Friday, November 18, 2005


"A-huntin' we will go."

The king summoned the trio back to his hall. Two missions were laid before them. One was to join Beorne and return to Khaan, spying on the Shadow Crow's recent activities. The second mission was to accompany the elven seer, Iaarya to the first two villages the Shadow Crow pillaged where she would read the area for clues while they searched through more mundane means. Upon consideration, they decided a change of scenery was in order and chose to accompany the seer, who's name Anglend had endless trouble pronouncing.

At the last moment, the king drew Alexi aside and gave him a special mission, telling the others only that he would be back with them soon and that they should proceed until then. Gathered in the courtyard, Anglend, Virlana, the seer Iaarya and her two servants, Craya the ranger and Flora the priestess joined Beorne and his select group of warriors. Master Calahan opened a gate and all stepped through, appearing some miles southeast of Khaan.

They remained together for two days of travel. The hour before they were to split ways at a crossroad, Virlana spied a large group of tracks traveling south. Careful study, and the seer's powers, revealed that a large contingent of redcaps and strange shadowy fiends numbering almost two hundred strong passed no more than four days ago. Iaarya spoke of a fiendish ogre with leathery wings leading them.

Examination of her vision, and the right questions revealed that the ogre was indeed a lieutenant of the Shadow Crow, revealed by the pendent he wore around his neck. Master Calahan used a crystal ball to speak with the King, telling him of the news and asking what should be done. The King thanked him but recommended that each group continue with its previous goals, sending Master Calahan to warn the towns to the south.

In the morning, Beorne's group headed north while the seer's group moved northwest toward the first of the two farming villages.

Another several nights brought them close enough to the village and Virlana was urged to scout it out in her newly learned bird form. She saw only evidence of old death and destruction. Returning to the group she and the others moved into the village. It seemed that the Shadow Crow had saved his destruction for the people and homes, largely sparing the livestock and fields. Cattle roamed unfenced and fields lay fallow but undamaged.

Making their way to the middle of the small village, Anglend set about repairing a corner of the tavern in which to camp, clearing out the dead and shoring up the roof and walls. The only stone structure to have been totally destroyed was the temple of light. Anglend suggested that as further evidence that the Shadow Crow was allied with the God of Darkness.

Craya's bear and Virlana's cat, Avendi, were sent to patrol the village perimeter. Meanwhile Virlana set about attempting to befriend some of the stray dogs that wandered the village. After gaining one's trust, she used magic to speak with it. It told her that the attackers were indeed the same shadowy demons that Iaarya had witnessed in her vision. It also spoke of a flying skeleton that haunted the ruins by night and made deadly screams in the darkness.

Flora spoke up, suggesting that the undead creature might be a Soul shrieker. She seemed confident that the group could handle one such creature. Anglend and Virlana shared a look and were thankful that the King had improved their weapons. As evening set in Anglend prepared their defenses and they ate an early supper of rations.

Will the undead be defeated as easily as the elven priestess claims? What will Iaarya see when she seeks out her visions? Will Alexi show up in time watch us all run from the beastie? Will they all get fleas from the mangy stray dog that won't leave the druid's side now? All this and more answered next time.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Wood, Steel and Shadow
The Dargossian adventures of the the mercenary trio

SESSION THREE. "Honor Among Enemies?"

Having watched the rest of the battle that evening from their safe position in the woods, the three adventurers witnessed the circle closing on Beorne and the defenders. The last they saw was the dwarves taking to the tunnels beneath the city before moving back along the enemy's trail and making camp in a hidden patch of forest and awaiting the dawn.

In the morning, after speculating on the fate of the miners and villagers they decided to investigate a little further. They thought it possible that the tunnels beneath the village would head towards the mines. Stowing their gear and setting a careful march they headed towards the mines.

Coming close near midday, they spied movement near the entrance and sneaked closer to observe. More foul redcaps manned the small guard towers of the mine. Villagers seemed to be working under their watchful eye. A wagon came up the road (presumably from town) and dropped off a shift change before taking the ore back down.

The trio discussed the possibility of attacking the wagon but instead decided to explore the mine. To do this, they needed to get in. Anglend spoke of air shafts and suggested they look for one that they could climb down. Moving over the mine they scoured the top until they found one. Setting to with ropes and gear they descended into the shaft.

The shaft terminated in a large chamber with several tunnels. Redcap guards patrolled the area and they witnessed Rot Reavers, the dreaded 'Lickers' of the night's previous attack, also moving up and down the passages. In addition to these creatures were more workers, apparently unmolested by the goblins or reavers and going about their work. It was decided to have a talk with one of these workers and find out what in hells was going on.

Descending carefully to the floor of the chamber the three adventurers disguised themselves as miners (most difficult for Virlana) and moved down a tunnel after a lone worker. Accosting the man, they learned that his name was Jacob and he told them of the deal that had been struck with the conquerors.

The leader of the attackers was a man named Shadow Crow. This was indeed Rhayfe, the man Alexi knew as a boy. His Lieutenant was a man named Malkior and Malkior had given the villagers an ultimatum. All those who wished to continue living in the village had only to continue with their work. The Shadow Crow would now rule but life would change very little.

Those who wished to leave, would be allowed to do so. Beorne and his daughter were among those who had decided to leave and were supposed to be gathered in the field outside of town come nightfall. Jacob was charged to stay and keep an eye on the village. He told them that Beorne had things in place. Should the Shadow Crow prove deceitful, they would collapse the mines and ruin the village.

All three of the adventurers had great trouble believing the Shadow Crow would simply let his enemies walk away. They suspected the field was to be used as some sort of mass grave. After more deliberation they decided to investigate a little further.

The next stop was the village itself, and to get there before dusk they had to hurry. Once there, Alexi and Virlana waited nearby while Anglend attempted to enter. He played like a worker and walked in, helping with the repairs and whatnot. Eventually he made his way to Beorne, who was being kept separate in the Untapped Keg with his men.

Beorne told him that he too doubted the Shadow Crow, but his magical detections all pointed to the warlord being honest. He gave Anglend a bundle of messages, to be delivered should he be killed. The first was to Calahan the Wizard, in his tower nearby. After visiting briefly with Helga, Anglend returned his companions and told them all that he had discovered.

Once more they set off, this time to Calahan's tower. When they got there they found nothing but ash and rubble - and a aged man who turned out to be the Wizard himself. The Shadow Crow's strange trio of magic users had done battle with Calahan and destroyed his tower. The man was looking for a ring that would allow him the use of some of his magic. With his tower had gone his spellbooks.

After the group helped him find his ring, they hurried back towards the town through a magic portal and were in time to see Beorne and all those who wished to leave being gathered on the field. The other villagers had gathered as well and the three wizards opened a gate. On the other side was a moonlit field. Malkior walked through it to show its harmlessness. With Calahan's aid the companions likewise teleported to the other side and checked it out. By all accounts it really was a simple field.

After checking it out himself, Beorne led his contingent through and the gate was closed. Together with a large group of surprised at not being dead warriors, they stood in a field three days walk from the capitol. Calahan attempted to teleport back and found that some sort of barrier had been placed around the village. He instead went to his tower and from there to the village, reporting back that no crimes were being committed on the populace in their Beorne's absence.

By all outward appearances, the Shadow Crow had remained true to his word.

After traveling to the capitol they were led to an audience with the King. Beorne, with the aid of the companions, explained what had happened. The King told them what he knew of the Shadow Crow, which was very little except that he wasn't always so kind and had left no one alive in the other two villages he sacked. Alexi told him about Rhayfe and suggested they look to the Shadow Crow's past to discover his intentions.

Indebted to the the three adventurers for helping, the King offered gifts. Anglend's axe was enchanted, Virlana's scimitar was likewise honed and Alexi took his own reward (though he was hesitant to reveal its nature). The three offered to take service with the King and help delve into the mystery of Rhayfe Shadow Crow. After a night of carousing and shopping, they are prepared to set out once more on the road to adventure.

Where will our companions head now? The west coast seems to be where their query began his attacks. Why did the Shadow Crow change his mode of operation? What are his goals anyway? All this and more, next time.