A Gathering of Tribes

A Warning of Pain to Come

Crystal Assembly

The scene in front of New Greeshan was chaotic, as the crowd gathered to see the punishment bestowed on the three Whitetail Tribesmen. The punishment was now obvious, but the number of lashes still in question. All three tribesmen stood, tied to the whipping poles with their bare backs exposed toward the one with the whip. Their faces were exposed to the crowd, so that the anguish could be shared with all once the whipping commenced.

As colonists and natives alike gathered to witness the mockery of justice to be handed down, watch commander Von Fredrikson began, “The three before you are guilty of interfering with the lawful gathering of lumber used in the construction of New Greeshan. The punishment is to be 20 lashes each”. As he spoke, he nodded to the whipsman, who lined up before the first of the accused. However, as his hand reared back for the first lash, one of the gathered tribesmen stepped forward and called for a halt to the punishment.

The commander, who was frustrated with his orders to begin with, halted the punishment to hear the words of Ghostwalker the Moonspeaker, a position of respect amongst the tribes. The young Ghostwalker spoke now as an elder would, speaking that the colonial punishment was unjustly hash for the crime, when it had been wagon wheels that were temporarily disabled.

Fredrikson did not want to openly ignore the respected tribesman, and saw the possibility of an uprising occurring with many colonists in harm’s way. This would not look good on his record, and his superior would probably have his ass regardless. He quickly changed direction in an attempt to satisfy all, and suggested that the tribesmen do two days hard labor to pay back the time lost to the lumber crew, which should be more than enough.

As the gathering broke up, both tribesmen and colonists returning home. Many colonists were unhappy as they had wished to see the expected harsh punishment. On the flipside may of the witnessing tribesmen were left with a feeling of sorrow, that the white-eyes would treat them this way over something that was not theirs to begin with. One of colonists that had witnessed the exchange took the time to express his approval over the outcome with the commander.

Hendrik van der Heijden, an ex-sergeant major in the Imperial army was pleased, as he had seen too many times the results of Imperial justice carried out when there were better possible outcomes had a little foresight been used.

After that, Hendrik saw the vocal tribesman, Ghostwalker, looking around the open air market of New Greeshan. Hendrik wanted to make sure that the tribesman, and his three strange associates stayed out of trouble in the strange environment.

As Hendrik watched the interactions between the colonists and these tribesmen take place, one of the strangest looking ones approached him. Speaking in a surprisingly civilized tone, Tronar, the Dragonborn sorcerer from the north addressed him. The conversation was pleasant enough, but it should be continue over ale thought Hendrik as he offered the Dragonborn the invite. After all anything is good with ale.

Shortly after, all four of the Sarian natives were joining Hendrik for ale in the Pot of Brew Pub. Not just Tronar and Ghostwalker came in, but so did Charnel the storyteller, and Nanzad the Kordian barbarian. There was a period of adjustment as tribesmen adjusted to the more civilized interior of the pub, and it adjusted to them. The hour or so that followed, saw many questions coming from those less accustomed to civilized ways, and many answers from Hendrik with his military point of view of life in the Empire.

After a short period of sightseeing around New Greeshan, the four tribesmen were off to spend the night in the camp of the Whitetails, and as Hendrik watched his new friends leave he saw something very disturbing. Off to one side of the courtyard he stood in, he noticed Loric the Timber Magnate giving orders to several members of his press gang. As Loric finished, eight of these armed men departed in the same direction as his four new friends. Thinking the vindictive Loric was about to start trouble, Hendrik headed off in the same direction.

Following the two groups of men and knowing the area a little better than the others, allowed Hendrik to move ahead of Loric’s men, and intercept the two groups about the time that Loric’s men overtook the others. However when Hendrik attempted to stop the hostilities before they erupted, he was rewarded with a mace upside the head. Though Loric’s men came on strong and confident, they were no match for the battle hardened barbarian, the ex-Imperial soldier, the war-singer, the thrower of Dragon magic, or the Moonspeaker. In the end, Loric’s men were down or surrendering, while the other were barely touched.

Hendrik had to convince the others to spare the lives of two of Loric’s men who had lived. The tribes saw the proper ending to a warrior’s life as on the battlefield with honor. When the souls of the warriors could make amends within the spirit world for their lack combat effectiveness. To die in battle was an honorable way to go, and the tribes saw that as the only outcome of a lost battle. Hendrik saw the need to send a message back to Loric, and let him know that to press the issue would result in more losses for him.

As the defeated pair returned to New Greeshan with their lives (minus some hair), Hendrik and Tronar remained at the battle site to keep the scavengers off the bodies of the dead giving time to the two to return with a wagon to pick up their fallen comrades. The other three continued on to the camp of the Whitetail. Hendrik and Tronar later watched from the shadows as the armed contingent of men retrieved the bodies of the fallen. Hendrik silently cursed the pair of men for getting the military involved in this.

At the Whitetail camp later that night, sitting around the chief’s fire much was discussed. Hendrik was clued in on the omens of a growing darkness in the East, where One Horn the new King Bull was amassing the warlike tribes for a campaign of destruction and domination. Hendrik then spoke of the Empires history and expanding nature. Chief Tandrik of the Whitetail was informed that his peaceful tribe should relocate, if he did not want to end up being destroyed. The other discussion was the need to ally the tribes, as it was seen that one lone tribe, such as the Whitetail, stand little chance of having a strong enough voice or enough muscle to stand up to the Empire, or the growing dark tide in the east.

The morning saw Hendrik returning to the colony to see what the fallout was, while the others checked in on the treatment of the Whitetail tribesmen on work detail with Loric’s Lumber crew. Hendrik found, in discussion with commander Fredrikson, that Loric’s men had stated that they were attacked by the Whitetail tribe. The military stance at this time was to let things die down, but if there were any further issues then they would come down hard on the Whitetail tribe.

The treatment of the three on the work detail was bad, but not worse than could be expected. Once the Moonspeaker was satisfied that the prisoners were being treated reasonably, they returned to the Whitetail camp where they made one final appeal to the Chief to move his camp, collaborated with Hendrik, and made plans to set out in the mornings for the lands of the Growtharn tribe, the homeland for both Charnel and Ghostwalker.

The next day all five set out together to gather the tribes in alliance, even Hendrik who could speak best on the powers and ways of the Empire.

What was the significance of three chattering squirrels again?

As the group moved around the Whitetail Village preparing to for an over ground trek to the heavily forested lands of the Growtharn, Chief Tandrik of the Whitetail asked Ghostwalker into his tent to smoke another pipe full, and to ask a favor of the group in return for an interesting boon.

He began by stating, “I have considered you words carefully over the last two nights, and have decided to heed your warnings. For the safety of our tribe, we will move away from the White-eye. I had planned to start the breakdown of camp today, and we will move north into the hills along the coast. My mind was set on this course yesterday afternoon, and I sent my Grandson and a few on the younger warriors to retrieve the headdress of our ancestors from Great Stag Valley. It is only a short distance from here and they should have returned by now. Can you brave warriors make sure my grandson is safe? The only item that I value besides his safety is the headdress. If you can secure that for our tribe, I will be in your debt. For doing this I will give the backing of the Whitetail tribe toward your goals for what it is worth.

In completion he handed Ghostwalker a rough map as to the location of Great Stag Valley, and added, “For the safe return of my grandson, you may keep what you find in the tomb besides the headdress. I would want it to end up in the hands of the tribes instead of the White-eye thieves.”

Ghostwalker spent a few moments and explained the Chief’s request to the rest of his new traveling companions. Though the group had been gearing for a trip to Growtharn lands the detour would be ok, as they were all somewhat glad to hear that the chief decided to heed the warnings of their counsel.

Before the group departed, Ghostwalker pointed to the skies and shook his head in discouragement saying, “Bad omen. Two hawks flying north”. The other members of the twelve tribes understood and only grunted in agreement. Hendrik and Tronar looked blankly at each other and shrugged. Tronar did sarcastically question Ghostwalker, “What was the significance of three chattering squirrels again?”

The trek was aided greatly by the map and only in one instance did Ghostwalker falter in reading the natural lay of the land, and led the group headlong into a bog, where the normally sure footed Nanzad and Charnel both ended up getting stuck. However, that delay did not derail the group too much, and in a two-and-a-half hour period were within sight on Great Stag Valley, which now lay across a small river from their position.

As Ghostwalker bent down to listen to the water spirits about this area, Hendrik yelled a warning as he saw the giant ants breaking from the underbrush on either side of the stream. Nanzad was the first to charge, dropping one of the worker ants on the side of the river, where the group had formed into a defensive position. However, the defensive gains were lost, when Tronar moved to the far side of the bridge, leaving himself open to the attacks of two warrior ants coming from the far side – a slight miscalculation.

Even with Tronar’s error in tactical judgment, the group managed to overcome this insect ambush with the help of Ghostwalker’s spirit wolf, Mist, and highlighted by a jumping bulrush from Nanzad. This maneuver knocked the last ant off the log and into the waiting rapids, carrying it downriver away from the group.

Once the group finished the combat, they all crossed the log and continued on into Great Stag Valley, where they found many of the Sarian ant hills. The group continued cautiously, avoided the roving groups as much as possible, and smashed the solitary ones quickly as they went deeper and deeper into the valley.

As the group approached the Valley’s end they saw one of the “would be” Whitetail warriors, in a tree, and obviously hurt. From where they were, they could also see that the tomb door was open enough for maybe someone to squeeze through. There were also about 15 ants roaming around, which would have to be dealt with first. Additionally there were three of the ant hills, from which additional ants could be seen coming and going from.

This battle seemed to flow much better with tactics that were acceptable to both Hendrik and the raging barbarian, Nanzad. The group highlights had Ghostwalker making a spiritual attack that handled a majority of the opponents, and where Nanzad charge the slow soldier ant at the command of Hendrik and, and where the rest of the group managed to hold their own. The only real threat came when a pair of ants took Ghostwalker down just long enough for the rest of the group to come to his aid, and have one ant continue to run back and forth across him.

After the battle, the group collapsed the ant hills, healed the warrior in the tree, and rescued the Chief’s grandson from the tomb, where he was found defending himself. The group gathered up the two survivors, the headdress, and three other items of interest from the Great Stag tomb (an enchanted antler dagger/spear, a Whitetail Totem, and a suit of enchanted war armor), and then quickly departed the ant infested valley with haste.

Why doesn’t the Dragonborn have to go through this?

Getting back to the Whitetail village, the group delivered the ceremonial headdress to the chief, and returned the two wounded warriors to the care of their people. They found the camp in the progress of being dismantled, and were glad to see the three warriors had also returned from the logger’s punishment. However, they also realized that these three had also been whipped, so all diplomacy aside, the warriors had not only served the original punishment, but also had to complete the hard labor negotiated by the Moonspeaker (after all, no good way to assure good treatment, and no oversight of the treatment during the period of captivity).

Both Charnel and Ghostwalker did what they could to heal the wounds left from the over punishment, and Nanzad spent time removing any symbols of cowardice (Whitetail) from the armor he had found. Hendrik and Tronar looked to get a bath and a good meal in New Greeshan before heading out in the morning.

In a final meeting with Chief Tandrik, Ghostwalker learned the location where the last Whitetail warriors last ran from any bears {At which point Ghostwalker should have considered that maybe the entire Whitetail tribe would benefit from some of the rituals, that he now felt necessary for Hendrik}. The path followed the next day would be toward the western ford across the great river toward Growtharn lands. This path, though a little longer, would allow the group the materials needed for these rituals.

The omen the next day made little sense to Ghostwalker, and the other members of the twelve tribes, and would mean nothing to either Tronar or Hendrik when they caught up to them in New Greeshan. For most of the way there the three tribal members troubled over what a bear carrying a snake may mean.

Arriving at New Greeshan, Nanzad inquired to the first person he saw as to the location of his friend Hendrik, by asking the gate guard, “42 shield”. This statement retrieved a few return questions from the puzzled guards, and finally they directed the three tribal members to the correct area of town in which to find Hendrik.

After raiding a few backyards of chickweed, Ghostwalker brewed up a proper breakfast tea as, Hendrik spent time preparing to turn over the keys to his place to watch Commander Von Fredrikson to watch for the next few weeks. When they left they swung by the Inn to pick up Tronar, and then the market to pick up the travel supplies needed. They also picked up a mule to carry the goods, naming the older beast “Calling Hawk”.

Setting out the around noon the group made their way almost due north into the forested hills. Several hours later as they traveled they ran upon a pair of trappers and their wolves. The group agreed to travel with them when it was learned that they too sought the pair of bears that the Whitetail spoke of. This idea was against the opinion of Hendrik, but he did not have proof that these trappers where up to no good, other than the fact that the Human trapper, Gareth, seemed to remind you of a weasel, and he put trust into and traveled with the Gnoll tracker, Gaash. Gareth did seem to very forthcoming about information of the area, and had Gaash and a pair of the wolves track ahead as they went.

When Gaash return with news that they had located one of the bears in a berry thicket, things were looking very positive. Gareth, Gaash, and the trained wolves fanned out with the game plan to send the bear toward the party in the center of the ticket along the game trail. The trapper party seemed to be surrounding them, and driving to prey toward them, when a poison arrow bit into Hendrik, and the ambush was sprung (damn, Hendrik was right – imagine that).

The double-cross was on, and the group found another nasty surprise when Nanzad charged the first wolf, and found the clamping jaws of a waiting bear trap. The other traps were pointed out by Charnel, who gave up an action just to point them out. Charnel, Hendrik, and Tronar all took a beating in the combat as the poison arrows fired ate away at them, and the wolves nipped away at their defenses. The turning point came when Nanzad finally dropped the Gnoll, and came charging back across the field to challenge Gareth and to give him a new target. Tronar’s electric attacks helped to thin out the wolves, while Nanzad and Ghostwalker chased down and ended the now fleeing Gareth.

The group spent the evening held up, recovering from the ambush and also spending time skinning the wolves. They also learned how to operate the bear traps, which they figured may come into play in the upcoming hunt, which Hendrik still question the need. The next morning with the directions the whitetail had given and some tracking, the group easily located the lair of the bears.

As the group moved into set the traps they had, Hendrik insisted that they watch not only the cave closely, but also the woods around them. As a roar was issued from the cave, Hendrik advice was also rewarded as another bear was seen charging from the woods behind the group. The tactical idea the group had to tie up one bear with the traps, panned out as Ghostwalker’s spirit wolf, “Mist” continued to lure the one in the traps into other traps. This lasted long enough for the group to collectively bring down the one charging through the woods.

The headlines of the battle had Tronar sniping away from thirty feet up a pine tree, Nanzad doing a tag team with himself while enraged, and under the instruction of Hendrik’s commander strike. Charnel and Ghostwalker also added in healing and distractions, reducing the bear’s ability to defend itself, as they struck away with their spears.

As one of the great beasts fell, the same tactics were deployed on the still trapped bear. Its life was taken even quicker, and Hendrik was asked to perform the killing blow to initiate the rituals, which were the goal of this side trek.

The only combat tactic that was identified as a training necessity of both Charnel and Hendrik, was the need to practice a bunch with the javelin, as both nearly hit Tronar in the pine tree with errant throws.

After both great beasts were taken down, and all needed healing was performed the rituals proper began. Hendrik was asked to strip down, and lose his white-eye vestments. Ghostwalker explained that the rituals where meant to introduce the spirits of the land to Hendrik, and better tune the warrior nature with these spirits. The first was the Ritual of the Child, which all tribe children go through, and was called for as Hendrik was seen through the eyes of this land as still a child. The Ritual of the Pack was next, where the protective spirits of the group became more accustomed to Hendrik. This would help Hendrik relate better to everyone else in the group, and in true Elven fashion charnel disrobed for this as well, and did much dancing. The Ritual of the bear totem was the last and was meant to increase the warrior’s ability in Hendrik. All in all, there was much chanting, dancing, a lot of smearing of bear blood and bear dung along with mud, and some colorful painting applied (and no insertions at all).

The group left ‘two bear cave’ several days later with several bear hides, a bunch of meat, and some new guardian spirits for Hendrik (Well at least the first two). The tribal members now understood the meaning of the bear carrying a snake omen, where the bear stood for the object of the hunt, and the snake was double-crossing trappers. The remainder of the journey into Growtharn lands was uneventful, and within a week they would be ready to attempt to convince the Growtharn chief of this idea of unification.

Is this the Chief’s normal blend?

The session started off with the group entering into Growtharn lands, and as they continued deeper into the Blackmoon, they knew eyes were upon them. Ghostwalker knew this was normal, and even had expected it. Its absence would have troubled him. As the group ran into the first of tribal forest patrols, they started to learn some of the changes that had taken place in Charnel and Ghostwalker’s absence.

It seemed like Ghostwalker’s mentor, Moonseer, had disappeared from the village, and a new shaman had taken his place as Chief Wolf Paw’s advisor. Additionally it seemed like the counsel being given was much more anti white-eye, then Moonseer would have given. Many of the warriors that ran into the group were somewhat surprised that Ghostwalker now traveled with one.

As the group entered the village they got many more strange looks, and though the chief met briefly with them it did not seem to help. They found him to appear not as sharp as he was in the past, and his eyes were somewhat glazed over (not a good sign at all). After the brief meeting, Ghostwalker set the outlanders up with a place to sleep in his father’s hut.

Noticing the need for some investigation around the village the group split up. Charnel and Ghostwalker went around seeking information as insiders. However they soon found that the villagers were apprehensive to speak openly of Tronaash, or his guidance of the tribe or the chief. They did learn that Moonseer had “left town” several days after Tronaash arrived from the western reaches of the Blackmoon Forest, where the ties with the Orcs and Kordians were strong, and where One Horn’s influence could be felt.

They also found that more of the town had been stirred up about the white-eyes appearance in these lands. They found that besides Moonseer other villagers were now missing, and others were making little since, like one old villager stated as he pulled Charnel and Ghostwalker aside. “It’s the Harvest,” he muttered. “Sowing the new crop is what they doing this night, with three moons in the sky and darkness below. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll be out of here before it comes for you, too. Tronaash has taught us well”

After investigating Moonseer’s hut and finding the covered up signs of disturbance, Ghostwalker and Charnel were summoned back to the Chief’s tent with Tronaash to hear more of the details about the white-eyes. The rest of the group sneaked into and spent time investigating Tronaash’s hut as well looking for the evidence that they needed. They did find that he carried a large amount of valuables and had a ritual book from One Horn’s lands, but no smoking gun. Additionally in his pipe weed stash they found some bogweed, which was an herb that negated certain effects.

Ghostwalker’s and Charnel’s meeting found the Chief being more aggressive against the white-eyes than usual, and seeking information about them from their travels in the east. Ghostwalker wondered if the chief was smoking his normal blend, and found the taste to be a little off. Tronaash brought good tidings from the west, and spoke well of One Horn, who he said was gathering the good tribes, and he spoke of having an ever watchful eye on the whites.

After the meeting the group got back together and shared information, and figured if the bogweed was used to counteract the special blend of pipe-weed then Tronaash could smoke along with the chief, while corrupting him. When this idea was then brought before the chief, and the bogweed was used on him, his head cleared. It was also discovered that as the chief’s head cleared so did Tronaash, as he fled the village. A few of the villagers saw him doing this, and the chief asked the group to bring him back dead or alive.

The clues gathered by the group led eventually to a weathered path. The foliage around was dense and tough, bloodvines winding around and between the darkwood trees, but the path they were on was cleared and well worn. As they approached a sloping hill, they saw a clearing open up around the mouth of a cave.

Two cultists stood watch by the mouth of the cave along with a pair of heavyset orcs, their axes at the ready. Once engaged the group split up to battle the opposition. Nanzad and Hendrik squared off against one of the cultists and one orc, while Charnel, Ghostwalker, and Mist took on the other pair. This left Tronar alone to throw his electricity around the field, and he did so to great effect, taking down both cultists, and badly hurting one of the orcs.

The cavern past the opening angled down and was dry and musty; the floor was worn smooth by generations of passing footsteps. The group’s footsteps were faint echoes as they descended deeper and deeper. Suddenly, an eerie crimson glow emanated from the passage ahead.

The walls of the cavern were covered with lines of red light — scrawls and scribbles painted in what looks like glowing blood. The symbols resembled some sort of writing, but although this was no language the group knew, the text was infuriatingly familiar. Suddenly they realize that the symbols were moving—crawling slowly across the walls and floor. Whether they stared or averted their eyes, they are overcome with the feeling that they might be able to force the wall to reveal its secrets, if only they put their mind to it. The group as a whole however decided to not look at the writing, and proceeded through without paying much attention to it. Hendrik did have to pull Tronar through, and keep him from trying to write down any of it in his book. What little Tronar did see was enough to make his head hurt (but maybe that was the slappin that he took from Hendrik and Nanzad). It was at this point, Charnel heard chanting from further ahead.

Past the hall of living words, the cavern took a sharp turn. A doorway to one side opened up to some sort of alcove. Around the corner, the floor ahead was covered with pulsing lines of crimson light—a pattern more prominent and sinister than the strange designs that covered the walls behind them. The design was in the general shape of a bull with a missing horn, and was comprised by a swirling mass of burning crimson lines that covered the floor. The pattern slithered and shifted like a nest of vipers, and as they looked at it, they heard strange whispers in the back of their minds.

Before anyone had any additional ideas, and before Nanzad made a flying leap, Ghostwalker summoned Mist within the area occupied by the symbol. As quickly as it happened, Mist blinked out of existence, and Ghostwalker turned on the rest of the party, dominated by the strange bullish force. As he turned and attacked Charnel, the rest of his comrades took him down quickly (this pretty much did away with the group allowing Nanzad to make the leap). After making sure Ghostwalker was ok, the group set about using their Arcane knowledge in conjunction with thievery skills to break the power of the symbol, and after being successful in this the group was able move beyond into the blocked alcove to and free the Grotharn spirits which were blocked by the Symbol of One Horn before they continued on toward the Chanting, which was even louder now.

After a short distance the tunnel opened into a wide cavern chamber whose walls have been painted with pictures of eyes and savage acts of sacrifice. However, far more horrific than these images was the massive living eye embedded in the wall directly across from you—a great golden orb set with twin pupils and a cold, alien gaze. The cavern floor beneath this monstrous apparition is a mottled patch of rough stone. Beneath the living idol, a foul creature leads a group of human and orc villagers in a dark rite. Long tentacles rise from the shoulders of this gaunt figure, and its eyes are hollow sockets filled with writhing cilia. Glowing red sigils flow across its gray skin—a match to the markings on the walls of the hall of living words. Where the kneeling villagers’ clothes have been stripped off, all bear extra inhuman eyes embedded in their flesh. As the cultists moan and chant, each waves a curved, glittering blade chipped from volcanic glass. However, you see no sign of Moonseer or of any other exit from the cavern.

At which point the group charged into the room gaining surprise on the cult enclave. Nanzad and Ghostwalker made the biggest effect taking down numerous cultists before they even got a chance to act or defend themselves. Then Nanzad charged the eye and with basically one mighty blow he destroyed the abomination. After this the battle was pretty much determined and the gate to the lower reaches was revealed.

Don't give me any tongue

After the large eye was closed permanently by Nanzad, the stone floor seemed to spread open revealing a gate to the spirit world. After a good rest the group was ready to push on. As they descended into the strange subterranean environment, the ever alert ears of Ghostwalker picked up the sound of movement it the caverns ahead. However, it also seemed that the commotion of the group’s descent also alerted those ahead, as the sounds stilled quickly with hushed silence.

Rounding a couple turns in the cavern brought the group into view of the widened area ahead, where the glow of subterranean fungus illuminated the area in a soft radiance, and a consistent drip from above filled a small pool with strange purple liquid. In front of the pool and around the cavern stood waiting malformed figures readying crossbows and clubs with their four arms. Nanzad charged immediately taking the fight right to them.

After the charge Nanzad was revolted by the fact that these guards had actually been Orcs at one time, but now they were just abominations of nature. His charge though brave, was painful as he was targeted by three of the five. Hendrik’s charge pushed one of these creatures back into the pool (where his mark kept it), and Mist and Charnel tied up another two. This left Tronar alone to harass all with his favored electrical attacks.

As Nanzad battled two of his misguided relatives, one of them shocked and further angered him by attacking him with its tongue. It shot out of the things mouth and snapped at him with a poisonous fever. This focus Nanzad attacks toward the tonguer, and it went down under his vicious attacks. As it died the tongue crawled out of its mouth to lie still on the cavern floor.

It was the beginning of the end, the group rallied under Hendrik and Nanzad’s charges to systematically take each one down, with Nanzad tearing the tongue from each to satisfy his own rage.

When all foes were down it was discovered that tongue was a alien item that could used by the party, but the whole idea of have a parasite within your mouth made the group agree to destroy the “evil” thing.

The group pushed on only to find that the caverns ahead were darker than most, and seemed to swallow the light that was brought into them. Additionally the floors and walls seemed to change as well, becoming softer as they went (Almost as if they were living tissue).

When the darkness finally lifted after moving forward through the living caverns, the group again saw ahead of them more or the multi-armed abominated Orc warriors, and another of the tentacle shamans. However before the de-tonguing charge by the group, they notice something strange about this rippling floor. To their horror, they notice that the floor had living mouths that opened and closed, searching for the proximity of an ankle snack.

Altering into a careful advance Hendrik and Nanzad moved into position to prevent the deadly crossbows from dealing more of the pain then was necessary, and again Mist was summoned to do the same. Charnel charged the shaman, with help from Ghostwalker. This left Tronar hiding in shadows of his own creation, while dodging attacks of one of the warriors, and aiding everywhere with his lightning. The hungry mouths finally found snacks on one Orc ankle and the side of one of Hendrik’s feet, as the combatants tactically forced movement onto these waiting chompers. When it looked hopeless for his side the orc shaman tried to flee, but was sucecessful only in alerting the forces in the next chamber when a charge by Ghostwalker brought him down.

Even though they were wounded and tired, the group pushed on with hope of rescuing Moonseer. Tronaash awaited them in the next room with a large and growing gathering of cultists. The tactic of the group was to use the entry way in to the room as a choke point, so that the outnumbered party could not be surrounded. The tactic worked up until the warrior in dragon skin sorcerer teleported behind the lines, where he could cause a little chaos. Though it was not a move the tactical commander Hendrik blessed, it did seem to work (maybe Dragonborns have multiple lives like cats?)

As expected Tronaash was the last to go down, and when he did, another of the strange parasite like items crawled away from his body – a Coat of Eyes. As the group healed themselves, searched the room further, and investigated the item more it was determined that maybe the item benefits outweighed the strangeness. They took precautions, and gave it to Charnel (thinking, if it was part of him, maybe it would be more difficult for him to do his naked elf dances).

Within the adjoining chamber they found numerous villagers including Moonseer and his family, contained in strange crystal cells, and being converted into the very cultists which they had battled by some strange spirit powered tech. The group quickly freed the villagers and destroyed the strange machine before they began their return to the Growtharn village.

Where were you for the ladder of bodies?

When the group returned to the Growtharn village, and the rescued villagers were again safely amongst their people, there was much rejoicing. As part of the celebratory festivities the remaining family remembers of one of the villagers, who was slain by the Cult of Belashyrra, gave a family heirloom to Hendrik as thanks. There was a general consensus amongst the village, that the weapon was to go to him after misjudging him and all white-eyes based solely on the words of the Tronaash.

Over the next several days the party rested and recovered in the village, making preparations to leave for Kordian lands. They traded away the items that they had taken from fallen foes, and any valuables they had recovered from the cult shrine. They recovered their bear cloaks, which they had had been cured and tailored for them. On the last night in the village they finally spent some time talking with a clear headed Chief Wolf Paw.

The group spoke much about empyreal expansion of the white-eye, and the pending invasion of One Horns growing hoard, explaining to Wolf Paw that only an alliance of the tribes could hope to alter the path of either threat. The chief agreed with the assessment, and the pipe was passed around one more time (non-laced stuff this time). And so the Tribal Alliance was formed. Chief Wolf Paw, speaking for the second member of this alliance, as Chief Tandrik of the Whitetail had officially been the first charter member (yes even armies need cooks). Hendrik used some of his new popularity to gain the employ of Yentu, a young quick runner, to get an iltelligence report to Watch Commander Von Fredrikson one of the few in the Empyreal military that he trusted. Additionally, Tronar sought out the help of Ghostwalker and Moonseer to see if they could help him do the same and contact his people through a sending ritual.

Hearing that the patrols to the west had been encountering less than the normal run-ins with orc tribes, was somewhat concerning and they were eager to learn why. As they left, they traveled west through the forested hills toward Nanzad’s homeland, all wearing their new bear cloaks with the exception of Charnel, who had stored his. As the group traveled they noticed that Charnel seemed more interested than normal with the surroundings, and seemed to take more sightseeing stops (strange half-elf, always stopping to smell the roses).

The intelligence was correct in saying that there were fewer encounters with the orcs who frequented this area, as the group ran into to nothing until the third day out when they came upon an abandoned village. At least at first glance it appeared that way, but as they moved through they found that the Brutal Fang Tribe had vacated the village leaving just the old, who could not make the hazardous journey west to the Gathering of One Horn. Nanzad offered the old the honor of dying a warrior’s death after they told of this migration. Charnel and Ghostwalker on the other hand asked if there were any that could make the two day journey to the Growtharn village, where they would be taken in and cared for.

As six older orc villagers gathered there belongings for the journey, four met Nanzad in a circle of honor, where he quickly put down two before they had a chance to swing. The other two lasted just a little longer, giving far less than they received. Nanzad did suffer a weak blow to his shoulder that left a bruise, as one old guy hobbled in and whacked him with his cane (Hendrik just walked away from the scene in disgust, and Tronar wrote in his book that he did not want to grow old around Nanzad or his people).

After the “honorable” deaths of the old orcs, the group continued west for another day. They were now well within the lands of the Kordians, and as with the other days of this journey, they found no indication of eyes upon them while moving through the forested hills. This was not the Kordian lands that Nanzad remembered. By noon the second day out of the abandoned Brutal Fang Village, the group arrived in Nanzad’s former home village. He realized right away that there were far less people then there had been, and there were a couple of orc warriors watching over the camp, whose totems Nanzad did not recognize. Charnel was able to lend assistance and tell that they were members of the Skull Cleavers a hostile western tribe.

One of the village elders, Shubat, came out to intercept Nanzad, and to inform him of the past happenings. The group learned that the Kordian warriors led by Warchief Mishig and Warmistress Ajurin had answered One Horn’s call, and taken the warriors west, leaving just Shubat and Ider, and a handful of warriors, women, children, and old, to finish the camp dismantling. They also learned that those remaining in the camp were under the charge of Warchief Chargen Crimson Tusk of the Skull Cleavers, who now was held up in the mountain Hold of Relfang. These orcs had travelled here with the warchanter, who had successfully “_convinced_” the Kordian warchief.

With a building momentum of anger Nanzad moved toward one of the two Skull Cleaver wardens, and before it had a chance to react, threw a head butt that sent to the surprised guard to the ground with a broken nose. At that point everyone acted and the fight was on. Nanzad struck again quickly trying to take the downed one out, the anger that was released with the bone-crunching blow was amazing, as only the yell that pursued was louder, “I am the KORDSON”.

Hendrik and Mist closed on the other warden, as Tronar and Charnel hurled lightning and insults from a distance. All in all, two against five did not last all that long and it was over pretty fast. The warden which Nanzad originally put on the ground to open combat, somehow survived to regain his feet long enough to get knock back down and out by Nanzad with another head butt, as the group wanted one of these alive,

After the fight Tronar found out by interrogation the layout and the forces that were facing them at Relfang Hold with Crimson Tusk. Additionally it was determined that Tronar was a truly impressive interrogator, and the mountain lizards had some very effective methods, as Hemgesh, the warden was broken to the point of pledging oaths to the great KORDSON by the time it was all over.

The trip up the mountain to the hold took less than a half hour as Nanzad led the way along a seldom used path. When they arrived they found the doors to the hold had been busted in, but no outer guards had been posted, just as Hemgesh had said. The doors opened into a small empty chamber where a circular stairway of rough stone wound upward. The stairwell ended in another empty ante-chamber, which were sealed off from the rest of the hold by a set of double doors. Hemgesh had said that beyond these doors the group would face the first opposition. He was right.

Two bodies of two glowing beetles provided light in the room, highlighting several cages and two orc guards. The rear of the room was in shadow. However, the group saw a flickering light through the arrow slits of an alcove overlooking its position. The group charged in to take down the dangerous beetles before they could do much damage with their fire breath, and to that end they were very successful. Each of the fire breathers was only able to bring that ability to action once, and then only Hendrik and Charnel were slightly singed by it.

The orcs in the room were only slightly more trouble, and fell prey easily to the now well established tactics employed by Hendrik and Nanzad. Hendrik not being an opponent you can easily turn away from to strike at a luring Nanzad, offered up a nice penalty to one of the guards who did. Hemgesh was correct again in his summation that the guards in this room would find no help arriving from the rest of the Hold. The group also believed they heard laughter as the yelling guards from this room died under the rush from the group.

Within one of the cages the group found the corpse of a male half-elf in the dress and carrying the spirit totems of a Growtharn tribesman. Neither Charnel nor Ghostwalker recognized the tribesman, but they would see to it the effects found their way back to the family of this fellow Growtharian.

As the group pushed on they found a large room, which looked to be a dining area. A cauldron in the middle of the room bubbled atop a blazing fire, and a banquet table to the right was covered in leftover food and ale. Many orcs stood around the room, snarling and ready for battle. A door in the wall across the way stood slightly ajar. When the door opened a couple of the orcs charged right away and were cut down quickly by both Nanzad and Hendrik, but the majority of them just fanned out inviting the group into the room.

When Tronar, the warrior that he is, charged in to get into a better position to use his electrifying powers from, he found out why a majority of the orcs waited when a trapdoor dropped him into a ten foot deep pit. Then he was slightly alarmed a few seconds later when one of the berserkers jump down there to get him a little mountain lizard (tastes like chicken to orcs).

Shortly after that one of the leaders showed himself, as he emerged from the doors which were slightly ajar. Cursing the stupidity of the two that broken ranks and the third one that was in the pit, The Eye of Gruumsh tipped the cauldron, dumping the boiling hot contents on the two in the pit. This act not only burned the two in the pit, but signaled to all others to charge.

Hendrik cut his way out to one side and was met by three others as he worked his way toward the Eye. Nanzad and Ghostwalker were held in check for a while by three on their side as well. Charnel held in the back taking aim and hurling insults at the orcs. In the pit, Tronar had managed to take down the berserker, and was taking aim and dropping other corpses in the pit as well. He also had to dodge the occasional body also as it fell by gravity, but that was to his pleasing anyway, because he was using the bodies to build a ladder to get out of the pit.

As the end of his forces fell, even the Eye of Gruumsh was no match for group, but he did harass Hendrik quite a bit with his Eye of Wrath attack on his way out.

With the dining hall eliminated, that left the barracks as the last place to encounter the Chief, and so it was with no surprise when the group crashed through the double doors they found him. They also found that this room looked like the sleeping quarters for all the orcs. A crackling fireplace spread light throughout the room. A large wolf, with bony spines protruding from its back, growled deeply, baring its fangs. Orcs in leather armor stood across the room with greataxes, ready to attack. Warchief Chargen in his fine chainmail stood near the wolf. He twirled his greataxe and snarled in tribespeak, “Smash them!”

Hendrik’s tactics in this battle called for the group to take out the orc guards and the wolf before much was done to the Chief. The group followed this doctrine pretty well and it was highlighted by Ghostwalker using the spirits to throw one of the guards and the wolf into the fire. This did not kill the two but it did bring into the combat a close second for a title, “The wolf, the wolf, the wolf is on fire…_let the mother fucker burn_.”

Once his allies were down, it was just a matter of time for the chief as well. He was not fooled by the Nanzad/Hendrik lure, but did give in once to reward Nanzad with an unanswered wound. Charnel keep up the distraction to weaken defenses as much as he could, while Tronar and Ghostwalker aided as they could as well. In the end it was fittingly Nanzad’s brutal axe that brought him down.

We are the Kordians my friends, and we’ll keep fighting till the end…

The return to the largely deserted Kordian camp was quick. Nanzad the “Kordson” led the quick paced march dragging the Skull Clever battle standard behind him, and carrying Crimson Tusk’s severed head by its hair. He announced his entrance back in to the camp, as he always does, heaving the head and standard before the elders to emphasize his point, “I AM THE KORDSON”.

Chief Kordson now set to giving marching orders to the Shubat, Ider, and the others elders who now made up the true Kordian’s. “Wait what is that?” asked Kordson, as he pointed to a tied up and bleeding Hemgesh. Shubat stepped forward and said that some of the warriors got carried away, and over welcomed him to the tribe. The Kordson, smiling, said, “Ahhhh the Glump-Gishh initiation. I am sure we no longer need to welcome Hemgesh to the tribe. He is now a true member let no one dispute this from this point forward”. As he spoke he looked down at Hemgesh, who said, “They made me feel at home great one.” The Kordson smiled wider, and said “Then rise, KORDIAN!”, as healing magic flowed through his outreached hand.

After that they continue with the direction the Kordian tribe was headed. Shubat was informed that Kordson would continue to travel with the gatherers of the tribes, and that Shubat himself was to lead the Kordians into Growtharn land to defensively merge (not invade he repeated more than once).

With three tribes now in league within the union, the group was heading to the lands of the Scared Earth tribe. If they could succeed in achieving diplomacy with the Goliaths, then the backbone of the union would be strengthened tenfold.

Within several days of combined work the camp was fully dismantled and the Kordians were on their way toward the Growtharn lands, and the group was headed toward the western ford or the great river which separated the Kordian lands from the Scared Earth tribes. For several days they traveled north, sending all straggler orcs toward the Growtharn lands to meet up with the Kordians and partake in the Glump-Gishh (At least they were not being challenged in the circle of death anymore thought the rest of the group).

By noon the third day, they came to the western ford and thought that this would make a fine ambush point, finding it necessary to scan the surroundings well before approaching. To their reward, they did notice movement around the bush on the near side of the river, and saw some large dimwitted Ogres attempting stealth. Calling ahead and announcing approach, the group thought to give the unlikely future allies the option to not attack and live, but were ready non-the-less.

The battle was fairly short lived, and the only standout was Charnel who took quite a beating but paid the big oafs back all the same. Before long the Kordson was loading mangy hide armor and greatclubs upon the mule, Calling Hawk. Calling Hawk was groaning under the weight, but Hendrik was quick to toss the crap off the other side of the poor mule, leaving only a few fleas and termites upon Calling Hawk for the trouble. The Kordson dropped and obviously losing battle.

After the river crossing, they entered into Scarred Earth lands and found them marked right away with the rotting corpses of gnolls hanging from trees. Hendrik commented the signs would be less smelly, and no one could disagree with the logic. Obviously One Horns call fell on deaf ears in these lands. Before long a challenge was bellowed out, and a lone figure with a huge axe approached, barring their way.

“Turn and leave the lands of the Scared Earth People. Outlanders are not welcome.” This was the greeting, or lack of one that initiated the encounter. However, Ghostwalker and Charnel stepped forward to make the first gestures of friendship, and were somewhat successful, up until Charnel made an unknowing slight as to the warriors power. The Kordson found it necessary to jump in and challenge Gallamoth to a wrestling match, and soon found himself lying on his back with Gallamoth’s foot securely on his chest. However, just as quickly, the Goliath reached down and hoisted Nanzad to his feet as one hand grabbed the chest plate of his armor and stood him upright, turning to look at the others as if to say, “Next?”

Hendrik took it upon himself to overcome the obstacle that stood in their way; after all he had some wrestling training in the academy during his early years. Through he was up against a very tough opponent that took everything he had, he was able to basically win the next two sets, winning Gallamoth’s respect. After this he was much more receptive to the group request for an audience with Mt. Cragmuth his Chief.

After an introduction and the pledge by Gallamoth, the audience with the chief went as well than it could have. The group did learn that part of the reason for the mistrust of outlanders rose out of an incident not long before. Three days ago a pair of Tiefling treasure hunters came through with a guide and a Goliath escort, claiming to want rights to search for minerals in the desert lands beyond. The chief had denied them access to this area, as the area is ancestral lands where many tombs are buried. However when the three travelers left camp, they stole a stone tablet, and a matching set of headbands. All indication is that they headed into the dry lands anyway.

At this point the group offered their assistance to recover the stolen items and take care of the tomb thieves. After hearing the group’s reasoning for their journey into his land, he pledged his backing toward their cause, and would increase his aid, if the group was successful in returning what the Tieflings had taken. He also allowed the group to speak with the Goliath tribesman who had brought these two to the camp. Johnath was currently chained to the wall in the chief’s throne room, and would be on tribal punishment until they returned.

The information gathered was far more discouraging, as Johnath recalled through the clearing enchanted haze that the two Tieflings worked for a someone named Memnon and were members of the either the intelligence organization, or free lancers working out of the other colonizing city of Almraiven. They were definitely searching for the relic named the Eye of Timor. This relic’s use and resurgence into the light of day could only be a bad news no matter who the owner was. The more they learned, the more that Hendrik sensed the real need to stop these two.

After a good night’s rest, in the secure village of the Scared Earth people, the group set out in the morning for the dry lands, following a map given to them by Shalamon, the Shaman, to the Tomb of the Crawling One. At least this tomb, though still three days away, was close to the fringes of the hills. The group could skirt the desert for some time before setting off across the barren sands, but could also save a little time by risking the harsh travel. The chase was on….

The sun beat down upon the land like a hammer striking an anvil. Normally, only a fool would walk these Wastes during the day, but desperate times called for perhaps foolish measures. You had tracked a pair of villainous Tiefling treasure hunters named Haarak and Tyran to this heat blasted region. If your informants were right, they were about to recover a powerful magical artifact called the Eye of Timor for the evil ends.

Beneath the sands of the Wastes lie a number of tombs, many of them sealed from the surface world when their ancient builders collapsed their entrances. However, a network of portals originating from the tombs that still have access to the surface allow explorers to reach even tombs buried beneath hundreds of feet of sand.

I the Shalamon was right the portals are by no means reliable. Some of the portals function only at certain times of the year or on specific dates. In other cases, explorers must pass through a specific series of portals to gain access to their final destination.

Uncovering the proper sequence of portals, or the date and time of a portal’s activation, can lead to tombs that have remained untouched for centuries. According to Shalamon, Harrak and Tyran have stolen just such a lost sequence. Luckily, you have learned their path and must follow them to prevent the Eye of Timor from falling into Memnon’s hands.

Thus, the group found themselves standing just outside the entrance to the Tomb of the Crawling One, the crypt of a long dead priest of Scared Earth ancestors. While you know that strange creatures lurk within the crypt before you, if you fail thousands of innocents shall fall into slavery at the hands of evil.

At this Hendrik was kicking himself for not making sure someone had a decent ability to find and disable the devious traps that were always found in places like this. Additionally when it was Hendrik who saw what must have been Kon-Tarath amble out of vision, as flames from more of the fire beetles blocked his and Tronar’s path, he would grudgingly agree that it was a good idea for Charnel and Kordson to assault the tomb from another direction (hence splitting the group – never a good idea). Then when the large scorpions and the stirges attacked the rear assault group, and Kor-Tarath again made his appearance to throw his insect summoning magic, Hendrik recanted his earlier tactical advice.

Kordson fought on through the insects, not even realizing one stirge was stuck to his back. Charnel made a fighting withdrawal, so not to leave the rear of the group open, and to not get hung out all by himself either. Ghostwalker jumped into aid a blinded Hendrik, and his spirit wolf, Mist, became a stirge remover. This is about where Hendrik’s patience ended, as he bust forward out of the stinging mess he was in and hit the undead bug priest with such a blow that sent him back to the grave. From that point on the, crawling one tomb was just a wrap-up operation.

After the fight Charnel, Tronar, and Ghostwalker combined to study the portal and determined that it had been tampered with, but although it would not drop them exactly where they needed in would not place them under tons of sand either, or so they guessed. They had little choice; they pushed on through the portal, hoping they were right. They were, but the desert heat was harsh, and the four hour hike took its toll on Charnel and the Tronar the worst (sunburns do suck).

The second of the Tombs was heavier trapped and protected by more of the desert native insects. The deadly jumping spiders harassed them while they were trying to deactivate the acid shooting snake column, and the alluring lights, which lead to a quicksand pit. Additionally the group saw to free a cocooned victim of the spiders. It was Tronar who came through by hitting the column with back to back lightning blasts, ending the acid shooting. The group steadily worked together to defeat the three spiders, who failed to really come through with any of their threatening attacks in any serious way.

The night ended with the group resting and finding that the cocooned victim was the enchanted guide that the Tieflings brought with them only to double cross….

I don’t know, maybe they have an extra ribcage or something
So told by Nanzad the Kordson

It was high noon in the desert and only a fool would travel at such a time. The party found themselves underground so it wasn’t a real problem. Having defeated the insidious leaping, (not hitting, but leaping nonetheless) spiders and their best buddy the acid-spitting column the party turned their attention to unwrapping the cocooned survivor. A few careful dagger slashes revealed him to be a human rogue named (at least for now) “Fader” Flynn. The Fader spun a tale of betrayal by Haarak and Tyran the Tiefling spies, who not only left him to become spider chow, but stiffed him on the balance of his promised fee. The party was so mesmerized by the sagas unfolding that nobody seemed to notice when a jealous Charnel snuck away to investigate a suspicious-looking wall panel only to disappear abruptly in the best Scooby-Doo tradition.

Fader was grudgingly allowed to join the team on a probationary basis in the hope that he might at least soak up some damage from traps. The party moved forward and discovered that the next portal was down at the bottom of a dry well. As Fader was uncoiling a rope to lower it down Tronar suggested he construct one of his famous ladders instead. Unfortunately the party realized that they had nowhere near enough corpses to do the job, so they had to make do with the rope. Sweeping the well for traps, Fader pronounced it safe and the group moved on.

Passing through the portal the party found themselves pressed into a cramped corridor half the size necessary to hold five adventurers in anything approaching comfort. Trading places with Fader, Nanzad moved back away from the door, stomping more than a few toes in the process. It quickly became apparent why the natural habitat of large orc barbarian is the wide open plains and not tiny rooms.

After a quick trap check turned up negative, Nanzad once again elbowed his way to the fore and he and Hendrik bent their mighty strength to forcing open the reluctant doors. The ancient stone portals groaned open and admitted a surge of water that quickly filled the corridor to ankle level and soaked the party to the skin.

The room beyond was pitch black. Wary of an ambush, Hendrik dug into his backpack and produced a sunrod to illuminate the ink-dark chamber. Unprepared for the multi-million candlepower brilliance of the sunrod the team was momentarily blinded. As the massive colored blobs cleared from their eyes, the adventurers peered into the room seeing it was about ankle deep in water.

Moving through the water was a pair of Ocher Jellies, oozing relentlessly towards the party. It was only the trained eagle eyes of Ghostwalker that spotted an odd distortion in the middle of the room. The shaman’s shouted warning was barely in time to warn his comrades to be on their guard against the new menace, a horrifying Gelatinous Cube. Recognizing the danger posed by the Cube Hendrik called for a coordinated assault against it. Joining forces with new ally Fader and his trusted comrade-in-arms Nanzad, the hardened veteran unleashed a furious rain of deadly hammer blows. With a bellow of triumph Kordson hewed the Cube in twain with a mighty blow from his massive axe. From there it was little effort to finish off the Jellies.

Moving ahead the party discovered the next portal and passed through. Waiting on the other side were Skeletons poised to attack. Reacting swiftly Nanzad ducked their blow, but one of them caught Hendrik under his shield. With a guttural cry of “It’s a trap!!!!” Hendrik lead the assault into the room.

Quickly the group dispatched the decrepit skeletons clearing the way for the battle with the far deadlier boneshard skeletons. Though a Burning Skelton who seemed to be the leader of the group was raining fire down on them from a balcony overlooking the battlefield the party thought they were doing well until a massive skull sigil on the floor flared to life instantly regenerating the fallen skeletons. Fader, who had seen these infernal magic at work before knew just what to do to disable them, and tuned away from the battle to do his work as the party covered him. His nimble fingers quickly disabled the sigil, giving the party the edge they needed to defeat the lesser skeletons.

Despite gaining ground the party was dealt a devastating blow as the boneshards began to explode in a hail of fragments but were somehow left completely unharmed by the powerful blasts. “What, they have extra bones or something?” mused Hendrik.

With clever use of his magic Tronar pulled the Burning Skeleton down from his perch, sending it crashing heavily to the ground and right into the sights of a party weary of being bombarded with fireballs. It was looking bad for the heroes as a second sigil located up on the balcony was still healing the undead and the strain of combat was beginning to tell on the whole team. In a moment of tactical brilliance, Ghostwalker unleashed the power of the sinister magic symbiote he had dubbed “Blinky,” and yanked all the skeletons forward, away from the sigil’s regenerative power. Exhausted by the effort, he fell to another devastating boneshard explosion.

The battle turned in the party’s favor when Hendrik called for no one to hold anything back in what his tribe called an “Alpha Strike.” Suiting actions to words Fader unleashed a devastating display of acrobatic blade work that dropped the Burning Skeleton as it tried to also defend itself from Hendrik’s assault. The party finally dispatched the rest of the tenacious boneshards (which fortuitously turned out to be duds) and Nanzad healed Ghostwalker with the holy power of Kord. Rushing the remaining skeleton archers still positioned on the balcony above the party made short work of them and the other deadly sigil. Barricading the portal they rested and tended their wounds.

Further on they discovered the impromptu lair of a necromancer, really just a straw pallet, a chest, and a pile of documents in Imperial Common He had several books explaining the foul ritual he was planning to bind an army of undead using the plentiful remains of the Scarred Earth tribesmen buried in the tomb complex as raw material. He wrote in his journal that he was ready, and he had set the traps and skeletons that the party fought there way through. Hendrik shook his head sadly, having seen a lot of this sort of delusional thinking during his wars against the Ghost King in his native lands. “Everybody thinks they can harness infernal power for their own schemes so easily. This bloke is headed for a bad end, mark my words.”

Hoping to aid Hendrik’s prophecy, Fader rigged up a quick trap in the necromancer’s bed, just in case he happened to make it back…

The next morning, it was high noon in the desert and the sun was beating down. Only a fool would travel at this time, but the party made preparations to pass through the portal. Hendrick lashed together the remains of a skeleton and dubbed him Sir Skelly. When asked what it was for he demonstrated by chucking it though the portal. “Better him than me,” chucked the Imperial veteran Following in the skeleton’s wake, they found Sir Skelly had checked for an ambush and found none. Hendrik dusted him off and brought him along for later.

Moving on they discovered a passageway that had been mostly intentionally collapsed. Mist was sent ahead to investigate and abruptly vanished in a massive gout of flam as he triggered a deadly trap! Instantly the corridor was filled with fire mere inches from their faces. Fader crept ahead and adroitly disarmed the trap with cautious aid from Ghostwalker, but not before accidently triggering the fiendish device into his own face once. “That’s how it goes”, the rogue said philosophically as he beat out the flames still licking at the hem of his cloak. “Sometimes you get the honey, sometimes you get the stinger. You shake it off and move on.” With the trap finally cleared they did just that.

The party arrived at the final room (preceded by Sir Skelly) to discover the remains of a ritual gone horribly wrong. The necromancer had been transformed into a Gibbering Mouther and the skeletons around him attacked the party. Despite the endless droning of the Mouther the party struck like lightning. Especially Tronar. In short order they dispatched the enemies, claming the field of battle.

Cleaning up the desecrated bones of the Scarred Earth tribe Ghostwalker did a ritual to set them to rest again. Moving forward the party found the next portal, wonder what was to come next.

Hey, Is this a stirge wound back here?

The session began as it was high noon in the desert, and only a fool would be found in its grasp. So it was a good thing that the group was hundreds of feet below in an enclosed tomb. They had just finished taking care of the necromancer turned gibbering mouther and it’s undead cohorts when Charnel made his appearance. He had finally caught back up with the group after being isolated from them by strange shifting walls – the Scared Earth ancestors sure knew how to make devious traps and were good at tomb design.

After recanting Charnel’s story and finding out about the exploding undead that the group had faced, they were ready to venture through the waiting portal, which would place them in the final tomb of the Twelve Lords, and pit them against the two tieflings (if they had arrived in time). This time the portal had not been messed with, and the group found themselves appearing on target in a small sandstone chamber with strange writing on the walls, large stone doors, and a small fountain, which they found themselves standing in.

Fader and Ghostwalker determined that there were no traps within the room, or on the large stone doors, while Charnel spend the time examining the walls and confirmed that the group was in the exact location which they needed to be – This was in fact the tomb of Timor, and the relic which the tiefling sought lay within. Now the only questions remaining were if the tieflings had come this way, and were they still here? Fader seemed to answer the first right away finding the tracks of two passing this way recently.

As the group opened the large stone doors, they saw more of the undead tomb guardians stepping forth out of the wall niches that had held their bodies over the years. Between the risen undead and the group lay a number of open pits, and it was Fader’s well tuned eyes that saw something else strange about the causeways between the pits. The stonework here was slightly angled toward the pits and of a different composition. When the skeleton’s began tossing javelins and the a couple of them had some type of magical power, which pulled the group members toward the pit, it became apparent that someone had to get to the other side to disrupt the plans of those across the way.

However when the Kordson and Fader found the slick stone of causeway to much to handle after miscalculated the jump, the fall into the pit hurt. At the bottom of the pit waited a couple of desert asps (why does it always have to be snakes), and one of the skeletons which Ghostwalker had already slid into the pit. As Tronar and Charnel attacked from the near side with ranged with lightning and insults, Ghostwalker popped Mist up amongst the skeleton on the other side, and Hendrik flung himself across to crash through the bone line as well.

The highlights from this point on found the Kordson and Fader escaping the poison bites and skeletal assault in the pit, as fader grabbed a hold and the Kordson found just how well the new boots he had picked up worked, as he scaled the wall as a spider would have. Tronar and Charnel took care of several with a great ranged assault, and Hendrik scattered the skeletal forces as soon as Kordson and fader and Ghost walker’s companion, Mist, found a secure hold on the opposite side. The clean up of the battle scene had the group getting everyone across to the far side, healing up and gathering up any goodies that could be found.

Beyond the next set of doors found the group face to face with Par-Tholos, a ghostly image that formed as a sudden gust of wind washed over the group. Swirling like a small dust devil, kicking up dirt in a funnel-like shape. The dust slowly coalesced into a humanoid form, a bald goliath male clad in robes. He bowed before the group and spoke, “Who seeks entrance to the Tomb of Twelve Lords?”

Nanzad normal response came first before either Charnel or Ghostwalker could mussel it, “I am the Kordson”. After that the group found it difficult to get on good footing with the spirit, failing to impress upon it with their good intentions (this marked the first skill challenge loss for the group ever). The group was allowed to pass, but it was as if they were also to be tested as Par-Tholos spoke, “If the gods will you to defeat the interlopers, so be it. I can offer you no aid. Chance and your own cunning are your only hopes.” The group did however find out from Par-Tholos that the tieflings were indeed still beyond the doors trapped by Par-Tholos, but they had found the eye. It was up to the group to return the eye to its place and rid the tomb of the tieflings.

After Par-Tholos opened the sealed tomb, the group descended into the darkness of the final tomb. As the group reach the bottom of the flight of stairs, the doors opened to reveal a large tomb area with many roaming skeletons, all stirred up. The group also found out that the tomb itself seemed to have a mind of it’s own, and liked to turn the party on each other.

As they progressed through the tomb a quite large skeleton joined the fray, as it exploded out of a sarcophagus at the far end of the chamber. The group also found that no matter how many skeletons fell, more kept crawling out of the rift, and they would need to find another way to stop them. As Hendrik and the Kordson combined to drop the big guy, they moved past him to a portcullis that blocked access to the throne room. The skeletons swarmed over Ghostwalker, Tronar, and Fader, and they followed as fast as they could to the entrance that Hendrik bashed away at. Meanwhile Charnel found another way by the undead, by picking up on something that the Kordson had said as he moved by everyone after one of his tomb caused attacks against Ghostwalker. Charnel did his best to appease the undead, and moved around them as unthreatening as he could.

The final room found the two tiefling waiting, and they assaulted the group as they entered. Thee group found that the eye also held the ability to turn group upon itself, and the tieflings used it as best they could, along with their devilish magic. Even though they had prepared as they waited for the group, they were found to be but a road bump when the group finally got to unleash their built up tomb jumping frustrations on them. A combined Kordson and Tronar combination brought down both of them.

When the battle with the two tomb raiders was completed, Nanzad the Kordson was quick to take the eye from the dead grasp of Tyran and pop it back into the socket of the skeleton resting on the throne with in the chamber. This put all of the wondering undead to rest for good, and released the seal that was on the outer doors. From that point on it was mostly wrap-up. The stolen crowns were decided to remain lost, the tablet was returned home to the Scared Earth tribe along with the head of each of the tieflings, and the coalition had its newest member. The muscle of the Scared Earth tribe was a very welcomed member

You must stay and be our dance instructor

By Charnel the Storyteller

We left the Scared Earth village happy with the results we had achieved, returning the stolen tablet to the tribe, along with the heads of the grave robbers, and securing the Eye of Timor for all time. Additionally the Goliaths had joined the alliance, which would benefit greatly by having their iron strength guard the passes in the hills vacated by the Kordians.

Being tired of the desert heat (at high noon), I was relieved as we entered back into the forested hills, and started our journey back toward New Greeshan. Hendrik had said that we should check back in with the white-eye. Not sure why, but we will be glad to see what the white-eye are up to.

The trip went well for a few days until one morning when I stirred from my meditation to find Ghostwalker had left camp during the early morning hours. At first I figured he was taking care of nature’s call, but when he did not return I became alarmed. Waking the Kordson and the rest of the group, I ventured out into the morning darkness to call out for our comrade.

On return I found that the Kordson had had a dream about Ghostwalker, where he had departed camp with an Elven woman. The rest of the group had examined around Ghostwalker’s bedroll and located moccasin prints, which seemed to leave camp alongside of Ghostwalker’s. The size of these prints were smaller than mine, an easily could be those of a female elf in moccasins similar mine.

Quickly breaking camp, we picked up their trail. It was not hard to follow; they had passed, caring not if they were followed. Eventually we came to a twisted pair of pines, which had grown together to form an archway. Though natural archways like this can happen, this one showed signs of arcane influence, and I felt remnants of magical energy about. The carved glyphs and runes led us to believe that this was a portal. The style led me to believe it was originally constructed by the Ghost Owls, an Elven tribe of non-warriors well versed in illusionary magic who had disappeared into the Feywild decades ago after numerous defeats at the hands of the Kordians.

It was Tronar, who located the portal’s activation, and we continued on through following the trail of our friend. Venturing through, we found that it did in fact take us to the Feywild, as I had expected. Everything about the place was larger than life, and the colors were so magnificent – we just stood and took it in. Unfortunately the grass and undergrowth was larger also making the trail tougher to follow. At Hendrik’s suggestion, we spread out, and managed to pick up the trail again, but occasionally I was stopped so that we could take in the sights again… the Feywild pleases us much.

It was Fader’s fine ears that picked up the first sounds, and as he signaled for us to listen, we all heard the faint sound of Elvish music. My guess was that it was of Ghost Owl vintage, and I was right. As we moved cautiously closer, we heard the sounds of a party of sorts taking place, and though the thick foliage saw figures dancing to gay melody.

We cautiously emerged into the glade and though the figures were surprised to see us, the festivities did not stop, and we were even invited to join. No sooner than we tried to inquire about Ghostwalker, ale was forced in our hands. So naturally, I had to join and dance – in true Elvish style, except for the armor, and we wouldn’t allow the removal of that.

We found it tough to get much information out of these gay party goers, finding it necessary to seek information on multiple fronts with Hendrik and me teaming up on one side, while Nanzad and Tronar sought info across the glade, and Fader attempted to gain approval and acceptance through his moves alone by taking control of the dance. Tronar eventually gave in, losing himself to the dance and doing the lizard shuffle to the new fad, known as the “Fader hop”.

With Fader on the floor doing his thing, and Tronar swept up by the revelry of it all, Nanzad watching with a looks that kill, it was Hendrik and I who managed to stop an Elven gentleman while he watch and clapped for the impressive Fader. “Welcome to Kegg’r Glade, I am Crow Walking”, the young Eladrin said in a tone that told of way too many spirits.

We found that our friend, “the wolf dude”, had come into the village with Queen Seven Stars, and was currently her personal guest. This did not sound like it was going to be a happy meeting, especially with the look of bloodletting in the Kordson’s eyes. I would need to speak with Nanzad as soon as I could to cool him down, as I saw the opportunity arising to gain the support of another tribe if we played this right.

As Tronar regained his notebook from the pixies that took it, and Nanzad chased the faerie off his shoulder for the fifth time, we made our way toward the Ghost Owl village. Crow Walking took us directly to Queen Seven Stars, and Ghostwalker sat right next to her with glazed over eyes. Both Tronar and I could tell that he had been enchanted with some type Elvish charm (or had drunk way too much in Kegg’r Glade).

This only further enraged the Kordson, so I quickly intercepted him before he accused the queen of being a criminal who kidnapped and stole our friend in a way that would only end us all in a desperate fight with the entire village. Then I went back to work on the queen, and with Tronar’s help, I managed to broker a deal. We would not only leave the village with our friend Ghostwalker, but with the ability to call on the Ghost Owls for assistance during the upcoming campaign against One Horn. In return for this we would put an end to a bandit gang known as Stonefist and his redcaps, who had been a pain in the side of the good queen. Additionally Tronar and I were asked to spend some time with the Ghost Owls after the ordeal with One Horn had been concluded.

The Redcaps were said to be holding up in some ruins on the other side of the Wondering Wood. And being like many fey areas which I had studied, the group let me guide them through. I believe the saying was, “While in gay pants-less land, listen to Charnel.” Whatever…It beats getting tossed around by the pissed off trees, that are mad at Nanzad’s big feet kicking their roots.

With me to thank, before long we gazed upon the ruins, which held our prey. A little forward recon supplied by Fader found one way into the bramble covered abbey, which would mean the gang would have to go through us in order to get away. So in we went.

As we entered the dark chamber and made are way around the rubble cover interior, numerous severed hands crawled from the rubble to assault us as wall hanging skins animated as well at the command of ghostly priest, which rose as if protecting the area.

I took a beating, as I believe the priest did not like half-elves that much. Tronar proved to be the star as he did wonders taking out many of the hands, and paying the priest back tenfold for me. I did learn about a cool ability that we gave me, letting me see while others were blinded in the assault by the flying skins. I can still hear Hendrik cursing at the terrain and the blinding skins.

Once the priest was laid to rest, Tronar and Nanzad found that by returning the broken holy symbol to the altar, the spirit of the priest was released to make his final journey into the nether world. In departing he left us with a blessing from his god.

Leaving the church we moved through the brambles to an open courtyard, where Nanzad held the portcullis high as we moved in and fanned out. Only to notice right away that the brambles around the center statue seemed to attack as we got to near and the redcap gang members heard our entrance and came out to evict us.

This fight found that Hendrik grew sickle and tired of the shenanigans of the tough little gobinoid redcaps quickly. Between him and Nanzad, they made up for their poor first showing by hammering away at Stonefist and his gang. I accounted for myself well, as I ran to aid my comrades even as one of the little bastards gave chase. Tronar held his own, but Fader pretty much had left it on the dance floor. In the end they proved not to be much trouble.

The queen lived up to her word upon our return by removing the charm from Ghostwalker, and giving Tronar and Myself a small box with three silver leaves within. Queen Seven Stars said that with these leaves we could summon her for aid when the tribes needed the Ghost Owls. Fader was offered a place amongst the Ghost Owl tribe now if he wanted, as a dance instructor. I do believe the little guy in going to take her up on it. That night there was much partying, with Elven dancing as well, and I spent the night with a beautiful Elven lass…we were happy.


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