Thrones of Dust

The fall of a country, the Noble Treason

A hundred years of war has consumed the kingdom of Setour. Even Rivemar, the province furthest from the war itself has suffered catastrophically over the decades. Generations of able-bodied men and women from the cities and villages marched to war, never to return. Harvests rotted in their fields, roads and bridges fell into disrepair, and across the land creatures began to encroach upon civilized land. Without the kingdom’s soldiers and law, banditry flourished in the countryside, tribes of monsters established themselves in the wilderness, and cities became nothing more than in-fighting gangs of thugs. Disease, starvation and despair spread their dark wings over the whole of Rivemar.

People fled the squalor of major settlements, abandoning their homes, leaving entire streets deserted. Eventually, whole cities lay empty, save for the infirm, the brash and scavengers, and the horrors that hunted them through the crumbling streets. Small, secluded villages cropped up, isolated from the rest of the world, dealing only with their closest neighboring communities. The wilderness closed in, and swallowed cities, roads and farmlands. Civilization vanished.

Then came what would in later times be described as the “Noble Treason”. Baron Rivemar, descendant of the deposed lord of the province, traveled the land, gathering to him heroes from each of the scattered villages. In rousing speech after rousing speech, he promised the insular people of Rivemar that help was coming. Then, with his band of twenty-odd adventurers in tow, he departed for the kingdom’s capital, in the heartland of Setour.

As it turned out, Baron Rivemar had sent out a desperate plea to the three nations that shared a border with Rivemar. In it, it broke all bonds of loyalty to the crown of Setour. He divided the land roughly into three parts, offering annexation to each of these rival kingdoms. In exchange, the kingdoms would re-establish law, military and trade, and restore civilization to his suffering people.

For the first time in decades, soldiers ranged cautiously into the forests, trade barges tentatively began plotting trade routes along the many rivers, and the all-consuming spread of wilderness began to slow. And amid these brave, foreign soldiers, workers and tradesmen, adventurers came. Some out of duty, others out of curiosity, others seeking the wealth of the nation, left behind in the ruined cities. But they quickly found that this harsh land tested the very limits of their power and ingenuity.

This is the story of one such group of adventurers, working to rebuild a keep that would cement a foothold in this harsh frontier. Some are natives of Rivemar itself, fighting to restore their homeland to its former glory. Others are outsiders, but no less invested in the prosperity of this land. Yet the reclamation of Chateau-sur-Tylmer is only the beginning of their trials.

1st Session
The gathering of the Reclaimers

The heroes get acquainted with a few of the personalities in Tylmer Keep, and get to see first hand the strained relations between the workers, masons and architects from Tir’Heth and the xenophobic and jingoistic locals. However, socio-political concerns take back-seat to the constant harassment of spire drakes; the winged lizards that roost in the nearby clock tower have become more and more bold, culminating in the theft of a whole roast boar that was being prepared for the arrival of an Andalonan dignitary.

While Jurak and Koteth interest themselves in the plight of the inkeeper Marta and her stolen feast, Arem discovers that most of the old tomes and books he seeks may be contained within the clock tower that the spire drakes are using as a roost. The clock tower itself belonged to the court wizard back in the days that the keep was in use, and the wizard’s library would still no doubt be intact.

The tower is shored up on all sides by the collapsed remains of the surrounding building, so entrance by the main door would have to wait for major excavation. However, Koteth’s years of scavenging from the bones of ruined settlements allows him to uncover a means into the cellars of the adjoining collapsed building, so that the party can access the tower’s cellars and work their way up.

Descending into the damp, moldy basement, the party is set upon by a horde of enormous diseased rodents, one of the many kinds of creatures that infest the uncleared ruins in the keep.

2nd Session

Shapes crawl in the darkness of low-ceilinged cellar, choked with crates and barrels. Rats. Hundreds of them, many having grown to disturbing proportions. They swarm over every surface, lurk in every shadow. Gnawing, gnashing teeth, spreading filth and disease. The darkness is filled with the chittering of rats.

The heroes push forward into the cellar, red, mucus-rimmed eyes reflecting the intrusive torchlight. Massive, spiked rodents stalk out of the shadows, leading the less mutated of their kind against the intruders. The mass of tinier rodents prove to be as much of a threat as the larger varieties, swarming into the armor of the heroes, ripping away at flesh, latching on and gnawing away with hundreds of tiny mouths.

During the pitched battle, heavily-armored Sir Samuel crushes the larger monstrous vermin with righteous fervor, his plated armor making him impervious to their gnashing incisors. However, the knight fares far worse against the swarms of smaller ones. Seemingly limitless in number, they flow under his shield and into the gaps in his armor. The mighty knight is brought low by the sheer weight of filthy rats.

Calling up knowledge unfit for the minds of mere mortals, Arem imparts a single Word to the mind of the swarm. There is a pause, as the echoes of the unspeakable blasphemy against reality registers with the tiny, diseased rats… and much the swarm turns in upon itself, horrifically devouring each other until the last, blood-spattered rodent tears itself apart trying to devour itself.

The savage warrior Jurak, skin as thick as an ox, deals only slightly better against the biting horde than Sir Samuel. Relying on his natural resilience rather than armor, he finds himself covered from head to toe in bite and scratch marks. Strength flagging, his alter-ego comes to the fore, calling up a curse of unnatural flame to consume the rodents. With Jurak’s own body coursing with residual burning energies, the demon carelessly tosses the warrior into the remaining horde of rats, smashing and incinerating the rodents at the cost of Jurak’s health. In his weakened, bleeding state, disease begins to fester.

3rd Session

Crossing collapsed sections of tiles, the heroes briefly consider a series of gaping holes in the floors which lead down into damp, earthen tunnels that wind deeper under the tower’s basement. Briefly glimpsed scything claws and gleaming beetle shells give them pause, and they decide that their main priority lies atop the bell tower, not beneath it.

Stone stairs lead up to an abandoned kitchen, pots and pans rusted to the walls. Beyond lay a grand ballroom or dining hall, now choked with rubble from a collapsed wall. Picking their way carefully towards the nest set of stairs, the heroes note the remains of a few statues amidst the broken masonry and splintered furniture. The half-broken marble head of an aloof wizard stares back at them from the debris.

Further up, moth eaten carpet raise clouds of dust as the adventurers cautiously move from room to room. An old and poorly drawn summoning circle in one room is quickly dismissed as being the work of amateurs (as the demon within Jurak scoffed at it, claiming it unfit for summoning anything more powerful than a demon’ lunch). Other rooms seem to be student quarters. Jurak, having lived a simple tribal life, is at once impressed and dismayed at the opulence of even a simple room with a soft bed. Arem, on the other hand, determinedly gathers the most important scrolls he can find from the racks in a scroll storage room. Most of these seem to be research notes, dating from nearly seventy years ago. He does, however, discover a very detailed anatomical drawing of a burly humanoid lizard, a native creature of Rivemar.

The interest in the lizardmen seems evident in a museum section of the tower. In addition to various large reptilian skulls on display, the array of tribal tools, and a complex pedestal for an equally elaborate fishing spear, the major feature of the gallery is a pair of tapestries. On one tapestry the woven knights and soldiers make their way across rows of green trees, on the other they seem to charge across a field of cresting waves. Koteth regales the group with the story of these beautifully woven scenes; each depicts two campaigns of a several-hundred-year-old cleansing of the lizardmen from Rivemar. He had heard the stories first hand from some of the soldiers these tapestries depicted, a long, long time ago. However, each tapestry is marred by an extra figure woven into the pattern; a small demonic humanoid form with horns and wings, an ugly and crude blotch of red on an otherwise meticulous tapestry of greens, blues and silver.

Leaving the items in the museum for further study when their task was complete, the heroes moved up a spiral staircase. Moving through a library filled with books of magical education, Arem, Jacen and Samuel quickly browse books ranging from simple manuals of elementary magical theory to massive and elderly tomes with titles like “Thaumic Cascade Reactions in Quazi-Elemental Planes – Volume VII”. A number of them have pages or whole sections torn out.

Koteth’s keen Elven ears stop Jurak just before he would open the next set of double doors. Beyond, a gravelly voice seems to be talking to something or someone. The voice starts with congratulations and promises of rewards for continued good work, and suddenly switches to threats. Samuel and Jurak at the fore, the heroes open the doors, confronting an Imp talking to his “pet”; a winged drake perched in the window. The Imp has taken up residence it what was probably its master’s tower.

The Imp seems to have been breeding and raising the drakes in the tower over the years, using them to steal items from the ruined keep, and now to steal from those trying to rebuild it. In addition to the Winged Drake it was threatening, and the two larger, muscled and flightless Elder Drakes lying sprawled on the floor, the Imp seems to have crossbred with some of his own pets, evidenced by the pair of drake hybrids. Unlike the green-blue scales of other drakes, these half-demon mockeries had red flesh and long barbed tails, just like the imp itself.

Negotiations are brief, as the Imp’s screeches of “Mine, all MINE!” enrage Jurak’s sensibilities, and weapons are drawn. Teeth barred, the Elder Drakes rush to their demonic master’s defence while the cowardly, avaricious Imp vanishes in a puff of Brimstone. Sir Samuel takes a horrific wound to the leg, the powerful jaws of the Elder Drake clamping shut around the elderly knight’s calf with a grinding crunch of plate greaves and a gushing of blood. Reed at the far back of the group manages to use his powers to heal and bolster the group, but lets out a strangled cry as a foot long barbed spike pierces his back, injecting him with deadly poison.

At the front of the party, Jurak is harried by the flying drake and its two demon-spawn cousins. They fly in, snap and slash with tooth and claw, then retreat out of the range of the barbarian’s hammer. The land-bound Elder Drakes are less fortunate however, suffering the combined magic and might of Samuel, Jurak, Arem and Jacen who are unaware of the imp troubles behind them. The foul creature used its invisibility to strike the unwitting Halfling from behind, but before it could vanish again, a pair of feathered arrows blossom from the little demon’s chest. Cursing Koteth’s reaction speed and accuracy, the wounded imp vanishes, seeking revenge.

Standing stock still, the ancient Elf listens for the muttering and beating of wings. A few arrows are loosed in the general direction of the invisible Imp, to taunt it. Finally, the Elf trusts his other senses and dodges the barbed tail he could not see. Caught off balance and revealed, the Imp is decimated by the radiance of Erathis, Melora and the Song of the Stars. All that remains is ash and a lingering string of curses in the tongues of the damned.

At the back of the wizard’s bedroom, a narrow wooden staircase leads upwards, past web and dust covered support beams, innards of the upper floors of the tower. Far above, the drakes and their spawn shriek and clamour. Only the belfry remains, all the heroes need to do is wipe out the nests.

4th Session

After their defeat of the imp, the party decides to take a few moments to rest and recover in the chambers of the tower’s former owner. Jurak immediately claims the king-sized bed after clearing off the pile of silver and gold the imp kept there. Ignoring the barbarian’s almost immediate snoring, Reed rifles through paperwork and writing materials in the room, finding a pair of enchanted gloves that allow the wearer to channel the most basic wizardly cantrips; the wizard’s version of a wooden training sword. Arem and Jacen take a look at the wizard’s aging library, searching for interesting rituals and texts.

Meanwhile, Samuel makes his way back down to the small gallery/museum one floor below. The enchanted spear that they had seen earlier was still there, the polished metal suffused with an oily green gleam. The spear came free from its complex, abstract metallic holder, but the twisted metal weapon holder itself objected. What once seemed like a piece of abstract metal sculpture untwisted and reformed into a snarling mechanical guard dog. Meanwhile, the red clay homunculi that had been magically woven into the tapestries tore themselves free, casting mind-numbing bolts of energy at the Paladin.

Fortunately, Koteth was not one to let an ally go off alone, ensuring that everyone in the party sticks with at least one other member. Dashing back to the stairs, he managed to rouse Jurak and Reed into action, hoping the aging Paladin could hold off the constructs until he got back. With the barbarian and river mystic in tow, the fight was joined, though the museum had one last surprise; the tapestries themselves. Waves of multicoloured shapes and light periodically emanated from the woven scenes, confusing the senses and dazing the heroes.

By the time Jacen came down the stairs to check on the rest of the group, the clay homunculi lay shattered on the floor like so much pottery, while the iron guard dog was reduced to scrap metal.

Dusting himself off, shouldering his new poisonous spear, Samuel and the rest of the party ascend to the very top of the tower, wood creaking under their feet. The ceiling of the belfry is lost in a darkness of jumbled machinery, thick chains and wooden beams. Dominating the room are four massive brass bells, each ten feet wide and hooked to the thickest support beams by massive wheels. Winged drakes flit between these bells, while at the back of the room a pair of fat , acid-spitting drake broodmothers watch over a swarm of ravenous young drakelings.

Jurak snarls and roars, threatening the drakes, causing the winged ones to take to the rafters and leaving a clear shot to one of the broodmothers. Arrows shudder into existence in the frilled reptile’s flesh, Koteth’s bowstring hums in harmony with the beast’s wail. Jurak, seeking to further push away the flying drakes, smashes the nearest bell with his maul. The gong is deafening, dust falls in sheets from the rafters above. And with a slow, mounting grinding sound, aged and rusted chains begin to move, pulled by the massive bell’s swing.

Jacen prayer forges divine chains to bind the winged drakes, rendering them unable to make their hit-and-run strikes and allowing Samuel to focus his attention on the hopping swarm of drakelings. Meanwhile, a chain reaction between the bells ensues. Dragged by entwined chains and broken mechanisms, the mighty creaking swing of the first bell causes the other bells to swing in counterpoint. While most of the heroes deftly avoid being in the path of the monstrous brass bells, Reed darts between his allies in the confusion and ends up taking a bell straight to the face, knocking him flat on his back and sending him rolling over ten feet before sliding to a halt. Even with the snapping snarling lizards on all sides, his allies take a moment to make quips about “being clocked” and the “ringing in his ears”. Such sympathy for the healer. Reed decides to remain prone, as the opposite bell reaches the rumbling peak of its own ponderous swing directly above him where he lay.

The drakes are put down, though Samuel takes a grievous spray of acid; a last ditch effort by the remaining broodmother. The last drake dies to Koteth’s unerring aim as it flies off out of the belfry and out over the ruined keep. Hopefully it didn’t land on any of the workers toiling down below.

5th Session

Battered, bloodied and acid-burned, the party makes full use of the master bedroom, sleeping in shifts, repairing their armor, fixing their weapons. During the night, the mighty barbarian breaks out in sweat, thrashing, as the fever contracted from the rat bites takes hold. Fortunately, the Halfling river mystic is on hand, and with damp towels, cleaned wounds and a few dried herbs (both ingested and applied as paste), Jurak’s fever breaks, and recovers from the disease.

Their task complete, the party returns to the basement to make their way out and back into town. The townsfolk would be sending workers into the tower to excavate it and make it habitable. However, as a measure of safety, Koteth suggests that the party collapse the tunnels they found in the basement, should the creatures that dug them come up and cause trouble for the workers.

And come they did. The resounding hammer blows of Jurak’s maul on the entrance of their hive caused the creatures to emerge en-masse, a horde of scything legs and chitinous bodies. Bolstered by their previous fights and by their growing tactical coordination, the heroes make short work of these insectoids. Samuel’s spear smites and impales the larger ones, crippling them so that the others could finish them off. Two of the creatures make for Arem and Jacen; Koteth’s incredible aim utterly destroys one of the creatures before it can strike, while whispers of the maddening Star-haunted void reduce the other to a disgusting pile of flesh. With the full-grown insects dead, the tunnels are quickly collapsed atop the squirming larvae and eggs without further problems. The whole area will need to be reinforced, new tiles laid. But that’s the job of the workers, mason and architects. For the party, it’s the time to rest.

Blinking in the light of the setting sun, two days after they first entered the abandoned tower, the heroes return to the world outside.

6th Session

The adventurers make their way to the makeshift eating hall that the reclamation effort has set up, but are treated to a rude welcome as a gang of local workers hurl racist insults at the Elf and the Halfling. The biggest troublemaker of the lot is a large, burly man named Jakob, who is the defacto leader of the local workers. After an exchange of many unpleasant words, the heroes decide that sleeping outside is preferable to sleeping in the adjoining barracks-like structure where the rest of the local workers sleep.

Overhearing all of this, Marta the innkeeper apologizes and points the group to an unoccupied small building, partially cleared of debris, where they could spend the night. She even provides them with leftovers from that evening’s meal; salted pork, which gives Jurak terrible gas, much to the misfortune of those sharing the impromptu sleeping quarters with him.

Over the next few days, Samuel makes rounds of the inhabited parts of the ruined keep, keeping the peace amongst the workers, and doing some light shopping at the stalls that have sprung up in a makeshift marketplace. Koteth spends his time on the outskirts of keep/town, hunting, foraging and keeping an eye on the wilderness and the roads to the keep. Jacen befriends the local masons and workers, many of whom are in Jakob’s gang, joining them for evenings of drinking and gambling. Jurak and Reed spend their afternoons on a raft on the river, fishing and relaxing. Things are peaceful.

Eventually, Koteth spots the people they were all expecting, the diplomatic party from Andalona. Led by a dragonborn noblewoman and accompanied by a pair of merchants, the group sought to establish early links between the frontier settlements of their respective nations. Without his normal entourage, Commander Marrik enlists the heroes to assist him in this formal and very delicate meeting. Things do not go all that well, with the heroes generally unsuited for the subtleties of the court. The exception is Sir Samuel, veteran of such negotiations, who ensures that things do not go sour by assuring the guests that the frontier is simply “rougher” and not as refined.

Reed, however, discovers a hitherto unknown talent, a gift for vivid oratory. He spins the tale of the party’s conquest of the tower (with Jurak occasionally tossing in exaggerations or fabrications to “spice things up”). Lady Sendina is enchanted by these stories, and commissions Reed to write the tale down for her to take back to Andalona and share with her sisters.

7th Session

The town of Briare, north of the Mosselle river. A small community trappers, hunters and woodsmen. A few days ago, the company of the Blazing Sun (Paladin Seline, Brother Sanzo and Reuben Lionsguard) were sent to deal with a supposedly minor matter; roving bands of Kobolds, usually cowardly, have become violent. But no word has come back from the town. Worried, Commander Marik sends the heroes to this town to provide support for the Blazing Sun trio, and hopefully convince the people of Briare to relocate to the relative safety of Tylmer.

The heroes find a town under siege. The uncharacteristically murderous Kobolds have been making increasingly bold attacks, striking at every corner of the walled village before retreating into the forest, circling around, and attacking again. Their numbers grow by the hour, while the men and women defenders on the palisade walls grow more and more weary. The women, children, infirm and elderly are gathered in the town center, away from the walls and away from the thatched-roof houses; the Kobolds have been trying to burn the place to the ground.

Leaving the town seems to be the only option, but the town mayor is unwilling to completely abandon it to the Kobolds; beneath the town hall is a sealed stone shrine. Paladin Seline and Brother Sanzo are both hesitant to leave the relics of Pelor said to be buried there, since it’s obvious with each attack that the Kobolds are interested mainly in the shrine. However, Jacen is worried by the shape of the stones. Each large stone block that makes up the floor of the town hall (the only visible part of the buried shrine) is cut to a particular pattern; one that has an artistic link to the church of Erathis more than any others*. That mystery, however, would have to wait…

Out in the forest, in the dark areas between the lances of golden sunlight, torches are lit. Unintelligible war cries, screams and howls echo from the underbrush. Stone-tipped spears are brandished, arrows knocked, javelins and clubs and shields readied. The Kobolds are coming.

8th Session

The air is thick and humid in the town of Briare, and dark clouds gather in the east. The defenders shift uncomfortably, looking fearfully at the mass of creatures half glimpsed between the trees. They are woodsmen, tanners and trappers, not soldiers. An elder bowman helps Koteth up onto the wall, introducing himself as “Lucky” Joseph (a name earned by his extreme lack of luck), bowyer of the town.

Kobold arrows thud into the ground at the foot of the palisade, zealously fired from too far away. The swarm of little lizard creatures comes howling out of the forest, slinging stones and spears. Clay jars of alchemist’s fire smash against the wooden walls and begin to smoulder, as the woodsmen fire back inexpertly.

Calm and commanding, Sir Samuel directs the panicking villagers to the relative safety against the walls. Shield held over the heads of the cowering children and bent elder folk, the retired knight’s main focus is guarding the townsfolk. A red glare catches his attention; a flaming torch pinwheels over the palisade, landing in the thatched roof of one of the houses. Black smoke rises.

Koteth’s arrows puncture the assaulting Kobolds as the dart from cover to cover. Spotting a howling Kobold carrying several large jugs of alchemist’s fire, he puts an arrow through one of the clay vessels, shattering it and spraying the creature and the rest of its jugs with its own burning liquid. A muted, inhaled thump of igniting alchemical concoctions and the Kobold is turned into a screaming pyre of flame, scattering the other Kobolds following its charge.

Reed’s prayers and spellwork upon the south wall calls up a divine glow which infuriates the Kobolds. While his height conceals him from the counterattack, the Halfling can only watch in horror as a volley of spears and arrows cut down the defenders around him. With the south gate’s archers down, the Kobolds begin ramming at the wooden gate with stone clubs, and hacking away at it with hatchets. The doors begin to bend inwards. A low rumble mounts into a resounding slam as the mighty Jurak throws his whole body against the door, sending the Kobolds on the other side tumbling away, concussed and battered.

Ropes hook around the wooden pillars that make up the palisade, crude ladders with hooked ends catch into the wall. Kobolds swarm. Whole sections of the wall rock like a ship in a gale, as many of the ropes are pulled by the assaulting lizard creatures. With lightning and radiance and arrows, Jacen, Koteth and Reed try to push the swarming creatures back. More than that, they realize that the woodsmen are too disorganised to lead a successful defence; the three shout commands and encouragement, moving up and down the wall, strengthening the resolve of the defenders.

Seeing the roof of one of the wooden houses blazing in earnest and threatening to spread to the nearby homes, Samuel’s clear, commanding tones ring clear over the confused locals, organizing them into a bucket chain from the town well. The knight himself braves the worst of the flames, enduring the extreme heat to get close to the building, taking each bucket as it comes, setting the example of bravery. Water buckets start coming faster, and Sir Samuel risks a glance back to see Jurak using his frightful strength to haul buckets out of the well at surprising speed.

The fire is defeated, reduced to black smoke that billows and twists up into the sky, to curl and fold into the black clouds that suddenly roll overhead. A dark shadow spreads its fingers over Briare as this angry storm blots out the sun. To the despair of the townsfolk, the clouds twist and shape themselves into the lizard-like faces that loom over the battle. Clouds shaped like reptilian hands sweep back and forth over the darkened sky as the faces in the storm look down and mutter foul hexes. All along the walls, jubilant and bloodthirsty Kobolds swarm up onto the palisade, while the unhallowed sky roils and churns.

Swinging his hammer in wide circles, bowling over the onrushing kobolds that made it into the town, Jurak stares at the sky. The demon stirs within him, causing glowing runes to crawl down his arms and legs, igniting his eyes. His mouth contorts as the demon attempts to break the hex looming over the town, spitting vile counter-hexes unfit for mortal tongues, trying to match the sky, curse for curse. He and his fellow adventurers fail to see the looks on the faces of the villagers at this sudden display of demonic might.

The defenders along the wall engage in brutal skirmishes for their lives; many are thrown unceremoniously to the ground below. Koteth finds himself fighting back-to-back with “Lucky” Joseph. Seeing that many Kobolds are already making their way to the village square, the two archers move around from behind, flanking the Kobolds and taking their attack to pieces with stealth and speed. A flash of the blade, a dead Kobold, and the Elf is already gone, striking again and again from behind the attackers.

Joining in the center, protected by Samuel and the defenders of the town, Reed, Jacen and Seline join in prayer against the unhallowed sky, invoking Law, Nature and the Sun. A cool, salty sea breeze washes over the town, pushing away the stifling haze of smoke. In the sky, lances of brilliant sunlight shred the black clouds, scattering them back to the east. A ragged cheer goes up from the defenders, even as they are backed into a rough circle in the village square.

Jacen, however, has a concerned look. Much like Reed calls upon the forests and rivers to grant him strength, and much as Seline draws energy from the sun, Jacen, as a chosen of Erathis, draws his power from the town itself, from the community. Attuned as Erathis is to all civilizations, cities and structures, the energies of the shrine under this town worried him even as he tapped into it. It… tasted different, an underlying yet distinct melody in the harmony of civilization.

Jurak, blazing and fuelled by demonic fury, throws himself at the Kobolds that finally managed to hack the main gate to pieces. The ones in the front are trampled under his boots, while the mass in the rear are shoved back out of the gates. Out of nowhere, the Elven ranger drops down on the retreating Kobolds with a flash of blade and a spray of Kobold blood, turning a withdrawal into an outright rout.

As the Kobold attack breaks down, Samuel brings to bear his own divine powers. Lifting a plated boot and slamming it on the ground, concentric rings of glowing blue energy flow outwards, forming a protective circle around the huddled, wounded villagers. Reed’s healing powers flow and soar in that circle, a soothing cloud of purification and restoration.

Sir Samuel speaks a single word, and upon each Kobold forehead is scribed a brand. The edict; that all harm these creatures do will be visited back upon them. With their assault broken and their skyward hex shattered, many of the remaining creatures flee to the east. However, even more startling are the wounded Kobolds, who begin to slit their own throats, impale themselves on their spears, smash their heads in, all the while bloody-eyed and foaming at the mouth. The heroes manage to tackle one and tie it up before it can kill itself; it is so weak and wounded it is barely able to fight back.

“You, brother Paladin” snarls Seline, marching towards Sir Samuel. “My place is here, helping my husband with the townsfolk. But you and your allies need to get moving , and quickly. East of here. That’s where they came from. That’s where the storm came from. Find them. Kill them. For every harm brought upon these innocent people, for every fear in the eyes of each child, you and your party will repay that pain a hundredfold.”

The armored lady draws a golden sun symbol from her pouch, holding it tightly in her gauntleted hand. The next words are spoken through clenched teeth. “I will go with you in spirit. My vengeance will be at your side. Let the Sun shine off your blade. Let it blind and sear our enemies. Let these evil, vile little creatures cower before the radiance of the unconquered, resplendent Light. GO!”

Forcefully handing the Symbol of Vengeance to the retired knight, Paladin Seline marches off, bloodied armor glinting in the afternoon sun.

9th Session

The heroes approach the Kobold coven on a stony beach, a few ancient shattered walls and broken pillars sticking out of the water front. While lesser Kobolds feed herbs and powders into large stone cauldrons on the grey, stony beach, the three Kobold spellcasters are engaged in a heated screaming match. The Sorcerous Kobold blames the saffron-robed Kobold Sage for the failure of his plan to take over the town of Briare, the Venom Priest adds in his own snarling arguments while overseeing his alchemical brews in the cauldrons.

Before the heroes can even act, the volatile Kobold Sorcerer unleashes its magics on the Kobold Sage, who promptly drops to the ground, choking as acid fills its throat and lungs. Taking advantage of this distraction, the three assistant Kobolds are expertly dispatched, leaving only the Sorcerer and the Venom Priest to deal with. The combat lasts for a brutal blink of an eye, kobold bodies in the river.

The Sage’s satchels and packs contain a lot of information about both abjuration and summoning. Specifically, there is a lot of research about the Sealing Shrine under Briare; apparently, this kind of shrine was constructed to seal off certain areas and ward them. Most importantly, Samuel and Jacen piece together a series of scribed leather pages containing very detailed and exact instructions about how to undo each layer of warding and protection to access the area this Sealing Shrine protects.

With the bodies of Kobold leadership sinking into the swift flowing river, the heroes make their way back to Briare.


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