Episode 32: Bonding of a Paladin and a Ranger

(DM’s Note: This is another story written by two of my players, Shannon (Edella) and Briac (Claire) respectively. 

When the group decided to set watches for the night, Briac immediately volunteered to partner with Edella before Raskin could. If the half-orc gave him any looks or comments the man ignored them. He wanted to talk to the paladin. Since being flung into this adventure Briac hadn’t really had a chance to get to know the girl, not well, and he could easily see she was the heart of the operation. It was also clear the paladin could handle herself and then some, but sometimes hearts–especially pure ones like Edella’s–needed a little guidance.

And maybe he missed his sister. Though she had always been the one giving him advice.

Briac settled back against a tree trunk and stole glances at the girl wondering how to start a conversation. It was so much easier with Bey.

Edella stood straight as she gazed out into the darkness, her ranseur held in one hand, blunt end resting on the ground. She felt like she was missing something without the familiar comfortable weight of her breastplate. She was quieter than she usually tended to be, thoughts dancing around the edge of her worries, afraid to look too close at them. This would be the first true rest they had since everything that had happened in Zenga’s village. Part of the reason she’d been pushing them to keep moving was because she was afraid that when she closed her eyes to sleep, all she would see was that room full of dead children. Righteous fury had led them to immediately go back to deal with Zenga’s father, but now that that had passed and the cold reality of the situation had seeped over her, she wished they had stopped and taken the time to lay them to rest. The idea that they would remain exactly as they had found them, unmourned by anyone except maybe her and Briac, and possibly Bey, made her throat constrict painfully.

Briac reached out towards her, a dark berry resting in the palm of his hand. “You want a berry?” He really wished he was better at this stuff.

Edella blinked over at him, swallowing and pushing away the thoughts, then smiling at him. “Sure,” she said, stepping closer to take the offered berry. “Thank you.” She popped it into her mouth. “Mm, that’s good!” They hadn’t had much opportunity for sweet things while they trudged through the swamps.  

Edella Montfort
“Mmmm…berries…”

A smile made its way across Briac’s scarred face. “I’m glad you like it,” he said. “Nature’s not as good as Ron, I suppose, but she’s damn near close.”

“Imagine what Ron could do with these,” Edella said, thinking of jams and sauces they could put on their food.  

“My stomach’s growling just thinking of it,” he replied (and indeed it was.) “My sister used to make these pastries filled with blueberry preserves and a sweet cheese… I should ask Ron if that’s something he can do.”

“Those sound amazing!” Edella said enthusiastically.

He glanced at the girl. “I don’t think I recall where you’re from, Edella.”

She’d been about to ask him more about his sister when he turned the topic to her. “Oh! I’m from Fulton. It’s in Emeron.”  

“Family there?” he asked. He remembered vaguely something about an uncle he thought.

Edella smiled and nodded. “My uncle Winston is there. He’s the Marshal for Sir Lazrith.” Which might explain Edella’s in depth knowledge of how nobility seemed to operate.  

“An important job,” Briac remarked with a nod. “Did he raise you?”

“From the time I was around seven or so,” Edella said without any hesitation. It wasn’t that she was secretive about her past like Zenga. It was just that usually when she would talk about such things with the members of their party, they didn’t ask, and she found herself more interested in knowing about their lives than going on about herself.  

There was a slight frown. “Can I ask what happened to your parents?”

“They were paladins in service to Baron Ravenut,” Edella said. “They were sent on a mission in the Planes of Galmar and were killed. I’m not sure exactly what happened but Uncle Winston says they couldn’t be recovered.” So no resurrection spells for them.

The man’s frown deepened and he looked genuinely sympathetic. “I’m sorry, Edella.”

She gave him a gentle smile. “It’s okay,” she said. “I’m sure they died doing something ridiculously heroic. That’s just how they were.”

Briac couldn’t help himself, he smiled back. Vivienne had been able to do that, get him to smile with just her own smile, even when he didn’t think he could, even when he didn’t want to. “They must be very proud of you,” he said. “Most likely cheering you on next to Vesper’s side as you do your own ridiculously heroic endeavors.” His faith had been wavering these last few months but he remembered how it had felt to truly believe. There was no warmth like it.

Edella’s smile flickered and faded just a bit. It was hard to call yourself heroic when you let – no, not let, but helped – innocent children die. And the reminder of Vesper weighed on her as well. If they were connected to him, which she was becoming increasingly sure of, they had a duty to help him – help all the gods – but what could they even do? These were gods. How presumptuous was it to think you could help them?

“I’m sure they are,” she said, forcing herself to buck up. “Though, this wasn’t exactly the adventure I had in mind when I set out from home!”  

Briac cursed himself, sensing he must have said something wrong when the girl’s smile wavered. He was always doing that. “Did you leave a boyfriend behind?” he blurted then. Great, he was doing spectacularly.

Edella’s eyes widened and her face started to heat up, though in the dark maybe Briac wouldn’t see. She let out a nervous laugh. “No, no,” she said, shaking her head, thinking suddenly of when she was thirteen and a Lord had come to visit with his squire in tow. He’d had blonde hair and striking green eyes and she’d felt her stomach get all twisted up any time they made eye contact. But then they’d sparred and, well. It ended like a lot of her spars had. With the other party angry with her and storming off. “Nothing like that.”

Briac raised his eyebrows. “I’m surprised,” he said. It was a lie, of course. The way comments flew over the girl’s head and how Raskin’s desperate attempts at flirting were met with a childlike innocence he was pretty sure she had never had a boyfriend.

He was not wrong. Edella shrugged lightly. “It just hasn’t… really come up.”

Briac eyed her gently. “I think it’s come up, Edella, I’m just not sure you’ve noticed it.”

Edella blinked at him. “What?” she said. “I doubt it.”

“Raskin? Froderick?” He swallowed and added, unsure it was the truth but wouldn’t doubt it, “Bey?”

“Briac, don’t be silly,” Edella said, waving off the idea as ridiculous.

Briac frowned, staring over at her. He really wasn’t a silly kind of guy.

“They’re all just being nice,” Edella said, then thought about Raskin being such a jerk about saving the kids. She was still a little mad at him about that. “Mostly.”

“They’re not just being nice,” Briac insisted. “They’re flirting with you. Raskin, albeit, crudely.”

Edella frowned. “Raskin does that with everyone,” she said, thinking about how he spoke to Delilah, or literally almost any other woman they came across.

Briac gave a quiet snort and looked out over the area. “He flirts with everyone, Dell.” All the while making disgusting, oftentimes sexist, remarks to anyone with ears. And Briac had found himself pulled in the half-orc’s orbit, time and time again, pretending to be someone else, ignoring Raskin’s homophobic comments, all to please and fit in. He really was pathetic, wasn’t he?

The nickname caught her by surprise, and her head tilted as she considered it, then decided she liked it. No one had ever given her a nickname before.

“And he… you know. Spends time with other women,” she said. She wasn’t entirely naive. She didn’t exactly know the specifics, but she understood the basic gist of…. it. “So, I think you’re overthinking it. He’s just being Raskin with me.”

Briac almost laughed, the innocent expression of ‘sex’ adorable, but he didn’t want to make the girl feel like he was making fun of her. He smiled instead and looked back at her. “I think he wants to spend time with you,” he said.

Edella gave him a skeptical look, but glanced over to the bedrolls surrounding the campfire, eyes finding the big lump that was surely Raskin.

“I don’t know, Briac,” she said.

The man followed her gaze—yes, that large lump was most certainly Raskin—and shrugged. “He likes you, that I’m sure of,” he said. “Are his intentions pure? That I have a hard time convincing myself of.” Briac tried in the beginning, helping Raskin to be a little more sensitive, but the more time they spent together the more he was unsure what the half-orc really wanted from Edella.

“I think he’s got a good heart in there,” Edella eventually said. “Sometimes.” Other times he could just be plain mean. And he treated her like she was stupid a lot – like when Froderick had wandered into the swamp on his own and she was worried about him.

“Deep in there,” Briac said and, frowning slightly, added, “I hope so.” Life hadn’t been easy for the half-orc as far as Briac could tell, and it was Raskin who had insisted it was ‘too late’ for the children of Zenga’s village. Did the half-orc think it was too late for himself too?

Raskin
“I don’t know what they’re talking about. I’m awesome.”

Edella refused to believe it was too late for anyone who’s heart wasn’t evil. “I want to help him,” she admitted. “I think he needs friends.”

Briac found himself nodding. He himself needed friends too. Things had been better since being forced into this ragtag group, the darkness kept at bay. “I agree,” he said. He flashed a smile at Edella. “He’s got us.”

She grinned at him. “Exactly! I think you’re a good influence, so if we both keep it up maybe he’ll make better choices.”

Briac blinked at her. “You think I’m a good influence?” he asked.

“I don’t need Vesper to tell you have a good heart,” Edella said with a smile. His reaction to Zenga’s father’s betrayal was enough to prove that, even if she hadn’t already known from all the small things she’d seen throughout their travels.

“I like men,” he blurted out.

“Oh!” Edella said, surprised, but also a little unsure exactly what he meant due to the abrupt way he brought up the topic. “Do you mean you like to, um. Spend time with them?”

It was Briac’s turn for heat to crawl up his cheeks. “Yes,” he said and cleared his throat. He had never told anyone except his sister, really. Obviously people knew (no matter how discreet he was about it) but he had never said it out loud.

Rollo
Briac Youngblood, not exactly the picture of discreet…

“Oh, okay,” Edella said, accepting it just like that. She’d grown up sheltered, but in an odd way. Sir Lazrith’s hold was very diverse, and she hadn’t really gotten out that much to see the kinds of struggles that people like Raskin, Shren, or Briac might face. Her Lord was an elf, his right hand a half orc. The court even had a gnome inquisitor. It had never occurred to her that people might see anything wrong with that until she got out into the world and started to witness it. It was, quite frankly, absurd.

“So, wait, did you leave a boyfriend behind?” she asked.

The girl’s easy acceptance of his preferences was… well, Gods, it felt great. But it was also a little surprising. “I wouldn’t call him a boyfriend…” His brow furrowed. “You’re really okay with it?”

Edella frowned. “Why wouldn’t I be?” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you like men or women.”

A small smile crept of his face. “Thank you,” he said with a nod. He wished he could hug the girl but he’d be sure to make it awkward.

“Of course!” she said brightly. “So you have someone you left behind?” she asked. “What about your sister?”

Briac shook his head, his smile fading. “My sister was killed a couple years ago. Really, it was only me and Rolla. My dog,” he said as if he hadn’t brought the dog up a million times before.

“Oh,” Edella said, reaching out to put a gentle hand on Briac’s arm. “I’m sorry.”

“She was a stray before she found me,” he continued. “I’m sure she’ll be able to handle herself without me. Still, I hope she’s all right. I miss her.”

“I’m sure she’ll be fine,” Edella agreed. “And hopefully you can get home soon if we can get ourselves unlinked. But… I’m sorry about your sister, too.” It had been what she meant originally.

He knew. But it was hard to talk about Vivienne, he usually only did it when he was several drinks in. So he nodded and changed the subject. “So, yeah, Froderick. What do you think about him?”

“Froderick?” Edella said, dropping her hand from Briac’s arm and smiling. “He’s brilliant. I never realized there was so much to know about magic.”

Noticing the smile on the girl’s face, he pressed on. “Very brilliant,” he agreed. “And he has good intentions as far as I can tell.”

“Good intentions?” Edella said.

“A good soul,” Briac clarified. “He is a bit weird though. But aren’t we all?”

Edella laughed. “I guess that’s true! I think Froderick has a very good heart.” As long as they didn’t let Raskin nudge him too far off track. But she thought after their conversation in the Shires that Froderick seemed to be a bit refreshed in that area.

“He seems a bit sweet on you,” Briac mentioned, glancing at her for her reaction.

Edella flushed again and reached out to gently push his arm. “Briaaaac,” she said. “Come on.”

Briac grinned back at her. “Is that a bad thing?” he pressed.

Now she was looking over at the camp and at Froderick’s tent. She found her free hand playing with the links of her chainmail sleeve. She’d never really thought about it before, was all. In Fulton she hadn’t known a lot of men her age, and now she just, always had bigger things on her mind. “It’s… I just think you’re mistaken,”

“Oooh.” Briac perked up. “You like him!”

“I didn’t say that!” she hissed, smacking at his arm.

The man actually found himself chuckling even through his pain. “Ow, Dell, watch it, you’re small but you hurt.”

“Sorry,” she said, feeling bad. She hadn’t meant to hit him that hard.

“You should be.” But he was grinning as he swung an arm around her neck and pulled him to her playfully, delivering a brotherly kiss to the top of her head. “I’m joking. I like that you’re tough. I bet Froderick does too.

Edella hadn’t ever had a brother so it was strange but not in a bad way. “I don’t know about that,” she said, sounding legitimately doubtful.

“No? Why wouldn’t he?” Briac asked, letting the girl go.

“I don’t think a lot of men appreciate tough women,” Edella said hesitantly.

“That’s absurd,” Briac said. “Look at our group. Without the women we’d be dead.”

“Maybe in a group like this it’s different,” Edella said.

“But as a girlfriend you don’t think he’d be interested?” Briac asked.

She shrugged. “I don’t know.”

“There’s really only one way to find out,” he said.

Edella just smiled. “I think we’ve got bigger things to worry about right now,” she said.

Briac nodded. “I suppose that’s true,” he said and looked out into the night, growing a little more solemn. “Still… we see such horrible things, sometimes it’s just nice to love and be loved in return.”

“Mm,” Edella agreed. “Well, I love you all either way.”

The comment drew his eyes to the girl. “You really are something else, you know that?” What he wouldn’t give for her optimism and love of the world.

“I don’t know about that,” she said, but she smiled at him anyway.

“That said,” he continued, realizing he’d probably ruin the moment but saying it anyway, “sex is fun and if it’s with someone you care about it’s even better.”

“Briac!” Edella said, flushing.

Froderick could probably do a whole light show as foreplay. Edella would probably enjoy that. Briac gave her a small smile. “Sorry… anyway, I’d start with kissing first.”

“You’re ridiculous,” Edella said, shaking her head.  

“Do you think Froderick’s a good kisser?” he asked even though his mind found itself on Bey instead.  

“I have no idea!” Edella said shifting from foot to foot, uncomfortable. She was pretty sure Froderick had at least kissed someone before. Raskin clearly had. Probably everyone in the group had except her, if she didn’t count that one awkward peck she’d given a stable boy when she was eight and she didn’t count that, thank you. “Can we talk about something else?”

He hid a smile and nodded. “All right, what would like to talk about instead?”  

“Have you ever been to Emeron City?” she asked, grabbing onto the first subject change that came to mind.  

The man shook his head. “I’d never even been outside the duchy I grew up in before I joined up with you all,” he admitted.  

“Me neither,” Edella admitted. “I was on my way to the city when I ended up with everyone.”  

Briac was about to ask Edella why she had been going to Emeron City when he heard a sound and both of them snapped to attention. Something or someone was approaching the camp…

DM’s Notes: Awwwww….

This is another RP exchange that Briac and Edella’s player’s shared with me. I love seeing the internal monologue of these characters and what they think about each other (but probably wouldn’t say) as well as their internal takes on how the adventures are affecting them. I’ve got some top notch roleplayers in my group, no doubt about it. And hey, if the PC’s want to explore their character’s relationships who am I to get in the way. Trust me, it makes great roleplay if/when one of them dies!

 

Episode 31: Old Security

Our cast of heroes:

Froderik Penderghast – Male Human Wizard. Logical and self-important wizard. Accompanied by his hawk familiar, Mordecai.

Raskin Daggermaw – Male Half-Orc Rogue. Huge, muscular braggadocious letch who is especially good at stabbing folks, if not interpersonal skills. Largely concerned with things that will get him paid.

Edella Montfort – Female Human Paladin of Vesper. Somewhat sheltered and naïve but always out to help anyone she comes across and punish evil. The moral center of the group.

Shren – Male Ratman Alchemist. Deadpan maker of potions and concoctions always seeking more recipes to master. Anxious to be out of the swamps.

Zenga – Female Human Witch. With everything she’s ever known proven to be lies, and her long lost father returning just to wipe out the village she grew up in, she’s a little broken at the moment. Accompanied by her scorpion familiar (and brother) Janis, who isn’t faring much better.

Beybulat “Bey” Tasho – Male Human Swashbuckler. A barbarian from the Plains of Galmar, he’s slowly learning the local language, though the customs are still baffling to him.

Delilah Farmeski – Female Human Cleric of Farmesk. A battle nun from the Eastern Realms who worships the God of War. She usually only thinks of healing after the fighting is done.

Briac Youngblood – Male Human Ranger. Has a massive crush on the oblivious Beybulat, and is desperately trying to keep his preference for men a secret.  

Belina Katel – NPC Female Human Ranger. The lone survivor of an adventuring party wiped out by the Bullywugs of this castle, she was rescued by the group and is more than happy to dole out some vengance.

Date Unknown, the Brokenback Swamps

The group decided that the best way to delve into the underwater basement to the sunken castle would be to rest for an hour so Delilah could prey and recover her spells, because she knew Farmesk could grant her the ability to allow her and some of her allies to breathe underwater.

While resting Froderick climbed to the top of the tower and stared at the moon for some time with a furrowed brow. After a few minutes he sighed a heavy “Oh dear,” and returned to the group.

“Uh ha, um, No need to rush my friends. If my calculations are correct, and they are, our rendezvous with the Archeron was 1 to 3 days ago. It seems that we are walking to Emron City.”

Froderick turned to look out the tower window again and waves out into the darkness. “Godspeed Ron.”

Everyone was disappointed by this news, but none seemingly more so than Bey, who cursed profusely in Galmarian.

Raskin appeared annoyed, but pretty quickly replied “Who cares? With all the money we’ll get from the treasure we can buy our own fleet of boats after this! One walk to Emeron is a fair price. Just nobody die in the meantime. That shit is expensive!”

After Delilah and Edella prayed to their respective deities, they announced they were ready to go below. Delilah cast magic upon herself, Raskin, Beybulat and Briac so they could breathe water and the four went into the sunken basement in search of treasure.

Though slowed by the water they were able to make halfway decent time. Unfortunately most of the rooms they came across had all the contents destroyed by time and swampwater so there was nothing of value to be found.

The final door, however, was secured quite well. Raskin tried to pick the lock, as he’d done with a couple of the doors, but found that the lock was both of very good quality, and badly gunked up by age and swampwater and he was just not able to pick it. Fortunately they were able to force the door open and get int.

Within, they found a couple of weapons racks, three chests and three clay statues made to look like knights with two swords, the crest of House Morwaine prominently carved into their chests. The first chest had only a ruined trap in it. The second was full of gems, though. When Raskin went to pocket them the word “THIEF!” boomed through the room, even though it was muffled by water. One of the statues came to life and immediately attacked Raskin, slashing into the orc with its rusty swords.

This caused the others waiting back out of the water to realize they were under attack, but they were unable to do anything as they didn’t think they could hold their breath long enough to get to the others. Edella announced she was going to try anyway though, forcing Zenga and Froderick to come up with a plan.

Zenga took their bullywug prisoner and told her to help swim Edella to the others, as the witch knew that the creatures could swim faster than humans. The bullywug initially refused, but Zenga promised a painful death if she didn’t cooperate and the creture relented.

Meanwhile Froderick pulled out his wineskin. He immediately chugged the contents as quickly as he could (spilling a lot and getting a little drunk in the process) and blew air into the skin, stoppering it with his finger and hand handing it to Edella as an emergency air bladder.

Suddenly they received a message from Delilah in Zengcode (a means of communication they’d come up with by using their shared pain to pinch and stab themselves in the arms to share information) asking for a House Morwaine signet ring they’d found on the PriestKing bullywug. Shren quickly ran it to Edella just as she and the bullywug prisoner ventured under the water.

Meanwhile the statue single mindedly pursued Raskin, injuring the half-orc further. With the extra resistance of the water it was difficult for the statue and the group to generate especially forceful blows. Worse, the group quickly discovered that only blunt weapons were doing much damage to the construct.

The four of them surrounded the statue wailing away on it, but it was tough going. Thankfully Raskin and Briac were able to destroy one if it’s swords, but it kept coming. Delilah began swimming towards the entrance, planning to take the ring from Edella and return with it.

Briac, seeing that Raskin was taking a beating, grabbed a handful of gems from the chest and tried to swim away. The statue turned and pursued him immediately. Edella swam for all her might into the swamp muck and was dragged even further by the bullywug. In short order they met Delilah who took the ring and started swimming back to the melee.

Delilah was able to intercept the statue as it was chasing Briac. She brandished the Signet Ring prominently and began to mime under the water that it should stand down. Amazingly, the statue obeyed.

Everyone (except Edella) breathed a huge sigh of relief and they took all the gems and looted the second chest (which was full of coins). Edella moved to swim back and realized that in the confusion she’d lost sight of the Bullywug prisoner, who had also managed to steal her longsword before absconding.

Deciding that there was nothing else worth hanging around for, the group decided to leave the castle and venture into the night, intending to make camp away from the castle. Encumbered by their large sacks of loot they headed off into the night. Once they were a few hours away from the castle they set watches and turned in for the night.

DMs Notes: Turns out House Morwain had some magical security! On the plus side they got to add to their already pretty impressive loot count. To this point I believe it was the best haul the characters had so far, and their days of being excited to find a rusty chain shirt after escaping a dungeon with zero equipment were long past. 

This was a pretty quick session, and the PC’s quickly twigged onto the trick to get around it. Admittedly, it wasn’t too hard, but they wouldn’t be the first group to ignore the nearly obvious in favor of just smashing away at a problem until it stopped. 

Charging off into the night is a pretty dicey move, but on the other hand they didn’t want to wait until dusk for the surviving bullywugs to regroup nor did they particularly want their escaped prisoner to possibly convince them to attack in the night. All told they decided it was less dangerous to travel in the swampy darkness for a few hours than to risk staying in the castle any longer.

 

Episode 30: On the Principles of Applied Abjuration Magic

DM’s Note: this story was written by Tim (Froderick’s player) and Heather (Bey’s player) in a bit of roleplay between sessions.

The bargain had been struck. The party had until dawn to explore the sunken ruins before the temporary truce with the Bullywugs would expire. Froderick didn’t have enough time to study his spells and found himself standing around looking for something to do. Beybulat was sitting nearby, looking equally unoccupied.

Despite his close friendship with Raskin and his affinity for the half-orc’s Bey themed jokes, Froderick had long admired the big Galmarian’s open friendliness, physical prowess, and combat abilities. He also felt sympathetic toward Bey’s desire to see his family again, which hit close to home for Froderick. The mage had found his thoughts wandering to his family more and more over the past few weeks, especially since his disturbing visions often featured them.

After their last fight with the Bullywugs and Bey’s near fatal injuries, Froderick had resolved to see if he could help the Galmarian survive long enough to make it home and see his family again. Maybe it was an effort to take some kind of control of an uncontrollable situation, maybe Froderick just didn’t want to see any of his (only) friends die, or maybe it was Froderick’s way of dealing with his own anxiety over his family. Most likely it was a bit of all three.

Froderick approached his Galmarian comrade.

“Bey, If I could have a moment of your time, I have some thoughts I’d like to share with you. I try not to comment on matters outside my numerous areas of expertise, but I’ve noticed that your combat style frequently puts you into direct contact with the dangerous ends of enemy weapons. I think, unsurprisingly, that magic may be able to help you.”

After the fight with the bullywugs, Bey had decided to take a few minutes to rest. Raskin would make sure the place was properly looted, and Edella would make sure Raskin wouldn’t pocket too much treasure for himself. Bey sat in a quiet corner and rubbed his hand over his face. He had fought sloppily lately and he knew it. It was shameful as a warrior, but given his large size, he had never been as quick on his feet as some of the soldiers in his village who had trained him. If only he had his horse back. Mounted combat had always suited him best.

As if reading his mind, his friend Froderick appeared and, in typical spirited wizard-man fashion, began talking excitedly. At first, Bey had a difficult time following his words, but soon caught up with his friend’s verbose speech.

“Magic?” Bey’s brows knit together. Was Froderick offering to teach him the mysterious spells he practiced so often when on his own at camp? Bey shook his head. “I am not holy man. I have never…” He couldn’t think of the right way to articulate himself in Trade Tongue, and switched to Galmari, hoping Froderick could understand. “I have never been bestowed gifts like yours. I don’t think I would be able to learn.”

Froderick was confused by Bey’s limited vocabulary and feared he might be trying to express some kind of Galmarian taboo against magic. He had encountered anti-magic prejudice a few times before and did not wish to repeat that experience. When the big man switched back to his native tongue, the source of the confusion became clear and Froderick breathed a silent sigh of relief. A smirk pulled at the corner of Froderick’s mouth at the thought of Bey attempting to cast a spell, but not wanting to end the conversation by accidentally insulting his honor conscious friend, he suppressed it. Froderick switched into the hybrid Trade Tounge/Galmarian he and Bey used during their language lessons to avoid any further confusion.

“My apologies, I didn’t meant to suggest that you should wield magic. Although do not sell yourself short friend. A decade or two of dedicated study under a master and I’m sure you’d get the hang of it.” Froderick smiled broadly at Bey, fairly sure he had just bestowed the finest compliment the warrior had ever heard. “No my friend, I want to talk to you about what magic can do for you.”

Froderick
Froderick Pendergast, Wizard of the Third Circle and ever-increasing self-applied titles.

Bey was similarly relieved that Froderick understood enough of his native language that they could get along in a blend of the two. While he certainly noticed his grasp of the trade tongue was strengthening, Froderick was the only person Bey could communicate with using a higher level of sophistication. This came in handy because Froderick was obviously a learned scholar, although the mystical subjects he studied were certainly a mystery to Bey.

He raised his eyebrows at his friend. “You sound like a peddler in the bazaar, my friend, trying to sell me your wares. What do you mean, what magic can do for me?”

Seeing that Bey was at least halfway interested, Froderick switched into full pitch mode. “Well my friend, I’m glad you asked me that.” Noticing a blood stain on Bey’s tunic, Froderick gestured to it with a theatrical flourish, “Take that blood stain for example. I bet that’s going to be pretty hard to wash out…or is it?!”

Froderick snapped his fingers and the stain vanished, leaving clean fabric behind. The excited wizard nodded toward it and grinned.

Now Froderick seemed less like a peddler and more like one of those eccentrics who stood around in the village square entertaining children with sleight of hand effects. Bey’s father had looked upon those sorts of men with disdain, commenting that they were too busy teaching goats tricks to put in a hard day’s work like the rest of them. Bey had been discouraged from giving those tricksters spare coins.

Still, he had to admit the fabric of his shirt looked cleaner. “How did you do that?” he asked, twisting the hem to see whether the stain remained on the other side. He glanced up and narrowed his eyes at Froderick. “Please don’t just say ‘magic.'”

Froderick beamed at his friend. “Ah ha! Very good! You think like a scholar. Many folk in this world fear and distrust magic because they fail to understand what it is.”

The wizard held out his bony hand palm up. A crude human shaped figure wielding a miniature hammer appeared with a poof in his outstretched hand. The little man proceeded to hammer on a tiny anvil as Froderick spoke.

Blacksmith Hand

“Magic is a tool. As the smith wields his hammer, we wizards wield the fabric of reality. The smith makes many things from iron, we too can make many things from the energies that make up the universe.”

The little man completed his tiny sword as Froderick finished speaking and held it aloft in triumph.

Bey wasn’t entirely sure whether he was being lumped into the “fear and distrust magic” category by Froderick. He knew his skepticism over the gods in this realm had upset some of them, especially Edella. Magic seemed especially tied to the deities here, although Bey had to admit he couldn’t remember a time Froderick used the name of one of them in his apparent castings.

Eyeing the tiny illusion in his friend’s palm, Bey said carefully, “And where does this ‘energy’ come from, exactly?”

The wizard closed his hand and the illusory blacksmith and anvil vanished with a pop. Froderick was deep in his element now and his voice took on a professorial edge to it as he emulated the lectures he had attended as a young apprentice.

“Another excellent question!” Froderick exclaimed, “Firstly, let us not confuse the noble practice of arcane magic with the that of the divine. Clerics like Delilah or holy warriors like Edella draw their power directly from their patron god or goddess. They ask in humility to use a tiny portion of their god’s power, which they are granted through prayer and faith. Wizards such as myself have no need to supplicate ourselves to the gods to wield our power. Our ally is the very fabric of reality, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us.” Froderick reached out a hand and pinched one of Bey’s bulging muscles as he continued. “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. The energies of creation are all around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere. Yes…even between you and your homeland.”  Froderick smiled a knowing smile at his friend. “I can harness these energies, which make up all of creation, to create magical effects. I can also use them to enchant items to produce those effects for my friends.”

Bey listened closely, his expression a mask of severity that could just as easily break out into raucous laughter as an act of violence. He was impressed that Froderick seemed to be picking up Galmari syntax in some of his speech patterns, but aside from that, the explanation was kind of a hard sell.

“How is universe energy different from god energy? Aren’t they the same thing? God creates the universe, so universe energy is God’s energy?”

Froderick was momentarily taken aback. These were deep philosophical waters he was wading into and he hadn’t really meant for the conversation to veer in this direction. Never one to shy from a healthy debate though, Froderick quickly regained his mental footing and continued with gusto.

“Ah ha! An interesting point. While it is true that most say that the gods created the universe, it stands to reason that the gods themselves must have been created at some point, or at the very least that they ‘came to be’ at some point.” The mage paused for a moment and considered his next words carefully. “I think it’s safe to assume that the gods are indeed made up of the same kind of energies that make up the universe. The difference lies in the access and application of those energies. Clerics and other divine casters can only access the energies of creation via the conduits of their specific gods or goddess. They are totally dependent on their deities for their power. Wizards require no such middle men, and we can tap directly into the energies of reality.” Not sure if he was making himself clear, the young wizard tried a different tactic. “Let’s for a moment pretend that instead of magical energy we are talking about gold. You can either work a job and receive your gold from your employer, or you could mine it from the ground yourself. We wizards mine our own gold.”

Froderick eyed Bey expectantly, trying to gauge the other’s thoughts. He hoped his distillation of such complicated topics were making sense.  

The explanation was a little wild, but to be fair, Bey had seen some clear applications of the concepts Froderick was talking about. His main hangup was that he wasn’t sure he believed the “gods” were really gods and not just cleverly disguised demons. Were they really granting power? Or was there some other explanation?

“So… which magic is stronger: wizard magic, or god magic?”

Froderick was on dangerous ground. He of course had his own opinions on this subject but he really couldn’t answer with a high degree of certainty. He quickly looked around to make sure Delilah and Edella were out of ear shot before continuing.

“Ahem, hmm, well, you see…that is, it’s not quite so cut and dry as that. I would prefer to say that each form of magic has its own merits and disadvantages. One could argue, as I do, that the freedom to wield magic as I see fit is far superior to the constraints placed upon divine casters. Divine casters are bound to follow the codes and tenets of their gods. The gods grant them a list of specific spells they can use, and if they stray from their god’s path, even their limited number of spells can be taken away from them. We wizards, through constant study, can use our magic in as many ways as we can think of. We seek to understand the power as a gnome understands machinery. We can use our understanding to write new spells that did not exist before and, this is where I believe magic can help you, we can create items that bestow magical powers to non magic users.”

On the one hand, Bey was relieved to hear that Froderick’s magic was free from the potential taint of the “gods.” On the other hand, he was now concerned about Delilah and especially Edella, who both seemed very enamored with their respective deities. “Are you saying the gods tell them what to do? Do you think the gods—” He paused, thinking of the number of times Delilah invoked her god’s name with near madness during battle. “Control them?”

Froderick had heard Bey speaking of his hatred for Akana and his devotion to the mysterious “Bog” and he knew he was on very dangerous ground. If he approached this wrong, he could start a serious religious rift within the party and they needed all the unity they could get. The young mage thought for a moment and proceeded with caution.

“No, I would not say the gods control. It is more that the gods require a certain set of rules to be followed. Those that follow the rules and live their lives by the philosophy of their gods are granted favors in the way of power. Those who stray from the god’s rules are denied that power. To be sure, it is a bargain of sorts, but it is not a contract of slavery. Is it much the same with Bog? Does he compel Galmarians to follow him or does he instead reward Galmarians who chose to follow?”  

Bey was hesitant to delve into his people’s religion, since the few times he had brought up Bog, things had gone poorly (except with Briac). He sighed, shifting his weight as he struggled to think of a way to explain it in either language.

“Bog is Bog. He is there whether we choose to follow him or not. We should be respectful, because he is loving and merciful… but we do not expect special favors for following him. There are holy men and shamans, yes, but it is rare for a person to be given divine power. I have never met a true shaman of Bog, though I know of some. My brother…” He hesitated, thinking of his recent vision of Mita. Was it a sign he was still alive? Bey decided to stay optimistic in that regard. “My brother serves in the army for Shaman Shamil. Shamil is a great military commander, leading our people in the fight against the Wilarians. I can understand why a man like that is given holy power. As for the rest of us…” He shrugged, demonstrating that neither he nor anyone he knew had ever been singled out as exceptional in that regard.

Beybulat
Beybulat Tasho of Tribe Abrek

Froderick thought for a moment. “Hmm perhaps the gods of Emeron are simply more liberal with their power than Bog. Perhaps Bog requires more of his devotees than do the gods of Emeron. The gnomes, elves, and dwarves all have their own gods, each different from the next. Are some less valid than others? Who is to say? Were I Galmarian, I might say only Bog knows. Were I a battle nun, I might say it is up to Farmesk. Perhaps in the end, they are all the same, and it is we who see them as different.” Froderick wasn’t really strong enough in his own beliefs to know for sure, but he had seen enough variation within a single religion, let alone across different pantheons, to know that when it came to the gods, there were many possibilities.

Bey brightened. This was actually a much more nuanced take than he’d gotten from Edella, who had clearly doubted the existence of Bog because Bey hadn’t seen him bestow anyone powers. “I am glad to hear you say so. Perhaps it is true.”

Feeling himself heading towards a bit of an intellectual impasse, he decided to try to steer the conversation back to his original purpose.

“Fortunately for us, I am bound by no such restraints. I need ask no one’s permission to use my magic to aid my comrades, and no being, mortal or divine, dictates my actions. Which brings me back around to the, ah, impetus for this conversation.” This was it, the big pitch. Hopefully he had shown Bey that his motives were good, and could get him to accept the aid he was about to offer.

Bey listened, remembering Froderick had a more specific reason for initiating this theological discussion that seemed very mercantile in its structure. “Right, you say you want your magic to ‘do’ something for me?”

Froderick breathed a sigh of relief. This was something he could definitely speak to with authority. “I have recently unlocked the secret of imbuing mundane items with certain magical properties. Boots, hats, and things of that nature. These do, of course, cost a bit of gold to produce, but i believe they could give you an edge in combat. With enough time, I could produce an item that enhances any number of attributes, from the accuracy of your strikes to your dexterity. If you were willing to help me defray the cost of such an item, the practice of producing it for you would be compensation enough for me. Not to mention that I would feel better, my friend, were you more adequately protected in battle.” Froderick beamed at his warrior friend, expectantly awaiting an affirmative response.

Bey found himself smiling somewhat crookedly at the proposition. “Not a bad sell, wizard-man.”

He paused, considering. He actually did have a fair bit of gold saved up ever since they had become heroes of the halfling shires. He had made similar deals with Shren for healing elixirs and that had certainly come in handy.

“So you’re saying you can make me some kind of… talisman? Is that the right word? And it could protect me in battle?” He furrowed his brow, mulling it over. He definitely knew he could improve in this area, given the recent close calls with their enemies. “I don’t wish to insult your abilities, my friend, but how would I be sure it’s working? I am easily able to tell if armor breaks, but I am ignorant in the ways of magic. Would it need upkeep, that sort of thing?”

Froderick frowned slightly at the suggestion that his work might fail, but reminded himself that Bey didn’t fully understand how magic devices worked.

“Exactly right my friend, I’m offering to create a talisman to augment your abilities in combat. We can discuss the specific effects later as I have a few options I think would suit you. You’d need to care for it as you would any item of value, but there would be no magical training needed to do so. As to whether you could trust it works, I ask you this, do you trust me?”

Bey smiled. He wanted to give Froderick the benefit of the doubt. “Okay, my friend, I do trust you. How much would you need to make this talisman?”

“Ah yes, of course. There is the cost of such an endeavor to consider. To be honest, the monetary requirements vary depending if they type of enchantment.”

Froderick didn’t want this to be about money. He wanted to help his friend stay alive and maybe gain a little experience in the bargain. To ease any potential misgivings he added, “Come visit my tent one evening and we can choose something that is within your means. I will, of course, ah, that is, I will contribute what I can if you require, ahem, that is, if you need any, uh, financial ah, a-assistance.”

Froderick felt that like perhaps he should say something more.

“We can also continue our discussion about about magic!”

“I will surely do that,” Bey said. He was willing to give it a shot, and Froderick seemed keen. Given their recent spoils, he figured he could probably afford whatever his friend had in mind. “Once we get out of this terrible swamp, I will be happy to.”

“Indeed,” Froderick replied as he shook the barbarian’s hand, “Fuck this place.”

DM’s Notes: I love these sorts of character building exchanges and just wished there was time at the table for them. Still, I’m glad the RP is happening and gladder still that my players are sharing it!

I’m also amused by how much the PC’s hate the Brokenback Swamps. In each of the three campaigns I’ve run in Emeron the PC’s have had to make their way through the swamps for one reason or another, and all have shared Froderick’s assessment. Just think of how much more miserable our heroes here would be be if any of them had failed their Fort saves and got diseased too!

Episode 29: The Sunken Castle

Our cast of adventurers

Froderik Penderghast – Male Human Wizard. Logical and self important mage. Accompanied by his hawk familiar, Mordecai. Still nursing a grudge against Zenga, Delilah and Briac. Currently absent.

Raskin Daggermaw – Male Half-Orc Rogue. Huge, muscular braggadocious letch who is especially good at stabbing folks, if not interpersonal skills. Largely concerned with things that will get him paid.

Edella Montfort – Female Human Paladin of Vesper. Somewhat sheltered and naïve but always out to help anyone she comes across and punish evil. The moral center of the group.

Shren – Male Ratman Alchemist. Deadpan maker of potions and concoctions always seeking more recipes to master. Anxious to be out of the swamps.

Zenga – Female Human Witch. With everything she’s ever known proven to be lies, and her long lost father returning just to wipe out the village she grew up in and then try to kill the group, she’s a little broken at the moment. Accompanied by her scorpion familiar (and brother) Janis, who isn’t faring much better.

Beybulat Tasho aka “Bey” – Male Human Swashbuckler. A barbarian from the Plains of Galmar, he’s slowly learning the local language, though the customs are still baffling to him.

Delilah Farmeski – Female Human Cleric of Farmesk. A battle nun from the Eastern Realms who worships the God of War. She usually only thinks of healing after the fighting is done.

Briac Youngblood – Male Human Ranger. Has a massive crush on the oblivious Beybulat, and is desperately trying to keep his preference for men a secret.  

Date Unknown, Presumably still in the Brokenback Swamps

The group trudged through the swamp, unsure of the date or where they were, but they eventually spotted smoke to the northeast. Heading in that direction they saw a stone tower, connected to the a castle partially sunken into the swamp. The southeast tower was the only one intact though the rest of the building seemed pretty structurally sound.

Raskin immediately advocated searching the castle for lost treasures rumored to still be in the Brokenback Swamps and Delilah suggested that if they climbed up on the tower, they might be able to see where the swamp ended. The others, however, pointed out the urgency with which they had to reach the Archeron and get to Emeron City.

As they got closer Bey spotted something moving in the tower, and Briac and Delilah saw that the figure was a frog like humanoid armed with a shortbow keeping watch.

Delilah described them, and Zenga stated that it sounded like a Bullywug, and she told them that they were cruel, malicious, evil creatures. When Delilah asked if they were more dangerous than the lizardfolk, Zenga affirmed that they were.

Bullywug
A Bullywug

Raskin advocated scouting the area and seeing if it was feasible to defeat the Bullywug and use the tower to look at the surrounding area. Everyone agreed that figuring out where they was important, so Raskin, Shren and Zenga snuck up to the castle. They saw a large double door on the south end of the castle, and they decided to make their way around around the back of the castle on the northside, avoiding the intact tower and main door.

They found a palisade around the entire east wall of the castle, a few people were chained to the wall, and a few dead animals scattered around within the palisade. Zenga was a little louder than Shren and Raskin and one of the figures chained to the wall, a blonde woman, looked up and spotted Zenga. The woman turned her head to the south and then looked back at Zenga and frantically began gesturing for Zenga to move back behind the castle.

Zenga then heard the doors on the south of the tower open and the trio ducked behind the castle. The woman returned to her slumped position, seemingly playing dead. Three Bullywugs entered the palisade and, after a brief discussion in their craoking language, selected one of the men chained to the wall and unshackled him and drug him back to the south door to re-enter the castle.

Zenga, who understood the Bullywug language, informed Shren and Raskin that they were deciding which of the prisoners to eat. The trio decided to sneak back to the rest of the group and fill  them in. At the news that there were prisoners to these evil beings, Edella declared that they should save them immediately. Raskin, speculating that they might pay a reward for their rescue, agreed wholeheartedly.

The party moved towards the castle in a direct route. They tried to sneak but their route almost invited the Bullywug in the tower to spot them, which it did. Fortunately Zenga was able to cast a Sleep spell upon the guard before he raised the alarm, and the group continued into the palisade.

Raskin picked the locks on the manacles and Edella healed the woman. Zenga and Delilah checked the other person shackled to the wall, but the man was dead.

The woman introduced herself as Belina. She explained that she was from a village in the barony of Fishton and that she was part of an adventuring party who had come here to search for treasures supposedly held in abandoned castles in the Brokenback Swamps, but that they’d been bested by the Bullywugs who lived in the castle.

Belina
Belina

Raskin asked if Belina wanted revenge and she hissed “yesssss.” The group equipped her with some spare weapons and urged her to follow them. Belina was all too happy to kill some Bullywugs and try to save Jindus, the man they’d dragged inside. At Raskin’s request, Zenga (who spoke the Bullywug language) took a moment to teach him the vulgarity “Fuck you cocksucker,” in the odd tongue.

With that the group threw open the front doors, and found that there was a room with murder holes just inside the door. Inside a Bullywug with a long spear was assigned to stab any intruders, but the party caught her by surprise and a slumber hex from Zenga put the creature down so Raskin and Shren could go into the murder room and kill it.

Delilah heard a sound nearest door towards the east, and the party charged in, finding another Bullywug guarding a double door. The creature had been warily moving in the party’s direction when they burst into the room and Belina immediately shot the beast, wounding it. Edella charged in with her ranseur injuring it further. Delilah then charged in behind Edella, laying the creature low with her longsword.

The group had little time to celebrate though, as the fight seemed to awaken another Bullywug in a nearby room. The creature ventured out, bleary eyed and armed with a spear. Bey rushed to slay him, but ended up chipping the blade of his longsword on the stone floor. Briac backed up Bey, running up and attacking the creature, but it blocked the ranger’s battle axe attack. Shren flung his self-proclaimed “Morning Star of Justice” winging the shoulder of the Bullywug. The creature then bellowed an alert as loud as it could in it’s own language. Raskin replied by authoritatively telling the creature in its native language that that he enjoyed romancing poultry (as he’d not quite grasped the hasty language lesson Zenga gave him.)

Three more bleary eyed Bullywugs, roused by the fighting, popped out of a suite of rooms nearby. Zenga immediately put one back to sleep with a hex, but the other two advanced. Shren injured them with an ice bomb, and Delilah summoned a spiritual scimitar which slashed at one of the two. Raskin charged in, plunging his blade into one and yelling in Bullywug “The Chickens will come!” Though confused, the two Bullywugs managed to spear his leg. Edella charged in to back Raskin up, slashing one of the beasts with her ranseur. Unfortunately at that moment Delilah and Edella both blinked out, leaving Shren and Raskin facing two angry Bullywugs on their own.

The two Bullywugs, finding that two of their opponents had vanished, rushed ahead stabbing at Raskin and Shren, though both were unable to land a hit on the heroes. The one rushing Shren pushed the attack, ready to stab Shren, when it was suddenly put to sleep by one of Zenga’s hexes.

Meanwhile Bey and Briac kept slashing at the Bullywug still in his room, though the Galmarian suffered a glancing blow. Bey retaliated with a hefty blow from the chipped longsword, nearly slaying the creature. In spite of this hit, Bey decided the longsword was too unwieldy so he dropped the damaged weapon and drew his Galmari dagger, jamming the blade into the Bullywug’s eye, slaying it.

At that moment the door to the tower, behind Shren and Raskin, flew open and a large female Bullywug emerged. She was armed with a warhammer and black dragonhide armor. Shren pulled a bomb to try to throw it, but fumbled and dropped it at his feet, blasting himself and Raskin instead.

Briac moved in and stabbed the Bullywug Zenga had just put to sleep, but the injury caused it to awaken. Bey ran up to back Briac up, stabbing the creature in the stomach and knocking it unconscious. Briac finished the job, his axe biting deep into the downed creature’s chest.

Suddenly Delilah appeared exactly where she had vanished from a moment ago, now standing next to Raskin and Briac and the Bullywug who just woke up. At the same time Froderick emerged from the double doors nearby, having popped into the vandalized chapel within. Both had apparently been returned by whatever force had temporarily taken them. Delilah, meanwhile was more than happy to strike at the nearest Bullywug, laying the creature low. She then followed up by charging the Bullywug in the dragonscale armor, however she could not penetrate the protection the armor offered. Froderick had the solution that ignored stout armor, however, and cast a spell causing three magical bolts of energy to slam into the Bullywug. Raskin capitalized on her moment of disorientation from the spell to ram his dagger into her armpit where the armor did not reach. This left him vulnerable to her counterattack though, and he suffered a blow to his abdomen from her warhammer. Zenga, deciding to cut this skirmish short, put the Bullywug to sleep, allowing Raskin to just slit the creature’s throat. He and Delilah immediately began to loot the Bullywug, taking a couple of potions from her and resolving to take the armor and warhammer once they’d secured the castle.

Meanwhile Shren and Briac began exploring nearby rooms to make sure there were not any other Bullywugs lurking in the immediate area. The two of them spotted the Bullywug that Zenga had slept at the beginning of the fight. He had awoken from the sleep hex and was fleeing the area. Shren and Briac called a warning and the Ratman hurled an ice bomb at the creature, felling it. Briac began exploring the nearby rooms to ensure there were no other bullywugs lying in wait, and found a series of plain rooms with straw pallets that the creatures apparently used to sleep upon. All the rooms were empty, but the number of them indicated there were more Bullywugs who lived in the castle than the ones they’d faced so far.

With the fight seemingly over (for now anyway) They began to compare notes and fill Froderick in on what happened since he’d vanished. He revealed he too had a vision, but seemed to avoid the topic for now given the situation. As they filled Froderick in Zenga, in a flat affect, blurted “My father’s dead,” to the wizard, basically ending the conversation awkwardly.

Bey, Froderick and Raskin climbed the tower, finding the Bullywug Zenga had put to sleep on the way into the castle and slitting its throat. Delilah explored the basement of the tower and found it was flooded, but that there was a door deeper into the water that appeared closed. Making a mental note to inform the party she headed back up to the main floor to rejoin the others.

Briac, Zenga, Shren and Belina, meanwhile, explored deeper in the castle. Taking point, Briac found a large room with exits on the far wall that seems like it may have once been used for some grander purpose, but now was mostly empty with only ruined furniture in the corners and occasional dark stains (probably of blood) on the stone floor.

From deeper in the castle Briac and Shren heard a loud voice croaking in Bullywug. Briac warned those near him to beware. Shren, using a code that Zenga had come up with to take advantage of their shared pain, began jabbing his wrist with his nail, issuing a warning to everyone that there were more Bullywugs, and then drank a potion turning himself invisible.

Suddenly a door around the corner from Briac flew open and a trio of bullywugs poured out. Zenga, ready and waiting for the first sign of an enemy, immediately put one of them to sleep. The remaining two rushed Briac and began stabbing him in the stomach with their spears. They also heard a disembodied voice chanting a spell and suddenly a hideous blob like creature appeared behind Briac. Belina drew her borrowed longsword and tried to lay into the summoned creature, with no marked success.

Lemure
A Lemure

Briac, stuck in a narrow hall and best upon by both sides, lashed out at the nearest Bullywug attacking him, injuring it with his battle axe. Zenga, seeing Briac in trouble, animated the  Bullywug that had been fleeing and Shren had killed with his bomb. The undead monster lurched at the summoned blob monster and grappled it, holding the creature tight and immobilizing it. Belina, crying out in surprised terror, hacked and slashed indiscriminately at both monsters in front of her, not especially caring which of the two she struck.

Shren hurled an ice bomb, becoming visible. The icy explosion took down the Bullywug that Briac had wounded, but also awakened the one Zenga had slept. They then heard a disembodied voice (presumably the one who’d summoned the monster) say something and the Bullywug mook pointed at Shren. Then, after some more chanting a Bullywug caster appeared holding a scroll. For a moment Shren was unable to see, but the Ratman was able to shrug off the spell and retain his vision and strike the Bullywug caster with a bomb, injuring him.

Froderick, Raskin, Delilah and Bey, hearing the combat and feeling the wounds Briac was suffering, ran to help join the frey. Raskin was first to the battle, stabbing one of the Bullywugs attacking Briac in the back of the head, slaying the creature. Delilah was next in, blade drawn and ready for battle.

Meanwhile from deeper in the castle more Bullywugs emerged, approaching from the room near the front of the line of heroes. One was an enormous ten foot tall scarred Bullywug warrior, followed by a regular Bullywug, a female Bullywug with a longspear and javelins, a Bullywug with a bloody meat cleaver, and a hugely obese Bullywug so pale as to look white rather than green. Although everyone’s eyes were drawn to the ten foot tall one, it seemed the fat albino was giving commands.

Briac suffered another spear wound to the belly by the Bullywug in front of him, while the Bullywug sorcerer readied a flame spell to fry Delilah and Raskin but Froderick, down the hall, identified the spell and with a few words of magic ended the spell before it was able to begin. To further rub salt in the wounds, Froderick ordered Mordicai to fly forward and claw the caster. Mordecai, just recently mysteriously blessed with celestial energy was only too happy to obey, calling upon his new powers to magically enhance the rake across the caster’s face. This seemed to infuriate the huge Bullywug who screamed something in his language and seemed to fly into a rage.

Celestial Mordechai
Mordechai seems to be getting strange new celestial powers too…

Froderick called a taunt at the Bullywug caster, and to the wizard’s surprise it replied in the Trade Tongue, “Now that my father has arrived he will kill and eat you all!” Zenga, however, was in no mood for the lip of a Bullywug sorcerer and with a simple hex, put him to sleep. Raskin, capitalizing immediately, slit the sorcerer’s throat, killing it instantly. The summoned monster vanished, and Zenga’s Bullywug zombie revered to just a corpse.

Shren hurled a bomb at the huge Bullywug but it seemed only angered by the attack though. Meanwhile the Bullywug still squaring off with Briac thrust his spear at him, but the ranger was able to chop his spear in half and deliver a devastating blow into the creatures chest. It remained standing but was horribly wounded.

The Bullywug with the cleaver charged Delilah, but she was able to bring up her shield to block and sweep the creatures legs out, putting it on the ground. Unfortunately at that moment the huge Bullywug stepped up and with it’s enormous spear jabbed Delilah a massive wound in the thigh, nearly driving the war cleric to her knees from the force of the blow. Behind the huge one the fat albino Bullywug cast a spell that caused a thick greasy cloud to briefly appear. Delilah, Raskin, Shren, Briac, and Belina were caught in the cloud. All of them were badly harmed by the spell and Belina was nearly driven to her knees and vomited from the spell. Some of the Bullywugs were caught in it as well, though they seemed unaffected.

Suddenly, in the room with the huge Bullywug and the albino caster, Edella appeared. Considering all her friends were being held at bay in the hallway she opted to cast spell to protect herself from evil before engaging. Shren hurled another bomb at the huge Bullywug, again merely annoying it but the resulting blast took down two of the wounded Bullywug mooks.

Beybulat drew his Galmari dagger and charged into the room at the huge Bullywug, but the giant monster caught Bey in the side of the head with his spear, dazing the Galmarian and causing a wound that bled profusely. Bey was able to fight through it and slash the beast deeply across the thigh. In response the creature plunged his spear into Bey’s chest, impaling him on his enormous spear. It then then ripped the weapon out and impaled him again in the stomach, lifted Bey up off the ground and slammed him down upon the ground, ripping its spear out. The dying Galmarian lay in a crumpled, bleeding heap in front of the enormous Bullywug.

Spear Impale
Beybulat, essentially

Raskin, badly hurt by the albino’s spell, rifled the dead caster’s corpse hoping to find a healing potion. Instead he found a clearish potion, which he chugged hoping for the best. His wounds weren’t healed, but he was suddenly seeing details he’d never noticed in everything he looked at (DM’s Note: If he survives the fight his temporary +20 Perception sure will help Raskin loot the place!)

Delilah, seeing Beybulat’s near death and the effects of the albino’s spell, called upon Farmesk to heal all living beings in her immediate area. This saved Bey’s life and healed her and her allies, but it also healed the Bullywug with the cleaver and restored one of the Bullywug mooks who was beaten to unconsciousness. Belina, in spite of her injuries and sickness, was able to run to another portion of the hallway to get a shot into the room and sink an arrow into the huge Bullywug.

The Bullywug with the cleaver, freshly healed by Delilah, ran out one of the other archways in the room, bringing him out behind Raskin. The Bullywug sunk his weapon into the back of Raskin’s thigh as the half-orc was focused on the main action. This caused Raskin to again angrily bellow in the Bullywug language “I taste chickens!” He then engaged in a series of complex maneuvers with his dagger to throw the monster off, but it was still able to slash Raskin. In response Raskin plunged his “Wavy Stabby” into the Bullywugs belly and yanked it out hard. The creature survived, but was badly hurt.

The huge Bullywug, meanwhile, swung his spear around, slashing into Briac’s lower legs so hard that the ranger’s shins broke. Briac lost consciousness and slumped to the ground. The albino, noting all the wounds in his huge ally, cast a healing spell upon him, curing some of the hard fought wounds the group had inflicted.

Bey, conscious thanks to Delilah’s healing, but still horrifically wounded, leapt up but retreated out of the room and into another one around the corner to regroup and plan his next attack. Edella, in spite of being pressed pretty hard by the female Bullywug with the spear, channelled the strange healing ability she’d acquired to cure Bey, Briac, Raskin, Shren and Belina.

Zenga, unable to see inside the room from her vantage point down the crowded hallway, used the staff she took from her father and activated her newly mastered ability to fly on it, allowing her to zoom around the corner and cast a spell on the big Bullywug and tell it to sit down. Obediently, the huge creature plopped down upon the ground, seemingly in spite of itself. Still, the spell didn’t prevent him from drinking a healing potion, so he dug one out and swigged it, more of giant’s wounds healed up before the group’s eyes eyes.

Worse, the fat albino Bullywug pointed at Shren and began chanting. The Ratman’s heart suddenly seized, his lungs stopped pumping air, and the rest of his internal organs felt as though they were being crushed by a titan. Just before he blacked out in agony he realized what spell the Bullywug had cast: Slay Living. The residual pain of the spell made everyone else in the party cry out and pain and Froderick, who had turned himself invisible to run throughout the castle to make his way into the back of the room behind the Bullywugs, vomited immediately from the pain.

While Belina continued to shoot the huge Bullywug, everyone became aware of the invisible Froderick when he suddenly appeared in the room with the huge Bullywug and albino. “Hey Edella, check this out!” he yelled, before detonating a fireball in the middle of the room that scorched the huge Bullywug, the albino, and the female with the spear who’d been fighting Edella. Additionally the the bullywug with the cleaver was incinerated. Thankfully the clever wizard had targeted the explosion far enough away to not catch any of his friends in the blast.

Bey, now healed and having drawn a bow from his pack, stepped back into the hallway and he and Belina both fired at the fat albino Bullywug, both arrows wounding the creature but not slaying it. The huge Bullywug stood, suffering a blow from Edella in the process. He retaliated by striking the paladin with his enormous spear, wounding Edella in spite of her chainmail. The female Bullywug also closed in on Edella, further injuring the Paladin with a spear to the leg. Briac leapt to his feet, drawing his pick in his off hand and swinging both his axe and his pick at the giant’s legs, both weapons sinking deep just above it’s knees.

The albino, meanwhile, cast a spell causing three swarms of wasps to suddenly appear. The insects swarmed Briac, Raskin and Edella, stinging them badly. Zenga, back near Shren and observing that Delilah and Edella were both fighting the Bullywugs, decided to use the Staff of Healing she was flying on to heal Shren. Lowering herself just enough for the back of the staff to touch the Ratman, she channeled it’s power into Shren, bringing him to consciousness.

Delilah charged in with her longsword, ducking a blow from the huge Bullywug and plunging her blade deep into his thigh. Bey, deciding he was far better with his dagger than his bow, abandoned the ranged weapon, drew his Galmari dagger, and charged the huge monster. He suffered a glancing wound from the Bullywug with the spear on the way, and a painful spear blow from the huge one, but got through. Bey let out a Galmari challenge and and plunged the blade into the creature’s nether regions, eliciting a howl of agony. The enormous monster raised it’s spear, poised to skewer Beybulat again, and intending to finish the job this time when suddenly an arrow flew from down the hallway, lodging in the monster’s throat. The beast struggled for breath for a moment before choking on it’s blood and dying. As it fell to the stone floor it shrunk to a normal size. Glancing back, Bey saw Belina, who had fired the arrow, give a stern nod.

Meanwhile, Edella plunged her reansuer into the albino, seemingly hitting something nerely vital, as the obese Bullywug howled in pain and began panting hard. The fat creature was now bleeding freely from numerous wounds and seemed in trouble. Froderick followed Edella up with a spell that caused a ray of heat to blast the monster in the face. It screamed in agony before it’s shouts ended abruptly and it collapsed to the floor.

The remaining two Bullywugs bellowed in their language and fled immediately. The heroes gave chase into the next room, which held a door that led outside, but was submerged in the swamp. The Bullywugs leapt in and swam away, and the group decided they were unlikely to be able to outswim the frogmen.

Examining the room revealed the dismembered corpse of Belina’s friend Jindus, long past death. Belina mourned for a few moments while the group awkwardly stood around, wondering when it was socially appropriate to start searching for treasure.

Briac, deciding that awkward mourning for somebody he didn’t know wasn’t his cup of tea, wandered down the hall to another room. Unfortunately for him the room was inhabited. Right as he was about to open the door it flung open and a half submerged room with four female Bullywugs inside rushed Briac, stabbing wildly with their spears and gibbering in their croaking froggish language.

Thanks to the group’s shared pain everyone felt the several spear wounds that Briac immediately suffered and came running to his aid. The Bullywugs were slain in short order, though Zenga (who spoke Bullywug) determined that the female bullywugs were trying to defend their hatchery. They took one of the creatures prisoner and Zenga harshly interrogated it about the location of any treasure in the castle, and the whereabouts of any other Bullywugs.

The prisoner told her that the PriestKing (the fat, albino bullywug) tended to hoard the treasure and that no other Bullywugs lived in the castle. (DM’s note: A lie that the PC’s failed to detect.). Zenga demanded to know where the treasure was and the prisoner told her that it was either on the PriestKing, or in his chambers and that they could not get into the “room below.” Zenga asked what that was and was informed that it was a door below the tower that they could not get into. When Zenga translated, Delilah admitted that she’d seen the door briefly, but hadn’t had time to investigate.

The group tied up the Bullywug prisoner and demanded that she show them the door in exchange for her life, which the creature agreed to. It led them below the tower and to the door, though since the castle was partially sunken the group was up to their chests in swamp water before they got to the door. The large metal door looked sturdy and as though many had tried, unsuccessfully to break it down. As they were examining the door they noticed writing and a heraldic symbol of a dagger on a per pale. Froderick cast a spell and determined that the door had a great deal of protection magic and evocation magic on it, indicating it might be trapped.

Thanks to the spell the Purvs Māte had cast that boiled her blood and the spell that made her armor molten hot that Farian had cast, Edella was gaining a serious aversion to fire. In spite of her concern for possibly blowing up, though, she bravely volunteered to read the runes while everyone gave her a wide berth in case they exploded. Thankfully it was a simple message in an old dialect of the Emeronian language: “May our founder ever be spoken of with honor.”

Froderick and Shren immediately asked if she knew whose castle it was. Studying the heraldic crest and thinking back to her childhood lessons in Starminster Hold, Edella quickly identified the crest as that of the Morwaine family. According to the paladin’s lessons, the Morwaine’s had perished hundreds of years ago along with the rest of the duchy that had been turned into the Brokenback Swamps. After several spoken efforts to declare how great the Morwaines were with little result Briac asked, “Who was their founder?”

Edella thought for a few minutes before recalling the name of the founder of House Morwaine: Lord Mykel Morwaine. Excitedly, Edella declared loudly “Mykel Morwaine had great honor!” and the metal door unlatched and opened. After a celebratory cheer, they peered in and quickly realized that what was beyond was almost completely under water.

After a great deal of discussion they decided that once the spellcasters could prepare spells again that the obstacle would be minor. They decided to loot the dead Bullywugs and the rest of the castle and bed down in the tower and explore the basement the next day. They set watches, tied up the prisoner and lay down for some rest. Unfortunately, the fate would not give them a restful night.

Shortly after dusk Raskin, on watch in the tower, spotted the two bullywugs who had escaped returning with an additional 9 bullywugs. Raskin quickly determined they were headed towards the side door that the two who fled the battle had escaped through. Quickly rousing everyone they headed down to meet them in force. Belina advocated slaying the creatures, but since they were low on spells and resources after the battle, they sought parley and the Bullywugs, seeing nearly even numbers and knowing that the group had slain their most powerful champions, agreed.

Using Zenga as a translator the group offered to leave the castle the next day, and leave them be. Two of the bullywugs seemed to argue with each other who was actually in charge, but a backhand sharp rebuke from one of the creatures to the other settled the matter. The new Bullywug leader worked out a deal that the group would be allowed to spend the night in the tower, so long as they left at dawn and allowed the new leader to eat the PriestKing. Disgusted, the group agreed and retreated to the tower while the Bullywugs dragged their dead to the PriestKing’s throne room.

The question now stood: Would they be able to loot the castle and be gone by dawn or would hostilities resume?

DM’s Notes: This was a good, solid set of sessions. A nice straightforward and tough fight and a horde of treasure to loot. Of course, the hunting party that the Bullywugs send out every day came back, and found the pair of Bullywugs who escaped on their way. The Bullywugs were inclined to kill and eat the PC’s, but weren’t sure they could pull it off. After all, the PC’s had just slain their toughest folks and thanks to the healing after the battle seemed none the worse for wear for the ordeal. Besides, the PriestKing’s surviving children were interested in claiming command after the PC’s left and they couldn’t do that if they were dead.

Of course, it remains to be seen if the PC’s can quietly loot the tower and be gone before the tenuous peace is broken…

Episode 28: Confronting Farian

Our righteous avengers…

Froderik Penderghast – Male Human Wizard. Logical and self important wizard. Accompanied by his hawk familiar, Mordecai. Nursing a grudge against Zenga, Delilah and Briac.

Raskin Daggermaw – Male Half-Orc Rogue. Huge, muscular braggadocious letch who is especially good at stabbing folks, if not interpersonal skills. Actively despised the people of Zenga’s home village, but still felt that kids should probably have been spared.

Edella Montfort – Female Human Paladin of Vesper. Somewhat sheltered and naïve but always out to help anyone she comes across and punish evil. The moral center of the group. Determined to bring Zenga’s father to justice for murdering the children of Zenga’s village.

Shren – Male Ratman Alchemist. Deadpan maker of potions and concoctions always seeking more recipes to master. No fan of the swamp, and he seems less than keen on Zenga’s father after he killed children.

Zenga – Female Human Witch. With everything she’s ever known proven to be lies, and her long lost father returning just to wipe out the village she grew up in (kids and all), she’s a little broken at the moment. Accompanied by her scorpion familiar (and brother) Janis, who isn’t faring much better.

Beybulat Tasho aka “Bey” – Male Human Swashbuckler. A barbarian from the Plains of Galmar. Enraged at Zenga’s father and determined to kill him.

Delilah Farmeski – Female Human Cleric of Farmesk. A battle nun from the Eastern Realms who worships the God of War. Thinks the gynocentric society of Zenga’s village might have been onto something.

Briac Youngblood – Male Human Ranger. Has a massive crush on the oblivious Beybulat. Currently wants nothing more than to kill Zenga’s father.

21st of Griffon, 1159 M.R., The Brokenback Swamps

Due to the exhaustion of the fighting and all the swamp travel the day before, the group arose later than usual. Briac, Bey and Edella were eager to get moving as quickly as possible so after a quick breakfast of nourishing gruel summoned by Shren they were on their way.

The day passed uneventfully, but the ill-will garnered the day before persisted. Froderick still fumed at Zenga, Delilah and Briac, while Briac was focused only on vengeance and Zenga seemed to be operating on autopilot, engaging with nobody any more than absolutely necessary and speaking with a flat, disconnected affect. 

After a full day of slogging through the swamps with no break, they found themselves at Farian’s Grove. He was guarded by a swamp creature and two crocodiles lurked in the water nearby. “Come no closer,” he demanded. “I have heard your discussions and know you plan to murder me.”

Farian
Farian’s no fool. A vengance crazed madman, sure, but no fool.

Raskin laughed cruelly at this, but Briac angrily accused Farian of breaking the agreement he made to he and Edella and Bey to not slay the children. Farian merely responded that they were already infected by the evil doctrines of the Wives of Death and that he did it for the greater good. “I have removed a major evil from this earth,” he insisted.

“And one has just been created in its place in you,” Edella spat. “I can sense it in your heart.”

“I can now restore this areas to a lush grove instead of this fetid swamp,” Farian said.

“You said you’d give up this power once the witches were dealt with,” Edella pointed out.

“But I can do so much…” Farian started to protest, but he was cut off when Beybulat wordlessly drew his sword and just started marching towards Farian.

“Men fail us,” Delilah spat, casing a protective spell on herself.

“You have been warned,” Farian said and his minions started to advance.

Briac whipped out his bow and shot Farian’s tree-embedded body, but the man was only slightly wounded. Bebulat charged Farian and jammed his short sword into the bark, cutting into Farian’s body beneath, eliciting both a cry of pain and a oozing reddish sap that dribbed from the tree. Delilah cast a spell and advanced upon Farian, while Raskin tried to make his way through the swamp.

Farian then called upon the power of nature to cause all sorts of gross swamp plants grow up and grasp most of the party as they tried to slog through the swamp to his island. Fortunately everyone was able to avoid the grasping plants and were able to move freely. He then was able to cast a spell, and reached out and gently touched Bey’s sword. The blade immediately rusted and crumbled, leaving the Galmarian with nothing but a rusty hilt in his hand.

The crocodiles then rushed. One snapped at Shren who was able to backpedal, but the other took a sizeable bite out of Froderick’s leg. The swamp creature, meanwhile, reached out and smashed a muck like fist into Bey.

Swamp Monster
Bey’s old foe…creatures made of swamp muck and magical energy.

Edella called upon the power of Vesper to help her fight Farian, and charged at him, although the swamp monster struck Edella as she ran by, hurting her. Still, Edella powered through and managed to stab Farian through the tree. She too was rewarded with a grunt of pain and some blood like sap oozing from the wounds.

Suddenly a number of swamp animals began converging on the area. A swarm of mosquitoes flew in and swarmed Bey, stinging him mercilessly. From other areas an ooze bubbled up from the swamp water and an enormous leech swam towards the group.

Farian pled to his daughter, “I know you must do this thing with the Gods that you told me about, but after you finish you could return and I’ll turn this place into a paradise for us. We can live together, as father and daughter and make up for lost time.” Zenga just wordlessly put on the circlet that they had taken from the Purvs Māte and cast a hex at him.

“My daughter,” he said sadly, “I see the Wives of Death got to you after all.”

“You abandoned me like everyone else and you are dangerous,” Zenga spat.

Farian flew into a rage, “I’ve spent every moment since you were taken trying to find you and a way to get to you!”

Delilah, the warrior in her clearly too professional to focus on this exchange, called upon Farmesk to summon wood axe made of spiritual energy, which began to strike Farian of its own accord. This caused Farian to slump down in the tree but the party looked on in horror as new roots grew from the tree and into Farian and he seemed to shake off the damage and fatigue he’d suffered to that point. “You don’t understand nature and what it can do!” Farian bellowed.

Bey, meanwhile tried to move away from the swamp creature and pulled out his flail and struck Farian but was suddenly enveloped in the the mosquito swarm. It covered most of Bey’s body and began stinging and biting him.

Edella lashed out again with her ranseur, slashing into Farian, but the tree man cast a spell, causing Edella’s armor to start rapidly heating up while the swamp monster slammed it’s fist into Edella again, injuring the paladin further. At the same time Briac moved away from the grasping plants to shoot at Farian, but broke the string on his bow.

Meanwhile the rest of the party tried to take on Farian’s animal minions. Still in the Swamp muck, Raskin moved to dry land and pulled out his bow and tried to shoot at the crocodile attacking Froderick, but the half-orc’s shot went wide.

Shren joined in and hurled a bomb at the crocodile, injuring it. Unfortunately for the Ratman another portion of the swamp coalesced into another of the swamp creatures and slammed into Shren. Worse, the creatures muck wrapped around Shren holding him in place.

Froderick, displeased with a crocodile trying to eat him, tried to cast a spell defensively at the crocodile, but he was unable to pull off the spell, so he attempted to flee from from it instead. Fortunately for Froderick (and possibly unfortunately for everyone else) he then blinked away, again taken by the force that bound them all together.

Back at the front of the fight, Edella stabbed Farian again, the wound biting deep and causing Farian to slump down and start convulsing and cough up a gout of blood before laying still. The swamp monsters immediately reverted to swamp liquid muck and lost all cohesion, though the other animals continued to attack.

Delilah looked upon Farian and believed she saw more roots growing into the wound that Edella had made. The cleric thought she saw roots growing into his heart and lungs. “I think this thing is trying to heal him again!” she hollored in revulsion.

Meanwhile Bey, still being swarmed by mosquitos, tried frantically to wave his arms around to get rid of them as they furiously stung and bit him. Meeting with no success he tried fleeing the mosquitos, running away from Farian/the tree and past Briac. Unfortunately the mosquitos stayed on the poor Galmarian, stinging him furiously. Briac, striking on an idea, pulled a smokestick from his pack. Lighting it, he flung it at Bey’s feet, blinding the unfortunate barbarian but causing the Mosquitos to disperse.

Meanwhile the crocodiles continued their assault. One bit Raskin’s leg and yanked him to the ground, looking to make a meal out of the half-orc. The other croc, unsure where Froderick went, targeted Briac and advanced. Fortunately the ranger was able to leap out of the way and drive his battle axe into the its skull, slaying it.

Zenga, finally free as the entangling plants ceased when Farian went down, hexed the ooze near her, and then moved away from it. The slow moving creature tried to pursue, but it was so slow as to be laughable.

Delilah struck the downed Farian with her longsword, slashing into the tree and the seemingly unconscious or man within it. She shouted to the others “I don’t know if he’s dead or not. Should I keep hitting him?” Raskin, being thrown around by a crocodile with a grip on his leg, immediately replied “Fuck you, save me!” The war cleric turned and charged the croc, slashing it with her longsword. Zenga followed up with a sleep hex that put the creature to sleep. Raskin, Briac and Delilah rained attacks upon the creature to finish it off.

Shren meanwhile, could not break out of the swamp muck that bound him but managed to drink a potion of True Strike. Thanks to the potion he was able to fling a bomb, even with his limited mobility, straight into the chest of Farian. The resulting explosion seemed to have done the job, with the burst of fire destroying Farian’s heart. He immediately began convulsing and spat up a gout of blood. The tree immediately started crumbling, as if rotting in fast forward. Pieces of the tree quickly start to crack and Farian’s corpse slumped out.

Edella’s armor continued to get hotter, however, slowly turning orange with the heat and burning her severely. Shren, pretty sure he knew the spell Farian had cast upon Edella’s armor, yelled for her to get into water and the paladin leapt into the swamp and frantically began trying to take off her armor. She called for someone to assist her and Raskin eagerly leapt to her aid, charging in and using his dagger to cut the straps of her breastplate. Thanks to the water of the swamp cooling off the heated metal they were able to get it off before it caused too much more damage to Edella, though she was badly burned and forced call upon Vesper to heal herself. The breastplate had partially melted and deformed. It would need repairs before Edella could use it again.

While this was happening Delilah made her way to the remains of her father and the tree he’d been embedded in. Her eyes fell upon a white ash staff. Claiming and examining it magically allowed her to determine that it had the power to heal. Alas, even it’s magic could do nothing for the hole in her heart.

Bey, observing Zenga’s actions, asked if she thought her father used it to become a tree, but Zenga did not answer. Bey asked if she was ok, but Zenga just stared at the staff, not even acknowledging Bey’s presence.

With the danger passed Edella and Delilah doled out the healing and Zenga wordlessly claimed the staff for her herself not telling anyone that it was magical, or anything else for that matter.

With Farian dead and the dead children of Nāves Ciems avenged Shren immediately brought up the issue of trying to make the rendezvous with the Archeron. They had intended to have Mordecai fly to the ship to beg Captain Godwaith to wait a few more days, but when Froderick vanished during the fight, so too did his familiar. This left them without a means to communicate with the captain.

Edella asked Zenga if they wanted to say something or bury Farian, and the witch only replied with a monotone “No. He’s nothing to me.” Heartbroken at her response, and wishing that Vesper’s healing touch allowed her to heal emotional damage, Edealla left Zenga be.

After some discussion the group decided that, even though the sun was setting, they should march through the night. With the light of Zenga’s repeated casting of Dancing Lights, and the ability of Bey and Edella to magically relieve the fatigue of most of the party, they headed out into the night as the adrenaline from the battle faded.

22nd of Griffon, 1159 M.R., The Brokenback Swamps

The group marched cheerlessly through the night. Zenga just stared ahead as she marched, speaking only to recast her Dancing Lights spell. Everyone else, even the normally flippant Raskin, seemed deeply disturbed by the deaths of the children of Nāves Ciems and morale was low as a result.

A couple hours before sunup they ran across four lizardmen. Through gestures the group gathered that monsters did not appear to want a fight. The party, emotionally and physically exhausted, were content to let the creatures continue on their way.

A couple hours later the hot, muggy summer day turned to rain and the travelers spotted storm clouds gathering. As the storm continued the rain turned to hail making the miserable slog through the swamp even more miserable.

The group briefly stopped for an hour to rest and eat, and Delilah and Edella were able to pray during the rest a best they could through the hail. Unfortunately it was not enough time for Zenga or Shren to regain any magical abilities.

As the group continued on thunder and lightning began to strike and the hail slowly turned to snow. As the sun started to set and the weather remained miserable and far out of place for summer, the group blacked out in hip deep swampwater…

They all shared a vision and saw the familiar sight of a dark pillar with blood red runes upon it. They seemed to be on top of a tall building within the center of a city. A figure was chained to the pillar with black manicles with blood red runes etched into them. The figure was a wizened old man with a long white beard dressed in robes and wearing a pair of spectacles.

Unlike past visions, this time they could make out some of the details of the trio of attackers, though not enough to get a clear vision of them yet. The one chanting arcane magic appeared to be a female half elf dressed in dark robes. The one chanting in divine magic seemed to be an orc clad in dark armor. The one up front, wielding the enormous black greatsword with the blood red runes upon the blade was a human male dressed in full plate as black as the night. Although they could not make out details of this trio in the last dreams they somehow know that this was the same three beings.

As before when the chanting of the half elf and the orc reached a magical crescendo, the human stepped up and struck the old man chained to the pillar, followed by a bright flash of light and the sounds of an explosion.

They all saw a brief flash of the following figures:

-A tall female elf with short silvery hair and large amber eyes.

-A human hale with a narrow face, auburn hair and grey eyes dressed in a worn grey robe.

-A female halfling dressed in half plate with blonde hair and brown eyes.

-A female dwarf with curly blonde hair and dark blue eyes dressed in modest garments.

-A female gnome with a narrow face, red hair and grey eyes dressed in leather armor.

-A human female with brown hair and gray eyes dressed in a toga and wearing numerous rings.

-A thin middle aged man of average height dressed in common clothing with greying hair and green eyes.

They awoke on a small island in the swamp, definitely not where they had blacked out, with the sun high on a cloudy day. They had no idea where they were or how much time had passed.

Edella immediately had told them all that the figure being struck down was the god Yotia, also known as the Learned One, just as Edna had been warned about in the afterlife

Raskin pointed out that the vision was in Emeron, on one of the towers of the Magic University. Since no one else present had been to Emeron they trusted his assessment.

Briac lamented that Yoita must be dead, but Edella told them that she thought the spells being cast weakened him and bound him to the people they saw, just like them and the other vision. Edella further pointed out that she thought the weather was going crazy because the ones tied to Guya, who controlled weather as well as agriculture, had been killed, if Edna’s vision from beyond was to be believed.

Without any idea how long it had been or where they now were, they could only continue on, hoping to catch the Archeron and get to Emeron as quickly as possible…

DM’s Notes: Another great and charged session here. The PC’s, fueled by righteous fury (or emotional induced shock, in Zenga’s case) gave Farian no quarter. Though no slouch and with control over the enviornment and nearby animals, after the Purvs Māte fight Farian was not nearly as dangerous. 

A quick note about Zenga’s player Jennie. At first, I thought her willingness to slay Farian was just for the sake of party unity and not to write herself out of the narrative by having her character switch sides. It quickly became apparent, however, that Zenga had just snapped under the weight of all she’d just learned/survived. These psychic wounds would take some time to heal, and Jennie (as with the rest of my group) again impress me with her roleplay skills. 

Ideally, I’d have liked to have had a little more time after the battle with Farian and the next ritual that affected the PC’s, but the rituals are done on pre-determined dates in the In Game calander. As a result, the poor PC’s hare having a LOT thrown at them all at once. 

And, to my delight, the continue to complain about how much they hate the Brokenback Swamps.