Crossroads in Cain

Season One In Review

Episodes 1-14 recapped by the Narrator who was also the Grandpa in The Princess Bride (aka Peter Falk)

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 Lora.

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.

Let’s Begin

We began our story 60 miles outside of Yiuset. Our group of adventurers were hired by Yiuset’s royal crown to search for Orlin Swift, a young Bard in service to King Cyric. You see, Orlin was set to headline the “Noble Knight’s Day” celebration concertos. The King — sensing it may be his last before he dies — wished Orlin to be returned safely in time for the concert to preserve his legacy. The king was loved by many, and he wanted the best celebration for his people.

Okay, so why were the adventurers here? As I said, the path led to a town a few days ride outside of Yiuset. The adventurers were hired by King Cyric, who had been given a tip by the local “Knight” (aka local priest) named Farhan. A tavern owner by the name of Delb wrote to Farhan telling him that his son went missing. He hired Orlin (who was a patron at his tavern) to go investigate a ruined Dorian chapel (also a converted guard tower), which had a long history of dark legends attached to its name.

So, find the tavern owner’s son, which will hopefully lead them to Orlin, who can be returned in time for the concert. Let’s do this!

The party discovered the chapel, and it was in fact, a pretty evil place. A darkness had settled over it. But our team of murder hobos made quick work on a number of undead skeletons inside. One of these skeletons had a shimmering topaz gilded to his forehead, which once destroyed, released a spiny demon that the party feebly tried to fight .They couldn’t and it escaped into the wild. The party would later hear tales of it eating some livestock. Yikes.

Nevertheless, the party searched the ruins of the chapel where they found Orlin Swift chained up, looking pretty emaciated. Evidently a hag, captured the Bard and was preparing to eat him, but fled at the sound of battle. Further searches of the compound reveals a freezing stone, some jewels, and a pendant with a tiny black stone inside a small but very heavy box made from some strong and old looking wood. They also find an old tome with the title “Sir Carak, the Brave.”

Turns out, Sir Carak was in service to the Martyr King Dorian. Sir Carak’s role was Inquisitor, purging magic-using villages. Also, that pendant with the stone they found was something Sir Carak had worn, perhaps as part of some ritual. The stone inside was some kind of ‘godstone.’

Oh, and Orlin is certain the tavern owner’s son is dead. They break that news to Delb when they go back to the Inn. It’s there they meet the hag posing as a hunter, where they set out to try to find that demon the party let loose. They kill the hag and her minions. They never find the demon. Yikes.

So, the party + Orlin the Bard make their way back to Yiuset, hoping to arrive in time for the concert. On the way, they meet a halfling who sneaks up on them and has a brief, private chat with Lusor. What was that about? Well, Lusor ain’t saying nothing.

Noble Knights Feast

They make it back to Yiuset without any further problems and collect their payment. Turns out the King loves the adventurers and invites them to dine with him and the court for the Noble Knights Day celebration feast. It turns out the leaders of the Northern Sanction, plus some other allies will also be in attendance at the feast as Northern Sanction alliance meetings are taking place the next few days.

The group splits up to spend their money and get ready for the evening. Meanwhile, Tyson and Gormak trek over to the Royal Library to do some research on that pendant.

Tyson and Gormak locate a book called “Dawn of the Worlds – War With the Titan Gods.” In it, the story tells of Sir Carak leading a force of Dorian soldiers to The Veil to destroy the elves, for Ironwood — which is said to have some magical qualities. Incidentally, the box holding the pendant is made of Ironwood. It was said the Dorian himself created the pendant’s power — which is, well, very powerful.

Gaitus visited his home and learns he has been accepted into the Blackhearts – an Alchemist Guild of the Black Hand syndicate. Though many revere their accomplishments for the Northern Sanction, The Blackhearts (and Black Hand) do have a reputation of deceit.

N’ogg and Lusor visit the half-orcs mother’s home of Elena Turell, which sadly has been taken over by a greater house , the Ruyboffs. They are rebuffed and are told to GTFO.

That night the party would join the feast. Nogg would meet her Uncle who explains that Victor Ruyboff may be responsible for Elena Turell’s death. While he can’t prove it, he believes Victor poisoned Elena so that he could take over her holdings. N’ogg is furious. This, of course isn’t true. Elena died of natural causes. Her fortune was stolen, but not by Victor Ruyboff. But rather 3by Gaitus. N’ogg consults Gaitus, as she knows how close Gaitus was to Elena. Gaitus nervously says he’ll keep an eye out for anything sketchy. What a friend, that Gaitus.

Also at the feast, Tyson is greeted by some elves from Lord Oranas — leader of Elafal. They present him with a gemstone, which Tyson recognizes as a seeker stone. WTF? Some random elf is staling Tyson? Gormak and Lusor drink up with Cordnaa (a priest in service to Cantwy), and Farhan. Farhan is very interested in seeing the pendant. Gaitus overhears about some sort of secret alliance between Thane Gilamrand and Princess Elise.

The next morning the party agrees that they should try and activate the pendant with the godstone. They head out of town to keep their experiment hidden. Tyson pops it on and says abacadabra alacazam. The ground shakes and splits. Out of the chasm emerges a horrible abomination, which the party makes quick work of.

The group thinks it’s a good idea to tell someone about this event, and they agree that Farhan’s probably the best bet. Farhan admits he’s done some research and that the pendant was likely bound to Sir Carak, and therefore might not be reliable when wielded by Tyson. Or anyone for that matter. This could have caused the earthquake and subsequent monster fight.

In the discussion, Cordnaa and two of Cantwy’s bodyguards burst in the room and attack the party. Cordnaa announces that they are after the godstone pendant. The party refuses and puts up a fight, but they are clearly no match for these elite guards. Thankfully the elves that gave Tyson the seeker stone suddenly show up to rescue him. They are told to flee, to which the party obliges through the cathedral catacombs along with Farhan.

Escaping the Ambush by Cordnaa

Once underground the party makes its way through the catacombs with Farhan in the lead. They soon encounter about eight Drow soldiers who had blasted a whole in the catacombs revealing a subterranean tunnel. The party is able to fend them off and continue through to their destination — Farhan’s residence. He’s got a special tunnel that leads to his place. And for some reason N’ogg and Farhan get busy. Because, well, Nogg.

Once they feel they’re safe, Farhan insists that the group meet with King Cyric at once to warn him of the danger and to seek guidance. The party agrees. At Castle Grey, King Cyric is pulled from the Northern Sanction UN meeting, and him and Princess Elise meet the party in the King’s solarium. The news of the Cathedral attack, the appearance of Oranas’ elves, and the story of the party finding the godstone and testing it was revealed to Cyric. As such, King Cyric becomes concerned.

He quietly murmurs that Cordnaa and the Drow were likely working together. It’s no coincidence they were all there at the same time. But a larger question loomed. Was he just taking orders from Cantwy? And how did Oranas know when to save the party by intervening?

Cyric orders that the amulet and its Ironwood chest should remain at the castle for safekeeping. Reluctantly the group agrees. They relinquish it and is taken by armed guard.

The King then summons Cantwy and Lord Oranas so they can explain themselves. Cantwy, ever defiant, says that his paige Cordnaa likely bribed the two guards and made an alliance to sell the amulet. Lord Oranas said he had no interest or knowledge of any amulet. But was protecting something else precious. His son…Tyson. WUUTT?

Turns out when the Drow attacked Elafal and slaughtered many elves, Oranas smuggled his son Tyson away to protect him. They must keep Tyson’s royal blood secret. That seekerstone alerted him of Tyson’s danger.

Cantwy requests that the amulet with the godstone be turned over to the church (vi sa vie Cantwy), but the King smartly declines and says that he has it and will retain it until after the issue is sorted out. Cantwy, in a rage, announces that he will departs at once to consult the Council of 5 in Ardenia City on the legality of such a move.

Once Cantwy departs and Oranas is dismissed, the King asks the superfriends to search that blast hole that the Drow came through and assess the threat level. They of course agree, because they love them some King Cyric.

Investigation of the Drow Tunnels

So down they go through the catacombs and through the hole, which they discover has been tunneled out. Gaitus finds some fungus-like goop that he can use for his potions. Before long they run into a black pudding that is slowly eating away an injured Drow’s legs and fight it off. They question the Drow who is dying, and notice that this particular Drow has what appears to be one of those godstones "fused"directly to his chest. Once the Drow’s neck is crushed by Tyson (because Murder Hobos), they collect the stone from his flesh. It came free pretty easy as the flesh holding the stone to skin had already rotted. Gross. The party moves further down the tunnel.

After fighting some hook monster in the tunnel they feel a rush of cool air. They follow the direction of the breeze which leads them to another hole in another wall. Very strange! Lusor thinks the party is in Miranda’s Tower.

Princess Miranda’s Tower is an ancient structure that stands adjacent to Castle Grey. Someone might describe it as though it sprouted from the earth, rather than a structure of masonry. Rumor has it that the tower goes back to the time of the Titan Gods. It is known to be made of immensely strong stone. Even the largest boulders cast from catapults have not damaged the structure. Many say the Titans themselves carved the stone like someone would whittle away wood. However, many historians believe the Titans most likely used slaves to build, instead of the tall tales.

The interior contains many inscriptions, all being unintelligible or from some ancient language. In the center of the room stands a large archway, which is elevated with a few rough steps leading up to it. The stone structure is of a bright green marble complexion. Etchings mark the arch. No one is able to determine the language, except that it looks very ancient. A strange-shaped basin protrudes from the right, with a flat, smooth stone surface. The center of the archway is bright white, much like a perfectly painted drawbridge.

A little backstory here:

The Princess — the second born daughter to King Cyric — has been exiled in the Tower. Her father visits her regularly, yet these visits are usually short. The story goes is that the 24 year old Miranda has been held within the walls of the tower for four years, apparently the victim of madness.

Miranda was said to be a sweet child — and curious. While most princesses cared about their wardrobe or a young knight at court, Miranda was fascinated in the arts of magic. This perturbed King Cyric, and her sister Elise — who has always reviled her. Rumor has it that King Cyric favored his sweet curious child over Elise, his eldest daughter and heiress to the throne, who was cunning and shrewd. Anyways, back to to the story of Princess Miranda’s exile to the tower…

Queen Zara, mother to the two daughters, and wife to King Cyric would die of a fever. The rumor is that Miranda, having studied some magic in a book, attempted to revive her mother using dark magic. The experiment was successful. But in doing so, the spell twisted Queen Zara into an abomination which attempted to devour a royal guard. All this happened in front of her and her King Cyric. Miranda — watching the horror of her zombie-like mother trying to eat a guard, and then watching the guards killing the zombie Queen —caused her to descend into madness. It is said she never recovered from the traumatic experience, guilt and shame. To protect her from herself and others, Miranda had been quarantined in the top floor of the tower for a few years.

Okay, enough recent history, let’s get into what our murder hobos got into….

The Death of a Princess. And a King.

Gaitus notices some more of that fungus that he can use in his alchemy attached to the arch. In his attempt to scrape the sheen-like substance from the fungus, he pierces one of the mushrooms. A mist explodes from the fungus and sends the party into a Winter Hallucination Dream about some green demon terrorizing a village of gnomes.

Eventually they snap-to, and resume their activities. Gormak finds a little blood next to the steps of the archway, which he deems as black bear blood. He goes into full hunter’s mode. Spoilers: He never finds a bear.

The party decides to head up out of the basement, and into the upper levels of the tower. As they sneakily ascend up and bash through the door, they find that the staff and royal guard assigned to Miranda’s Tower are too busy trying to deal with a demon that evidently has possessed Princess Miranda.

Farhan — the hero of every scene — is summoned by a royal healer, as Miranda’s requires a religious intervention. It is when Farhan arrives that N’ogg makes herself known by stepping out. The guards — already on edge — make a move to attack the half-orc. Gaitus also makes a move to blend in, but nobody notices him due to the towering barbarian causing a big scene.

Cooler heads prevail when Farhan vouches for the party. Just then a demon-like voice thunders from above. Everyone agrees they should probably go check that out and they ascend the steps to Miranda’s chambers.

The party is instantly greeted by a foul stench in Miranda’s chamber. Gaitus recognizes it as alchemy related. As they enter they see and smell quite the scene. Miranda is being attended by a small staff, including the healer. The Princess lies in bed covered with boils; her skin is a light green tint and her hair is strewn about the floor around the bed. She speaks in tongues, which seem to come and go in waves.

Meanwhile, the party does some investigating. Gormak finds some more blood (this time, he finds it to be Elvish. He asks the captain of the guard if any elves had been present. Or bears. No traces of elves or bears have been seen. Gormak also finds some of the trippy spore substance which sent the party into the hallucination adventure. So odd!

In a personal study area of the room, Gaitus finds some expended potion bottles, complete with the insignia of the Black Hand. He is troubled by this, as this is his guild. Gaitus then attempts to ask party members to split and go find Digan of the Black Hand and warn/inquire about the discovered bottles. No one agrees, but he does convince a trustworthy guard to deliver the message.

Tyson finds a spell book of dark magic. One of the spells in the book was that of N’ogg’s old rival of the Rog-Ridguz clan. N’ogg cannot believe this and rips the book from Tyson’s hand. By the looks of it, Slog is somehow alive. In N’ogg’s backstory, Slog was her former tribe leader who killed her father in combat. He was a terrible leader, so she killed Slog in combat. Actually, ripped his throat out. This made N’ogg the new clan leader. But N’ogg abandoned the clan and left it without a leader. Perhaps the clan reverted to dark magic as a way to resurrect their leader? As it was, you have to earn clan leadership by vanquishing the leader. Anyways, N’ogg goes into a pure rage. She MUST find out how Slog is back from the dead.

Okay, back to the excorcist. King Cyric rushes in. He is given a grim prognosis. There seems to be nothing anyone can do, and Miranda is expiring. Cyric asks the guards to fetch Princess Elise so the family can be together.

The king addresses the party while Miranda is quiet. He is briefed about the mission. They discovered the Drow likely originated from the subfloor of Miranda’s Tower. Perhaps Miranda let them in? Or perhaps they had accessed the archway as some sort of portal? It is unclear, but both are theories. Suddenly, Miranda is goes into her final death throes and dies.

The guard clears the room so the King can have a few moments. He asks that Farhan and the party stay. He embraces his daughter for one last kiss. Suddenly, a shadow-like entity emanates from her body. It wraps itself around the King, who goes white, and falls lifeless to the floor. Cyric, who banged his head hard, begins to bleed profusely. It turns to attack the party.

During the fight Gaitus tosses a bomb that goes erroneous and hits the lifeless body of King Cyric, which catches fire. At the sight of this, Farhan faints. The Shadow then summons a lesser being from the King’s lifeless body, and attacks. Now they’re fighting what appears to be the shadows of the King AND Princess! Thankfully, Lusor does some serious damage and both spirits are defeated.

As Miranda’s shadow is vanquished, he recognizes and feels the presence of someone he can’t quite pinpoint. A shiver runs up his spine as he hears the distinct whisper “Gormak.” No one else seems to notice.

Unfortunately there’s no time for investigation. Princess Elise (now Queen) and Master Troubador along with a number of royal guards stream in. Seeing the King’s lifeless body smoldering, Queen-elect Elise places the party under arrest for the crime of regicide. (Good one, Gaitus!) She orders the arrest of Digan of The Black Hand after being told about the bottles Gaitus found. She is fed the information that Miranda was practicing the black magic of the orcs. That the book they found has a bunch of orc spells in it.

Enemies of the State

The party agrees to lay down their arms and surrender in the hopes that their clear innocence would exonerate them. Master Troubador — probably knowing the Queen’s hatred of orcs (and half orcs) and the fact that their are two of them in the party — rescues the party by bewitching the Queen to “protect the Queen” and escort her back to the Castle. The party isthen teleported to Master Troubador’s residence.

Troubador explains that the shit is about to hit the windmill. He explains that the kingdom is in grave danger. Cantwy is using Elise — using her hatred of the Orcs of the North to try and start a war with them, so as to weaken the Northern Sanction. This would weaken the Realm of Cain. He is twisting the Dorian religion, bewitching the Council of 5, into starting a crusade on all things magic.

In addition, Troubador thinks Cantwy is making an alliance with the Drow. Oh and rumors persist that the Drow — led by Empress Veylastravix (the Dark Star) — have enslaved the Duergar.

If you recall from the wiki, the Duergar control the Great Ull’Thar Forge. Remember, these Dwarves were killed when they entered a two-front war with the Drow and the Duergar, and were betrayed by their allies, the Karim Dwarves? You probably don’t or never bother to read, but it happened.

Evidently the Drow have been using the Duergar to reactivate The Great Forge — which only dwarven magic can unleash. The Great Forge has been dormant since the Duergar siezed power from the Ull’Thar Clan. If activated, the Great Forge under the mountain would be a big prize for the Drow — and Dorians under Cantwy. Basically it can make a ton of really powerful and magical weapons.

Troubador asks the party if they know anything about the archway. He suspects it is a portal and wonders if the perhaps the Drow infiltrators have figured out a way to activate it. Troubador urges Lusor to admit to the party that he is part of a spy network, and he has heard all of these troubling tales. The party doesn’t seem all that surprised.

Before long, Troubador tells the party that they must figure out a way through the archway portal. He hands Lusor a magical lute for his adventuring and teleports them back to Miranda’s Tower subfloor.

After some trial and error, the party figures out that their blood is what activates the portal. Each party member has their own “planewalking” experience but end up in the same place — an ethereal plane where odd tornadic storms and a deep fog keep them on their toes.

For N’ogg and Gormak the archway flickers green, grey, red and orange. They feel a strange pull as you they’re sucked into the portal — and then a rush of hot air as theyare hurtled as if you are falling — but not downwards, upwards. They smell smell fire, cooked meat, blood and death. Sounds of battle of some great orc hoard are heard in the distance.

For Tyson & Lusor, the portal flickers forest green, brown, and sky blue. They are sucked in and feel a rush of cool air they are hurtled upwards. They smell sweet flowers, the crisp air and morning dew of the forest pines. Sounds of nature and elvish-like incantations are heard as a whisper in your ears. They do not recognize the incantations being recited.

For Gaitus the portal flickers purple and gold. As he planewalks in the same fashion of the others, he smells the distinct mettalic scent of gold, shining coins, food being fried, putrid chemicals, and then death. Sounds of horns and strange chants can be heard in the distance. Then, priest-like incantations. He does not recognize the incantations, nor the language.

On the ethereal plane the party ventures forward and encounters a sentry. Turns out, it’s one of those Dorian Elite Guards of Cantwy that the party attempted to fight in the Dorian Cathedral ambush. He is confused as to how the party got there.

The party engages him in battle and defeats him. Like the Drow they met in the tunnels, the soldier is killed before he can prove any real value (because Murder Hobos). They do, however, recover another godstone from the flesh of the dead guard.

They decide to head back to the portal because this place is just too weird, but it turns out the archway is gone and no traces of it exists. Was the portal in Miranda’s tower a one-way only portal?

So the party searches the ethereal plane for anything and find a number of stone platforms, lined up next to each other. They are circular, with a few steps leading up to them. A closer look shows each carved with their own rune. Go figure, they’re the same runes as those they saw on the portal in Miranda’s castle.

So the PCs take turns stepping on the portals, one by one. Depending on which character steps on one, a portal lights up for the, almost as if it’s ready to activate. As they light up a small, flat topped basin rises out from the platform. They practice the tried method of pricking their fingers and letting the blood drip as they place their hand. It works.

N’ogg and Gormak go first. They are transported to a plateau high on a small mountain. No danger seems to be in sight, and N’ogg and Gormak instantly recognize it as Ul-Dokka, the homeland of the Orcs. Their homeland.

Tyson and Lusor — both being half-elves see that their platform lights up, transport to Elafal-High — their homeland. They soon realized they are being tracked by some unseen forms behind the bushes. They are then ambushed by what appears to be Lizardmen. Luckily they planewalked out of there just in time.

Gaitus had a platform for his own. Bravely, he planewalked to his destination. What he saw was horrifying. He was transported to a place of death. Hordes of undead roamed an overrun and decaying city. There was also a group of nasty looking humanoids that weren’t zombies. Perhaps they were in charge? Suddenly, Gaitus felt a dark presence peering into his soul. A flashing vision of an undead wizard painfully pierces his temples. Instinctively, Gaitus reaches for an acid bomb, but before he tosses it, he realizes it’s probably stupid to attempt — even for him. Quickly, he planewalks back.

The group swaps stories. Have the kobolds made some advances on Elafal? If the party travels there, they are surely to be ambushed. And who knows where Gaitus traveled. There’s no way they could safely travel to that place. The best and easiest place for them to travel is Ul-Doka, the home of N’ogg and Gormak, and the Red Sun Tribes.

Ul-Doka? I don’t even know-a.

Our adventurers discover that they can travel together on these portals as long as they are touching someone who can naturally planewalk to a destination. And so they do. N’ogg is pumped as she’ll have the opportunity to seek revenge on Slog, who she discovered in that gnarly book, has been resurrected.

The party is at the top of Stonetalon Mountain, a single peak that “can-barely-even-be-considered” a mountain. While it’s no Everest, it still provides a clear panorama of Ul-Doka. As the party looks out they can see clouds of dust rolling from points in the west, north and east. This means troop movements. They assume that all armies march toward the Great Kanrokk, the seat of Vakun, Warfather of all Orc tribes.

At night, dots of flickering fire can be seen for many leagues. The Great Kanrokk fire can be seen well from the the distance. Out under the stars on the mountain the party is awoken by some bunnies running through their camp. One of them takes a liking to N’ogg(?) -honestly, I can’t remember who - and they name him Harvey Bojangles “Duke of Bunn Jovi”. Great, the party now has a pet!

In the early pre-dawn, they are attacked by a terrible Vrock who swoops and screeches from the sky. Immediately they swoop down at Tyson and Gormak, the godstone bearers. How the fuck does it know?!?! And that’s not all. It lets out a eardrum destroying screech. Almost all suffer damage, except N’ogg who receives a different audible experience. Telepathicaly, the Vrock speaks: “Bloodletter. My master will be pleased when I bring him your corpse. Your claim to Var-Tek will die with you.” Woah shit. This thing knows that N’ogg is here? This is getting weirder.

Because the DM is soft, they made quick work of the Vrock. As the beast was being destroyed, a group of disgusting goblins approached and attempted to attack. Of course they rolled in AFTER the battle with the Vrock because stupid DM. Anyways, the party quickly dispatched most of the arrogant creatures, so Gormak, N’ogg, and Lusor interrogated the final survivor and learned some good information.

They learned that all of Ul-Doka was posturing towards war with the humans of the east. Orc and goblin tribes alike were staging their forces in by the Great Kanrokk fire. N’ogg continued to ask questions about her old Clan and the awful supposed-to-be-dead Slog. The goblins didn’t know much about that.

But it turned out that they were only a short distance away from the Rog-Riguz stronghold, the home tribe of Slog. So they decide to visit the old family and attempt to put N’ogg’s worries at ease. Arriving in a ruse of transporting prisoners, Lusor and Tyson played the part of Chewie in A New Hope. Some dumb guard brings the party to Borgakh, an elder Orog to her old tribe the Vartek, whom N’ogg remembers fondly. This is someone they should be able to trust.

Borgakh remembers N’ogg and admits he is concerned with the current state of affairs. Slog’s rise to power has been staggering. In the past few years, Slog and the Rog-Ridguz clan toured Ul-Doka defeating and swallowing smaller tribes, making his clan much stronger. As it currently stands, the Rog-Ridguz clan is the most powerful clan besides the Vakkun.

Borgakh thinks Slog has been using dark magic to increase his power. He speaks only in whispers. This is probably because N’ogg took out Slog’s throat in their combat to the death. Anyways, Slog keeps a small council — his bodyguards and his wife. As of late he holds no war councils/

The gang asks Borgakh about the book they discovered in Princess Miranda’s chambers. He tells them that most of the book details spells that Gruumsh clerics will practice. But the Slog entry is concerning. It provides a recipe of the resurrection of Slog the Bloodied — the evil pact between him and the fiends of the Abyss. It mentions a host. Borgakh reads how the pact was formed, and Tyson recognizes an arcane phrase as that of the Dorian Religion. It was something that Farhan said during the excorsim attempt.

Okay, now this is getting weird. Is Farhan working against the party and the King? N’ogg tries to shake that one off. Borgakh claims that Slog’s wife, Rak’kah is really running the show. She is almost always at his side, whispering into his ear. She may be controlling him. There are many who think that is was she who revived Slog.

Borgakh admits that the time is ripe for Slog to make a play at destroying Warfather Vakun and taking control of the tribes. He is stronger than ever, his tribe is as large (if not larger) than Warfather Vakun’s. Cain is in turmoil, and that the threat of another war with the Northern Sanction is imminent. The party agrees they must move to intercept Slog.

The gang makes haste, fights off another demon and arrives to the Great Kanrokk around the same time as Slog’s warparty. Just a little bit about The Great Kanrokk…

All tribes are subserviant to he Vakun Tribe. The Vakun have been the ruling tribe for at least 100 years. The “capital” and home is the Great Kanrokk Fire. The fire is a building sized inferno that has blazed ever since the tribes united when they were displaced and pushed back by the Northern Sanction. It is a reminder of their devotion to their God, Gruumsh — the one-eyed Orcish god. Gruumsh told his worshipers to do the following:
• Gather and breed, and your numbers shall flourish.
• Rise up in hordes and seize that which is rightfully yours.
• Raid. Kill. Conquer.

Surrounding the Great Fire are a number of lesser tribes that have made their home close to Warfather Vakun. While all orcs under a Red Sun Tribe banner are loyal, typically these tribes are more faithful to the Warfather. Some of the tribes elsewhere — like Slog’s Rog-Ridguz tribe — are not. They believe Vakun has been led the orcs astray in his 30 year rule. Yes, the Orcs are at peace with the Northern Sanction, but are they really supposed to be? They’re orcs, damnit. Time to make Ul-Doka Great Again. Amiright?

Anyways, I’m getting to the end…

A Challenge of all Challenges

The party gain access to the Vakun’s hut and listens in on the latest. Vakun is deeply troubled at the state, and is preparing for war. Knowing the Warfather, and the progress that has been made, he will use war as a last resort.

Meanwhile, Queen Elise has expelled all orcs and half-orcs from the city. Masses of half-orcs, now without a home, turn North to Ul-Doka for asylum.

Many of the orc tribes are excited at the prospect of strengthening their number, and increasing their breeding mates. Warfather Vakun is concerned at what this means. The Northern Sanction have proclaimed the murder of King Cyric a conspiracy by the Orcs and Half-Orcs. Scouts report that the Karim Dwarves (with their gnome friends) are building War Machines that the Northern Sanction will use to destroy Ul-Doka. Northern Sanction soldiers are ammassing to the borders.

Warfather Vakun sends an envoy to speak with the Queen to proclaim our innocence, and to reiterate that we intend to defend our homes against invaders.

Finally, the party interrupts. N’ogg announces who they are and why they’re there — to announce that Slog will challenge Vakun to a duel for the Tribes. As Vakun is too old to fight, he will choose a champion, and N’ogg asks that he be named champion. Without much time to reach, Slog enters the tent with his entourage.

Kleg’r — Slog’s son — is alongside. As is Slog’s wife, Rak’kah. As N’ogg and Slog trades verbal jabs, and Vakun allows N’ogg to serve as champion, Rak’kah moves toward Gormak. She asks if that’s his name, and he nods yes. She confesses that she is Gormak’s mother.

Slog slaps her for her insolence and a scuffle breaks out. Slog spits at his son and tells him to take his mother out. It’s pretty clear Slog thinks Kleg’r useless.

While this is happening a flock of birds fly through the tent. One of these birds fly in Lusor’s cloak and bursts into a piece of parchment, which he discreetly reads. It says that the party must escape. Goblins, Trolls who are on hand with some of the western tribes will slaughter them and all who defend Vakun. It also says that the party must keep N’ogg from killing Slog, as Kleg’r must rule. Lusor at some point lets N’ogg know about this important detail.

But the fight is on. The hoardes are called to the champion’s grounds and N’ogg is introduced as Vakun’s champion.

As they meet, Slog opens his cloak to reveal a gold chain, which totally looks out of place on an Orc. A large red ruby in the middle of the chain lights up bright. It hums louder as he steps closer. He removes the chain and hands to Kleg’r, who puts it in his pack.

Slog bellows in a rhaspy whisper:
“You have a stone. GIVE IT TO ME! IT IS THE PATH TO OUR SURVIVAL AND DOMINANCE OVER THE NORTHERN SANCTION!” I have waited for this moment. When I heard you were an enemy of the Northern Sanction. I figure you’d make your way here."

Nogg doesn’t remember Slog being so eloquent. He’s definitely on the juice. This theory is corroborated when Slog speaks in tongue — the evil dark magic kind of tongue.

Slog smacks the butt of his axe to the ground. The steel goes from black to orange to red and flickers. The ground rumbles….a crack of red lightning explodes from the ground. Slog’s eyes flash green. The orc hordes watching look on in horror and amazement. That spiny demon from Episode 2 springs to life and attacks the party, keeping them busy.

Throughout the battle, Slog is silenced — keeping him from casting any spells. Yet, he keeps himself alive by pulling the life from his wife, Rak’kah. As Rak’kah lays dying and N’ogg has brough Slog to near death, Kleg’r kills Slog by slicing his father’s throat. A scream is heard. Rak’kah grips her stomach and shouts in pain. Her stomach gashes open. A ghostly dark creature crawls out, shoots up in the air, twists and slams into the Kanrokk Fire. The fire blazes, and begins to rapidly dwindle.

Miraculously, Rak’kah’s gash is healed by the party, and she is stabilized. Meanwhile, chaos ensues all around them.
Evidently, Slog took her as a wife and impregnated her. When N’ogg killed Slog and abandoned the tribe, she served as Chief of the Tribe, and carried the child who would soon be made chief. But not long after, she was visited by Velastrayvix — AKA Dark Star, the powerful Drow priestess. Though many whispers that Rak’kah revived Slog, it was Velastrayvix who revived him. Using her terrible Drow magic, she marked Rak’kah’s womb. Slog was brought back to life, but she soon lost the baby.

Slog was back. But different. More cunning. Fierce. Stronger. And with new abilities he did not possess before. He prayed to something that was not Gruumsh or Luthic — though he did not admit such things. The first step was to seize power of the Red Sun Tribes and make war.

Rak’kah was told by Slog that the Northern Sanction allies (Humans, Elves & Dwarves) were collecting these powerful ancient stones and that these stones power weapons.
So working with the Drow, they would spread the Orc hordes across Cain seeking out some stones that the Dark Star was collecting.

The ruby chain was given to Slog by Dark Star to aid in finding the stones. The closer a stone is, the brighter the ruby lights up. As a prize, Velastrayvix promised all the lands they lost from the Northern Sanction, and the mountains of Karim as a reward for helping find the stones.

Rak’kah admits that she has never been the same. She hears the voice of Velastrayvix in her head and has horrible dreams. Two nights prior she had dreamt that she murdered the King of the Northern Sanction. Remember I mentioned that Gormak thought he recognized the shadow? It was his mother.

Suddenly the sounds of battle dwindle,. Sounds of terror and amazement can be heard. A rush of heat flies through the tent. Every orc looks to the fire, which rapidly starts to grow. Many orcs are lit aflame. An earthquake rumbles and the ground cracks. From the abyss, and through the fire climbs a beast. The party realizes — this is their fate.

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