Ye Gilde

Attacks from the Darkness

Venture Captain Alek made an all hands call to all available Guild Members after coming to suspect that the Guild or some of it’s members may be in danger. Alek explained what he could to gathered members of the guild in the great hall. Watches were posted, but when the attack came it was not at the guild hall but the north most gate of the East Gate residential district and the Precipice District.

It only took a couple minutes for the guild to respond, Alek and his team were the first to teleport in response to the opened gate. Shadows, skeleton, zombies and ghouls all seem to be making their way out into the town. multiple guard had already been killed and as the fight drew on, raised themselves as shadows that had killed them.

The fight took a turn when a monstrous creature known as a Night Walker appeared at the gate. A couple party member speculating that it had been summoned by a Zombie Lord the was seen silently mouthing words from within the broken gate. The lower level members of the party fled, chasing a lone ghoul and saving a local pleasure house from becoming a complete shadow filled conclave.

In the end, reinforcements from the guild arrived. The undead slain and the Shade defeated, but the morning would reveal the the City Council was holding the guild responsible.

The party is now seeking Lord Zaylus, a mage of some power and repute was known to have helped architect the wards on the gates and walls of the Precipice. A mage that is now being held deep with in the Brine Prison.

XP: ??

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Kierra

The call to serve the guild began with Venture Captain Alick calling for all hands-on-deck! The objective was simple, search for this Keleshite female named Kierra. Alick reserved a few members for a special agenda. Those members were to travel the “Zul’d Flume” in the Petal district and speak to a Sultan from Osirion. Alick spoke as to wanting this Sultans future business. The party learned one cannot just go to this fine establishment without proper attire. The guild organized a remedy for this. The group was assigned a fashion liaison and sent to the most fashionable outfitters one can imagine. After several design choices by both the trail guild members and the two current full members they were rushed about.

Sultan Kulbad was awaiting the presence of the party with reserved patience. It was easy to catch onto the fact the Sultan was a seasoned wizard. The Sultan demanded this Keleshite woman named Kierra along with her valuables be found and delivered to an address in the Ivy district. The dialog seemed direct and the Sultan was annoyed easily. He spoke of this young lady being unable to understand her power. He mentioned she has not begun to understand her past. He also noted that this person cannot be scryed upon. The additional information about this woman the party received was, she was believed to be alone, he had no idea where she was in the city, the Keleshite heritage was deeply rooted into worshiping Sarenrae. and other interested factions were already looking for her. After several minutes of the Sultan answered the inquiries from the party, he gestured that they start on their task, a task that paid well. Coinage was brought up for the party for bribing. The Sultan obliged this request with 300 gold per person.

It became very apparent numerous folks were looking for this mystery woman. A clue presented itself, persons with razor tattoos on their forearm. Searching for several hours the party came across the information that the Drywell street in the Puddles was experiencing severe problems with disturbances. A muckrucker informed the group that some folks took a lady to an old crumbled temple within the Puddles. The party was hesitant to run ahead and surveyed the area. Adam detected a sentient mind with a spell. Shok found a trap leading down to the downstairs. So an alternative route down stairs was found. The party ascended into the watery tunnel. They found a skull wrapped in chains painted on the door along with a few traps. Shok peered around the corner and saw a figure with a spiked chain awaiting them.

The battle was brief, Shok made very short work of all three opponents! The spoils were meager! A chest within a chest was found that had a geas scroll combined with a contract. The thieves guild called the Bloody Barbers looked to be recruiting mercenaries to acquire at time called the Amulet of Eyes. But something seems amiss, still no Kierra!

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The Pride of Absalom
... To challenge a giant ...

Three weeks had passed since the induction of a whole new band of recruits to help flesh out the depleted guild. The leaders at The Guild had their reservations about this lot, more so than the others that came before them. Experts retrained into fit adventurers was not such a simple or easy task. Traveller went from courier to Witch of the elements with her new familiar the lively fox named Willow, Nicholas evolved from herbalist to alchemist but a mishap in the lab left him in recovery and missing a finger. That was just one sign that they might have made a mistake with this lot. Egglantine left her herbalist roots to take up the trying mantle of paladin carrying her book of documented failures, while Sophie took less of a shift from Courtesan to comedian Bard. Her judgmental little sister, Valla, learned to speak with their ancestors and share her sisters transgressions in the role of a shaman, and Kass the engineer with questionable morals honed skills as a rogue while posing as a nobleman. The final training took Bergman from slave miner to investigator and the ever-moody Theri focused her roiling emotions into the role of a bloodrager.

They were all called together to test their mettle and shape up for their first mission. Apu a local merchant and former hireling to Dr. Reznik, used his connections with The Guild to garner a reduced price on a mission. The connections plus a general desire to see these new bloods tested led to the acceptance of a minimal fee of 100gp to escort him beyond the city walls, beyond the Cairnlands and into the open lands in search of a Varisian caravan in hopes of trading his goods before they reached a proper settlement. Apu had already done his research in locating them with scouts but the scouts returned before reaching them with news of cat creatures lurking in the tall grass. They feared for their lives and that information led to him hiring this band as protectors. The former experts compared skills and new training to form a band worthy of the task. Traveller, Egglantine, Kass and Theri were selected to make the journey and earn the gold. When they learned what the task and minimal compensation was, Traveller set the tone with the phrase “You get what you pay for”.

Apu had his wagon pulled by an axebeak and two pack mules loaded down with goods for trading. They made an immediate departure and noticed the lurking shadows moving about the ruins in the Cairnlands but chose to wisely avoid any conflict there. Once in the wilds, Theri, though often distracted, found it easy to lead them in the direction they suspected the Varisian caravan to be located. A day’s ride through the wilds had them tromping through waist-high grasses when they were waylaid by a band of strange gray humanoids. Only Kass spotted them before their attack was launched and only he was not targeted. Apu took an arrow to the chest and began berating his guards for their failures. Egglantine dodged the arrow that flew her way but both Traveller and Theri were not so lucky. Traveller moved to hide, heal herself and Apu, then pelt the enemy with her sling. Theri flew into a mad rage and cut the nearest creature in half with one swing of her heavy blade. The aging shepherdess was even more deadly with her new weapon and training. Kass added a few crossbow bolts to the fight while Egglantine slew the next enemy and then moved to help him. Theri added another dead body to be stripped. The first threat was gone and they had survived to continue the mission.

As dusk set in, the wisps of fire smoke showed in the distance so they continued on to find a remote farming family closing up for the night. The man, woman and child stowed their goats and chickens. They were unprepared for the arrival of the adventurers. After calming them and assuring them that Theri was harmless, Kass spotted watchers in the tall grass. He fired an arrow and called to draw them out. Three catfolk plus their hunting cheetah revealed themselves. Felix the archer and scouting leader, Purrnima the magically gifted whip wielder, and Dirrasha monk and daughter of the former chieftain all introduced themselves. It turned out that the catfolk were here to protect not hurt. They had been tracking the leader of the gray skinned army (hobgoblins), Shandalla the Frost Giant Queen. They told a story of the giant coming down from the mountains and attacking their pride in the night. She slaughtered a handful of their people before scattering them to the winds, but she had also taken Dirrasha’s little sister Thannis prisoner. They spoke of others from the area, farmers and even a couple of survivors from a large foreign caravan (the Varisians) she destroyed being held prisoner. The catfolk were following her forces and picking off as many of the hobgoblin raiders as they could while planning a time to strike and rescue their pride member. The adventurers stayed at the farmhouse as guests of the farmer. In the night more hobgoblins raided, breaching both house and barn. Traveller sounded the alarm since she was on watch, though her alarm came in the form of her pounding on the locked front door of the house while screaming for help. She dropped one to sleep while waiting for the others to let her in. Kass and Egglantine worked together to subdue the enemies that entered the home, while Theri fought off one in the barn after being awakened with a short-sword to the ribs. Traveller, Apu and Theri were injured as was the farmer but they managed to fend them off with the surprise aid of Felix the archer who arrived in the nick of time to stop the creatures from running off with Apu’s goods. The catfolk fighter was also instrumental in tracking down and recovering the missing axebeak. Traveller spent most of her time healing and tending to the many injured, including waking Felix after he was knocked unconscious.

Come morning a heated debate rose amongst the group. Apu, learning that the Varisian caravan was destroyed, decided that his mission was over and ordered his escorts to guide him back to town immediately before more hobgoblins returned. Egglantine was outraged and insisted on rescuing the prisoners taken by the giant’s forces. Apu called her an oathbreaker and promised to report them all to The Guild for breaching their contract, but they ignored him and left him with the farmers to join the catfolk in a raiding rescue mission.

The catfolk had gathered copious amounts of information on the giant’s forces and their habits. Using that information, they planned to hit the camp at dark when the giant left on her nightly hunt taking a considerable amount of her forces with her. They watched and waited and true to the information gathered the giant left and the camp was much quieter. There was a moment of debate over the best plan of action with some wanting to create a distraction, others wanting to split into two groups to hit the camp from two fronts and others wanting to stick together and slowly sweep in picking off the outlying guards as they went. Egglantine refused the idea of splitting up and they decided to use the sweeping plan as a group. Theri and Felix took up positions on over-watch with ranged weapons while Traveller and Purrnima used their magic skills. Egglantine and Dirrasha kept guard over the magic users. Purrnima kept them connected via her message spells. Purrnima would dampen their senses then Traveller put them to sleep and Kass slipped up to slit the sleeping guards throats. It worked well on the first two and they made their way to the main tent. Inside Kass found Thannis the cat prisoner chained to the giant’s throne and an orc nursemaid telling stories to a horde of hobgoblin and orc children. He warned the others and slipped inside to set about freeing Thannis. He unlocked her chains and her sister, Dirrasha carried her clear to safety. During that time, Traveller, Purrnima and Felix slipped inside to deal with the orc and the brood. Egglantine told them they would not be killing any children. Though she resisted the sleep hex from Traveller, Purrnima managed to put the majority of the children to sleep and the hex worked on the final child still standing. The orc nursemaid seemed confused by her suddenly sleeping children and even heard noises when Felix and Traveller exited the tent, but the children were her priority. The one Traveller put to sleep woke up just in time to draw her back from further search after she called out to the dead body she thought was a sleeping guard. With the first captive free, the party felt a sense of vigor and pushed on to the magic tent where they knew the other prisoners to be. They were warned of a magic-using hobgoblin inside. They needed a distraction to lure the guards away so Purrnima again called on her magic, creating glowing balls of torchlight that drifted through the tall grass just outside of the camp. It was spotted by several guards who went to investigate and called the others. While Purrnima led them away with the light, Traveller detected magic in the tent – most likely the spell-caster. Kass and Felix entered finding the remaining human prisoners and the hobgoblin witch. Traveller’s slumber hex dropped the witch and Kass slit her throat while dodging her viper familiar’s bite. Traveller then put the snake to sleep and it was dispatched as well. Egglantine cut the prisoners free and led them to the safety of the tall grass. The hobgoblins raced to the tents to get their orc and bugbear captains plus the witch but the party was already slipping away. The witch’s body was dragged out as well and looted and the party plus their rescued captives fled into the night victorious!

They returned with Apu to the city where he filed an official complaint with The Guild and did not pay them. The Varisians that survived the giant’s attack were in town and offering a reward for their kinsmen so the group earned 300gp from them which they shared with the catfolk who escorted them back. An invitation to join The Guild was extended to the catfolk that aided them and was accepted. The addition of three capable catfolk, explanation of what happened, news of the Giant Queen Shandalla stalking about the wilds and the praise of the Varisians outweighed the complaints from one angry merchant. To save face, as punishment for their transgressions against Apu, those responsible were required to sign a writ of service without any complications free of charge to the man at a future date.

Egglantine, Traveller, Theri and Kass each earned 1,124xp

Apu earned 662xp

Felix, Purnima and Dirrasha each earned 462xp

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A Simple Jaunt
Hirelings, hirelings, hirelings!

Fursifer, Kaleb, and Than Bighead sat in the mess hall of The Guild eating and sharing a table since they often found themselves alone. Though they scarcely knew one another, they found a common bond in their solitude. Chad did not care who they were, but was happy to find the three seated together when he dropped off Felligo Mahd’s latest mission request “A Simple Jaunt”. He handed them the paper and told them in his monotone voice to seek out the famed cartographer since they had a new mission. The three finished their breakfast and headed to the map shop, stopping at Fursifer’s insistence to eat again before arriving. When they did reach Mahd’s Maps the man was there to greet them and introduce them to a tall young woman by the name of Traveller with exceptionally polished manners. He explained that she was a professional courier and was entrusted with a sealed scroll tube with scroll to be delivered to the Port Master in the coastal town of Diobel. He offered 100gp each to the guild members to take a prearranged caravan ride with Traveller to the town from there their mission was to return via caravan with his cargo safely in tow. The journey was set and Traveller would handle the arrangements upon arrival. They accepted the quest, though they had their suspicions that the man might not be sharing all the details with them.

Their trip to Diobel put them in the fanciest wagon they had ever seen in a ten-wagon caravan complete with merchants from various lands, a dozen armored and armed guards and powerful camels to pull them along swiftly. Despite the fact that the caravan master was not especially inclined to having a demon-spawn and goblin among his ranks, Traveller used her diplomatic skills to secure a safe position third from the rear in the procession. The journey moved much faster than expected and the guild members plus courier enjoyed good food and their young attendant’s pampering (Than especially enjoyed sharing the teachings of his dark goddess and frightening the poor boy).

Upon arrival in Diobel they found a room at an inexpensive hospice/inn dedicated to Serenrae where Than enjoyed the moans of the injured the healers tended. Come morning, they made their way to Braggis the Port Master by way of RatBag the Watcher his appointment scheduler. The man required a bribe but managed to squeeze them in. Braggis opened the sealed scroll and laughed. He told them their arrangements would be handled by RatBag and informed Traveller that her services were terminated in the note, stranding her in the town far from home. She cursed Felligo Mahd for it was obvious to all he only hired her to insure the guildies would not peek inside his note and decline the mission. After another bribe to speed it along, they were required to bring two worn down carts pulled by two even more worn down camels back to the city with six expensive rugs and a total of eight hirelings. Two teamsters (Tyson the bedraggled cook and Manny the eager young teen on his first excursion from Diobel) were assigned to drive them. That was their cargo. Any loss of cargo would ensure a reduction in the offered price for the mission. The guild members cursed the crooked map maker for giving them a task with a poor chance of completion. Sure, the ten wagon caravan with its dozen hired sell-swords made the trip easily but they had no such luxuries for the return. It made it worse to know that he could have easily sailed his cargo back to the city safely by ship but did not want to pay the extra taxes for such a venture. Over a dozen experts gathered before Diobel’s gates hoping to win the chance to venture to the city and start a lucrative career under Mahd’s tutelage. The guild members began the tedious process of selecting the experts they would return with but one might say they chose an odd assortment of characters in an effort to get back at their employer:

Nicholas the sixty year old immature tooth-picking poor-signing herbalist that was fleeing persecution after poisoning a “bad man”, Eglantine the hateful and restless young herbalist that loves animals and is working to save money, Sofie the former nail-biting noblewoman turned adventurous and affectionate courtesan looking to see the world, her sister Valla the lazy noblewoman turned driver out to track her shameful and wandering sister down, Cass the complaining engineer also on the run from persecution for his crimes of treason for selling floor plans to the enemy, Bergmann the young minor with the hack of black lung that was little more than an escaped slave, Teri the fifty year old shepherdess that seemed mentally lacking, and finally the poor young inexperienced courier Traveller that had been callously disposed of rounded out their selection.

Together the group set out on the road back to Absolam.

They quickly learned that the old camels could barely pull the wagons let alone the people riding in them so many were forced to walk which led to some infighting when Valla the lazy noblewoman refused to walk so that the older or slower members might ride in the wagons. They made their way day by day and first found trouble when a pair of giant spiders attacked the camp in the night. The arachnids scurried into camp but were luckily spotted by Bergmann who was on watch so that the group could be alerted. Unfortunately, that did not save either Nicholas or Eglantine who suffered the attacks of the creatures and were both poisoned, draining away life and strength. Poor old Nicholas almost died on the spot before the collection of guild members and experts were able to kill the spiders. Valla tended wounds and administered to the injured afterwards ensuring her place riding in the wagon.

They made their way another day without trouble before camping in the wooded hill region. That night after a hearty meal prepared by Tyson the driver-cook, both Eglantine and Sofie found that they simply could not keep their eyes open. They fell asleep on first watch. Fursifer, Teri and Than all woke during the night to strange sounds. The Halfling and the shepherdess passed out immediately upon stirring but Than kept his eyes open long enough to see various shapes, small to large, moving about the camp. It was the silhouette of a woman that put him and the other two to sleep with her magic. When the guild members finally did wake, they found a most disturbing sight. A big bugbear rooted through their camp carrying the mutilated body of the young driver boy, Manny. They sprang into action combining forces to bring the mighty beast down. Kaleb managed to trip it with his bola while Teri ran at it like a mad woman beating it repeatedly while it lay on the ground with her shepherd’s staff. Nicholas, Fursifer and Eglantine joined the attack while Kaleb added arrow fire. The beast smacked Than with a powerful blow but the goblin necromancer replied with his magic sending the bugbear screaming in fear and he tore off into the dark woods. After Kaleb gave a short attempt at chase they realized their group was missing a few members. Tyson the cook, Traveller the courier, Cass the engineer, Sophie the courtesan and Bergmann the miner plus both old camels and all six rugs were gone. Everyone had a strange taste in their mouth and a headache which suggested they might have been drugged. They spotted an easy trail marking where the laden camels plus small, medium and large creatures had gone and decided to follow …

Meanwhile, Traveller, Cass, Sophie and Bergmann awoke in a camp next to a cavern. A huge fire lit the scene as a massive minotaur raged about the clearing angry that the bugbear had not arrived yet with more slaves. A dark elf woman calmed him and the pair left to go investigate. Unsure of their time limit to escape, Cass picked his cage lock and then did the same to free Traveller while Sophie struggled helplessly in her rope bindings until Traveller cut her free and Bergmann wriggle clear of his ropes. They heard the sound of odd singing coming from the cavern and knew the dark elf had called out to someone to watch over them in her absence. The others worked to gather the camels for a quick escape but found them exhausted and hard to move. Bergmann waited with spear at the ready and stabbed the tiny gangly creature (a wayang) as it exited the cave. The creature vanished from sight but Cass managed to charge over and swing at the spot where he once stood miraculously hitting it and knocking it unconscious. The group of frightened experts debated what to do with Traveller attempting to ride one camel while Sophie hitched the second to it by rope until Bergmann spotted a large minotaur in the shadows watching them (it was an illusion created by another wayang but they had no idea). He gave a signal to the others who considered fleeing into the woods. Traveller saw a fiery creature out there (another wayang illusion) and changed that plan. They opted to flee into the cavern instead. They made their way cautiously into the dark tunnels lighting torches to see their way. They split up to look about and get their bearings. Cass was stabbed by one of the gangly little creatures when it faded from invisibility. The engineer hit it hard in reply with his mace nearly knocking it unconscious so it fled deeper into the tunnels. Sophie was surprised by yet another creature when it appeared before her stabbing the unprepared courtesan. Bergmann the coughing miner came to the pretty noblewoman’s aid and they brought that one down quickly. Bergmann suffered another stab when he accidentally stepped up to the formerly injured and hiding wayang but the attack caused it to pass out at his feet. They searched the bodies and four separate cavern chambers finding an assortment of coins, gems and various items including all six rugs. Cass set off a magical alarm when he grabbed a coffer of coins from the dark elf’s room. They all huddled together hoping to defend a single entrance as the magical alarm continued, echoing loudly throughout the cavern and for hundreds of feet in every direction. When no one responded to the alarm, they gathered what they thought valuable, loaded the now rested camels and made a hasty retreat back to their campsite to find the others. Along the way they spotted what held up their captors. The bugbear, minotaur and dark elf were battling a pair of harpies. The group quietly avoided the scuffle (Bergmann took note of their betrayer, Tyson the cook, hiding opposite them waiting for his allies to deal with the harpies). They joined back up with the rest of their group and together made their way back to Absolam amazingly with their entire cargo intact. Only Manny the young teamster was lost.

Felligo Mahd begrudgingly paid his debt of 300gp but the guild members got the last laugh. Just as Felligo offered each of the experts a place in his new business of renting out skilled hirelings, the guild members offered them all a place in the guild since they proved themselves so useful in the field, vouching for every single expert. They all decided to join the guild accepting training to become adventurers and leaving Felligo with no one to begin his new business venture.

Fursifer, Kaleb, and Than each earned ???xp

Traveller earned ???xp

Bergman, Sophie and Kass each earned ???xp

Theri, Egglantine, Valla and Nicholas each earned ???xp

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We Be Goblins Interlude, Part I, The Road to Magnimar

After a full day’s rest after their celebrations and consummations, the goblins prodigies prepared for a trip to the BIG city of Magnimar to sell their loot! The trip from the Brinestump Marsh to Magnimar is about 60 miles along the hilly and grassy Lost Coast, or 3-4 days. A few were looking for some healing before they left and were introduced to Pupaerium and her flea-bitten wolf steed. A few healing infestations later they were ready to go and Pupaerium was encouraged to join them.

Not long after leaving the metropolis of Brinestump, they came across a fellow Licktoad tending his weed in the marsh, only to be attacked by a large frog. The frog grabbed the hapless shaman and swallowing him whole, but his tribe hacked the frog to bits and he was freed, only a few cuts and bruises as well as a nearly dead lizard. Revived and convinced to travel with them to selel some doobage in the big city, they all headed south (ish)…

They some came to the Foxglove River crossing. Unfortunately a pair of orc thugs had set up an ambush at the bridge, one on each side. Their plan was to hide until the goblins begin to cross the bridge, and then attack them, which worked fabulously… mostly… Pupaerium ran into some trouble crossing the log bridge and would have fallen far to the river below if not for some swashbucklery from Scolex, but that was when the orcs attacked. The fight didn’t go on long, at least on one side of the bridge where Chocho, the mantis, and goblin dog ripped apart one of them. On the other side Chacho managed to elude the repeated and incessant attacks by the other, rolling this way and that, infuriating the oaf until he was attacked by bullets, spears, arrows, and eventually the dog and mantis. The orc tried to flee, but was run down and eaten while his blood was still warm. After collecting some sizeable loot, they continued down the road until dawn broke at which time the bedded down.

Unfortunately their sleep was interrupted by a sounder of boars who’s territoriality required them to gore the trespassers, but once confused and confounded by entangling vegetation courtesy of Snert, two of them were slaughtered and two fled, but not before inflicting serious wounds requiring the troupe to stay the day and the entirety of the next night and day to heal up.

With at least two more days on the trail to Magnimar, who knows that will happen next?!

Xp: 600 each.

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We Be Goblins!
We be Licktoads - you be food!

You are goblins of the Licktoad tribe, who live deep in Brinestump Marsh, south of the hated man-town called Sandpoint. Yesterday, your tribe discovered that one of your own had been using forbidden arts and was engaged in one of the greatest of taboos—writing things down. In fact, rumor holds that what he was writing was a history of your tribe! Writing is bad mojo, since it can steal words out of your head and thus snatch away your soul. You all branded the goblin’s face with some of his precious words to punish him (he’s known today only as Scribbleface), and then you ran him out of town, took all of his stuff, and burned down his hut.

That’s where things got interesting, because before you all burned down his hut, Chief Gutwad found a weird box within the building. Inside was a lot of fireworks—fireworks that immediately came to use in burning the hut down – and a map. Then, this morning, Gutwad announced that tonight there would be a feast in order to drive out any lingering bad luck from Scribbleface’s poor decisions. But perhaps even more exciting, all of you were invited to meet at Chief Gutwad’s Moot House before the festival.

Chief Gutwad tasks you with an important mission: The map recovered from Scribbleface’s house shows a route through Brinestump Marsh to an old shipwreck, where Scribbleface has indicated there is a cache of more fireworks! Gutwad wants you to GET THOSE FIREWORKS, and bring down anyone who gets in your way! If you fail, he threatens, do not return or he will feed you to Squealy Nord.

But first – the bonfire!

Goblins toil all afternoon to build the bonfire out of branches, sticks, and unburnt timbers taken from the ruins of Scribbleface’s hut. As night falls, a group of four struggling goblins carry Chief Gutwad out to the bonfire, and the chief lights the fire with a Desnan candle. The tribe oohs and aahs as the lucky goblins closest to the firework receive burns to their faces and bodies. A barrel of fermenting cider apples is brought out and most goblins become drunk very quickly. Poor old Vorm and Skolex find they are unable to hold their liquor.

Later in the evening, from the foot of the Teeter Chair, Slorb begins loudly ringing a cowbell until there is silence among the tribe (or as much silence as can be expected among drunk goblins). He announces your epic quest, and challenges you each to a feat of strength, a tradition among the Licktoad tribe.

The first feat of strength is to “dance” with Squealy Nord, the fearsome boar that the tribe keeps in a pit next to the baby cages.

baby-pig.jpg
Squealy Nord.

Chacha volunteers and she is placed atop Squealy Nord, who is tethered, then released into the pit from a narrow corral with Chacha clinging onto its back! Unfortunately, she falls right off into the soupy poop of the pig pit. Vorm attempts and fails as well – not a great early showing for the heroes!

The second feat is attempted by Skolex. He eats a bag of bull slugs within a minute with grace and finesse, not even bothering to spit out the slugs’ mildly poisonous slime bladders! He is rewarded with a loan of the Gorge of Gluttons, a mighty dogslicer from the chief’s own private collection, and the tribe’s eternal admiration.

The third feat is Hide or Get Clubbed! Chacho takes off into the marsh and hides, followed by 10 goblins armed with clubs. Chacho’s excellent hiding spot was going to win him the game, until his brother, Chocho, pointed him out to the searchers and started yelling “There he is! There he is! Hit him! Hit him!” The club-wielding goblins happily obliged.

The fourth feat was to face the Rusty Earbiter. Manhead, the village pariah, volunteers to risk his ears in the hollow coil of rusty wires, barrel hoops, bent swords, and thorny branches and vines. After twenty seconds of watching Manhead crawl slowly into the coil, get stuck, and then struggle to free himself, the tribe got bored and walked away, eager for the next feat of strength…

…which was to marry Ugly Walda, the ugliest goblin in the tribe. Walda washes so much, she does not even have fleas, and her teeth are so clean, the shine blinds everyone who sees her unveiled. Chocho volunteers to marry the hideous one, and Slorb efficiently performs the ceremony. Chocho gets nothing for completing this feat, which Chief Gutwad finds uproariously funny.

The final game involves each of the goblin heroes tossing a lit firework between them until it explodes. The winner is declared blessed by Zarongel! Surprisingly, Manhead, freshly escaped from the Rusty Earbiter, is the chosen one. Well, Zarongel works in mysterious ways. Manhead wins a loan of the mystical Ring That Lets You Climb Real Good!

The next morning…

The journey to the fireworks stash, as indicated on the map, is relatively short—a slog not quite a mile-long through the swamp along the creek’s southern bank. The journey takes an hour to make, as the marsh itself is relatively difficult to navigate, with numerous stretches of deep water that must be skirted and thick tangles of stinging nettles.

About a half-hour into your slog, you are attacked!! Like lightning, an awful scuttling of legs and mandibles scrambles out of the tree canopy above and falls upon Skolex. It is Lotslegs Eats Goblin Babies Many, scourge of the Licktoad tribe! Vorm immediately jumped into action, cranking his crossbow, while Chocho began a rousing polka and Chacho curled into a ball on the ground in a drugged stupor, believing himself to be six inches tall and invisible. Between Skolex, Beute, and Vorm, the spider takes enough damage to attempt to flee to its lair, but it is brought down on the run.

Tracking down the spider’s lair proves simple. The lair consists of a deadfall of several old trees, scattered with dozens of bodies. You found a small masterwork light crossbow with 11 bolts, a single pearl (promptly swallowed by Chacha for “safekeeping”), 4 potions, and a wax paper-sealed package. Chocho stomped the package beneath his foot before giving it to Chacha and then poured one of the potions down his brother Chacho’s throat. It is a Potion of Bull’s Strength, and Chacho felt mighty indeed. Chacha unwrapped the wax paper package to find a licorice-flavored taffy; each goblin ate a piece and found their hangovers greatly eased.

You are not bothered again for the rest of your journey, and the location of the site is obvious as you approached – a large wrecked two-masted ship lodged in a shallow pool of swamp water. The soggy swampy “yard” that surrounds the wreck is encircled by a rickety wooden fence and is a morass of mud. As you surveyed the ship and your surroundings, a filthy gray stallion came around the corner from the far side of the ship. Its nostrils widened at the sight of intruders and it sloshes through the mud to attack you.

The horse is dispatched speedily, mainly due to Beute, who began to chow down on the meager horseflesh after the fight. The goblins were having too much fun jumping on, off, and along the wooden fence to pay much attention. However, sudden howls from the deck of the ship reminded you of the task at hand. A vine-choked gangplank with a mossy handrail descended sharply from the ship’s bow to the muddy ground. One handrail is encrusted with a large ball of dried mud, which Vorm recognized as a wasp’s nest. You avoided disturbing the nest by stepping carefully over the vines that grew on the gangplank.

As you gained the main deck, you heard the clattering of claws again wood, and a mangy hound with one blue eye and one brown eye appeared around the corner, straining at the end of a 20-foot-long rusty chain. Another dog answered its growls overhead, although you could hear the clanking of metal – it, too, was likely chained. With a great effort, the dog on the deck with you yanked hard against its chain; there is a a sharp sound as the chain breaks, and it charges at you.

While Vorm tried fruitlessly to distract its pet from feeding on the horse’s corpse, Chacha went into action, planting her musket Sammie between her legs and shuddering in pleasure as Sammie boomed into the dog. Skolex ran up to help her. Manhead attempted to go around the other side of the cabin to flank the hound, but the second dog on the deck above landed heavily on the deck in front of him. Manhead sicced his goblin dog puppy on the cur and attempted to get away from the fighting. Meanwhile, Beute finally ate his fill of the horse and rejoined his “master” Vorm on the deck, both coming to the aid of the cowering Manhead. The two groups defeat the two dogs at nearly the same time!

Now allowed some time to explore the ship, you notice two rickety crow’s nests sitting on the masts. Chacho and Chacha climb up to the crow’s nests and are rewarded for their curiosity with two vials of liquid, three Desnan candles, a masterwork sling and a dozen sling stones, and a half-finished bottle of grog. Meanwhile, Vorm and Manhead are investigating the chimney of the ship’s main cabin, which they plug with Manhead’s blanket. Once they are reunited, they approach the flimsy-looking cabin precariously perched atop the ship’s bow.

Chacha is the brave soul who agrees to open the door, and she is greeted by a face full of fire. Inside the cabin stands a goblin wearing rags and bits of stained cloth over equally patchwork armor. Her mouth is a bit too wide, even by goblin standards, and she files her already sharp teeth into a snaggletooth grin that leaves little doubt as to her preference for tough stringy meat – like goblin flesh. It was Vorka the cannibal, one of the greatest terrors of the swamp!

Chacha positioned herself at the edge of the deck with Sammie between her legs while Vorm readied his crossbow. Chocho began a polka, then thought “better” of it and started trying to kick down the wooden supports holding up the cabin. Manhead ordered his goblin puppy to attack and Chacho began stripping naked, believing himself in danger of being choked to death by his clothes. The battle was going very poorly as Vorka summoned a swarm of bats to attack those on deck while she and her frog companion, Lord Longtung, held the door. It was not until Skolex, hero of the tribe, very bravely swung his way from the roof of the cabin into its interior behind Vorka that the tides began to turn.

Vorm, Chacha, and Skolex all concentrated their efforts on Vorka while the swarm attacked Manhead. Chocho, finding that his efforts did not appear to be damaging the cabin, drank a random potion out of his bag. It made him feel tingly, so he drank another. Manhead succumbed to his wounds and his body was looted, although his goblin puppy tried its best to protect it. Chacho climbed up and down the mast, seemingly unsure of what he was doing. However, between the efforts of the other three, Vorka was destroyed!

Vorka’s cabin was full of treasure, mostly man objects made from exotic woods, bamboo, and paper: there is a bejeweled silver and jade lantern, a dozen masterwork shuriken, an ivory and gold fan, a long hairpin with a red pearl at one end, a wand, and an elixir in a crystal vial shaped like a heart. The most eye-catching object, though, is a lacquered red chest. When you opened it, you found it full of fireworks! Your mission is accomplished!

Searching the cabin thoroughly took about ten minutes, after which the group decided to check on the cabin that they had plugged with Manhead’s blanket earlier. The door was unlocked, and after the smoke had filtered out, they found themselves in a beautifully-decorated chamber. Dead rodents and snakes are hung around from the ceiling, and the walls are splattered with blood. A cauldron bubbles over a fire at the far end of the room, and a bloody burlap sack sits near it. The center of the room contains a long table surrounded by chairs. In each chair sits the bleached white bones of a goblin skeleton. Also in the room is a hulking dog, which appears to have succumbed to smoke inhalation.

Inside the cauldron is a goblin arm and a heart, and a peek in the bag reveals the remains of Scribbleface’s body (recognizable by his heavily scarred face). Yet further proof that writing will only ever bring you bad luck!

The trip back to the tribe’s village is uneventful and you are welcomed back as heroes. There is another bonfire, during which Vorm tells the story of your heroics. Due to his impressive performance, Skolex is given Chief Gutwad’s daughter’s hand in marriage. You are also each given titles and new responsibilities within the tribe. Chacha becomes Boss of Big Fire, Vorm Master of the Pig Pit, Chacho Head Village Watcher, Chocho Stewmaster, and Skolex Overseer of Village Stabbings.

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The Door - Chapter 06, Pythos

The morning following the encounter with the oasis vine and the loss of Mother followed by the plantrex and the loss of Laustavenvi, the party woke to continue ether way toward Gozreh’s Pool. Unfortunately, something spooked Faeregrim and he fled into the jungle and it took several hours for his companions to track him down. When they did they heard a strange tale that involved a fey, the Plantrex, and a reborn Laustanenvi, but in the body of a vile goblin.

Accepting their strange fates, they made their way back to their main path and headed north and eventually found themselves on the shore of a vast vine-covered lake – a massive mangrove floating upon its surface. The water below was infested with leaches and the sky above was clouded with swarms of mosquitoes and a curious gargantuan dragon-like creature that was apparently quite insane. They made their way across the lake, only once incurring the wrath of the dragon-creature and suffering a bludgeoning of earthen breath from its massive maw.

On the city shore they took in the vague remnants of the Lost City of Pythos, only the occasional foundation visible through the overwhelming vegetation, which itself seemed to writhe. No animals resided there, only the buzzing of insects breaking the silence. Faeregrim used a spell to locate the well and they all flew there, spotting several trolls and a strange giant around the well. With little planning, they made their assault, taking out the trolls and nearly the giant before it dove into the well to warn his Mistress of the intruders.

Not wanting to waste time, the party dove into the well only to find themselves swept up in a massive whirlpool that bashed them against the walls of the well. Legertha and the recently reincarnated Laustanenvi perished in the well, but Ginger, Faeregrim, and Sparkle efficiently stuffed their bodies in the same bag with Mother and forged deep into the well after the whirlpool subsided. 120 feet below the surface they found underwater ruins that opened up into a small passage occupied by a devilfish. Ginger put it to sleep and they sent it to the next life with a few quick blows. They quickly swam to an adjacent plunge pool and swam back up into an open chamber only to be greeted by three green hags…

The hags politely invited them to some in, but Ginger and Faeregrim saw the malice in their eyes and they attacked. Black tentacles pinned down the hags while Sparkle lashed out with arrows, Faeregrim’s spiritual weapon bashed them, and Ginger lanced them with witchcraft. Unfortunately the hags were not the only occupants and a deadly witchfire blasted them all with eerie fire of undeath and a powerful lacedon ghoul entered the fray. It was close, but eventually they all succumbed, dying mere feet from their goal…

But the fates would not have it so simple and a second coven of hags dragged their bodies to their mistress. The coven spoke with the dead and asked each the following questions:

• Would you like to be brought back?
• Will you suffer the consequences?
• Under what circumstances would you come back?
• Are any of your cohort still alive in the jungle?
• Who could have survived?

Sparkle and Ginger were compelled to answer, but Faeregrim scoffed at them (these questions were also asked of Mother and Lagertha, so their fates are yet to be determined).

Ginger, Laustanenvi, and Sparkle accepted their new fate and were brought back in alternate forms to continue life at the bidding of their new master, Magdelena. Faeregrim chose to accept death as his fate, returning to the stars…

Xp: 10,240 for Faeregrim, Ginger, and Sparkle
Xp: 5,200 for everyone else.

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The Door - Chapter 05, Jungle

Starting their third day in the depths of the jungle headed for Gozreh’s Pool, the adventurers pressed on for 8 hours, the blessings of Desna and Iomedae warding off the fatigue of hacking through the jungle. Strange new psychological effects plagued each member, some adopting the appearance of others or ghostly images, weapons changing form, while some suffered from loathing or envy requiring special accommodations – most of this seemed to center on the paladin, first Ginger not being able to stand her presence, and then Ethelfrith feeling similarly, while Legertha became infatuated with Faeregrim for a short time.

The following morning everyone was dismayed once again to find that most of the guards had slept through the night. Laustanenvi asserted that she was not woken by Pinty after her first watch and no one else woke during the night. Fortunately there were no dire consequences, however Pinty was nowhere to be found. After a brief search and starting to pack up camp, Sparkle found a note from Pinty stuffed into one of her pockets:

Went for a ride on a gorilla with the Guardian of the Jungle. Be back soon!!

This didn’t sit well with most folks, but there was more jungle trekking to be done and Pinty made her choice, so after Faeregrim carved a note into a nearby tree, they set off again. Not long after they began their trek, Legertha began emitting an annoying mist that obscured all vision beyond a few feet, requiring an ad hoc buddy system to continue their way through the jungle. A couple of hours before dusk the adventurers came upon a vast open plain, a welcome opening in the jungle opened to the sky above and appeared to extend as far as the eye can see around a trampled plain with numerous veins of a meandering stream cutting across the expanse. There were wading birds and other water fowl throughout, as well as clouds of insects. There were also several herds, each made up of hundreds of large docile herbivores similar to aurochs, but of an ancient vintage, congregated along the various waters edges. They had their heads down grazing and took little notice.

Everyone concealed themselves within Legertha’s odd mist and began carefully picking their way across the plain with an invisible Sparkle leading the way. A couple of hours later they made it 5-6 miles onto the plain before dusk began to fall. They debated pushing on to the far edge of the plain or staying and decided to camp before night fell. Unfortunately Mother was having issues with Laustanenvi and the paladin graciously agreed to sleep on her own outside Faeregrim’s shelter. An uneventful night unfolded to a troubling dawn. As the morning mist burned off and the web shelters dissolved, Faeregrim ended his morning prayer to find himself and everyone else amidst a small herd of aurochs munching the trampled grass.

Unfortunately Ginger also awoke and startled by the aurochs screeched in dismay. Mother also woke and made eye contact with one of the beasts, which they apparently don’t like because it glared back with unnaturally glowing eyes. She also noted the normally smooth horns were barbed and Laustanenvi noted sharp teeth for ripping flesh rather than chewing grass in their large maws. Within moments chaos erupted as a few of the aurochs attacked, goring Mother and Legertha, trampling Sparkle and Laustanenvi, and snapping at Faeregrim. Soon more than 20 of the beasts were engaging the bleary-eyed campers and blood was flowing on both sides. Ginger tripped several on black tentacles and an ice storm while an unarmored paladin dove into the fray (to her regret!), and Legertha set herself up to take out several in a whirlwind of attacks. But after less than a minute the ground below them all lurched and unseen gas erupted all around them. Some of the adventurers through they were suffocating or melting and could not act, while the aurochs fled and flocks of birds and swarms of insects all fled the area in droves as well.

From the ground erupted a gargantuan swarm of writhing thorny vines. They lashed out, ripping into Legertha and surprisingly grappling her. It soon also had Laustanenvi in its grasp, and then Mother. Faeregrim called upon Desna to free her companions and they all attempted to flee the strange hybrid of basidirond and assassin vine, but its long reach and horribly string grip made it difficult. Most of the party managed to create enough distance to avoid the lashing vines, but it didn’t look good for Faeregrim, who had stayed behind the longest to make sure those who were injured had time to heal and escape. Fortunately well-placed arrows from Legertha’s bow found their mark, along with fire from Sparkle, and unfortunately ineffectual lightning from Ginger. The barrage from afar eventually subdued the plant creature.

They took time to collect their gear and Legertha miraculously spotted the invisible body of Mother wrapped in a dead vine. Unfortunately the aging alchemist has suffered the worst fate and was now dead. Legertha wrapped up her body in what was left of her shredded tarp and everyone set off to the north, hoping to reach the far jungle edge before more trouble found them. They made good time and about 6 hours later found the northern edge of the plain, the jungle again looming before them. They took some time to decide the next course of action and prepare again for the jungle, Faeregrim warding them all to endure the elements. They chose to move into the jungle for an hour or so and then camp for the night. With Legertha in the lead they pressed into the jungle, but only made it a matter of yards before encountering one of the apex predators lurking along the jungles edge.

The Plantrex nearly eviscerated Legertha with a single chomp from its massive jaws, and within just a few moments, Legertha was bleeding out on the ground at its feet and Laustanenvi had been eaten alive. With some quick healing and Legertha playing dead they managed to disengage from the plant beast and retreated to the jungle’s edge, but afraid to either go onto the plain or further into the jungle they were at an impasse. The Plantrex cautiously moved to the jungle edge, but was unwilling to leave the trees and when it came close another gargantuan vine creature erupted from the ground, placing them in an uneasy standoff. As the party slunk away, the plantrex retreated to hide (glittering a wee bit…) in the jungle and the oasis vines subsided back into the ground.

Lamenting the loss of another ally with the passing of Laustanenvi, they moved to a hopefully safe haven along the jungle edge to lick their wounds and plan for the next day, Legertha eager to finish the fight with the Plantrex (the others not so sure…). Also up for debate is the ability and advisability of raising Ethelfrith. Ginger has advised against it and Faeregrim is in agreement insofar as Ginger seems to know what’s best. There was also discussion about teleporting back to Absalom, but Ginger also advised against that, citing the chaos in the area preventing reliable teleports.

They knew they had at least 50 miles of jungle to traverse and best estimate is they have covered about 60, so they must be getting close to Gozreh’s Pool and the Damnation of Pythos…

Xp: 5,533 (4,466 for Mother)
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The Door - Chapter 04, Kibwe

The plan was to once again strike out from the hilltop camp, heading north along the Korir River looking for a road to Kibwe. Perhaps they would find allies along the road – a caravan to provide safety in numbers. Perhaps they will find new information to answer some of their questions about Magdalena. They left the hilltop around midday, and a couple of hours later as they moved along the river they noticed several of the Tigers of Rastel following several hundred feet behind. Despite Mother’s best efforts to disguise their trail, it became apparent the tigers were tracking them by scent. As dusk approached the Tigers began to parallel their path, perhaps in an effort to flank them.

Legertha advocated a couple of times to stand and fight the tigers rather than give them the element of surprise later in the day/night, but Samaya argued that they were smart, weren’t trying to catch them, and were perhaps just making sure they left the area. Legertha acquiesced, but sought out a defensible position and out of sight place to camp for the night. The party spent time setting up a lean-to and several snares with sunrods and fireworks to alert them of intruders in the night. In the early morning hours just before dawn Legertha and Samaya heard a brutal animal fight about 1000 feet north of them and at the water’s edge. It was clearly the Tigers in a fight for their lives against some other vicious beast. The fight lasted for several minutes, after which there was an ominous silence. The rest of the party slept contentedly through it all, but in the morning they took the time to find out what happened and all made their way to the river.

As Samaya and Mother sneaked over the crest of a hill near where they believed the fight to have taken place, Mother inadvertently snapped a twig at an inopportune moment and as they peered over the hilltop they were spotted by one of the Tigers. At what appeared to be a watering hole along the river there were two huge corpses of bulettes and one Tiger. Three other Tigers were feasting on the bulette remains – one of them looked seriously injured. When they noticed Mother and Samaya they huffed and glared in warning, but were otherwise unperturbed by their presence. Mother and Samaya, slunk back to the party and they all agreed to give the Tigers a wide berth and continue north along the river. Sparkel summoned mounts for everyone and they made good time, traveling perhaps 35+ miles that day.

When preparing camp that night Faeregrim deployed a web shelter for everyone to sleep safely inside. They designated one-person watches, the first assigned to Sparkle. Everyone else slept soundly through the night, none of the waking or woken by Sparkle. Faeregrim was the first to awaken with the dawn to pray for Desna’s favor and was disconcerted to notice no one was on watch, but thought little of it as others also woke and started their day. As they began to prepare to depart and needed mounts again, someone asked where Sparkle was and they all looked at each other blankly. Legertha looked for tracks and found what she believed to be Sparkle’s tracks heading into the shrubs. The tracks ended where some large predator track began and Mother was pretty sure they were dragon tracks, but Sparkel and the dragon were nowhere to be scene/heard.

Exercising the typical mourning period for Puddlians, they struck camp and were back along the river in 10 minutes.

The next six days were taken following the river north, then northeast along the jungle edge. On the fifth day they found their stone giant friends in another nice campsite. The giants offered to share the camp and some of their food. Some light conversation didn’t yield much other than that they found their friend and he didn’t have a charm against demons. The next day they traveled together and it was suggested the giants could carry them all of they wanted to move faster, but something Mother said offended them and they stayed ahead of the party for the rest of the day and left them before they made camp at the confluence of the Korir and another river just south of the Kibwe jungle. It was a well-established, if not-often used campsite and heading north from here was an overgrown track that looked like it might go to Kibwe.

The next morning they spent the first part of the day crossing the last of the hilly grasslands and along the disused track and at noon they breached the jungle. During the day the jungle is relatively quiet – most of the critters come out at night and rest during the day. The exception is birds and primates, which can be scene periodically high in the canopy, along with a few insects and other diurnal foragers and predators. The animals can be raucous and the insects buzz furiously, but other sounds are muted in a somewhat calming manner.

Even when the sun is high in the sky, the lighting under the forest canopy is gloomy. Beyond 20 feet, the lighting is dim and the vegetation is pervasive and rarely allows for line of sight beyond a few feet. Movement through the jungle is also very difficult. There are no clear paths or trails, and the vegetation that covers and crisscrosses the forest floor is damp, wet, and moss-covered. Movement is very slow in these conditions, but Survival skills make it possible to move more quickly. Movement through the dense vegetation is also hard physical labor. After 4 hours characters had to fight off fatigue and risk exhaustion.

The heat and humidity in the jungle is also oppressive and incessant. Characters need 3x as much water for hydration. Heavy clothing also becomes sweat-soaked and cloistering almost immediately, and armor chafes. Endure elements or similar effects eliminate the hydration and armor difficulties, and made the fight against fatigue more bearable, and fortunately Faeregrim had come prepared with a wand and his own divine gifts, and Mother was able to brew her own palliative. Despite this it was difficult going, several of the party succumbing t fatigue, requiring them to cut their days short on occasion.

Nighttime in the jungle is when the jungle becomes alive. Most of the denizens are nocturnal and come out under cover of darkness to forage and hunt. The insects and other critters become more raucous and when full dark arrives it is a cacophony. For non-natives this is disconcerting and makes sleep difficult. Where to sleep is also of concern. The forest floor is alive – literally, and those choosing to sleep on the ground will be harassed by insects and other critters all night long. Fortunately Faeregrim was once again prepared and sheltered everyone in a web shelter, keeping out the insects and cacophony so everyone could sleep and rest.

It took 4 days of trekking slowly through the jungle, but at the end of the fourth day the jungle parted and the city of Kibwe with its impenetrable granite walls stood before them. Circling to the north side of the city and the main gate, they could hear the sounds of civilization, the smell of real cooked food, and the familiar rancid taste of refuse – all welcome after over a week in the wilderness. They were questioned briefly in the sally port entrance and warned not to make trouble, but then entered the welcoming city.

Soon after they arrived another pair of foreigners entered through the gate, a wholesome if intimidating paladin and portly hafling swashbuckler. As these newcomers entered the central square they saw their quarry, and were themselves noted by the party. After some awkward introduction and questions it was made clear they were all meant to help each other. The newcomers, Laustanenvi and Pinty, added some newfound information about Magdalena and her connection with the marid:

It has been centuries since Caerula and Magdalena crossed paths, but at the time they were cordial, Caerula suspicious of Magdalena’s motives, but both respectful of each other’s power. Also at that time they both had eyes for another marid – Natus Mare – one of the younger genies at the time and highly sought after by those of the female gender. Caerula laid no claim to Natus, but Magdalena did, and began plotting her acquisition of the succulent marid.

Over the years, Magdalena courted Natus, but was rebuffed – at first politely, but later more vehemently. It was clear that he had eyes for Caerula and wished Magdalena to leave them be. Discontent, Magdalena began to plot the demise of Caerula in hopes of clearing the playing field. She gathered her minions and sent a small army of hags to assault the home of Caerula and end her time on this plane.

Not expecting such a violent incursion by someone once a friend, the marid were caught off-guard and Natus succumbed to the witchery of the hags and was swept away. Retribution was swift, the marid calling upon their allies to sweep the seas for Natus and bring Magdalena to justice. So potent was the response that Madgalena was forced from her temperate coastal realm to the interior of the Mwangi Expanse and her ancient home of Pythos.

The marid have been unable to locate Magdalena or her followers, but recently they have been made aware of and encountered hags owing allegiance to Magdalena. Apparently the witch is again extending her tendrils of influence into the Inner Sea and the marid are eager to track her down, free Natus, and bring Magdalena to her end.

With this new information, but gaps still in their plans, the party immediately began trolling for information and learned a few things about the city:


Kibwe
N large town
Demographics
Government council
Population 3,800 (3,100 humans [1900 Zenj, 500 foreigners,
400 Bekyar, 200 Mauxi, 100 Bonuwat], 700 other)
Notable NPCs
• Darvian Estabar, Lord Magistrate of East Mwangi Mining Company
• Clatriani Orridik, Bloodman of Beykar Block
• Father Maasu Abwedoma, prime representative for the free people of Kibwe
• Hestrax Ves, The Beggar Prince
• Tysi Galdren, electorate speaker for the free trade laborers

The indomitable walls of Kibwe stand as a bastion between humanity and the harsh and unforgiving wilds of the eastern Mwangi Jungle. Born from a conglomeration of indigenous tribes and foreigners, it remains the most ethnically diverse city in the Expanse, featuring tribes of humans, elves, giants, and even stranger beings like kobolds and lizardfolk. As a major trade nexus between the Mwangi Expanse and the eastern nations beyond the Ndele Gap, this city is a patchwork society built almost exclusively on mining and the steady influx of caravans. Its varied populations stake independent claims to the different sections of the city, where they practice their own beliefs and adhere to their own law. The city caters to no
specific group, ethnically or culturally. Instead, a council of representatives loosely governs the city (and as a result, city policy tends to favor those ethnic groups currently boasting the majority of council representatives).

Kibwe began as a small trading post, established as neutral ground upon which caravans from the west and east could meet and exchange goods, as caravan owners could earn higher percentages by swapping cargoes and returning home than by actually undertaking the arduous journey all the way to their target markets. Instead, both sides were able to travel the portion of the route they knew best, and business boomed. Over time, Kibwe’s proximity to untapped natural resources also became apparent, and the land was quickly purchased by several companies that built permanent, more defensible structures. At first, competition between rival companies was fierce and deadly, and the initial colonies were almost wiped out. In the wake of this infighting, the indigenous peoples of the region and caravan folk who had set up shop here instituted various laws and guidelines to assure that the city’s ability to trade freely and maximize profits would never again be threatened. And in doing so, they ensured the ethnic freedom of all those taking residence within its walls, giving rise to the city’s diversity and a new wave of prosperity.

Nearly impenetrable, Kibwe’s towering granite block walls serve as barricades against the treacherous eastern jungles. Tremendous slabs exquisitely fitted without mortar slope slightly inward, their weather smoothed surfaces intricately carved with millions of ancient runes. Within the walls, concentric stone passages weave like arterial pathways throughout clotted ghettos of mud-and-thatch huts. These settlements surround a sizable free square known as Adayenki Pavillion. Mud and thatch serve as the predominant building material for small walls and furniture, while soapstone sculptures of anthropomorphic creatures adorn daises and columns about the various slums. Stone depictions of tusked tiger-men and gaunt, featherless birdmen with f leshy wings and curved beaks stand attentively with swords and shields.

For the most part, Kibwe remains politically neutral. Its governing council of consists of numerous tribal leaders and foreign officials appointed from each community. Larger clans are permitted more appointees, and therefore power shifts are common. Appointees are expected to adjudicate law with the interest of the city first, and their people second. Failure to remain impartial can result in execution, and thus deliberations are always well argued before decisions are made concerning the welfare of those from other tribes.

Of the foreign groups, the various trading company representatives may possess the most power. The power structure shifts frequently as companies build and lose profit (which also defines the amount of support they can muster or hire). Still, indigenous tribes retain a fair amount of political clout, as do government representatives. And while caravans come and go regularly from Kibwe, locals draw a clear distinction between themselves and the transient populations—and they have no problem taking the latter for all they’re worth. Bargaining is the highest art form in Kibwe, and the city’s most profitable local resources include diamonds, gold, and salt. Other less profitable resources include items like cattle, cacao, coffee, cotton, ivory, peanuts, timber, and wax, as well as countless foreign imports from east of the mountains.

Adayenki Pavilion: A broad sea of strewn flower petals litters an extensive commons at the center of the city. A wall of huge tapestries, rugs, and skins strung upon thick totemic posts separates the Pavilion from the rest of the city. Predominantly used as a common area for religious services, the space accommodates extensive celebrations, such as community prayers and large ceremonial weddings. The blocks around it are devoted entirely to trade, with caravans and stalls offering bulk goods from every corner of Garund and beyond as traders seek to increase their margins by swapping cargo.

Aspis Consortium: The Consortium holds and maintains a defensible section near the western gate. While the majority of the citizens are distrustful of the company and its presence here is minor compared to settlements like Bloodcove, the Consortium has made considerable investments supporting Kibwe and its open markets. These include installing infrastructure, such as basic housing, as well as supplying developments with water and food.

Beykar Block: The Beykar control this block and use it to orchestrate the sale of slaves, despite the disdain of the majority of the council. While the Beykar solicit and accept bids from international buyers and arrange for slaves to be delivered to alternate sites, active slave-taking is outlawed within the city and the surrounding area, so Kibwe remains strictly a waystation for the Bekyar’s caravans and slave chains, not an active hunting ground.

Bwamandu Camp: This tiny camp is composed almost entirely of ex-slaves and torture victims fortunate enough to have escaped Usaro, along with their friends and families. Here they band together, creating a small ghetto dedicated to mutual support, both social and economical, as well as to plots against the Gorilla King.

Gold Refinery: Owned by the East Mwangi Mining Company, this area is where day laborers smelt gold dust from rock and turn it into ingots.

Miners’ Camps: Here entire families live in rows of shanties built from mud, thatch, and scrap. They come to eke out meager livings mining diamonds, gold, and salt. More than a few are missing limbs, as amputation is the harsh penalty imposed on those caught f ilching goods on the side.

Mozimba Camp: This camp is composed almost entirely of tribesfolk from surrounding regions who provide labor or work as guides, medics, salt miners, furriers, tanners, and provisioners.

Straggleblock: An increasing number of refugees, exiles, and outright criminals f ind their destinies tied to this sprawl of leaky, moldering hide tents, which shelter several hundred of the city’s most destitute.

Walk of Shrines: A single street lined on both sides with small churches and shrines dedicated to dozens of gods, spirits, and philosophies. Some are simple kiosks, tightly packed with small platforms for preaching. Others house small congregations. Fetishes hang in windows and interiors are kept cool with skin carpets and leaf-woven prayer mats splayed across the f loor.

The Wells: Only in the last 2 centuries have settlers dug deep enough and often enough to supply all the city’s water needs with wells, making the city far more defensible

After becoming familiar with the landscape and finding humble lodgings for the night the party began asking questions of the locals about Pythos, Magdalena, and Rastel among other things. They quickly learned that the native people were a bit superstitious and when Faeregrim created water and Pinty turned it into ale they freaked. Advised to keep their ‘magick’ to a minimum they continued to inquire and eventually sat down with Father Maasu Abwedoma, prime representative for the free people of Kibwe. Unfortunately most of this answers were, “We don’t talk about that.” And “You know a lot more than me…” Though he was a sweet old man, Mother and Pinty lost their patience and left the priest be. Despite this they learned that the Tigers of Rastel have been partially possessed by demons, but because they are animals the demonic influence has been lessened.

With nothing new to go on the group conferred and decided their best bet was to travel to the Ndele Gap in hopes of finding traders who might take them by boat through the Mwangi Espanse to Nantambu and the ancient magic school located there. As they made their way back to their rooms for the night they came across an fatigued, exhausted, mosquito-bitten, sweaty, and typically stolid Sparkle staggering through the central square. The reunion was brief as she told a wild tale about being dragged off by a lonely and curious dragon that (though Sparkle won’t say it) was eventually bored by whatever she had to say and eventually allowed her to escape.

With the band back together again (minus several previous band members…) everyone turned in for the night. Around midnight Legertha received an unexpected guest as Ginger magically appeared in her room, waking her and demanding the return of her possessions. They had a heated if whispered conversation, but the inquisitive Pinty over heard and eavesdropped for a few minutes before waking Faeregrim and telling him some of what she’d heard – namely that they needed to go to Gozreh’s Pool to find Magdalena. A little flustered being wakened in the middle of the night (it is a SIN after all…), she went and eventually everyone was awake and warmly welcoming Ginger back into the fold…? Ginger and Ethelfrith had a stare down about some of Ginger’s possessions and when Sparkle saw Ginger she almost broke down I tears (not of joy…)

Ginger was brusque and condescending, but illuminated the party about what needed to be done next – finding Gozreh’s Pool, which used to be in the City of Pythos. The next day, after getting her eye of scrying back from Mother again, Ginger tried to scry on Magdelena, but to no avail. With this new information they laid out plans to make their way back to the Korir River, follow it southwest and eventually make their way south of the jungle where Ginger indicated Gozreh’s Pool was located. Preparations were made, food bought and stored, gear stashed away, and accusatory looks exchanged between Ginger and Mother (who was oddly maligned by every animal they came across that day and every day after that…).

After hiring laborers to hack their way back to the Korir River, the party set forth and 4 days later found themselves back at the river confluence. Another 5 days along the Korir River, and then 7 days along the southern jungle edge brought them to where Legertha recommended they make their ingress into the jungle. However, as they made their approach they were greeted by a strange sight – animated plants along the forest’s edge wove themselves in to a wall of dense vegetation for hundreds of feet in either direction, blocking passage. Legertha and Laustanenvi spotted a few treants amongst the foliage and stepped up to talk with them in Common and Sylvan, asking if they could pass, and what promises they could make to obtain permission. The treant issued a creaky and sslowly drawled warning, first in a language they could not understand (Treant), then Sylvan, then Common.

“Pass our warding with the knowledge that few ever return. The inhabitants within bear no malice, though wicked creatures also have made their home here.”

They asked the treant politely about Gozreh’s Pool and they moan and bow their heads, “Beware the pool… Gozreh abandoned it long ago…”

Once again using Faegegrim’s divine power and wand, and Mother’s potion, they warded themselves again the oppressive heat and wet of the jungle, pressing into the dense foliage. The first day only lasted 6 hours as party members became fatigued and needed to stop for the day before becoming exhausted. Faeregrim raised two web shelters and most slept well all night. Legertha and Ginger, however were fascinated my mysterious rainbow patterns that kept them awake all night and they needed the ministrations of Faegegrim’s restoration to continue the next day.

Travel went more smoothly this second day, however as the day progressed to noon, everyone began feeling impatient, then angry, and by midday, were consumed with rage, hacking at the jungle and muttering curses under their breath. While they were invigorated by the rage, it also made them reckless. Despite this, when they came to a slashed-and-burned section of the jungle that had been abandoned long ago and now was covered in stagnant pools of grey water, rather than enjoy the respite from the jungle, Mother convinced everyone to circumnavigate the clearing. As they did so, several party members could see something occasionally leaping or reaching from the pools, snatching insects from the air with disconcerting slurps…

At the end of this second day of traversing the jungle, Faeregrim once again laid out the web shelters and everyone hunkered down for another loud and sticky night under the jungle canopy…

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The Door - Chapter 03, Rastel

After a good night’s sleep and much deliberation about what the next step was to be (and further discussion about how and why the party was going to Rastel…), Faeregrim, Mother, and Samara decided to head for Rastel and see if they could negotiate for some information on Magdalena. Legertha and Sparkle stayed in camp hoping Nigel and Yetsil would return and they could all join the fun in Rastel later.

Unbeknownst to the rest of the party, Nigel and Yetsil had been shunted off the hilltop the night before. They were trying to make their way back when they became aware of several large predators stalking them, and rather than tempt fate, they found a place to hunker down until the danger passed and waited until daylight to come out of hiding.

A ways down the trail from their hilltop camp, Faeregrim and Company came across Nigel and Yetsil, and they banded together again to take on Rastel. As they approached the ruined city, they could see furtive movements of the inhabitants, who clearly did not want to be seen. As they made their way up the causeway toward the upper city gate they heard scuffling in and around the nearby buildings, but being on a mission of peace, they remained calm and openly called out to anyone who might be listening and willing to parley.

As they rounded a switchback in the climb into the city, one of the white tigers climbed onto a nearby building and glared at them. It sat down casually and licked its chops, and in response to a greeting from Samara, yawned, sharing its menacing teeth. Moments later several tieflings made themselves known, stepping out from behind a walled estate. The apparent leader was unarmored, but armed with a quarter staff and light crossbow slung across his back. The others were armed with loaded crossbows at the read, one perched atop the wall. Across the road, a second white tiger leapt atop a building and lay down impatiently.

“Welcome to Rastel, where you are not welcome. Please leave.” Was the greeting in Abyssal. Only Samara and Faeregrim could understand the wicked speech and Samara spoke for the party, offering their services in exchange for information. The tiefling replied that they didn’t have much information in Rastel and had no need for whatever it was they were offering, and again advised them to leave. As he spoke, a second troupe of tieflings took up position behind the party, menacing with their crossbows.

Samara did her best to convince the indifferent tieflings that they could offer fair trade, and asked if they knew anything of Magdalena. With some curiosity, the tiefling asked which Magdalena she was referring too. Samara added that she was a witch, and the tiefling said, “That old hag hasn’t been heard from for decades. I guess you can go now.” Growing more impatient, the tieflings became hostile and the party agreed to leave the city, but as they turned, the leader of the group behind them said, “No screw that. You can leave after you have provided the goods you offered, namely your possessions. Drop them on the ground, and we will trade you for them – we’ll trade you your lives.”

In the moments following, a bellowing guttural demonic voice yelled form further up the causeway, “ENOUGH!!” Pounding footsteps were flowed by a large demonic tiefling charging through his smaller companions toward the party. The other tieflings were slow to react, but the white tigers were not, both bounding toward their prey, one of them pouncing on Mother and ripping her to shreds, knocking her to the ground unconscious. Thinking quickly, Faeregrim called everyone to his side, pulled out the remaining scroll of teleport, and after taking a swipe from the tiger on top of Mother transported them back to the hilltop campsite several miles away.

Unfortunately the teleportation opened much larger rifts in the already weak barrier between the Material and Abyssal planes this time. As the party was once again scattered from the designated teleport site, three demonic forms also appeared:

A spider the size of an elephant, this dark blue arachnid reared up on its six hind legs to raise its barbed and razor-edged front claws (some unknown abyssal fiend).

A large twisted cross between a man and a gigantic vulture with a cloud of spores and a trail of feathers (a vrock demon, but nothing else was known about it).

A small bloated creature shuddering with each heaving step, yet despite its shape, the thing moves with surprising quickness (a dretch demon).

Legertha and Sparkle were nowhere to be found (some say they were having a dalliance in Chicago…). Nigel was the closest unfortunate victim of the spider thing, and it spat a sticky web at him, entangling him. Faeregrim was nearest the dretch and was subjected to one of its stinking clouds, which had no ill effect. Furthest away was the vrock, which suddenly became SIX vrock demons. Yetsil was far enough away from the demons that he had time to prepare himself for a fight, readying guns and magic, while Faeregrim flew into the air and headed for a still-unconscious Mother. Samara vanished and went to aid Mother as well.

Nigel was the first to fall. The demonic spider caught him before he could get away and bit him, causing his flesh to begin to rot and melt away. Before he could fight or flee, it then ripped into him with its claws, simultaneously eviscerating him and stripping his armor from his body, ruining it in the process. IN another attempt to save his comrades, Faeregrim flew over to Mother and opened a dimension door to as far east from the hilltop as he could go. Unfortunately, the fates were again unkind and in the process a succubus and a shadow demon were brought onto the Material plane, the former adjacent to Faeregrim, and the latter near Mother.

Back on the hilltop, Samara slunk away as the half-dozen vrock demons screeched and demanded to know who summoned them, but getting now answer and seeing no prey, they vanished, likely teleporting away. The spider demon them scrambled after Yetsil and caught him coming down from the ridge. It bit him, causing the same rotting flash, and seconds later, ripped him apart with is teeth and claws. It then gathered up Yetsil’s body, opened up some kind of doorway, and stepped through, leaving the field of battle. Samara got her revenge on the dretch demon, bringing it down with a few quick sliced of her wakizashi.

Faeregrim was accosted by the succubus, who tried to suggest she become her friend, to no effect. Meanwhile, Mother was confronted by a shadow demon, but it was rendered momentarily powerless in broad daylight and was forced to cloak itself in deeper darkness, allowing Mother to get to her feet and ready some bombs. Unfortunately, in a continuation of her record, both bombs were off-target and the shadow demon advanced on her, opening op a shadowy semi-real acid pit below her feet. Mother wasn’t fooled, but was still stuck in a 4-foot deep pit in 1 foot of acid gnawing at her ankles. Ignoring the succubus, who again tried to charm Faegergim, the dwarf flew to Mother’s aid, plucking her from the pit and flying off toward her allies, Mother only suffering a scratch from a defiant succubus as they fled.

Uninspired by the potential victims, the succubus vanished from the field, as did the shadow demon, likely seeking cover from the sun. Faeregrim, Samaya, and Mother gathered at the hilltop campsite and took stock. Mother resolved that this adventure was over and she was headed home, pulling out maps and planning the long walk to a harbor, then a ship home. Faeregrim and Samaya relieved Nigel of his valuables and collected a vial full of his now dissolved remains for some later experiment.

Soon thereafter, Legertha and Sparkle made their way back to the hilltop – Legertha wounded from a brutal one-on-one fight with a shadow demon of her own. Sparkle was unhurt, but had to dispatch a dretch of her own. After some deliberation, it was decided they would make their way to the free city of Kibwe to the northeast and inside the Mwangi Jungle. From there Mother hoped to find a trading party or caravan to the coast and then back to Absalom.

Kibwe
Kibwe began as a trading post, established in the eastern Mwangi Jungle at a convenient point west of the Ndele Gap. Caravans from “civilized” eastern Garund could pass through the Gap and swap cargoes with traders from the wilds of the Mwangi Expanse, removing the need for either party to venture too far into what was for them dangerously unfamiliar territory.

The subsequent discovery of natural resources (such as diamonds, gold and salt) in the Kibwe area gave the location a significant advantage over any potential nearby competition, and rival companies fought deadly battles over trading rights. The growing local population intervened, and established free trade laws to ensure growth and prosperity was not threatened.

The city prides itself on its civic freedoms. Slave-taking is forbidden, and those few tortured souls lucky enough to escape the horrors of Usaro often congregate here. However, it is perfectly legal to transport through the city any slaves taken elsewhere, or even to sell them here to foreign buyers (hence the significant Bekyar presence in town).

Also, the civic pride which encourages citizens to treat fairly with one another does not prevent them from eagerly swindling foreigners whenever the opportunity presents itself.

What’s Next
The plan is to once again strike out from the hilltop camp, heading north along the Korir River looking for a road to Kibwe. Perhaps they will find allies along the road – a caravan to provide safety in numbers. Perhaps they will find new information to answer some of their questions about Magdalena. Or perhaps they will follow Mother’s lead and simply head back to Absalom and tell Ripa and Tudyk that Sutura is better off sleeping through eternity.

Xp. 2,160 ea (1,534 for Legertha & Sparkle)

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