Crossroads in Cain

Episode Three: Revenge of the Bard

We find ourselves in a room containing the tomb of a knight of King Dorian. The search for Randall Mattockblade is beginning to feel grim. However, Nogg urges the party move on. Sounds can be heard from the next room. It is the bard Orlin who also was sent to find Randall.
Orlin looks tired and emaciated, so Nogg begrudgingly gives him a couple of rations. Orlin devours them as he tells the party of a hag who has been keeping him tied up in this room. The room itself appears to be a makeshift kitchen. Orlin points the party in the direction where he saw the hag leave. The party decides to pursue the hag, hoping it would lead them to Randall. Lusor gives Orlin a viol, a worthy substitute for Orlin’s favored multi-instrumental approach.
In the hag’s room, we can see two exits – a door and a cave. In the room some various trinkets and a gold chest. Gaitus decides to pick the lock and open the box. Right as he does, spikes fly out and hit his hand and it snaps shut. Lusor decides we should instead open it from afar with his Mage Hand. Inside, we find all of Orlin’s instruments as well as some books, a couple of full vials, another small box, some bracelets, buckles, and belts. Gaitus reads the engravings on the small box, “Sir Carak the Brave.”
Gormak asks Orlin if he ever heard a door slam when the hag had him prisoner. Orlin responds in the negative, so Gormak decides to check the cave entrance for prints, as well as any other signs of entrance at the cave and the other door. He is unable to find any definitive sign of which direction the hag may have gone.
As if he did not learn his lesson the first time, Gaitus eagerly opens the small box. A gust of poison sprays out, which Gaitus deftly avoids causing the mist to hit Nogg squarely in the eyes. Nogg lets out a huff, as though she is used to but still marginally annoyed by Gaitus’ antics, and pushes him aside. She takes a burlap sack out of the chest and opens it to find a couple of sapphires, a ruby, and three emerald gems. Underneath the sack she finds a belt buckle with some blood on it. Tyson snatches the books from the chest then takes a close look at the vials, identifying them as possibly being able to cure wounds.
The party decides to check the door exit first. Nogg leads. She sees a dug-out tunnel ahead. Gormak enters and immediately feels cold. He calls Thoros to use his divine senses. Thoros sees jars of body parts. The rest of the party enters the room as the air around them seems to get even colder. Gaitus decides he has not set off enough traps today, so he and Gormak approach the jars without care. Fate decides otherwise, as the two spring a trap and are knocked on their posteriors.
Gaitus takes out a bottle which had a bit of water in it. “Lusor, grab that blue object and put it in the bottle.” The party wisely stayed a safe distance back while Lusor used his Mage Hand to pick up the object and place it in Gaitus’ bottle. The object hit the bottom of the bottle then instantly froze.
Gormak looks in a nearby chest and finds a deer carcass, a jug of blood mead, and some eggs. Gaitus eyes the bottle to add to his collection later. Nogg urges the party to move on and find Randall, who she keeps lovingly referring to as, ‘the boy.’ The party retraces their steps into the hag’s room, then out the cavernous exit. Tyson, always the master of timing, warns his fellow adventurers that the topaz artifact we had smashed may have possibly released a demon.
The party exits into a field outside the structure. Ahead a blue-leafed tree lies toppled over with a hole in the top. Gaitus asks himself, “Could fate be so cruel?” as he investigates the opening. Inside he finds some rations, a purse with some silver, some rusty thieves tools, a crossbow, and a canteen filled with dwarven spirits.
As they approach the structure, Thoros sees a cauldron. He takes a closer look and reveals it to have some sort of ritualistic purpose and can create skeletons. “Nogg smash!” The cauldron breaks into dozens of pieces. “Nogg not take chances,” she snarls.
The ample moonlight allows the party to get their bearings. They are behind the church where they had entered with the battering log. Returning north to the front of the church, Tyson suggests that the party take a rest. Lusor and Gaitus take watch. As Gormak is sleeping, Gaitus tries (and of course fails) to take a bottle from him. As Orlin is getting ready for a rest, Lusor asks him about Randall’s whereabouts. Orlin responds that he thinks Randall is dead. Tyson reads the books he had earlier taken from the hag’s chest.
Morning beckon’s the adventurers to press on. They head back to the tavern after a long, deserved rest. Tyson, who is known to be an occasional sleep-reader, informs the others that he read both of the books they picked up. He says that the first one is about Sir Carak, who was in service to the Martyr King Dorian. Sir Carak’s role was to purge the magic using villages. The other book was a Madduckblade family journal. The pendant the party had earlier looted was identified by Lusor to be something Sir Carak had worn, perhaps as part of a ritual. The stone inside was some kind of ‘godstone.’ Gormak decides that he had better carry it.
A commotion can be heard ahead at the Tavern and Nogg hastens the party’s pace. As they arrive at the tavern, they see Delb at the center of it all, trying desperately to calm the crowd. “I don’t know how he died,” and, “his livestock was ruined,” were all they party could make out amongst all of the ruckus. Lawrence (the server) tried bolting up the stairs but Nogg was just as fast. She chased after him up the stairs, giving Delb a quick glance at the belt-buckle she had taken from the hag’s room last night. Nogg corners Lawrence up in Randall’s room. Lawrence though is not trying to escape. Rather, he knew when the party returned without Randall that the story did not end well for him. Nogg showed Lawrence the blood-stained belt-buckle, which Lawrence remembered as Randall’s. She comforted him and gave him the belt-buckle and headed back down to the tavern.
Meanwhile downstairs, Gormak and the others are able to determine that a farmer was killed. The body, which was brutally gashed and impaled with spikes, lay just outside the tavern. Gaitus disguises as a farmer himself and joins the rabble, trying to subtly subdue them. “Calm down everyone, let’s just all calm down,” he urged the crowd. As the day was new, so too was Gaitus’ luck, as he convinced the crowd that the danger had passed. Some nonsense about ‘spike-pigs.’ Gaitus looked proud of himself.
However, his luck was about to end. Delb confronts Gaitus about the alleged “Titan’s Gate Elixir” Gaitus had used in trade prior to their adventure. Tyson interrupts to show Delb the journal they had discovered back at the church. Delb’s face turns from anger to shock as he gasps, “Lawrence!” and races up the stairs to look for him. Lawrence is nowhere to be found.
Nogg, sensing the calm is tenuous, decides to keep the crowd spiritually lubricated and takes Delb’s place behind the bar. While she’s keeping the ale flowing, the others notice three people in the corner who do not look like they belong. Thoros and Lusor decide to bring them some drinks. A woman, who appears to be some sort of ranger, and her two male counterparts, graciously accept their company. Thoros asks them if they know any more about the commotion. The woman replies that there is a demon roaming around outside. Gormak comes to the table and introduces himself as a fellow hunter. The two hunters trade verbal barbs, each bragging about their own tracking prowess. Nogg, overhearing it all, prods the woman into a bet that Gormak can track down the demon before her. She agrees. Lusor, wanting to put a proper name to the story, finds out she is called Mera Arper.
Both parties headed in the same direction for a couple of hours. Gormak’s senses then told him to head south as Mera and her mates maintained an eastward path. Just as the two parties diverged, Mera’s disguise wears off. She is the Hag, accompanied by two minions. Lusor quickly casts his Faerie Fire on the three, but it fails! Thoros moves closer to his friends to help out. Gormak pulls an arrow out of his quiver and lands a shot on the Hag. The Hag lashes a vicious insult towards Gaitus as he disengages and fires his crossbow at her. Tyson fires three magic missiles at the Hag and Lusor finishes her off with Bane. The minions attempt one last desperate strike on Thoros and Nogg. Gaitus and Nogg finish off the minions with ease.

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Session 2: Going to the chapel, and we're...

In our last episode, the party was sent by King Cyric the Grey (of Yiuset) to find his missing bard. The bard, Orlin Swift, was set to headline the upcoming ‘Noble Knight’s Festival’ — likely King Cyric’s last — but had not been seen.

However, Farhan, the high priest (dubbed “Knight”) of the local Cathedral of the Martyr King, received an urgent letter from the proprietor of The Coach, a near-ancient Inn & Tavern. In the letter, Delb Mattockblade, wrote that his son Randall went missing and he recently hired Orlin (who was traveling back to Yiuset) to find his son.

Delb notified the church is because he had a feeling it has something to do with a ruined centuries old Dorian Chapel & Guard tower called Lightwatch Tower, which has a long history of dark legends attached to its name.

Royal officials had sent a few adventuring parties to investigate, with no luck (and frankly, no word of what has happened). The adventurers, the third by King Cyric by the church’s insistence travelled two days to The Coach.

They met a cast of characters:

  • Delb Mattocksblade — The owner of The Coach. An agreeable, burly man. His family has been stewards of the near-ancient tavern for many generations. Together, Gaitus and Tyson searched his son’s room for any clues of his disappearance. They found nothing, though Delb did tell them Randall was wearing a gold belt buckle. Gaitus later would con Delb into trading away some much needed healing potions for a worthless bottle of liquid.
  • Grundle – An angry dwarf who complained out loud when Lusor decided to busk in the tavern. Nogg almost got into a brawl with the surly patron for defending Lusor’s honor.
    *Laurence – Human tavern server. Was very interested in Lusor’s playing ability. He clumsily knocked over some flagons and bottles watching him perform.

After a little bit of a debate when to leave, the party decided to head out that night. Delb gave traveling instructions on how to find the tower, and warned them that the tower is bathed in unnatural darkness the closer you get to it.

The party traveled and on the way encountered a Wood-Elf Ranger by the name of Kestrel. Kestrel playfully fired a warning shot that landed in a tree next to Nogg. Nogg, not happy about it, charged him. Gormak, the Half-Orc Ranger stopped Nogg and told her that he protects the woods from evil, and that it’s probably not a good idea to attack Kestrel. Nogg reluctantly agreed.

Kestrel told the party:

  • The Lightwatch Tower is dangerous. Two parties of adventurers previously sent by King Cyric have not returned.
  • The Bard was also seen entering by himself, and did not come out.
  • Randall Mattockblade and Laurence (the server) were lovers and they entered the Tower thinking they could keep their relationship hidden. Laurence was able to escape. Randall did not.

Thanks to Gormak’s effective shaming, the party convinced Kestrel to lead them in to the darkness that enveloped the Tower. The party overcame some of the darkness with a help from Tyson casting some light. The party encountered some skeletons and defeated them.

They soon discovered the chapel entrance and looked inside. Kneeling in the center of the ruined chapel was a humanoid skeleton, apparently made out of or coated in gold. Piles of bones were spread around the chapel. The party devised a plan to trick the gold skeleton with an illusion. While distracted, the party rammed the doors open with a felled tree.

The party hit the skeleton with the battering ram, knocking it prone. As it stood, it issued an otherworldly wail as a topaz the size of a hen’s egg in its bony forehead flashes with sudden pulse of brilliance. Four piles of bones lying about the ruined chapel glowed brightly with golden light and sprung to their feet….

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Session 1: Ready Player One, Two, Three, Four, Five
Our story (sorta) begins....

The port city of Yiuset bustles with trade and teems with excitement. The city has begun a week-long celebration that will lead up to “Noble Knights Day”. The religion that celebrates this occasion is called the Dorian Religion or Church of the Martyr King.

Here’s the story of the Dorian Religion, also known as the Church of the Martyr King:

The Titan Gods, who were angry at the Speaking Races for twisting arcane magic and creating new gods, began destroying the world in wrathful vengeance. Abyssal creatures and the “splintering” unleashed by the Titan Gods caused the continent to split into three. Dorian, the first human King of The Sanction (North and South combined), wove a tapestry of combined lesser god magic and sacrificed himself for the good of all the inhabitants of the world.

Dorian’s plan worked. The Titan Gods were destroyed, never to return. The Abyssal creatures have never entered Cain, even though their presence lingers in the ocean and in Cain’s sister continents. Worshipers believe that Dorian’s protective magic still holds strong, keeping Cain free from Abyssal Splinters and the creatures that spawn from it.

Dorians worship the sacrifice and life of Dorian, “The Martyr King”. They try to embody the principles of sacrifice for the greater good, and live a life of charity and decency to their fellow man. Churches are ornate made of stone masonry, painted glass and numerous torches. (Think Catholic cathedrals, but more fire.) Churches must be built in stone. No wood can be used in making the structure. This is to signify the enduring strength of the religion and its worshipers.

The main symbol is an empty throne to signify the sacrifice made by King Dorian. Church services are led by local “knights”, which are basically just priests. Clergy leadership is a council of five. They reside in Ardenia City in Lorna.

As a rule, they practice no magic except for defense. It was said that King Dorian bent the arcana to safeguard civilization. He knew that such magic could be used to wield immense, and dangerous power. Therefore, worshippers to the religion are forbidden from using magic all together, so as to not become tempted to evil thoughts and deeds.

The celebrate three major events in in the King Dorian lore:
1. Empty Throne — Once per week every year worshipers pray in seclusion and silence. Pilgrims travel to Ardenia City to pray to the Empty Throne. It is a solemn seven days, and one not taken lightly by worshippers. It it the holiest of holidays.

2. Noble Knights Day — Once per year, worshipers pay homage to the valiant knights who protected and safeguarded Cain during and after the Splintering. These anointed knights fought off monsters of Cain and hoards of undead (with the magical defensive power of the Dorian religion) when the Southern Sanction was destroyed by the evil druid, Kaleth-varr of the now Dead Kingdom. Their sacrifice and bravery are celebrated on Noble Knights Day. Worshippers turn out, feast, give thanks and contribute to the churches coffers. Priests (now called “knights”) are treated like celebrities during the day (and even in the lead up).

The lead up to Noble Knights Day are true celebrations with feasts, music and parades. (Think Mardi Gras with slightly less crowds and less boobs.)

3. Good Deeds Day — As a way to pay tribute to Dorian, many worshippers do a good deed for someone in need. It’s usually a day to help the needy or poor, though it can be used for good days all around.

We begin our story 60 miles outside of Yiuset. Our group of adventurers have been hired by Yiuset’s royal crown to search for Orlin Swift, a young Bard in service to King Cyric. Orlin is set to headline “Noble Knight’s Day” celebration concertos. The King — sensing it may be his last before he dies — needs Orlin to be returned safely in time for the concert to preserve his legacy.

Luckily, royal officials have a good idea where Orlin is. Recently, the “Knight” of Yiuset’s Dorian cathedral by the name of Farhan received a letter from the proprietor of The Coach, a near-ancient Inn & Tavern. In the letter, Delb Mattockblade, wrote that his son Randall went missing and he recently hired Orlin (who was traveling back to Yiuset) to find his son. The reason the church was notified is because Delb has a feeling it has something to do with a ruined Dorian chapel/guard tower, which has a long history of dark legends attached to its name.

Royal officials have sent a few adventuring parties to investigate, with no luck (and frankly, no word of what has happened). Our party has travelled two days to The Coach and have just stored their belongings in a room.

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