Way of the Wicked

Mountain of Fire

Written from the perspective of Emma Reld

Returning from my sojourn to the Horn of Abandon with a clutch of diminutive spiders and the Farhold Whispering Way cultists, I find the rest of the party battered and bedraggled after facing off against the lighting elemental.

They had managed to defeat it without any loss of life, but I did have to note the seemingly every present lack of Valentine, while healing the party, they recounted the closing adventure in the temple of the seven sceptres, indicating that Valencia through her own stupidity got herself killed.

I chuckled!

Still the guys managed to recover the eye of hatred from her charred corpse and gained the treasure from the Temple. A suit of Dragonscale I have claimed for myself, while it may have to be altered, at least it will provide me with more protection. At least the guys were able to do something right, unfortunately, due to Val’s incompetence with the Ravens, Tarlia visited the party to inform them that the Master required us to have made some progress.

To my utter amazement, they didn’t bother to debunk the Ravens claims that we had not made any, we found the Horn in 2 days and cleared it out of most of the dangers, discovered the ritual and the scope of the days involved. The did not point out the Ravens attempts to slow us down, and the utter lack of support from the baron and ravens that caused the necessity to take the treasure from the Temple in order to set up the horn to be defended!

As such we were now rushed to activate the last gem and perform the ritual. I was most displeased. Still we had a supply of sentient beings in the lower caves, the only ones that I was willing to sacrifice for the gems purpose.

We proceeded to the lower levels to find a commotion with the Boggards appearing to harass GrumbleJack (who looked very bored with the event). A larger boggard brandished a great sword and jabbered about him take Grumble out… and while I would of loved to have seen that, I decided to step in and told the leader that boggards are mine and they were to stop immediately!

I must have been angrier at Val than I first anticipated and wanted to take it out on an obvious warrior when I was not prepared as well as I could have been. The chieftain accepted my challenge, and I opened up before he had a chance to do anything else with an Ice Lance tripping him up.

I followed with explosive rot hoping to stagger him with it, but he was not staggered and the rot seemed to have less effect on him. I changed into a giant toad hoping this would demoralise him, and while it received the approval of the crowd, it was not the form I needed to succeed in defeating the Chieftain. While he was not great at hitting me, he eventually did and it hurt.

I was forced to back away giving up my right of challenge. At this point the Sharman appeared to translate and through him, the chieftain told us to flee or die.

Finally my steward companions, or at least Ulric, decided that they would attempt a challenge (I should of pushed the incompetent fool into the fight to begin with instead of taking the challenge myself!) I buffed Ulric before sending him against the chieftain, and the fight was soon over with Ulric being declared the victor, and I plunged the gem of hatred into the boggard heart activating the final gem.

There was some party that night, but I decided that it was best to get prepared for this ritual that we would have to start in the dawn.

Helfus was excited to start the ritual, especially as we had been talking him up about his importance at the start. He was greatly surprised when the party grabbed him, threw him onto the sacrificial slab and I plunged the dagger into his heart, whispering ‘you never liked being an elf anyway’!

At this point, the stupidity of Vetri-kali was shown. The Demons ritual ignited the mountain, signalling all around that the summoning was going on, the signal and tremors could be felt in Farhold we were to learn and the mountain looks like it was ablaze in green fire. The forest and all plant life for 500 meters was utterly destroyed.

If only I had the time to better prepare this place!

Talia arrived not long after the start of the ritual, walking in. She seemed pleased that we were progressing, and informed us that she was unable to teleport into the horn, and scrying would also not work. This gave us some advantages. We asked for her to provide us with some slaves to assist with the defence of the horn, but I doubt she will deliver.

This is another test for us… and one that I am loathed to be forced into. Stealth was what we were taught, this is just going to call all sorts to the mountain.

And I was right!

Not even within a week a party of adventurers invaded our home, and with no-one in Farhold to warn us (curse you to the ninth pit of hell Val) the local adventurers were able to infiltrate the Boggard caves, and killed a few of the minions and the Sharman.

Lillith, Bob and I were able to locate them and unleash hell upon them. Out of the 5 that were there, only 3 survived our attack, and they were not even able to retaliate.

The survivors included a Mitrian priestess, perfect for the ritual, a Bard, who I thought we would be best to convert to our way and a dwarven smith, who we sacrificed to activate the gems for Bob.

The breach did point out some holes in our defence and the next week we attempted to fill those hole and we performed some more patrols. We sealed the first layer with the only entrance being the teleport chair and set up some trap on the second, plus to my great enjoyment, we activated my Golem. My creation is brilliant and much better than the trent that seems to have been destroyed by elves! We set it the task to be the first line of defence on the second level. Something I would not want to keep forever, as I would not like to see it be destroyed.

The 3rd level was left for the Wraiths.

We also procured a shop in Farhold for Poker to setup as a magic shop, in the hopes to make some more cash and use as a spy. Lillith also seems to have fled to the city claiming that she is looking for the 3rd sacrifice and looking for others wanting to come to the horn… I am sure she is just waiting to keep out of the firing line

I proceeded to investigate the thorns teleporting capabilities and network, it would not surprise me that the priests of old had a locations outside the horn for a quick getaway… but that type of thinking might leave a back door into the horn that I cannot allow. It would also be best if the password could be altered, to increase the security.

Lastly I would like the first levels teleport location to be similar to the 3rd level, so that we can send more than 1 through at a time reducing the bottle neck! But before the 3rd week was out, more incidents were to occur. I am getting frustrated to say the least… This had better be worth it! Stupid demons!

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The Burning of a Rose

Burning_Woman.png

Written from the perspective of Timeon of Balentyne

There we were, part-way through unlocking the way to the treasure of Ankhet, the Iarian Prince when Emma ups and says something about going to find her intellectual equal in the wilderness as there was no one close here. Well I know she’s not smart enough to bathe, but she’s not THAT dumb. Oh well, at least we will have some peace and quiet, we’ll need that for these puzzles!

We returned to the campsite to giveSir Ulric and Vengeance a chance to recover from whatever curse those hags had placed upon them when in a flash of light two beautiful creatures appeared, it was none other than our beloved Tiadora and Valencia, things were looking up!

Lara Jones advised she had spied a incoming party. Out here in the wilderness they could only be tracking us or seeking the same goal. How could they have found this place asked Lillith. Lara looked sheepish, it seemed she had a back-up plan in place in case she was kidnapped, the location of this tomb was handed over to the Mitrans. Lara advise that they are not likely here for the treasure, but rather to seal the tomb, preventing others from disturbing the dead.

We estimated we had only hours before they arrived, no time to rest now, best push onwards. We will be fine, even cursed, Sir Ulric will be more than a match for whatever guardians remain in the tomb!

Tiadora told us that she had come to check up on us after hearing that we had ‘dismissed’ those treacherous Ravens. Apparently we told them we no longer needed their services. If only Valencia had told me of her plans, I could have helped her make sure no one could ever make use of their services again! Still, whoever was informing on us also told the Cardinal that we were not making any progress and were dragging our heels. Finding us out here in the middle of nowhere cannot have looked good…

Anyway, the Ravens have been reassigned to help with the war-effort and we will be checked up on in 2 weeks time, we’d best have made some progress or we too will be taken off the case. I suspect there are some white feathered ones ready to step in. Fortunately that gives us enough time to finish up here and return to the horn with a few days to spare.

With Valencia and Sir Ulric in charge we should handle this without difficulties.

Knowing the Mitrans were on their way to stop EVERYONE having the treasure, Lillith gave Lara Jones a rousing speech which came down to ‘those artefacts belong in a museum’, it seems our Miss Jones has a thing for whips and fedoras, as she suited up and agreed to venture into the tomb with us.

Returning to the spinning blades Sir Ulric was able to puzzle out which staff related to which barrier (with only minor consultation with Lillith and Vengeance), and with the wisdom of Valencia we took precautions to ensure we would not be trapped inside should the trap reset itself. She is truly as intelligent as she is beautiful.

The next chamber was a throne room with black stone throne, and the plain sandstone sceptre of Ankhet laying unattended upon it. Opposite the throne was an altar. Across the throne was the clue ‘If you seek audience with the prince, judge the worth of all things’. Mysterious..

We discussed what this could mean and between them our two brightest party-members (Sir Ulric and Lady Valencia) decided that someone needs to sit on the throne and place sceptres on the altar at the far end in some kind of order. The altar has quartz and a diamond at each end, they decide it’s something to do with value, but is it monetary or some other value?

Showing her quality as a leader and ruler Valencia decided she must take the initiative and sat on the throne, dictating the order of the sceptres using her own inscrutable knowledge. You have to admire her wisdom, she had not been present for the recover of these sceptres and knew next to nothing about them, but somehow she knew which order they were to take.

Lillith seemed unsure as she placed them on the altar in the prescribed order. The rest of us were standing well back..

“Give me your POWER!” screamed Valencia as the last sceptre was placed in it’s spot.

A wave of black flame washed out of the Altar, Lillith threw herself to one side, suffering minor burns. Surely this was a sign of great success, we turned to the throne, expecting to see Valencia filled with unholy might…

There was naught but a charred body remaining… No… I still cannot believe it… There must be some mistake… But no, Lady Valencia made the first mistake since I’ve known her and it turned out to be her last. She sits in court with Asmodeus now, I will see her again one day.

The others seemed to be devastated by the loss, I could see it in their eyes, they felt the loss just as keenly as myself.

Sir Ulric was first to recover. “Lara Jones, you’re the expert here, you’re next.”

The next hour was a harrowing experience of fire and pain. Without Valencia to guide us we suffered many injuries before Sir Ulric was finally able to puzzle out the correct order of the sceptres. But no puzzle is a match for his intellect!

Fortunately we had recovered the wand of healing from Emma before her exit, Lillith seemed to struggle to make it work, seeming to only have it function every second try. Still, we were glad to have it, and made plentiful use of it.

A door opens behind the throne revealing to stairs down into a crypt.

Sir Ulric boldly lead the way down the narrow corridor. A pair of statues stood guard over the passage thinking them suspect, Sir Ulric smashed one, but in doing so disturbed some guardians within, 4 barely recognisable human females, wrapped in bandages shuffled into the light, the sight of them turned my blood to ice, I could do nothing but stand and quiver in fear as they advanced toward us. Mummies!

Seeing my distress Sir Ulric faced them, holding them off long enough for me to recover but suffering a minor scratch in the process, truly he is a good master! We withdrew to the throne room where we could bring all our weapons to bear on the mummies as they come out of the corridor one at a time. A few more charges of the healing wand, but not a tough fight.

Sir Ulric looked over our party, we were looking worn out and exhausted, further conflict would likely end badly for us if we were not prepared. Using his advanced military training he send our lest useful party member forward: Lillith snuck ahead to check for danger.

The last chamber contained several sarcophagi and heaps of treasure in coin and other valuables, including several magical items.

On exiting the tomb we discovered that in his defence of me Sir Ulric had contracted tomb-rot, with no one to cure him out here in the wilds, he may not have made it back to town before recovering. Sheer willpower and faith in Asmodeus pulled him through (and some borrowed magical items), but it was looking bad. I do not know if I could have lived to loose both Lady Valencia and Sir Ulric.

We scouted the other party on the way back to town, Mitrans, too many to fight, we stayed well clear of them, they are too late anyhow, the treasure is ours. The Sceptres themselves disappeared in the night, probably bound to the tomb. No great loss, they served their purpose.

Finally back in town, we metthe Baron, he told us Mitrans are on the way to the tomb, it was with a sly smile that Lillith replied that we had already been there and looted it! The Baron was keen to hear about the sceptres, a shame we could not recover them.

Lillith negotiated with him to sell some of the mundane collectors items on our behalf, the Baron will see what he can do, Lillith seemed confident there would be no double-cross, the Baron knows we can take him at any time.

With his eye always on the mission Sir Ulric assessed what is required for the ritual, missing 2 sacrifices, but these are not required for a while, the removal of one Lightning Elemental and plenty of unholy water.

The Baron is able to furnish us with several vials of the unholy fluid as well as a wand with the curse water spell, this should get us started, we’ll need a more permanent source soon though.

Lillith spent some time purchasing some spell or other to aid us in the fight, apparently it was to protect us from the elementals damage, she made up several scrolls for use.

We gathered Halthus and the other hirelings and returned at last to the Horn. Everything seems as we left it.

Lillith and Vengeance cast their magics upon us and we engage the elemental, what a disaster, the beast is super fast and it seems our time in the wilds and the tomb have taken away our edge, within the first few seconds we are stumbling over each other and getting taken to school by this creature of lightning.

With some inspiring words and a heroic force of will Sir Ulric was able to pull our party back from the brink of flight and slay the creature.

Vengeance wanted to deal with the Wraiths as well, but in his wisdom Sir Ulric elected to marshal our strength, they can wait, and maybe of some use to us in the mean time.

I thank Asmodeus daily to have brought me Sir Ulric, surely there is no wiser or more caring master?

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Temple of Seven Rods

Written from the perspective of Emma Reld

Valencia is in hiding or something… the woman throws us into the pit of vipers and then decides that it would be best for her to vanish from even our sight. I cannot even hint to her my plan. The others seem intent on just letting Elise have a crack at Val one on one as in some honourable duel. I know she will not go for that idea, in fact I seriously doubt an assassin like Elise would go for that idea either.

Still without Val around, and Thorn has not stepped in, then we might not have to worry about the Canneries. Lillith wants to locate the tomb finder that led the Baron to the Temple of the seven sceptres. Just to get some more information I presume, after all we have researched and the Baron has given us the location.

When asking the Baron for her location, he informed Lillith that he didn’t know where she was. Lillith was adamant that he was lying, and a damn good liar. So I offered my services in trade for some message scrolls. With the adventures belongings, I scried her and found her chain in a dungeon. I asked her with the message scroll to tell me where she was. She said she was not sure, but believed she was in the Barons manor, which pretty much confirmed for me and Lillith that she was there.

Lillith them went to perform a break out. So, we have been reduced to rescuing damsels in distress! I feel icky! But Lillith was successful in her rescue.

It was also time for me to reincarnate Helthus, waiting any longer and I might not be able to bring him back. So I headed back to the Horn to gather some more loot and bring back some component of Helthus to perform the reincarnation.

I flew out there and decided that while in elemental form I would attempt to converse with the Lighting elemental… let’s say, things did not go so well… The elemental decided that it was not in the mood and attacked me. Being seriously hurt from its first attack, I backed off. It obviously was not going to leave its power source and returned, but seems that it is mad and cannot be talked around, so it will have to die.

I returned to Farhold with Helthus’s head and another 10,000g worth of loot. The others went and sold the loot off while I brought Helthus back. He came back as an Elf and complained as soon as he was able… and boy elves have small… I digress… I told him that he was killed cause of his cowardess, but he was a vital component to the re-summoning of Vetri-Kali which seemed to calm him thinking that he is more important than a walking corpse. He will be surprised!

This time I do hope the others keep him alive till the time of the sacrifice.

The others prepared for the trip, while I have Poker prepare the cult for its move. I believe Mannon is getting a little suspicious, I am hoping that I do not have to kill him before I am ready. Once we were all ready we set off for the next temple.

I managed to acquire some of the party funds to get Poker to start working on some items of power. I will have to judge his work upon my return.

The trip was un-eventful, my skills kept us on a safe and true path and within the 10 days expected, we arrived at the entrance to the temple.

The entrance was guarded by some giant scorpions that had made their nest in the ancient ruins. The beasts could have been controlled and used for my purposes, however, after my experience with the elemental, I was not in the mood to deal with a group of hostile vermin, it was easier to just kill them.

We funneled them through the entrance as it was too narrow for more than 2 to come at us. Timeon and Ulric were of adequate quality to hold them, and even managed to kill off one. The others were useless at range and did not managed to do anything of substance.

Timeon got himself hit quite hard so I had to heal him, but for the start of the fight, I was just letting the others deal with creatures, however, it became apparent that I would have to assist, when 5~6 of the creatures were amassing behind the attacking 2.

I unleashed my necromantic power and gave them all an experience of explosive rot. The creatures were tough, I will give then that, but after my attack they were done. Ulric and Timeon managed to finish off what was not already dying, and to prevent them from running, I entangled all that were still standing. The fight was over quickly enough.

We proceeded into the main chamber and found a magical altar, 4 rods and a door. There were 2 passages that led off from this room and before touching anything, we looked down both sides.

The left passage led to another magical altar and door, while the right led to a passage that was filled with magical spinning blades and there were 2 plaques. The altars each had a riddle, the same as the plaques. The first altar had some special slots in the surface and the second had some plates at different heights. The plaques talked about the 1st and 5th wife. And the rods each had an inscription that indicated that they were meant for one of the guys 7 wives.

The first room had the rod for the 5th but not the 1st, still I took the 5th rod (thankfully nothing happened in just taking 1) and went back to the spinning blades to see what would happen. Nothing happened by just my approach, but when I touched the rod to the plaque, it glowed blue but faded. Obviously we were going to have to find the 1st rod before continuing that path.

Heading back to the first room we pulled all the rods out and found each had a specific shape at the ends that match the shapes on the first altar. The inscriptions for each rod sounded to me like a phase of life. Starting, middle ages, end of life and death. The others attempted to confuse me indicating that the rod that mentioned ‘living for the rest of his life’ should be last, when it was obvious to me that the rod that indicated ‘together in death’ meant death and as the resident Necromancer, I did it my way!

Inserting the rods in the order I had picked, the doors opened. 1 point to me! Inside the room there was a pedestal with another rod, not the 1st, and a channel of burning coals. We sensed a trap here, but Ulric leaped across with Lillith, took the rod and leaped back… Nothing happened. So it must have been just a diversion.

The second altar looked like it was the next puzzle I had to solve. The altar mentioned ‘the 5 before did not weight as heavily on me as the first’. The riddle indicated that the weights of the rods might be the solution; however, I let the others have some free reign on attempting to get some glory with solving this one.

At first they were thinking that it might have to do with the quality of the material used, then the value of the rods… then something along the lines of how the ruler valued his wives… the theories were getting more and more wild, starting to look into the history and culture and how all these factors would lead to a balance.

At this stage, I should point out that Vengeance is back with us, apparently he was not killed back in Balentine and we were too busy to rescue him. Tiadora or the Fire-Axe must of pulled him out and restored him to health before bring him back to us. He has been with us since Farhold, but he had up till this point proven that he was as useless to us in life as in death so was not worth mentioning.

Still after listening to their silly ideas, I told them to weight the staves, this is where Vengeance pulled out a magical all tool that he turned into a scale to weight them all, finally something useful from that elf! Once weighed, I took over and selected the order and what plates they would sit upon, and again I got it right the first time.

The doors opened and lead down a short corridor before ending in a pool of black water. The steps lead into the pool and an inscription was over head that indicated the first rod was within the abyss. The others were now worried about swimming and holding their breaths when I once again had to prove my worth by providing them all with the ability to breathe water. I grow tired of having to continue to be the only one pulling their weight!

We left Timeon out of the pool just in case someone/something attempted to steal the rods and left us trapped in this room. Casting a few light spells we proceeded into the pool. Some bright spark thought it a good idea to tether each other to a rope in case we got lost, while a logical and good idea, it was to prove to be problematic when Ulric botched the next puzzle!

There was a maze under the water made of portcullises, and we navigated our way around till we found an altar with a very rusted rod. Ulric and Lillith investigated the rod to figure out how to remove it. They claim that there was no inscription except the wives name and there was no way to get it off other than ripping it out!… Pef! I believe they just returned to their barbaric roots and pulled it without investigating it correctly. So much for Lillith’s sharpened eyes and the magic item I let her have!

Once pulled free the maze changed and Vengeance was trapped on a different side than us, the rope had to be cut. Feeling that it was time to flee, I instantly changed into a water elemental, knowing that it had the best swim speed possible for dragging the others out. I also summoned a trio of sharks to clear my path to the exit and it was a good thing I did so, as along with the water and maze there were 2 sea hags waiting to kill anyone.

My sharks engaged one, but stood no chance against the hag. Still they would provide a distraction long enough for us to escape. The other followed after us, as we swam past. Our only hope was to get to the surface and potentially close the door, as we could not fight as effectively under water against creatures that were born in water.

We made it out of the water, but Vengeance was still not out. Timeon and Ulric begun to setup to fight. I buffed the 2 of them to ensure a short fight as the second hag followed us. We engaged her and not long after, Vengeance was at the altar pulling a rod off to close the door. The coward elf was up here the entire time! He must of used some illusion in the water to make us think he was with us!

Ulric and Timeon made short work of the Hag and the first was trapped behind the doors.

I was spent, but we now possessed 6 of the 7 rods. The blade corridor should be easy to pass and who knows what lies behind them. I however, need a break from these buffoons and while they rested I snuck out to get back to nature. I did leave them the wand of healing and bag of holding; after all, I still need them to retrieve the treasure!

I do hope they do not get themselves killed without my guidance, but I need this time to myself.

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Two Heads

Written from the perspective of Emma Reld

The mission is looking like it’s going to fail before it even starts. Rushing to the top of the tower, might not have been the best of ideas. At least I was ready to flee.

In my animal form I was clearly away when the others returned to inform me of the events that happened with the Demons, I was not impressed with the conclusion, but at least we had some time.

The Priest Halthus the Flayer stood in front of the demons looking like he wanted to wet himself babbling on in Abyssal, I really need to learn that language, while the demons stopped attacking, they looked no less intimidating, and slowly approached the cowering ex-torturer.

They dealt with the apparent ‘High Priest’, informing him that he needed to prove that he is the high priest by either eliminating the current high priest or gathering all 3 eyes of Vetri-Kali as beseeching their names on the tags around their necks was obviously not enough. We were to have till sundown each day to provide what they wanted or one of us would die.

With only hours left in the current day, we were not going to find anything else before the beasts hunted us down. The Ninth Knot did make an attempt though; Lillith and Zack proceeded down to the Boggards level to explore more there.

They discovered nothing of great use, some fake treasure, crystals, and the boggards themselves, but nothing that would lead us higher in the keep. Valencia and I attempted to move into the 3rd level. During the time, Val confided in me that she was on the path to becoming a Vampire. I had my suspicions, but she confirmed it, attempting to convince me that her new senses had alerted her to the space we needed. She was wrong. I wasted one of my spells on entering the second level.

With very little time left, I could have flown up with one of my wild shapes, but the risk was not worth it, as we needed to be prepared for the fight to come against the demons, as we would not sacrifice ourselves to these beasts.

We found a place to camp for the night in the lower levels. I cast an illusion that prevented anyone outside from finding our site and posted watches. Our hope was that the demons could not leave their posts, or the keep and the lower levels would be safe. We were wrong. One of the demons entered our cavern, but it was not able to see through my illusion, I did create another shelter of webs in the attempt to convince the demons that we had entered the cavern and left, it seemed to have worked, the demon passed by.

After resting, we were set with the spells needed to hopefully combat against these beasts. However, before we went to encounter them, there was 1 cavern that Lillith could not enter as the entrance was too small.

It was even too small for me, but not for my wild shapes. So I took on a tiny form and entered, prepared to flee just in-case. Within the carven were a corpse, a book, and the second eye of Vetri-Kali. The book was in Abyssal, again I need to learn that language. I took the book and the eye, outside Ulric confirmed that the book was the Dirges of Apollyon, and contained the ritual that would release Vetri-Kali.

However, before we had a chance to read more, the demons found us and attacked. We made a brief attempt to convince them we were on track and needed just some more time. They did not care.

So we attacked back.

Ulric and Timeon were the stars of this combat I am not proud to say, our spells seemed to do nothing to them. Even Valencia’s boasting about her powerful spells were useless. However, Val did pull off the only thing that really did matter in the battle, she had a scroll of Dispel Magic that released Ulric from the Hold monster spell that he fell victim to once again.

Freed though, he was a monster himself, slicing deeply into one of the demons. We focused fire on one of them, till Zack appeared to make an attempt to assassinate the other demon, he failed and was shortly after sliced to ribbons. I attempted to avenge him, inflicting wounds to the demon, but with their bargain completed they fled!

Halthus had also fled during the battle; the uselessness of this creature had angered the Knot, knowing full well that we needed Zack more than him. In our rage we killed him. I plunged the second eye into his heart to activate it and discovered that it could be used as a crystal ball and is able to scry on anyone in the horn. I immediately attempted to scry the High Priest and failed. I also scried the demons, they were not pleased with the wounds they took, but were sedated.

The knot was determined to kill the demons now; we rested and healed once more, preparing to take them out. During the rest, I got Ulric to teach me Abyssal and I read the Dirge with him. The ritual requires 3 sacrifices. The third was one of the people that were part of the attack that set up the seal; the second was a Mitian, the first… I could have killed someone once we read it… was a worshipper of Vetri-Kali… the Priest we just killed was needed!

Still, I had saved his head and Zacks, ready to be used on my Golem, I could reincarnate Halthus and still use him as the sacrifice, but we would need supplies and money, as the Dirge also indicated that the ritual was going to take 222 days to complete. I know the forests; this place would not be ‘safe’ for that long. Plus the forces of good would be notified somehow… this was not a safe place and we needed funds to repair it.

After the rest, we prepared to hunt the demons this time. Instead of preparing damaging spells, I prepared buffing spells and applied them to Timeon and Ulric and we rushed to where I scried the demons… we arrived and they were not there! I scried them again and found they had teleported away. We chased, again they teleported. We knew we would not catch them, and proceeded to explore. If we could find the high priest that was the fight we wanted to take part in.

We scaled the tower now with the demons no longer guarding the stairs to arrive at the top of the horn to find a huge lightning elemental waiting for us.

This was not the fight we wanted, and I knew that thing would kill Timeon or Ulric, as they are attracted to metal, and those two are walking tin cans.

Timeon took some damage as we fled.

With little time left, I took to the skies and found the entrance to the 3rd level. I quickly explored the entire area looking for the high priest, 3rd eye, or something that would stop the demons. There was nothing! I did find a teleport word, while there was no throne on this level, the room was the teleporter and I used that to get the others up to the 3rd level.

The chapel that was there was the most interesting place, and Lillith proved to have keener eyes than I did for once. She found a secret entrance the mechanism to open the door though was left to me to find, as it was the eyes of the motif of Vertri-Kali. For whatever reason, Ulric and Valencia were horrified of the illusion that was being projected from the display, while I was not concerned with images of the dead; they were after all only destined to be my minions.

Upon pushing the 3 eyes, the door opened to a storage room with nothing of value in it… but there was also a key on the motif that had me thinking that it must be the key to a door. Inscribed on the key were the words ‘Hail Vetri-Kali’. While the boys were investigating the store room, I intoned the hail. Nothing happened.

I attempted the words in different rooms, thinking that it was not this room it was meant for. Nothing.

Finally, once the boys had finished their search, I thought that I was meant to intone the hail at the same time as I opened the secret door.

That did the trick. A light shone as the door opened this time, to reveal a secret vault filled with treasure. However, before we could collect it, 5 wraiths attacked. 4 of them were obviously minions of the 5th that actually talked with us, declaring us invaders. Lillith and I deduced that this was the high priest and we attempted to talk him down, declaring that we were there to complete his job in summoning Vetri-Kali.

Better to talk with a creature that you cannot hurt, so that you can hurt it later when it does not expect it!

However, we were too slow to stop the wraiths from hitting Ulric and Timeom. Ulric returned the blow. After, they did stand down and we discussed the situation with the High Priest. He informed us that the demons tags were within the vault along with the 3rd eye. Val, in her stupidity and greed, went straight for the eye. I knew she would, and am glad the other 2 are attuned to me, but the eyes were not my concern, the magic items were.

We found a ring of mind protection that I will claim for myself, a small box, a rod of lesser Acid elemental damage, belt of giant strength, a lens of investigation and some potions that would heal us.

Lillith found the tags for the demons, after reading the names, Val formed to plan that we all shout the combinations of the names of the demons when we next encountered them. Once again, that woman thought of the most dangerous way and once again the others would not listen to me.

So I asked Lillith to create me a scroll of message, and used the scrying gem to see the demons, with the scroll I intoned the combinations of their names till I found the correct ones ‘Hexoraticus and Vexorandian’. After hearing their names, they returned to their guard posts. I approached them and commanded their service. They agreed to the original pact, which has them there to defend the upper part of the horn.

I attempted to criticise them for letting the elemental in and coerce them to deal with it. They refused, but I was not in the mood to countermand them. Demons after all, are not my thing, and Val took no interest in the demons. I ensured that they would allow the members of the Knot to pass and that they would do no harm to us. They were disappointed, so I threw them a bone and let them harass Ulric if they wished, but they were still not to harm him.

The horn was ours… finally…

The next order of business was to convince the Treant to join and assist us. I went out with the others to talk with him. The conversation seemed to go well, but the others detected something was amiss. Val started the attack with Lillith not far behind. Ulric finished the job. The tree fell before I could stop them. Enraged, I dismissed them all so that I could mourn the loss. But all was not lost, as the Treant was still intact and I could grant this mighty creation its proper place in the cycle of life, and raise it as a Zombie. I even infused it with a plague. My zombie Treant would follow my commands without thought now.

With treasure to use, but no way to carry it all, we needed to return to Farhold. We gathered what we could without looking like we were prime targets for bandits and returned to Farhold.

We sold what we could and brought a bag of holding for the rest of the treasure and that night went to the Barons abode to discuss our findings.

Val discovered that Elise had been staying with the Baron and seemed enraged. She got it into her head to kill Elise. While I was indifferent to the idea, the others did not want her to take action. Still she was entrenched in her idea to kill her.

I did not join them at the barony. As Val’s hunger for blood had convinced me that I would better serve if I was there in secret. Maybe Val’s vampirism was kicking in before her death; it is concerning how out of control she is getting. Knowing the guards would confiscate weapons, I convinced the party to give me their weapons and I would sneak in.

I was later to learn that during the dinner, Lillith informed the White Hamsters that the ritual would take a long time. Thankfully she did not indicate where the horn was. The Baron also attempted to appeal to our greed, and informed us of another site that we could get more treasure from. Val was convinced it was Elise that gave him that piece of information, and that she was attempting to kill us through indirect means.

The thought was madness, but I was going to have to use that thought in an argument to keep the Knot alive, as Val ‘threw another head out the window’ and attacked Elise while she was alone in the Barons home.

I just happened to be there at the time so I assisted, against my better judgement. Val attempted some spells, one was a necromantic spell… she has no skill with those, and it failed to stop Elise. She erected a wall of ice and fled before we could break through it.

I hope I had remained hidden from Elise, she was distracted after all, but I have a plan to now deal with her. Val will have to be the bait, I have no problem with that, but Elise will have to die. I am glad the others did not reveal the real location to the Horn to them.

Val convinced the Baron that Elise had attacked her. I am not sure about this Baron. If it was Val in Elise’s shoes, she would have made sure the Baron was under her thumb before she moved in. We might have to kill him too.

This leads me back to how we could talk our way out of this mess. The idea struck me in the following days while the others were shopping and Val was attempting to find Elise, if we can convince Throne that the 7th knot was attempting to delay us and subvert our authority, killing us through indirect means and attempting to get all the glory for themselves, then he should understand that we had no choice but to defend ourselves and, more importantly, the mission.

I am still not sure why Val is asking around at every inn for Elise, once again, she is attempting to do things the hard and dangerous way… she could just ask me to scry for Elise but I suppose with her arrogant self-centered high opinion of herself and the contempt she shows on her apparent lessors, she would not waste her time knowing how powerful I am becoming.

Still I will have to assist her as we need to kill the White Ravens, and all those that follow them!

side note; upon returning to Farhold, I made contact with Poker and convinced him to follow me. I asked him to secure the sacred texts and talk to the rest of the cult as Mannon’s time was short. I will set that peon up for a fall, as any information he has about the Horn is useless! I am still undecided what I am going to do with him, as I no longer need his brain.

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Deamon Lair

Written from the perspective of Emma Reld

After a long journey we arrived at the Horn of Abbadon. Taking the Trent’s advice, we proceeded to investigate the top entrance first. Upon entering the lair, an aura of Good nearly knocked my senses out. This temple appeared to have been concentrated to some power of good. I warned the others, but it seemed to not prevent us from entering on our mission.

Valencia decided that she was going to remain outside and let us investigate… I am sure there was some comment about us deserving the glory, but I am sure it was all cause she is too much the coward to every dirty herself with such endeavors. It matters not to me, if she wants to lead us, this will win her no votes. Maybe I should of warned her that it was about to start raining!

We took time and carefully investigate everything. The old lair of the Cult of the pale horse had obviously seen better days. The first obstetrical we encountered was an obvious trap that had been released some time ago and had fallen into disrepair. We had to shimmy across carefully and Zack lead the way, finding a place to tie a rope to assist the rest of us to cross.

After this point, I took the lead and point in order to ensure that no other traps could befall us. These Humans needed light making them an obvious target, while my keen senses would keep us alive for longer… plus the only person I trust is the one that looks back at me in the mirror!

After the first trap we investigated the rest of the rooms, find very little still intact. Lillith found a note with some babble on it that talked about needing to escape. I found an enchanted stone head that was very detailed and we took with us.

We also discovered 3 candles in a candelabra that was illuminating a large internal court yard that supported a fountain with 3 demons decorating it. Both were magical. Not knowing their function we left them be, but were careful to keep an eye on them.

A bed that had been enchanted to not decay was also discovered, but most other furnishings were destroyed by either time or burned by the attackers.

We discovered one room with a skeleton hanging on the wall with some righteous dribble gratified on the wall talking about something that was of less interest than the sounds of movement in the adjacent room. Being cautions, we all stood back and used magic to open the door, only to be thankful for the caution where living vines swarmed out followed by 3 ooze creatures.

Ulric attacked the ooze, which split into mover versions with the swing of his sword. My flames were useless against them and in the end we had no choice by to escape. Zack Lillith informed that the creatures were attracted to the rumbles on the ground, so I summoned an earth elemental and had it rumble on the ground while we made our escape.

We rested for a time to heal and recover.

The next room of note contained a throne in the shape of a skull, a large room with pictures depicting men walking towards the throne, and as they drew nearer, the turned into undead and were greeted at the throne end by demons. I think I like it here! I noticed on the side of the throne the word ‘RAH’. The throne emanated magic but before we investigated further, we had found the source of the goodly aura.

A room across from the throne room was pulsing with the aura. The other were covering and wanted to investigate the rest of the floor before we destroyed this power, left with no choice I continued with them.

The next room we found a headless statue that also had an aura of magic, this matched the head I found earlier, and it did seem that the two were a match. Lillith and I both came to the conclusion that it was a petrified human, and it would be of value to restore him, but we had not the means.

I also detected another stronger magic source that was part of the statue. It seemed to come from one of the pouches it wore. I used my stone shape spell to open the pouch and retrieve what was inside. It was a large emerald that radiated with the warming aura of evil.

I spent some more time learning what this gems purpose was, and it seemed that I had to bath it in the blood of a sentient being. Val was the first to come to my mind for the cowardly way in which she decided to let us do the investigations. But then I remember the murlocks that were below us and discussed the plan to capture one of them with the others.

Still while I was investigating the gem, the others found pictures that displayed the history of the cult of the pale horse. After which, all was left was the room that had the goodly aura.

Upon opening the door, all we found was an old alter with long burn out candles, a Mitrian gratified dribble and the room consecrated. Knowing that we needed to desecrate the room, I begun to figure out how. There were a few spells that could do the job, none of which I possessed, or to sacrifice a corpse to Asmodeous in the room… looks like the Merlocks will also be needed for that job… Unless Val wanted to join her god earlier? guess not!

Before leaving the temple for a nightly rest, I transformed into a spider and investigated a trap exit that we found in this level that lead up, only to find the traps doors still securely closed. I also crawled down the first trap we found and came out to a prison on the lower level. however, as the others could not join me so easily, I returned and we exited to rest for the night.

We found Val, drenched from the rain, and pleasantly quite that night as we camped out. I am sure she was going to demand that we head back to town after spending the day in the forest in the rain… Maybe she has decided that she too would be more at peace in the wilderness and I might be able to teach her some Druidic ways!

I used my spells to heal and protect us so that our sleep was good and undisturbed. I also sent a note back to the White Pigeons to misinform them of our discovery and that it will undoubtedly take us longer to find the location. The others collected some wooden staves in the possibility that we had to take care of the oozes once more before we ventured back, and this time, firstly to the Merlocks cave.

Having once again taken the lead, I scouted the merlock cave, and discovered 2 sentries that were keeping watch outside. Summoning Zack and Lillith, we took both creatures alive. I forced one of the creatures to speak our language as we questioned it about it’s lair, people, leadership, religion and the temple… it was obvious that these creatures would never listen to me, or have me as their leader, and would rather eat me, so there was no point keeping them alive.

We sacrificed one to the Alter and one to the gem. The gem then informed me that it was the eye of withering and was part of a key to let Vetra-Kali back into the world… I would have to keep this secret from Val, and while I told the others of my learnings, I also told them to not let Val know, the last thing we need is her controlling a demon prince.

With the goodly aura gone, we were at a loss on how to get further up in the temple. At this point, I grew bored. The note Lillith found earlier the previous day, talked about ‘head to the throne, it’s our only escape…YAH’… this Yah and the Rah that I found had me thinking, so I sat on the thrown and spoke both words.

I was teleported to another throne room that was larger than the other. I noticed on this throne was the word ‘Yah’. I instantly knew what to do, sitting once more I spoke ‘Rah’ and was back with the others. They seemed to be at a loss without me present, standing around dumbfounded. I should not have been surprised. I told them of the power of the chair and we soon all teleported to this new location.

Exploring this level, we soon found the prison that I found last night, and realized that this was the lower level. This level was in similar state as the above with little and less to find. there were some points of note though.

Firstly there was a fountain the same as above with the statue of the pale boatman. Again we did not drink of the waters. There was also a room with a Minotaur that appeared to only have been killed 2 days before. Lillith and I detected a magic aura around the room and Lillith rightly decerned that it was once a larder and therefore the magic was meant to preserve things in it.

I raised the Minotaur to be my Zombie servant, it was a good find that should not go to waste. We also found a bar, and I thought to myself that this place would be perfect for my minions.

The last point of note, was we found an alchamedic chamber that had parts of a alchamedic golem on a table. I spent some time investigating it, and it was mostly completed. It only needed a few more components and I believe that I could fix the contraption, and I will do so. We also found a stone to flesh salve.

Zack found some ring of little note…

We also discovered that one of the pillars in the throne room was hollow… not being able to find an entrance, I created one with my Stone Shape spell. Inside there was a spiral stair case leading up, but before we investigated upstairs we thought to free the statue and see what we could learn from it.

Even with the head severed, once placed back on time and the slave applied, the human Halthus the Flayer was revived. While he was a low level initiate 80 years ago, he now claims high priesthood and demands that we follow him… I think he and Val would get along well… still he told his story and indicated some things about the keep that we did not know, like the waters under the statues were safe to drink, and the larder.

He also told us that there are 3 gems like the one he ‘lost’ that would release the demon. While I held onto one of them, I thought it prudent to not let him know I had it either. He on the other hand thought that the Mitrians must have it and would storm their keeps to recover the gems… with our help… I also laughed.

The other 2 gems were held by the high priests. I fear that those gems might be in the hands of the Mitrians, I did not voice my fears to the others, but we also were not 100% sure. We had more of this keep to explore to be certain.

We proceeded up the spiral staircase, at the top we discovered 2 demons waiting. I sent forth my Minotaur and summoned earth elementals to assist it. The demons did not take long to destroy them. however, they were there just to give Ulric time to learn their names apparently so that he could command them… but it didn’t seem to work, we fled

Right when we could of used that useless woman, she is no where to be seen, but then Halthus spoke up and commanded the demons to stand down as he was the high priest… and they did!

This one we will need to keep at least for a little while!

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Search for the Horn of Abaddon

Written from the perspective of Lady Valencia Blackthorn

After our resounding success with the fall of Ballentyne, Cardinal Thorn sent Tiadora to pick us up and ferry us to our next mission – and remove us from the imminent threat of the converging Mitran forcess to clean up the bugbear mess.

Tiadora was hillarious. She played this game of disguise, going into the towns to disguise herself as a Mitran knight and torturing, interrogating and murdering innocents looking for the “Asmodean” forces. I don’t know how I kept a straight face. It was a delightful game. I felt the stringing up of children was a bit rough, but oh well, it’s all in the name of our Dark Lord and it’s not like they didn’t have it coming. I also found myself thinking back to the number of children burned just by having the misfortune of having Asmodeus worshipping parents and how I narrowly escaped their fate. What Tiadora dispenses is nothing more than the justice they deserve.

Our mission was to locate a lost temple known as the Horn of Abaddon. Once inside we are to break the seal to release a daemon prince called Vetra Kali “Eats-the-Eyes” so he can spread some horrifying plague to make lives worse for the Mitrans. I did broach the topic with the Cardinal how will we be protected while releasing an unstoppable plague but he dismissed the question. A little too swiftly for my liking. I can only trust that this fits into Asmodeus’ designs and that we are carrying out his bidding. In Asmodeus We Trust.

Anyhow, we reached a nice little town. On our journey I found that my blessings of Asmodeus were slowly shifting me to the vision of my dreams – that of a vampire. Although not having a reflection is damnably annoying. How the hell will I do my hair? How I make myself presentable for parties?

Well, I’m pretty sure I must done something wrong with my makeup. We met with this Count – a contact of Thorn’s and he barely noticed me. Or maybe it was my hair? I don’t know. But I’m a bit self conscious about the whole thing and I noticed that the others are preying on that. We’ll see who is laughing when I can cast Dominate Person at will and they’re licking my boots.

The Count sounds like a perfidious fellow and not to be trusted. To add to which, he informed us a little of the history of the region and that the Bitch is turning up with Dostan and her motley band to aid us. I relished the opportunity to tell her that she would be working for us on this mission.

The next day our band met them at the docks as they arrived on a fine vessel of a ship. Why did they get a full blown ship and we got a crappy barge? I realised then it was because they did not have Tiadora to guide them and that we were blessed.

When Bitch stepped off the ship I made clear to her that she was here to work for me. Unfortunately it seems the Cardinal had other plans – she was to stay in the town and play the intelligence and counter intelligence game with the townsfolk. Emma Reld and I conferred and we immediately had our suspicions. Sounds like the Cardinal is hedging his bets. He did say one knot failed already searching for the Horn and in checking the fine print of our contracts we noted that nothing says that the knots must serve each others interests. We suspect that this is the work of Asmodeus testing our – and their – ambitions. My gut feel was to murder them in their sleep but Emma felt it more prudent to wait for them to reveal their hand. I feel this is risky but it does provide us a more solid footing in our defence when we explain to the Cardinal why we had to do them in. We must be cautious.

Anyway, our time in the town was rather boring. Emma got all exciting about finding some ineffectual cult and got really insistent in wanting to help them out with their financial burdens. I had no idea we had became a charity. I thought we burned away any good intentions in Ballentyne and what we hadn’t burned, we had strung up and tortured on our way here. Sigh.

Anyway, we helped them out. I was in a good mood as we were loaded to the gills with loot from Ballentyne and the Cardinal. That and there seemed to be a surplus of magic items in the town. Maybe this cult can lead us to more. Well, they claim they can – once inside the Horn. Emma says that they are liars and have no clue and we will have to do them in at some point. I am quite comfortable with her taking the lead here. I really don’t know why she got so excited over the cult. But their leader sounds like an utter buffoon. In a battle of wits, I’d even pit Ulric against him.

It is worthy of note that it was Emma that – using her magic and knowledge of terrain, narrowed down what could have been a one year trek and reduced it down to a two week trip. She also managed to negotiate our way past the treant guarding the Horn (whom I so badly wanted to incinerate just for fun). We sent false word back to the Bitch that our search continues. No need for them to know the truth now….

I am really enjoying my time on the road now. No more whoring in taverns. No more skulking in caverns. No more crappy barges. Straight up exploration. Captain Edderly has become rather mute now he is released from his chains. I am tempted to test his prowess with his other sword at some point but I’ve become much more fascinated with Emma Reld. At least I would if it weren’t for that ineffable smell….

I am a bit worried about becoming undead and losing the joy for life. And wine. Hopefully blood is a sufficient recompense. And immortality.

Hmm…. immortality….

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The Whispering Way

Written from the perspective of Emma Reld

Life as a gnome. The tall ones see us as jovial, fun, loving of life, but that is just cause it’s what my brethren think the long legs want to see out of us. Plus, it keeps us safe from the bullying nature of the tall ones… who can bully a clown. Still for some of us, we have taken a more dour look on like, well I say dour cause that is what the clowns would say, I and those like me, would say ‘realistic’.

The world is full of dread, so we, the dread gnomes, embrace it!

I tried being the clown that everyone expects, but there was no joy in it for me, and the wilds of the world never showed the joy either, so when I decided to study as a druid, I believed that I would find peace in the harshness of the wilderness, but instead I found death.

Death was all around, the leaves, the animals, the food I had to eat to stay alive, it was all dead. I realized that that all things will die, it was when I was at my lowest that I found the joy I was seeking from being a clown, it was the dread I enjoyed. Death, decay, disease, in these things I found peace. And then I meet him.

Another dread gnome, but one that was fighting against the force of death. He called himself a Necromancer and seeked to master death. At first I thought it unnatural like all the blind sheep, that believed that necromancy and undeath were not part of the natural order, but he tort me differently.

He showed me that undeath was something that was natural, spirits returned from ‘death’ all the time without the aid of the divine or arcane, and he also pointed out the hypocrisy of clerics that raised people back from death to life, was that any different?

And so I soon believed that undeath was just a part of life and death and something that others should seek… that I should seek… He told me of the cult he belonged to, the Whispering Way. I joined and embraced the teachings, just as I embraced my new gnome love!

Love… another illusion, that only leads to more dread… blessed dread, I had forsaken you for this love, and soon I was nearly crushed under the weight of the loss.

6 months I was with the cult, learning, researching, loving. The cult had to be secretive, as this island is ruled by those blind and hypocritical sheep, the Mitrians, but someone betrayed us. During a night of our meeting, the witch hunters came and destroy it all, the cult, the research, creations and him.

I was sleep in his bed when they broke in and knocked me out. I awoke in Brandascar, branded and forlorn. Dread had found me again…

Now I stand in the presence of the leader of the Whispering Way in Farhold, and the man is an idiot! Michaelis Mannon The fool owes so much money that I am surprised he still has his legs! His plan is to steal information from the bones of a demon cult that Throne has sent us to seek. His lure is to open a vault for the Adventurers that he plans to send to find the tomes… I know the plan would be idiotic, but this fool does not deserve the glory of being one of the cult leaders!

Still to bring the cult to my rule, I needed an in with them, proving my worth to them by gaining the information and more importantly, USING the information! I will take this pathetic fools head and raise it as one of my own pets!

I convinced my team to follow the fools plans, if only to get the information on finding the horn that we seek. Not that I believe I need it. Seeking a spire in the forest, if ever a mission was to be my shining example it would be this one.

The Master has sent the 9th knot to Farhold after our success at Ballintine. There we are to find the site of a cult that was defeated, one that was summoning a demon to release a pestilence on the world that would be devastating! While the Master normally lulls me to sleep with his speeches, this got y attention!

We were also to be working with the 7th knot, the one that was lead by Elise Zadaria, or as Val likes to call her, the bitch! We were to be in charge, but I could not see the point in leadership, we would be doing the hard work out bush, and they would be slacking it in town. It seemed a waste of our time having to baby site the pompous gits! But them maybe Throne has grown tired of the 7th and wants us to use the disease we find on them as a test!

Val even went so far to insinuate that their tracker would be on more using in finding the Horn that ME! I do believe that that woman was intentionally attempting to goad me in proving her wrong! Well I wasted no time!

I summoned a bird native to the Spires and questioned it to which of the spires the birds avoided. The bird told me of 3 such spires and I spent the rest of the day viewing the paths to get to them before returning to find that Val’s beloved scout, had pointed out 3 others from the information I had gotten from Mannon. With both sets of information, we narrowed the search from 50ish such spires to 1.

Now the process of getting this team prepared for a hike through the forest was in order.

We spent a week shopping, adjusting armors and just preparing and after the time, we believed we were set to head out looking for the spire.

Once again I safely and quickly guided our group towards the location, cutting time due to my previous scouting and avoiding dangers that I am sure Val’s precious scout from the 7th knot would have died in! If she ever doubts me again, I might just have to ruin her dresses, I have noticed that my aroma does seem to linger!

Before we made it to the spire, we encountered a Trent in a clearing. What he was doing, might not be fit for children’s ears, but I cared not! Nor did my party, who seemed hell bent to get into a fight now to destroy the noble Trent. While I might follow Asmodeos, and follow a different moral code, I still believe in nature and would not want this noble creature destroyed if avoidable.

I went to parley with the Trent while the others held back. The fool tree believed that he was on a mission to protect the spire from evil, keeping it from being opened because a paladin told him that he had to. I attempted to convince the Trent that the balance had been disturber because of these goodly sheep. But he would not believe it, so I quickly changed tacks, and convinced the ancient one that I and my party were there to destroy the seal once and for all and asked if we could pass.

The Glorious Trent allowed us to pass thinking our quest was noble, destroying the seal is something we do want, if only to release the demon and his poison… I did not like, it will be destroyed, once and for all!.

The Trent almost insulted Val, who’s make-up did look like it was applied in the dark… well nothing new there… but we managed to get though to the spire with knowledge that the seal it towards the top of the spire and we could avoid some creatures that had made their home in the lower levels of the spire. I do wonder what type of undead that Trent would become if I was to encourage nature a little in his case. Loyalty does deserve a reward… but later, now we are at the spire, and soon, more glory will come our way!

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Knot of Thorns

Written from the perspetive of Cardinal Adrastus Thorn, High Priest of Asmodeus

Everything is proceeding according to my plan.

First I selected the worst of the worst from Branderscar prison, these were the scum of Talingade, they were so bad the rest of Mitran society could no longer tolerate their existence. These villains I freed:

Valencia Blackthorn – As proud and overconfident as she is beautiful, a sorceress who has embraced Asmodeus as her own. A pity her brain does not match her looks.

Emma Reld – A plucky gnome druid who speaks so much you would think no one ever listened to her, probably because they do not.

Lilith Lahash – An elven rogue who has dreams of magic, she is so undisciplined she may never master stealth or the arcane.

Ulric Von Aldrech – A former soldier who did not have the stomach for open combat and choose desertion over duty.

Vengeance – A mysterious elf, too sly for his own good, confident in his abilities, but without a purpose to guide him.

To these five misfits, my Ninth Knot to be, I sent my handmaiden, Tiadora.

With Tiadora’s assistance their escape from Branderscar was all but assured, these misfits saw fit to torch the place on the way out, not very subtle, but I guess a degree of leniency should be allowed them.

Next they faced my tests, these they passed adequately, a minor spark of brilliance was displayed as they pitted a pair of challenges against each other to complete them. This is something I can work with. They did however, spare a pitiful Mitran Squire who they forced to kill his master. I guess everyone needs their play-things. I allowed it.

Then their training commenced in earnest, I took these rough beings and began to shape them to meet my needs. It was a trying time, they were slow to learn, but in the end they were passable and ready for their task, to destroy the watch-wall and break the first Pillar of Talingarde’s defences.

I have to admit, I gave them no better than a 60% chance of success, but the pieces were in motion and I had no time to train another group.

They sailed north, and met many adversities on the way, fortunately I had put them in the care of a skilled sailor and pirate who was able to see them safely north with a shipment of arms for Sakaroot’s bugbears. I had considered killing the captain, as he was a greedy, greedy man, but in hindsight it was best that I did not as without him all would have been lost.

Having delivered the arms the Ninth were unable to slay the captain as per their orders, but had to have Sakaroot take care of it. He is my First Knot, at least he is competent.

Then on to Aldencross and the Watchtower of Balentyne.
Their mission started well, infiltrating the tower and learning its secrets, but then their freedom got the better of them, they all had different methods of how to bring down the tower…

Ulric chose a slow, deep-undercover approach, he integrated himself into the defences of the tower, but had he had his way he would still be working on his cover at the age of 60.

Valencia wanted to bed anything which moved one moment, then burn anyone and anything the next, with no regard for the fact that this would alert the garrison to her presence.

Emma came up with plan after plan after plan, each more complex than the last and each ever changing, with her incessant babbling each was ignored by the remained of the Knot, even those which might have succeeded.

Then there was Vengeance and Lilith, both seemed competent, but took no initiative, the certainly did nothing to prevent the other three working at odds with each other!

The result was a complete, chaotic disaster, one day everything was proceeding well, the next the tower was a high alert, Vengeance was dead and the success of the mission was hanging by a thread.

Asmodeus, why must I suffer such fools as minions?

It was then that they finally remembered my teachings. Thanks to the wisdom and skills which I had imparted in them they were able to bring the mission back from the brink of failure to an astounding success!

The watchtower has fallen, Sakaroot’s horde even now flows through the watch-wall and into the borderlands, all the castles within 5 days of Balentyne are in disarray thanks to the Seventh’s excellent performance (where can I find more like them?).

The horde marches south towards the soft heart of Talingarde, it will be some time before the Mitrans can rally any real defence against them. Before that the next phase of the plan must be complete.

But alas, all has not everything is going smoothly. The Forth Knot has not been heard from, I must send others to locate them and complete their mission. Never trust a barbarian.

The Ninth will have another chance to prove that they are not the bunch of bumbling incompetents that they appear. I shall send the Seventh with them to assure success.

The Seventh do seem overly sure of themselves, this may prove a problem. To put them in their place I shall place the Ninth in charge of the mission. That should set that snow-witch to rights!

The Ninth will succeed where the Fourth have failed, or die trying.

Yes, everything is proceeding according to MY plan!

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Ballentyne will fall

Written from the perspective of Lady Valencia Blackthorn
Finally, I have led the members of the Nessian Knot to success! We have slain the Commander of the Keep, opened the gates and led the bugbears to the townsfolk. The townsfolk will fall like lambs to the slaughter! I have demonstrated my worth to the group and they have finally acknowledged that I am their leader. It has taken some time to reach this point, but they have all proven themselves worthy. Even Lilith has started to play her wizardry to her strengths. I may make something of them yet!

We had released Ulric and we came across the dashing (and rather handsome!) Captain Zac Edderly. Realising that his fate hung in the balance (no pun intended) it didn’t take much persuasion for him to realise that siding with us presented him with the best chance of escape and of seeking a new life. He asked who was the leader. I immediately replied myself. This seemed to rankle a few feathers but really, as if any of them are fit to lead. Emma is the only one closest to leading, but seriously – she smells and looks like dirt.

With his aid, we re-equipped Ulric with the gear from the other Captain and outfitted Edderly and marched on the Commander’s quarters. The other guards were but lambs to the slaughter. We kicked in the door on the Commander. He had heard our approach and spent some time preparing himself with his Mitran magics… haha. His god was but wheat before the scythe. Ulric charged and cleaved into him, backed by Edderly and Lilith while myself and Emma blasted him with magics. He was slain in short order. Searching the room we found the chest full of gold and goods, Ulric’s equipment and ransacked the room.

As we did so, Emma proceeded to boast about her awesome plan to use animate dead. The stupid bitch had recently learned this spell and just kept going on and on about how we could use it to masquerade as the Commander – ignoring the fact we had the iron circlets, my silent image spell. No, she HAD to use that ONE spell. Given it was Emma with the suggestions, I actually listened to her. But really, she just didn’t sell it to me. Believing rightly that demoralising the troops was the better plan and that waiting on her to flesh out the plan more fully, I severed the Commander’s head and tossed it from the window.

Ulric and Emma lost the plot. Again, I just rolled my eyes and told them we better leave quickly and to take the chest to the mages’ room. If they didn’t believe I was the leader before, they sure as hell did now.

We fled to the mages quarters and hunkered down. Guards were approaching and we all agreed they would systematically search each room to look for us. My plan was to lay low but Emma Reld was too upset and decided to reduce them to ash in a fit of rage. I was impressed. Her ability and rage is matched only by her eldritch might. Go girl.

We then fled to the hidden passageway out of the keep and back to the house. We then toasted to our success. I could tell Ulric and Emma wanted to challenge me, but as predicted, they would not do so. My magic, beauty and superior leadership skills have proven themselves and they could not deny the absolutely demoralising blow we had delivered to the men. All that remained was to continue to beat that upon them. Lilith agreed. Although, we finally found some onyx gemstones which mean that we could have followed Emma’s plans. How bizarre!

For the next day or so, we left mutilated corpses. We poisoned their food. All pretty pedestrian stuff really. We scrawled messages in blood. Seriously, it was just for fun. They had no means of piercing our disguises. We had defeated their most skilled defenders. We could have dragged this out another month and toyed with them and practically held the gates open for the bugbears. But no, we’d achieved our aim and we had other work ahead of us.

We opened the portcullis, lowered the drawbridge, sabotaged the controls and then held the position long enough so that it was unwinnable for the Mitran defenders. Realising our success, Lilith and I cast invisibility on everyone allowing us to escape.

Ulric and I remained, toasting some fine wine stolen from the Commander’s tower, watching as the bugbears stormed the fortress and looted, burned and pillaged everything in sight. Meanwhile Emma and Lilith disappeared. Not sure where, who cared. It was a nice – almost romantic moment with Ulric, standing on that parapet, watching Ballentyne burn.

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The Walls shall FALL!

Written from the perspective of Emma Reld

Within the prison we discovered . Ulric had done something right in recruiting Captain Fancy Pants Captain Zacharias “Zack” Eddarly to the cause, pointing out that he doesn’t really have a life left within the Mitrian society.

I was reluctant to free him, and then he called me a familiar, and . Val’s familiar of all the people! Even declaring Val to be our leader. I felt like scratching his eyes out! He even thought I was cute! I must remember to stand next to him when he wakes, if he ever wakes after this attack. I was forced even to revert back to my Gnome form to heal the overbearing egomaniac! I should of just made him bleed!

Fancy Pants equipped himself as his gear was still within the cells while I lent Fancy Corpse my circlet so that he could assist in getting the team up to the commanders room, while Ulric was forced to wear Captain Bal’s gear, the magic sword was at least a bonus to his gear list. The time has come to dispose of the Commander and complete the major tasks of our mission.

We slaughtered the guards on the way up, unfortunately the Commander seemed to have heard and prepared for our arrival. Still his preparations were not enough. The pompous and arrogant Paladin attempted to get us to surrender given us more time to unleash our vengeance onto him!

He managed to swing at Ulric and connected, but our Anti-Paladin was more than a match for their Paladin along with the power that I and the rest of the team brought. The commander fell before we even broke a sweat.

The guards on the roof were alerted, but Lillith and I managed to kill them before they could raise even more alarms. Once all our enemies were dead Lillith spent time to open the payroll chest to retrieve one of our well earned rewards. The commanders armor was also transformed before our eyes by the power of Asmodeos!

I started to explain my plan to now take over the keep, yet these tall people were too thick with their heads so high and drunk on the small victory. No sooner had I finally gotten the attention of these peons to explain the plan than Val, who was busy desecrating the Commander’s corpse, dropped the head of the commander out the window altering the guards to our presence!

Ruining ANY hope that we could pretend to be anything other than the murders. We quickly gathered the chest and anything else of value and made it to the Mage’s quarters where we hoped to hole up for the short term, but it was not long before the guards noticed the locked room and wanted to break in.

While the others argued on how to get out, I opened the door and flame sphere’d them. I was sick of attempting to reason with these fools, it was easier to unleash my rage on these peon guards than the incompetent team I had to deal with! They died without any real effort and we continued our escape.

We managed to get to the secret passage and out before the guards could stop us… not that there was anyone else alive that could stop us!

We rested that night, and the next day continued our reign of terror. Finding the last captain being sent away, most likely after the wild goose chase that Ulric feed the commander, the dwarves we were to discover were recruited to assist in guarding the walls… but it made no difference, we killed a few men and cause more terror, but the tasks we completed we minor as we prepared to open the gates for the Bugbears.

The day finally arrived, the bears were ready, as I fly north to ensure they were there. We then launched the attack, climbing to the gate house and killing a few guards on the way, however, this lead the other alert guards to notice Val… she managed to dispose of the guards she had to deal with as we set off the signal.

Other guards soon arrived at the guard house locking the others in. Ruining another plan… Val… that girl is becoming far too Chaotic!… Still my part of the plan could not be so easily stopped, I transformed into a bird and proceeded to lock up the portcullis, and warping the doors so that they could not be closed.

I then returned to town to prepare for the looting. So I was only to find out later about the glory of the Bugbears attack and the simplicity of their victory, but I was also to find out that in our teams internal scouting, we missed a seal that closed the main door, but with so little to stop the Bugbears they were able to overcome it and get out to the city.

Lillith was the only one to return from the keep to assist with the looting of the magic items. Once again I was disappointed with the team. Lillith knocked on the door to inform the owner of the impending attack. so that we could attempt to kill the merchant in the open and steal the items…

Only the merchants bodyguards ran and I gave pursuit, I managed to slow and burn one of them, but the other escaped. The items that the one I killed had were just petty magic items, so it was obvious that these guards did not have the items that we really wanted.

Lillith on the other hand found a heavily enchanted chest and attempted to break into it, but could not bypass the spells. Running out of time before the Bugbears arrived in town, we fleed to meet back with the others.

Asmodoes’ will be done, we were Victorious!

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