Arkcanian Nights

Of Torture Chambers...
... and Strange Prisoners

Nilmul 20th, Year of Whispering Shadows – Midmorning

The party sets out to find the source of the scream they heard during the fight with the goblin. Of those who heard it, Kithrellana believes that the voice came from a human or elven throat – or one of the civilized races, in any case. Thuradin’s knowledge of echoes and stone leads the party into a new room.

Three doors stand here – west, north, and east. Bloodstains on the floor lead toward the northern door. The one to the west looks rusted and rarely used – checking it, you see what appears to be an abandoned storeroom, the dust thick upon the crates within it.

The large double-doors to the east are locked, and even elven dexterity fails to open them, though they do appear to have been used recently.

The sound of raucous goblin laughter comes from the north, and with their final preparations finished, Thuradin kicks in the door and the battle is on.

Battle between the goblins and their hobgoblin master is fast and furious, as the crossbow wielders duck into cages and beneath tables, and the hobgoblin wields burning pokers that sear flesh and dent armour. A couple goblins, injured and near death, manage to escape.

Pushing the blood-stained rack before the door, the party surveys their surroundings. The iron maiden’s bottom spikes are caked with old blood, and the rusted knives on the tables are wicked and sharp. The most interesting finding is a jar filled with a yellowish-green liquid, with a long, worm-like creature with tiny forelimbs within it. Making sure it is tightly sealed shut and wrapped protectively, the party takes it with them.

All that remains is to explore the cells. The first contains the corpse of a dead goblin, gory and with a large hole in its chest. The second contains nothing. But the third…

The third contains a man, dressed in the tattered remains of fine clothing. He is watching you very carefully as you approach. Strangely, his entire head is enclosed in a type of human bridle, stopping him from speaking, and his hands are shackled together. A quick examination shows his right eye swollen shut with bruising, his hands are broken, and there is a slight whiff of burned flesh.

Watching him closely, you unlock his head brace, and give the password. “Valonar shines bright.”

He swallows heavily, and when he speaks, his voice is hoarse from screaming. “Always nice to meet more dunderheads who need a god to fill their brains.”

When first asked his name, he chokes out “Malistar Wingstral” – however, more than a couple of the party gets an uneasy feeling from this, and Warren remembers that this is actually the name of the evil mage antagonist of Edward Quiverlance’s “The Dragon’s Daughter”.

Bluff called, he laughs and introduces himself as Daederus Ancharez, and a man who does dirty work for the Knights of the Hart on occasion. Kithrellana unshackles his arms – close examination of the shackles show that they are inscribed with a roc clutching a coin, the symbol of Arkcanus, and that inside are small golden runes.

The party returns to the storeroom to rest and recover, as your new companion refuses to return to town until his gear is safely back in his hands. Daederus stays awake, you hear him muttering into the night as you stand watch.

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Descent
Down Into Darkness

Nilmul 19 – Evening, Year of Whispering Shadows

On return from the Kobold Lair the party falls to their beds, exhausted. In the evening they awaken for dinner and for tasks around town.

Thuradin aids Smith Coalstriker in his efforts to repair the party’s gear – his plate is strong, but bears the subtle crease where Irontooth’s axe hit him with a mighty blow. Far from disappointed, he treats this as a badge of honour of how he protected his companions from the mighty goblin warlord.

Nebraxzis and Warashes visit the local bower and fletcher, to purchase supplies. Nebraxzis leaves for the training field with a new crossbow in hand and a prayer to Enora on his lips – Warashes searches without success for a thieves’ guild. Seeing as the last man to try to start one was strung up by his thumbs before being exiled, the young elf decides not to push his luck.

Much of Kithrellana’s day was taken up in prayer to Peronis in thanks for her guidance and for hope that the goddess will continue to watch over her and her unlikely companions.

Warren spent the fading hours of the day around town as well – a visit to Valthrun turned out to be well spent, as among the scraps of the sage’s abandoned scrolls he was able to find one more to his liking – a Scroll of Silence. On hearing that the young guard that he had met, Abram, was on the road to recovery, he also visited the local temple of the luck goddesses.

Nilmul 20 – Morning, Year of Whispering Shadows

The party leaves the gates of Wintershome, passing Ricaver in prayer upon the road as the sun rises above. Urging himself to keep hope, he sends you north to the ruin of the dwarven keep.

The road is rough and shows signs of the forest attempting to take it back – and stonework scavenged from the keep by the townsfolk force the party to travel single file. The party is on edge, and the sight of the following red-tail hawk does little to calm their nerves.

You reach the summit to find the keep in pieces, ruined by earthquakes. The grounds are dead of wildlife, and there is a cleared path through the rubble. Someone has been at work here.

Thuradin recognizes dwarven work. The Keep was built by dwarves, commissioned by humans – the surrounding walls are tall, but the keep itself seems to only have been a couple stories tall – but it likely that cellar levels exist. A stairway descends into darkness – the path to it is littered with small boot prints, and two deep furrows.

A glow lies at the bottom of the staircase, illuminating carvings of the walls – Knights of the Hart on horseback riding out against fantastical beasts. A cool breeze gusts through, and the light flickers as if from torches.

Sneaking down the stairs, you notice a goblin sentry and manage to surprise him. Running across the room sends Kithrellana tumbling into a pit trap, where rats swarm over her, squeaking and biting. While the party helps her out of the pit, more goblins with crossbows appear, taking pot shots.

A scream rings out from the western corridor, but all are too busy fighting to wonder who or what it is.

The party manages to trap the goblins in a room, and gather their courage and charge in. Soon enough their corpses litter the flagstones, and they are left alone in the depths of the ruined keep.

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A Flurry of Activity - Part III
Thanks given to the gracious gods...

Nilmul 19, Year of Whispering Shadows – Morning

You descend the stairs at morning to discover that Goodwoman Wrafton has provided a hearty breakfast for you. The taproom seems very subdued this morning – local gossip seems to indicate that goblins attacked the walls last night, and that one of the young recruits was seriously injured by both arrows and a fall from the wall. Whispers say that after leading the defense, Sir Ricaver himself ran the young man to the local temple, where he is alive but still badly injured.

Before you can do much else, the elven forester from before bursts into the room, searching for Lord Wintersborne. She is bruised and a little battered, and seems to have ran from a long way – it seems that she has discovered the location of the kobold lair!

You tag along in her wake as he heads towards the Lord’s manor – the elves later tell you (as she speaks mostly in elven as she goes) that her name is Ninaran, and that she is a local ranger and forester. When you inquire about the possibility of her having an animal companion (that red-tailed hawk is a nagging question in the back of your minds), she responds that she has never met one that she feels lives up to her standards. When further asked about the red-tails in the area, she tells you that she has seen some, but that the behaviour that you’ve seen very odd.

Ninaran also says that she has seen cultists in dark blue robes in league with this kobolds, and that the attacks may all be interconnected. When you show her the bottom of the dragon pendant, she rears back in surprise and says that this is the symbol that she saw upon their robes – it is the mark of the death cultists.

According to Ninaran, the lair lies to the south-east, in a cave hidden behind a waterfall. She is fairly certain that none saw her approach, and she did see a raiding party leave as she ran back to town – now may be the best time to strike. With the threat of kobolds attacking the walls and with Ricaver’s recommendation of you, the Lord requests your help in eliminating the lair, promising a reward from his personal coffers when you return.

There is no time to waste, so you set off – fording the river to approach the lair more favourably from the south. Through the cover of the trees you can see the outside of the lair, and a group of kobolds outside. Most seem to be of little consequence, but one dragonshield does stand in an ancient stone circle, and seems to draw strength from it.

Unfortunately, a snapped twig under Warren’s foot and the clang of Thuradin’s armour alerts the kobolds to your approach, and a battle begins. You’re well-versed in the tricks of kobolds, and manage to dispatch the group, but not before a slinger flees the battle, warning the lair of your impending approach.

A short rest later, and you pass through the waterfall and into fierce battle. Minions swarm towards you, but are dispatched through strength of arms and magical might. The tide of the battle begins to turn… and a warhorn echoes through the cavern, declaring the arrival of the second wave. Irontooth has come.

Even with most of his allies dead, he comes – and as you strike against him, he becomes frothing mad, a veritable berserker. With one cleave of battleaxe, he rips into Thuradin, shattering bone and spraying blood.

It seems bleak, but the gods are with you – the Ladies give you luck, Peronis watches over you, Enora guides your blades, and Kaian strengthens your body for this final battle. Through a combination of blades, the wrath of holy Peronis, and magic, Irontooth is brought low with a final cry for “Kalarel and the Dark One, prepare my way!”, and his remaining minions scurry to safety. The battle is won, and hard-fought – but you are all there to reap the spoils.

There is gold, and a suit of magic armour, but the most interesting and worrisome loot may be the note that you find on Irontooth’s body:

Across the cave from the chest and pile of gold you find a slightly less welcome sight. There is some evidence of someone being dragged through the dirt by a number of small but strong goblins, as well as the sight of old blood. Also found is a scrap of fine black cloth, treated on one side – likely this was a scrap of a weathercloak, treated against traveling in the rain. After the discovery of so much riches, it is a somewhat sobering sight.

Not wanting to be caught in the night with kobolds returning to their lair, you race the setting sun home.

Ricaver awaits your return, and raises a fist in triumph as he sees you crest the road. The Knight rents you the finest rooms that Wrafton’s can provide, and you are rewarded by Lord Wintersborne with a satchel of gold. The first order of business when you return to town is to tithe part of the reward money given to you by Davon in thanks to the gods that watched over you today.

After returning from this errand, Warren seeks out Ricaver once more to warn him of the spy in Wintershome. The Knight is deeply concerned, for he has no idea who it could be with so many possibilities – one of the townsfolk, a visiting merchant… even the lord himself. It is a staggering prospect.

Warren also tells Ricaver of the blood and everything else they found, and shows him the scrap of cloth that the party found in the blood. Ricaver turns white despite his tan, and nearly staggers against the wall, uttering the words: “Dear Valonar, no…”

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A Flurry of Activity - Part II
Information Garnered

Nilmul 18, Year of Whispering Shadows – Evening

The party returns to Wintershome, seeking people in town for some answers to the unfolding tapestry of questions that lies before them. The guards tip their spears to you in respect as you pass through the main gate and make your way towards Wrafton’s Inn. Ricaver, Elian, and Valthrun are all in the tavern – the elf huntress from the previous nights is curiously absent.

You have a number of lines of questioning, and set off to discover them.

Asking about the hawk, you discover:
  • Elian believes that this is very strange and unnatural behaviour if you are correct and this is the same hawk. He has seen one around his farm, but considers its presence a blessing if it is doing anything about the vermin around his farm.
  • Valthrun notes that red-tails normally stick to a certain territory, and that one following a party of adventurers is strange – he has heard that elves train these birds as scouts, however.
  • When asked if his missing companion had a hawk, Ricaver seemed thoughtful and curious why you were asking, but admitted that he did not.
You also talked to the inhabitants about Angrid and your encounter at the dragon burial site:
  • Elian hasn’t seen any sightings of gnomes in the area, and seems somewhat disappointed that he missed seeing one. When you mentioned the direction that Angrid fled in, the farmer offered that he was probably going to follow the river.
  • Ricaver promised to keep an eye out for the gnome for you, and that he would apprehend the villain for you to face the justice of the Knights if he sets foot in town. He nodded and seemed impressed with your defeat of the guard drakes, stating that his father has a couple to defend the grounds back in the capital.
  • Valthrun seemed quite excited about the prospect of guard drakes, and gave you greater information – apparently their eggs can cost many platinum pieces, and the training is expensive beyond that.

You asked Elian about the horse, and he seemed quite annoyed that it was still there. Still, apparently the animal isn’t making any trouble – though he did threaten it’s owner that more than gold would be owed if any more of his livestock go missing. He then took his leave, stating a need to be home soon if he didn’t want to sleep in the stables for the next tenday.

After the farmer left, you decided to ask about the items that you had obtained that are more… exotic than normal fare.

About the pendant that you found on the kobold wyrmskull:
  • Valthrun thought that it was somewhat similar to pendants made to honor Cronin – in addition to that God’s actual holy symbol, many who consider him their patron deity also honour the life of Bahamut.
  • Ricaver thought that the pendant had some sort of religious value to it, but nothing to do with the true pantheon – kobolds worship dragons, and can derive some sort of power from this belief (though it may just be that their priests are innate magic users). He noted that the pendant depicted a green dragon from its skull and wing markings, but that the symbol on the bottom was of infernal origin – though devil or demon, he does not know.
You also asked these two about the mirror found by Davon at the dragon burial site.
  • Valthrun seemed surprised that you found it at Bahamut’s Grave – he says that it does not show similarities with dragon, elven, or dwarven crafts of the time period that it must come from. It is very old – if it was crafted by human hands, it is likely that it is hundreds of years old, and was made before the Year of Quenching Magic, when the Mageruin Desert was formed. He cannot interpret the runes, saying that it is not his area of expertise.
  • When she met privately with Ricaver, Kithrellana learned that the sigil on the back of the mirror appeared to be almost like a property mark. The runes around the mirror’s face seem to have something to do with strengthening and magic, but the device itself is not magical.

You also warned Ricaver about the green dragon remains and the possibility that the kobolds are using the burial site as a staging ground. He seemed puzzled that it was green dragons, and expressed regret at having so few well-trained militia – it is unlikely that he will be able to spare any men to watch over the site. When asked about the name “Alachron”, Ricaver stated that there is no humanoid deity by that name – and again expressed regret for the disappearance of his partner, who would conceivably know more about such lore than himself.

The party settled in for the night. More would come upon the morrow.

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Horses and Battles

Nilmul 18, Year of Whispering Shadows – Morning

Elian is true to his word, and takes you eastward to his farm, which lies just down the road. The way is flat, and the sounds of wildlife seem to have returned at least in part. On the way, the elves of your party catch the glimpse of bright red scale out of the corner of their eyes, but the owner of it remains to be seen.

Amongst Elian’s growing crops is his pasture, and a small herd of workhorses. Off to the side, however, is a sleek black horse that seems to watch you closely as you approach. None of the party has ever seen a breed like this – it is not magic, but flesh and blood… but from where? It appears to grudgingly eat a mouthful of grass while you are there, and the eerie thing that your party notices is that the horse appears to have no pupils. Elian says that the last time he saw its master, he came from the southwest forest.

The party agrees that their next course of action should be to find the dragon burial site that Valthrun spoke of. The vote is that the party should travel along the road to the site, and not cut through the forest. On the way back to Wintershome you spy a red-tailed hawk in the sky above you, almost as if it is watching you.

Heading south along the path on the route that Valthrun showed you, you are stopped by a trio of the same kobolds as before in a road block. Through their growling speech, they warn you away, and watch you warily. Warashes attempts to sneak around them, but is stopped by a kobold skirmisher leaping out of the underbrush. The party also contends with a fanatical kobold wyrmskull, which surprises you by breathing poisonous gas upon you while also casting bolts of shadow energy.

Your party triumphs, but it is a close thing, near the end – many of your party are hurt and injured, with Thuradin being near-death at one instant.

Amongst the less interesting loot are the appearance of three more dragonscales in a shade of forest green – how are your weapons causing such damage? Perhaps the dragon they are from is young or sick. The body of the wyrmskull holds more questions – at closer inspection its bone mask actually appears to be the skull of a small green dragon, and around its neck is a snarling dragon figurine, carved from obsidian – at the base of the statue is a carving of infernal origin.

You return to Wrafton’s Inn to recover… but the day stretches before you. What else could it bring?

Warren’s Log 3

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A Night of Leads

Nilmul 17, Year of Whispering Shadows – Nighttime

Your work in acquiring information about Ricaver’s mysterious friend proved fruitful. The townsfolk are starting to learn of your deeds and accomplishments, and seem to approve of their ‘Koboldslayers’.

Having spoken to the lord on your behalf, Ricaver gives you the bag of gold from the town’s coffers, and adds that foresters and rangers are searching for the kobold lair in the woods.

You spoke again to the elven ranger in the corner – yet again she rebuffed your advances for information, preferring instead to watch and listen the bar around her.

Valthrun the Sage proved to be an interesting member of the town and was able to offer you some information. He told you that the keep to the north had once been manned by Knights of the Hart, but that some tragedy had befallen the men stationed there. It lies in ruins from an earthquake many years ago, and the townsfolk stay away from it – because goblins lair in the ruins, and it is said to be haunted besides.

Also according to Valthrun, local legend tells of a dragon burial site nearby, said to be the grave of Bahamut, the mount of the Cronin, back when the ancient wyrm was still mortal. According to the sage there has been an unusual amount of interest in the tale lately – a explorer named Davon Stahl had recently brought his team to town in search of it. Not only that, but Valthrun noted that a cloaked stranger had also inquired about it a few days ago.

Another valuable source of information was your good friend Elian, after buying him a tankard of ale he told you of a “beast” of a horse currently stabled at his farm at the request of a hooded man. He told you that one of his prize hogs had gone missing, and that the stranger had paid him (probably in excess of its value) for its disappearance. Elian doesn’t seem to believe that the stranger left the gate open as he claimed – and seems very wary of this horse. Despite that, he is a man of his word, and is keeping it there until the stranger’s time is up. He offers to take you to his farm in the morning.

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Ambush on the Gold Road

Nilmul 17, Year of the Whispering Shadows

After meeting Elian “the Old”, a local farmer and self-proclaimed historian and a rather dour elf in the inn, the party left the town and headed west along the Gold Road that leads to the capital.

Rounding a bend in the road, you saw a young knight being attacked on all sides by a group of small, reptilian humanoids – and rushed to help him, only to be menaced by an ambush of the small creatures, which you successfully identified as kobolds.

The party was set upon – only the perceptive elven ears of Kithrellana and Warashes was able to save them from being caught by surprise. Thuradin’s stout warhammer served him well, Warren proved his worth and exposed himself as a mage in the battle, and the rallying cries of Nebraxzis drove his comrades onto victory.

After killing the last of his own kobolds, the young Knight of Hart greeted you with graciousness and as fellow comrades, and thanked you for the kind assistance. He introduced himself as Ricaver Shieldheart, priest of Valonar, and despite his seemingly young age noted that he carries finely made armour and a well-crafted warhammer.

Asking Ricaver what caused his delay, you learn that the priest and his traveling companion were separated when they came across an attacked caravan. While he stayed to help heal, his partner was supposed to have made the town by now… maybe the townspeople will know something?

The Knight also offered you a quest in the form of a great reward – that he would work to make your Adventuring Charter a permanent one. While he is involved in defending the town from further attack, he has requested that you find his companion and act as his right hand while in the region.

When you reached Wintershome, Ricaver purchased the inn’s best three rooms for your use, as well as a large and hearty meal, where you rested and licked your wounds after your trying day. Night is beginning to fall – you have lived through your first day, and may the Twins of the Coin smile upon you again tomorrow.

Warren’s Log Day Two

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A Legend Begins...

Session: March 22, 2009 -

Nilmul 17, Year of Whispering Shadows:

Your characters met in troubled Wintershome, a trading and caravan town on the great gold road that travels from the capitol of Arkcanus to the Starfall Sea to the west. Rumours abound of monsters in the woods, of hauntings at the ancient keep to the north, and citizens clutch their loved ones tight in the night.

Lord Wintersborne, the man in charge, gathered you together and requested your help. He provided a temporary (or training) adventuring charter, tasking you to travel east as far as the Lions Waypoint, searching for a Knight of the Hart that was sent for to help the region.

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