The Darkening

[13] Exploding Powder

It was the morning of the 27th day and we readied ourselves for the 2 days journey north, along the eastern desert. Our target was a small settlement “No Name”. This settlement has a deal with the people of Duskwood, and act as guides for adventurers foolish enough to want to explore Duskwood.

Before we left Silent Hill, we spoke with Maven and he explained that his family was still being held hostage by Glenna Icethorn’s sister to the north, amongst some strange rock formations. We agreed to help as Yerold once again attempted to refuse any payment or reward.

Quickly into our day’s travel, we met a human monk Fisto Greyskull who appeared from desert, saying he had been searching for us. He aimed to help us, regaling us with a story of how his monk order sends one of their own across the desert on a heroic mission every so often. I wrote back to the council and they indicated that his story was likely genuine, so we entrusted another stranger along our journey…

The rest of the day proved uneventful, until we setup camp. I was awoken to the pincered bite of a giant ant. As we would later find out, Yerold had been dangling his Vienna sausage above a giant ant colony who decided they’d had enough of his vile lemonade. After dispatching the ants at the surface, Fisto decided to explore the colony, Zak made preparations to explode the mound, while the rest of us gathered our belongings to get away from unnecessary danger. Fisto angered the rest of colony, and barely climbed out before Zak’s explosion kept all but a half dozen or so more ants inside the mound. With that, everyone decided we best be on our way.

On the 28th day, we met journeyed past a seemingly crazy rock-collecting man called Mozal, who lived in a cave. Caster, Zak & Fisto felt compelled to bother the poor fellow, while the rest of us stayed along the path, ready to be on our way. Their harassment did prove to be somewhat beneficial, as they returned with pouches containing some sort of exploding powder and the name of our target Sirlainna Stormthrower. Entranced by the powder, they asked no further question about what dangers lied ahead of us with her.

Eventually we would make our way to the strange rock formation. Rather than employ subterfuge, we boastfully identified ourselves as the group whom had killed Stormthrower’s sister and began the battle with her and her bodyguards.

After dispatching the bodyguards, Sirlainna escaped by flying away. The one bodyguard still alive was questioned and subsequently hired by Caster. As Yerold and I searched the cave we found Maven’s family chained up to the walls. On my way back out to rest of the group to get assistance with their restraints, I noted Sirlainna’s treasure chest. As we made our way back in to free the family, Caster & I took first crack at the treasure before Yerold could get the opportunity to callously give it all away. Speaking to the family and bodyguard, we did learn that the Dark Rider had met with the two sisters on occasion, adding another footnote to his chapter.

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[14]

We left the sanitarium and headed into the desert, where we soon ran across Fisto Greystone, a human monk who was apparently sent to find us as a part of his quest to vanquish evil. Yeld gave him a pretty good inspection and he seemed pretty good.

During the first night, we were attacked by some ants. It seems like Yeld may have disturbed them accidentally. I created a device to eliminate the mound that they emerged from just in time – as Fisto came running out of the cave, I detonated it and bought us some time to get away.

Along the way, we ran into Mosul, the “rock guy”. We talked to him and found out that there were strange rocks and that we should “stay away from her.” We also got some explosive powder. Later that day, we tested the powder with Caster throwing powder at Fisto, who was holding a torch. There was a small explosion – which corresponded to the small amount of powder used.

Eventually we came to a valley, wherein we ran across Sirilanna, the sister of the woman we killed just a couple of days ago. We made this point clear to her quickly, so as to get rid of “the elephant in the room”.

We failed to kill her, but did finish off most of her henchmen. One of them we took prisoner and interrogated. He became Samas, Caster’s new mercenary. We also found the family and I managed to pick the locks on their manacles and set them free.

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[12] Return(?) To Silent Hill

On the morning of our 26th day, I treated Caster with the antitoxin paste I had found on the bounty hunters. With Yerold performing his morning prayers, the rest of the group set about to get some answers from Caster before Yerold could “pass judgment”. His story was that he was wrongly imprisoned and had done nothing to deserve it (apart from claiming to be have had multiple hosts and being hundreds of years old). He also spoke of the horrible treatment of the inhabitants of the sanitarium, including gruesome experiments.

When Yerold returned to the group, he fortunately sided with Caster before casting judgment and killing the bounty hunter we had in custody. I wrote to the council about the sanitarium, and before long received a reply that we were welcome to go investigate as part of an official inspection. Given that it we would pass it on our way to Duskwood, all in the group but Caster all agreed that this was worth pursuing. With Caster donning our newly acquired hat of disguise, we made our way to Silent Hill.

Upon reaching Silent Hill, we spoke with a guard who escorted us onto the grounds once our paperwork was found. There we met with the head mistress Glenna Icethorn. As we toured the facility, her suspicions about us seemed to grow. By the time we reached the more secure area where the violent offenders were housed, Maven, the second-in-command whispered a warning, imploring us to leave.

Once in the treatment room, the door was locked behind us and Glenna indicated that she knew it was indeed Caster with us. She claimed that he had killed two guards and that he needed to be housed here. Caster had indicated in the notes we passed back and forth, that this was the area the experiments took place, specifically the basement. My initial inspection of the room turned up some traces of blood and a heavy cleaning agent smell. After agreeing to allow us to continue the inspection of the basement area, Glenna and her guards attacked.

We battled the foes to defeat. Knowing that the jig was up, Glenna and her guards fought to the death, knowing that punishment for their crimes would result in the same. Little did they know how swiftly that punishment would have been carried out thanks to Yerold, had they surrendered instead of fought…

With Glenna and her trusted guards killed, Maven returned to the room. We questioned him, verifying the truthfulness of his answers with a few spells. Approving of his answers and motivations, we placed him in charge of Silent Hill and set off to continue to Duskwood.

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Welcome Home

In the morning, Caster came to after Eloken treated his poison. We talked with him to try and figure out why people were going after him. He had some suspsicious answers and I noticed him sweating a lot as we talked. Something definitely seemed up.

Eventually, we found out that when he “awoke in his new body”, he did so near the Silent Hill Sanitarium and left – never to return. Salty created a zone of truth to help us sort out what happened. There are still some questions and things left unsaid… but we really have no reason to suspect anything unsettling. On the upside, he and I are going to be talking about some of his past lives and I’m interested in learning more about his interesting situation.

After getting to the bottom of that, we began discussing Vardin’s odd quirks lately. After Caster’s abduction, he appeared to care little for Cater’s safe return. Curiouser still, Vardin has gone missing today… and with him, an amulet that is responsible for turning good people evil.

We interrogated the bounty hunter that survived. He stood by the claim of Caster needing to be taken in as decreed by Glenna Icestorm. While Yeld and Eloken discussed what should be done with the man, Caster snuck in and smashed him with his morning star.

We discussed it and decided that the sanitarium was worth a visit. The council confirmed our decision and sent word ahead describing our inspection.

We arrived at the sanitarium – it was quite the imposing building, a huge fort! Glenna took us through the grounds on a tour.

During the tour she discussed some of the more violent patients, and we led the discussion to Caster – she informed us that he killed a guard and injured several others, but I’m not sure that I believe her.

During the tour, Maven, the second-in-command took over due to an emergency that drew Glenna away. Later on we ran into Glenna in an examination room with a group of guards as well. Glenna started referring to Caster by name and implied that he had to stay here, but we could continue on our way.

As Yeld was led downstairs, Glenna attacked him and battle broke out. Glenna was slain early by Eloken as the rest of the guards proved to be not much of a challenge.

One of the guards ran through the far door and we gave chase. We quickly caught up and killed the guard. Maven eventually returned and opened up the lone door leading into this room. We talked with him and it became clear that Glenna’s rule was iron-fisted, and the rest of the guards appear happy with her defeat.

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[11] Kidnapped

We woke up in the morning of the 19th day to find Caster missing and Verdin unconscious with a large knot on his head. Once we were able to bring Verdin to, we determined that 5-7 horses had kidnapped Caster. While the rest of us readied our horses to give chase, Verdin balked at the idea, thinking it more prudent to abandon our comrade whose kidnapping happened under his watch…

A short time in to the ride, we found a wanted poster, offering 1000gp for Caster who it claimed had broken out of the sanitarium Silent Hill. I quickly scanned the document, and it seemed genuine enough. To help ease the minds of Verdin and Yerold, I wrote in the journal to see if the council knew anything about these claims while we continued pursuit, northeast toward the sanitarium.

By the end of the 19th day, thanks to Yerold laying hands on our horses, we think we made up about 2 hours on the group.

The 20th day was uneventful. At the end of the day we heard barking coming towards us, a pack of 10 dogs. We killed them all and our horses scattered. Their dog collars revealed their names to be Honkey, Tonk, Man, Brutis, Beef, Cake, Kane, Undertaker, Jimmy and Superfly. Towards the end of the battle I damaged my scimitar. Fortunately, Zack created some mending leather that was able to repair my blade. Quite the surprising success! On the 21st day we found we had lost ground, they were probably 5-6 hours ahead of us.

Over 2 more days, Zack summoned magic horses to help catch up. On the 23rd day, 2 days from the sanitarium, we came to a small village of indigenous people, the Rapha-zir. As we approached the village we found that the bounty hunters had imprisoned them and threatened to burn down the huts with the Raphazarians still inside if we did not give up our chase. Refusing to acknowledge our letter from the council, Yerold was forced to judge them. Once they let it known that they were to receive 5000 gold for Caster’s capture, we knew we would not be able to get them to hand him over.

After much debate, we finally conceeded, not wanting to harm any of the innocents. Trying to employ some trickery, once out of view, we circled back ahead of the village and attempted to ambush the bounty hunters. They must have anticipated our ruse and avoided our ambush.

We continued to push on ahead, hoping to beat them back to the sanitarium. The response from the journal was that the council had no knowledge of the claims against Caster. On the evening of our 25th day, a short distance from the sanitarium, we heard what turned out to be the bounty hunters approaching. After another failed ambush attempt, the battle was on. Oddly, during the battle, Verdin fell the leader, healed his horse, coup de graced the fallen leader, then returned to his horse to continue to heal it, while the rest of us continued to battle the remaining enemies. We were able to finally dispatch the bounty hunters and rescue Caster, though he was unconscious, obviously poisoned.

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Avenging!

I spent the last few days working on some new tricks. I’ve got one in particular that I like especially, but I’ve also found a way to make my items self-repairing. That should turn out to be useful.

I found the rest of the group and we set up camp. The next morning something weird happened. During the last watch (Verdin and Caster’s), Verdin appears to have been ambushed and Caster taken. We saw a party in the distance that surely was responsible and gave chase.

We spent several days giving chase. Along the way I discovered another neat trick and created a saddle that was imbued with the power to create mounts for 4 of us to ride – giving us several hours of extra travel each day.

Eventually we found a nomadic village and went in, following Salty. The negotiations turned south and we left. They demanded to see us ride off and so we did so, but attempted to find them later as they brought Caster to the sanitarium.

Eventually, we did run across them and entered into battle. The battle started off rough, but we did manage to make short work of the bounty hunters.

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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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