Keepers of the Realm

Session 43: Adrift & Aflame

Hours have passed since the sudden battle with the cult of the Crushing Wave, yet the moon still hovers above the Keepers Oath. It all happened so fast, like a rushing current of enemies flooding the decks. And now here we float, nearly stagnant. The sheer amount of damage wrought upon the ship itself is bewildering. The central mast has fallen, destroying the ability to make full sail to proceed forward. Then there is the loss of crewmen, most of the dead have washed overboard in the wake of battle. I know not what traditions these sailors may have had for the dead, but there are now so many bodies lost to the sea that it doesn’t seem to matter. We have to pull together and care for the wounded, clear the debris, and survey the wreckage to see what repairs are possible. Drak’thal calls us over to discuss these repairs and I know it’s going to be a long night. His expression is more grim than I have seen in a long time, and Shava shares it. She heads to the surgeon’s room to look after Krunak after a brief exchange with the captain. There is no way that we can rest tonight, we are adrift.


Elurin conjures a few owls to check the waters before Drak’thal casts a spell to allow the crew to walk on the water beside the damaged hull. I do not envy these men as they climb over the side, their fear is visible yet they endure it for the sake of everyone. He told me to make this my home, Drak.. and while it is not my home, it is certainly the crew’s home. Oppie called it such, and now he is gone. Crushed by the crow’s nest he manned every day, among friends. By sunrise, we know it will be a number of days until the ship will be able to go on.


All remain busy for the next five days as tar is slurried over planks, supply lines pass nails and wood from hand to hand. The sun rises and sets again and again as the wounded recover. The final head count of the crew stands at 54 men. Sheets, shirts, and every cloth found aboard are sewn together into a patchwork set of sails. This will do for now, and we sail onward to Port Alsodoesnthaveaname. Time moves slow, as does the Keepers Oath, but we’re moving.
Though the damage from the battle has cost us an additional five days in travel, I realize that we should send word home about the attack. Gods, what of home now? There have been attacks on both the new settlements of Glassmoor and now our ship. Safety is fleeting, and my worries rise like the tide.


I seek out Drak’thal for help, asking to send a message back. He seems confused, maybe distracted, thinking that I mean by bird? The morale must be concerning him, everyone is exhausted after all. I write down the words on a parchment at his desk and he relays them to Kline, “Attack at sea by water cult, lost many men, all Keepers safe. Ship severely damaged, continuing on. Keep home safe.” The halfling concentrates a moment with his eye closed and I watch him expectantly. His eye opens and he looks up to me, “Be safe, carry onward. What of the other officers?” I nod to Drakthal and we relay the status of each officer. Shava safe. Krunak, lost a leg. Meagan deceased. Our surgeon, safe. Sven, safe. Drak waits for a reply but nothing comes. I thank him and leave him to ship business, charting or something. The next forty-two days pass without attack, but they drag by as the heat of the south envelopes the ship. 


Arriving at port, Shava arranges repairs with the harbormaster at the cost of 2,000 gold or losing four of our already short crew to work the docks. The helmswoman eyes us, “You all need to find some treasure here.” We all exchange glances, knowing that we will all chip in every coin of gold we carry and every bit we find at the temple. Our group fund is lighter than usual after that last trip to Gilmore’s… but gold is the only route home. We have lost enough of the crew, we can’t leave them behind.


Thankfully the harbormaster covered our lodging at the Upton Lodge because of the late hour of arrival. We could spend the night drinking what looked like a tasty special, a purple and red swirling tonic. It was sweet for a second, then turned out to be the worst damn headache I have ever had. Every noise was like a scream in my ears. Traelle and Thirin seemed to have a bad time of it as well. Her mop of red hair lay on the table in misery for the better part of the evening, and Thirin looked irritable. He’s normally so excited to be out at a tavern, but could only bemoan how terrible he felt. Earth, Wind, & Shire were there. They were so loud, and the sconces were all flickering and annoyingly bright. And then there were the two levitating assholes sitting across the table from us.


Both Drak and Elurin had a great ole’ time. I dragged myself to my private room to sandwich my head between the bed and my pillow, “One more song! One more song!” chanted downstairs til the band played on and I curled up into a ball of pain til I fell asleep. Morning light from the small window woke me like a knife, the headache had stayed with me.


Smug bastards floated around for the next two days while the lot of us got to deal with the ongoing pain in our heads. Traveling inland through an ever-growing layer of smoke and heat must be fun when your feet don’t touch the ground. I think I heard Elurin and Drak’thal conspiring to use the Silence spell. Vith dos, I can hear you loud idiots saying that! Sure I could have said it aloud but my head hurt too bad to bother. Of course later in the day, Elurin asked about our last time in the south and I tried my best to recount it all to him. The rift from the bag, the halfling family desecrating Javor’s tomb. Drak’s change, the druids and werewolves and direbears. The life boon declared by Fennor for saving us from her daughter’s vision of our deaths. I was quiet for a long time after that, my head felt worse from all the talking.


A day’s walk later, we spotted a strange tornado in the distance. It looked like a man? No, an orc. Like a dervish that spun with two scimitars and a rat upon his shoulder. What the hell is that? After all of us took notice of the bizarre sight, Thirin remarked, “That man knows how to live!” At the next establishment we passed through, we were sure to ask after the oddity and were given an answer by a barkeep. “Oh yes, that is the legendary Whoghulgat al-Woghol. He’s been spinning for the last 17 years.” Thirin seemed impressed, but I just looked at Traelle astonished. We continued on towards the fire cult with that spinning wonder to contemplate.


Eventually we reached the tower where the fire orb had been recovered many months before, and descended the stairs beneath to the temple. When Drak’thal pulled the orb from his robe to open the door, figures moved in the shadows. A woman with blazing red hair stepped forward, weapons at her side. Fennor. She nodded to the captain, then looked to me. “Shall we?” I nodded in return. Should I have said something? I didn’t expect her to be entering the domain of the fire cultists alongside us, but with Krunak so terribly wounded, who else could? She took the orb from the tiny captain to place it into the recess of the stone door, opening the passage. Traelle paused and gathered us for words of encouragement before we all stepped into the dim hall.


The corridor is lit by magically maintained torches and full of a thin smoke. Fire cultist, always leaving the fire burning. Only a few steps inside, I find a secret door to a small room lined with burnt tapestries and a writing desk. A red-skinned man looks shocked that anyone entered through this back door at all. He asks if we are the ones who caused trouble last time, but I deflect the question asking who he is. He answers, “Bastion Thermander. I am second in command at the fire cult here.” He professes an allegiance to the fire itself rather than their leader, a woman named Vanifer. “If it were up to me, there would be no violence. We are here to worship the flame, she is here to dominate.”


Bastion claims that she is the truly dangerous one, especially with Tinderstrike in her hands. We strike a deal with this disciple of fire, despite the fact that we squabble over whether or not we could trust the man’s words. He draws us a map to Vanifer’s chambers if we promise to overthrow her and bring back her dagger, Tinderstrike. We agree. An uneasy alliance. Once we see the map, I do not trust it. The path leads from this room through another and straight to Vanifer’s supposed chambers. The easy path is not always the right path. Last time… The memory of our last encounter with the fire cult, running through the encampments and straight to the tower, getting cut off by all those enemies comes to my mind. Drak’thal doesn’t trust this man for he is a genasi. Traelle says Bastion’s words are genuine, “We have a decent idea of what to expect going this way.” Elurin and Fennor watch and listen as the discussion swirls around and back again. Thirin just wants to get to battle regardless of what route we take. “We could just go in there and smash ‘em real hard.”


Ultimately, I address Bastion, “We thank you for the map and though it may be the most direct route that you surely travel through to avoid bother from the guards and others, I believe we should go out and come back around to eliminate any trouble we may encounter later.” This man seems genuine in his want to control the worship of the cultists, he wants us to get rid of this Vanifer, but it does not change the fact that he is a member of the cult. What did those letters say about them? Those of the Eternal Flame wish to purify the world by turning it to ash? At that moment I am only certain that we should explore more before facing Vanifer. And so we exit through the secret door hidden in the stone hallway, leaving Bastion to his private room.


Up ahead there are rubble barricades on either side before stairs rise. The barricades prove difficult for Thirin and Drak’thal in battle against a group of hobgoblins, while Fennor vaults over and kills without hardship. I see Elurin take position with his longbow, and so I attempt to flip over the wall after Traelle. Landing is a bit harder when you get shot with an arrow mid-flight. In the end, the hobgoblins all fall and we take a moment to search their bodies. After handing off gold to Traelle and turning back to the bodies, two huge men in dark armor lunge at Elurin and I.

 

The chest of their armor holds a fire orb, something we have not seen before. These foes prove strong as they put up a fight against the six of us, but when one falls… he explodes. My ears ring and a putrid dusting of blood covers us all. The remaining enemy fights on despite his disintegrated companion, before he also falls by Traelle’s blade and explodes across the room. Fennor looks at all of us, “Well that was fucked up.” A short rest behind the barricades offers a moment to breath. I wipe the blood off my face, we all look disgusting and I don’t imagine it will get any better. 


Up the stairs, I take the lead through a domed room with four obsidian pillars—-it feels like I’ve roasted myself alive. The rest of the group watches as I cry out in pain, and decides to skirt the sides of the room instead. The next hall proves less treacherous until I open a locked door and find two swords in my stomach. One door after another opens and erupts with a new cultist throwing fireballs or dousing themselves in flame. 


The hall becomes a battleground of fire and blade, with some confusion as some kind of compulsion is cast over Thirin. I see him turn to strike me. No not my fingers again! No no no! Something knocks sense into him, probably another fireball at the rate they’re being tossed at us all. Elurin also finds himself under the control of a flaming woman fighting Traelle. As the battle winds down and the woman in flames finally dies, I once again look for what coin or jewels we may find on the deceased. Gods, we are burnt and bloodied and tired. 
With the locks broken on the deceased cultists’ rooms and the scorch of fire all over the walls, we retire to one of the rooms to decide where to go next. It is quiet until a slithering voice slides down the hall, “You killed the ssssssslavedriverssss…” Another more brusque voice echoes, “Alright, free us now eh?” Each of us exchange a glance before making for the hall towards the voices.


Four prison cells line the left and right, with the last cell door hanging open and empty. The left houses four salamander creatures, and the right holds six dwarves that appear to be on fire. They all ask for freedom, each group promising to fight with us as reward. Unfortunately they aren’t so keen on fighting alongside each other. I can’t just let one group out with both offering to help, so I propose a compromise. All will be released to do as they will, but those who wish to join us and fight the cult can come along.


The salamanders say that they know the temple as their home, “We inhabited this temple before these cultists came, they rounded us up and placed us here.” The Azer dwarves are only here in search of a great forge, they have come from deep in the Underdark where magma flows to see it. Elurin says that they all seem to be sincere in their want for freedom, though Drak’thal continues to ask more questions of the dwarves. Traelle agrees that we should all fight together, but when the locks are opened and the prisoners freed, the Azers promptly flip off Drak’thal and leave. I wonder if they would have been nicer had he still been a dwarf? Maybe, maybe not.

View
Session 42: Departures

We stand in a small room in the back of a tavern with Nareen, the auctioneer and member of the Hand of Yartar looking on.  “Congratulations on the winning bid,” she tells us.  “The orb is hidden but I am going to need you to leave half of the amount with the barkeep; after I show you where it is, I require the other half. We will do it tomorrow evening here.”

 

While we are speaking, Traelle begins to make a ruckus. She moans, grasps her stomach, and nearly collapses. Quick thinking despite her obvious pain, she tosses the bag of holding with nearly all our gold to Rinn, before running out the door. 

 

We wrinkle our noses at the smell and stare as everyone but Rinn rolls their eyes at the Paladin’s continued discomfort.  I glance at Thirin, and silently thank the Seldarine that he managed to recover from the disease much quicker.  Whatever it is, I doubt any healers have ever seen it before.  Perhaps when they figure out its cause, they will name it for her. 

 

Turning to Nareen, I ask, “Can I ask how you came across this item? For we are interested in others as well.”

 

At this, she only smiles.

 

Drak’Thal, always interested in the most important of information, asks the woman “Which bar do you think has the best specialty drink?”

 

Annoyed by the little man, she curtly replies, “I don’t drink specials.”

 

As we four remaining Keepers turn to leave, we hear glass break.  I turn my head and see a broken window at the back of the room.  Nareen clutches her shoulder as a crossbow bolt digs deep into it. 

One of her guards runs toward us, “We saw an arrow? Did your friend have a crossbow? Was this your friend who did this?”

 

Stunned that anyone would think sweet innocent Traelle could ever harm anything, we stand silent for a few moments while trying to figure out if she had ever used a crossbow.  “If she has,” I think, “she has never hit anything with it. That shot is beyond her.” Before we can answer, Drak’Thal, steps forward and heals Nareen.  Convinced more by Drak’Thal’s actions than our words, Nareen coldly states “Illyria that bitch. She is another Hand. She must have found another buyer. We need to go now. I’ll take the money first, though.”  After Rinn hands it to her, she puts it in lockbox before placing that box inside of another lockbox. She grabs her sword and departs for the market as we do the same.

 

Filled with colorful stalls and smells and still rife with activity despite the late hour, the market seems like a good place for an assassin to hide.  Nareen scans the area for her quarry but does not see her.  “Fan out,” the Hand says, “She is a blonde blue eyes. Looks like an Amazonian woman.” 

 

Rinn of the gifted eyesight, immediately spots her. “Is that her?” Is that the bitch?

 

Nareen nods and we approach.  The woman stares at Nareen before saying, “Looks like you have found some new friends. I’ve already sold it to the Kraken Society.” 

 

“Kill the bitch,” Nareen yells to us. 

 

I immediately pull out my bow and cast hunter’s mark on Illyria. I nock two arrows and fire. The first immediately appears headed directly for her chest but the nimble rogue managed to spin so that it only hit her arm as the second arrow flew over her head.  As she regained her footing, Illyria runs forward and disappears.  Suddenly, she reappears behind Nareen, her two blades stuck in her rival’s torso.  Nareen cries in pain. 

 

Illyria’s two grizzled veterans pull out swings her scythe at Illyria; Nareen does the same. Thrin, with his expertly placed unicorn on the loincloth runs around the melee to give me a better shot.  Bless him. He is learning.  I can see the anger and power raging through him as he raises his great axe above his head and brings it down on Illyria’s body.  She immediately drops her weapon as Thirin continues to push the blade through her flesh.  He splits her in half as the shit flows from her body.  

 

Nearly dead, Nareen just stares at the barbarian as Drak’Thal walks up and heals her again.   “I want out,” she tells us. “I will tell you where the orb is but I am not doing this any longer.” 

 

I turn to her and say, “She mentioned it had already been sold to the Kraken. Is there anything you can tell us about them?”

 

“It is an underground smuggling ring. I am certain that they are already going to get the orb.” As she speaks, Nareen draws us a map to the graveyard and marks an “X” on a mausoleum. “This is where you will find the orb.” She hands Rinn the map and then kneels to search both halves of Illyria’s body. She finds six emeralds and hands two of them to Rinn. Drak’Thal then glances at the body and picks up a dull shortsword as Nareen hands the mausoleum’s key to Rinn.

 

We walk east through the town’s market to the cemetery.  As we approach the city’s wall, we see that it has long been neglected.  Vines and gnarled trees grow over the stone, nearly toppling it in places. As we enter the cemetery, we see three human men standing by the mausoleum near the back. As we approach we see in the shadows a hulking figure almost eight feet tall and hidden beneath a sodden cloak.

 

“No closer friends,” the man near the door says. “This is a private matter and we do not wish to be disturbed.”

 

“Sir,” Drak’Thal says, “we paid for this orb fair and square.”

 

 “I don’t see you lining my pockets with any gold.”

 

“Is it still here,” Drak’Thal asks.  

 

The man gives the Halfling a strange look before saying, “We haven’t opened the door yet. Turn and leave and you will keep your lives.”

 

“You turn and leave and you will keep your lives,” Drak’Thal retorts.

 

His patience expired, the man turns to the cloaked figure. “Kill them Galad.” As soon as he does, the creature rips off the cloak revealing a monstrous body shaped like a man but with the head and fins of a fish.     

 

As the monster removes his cloak, I pull out my bow and fire an arrow at the man in front of me.  It hits him directly in the chest.  Meanwhile, the fish monster moves forward and tries to bite Rinn.  He misses but then he pulls out a wire and wraps it around our rogue’s neck.  As he garrotes her, he lifts her from the ground by her brown and purple hair.  While Rinn’s legs flail and she grasps for air, Galad takes his shortsword and stabs her repeatedly.  Fortunately, Rinn, through the grace of the Raven Queen, manages to swing her legs hard enough to break free.  As she lands, she pulls out her scythes and slashes at his finned legs.

 

Seeing the Shadar-Kai in such a state, Drak’Thal mumbles a few words and heals her before sprinting out to the center of the melee.  He pulls out his hammer, chants to Talos, and smashes the ground.  As he does so, a wave of lightening and deafening thunder explodes from his hammer, killing two of the soldiers immediately and knocking Galad onto the ground.  Everyone, including the other Keepers of the Realm, pauses and just stares at the tiny man and his hammer. 

 

Thirin regains his focus first and rushes towards the fish-man and attacks him while he wriggles on the ground.  The surviving guard pulls out a crossbow and fires at Drak’Thal before I fire an arrow through his skull.  Galad stands and throws his shortsword at the man with the hammer before turning to bite Rinn’s face. He manages to rip off part of her flesh but as he does so Rinn slices across his neck with her scythes.  His head wobbles a little as if she almost cut it off.  Drak’Thal and Thirin swing at Galad but both miss before I lodge two arrows in his disgusting fish eyes.  As Galad falls to the ground, his fish head finally dislodges from his body.  As his body flaps in the last throws of death, I bend down and retrieve my arrows from his eyes. As I clean them of their fish blood, I see the tiny Drak’Thal look up to me with his pouting eyes.  I sigh, nod my head to the Halfling and say, “Alright. That kill counts as yours.” Relieved, Drak’Thal smiles and skips away.

 

Rinn opens the mausoleum’s door. The name on the crypt has long since washed away and as we enter we find bare walls and a casket. Thirin and Rinn both look around but it is Drak’Thal who finds the object of our search: a box, exuding magic and emblazoned with the symbols of the water cult.  We walk towards it but do not pick it up. 

 

The rest of the Keepers look at Rinn and I as the two of us awkwardly stand near the crate too afraid to make the first move. Drak’Thal, however, has no such fear. He walks over to the box, wraps it up, and insists that it is now his.  Rinn and I turn to each other and nearly simultaneously agree that we can’t put off this discussion any longer—despite Drak’Thal’s insistence that we immediately return to the safety of town where he can purchase a pearl.

 

“Assuming that this is the same item as the one that has been set off in Daggerford and Glassmoor,” Rinn begins, “then I don’t think we have any option other than to give it to Kline and Adeline. If it is something else, then I would really appreciate it if we could give it to my faction.” 

 

“And I would like to give it to my faction,” I curtly reply.   

 

“What are they going to do with it” Rinn asks.

 

“Prevent your faction from getting it and selling it to the highest bidder.”

 

At this, Thirin, who has been watching the door, interjects, “Well if it is not the thing that says it is the thing…” before trailing off when he realizes nobody cares.

 

“Can we just take the box to the….” Drak’Thal says before being cut off by Rinn.

 

“I prefer to make up for the previous debacle between our factions by handing it to mine.”

 

 “What the fuck are you talking about?”

 

At this, Drak’Thal sits down and pulls out a piece of bread and starts chewing. “This is going to be good,” he says.

 

“Are you familiar with what happened to your cousin” Rinn asks me.

 

“I know he got his tongue branded for talking or something.”

 

“Yeah,” Rinn angrily says, “he notified the Harpers about one of my factions’ missions but I was unable to accompany them. When they arrived after being attacked numerous times along the way, they found some dead Harpers.  He apologized later but I didn’t really want to hear it.”

 

“So, you were…” I start to say before thinking better of accusing her of anything improper.

 

“He was branded for speaking to his faction and hurting another party member,” she tells me.

 

Though not exactly stunned by this information, I take a moment to think of the implications.  She should get the orb if possible, I conclude, but only if it will be safe. “So what do you think will happen if your faction gets it?” I ask.

 

“I don’t think it is dangerous in handing it over,” she replies. “Though I am not sure what either of us will tell our factions. I guess we will have to discuss that with Kline and the King when we return.”

 

“I don’t think it would serve the interests of anyone for your faction to get this item and, as similar as we might be, I am not my cousin and I will not pay for his sins.”

 

“That is fair, but…”

 

Not wanting to hear her reply, I quickly cut her off to ask the most important question, “What do you think will happen to you if you fail to deliver?”

 

“I don’t know. If I fail a second time I don’t think they will be as merciful as last time”

 

“There is less risk involved with…” I start to say.

 

“Is there less risk involved really?” Rinn sarcastically asks.

 

“Yeah I think so.”

 

As we discuss, Drak’Thal starts to look even crazier than usual and begins complaining about spending so much time in another crypt. He insists the it is not even ours to give away that, if it is not the orb, he might just keep it.  I roll my eyes and assume that Rinn would roll her if she could.

 

“Are you waiting for me to threaten him at knife point or something?” Rinn asks the Halfling. “I can’t let up, I have to take it back,” she keeps repeating as if to herself but so that everyone can hear. Turing back to me, Rinn says, “I don’t want to fail again. Is that not a reason enough?”

 

Annoyed at the thinly veiled threat, I tell her, “And I don’t want to fail at all.”

 

“I need it, Rinn says as she steps forward an inch.  Mildly intimidated by the slightest of forward movement, I relent. “Okay. For now. Let’s see what it is though.”

 

As we decide, Drak’Thal reluctantly hands Thirin five gold because of Rinn’s victory. Fortunately, neither Rinn nor I see this.

 

As we walk out of the crypt, I glare at the Shadar-Kai and think “Bitch Bitch Bitch. Bitch. Bitch. Bitch. Didn’t have to threaten me. I would have given it to you eventually.”   

 

As the Keepers walk into the market so that Drak’Thal can purchase a pearl, I tell my companions that I will meet them after I discuss the orb with my contact. I enter and tell the woman behind the desk that though we have secured the orb, there might be difficulty in getting it to the requested destination. The woman then warms me of repercussions should I fail in this quest. At that, I annoyed with Rinn’s threats and worried about the risks of giving the orb to the Zhentarim, venture to the bar, say “fuck it,” and order a FireWine.  It tastes somewhat like pinot noir but mostly like Frankenberry with beef testicles. It is the most revolting thing I have ever tasted but I down it in one gulp, burning my mouth and throat by doing so.  Immediately, I feel both incredibly excited and depressed. 

 

We assemble at the Western Gate and leave Yartar for good.  As we walk along the road I think of the Knights I am supposed to meet along the Triboar Trail but without the orb, there is no point in visiting them.

 

Several hours later, we stop to rest so that Drak’Thal can identify the contents of the chest.  As Traelle heads into the bushes and Thirin pulls out his totem, Rinn and I stare at the Halfling as if our lives depend on it.  For what seems like an eternity, Drak’Thal weaves his magic over the box before sitting it down very gently. “Don’t touch it,” he tells us. “It is a devastation orb.  This one is fire just like the one that hit Daggerford.  It will make a devastating explosion that will decimate an area in 82 hours.”

 

Rinn and I glance at each other with a look of relief.  “This to going to Kline,” we agree.  As we begin the long walk to Wyrmwood, we apologize to each other and talk.  10 days later, we arrive at Wyrmwood’s Eastern Gate.  As we approach, Rinn and I see a Zhentarim and Harper waiting for us.  They pull as to the side as the rest of the Keepers head for the Keep.  Both faction members have the same words for us: you have failed.  They take our faction insignias and kick us out. As they leave, Rinn and I walk towards each other before silently making our way to the Keep.  

 

Without waiting to be admitted into the Throne Room, Drak’thal opens the door and he and the Goliath storm into the throne room, catching the King but not his guards unaware. The guards train their crossbows on the two. “We have the orb that we were sent for by the Zhenetarim and the Harpers,” Drak’Thal yells without bowing. Quickly realizing who it is, the King signals the guardsmen that he is safe and lets the Halfling continue.  “This is a devastation orb much like the one that we saw in Daggerford,” Drak’Thal says, “We should probably speak to Kline. Where is he?”

 

“He is in his office where he has been the entire time.”

 

“May we speak with him.”

 

“You know where his office is?”

 

Drak’Thal suggests that they do but as he and Thirin prepare to leave, the King speaks up once again. “You probably,” he says in a calm but especially threatening voice, “don’t want to raise your voice to the King ever again.” Drak’Thal nods and then, for the first time, bows before he and Thirin leave.

 

Just a few moments after Drak’Thal and Thirin depart the throne room, Rinn and I enter.  Rinn bows her head slightly. I bow deeper.  After the exalted Bronzehammer mentions the bow to us,  Rinn curtseys, perhaps sarcastically because I have never seen a her perform such a motion before.

 

Addressing the King as if he were a friend, Rinn asks, “Were the small one and the very big one here?”

 

“Aye,” his majesty says. “They want to see Kline.” 

 

I then step forward and say, “Your majesty, we have a problem.” After informing him of the situation and Rinn and I’s loss of faction, I propose a solution: invite representatives from both factions to study it with Kline and Adeline. Intrigued by the proposition, the King tells us to make Kline decide.  

 

Rinn and I walk silently to Kline’s room. We find the others first; apparently, they had been wandering the halls for thirty minutes because they had no idea that Kline’s door was hidden to look exactly like the wall. Rinn pushes on a stone and Kline’s door opens.  After Adeline gives him a kiss on the forehead, Drak’Thal unwraps the box and sets it on Kline’s desk. Unaware of the Keeper’s journey, Kline says, “what the fuck?”

 

Drak’Thal explains what he told us on the road and why we went to procure it. Kline looks at both of us and we explain that we have been both been kicked out because we brought the orb here.  I explain our plan to Kline who asks Adeline if she would agree to it.  She does, but first, I have to run to my faction and discover who the Knights I had avoided on the way back to Wyrmwood were.  Apparently, they were the same Knights of Talandrossa sent to aid the Keepers before they entered the Temple of the Howling Winds. The orb was stolen from them and the Harpers desired me to return it.

 

With this information, Drak’Thal immediately messages the Knights’ commander that the orb is safe with Kline.  The commander messages back that it was stolen from a fire cult that was to detonate it in Beliard.”  After pondering the new information, Kline turns to me, “I like your idea. Adeline will be primary lead on the investigation of the orb, they will utilize the Zhenetrim caravan to take it to the scholars. With protection from the Harpers. And after the study the Zhenetrim and the Harpers and Adeline to hand it over to the Talandrossa knights commander who will in turn give it to the king.” As he speaks, Kline writes this in two writs. He hands Rinn and I each one and tells us to take them to our factions.

 

Adeline and Drak’Thal go to her room and as the door shuts, Adeline says, “I have missed you.  I have some news for you.  I’ve been throwing up every morning.”

 

“Are you sick.”

 

“No, I wish. You’re going to be a daddy.”

 

Stunned by the news of his bastard child, Drak’Thal responds, “Oh god.  Uhhhhhhhhh.”

 

Clearly knowing how to connect with her little man’s ego, Adeline tells him, “Just think a little Drak’Thal.”

 

His narcissism assuaged, Drak’Thal recovers, “This is amazing. Another one of me. Aye. I’m happy about it.”

 

“We should celebrate,” Adeline whispers.

 

Completely oblivious to the woman’s tone, Drak’Thal responds by distancing himself from her, “How do you intend to celebrate?”

 

“Have some more sex.”

 

Whether concerned about his length or simply displaying the limited knowledge of anatomy that followers of Talos possess, Drak’Thal replies, “Will it be okay? Am I going to hit it?”

 

“I believe the doctor’s said it will be okay.”

 

Hearing this, Drak’Thal immediately begins to undress.  As he thrusts his hips repeatedly, a finger, unknown whose, slips behind. 

 

Meanwhile King Bronzehammer sits on his throne. As the crashing and the sounds of what under normal circumstances might be mistaken for howler monkeys begins, he says to himself, “Oh my god. Not again. I need to get the fuck out of this keep.”

 

After several hours of amazing, finger in the ass fucking, Drak’Thal turns to the mother of his child and says, “I have another present for you. I’ll be back.”  As he walks to Gilmore’s to retrieve her present, the Halfling contemplates the news that he will be a father again.

 

When he enters Gilmore’s, the shopkeep addresses him, “You are back my friend.” Proud of his recent activities, Drak’Thal boasts that he has been spreading the word of Gilmore’s Glorious Goods through the magic of posters. “I have noticed,” Gilmore tells him, “an increase in halflings coming in. A little strange.”

 

“That is odd” the cleric exclaims. “Why is that?”

 

Gilmore thinks for a few moments before delicately noting the Halfling’s small stature. Smiling, Drak’Thal replies, “I’ll have Thirin do it for me.” As Gilmore signals that Thirin might be a tad too tall to reach most customers, Drak’Thal says, “Maybe Elurin.”

 

Drak’Thal then asks about the request he made of Gilmore on his last visit.  The man pulls out a necklace with a lightening bolt and a diamond. “I hope she likes it,” he says before handing it to Drak’Thal.

 

“Thank you,” Drak’Thal replies before leaving and waddling back to Adeline. “Got something for you,” he says as he pushes open the door.

 

“What is it?”

 

“I had this made once for a good friend,” he indelicately tells her.

 

“Recycling a gift?”

 

“I had it remade for you. It means a lot to me.”

 

She stares at it. Smiles and puts it on. “I love it.” As the woman he loves puts on the necklace with a lightning bolt of Talos that he originally had made for Traelle, the bulge in the Halfling’s breeches grows.

 

As the howling and crashing begin anew, somewhere in the Keep a King curses the Keepers of the Realm.

 

Rinn and I silently leave the Keep together.  As we turn towards our respective faction houses, we glance at each other as if to say good luck.  Nearly simultaneously, we enter our houses and present Kline’s writ to the member behind the desk.  They each read it, ponder it for what seems like an eternity, before asking us each a question.  “Whose idea was this?”

 

“The King’s,” Rinn lies.

 

“Mine,” I say.

 

In our respective rooms, the men behind the desks look at us before saying, “Tell Kline he owes us a favor” and welcoming us into back into our factions with a higher rank.  I am now a Bright Candle of the Harpers and Rinn is a Viper for the Zhentarim. 

 

Afterwards, we meet as planned in the Whistling Pig.  We each purchase a cheap ale and sit down to chat. Over the ale, we chat about our earlier conversation.  As I grow a little drunk, I stare at her and ask, “Is Alatar’s actions with the Harpers the reason why you waited to bring him back from the dead?”

 

Stunned that I knew about that, Rinn replies, “That creature that sucked the life from him, I hesitated because…we had all discussed you know if something like that happened.”

 

“Well, thank you,” I say as I raise my glass. 

 

As we leave the Whistling Pig and make our way back to the Keep to inform Kline of the good news, we see Thirin’s massive and unmistakable form through the crowd. I immediately notice that he looks good. His hair is cut and the dirt and grime from the road is missing. I briefly think, “so, he is letting others clean him now,” but the jealousy soon subsides and I smile and ask him, “Do you think we should visit the baths as well?”  Thirin hesitates briefly and it becomes obvious that he is trying to spare our feelings. Kindly but certainly, Thirin tells Rinn and I that we stink and that it would be to the benefit of everyone if we too ventured into the baths.

 

Again wasting money, Rinn bathes in private but I enjoy the sites of the common bath, including an especially hot elf man.  I briefly consider sauntering over to him but, thinking of Thirin’s feelings, decide not to, yet. Perhaps if I see him again. 

 

Later that day, we all meet in Kline’s room.  Rinn and I inform him of the good news but forget to tell him that he owes each faction a favor.

 

When we arrive at Glassmoor, we are greeted by a massive crowd of Talos worshippers. Drak’Thal starts to speak in that booming voice he sometimes uses. “This land is your land,” he tells them, “This land is my land. Talos is happy when the skies are gray. You will never know my followers….” I’m sure he continued but I lost interest after the first twenty seconds.   As he concludes, however, the crowd starts to yell about rumors.  Apparently Adeline was seen at the infirmary and a new prophet will be born soon.  The rest of the Keepers just stare at Drak’Thal as the crowd tells him congratulations.  When we reach the inside of Glassmoor, we confront him but he tells us, “She must have caught something from Traelle.” As he says this, I think, “and that something is going to be a new prophet of Talos—sounds about right” but keep silent.  We all believe him and go to sleep after speaking with Taranath about the ten days it will take to get the Keep operational.

 

The next morning, we decide to go see Kringle to negotiate our next contract. Before we do, Thirin visits the Talos worshippers and introduces himself before handing out all the posters for Gilmore’s. As he does so, I can almost see Drak’Thal hit his face with the palm of his hand.   

 

After some hot chocolatey cocoa and banter about the necessity of protecting and helping the children, I use my newfound negotiation skills to secure 4600 for the first month, 3600 in the second, 2600 in the third, and 1600 thereafter. In exchange, we will build a shrine at Glassmoor that must be completed by the 870th day. As we leave, I applaud Kringle on the health of his elk.  He informs us that he is trying to enchant them to fly.  We agree that that would make a lot of children happy.  Once outside, I conjure a herd of elk from the Feywild which we ride back to Glassmoor.

 

The next day, we, as everyone has already come to expect, go to Gilmore’s to inquire about the longbow.  We spend an eternity debating the possibilities but conclude that we do not yet have enough money to purchase the weapon, even if we sell the elven chain mail I am wearing.  We leave after procuring some new armor, enchanted arrows, and healing potions. That night, most of us—including Rinn for what must seem like the first time in forever—spend fucking. Traelle, presumably, spent the evening shitting herself. The next morning, we board the Keeper’s Oath and head to the Southern Continent.

 

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Session 41: The Bloody Inn & Yartar

Ahhhh a new morning! It all happened so fast it seems and all the excitement from traveling and arriving at the docks just to be caught up in a devastating disaster at the keep. It almost feels dream like, the last thing I was doing was sitting in a dusky room by myself in hiding and now I’m part of this new crazy adventure with some great friends. It all seems to be just the right amount of excitement and fighting, plus I get to learn all these new cooking recipes and entertain a whole crew on a ship, I couldn’t ask for more. After laying around a little longer in bed I decide to get up and head out to meet my companions since we have business to attend to dealing with the mighty destruction of the orbs. We finally meet up and head to Glassmoor, we have come to find out that after the destruction from the orb we now have a new cemetery and many of the the refugees that are staying around the main city should be invited to stay at the keep since they could help our land with the repairs and will allow them to have new homes. We briefly talk to Chalaska about the orb and the events that have occurred but she has no leads as to where the orb came from or how it got near the keep.

 

After sitting around for a little eating food we come to find out that we also have a new all faith shrine and maybe we should look around to find out if anyone has some clues to origin of the orb. Me, Traelle and Rinn decide to head over to the shrine after talking for a bit while, while Elurin and Drakthal decide to pray or head to their rooms. At the shrine we meet an elderly figure, who seemed to be in deep prayer. Traelle decides that it would be a good idea to get the elder’s attention but after not responding I tell her to leave the old man be and to pray for the dead. Almost immediately after we start praying Rinn’s god's glass pane in the mirror breaks and the statuette nearby has broken, I fear that her gods do not like her prayer for the day.

 

After praying we decide to head over to the marketplace to see if there are clues there about the orb or maybe if we can find some additional information regarding the nature of the orbs. We spend hours searching around and asking the villagers about the orb, who brought it there and what they were doing and found no clues or answers about it. This seems to have led us nowhere and Drakthal has decided that we go see the new Talos shrine being built down near the puddles. We head over to the shrine and it has been built to meet the standards of Drakthal. Drakthal is not pleased with the shrine being so far away from the keep and is concerned for the refugees having to walk to pray at the larger shrine. Before leaving Drakthal agrees to lead mass in the morning for the followers in the city.

 

After spending time at the new Talos shrine we then decide to head over to the throne room to speak to Bronzehammer about moving the refugees to the keep. Bronzehammer likes the idea of us moving most of the refugees to Glassmoor and it is a good thing for the city and for our reputation. After talking to Bronzehammer we head over to Gilmore's to sell and acquire new items needed for adventuring. We leave Gilmore's and decide to head to our faction houses before meeting up at the Bloody Inn later for drinks and food.

 

We meet up and head to the Bloody Inn that night, when we arrive there are no women in the bar despite it being Ladies Night. We end up talking about the orb and the possibilities of there being more of them in the world. Rinn and Elurin decide to tell us about some information they have received from their faction houses regarding another orb being close by. We decide to deal with this information the following day, and proceed to get completely smashed off the house specials. The special drinks of the night make it much easier to talk to Elurin and I begin to flirt with him over more drinks. We end up leaving the bar and me and Elurin head back to his faction house and have crazy sex. We end up breaking the bed and the next morning we are greeted by many faces staring at us about the loud commotion last night.

 

After a very awkward breakfast we head to meet up with the rest of the group and decide to talk to the king about the new information regarding the orb. He tells us about Kline not being present and explains that he is preparing some things before we leave to Yartar. We spend the rest of the day gathering supplies and getting ready to head to the orbs location. When we arrive in the city Elurin and Rinn need to meet their informants regarding the orb and how we will be able to attend the secret auction where the orb is going to be sold at. Me, Drakthal and Traelle decide to head to the inn, where Traelle gets a discount, and proceed to drink and eat while we wait to hear back from Elurin and Rinn regarding the whereabouts of the auction and the orb. After spending some time waiting, Rinn and Elurin return to the tavern we are drinking at and we begin to talk about the bar we need to go to attend the auction.

 

The bar's name is the Wink and Kiss tavern, we decide to head on over and when we arrive we are told that we will need to remove our weapons in order to stay to drink and eat there. We relinquish our weapons and head inside. The barkeep tells us to have a seat and informs ous about the bars drinking contest. Traelle decides to challenge me to the challenge and they call it the Goats Piss challenge. I end up winning and we are praised by the entire bar for both finishing the challenge. We get extra free drinks while we are there, and me and Traelle proceed to get more drunk while the rest of the party figures out how to get into the auction. We end up talking to a dark haired woman who hears the secret password and we are directed to the auction. We are lead into a dimly lit room and people are beginning to auction for a item, and immediately we begin to bargain for it. Numbers are growing and time is running out when finally Traelle bids 1600 gold in a drunken state and we end up winning the auction.      

 

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Session 40: A Hand for a Friend

The red-haired woman quickly leaves the group once more, finding herself unfit for battle. The Keepers of the Realm glance among one another with confidence that they might continue without her, and so continue to walk down the halls of the temple until they come to a familiar set of double doors. The rogue listens in on the enemies inside and hears nothing but muffled sounds. They ready their weapons and charge in. The door opens to reveal a robed woman, four cultists, and a small grey creature chained to a golem statue at the back of the room. 

 

A burst of thunder followed by a rain of arrows, the slash of blades, and a crushing axe quickly dispatch the enemies. Before the battle has been won, a black ooze slides out of the golem statue’s mouth and lashes out. Each attack splits the ooze creature further. The cleric of Talos unleashes a fury of spirits that engulf these creatures and the remaining enemy caster.

 

The dust settles and only one being remains standing, the small grey gnome. He speaks to the adventurers, offering information for his freedom. As they break his chains, he reveals that the prophet of the Black Earth cult is a medusa. Fear courses through the group as they realize what the next chamber will contain. Despite this, they continue to the confrontation.

 

Walking through the stone halls once more, the grey gnome splits off towards the exit, leaving the adventurers to their duties. Tall, ornate double doors loom before them. Without hesitation, they enter to face what dangers may lie within. The large throne room is scattered with stone bodies of dwarves and humans. Each posed in unique positions, perfectly carved in lifelike terror. The Goblin King sits atop the stone throne at the pinnacle of the room. He addresses the group and offers them an escape if they surrender. The rogue notices that one hand is missing. She explains that to him that a friend once carried this missing hand. The Goblin King is angered by this and immediately charges the group. A wraith that lay in wait lashes out at the rogue for her statements. The battle is fierce and the cleric falls briefly, despite this, the adventurers endure. They collect the remaining hand of the Goblin King’s for a souvenir. 

 

The temple has been won and the Keepers of the Realm make way for the surface. Returning to the port, they head to the tavern to celebrate their victory and the rogue mails the decrepit goblin hand to a friend at the local monastery. The biggest and the smallest members of the group partake in a drink of a special variety. The urge to breath water overcomes them and they rush towards the frozen sea, jumping off the pier nearby their ship. Their crew comes to collect them from the icy water so that they may make their way home. 

 

Some thirty days later they arrive in the Port of Wyrmwood, no friends are there to meet the Keepers as they have come to expect. A pillar of smoke rises from the northwest on the outskirts of the city, the very same direction of their home, Glassmoor. They rush home to find their allies at the edge of flooded lands. Their fortifications have crumbled, many structures have fallen, and the fields are submerged. An unrelenting, heavy rain falls on this area alone. The group makes all attempts to support their friends and the Wyrmwood bannermen in saving the townspeople from the deluge. The leader of the barracks explains that an orb of power had been released in the market square few hours earlier. After all that can be done has been, the group reconvenes. The rain continues to fall for hours afterward as each of the Keepers returns to the city for the night. All but the cleric head to the tavern to drown their sorrows.

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Session 39: Too Many Cooks...

The Keepers continue to trace their way through the Cult of Black Earth temple, Rinn discovers a room with a pool in it. She stands near the doors on the surrounding walls, hearing an argument through the south door and hearing nothing through the western door. Rinn opens the western door to reveal a torture room, lined with cages, a rack, and all manner of instruments of pain. Turami humans, dressed in cultist robes, seem to be busy with their prisoners within the room.

 

The Keepers move into the room, and Elurin destroys a cultist with a single arrow. A small black man glances to each member of the Keepers, dashes towards the wall, and disappears as if the stones opened to consume him. The Keepers work together to destroy the remaining cultists, and the small man jumps back out and begins to level the floor with earthen magic. As the group assail the small black man with attacks, Elurin drops to the ground and Thirin strikes the killing blow to the enemy. 

 

As Elurin is tended to, Rinn searches the room and finds gold and a key. Looking to the cages, Drak'Thal speaks with the prisoners in hopes of finding aid and information. After a drawn out conversation with the prisoners and the rest of the Keepers, Thirin moves to pull the lever and releases the prisoners. Orna, the boisterous abrasive human, joins the Keepers despite the warnings of Wulgreta, the female dwarf prisoner. Droth, a mumbling human in shock, is assisted back to the temple entrance with the remaining half-elf  prisoner. With the half-elf, dwarf, and human prisoners released. the Keepers and Orna prepare to make their way back through the temple. Orna draws a crude map  and explains the rooms and passages that she has knowledge of.

 

Rinn leads the group back to the room with the pool and makes her way to the southern door. After opening it, she finds a room being used as a kitchen. Within the room, a two headed ettin stands before a simmering pot. Orna points to a pile of gold, expressing her interest in the loot, and leads the Keepers in an attack against the ettin. With the ettin attacked from all sides by the group of six, it dies without protest or retaliation.

 

With the kitchen fully looted, Rinn leads the group back through the temple and finds a stone statue in a northwestern room. Despite appearing to be solid stone, the statue turns and addresses the group. Orna pushes past the group, yelling to the statue that they are members of the Black Earth Cult. The statue, convinced of the human's lie, turns away from the Keepers and faces the entryway at the far end of the room. 

 

As they move south, the Keepers find another kitchen and continue their slaughter of chefs. 

In the following room, the Keepers encounter two enemies in plate armor. As the group trades blows, Thirin demonstrates his mastery of his great axe as he lands a devastating blow to one of the men. With the enemies slain, the Keepers decide to rest within the room. As if still stewing over some perceived slight, Orna swings out and attacks Traelle, dropping the paladin to an unconscious sleep. The remaining Keepers take no interest in the attack and prepare for bed as the paladin drools in her sudden sleep. The group makes it through the night without incident and rise to continue through the dungeon.  

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Session 38: Patience to Persevere

Too little time has passed to be stopping for breath, yet here we are resting after a fight with a room full of Dueragar. Based on my recollection of the last time we ventured into Sacred Stone Monastery and below, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by this. I hope to not repeat the failures of our past, but this place is grim and I dread what we might find ahead. The memory of that return still burns in my mind. We disappointed ourselves, burdened Kline and Bronzehammer. Traelle speaks as we sit together, her words refracting my worry into a degree of hope. We must persevere, the only way through is forward. And so we continue on, myself in the lead scouting down the dim hall to another door. Gripping the metal handle of the stone door, I find a single man standing across a ring of wet earth. Tall, misshapen statues of armed men line the walls. Their blank stares pointed to the circle at the room’s center. Perhaps this is touched by magic, a portal? I dare not walk into it, and so I step to the side to let my companions in behind me. The man claims to be the second in command and urges us to leave while we can. “Go attack the Fire cult,” he waves us off like flies batted by the tails of cattle. I look to the others, thinking how to do this. We will fight this robed man, but not in here. They too look wearily at the strange muddy floor unlike the other rooms we have seen.

 

The captain speaks up in agreement and leads us all out the way we had entered. What is he planning? That wide passage before the chasm maybe? That could be a better place to draw blades than the room had been. The man follows us as if to escorts us out, or kill us. There is no way to be sure, but we cannot trust anyone we find beneath the damned keeps. Drak’thal changes pace and enters a room already explored. As we all enter the doorway and turn, the door seals itself with a hiss. We are a bunch of fools once more. I let out a sigh and stare at Drak. I exchange a glance with Thirin and Elurin before Traelle rolls her eyes at me. This was a bad idea. Always willing to make himself useful in a rough spot, the goliath attempts to ram the door with all his strength. Another bad idea. He looks pained by the impact while the door stands unaffected. Pacing now, I flex my hands around the handles of my scythes. Elurin seems to have the same idea as I go check the arrow slit at the north end of the room. We each peek through the narrow space. My raven wouldn’t fit to fly through and out to get help. Patience was never a commandment of my queen, nor was I good at it in situations like this. Stuck. We’re stuck.

 

We both look back to the others by the doorway. Traelle and Thirin sit together watching the halfling run his hands over the stone walls. I’ve never seen him do anything like this so I watch too. After a minute or so, they resume quiet conversation over what to do. I have no ideas so I keep watching Drak’thal fumble his hands over the wall, then suddenly…. Did he just crawl into the stone? Did anyone else see this? I turn to the others, mouth agape. Before I can say anything, the halfling reemerges from the wall looking defeated. “Drak’thal, did you just crawl out of the wall?” He nods and paces in thought. I see his hands holding something, perhaps the item that Adeline gave him at the start.

 

He whispers into it, presumably for help. The rest of us listen for a reply from the diviner somewhere outside the temple. Adeline’s voice comes from the runed object he holds, “Drak’thal? It has only been seven hours.” His answer is mumbled, seemingly embarrassed to ask her to come free us from this predicament. This is not a decision he made without exhausting other options. This space holds no other doors or windows, without the ability to break down the door or find whatever Drak searched for in the stone walls, this is a makeshift prison where we would likely starve. Adeline will come for us soon. Patience again.

 

The clash of blades and crash of stones breaks the silence on the other side of the sealed door. Suppose we pray as we wait then. I turn to the others, restless. Back to pacing and listening to the battle outside the walls that hold us back. Shortly after silence settles once again, a small voice can be heard, “Please move away from the door!” We oblige, all backing away just before the door blasts into the room and crumbles. The blonde diviner barely stands in the archway,  she looks tired. Stepping out, the bloody bodies of legionnaires lay beside the mysterious man who had trapped us. I say a silent prayer as we pass their corpses. Near the robed man is a half crumbled stone creature larger than Thirin. It must have been tough on Adeline with only the five men she brought in with her. She looks visibly spent as she stumbles away to return to her post. Drak’thal mumbled a thanks and perhaps an ‘I love you’ but I can’t be sure. They argued in Glassmoor without regard for our ears, yet he could not be affectionate in front of us? The captain does not need to hold back his words for her near us after everything we have already heard day and night aboard the ship. No matter now, it’s time to move on after collecting some odd black crystals. A green potion, and gold from the fallen enemy.

 

We return to the muddy room that the dead man had occupied for the night. This quickly becomes a problem as Thirin catches enemies coming in during his watch. We wake for battle, dispatching cultists and deciding to abandon the room for another. We all go to the bunk room to seek a place to rest, but this too is a mistake. It’s late now and our tired minds should have known better than to walk into a barracks after midnight. Another fight to finish and flee towards the mud room. The morning comes and we all look as bad as I feel. At least Elurin looks somewhat rested, lucky elf. Traelle encourages us once more to try to push past our tired minds. I resolve to keep moving, another long hall and another chasm comes into view.

 

Large pillars stand in this cavernous area before dropping off to a giant rift in the ground, two bulettes are held back by heavy chains. The beasts strain against the hold of the pillars as they sense us entering their domain. A third appears unbound and roaming right in front of me. It barrels at me and I narrowly dodge its charge. The next closest bulette bursts the chain links as it thrashes and rears toward Elurin. He is soon cornered by the beast though Traelle tries to stop its assault. Thirin’s axe finds purchase on the heavy-hided beast in front of me after I slash at its face. Drak’thal stays at a safe distance, darting in and out of the way of our attacks so that he can lend us strength to stay upright. The paladin aids Elurin to draw the beast from crushing him, striking hard with her dragonbone sword. I glance quickly at the gladiator fighting beside me and smile, he is doing far better than the last temple. Perhaps it was simply a bad start with the sickness that struck him. We fell both free bulettes before running back to the hall again. Better to leave the chained creature where it was and keep searching.

 

Further to the west, I come to a crossroads and ask Drak’thal to take a look at the stonework of a statue. It stands on a pedestal with fist held to the sky, or well, the earthen ceiling. He tells me that it is recently carved, different from the old ruins and ancient statues that we have seen in the other cultist strongholds. Traelle looks over the statue as if to commit it to memory and the goliath urges us forward. And so, forward we go to the south corridor. There is another chasm here but this one has a narrow edge that could be walked, if we were all careful, that leads to the east. With how tired we are, I decide to turn back and follow the hall until we find another room. A doorway soon comes into view at my left, and I quietly open it. The other Keepers follow me in to see an odd sight. A stone woman works over a fire with large tools, and two duergar standing near.

 

She hardly gives us a look before dismissing us as pests to her work, “My fight is not with you, I am to make elemental weapons for Marlos. He has not paid me for more.” The duergar soldiers attack regardless of her words as she continues to work at the forge. Both are quickly felled by our blades, bodies strewn about the floor. It seems that the stone woman is unbothered by their deaths and once again asks us to leave. I have never seen a being like her and gesture the others to the exit. Continuing to the hall might be better use of our time, and they agree as we all make haste to leave her in peace.

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Session 37: Nine Inches, Hot Cocoa, and a Well-Armored Dude

Day 690

It is 3 in the afternoon.  We have just met with Meagan after he gave his wife the holy water that Thirin successfully retrieved from The Vale of the Dancing Waters.  Fortunately, she survived.  The Keepers, minus the ill Traelle, return to Gilmore’s where we greet Sherry.  “We are hungry,” Drak’Thal inelegantly says, “Well, we will be hungry.”  I roll my eyes at this ineptitude and ask Sherry, “do you sell rations?”  She nods her head and we purchase 50. As they are set in front of us, we remember that we are missing Traelle and, more importantly, our bag of holding. Seeing that he is needed, Thirin, his muscles glistening in the light of Gilmore’s emporium, eagerly takes them in his colossal hands and carries them all for us.  Drak’Thal asks for Gilmore but before he can run to him I, noting the lingering stench of death and booze, perfume him so that his man friend might not be displeased.  As Gilmore struts from his office in in his purple suit, he eagerly greets us, “Well, two handsome men, an elf, and this lovely lady.” I note the slight.    “Told you we’d be back,” Drak’Thal says. “What can I do for you?” Gilmore replies. “3 ales?” “Is that all it will take?” At this last question from the merchant, the other Keepers chuckle as Drak’Thal agrees to spend the evening with his beau.    

 

While Drak’Thal and Gilmore venture to a private balcony at the Whistling Pig, Thirin, Rinn, and I walk to the Lord’s Alliance to retreive our bag of holding and Paladin.  As we walk into her room,  we find a curious site. While the rest of us suffered on the road and Rinn almost died, Traelle has apparently been living the life of queen’s cunt.  When we find her, she is laying on her bed eating chocolates and reading a magazine presumably about the latest Earth, Wind, and Shire gossip.  We even hear rumors that she may no longer be a virgin after forcing other member of the Lord’s Alliance to wipe her filthy ass.    I would have loved to tell my new Harper friends about the extravagance and inequality that these lord’s lackeys celebrate but alas, the I must keep silent for the good of the realm.

 

The four of us converse.  Traelle is apparently feeling better (who wouldn’t) which I suppose is good. Rinn, smelling the stench on all of us, suggests a bath and perhaps a haircut.  Having nearly perfect hair already, I reject the offer of a cut but agree that a bath sounds useful.  As Rinn and Traelle get a haircut and Thirin gets a massage, I lounge in the public baths.  It is my first time in such an establishment. I’m used to bathing in the lakes and hot springs of Kelvular among the butterflies and songbirds; this was not nearly as pleasant, although I did get a good glimpse of Thirin sitting naked under a waterfall.  Briefly, I considered his attractiveness but then the Goliath spoke. He’d be hot if he wasn’t so fucking retarded. Preferring to bathe in private (I wonder what she is hiding), Rinn never joined us but Thirin, Traelle, her hair now cut to shoulder length, and I had a pleasant conversation about the Paladin’s tummy ache and our trip to the south.  After Thirin informs the Paladin that she should try the specialty drink at the Dusty Wench, we awkwardly stop talking and decide to leave. We find Rinn, whose hair is now trimmed and darker, and decide to part before meeting at the Keep to inform Kline of our return. 

 

Traelle goes to her shrine to pray and discuss the new shrine of Talos while Rinn and I go to our faction houses. Thirin walks around asking random people about underground fighting rings in the city. He hears about this place called McGregor’s and when the four of us meet at the Keep, we discuss it. Rinn and Traelle inform us that they have been there; it is a place called the Two Shepherds and to get in fighters must tell the proprietor a funny joke. Thirin seems confused about the requirement and keeps loudly asking questions for so long that the guards tell us to move along.  We go inside and go find Kline in his office and learn that he has been checking on Traelle and that Meagan has already told him of our success. I hand him the letters and maps but he knows nothing about them but insists that he will let Adeline know and that we should speak to Meagan and Sven about them. He also reminds us to renegotiate with this Kringle I have heard so much about. Rinn stays in the Keep while the rest of us head to our faction houses for the night. 

 

[Meanwhile, Drak’Thal and Gilmore head to a round table on private balcony at the Whistling Pig where they can watch the sunset together.  Gilmore reclines his chair on the railing so that he see the people frolicking on the street and, perhaps more importantly, to offer Drak’Thal, a better glimpse of his groin. The two converse about what ails the Halfling.  Drak’Thal admits to killing one of his companions which surprises the merchant. After Gilmore complements his beard, Drak’Thal replies, “Glad to have your products around my waste. It keeps my pants up and my beard long.” At this, Gilmore blushes.  Growing sentimental, Drak’Thal thanks the merchant for helping solve the mystery of his dickishness but Gilmore tells him that it was no big deal and that all he asks in return is that Drak’Thal continues to spread the word of “Gillmore’s Glorious Goods. Opening another store, near you.”  Happy for the success of the Gilmore name, Drak’Thal asks if the merchant plans to open another branch of his store.  Apparently, he had been planning on opening a store in Daggerford but could not because the recent explosion. He then tells the Halfing that he heard from several refugees that an orb exploded in Daggerford and that he has been selling goods to the refugees at cost at the behest of Kline and the King.  Drak’Thal thanks him for taking care of his people and Gilmore orders the two of them four expensive ales.  “To long friendship, Drak’Thal” he says as they raise their mugs to each other.  Noticing that Drak’Thal has to grasp the mug in two hands, the merchant remarks on the small hands.

 

“Makes the beard look big,” Drak’Thal replies.

 

“I’m sure it makes everything look big,” Gilmore retorts.  “What troubles you Drak’Thal? I know there must be something on your mind.”

 

“Just my friends. They don’t trust me anymore. Or I wouldn’t.”

 

“I believe that your friends care a great deal about you. And they realize now that the actions you have were not your own but the results of the weapon you were carrying.” 

 

“I don’t want it to happen again.”

 

“I could teach you something.  We would have to work out some sort of payment for it.”

 

“I am taken.”

 

“Drak’Thal I understand this. 1000 gold and I will teach you how to identify attuned items. You will need pearls of rather exquisite value.” He scoots his chair near you and passing on magic is quite a daunting task. We will spend many hours together. Come by Gilmore’s late this evening. I will make sure Sherry sets up a room for you. Drak’Thal agrees and the two drink for the rest of the evening.   

 

After eight glorious drinks each, the two leave the Whistling Pig together barely able to walk. Gilmore picks the little man and sets him on his shoulders only to discover that the Halfling is not so little.  “You know I once called you impressive but I didn’t know how much until now.”   

 

“You know the last time I was this drunk,” Drak’Thal slurs to the merchant, I made Traelle kiss me.”

 

Ever optimistic, Gilmore replies, “Maybe we’ll have a case of deja vu.”

 

"I don’t think I have that spelled prepared right now."

 

"I don’t think you need the spell," Gilmore coyly responds . 

 

The two drunkards arrive at Gilmore’s establishment Gilmore ducks to let them in and carries Drak’Thal to the guest bed.  As they approach the room, he waves his hand and candles light.  He thumps on the bed and lays down with his head still clutched tightgly between Drak’Thal’s knees.  After a while, Drak’Thal addresses the man holding him, “Aye let’s get started.”

 

“What?” Gilmore asks.

 

“You want to get started?” Drak’Thal replies.

 

Doing what? I don’t remember what we are here for?

 

“Weren’t you going to teach me…teach me. You were going to teach me something.”

 

“How to Kiss? I remember talking about kissing.”

 

“No I kissed Traelle. It was magic.”

 

 “Alright get up.”

 

As Drak’Thal refuses to get up Gilmore orders him, “Alright take off all your clothes.”

 

“I don’t think that is how it works.”

 

As Gilmore starts to undo his robes, Drak’Thal shouts, “NO! Don’t do that. I told you.”

 

“No this is how it works, I know what I am doing.  It will make it easier for the arm movements. It is somatic. Somatic. Take off your clothes.  Come on let’s do this. You’re still wearing clothes.  Just do it!”

 

As Drak’Thal continues to refuse, Gilmore tries to reassure him. “Don’t worry. It’s nothing I haven’t seen before. I’ve seen it all before. Not on you somebody else.”

 

Drak’Thal takes off his shirt and then waves his hands while saying, “I don’t think we need to do this.”   

 

“You’ll be fine. Just do it. Drop your pants. I will cast it.”

 

“They’re up.”

 

“I will cast it? Are they off?” The merchant starts to move his hand and as he does so, Drak’Thal’s pants start to drop. The Halfling tries to pull them back up but either lacks the strength or the will.

 

Soon Drak’Thal is standing in front of the naked Gilmore with his pants around his ankles.

Gilmore stares at the recently revealed nine-inch rod that lies between Drak’Thal’s legs. The cleric shyly tries to to cover it with his tiny hands but it is too large. “Jesus fucking Christ!” Gilmore exclaims. “How have you not killed her yet? What the fuck is wrong with you?”

 

“She can take it well. Magic.  Magic. Magic.  Magic.”

 

“Alright. This is what you are going to need to do. It is all somatic. You have to wiggle your hips first.”  As Drak’Thal starts to rhythmically wiggle his hips at the table in front of him, the merchants says, “ Oh yeah hang on.” Hang on Drak’Thal does as the merchant retrieves a magical staff that he sets on table.   

 

“What?”

 

“I’m trying to remember what school it is.”

 

“We’re not in school? What the fuck is a school of magic?” Drak’Thal asks. 

 

You need to start channeling divination. 

 

“What the fuck is divination?” the Halfling asks while moving his hips but still trying to cover his penis. 

 

“It is a bard and wizard thing. Hang on,” Gilmore replies as he reaches for his protégé’s shoulder. As he touches, Drak’Thal, he falls asleep starts to snore. He quickly wakes up and says “Divination” and starts to transfer magic from his arm to Drak’Thal’s.   “Alright.  Aye so divination, you channel it. It takes a little time but it is good.” He pulls a pearl out of his bag along with an owl feather.  

 

“Do I really have to be naked for this?” Drak’Thal asks.

 

“You have to have freedom of movement. It is why I wear the robes.”

 

For another 15 minutes, the two stand, rotating their hips as if there is music in the air, and transferring energy before they pass out and fall to the floor. Sometime during the night, the two men find each other and cuddle together for warmth, rotating in unison as if each was perfectly matched to the other.  

 

Day 691

 

The next morning, Gilmore wakes up first and discovers that he is naked with his arms wrapped around his naked friend.  He thinks to himself, “Jesus Christ How the fuck is that thing so big?” He gets up, grabs a blanket and puts it over Drak’Thal.  “Hey Hey Wake up.  Wake up.”

 

Drak’Thal’s eyes open and as his vision adjusts to the room, he sees Gilmore, completely naked, standing over top of him. “Why are we naked? Why am I naked?” Growing increasing frantic, he asks, “Did you do anything last night? Did we do anything last night?”  

 

“I fucking hope not.”

 

“All I remember is telling you about the kiss.”

 

“I don’t think we did anything. By the looks of it, I would be in a lot of pain. Feeling alright?”

 

“A little hung over.”

 

Gilmore yells to Sherry to start breakfast. “There is a pearl and an owl feather,” he notes, “we must have started. Let’s teach you how to do this.” For the next hour, he teaches Drak’Thal how to identify magical items.  As Drak’Thal learns the spell, he feels pain but eventually he learns. They go downstairs and have breakfast. Sherry gives them a nasty look.

 

“Did you make her get naked too?” Drak’Thal asks.  

 

“I don’t know.  No. No.”

 

 “What the fuck?”  

 

“I don’t know. I’m sorry,” the merchant concludes.]

 

That same morning, Traelle wakes up in the Lord’s Alliance bed she knows very well by this point.  She walks to the Shrine of Tyr and holds mass. The people rejoice and afterwards tell her that they are glad to have her in these dark times when a Talos shrine will be built in the city. The rest of us break fast at our city residences before meeting at the keep.  Traelle, Thirin, and I wait for a while before Kline and Rinn walk out together to join us. Soon, Drak’Thal is there too, looking a little weary, hung over, and moderately concerned. “Where is Evan?” he asks.  “At the all faiths,” Kline replies.  I remind the others that we should to Meagan and Sven about the letters and maps we found at the Temple.   As the rest of us turn to leave, Thirin addresses Kline, “What do you know about McGregor’s?”  Kline gives him some information and turns to affectionally kiss Rinn before returning to work.  

 

As we walk from Kline’s office, we keep about McGregor’s.  Rinn reminds Thirin,  “You have to tell him a joke. Just one joke. You just need to make him laugh. It is a lot harder than you think. Traelle said the joke last time.”  I ask what joke was but they are unable to recall it.  Once we arrive outside the Keep, Drak’Thal informs the rest of us of some of his adventures the previous night. Gilmore, he says, taught me a spell. To identify items. Magical items.”   We agree that it is a useful skill to have, especially after what happened to our Captain.  As Rinn ventures to her shrine, Drak’Thal walks  into the Lyceum to find Adeline.  While he does so, I make a new friend: a rat named Steve who seems angered that some of the refuges ate his rat friend Billy.  He asks if I have any cheese.  I do not but perhaps one day I will return with enough cheese for all the Billy and Steve rats of the city.

 

Adeline and Drak’Thal return together and the five of us walk to Gilmore’s. When we enter Sherry sighs.  Drak’Thal gives her the $1000 gold he owes for his evening with Gilmore and we purchase two greater healing and three lesser healing potions as well as additional pearls so that Drak’Thal can use his new spell. I ask about bow and arrows and Thirin buys a bearskin drum. He seems both excited and saddened that he must now spend time beating the skin of creatures that are so dear to him.  At least he knows that the skin is thick and hard to penetrate.

 

We then meet Rinn and walk to the ship to meet Meagan. His wife is doing better. As we talk, Sven walks up and we hand him the letters and maps.  He reads them and starts laughing hysterically. “This has got to be some kind of a joke. Are these real?” I assure him that they are real. “Well, there is no secret palace behind anything. Behind the Tender Oath. Let me take these to some elders and get back to you.”  

 

[As Sven walks away, Drak’Thal talks with Meagan in the captain’s quarters. “I owe you my thanks,” he says, “Thank you for going in my stead.” The always happy to please Meagan replies, “ Aye you have always been there for me captain.”  Acknowledging the thanks, Drak’Thal tells his fellow cleric, “Because you have done so much for us. I would like to do something for you. I would like to give you a higher ranking within the church of Talos. Sperad the word.” Beaming, Meagan thanks his captain.  We leave the ship and walk to the All Faiths Shrine so Drak’Thal can converse with Evan.  He meets the priest who is now wearing the eyepatch of Talos and the priest tells him that he would like to give Drak’Thal additional training so that he might become an Orator and reminds him that followers of Talos are not to sway others; they are to provide knowledge and let others choose their own paths. They discuss the location of the new temple of Talos and though disappointed that it will not be placed on top of the former shrine of Tyr, Drak’Thal is content that it will be near the docks where his people reside.  Together the two worshippers of Talor hit the floor. When Drak’Thal’s hammer strikes it, an electrical charge fills the air.]  

 

We leave the Shrine and walk to the village of Westerhold to meet with Kringle and negotiate a return for our goods.  We arrive and discover that while there is no snow, there is still hot cocoa.  Several creatures that look somewhat like Drak’Thal but perhaps a little smaller, hand us each a mug filled with the delicious drink and marshmallows. Thirin especially seems enthusiastic about the drink.  I too enjoy it and remember the taste for later.   

 

We mistakenly allow Drak’Thal to negotiate. As the two stand face to face, Kringle adjusts his suspenders wihle listening to the Halfling talk about the changes at Glassmoor.  Drak’Thal fumbles over his words quite a bit and indecisely suggests a price of $3000. Sensing weakness in his opponent, the man known to his friends as Santa, says that he will give us $1000 and quickly ushers us out of his office.  As we turn to leave, Thirin addresses Kringle as the rest of us cringe.  “Can you teach me how to make the cocoa?” Miraculously, Kringle agrees but says it will have to wait for the winter.  At least we got something useful out of these negotiations. As we walk to Glassmoor, I ask Rinn if the negotiations went well. She replies with a very long, “Noooooooooooooo.”

 

When we arrive at Glassmoor at 6 PM, Adaline tells us that she thinks it is time to go to bed. She walks upstairs and draws a bath. After a few moments of indecision, Drak’Thal follows her up the stairs, willingly takes off his clothes, and climbs in the bath.  As Adelinee caresses his filthy skin with a sponge, he asks her, “Did you bring the leather?” She smiles and replies “Yes. Did you bring the chairs?” “I didn’t bring any extra,” the Halfling admits.  Smiling mischievously, she tells him, “We’ll make do.”  Later that evening they loudly make do.  To hide from the sounds, I walk down to Traelle’s room, knock on the door, and when given leave, enter and cast silence so that the Paladin can fall asleep. Once she does, I stand, return to the living room, and enter my trance.

 

Day 692

 

Thirin has had one thing on his mind for the last two days: fighting at McGergor’s.  Though the rest of the Keepers try to talk him into fighting in our pit, he insists on fighting in the city’s pit.  Apparently our potential crowds are not enough for him.  While the Goliah salivates over venturing into a pit once again, the rest of us manage to talk about taking money from the vault for our personal needs. We take 1000 and divide it evenly between the five of us.

 

As the rest make preparations to leave, I walk up the windows in the library. I ask to see the death of my cousin.  I am stunned when I see the scene unfold in the glass. I see his death underneath the fangs of a monstrous creature while Rinn stabs him.  I see them kill the beast and then linger before trying to heal him. Rinn in particular seems to have been conflicted about trying to save him.  I don’t know if I should ask her about this but it certainly makes me see our earlier conversations in a different light.  Though stunned by the scene of my cousin’s death, I ask to see another: my father’s present location….  

 

While the rest of us linger downstairs, Drak’Thal and Adelinee return to their bedchamber and stare into the windows because Drak’Thal wants to know what happened to him the night before.  “Be prepared,” he tells her, “because I don’t know what happened.” They watch the whole scene together.   

 

“What the fuck is this?” Adeline asks him.  

 

“Did he really have to do that? Did you not see him pull my pants off?

 

As she watches her half-man nakedly spoon the merchant, she says, “What the hell is this? How drunk were you?

 

“I don’t remember.”

 

“Maybe lay off the alcohol a bit.”

 

“I mean it was free.”

 

“Is this worth free?    Maybe you should cut back to a half-thal size.”

 

“Do you think he could take it?”

 

“I can barely take it and we practice for days.  It still doesn’t go all the way in.”  As she talks, Drak’Thal stares silently at his penis.   

 

Downstairs, the remaining Keepers listen awkwardly to the conversation occurring above until

Thirin shouts, “I think she is talking about his sword!”

 

When Drak’Thal and Adeline walk downstairs, the rest of the Keepers clear their throats.  As they leave the estate for McGergor’s, Drak’Thal walks into the center of their growing village of four to five hundred people and begins handing out some of Gilmore’s card before shouting at the crowd to shop at Gilmore’s.  

 

A few hours later, The Keepers and Adeline open the doors of the Two Shephards and walk to the bar. The dwarf McGergor greets us in the loudest most annoying voice I can image.  Hepours all of us a shot and we all swing them back along with him.  He tells several jokes about snakes and penises before loudly laughing at each of them and pouring us each more shots, five in total. Drak’Thal drinks them all with Adeline standing right beside him.  Encouraged by Rinn, Thirin tells his joke:  “Did you hear about the two drums and the cymbals that fell off a cliff?”  Too excited to wait, he immediately says the punch line: “ba dum tss” along with the requisite hand motions. The rest of us laugh but McGergor is eerily silent.  After what seems like an eternity, he says, “That is not very funny.” To end the awkwardness, Drak’Thal asks the dwarf to tell us a story.  Apparently the dwarf once fucked a goat. I can’t say I’m surprised. 

 

Unable to enter the fighting pits due to our inability to tell a joke to the satisfaction of a goat-fucker, Thirin is disappointed but most of the rest of us are somewhat annoyed when one of his servers taps us on the shoulder and demands 25 gold for the drinks that we did not order and most of us had not consumed.  Thirin hands his remaining drinks out to the rest of the bar. The rest of us drink ours and miraculously do not get drunk.  The alcohol must have been weak.

 

Leaving the Two Shepherds, we go to Gilmore’s for the third time and once again Sherry appears annoyed.  Thirin and I purchase clothing for the north and I buy some fire arrows as well. We go to our faction houses and remain in the city until we leave on day 295. It takes 25 days to reach the city. AS we travel it gets so cold that the crew has to remove ice in front of the ship.  Six evil whales attack us but fortunately Adeline is able to kill three of them before the rest of us are even able to fire a shot.  On Day 720 we reach Port DoesnHaveAName and begin the tenday march through the snow to Sacred Stone.  Along the way, Adeline finds us shelter. 

 

Day 730

 

Inside the monastery, we meet Fendrick and 10 legionnaires of the Order of the Gauntlet. They salute Drak’Thal. We go down the stairs to a basement filled with deadend passages before heading down another set of stairs that take us to a great cavern that seems to stretch for miles.  I have never been to the Underdark  but if this is even close the environment that Alatar spent his life in, I can imagine him going crazy.  Fortunately, we have Adeline.  As soon as we reach the bottom of the stairs, she stops and draws a rune on the floor and presses it. As soon as she does, the entire cavern glows was a magical light.  As we walk forward, the light moves with us.  We spend several days traveling through the tunnel until we reach a large, fifteen foot tall stone door.  Adeline pulls the Earth Orb out and inserts it into a recess in the door.  Slowly it opens and we can start to see inside.  As the five Keepers step forward, she tells us “I’ll be here if you need anything.”  Drak’Thal tells her that we’ll be back but, as the rest of us enter the door, she pulls her Halfling aside, kisses him on the forehead, and gives him a charm in the shape of her holy symbol.  As she presses it into his hand, she tells him, “Speak to the charm if you need me.”

 

We enter the Temple and notice that where the Temple of Crushing Waves had long channels of water, this temple has great chasms averaging 100-200 feet deep.  Fortunately, their sides slope but the area remains dangerous.  Unlike in the long tunnel, here there are lights. Rinn goes first while the rest of us follow ten feet behind.  She goes forward 20 feet. Then another 10. Then another 20.  Drak’Thal is growing impatient but soon we come to a bridge without railings over a 50 foot chasm.

 

Suddenly, Rinn and I see three gargoyles fly down onto the bridge.  Reacting first, I shoot two fire arrows into the chest of one of the beasts. They dig deep into its flesh as the creature howls in pain.  Rinn pulls out her scythes and hits the same beast twice. Our tiny friend rushes us beside the creature and attacks it; then our large friend rushes us and straddles the tiny man before swinging his great axe.  Both prove ineffective.  The creature then reaches down between Thirin’s legs and yanks on our Halfling friend and throws him over the edge of the bridge. He crashes onto piles of orc and dwarf bones.  Meanwhile, a creature has landed behind me.  I pull out my short swords and hit the creature thrice but I can feel the edge of my swords grating against its flesh refusing to dig deep. Strange. The fire arrows had no difficulty penetrating its skin.  Rinn too seems to be having more success with the one immediately in front of her but it is Thirin that takes his great axe and decapitates the creature I had started to kill.

 

Meanwhile, Traelle and I battle the one that has landed behind the Keepers. Traelle strikes true but the creature grabs me and throws me to the ground. I recover and even though I can barely see the beast,  I manage to strike it with two regular arrows.  I smile sensing that the troubles that plagued me in the Temple of the Crushing Wave have ended.  Rinn kills the other in front of her before blinking back to the final Gargoyle.  Growing increasingly reckless with his swings, Thirin exposes himself to the Gargoyle’s attacks. the creature, mustering all of its strength, kicks our goliath off the edge of the bridge. Caught by surprise, he  falls to the ground , impaled on the bones of orc and dwarves. He does not move.  Drak’Thal runs through the bones and heals him while I continue to shoot at the Gargoyle, hitting with one of my arrows. I curse at my one miss.  Traelle, who has continued to mercilessly slash at the beast with her dragon-bone sword, kills it before I have the chance. 

 

With the three gargoyles dead, Rinn and Traelle try to think of ways to rescue Thirin, Drak’Thal and I.  Traelle remembers the rope and rod in the bag of holding. She reaches into her bag of and slowly pulls out a rod. They tie the hempen rope to the rod and lower it to the floor.  Drak’Thal and I look at Thirin and tell him to test it out. He tugs on the rope but the rod does not move. He climbs up.  As he reaches the top, I start to climb and so quickly do I ascend that I am up there before Thirin has secured himself on the bridge. Drak’Thal follows and when he reaches the top, checks the bodies but finds nothing.  We quickly run off the bridge onto the landing.  There, we find massive ruined gates. One door lists unevenly on its hinges and the other lies shattered on the ground. On the wall is painted, a pastoral scene of green hills.  We have reached some sort of entrance.

 

With Rinn in the lead we press on as before, ten feet, then twenty, and ten more.  We walk into a room and find a well-armored dude riding a what looks large a large bulette as well as four hobgoblins. The bulette borrows under the gound with the man still on its back before emerging right next to Rinn.  The wave from its emergence shocks Thirin, Drak’Thal, Rinn, and I.  The thief and I manage to stay on our feet but Thirin and Drak’Thal are knocked to the floor. Not yet recovered from his earlier fall, Thirin falls unconscious. Rinn pulls out her schythes and attacks the well-armored man.  I pull out my bow and do the same. Both of us are largely unsuccessful.  A hobgoblin rushes towards Thirin and I and attacks the goliath while he lies unconscious.  Fortunately, Drak’Thal quickly heals all of us before unleashing his fiends on our enemies.  Still hot from the battle against the gargoyles, Traelle pulls out her dragon-sword and slashes the hobgoblin in front of her in half before she is bitten by the bulette.  As the rider keeps hitting Rinn, she switches to attacking its stead where her blades find better purchase. She hits the beast so hard that its jaw shatters, leaving it unable to bite anymore of us. 

 

With the hobgoblin in front of me, I set my bow aside and pull out my shortswords and quickly run the creature through before moving to the corner to get a better view of the room.  Rejuvenated by Drak’Thal's spell, Thirin rushes to the bulette and attacks the man on top while Drak’Thal rushes to the side of the room and starts to shoot lightning at the man on the bulette.  For what seems like an eternity, we fight the man.  As Traelle swings her sword, Thirin brandishes his axe, and Drak’Thal shoots lighting, I step forward, notch an arrow on my bow, and shoot the man straight through the head.  He sinks to the side of still living bulette, his body held on only by the stirrup. Rinn, who has remained focused on the bulette since nearly the beginning on the fight, finally slays it but not before the creature bitch slaps our Paladin with its feet.  As Rinn kills the beast, I load two arrows onto my bow and loose them at the final standing hobgoblin. Both sink deep into his chest, killing him instantly.  Our enemies dispatched, Rinn and I search the bodies and find 200 gold.  We decide to keep it for ourselves.

 

Dungeon Kill Count:

Elurin 3

Rinn: 2

Drak’Thal: 1

Dusty Wench: 2

Thirin: 1

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Session: 36 The Best Water

We begin our new journey to help Meegan, leaving our faction housed and meeting up to go inquire about horses for a quick ride. We find out that Traelle is not feeling well and not joining us again for another glorious adventure. She has been having troubling bowel movements that keep leaving her incapacitated. I believe it is her lack of self enjoyment and pent up sexual frustration that leaves her this way.  Along the way we also decide to head over ot a bar to drink and to find a place to buy horses and possibly stopping at Gilmores to grab some other needed items as well. We head out form the bar and go to see about some horses, we arrive and purchase three regular horses and one war horse because I am unable to fit on a regular one since I am much larger than the other s in the group. After this we head over to Gilmores and purchase the items we need and then follow the map and the directions provided by Meegan. Most of the journey there is uneventful until we hit a low canyon, it is very quiet and very eerie and as we are traveling thorough we are attacked by some beasts. We quickly make work of them and make sure that we haven't lost our path and that we are following the map correctly, since one wrong turn could lead us very far away form where we need to go. We follow the direction perfectly and see that we have come to a narrow cliff and large canyon with the temple in sight at the end of the path. Elurin has decided to take the front instead of Rinn this time and just as we are about half way down the cliff we end up triggering a trap which thankfully doesn't knock anyone off  but wounds Rinn and Elurin that were in the path of the boulders. it was very strange that there were traps along the road but Meegan told us that these temple dwarves don't really like outsiders and that without the note we are carrying are usually turned away from it. As we get closer we notice that there is no one manning the front gates and thats they are wide open revealing a large gathering of dwarves who seem to be well dressed for a certain party or possibly a ritual of some sorts. As we wal in Drakthal immediately yells out to the groups of dwarves informing everyone who was in the courtyard to our presence. They strangely greet us with friendly hellos and to come closer to them, which was also strange since Meegan informed us that theses dwarves at the temple were not friendly to outsiders. Suddenly we are surprised attacked by the group and we begin a long combat, while also one fo the dwarves disappearing during the fight. We quickly make work of these dwarves who seem to not be very strong but rather relatively weak, after almost finishing off the last dwarf  an Oni appears and now we have a great challenging foe in front of us. This thing is monstrous and hits like a truck dealing massive blows to the keepers as they fight to defeat this strange foe in the temple. After defeating the five foes that were attacking us in the courtyard we search the lower temple and the similar rooms to see if we can find any clues as to what has happened to the temple and the original dwarves that were living there. We come across a room that is filled with an uneasy stench of death and slowly open the door and come to find the original dwarves who were living there all murdered and left to rot in the one room. These were definitely the ones we were supposed to meet, they all have the symbols and clothing worn to match exactly what Meegan had told us. We leave the rooms and the death trotted room and decide to head upstairs to see if we can find anyone else that might be there in the temple. We are again surprised by three dwarves up at the top where one fo them is significantly stronger than the other two. The one that is stronger makes quick work of Rinn and downs here almost instantly with a sneak attack. The rest of us rush in after her and begin to attack the dwarves, The lesser ones are taken care of quickly and we finally finish off the leader. We search there bodies for clues or notes or anything as to the reason why the temple was attacked. We end up finding letters and other goods detailing another temple and who might has sent these dwarves to attack. We spend countless time looking for water that we need to gather to bring to Meegan, and after some time we end up finding it near the entrance to the temple. We fill up three satchels of water, one in Drathals bag, one in Elurins and one in my bag just incase we need more water than usual. We decide to not postpone bringing back the water to Meegan and take the shortest route back with our horses. As soon as we get back we head strait over to Meegan  and give him the water for his wife. Thankfully the water that wasn't tainted by alcohol was in my bag and that is what ends up saving her life. Meegan is extremely happy that we were able to save his wifes life and is always happy to follow us on any adventures in the future that we will go on.

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Session 35: The Wrath of an Angel

Captains Log
The Keeper’s Oath

Day: 565 

 

Praying to my god Talos I was unable to receive indication of his presence. I even sacrificed my own chair for him. This is unbelieveable. I am the chosen one. WHY DOES HE NOT RESPOND.

 

 

Day: 570

 

The crew is not working hard enough. All they do is complain. Do they not realize who they work for!? Their lives are insignificant compared to my own. They require my presence so they do not slack off and drown this entire ship with their negligence. While at watch I hear faint sounds of battle below my feet later into the night. All they do is fuck around. They do not deserve to serve under me. 

 

“Keepers of the Realm” HA. The name is such a joke. The ‘Keepers’ will save nothing. Half of these ‘Keepers’ have already died and the rest will go with them. They throw themselves at death. I do everything for them. No longer will I be part of this group of failures. 

 

 

Day: 571

 

While standing at watch today there is talk of a glorious battle last night between Krunak and Thirin. This must have been what I had heard the night before. Krunak ultimately won the battle as I thought he would. I have seen Thirin fight and he is nothing more than a large soft bear. His swings are nothing to be afraid of. Krunak even gave a sacrifice of destruction to our god Talos in the final blow. He broke a chair upon his head. 

 

Earlier today I found Rinn and Elurin lounging around in their rooms mid day doing nothing. I put them to work immediately. However useless it may have been. They are only pawns to be played with.

 

 

Day 610

 

Nothing of note has happened since I last wrote. Crew is still negligent. Though the Keepers and Krunak seem to be acting suspicious today specifically. They are starting to really get on my nerves. Perhaps by the end of this trip someone will walk the plank.  

 

 

Day 611

 

Drak’Thal could be tolerated no longer. His actions these past 45 days has made him unfit to be captain any longer. Last night Krunak threw him into the brig to keep him from wreaking any havoc on any of us. These logs show that this was the right choice. He cannot be trusted and will be given no more chances while I am captain of this ship. He will face the wrath of Kline when we arrive in Wyrmwood. This will be the final log before we arrive in the city due to the circumstances. 
                                          

                                                                                                            - Shava

 

 

Arrival at Wyrmwood

 

Day 670 the Keepers arrive at Wyrmwood harbor and dock. Kline and Adeline wait at the docks for the Oath to dock. Shava retrieves Drak’Thal from the brig and carries him, with a dagger to his throat, through the city. The Keepers explain the situation to Kline and he rushes after Shava but he is too late. The refugees from Daggerford have already congregated around them and chant his name. Kline snaches up Drak’Thal and rushes to the keep to meet with the king. King Bronzehammer comes out in his night gown and cap to find The Keepers, Drak’Thal, and Kline in the throne room. Traelle explains what had happened on the ship and within the Temple and they release Drak’Thal. He looks somber and apologizes to everyone with nothing more to say. The king asks him to go out to calm the crowd that has congregated outside the keep. He walks out in his armor, which Thirin had retrieved for him from the ship, to speak to his people. 

 

A man walks forwards and gets on his hands and knees. Drak’Thal stands atop his back, looks down upon the refugees, and speaks with a booming voice. “I am your prophet. The prophet of Talos.” A storm brews above the Keep as he preaches to the refugees. “I will get you what you deserve. A shrine in this city.” Thunder and lightning crash throughout the skies above. He reassures that he will carve a place within this city for them and they should return to their homes with confidence. Drak walks back into the keep to meet again with the King. Kline demands that he stay the night so that they can watch his actions and he agrees. The rest of the Keepers return to Glassmore

 

Glassmore has grown since they have left. Vinyards span the outside of the walls of the mannor and a barracks sits in the distance. A vault is built on the second floor with a mound of gold inside. Tyranath introduces the new barracks captain, Chelaska!

 

Drak’Thal sound asleep is woken up early by the kick of Kline so that he may meet with someone. Evan enters the room to speak with him about becoming the shepherd for the refugees from Daggerford. Drak’Thal questions whether or not he can live up to the task and sends him off leaving the question unanswered for the time being. 


Evan meets with the Keepers to tell them of Drak’Thal’s actions that morning in the Whistling Pig. As Earth, Wind, and Shire play Blue Monday in the background Evan informs them that Drak’Thal is not acting himself once again. He then questions them of the recent events from the point they had started to notice of his change in character. Ultimately they conclude that the spear, Windvane, could be a potential explanation. They finish their breakfast and head to the Keep to meet with Kline.

 

Drak’Thal attempts to leave but Kline does not let him go. This enrages Drak and he attacks Kline. He extends his wing out to the side and in an instant the light is sucked out of the room. Kline appears behind Drak smashing his sword onto his head. A burst of lightning flows from Drak swirling outwards. Flashes of an angel, wings outstretched, towering above a small halfling at the ready appear with each strike of the lightning. Kline strikes down the halfling and the lightning fades to leave the room dark once again. Reaching into his pocket Kline takes out a vial and shoves it into Drak’Thal’s throat bringing him back from the brink of death. With the necrotic slice of death he slices Drak’Thal down. Once again he places a potion into his throat bringing him back just to strike him down once more. One last time he brings him back to life and shackles him with magic. Raising his sword he thrusts it into Drak’Thals chest and turns around to take his seat at his desk. Traelle, Rinn, Thirin, and Elurin walk into his office to see a near death halfling and Kline sitting at his desk. They explain that his spear may be what has caused him to become aggressive and mercurial. Kline tells them to head to Gilmore’s to have him check it out.

 

Arriving at Gilmore’s they ask him to inspect the weapon and then sell some of the loot that was acquired within the last temples. Gilmore returns and explains that this is a cursed item and should never be used. Also that it is a very nice Elven artifact. Returning to Kline he sends them off to speak with Sven and Meagen at the ship about a request they have. 
 

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Session 34 Crushing Waves of Water, Fire, and Dragonsbreath

With the ogres twisted in a bloody mess, the seaweed clad woman pierced by Elurin's arrows, the exhausted Keepers attempt to rest with Meagen.  As the group rests, Rinn moves beside Traelle and hands her a long-sword encrusted in rubies. Traelle drapes it across her knees as she tries to manage her breath and her thoughts of the captain. As the group stands, Traelle feels warmth tracing up her fingers. She looks down to the sword to see the rubies filled with swirling flames. As if the thought strikes her, she looks to the group and says, "There is a dragon nearby…" As the Keepers look to her, Elurin speaks up and says, "It's to the north." 

 

The Keepers press on, with Rinn leading the group deeper in to the dungeon. As Rinn enters a room, the group find themselves squaring off against eight lizard people. Meagen, in classic fashion, aids the group with healing spells and attacks against the enemies. Traelle, swinging her new weapon at the enemies, almost loses the sword to her foe. As the melee rages, Rinn takes the brunt of many attacks and Elurin unintentionally attacks himself. Blow after blow, the group prevails over the lizards and tries to determine their next course of action.

 

With the group thoroughly exhausted, and running out of options, the Keepers decide to barricade themselves and to wait out the day in hopes of resting. The Keepers plan nearly backfires, as a group of trolls ambush them. Felling the trolls takes the Keepers time, and finally, they take a long rest to recover from their encounters.

 

As Rinn leads the group to the east, the Keepers make short work of a priest and his five reavers. The rogue continues to lead her companions, finding an unoccupied prison to the south, large grain silos, and a room with a tide knight, shiver, and three more reavers. After felling the group, Meagen finds gold and garnets among the corpses and the group continues forward.

 

As Rinn opens the door to a room, a piercing voice fills her mind. Unable to locate the source, Rinn hears the voice telling her to leave the room undisturbed. Heading the warning, Rinn turns to the group and leads them away hurriedly. As she traces back through the dungeon, Rinn leads the group to a bridge with double doors. Rinn tries to open the door with her tools, but finds that the passage is barred by a trap. 

 

Rinn leads the group to the water line of a lake. With the other corridors searched, the Keepers discuss  cross the waters. Meagen prepares a ritual and leads the group atop the water. With the group walking across the surface, a dragonturtle surfaces from below and swims nearby. The dwarf and elf speak to the dragonturtle, hoping to get a response from the beast. Without a word, the beast turns to attack and decimates the group with it strikes.

 

The group, barely alive, float to the nearby shore. As days pass with no word of success, Shava ventures into the dungeon with ten seamen. The drow rogue fights her way through the passages, with each each of the seamen losing their lives, and final locates the downed Keepers. Shava works on reviving the group and learns what they had accomplished on their own.

 

With Meagen's ritual spell recasted, Shava sprints across the water. As the dragonturtle raises it's head and peers at the drow, Shava calmly stares it down and says, "Just trying to pass, turtle." With the Keepers in tow, Shava makes it across the lake without arousing the interest of the dragonturtle.

 

Across the lake, Rinn finds a room with a strange creature defending a descending staircase. Rinn strikes out at the creature, leading the Keepers into battle. As the Keepers join in the fight, the creature begins to fill the room with and seems to disappear and reappear at will. Assisted by the Keepers, Shava once again demonstrates her skill by slaying the beast. The group moves from the poison filled room to safety and are able to catch their breath. As if unfazed by the continuous battles, Shava moves with the group to a room filled with five lizard people and "a red creature" and continues her murdering spree. 

 

With the rooms clear and treasure collected, Shava tells Thirin to swim through a hole in the wall. The Goliath smiles broadly and agrees. As he jumps into the water, it seems as if the hulking man forgets how to swim straight, and gets caught in the current. Shava rolls her eyes briefly and looks to the group for another would be swimmer. She points to the paladin and repeats her order. Traelle swims into the hole, finding a small cave that houses a small library and a store of waterproof satchels.

 

With the books and looted satchels in hand, the group finally leaves the temple for good and heads back to the ship. The Keepers are quiet as they make their way back to the Keeper's Oath. It isn't until they return to the ship that Shava speaks of the dead seamen that aided in her rescue attempt. She boards the ship with the group, and the Oath begins its return to Daggerfjord. 

 

The Keepers ask Krunak about their captain and friend. After learning that he is in the brig and after reading Drak'Thal's apologetic note, the Keepers have him released. With few words exchanged, the Keeper's Oath approaches Daggerfjord. As the ship approaches the bay, fire fills the sky as the city burns to the ground. Screams on the wind reach the Keepers as the come into port. At the docks, the Order of the Gauntlet Captain greets us. Thirin, Traelle, Rinn attempt to help, hoping to save innocents or to hunt down remaining cultists, but the captain reports that evacuees are already aboard ships. The Captain continues and says that they will take refuge in the city of Wyrmwood. As the conversation continues, Drak'Thal seems to return to his oddly indifferent attitude, uncaring of the people that have given their hearts and souls to him and his god of destruction.

 

Sent away by the Gauntlet Captain, the Keepers make their way back to the Oath. A pair of Gauntlet clerics see that Elurin and Rinn are in need of treatment and give them aid. With nothing left of Daggerfjord to keep the group ashore, the Keepers board their ship and begin their return to Wyrmwood.

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