The Compass Rose

Session 63 - June 16/14
I spots me a Dragon! or Ouch, that burns!
Group 2

The group is recuperating after nearly losing Cornelius to the trapped notebook. Io uses her Spell Scent ability on the notebook to locate the caster of the Sepia Snake Sigil. She determines that the caster is in the large circular room with the deep pit. Cornelius casts Clairvoyance into the room and it, surprisingly, works. He sees the Magma Dragon that they previously encountered hunched near the pit.

Standing in an adjacent room, Pascal uses Stoneshape to make a small hole in the wall to provide line of sight into the dragon’s room. Fatima casts Silent Image to mask the hole. Ilio and Pascal take the east doors while Io and Gere Raimo take the west doors.

Io prepares protections for herself:

  • Purity
  • Resistance
  • Enlarge
  • Bear’s endurance;
  • Magic circle against evil
  • Deathward
  • Flames of the Faithful
  • Weapon of Awe
  • Keen Edge
  • Hunters Eye
  • Battlemind Link (with Gere Raimo)
  • Bane (against dragons)

Fatima provides the whole party with Infernal Healing. Cornelius has Invisibility.

The dragon looks toward the hole made by Cornelius and snorts. Then, out of nowhere, a robed figure appears next to the dragon. It is Sohrab! He opens his arms and says:

Gentlemen, ladies, please come in. Witness the transformation of our planet!

Group 1

In the blink of an eye, the party finds itself still on The Walrus out in the ocean, partly submerged, but the water is kept at bay by the magic bubble of the Submerge Ship spell.

In the distance, to the left of the setting sun, they spot a ship 100 feet in the air falling fast towards the water. Murad thinks fast and, using a Control Water spell, creates a geyser of water under the boat. There is a great crack and heave as the ship hits the water. Fortunately, the column created by Murad lessens the impact of the fall. From this angle, it is clear that the fallen ship is Starsinger.

Quintin and Murad change into water elementals, dive into the water, and begin looking for the third ship, Bilgerat.

The Walrus pulls alongside Starsinger. They learn that she is not at risk of sinking, but she is going to need repairs to the hull and main mast before resuming their journey. Arah and Bertom of Cuford aid the injured crewmen.

After hours of searching to no avail, Quintin realizes that they can use the Crystal of Communication, to contact Brenn, the captain of Bilgerat. They do and figure out where his ship is located. Murad flies over to Bilgerat and guides her back to the other ships.

Later that evening, Murad and Maddy retire to her cabin. After much fun, she tells the tale of how the Starbirth Sea got its name.

Some 12000 years ago, it is believed, the first star in the sky, Ireul, appeared over this sea.

Maddy finds it unbelievable that their world would be older than the stars. She considers it merely a story.

With the aid of Arah’s magic, it takes just more than a day to repair Starsinger enough so that she can sail safely. Their small fleet sets out to the northwest, in search of the fourth node. After close to a week at sea, Murad, flying ahead as a seabird, spots land. He gets a closer look and sees that it is a small temperate island. He notices that the entire shoreline is ringed in a yellow-green algae. Murad returns to The Walrus and tells of what he saw. On Quintin’s request, Murad returns to the island with a glass vial to collect a sample of the algae. Quintin, takes it to his wardrobe alchemy lab to study it. He discovers that the algae is caustic and is slowly dissolving the glass vial.

Murad finds that the algae has a faint magical aura. He attempts to dispel the magic on the algae to see if that will nullify the effects. It seems to do so, but only temporarily.

Murad transforms into a Roc. Quintin, Rod, Arah, and Bertom hop aboard. He flies the group to the island. Maddy keeps the ships at a distance so as not to expose them to the potentially damaging algae surrounding the island.

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Session 62 - June 5/14
Getting sloppy with the trap finding boys...

The party decides to rest for an hour for Pascal to regain his spells. He uses Restoration to remove the negative effects of the undead attack. Fatima questions Ilio about the history of the Stars’ Children and whether they can work together for a common purpose. Ilio replies that he does not judge them for being members and simply asks that they co-operate to thwart the efforts of the Children of Zepha.

The group resumes their exploration of the palace complex. Pascal enters a long hallway, rather casually looking for traps. On the floor is a faded mosaic depicting various plants, animals and people. Among the animals are fire bats and several dragon lizards that seem to be pursuing the people. As he observes the art, Pascal fails to notice a peculiar stone in the floor and inadvertently steps on it. It sets off a deafening sound. Most of the group recovers within a few minutes, but Fatima is temporally deafened. Pascal estimates that it will be a few hours before she regains her hearing.

At the western end of the hallway is a set of iron double doors, each with the intertwined, dragon lizards that the group observed previously among the ruined city. Io uses her magical gloves to see beyond the doors. She sees a circular, domed hall with a nearly 20 foot wide pit in its centre. Pascal unlocks the doors and the group enters the room. They find a matching pair of doors on the east side of the hall. Dim light, that has found its way through cracks in the dome, falls onto the pit. The darkness from the pit seems to swallow the light.

Cornelius places an Alarm spell on the mouth of the pit. He flies up to the domed ceiling, peering through one of the cracks. He notices something flying around far above. Then, suddenly, it flies quickly away. Cornelius does not feel that it is the dragon. Io suggests that Cornelius fly down the pit of darkness. He declines the offer, but instead suggests that he cast Fly on her. She agrees and flies slowly down the pit. Even Io’s Darkvision cannot penetrate the blackness. As she descends, the wall of the pit and the air itself grow increasingly colder. About 300’ down, Io feels a gooey substance on the walls and heads back up to report her findings. The substance on her glove is a lightly glowing yellow-green slime. It seems to be causing her glove to smoke lightly. She quickly scrapes the slime off.

Fatima casts Prying Eyes and sends out 14 flying sensors to search ahead for living creatures, undead creatures, and a way out of the ruins. The party continues exploring beyond the double doors.

Along another hallway, they find a sort of embalming room. In the room’s centre, is a long metal table, with oiled strips of cloth and bits of dried flesh on its surface. To its right, is a smaller table that holds a huge collection of glass vials, filled with various liquids and salves. Near the north wall, a figure is squatting, apparently cleaning dried flesh form the floor. As she turns toward the group, they see that it is a pale-skinned Labreyan woman. She is frightened by the party and backs away.

The woman calls herself Nanihi. Ilio reassures her that they will not harm her and that they are simply looking for a man named Sohrab. She does not recognize the name. She says that she lives here in the ruins with 200 or so of her people. A man who calls himself Arbo came here several months ago. He used undead servants to force her people to look for artifacts that he said were buried in the ruins. Arbo commanded her to clean this room, whcih he uses for “experiments”. She is frightened that Arbo will return and punish her for speaking with them. She says that they are in danger from him as well. The group recalls that “Arbo” is an alias sometimes used by Sohrab.

Something about her story does not sit right with Io. She tires to intimidate Nanihi into telling the truth. The woman does not appear to react to Io’s words but makes for the exit, offering to take them to her people. Pascal attempts to restrain her in a grapple. As he does this, he can feel that her skin is not normal – it is rotting! Nanihi, an undead creature, turns the tables on Pascal and grapples him. Fatima uses Telekinesis to pin the creature and Io deacpitates it with her spear. The group takes the glass vials and some small surgical tools hanging on the wall.

They explore further down the hall to find a prison cell. Inside is an emaciated man chained to the wall. Pascal finds that he is suffering from hunger and thirst and is weakened beyond even that. After they heal and feed him, the has enough strength to give his name – Gere Raimo. He says that he was “rescued” from the Marquis Farileau‘s dungeons in Baste by a man in grey robes. The man brought him here to keep him imprisoned and to take bits of his flesh every few days. He doesn’t know how long he has been here. He was being fed by the undead creatures, but he felt himself getting weak. Every few days or so, the man would return with a skin of some foul-tasting liquid. The substance seemed to make him feel better for a time. Then he began to feel weak again, only to be given the liquid again. Raimo vows revenge against the Marquis and this grey-robed man.

From his story, Cornelius deduces that he is suffering from exposure to raw star metal that is present in the surroundings. Fatima figures out that the cell door has raw star metal in it. She speculates that Sohrab might be testing cures for the exposure on Raimo.

In a nearby room they find a pack and bedroll. The pack contains some dried meat, a map, and notebook. Cornelius carefully reads the book, but triggers a Sepia Snake Sigil. With a huge amount of heroic effort, he overcomes the effects. Cornelius says that he needs to sit and have a cup of tea after the ordeal. The group agrees to rest for a time. Fatima reads the notebook and finds several interesting passages, written in Lettanni. During this time, several of her “eyes” return. They seem to have found more creatures, living and undead, among the ruins.

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Session 61 - May 19/14
Don't forget to read my letter...

The skeletal guards appear ready to attack. Cornelius gets the jump and casts Web upon them, then flies up twenty feet. Despite the webs, the skeletons move up and attack Pascal with their spears. He is brutally stabbed in the chest and falls. They turn their attack to Io. She enlarges herself but is also brought unconscious and near death.

Bilya summons a very large monster – a dinosaur – and flies up with Cornelius and Fatima. The creature rips into the skeletons’ bones. Fatima attempts to stabilize Io and is injured in doing so. Nevertheless, she is still able to stabilize her. Bilya attempts to cast Hold Monster on one of the skeletons. The spell seems to go astray and it affects one of the dead skeletons, by mistake.

The party is able to defeat the undead creatures and revive the fallen members. They find four +2 adamantine longspears and four sets of finely crafted leather armour. Io and Pascal decide to each take one of the spears.

Fatima casts Fly on Io. Io takes to the air carrying Pascal and the group flies off in the direction that Tanya and Jalec are believed to be. It takes them to a large plaza. Fruit trees, plants, and various fungi are arranged in stands around a central pool of water. The pool is fed by two waterfalls to the west and east. A river flows out of the pool to the south. Lining the plaza are many ancient buildings, many of them severely damaged. Among the ruins, to the north, sits a huge, reptilian creature.

The group identifies the creature as one of the rarest of creatures – a magma dragon. Flapping its massive wings, it rises up and moves towards them. In Elvish, it says to them “…crispy not scorched…” and attacks them with a breath weapon – a cone of flames. The group is toasted, except Cornelius, who managed to turn invisible and hide.

Bilya casts Mass Suggestion, and says to friend and foe: “End all hostilities and leave this place.” Only Cornelius and the dragon are affected, who both flee. The dragon escapes to the north through a great pillared archway.

The party, minus Cornelius, check out where the dragon went and try to find the missing members, Tanya and Jalec. Beyond the pillars, in a large hall, they find scorched remains of two bodies, exactly where Io determined the two companions should be.

The find a room to the west. Along the north and south walls are 20’ high statues of what appear to be Labreyan elders or nobles. A great frieze runs along the walls below the ceiling. It depicts the life of a man and woman, from birth to their marriage.

Bilya confesses that he is not Labreyan. His true name is Ilio, as uttered by Sohrab earlier. He is Esciarvan, born in Villosa. He says that he was a member of the Stars’ Children until several years ago. He left the organization over “philosophical differences” and made a home in the West Hanum Islands, keeping a low profile. When war broke out, he decided to help the Labreyans on Athlell to keep themselves hidden. He took on the disguise of Bilya to hide his true identity from the Lettanni. Fatima asks Ilio why he left the Stars’ Children. He says that he did so after discovering its origins.

After the great cataclysm from the sky more than 2000 years ago and the 100 year winter that followed, only a very small number, perhaps ten or so, from across Ashtar, were magically sensitive enough to be able to access the magic from the star metal. They referred to themselves as “Sensitives”. They knew that they held the potential for great power, but were vastly outnumbered by the general population. Magic was strange to people, and the group feared that they may be persecuted for practising the arcane arts. They needed to increase their numbers, to protect themselves and to increase their base of power.

They began a carefully organized breeding program. Very small amounts of the crude star metal were fed to pregnant women, unbeknownst to them. Many of the women died. Of those that survived, most bore dead or deformed babies. Of the healthy surviving offspring, a very small number were found to have magical aptitude. Their offspring were then more likely to produce magically sensitive offspring of their own. Over the centuries, the blood lines were carefully tracked, so that potential sensitives could be easily identified. Their numbers grew.

More than 500 years ago, the number of practitioners of arcane magic had grown large enough, that an organization, called the Stars’ Children, was founded. It established academies in Prue, Llantry, and Brindi to better develop the identified sensitives into trained practitioners and to control the use of the arcane arts.

After learning this, Ilio could no longer be part of an organization that was born out of the suffering and deaths of countless women and children. He wonders how much of that taint remains with the Stars’ Children today.

Ilio feels that Sohrab may be in a senior role within the Children of Zepha, but is not their leader. He is concerned that Sohrab may be looking for the lost Token of Galus on Calmuth Island. He offers to teleport Io and the others to the place where Nanui and the other children buried the artifact.

The group agrees. Ilio teleports the party away. They reappear at the edge of a jungle on a rocky coast line. Io is not present. Searching around, they spot her about 25 yards away to the north. They also spot a military encampment, likely of Gul, only a few hundred yards farther up the coast.

Bilya hurries them to find the spot where the relic was hidden. Io digs about a foot down into the earth. She finds the Token of Galus in pristine condition. Ilio sees a patrol heading their way. He quickly teleports the group back, but not before Cornelius leaves a letter behind.

Dear Reader

If you are reading this you found my letter. Good for you!

Have a nice day.

Professor C.G.

P.S. I am glad I prepared Exploding Runes today…….

Back in the hall, they decide to search the area before the dragon returns. Io finds a hidden tunnel that leads underground and to the east. They decide to fully explore this are of the ruins, which they to be a kind of palace, before going down and investigating the tunnel.

Around the corner, they find more wights. The undead manage to pin Io and Pascal, but their spears make short work of the creatures.

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Session 60 - May 7/14
Oh poo - this place is dirty!

The three companions return to their own bodies, in their own time. They are greeted by Bilya, who informs them that they were unconscious for 33 days, much to the group’s amazement. They inform Bilya about what they discovered – the Token of Galus and the necklace that the witch wore.

Bilya informs the group that Tanya left the temple while they were away to scout the mountain and never returned. Jalec was stricken with a rotting illness but recovered with Pascal‘s aid. He left to look for Tanya, so he claimed, and also didn’t return. Bilya seems anxious to teleport to Calmuth Island to find the buried token. The group does not share his sense of urgency.

Io is able to discern via magic that both Tanya and Jalec are about 1500 feet below them, underground, and to the north. Cornelius descends the “well” that the group had previously sabotaged. He finds four skeletal guards at the bottom. He casts Black Tentacles , but the skeletons manage to escape its grasp. Cornelius gives a look around to see a ruined city.

Back up top, Bilya finds the sewer tunnel to explore. Cornelius goes first and flies right into a swarm of of tiny red spiders. He is able to knock them off with a Cyclone spell and blasts them with a Lightning Flash. Examining the room, Cornelius sees that it seems to be turned upside down. The group explores the adjacent rooms to find that they are also upside down. They find a chimney leading down. Io descends the chimney. Cornelius takes an alternate route through a branch in the sewer, but they eventually to meet up in a large cavern.

They find more of the ruined city, this part right-side-up. However, the buildings that line the way have toppled onto each other, forming an archway over the dark cobblestone streets.
Io scans a room, using her magical gloves, and sees a ghostly form hovering over a golden chair. Most of the party does not feel the need to talk to it, but Pascal, after praying to his god, feels it would be a good idea to talk to the ghost.

As they enter the room, the figure seems to ask a question in a strange dialect of Labreyan. Between Fatima, Cornelius, and Fatima they understand the question to be “Have you been sent to rebuild our city?”. Fatima assures the ghost that that is their purpose. He seems convinced and proceeds to babble.

The ghost says, repeatedly, “We must rebuild", “Tumaraa is no more”, “The spirits of Fire and Air unleashed there wrath upon us”, and “I did not foresee it”. Fatima asks how they may help to rebuild the city. The ghost replies “The King and Queen will decide that.”

Bilya believes that they are at the site of an old Labrayen city, called Tumaraa, that was destroyed during the cataclysm and hundred year winter that occurred more than 2000 years ago. The ghost must have been one of its citizens.

They decide to leave the ghost. The group moves further into the city. They find a swift-flowing river in the middle of the street that leads to a waterfall that drops to the city ruins far below. Accross the river, a building stands. Io scans it to find an outer room with four ghostly armed guards and in the inner room containing piles of clay tokens. Among the piles are three skeletons with shovels.

Suddenly a man appears. Bilya seems to recognize him and says “Sohrab, you show yourself at last!” He casts a Shadow Evocation Lightning Bolt at him. The man is lightly damaged. He replies “You can’t prevent what must take place, Ilio!” Then the man disappears. Fatima calls Bilya by the name “Ilio”. He sheepishly agrees to explain, but the group decides to hear it after they have finished exploring.

As they enter the room with the ghostly guards, the ghosts disappear. Cornelius finds a old coin with the image of a man on one side and a woman on the other, both in profile. In the back room they find larger clay tokens with the same images. Cornelius searches two alcoves – one marked “Treasury”, in old Labreyan, and one marked “Taxes”. He throws a token into one of them – it disappears. They determine that the alcoves are a from of teleportation device. They decide not to use the device just yet. Instead, they take the natural stone tunnel leading from the cavern that they discovered earlier.

The tunnel descends sharply, so they party takes great care making their way down. At the bottom they see that the floor is in fact masonry, with holes in the floor that are actually windows. The determine that that they are on top of a building that has fallen onto its side. The inside of the building is covered with moss and a luminescent fungus. At the bottom is a writhing pit of snakes. The group gets past the snakes and makes its way out into the ruined city. They find the remnants of a fallen tower. Several waterfalls from above feed a large river ahead, that flows to a large chasm. The group stears clear of the river and finds it way to the courtyard that Cornelius found previously. The four skeletal guards await them. They move to attack.

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Session 59 - Apr. 7/14
Don't stick your tongue out at me, old man!

After a short debate, the group decides to use the Stone to Flesh scroll to restore Bilya to his former self and hope that he can revive Pascal later. Fatima, with some aid from Io, successfully releases Bilya from his stony form. As he breathes his first breath, a thick, slimy, flesh-coloured substance falls from the ceiling, splattering Bilya, Fatima, and Cornelius. As Cornelius savours the cheesy taste of the substance, the others realize that the spell unexpectedly converted some of the stone ceiling into flesh. Wiping the slime from his brow, Bilya confirms that higher levels spells have been acting strangely lately.

Bilya is unsure how long he has been in stone form. The group estimates that it’s been about 3 weeks. He recalls how he managed to allude the undead guardians on this level, but succumbed to the trap at the pool. He was in the process of studying the pool, when it happened.

The group returns to the room with the large relief statue of the fire bat god that overlooks the 5’ diameter pool. They carefully check the area to make sure not to trigger the trap and discover that the spell associated with the trap is not currently active, but may reset itself at some point. The group can see swirling images in the dark waters of the pool – images of vegetation, animals, and people. The people appear to be of Labreyan descent. Bilya studies the pool for more than hour and believes that he has discovered its purpose.

It seems to be some sort of scrying device. By touching the pool, it is able to project one’s life force back in time, allowing one to observe the activities of others in another time period. The subject’s spirit should be able to return to their own body once they return to the same spot where they first appeared in the older time period. He is not sure in exactly what time period that the subject will appear, nor if he or she will appear in the exact same location. Bilya believes that the Children of Zepha may try to use or may have used the pool to find the location of an artifact or artifacts in another time. Although he understands that there are risks involved, Bilya wants to use the pool to find out if this is the case.

As Bilya is the only one that can restore the victims of the Flesh to Stone trap, he offers to stay behind, while three or four volunteers use the pool. He assures them that their bodies will stay behind, in stasis. He will see that they are not harmed. Io, Fatima, and, somewhat unenthusiastically, Cornelius volunteer to use the pool to travel in time. They link hands, forming a circle, and place them within the nearly black water. For a moment, they feel as if they are sleeping. They each “awaken” in another’s body.

Io discovers that she is within the body of Nanui, a Labreyan boy of 8 years. He is on a sandy beach on a jungle coastline. It is a warm and partly sunny day. He is helping three of his older cousins unload their catch from a canoe. Io knows this from Nanui’s thoughts – she cannot see what he sees. Io senses that Nanui is unsettled by her presence, but she is able to calm him enough to telepathically control his actions. As they unload the fish, Nanui hears some fishermen nearby talking about a witch that is to be executed at dusk. One of them jokes how there will not be much left of her body once the sharks are finished with her. Nanui cannot speak to Io, but she senses this information in Nanui’s thoughts. Nanui’s cousin, Teva, thanks him for helping and offers to let him fish with them again tomorrow, if his father allows it. Nanui, enthusiastically accepts the offer. Teva gives him a share of the fish and bids him farewell. Io directs Nanui to return to his family’s hut with the fish.

Fatima appears in the body of Hiro, a Labreyan boy of 10 years. He is inside a hut with a few beams of sunlight penetrating a window flap. Hiro sits at a table, lit by a glowing stone that he created himself with a Light spell. He notices Fatima’s presence and seems intrigued by it, rather than frightened. Fatima tries to communicate that she is not there to harm him, but to teach him. Hiro has been tasked by his master, the village priest Pomare, with determining the nature of two magical scrolls. He has already identified one as a scroll of Detect Magic. After some time, he discovers that the other scroll contains the magic of a Detect Evil spell. Once he is done this, he starts to tidy up the room and take a pot of boiling soup off of the fire. Fatima instructs Hiro to go visit his master, Pomare, who he knows to be at the beach.

As he approaches the shore, Hiro can see his master blessing the double-hulled sailing canoe that will be used to kill the witch this evening. Fatima probes Hiro’s thoughts about the witch, learning that the witch’s name is Eeva and that she is a worshiper of the fire bat. Hiro asks Pomare why the witch is being killed. Pomare replies that she is sentenced to death because she is a worshiper of the fire bat. He adds that her husband, Moratu, is also a fire bat worshipper, but fled the village about a fortnight ago, before he could be taken into custody. Hiro tells Pomare that he is done his chores and asks if he may come along when the witch is being executed. Pomare, surprised to see Hiro here, forbids it and gives him other tasks to do. Hiro, with the help of Fatima, determines that his master is just giving him busy work to keep him occupied. Disappointed, Hiro returns to the village.

Cornelius appears in the body of Taurua, a Labreyan girl of 10 years. She is outside of the family’s hut, playing a game with some rocks of multiple colours. She is a little frightened by the presence of the old man within her body. Ignoring her anxiety, Cornelius proceeds to learn about the game that she is playing. Taurua hears low voices from inside the hut – her mother and father are having a conversation. At Cornelius’ command, she sneaks up to the open window and listens in.

  • Mohea (mother): "She is too young. She should not see such things until her first blood.”
  • Ponui (father): “But she has grown so much and the villagers respect her. It would show her strength, if she were present.”
  • Mohea: “This woman is a worshiper of the bat. She will curse all of those present. I don’t want my daughter to witness that.”
  • Ponui: “She is powerless now that her husband is gone. Taurua will be in no danger.”
  • Mohea: “ All the same, I don’t want her to see it. Promise me that you won’t take her with you when it’s done…”
  • There is a pause.
  • Ponui: “As you wish, then. But she will have to face such things some day, if she is to realize her true potential.”
  • Mohea: “Perhaps. But not this day.”
  • Ponui: “Well, I need to make sure that the hut is being repaired before I go out to sea. I will see you again this evening, my wife.”

Taurua knows that the woman they speak of is called Eeva. Her husband was a village elder named Moratu. They were both found to be bat worshipers, an offence punishable by death. Moratu fled the village some 2 weeks ago before they could condemn him. She remembers that several months ago, Moratu, then still elder, condemned his own friend and other villagers, when they were found to be bat worshippers.

Taurua then hears her father leaving the hut. Cornelius commands her to run after him. Taurua asks her father about the witch. He realizes that she overheard him talking with her mother and asks her if she wants to witness the execution. The girls is afraid, but Cornelius convinces her to say yes. Ponui takes her back to the hut and gets her to tell her mother that she wants to go with her father, a village elder, to the execution of the witch. Mohea agrees to this but is clearly upset with her husband for putting her in this position. Ponui takes Taurua, first to the north side of the village to see how the hut repairs are going, then to the beach, where the canoe awaits.

After seeing the village, the river to the north, and now the beach, Cornelius estimates that they are on the western shore of Calmuth Island, where the modern Ulgar village of Gora once was, until burned by the Gul. Cornelius knows that the Ulgar annexed western Calmuth a little more than 100 years before their own time, causing the resident Labreyans to flee. So, this time time period could be no later than that.

As Hiro leaves the beach, Nanui notices his friend and they agree to meet later. Near Nanui’s hut, they discuss the killing of the witch. During the conversation, they learn that both boys are being possessed by the party members. As they speak, Taurua and her father pass them on their way to the shore. Taurua makes faces at them. This convinces Fatima and Io that the girl, usually mild-mannered, is likely being possessed by Cornelius. Hiro goes off to do his chores for Pomare, while Nanui returns to the beach.

The sailors are preparing the canoe and Pomare is completing his blessings as Taurua and her father approach the beach. The sun is getting low in the sky as a crowd is forming on the beach. Ponui sees some of the other elders present and moves to join them. Taurua, sitting a little ways away, by herself sees Nanui. They both notice that the four warriors near the canoe are returning to the village. Nanui follows behind them as do several other villagers.

The warriors stop at a hut in the village centre and call for Eeva, the witch. She emerges from the hut and is escorted by the warriors to the beach. As they pass Nanui, he sees that she is wearing a leather cord around her neck with a charcoal-coloured stone cube hanging from it. There is a streak of crimson in the stone. Nanui returns to the beach, just behind them.

At the beach, the crowd parts to let the witch through. The warriors stop at the canoe. One of the elders, Amura, announces to the crowd that the witch shall be returned to the water from whence she came. Ponui and Pomare think it unwise to allow the witch to wear the necklace. Amura says that it should be left on her so that it will be consumed with the rest of her. They do not protest. The warriors bring the witch aboard the deck of the canoe. The elders follow behind, with Taurua in tow. The canoe sails off toward the northwest.

Farther down the beach, several fishing canoes are waiting to follow behind at a safe distance. Teva, Nanui’s cousin, offers to take him with them to watch the execution from their canoe. By this point, Hiro has finished his work and is at the beach. Nanui asks if Hiro can join them too. Teva agrees.

As the sun sets in the west, the double-hulled canoe that carries the witch stops a few miles from shore. A line carrying several bloody fish parts is lowered into the water. Within minutes, several silver-tipped fins appear just above the water’s surface. The sharks make a frenzied attack on the fish. In its thrashing, one of the sharks very nearly jumps aboard the canoe.

Amura says that it is time for the witch to die. Her gag and bonds are removed and she is brought to the very stern of the canoe. Amura asks her if she has any final words. She says only: “He will come for me.” Taurua tries to warn her father about the necklace, but he feels it is not his place to question the wisdom of Amura. Before the warriors can push her over, she lets herself fall into the awaitng sharks. More thrashing ensues. Her limbs are torn from her and she is bitten in half as her life’s blood darkens the water. Several minutes later, the thrashing stops and the water is calm. Taurua noitces the small flotilla of canoes that has formed to the south to watch the event. She also sees a lone canoe to the east.

Nanui and Hiro, from their canoe, see the witch fall into the water and get eaten by the sharks. They also notice the single canoe to the east. Teva turns the canoe around and returns to shore. Back on the beach, Nanui and Hiro discuss what happened in private. They are unsure how to proceed. They decide to go home and talk again in the morning. Taurua arrives ashore a little later and returns to her hut with her father. He expresses his pride in her and that he feels that she will be a good elder one day.

Nanui’s father invites Nanui to join him during his leather work this day. Nanui says that his cousins invited him to fish with them. His father consents to it and tells Nanui to find him when he’s back. Nanui finds his cousins at the beach. He asks them if they will fish near the area where the witch was killed. Teva is afraid of the silver sharks and refuses. One of the other fishermen says that no one would risk fishing near the vicious silver sharks – no one except Mako. Nanui asks who Mako is. The fisherman says that he is a recluse shark hunter that lives alone, north on the coast. He may already be out there fishing the sharks. Nanui decides to tell Hiro about this.

Hiro starts his day with Pomare, helping him organize magical components and identifying items. Nanui calls from outside. Pomare permits Hiro to speak with him briefly. Nanui tells Hiro about the shark hunter, Mako – maybe he can help them find the necklace that Eeva wore. Hiro agrees and goes to find Taurua. Nanui goes to find his father in his work hut.

Hiro finds Taurua outside her hut, watching her younger siblings play. Hiro mentions Mako, but Cornelius decides that Taurua is too busy right now. Hiro decides to fetch Nanui instead. The two of them try to find Eeva’s hut to search it, but discover that it is already being burned. With that lead a dead end, the two boys get Taurua and the three of them leave the village to find Mako.

The children cross the river and find a jungle path that leads north. After hiking for more than three hours, they find a clearing with a single hut. Lines holding shark parts hang between nearby trees and the hut. On the door of the hut are the jawbones of a shark. Peeking inside, Nanui sees that the hut is festooned shark parts. Mako is absent.

Hiro finds a trail that leads down to the shore. They see that a sailing canoe is approaching the shore from the southwest. The children hide in the bushes. Several minutes later, the canoe comes ashore. The fisherman carries a large, heavy-looking bag over his shoulder and holds a long metal knife in his hand as he heads up the trail to the hut. Metal items have been condemned in the village and it is considered a punishable offence to wield one. Hiro uses Detect Magic on the man. He sees that his knife is indeed magical. They let the man pass by to the hut. After he is inside, Hiro runs back to the path to fetch the adults from the village.

Three hours later and after dark, Hiro makes it back to the village. He finds Pomare and tells him what has transpired. They find the elder Ponui, Taurua’s father. He commands four warriors to accompany the three of them north to Mako’s hut.

The other two children stay hidden in the bushes near the shore. Near dark, they hear two men’s voices outside the hut. They cannot see them. One of the men asks the other if he has found what he was looking for. He says yes and asks if the other has brought him"the other knife you promised me". The first man says yes but wants to confirm that he found the necklace. After a long pause, presumably to check the bag, the first man thanks the other and leaves down the path. Taurua is sure that the first voice was that of Moratu, Eeva’s fugitive husband. Nanui decides to follow him.

As Nanui heads down the path, he hears something coming up behind him. It’s the fisherman – Mako! He grabs Nanui prevent shim from running away. Grappled, Nanui suddenly feels the urge to use the small metal hammer that he has been hiding in his pouch. Once in his hand, the hammer glows brightly. Quickly, Nanui strikes Mako in the hand. Mako recoils, allowing Nanui to run away. Mako runs after him and tries to grab him again. Nanui evades him and strikes him again. After that, Mako lets him go. After Mako returns to his hut, Taurua catches up with Nanui. There is no trace of Moratu.

On their way back to the village, the two children encounter Taurau’s father and his party. Ponui is relieved to find her safe. The children tell them what happened. Ponui tells two of the warriors to take the three children back to the village. He and the others will see to Mako.

Back in the village, Nanui tells Hiro about his hammer. Hiro, with the help of Fatima’s knowledge, identifies the hammer as a Token of Galus. The three of them agree that this item is likely what the Children of Zepha are looking for. They find an easily identified outcropping of rock near the shoreline and bury the hammer there. The three children then return to the spots where they were first possessed. The companions explain to the children the importance of keeping the location of the hidden hammer a secret. They seem to understand. Io, Fatima, and Cornelius release their control over the children. They regain consciousness in their bodies and see the pool before them. As they look around the room, Bilya gives a sigh of relief.

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Session 58 - Mar. 24/13
Stay out of my way, old man!

The three robed figures, that Pascal stumbled upon, move to attack. They are clearly undead. As Pascal is struck by one of them, he feels his life force being drained. Cornelius “burps” a line of acid, burning two of the creatures. He says: “Oh my, that cheese is not sitting well.” After being blasted with spells and blows, the undead creatures are destroyed. Searching the bodies reveals that they were once Labreyan and that they carry the symbol of the fire bat on their robes. One of them is carrying a scroll case. It contains two scrolls:

  • scroll of Lightning Bolt, CL10
  • scroll of Stone to Flesh, CL11

Past the main hall of the temple, the party finds a set of slime-covered, stone stairs that leads down four flights. At the bottom, they find a large room whose floor has given way in areas to the cavern below. As Io and Pascal enter the chamber, the floor gives way. As they start to fall into the darkness below, Fatima is able to cast Fly on Pascal. Unfortunately, she is not able to reach Io in time and she hits the bottom, some 700’ below, very hard. Fatima and Pascal fly down to aid her. Fatima casts Fly on Io so they can get back out. Io remains cautious and stays close to the cavern wall as she ascends.

Back on top, the group takes a hallway to the north and follows a long corridor. Along the corridor are several alcoves containing stone burial cairns and their mostly boney occupants. At the end, Io finds a room with heat rising up from below through two holes in the floor. There is a large iron pot hanging by a metal chain and supported by a large stone wheel – a sort of pulley system. Crouching near the pot are two figures. Before lo can react, one of the creatures lunges at her and pins her to the ground. The other creature bangs the iron pot with its fist. The undead creature rends Io’s flesh, draining her life force in the process. With a screech, the iron pot begins to descend.

Coming up from behind, Fatima casts Grease on Io, to make it harder for the creature to grapple her. Pascal channels positive energy, healing Io and destroying one of the creatures at the same time. Tonya calls for the others to clear a path for her to fire at the remaining creature. All, except Cornelius, comply. She fires an arrow at the creature, damaging it. She lobs two more arrows at Cornelius, for good measure. He is moderately damaged, but seems not to have gotten the message. Fortunately for him, the battle is over before she can fire more.

They investigate the descending bucket. Using Clairvoyance, Cornelius sends his vision down and sees four of the same type of undead creature rising up in the pot. At the cavern’s bottom, several undead are pulling on the other chain to raise the pot. Fatima uses her Waters of Transformation to turn a part of the chain into glass. As it goes over the pulley, the chain snaps and the pot, with the undead, plummets to the ground below, much to the delight of Fatima and Cornelius.

The party continues to search the complex. They find that a lot of it has crumbled away into the caverns below. Fatima flies across the open pits. She finds a chamber covered in fungus. it contains a small, fungus-covered box. Around a corner, she sees several stone coffins. She hears a whispering voice that asks: “Who enters the tomb of priests?” She quickly exits the room.

In the chest, they find several smoke-coloured diamonds. Cornelius has a look at them and claims that they could be dangerous. He wraps them in his bag for safe keeping.

Pascal enters an octagonal room from the east; Fatima enters from the south. On the wall opposite Pascal is a 8’ tall relief statue of the Fire Bat God. At its base is a low, stone-lined pool with waters nearly as black as jet. In front of the pool, just to the left, is a man sized stone statue that faces the far wall. As Pascal approaches the pool, a force grips him. He is unable to move as his body slowly turns into stone. Carefully avoiding the trap, Fatima uses Unseen Servant to attach ropes to Pascal and the other statue. The party drags them out of the room. After examining the other rescued statue, they determine it to be in the likeness of Bilya, the man who they have been searching for.

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Session 57 - Mar. 10/14
Cheese anyone?

Group 2 – last session: Session 42-Aug 5, 2013

Along the southern shoreline of Calmuth island, the group is ready to embark on their mission from Taipa to scout Jarith’s Island, looking for signs of Children of Zepha activity and to locate Bilya. Father Pascal Abel finds a map amongst the gear on the Gul canoe. They plot a course, south, then west, to Jarith’s Island, to give a wide berth to the Ulgar islands of Kosh, Glkish, and Urko. Cornelius gathers some driftwood.

On the boat, Cornelius sets up a folding chair and dangles a fishing hook in the water and watches the horizon. Jalec enjoys a bit of the cheese that Cornelius seems to be waving around. After 2 days, land is spotted to the south. It is believed to be a couple of small, unnamed islands. So far, they have encountered no other vessels. Their only companion is a dolphin that followed their canoe fro several minutes. It is a hot day. Pascal is little stricken by the heat but he endures on. They turn west. The next day, a storm sweeps over them but Pascal is able to keep the ship steady.

On the fourth day, an island is seen ahead to the west. Looking at the map, they confirm that it is Jarith’s Island. As they approach, many rocky outcroppings are seen just beneath the water’s surface. Pascal steers clear of them and decides to follow the coast to the north of the island. In a small bay on the northeastern tip of the island, they find beach to make landfall.

Setting foot on the island, gives and eery sense that something is not quite right. They notice that the woods are filled with fire bats. The bats seem to be watching them. They are found to have a magical aura, one of moderate Divination.

The party makes camp and sets watches. Fatima conveniently forgets to wake for her turn. In the morning, the party decides to get back on the boat and scout the coastline. As they leave the cove, the hull of the boat hits some rocks and is damaged (50 points). Fortunately, it is still seaworthy. After circumnavigating the island, they find no other good landing spots. They do find that the fire bats are all over the island., even during the day. They return to the cove.

Cornelius flies up to get a better view of the island. He sees a marshy area to the west, between two ridge lines. Making some notes on the map, he returns. Cornelius then proceeds to engage the bats in a very long winded lecture on cheese. They are unimpressed.

Early, the next morning, they head off west into the island. Io leads the way, with Tanya, Cornelius, Fatima, Pascal, and Jalec following behind. Movement through the dense jungle is slow going. After about an hour’s travel, they start seeing swampy ground. The group heads south, along the ridge line to avoid the most treacherous areas. Periodically, Cornelius and Fatima fly above the trees to see what’s ahead. They cross a stream that seems to be flowing into a lake in the middle of the swamp. Rather than checking out the lake, they decide to continue southwest, along the ridge line.

After several hours of travel, Io spots an old and overgrown stone pathway, leading toward the southwest. They follow the path to the base of the mountain, where it takes a turn to the south. It comes to an end at a set of stone stairs that leads up the mountain side. Cornelius flies up to the mountain top to see where the staircase leads. He sees a large crater in the centre of the mountain with a small lake at its centre. Cornelius is unsure whether the mountain is a volcano, long dormant, or if the crater was caused by a falling star. He sees the stone stairs at the crater’s edge. They appear to descend into the crater for only a few feet, the remainder of the staircase appearing to have eroded away.

After searching the area at the mountain’s base, Tanya finds another overgrown stone path leading further south into the jungle. Cornelius, having returned by now, follows the path to its end at another spot along the mountain’s base. He searches the heavily overgrown area and discovers a set of hidden doors in the mountain side. They were concealed by an illusion, which Cornelius determines to be a Permanent Image. He moves aside the vines covering the doors and finds a symbol of the fire bat etched onto their surface.

The party waits until the next morning to investigate the hidden doors. Pascal finds that it is magically trapped. Cornelius identifies an Arcane Lock spell and a Symbol of Weakness as part of the trap. As they ponder how to bypass it, Pascal and Cornelius hear a whispering voice, as if it was on the wind. The words are in an ancient language that Pascal cannot understand, but, Cornelius understands as some form of old Labreyan. They say: “In the name of the winged lord, open”. Cornelius tells the others what he heard, out loud, and, suddenly, the doors open inward.

Inside, another door awaits. It is covered in grime but seems to be made of or plated in gold. Beyond a second set of gold doors, the find a high vaulted hall with an 8’ statue of a Labreyan man with fangs and folded wings. Pascal determines that it is made in the image of a fire bat god, worshiped by some Labreyans long ago.

Pascal checks several adjoining rooms for traps. While opening the door to the final room, he sees three robed figures hunched over a dais. Before he can alert the others, they turn to attack…

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Session 56 - Feb. 24/14
Talking Dead

After the battle, the group searches the rest of the abbey’s basement. In a small wine vault, they find two bodies of the red priests, heads crushed. In the same room, a cask is found to contain an unconscious but live captive. It is Maia, the priestess of Fira that was sent by the Matriarch weeks ago to investigate the abbey. She wears a cursed amulet that is paralyzing her. Quintin gives her a potion of Remove Curse so that the item can be removed. Arah then heals her of her wounds and she regains consciousness.

The party finishes searching the abbey. The find a secret passage to the well. There is the dead body of a soldier floating in it. After falling into the water, Rod retrieves the body. The group also finds a natural cavern containing luminescent lichen. Quintin takes samples of the lichen and the underlying rock. On the opposite wall, they find a tunnel that leads to the outside, by the shoreline. Rod removes the items from Tormund’s body.

Rod and Quintin take Maia and Manuel to the surface to hear their stories. Arah and Murad remove the Unhallowed effect in the worship room. Bertom stands guard.

Maia tells them what has transpired. Soon after she arrived, her Knights of the Benevolent and the garrison’s soldiers were attacked by the red priests. She believes that the knights and most of the soldiers were killed. She was imprisoned. Before she was rendered unconscious, she did overhear that the red priests were looking for an item, an artifact of the Malevolent. They could not locate it, so decided to wait for Manuel to arrive, hoping that his arrival would allow them to find the item, somehow. They seemed to know that he was coming.

Manuel regrets attacking them, even if it was being influenced by the demon. He recalls the tale that he told the party, when they first met, about the monks that once lived at the abbey – his brothers who died almost a decade ago by a plague that Manuel escaped while at sea. Manuel now admits that that story was a lie. What really happened was that when he returned from being at sea, he found the monks worshiping the Zaur. The abbot was holding an artifact of the Malevolent – an item in the form of a triangle. He knew at that moment that he needed to kill them. So, he poisoned the well to end their evil. Then, Manuel fled.

The red priests were trying to hunt him down for years and set a trap for him here at the abbey. They knew that Manuel would come if he heard that the red priests had returned to the abbey. They ambushed Manuel and tied him to the floor of the worship room inside the triangle symbol on the floor. They were looking for an artifact and were going to use Manuel as a sacrifice to summon a demon. They wanted the demon to help them to find the artifact. When the demon appeared, it betrayed the red priests. It possessed Manuel and used him to kill the priests. During the battle, their dark Knight of the Malevolent, fled.

After hearing Manuel’s story, Maia wonders if Manuel did in fact see the monks committing the evil or if it was a false vision. Manuel is confused.

Maia questions Rod and Murad about their tokens. They tell her that both tokens have recently increased in power. During the discussion, Arah mentions that she has a weapon, a magical trident, that she has noticed has increased in power since she has been with the party. Maia studies it and learns that it is, indeed, the Token of Fira. Quintin wonders about the Token of Galus and where it might be. No one seems to know.

Maia looks at the severed head of Tormund. She identifies him as the dark knight that served the red priests. Bertom speaks up. He recognizes him as being a former Knight of the Just, Meldus of Byton. The knight was high ranking and well regarded in the order, but he disappeared about three years ago. The patriarchs would not speak of the manner of his departure.

Maia decides that she needs to talk to Meldus to question him. Murad offers to reanimate the body for this purpose. She agrees. They reattach the head to the body and Murad uses the Token of Zaur to animate the corpse. Maia questions it, and Murad compels it to answer.

What did you seek in this abbey?
-We sought an artifact of the malevolent; the ritual with the monk would attract it.
How did you know Manuel would come?
-We made it clear that we were here; we knew that he would come to avenge the death of his brothers.
Did you influence Manuel to kill the monks?
-Many years ago, the High Priest of the Malevolent, Ered, ordered that someone be used to murder the monks. Manuel was abducted at sea. He was implanted with the commands that would compel him to kill the monks later. Then, they left him on the shore of the island, knowing that the monks would take him in.
How did the high priest know that this is the location the token would appear?
-His divination decades before determined this.
Were you a disciple of Zaur when you were a member of the Knights of the Just?
-No. I changed just before I left the order.
What was your plan if you obtained the artifact of Zaur?
-Take it to the High Priest in Brindi.
Do you know anything of the falling star?
-Yes, it is falling to the planet. It will destroy most of it, but provide them with great power.
Do you have any contacts or places of worship in Llantry?
-Yes. There is a temple near the theatre, underground.

With no other questions, Maia destroys what is left of the fallen paladin. Manuel and Rod take the bodies of the fallen soldiers above ground to be properly interred.

Maia decides to leave for the nearby village of Rosebeach. Quintin, Rod, and Manuel accompany her. Murad, Arah, and Bertom stay behind to re-sanctify the abbey.

In the village, Quintin and Rod find lodging in a small inn. Quintin studies a book from among Meldus’ gear. It is entitled ARTIFACTS OF THE HOLY. A passage at the end, in another handwriting, speaks of an artifact that arrived at the abbey eight years ago. It was a a piece of light blue coral shaped like a triangle (inverted). It was said to shed a bright light when commanded.

Among Meldus’ gear, they also find:

  • +1 arrow (50)
  • +2 Frost, Cold Iron Warhammer
  • +3 Flaming, Unholy Adamantine Longsword
  • Masterwork Composite Longbow (Str +3)
  • +2 Electricity Resistance Mithral Heavy Steel Shield
  • +3 Cold Resistance Mithral Agile Breastplate
  • +3 Amulet of Natural Armour
  • +4 Belt of Physical Might (Str and Con)
  • +4 Headband of Mental Prowess (Wis and Cha)
  • +3 Ring of Protection
  • Potion of Cure Serious Wounds (3)
  • Potion of Remove Curse

They also determine that the mask that Manuel was wearing when he attacked is a Mask of the Skull.

While searching for the bones of the late abbot, Murad finds a hidden panel at the bottom of the sarcophagus. Inside it, he finds a triangular piece of coral that radiates weak Evocation magic and is found to give off light, like a Daylight spell, when commanded. Manuel later confirms that this is the item that he saw when he decided to kill his fellow monks. The compartment also contains some of Maia’s missing items.

Back in the village, Rod warns the tavern keeper that he will be getting a lot of business very soon. Just after midnight, The Walrus and the other two ships arrive in the harbour. Rod is there to greet them and their captain, Maddy. The sailors come ashore and quickly find the tavern. In the morning, Murad and Arah finish the blessing of the abbey and head to the village. Using the crystal of communication, Murad contacts the Matriarch in Llantry, informing her what has happened. Manuel offers to accompany Maia and the coral artifact back to Llantry.

The group bids Manuel and Maia farewell. The crews return to the ships and they set sail. It takes them about a day and a half, to reach the west side of the Hanum Islands. Here, they decide to invoke the magic of the shard. Quintin brings the lead box containing it to the bow of the ship. The rest of the crew stays at least 60 feet clear of it. On opening the box, Quintin sees a dark grey rod with a strange sheen to it. He is suddenly swept by a wave of nausea, but manages to hold it together enough to complete the ritual.

Following High Alchemist Heyrod’s instructions, Quintin begins to utter the words of the teleportation magic. With the use of the small blue crystal, given to him by High Archmage Kurn, he casts the Submerge Ship spells on the three ships. As the ritual progresses, the shard grows more bright, until it becomes almost blinding. Then, the light slowly fades. The shard darkens so much, that it seems to virtually disappear from existence. The ritual nears completion. The faint glow, that developed around the ships as the ritual progressed, is pulsating. Quintin says the final words. Everything goes dark.

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Session 55 - Feb. 10/14
Never trust no one, even if he did water the horses...

Arah checks the health of the man who was hiding in the pile of bodies. He begs for food. Murad gives him a goodberry (after he makes sure it is not a fire seed), which the man eats greedily.

His garb is adorned with the heraldry of the Queen’s army. He says that his name is Tormund, a lieutenant in the Queen’s army. Arah heals him of his fatigue. Rod sneaks ahead to check that the way ahead is clear. The group takes Tormund upstairs to talk in relative safety. He says that he was the one who gave water to the horses when he snuck up to get water for himself from the well.

Tormund recalls how his men saw someone in the woods near the abbey, about a month ago. He was wearing a red robe and had the triangle symbol of the malevolent on his forehead. Their commander, Wilbur, sent word to the Cathedral of Fira in Llantry, who sent a priestess and two Knights of the Benevolent to investigate. This seems to have drawn the attention of the red priests of Zaur, who must have been hiding nearby. They attacked the garrison, killing most of them. Tormund does not know what befell the priestess and her knights. At that point, Murad’s mouse friends return to say that no other people are around.

Tormund informs the party that he has not seen Manuel, but that one of the priests wore a mask, shaped like a skull. The priests numbered three or four and they used magic to attack the garrison. Bertom of Cuford asks Tormund how long he has served in the Queen’s army. He answers that he has served in Lord Weedon’s army for three years. He has been part of the Queen’s army ever since Weedon’s troops were added to Her Majesty’s forces, about three months. Bertom looks somewhat suspicious, but accepts his answer.

Murad asks Tormund if he knows what the red priests were looking for. He says that he overhead two of them speaking of an artifact of the Malevolent. Tormund then asks Murad if they know what that might be and if they have seen anything like it before. Murad finds this question odd and asks Tormund why he is so interested. Tormund tells a tale of how he saw a robe man in Seafield over a year ago, carrying a strange item, shaped like a triangle. Tormund believes that maybe the item that the red priests seek is the same one. Murad nods, like Bertom, suspiciously.

The group decides that it is time to return to their search in the basement. Tormund offers to join them, but the party declines; they do not fully trust him. They ask him to wait in the stables for them. Murad instrcuts him that, if the party does not return in the next few hours, he is to go to the nearby village and find Maddy to explain what has happened. Tormund, reluctantly, agrees. To make sure about him, Murad casts Detect Magic and uses a charge of the Wand of True Form on Tormund. He is “clean”. Tormund laments that they do not trust him, but seems to understand.

Back down in the basement, Rod and Quintin search a large room to the south, a mortuary, and find several secret doors. Rather than opening them, they decide to check the rooms to the north first. They first enter a shrine of some sort. It’s main statue has been knocked over and damaged. To the west of this, is a large chamber, a hall of worship, possibly. A large triangle symbol is painted in the centre of the floor and the room emits an unsettling aura. Two flaming skeletal knights guard the symbol. As Rod enters the room, the guards are alerted to his presence and attack.

Rod uses the Token of Valeria and casts Web. The fire surrounding the knights sets the webs on fire as they walk toward Rod. Murad attempts to control them with the Token of Zaur, but it doesn’t seem to work. Both Rod and Murad feel as though their tokens seem to be feeling different. Quintin transforms into a four-limbed Gargoyle and Arah channels positive energy to cause some minor damage the skeletons. Arah notices that the knights bear the symbol of the Benevolent on their cloaks. Bertom moves up and casts Divine Favor.

Quintin pounds the skeletons. Arah finishes off one of them, and Bertom, the other.
Once the undead knights are destroyed, the party searches the room. The triangle symbol appears to be made of blood. Within it, are four stakes with bits of snapped rope attached.
As Rod checks an adjoining room to the south, someone wearing red robes and a skull mask enters the worship hall from the east. The figure throws the mask at Murad. As the mask flies toward him, Murad can see that the red robed man is Manuel!

Murad resists the effect of the mask. Quintin attempts to disable Manuel with sticky force bombs. Manuel evades the bombs and attacks Arah with the mask, who is also able to resist its effect, barely. Murad attempts to dispel whatever it is that is controlling him, but is unsuccessful.

As this is happening, Rod, in the adjoining room, notices that a secret door ahead of him is starting to open. He returns to the worship room, closing the door behind him. Bertom challenges Manuel. Manuel releases a flurry of blows onto Quintin, which causes him to drop, unconscious. Suddenly, another man enters from the south room. It is Tormund – he says: “I heard fighting, can I help?” Both Murad and Rod sense that he is not revealing his true intentions.

Arah heals Quintin, returning him to consciousness. He then strikes at Manuel with his teeth, claws, and tail, knocking him out. Immediately after this happens, a large, winged demon-like creature emerges from Manuel’s limp body. It seems to be on fire and carries a sword and a burning whip. It flies to intercept Murad. Murad counters by first summoning a dinosaur to aid him, then transforming into an earth elemental.

To the east of the room, the party can see that several animated corpses, wearing the heraldry of the Queen’s army, are closing to attack. Bertom and Arah channel positive energy and the undead creatures fall. Their channelling heals Manuel enough that he regains consciousness. He begins to sob, as the weight of what he did falls upon him.

With Murad hiding beneath the floor in elemental form, the demon turns its attention to Rod. He is hit by the demon’s whip and entangled by it. The demon pulls Rod toward him, burning him when he comes in contact with the demon’s fiery skin. Quintin engages the demon and damages it. Tormund offers his aid to the demon and attacks Rod.

Murad’s pet attacks Tormund, gravely injuring him. Weakened, Tormund tries to cast a Darkness spell to escape. The demon, not impressed that Tormund is trying to run, cuts his head off.

After much trading of blows, the demon, severely wounded, decides to flee. It teleports away, uttering these final words: “Perhaps you are of more use alive".

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Session 54 - Feb. 3/14
Use the stairs, they're safer...

The Walrus and the other ships continue on their voyage to Wellsummer island, the home of the abbey. Early in the afternoon, Rod spars with Bertom of Cuford and instructs Yulando in fighting. Later, Quintin has a philosophical discussion with Bertom.

Over the course of the voyage, every day, in the afternoon, Arah comes above deck to catch some air. Murad tries to engage her to learn about her goddess and how her belief system compares to his.

After several days of sailing, they see the odd Ealduran ship, but there are still no signs of the enemy. The day after Maddy comments that they are making good time, a thunderstorm hits the ships. During a scouting run on the sixth day of the voyage, Murad spots land. He reports this to the party and Maddy. She asks if they want to arrive in the early morning, by dark, or later, after dawn. It is decided that the party will fly ahead to scout and the ships will arrive later at the village near the abbey. The ships will re-supply there, if possible.

The party, with Arah and Bertom, fly to the abbey, under Murad’s power. After about three hours, they reach the island. At the abbey’s dock, they see 5 boats, which is one more than when Murad first visited. They believe that the new boat may be a sign that Manuel has arrived. Murad sets the group down on the top of the abbey’s bell tower. Being in a state of disrepair, the roof of the tower is rather weak. With some careful maneuvering, the party makes it to the flight of stairs. They “magic up” and head down into the abbey.

On the next floor down, Rod thinks to cut the bell rope so that the bell is not yanked down on them. Like the roof, this floor is in poor shape. Murad makes it to the staircase on the opposite wall. As Quintin moves across the floor, his weight causes him to fall through to the next level, 40’ down, with the ceiling following after him. The floor nearly gone now, Bertom and Arah are unable to cross. Rod climbs back and secures a rope. The rest of them climb down safely to the floor below.

At this level, there are exits from the tower room. The group starts searching the rooms off the tower. This floor looks to have been ransacked. In a large common area, they find a scorch mark and bits of charred flesh. Quintin finds tracks that indicate bodies being dragged to the hole for the bell rope. They find a large bedroom with blood stains and splatter on the wall. There is a library that has been ravaged, with the books scattered about the room. Out on the terrace, they see an animated skeleton, standing still. The group times their actions – Quintin will open the door and Murad will zap it with a lightning blast. They are all too successful – the skeleton crumbles. Murad mentions that it was not there the last time he was on the terrace.

Rod mentions to Murad that they should warn Maddy in case the village has been converted into undead. Murad does a quick scout of the village just in case. Fortunately, the village looks just as it appeared the last time he visited it.

On the ground level, they find a dining hall, the main entrance, and a workroom containing maps. One is of the Hanum Islands, showing the movements of the Coorish fleet around the Cape of Sassim. Another is a crude map of the abbey. In the pantry, Murad finds some mice. He uses Wild Empathy and Speak with Animals to convince them to search the basement for people in exchange for better food. In the stables, they find some badly emaciated horses, trapped. Murad talks to them. They say that they have been tied up for more than two weeks and that someone gave them water a couple days ago.

In an out building, they find a disused winery with a hidden hatch going down. The party descends. They find a hidden door off the main passage. Beyond the door is a burial chamber, with a sarcophagus. Looking inside, they see that the body is gone. At this point, Murad tries to contact Manuel, but there is still no response.

In the next room, they find a pile of bodies. They see that one of them, near the bottom, is moving. Arah channels positive energy and the person speaks: “Please don’t hurt me!”

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