridor to unblock the passage. The gelatinous cube tries to slap him with a pseudopod but misses.

Lythward smacks the cube with a Ray of Frost, while the octahedron gobbles up his skeletal servant. Vorax gets jumped by the octahedron and ends up stunned. Rawdon continues to keep the passage open, and Lythward made a heroic dash for it.

Nemona manages to dart past the cubes and reach the room with the old geezers “healing” Thybalt. They tell her to get out and not disturb the ritual, but she decides to at least cure his wounds.

Vorax spends his turn shaking off of the stun, while Lythward gets swallowed by the other cube. A vibrating crescendo spell sends shivers through the jelly and it spits him out. He immediately smacks it with a ray of frost on top.

Then Vorax gets swallowed up by the Octahedron. He couldn’t manage to cut himself free, but he gave it a good slashing from within.

Rawdon decides playtime is over and barges in at the dodecahedron, frothing of the mouth with pure rage and cutting out a good chunk. Unfortunately the cube then bounces on him, knocking him out for a moment. Lythward shoots another round of frost rays at the two cubes.

The cure wounds was not enough to bring Thybalt back, so Nemona climbs onto the altar and starts praying for a miracle. Her pleas are answered, and Thybalt starts opening his eyes! He immediately starts coughing up bile and blood from his lungs.

Vorax still can’t get out of the octahedron, and starts slashing at it more and more desperately. Lythvard let loose another Ray of Frost at the Cube. The cube then splits, spitting out a smaller tetraeder!

Thybalt, awake but miserable, hears the combat noise and his survival instinct kicks in. He drags himself up and beams a curse and hungry shadows at the little ooze that split off. Nemona then finishes it with a holy javelin.

Vorax finally manages to cut himself free, and smack the ooze that almost suffocated him into pieces. A concerted effort from Rawdon, Thybalt and Nemona then kills the last ooze.

After a bit of banter with the doctors that were trying to cure Thybalt, the party sends them off to inform the master of the keep. Then they start looting potions and oils from the destroyed oozes, except Thybalt, who only found a bent silver fork. Then they head for their rooms to clean off pieces of ooze and get some rest before they have another meeting with Straghor Solace, master of the keep.

And they are faced with another pressing problem. After Nemona healed Thybalt, a burning flame appeared on her neck, and slowly starts burrowing down her back. This surely can’t be a good sign?

Of Guests and Gate-Crashers
Session 31

After Vorax contacted the Great Gold Wyrm through a magical dream, the group found themselves in a small square room of black stone. After Vorax explained the situation, the group took the only exit and found themselves in a corridor of the same stone. In a room further on they found a banner with a large cat symbol and writing which read “Droskyn Keep” and “Solace” on it. Beyond that chamber they found a hallway with a weapons rack, and beyond that they found a door with noise coming from beyond. The group decided to avoid whatever was making the noise and continued past.

Further on they found some stairs leading up which seemed as good a direction as any to take. Eventually they came to a door with the sounds of jostling pots and pans on the other side. The room beyond was filled with humans of varying looks preparing delicious smelling food. Nimona was sent in to talk to the woman in charge, but didn’t do a very good job of talking her way through. She was challenged as to whether Straghor Solace knew Nimona was in his keep or not. Fairly soon, a dozen heavily armoured guards came to look into the gnome situation. They were quite taken aback to discover more than just a gnome. The group released their weapons to the guards and submitted themselves to searches. They were then taken outside into a courtyard filled with snow. Re-entering the keep, they were escorted into a large audience chamber.

After waiting for a time in the audience chamber, they were eventually met by Straghor Solace. Vorax tried to explain how they had “accidentally intruded” without giving away too much information about their mission for the Archmage. Solace was suspicious and examined the situation more closely. When he came to examine Thybalt’s sword Aegis Lothsvir, Vorax spoke up in warning, saying that Thybalt had always warned people about touching it. Upon learning Thybalt’s name he ordered the captain of the guard to inspect the sword. When he did so the arm which touched the sword burst into flame, just as Straghor Solace had been expecting. After Vorax and Nimona tended to the guard, Lord Solace confirmed that he did know of Thybalt and that his master, The Crusader, had important plans for him. Lord Solace offered to see the group on their way but implied that Thybalt wasn’t a part of that offer. The group insisted that they wouldn’t be being separated from Thybalt and instead accepted accommodation in Droskyn Keep’s guest chambers. Lord Solace assured them that he had Thybalt’s best interests at heart and he was confident that he and his people would be the best people to help Thybalt recover from his catatonic condition.

When they awoke in the early evening, the party awoke refreshed. Hearing noise outside their quarters, Nimona poked her head out and saw a lot of orcs passing by. The group went looking for food and followed the smell back to the main hall. They were refused entry because they had not been invited to the feast, but they arranged to get some food brought to them. On their way back to their chambers, the group passed a group of well-groomed orcs. The largest of them sniffed at the air and said that he recognised a smell. Lythvard recognised the orc as Sarfu, someone the group had helped a long time ago. After a brief conversation the orcs went on their way (to a diplomatic meeting) but the leader said he would like to talk to Lythvard again later. Back in their rooms Lythvard explained how he knew the orcs, explaining about the war between the dwarves and orcs and Lythvard and Thybalt’s role in trying to prevent that war.

While Nimona was out relaxing in the courtyard, she noticed a commotion at the main gate. Investigating she found some flummoxed guards dealing with a contingent of dwarves who had unexpectedly shown up at the gates. Nimona went back and told the group about the situation. Lythvard wanted to see the dwarves to see if he recognised any of them. While he didn’t recognise any faces as such, he did recognise a voice which he presumed would be attached to someone important. Lythvard also noted with interest that the dwarves seemed to be travelling somewhat incognito. The dwarves were eventually let in and Lythvard recognised one of the dwarves: Councilor Bluefist, a clan leader from Forge who had advocated against the war.

Later back in their room, the captain of the guard (Rupold) came and asked the group to talk to the dwarves as they had asked about an elf named Lythvard. The guard was concerned about the orcs and dwarves crossing paths in the castle. Lythvard agreed to do so on the condition that their weapons were returned to them. (When the weapons were returned Aegis Lothsvir was noticeably absent. The party then accompanied the guard down into the lower level where the dwarves were being accommodated.

Lythvard introduced the group and asked why the dwarves had come to the keep. It turned out that the dwarves had snuck through the orcish battle lines to come to Lord Solace to ask for an alliance with The Crusader in their battle against the orcs. (Not the peace mission that the group had hoped for.) Bluefist was also able to tell them that Solace was a powerful figure, being one of three advisors to The Crusader (specialising in matters of magic and spiritualism), and that Droskyn Keep was built atop a Hell Hole.

The rest of the night was spent drinking and trying to keep the dwarves away from Lord Solace and the orcs. They were successful in this and stumbled back to their beds much later that night to prepare for what was likely to be an interesting day.

Of Naga and Not Thinking
Session 31

The group stood before the lake and pondered the obstacle before them. In the middle of the lake was an island, and on that island grew a magnificent tree with purple foliage. Their mission for the Archmage was to get some sap from that tree. Unfortunately, the lake that separated them from their goals was teeming with iron sea sharks.

Thybalt experimented with some magic to determine whether he might be able to create a bridge of ice across to the island. Vorax mentioned that he might have a way to get the group away from the island without having to go back through the sahuagin city. This would involve using the boots which Thybalt had found back in the temple and contacting the Great Gold Wyrm.

As they discussed the problem, a hissing voice began speaking to them from the darkness. Thybalt spotted a large snake wrapped around the tree on the island. The naga said that it protected a Tree of Knowledge and that it couldn’t allow them to take the knowledge. Thybalt attempted to negotiate with the naga but it wouldn’t budge. Vorax reiterated the urgency of their mission and their lack of time. But the naga was unmoved leaving the group to make its preparations to cross to the island.

Thybalt and Lythvard began working on a ritual to freeze some of the water between them and the island. Their magic was powerful and the water around Thybalt froze in a two-metre radius. The group gradually crept out on to the ice and the water of the lake. The group moved slowly as the water froze before them and then melted behind. As they moved forward Thybalt felt his sword seem to vibrate and was able to use it to strengthen his ritual.

Thybalt’s focus was exceptional and the ice island remained strong. Unfortunately, standing on the island was difficult and both Rawdon and Nimona slipped off and into the water. The sharks were quick to respond. A ray of frost from Lythvard encased one shark in a coffin of ice while Thybalt extended the ice island to help Rawdon get back on. Rawdon was easily able to get back on, and Vorax helped Nimona back on (before she slipped off yet again).

While others assisted Nimona again, the naga hissed at them to turn back. When they party refused, two floating flaming skulls arose from nearby islands and shot bursts of flames at the party. Then a large creature made of rock, highlighted with luminescent lichen, rose up from the waters directly in front of them. Thybalt saw the writing on the wall and ordered everyone off the raft and towards the various smaller islands.

Rawdon swam to a nearby island and attacked a flaming skull before being pummelled into unconsciousness by the stone golem’s smashing fists. Thybalt regretted his decision to swim to that particular island.

Nimona, who had made it to another nearby island, quickly called upon the gods of light and healed Rawdon bringing him again to near full health. Nimona then swam to the naga’s island.

Leaping from the island, Vorax landed a heavy blow on the back of the rock golem. Sharks quickly closed on him although he was able to swat aside their initial attacks. From out of the darkness more bursts of fire spat forth hitting both Nimona and Vorax. Vorax was left a bit confused by the attack. The rock golem swung again at Rawdon but it swung poorly and its misfortune triggered a curse from Thybalt causing the moss and lichen to bloom into glowing light.

Shocked and confused, Vorax broke away from the golem and moved towards Nimona who he believed was under attack. Unfortunately, when he shook off his confusion he saw that he had instead stabbed Nimona with his sword.

From somewhere above the golem a cloth bag (or something) fell and struck the golem, knocking it down into the water. When the golem arose from the water it was facing another dark figure in a hooded cloak. The mysterious figure soon dealt a final blow to the golem which crumbled down into the water. This freed a freshly raging Rawdon up to crush a flaming skull in his bare hands.

Meanwhile, after attacking from afar with his magics, Thybalt crossed over to the naga’s island where everyone was attacking the naga. The naga retreated into the branches of the tree under the relentless assault. Lightning and thunder continued to lash out at the attackers as it had several times before. A final ray of frost from Lythvard turned the naga crystalline and it exploded in a sudden burst of light.

As Vorax began to tap the tree for sap, Thybalt thought it would be a good idea to take the pink, oozing sap and taste it. For a brief time Thybalt felt like he knew everything. And then he was left in a catatonic state.

After putting Thybalt into a more comfortable position on the ground, Vorax took Thybalt’s boots (blessed by the Great Gold Wyrm) and put them on. He then lay down on the ground and attempted to sleep. With some assistance from a tea brewed by Lythvard he eventually succeeded.

Within the dream world, Vorax wandered alone on a barren landscape of red rock and dust. Eventually he found himself upon a rise in the shape of the Great Gold Wyrm’s symbol and a booming voice addressed him as Voraxiusfeldrak. Vorax and the Great Gold Wyrm spoke of Thybalt and his future importance to the beginning of a new age. The Great Gold Wyrm asked Vorax to watch over Thybalt and prepare him for what was to come. In particular, the Great Gold Wyrm stressed that Thybalt needs to learn what it is like to love something so much that one would sacrifice everything for it. When Vorax explained Thybalt’s current catatonic condition, however, the Wyrm was shocked into silence. After some time he suggested that the Archmage or the Priestess might be able to help Thybalt.

Finally the Great Gold Wyrm agreed to help the group escape their current predicament. However, because of the powerful magic within the cavern, he wouldn’t be able to control where they ended up. Knowing there was no safe path back through the sahuagin city Vorax agreed to trust to fate and destiny.

Outside the dream the world stretched and warped, and the party found themselves in a plain chamber made of black stone.

Of Sahu and SNAFU
Session 30

The group were standing in a large ceremonial chamber. Large statues stood around the chamber and in the centre was a stepped pond filled with merfolk bones. Upon an altar on a raised dais lay a young merfolk woman. Within the chamber were some sahuagin guards and a demon-like creature which was prepared to sacrifice the mermaid. The demon looked up from its sacrificial preparations and demanded to know who the group were and why they were here. Combat quickly ensured.

Lythvard, Thybalt and Nimona threw spells at their enemies while Rawdon and Vorax rushed towards the staircases up to the altar. Nimona’s attack on the demon distracted it somewhat from its ceremony while Thybalt’s drained some of the life out of it. Unfortunately, the sahuagin were able to buy the demon enough time for it to complete its ceremony and it ripped the mermaid apart before the group’s eyes, flinging the two parts of the mermaid into the chasm that separated the party from the altar. This bloody sacrifice drew the ire of some within the group and the apparent indifference of Lythvard. . . The party fought on with renewed vigour. Vorax charged at the demon and his priest heedless of the enemies between he and them. The dark magics of Lythvard and Thybalt continued to batter and suck the life out of the demon and his minions.

Nimona bravely took a direct line to the demon and attempted to leap across the chasm and up on to the dais. She had not considered the fact that the leap was much too far and too high for her short gnome leg. The Priestess, however, was pleased by Nimona’s empathy for the slain mermaid, and the gods assisted Nimona’s ascent to the dais. Nimona lightly planted her feet on the dias, with her back to the chasm, a blood-soaked altar before her, and a huge toad-like Hezrou demon on the other side of the altar.

Rawdon continued to rage up the eastern staircase. Unfortunately for Nimona, the Hezrou focussed its attack on her and it toyed with her like a plaything. It grabbed her and held her upside-down, high in the air by her one good ankle. Seeing that the battle hard turned against it, the demon dangled Nimona over the chasm, as if to let the party know that if the demon dies, so will Nimona.

Regardless, Lythvard’s dark magics finally brought down the demon. It relaxed its grip on Nimona’s ankle as its soul was violently sucked down into the chasm. Gravity pulled Nimona into the chasm, but Thybalt, who was now standing on the other, lower side of the chasm, reacted quickly and created an impromptu bridge above the chasm (with a tail-pulling assist from Lythvard). Rawdon continued to put down the remaining sahuagin as Thybalt and Nimona extricated themselves from their precarious position. Nimona tried to let off a javelin of faith in the process but mistimed the spell and nearly took Vorax’s head off with it by accident. After the demon’s fall the remaining sahuagin tried to flee to safety. Thybalt’s and Lythvard’s magic brought down two of the sahuagin and a final blow from Vorax convinced the final one to surrender.

Lythvard began a philosophical interrogation of the prisoner before finally walking away in disgust at the sahuagin’s stubborn devotion to some elder beings called Sahu. The prisoner also mentioned that beyond the doors at the back of the chamber was a sacred place forbidden to the lowly like her. The prisoner was tied up and left for others to later find.
Meanwhile in a back room, Thybalt found a pair of strange boots in a fancy chest which seemed to be connected to the Crusader and the Great Gold Wyrm.

The door at the back of the chamber took the combined efforts of the whole group to slowly open. Beyond the doors was a tunnel which led off in the general direction that the dowsing rod pointed. The tunnel took a lot of scrambling and climbing to navigate. During the journey Nimona and Thybalt tried to broach the topic of Lythvard’s current condition with him. Lythvard wasn’t concerned by their worry and simply told them he had never been better and pushed aside their concerns saying that they couldn’t possibly understand what he has experienced.

Eventually, Vorax put the attempted intervention to rest by saying that time was of the essence as they still had to make a return journey through the city—a task that would be all the more difficult after their attack in the temple was discovered. The party pushed on at a faster pace.

Finally after a long journey in the dark caverns, the party emerged into a large cavern filled with a placid lake. The roof of the cavern was hundreds of metres above them, dotted with glowing lichens that gave the cavern roof the appearance of a star-filled night sky. In the middle of the lake—perhaps some hundred metres away—was the island and tree from the Archmage’s drawing. In the water around the island swam at least a dozen sharks glowing with luminous spots running the length of their bodies. The party pondered how to cross to the island.

Of Miracles and Missions
Session 29

The group stood in the dungeon and gathered themselves after Lythvard’s miraculous recovery. The sounds of battle crept in upon their stunned silence and the need to escape pressed upon them. They constructed a litter from the remains of the bronze golem for Lythvard and their new gnomish companion. As they made their way out they came upon a set of collapsed stairs which had collapsed into a smooth ramp. Thybalt secured a rope to the litter and gave it to Rawdon to climb up and pull the litter up. Once up on the ground floor, the freshly awakened Nimona released a large drunk man who had shouted out to be released from a locked room. The drunk man immediately smashed a bottle into an improvised weapon and ran off to join the battle. As he ran off, though, he slammed into a support which began to bring parts of the building down. With the sounds of armoured soldiers approaching, Rawdon grabbed the litter and began running out of the guesthouse as fast as he could.

Outside in the city streets, the people of the subcity were rioting against the imperial soldiers amidst the chaos of the Verisiel attack. They were beginning to break through a line of inexperienced, leader-less soldiers. Vorax pointed Rawdon in the direction of a nearby alley and lingered behind the group. In his loudest voice of authority Vorax ordered the soldiers to stand fast and hold the line. The soldiers don’t look to see who gave the order but their backs stiffened with discipline and their line held, allowing the group to escape into the dark streets.

At a loss as to where to go, the group went through a random portal to escape the subcity. Once through they made new plans. After a short discussion the group decided to return to Lady Summerton’s manor.

Along the way they came into a small town square where a crowd had gathered around a small stage. A hero of the empire was introduced to the crowd: Syrion, one of Lythvard and Thybalt’s former companions. Syrion told the story of his adventures and then extolled the crowd to support the empire in the campaign against the Verisiels.

As he spoke a sudden fiery explosion went off and knocked the crowd and the group to the ground. After the explosion, vines began to sprout from any plant material in the ruined square, wrapping around people and quickly crushing them. Thybalt made to move towards his old friend who was now giving orders and trying to assist others, but Vorax shouted at him that they needed to leave. Thybalt looked torn but he followed the group out of the square.

With the help of their guide, they arrived at Lady Summerton’s manor and were ushered inside. After the group briefly explained the situation she granted them a place to stay for the night. She said it was fortunate timing in fact, as there had been a development with Darilth and that the Archmage might have more to ask of them. During this conversation, a servant entered and informed Lady Summerton of the Varisiel attack and that the council had been summoned.

The next morning following breakfast, Lady Summerton summoned the group to her meeting room. She told them how the Archmage had attempted to communicate with Darilth but had later been found unconscious. Beside him he had a piece of parchment on which was written “Throne Point. Get the Sap. Element: Water” along with a sketch of an island with a lone tree in some underground cavern. Along with the parchment was a strange object. The object appeared to be a spigot used to tap a tree for sap. The group agreed to investigate the clues, and Lady Summerton told them there would be a ship ready to get them out of town at noon.

They left Horizon at noon after being given some potions of water breathing by Lady Summerton. During the voyage, Lythvard was approached by his concerned companions. While they could sense that something was off with him (Nimona sensed something wrong, perhaps in his connection with the Priestess while Thybalt thought he saw some sort of interplay between the tattoos of the Archmage and the Lich King), Lythvard provided no further details.

The two-day voyage was pervaded by a strong sense of unease within the group. The party also took the time to get to know Nimona a bit better. She told them that she had been taken in by the imperials after she had been asking questions about the group—she had been told that some within the group had knowledge about the Church of Light. The discussion ended with an arm wrestle between Nimona and Rawdon with predictable results.

After a couple of days the ship arrived at the wilderness of Throne Point. Nimona used Lythvard’s wand of dowsing for a ritual to try find the underground cavern. They travelled for a time and found a fissure in a rock which opened into an underground cavern. They walked along a tunnel which was an almost perfect circle and the air became more stale and dank as they moved down.

After what seemed many hours of travel the group grew weary and made a camp and rested. Thybalt didn’t sleep well as he felt the presence of some sort of demonic threat. As Thybalt told the group of his feelings the following morning, Rawdon noticed the drying footprints of some non-human creature. He alerted the group and they prepared to move on.

After some time the tunnel descended below water. After the group made some preparations they swallowed a potion each and walked down into the water-filled tunnel.

Of Death and Darkness
Session 28

Lythvard struggled to move but the ropes that bound his wrists would not yield, and the aura of deadening magic numbed his mind and made it impossible to connect with his own magic.  It was still there, his magic.  He could feel the chaotic energy, like an angry beast throwing itself against the iron bars of its cage… but it was somehow out of reach.  Where was he?  It was cold, and dark, and smelled of sewage.  Faint images of the past week flashed in and out of his memory, mere wraiths glimpsed out of the corner of the eye in the mists of early morning.  He remembered being an elephant. 

The sound of approaching footsteps drew him back to the present.  Three robed men now stood before him, accompanied by large, pasty-skinned man.  His pallor and grimacing disposition suited the dank environment, which, Lythvard guessed, could only be some sort of dungeon prison.  

“Time to use the worm.” The words came from the robed man in the middle.  The worm?  Worms were usually nothing of great concern to a druid – just another part of nature.  But the oily way in which the man said “worm” chilled Lythvard far more deeply than the dungeon air ever could have done.  

With a fluidity of motion that belied his paunch gut, the jailor stepped forward and rammed a balled-up rag into Lythvard’s mouth.  He turned back to the wizard and raised an eyebrow.  

The wizard answered the unspoken question, “Leave the worm to do its work.  If it fails you can take your turn at extracting the information later.”  This seemed to satisfy the large man, who then produced from his pocket a small vial containing a tiny leech-like creature.  He unstoppered the vial and casually emptied the contents onto Lythvard’s face.  The worm crept slowly across Lythvard’s cheek, traversing a tattoo of the Priestess’ sigil, and disappeared into his right nostril.  As Lythvard’s vision began to go dark, he could distinctly hear the sound of a soft voice speaking from somewhere nearby, “Hey you meanies, leave him alone!”

“They’ve made it this far already!  Destroy them!” The mage’s shrill command reverberated down the length of the narrow stone passage, reaching the group just before their attackers.  The group had infiltrated the prison in hopes of locating their friend Lythvard and were now fighting their way deeper into the dark stone halls.  

At the head of the defenders was a stout soldier.  He was followed by a troll-like man wearing a gargantuan set of bronze knuckle-dusters across the backs of his meaty hands. Following them, and shrieking orders almost maniacally all the while, was a thin mage in rust-coloured robes.  The defenders moved in quickly and struck the group like a wave crashing on rocks.  Magic sizzled through the air.  Metal rang on metal.  The large man flailed savagely with his metal-covered fists while the mage lashed out with his staff, and the soldier hacked around him with his mean blade. The group fought with cunning curses, raging fury, and noble honour.  Finally, they prevailed, Rawdon felling the soldier, and Vorax incapacitating the bronze-knuckled man. The mage, seeing his companions defeated, retreated down the hall and into a distant room.

Lythvard awoke to the smell of something sharp and foul that pierced the back up his sinuses and curled up just behind his eye sockets. It felt like thistles in his head. He gingerly opened his crust-caked eyes and saw a smiling wizard standing in front of him holding a vial just under the elf’s nose.  Lythvard’s body convulsed for an instant when he remembered where he was. Then he relaxed: Humph.  Still alive.  Well, that’s good.  The thoughts came into his head but he could not force them past his parched lips.

“Did it work?” a voice questioned from the shadows near the door.

“Not sure… Better get Lathony” replied the wizard who had just roused Lythvard.

The wizard turned to comply, but before he could make the summons, Lathony entered the cell.  He stood pensively surveying the bound elf before speaking.  “No.  The worm was unsuccessful.”  He stepped closer to the elf to get a better look at him.  “There is something very… odd… about this mind.”  He sighed.  “Well, it matters not.  There is certainly nothing odd about his body.  We’ll do it the traditional way.”  Lathony whirled on his heel, and swept out of the cell, the motion causing the slimy door to swing on its creaking hinges as he passed though the opening.  A few seconds later, the swinging of the door was stopped abruptly by a meaty, brass-clad hand.  The hand was attached to the large, pasty-skinned jailor. Lythvard remembered him from before.

The burly man entered the cell pretending to stretch his muscles as if he were getting ready for a long round of exercise.  Shortly thereafter “exercise” of a sort began in earnest.  “Where… is… Flotilla?”  came the question.  It was punctuated with a solid punch to Lythvard’s stomach.  The elf would have doubled over if he hadn’t been tied down, and the pain of not being able to breathe was not only excruciating -  it was paralyzing.  Lythvard felt like he was stuck in time and the world was frozen around him as he tried to catch his breath.  The jailor laughed as he realized his mistake but continued with the interrogation, “Come on! Speak up, lad.  Where’s the floaty-floaty place?  It’ll only get worse for you if you don’t talk.”  Strangely, there was no anger – barely even any malice – in the man’s voice.  He spoke almost matter-of-factly.  He struck Lythvard again, this time lower, and the sound of the elf’s right femur breaking echoed in the hollow room.

In the cell beside Lythvard’s a tiny figure suddenly jumped to her feet. The sounds of crunching bones and pain induced screams signalled that her cell-mate was awake and, at least for the moment, very much alive.

“You leave him ALONE, you meanies!”  she shouted with as much volume as she could muster.  But it was useless.  Even if they could hear her voice above the alternating sounds of thumping and screaming, it’s not likely they would have heeded her anyway.    They keep asking about some place called “Flotilla”.  Flotilla… She’d have to remember that.

Sweat was now pouring down the jailor’s cheeks and forehead.  He reach out with blood-covered hands and clutched the face of the nearly unconscious elf, pinching his pointed ears between thumb and forefingers as he did so.  The elf stiffened and finally broke.  “Ok… I’ll… tell… you…” he rasped in a voice barely audible.

No sooner did those words escape his lips than his entire body began to spasm.  The jailor stepped back in surprise as black smoke began to seep out from Lythvard’s mouth, nose, eyes and ears.  Green lines, like veins, just under the skin, snaked across the elf’s face, exited the skin, and floated up as flaring green sparks to twist and turn in the air, mingling with the black smoke enshrouding the prisoner.   Then, there was a loud sucking sound as Lythvard’s chest caved inward and released a larger puff of black smoke and green sparks.

It took some time for the dark smoke and sparkling static to clear in the dank air of the cell.  When visibility returned, the jailor stepped forward again and gazed at the elf’s body.  It was lifeless – a gaping hole and protruding, jagged ribs were all that remained of his chest. Wisps of black smoke and residual green sparks still clung to the edges of the wound.

“Down here! This way! Hurry! But be careful! There are guards waiting for you!” Rawdon could hear a faint voice shouting out to them. He signalled to the group and together they set off down the corridor at a slow jog, towards the soft voice. As they got closer to the source of the voice they noticed a faint, slightly sweet smell in the air. It reminded Rawdon of the smell in the plains after a particularly violent lightning storm.

Rounding the corner they found themselves in a slightly wider corridor lined with what appeared to be cell doors. Standing before them, barring the way, was a large bronze statue. Further down the corridor they could make out another statue of similar size. Perhaps, thought Vorax, it was made of clay or some sort of soft stone. As they approached, a pair of sneering mages stepped out from behind the bronze statue.

“Spies! Get them!” shouted one of the robed wizards. At the command, the bronze statue vibrated slightly and took a large step forward towards the group. The newly awoken bronze golem was advancing to attack. From down the hall the second statue, not of stone or fired clay as the group had thought initially, but of soft dripping clay, lumbered forward to join the battle.

Rawdon, with a glass-shattering shriek of rage, leapt forward and smote his axe against the body of the bronze golem. There was a resounding clang as metal struck metal and a large crack appeared in the automaton’s metallic flesh. The golem responded by beating viscously on the barbarian with fists like giant mechanical hammers, but in his berserker rage, Rawdon barely noticed the onslaught.

Dark, ghostlike smoke jetted out of Thybalt’s hands, writhing through the air like obsidian snakes climbing along a horizontal line, and struck the clay golem squarely. The golem tried to retaliate but Thybalt deftly stepped out of range of its bare, brutal hands.

One of the wizards struck his staff against the stone of the corridor floor and a crack of thunder pealed down the hall. It was focused on Rawdon and stuck him instantly to the ground.

Vorax swung a mighty blow against the hull of the lumbering bronze golem and connected soundly, leaving a deep dent where he had struck.

Thybalt flung another curse, but this time at the bronze golem. It struck with such force that the creature stumbled backwards smashing its metal elbow into the top of one of the cell doors.

As the battle raged, Nimona watched helplessly from inside her prison cell. She could hear and see much of the battle, but the magic-deadening aura around her cell kept her unable to lend any assistance to the group. Just when she thought all hope of helping them was lost, there was a mighty crash against her prison door. She flinched and closed her eyes in response to the impact and falling particles, but when she finally opened them again, she could see narrow shaft of torchlight stabbing down into her cell from a ragged, newly formed hole at the top of the door. The tiny gnome thanked the gods, climbed up to the gap, and, after much effort, managed to wriggle out through the opening.

When the gnome emerged from her dark cell, she could see a sinister-looking tiefling administering a potion of some sort to a large lifeless man on the floor. Without a second thought, she stepped forward and, summoning her faith, called forth a shimmering spear of blue radiant energy. The spear hovered for a second by her right shoulder and then launched itself forward towards the large metal creature that was pounding relentlessly on a very noble-looking young man clad in armour.

The spear sliced through the bronze golem like a knife cutting through the soft skin of a baked potato. The creature immediately ceased its onslaught and crumbled to the ground, the metal panels of his body ringing like giant church bells as they crashed against the hard stone floor.

Nimona looked around and saw that the battle was over. The creatures were dead and one of the wizards had been captured and was now being interrogated by the furious tiefling.

“Where is Lythvard!?” Thybalt’s face was but a mere finger’s breadth from the face of the wizard when he shouted the question.

“He’s… in… there…” replied the wounded mage as he pointed to a cell down a few metres down the corridor.

Thybalt wrested the keys from the belt of the wizard, manhandled him roughly into one of the nearby empty cells, and locked the door. He then turned to Vorax and Rawdon and said, “Let’s get our friend.”

The group made their way down the corridor and turned into the cell that the captured mage had indicated. There, lying on the floor in the centre of the cell, was Lythvard’s lifeless body. The gaping hole in his chest left no doubt that their friend was dead.

“Nooooo! You were so young!” shouted Thybalt as he fell to his knees beside his childhood friend’s shattered corpse. Tears welled up in his fiery eyes.

Lythvard awoke in total darkness. There was a great weight upon him, pressing in from every direction and the smell of freshly turned earth forced its way into his lungs with every breath he took. Or was it breath? In some strange way, he felt like he was under water. The elf stretched out a hand and realised he could move through the mass that was pressing on him. Slowly he pushed through it and broke free into the night air. He was in a graveyard. It was dark and a ghostly purple mist lay low over the ground. He could see the crumbling tops of headstones poking out above the mist like islands in some ghastly sea. The sky above him was inky black, void of moon or star, and Lythvard thought he heard the mournful cry of a raven in the distance.

He stood up and brushed the soil from his clothes. Moving forward to explore his new surroundings, it was some time before he realised he was not walking but floating a hand-span above the ground. Lythvard looked down as his feet with mild interest but was not alarmed – he was used to the whimsical dalliances of his chaos magic and this sort of thing was commonplace in his life.

Lythvard noticed a large mound rising up out of the shadows ahead of him. Moving forward through the ethereal purple mist he soon found himself standing in front of a giant throne. The throne was massive and seemed to be constructed out of stacks of aging tombstones. Atop this throne sat a large figure. The figure wore a crown of bone and long, flowing purple robes. It turned its shadowy face towards Lythvard and he could see one glowing red eye looking back at him.

“Welcome, Lythvard,” a grating voice sounded from somewhere deep within the shadowy visage. “You have a choice to make…”

“Stand aside, please.” The gnome’s voice was gentle but firm. “Let me see him.” Nimona moved towards Lythvard’s lifeless body. Thybalt stood and backed up a pace to let her get closer. She crouched on the damp floor where Thybalt had just been kneeling and, placing one hand on Lythvard and clutching her holy relic in the other, began chanting fervently and rocking back and forth on the balls of her feet.

Golden light began to shine in Lythvard’s body. It pulsed rhythmically and seemed to flow back and forth between his broken shell and Nimona’s rocking body. Vorax had the sense that she was both physically and spiritually trying to push life back into his friend. The light grew until it was blinding to look upon and Vorax, Tybalt, and Rawdon were forced to take a step back and shield their eyes.

A faint line of silver smoke drifted up from the base of Nimona’s neck. She grimaced in pain but did not lose her concentration. Then the light flashed its brightest and faded. The gnome, all her energy spent in this holy act, collapsed to the cold stone floor.

Vorax was the first to uncover his eyes and look back on the scene. Nimona was lying on the ground but the slow rising and lowering of her side indicated she was still breathing. He looked at Lythvard and saw that his mangled chest had been knitted roughly back together. There was an oozing scar where the hole had been just minutes before. The three companions took a step closer to the two bodies on the floor, not entirely sure of what had just happened.

Then, suddenly, Lythvard sat up and looked around.

Of Curses and Complications
Session 27

The group found themselves in the ruins of Superior Barrick’s library after their fight with the assassins. Superior Barrick lay on his back with Vorax trying to stem the slowing flow of blood. But it was too late for Superior Barrick. Soon there were shouts from below and a group of wizards came up into the library. They confirmed Barrick’s death while Vorax tried to explain what had happened. The wizards told the group to report to the Archmage’s Court the next day. The group retired to their inn to recover from the battle.

At breakfast the next morning the group were approached by an Imperial officer who extended an invitation from Lieutenant-Commander Riddon Lathony. The group accepted the invitation, but decided to attend to Superior Barrick’s murder by reporting to the Archmage’s Court first.

At the Archmage’s Court, they were directed to the investigators’ offices where they were questioned regarding the night’s activities. Their memories of the events were a bit blurred but they did the best they could. After their testimony the investigator tried to imply that they were accusing Trialeth Bireth (Superior Barrick’s rival within the Order Magus) of sending the assassins. The group refuted the interpretation and Thybalt lost his temper with the investigator. In doing so he accidentally let fly with some balls of fire which set much of the investigator’s notes aflame. The group were summarily ejected from the offices as useless witnesses.

The group next went down to the Sub-City to meet with Riddon Lathony. As they approached the Imperial Guesthouse it was obvious that the Imperial forces were being extra paranoid in their security precautions. The party were told that the Verisiels had attacked the building the week before, killing some Imperial soldiers, but also killing some women and children. The party (with the exception of Rawdon who elected to stay outside) eventually made their way through the security checks and into Lathony’s office.

The interview doesn’t go well when Vorax explains to Lathony how they can’t speak of the location of Flotilla because of a curse and a memory wipe. Lathony believes that the Dragon Empire’s mages can find ways to circumvent the Flotillan curse or the memory wipes, but the party doesn’t want to cooperate. He takes the lack of cooperation poorly and storms out of the room, returning shortly with reinforcements to take the group into custody.

The group doesn’t go quietly as Lythvard transforms himself into an elephant and causes havoc on the way out. Thybalt and Lythvard were able to get their weapons back, but in the process of the escape Lythvard was captured by Imperial mages.

Thybalt, Vorax and Rawdon made good their escape. As they catch their breath in a muddy back-alley, the realise that Lithvard is doomed without their help. If he resists the interrogation, the torture will likely kill him. If he breaks and tries to talk about Flotilla, the curse will kill him.

The party began to plan how to get Lythvard out before getting out of Horizon. They were contacted by Sellaran Galatholion, a member of the Verisiels. Meeting with Sellaran in the Archmage’s Dodecahedral Gardens, they made a plan to rescue Lythvard during a Verisiel attack on the Imperial Guesthouse.

After the meeting the group made a quick stop by the inn to retrieve any remaining belongings. They then made their way to the manor of Lady Summerton at Vorax’s behest. The group are invited in and they meet with Lady Summerton. Vorax speaks to her of the help she had agreed to give him. She explains to him that the visions he is receiving are separate to the bond which is affecting his eyes. Lady Summerton gave Vorax a small pouch containing a pill which would facilitate his communication with the Great Gold Wyrm to discuss the matter in his dreams.

She didn’t know exactly what “The Search” was about, only that it was important for the Archmage to be so focussed on it. Vorax pledged to Lady Summerton to continue the Search however he could if it was indeed for the greater good.

From there, the trio went to rendezvous with the Verisiels in an apothecary in the Sub-City to discuss the plan of attack. It was generally worked out that the Verisiels would launch an attack on the front of the Guesthouse (as they had previously done) while the group used the confusion to break into the rear of the building and find Lythvard.

At the time of the attack, the rescuers huddled near the rear of the Guesthouse. When the attack started Thybalt (disguised as a drunken half-orc) moved up and placed an explosive on the rear door. After it blew, they moved into a storage area in the rear of the building. After blocking the entrance to the tower above the storage area, they moved further into the building and quickly encountered some imperial soldiers. After a short battle they overcame the soldiers, with Rawdon killing two Imperial soldiers, and Vorax another. The fourth soldier, their leader, pleaed for mercy which Vorax granted without hesitation. The guard captain pointed the party in the direction of the stairs to the dungeon, and then was tied up with a deceased comrade’s belt.

Lythvard’s Journal – Entry No. 1: The Battle of the Ashen Skies
Session 24

It was a beautiful day. Large white clouds hung motionless in the sky like misshapen ships in a calm sea of azure. The tranquil airscape was soon disturbed as a great wind began to blow, setting the peaceful cloud-ships bobbing and dancing in the watery air. It was the wind of wings – great leathery wings. There were dragons in the air, carrying a motley crew of riders, flying with the intent and determination of geese in their southward migration.

I reached down and patted the neck of my mount, “Great job, my friend. Who knew flying could be so fun!” Vollenth smiled, leaned into a gentle barrel roll and levelled out, laughing at the “woots” of his crazy rider.

The golden beetle was barely in sight. We were following it as it sped buzzing like a gilded hummingbird, towards the thing that compelled it forward – one of the Flotilla compasses, concealed deep in the heart of an Armada ship. If we could get their hands on that compass they could confound the Armada of of the Three and keep Flotilla hidden and safe from certain disaster.

The great Armada lay before us. The ships were uncountable, sailing in unison like one giant, ugly beast, lousy with dark warriors.

Vorax guided his mount closer to Thybalt and signalled for the others to do the same. Once all were within shouting distance Vorax began. “I think it best to fly over our target a few times and have our dragon friends deal our enemies some damage from the air.”

Rawdon nodded and spurred his mount forward in the direction of the Armada.

The beetle was almost out of sight but my keen elvish vision allowed me to pick out the glint of our miniscule golden guide setting down on the deck of a large frigate in the midst of the horrifying army.

“Time to go! Follow me everybody!” I shouted as my lithe Copper and I pulled out past Rawdon and signalled the attack, punching the fist that held my rune-curved rod forward toward the enemy.

We approached the target ship in a near-perfect “V” formation We flew high and built speed as we flew. Then, like hawks of gold and quicksilver, we stooped, falling faster than gravity should have allowed for, and skimmed across the surface of the deck like shadows of death, spouting fire, ice, acid, and deadly sparks of electricity.

The wood of the deck cracked, blazes erupted, and shrieks – both shocked and enraged – of the creatures on board filled the air.

Vollenth and I were the first to pull up after the strafing run. Vollenth wheeled upward and back in a great loop over the ship, only to fall back down towards the aft mainsail. Twisting slightly and banking left, his flight path took him within reach of the sail. Vollenth extended a razor-sharp claw and deftly snipped the rigging holding the sail to the mainstay. The white sheet, now free from the rigging, drifted down quietly over three unsuspecting crewmen. A stone elemental and two orcs were netted under the thick canvas.

I watched as my companions wafted down to the deck of the ship and dismounted their dragons to engage the enemy. I was loath to leave the excitement offered by aerial combat, so I remained mounted and instructed Vollenth to attack again.

Vollenth rolled, stooped again, targeting an unsuspecting orc, and pulled up before hitting the deck, just in reach of the creature. Razor claws dug into the vile thing and it was lifted off its feet and dropped, quite elegantly, over the side of the gunwale.

Ice had begun to form over on the deck. I couldn’t be certain but it looked like a dark magic, most likely the result of a spell cast by what appeared to be an ogre mage. The companions were all engaged now and fighting valiantly.

The battle raged on, and at the centre was a giant humanoid creature with a great chain of iron. The creature was flailing around itself with the mighty chain and managed to hook one of the dragon companions with the barbed end. It dragged the beast down onto the deck and, in the process, tore a gaping hole in the poor dragon’s wing.

My memory of what happened next is somewhat foggy as the battle mostly passed in a blur. I remember the storm giant getting his leg stuck in a hole in the deck. Perhaps some teifling curse was at play there. Little good it did us: the giant remained fixed in place as it flailed about with its colossal chain, dealing heavy damage to both my humanoid and dragon companions.

I was vaguely aware of our ally ships from Flotilla battling in the skies around us, bravely holding the rest of the Armada of the Three at bay, buying us time to get below decks and find that compass. I have images of Flotillan pirate ships falling from the sky in balls of flame, and the kind teifling Captain Pellios bowing gracefully to us as his ship rammed into a much larger enemy ship.

The next thing I remember is seeing the deck momentarily cleared of enemy, with a teifling priestess – I’m still not sure how she came to be there – reviving the dragon Avantador, and a huge hole in the deck where a might blow from the giant had smashed the dragon Darlath through the deck of the ship. I could just see Darlath’s lifeless tail extending out of the hole, resting on the deck, unmoving.

We turned our attention to the golden beetle and its search for the Flotilla compass. Looking around the deck, we soon noticed a glint of gold reflecting off something attached to an aft compartment door. I reached out and cupped the golden beetle in his hand, “Well this looks like the place. Rawdon?”

At hearing his name, the burly barbarian stepped forward, put a meaty hand on the door handle and pushed the charred door open.

As our eyes adjusted to the darkness we could make out two cowled and robed figures standing in the gloomy room.

Of Drugs and Dragons
Session 22

The kobold ship, like much of Flotilla, was a scene of chaos and confusion as the kobolds rushed to prepare their ship to escape the oncoming armada. The group walked across the deck and were soon confronted by a kobold who challenged their presence. Kobold Thybalt told him he was bringing through messengers, but he didn’t seem convinced. Vorax then asked in draconic to be shown to someone in charge. The kobold didn’t seem to know who was in charge and went off to find someone. After a short wait they continued down below.

On the second deck the group found an old shaman woman who seemed oblivious to the chaos around her. Lythvard spoke to the shaman to ask for directions, but she would only talk to him if he partook of the “breath of the great slayer” that she was smoking. Lythvard obliged and the effects were somewhat adverse… The shaman woman was of little further help so the group moved on.

As they continued on Lythvard continued hallucinating. The visions drew him on and the group followed along in his wake. He led them down to the hold where he saw a vision of a blue dragon. The rest of the party – who were not hallicinating – found the grotesquely obese body of Darilth in her human form, suspended in a bed of ropes forming a web-like lattice beneath her. She was in a vegetative state, with her fingernails and toenails several meters long and curling back in on themselves.

Within Lythvard’s hallucination, he spoke to the blue dragon he saw before him. In their conversation, Darilth was clearly confused by her situation. She asked Lythvard why she couldn’t move. Lythvard communicated the Archmage’s message to her but she was clearly confused by her situation.

Back in the real world, Lythvard was babbling nonsense. Thybalt, still in kobold form, continued to appease the three kobold shamans who were attending to Darilth. He talked of the prophet and his communion with Darilth. Vorax interjected saying that Darilth was in danger with the armada of The Three approaching.

In the dream conversation, Darilth asked for Lythvard’s help. He told her that the Archmage could probably help her. She asked Lythvard to take her to the Archmage for help. With that, Lythvard woke up.

A discussion ensued as to what the group should do. The options discussed primarily revolved around using the kobold’s ship to sneak away from Flotilla (their inability to sail the ship themselves complicated this) or aiding the people of Flotilla against the attack.

As they discussed their options, a group of women on another ship caught their attention and extended an invitation to Rawdon (and his companions) to meet with Captain Weaver. The group eventually decided to accept the invitation and were led towards The Web. After a journey across Flotilla (which the compass confirmed was leading them directly to the Ley King Loadstone) they arrived at a ship called the Deceit of the Serpent and were ushered in to meet with the beautiful Captain Weaver.

During the meeting, Captain Weaver offered Rawdon a place by her side (she could smell his strength as a fighter…). Vorax confirmed with the compass that the Ley King Stone was in the room, and Captain Weaver admitted as much, pointing to where she kept it hidden. Captain Weaver became irritated after Vorax challenged her commitment to the fight and Rawdon stalled on giving her a straight answer. In the end Rawdon gave her a straight refusal and Captain Weaver revealed her more arachnid side. Rawdon punched her in the face…

As the fight broke out the “Swarm Prince” spoke to Lythvard and talked him into a peaceful, sleep-like state. Captain Weaver used her magic-enhanced feminie guile to pull at Rwadon’s heart strings, but with the power of the High Druid, Rawdon was able to stay in the fight.

Meanwhile Thybalt and Vorax dealt with both half-arachnid and human guards who came to Captain Weaver’s aid. During the fight a curtain was pulled down revealing shelves filled with glass jars containing organs of some sort. Thybalt noticed that one of the humans attacking them had a scar across their chest above his heart. It appeared that Captain Weaver and her kin were controlling the people of The Web with some magic which involved removing their hearts.

Most of the group struggled against the mental and physical assaults of Captain Weaver and her crew. Fortunately, Vorax was fighting with an unnerving ferocity, dropping guards with ease and even decapitating the Swarm Prince (freeing Lythvard from his magical influence in the process). After felling the Swarm Prince, Vorax moved to aid Rawdon against Captain Weaver while Lythvard and Thybalt dropped the remaining mooks. With two strokes from Vorax’s sword (and an assist from a recovering Rawdon) Captain Weaver was felled and fell through a hole in the hull (accidently created by Lythvard) after a last longing look to Rawdon.

Searching the cabin the group found the Ley King Loadstone, a compass, and some other loot. The group then made their way for the Blood Quarter to return the Ley King Loadstone to the vampire Nicodimus. Unfortunately before they could reach the vampires, the shadows of dragons across the decks heralded the coming of dragons. Around them the people of Flotilla scurried to defend Flotilla. However their attacks were held as the dragons ended up being metallic dragons. They landed near the group and a bronze dragon approached them and spoke to Thybalt. It said that the Great Gold Wyrm had sent them to fight along side the party.


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