The Darkening

Betrayed
Betrayed

After spending a night in Jail. Captain Ganis proved why he was prompted to a captain. Without, questioning any first hand witnesses, he pieced together the entire incident and correctly acquitted everyone but caster of all of all charges. Caster was found guilty of resisting arrest and general disrespectful behavior. Ganis however had bigger issues then Casters behavior and allowed caster to be free if or party left the city ASAP. Although no charges were ultimately leveled, I feel that my honor as a Judge of the Order of the Shied is becoming besmirched by the vulgar and disrespectful of my party.
Heading to the northern gate our party decided to head east until we hit the ocean and then follow the eastern coast until we found a ship heading north along the coast.
A small party of Gnolls ambushed us and our group was quickly able to defeat them. Caster questioned the only surviving Gnoll and found out a tribe of about 200 of these evil being were to the south. I wanted to track down the rest of the Gnolls. but the rest of my party thought, it was better to ignore this threat and continue on our original mission. After this quest, I shall return and ride this world of that gnoll encampment.
Heading further east we came to a town with that appeared to be cooking some humans on a stake. Wasting no time I sentenced the enemy to death and charged. Caster cast a light which seemed to scare the creatures while the rest of use ran into to pass judgment. Judgment was passed with relative ease until ShadowHeart arrived. ShadowHeart battled our cavalier then turned to run. As he retreated he removed his mask to show his true identity as The Former Honorable Judge Sir Thomas J Goodwin the third esquire, my friend and former mentor.

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[10] The Honorable Sir Thomas J Goodwin III Esq AKA The Dark Rider

We spent the night in the care of the city guards, some more comfortably than others. In the morning we met with Chancellor Tooms. He let us know that had found a secret alter in Salty’s brother’s basement where sacrifices had likely been made. Given their findings and questioning of his servant, we were cleared of any wrongdoing. Yerold already knew this to be true, since Tranda was evil…

The Chancellor let us know that given Tranda’s power as a merchant, he also had powerful friends in the city who would want revenge and we best be on our way. He provided us with horses, rations, a pouch of gold and other supplies and had us make our way out of the city’s north gate.

Once out of sight of the city, we turned right to head along the coast. That first day we encountered some unnerving laughing, which once Yerold charged ahead, turned out to be a group of hungry gnolls. Thinking that we would make excellent screaming meals, a battle ensued. With the battle won for our side, this time we kept one gnoll alive for questioning.

Caster spoke to the creature and found that the rest of their tribe was to the south. Yerold, wanting to rid the world of all evil required much convincing to leave them be and continue on our true quest. The night was uneventful, as was the following day, the 17th day of our journey.

After consulting with our contact through the journal, we were advised to continue toward the coast, then head north. About a day and a half would lead us to a small village that may have ships for hire to continue north by sea. During our travels on the 18th day, we first smelled and then saw some smoke up ahead. We came to a small village that seemed empty, apart from one orc near three burning fires. Declaring the orc evil and charging ahead, Yerold was the first to find that the village was less empty, and more overrun by orcs, the burning fires cooking humans mounted on spits.

We battled the orcs despite being ambushed by javelins thrown from inside some of the houses. Caster’s magical light flushed the orcs out of the center of the village and pushed them away to the edge of his light. Once the battle seemed in hand, a familiar figure made another appearance. The Dark Rider strode toward the battle, this time with what appeared to be new armor, a huge skull upon his chest.

After taunting Yerold in particular, he decided it was time to finally divulge his identity. He raised the the visor on his helmet, revealing the Dark Rider to be Sir Thomas J Goodwin III.

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[9] Greetings from Kulthin

With the lunar naga defeated, we made our way back to the bone lady. We arrived at her hut to find her crumpled on the ground with Verdin standing above her. She had been investigating a rift in the vale and encountered the Dark Rider. In the ensuing battle, she sustained a mortal wound. She asked us to help her to her bed so she may pass in peace. Fortunately she was able to help guide our next course of action before the light would eventually take her.

She told us we are seeking a dark book of prophecies by Ahn Ainollan, a high priest wizard who had worked for the Nameless One. The book is likely in a huge hidden temple in Duskwood. With that last bit of information, she gave me a piece of bone, with a design etched into it, the valleys rust-colored from what appeared to be blood. Though I could not detect any magic in the item, perhaps it is some kind of compass or key. Her last words were “one that is lost is not gone, but also not what they once were”. Then the great light appeared at her midsection, and grew until it enveloped her entire hut, before blinking out.

With Duskwood our next target, we headed first to Kulthin to gather supplies and perhaps meet back up with Captain Bayland. We reached the city gates at the end of our 14th day to find them closed for the night. The simple-minded guard refused us entry, and after much antagonization, produced Captain Ganis. Mayor Thurgis’ letter held no weight with the captain, and it wasn’t until Yerold produced the Council’s letter, that we were allowed inside the city. We spent the night at an inn, gratis, due to our association with Council. In the morning we received a letter from Chancellor Bartis and met with all three chancellors, learning that Sorcerer Therin was out on a research mission.

Keeping our next course of action cloaked in vaguerities, we let the chancellors know we would keep King and Queen Yarmin along with the Wizard Undis apprised of our travel through the log.

Most of the group headed to Wizard Curu’s shoppe to inquire about how best to deal with the evil amulet Verdin now holds, while Salty and I made a few stops to resupply. With the Wizard Curu unable to provide a permanent solution for the amulet, the group purchased a magical pathfinder bag to hopefully contain some of the evil held within the amulet.

Caster and I then decided to research some of our new information at the great library of wizardry, while the rest of the group headed to the docks to try to speak with Captain Bayland. In the library I found a book that detailed the War of Shadow, the Creator vs. the Nameless One. It spoke of an amulet worn by Ahn Ainollan, matching the description of the amulet now posessed by Verdin. It also told tales of ritual sacrifices performed by the high priest in Duskwood, detailing hearts cut out and bodies dumped into the gates of hell. Clearly this amulet should be cast to depths of the Cordissian Ocean. Knowing Verdin’s reluctance to part with the amulet, Caster and I stopped at the apothicary and purchased some oil of taggit, should Verdin need to be subdued.

We met back up with the rest of the group and found that Captain Bayland next trip was headed along the opposite coast. Knowing that the Eastern Desert should be avoided, such that we could not reach the Cordissian Ocean before arriving at Duskwood if travelling by horse, Caster and I pushed the group to try to find some other ship sailing north along Rhuldain’s coast.

Salty received a letter from his brother, inviting us to dine with him that evening. Upon learning that he had studied much about the Nameless One, we decided to have Yerold and Verdin dine back at the inn, while Salty, Caster and myself would meet with his brother.

We arrived at a large estate and made the acquaintence of one Tranda Lamachia, Salty’s brother. He spoke of his current profession as a merchant vaguely and we began dinner. Soon into the meal, Yerold and Verdin walked through the door as well, Yerold judging his escorts guilty and sentencing them to death. Tranda then demanded we end our quest and relenquish the amulet. Based on Yerold’s judgement, Caster and I knew that battle would soon be at hand, while Salty tried to reason with his brother. When the first blows were struck, I charged my blade and confronted Tranda. With one precise strike, I cut Salty’s brother shoulder to side. The rest of the battle involved our group dispatching the remainder of Tranda’s guards, while Salty attempted to drag his brother’s severed corpse. When the battle commenced, Caster aided Salty in carrying the pieces of Tranda’s corpse to back of the estate for burial. When his man servant appeared, screaming murder and calling for the city guards I immediatly attempted to subdue him. Yerold refused to aid me, instead helping to call for the guards as well. When they arrived at the scene of the massacre, they obviously wanted us to go to the barracks for questioning. While Yerold, Verdin and I agreed without argument, it sounded like Salty and Caster were less than cooperative…

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[8] A Greater Evil
[8] A Greater Evil

Entering the Storm Marsh we headed south and encountered quick sand. I got off my horse to probe the ground while the rest of us followed on horse.

After about half an hour of this we stumbled into the home of some giant frogs. The giant frogs attacked us and Elokin yelled for us to retreat as we were in their house. Caster yelled at me to destroy the eggs but I thought better about it then he yelled they are in the trees; however there was nothing in the tree. Eventually, we listened to Elokin and retreated.

Later I saw a lady right ahead of us and chased after her. However no matter how fast I ran I could never catch her? Zark saw the same women behind us, and eventually the woman was next to us after Caster screamed out in exasperation. This lady claimed to an old lady on her way to find an ointment for her husband. She lead us to a small hut which was larger on the outside then the inside and admitted that she was the bone lady. Caster seemed highly annoyed by this game and proceeded to be very rude throughout the night despite her generous hospitality.

The bone lady explained the she existed on the edge for hundreds of years and has never had much trouble. Recently however a Naga has been giving her problems and asked that we remove her. We agreed despite casters annoyance. The next day we headed out to face her.
Additionally, the bone lady whose name was Eldra told us that our worst fears were true and that she someone is trying to free the nameless one. She did not believe it was the black rider Moridon but believed it was someone more powerful still. She had no real knowledge of the death of the Honorable Sir Thomas Goodwin the 3rd.

The next day we faced the Naga and Caster tried to negotiate with her in his language, which I am sad to admit despite 9 days of learning his language I was not able to follow. When Caster negotiation failed we were tried we attacked and with the help of our Lantern Archon we survived yet again. Now back to the bone lady.

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[8] Nameless Rifts

We continued to move south through the Storm Marsh, encountering difficult terrain including swampy quicksand. On the 14th day we encountered a group of giant frogs. While it was obvious to me that we had stumbled onto their home and that the correct action was to slowly withdraw from the area and continue around them, Zark dismounted and immediately attacked them despite my recommendation to the contrary.

This forced much of the rest of the group into battle. Still not seeing the need for mortal combat, I color sprayed three of the frogs unconscious. It wasn’t until Zark had fell three others with his waraxe that Caster and I were able to convince Zark and Yerold to withdraw. Salty was fortunately able to heal the injured frogs and we went on our way.

Next we encountered an old woman dressed in multi-color patchwork rags, who darted around in various locations. She identified herself as Eldra and said she was on her way to find the Bone Lady. While she seemed innocuous to some, it was apparent to the rest that there was more to this woman than a sickly husband requiring ointment…

We agreed to escort her to the Bone Lady and when we arrived at a small hut, Eldra told us she was the Bone Lady and this was her home. She invited us inside, where it was magically much larger and nicer than the exterior portrayed. In response to our quest to find what happened to Sir Thomas Goodwin and what has caused the rumblings on Dark Mount, the Bone Lady stated that the rumblings were likely a rift. The Nameless One is trapped and there is someone working to free him. While she does not believe it to be Shadowheart, it is one dabbling in the dark arts attempting to use them to open a rift to bring the Nameless One over from his prison. While this initial rift failed its specific purpose, it has still caused chaos throughout the lands.

This is where she requested our help. There is an evil creature, a Lunar Naga, who has become aggressive and frenzied, likely due to the rumblings. She has gathered a group of lizardfolk and threatens the inhabitants in and around Storm Marsh. If we are able to put an end to her reign of terror, Eldra will help us find answers to our remaining questions.

We spent the night in her home, and in the morning I noted that my travel log did not seem to function correctly from inside the hut. After much arguing we ended up accepting her quest. She laid out a path to the great stump oak and instructed us that the Naga was northwest from there.

After a short trip, we came upon the Naga atop a small rising, her lizardfolk acting as parishioners to a deity. We attempted to surround the group, but at the first sign of battle, the Naga went invisible. Our Lantern Archon friend appeared and aided us in battle. With its help we were able to defeat both the lizardfolk and the Lunar Naga. I suppose it is now time to return to the Bone Lady for more answers.

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The Bone Lady

After a few uninteresting encounters in the swamp, we found the bone lady.

She first greeted us as a stranger named Eldra who said she was going to find the Bone Lady herself. After journeying with her for a ways, it turned out that she herself, was the Bone Lady.

She welcomed us into her house, which was, itself, quite amazing. What looked like a small hut opened up into a palatial estate within. Eldra showed us that the building could change in size, shape and form at her whim. Astounding!

She shared with us that she was ancient, we had a long discussion about who can and cannot die, and she then asked for our help.

She explained that there is a lunar naga that has raised a group of lizardfolk that has been at odds with her. The naga was not originally hostile, but has, in the last few months become aggressive.

We travelled through the swamp and found a clearing with the naga and her 4 lizardfolk followers. We hatched a plan that involved a diversion of Caster, Yeld and myself while Salty and Eloken snuck around the back.

The battle was long, but we managed to slay all of the evil, and in fact, I struck the final blow that killed the naga!

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[7] Wolves don't Talk
Wolves don't Talk

The night after I swore an oath of vengeance against Morindin Shadowheart I dragged myself to the ship to find that Caster was nice enough to bring my horse. Loading the ship I promptly passed out.
On the third day we departed the ship to ride south. As we departed the captain mentioned some crazy story about a bone lady, who might be able be found on the east side of the marsh. I wrote it off as some fanciful child’s story until caster confirmed the existence of this legend. Caster mentioned that she collects odd bones, hence her name which I found most rude as the bones of the deceased should be respected not played with. After checking my law books I determined that as long as the bones were acquired in a legal fashion such vulgar behavior breaks no laws.
Last night we heard wolfs howling in the dark. Luckily, we had a campfire so we had little to worry about. On the second watch, we heard a women scream for help. Grabbing my Izrid;s sword and a shield I charged with Zark by my side. Out of nowhere a wolf leaped at my exposed throat and probably would have killed me except for a mighty swing from Zarks dwarven war hammer which killed the wolf in a single stroke. While more wolves advanced, I left Zark and the rest of my party to defeat the remaining wolves while I searched for the maiden in need. Instead of a maiden in distress I found a wolf that might or might not have talked to me. I dare not mention this to my allies, as surely they will think I am going insane.
After the battle I was unable to find the maiden. Could a wolf really talk? Could a wolf pretend to a maiden in distress or has Sir Goodwin death driven me insane.
The next morning I finally figured it out. Clearly the wolf did not talk, some mad sorcerer summoned the wolfs and used some sort of magic to create both the woman’s scream and the talking wolf. Clearly, that is what happened, because wolves don’t talk.

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[7] To Storm Marsh

In the morning, I wrote to the council about Shara, Morindin and Captain Bayland. The council did not know Shara and noted that Bayland is a “good King’s man”.

We started on our journey, which took 3 days to reach Aklan. From there, the Captain would be continuing on to Kulthin. We decided to part ways with the Captain and make our way to Storm March on horse after resupplying in Aklan.

During our stay in Aklan, we learned of rumors of an old witch on the east outskirts of Storm March, referred to as “the Bone Lady”. Stories suggest that she helps people find lost things, but her exact location remains hidden. It seems that encounters with her only occur when she deems appropriate. Caster’s vast knowledge of history was unable to provide any additional details, apart from her likely collecting of rare and unusual bones.

On the morning of the 10th day, we headed south, expecting to be to Storm Marsh in two and a half days. That night we made camp and took our turns at watch. Wolf-like sounds seemed to get closer, I noted to Yerold who led the second watch. During his watch, Yerold heard a woman cry for help. The group was awoken from sleep just in time to see Yerold charge toward the cries, right into a trap.

A large wolf-like creature darted into the clearing and attacked Yerold. With one might swing, Zark split the beast belly-to-chin. From there, the other 4 beasts made themselves known. No ordinary wolves, these beasts spoke to us in common, albeit saying little more than how tasty we would be. I believe Caster called them “Worgs”. Surely Yerold will argue they do not exist in the morning, though the only thing that actually did not exist was the “woman” who Yerold still thinks is in need or rescuing… We continued on in battle and were quite successful, with Zack receiving the most prominent injuries when his magic backfired onto himself. With the pack defeated, we collected a few notable bones from these beasts as an offering to the Bone Lady, should we encounter her along our travels. We then returned to camp to hopefully finish up the night’s rest uneventfully.

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[6] Implacable judgment
Implacable judgment

The next morning our party woke and headed off to the town hall to meet with Counsellor Grinns. Counselor Grinns asked us to eliminate the orc threat. Some of the more greedy members asked for coin, while I asked only that the coin he would have paid me go to the widows and orphans of the orc attacks. After receiving the mission went back to the inn to meet Shara. Shara had a lead on the attacks a man named Asza Fergotas who was most likely at the White Shield Tavern and had a sailor named Krebbs with him. Krebbs had recently been on a ship that was attacked by orcs and thought that his captain might be willing to help us for revenge.

Caster and Elokin went to visit the captain while Shara, Saltinder, Zark and myself decided to question this Asza . Shara and myself entered the White Shield Tavern while Zark and Saltinder, waited by the back door. After asking the fellow Asza nicely to come outside, Asza bolted out the back door to escape. One swing of Zarks axe had Asza dying on the ground. Once outside I laid hands on him to stop him from dying so he could be properly questioned. After some gently questioning he admitted to giving a “black Rider” a map of the city with the homes of the city officials marked in exchange for gold. This constituted an act of treason for aiding and abetting the enemy and after a fair and impartial trial, he was found guilty. Due to his cooperation, his sentence was lessoned to Death, with a proper “creator” funeral and the promise that his soul would be prayed for. I thought that perhaps I was growing soft for passing such a lenient judgment but when judgment was passed Izrids sword let out deafening clap of thunder showing Izrids agreement with my lenient sentencing. Later the town guard would search the body, and they would find coin not from this land on his body. Around this time a strange man, joined us with some strange armor. Although he talked too much, he was not evil and as his goal was to kill orcs. As his goal was the same of ours I assumed his presence was the work of the creator and that his presence would be needed.

Meeting back up with our comrades we found out that the ship’s captain agreed to help us hunt down the orcs and would take us south afterwards. With the captains helps we hunted down the orcs. Caster wanted to try diplomacy first which failed and then we charged. By the creators will we were able to defeat the orcs until the black rider appeared. The black rider told us his name Morindin Shadowheart and that we should surrender, and that I would die today. The black rider charged and in one pass left me dying on the battle field. Luckily Salty was there to revive me. On his second pass he dropped of a piece of a tunic which I later realized was the tunic of my hero and Mentor the Honorable Judge Sir Thomas Goodwin. After the second pass the Morindin vanished.

This has gone on long enough Morindin has taunted our party for days and now he has besmirched the honor of my friend and mentor. Judge Goodwin taught me an ancient ritual that allowed a paladin to swear an act of vengeance against a foe. Tonight I will perform this ritual as I will swear in the temple of the creator, upon Judge Goodwin tunic and with Izrids sword that I will not rest until I am the instrument of Heaven’s most definitive and implacable judgment upon Morindin Shadowheart soul.

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[6] Trust Everyone?

I wrote to the council in the morning of our sixth day to inquire about the orcs that we encountered that have been raiding the city of Creston. Their response was that the orcs are a new monster and seem to be getting stronger. Perhaps they are being dispatched to stop us. The advice was to get to Storm Marsh in the quickest way possible. Much to the dismay of some of my comrades, that likely means taking to the river. As for the amulet in our groups’ possession, the council recommends we just keep it safe until we reach Kulthin, the capital city of Rhuldain.

After bringing Zark’s old waraxe back to Balmahinder, we encountered a disheveled old man, telling us he had information for us. We realized that it was Shara in disguise after a moment. She had investigated the raid that targeted the city officials and found that Grinns was not likely involved in the plot. She did have a name for us that she tought was involved though, Asza Fergotas.

We had our meeting with Councelor Grinns, which went as expected, with us agreeing to defeat the orcs for the sum of 3,500 gp. Back at the Crow’s Nest, we found Shara talking with a weathered fellow fitting the description of a mariner. Shara gave us some more intel on Asza, saying he was a brigand ne’er-do-well, who is flush with cash. Suspiciously, he’s been saying he won it in a game in a town he didn’t have enough time to travel to. She said she would help us track him down, with the White Shield tavern the first stop.

The man she was with, Krebbs, spoke to us next. He is the first mate of the ship the Darter. Their ship is docked in Creston and was attacked by a group of orcs a few days prior, who had attempted to board their ship. The captain of the ship wanted to meet with us to discuss the matter further. While Caster and I went to meet with the captain, the rest of our group, along with Shara went to find Asza.

Once aboard the Darter, we met with her captain, Baylan, a grizzled, sun-weathered mariner. He regaled us with the story of the orcs that had attacked his ship and indicated that he wanted vengeance for the members of his crew that had fallen that day. Fortune seemed to smile upon us this day, as this fine ship would be continuing south to Kulthin, and the captain agreed to grant us passage if we aided his raid upon the orcs. We agreed and said we would return in a short time with the rest of our party.

It turns out the rest of the party had a busy time whilst we were aboard the ship. They had tracked down Asza, who admitted to supplying information about the city officials in exchange for a large amount of gold. The description of his benefactor that he provided seemed to match that of the Black Rider… Yerold judged him guilty and carried out his death sentence. While there they also met an odd human fellow, Zack, who indicated that he hated orcs and wanted to help fight them. Dispite the council’s advice to “trust no one”, the group has welcomed Zack, agreed to aid Captain Baylan and taken Shara’s intel at face value. Hopefully we are making the right decisions…

We went back to the Darter and boarded the longboats to go after the orcs, having to leave our horses behind. Upon reaching land, the captain sent two scouts in either direction to determine the orc camp’s position. They returned shortly and we found the orc camp in a valley. Caster attempted to speak to the orc leader and was promptly assaulted with javelins. Before retreating back to the group, he did cast daylight, which really seemed to affect the orcs. With that opening, we began the attack on the camp of about 25 orcs.

We systematically attacked and defeated the lines of orcs, until Yerold charged through toward the back lines where the two largest orcs stood. As the battle continued, the door to the small shack flew open and out strolled the Black Rider. Our assault on the orcs continued quite successfully until the Black Rider reemerged from behind the shack atop his horse. He finally let his name known, Morindin Shadowheart, just before declaring that Yerold would die this day. He struck him down with a swift blow as he rode past Yerold. On his ride back through the battle, he then dropped a piece of cloth on Yerold that we would later determine to be a piece of tunic from another paladin in his order.

Upon the defeat of the remaining orcs, Shadowheart disappeared in a puff of purple smoke…

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