Ravenshore

Adventure Log: Session 14

Characters Present: All.

All went according to plan, and James brought us into Cordell as prisoners. As we were carted through its streets, we saw that it was a huge city, filled with people moving purposefully from one point to the next. Though it was brimming with people, we noticed a distinct lack of energy: it was if the city had sunken itself into a mode of self-imposed oppression and occupation.

The prison was situated in the bowels of the main keep, which was the largest and most imposing structure of the city. James – accompanied by a small company of guards, along with Hazen, the rifle-carrying brigadier we encountered previously on the bridge – brought us to the dungeon where we were caged and shackled. Ironically enough, though Corrin chose not to accompany us because he did not wish to be taken as a prisones, he was already being held in the dungeon when we arrived. James ordered the guards to leave him alone with the prisoners, and all but Hazen agreed to do so immediately. It was clear that Hazen was suspicious of both us and James, and would only leave us alone with James after he was ordered to do so in a sharp tone.

Once the guards had cleared out, James set us free. James had doubts about releasing Corrin, since he had previously refused to cooperate with his plan. He finally agreed to allow Corrin to join us after Valindra promised to take responsibility for his actions. We snuck into the armory with James during a changing of the guard. Once there, we were given back our equipment, and were outfitted with brigadier armor to facilitate our disguises.

Using our brigadier disguises, we made our way to the entrance of the Duncan’s castle. Everything seemed to be going quite smoothly – that is until we were met at the castle gates by Hazen and two other brigadiers. Though we tried to bluff our way out of our predicament, Hazen saw through our disguised almost immediately, and announced that he was arresting James for treason. James turned to us, and told us that Duncan would be in the throne room, and that we would have to face him alone. Without another word, he turned and attacked Hazen – hoping to keep him occupied while we scrambled to the throne room.

We were now faced with the challenge of finding the throne room. Erik had been toured around the castle when he was a young man, and was able to muster up some faded memories of the place’s general layout. We managed to figure out some specifics by interrogating some of the castle’s guards, and Horacio invoked some help from on high by praying to Pondera for guidance.

Finally, we found the entrance to the throne room. We took a moment outside of its doors to strategize, but as it turned out Hazen was hot on our tail. Whether or not he had defeated James in combat was unclear. He ordered us to stop where we were, or he would shoot. Of course, we did no such thing: we scrambled into the throne room, bolting the door behind us to shut Hazen out.

Duncan was alone in the throne room. As we moved closer to him, we could see that he was preparing himself for combat: he had holstered a pair of pistols, and was seeing to his armor. His clothes were mostly blue- and copper-coloured, as were the many decorations that filled the room. He addressed us quite calmly, and told us that there was a portal opening in Ravenshore – a portal large enough to facilitate the return of the old god Pondera. He explained that the leader of the cultists opening the portal was a former brigadier, and that he had betrayed Duncan and his anti-magic crusade in favor of the will of Pondera.

We asked him why he had committed his genocide of magical beings – and why he was obsessed with wiping out all of the practitioners of arcane and divine magics. He told us that Pondera planned to draw power from them to facilitate his return to the rest of the gods, and that their genocide was necessary. This was difficult – if not impossible – for many in the party to accept, and after one thing lead to another, we fought with the king.

Beak had extracted himself from the scene before the fighting broke out, later to return to use carrying a surprise or two (as is his usual fashion). The party was somewhat conflicted about how Duncan should be treated: Horacio, being faithful to Pondera, was angered at Duncan’s extremism, and felt that he should be eliminated in order to restore some balance to the world. Valindra, however, felt that he should be kept alive (at least, for now) in order to stop the god of balance from breaking through to this plane of existance, and bringing about an unpredictable wave of destruction and change. The remainder of the party had their own concerns about Duncan, but in the end everyone except Valindra decided to fight him.

After a long and difficult combat, Duncan fell. As he lost consciousness, he handed us a magical scroll, which would allow us to teleport to Ravenshore immediately. What followed was an intense debate: should we keep Duncan alive? Or should we kill him? Words flew back and forth, but the cacaphony was eventually silenced by decisive action on Erik’s part: Erik raised his shield high in the air, and brought it down upon Duncan’s neck – severing his head from his body. Beak, who had returned shortly after Duncan had fallen in combat, decided to take his head as a trophy.

The ritual allowed nine people to pass through a portal to Ravenshore. Fortunately, Beak had brought with him one of the army’s ritual casters, and the various supplies necessary to set the ritual in motion. Soldiers flooded into the throne room as we began to open the portal. Just as they were about to fire their rifles at us, however, the earth began to tremble, and the sky grew dark. This distracted the soldiers for a precious few moments, and we traversed the portal without incident. When we arrived in Ravenshore, we found that the ground was shaking far more violently than in Cordell, and the dark clouds which littered the sky had centered themselves around Baron Ravenholm’s old keep.

The ritual had begun, and the portal would be open soon if we did not hasten to stop it.

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Adventure Log: Session 13

AND NOW, THE CONCLUSION

Characters Present: All.

The whole of our party headed into the town with Richard to negotiate with James and Arthur. The three brothers spoke in private for a short while; it did not appear to be going well. The conversation drew to a close, and James asked Arthur if he “accepted his offer”. Arthur’s answer was to attack his brothers – James flew into a nearby building with a sharp crack to the head, and while Richard managed to block Arthur’s first blow, he was still thrown back and knocked out.

The only thing standing between Arthur and his brothers now was us, so we jumped into the fray. Arthur wore incredible artefact-like armour, which had the power to redirect incoming thunder and lightning attacks and make his storm magic more powerful. The fight was short but intense, and Arthur proved to be a powerful and dangerous opponent. When we managed to bloody him, he became charged with lightning, which forked out at those close to him. When he finally dropped, Beak shocked everyone by killing Arthur outright.

James saw that Arthur was dead, and then turned to Richard and asked if he agreed to “his terms”. We still did not know what they were. Richard said, “No”, and a fight erupted once again. Once of the first moves James made was to pin down Enna, and swing his scythe into her gut. Using his powers of balance and redirection, Horacio attempted to shift the damage away and save her life, but James pulled his scythe out, and ran her through once again. Despite our best efforts to save her, James still died by James’ hands. We pummeled James, and he eventually surrendered.

Once James yielded, we finally found out what his proposition was: he told us that if we stormed the capital head-on (with its dozen or so brigadiers), we’d surely be slaughtered. Though he was in Duncan’s service, James felt that Duncan had gone too far with his magical genocide. Like Richard, he wanted to take the mad king down, but wished to go about it in a very different way: James wanted to lead a small strike team into the palace to kill Duncan.

It turns out that all three of the brothers wanted Duncan dead. Arthur wanted to destroy the entire capital, James wanted to kill Duncan with his strike team, and Richard (no doubt due to his honor as a Paladin) wanted to face him honorably on the battlefield.

Erik could not contain his rage towards James, and began yelling and shouting for him to answer for his crimes. Surprisingly enough, James was moved to apologize for what happened to Erik in past. He said, too, that if we went along with his plan he would let the Ravenshore army retreat, but he would have to wipe out the Barbarian army to make the illusion complete. We would be taken in as prisoners, and could then sneak our way out of prison and into Duncan’s chambers.

The resulting debate was difficult for everyone involved. Richard did not like this plan at all – its deceptive and backhanded approach at Duncan clashed with his Paladin honor. We learned much about the state of the Aulonian army, and where its sensibilites had shifted over time: Richard and James revealed that most of the high-ranking military officers who used to have brigadier-level authority were demoted so that Duncan could assert more direct control. These old loyalists could be called in to maintain order if marshall law gripped the kingdom following the king’s death. One of the main hesitations we had with following James’ scheme was that once the king was dead, James – being the highest ranking officer in the military – would be able to assert an unsettling level of control over the kingdom of Aulonia.

After much debate, we finally agreed to go with James into the capital. Corrin, however, refused to be taken in as a prisoner, and therefore did not surrender himself to James. He went instead to make his own attempt at breaking into the capital. Richard reluctantly agreed to give us a chance to take out Duncan before he led the military to the capital. Before leaving, Jim left his father’s sword in the care of Richard, and had him promise on his honour that he would keep it until we returned. We were taken into the custody of the military by James and his men, and were led off to the capital as prisoners while the army obliterated the remainder of the barbarian horde.

As we head towards Cordell, the mood is tense: Whatever happens, we simply cannot fail in our attempt to take down Duncan. If we fail, Richard will follow in our wake, and surely lead our rag-tag force of magicians and rebels to their end.

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Adventure Log: Session 12

Characters Present: All.

After the journey across the sea, we arrived an Aulonian town a ways in-land from the coast, and found it abandoned.

Our army—now a few thousand strong—made camp in the forest to the North of the town. The town itself was situated in the centre of a small valley, and would be hard to defend with our relatively small force – the forest, on the other hand, provided cover and concealment. A river with a massive bridge running across it lay to the east, mountains to the west, and steep hills to the south. Richard informed us that Arthur would probably come in from the mountains, accompanied by his barbarian horde, and James and his brigadiers from the east.

Beak, Enna, Horacio, Jim, Stasi, Valindra made their way to the center of the town, ready to meet James and the Aulonian army, and Arthur with his Barbarians. We hoped that the two incoming forces might negotiate, and that bloodshed could be avoided. Stasi prepared a banquet table, complete with delicious drug-free sandwiches and other refreshments.

We sent word (Stasi constructed a sturdy couple of signs, and Horacio adorned them in lovely calligraphy) to arriving armies, letting them know that we wanted an entourage of people to meet us in town for negotiations.

There were three passes that led out of the mountains and into the valley. We decided to close off all but one of the mountain passes – if it came to a fight with Arthur and his forces, they would be much easier to face funneled through a narrow pass. We managed to collapse part of the mountain face onto one of the passages. As soon as we arrived at the second one, we were met by a scouting party of barbarians, hobgoblins, and other shady-looking characters, all led by an Orc riding a Hydra. We managed to bring down boulders to block their way before they could draw close.

Despite our attempt to cut off the barbarians, the Orc and his hydra climbed over the borders. Beak made an attempt to parley with the captain, but as it turned out the creature only appeared to speak Goblin. It attacked us. Valindra – who had climbed the nearest mountain face in an effort to bring down boulders to block off the pass – leaped at the creature from above, and went for one of its heads. The fight went on for some time, but we decided to make a tactical retreat before it escalated any further.

When we got back to the town, Richard and his scouts announced that James’ army had arrived at the bridge sooner than expected. We debated blowing the bridge to stop James’ advance, but decided it may be prudent to attempt to negotiate once again. Beak, Enna, and Jim went to the bridge to see whether or not the army would negotiate. In order to avoid being shot on sight, they disguised themselves as Primal spellcasters, and shielded their arcane abilites from the Aulonian army. If James refused to negotiate, the trio would attempt to blow the bridge, and delay the army.

Meanwhile, in the forest, Erik made plans to use Ravenshore’s socerers to manipulate the weather so that Varahallusk and our forces in the forest could move in quickly if need be. All the while, the Aulonian army set up camp on the far side of the bridge. Our scouts reported that they had brought artillery, cavalry, and scores of infantry. As this occurred, the Barbarians did little other than eat a bunch of raw meat and brawl amongst themselves. Their captains flew about the camp on Wyverns, shouting orders and keeping their men in check. Arthur appeared to be flying around the camp, as well, though his magical abilities made the Wyvern unnecessary.

A few small groups of commandos broke off from the Barbarian forces, and rushed off into the forest. Fortunately, Erik intercepted a small commando unit made up of orcs and one Goblin, who upon closer inspection seemed as though he was in charge. He questioned them, and found out that there are two factions in the army – one that used to be headed up by an orcish chieftain, and one under Arthur’s command. The Goblin jumped up unexpectedly, and began drawing a magic ward around the Orcs. They all disappeared, and the Goblin laughed maniacally – the “commandos” had been nothing more than a distraction.

Following their reuse, the Barbarian horde (most of it, at least) charged towards the town, and at the same time the Aulonian scouts signalled the rest of James’ army to advance. The ten people still in the town grabbed horses, and made a run for the forest. More goblin commandos poured into the forest, and a few hundred of them met our forces in battle. With a dragon, and an army of pissed-off spellcasters on our side, they didn’t prove to be much of a challenge.

The Barbarians and Aulonians met in battle in the center of the valley. The barbarian had numbers, but the Aulonians had superior training and weapons, and were the clear victors. One of the Brigadiers under James’ command held the line with his squad of riflemen. Unlike his soldiers – who used a blunderbuss-like weapon – he wielded a lethal repeating gun. James himself was present on the front line of the battle, and killed Orcs by the dozens with massive swings of his scythe.

It was clear almost immediately after the battle had begun that it would turn out badly for Arthur and his barbarians. As the battle progressed, things progressed from bad to worse for them: after they refused to follow his orders, Arthur murdered scores of his own men with lightning from the sky. Eventually, both armies come to a stand-still. It seemed as though they might negotiate. We decided to head towards the town with Richard to see if we might be able to negotiate.

TO BE CONTINUED

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Adventure Log: Session 11.5 - Erik
Erik's perspective

After sailing to Aulonia, but before the meeting of the 3 armies…

I have spent the last 25 years trying to forget this place. Trying to forget the pain, anger, and useless scenes of death that accompany a moment’s thought of this place. But, after 25 years, here I am, on a ship, I hate boats, going right back into things.
Surrounded as I am, by a hodgepodge of police, gang members, thieves, citizens, veterans and some naive fools, it is difficult to find time and space to be alone. Writing this on the back of old leaflets of parchment, in between talks with Richard, training, and teasing friends, I want to reflect on my side of things here.
We are sailing from Ravenshore to Aulonia. Not too long ago, magical folk started disappearing and further investigation showed that Duncan’s, that’s King Duncan’s, men had entered Ravenshore and continued their ever-going genocide of anyone magical. The death of one of their men caused a breach in the treaty between Ravenshore and the rest of Aulonia allowing invasion for Duncan and his men.

But, this you know.

What you might not know is how some of us were able to fight off their first wave and, along with Sir Richard, the White Knight, some of us are sailing to meet with Sir Author and Sir…James, the Grey and Black Knights.

Days passed between writing the above, and writing this. I had to deal with some things and settle some thoughts. I served with James during and prior to the Barbarian Invasion. I did some pretty horrible things, all for the good of my country. But, I was deceived. I was left to die. Holding a hill against a barbarian horde, their fire-breathing hydra burned most of my body and left me for dead. Moving to Ravenshore, I had to work for years to be accepted into society, and to control my emotions. I wasn’t happy; but I wasn’t dead either.
Things were fine; I had a job, something to do, and it was ages since the dreams haunted my sleep, when all this happened. Now, I’m here.
I have met some interesting people as of late. As I said before, I had a hard time fitting into society; scars and a tendency to remain in the background do little to make one personable. But, I have joined with some comrades actually worth my time. Skilled already, I have spent my time serving as a constant reminder that preparation is crucial. It has been awhile since I wore my gear, but it feels exactly the same as ever. Strong, but light, it is a part of me I had forgotten, or rather, had cast off, for years. It just sat in my closest, collecting dust, like me.
The training has gone well. Most are willing to listen, so long as they can be convinced they have something to learn. I haven’t gone easy on them, either. Blinding them, binding them, hitting from all angles, I am trying to get these people to think quick, and act on the notion that the unexpected is common. One comrade in particular, Jim Quarion, has taken quite the initiative. Strong, fast, but young, Jim’s a sorcerer. Ya, magic user, in these times, plus magic is…just not dependable in my opinion. Too many people with too much power and not enough control. But, anyway, Jim has been training with me to learn to control his power, and also to switch to his sword for backup. He’s clever, I’ll give him that, and as long as he keeps his mind clear, he’ll do well.
The rest of my comrades have all sorts of strange and complicated backgrounds, and I’m sure I’ll get more into that later. But, for now, let me wrap this up.
I am told we will arrive, weather-permitting, on the shores of Aulonia tomorrow. I have all my affairs settled back home. My shop is being watched over by my apprentices and the Trade Guilds. I have instilled a sense of caution and planning amongst my allies. But, I am not fully settled, myself.
Part of me still burns with an anger forged two and a half decades ago. I am still haunted by dreams; dreams which burn throughout the night and leave me sweating and screaming. Good thing I sleep in full armour and with a rag in my mouth. The ones who don’t fear me just think me insane, and well, that’s about as good of a definition as any.

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Adventure Log: Session 11.5

This is not exactly an adventure log, per se, but rather a space where people can talk about what their characters were doing during the journey to Aulonia over water. To add your character, just edit the wiki page, and add a new bold heading for your name:

Erik

Ever since stepping foot onto the boat, Erik has been particularly grim. He has spent many hours discussing strategy and tactics with Richard, outlining the topography of our meeting place, as he remembers it, and his ideas on how we should conduct ourselves once we get there. He has gone from being the background old-miser to standing out more as a soldier. If it wasn’t clear before, it is abundantly clear that Erik used to be in the military, and he knows a thing or two about it.

His pessimism has also set in, or more accurately, his realism has been on display for these past two weeks. While normally grim, he now seems determined to undermine hope, or the thoughts of coming through all this unscathed or without a fight. I am sure one or two of you argue with him, question him, and/or try to understand him or reject his pessimism. If you do so, or you happen to overhear someone doing so, you find out that Erik is not being pessimistic and hopeless, he is being cautious, and realistic. He attempts to convince everyone around him that things are looking rough, that this situation and these times call for planning, anticipation, and expectation of the unexpected.

Upon being asked what he had in mind, Erik outlines his plans. Something that he has learned, from his military history, personal failures, and all the time he has lived, is that advantages can be weaknesses, and that supposed weaknesses can be turned into strength, if one has the proper training and state of mind.

That being said, he attempts, although it is difficult doing so on a boat, and while traveling, but he attempts to train anyone who is willing. His training is intense, arbitrary, and sometimes seems ridiculous. He begins by asking people what their greatest strengths are, and then puts them into situations where they can’t use their strengths or where those abilities are not allowed.

All through this, Erik seeks your help and input, coming up with varied situations, and trying to instill a sense of preparedness for what’s to come. He acknowledges that he is not an expert in everything, but when it comes to fighting, and to being prepared, he knows what he is doing, and seeks your help, not only in training each other, but to helping the rest of Richard’s forces.

The training, though limited to being on a boat, and only for two weeks, is brutal, and sometimes seems over and above what might actually happen. Erik never apologizes for his strict ways, only says you are free to stop whenever but that he is only trying to prepare you. He reminds you that he stood toe-to-toe with some bad foes, and lost, and that his loss was due to an inability to improvise, to analyze, and to expect the unexpected.

Horacio

While Horacio spent the first leg of the journey to Aulonia as his usual self, a dramatic shift in his behavior occurred just a few days into the voyage. He spent the rest of the journey to Aulonia in isolation, and quiet contemplation. At first, when his companions asked him what he was doing, he answered simply and without breaking his concentration: “I’m meditating”. You would be hard-pressed to recall a time in the past when Horacio was meditating, and not drinking during his spare time. In fact, when you think about it you realize that Horacio has only had a handful of drinks since he boarded the ship! He had at least a half a dozen kegs of Longobottom Ale loaded onto the ship, but most of this was distributed to the troops.

Eventually, Horacio began to surrender more information when his comrades asked him what had changed. In an uncharacteristically solemn tone, he told them, “I’m not a young man anymore, and it’s about time that I find some balance in my life.” As the weeks on the ship rolled by, Horacio even began to look different: his beard, which used to be unruly and full of crumbs, has been clipped down and braided; his Chainmail armor, which used to be covered in sticky patches of wine and ale, has been replaced with a fine suit of Braidmail armor which he keeps clean and polished; finally, he has been wearing the colorless Resplendent Cloak taken from the leader of the Ponderan cultists. Though Jim initially collected the cloak from the defeated cultist, Horacio asked him if he could wear it. He sensed that it had the power to restore some clarity and focus, and that it might be able to help him center himself.

As most of you know out-of-character, the revelation that he was created by Pondera caused him to doubt his faith in Dionysus, and even led him to place new-found faith Pondera. He has not told anyone about this yet, but the fact that he now wears the Resplendent Cloak of the Ponderan cultists, and seeks “balance” in his life might cause the party to suspect some sort of connection between Horacio and Pondera. During the battles that follow, Horacio’s allies will be sure to notice that the nature of his powers has changed quite dramatically since the shift to paragon, and that there may be more behind this shift than meets the eye.

Jim

During his time on the ship, Jim has been making a concerted effort to gain more control over his arcane powers, yet all the while he has worked with Erik to learn how to better adapt when these powers fail him. In order to better understand the roots of his magical abilities, he has spoken with Varahallusk about Dragon lore and legends. His fascination with dragons and their power has even managed to manifest itself physically, as well: Jim has grown stronger, and he has even begun to breathe fire.

Jim has taken the training that Erik has to offer very seriously, and has increased his proficiency with conventional weapons. Mechanically, this translates to a multi-class Fighter feat. The confrontation with Hawkeye alerted Jim to the possibility that he might be faced with a foe who could shrug off his magical attacks, or worse one that might be highly resistant – or even immune – to fire, which fuels almost all of his powers. Because of this, he feels it is very important to have martial abilities that he can fall back on.

He still doesn’t know what to make of the claims made by the cultists of Pondera—that his life before he came to Ravenshore was not real. Instead of trying to reason through it, he has been focusing on his training, so that he can better protect those who are with him in the here and now.

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Adventure Log: Session 11

Characters Present: Beak, Enna, Erik, Horacio, Jim, Stasi, Valindra, Zak.

Following Aulonia’s back-handed dissolution of the treaty between itself and Ravenshore, the Aulonian military landed several of its troops on the island, and marched on the city. Efforts to find a diplomatic solution were fruitless, and was clear that the Aulonian military had been looking for any excuse possible to breach Ravenshore, and kill as many arcane users and creatures as they could.

Previously, Hawkeye admitted that it was the magic registration and tracking wards that had allowed him and his men to find all of the magic-users in the city. As a result of this, Councilor Redmond’s political career was left in shambles, and he resigned from the city’s council.

With the Aulonian army approaching fast, the party and several of the city’s authorities gathered together to strategize and muster their forces. Beak returned to the party as a revenant, just as Stasi and Valindra had before him. Richard revealed himself to the city’s authorities, and explained that he sought to start a rebellion against Duncan’s vicious anti-magic crusade, and that he would help to defend the city in exchange for its support. In addition to whatever aid he could provide, the city had a standing police force of a few hundred officers, and a sizeable militia made up mostly of hastily-trained civilians. Surprisingly, several of the city’s gang and underground elements stepped up to aid its defense, and many members of gangs like The Dragons joining the fight. All in all, the invasion of Duncan’s armies mobilized all of Ravenshore’s inhabitants with unprecedented unity.

When the Aulonian army finally reached the city limits, several of the city’s most important figures met to finalize the battle plans. Richard was of course present, along with the leader of The Dragons, The Shade, Varahallusk, and members of the police force along with Chief O’Hara. Richard told all present that the army would probably be led by one of Duncan’s brigadiers, and that because of this Ravenshore might be able to use this to their advantage: if Richard could find out which brigadier was leading the army, he could make an educated guess at their strategy, and counter it effectively. Orders were distributed, and the party was given one night to prepare themselves for battle.

While most trained and mental steeled themselves for the battle to come, Jim had certain other pursuits in mind. Later on, when he and Horacio traded heart-warming stories on the ship to Aulonia, he recounted his efforts, which were then recorded in Horacio’s journal for ‘posterity’:



And then I asked my friend, “Where were you on the eve of our combat with the brigadier? You missed my rousing toast to our inevitable victory at the Angry Owlbear?” The young Eladrin’s lip curled into a crooked smile, and he said, “Well Horacio, I guess you could say that I wanted to make the night before the battle a memorable one.” This piqued my curiosity, and I demanded details from the fellow, for I do so enjoy a tale of romance.

He would not speak any more of it—that is, until he drained another of Longbottom Ale, and grew more forthcoming. Finally, he admitted what had happened: “I just hic I went to her, and I said— I said hic Hannah—you’re an amazing woman, and hands or no just about the most impressive hic and most— most beautiful Wizard I’ve ever hic seen.”

At this I spat out a mouth-full of ale in surprise, and exclaimed, “Eladrin! Gods above, Jim, she must be—she must hic be eighty years old!” Jim chuckled, and with another swig of ale replied, “But she doesn’t look it, Horacio old buddy, she hic really doesn’t.”

A hearty laugh overtook me at the young Eladrin’s comment, and jabbed him in the ribs and called him a sly fellow. Were it not for my lack of inhibition due to inebriation, I would not have asked him what I asked him next, “So, then. Did you two—“

The Eladrin shifted awkwardly, and blushed profusely. “Er—well, no. We didn’t. She was still recovering from the loss of her hands, and the ones hic Rodoric crafted for her would take a hic while to er—function properly.” At this point, my young friend stopped to collect his thoughts before he continued—drunk as he was. “I guess the timing just wasn’t right, man,” he said, turning and smiling his crooked smile once again. He then stood up, and began shuffling towards his bunk. Before he left the mess, he turned and added, “But it was worth a shot.”



All harlequin-esque romance aside, the battle began the next morning. Based on the formation of the Aulonian armies, Richard knew immediately who had led them into battle—the brigadier Stonefist. A giant gap lay in the center of their lines, and Stonefist stood alone within it. He was an imposing figure, to say the least: seven and a half feet tall, shirtless, covered in tattoos, and to top it all of he was wearing a blindfold. The party went out to meet him in combat, hoping to break a hole in the Aulonian lines to tip the battle in Ravenshore’s favor.

It was a difficult fight, but we managed to take down the hulking brigadier. With Stonefist down, the rest of the Aulonian army retreated, and Ravenshore emerged victorious! Richard delivered a rousing speech, and announced that he and his rebellion would set sail for Aulonia on the following day. Our party, and the forces of Ravenshore, would join him to confront Duncan, and make him pay for what his atrocities once, and for all.

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Adventure Log: Session 10

Characters Present: Beak, Erik, Horacio, Jim, Valindra.

Following the encounter with the Black Dragon, the party had to cope with the loss of Valindra and their failure to save both of the children at the temple. Having had one of the children die in his arms, Horacio was deeply upset, and spent most of his time blubbering and drowning his sorrows in Longbottom Ale. Meanwhile, Stasi walked all the way back to the city on his own with the surviving child held tightly to his chest. When he arrived within the city limits, he made his way through the rain-soaked city streets to carry out his solemn duty: to deliver the news of her child’s tragic death.

Within the next few days, Valindra returned to the party as a revenant just as Stasi had before her. The party welcomed their lost friend back into their company, but could not help but wonder if Valindra and Stasi’s resurrections came with a price.

Having served their time in prison, Enna and Jim were released from custody by Ravenshore’s police forces. They rejoined the rest of the party, and learned of what had transpired in their absence. Jim was greatly upset from being denied the opportunity to defend his friend and ally, which moved him to confront Lieutenant Bullock and Chief O’Hara, and demand that they allow him to act with impunity when it came to defending Ravenshore and its citizens. In response, Jim was promoted to the somewhat indistinct—yet authoritative—rank of Sheriff.

In the days that followed, the party was contacted by a desperate Bullock, who let them know that nobody in the city had received word from Hannah Eladrin’s tower for several hours. With the city vulnerable to unwanted other-worldly visitors, we expected the worst, and left immediately for the tower.

Once the party reached the tower, they were surprised by the presence of Beak bearing a particularly vicious-looking scar. By whatever means, he had managed to escape the prison, and dropped many mysterious hints about hidden allies.

The main doors of the tower had been all but shattered, and once inside it the party found it filled with countless dead bodies. Those with arcane senses could tell that whoever had done this must be at the top of the tower, so the party began to scale the tower floor by floor. Each floor was filled with dead bodies, and all of the magical reagents, potions, and supplies in the storerooms of the tower had been destroyed. Jim attempted to signal for help by lighting a signal fire upon a small bale of hay on the street.

As we reached the top level of the tower, we were met with a closed door, and could hear only the sounds of faint sobbing from behind it. As the party entered the room, they were confronted with the scene of Hawkeye (on of Duncan’s Brigadiers) slowly moving his sword closer and closer to Hannah Eladrin, who was desperately deploying new magical wards and defenses to hold off his attack. Accompanying Hawkeye was a squad of five soldiers who looked identical and moved in unison, and a sixth soldier who moved of his own free will and carried a silver magical rod.

The party struggled to take down Hawkeye and his allies before they could harm Hannah Eladrin, but despite our best efforts the brigadier managed to push through Eladrin’s magical defenses, and cut off her hands with two swift strikes of his sword.

Meanwhile, back at the Angry Owlbear, Stasi and Horacio’s signal rings (given to the entire party during the first sessions) alerted them that the rest of the party was in grave danger. Much to the dismay of the patrons of the Owlbear, they dropped their respective activities of brewing and cooking immediately and headed for the tower. There they met The Shade, and hurried up to the top of the tower to join the battle.

The battle ended unexpectedly when both parties sensed the beginnings of another planar portal somewhere within the city. Hawkeye offered to set aside his current disagreement with the party in order to deal with the more pressing danger of the portal. The party agreed reluctantly, and set out to find the portal with Hawkeye and The Shade in tow. The police arrived at the tower as we exited, and Hawkeye’s soldiers were handed over to them as collateral for his cooperation. One of his soldiers, however, was handed over to Beak’s “boys”, also known as The Raven’s Sword.

Hawkeye was able to get a quick reading on the location of the portal, and the party accompanied him deep into the catacombs. All of those who stood against the Cataclysm Dragon in the past immediately recognized the hooded figures from the rooftops. They had formed a ritual circle in a large cross-shaped room, with a figure in the center of the room channeling their power into a nearly-opened portal. The man in the center of the room appeared to be their leader, and wore a resplendent cloak of shifting color.

The cultists were quite candid about their goals. They explained that they were servants of the little-know deity, Pondera, and were behind the opening of all the recent portals in the city. The more portals they opened, the weaker the inter-planar boundaries became, and the easier it would become for their god to pass into this realm. They explained that Pondera is a god of balance, and that the party and the cultists were fated to have had this confrontation. They believed that whoever emerged victorious was blessed with Pondera’s favor, and was meant to have prevailed.

As the fight began, events took an unexpected turn: Stasi immediately grabbed Beak and stabbed him through the heart – killing him in an instant. Valindra was also turned against her allies, and the pair joined the cultists in battle. With their friends turned against them, Horacio, Jim, and Erik had to work with Hawkeye and the Shade to stop the opening of the portal, and attempt to restore the free will of their friends.

A short ways into the encounter, the leader of the cultists communicated with everyone in the party except Erik. He told them that they did not exist before they came to Ravenshore. Pondera created them for the sole purpose of restoring balance, and that the lives they thought they knew and lived were not their own. They realized that in that instant that they could not remember the names of family members, or where they were from, or what they were doing before they fled to Ravenshore. Despite their confusion, the divided party fought on, and eventually defeated the cultists and closed the portal. This combat marked the first instance in which The Shade revealed his true form, and shape-shifted into a massive metallic dragon.

Once the ritual-casters and their leaders fell, Stasi and Valindra were once again granted their free will. The remaining cultists surrendered immediately, and pledged that they would offer no more resistance, as the party’s victory was the will of Pondera. With threat of the portals eliminated, the party now turned its focus back to the brigadier.

Hawkeye was interrogated about his and his soldiers’ unprovoked slaughter of countless Ravenshore citizens at Hannah Eladrin’s tower. In reply, he would say only that he was operating under sanction of Duncan and the Aulonian military, and that he believed his actions were justified. When the questioning was finished, Hawkeye was offered fair treatment in exchange for information about Duncan’s anti-magic crusade, and aggression towards Ravenshore. He promptly refused this offer, which led the party to leave the brigadier to the mercy of The Shade. Breaking from his earlier tradition of employing mostly non-lethal violence, The Shade promptly murdered Hawkeye.

The Shade then made his exit, and Jim prepared the remaining cultists to be taken into police custody. The party attempted to recover Beak’s body, but it was nowhere to be found, which seemed to hint that he might be resurrected as a revenant like his comrades.

After the cultists had been locked up in the prison, Jim and those that accompanied to the police garrison passed by the cells holding the men that accompanied Hawkeye in the tower. They asked what had become of Hawkeye, and were informed that he was murdered by the hands of the criminal known as The Shade. When they heard this, the soldiers laughed with sick satisfaction, for by killing Hawkeye, the city-state of Ravenshore had committed an act of war.

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Adventure Log: Session 9

Characters Present: Erik, Horacio, Stasi, Valindra, and a special Guest Star: Brittany as the Black Dragon.

Enna and Jim remained in prison for the duration of this session, with assurance from the police that their arrest was merely a formality, and that they would be released soon. Beak’s arrest, however, was far more than a formality, and the police made no such assurances in his case. Finally, before the session began Corrin announced that he would be away for some time on a mysterious expedition to the continent.

At the beginning of this session, the city was attacked by a large and menacing Black Dragon. By the time the party arrived on the scene, the dragon had fled and left behind a heavily-wounded and unconscious Shade, Richard (who was familiar to Erik, but was introduced to the rest of the party), and the distraught parents of two children that the Black Dragon had kidnapped before it fled the city. The Shade’s injuries revealed to the party that there was more to him than meets the eye, for beneath his Eladrin skin were the scales of a metallic dragon. There was little time to question the Shade about his true nature, as the party had only a short window of time within which they could track down the Black Dragon, and save the children.

After several hours of tracking the Black Dragon, the party came upon a series of ruins in the swamps. In the center of the ruins lay a temple at the top of a pyramid-like structure—the lair of the Black Dragon. The party approached the temple cautiously, and upon closer inspection it was made clear that it was a temple of Bahamut. As he neared the temple, an unsettling feeling descended over Horacio, as he could not feel the presence of his god. His powers and prayers still retained their effect, however, so he pressed on with the rest of the party.

As the party ascended the steps to the temple, they heard splashes and screams, and saw the Black Dragon situated in front of a large pool of water. When the screams died off, it was clear to all present that the children were in danger. The party confronted the Black Dragon, but it was in no mood for conversation, and attacked immediately.

The Black Dragon targeted Valindra first, grabbing her and dragging her down into a deep pool of water. The two children were on the cusp of death, and the rest of the party worked hard to save them. Meanwhile, Valindra struggled heroically with the Black Dragon, but the beast retaliated quickly and viciously—clawing and biting her as it dragged her into the depths of the water.

Stasi managed to fish the children out of the pool of water, and with Erik’s help managed to revive one of the children. Horacio tried desperately to save the other child, but despite his best efforts the other died in his arms. Stasi carried the surviving child away from the temple and concealed the child and himself in the swamp, hoping to avoid the Black Dragon.

Now that the children were dealt with, the part could shift its focus back to the Black Dragon. Since neither the dragon nor Valindra had returned from the depths of the water for some time, Erik and Horacio could only presume that the worst had happened. Horacio made a fruitless attempt to see deeper into the pool with radiant magic. Defeated and enraged by the cruelty of the Black Dragon, Horacio blasted the water with lightning in an attempt to flush the vile beast out of hiding. In doing so, he was faced with the damning guilt which stemmed from knowing that his attack would hurt his friend equally as much as it would his enemy.

The dragon emerged from the underbelly of the swamp, and managed to expose Stasi and the child despite Stasi’s effort to conceal them. As the party fought with the Black Dragon, they noticed that it was covered with numerous magical glyphs, which pulsed and surged whenever it was hit by magical attacks. When the dragon finally fell, the glyphs exploded, and a deafening crack was heard across the entire island.

Immediately after this occurred, a portal opened inside the temple and Hannah Eladrin stepped out of it. She was incredibly distraught, and asked the party what had just happened. She explained that she had made a deal with the Black Dragon, and that in exchange for the overlooking the kidnapping of children now and again, the dragon would maintain magical wards to block the opening of the portals within the city. She explained that despite her considerable command of the arcane arts, she simply did not have the energy to protect the city on her own. The tragedy surrounding the death of Valindra and the kidnapped child was now compounded with the realization that Ravenshore was vulnerable and in peril.

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Adventure Log: Session 8

Characters Present: Beak, Corrin, Enna, Erik, Jim, Horacio, Stasi, Valindra, Zak.

At the outset of this session, the party was notified that all magic-users would have to register with Ravenshore’s authorities. While this proved to be no more than a minor inconvenience to most party members, Beak caused quite the scene when he decided to attempt to register with a false ID, and was promptly arrested. He was not heard from again for some time afterwards, and the misadventures that inevitably occurred during his imprisonment remain a mystery to the rest of the party.

A few days passed, and it was announced that a new year was about to begin in Ravenshore. The streets of the city were filled with happy citizens dressed in gold for the occasion. The city, too, was filled with gold decorations—which as the party learned is symbolic of an age of prosperity brought about by a Draconic “golden emperor” in the past. Parade lines marched their way through the city, and carnival games and activities were scattered all about.

At the Angry Owlbear, Stasi and Horacio remained busy cooking food and serving fine ale to the influx of patrons who wanted to usher in the New Year with booze and fine gastro-pub cuisine. Corrin made a small fortune hustling carnival games and high-stakes card tables, while Erik scraped together a few coppers pretending to be a panhandler on the side of the road. In an effort to take his law enforcement duties more seriously, Jim patrolled the streets on the lookout for drunkards that might put a damper on the festivities. Enna found her way to Varahallusk and Daurosk, who explained part of the history and symbolism of the New Years celebration: Varahallusk explained that the “golden emperor” was in fact a metallic dragon who ruled the continent of Aulonia in the past. Many of the citizens of Ravenshore look back to his reign quite fondly, which is why the New Years celebration is held largely in his honor. Daurosk had little more to contribute than loud complaints about how nobody in the city cared about the actual history behind the celebration.

As the festivities continued on the city streets, it was decided that the time was ripe for a return to the city’s underground. To his everlasting shame, Jim fulfilled an earlier promise he made to Stasi and bought him drugs from Tort. However, in an effort to redeem himself he did manage to boot out a few crooked cops from the premises, and gather some intelligence about the workings of the fight club. The party once again participated in the group fighting tournament, and took down a gang of marginally tough Dragonborn fighters.

Just as the party had settled into the relaxed atmosphere of the celebration, they spotted hooded figures on the roof of a nearby building. A heavy tremor was felt in the ground, and soon it was clear that the hooded figures were opening another portal in the city. A volcanic portal soon burst out of the ground, with hot lava spewing forth from it onto the streets. Jim and Valindra attempted to chase down the hooded figures, but they vanished without a trace—leaving behind an open portal to the Elemental Chaos, and a massive Cataclysm Dragon.

Erik pushed aside his fear of fire, and set out to protect Jim while he worked on closing up the portal. Meanwhile, Stasi and Zak kept the dragon busy by quite literally mashing it into a flaming pulp, with Valindra and Enna providing backup and healing. After a tough fight the dragon was taken down, and the portal was sealed. The party made it through the ordeal mostly unscathed, although Valindra did venture precariously close to a pool of hot lava.

With the situation finally under control, the party worked their way back down to the streets from the rooftops, while Bullock, the Chief, and a group of police officers arrived on the scene. While the party expected some sort of congratulations or rewards for their heroic efforts, Enna and Jim were instead promptly placed under arrest for the illegal use of magic.

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Stasi's Rat Bourguignon Recipie
Mmm Mmm drugs!

Ingredients

  • 1 6 ounce piece chunk bacon
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds lean stew rat, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups red wine, young and full bodied
  • 3 cups rat stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 20 small white onions
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms, quartered

Directions

1. 1Preheat oven to 450 degrees.


2. 2Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry.


3. 3Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to side dish with a slotted spoon.

4. 4Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Dry rat in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Add rat, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat.

5. 5Return the rat and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the rat lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust). Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

6. 6Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

7. 7While the rat is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet. Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly. Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.

8. 8Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms. Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat. When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan.

9. 9Wash out the casserole and return the rat and lardons to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top. Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for 1-2 minutes, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.

10. 10Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.

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