Monday, May 18, 2015

Westmist Session #96 - Oops!

While the most of the party (Erijay, Jasper, Lomar [and Guy]) bought time engaging in back and forth negotiation with Lord Merdwyn, Kern quietly started to move everyone over to the round circular stone in the floor. He figured it was an elevator, and that operating it required touching the snake sword to the surface of the stone. When everyone reached the stone (including Bjorn's body), Erijay touched the stone with the sword. It began to rumble and shake, and indeed did rise into the air. But it stopped after only 15' or so, and then began to vibrate more and more, before finally cracking into pieces and falling to the floor. Everyone fell with it, luckily avoiding the hole that had been uncovered by the now displaced black stone. Thin tendrils of mist rose from the pit, and then a loud hiss could be heard. Moments later, a massive tentacled snake head emerged, easily 20' across. The party instantly recognized this as one of the aspects of Yg, and wisely took off running towards the rat tunnels when the head turned to face them. Erijay turned briefly, wielding her snake sword, and commanding the beast to stop. "Who are you to command me to stop, mortal fool!" came the reply, which was enough to get the elf running after the rest of the party.

Crawling into the tunnels, the party could hear the massive snake following them. It was much too large to get into the tunnels after them, but as they moved deeper, they could now hear and feel the massive beast slamming into the wall behind them, trying to break in. This continued for some time, and then suddenly stopped. After waiting a little longer to make sure it was gone, Erijay cast clairvoyance and sent her remaining meerkat out to have a look. The snake was gone, but now a more distant pounding could be heard. The meerkat went back to the dome, and observed that the Yg-snake had crawled up one of the statues and was proceeding to batter it's way through the top of the dome. The meerkat slipped forward to look into the hole the snake had emerged from, but the beast sensed it and quickly swung down to snap at the little critter. Which luckily was able to scuttle away and back to it's mistress.

The party decided to wait until the snake finished it's work, and after some time they heard a massive crash followed by distant screams from above-ground. Assuming it was gone, they all crept back to the dome, and found the top of the dome pretty much gone. Beyond the gaping hole they could see the partially ruined remains of Westmist Keep, below which they had delved. And more screaming and shouting could be heard in the distance. "Humm" said Kern. "What do you suppose is left in the pit?" Figuring they should recover something from this fiasco, Erijay cast fly and slowly descended into the dark shaft. 200 feet down she landed on a bed of coins, thousands upon thousands of all kinds. Going up to tell the others, Kern gave her the magic chest with instructions to descend again and fill it up as fast as possible. Needing no further encouragement, Erijay did just that, and when she emerged from the pit found everyone else getting ready to climb out of this god-forsaken dungeon. The elf took one end of their cut rope, and flew up to the roof to find a spot to tie it on. While there, she cautiously flew up above the rubble and looked around. All around were the battered remains of the keep, bodies lying amidst the rubble. Looking at the path of destruction and listening to the shouts and screams, she guessed the Yg-snake was headed for the Temple of the Three Virtues.
Erijay lowered the rope and helped pull everyone up, including poor Bjorn's body. This they left in the ruins of the keep for now, and after some debate on their best course of action (try to save the town vs run like hell and save their skins), everyone agreed to head for the temple to see what if anything could be done to help. By the time they got there, the Yg-snake was in the main dome of the temple, and slaughtered clerics and laity lay all around. The party moved to attack, while Kern shouted to Lanthan the Undervirtue (The Highest Virtue having already been slain), whom he could see helping hold the line on the other side. Kern asked if there was any wondrous artifact or some such buried in the hill below the temple that might help defeat the Yg-snake. The cleric replied in the negative, but Kern decided to look anyway.

Seeing their attacks were having little or no effect on the snake, Kern summoned the rest of the party to his side, they all descended into the tunnels and cellars below the temple while the battle continued to rage above. Frantically they searched, and by luck found some curved stonework that looked exactly like the dome they'd explored below the keep. Busting it open, the party found themselves in another domed temple to Yg, pretty much identical to the first, right down to the black stone platform in the middle. Hoping there was some foe of Yg imprisoned here, Erijay touched her sword to the stone, and the party witnessed a repeat of the earlier scene. The stone rose, then shattered and fell (unfortunately, this time taking Erijay's sword into the hole with it). They waited to be saved, but were horrified to see a second aspect of Yg (the Man-Serpent), rise from the mist. It ignore the party, but crawled up the dome to smash it's way out. The party followed at a distance, and emerged into the temple to find everyone slain or fled, and the two giant snake things in the process of merging into one!

That was enough; the party decided unanimously to flee. But where? Jasper, Lomar and Guy decided to take the road east and put as many miles behind them and Westmist as possible. Kern and Erijay, on the other hand, weren't sure that was going to work. They instead argued that they use the secret gate still bricked up (hopefully) in their old cellar. The two groups could not agree, so they split their treasure and went their separate ways. As Jasper, Lomar and Guy moved out of sight, Kern and Erijay headed for their old secret tunnel. It was still there, and they entered (passing Riker's still frozen body) and made their way to the hidden chamber behind the wine cellar. There still stood the gate, bricked over as a precaution against unwanted visitors. Ten minutes work with a sledgehammer exposed it once more, and Kern frantically jammed large gems into the controls holes; 5 star rubies and a star sapphire. As the mist in the gate cleared, they could see a wet, forested scene on the other side. A sudden loud thump and screams from above make their minds up for them, and the duo headed through the gate for parts unknown ...

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Westmist Session #97 - We're Not in Westmist Anymore, Toto

Stepping through the gate, Kern and Erijay found themselves under tall trees  in the centre of a ring of seven standing stones.  They were actually standing near the edge of a forest, high on a hill overlooking a city. Beyond the city lay the ocean, presumably a western ocean as the sun was sinking low in the sky, headed towards sunset.  The setting sun cast a striking glow on the city below, built as it was of red and yellow stone. The buildings were mostly square and blocky, but many were topped by golden and silver domes. Surrounded by a high wall, the city looked quite large, with a dozen different banners flying from it's towers. A large river flowed past it and entered the sea to the south. The hill on which Erijay and Kern stood was one of a forested range that followed the coast leading north from the city. Below them on the lower slopes, fields of grains and rice scattered with small villages filled the several miles between the and the city.   A road followed the river into the city, and another could be seen leading up the coast, following the line of hills.
Deciding they needed more information, the duo slipped through the field below to get closer to the city. Finding a good spot, Kern examined the main city gate through his spyglass. There was steady traffic of carts and wagons leaving, farmers returning home after selling their wares the city.  A smaller stream of travelers were entering the city. Nearly everyone had oriental features, including the farmers, guards, and other travelers. Kern was a little troubled to see that the human guards were supplemented by a squad of hobgoblins, looking just like those they encountered in Mor. Not a comforting sign.

Rather then try getting into the city immediately, the two proceeded back into the forest to clean up (summoning gods and destroying towns being dirty work) and rest for the night. After an uneventful sleep, Erijay cast invisibility and Kern slipped the cowl of the cloak of elvenkind  over his head, then proceeded towards the city at first light. Reaching the gate, they watched the guards let the carts of the farmers through with nothing more than a cursory glance and quick collection of a gate tax. The human guards did all of the talking, the hobgoblins hanging back uninterested for the most part. After watching for some time to get a feel for the process, Kern and Erijay slipped invisibility in between a pair of carts and proceeded into the city. At the same time, Erijay cast ESP to see if the hobgoblins were a threat, but got nothing but typical soldierly grumblings from them. The two now found themselves on  wide boulevard. Few building could be seen, as the interior of the city was subdivided by additional walls. At some gates stood more guards, while others were apparently wide open. The carts continued on until they reached a large market square, stopping there to set up stalls for the day. The boulevard continued on, headed towards the ocean it seemed. Figuring there must be a port, the two continued on, and were rewarded by another city gate which indeed lead to the docks. A dozen ships lay alongside, and the crews were just beginning to stir for the day. Oddly, they saw no taverns or inns, just warehouses. The ships were mostly from southern ports, and Pashnadi, Zevestian and Maharhtran faces and dress predominated. There were a pair of large ships that looked to be from closer to home, somewhere in the bounds of the old Imperium, so Kern and Erijay headed in that direction. They also watched for activity at the gate, and now noticed that as the crews and captains approached, they were met by individual locals, officials of some sort based on their manner and dress. Only then did they proceed into the city.
Curious, Kern looked about for a recognizable face, and found a young sailor coiling ropes next to one of the ships from the lands of the old Imperium. Signaling the elf to stay invisible (for reasons), he walked behind a stack of barrels to slip off the cowl of his cloak, and then emerged to engage to sailor in conversation. Telling the lad he'd just arrived on a Pashnadi vessel, Kern proceeded to ask him from where his ship had sailed and what he could tell about the city they found themselves in. The young sailor (Yurgen) said the ship was the Flying Light out of Talsker, a city Kern recognized as lying on the opposite shore of the Inner Sea from the Kingdom of Kellowai. Yurgen described a long voyage down the Inner Sea and past the Islands of Great Smoke, around the tip of the Comohori Jungle, and then north to their current location, the city of Kunth. As for Kunth, he explained the people were more than a little xenophobic and didn't let foreigners wander the city unless in the company of a 'minder' provided by the ruling council. Something to do with messing with the perfect harmonics of the path of indivisible light or some such foolishness. If not for the riches in rare wood, amber, 'special' mushrooms and 'red steel', it wouldn't exactly be a happy port of call. Oh, and then there are the slug men. Officially rulers of the city and surrounding lands of Kunth, the slug men were 9' tall, partially bipedal slugs. Though all humans in Kunth served the slug men, the creatures themselves were reclusive scholars uninterested in day to day life of their lands. The city was in fact ruled in their name by a council of 11 human nobles, while the slug men stayed in the myriad archives and libraries, continually expanding their knowledge  Oh and by the way, a foreigner who spoke to o a slug man could expect to be executed in a most gruesome and unpleasant fashion. They could only be approached through their human intermediates. In fact, the only place foreigners were free to do as they wish were here at the outer docks, or within the Foreign District of the city.
Thanking the young sailor, Kern went and filled Erijay in with what he had learned.  They decided to head back into the city invisibly and check out the Foreign District. Following Yurgen's directions, they found it back near the first city gate they entered, well guarded by human and hobgoblin soldiers. Once again they slipped in, and explored. The mix of faces was similar to that seen on the docks, with lots of southerners and a scattering of demihumans and folks from the old Imperium and other lands. They found a tavern and Kern sidled in, first becoming visible. The old Zevestian behind the bar confirmed much of what Yurgen had told them. If they wanted to wander the city, they needed a minder appointed to accompanied them. There was, surprisingly, no cost associated with this service. In fact, the exchange of money for services (as opposed to purchasing goods) was frowned on in Kunth. Instead a service had to be repaid by some service in return, the exact service to be determined after the transaction had been agreed upon, Oh, and occasionally flashy gifts of jewelry or artwork might be expected. Keep your eyes and ears open for clues. The barkeep also told them that Kunth was probably the most scholarly city on the world thanks to the slug men;  if a fact or information could not be tracked down by the slimy scholars, it probably didn't exist.And in response to Kern's question about temples, the old man chuckled and told him the people of Kunth did not believe the gods exist. They instead followed a thousand different philosophical paths that to a foreigners ears sounded strange indeed.

That got Kern and Erijay thinking about everything they needed to learn. Like how to stop two inadvertently summoned aspects of a snake god from rampaging across the lands. And other minor things too. So the pair decided to head back to the docks, then become visible and requested a minder from the guards. This required a little pantomime as Common didn't appear to be very common in Kunth. In a short time, there appeared a gentleman dressed in fishscale and fur robes, who introduced himself as Sonan Chotar, or "Perfect Spreading of Merit" in the Common tongue. Erijay informed him they wished to consult with a scholar on the matter of some wyvern eggs, figuring an innocuous simple inquiry would be the best way to start. After thinking for a few moments, "Perfect Spreading of Merit" bowed and bade them follow him into the city. Leading the through several districts and gates, he brought them to a large domed building, where he said one of the great slug man scholars of reptilian and draconic knowledge could be found. Once inside, their minder relayed their request to one of the human archivists, who went off to consult his master. The archivist returned shortly, and then asked that party what service they might off in return for the knowledge they sought. Erijay offered a book on poison flowers she'd been carrying since recovering it from Stonehell. The archivist considered this for a moment, and with a bow accepted it as acceptable service. He proceeded to inform Erijay that when removed from their mothers care, all draconic eggs went dormant. And could stay that way for thousands of years, until once more given in care to a draconic mother for hatching.  Well, thought Erijay, at least they weren't going to hatch in here backpack ...

Friday, April 10, 2015

Westmist Session #94 & #95 - One Destroyed and One Got Away

... The party moved fast as the misty Jax drifted away. After taking a few moments to loot Bjorn's still warm corpse of valuables, they started chasing the quickly receding mist. It drifted towards the 30' wide corridors, turning left at a four way intersection. The party chased, with Erijay and Kern in the lead, but soon lost sight of the mist. In the wide passage they found four narrow side passages, two on each side, before the main corridor came to a semi-circular end. Inlaid in the floor there was a silvery unholy symbol of Yg. Rather than mess with anymore Yg-things, the party backtracked and explored the first side passage.  The 5' side passage extended just 10' before ending in a wall of dirt. Dug in this was a narrow, low tunnel, which would require crawling and hand and foot to explore. Erijay sent one of her mini-meerkats into the tunnel and scouted along using clairvoyance. The rodent found a maze of tunnels 2'-3' in diameter, and soon ran into a pair of giant rats! The little meerkat turned and fled back to it's mistress, and the party decided to search elsewhere.

Heading to the other side of the main passage, they found the first narrow passage on that side led into a series of smaller rooms. Erijay paused for a moment to cast detect invisible from Bjorn's spellbook, then took the lead into the rooms. The first had a floor ankle deep in guano and a ceiling thick with bats, which took to wing as the elf maid entered. These she froze with a blast from her wand of cold, and the little frozen corpses fell to the floor in a tinkle. Passing through another narrow passage, she spied a room with about a dozen human forms. Many she recognized as people from Westmist, included their old fence, Afflain. Alas, they were no longer themselves, but barred teeth and slipped over to claw and bite at the elf. She pulled back out of the way to allow Lomar to step forward and use the power of Salue to drive the foul fiends away. Meanwhile, Erijay caught an invisible glance of Alia, standing in the narrow passage on the opposite side of the room. Shouting a warning to everyone else, she pushed Lomar out of the way, bypassed the retreating undead, and dove at the red-headed witch with her sword. And slammed the point into the wall. Meanwhile, Guy and Jasper moved up and started lobbing holy water, one of which instead drenched Erijay from head to foot. More holy water was lobbed, Erijay missed again with her sword, and Lomar was unsuccessful in turning Alia. But the vampiress wasn't planning on staying, and turned to a giant bat and quickly flew away out of the party's sight.
After a cursory check of the remaining rooms, the party headed back to the four way intersection and decided the investigate the other two passages.   One extended just 40' before ending again in a semicircle and symbol of Yg on the floor. The other corridor was similar in length to the first and also ended in a semicircle and symbol of Yg on the floor.There were a couple of large archways leading off the corridor. One led to a collapsed room, the other into a large room filled with sarcophagi! Rather than manually search all the  sarcophagi, Erijay cast locate object to track Jax via the stuff he was wearing. Surprisingly, the spell pointed them back towards the giant rat tunnels. Heading back that way, they resigned themselves to crawling single file into danger. Using the meekat to again scout ahead, they navigated the winding passages and mostly avoided the rats, before discovering a small wooden coffin stuffed into a low burrow. Kern wiggled to the front of the line and checked it for traps before popping off the lid. Inside lay Jax, slowly reforming into human form. Wasting no time, the merchant staked the vampire through the heart, shoved Salue's blessed sheaf of wheat in his mouth, and decapitated him. There was a faint. disembodied ghostly howl, and the body suddenly crumbled to dust. Kern and Erijay did a little happy dance; their long arch rival was now gone for good!

But there was still Alia to deal with. So Kern lifted what objects Jax left behind (some jewelry, armor and sword, and a scroll of protection from magic) and everyone proceeded to crawl back out of the tunnels. Kern also used the scroll, figuring they might need the protection if they ran into Alia again. And sure enough they did. Just as they approached the end of the tunnels, Guy (in the lead) spied the vampiress crouched in the narrow corridor ahead. With a wicked smile she cast a lightning bolt at the trapped party, only to have that smile turn to a snarl when she realized it had no effect on the protected party. With a scream of rage, she ran off before the party could all get out of the tunnel.

When they did all emerge, Kern passed the shield of the Gann to Erijay, and donned Jax's medallion of thought, planning to hunt down Alia by her thoughts. He was unsuccessful though; she must have already moved too far away. Guy, meanwhile, noticed something while gloomy looking at the floor. Out of the mess of tracks on the floor, he spied a fresh set that could only belong to a light footed undead woman. Off in pursuit the party swnt again, only to find the tracks suddenly end at about the four way intersection. Guessing she must be near though, Erijay started the process to summon an air elemental with the brazier looted from Bjorn's body. Meanwhile everyone else headed back to the sarcophagi room, assuming her coffin must be in there somewhere. Searching almost a hundred stone sarcophagi wouldn't be easy though; it took Lomar and Guy almost 10 minutes to pry off one lid. Inside they found a disturbed pile of old bones, and hidden under the skull a gold and diamond necklace. At this point, a low rumbling sound was heard coming from the dome. With the now-summoned air elemental in the lead, the party headed that way. At first they saw nothing, until suddenly a massive earth elemental burst out of one of the large archways. Erijay swiftly sent the air elemental in the battle with it, and the two magical beasts tore at each other. Lomar, Guy, Jasper and Kern at first tired to help their windy friend. In the end they decided to back away and search the room for Alia, assuming she had summoned the elemental and was somewhere nearby. Checking out the base of the three giant states of Yg, Kern found nothing. Lomar and Guy, exploring the room the elemental had emerged from, also came up empty. At this point Erijay shouted a warning; the air elemental was almost spent and the earth elemental was still strong and powerful. With that everyone fled back to the sarcophagi room, hoping to hide there. The elemental followed them though, and started bashing at the wall to break in. Kern fired crossbow bolts at it and Erijay used all the remaining charges in her wand of cold, and in the end the summoned monster was blasted to pieces.
Heading back out, Lomar decided to investigate the unholy symbols of Yg on the floors. Thinking they might open some hidden chamber, he touched each in turn. No chambers opened, but he did steal some life force from Eriajy and found his skin starting to slowly turn to scales.

Desperate, the party went back to the big room and started ripping open sarcophagi, looking for Alia's. They mostly found piles of old bone. Plus one wight, which Lomar pushed backed with the blessings of Salue, before Guy and Jasper popped the lid back on the sarcophagi. It did not take long before they found one empty sarcophagi,  but for a bit a dirt in the bottom. Thinking this might be it, Loamr poured a flew flasks of holy water in, and was rewarded with a hissing and popping sound that indicted it must have been unholy dirt and probably Alia's resting place.

Speaking of whom, she suddenly appeared in the doorway behind them. With a sneer, she mockingly thanked them for freeing her from serving Jax. And with a final laugh, turned to a bat and flew away. Once more chasing her, they saw her fly into the dome and then up out of sight. Presumably out the hatch and away. She had, it seemed, escaped them. Disappointed, but ready to leave more than ever, they headed for their rope to climb out of the dreary buried temple. Only to find it had been cut and left on the floor. Erijay muttered as she pulled out Bjorn's spellbook to cast fly  from it's pages. At that moment, above them in the hatch, they could see a light, and a familiar voice called down. It was Lord Merdwyn, and he asked for news of their success. Kern told him Jax was destroyed but Alia escaped. Lord Merdwyn chuckled, and said that perhaps they should then renegotiate their deal. He instead proposed that  Duncal replace the now departed Jax as his  seneschal in Westmist. The party could become Duncal's guard, much as the Company of Good Cheer was Lord Merdwyn's. The March Baron also hinted that he knew Duncal was going to pull up stakes and run at the first chance, so the role as seneschal could then fall to one of the party.  It was, the March Baron said, the best deal for them all. Especially since he had the party trapped in an old evil temple and at his mercy ...

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Westmist Session #93- Vamprie Hunt Part#1

The deal with Lord Merdwyn made, the party (Kern and Bjorn, Lomar and Guy, Erijay and Jasper) prepared to delve below Westmist Keep to hunt down Jax and Alia. Lomar started off at the Church of the the Virtues, asking to meet with Liphanes of the Highest Virtues. He was granted an audience with the multi-chinned churchman, and eloquently enlisted the aid of the church in their hunt for the vampires. Cheap healing and holy water for all! Unfortunately, Kern  arrived shortly thereafter and ended any amicable relationship by requesting a fresh body from the church, so he could use the brain in the cerebral shield. Liphanes was not willing to besmirch the church's reputation by giving away the dead left in its care. Kern, however, pulled out his old book with scandalous tales of the old cults of Salue, and threatened to go public with the stories if the churchman didn't cooperate. Liphanes did eventually relent and provide a body, but made it clear neither Kern nor any of his companions could ever expect assistance from the church again.Another enemy made!

While Lomar and Kern were making and breaking friendships at the church, Jasper and Erijay were stocking up on vampire hunting supplies for all; wooden stakes, wooden crossbow bolts, garlic, essence of garlic from Synthini, holy symbols, oil and more holy water. Kern also picked up a guard of Ram barbarians to cover their backs;  the merchant for one was not convinced Lord Merdwyn wouldn't stab them in the back given the opportunity. That done, they met Lord Merdwyn and the Company of Good Cheer at the keep, and he guided them down to the cellars and dungeons below the fortress. The party was brought to a rough tunnel, ending in a small roughly excavated room. There they found a trapdoor in the floor, which Lord Merdwyn indicted was the 'secret' location pointed out by Jax's guard captain. With a bit of a smirk and a wish of good luck, the March Baron left the party to do their delve. Kern instructed the barbarians to guard the room while they were below, then picked the lock on the door. Opening it up, Kern peered inside. Even with the light of his continual light coin, he could see little. Ahead was only darkness, while behind and below was a curved wall, and well as the tops of two huge statues. These Kern recognized as two of the aspects of the foul snake-god Yg; The Great Serpent and The Snake Who Walks. Great, more snakes. Assuming they were at the top of some huge domed or circular structure, they party clipped a grappling hook on the edge of the hatch and dropped 100' of rope into the darkness. Kern started to shimmy down, and at about the 60' mark noted and archway leading out of the dome behind him. At the same time, he encountered a mass of bats fluttering around. Head spinning in near confusion, he hauled himself back up and ordered Bjorn to clear the area with a fireball. That done, they replaced the burned rope and Kern shimmied down again. Only to reach the end of the rope and find himself still dangling in mid-air. Eyeballing one of the Yg statues, he guessed he had another 50' or so to go. So up he went, and another rope was attached, and finally the party was able to descend to the bottom.
There, they found themselves standing on a layer of bone, which on close examination proved to be all snakes. Nearby was a fresher, human body, dead probably a few months. Kern did a circuit of the room, finding three 30' arched exits and another giant statue, that of the third aspect of Yg (the Man-Serpent). Back at the rope, the rest of the party had noticed a 30' diameter circle of smooth black stone. This extended a few inches above the floor level and seemed to mark the center of the room. When Kern approached, something very strange happened. He was carrying Erijay's snake sword, as he got close to the black stone, the sword began to vibrate and hum, it getting more intense as he got closer. Tempted to touch the sword to the stone to see what would happen, he resisted the urge to tinker and instead the whole party focused on their goal; get the vampires. They were also distracted by the appearance of a dozen giant rats coming from the north archway, whom they dispatched with flaming oil, swinging swords, and a partially decayed medusa head.

The vermin taken care of and with Kern in the lead, the party headed out through the north archway, finding beyond it a 30' corridor which circled the domed room. Along the walls were snake shaped arrow slits, filled in with dirt which likewise spilled on the floor. It appeared that this place once stood above ground but was somehow and for some reason buried in the distant past. This outer corridor had collapsed at the west end. Exploring to the east the party found, in addition to the archway leading from the inner dome, a second archway that led from the outer ring and into a 30' corridor. Ignoring this for now, they continued around the ring, reaching a point where the dome had collapsed again, leaving only a narrow 2-3' wide passage along the inner wall.
 Immediately recognizing a potential ambush site, Erijay cast clairvoyance and sent one of her mini-meerkats through the passage. Viewing through the  animal's eyes, the elf was lucky to glance a huge bat perched on the wall, just beyond the narrow passage. Assuming this must be one of the vampires, the party prepared for action. A flurry of spell casting (haste, bless, protection from evil, mirror image, and detect invisibility) ensued. While the party discussed how to best tackle their foe, Bjorn used his detect invisibility to check behind them. And good thing too, because perched just inside the archway leading out of the  circular passage was another, invisible, giant bat. Both vampires lay in ambush! Everyone immediately turned to face this closer threat. Bjorn, as the only one who could actually see the bat, fired magic missiles at it. Erijay, aiming in approximately the right direction, fired twice from her wand of cold, while everyone else blindly lobbed flasks of holy water in the general direction. Bjorn shouted the bat was flying away, but before they could pursue, Erijay saw through the meerkats eyes that the second bat was coming at their backs. Turning to face the new threat, they saw the bat approach, hesitate for a few moments, then fly toward Bjorn and Guy. When it got close, the bat transformed into Jax, who hauled out a dagger and stabbed at Bjorn. Missing the first time, he connected with the second blow. Bjorn staggered, started frothing green at the mouth, and dropped stone dead. Meanwhile, Erijay stared to pour magic missiles at Jax, Kern fired bolts from his magic crossbow, and Lomar fired a web spell from his spider bracelet. That pinned Jax in place, and everyone turned to finish him off with a series of blows. Suddenly, Jax transformed into a cloud of mist, escaping the web and drifting off towards the corridor down which Alia disappeared ...

Westmist Session #92 - Insurrection!

The party now knew they were being watched by Jax; and it was possible he already knew what they were planning. So the time had finally come to put everything into motion, to usurp the March Baron and place Duncal in charge of the March Barony. Having the March Baron in town was a complication, but it was now or never. First order of business was brains. The two guards were relieved of theirs, and Kern set about distilling their grey matter to use in the cerebral shield. Meanwhile, Stonehell went into lock down. No one from the Stonehell Resistance or from Sir Janus' group were allowed to leave, and no one was going to get into their lair. Shortly after, Cal from the SR came to report someone or something was lurking just outside their defenses. The party moved out, and Erijay used her mini-meerkat and clairvoyance to scout. The spy proved to be a wererat. Erijay slipped forward and tried to charm the creature, but it sensed her attempt and slipped off into the darkness. A quick scout around did not reveal any more spies, so it was decided to just let the were rat go and focus on preparations. Which also included a mass of invisibility spells to shield everyone but Jasper from view when they moved on Westmist.

Because the plan was to have Jasper (who was unknown in Westmist) to present himself and the barbarians as mercenaries for hire to Lord Merdwyn. Having ingratiated himself into Lord Merdwyn's good side, the party and their supporters could strike by surprise and take out Jax and the March Baron. The Stonehell Resistance, Sir Janu,s and Duncal were left behind to await developments.  Jasper collected a dozen of the biggest and meanest looking barbarians, and with the party invisibly in tow, headed to Westmist. On arrival, it would appear they had been expected, for all the gates were barred and patrols mounted the walls. Hollering out to the guards, Jasper asked that Lord Merdwyn came out to parlay.  It took some time, but soon the March Baron (accompanied by Jax, Bazzrel, Liphanes and a gaggle of guards) appeared on the wall. He was immediately hostile, letting Jasper know he was aware of his connection with the party, as well as this act of invasion they've performed by bringing a barbarian tribe across the Great River. This was just the type of incursion the March Baron was supposed to guard the Kingdom against, and he had no intention of parlay. Riders had already gone east to inform the king and summon the royal companies to his aid.  Lord Merdwyn suggested Jasper take the tribe and the rest of the party and clear out before the hammer fell. And with that, he turned his back and left the wall.
Jasper and the barbarians retreated to discuss next steps with the party. They decided to use a bigger stick, and Kern headed off to summon the whole Ram tribe and bring them in view of the town walls. Meanwhile, Duncal was collected from Stonehell. With everything in place,  the party now approached the walls and once more summoned the March Baron. He arrived again with his entourage, and this time Kern did the talking. He accused the March Baron of conspiring with Jax and his foul deeds, that the King would  be interested to here of all the terrible things going on in Westmist. He also shouted for all inside the walls to here that Lord Merdwyn was not the rightful ruler of Westmist, that the party had returned with Duncal, the rightful heir. Kern also threatened the March Baron with death and destruction if the barbarian hoard was released upon the town, and that the blood of all would be on his hands.Kern demanded Jax's head, and that the March Baron give up Westmist to Duncal. While Lord Merdwyn and Kern argued and negotiated, Jax could be seen getting more and more agitated. As Lord Merwyn began to bargain with Kern, Jax alternately looked angrily at the March Baron and glared with frustration at Kern and the rest of the party.
Lord Merwyn reached an agreement with Kern. Duncal would take Westmist as a vassal of the Count Palatine and deal with the fallout from the Kingdom. The barbarians would be settled in the March Barony (and again Duncal would deal with the fallout). And Jax would be removed from power, and from Westmist, but would not be killed. At this point Jax exploded in anger, waving his hands to an apparently blank section of wall. There suddenly appeared there a women with red hair, hands moving as she cast a spell. Kern and Erijay immediately recognized her as Alia, an old foe thought long dead. Alia finished her spell casting and blasted the party with a lightning bolt. As the party moved to retaliate, both Alia and Jax disappeared in a cloud of mist and drifted out of sight. Chaos ensued, and the sounds of fighting could be heard inside the walls. Some time later, the gates opened and Lord Merdwyn emerged with the remainder of Jax's guard at sword point. He sealed the deal with the party, with one addition; that they take out Jax and Alia as part of the deal. Lord Merdwyn explained that Jax was a vampire. Even so, he had long served the March Baron faithfully. But it would seem power had gone to his head, and he had now turned on his old friend and mentor. Where Alia came into the picture he was not sure; she had been in the dungeons below the keep since her capture by the party almost two years ago. He had learned from Jax's guard that the vampire had discovered some old ruins or tunnels below the keep, and it is presumably there he and Alia had fled. Lord Merdwyn offered the Jax's captured men to the party as a token of good faith, and urged the party to hunt down the fugitives without delay. In the meantime, Lord Merdwyn would stay in charge of Westmist, and Duncal and the rest of the party's supporters were to stay outside the town until it was time to hand over power.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Westmist Session #91 - Back to Westmist

Just about midnight, Guy was surprised on his watch by a pair of Bear Tribe barbarians charging out of the darkness, spear leveled at the glum retainer. Dodging the spears, he whipped out his sword and skewered one of the attackers right through the belly. To Guy's horror, the wound closed over as soon as his sword was withdrawn, and the barbarian grinned at him before striking once more with the spear. As Guy struggled with the barbarians, the others struggled to wake up, Lomar being the first. The cleric  took in the scene, then ran around the fire, kicking as many of the others awake as possible. He followed this by calling on Salue to bless the party. Kern and Jasper opened fire with their crossbows, and Bjorn loosed a trio of magic missiles. And Erijay snored. As the elf maid at last arose from slumber, the two barbarians began to transform, taking on the shape of massive black bears. Maneuvering around, she blasted the two bears with a lighting bolt. This crisped one, and singed the other enough that it turned to run back into the dark night. Bjorn hasted  the party, which then headed off in pursuit, but the werebear fell quickly to a hail of crossbow bolts.
With much grumbling about lost sleep, the party looted the bodies of some gems, admonished Guy, and then settled to rest again. And Lomar animated one of the dead as his personal servant. The remainder of the night passed uneventfully. With morning's arrival, the party started to examine some of the items recovered from the hanging tree. Lomar cast detect magic, and found that the mace, book and potion were magical. Lomar handed the mace the Guy, considering how much trouble the henchman was in when faced with a magical creature but no magical weapon. Erijay expressed interest in the book, and sat down to study. It, however, was not the great learned tomb she hoped; but instead drained away a little of her vitality and intelligence merely through trying to understand the indecipherable gobbly-gook. She was not impressed.

Packing up, the party made good progress during the day and had no unwanted visitors during the night. Next day they continued their journey. Reaching a point where the trees began to thin, they suddenly heard the sounds of beautiful female voices singing in the trees above. Erijay and Loamr we entranced, and moved under the tree to stare dumbly up into the branches. The others followed their gaze, and saw three creatures with the upper body of a woman and the lower body and wings of a vulture; harpies! The trio flew down and proceeded to slash at Erijay with their claws, the elf still too entranced to fight them off. Jasper and Kern opened up once more with crossbow bolts, but the fight ended quickly when Bjorn tossed a fireball into their midst. After picking some slightly melted jewelry from the smoking corpses, the party contiuned east and finally reunited with the Ram barbarians that evening. The next few days passed without incident, as the party lead the tribe through the foothills of the Western War Peaks towards Stonehell. There they set the tribe down in the box canyon next to the Stonehell entrance, where the party's secret entrance lay. Tzarn agreed to this arrangement for now, but let it be known that the sheep would have eaten out the small canyon in  about a week. After that, he would be leading his tribe out in search of better grazing lands if Kern and the rest of the party couldn't make other arrangements.

Teaving Tzrn, the party headed back into Stonehell to meet with the Stonehell Resistance and Janus' men. They were still hail and hearty, and Barfirth reported no big problems in the weeks since the party left. They had continued stirring up the town, and seemed to have been successful in provoking Jax. The seneschal had clamped down harder on the town, effectively imposing martial law. Barfirth figured the town was split about three ways: a third that supported Jax, a third who who support a change, and a third who just wanted to go on with life and didn't care who was in charge. And as far as Barfirth knew, no one was aware of the plotters in Stonehell.

Needing more information about the situation in town, Bjorn and Erijay started casting invisibility on everyone in preparation for a nighttime raid into Westmist. The part slipped invisibly towards town, with Lomar's zombie servitor in tow. Leaving the undead in the marsh outside Westmist, the party first tried the town gates, but found them all barred for the night. Taking advantage of the wintery weather, they slipped around the wall and onto the frozen river, heading towards the keep. The plan was to waylay some of Jax's personal guard, take them prisoner and drag them back to Stonehell for interrogation. Silenced (thanks to Lomar) and invisible. they lay in wait. About an hour had passed when a patrol of a half-dozen of Jax's men in black and yellow livery appeared around the corner of the keep. Bjorn stepped out from cover and cast sleep, becoming visible but taking 5 of the men down right away. Then suddenly from behind the party came the sound of squealing and shuffling feet, as a half dozen rat-men burst out of the darkness and ran past them. Three surrounded Bjorn and and started slashing at him with their swords. Two others stood guard warily, seemingly aware the party was around but uncertain exactly where. Bjorn cast hold person on the remaining guardsman, then invisibility again. But the trio of rat-men around him had marked their target and continued to attack (albeit, with no success). The two other rat-men began to chitter very loudly; as if they were calling for help. Jasper, taking the silenced coin, rushed over to quiet the rat-men. This drew the attention of the remaining two, and they began to flail about with their swords in the general direction of the fighter. Meanwhile, Kern rushed around the fight, summoned the secret chest, and popped two of the sleeping guardsmen inside. The appearance and disappearance of the chest was the signal to everyone else to re-group and head back to Stonehell, picking up their zombie companion on the way.

Back in Stonehell, the two guards were pulled out of the chest and interrogated under ESP probing by Erijay. They learned that the March Baron had actually just arrived back in town that day, along with the Company of Good Cheer. Lord Merdwyn was there to gather recruits to take back to the County Palatine of Overmarch, as his new realm was now under attack by the necromancers of Djall and their undead armies. Jax and his men had been 'recruiting' for the March Baron, but Lord Merdwyn was there hoping his presence (and ability to lean on the local gentry) might bring better success. The men also revealed that Jax was well aware of the party's little army in Stonehell, and had hired the wererats to keep them under surveillance. How Jax first learned of the SR the guardsmen did not know. However, everyone (Jaxs men, March Barons men and town guard) were all under orders to keep a close eye around the town and around Stonehell for the party's reappearance.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Westmist Session #90 - Bears, Birds and Bodies

Pickets had detected the Bear barbarians moving through the forest and towards the vulnerable Ram tribe. While Tzarn the High Ram organized his men to guard the main body, the party (Kern, Bjorn, Erijay, Jasper, Lomar and Guy) prepared to receive the attack at the head of the column. There seemed to be some time before their attackers emerged from the thick forest, so Bjorn began the process of summoning the air elemental with his censor. Meanwhile, Lomar called down the blessing of Salue on those about to fight, and also took the opportunity to cast animal growth on one of the barbarian ram-riders nearby, thereby increasing the size of the already giant ram to gargantuan proportions. Everyone else spread out to prepare for what may come.  After several minutes, a skirmish line of Bear barbarians approached the edge of the wood. There they halted and loosed a volley of spears, one of which dinged Kern in the side of the head. Jasper and Guy responded with bolts and spears, taking out two of the skirmishers. Erijay tossed a fireball at one end of the line, crisping half the remaining attackers and setting the forest alight. Then followed a charge by the giant-giant ram and the rest of the party to finish off the last few.
The party proceeded to loot the bodies while Kern stood guard in case there were more attackers. The sounds of battle could still be heard to the rear, but suddenly a much closer bellowing sound was heard coming from the north. Kern turned to see three large black bears, two sporting barbarian riders, followed by a small group of tribesmen on foot, charging down on the party. Calling everyone out of the forest, Kern turned invisible with his cloak and slipped forward to make a surprise attack. Meanwhile, everyone else emerged from the smoking forest to engage the new foes. Erijay cast a slow spell on the bears and riders, Jasper and Guy flicked more bolts and spears, and Lomar sent the giant-giant ram and rider into combat. A flurry of spells and stabbing ensued, but the bear riders held their ground. At least until Bjorn finished summoning the elemental, which he promptly dropped into the midst of the bear riders. That, coupled with a few magic missiles, back stabbings and other shenanigans was enough to clear the field and for looting to proceed again.

The sounds of battle died behind them as well, and when the party met with the High Ram later in the day, he reported some losses to the tribe's warriors, but otherwise all went well. Tzarn was anxious, however, to put their enemies behind them and cross the Great River. He was therefore not interested in Kern's plan to turn the tribe around to go looking for the "Hanging Tree", about which the party had learned from an old journal in the wyvern hoard looted some time earlier. "The Hanging Tree" is a massive fir tree in the Forest of the Bear, where  the Bear Tribe barbarians disposed of  and display the bodies of those who trespass their territory. The diary described the branches of the tree hanging with numerous human and humanoid corpses, many still  dressed and equip as in life and with obvious wealth. Kern insisted to the party that such a treasure so near by could not be ignored, and in the end they agreed. Tzarn meanwhile agreed to take the tribe across the river and await the party no more than 4 days before moving on and turning his tribe loose on civilized lands.

With little time to spare, the party moved deeper into the dark, wintry forest. They found their path led them back along the route taken by the attacking barbarians, at least until the falling snow hid the tracks. However, the two day march was uneventful, and in the afternoon of the second day they approached their goal. Ahead could be seen a massive fir tree breaking through the forest cover. Around the top flew several dozen dark shapes, ravens as far as could be seen.  Kern slipped forward invisibly to scout, and found  a large clearing below the tree. Above he could see the bodies hanging, but nothing else seemed to be present. He called the rest of the party forward, and they gathered below the fir and tried to figure out the best way to get all the loot. In the end, Guy was given Erijay's potion of flying, and the henchman sent up the tree to cut down the bodies for the rest of the party to loot once they hit the ground. This seemed to work at first, until someone noticed the ravens were descending, circling the tree and approaching the party. Guy tried to get above them, hoping to smash a few to the ground with falling bodies, but he was intercepted on the way and had to fight for his life. The rest of the birds fell on the rest of the party. Jasper immediately shouted "close your eyes!", and whipped out the preserved medusa head to turn the flying things to stone. Alas, the head not being fresh, it did no such thing this time. The ravens descended and began to peck at everyone's eye's and heads. Casting blindly, Bjorn loosed some magic missiles, Erijay a blast from her wand of cold,  and Lomar called down a curse on the flock. To the distress of them all, no birds fell in this onslaught. However, another blast from the wand, a web to pin one lot of ravens to the tree, and a few bolts from Jasper and Kern took down about half the birds. The rest flew back up the tree and out of range, leaving the party alone. Who proceeded (after some first aid and healing of course), to get on with the "cut down corpse and loot" process. In this they were successful, gathering a fine collection of coin, gems and jewelry, as well as a few possible magical items (a mace, potion and a huge tome). Kern also collected the desiccated remains of one body, obviously a lady of some importance based on the cornet and signet ring she wore. The merchant figured someone might pay handsomely for the remains, assuming he could figure out who she was and from whence she came.
With evening falling, the party restrained Lomar form igniting the giant tree and quickly headed back east, to put as much distance between them and the tree before they made camp for the night.