Carrion Crown

Into New Realms 05: The Desert Again
In Which Our Party Returns to the Desert

As the party ventures forth, one of the halflings givesTrapspringer a package for his friends to eat. Overcoming their initial trepidations, they find the packages to contain healing bread. Although concerned about Chhakuk’s disappearance and whereabouts, they decide the best thing they can do for him is push on to the city in hopes of finding someone who understands other realms and planes, so they set off with their three halfling escorts.

The halflings refuse to travel through the mountains at night, so the party camps, Agiz (AGEEZ!) taking the first watch with the halflings. When Riska doesn’t come to relieve him, he tries to rouse her, but has no success. He decides to leave her be for a while.

Upon hearing something nearby, Agiz wakes the others, but Riska still won’t stir. Just asKayl lifts her in his arms, two large cats leap into the clearing, finally waking Riska. Iora tries to speak to them, but it turns out they only want dinner — and dinner is the party. The party, however, makes quick work of the cats — particularly Trapspringer, who splatters everyone, especially himself and Riska, with mutilated cat. Iora and Agiz start off in search of the cats’ kittens, but change their mind and return to the camp.

Riska gathers the party and reports that the reason they couldn’t wake her is because she had a dream, or a vision — something.Simkin appeared to her and tried to explain what had happened to him and Chhakuk. Riska is confused, but as best as she can understand, Simkin bonded with D esna. There are now two forms of Desna: Simkin Desna and real Desna. The Simkin Desna gains strength at the real Desna’s expense. Both forms of Desna hope that Chhakuk will be able to separate them, and fear great consequences should he fail. Riska also believes that Simkin warned her against trying to follow Chhakuk into the other realm. She adds that she wandered off the beaten path a way during her vision and saw something that leads her to believe that Ahm Helmok is monitoring them from afar.

The next morning, Agiz accidentally draws too much energy in his magical preparations, decimating the campsite. The halflings are unimpressed and wonder why they’re putting up with this group, but Riska flashes the sigil of Ahm Helmok and they fall silent.

The party sets off into the desert, Kayl’s and Iora’s amazing survival skills protecting them from many encounters. At camp, Riska sets up her bedroll as far from Kayl’s as possible, much to his dismay. Riska points out that if Ahm Helmok can see her, so can Marlin, and Kayl is going to have to keep his distance until that mess gets sorted out.

The next night, a party of elves passes by, but Kayl intimidates them into leaving. Kayl and Riska have another argument about sleeping arrangements, prompting one of the halflings to proudly offer Kayl a sparkly, weird, glowing magical flower, which he enthusiastically passes on to Riska, much to the halfling’s delight.

During the night, one of the elves appears and offers to trade with Riska… repeatedly. For surprisingly little gold, Riska purchases Shatterspike, a bone longsword, a wooden +1 shield, and a + 1 glamered obsidian rapier. The former two go into party holdings, but Riska holds onto the latter.

As the party returns to the desert the next day, the halfling leader casts endure elements on the party, and they venture forth with only a few encounters, courtesy of Kayl and Iora. Ignoring Riska’s occasional curses and arguments with the sky, they reach camp on their seventh night in the desert. During watch, Agiz and a halfling hear a noise. Finding themselves compelled to investigate, they go in search of its source. The party awakens to a gurgling roar and chases after them to find a mass of tentacles emerging from the sand, Agiz and the halfling caught in their grasp…

XP:
From last week — 30 400 (6080 each)
From this week — 39 000 (7 800 each)

Karma:
Teamworker: Kayl, for his support of Iora
Embodiment: Riska, for her paranoia about Marlin’s sudden omnipresence
MVP: Iora, for her amazing survival roles

Iora: For achieving her goal of not doing anything stupid

Loot:
– Shatterspike (Party holdings)
– Wooden +1 shield (Party holdings)
– Glamored +1 obsidian rapier (Riska)

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Into New Realms 04: The Halfling Camp
In Which We Say a Sad Farewell

After the halfling falls to his knees before Riska, everyone’s skin begins to tingle. The halfling orders that his people “take them alive” — although only Trapspringer understands him — and a giant ball of energy surrounds Chhakuk. Riska and Kayl recognize the silhouette of Simkin inside. Simkin reaches for Chhakuk and asks for his help, something complicated involving Desna. Chhakuk takes his hand and disappears.

The halflings launch an attack, rendering the party unconscious (except for Iora, who surrenders). Everyone but Riska wakes in a tent, tied to poles and gagged, with four other prisoners: a hobgoblin, a ratfolk, a catfolk ,and an oread. The guards untie Trapspringer, who tries for the halfling secret handshake and gets himself knocked out.

Riska wakes in a wooden cell with a gray haired halfling woman staring at her. The woman speaks to her in common and Riska tells her about the orbs, leaving Marlin out. The woman says the orb has been gone hundreds of years. The temple was their home until an ambitious sorcerer destroyed it and took the orb.

The woman interrogates each of the party members in turn with little success. She leaves them tied up overnight, but decides to let them go in the morning and offers them a guide. Kayl and Iora demand the other adventuring party’s release, but the the woman is reluctant as they attacked her village in search of an artefact. Riska convinces her that Ahm Helmok has commanded they no longer eat the flesh of speaking creatures and she releases them. The ratfolk asks to study the artefact, and the halflings agree as long as Trapspringer remains as ransom for their good behavior.

She takes them to the Stone of Returning, which can return three people to their own world. The other party offers to let one of their members remain and assist with finding the orb, which is apparently the essence of nature (Riska theorizes at this point that each orb contains an aspect of Ahm Helmok, and that they have already encountered trickery and madness — she has no idea what the third orb on Marlin could be).

The party decides to invite Agiz Rerdahl, a ratfolk alchemist, to join their party. He bids his friends farewell and the halfling woman blindfolds the party and leads them away. She returns their possessions and warns Riska and Iora that the ritual in the book is very dangerous, and that if they perform it the sorcerer will know at once. She also mentions that he must have the orb on him and that it will give him great power.

With a final blessing she vanishes into a tree and the party continues into the forest.

Karma:
Spent: Two from Riska to convince the halfling woman that Ahm Helmok forbade the eating of speaking flesh
MVP: Riska, for convincing the halflings not to eat speaking flesh
Teamworker: Agiz/Russell, for being a team unto himself
Embodiment: Trapspringer, Lord of the Handshakes

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Into New Realms 03: Halflings are Assholes
In which the Party Nearly Wipes

The party continues along the road toward the town, but finds the gates shut tight. There is a sign, but no one can understand the language. Chhakuk realizes that the road, while travelled, does not seem like it’s particularly busy, so Riska scouts around the walls and finds another gate. She tries to communicate with the guard but comes up empty, so the party decides to spend the night outside the village walls.

During the night, Riska asks Chhakuk what he knows about the ritual they discovered in Iora’s book. Chhakuk knows that they need someone with arcane powers to perform it and create the device. As they talk, an Elvish caravan pulls up, and Riska tries to speak with them in broken half-understood Elvish.

Chhakuk: So what’d you find out?

Riska: That elves are assholes here, too.

Come morning, Chhakuk casts tongues on Riska, enabling her to speak and understand the local common tongue. The village guards allow them in, making it clear they are not welcome to spend the night, and giving them some information about a city called Tyr about two weeks north. Riska asks about magic and temples, getting a negative response, and realizes the guard is lying about there being no magic users in town. From the cost to enter the village, the party figures out that ten “bits” is equal to one ceramic “piece.”

As they proceed through town, everyone seems to be eyeing Chhakuk and Kayl quite closely. Later, they learn that this is because metal is incredibly valuable here, and Kayl’s armor and Chhakuk’s axes are attracting quite a bit of attention. The villagers seem to cluster around a certain building, so the party enters, finding stairs descending into caves. Trapspringer also notices two halflings in conversation. They don’t seem to be arousing any suspicion.

The elves and humans are ahead of them, negotiating the price of something (70 000 ceramic for four pounds). After chatting with the elves, Riska finds out that they are trading for gold, and that a gold coin here is worth about 100 ceramic pieces. She asks about magic and the elf pulls her aside.

Magic, the elf explains, is responsible for all of the destruction around them, and is unpopular. However, there are rumors of a cadre of magic users who protect the village, and the elf dabbles in magic himself. He vaguely invites the party to accompany them as they proceed to a city to the south. The party heads to the general store and purchases a tent before leaving with the elves, whereupon Riska shows him the book of Ahm Helmok. The elf explains that divine and arcane magic are different here; arcane magic is responsible for the destruction, and most magic users are not friendly — they will not be inclined to help the party. He suggests they go to Tyr, where he has heard rumors that a group of magic users may be more helpful — albeit hard to find.

The party takes his advice, retreating through the city. Kayl is able to save them time by cutting through the rocks, and Chhakuk keeps everyone moving with his spells. The dogs are not enjoying the heat, but Iora is able to keep them fairly healed. The party chooses to force march through the desert to cut some time off their travel. Aside from some encounters with very thirsty cactuses and hungry dogs, the next few days pass uneventfully, thanks in no small part to Iora’s affinity with the desert.

Riska and Chhakuk have a conversation during the night during which Riska asks Chhakuk not to tell Marlin about her encounter with Iora (and to make sure no one breaks the next damn orb). Chhakuk is amenable to her suggestion, but voices his concern about Riska’s violent attack on Iora. Riska admits to overreacting, but points out that she feels a lack of trust from the party — that she has saved their lives and they trust her only when convenient. Chhakuk agrees that Iora responded poorly, and admits that she may not be trustworthy, but adds that Iora has done nothing but helps them. Riska is unwilling to give her word that she will never attack anyone in the party again — if anyone stands between her and something that can help Marlin, she won’t guarantee that she won’t go through them to reach it, and she does not want to give her word if she can’t keep it. Chhakuk attempts to reassure Riska that Marlin is not the only person who likes her, which she quickly dismisses, and wrangles a promise out of her that she will speak to him before resorting to violence, which she willingly offers. The two wrap up their conversation, much to Trapspringer’s relief.

The next night, near morning, a tribe of incredibly vicious halflings attacks the party, catching them off-guard and mostly unarmored. The party struggles to maintain their footing, with Kayl being knocked into unconsciousness and Riska and Chhakuk nearly following. With only two halflings remaining, they run from Iora’s vicious spells, shouting something about Ahm Helmok. Taking a chance, Riska chases them down and yanks the glove from her hand, flashing the sigil of Ahm Helmok at their leader and shouting the halfling god’s name. The halfling drops to his knees before her.

XP:
35 000 (7000 each)

Karma:
Spent: One each from Riska, Chhakuk, and Iora to save Chhakuk from the thirsty cactuses
Chhakuk: For achieving his goal of speaking to Riska without it ending in disaster
Kayl: For acting on his instinct to be in the thick of battle, which got him knocked out
Trapspringer: For achieving his goal of finding other halflings in this world
Iora: For achieving her goal of not doing anything stupid to get herself left or killed
Embodiment: Trapspringer
MVP: Iora
Teamworker: Chhakuk

Items Found and Lost
No items found
Spent 4 ceramic pieces entering town, 15 on a tent, and a coin less two pieces buying information

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Into New Realms 02: Fred
In Which Our Party Journeys Onward

The party continues on with their decomposing air conditioning unit, crossing the next dune to find the area dotted with holes. After some discussion, they decide to cross the area, where cute little creatures resembling meerkats come out and growl. They attack the decomposing air conditioner and become increasingly aggressive. Once Trapspringer’s diplomacy fails and Ambrosius growls, the creatures attack, quickly poisoning the party. Chhakuk belatedly realizes he can cast airwalk on the entire party and does so, allowing them to flee.

As they continue on, Riska hears voices and sneaks ahead to find four four-armed, orange, bald, pointy eared giants. The party sneaks away, but Chhakuk decides to poke his head above the dunes and gets spotted. A giant comes toward them and hurls a boulder, and Riska shoots. The giants charge in, but the party makes short work of them, finding 2000 ceramic coins.

With the sun rising, the party sets up some (crappy) shelters. Riska watches uneventfully, and Chhakuk rises to commune with… someone, who feels even more distant today. Part way through the day, they hear clicking and find four large bugs heading their way (THEY WALK LIKE MEN!) Eventually Riska lays down her weapons and spreads her hands; the lead bug follows suit. Kayl shows them the ceramic coins and they agree to escort the party to the city, using a wand to acclimatize everyone to the weather — much to the dismay of Chhakuk, who has spent most of his spells for the day doing something similar. Later, for convenience sake, the party decides to name the Thri-kreen. They call them Klick, Klack, Klakukk, and Fred.

During the night, the party hears voices and wakes Riska, who finds four “elves” nearby. “Fred” then goes off to talk to them. The next day, they continue on until they reach a road. The insects part way with the group, bidding farewell to the party, although they seem dismissive and unhappy with Trapspringer. As they progress, Chhakuk mentions that there is a way to find the thing they’re looking for, as mentioned inIora’s book.

Riska is furious to learn that there is information in the book, which Iora previously refused to let her inspect, and demands that Iora hand it over. Iora refuses, offering instead to read the book to Riska. Riska draws a dagger and puts it to Iora’s throat and, after a tense confrontation, Iora throws the book at her and storms away. Riska settles down to read. Chhakuk leads Kayl and Trapspringer aside and tells Kayl he is concerned about Riska’s outbursts and potential violence to the party. Kayl isn’t sure he blames her in this instance, but while Chhakuk is not unsympathetic to Riska’s predicament, he points out that she actually held a dagger to Iora’s throat. He wants them to work together as a team, and not have violence between party members. Kayl doesn’t disagree, but points out that he does not control Riska and that Iora is, to say the least, equally suspicious, which Chhakuk admits.

Riska finishes with the book and returns it to Iora, who mutters an apology. In turn, Riska offers her a healing potion, which Iora refuses. A wagon passes by and its driver refuses to engage with them, glaring and muttering at Trapspringer. Riska, putting two and two together, suspects halflings are not well liked in this world, and asks Trapspringer’s permission to disguise him as a child. With Trapspringer looking much more innocent, the party heads on and eventually reaches the city.

XP:
2 480 each

Items Found:
2000 ceramic coins, minus 250 to the bugs

Karma:
Chhakuk, for (uselessly) achieving his goal

MVP: Kayl, for whirlwinding all the things and not wanting to cross a monster infested den to save an hour of travel

Embodiment: Iora, for stickin’ to her guns.

Teamworker: Chhakuk, for our escape from the meerkitties and the healz

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Into New Realms 01: Ahm Helmok
In Which We Meet Marlin and Journey to a Desert

Following the previous food challenge,Iora watches everyone ooze through a metal grate. The party finds themselves in a room with urns lining the north wall, a corridor to the east. Riska examines the corridor to find it lined with poisonous bugs. Iora identifies the plants in the urns, realizing that one is used to smoke bees from hives. She lights it in an urn and Kayl fans the smoke ahead of them to clear the corridor, thus defeating the challenge of nature.

In the next room they find a pedestal with a statue of a group of halflings. Trapspringer touches it and, naturally, disappears. The others eventually follow suit, finding themselves in rooms with an apparently burned and dying family member: Reece for Riska, Gavin for Kayl, Argus for Iora, and Chhakuk’s father (probably also named Chhakuk). After Chhakuk cuddles the dying body for a while, everyone makes the correct choice of healing their family member, defeating the challenge of family.

They find themselves in a room with a corridor to the south and three to the north. The party spends an inordinate amount of time wandering mazes to the north, finding statues emblazoned with the Halfling words you, are, a, and fool. After a lot of confusion, Trapspringer suddenly remembers the corridor to the south. The party heads down it to find a door.

Beyond the door, Ahm Helmok — wearing Marlin’s body — sits on a makeshift throne, Reece at his side. “Marlin” calls Riska forward and takes the cursed gauntlet from her arm. It forms over his face, taking on a reddish hue. Ahm Helmok explains that he has been split into eight across worlds, but is bound to this realm, as is Reece after too long of an exposure to Ahm Helmok’s essence. He says that if they retrieve his pieces, he will reward Riska with what she wants — Marlin. Riska is willing but insists on speaking to Marlin first. Ahm Helmok briefly retreats, allowing Riska a few seconds of tense conversation with her foster father. They learn that Marlin offered himself up for possession in order to help Reece — and, according to Marlin, Riska. He hugs her before losing himself once again.

Riska and Kayl accept the brand of Ahm Helmok, an X in a circle with another circle around it, which will allow him to retrieve them from other realms. Riska pulls Reece aside and offers a half-assed explanation and apology for the current situation, and Reece agrees to carry Kayl’s signet ring and a letter to Lady Winterbourne.

Ahm Helmok asks if they’re sure they can trust Iora — after all, she is a changeling. Iora is shocked, but doesn’t get much more information out of him. Riska offers everyone a chance to leave, warning that their journey will be dangerous with little chance of reward, especially as Marlin managed to insult half the party in the ninety seconds he was awake. Everyone decides to continue on, Chhakuk assuring Riska he is with her to the end.

Ahm Helmok opens a portal and the party travels into a similar but different temple. It’s hot as hell outside, a blinding desert. The party rests for a time, during which Chhakuk discovers he can no longer hear Desna. Someone is providing his spells, but it’s not her. Riska sinks into a deep depression, leaving the others to plan and talk without her. Chhakuk spends the day reading the book of Ahm Helmok, while Kayl scouts ahead and finds a mountain range to the west, getting heat stroke for his trouble.

The party decides to travel at night, setting off for the mountains. They are attacked by bright blue lizards who do cold damage. After they eliminate the monsters, Riska breaks down and starts screaming and stabbing a lizard until Kayl finally manages to drag her away. Chhakuk asks for Riska’s rope; she tosses it to him and walks away, allowing Chhakuk to tie the creature and drag it along as a bizarre sort of decomposing air conditioning for when they face the heat of day. Thus strangely assembled, the party heads over the next dune.

Karma

Riska: For achieving her goal of finding Marlin
Kayl: For achieving his goal of protecting Riska
Chhakuk: For achieving his goal of solving puzzles without losing any further appendages
Trapspringer: For achieving his goal of helping Riska find Marlin
Iora: For achieving her goal of not doing something stupid in the temple that gets her killed

Embodiment: Riska, who is now well and truly broken.
MVP: Trapspringer, for getting us out of the F*&@ing maze
Teamworker: Chhakuk, for bringing the healz

XP:
4800 each

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After the Dragon 03: In the Temple of Ahm Helmok
In Which Our Party Meets Some Family

After about two weeks of travel, the party arrives at the small farming hamlet where Riska, Kayl, and Trapspringer dumped Reece a few weeks earlier. Reece is gone, but after some intimidation from Kayl they learn that he left Riska a God damn flute. Of course, there’s a note inside: I left you something in my room. Follow when you can. See you soon, Princess. Riska storms the temple and searches Reece’s room, finding a book tucked behind a brick. Riska and Kayl are no longer welcome in the temple and are asked to leave the town.

Most of the party settles in at the inn to drink while Riska retreats to a room with the book, which turns out to be Marlin’s journal. She learns that Marlin was not aware that his memory thing backfired and intended to return to her at some point, that he and Reece discovered a temple where the cursed item originated, and that they had heard legends of Ahm Helmok and intended to travel to his temple next, although she shares this information only with Kayl.

In the morning, the party is informed they are no longer welcome at the inn. Riska directs everyone to the temple of Ahm Helmok, andIora recognizes the name, sharing that she has a book about him. They learn that Ahm Helmok is the first halfling, a former god, split and scattered. The key to navigating his temple lies in his eight domains: Madness, Trickery, Family, Nature, Greed, Wnaderlust, Music, and Gluttony.

The party journies into the woods with few adventures beyond a few owl bears and some pigs who are extraordinarily fond of Chhakuk. Near dusk one day, they find the temple of Ahm Helmok, but someone has beat them there. Riska sneaks up to the campsite to hear Reece talking with someone vaguely familiar, and recognizes the nearby guards as bearing the crest of House Winterbourne. She retreats, ignoring their orders and shouts, leading the group to the pary. Reece saunters up with Gavin Winterbourne, Kayl’s younger brother. Gavin calls Riska an elf bitch, resulting in some dual punching from Kayl and Riska while the rest of the party munches popcorn and enjoys the show.

Once RIska has finished pummeling Gavin, he tells Kayl that their mother is dying. Kayl says he will be there when he can, much to Gavin’s annoyance. Recognizing that he is no match for the party, Gavin agrees to leave, uttering some vague threats. Riska then turns on Reece, furious to find that he knowingly left Marlin behind. She shows him the cursed object on her arm and utters a few insults. Reece takes a swing at her, but Riska dodges and leaves him with a bloody nose for his trouble.

After some more bickering, Reece tells her he woke in the temple to find Marlin with two orbs on his arm, apparently possessed by the spirit of Ahm Helmok. He said he would release Marlin if the rest of his artifacts were returned to him. The party makes their way into the temple, which has crazy low ceilings. They find a room with a picture of a halfling with a book, the inscription KNOW AHMPICK WISELY above it. On one wall is a bank of 16 symbols; on another, there is a tree with lightning. Reece suddenly remembers something, touches the lightning, and disappears.

The party, apparently indifferent to this event, sets about examining the wall. Chhakuk tries to place the items representing the domains of Ahm Helmok in the wall and gets a blast of lightning for his trouble, but Trapspringer notices the book says the word NOT over and over again. They put in the wrong symbols and pass the challenge of trickery. The door opens and the party decides they don’t care about Reece, advancing to the next challenge.

They find themselves in a hallway of square blue and white tiles, all of which Riska recognizes as trap doors. When moving quickly to produce wind, musical notes result. Riska is able to recognize the notes and play the song, guiding the party across (except for Chhakuk, who walks on air). The music challenge is complete.

They next find themselves facing a big, frightening face with a huge mouth. Medallions line the walls. Trapspringer walks through this mouth unscathed, but the party is not so fortunate, as Chhakuk proves with the loss of his fingertips. After trying several solutions, they walk through the mouth holding the medallion of madness, thus passing the madness challenge.

They next find themselves in a large, circular room. A gold idol sits in the middle of the room over a pit of molten gold. Riska climbs over on a rope. The second she touches the idol, she disappears. Kayl quickly follows, and the rest of the party is carried over by Chhakuk using some helpful spells. The trial of greed is vanquished.

After giving Riska a few minutes alone with her Rope of Climbing, they continue into a room of delicious smells, where a sinister halfling sits at a table spread with an amazing feast. Trapspringer tries to talk to him but he just keeps inviting them to eat. Iora takes a bite, falls asleep, and dissolves. After a lot of debate, the rest of the party toasts their own deaths, awakening to find themselves with Iora. The challenge of gluttony is over — three trials remain.

XP: 12 800 each

Karma:
Embodiment- Iora she of the clever forgetting
MVP
Chhakuk “Stubby Fingers”
Teamworker- Kayl – Abandoning family duty for the party

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After the Dragon 02: Things Get Weird, Yo
In Which We Learn Chhakuk's last name

The party passes through the mining town of Baslweif, where Chhakuk manages to identify all items in party holdings, as well as purchase bedrolls, horses, and carts to make the rest of the journey easier. They pass an uneventful night and eventually reach Janderhoff!

Here Chhakuk talks to the guards, who insist that they go through immigration before he’ll allow the refugees to enter. He issues permits to the party, at which point we learn Chhakuk’s last name: Blundstone. Iora and Trapspringer don’t have one, Kayl’s we already knew, and Riska, in the words of the party, “has to be a bitch about it.” Argus manages to grab Iora. He apologizes for yelling earlier, and gives her a list of people her father knew in Janderhoff.

The party winds up at an inn called the Blarney Cock. They break into groups, with Iora heading to the educational district (excuse me, quarter) and Kayl and Chhakuk going to immigration. Chhakuk decides that for some reason, he doesn’t trust Riska to sell party holdings (and also, Riska is nervous about having to talk to elves), so Trapspringer agrees to accompany her.

Iora

Iora heads to the academy in search of the five people on her list. She finds that one is dead, and the other four are professors of history. She asks what books they gave her father, winding up with “Did you give him any books on dark magic or just history crap?” When the professors react negatively, she explains that she’s afraid she did something really bad. One of them does remember something strange in her father’s last request — a book on Halfling Creation Myths. He agrees to make her a copy of the book for the next day. Iora also asks about the dead man’s son, learning that he’s in a place called the Druggard’s Den. It’s in a rough part of town, though, and Iora is nervous about heading there alone, so she decides to go back to the inn.

A beggar appears, claiming her brother is injured. Iora offers to help, but when the child leads her into a back alley she changes her mind — too late, as it turns out, because a dwarf wearing a jackal mask attacks her, gluing her feet to the ground. As more jackals appear, Iora yields to inevitability and surrenders, at which point they knock her out.

Chhakuk and Kayl

Chhakuk and Kayl head to the immigration building. A human male at the refugee desk is quite surprised to learn where they’re coming from, as there’s been no city there for three (ten) years. He pulls out of a tome of laws to seek provisions for refugees from… that place. There follows a lot of umming and ahhing and awkward explanations, but basically it’ll take 2-3 weeks to settle the dwarves unless they pay 100 gold a head to expedite matters. Chhakuk chooses to expedite only his mother, and the two spend several hours doing paperwork before escaping to seek the town council and sell the crown.

Kayl and Chhakuk eventually get to see a manager and show him the crown, but he wants to know what else they found, not buying their bluff of “nothing.” Eventually Chhakuk tells him most of what they found. They follow him below and meet a very old dwarf (Kayl adds “Old Dwarf” to the punching list). The old dwarf brings in three more, who are also quickly added to the list.

Oldy McOlderson starts going on and on about the spells on the gollums leeching into the crown, blah blah blah something something — the gist is he won’t pay anything for it, but the town’s archaeological department would accept it as a donation. Realizing that the crown is worth no more than 200 gold, which is about what Chhakuk paid to settle the refugees, they agree to trade it in exchange for giving all the dwarves priority status, on the condition that Kayl explains things to Riska, who agreed to let Chhakuk sell the crown to the town (operative word being sell). After some more paperwork, Kayl and Chhakuk head off to drink.

Riska and Trapspringer

Riska and Trapspringer sell the party holdings. Riska then sells some of her own things, including a holy symbol that turns out to have the symbol of a local noble house emblazoned on it. The vendor tries blackmailing Riska into selling it for less than it’s worth, which goes about as well as one might expect. At this time, Trapspringer also develops a fascination with one of Riska’s lies, becoming determined to ride a flying eagle. A child makes a futile attempt to pick Riska’s pocket, prompting her to lecture him on getting better at his job before sending him on his way.

The guard is summoned, and eventually recommends Riska sell the item elsewhere. She buys a bunch of stuff and they head back to the inn. As it gets dark, everyone realizes that Iora has not returned. Riska is convinced that she’s wandering around lost somewhere and drags everyone off to look for her. Thanks to a successful diplomacy roll, they find the kids who tricked Iora. The frightened children explain that they were paid 40 gold to lure someone of Iora’s description into the alley. Riska is furious about the number of inexperienced children trying to pickpocket people on the streets, and Chhakuk doesn’t have much to say in the city’s defense.

The children show the party to the alley where Iora was taken, and Riska gives them a gold coin and a promise of pickpocket lessons, ignoring Chhakuk’s suggestion that they take them to the temple. From the alley, Ambrosius picks up Iora’s scent and tracks her to a solid wall. Chhakuk is able to see that stoneshape has been cast, and Riska’s fancy new gloves let her peer through the wall, but there’s not much to see.

Thanks to Riska’s constantly fluctuating estimates of the wall’s thickness, Kayl tries hammering at it with t he Master Key, without much luck. The noise does summon the guards, however. Chhakuk’s extreme diplomacy convinces one of them, a cleric, to take a closer look at the wall. He too recognizes stoneshape and rearranges the wall, allowing the party to barrel down the corridor in search of Iora.

Meanwhile, Iora awakens in a dim prison cell. She chooses not to eat the green mush they set before her, but hears an indistinct chanting in the distance. A group of cultists in jackal masks approach and lead her into a room. They put her in a cage and raise her over a pit, chanting. She sees a large statue of a naked woman with a jackal head, and hears a chant mentioning Lamashtu. A voice greets her with “there you are, my daughter. Finally you’ve come home.”

A black skinned thing with claws that look suspiciously familiar appears. She asks if Iora recognizes her, calling her daughter, and forces her to drink a bowl of blood. Iora is instantly drugged. They mention her becoming the mother of Lamashtu’s spawn, and begin to lower the cage into the pit.

As it lowers, she is dimly aware of Riska sneaking into the room. Once the den mother spots her, however, everyone attacks. The guards charge in to help, and Riska pulls the cage over so that Iora can wake and join the battle.

Once they defeat the den mother, the last remaining cultist continues to hold the wheel that was lowering Iora into the pit. Chhakuk tries to talk to him, prying his hands free, but the cultist has been Killgraved and leaps to his death. They remove the den mother’s mask to find a hideous hag, who the city guards plan to take into custody and kill.

Riska then finds a supply room, where the dwarf who earlier attacked Iora stands motionless holding the deck of many god damn things. By more or less mutual consent, they agree the deck is more trouble than it’s worth and set it on fire. The deck explodes, sending Iora bursting into flames.

The cleric, Shiyana, offers his help if ever needed. The next day, Chhakuk does some shopping and says his farewells, Riska revisits the children to teach them to pickpocket, and Iora claims her book before they set out for Riddleport.

After a long first day of travel they all take shelter in a small roadside inn on the route to Riddleport. Bellies full of mutton stew, they each retire to their rooms after some brief pleasantries. Iora cracks open the book on Halfling creation myths, skips passed an index and finds herself on a page titled: “Ahm Helmok: The First Halfling”

Harsh cut to black…

    Rewards Earned

  • XP Gained (each): 4000
  • Karma Award – Embodiment: Trapspringer
  • Karma Award – MVP: Chhakuk
  • Karma Award – Team worker: Riska
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After the Dragon 01: We're Taking the Dwarves to Janderhoff!
In Which We're On The Road Again

The party set out to lead the dwarves to the safety of Janderhoff. At Riska’s insistence, they set a grueling pace of fourteen hours of forced marching, with Chhakuk healing the dwarves as they falter. Iora seizes the opportunity to grill Argus, her godfather, about her life. He reveals that he met her father after they moved from Magnamar. Her father was a specialist in dwarven culture and formed a close bond with Argus. Iora also learns that she is adopted, and that she is 28 years old. Argus is even able to tell her her adoption day. He describes her as the bookish daughter of a scholar, mentioning that she liked stories of magical creatures and spells.

This worries Iora, who is concerned she may have done something terrible. Argus is unable to remember much more and can’t tell her where her parents may be, so she turns to Chhakuk, who is suddenly Scottish again. He is also unable to help. Iora asks Argus to adopt her, but to his relief, she is joking. Mostly.

Meanwhile, at the head of the party, Riska andKayl hear a low rumbling and spot a grey fin in the sand. Sand sharks (or bulettes) burst from the dirt and attack, seeming particularly interested inTrapspringer. Much to Chhakuk’s dismay, they kill the sharks and move on.

As the party stops for the night, Iora identifies a roc overhead. They decide to press on another hour to leave its territory, leaving everyone exhausted (except for Kayl, who is strangely manic, and therefore takes the first watch). Kayl hears arguing in an unknown language and wakes the others. With a great deal of irritation, Riska sneaks up to the road to find two female giants arguing. Although one of them briefly catches sight of her, the giants wind up passing on, and Riska returns to camp where she reports seeing eighteen sand sharks before passing out by the fire. Trapspringer goes to check this out for himself and spots the giants, almost getting lost on his return.

After a while, Chhakuk and Riska hear the giants return, but there aren’t any real adventures during the night. Iora once more confronts Argus, confessing that she has dreams of doing something bad. He says he can’t help her with her memory, but Iora is quite insistent.

As the party proceeds towards Janderhoff, Riska thinks she hears elvish. However, as she rounds the corner, a bugbear lunges at her with its mace. Riska runs him through, causing the other bugbears to flee in terror, and the bugbear swings, misses, and crushes himself on his own mace.

As the party settles in again for the night, a massive red dragon flies overhead, causing them to wonder if Ag had parents.

The next day, another Bulette attacks, once again targeting Trapspringer. The party makes short work of it. The Bugbears also return, take one look at Riska, and change their minds about attacking. In this way, the party leaves the mountains for the relative safety of the road, and turns their journey toward Janderhoff.

XP:

2040 each

Karma:
-One each to Riska and Chhakuk for completing their goals
Embodiment: Iora, whoever that chick is
MVP: Kayl, for reliably being terrifying
Teamwork: Trapspringer, for adjusting strategy on the fly

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Dragonsbane
In Which the Dragon is Defeated

As Riska lurks hopefully in the shadows, Agphaxus draws near and bites her, tearing through her armour and doing a huge chunk of damage. The party launches into battle, but seem to be having little effect. Suddenly, they magically recall that they are carrying dragon shaped javelins, which seem to be taking on a strange glow. When they attack the dragon with the javelins, the glow transfers to him, lightning arcs through his skin, and he howls in pain. Ag takes off into the air, but Iora strikes him with a blast of lightning, delivering the killing blow and sending him plummeting into a pool of lava where he is presumed dead.

The party manages to gather all of Ag’s treasure in a pile. Iora begins drawing cards from a deck of many things, including a rogue card (with no visible effect) and a balance card, which makes her feel more lawful (changing her alignment to lawful neutral).

Once they’ve sorted through the treasure, Chhakuk thanks them for his help. He says he wants to resettle the dwarves and goes through a long speech involving ponderous metaphors that leave the party more confused than edified. Finally, he explains that what he’s really wanting to do is find a temple of Desna to retrain. A very confused conversation with Riska eventually reveals that while she’s in favor of this plan, she has an urgent matter to attend to. Chhakuk is willing to rush things, but they suggest that they may be able to find a temple of Desna in Riddleport, which is where she needs to go.

At this point Riska is getting worried about the crown Chhakuk refuses to remove, suspecting that like her new arm, it may be a cursed object. Kayl is about to wrestle Chhakuk to the ground and forcibly remove the crown. Chhakuk, however, backs away and begins to think his friends might be making sense. He slowly removes the crown and feels an obligation to defend the mountain lifted. He agrees to allow Trapspringer (who does NOT put the crown on his dog) to carry the item for the time being. In convincing Chhakuk of this, Riska also reveals that her new arm carries a powerful curse, forcing her to lie whether she wants to or not. This clears up a lot for the confused party.

Riska and Chhakuk talk on guard duty, with Riska pointing out that Chhakuk is lucky to have found his mother alive and wondering why he wants to leave her. Chhakuk agrees, but has enjoyed helping the dwarves and wonders if there might be others he can help, too.

As Riska can be less than forthcoming, for the record, here is what she has told the party: That someone (Kayl, Chhakuk, and probably Trapspringer now know that it is her foster father, Marlin) important to her is missing, and that she walked away when she shouldn’t have and needs to find him. She also mentioned that she left someone dumped at a temple rather quickly and needs to see if he is still around (Trapspringer and Kayl know that this is her alleged brother, Reece). She also mentioned that she knows her arm is cursed because she knew someone else with the same cursed object. When questioned, she admitted it was the person she’d left at the temple. However, Kayl is suspicious of this as he never recalls her mentioning it in the past, and she is not at her most trustworthy at the moment.

The next morning, the party reunites with the dwarves and have a huge — but quick — feast to celebrate their victory. But… quickly. Chhakuk offers to lead the dwarves to Janderhoff. They agree, but his mother wants some time to say goodbye. Eventually all the dwarves return except Chhakuk’s mother. Chhakuk finds her near their old house, distraught over the village’s fall. He convinces her to leave with a promise to return, and grabs the sign off his father’s old shop.

XP:

  • 2560 for the defeat of Agphaxus the Arrogant

Karma:

  • +1 Chhakuk – achieving his long term goal of defeating the dragon and avenging his people
  • +1 Riska – Embodiment Reward
  • +1 Iora – MVP Reward
  • +1 Kayl – Teamworker Reward
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Can It Be? The Dragon!
In Which Chhakuk Makes Many, Many Friends

AfterRiska throws the orb at Chhakuk and it shatters, a burst of smoke darts directly at her. She inhales it and it disappears. A weird burning mark in the shape of a gauntlet appears on her right forearm, seeming to consume the skin in that shape. Chhakuk andIora both try to figure out what’s going on but have no idea. Riska passes out as a metal gauntlet forms over her arm, and out of nowhere an orc appears and stabs Chhakuk. The general Snagga and his orcs take on the party, with Trapspringer and Kayl doing a ton of damage before Riska wakes up, erupts from the floor, and spears one of the orcs with a rapier that appears to have grown out of her arm.

Riska promptly turns on Chhakuk, convinced that he deliberately gave her the orb knowing it would cause memory damage. Chhakuk denies this, ultimately convincing RIska of his innocence — but not Kayl, who has apparently had Chhakuk on The Punching List for some time, and now delivers. They examine the crown in the vault, which turns out to be a crown of golem control. Chhakuk turns out to be the only one who can use the crown, and when he puts it on, he can sense all fifty odd golems in the city. He summons them to the orc camp as the party claim all the remaining coin.

Chhakuk murders a lot of orcs using the golems, but discovers they refuse to go into any of the orcish tunnels, remaining firmly entrenched in their previous memories of the city’s layout. Riska and Chhakuk get into an argument, shockingly, with Riska strangely insisting that Chhakuk is a thief. They then get into whether Chhakuk should continue to wear the crown, with Riska concerned that his belief that he is a prince will make him want to keep it. Eventually (like a really long time later), they go up to find pulverized orc pieces lying around.

The party uses the old tunnels to lead the golems onward, eventually finding a collapsed tunnel, where there are more golems trying to reach them from the other side. After realizing this endeavor will take days, they head into the old city in search of the other golems, which they find. Riska heads to the orc base camp, but on her way remembers the huge collapsed hole they need to dodge and returns to the others.

At this point, they realize that Chhakuk can direct the golems into the tunnels, but only one at a time. Without his direct guidance, they collapse. Riska heads back to the orc camp and finds them in chaos, fighting and fleeing in terror of the golems. She returns to the group and suggests exploring the unexamined parts of the city, where they find the exit to the foyer of the training hall. They grab the dwarves and get above ground in time to see a red dragon in the distance. They decide to rest the night.

Iora awakens, surrounded by charred corpses chanting, “YOU DID THIS!” She wakes for real, feeling that she is at fault for the dragon, but not sure why. At this time she also recalls a dream she had the night before, where she flayed Chhakuk alive and he calmly assisted, offering pieces of his forearm for her to eat.

Once everyone else wakes, they head into the orc tunnels. Riska returns to the orc camp to find it in ruins, charred corpses everywhere. The party attempts to bait the dragon into returning, with no luck. Riska does spot the dragon briefly during the night and believes he is carrying something. When they go to check on the horses, they see him again, carrying something shiny. The party hightails it back to the tunnels and follows one of the few remaining unexplored areas up. It gets increasingly warm until they emerge into a large area where the dragon rests on a pile of gold, many parts of which are mysteriously missing.

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As Riska sneaks into the area, the party comes stomping through behind her. The dragon hears them, straightens up, and announces his awareness of their olfactory presence, and Chhakuk promptly casts Protection From Energy (Communal), leaving the party ready to finally face their foe.

Experience:
960 each

Karma:

Embodiment: Forgetful, forgetful Iora. Wait. What about her?

MVP: Chhakuk and his Crown o’ Golems

Teamwork: Trapspringer, for not being a dick

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