The Hero's Journey

ATTN Sir Gehrigan var Dresdan CONFIDENTIAL EYES ONLY

To Calenglad Arcosius
Archon, Seventh General Directorate (Feloria)

Sir

Hereunder please find appended a summary of my section’s findings and analysis of data submitted regarding your request under Chapter 33. As requested we undertook a number of detailed tests of Sir Gehrigan var Dresdan (hereinafter referred to as the Subject) in an effort to identify the cause and source of his amnesia. While our findings are regrettably inconclusive, we can say with confidence that a wide variety of possible causes for the condition have been eliminated by this process.

The Subject exhibits a memory gap of over five years, broadly correlating to the period from mid-1273 to late 1278. On either side of this time there is an additional period of four to six months wherein the subject evinces numerous smaller gaps.

While trauma, whether physical or psychological, is by far the most common cause of memory loss known to our specialists, the pattern described above does not conform to our current understanding of the effects of such damage. Nevertheless, we are unable to conclusively eliminate this as a potential cause given that even our specialists acknowledge that current understanding is far from complete. Additionally, the subject was (and is) a licensed adventurer, which of course statistically places him at extreme risk of career-related trauma of any description.

His career and history also vastly increases the likelihood of the damage having been magically induced, which would normally be a minimal possibility. This category includes a wide variety of potential causes, but almost all would leave identifiable traces – arcane fingerprints which our testing would reveal. Again, the subject’s chosen lifestyle made this more complicated, as he has clearly been exposed to more and more varied magics than almost anyone in the Empire, but after extensive analysis we have been able to eliminate the majority of magical or supernatural causes.

What remains after the ‘majority’ mentioned above is direct divine intervention. If the subject’s memory alteration was caused by the direct act of a fifth- or sixth-magnitude celestial, it would be undetectable except by a similar entity. It probably will not surprise you to hear that once again, the subject’s status as an adventurer radically increases the likelihood of such an intervention.

Given the above, and taking into consideration the subject’s recorded history, it is our considered opinion that his memory was altered as the result of an encounter with the Archdragon Kalgalath, with whom he and his ‘party’ are known to have had an encounter in mid-to-late 1273. The fact and timing of this encounter with one of the few fifth-magnitude celestials still extant upon this plane makes it by far the most likely source. It is impossible to say with any certainty whether the memory loss was intentional, of course; mere proximity to such a Power can dramatically affect the physical and psychological reality of those exposed in ways that cannot be predicted. Intentional or otherwise, of course, it is beyond any mortal capability to reverse such magic.

In summation, we are able to narrow the probable cause of the Subject’s memory loss to either a) the effects of physical or psychological trauma, or b) direct divine interference, most likely by the Archdragon Kalgalath. Based upon available evidence, the latter is the more likely cause. In view of this my recommendation is as follows:

1) Subject should be referred to the Experimental Arcana section for their evaluation. Arcanist Kastner’s team has recently made some very promising progress in the treatment of brain trauma in conjunction with the churches of Amalthea and Pelor that may be effective.

2) The likelihood of an Archdragon’s involvement invokes General Directive 6. Consequently, recommend NFA this course of investigation.

3) Perhaps the Ninth Directorate should be asked to reconsider the ‘licensed adventurer’ issue. The whole thing seems like an OH&S nightmare.

Erika Jahn
Senior Section Chief
Forensic Arcana Division

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Markus - An Interlude

Markus rubbed his eyes and looked blearily out of the window as the first rays of sunlight kissed the tops of the buildings outside. The second candle had burnt low long ago. He’d been here in the library almost every night since arriving, grabbing a couple of hours sleep when he could but otherwise working with methodical intensity as he pored over manuscript after manuscript in his search.

“Hello Pelor, care to shine some light on the mystery of Gehrigan and his amazing vanishing memory?” he murmured quietly as he watched the dawn turn to day. He waited, listening to the silence but not really expecting a direct reply. Instead he took the moment to still himself and look within his own personal library.

He visualised himself placing everything he’d learnt tonight on a series of shelves, just as he had every other night since meeting his new companions, and traced his fingers lightly over the books and scrolls he’d already placed. Markus was sure the answer would be here somewhere, and if not now then soon.

The absence of part of Gherigan’s memory disturbed him more than he’d admitted to anyone, even Bon. Although Bon probably knew anyway – he had a way of finding and keeping secrets. Markus understood forgetting and the slippery way memory worked, how emotions and the now of things affected how you recalled what has come before. He also knew how the perceived importance or usefulness of something determined the likelihood of its immediate recall. But always there was continuity. And memories made people who they were. So for someone… for Gehrigan to lose a whole period of time, not just forget, was as if someone had stolen part of him… a part of his essence. And so Markus studied and investigated and trawled through his extensive knowledge in the hope he could find the answers and help his new friend.

“What do you think Garrett?” he whispered, glancing at his friend curled up in the corner. Garrett had kept him company on and off and was always enthusiastically willing to help. He encouraged Markus without judgement or understanding and sometimes gave him the impetus to go on. He’d also been extremely helpful in eliminating or confirming various flora and fauna that could have contributed, as well as locales where these things existed. Garrett’s help hadn’t provided the answers Markus sought but Markus was glad of the company.

His mind drifted to his other new-found companions then. To Elrich, the proud Hin paladin who could teach him so much and hopefully share the songs of his people with him. To Gyda, the passionate shield maiden (although the maiden bit was unlikely Markus thought) who was so far away from home and was constantly trying to prove herself. And to Modryn, blessed of Pelor and the miracle of a thousand generations who had so much to learn himself about the nature of his god, his father and himself. He was glad Bon was so insistent that they join paths – there were so many stories here he didn’t know where to begin.

But then he frowned as he contemplated Gehrigan. He was so sure that Gehrigan had been fleeing the ghosts of his childhood that when he met the… ‘normality’ of his family life it had thrown him. Gehrigan was, at his core, a good man with good parents who felt strong family bonds like love and loyalty. There was absolutely nothing to run from. And yet Gehrigan had a massive hole where part of his past should be. And it niggled at Markus like a stone in his boot. So he forwent sleep and pleasure and chased the dragon.

He could hear the castle stirring and knew that his time of quiet was ending so he went over his questions once more, counting each one of on one of his nimble fingers, before waking Garrett and going to break his fast.

“Who would steal part of a man?” Who indeed? Such things didn’t occur by complete accident that often, and Gehrigan showed no signs of physical trauma that one would normally associate with memory loss. So either Gehrigan had an unknown enemy that he had forgotten, Markus surmised, or he had done it to himself.

“What could steal part of a man?” Ahhh that was the question wasn’t it? There were natural beasts that exuded poisons that could do it, or certain herbs, or certain traumas, or creatures steeped in magic, or otherworldly planes, or arcane items, or artifacts of legend, or certain spells and castings… or even the gods. Markus shook his head. Too many
options, too many answers. He needed to do more research and was glad they were intending to head to the capital and the library there.

“Where could one steal part of a man?” This at least he had the beginnings of an answer. Gehrigan had been quite open about his last memory before the blankness and his first memory since. It gave Markus something to work with and he, with Garrett’s help and maps, had already started planning how to get there.
“When was it stolen?” That seemed to be an easy answer, but Markus didn’t know enough about the Who, What and Where of things to be sure. It appeared that Gehrigan had lost his memory and regained it… but what if… if it had happened afterwards? Markus shuddered as he thought about some of the options he’d considered that he hoped hadn’t taken place. High and dangerous arcane like the legendary Wish spell… tentacled dwellers of the deep and dark who could twist and eat your mind… the god of secrets and whispers whose name he would not even think lest he hear, so on to the question of…

“Why?” Markus paused in his reverie, remembering something he’d read or heard somewhere… The Why of things is sometimes the key to everything. Why did Gehrigan have a hole in his memory? What purpose did it serve? Whatever was missing was important – Markus was sure of it. More important than fighting dragons and monsters or making maps or keeping secrets or singing songs. Maybe not more important than being blessed by a god, Markus though wryly, but knowing the gods it is probably all connected.

He stood up and put it all back into his mental library, shook his head to clear the cobwebs, sighed, stretched and yawned. He’d work it out eventually, but for now the food here was plentiful and good and he could hear his belly rumbling. He walked over to his friend and poked him with his foot. “Wake up Garret, my friend. Time for a new adventure. Let’s see where today takes us.”

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Gehrigan in his room

Gehrigan closed the door behind him and surveyed his old room. Nothing had changed in here since he had left for the Academy. He wished he could say the same about himself.

He let out a long, slow breath. It was good to be home. He could not remember the last time he had felt safe since leaving the Heironean Chapter House, back in Dresda, all those years ago.

Death and Pain, Fire and Blood, these things had been his world and in his remaining memories for so long. But the world had just turned upside down for him.

Modryn … his son! … and he had just come to terms with having a daughter, after being raped those long years ago back in Parvaron. He was certain those ‘friends’ were long dead, and good riddance to them.

The events in his father’s study, with Modryn and his Pater, and in the library, with his Mater, replayed again and again in his mind. He couldn’t make it stop.

He set his pack down on the floor, his Shield against his study chair, and removed his armour piece by piece, “Megwen, my mother, attended a Wizards academy,” Modryn’s words left him winded and despairing.

Gehrigan had disappointed his tutors at the Academy, he had lost his friends and memories on another continent, he had failed them too. Fynn and Val, Dordock and Rytlock, he had failed them. Now he had disappointed a son he never knew he had, his Father and Mother would think even less of him, if that was possible.

Gehrigan sat down on his bed. He placed his head in his hands, gave up all responsibility and knightly bearing and began to sob uncontrollably.

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Bon's Prayer

Good evening my lady.
I don’t know if you can hear my prayer, but I need to put some words around my thoughts. You placed me in a position to be in Sir Gehrigan’s company and, at first, I thought this was so that I could see her again. But now I’m wondering if it’s also because of Gehrigan himself. He says he has lost his memory, and that may be true, but it might be that the man he was before is worth forgetting. It seems his former self has badly used two different women, fathering a child from each before leaving them. In each case, there seems to be dark magic involved. It seems an odd coincidence. Is he cursed by some evil warlock? Or was he the one using enchantments to ensorcel and abuse these women? He admits he was once trained at the Academy, so it is possible. The damnable thing of it is that I like the man. He seems such an innocent buffoon around women, and in most company generally, that I cannot but feel some sympathy for him. But is that all a façade? Is he playing me just as I am playing him?
Meanwhile his other companions are also worthy of mention. Like Gehrigan, they also have my admiration, but none of them have a good sense of who they are. Gehrigan’s son, Modryn, is a child being used by Pelor as his avatar. Modryn has a child’s morality and maybe that is exactly what Pelor can utilise. One day some of Gehrigan’s indistinct sense of morals might rub off. Until then, he remains a god-child still working out who he is.
Elrich is the proudest little Halfling I have ever encountered. He’s also the chosen of a god, a Halfling god called Barkley – my knowledge of the gods doesn’t stretch that far. Elrich always seems to be working out the right way to behave, like he would rather be just enjoying the simplicities of life but feels obliged to be uptight about everything, as if he might accidentally disappoint his god if he enjoyed himself.
Gyda is the one woman of the group and a woman like none I have ever met before but even she is a bit lost. She is very much a free spirit but in that freedom I don’t think she knows what her purpose is. I think she busies herself with everyone else’s path so as to avoid thinking about her own. I look forward to discovering more of her.
So maybe they all need saving in some way? Maybe you’ve put me here for all of them? But I’m not sure what that has to do with my vow to you. Either way, you know I will serve your will.
At least I’m with Markus and Garrett again and we are able to watch each other’s back. It is so good to be travelling with friends whom I can trust. I sometimes believe that they in turn trust me – the real me and not just who I pretend to be. One day I may even trust them with that secret. Well Markus at least; it’s just not in Garrett to ever hold a secret. He’s far too honest, and I hold him dearly for it.
Maybe it’s my high regard for Garrett’s friendship that silences my tongue every time he speaks of his beloved. Every time, part of me wants to slap some sense into him and yell at him to go and be with her. If he only knew how blessed he is. If he only understood how much he takes for granted.
But I’m in Dresda now. Did you plan for me to be here? I assume that she is still here. Somewhere. What happens if she sees me? I cannot risk it. It’s foolish for me to even be here. And yet here I am. This is where you’ve brought me. I wonder what I would say to Garrett if he were me now. Would my advice still be the same?
My lady, I don’t know if you can hear my prayer, but right now I’m also a little bit lost. Your guidance would be appreciated.

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The world according to Garrett
episode 1

we have a sprite! they’re sort of quick, don’t say much & are sort of pretty & i always thought they didn’t really exist. but now that I’ve met one i know that’s not true. we had a long conversation while we were on the train. they’re really friendly when they don’t disappear to do other secret sprite-y things.
we went on a train! (totally not as exciting as an airship) i didn’t get to drive this one, but we went really fast. we had to sit still for aaages (that was hard) but that gave me time to sleep & talk to my friends and make new friends and talk to them & then we stopped at new places i hadn’t never been to before. that was exciting for a while.
then we went to Gherrigan’s house! well, we never really made it that far. but he was telling me all about it. stories involving his sister who is in charge (& she’s not allowed to talk to Gida while she’s busy or was that only when she’s busy? i forget) & he has a brother & a Dad, but he says he was dead & everyone thought he was dead when he wasn’t. i think he was running away, but now he’s going home so i guess that’s okay – but then he said he had two other groups of friends that got killed as well, & now we’re the third group of friends, & what happens if we die as well!? he’ll have no friends again… but then one night while we were at the inn & we were asleep someone killed someone & cut off their ears & eyes. i think that that would have hurt up until the part where he was killed. but we chased them because you can’t do that sort of stuff & not expect to get in trouble. i was pretty upset by it, i don’t like it when people kill people for no reason. but I found which way they went.
we have two Paladins! paladins are funny. they don’t seem to get upset like normal people. they seem to be super polite to people who are bad, & are really nasty to nice people (the po po).
they argue a lot. they say things like “oh no Elrich, you can take the lead. i’ll just stand here quietly & insult everyone & then when you do it wrong I’ll point out your failed tactics in front of the bad-guys”… boy i nearly pee’d myself laughing <giggle> but i was hiding in a tree & didn’t want to give myself away. <hee> its still funny!
but i guess their tactics worked because it made the bad guys so angry that they attacked them.
Assassins are bad! one absolutely stabbed Gherrigan. but it must not have hurt much because his eyes never went red…

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Storm and Fury
A battle of survival against a Celestial Vampire

The “Nail” and Abraxas [vampire boy] had an explosive intercourse, Modrynn being extinguished at that point set the tone for the fight.
When the dust cleared, the characters started to pick themselves up to continue their fight against the “Lord of Darkness”. Gyda tackled the guy and Dordok went in, Scimitar swinging. Gehrigan recovere dnext and began to pray to Heironeous ??? Abraxas let out some weird “Howl of Horror TM” which frightened Gehrigan, paralyzed Dordok, and left only Gyda to continue the fight. Abraxas faceplanted Gyda into the floor which smashed her through the already damaged structure and down two floors into the foyer area.
Ogradynn, Cosime, and Rytlock had recovered by this stage and made their way downstairs to assist their comrades. Brandt re-animated and leapt downstairs to assist “The Master of the Night” against his former allies. Dordok’s shield was shattered by a blow from “The Dark Celestial” but this did not deter him from doing his best to aid Rytlock and Gyda in the melee. Gyda managed to even bite the “Night that lives”.
Gehrigan could not shake the frighening howl which made him pray all the harder.

“My lord god, please hear my prayer.
I left your path, in my arrogance deciding I could do more good as a leader of warriors. I have failed.
I beseech you to assist us, not for our lives,, but we cannot let the “Nail” fall into the hands of this evil creature. Without magical defences to stop it, this whole world would be in danger."

The storm outside raged in symbiotic relationship with the battle inside. The more fierce the combat became, the more the lightning flashed, thunder roared, and rain pummelled down.
Then, the storm stopped. An intense column of radiant light struck down from above, through the hole in the roof and down through the torn apart levels of the house, focusing on the shattered, burnt husk of Modrynn, Abraxas, and those around them. Ogradynn and Rytlock felt their sources of power returned, alongside Modrynn’s armour a young, glowing, naked boy appeared, and Gehrigan’s fear was gone.
Gehrigan got to his feet and then leapt down at “The Lord of Death” with StarFang ahead of him. He cut Abraxas deeply and rejoined the fight.
“The creator of Thralls” summoned shapes of darkness from the floor to do his bidding, Rytlock made a prayer to the lord of light and banished the darkness, also inflicting damage upon “The Ancient Horror”.
Cosime fought Brandt, Ogradynn cast protection spells on Dordok, and magic missiles into Brandt and “The Darkness that lives”. Elrich held the torch.
“The Wearer of Skins” had had enough, he reached into Dordok’s chest and crushed his heart, Dordok had breath for one last cry of “CatherineDennis” before his soul was consumed by “The Eater of Souls”. Gyda screamed in fury, SHE was the one who must die in battle, Gyda would not have that honour stolen from her.
Rytlock screamed, “No more, I will take no more,” and focused all of the divine power at his disposal inwards, the Lord of Light’s flame fed on the dwarven fuel source and a mighty radiant heat erupted blinding everyone present, when they could see again Rytlock was gone and so was Abraxas. Brandt and Dordok’s re-animated bodies hit the floor.
Ogradynn could tell that Abraxas was still alive but his spells could not track the “The master of Beasts”.
Ogradynn assured the group that Rytlock’s sacrifice had freed Dordok and Brandt’s souls to continue their path to the afterlife.
They picked themselves up and went to the young form of the new Modrynn. The “Nail” had freed him of his pact and his death had ended it for good. The lord of light had chosen to send him back to help in this momentous battle.
The group gathered up their fallen friends’ bodies and carried them out to the stables, placing their worldly possessions with them. For Rytlock they had only his hammer and shield for there was no body to find.
They all spoke last words for their fallen companions and then each threw a lit torch into the pyre, igniting the stables and their companions remains.

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Fairloch, once more
Sice last I wrote to you Helian

Dear Helian,
I have been unable to write for some time, my adventuring group has been held prisoner in a Wizard’s tower after a failed rescue attempt. The more things change …
We had been approached by Sir Eamon Mallory, the Chief Bailiff of Fairloch, to accompany the elven trader Thelindelar on a journey to a stronghold named Strayhold in the Khadeshi confederation to investigate Orcish intentions towards the Empire, due to a recent spate of covert incursions by mercenaries hired by the Triple-Scar clan.
I ran into my former squire, Teanik, along with other former associates, Roland and Jorge. I was taken aback by a very seductive young lady jumping into my lap at a tavern, but she was even more surprised when she realised I didn’t remember any of them. I still have so many holes, more questions than answers, it would drive me to despair if I couldn’t keep busy.
Our more social party members managed to dig up rumours of a Triple-Scar Upper echelon meeting occurring at one of their mines many hours travel from Strayhold. We set out to try and determine their intentions and got involved in a slave revolt at the mine lead by Tianik and her cronies who were there looking for a particular missing person. They had no luck but joined us in defending the mine from an early arriving force of Triple-Scars. We couldn’t get the slaves away before the main force of Scars arrived so prepared to fight hard and drive them away.
We ended up being challenged by an Ogre Sorceress who was the chieftess of the Triple Scars, we had almost defeated her when some crazy wizard created an earthquake which caused us to fall into ancient tunnels beneath the mountain and scattered our party through the catacombs.
We all managed to come together whilst allying with some of the missing Orcs. We faced down a Hydra before meeting up with the Ogress again. My friend Fynn made a deal with her to buy the freed slaves and have safe passage out of Khadesh. Fynn and I wnet back to Strayhold to collect Thelindelar while the rest of our party and the freed folk walked back to the Empire.
Fynn and I reached Stray hold and found that the local wizard Catharandamus had arranged to have Thelindelar taken to his tower. She had not returned. Fynn organised for a magical message to be sent to Val and we requested the rest of our group as reinforcements.
Val, Dordock, Elrich and Rytlock met us in Strayhold and we began to find out more about Catharandamus and his tower. I was foolish and headstrong and was brought to the barracks of the local peacekeepers who went by the name The Golden Suns. I earnt my freedom and learnt my lesson.
Fynn arranged a meeting with the wizard’s apprentice, Cosime, and she met with us so we could arrange an equitable trade. Unfortunately, her master wasn’t interested in our magical trinkets and so turned us down, Fynn let Cosime know that it wasn’t the end of our conversation.
The group worked out where a back entry was into the tower and so we entered, with our new ally Gyda – a beautiful primal warrior.
We had no idea how many forces would be arrayed against us in this hellish tower. There were a platoon of Golden Sun troops, metal men, knights made of eyeballs, fire beasts, and many other enemies. We beat most of them but wore ourselves out. Our last stand was in an underground library. I was taken out by a magical cone of cold and woke up in a cell.
They tortured us mercilessly, allowing us little rest, and kept us confude and addled. If not for the bravery of two apprentices of the tower, we would have been subsumed into their horrible simulacrums. We found out from one of our rescuers, Oggradyn, that Val and Fynn had both been killed in our final stand. I feel that I am cursed to constantly see my friends fall around me.
Oggradyn is a dwarvish mortician while Modryn is a magic-using warrior. They had found out about the experiments and horrors being committed by the 4 leaders of the tower, that’s right Catharandamus was the face for even more magic-users. WE gathered up weapons and armour and then hunted down the wizards who were present.
We destroyed two of the Quadvirate, but Catharandamus and the Orc Sorceror were not home. We destroyed all the horrors and escaped the tower.
We rested back at a local tavern and then in the morning set out to return to Fairloch.
We got out of town and headed back to fairloch, meeting refugees from Newbridge on the way. Orcs had invaded and had razed the town, we escorted them to safety and then snuck closer to fairloch.
It was under seige but luckily we also cook, rytlock cast a waterwalk spell that night and we followed the lake into town.
We are now planning to ride 100 miles to Marr’s Hill , the nearest imperial garrison , to get reinforcements to break the siege.

I will no doubt see you soon
Yours Sincerely
Regan

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Chapter Three, Part One
The Road to Strayhold

The party returned to Fairloch with prisoners and escortees in tow, without incident. The Serpent Lake Consortium made payment of a hundred Imperial Crowns (1,000gp) on Drayson Gemcutter’s promissory note, and the prisoners were safely handed over to Sir Eamon’s bailiffs. The Bailiff-Commander was troubled by their recounting of events in Big Tree, most particularly Ashara’s claim that the incident had been orchestrated by one of the war-chiefs of the Triple Scar confederation. While he intended to discuss the matter with the garrison commander, he thought it unlikely that she would approve action on such intelligence.

After spending the afternoon pursuing their individual concerns, the adventurers gathered that evening at the Bell and Bird. There they once again encountered Alec Shaw, who was still eager to recruit them into the nascent Sword and Compass. He also introduced them to Armin Volke, an Arcane Investigator dispatched by the Ordinatus in response to the original report of the discovery of the tomb in the Redmond North mine. The party repeated the broad strokes of the report they had already given, choosing once again to omit the information that the tomb’s guardians were still awake although buried beneath the collapsed mineshaft.

Though he was a little disappointed that the tomb was sealed, Volke acknowledged that it was probably the wisest course. Indeed, he seemed almost more interested in other encounters the party had had, most particularly the manticore and the bird-woman (based upon the description he did not believe her to be a harpy) Morwyn. He explained that chimerae such as those were of particular scholarly interest to him.

Later that evening Sir Eamon arrived at the inn, sharing a round with the party before asking if they would be interested in undertaking another job for him. As he had expected, Subaltern Havelock had been unimpressed with the suggestion that the Triple Scars were behind the Big Tree incident, believing that Ashara Kael had offered the information merely to make herself appear useful to the authorities. Sir Eamon was more concerned and wished to try to gather intelligence upon the confederation’s intentions and movements. He proposed sending the party as agents to Strayhold, a notorious free town in the mountains east of Fairloch, under the guise of guards working for a merchant named Thelindelar.

At Sir Eamon’s suggestion they met with Thelindelar at the Sword and Compass guildhouse the next evening. Although there was some trepidation on both sides, it was agreed that the adventurers would take on the role of guards on her next journey to Strayhold, which would depart in two days’ time.

Thelindelar’s two wagons set out on schedule, and made the journey with minimal trouble – one bandit attack (including at least one mercenary formerly employed by the merchant) which was briskly routed, and two encounters with Triple Scar cavalry patrols, peacefully resolved with the payment of tolls (or bribery). In the evening ten days after setting out from Fairloch the caravan came into view of the lights of Strayhold, and began the final leg of its journey into this hive of scum and villainy.

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Chapter Two, Part Five
Tomb of the Iron Princess

In the aftermath of their clash with the Orgoth guardians Iraga and Jakuz, the adventurers were weary and battered and after some discussion decided to take the time to rest and treat their injuries before challenging those apparently responsible for the disaster that had befallen Big Tree. Sanazu claimed that it was imperative that the deed be done before the stroke of midnight, for reasons he did not volunteer.

So it was that they got under way around an hour before that deadline, descending the spiral stair from their campsite to the lowest chamber of the tomb. Val sent his familiar ahead to scout, discovering that Sanazu’s estimate of the tomb raiders’ numbers was correct and the adventurers were outnumbered almost two to one. The large chamber was lined with statues and built around a stone representation of an Orgoth funerary barge, and the intruders had established a small campsite at the far end where their leader was apparently involved in an exhaustive examination of the grand statues there.

After a hurried discussion the party chose to attack immediately. Dordok and Gehrigan charged down the centre of the room, vaulting onto the barge to attack the two guards there, while Elrich and Sanazu advanced down the right and left flanks respectively and Val hung back to attack from range. The battle evolved into two primary melees – Dordok trading blows with a Triple Scar berserker on the barge while Elrich and Gehrigan engaged several other enemies in a swirling melee on the right flank, with two mercenary archers and Val sniping at targets of opportunity. Fortunately the enemy’s leader, a priestess of the chaos god Erythnul, had expended most of her magic attempting to decipher the mystery of the crypt before the battle.

Eventually the hard-fought battle began to swing in favour of the adventurers in spite of several dangerous moments. With more than half the defenders down the two archers attempted to flee, cutting down Sanazu and making a break for the door, but they were unable to elude Val and fell in short order. Eventually the enemy leader, the priestess Ashara Kael, was forced to surrender with her last surviving mercenary in spite of her claim that the party risked unleashing an unspecified great evil by opposing her. When confronted with this claim following her surrender, however, she confessed that it had been a bluff.

Upon further interrogating her, the party were able to confirm that she had indeed deliberately set out to rouse the tomb’s guardians into a frenzy by desecrating the site and using her own necromantic talents. She also claimed that she had been working for another – that Sȗnkrag, one of the warchiefs of the Triple Scar confederation, had hired her to spread chaos and terror in the settlements around Fairloch. He had apparently not been specific as to how this was to be accomplished, perhaps assuming that a servant of Erythnul would probably be able to work something out. She claimed not to be aware if others (such as Aric Raader’s slavers) had been hired for similar tasks.

When asked why she had remained In the tomb rather than moving on to continue her task elsewhere, she claimed that her curiosity had gotten the better of her and she had been unable to pass up the opportunity to investigate the site – particularly as she had learned upon her entry that it was apparently the tomb of the Iron Princess, a notorious Orgoth necromancer and noble whose brutality shocked even her peers (a people not noted for their squeamishness.). She had found that the sarcophagus on the barge was empty, and had been certain that the Princess’ body must lie within a deeper hidden chamber, although her fruitless search had eventually persuaded her that she was in error.

While the interrogation continued, midnight came and went, although it passed unnoticed until the guardians Iraga and Jakuz, now reincarnated by the tomb’s enchantments, sensed the intruders in the crypt and rushed to slay the defilers. Although the party had bested them before, they were in no condition to fight the fully healed guardians now and things might have gone badly had they not been able to stall the first arrivals until Sanazu arrived to help convince his allies.

An agreement was reached that the party and its prisoners would depart peacefully, removing the fallen intruders, collapsing the mineshaft that gave access from the outside world and leaving the tomb and its occupants to eternity – or hopefully a few more millennia. This was done, and with prisoners in tow they returned to Big Tree, where they found a platoon from Fairloch had arrived and cleaned out the few remaining zombies. Following a brief meeting with a very grateful Drayson Gemcutter the party agreed to escort both the prisoners and the Gemcutter children on the way back to Fairloch, where they would be handsomely rewarded for their heroism by the Serpent Lake Consortium.

SPOILS OF WAR

The Serpent Scimitar (taken from Ashara Kael)

This tapering, jaggedly curved blade has an unusually long hilt and a curving handguard carved in the form of a snake. It appears to have been forged from a single piece of black steel, and its hilt is bound with copper wire. Clearly Orgoth in origin, its unblemished form and razor-keen edge belies the millennia-long lifespan that implies.

In spite of its unusual design the scimitar is marvellously balanced and murderously agile in the hands of a trained wielder.

Martial, Versatile (1D6/1D8), Finesse
+1 to attack and damage, +2 to Initiative.
Foes do not gain an AC benefit from shields against this weapon.

The Wurmspear (taken from Orlok, the Triple Scar berserker)

The entity – opinions differ radically as to whether it is a deity, a primordial, a nature spirit or something else entirely – referred to as the Devourer Worm is popularly considered a force of evil within the Empire. To those better informed, it is merely destructive – a manifestation of the ruthless power of nature unfettered by morality or compassion. The Worm’s power can be glimpsed in the hurricane that sinks a fleet of ships, in the river that bursts its banks and sweeps away a town, even in the hawk as it descends upon its prey.

Needless to say, the Worm Cult has very few adherents within civilized lands. Even amongst the tribes of central Feloria it attracts few devotees, who usually form into roving warbands and often work as mercenaries for other groups who value their undisputable might.

Weapons produced by the Cult’s smiths invariably possess an unusual bifurcated blade, the significance of which is the subject of some debate amongst scholars but which is generally thought to represent the Worm’s jaws or fangs. In spite of this oddity and their generally primitive appearance, they are highly effective tools of war.

This spear bears the traditional bifurcated head, apparently made of engraved ivory, atop a heavy shaft of gnarled black wood. It is particularly deadly to unnatural foes.

Martial, Versatile (1D6/1D8)
+1 to attack and damage
+2 to attack vs Undead, Aberrations and Monstrosities
+2D6 damage vs Undead, Aberrations and Monstrosities

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Fairloch
Gehrigan joins a new group

Dear Helian,

I hope and pray that all is well with you. I have at last made my way out to the frontier and it does not disappoint, slavers and other ne’er-do-wells proliferate in the region around Fairloch, giving me opportunity to test and prove myself.

Never fear Helian, I am not alone in my endeavours, I chanced upon other frontiersmen who seek adventure for their own reasons.

There was Val: Elven high-born noble Mage from Qeryon, Fyn: Dragonborn ex-soldier and Cat: a young elven waif. I was invited to the table of Val and Fyn while sitiing by myself in the Bell & Bird, the best tavern in all of Fairloch. We introduced ourselves and were getting to know one another when we were approached by the town bailiff, Sir Eamon Malory, and the local head of the Sword and Compass adventuring troupe, Alec Shaw.

They wished to hire us as a group to come to the assistance of an outlying community who had sent word by bird that they were under attack by raiders. We agreed to assist and left immediately with Sir Eamon and the dwarven pathfinder Rurik Stonecleaver.

We ran into a smaller group of raiders who were busy attacking a small town on the way to our destination. My adventuring friends made quick work of them and we proceeded to hunt down the larger group of slavers, for that is what our captives admitted to being.

We managed to catch up to the main group and due to a magnificent show of bravery on the part of Fyn we ended the slavers’ journey and saved all those who had been taken.

Now that we are back at Fairloch, I see that the group before me has potential to be what we once were. I will offer them my strength at arms if they will have me and we can bring some sense of order and justice to these outlands.

I feel that I now have a direction to once again follow. The hollow in my heart feels somehow less empty now. I miss you all but at least I can do good until we meet again.

Always your friend
Gehrigan

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