AD&D - New World

53: Still Waters
our heroes meet an undead lake serpent...

In the wake of the bone golem’s destruction, the Revengers begin to feel the effects of the yellow mists. Bea — still blind, with opals for eyes — finds bovine hair sprouting from her slowly growing jaw. Minja’s arm starts to turn red and one of Valeria’s hands is now webbed. Bea casts remove curse which seems to undo the effects. But the mist swirls all around them…

Meanwhile, due to a surge of wild magic, every single one of Bertram’s items has become alive. His hat clamps itself down on his head, his robe tries to strangle Jeff, and his ring of regeneration slips itself off of his finger and tries to roll away. His backpack pickpockets items from his fellow adventurers. His belt pouch opens of its own accord, vomiting coins — which promptly and happily roll away.

(his platinum remains, feeling it is their duty to stay close to their papa).

Bertram and the Revengers gather what they can of his escaping items — Ervendio slips Bertram’s hat into his own belt, and Teks ultimately takes Bertram’s 396 sentient platinum pieces, leaving Bertram penniless — and they leave the Maw of Arawn with the horn of the sacred grove.

After some debate, the Revengers decide to reveal to the druids that they have the horn. Maeve and Shaylaugh convince them to leave the horn with the druids in Sanctuary for study, at least for a few days, while the Revengers travel to the Ruins of Birnham, the small village that used to be near the castle to the north of Grimland. Druids who have gotten too close to Birnham have disappeared, and they hope the Revengers — or, the Hornblowers, as the druids think of them — will discover why.

(The druids also give the Revengers some new information on Grimland itself — that the castle was built on the site of an accursed grove, desecrated centuries before the Time of Troubles; that since the Time of Troubles the leechmouths have arrived and use the castle as their base of operations; that the leechmouths’ master is a ghost who lives at the castle).

The Revengers leave Minja and Valera in Sanctuary, to keep them safe from further physical changes in the mists. Petar accompanies them, despite failing Jongle’s ball-punching test.

The Revengers travel north to the Lake of Red Tears, en route to the Ruins of Birnham. They meet Svendar, an old man dressed in rags and tattered chain mail armor. He is catching & chopping up electric eel caught in the lake, tossing it back to feed “Aggie,” a friendly creature. He believes he has been forsaken by his god, Bragi, for throwing his harp into the waters. He raves madly about ghosts in the castle. He desperately wants his harp back!

Jongle casts unseen servant and sends it into the glassy black waters. Jongle strips naked to fly over the water, allowing his unseen servant to range throughout the lake.

But as he does so, Aggie stirs! A massive undead lake serpent, she rises from the lake and attacks the Revengers. Her fetid breath cloudkills poor, sweet, surly Petar in an instant as the rest of the Revengers battle her with magical arrows and spells. Bea thunderstaffs Aggie, stunning her, and Teks jumps into the air and brings down a mighty blow with his axe — chopping Aggie’s head off at the neck, and then slicing her head in two.

aggie.gif

Aggie’s now forever-dead corpse splashes into the dark waters. Svendar is horrified that his friend attacked these new strangers, but is also overcome with grief that Aggie — “the friendliest creature I have ever known!” is now dead….

XP
Group Awards
Aggie, 11000

Group Total: 11,000 Individual Award: 1834

Individual Totals:
Bea 2734 (A Close Shave 900, Group 1834)
Bertram 2734 (New Family 900, Group 1834)
Ervendio 2734 (Moon Bow 900, Group 1834)
Golgaraz 2734 (A Lute is Not a Harp 900, Group 1834)
Jongle 2734 (Ball-buster 900, Group 1834)
Teks 2734 (Serpent Killer 900, Group 1834)

LOOT
- Bertam buys basic equipment from the druids

- Ervendio has Bertram’s sentient hat

- Teks has Bertram’s 396 sentient platinum pieces

- Bertram’s old items that he still has with him are:

Ring of Regen (tied to finger) – CE
Ring of Spell Storing – CG
15 darts – CE
Backpack – NE
Pepper (CG), Saffron (LG), clove (LG), ginger (CG)
Chalk – True Neutral
Iron Pot – LG
Scroll Case (NE), 1/2 papyrus (CG)
Writing Ink – NG
Spell book – NG

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52: Music of the Mists
our heroes explore some kind of sphincter...

Interrupting a religious ceremony, Teks meets Maeve and Shaylaugh, two human druids who have sought refuge in the tunnels below Grimland. Reading their auras, Teks discovers they are true neutral. Maeve wonders if they are the Hornblowers spoken of in druidic legend, and Jongle & Golgaraz confirm her suspicions by making beautiful music together.

Maeve leads them deeper into the catacomb of tunnels — which stretch for miles! — telling them of the prophecy of the horn of the sacred grove.

Created by two druids named Gregory and Dorinna two-hundred years ago, at the dawn of the Time of Troubles, the horn was meant to restore balance to the land and defeat the lord in the castle. But before the horn could be tested, the cruel leechmouths descended on Gregory and Dorinna. They dragged Dorinna off to an unknown fate and murdered Gregory. But before Gregory died he cried that, ‘None of this cursed land shall ever find the horn!’

Subsequently, some of these druids have met Ursula, who prophesied that “Earth protects the secret. Hidden from the sun, by shovel may they find it, by the sword shall it be won!” Maeve believed this would herald the coming of the Hornblowers, outsiders who could find the horn, which would be buried underground; Shaylaugh interpreted it to mean the leechmouths would find the horn and the druids could recover it by killing the leechmouths.

With safe haven in the druids’ tunnels, the Revengers must decide which course to take if they want to find the horn: dig, or fight?

Bertram’s natural ability to detect slopes and unsafe passages leads the Revengers to a previously-undiscovered secret passage. They encounter a geist, a type of spirit that, while horrifying, has little ability to interact with the physical world. The geist points them toward a clue: a series of faint scratches on the wall that read Seek the misty mouth when it spits the sun into the sky. That which you seek lies in the valley whose floor is carpeted with death. Beware the mist!

The Revengers take this to indicate The Maw of Arawn, a mountainous crag that continually spits a yellow mist into the sky. Also, it is like the only other thing on their map.

(Bertram asks the druids about the Wolf of Arcworth — they knew the name as belonging to a historical figure from the Time of Troubles 200 years ago, the same time period as Gregory, Dorinna, and the creation of the horn. To Bertram and the Revengers, the Wolf lived approximately one-thousand years ago.)

It takes two days to travel to the Maw. Reaching the top of the crag, before descending into the mists, is a strenuous climb. Minja nearly falls, but Teks rescues her. Jongle takes a turn carrying baby Valeria.

The sickening mists weaken many Revengers, and the mists themselves coalesce into a pincer that attacks the party! Nearly impossible to hit with their weapons, Jongle disperses the mist creature with his magical wind fan.

Reaching the valley within the maw, the Revengers find it covered in bones, which have turned yellow in the mist. The bones are difficult to walk on, but the ground seems stable. The Revengers hear the horn before they see it — the wind blows through the valley, creating a mournful wail as it passes across the horn of the sacred grove. The Revengers find it resting in the teeth of a human skull. The horn appears to be carved from an antler and is studded with gold and glittering crystals.

Teks picks up the horn, and as he does the bones under the Revengers stir and form into a bone golem. Impervious to certain kinds of magic and resistant to their slashing & piercing weapons, the Revengers resort to smashing the golem as best they can.

Casting spells in spite of his own warnings, one of Bertram’s spells surges and his skin teleports three feet to his left. His skin crumples to the ground and Bertram experiences only an intense, sizzling, stinging all over his body. Bea attempts to magic missile the golem, but her spell also surges — turning her eyeballs into glittering opals. Now blind, Bea nonetheless casts alternate reality to save Bertram’s life rather than her own eyes. But Bea’s spell doesn’t prevent Bertram’s surge — it merely changes the results. Bertram’s lost skin is restored, but all of his items become sentient, alive, and free-willed.

Amidst the chaos, Golgaraz & Jongle team up to smash the golem. It clatters lifelessly to the bone-strewn ground. The horn of the sacred grove is in the hands of the Revengers, but a strange cost has been paid!

XP
Group Awards
Unearthed Prophecy, 1200
Mist Horror, 1500
Bone Golem, 18000

Group Total 20,700 Individual Awards 3450

Bea 4350 (Opal Eyes 900, Group 3450)
Bertram 4350 (Slope Detector 900, Group 3450)
Ervendio 4350 (Laying on Hands Before Bed 900, Group 3450)
Golgaraz 4350 (Bonesmasher 900, Group 3450)
Jongle 4350 (Windblower 900, Group 3450)
Teks (The General Grievous of Digging 900, Group 3450)

LOOT
The Horn of the Sacred Grove

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51: Secret Sanctuary
our heroes find an underground burrow...

As the dust settles after the battle with the leechmouths, Jeff pops out of Bertram’s robe — he’s made the trip from Yddgrasil along with the Revengers. He tries to get away with Bertram’s best cooking pot, but Bertram apprehends him. Jeff pries a promise from Bertram to help him get back to the World Tree.

Jongle is permanently scarred from his encounter with the leechmouths, with a red, circular, toothy scar around one eye. Ursula tells the Revengers the leechmouths are found throughout the land, most of all where the trees have been burnt or chopped down.

Petar makes a map for the Revengers of the land he calls Forlorn. They find that name a little on the nose, so Petar offers Grimland instead. The Revengers decide three paths are open to them: the yellow mists from which Ursula and Petar came to Grimland; the castle and the mysterious lord who rules there; or the secretive druids, who Petar says always run from him. With permission from Ursula, the Revengers take Petar along as they decide to seek out the druids.

En route to a glade where Petar has seen druids in the past, the Revengers happen upon several dozen zombie wolves.

Golgoraz turns a few, while Ervendio straight destroys them with a flash of his holy symbol. Bertram avoids spellcasting, as Grimland seems more prone to wild surges than other areas, as Bea learns with — perhaps luckily — little result. The wolves are routed, and good ol’ big ol’ Teks stumbles into the burrow the undead wolves were attempting to dig up.

Inside, they find a relatively fresh tomb that holds seven human bodies, adorned with seven silver sickles. Ervendio warns the group not to disturb the bodies. His elven senses guide them through several secret doors, as they discover a well-stocked catacomb of tunnels and rooms. Petar attempts to take the lead, receiving useful advice from the other, more seasoned adventurers on how to proceed.

Behind a secret door, the Revengers hear want sounds like religious chanting. They creep closer, spying several humans surrounded by strange crystals that appear to be growing out of the ground….

XP
Group Awards
Petar Strength 6000
Zombie Wolves (30), 3600
Sanctuary Found! 600

Group Total, 10,200 Individual Award 1700

Individual Totals
Bea 2600 (Wild Fizzle 900, Group 1700)
Bertram 2600 (Jefffriend 900, Group 1700)
Ervendio 2600 (Gurth Gothlye 900, Group 1700)
Golgoraz 2600 (Wolf Turner 900, Group 1700)
Jongle 2600 (Scarface 900, Group 1700)
Teks 2600 (Burrowing Insect 900, Group 1700)

LOOT
none

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50: Into the Chaos Storm
our heroes enter Forlorn...

The Revengers encounter Mildred the Frowzywig’s skull in the boughs of Yggdrasil, the World Tree. Mildred herself has seemingly moved on to yet another plane of existence, as her skull can only echo statements made previously. She again indicates that the Revengers should travel to the Chaos Storm itself. Bea believes a nearby portal should take them there.

Meanwhile, called by Jeff, the ratatosk Bertram fed a nut to, a group of full-grown ratatosk arrive demanding salt. The ratatsok ruffians threaten to smear Yggdrasil with the Revengers. Teks leads the charge into the portal — back to Urth — and into the unknown! — as Bertram throws his remaining salt at the demanding squirrel-creatures.

After tumbling through the portal, the party finds themselves on a grassy hill. High above, roiling storm clouds broken by brightly-colored lightning seem to be held at bay by a mysterious force. The Revengers are within the chaos storm itself!

Hearing music on the wind, Jongle and Golgoraz play a song in response. They follow the music and meet Ursula, a mongrelperson Vistani who calls this land Forlorn. She cannot remember if she has wandered it for years or for days. She believes she arrived here via a glowing portal in a mountain to the south. She is accompanied by her son Petar, a mongrelperson with a shock of bright red hair who wields an antlerbone dagger. Ursula warns of savage, many-toothed creatures who roam the land, servants of the Lord in the Castle.

She offers to read the Revengers’ fortunes with a set of bone dice, revealing to Teks that Tis better to join the Hunt than to be its prey, and to Bea that Your fate lies in the castles three.

The strain of fortune telling causes Ursula to pass out. As she falls unconscious, the howl of a worg pierces the air — and the Revengers are set upon by a band of the very creatures they were warned about! They are hideous creaturese with bloated heads, glowing red eyes, mangy hair, and a mouthful of needle-sharp teeth. Some ride worgs and the strange leechmouths affix themselves to anyone they can, draining blood directly from their victims’ faces. Ervendio is particularly horrified by the monstrous creatures after seeing them affix themselves to his friends*.

(Bea failed a horror check after seeing a leechmouth attach itself to Jongle — Bea suffers from an aversion to future leechmouth attacks and must stay at least 30 feet away from such face-to-mouth attacks in the future, or become fearstruck)

The Revengers fight back — Bertrams unleashes two wild surges, a result of the naturally chaotic energies of this land. The leechmouths are eventually defeated — some die by fire, some by blade, and the rest by ankhegs summoned by Bea.

Ursula wakes up from her fortune-induced stupor just as the last of the leechmouths are killed. “They are near!” she warns, “Be wary!”

With the creatures defeated, Ursula and Petar (who joined the Revengers in the fighting) offer to share their humble camp with the party for the night….

XP
Group Awards
Ratatosk Escape, 600
Musical Mongrel Vistani, 1200
Leechmouths, 15,600
Worgs, 480

Group Total: 17,880 Individual Award: 2980

Individual Totals
Bea 3880 (Monster Summoner 900, Group 2980)
Bertram 3880 (Two Wild 900, Group 2980)
Ervendio 3880 (Aversion to Leeches 900, Group 2980)
Golgaraz 3880 (Dueling Musicians 900, Group 2980)
Jongle 3880 (Dueling Musicians 900, Group 2980)
Teks 3880 (Portal Jumper 900, Group 2980)

LOOT
none

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49: The New Revengers
our heroes face old foes...

Ervendio leaves Proteus’s body with Nari, who promises the elf she will leave the warrior’s face untouched. She tells Ervendio she will turn the body over to him for a proper funeral in two days’ time.

Among Proteus’s things, the Revengers find a letter:

TO THE REVENGERS, OPEN IN THE EVENT OF MY DEATH

Beloved Friends, Compatriots, Brothers-and-Sisters-at-Arms,

You’ve not known me as a man of words, and in this task I shall not diverge from the man you knew. Many nights I’ve lain sleepless, whether by choice or as byproduct of this affliction that seems to have taken more and more control of me by the day. You could not understand the hunger – the deep, gnawing, insatiable desire – that eroded my soul from within. In truth, I thought nothing of it at first, it was a passing malady that my strength would surely have overcome, but this was no spring fever. My nights have been filled with suffering, a suffering from which I have been released. It is my sincere hope that I did not die a weretiger, and more than that, that I did no harm to any of you. Knowing that each of you were by my side in my time of peril is a greater boon that I deserve — I have done terrible things, both with you and before my time with you. Marching as a man of the Twelve Barrows has both its benefits and awful responsibilities, and the many moons shared together with all of you has lightened my heart from the burdens of my past. And yet with my passing I mourn the path set before you all. I implore you: continue onward with the task at hand — there is no time left for dawdling. Jad must be stopped and the wands reunited. The torches continue to be lit at an alarming pace, and the Revengers must not falter. I believe in all of you, that together you have the makings of greatness the likes of which the world has not seen. It was an honor to serve alongside you brave souls. You all have bettered me, and I go into my uncertain future with the breath of our friendship buoying me to new heights.

Proteus Valerius

When they met him, Proteus was breaking the fingers of an orcish prisoner; more than a year later, their dear friend and companion is given a gentle farewell.

Back at the Home of the Humble Dolphin, Jongle and Minja debate whether to stay in Huzuz or continue the quest for the rods. Minja wants to stay, buy a house, and use Huzuz as a permanent base of operations, leaving behind the quest. She believes (perhaps wrongly!) that Bertram and Bea are with her. Jongle wants to continue the quest, seeing it not only as the right thing to do for the Urth, but also as honoring the group’s commitment to Proteus. Minja agrees to abide by however the party votes.

Meanwhile, a traveling minstrel has arrived at the DolphinGolgaraz, a half-elven musician and priest who now wanders Amara, the land of his (dwarven) father. He strikes up a friendly conversation with Jongle and the pair create a song about the challenges of adventuring with a baby. Jongle recruits Golgaraz as a member of the Revengers, dependent on his voting Jongle’s way in the upcoming group meeting.

When Minja learns of Jongle’s recruitment strategy, she leaves him to babysit for the night and goes on a recruiting drive of her own. She finds ten new Revengers, signing them up with a steep (5,000 gp) membership fee they must pay off before they start collecting treasure — but with their promise to vote her way and stay in Huzuz. Jongle offers to pay their membership fees if they vote with him — five are swayed but five stay true to Minja. Teks suggests the new members stay behind as a Huzuz branch with the rest of the party ventures forth after the rod.

Amidst these political machinations, Ervendio prepares to retrieve Proteus’s body. Teks assumes ownership of Ruat, the first piece of the rod — and as soon as he does so a shimmering (bass-dropping!) portal opens up in the inn. From it emerges a hideous Spyder-Fiend, a lupine-arachnid fiend the Revengers last encountered in the Westlands. Known to be attracted by the rods and their use, the Revengers soon find themselves facing ten of the grotesque creatures. Inhabitants of the inn — including some of the new Revengers — scatter, while others (including a promising new Revenger who commanded genies) are killed by the fiends on the spot.

A battle commences! Teks, wielding Proteus’s battleaxe, is quickly covered in gore and ichor as the Revengers eventually manage to slay one of the fiends. The remaining new Revengers take down another, but at the cost of more lives. Bertram’s illusions distract three of them, but Bea’s similar spell is unable to do the same. Ervendio is poisoned by one of the creatures and falls into a stupor. Much of the rest of the group is perhaps on the verge of doing the same when the Revengers, gathering Minja and Baby Valeria, planeshift away with a scroll — escaping the spyder-fiends, but leaving 8 of them to potentially ravage Huzuz.

With little time to choose a destination, and with newcomer Golgaraz reading the scroll of planeshift due to Ervendio’s poison stupor, the Revengers find themselves transported to Yggdrasil, the World Tree — part of the Outer Planes and the place where Bea’s spirit resided during her death.

With milky, astral mists swirling above and below, the Revengers find themselves perched on a great branch of this mighty ash tree. They stand before what is (possibly?) the remains of their old friend Mildred: a kobold skull perched atop a magical staff, draped in a robe.

Bea, returned to her spirit-home, claims the staff as her own as Teks picks up the skull, asking, “And who might you be?”….

XP
Group Awards
Recruiting Drive 1100
Spyder-Fiends 18,000

Group Total: 19,100 Individual Awards: 3184

Individual Totals
Bea (Return to the World Tree 750, Group 3934)
Bertram (What About Georgie? 750, Group 3934)
Ervendio (Funeral Arrangements 750, Group 3934)
Golgaraz (Saerilus/Janglemancer 750, Group 3934)
Jongle (Janglemancer/Saerilus 750, Group 3934)
Teks (_Ruat_bearer 750, Group 3934)

LOOT
Staff of Striking, 3
(20 charges. damage is 1d6
3, with each use using one charge. Two charges can be expelled with one strike, making the damage 1d6+6. A third charge can be expelled with one strike, making the damage 1d6+9. To-hit bonuses do not stack with multiple charges.)

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48: A Wedding, A Birth, A Death
our heroes turn toward the infinite...

With two weeks to spend in Huzuz, the Revengers put their affairs in order.

Ervendio arranges for the ritual that could cure Proteus’s lycanthropy. He travels to the Mosque of Hilal, a dwarven god of punishment, demons, and the Moon. He confers with an imam, who considers Proteus’s condition to be a blessing — a gift from the moon itself — but who ultimately agrees to deliver a scroll of Atonement to the Revengers in exchange for a donation of 6,000 dinar.

Meanwhile, many of the Revengers take classes in basic spellcasting at the university. Teks learns waterbane and Ervendio featherfall. Proteus and Minja take their courses, but fail to learn their studied spells; Jongle signs up, but stops going after the first class — instead, he commits to making a name for himself as a performer, and to planning a surprise wedding for Minja.

Bertram takes to the libraries. He translates the tome they discovered in Azaltin’s temple, called The Kingdom of Lions. It reveals a secret history of al-Anwhar, and intimates a vizier to Azaltin’s brother advised him to make war against the returned lich. Bertram realizes that Nemir, the strange hermit of al-Anwhar, was Azaltin himself. And though the record shows that Zeenab, the vizier, went on to live an unnaturally long life, he disappeared from history several hundred years ago. Any further information could only exist in Muluk itself.

The Kingdom of Lions ends with Azaltin’s words:

Too late have I come to realize Zeenab’s venomous hold on my misguided brother. Even as I write this, his army plunders the palace and I must hide this history where Zeenab will never find it, so that future generations will know the truth behind my brother’s treachery, and my kingdom’s proud history.

Meanwhile, Jongle pulls together an impressive wedding celebration. A wandering band of bards called A Tribe of Bugbears performs at the wedding, a boar (with an apple in its mouth!) is served, and the flower arrangements are impeccable. A … passable portrait of Proteus is shared, just in case the warrior of the Twelve Barrows does not survive the ritual. An even worse portrait of Minja is commissioned by Teks, which Minja graciously (?) insists is someone else’s mother. Teks regurgitates bracelets and matching wedding rings when Jongle misplaces/never procures/has the real things disappeared by Bea the actual rings. Proteus makes a necklace of the scales of the serpent lord he ate. Bertram delivers a best man’s speech for the ages, and Bea reluctantly gives a maid-of-honor speech that is, in Minja’s estimation, “almost not offensive.”

But he excitement of the surprise wedding — and, perhaps, Proteus’s looming ritual — causes Minja to go into labor. She spends the night — and the next day! — engaged in a suddenly complicated, and early, birth, just as Proteus is due to transform.

Ervendio and Bertram accompany Proteus to the university, where Nari awaits them. She has Proteus sign over his body, should he die, to her and the university. Her cage does not contain Proteus once he turns into a tiger, and his animalistic rage causes the proud warrior to attack his friends — under the light of the moon, they are only meat. Proteus attacks! But with Nari’s help, Ervendio administers the necessary spells as Bertram’s illusions keep Proteus from raking his friends.

Unfortunately, it is not enough to save the proud warrior of the Twelve Barrows. As Nari recites the necessary incantation, Proteus is fed the deadly nightshade … and, though his body is cured of the lycanthropic disease, his soul does not survive the ritual. Proteus suffers an agonizing death, reaching out with his claws for one final rake. Ervendio says a quiet prayer, and sheds a quiet tear, over Proteus’s body — transformed, in death, back into his human form.

Meanwhile, Jongle, Teks, and Bea (!) see to Minja during her difficult birthing process. The weakened Minja nearly succumbs to the birthing process, but Bea saves her with Ervendio’s borrowed staff of healing. Minja gives birth to a girl — Valeria Janglemancer, named for the Last Knight of the Twelve Barrows.

A wedding, a fallen friend, a new life. Nothing is certain in Amara, the Land of Fate. Ruat, the First Key, left in Proteus’s backpack, demands a new master….

clive_owen_by_pedrosl-d2yilm4.jpg

XP
Group Awards
The Mosque of the Moon, 1200
A Surprise Wedding, 6000
A Child Is Born, 12000
Weretiger Remiss, 975

Group Total 20175, Individual Awards 3363

Individual Totals
Bea 4113 (Midwife 750, Group 3363)
Bertram 4113 (Private Librarian 750, Group 3363)
Ervendio 4113 (Wedding Officiant 750, Group 3363)
Jongle 4313 (Wedding Planner 750, Proud Father 200, Group 3363)
Proteus 4113 (Consumed by the Beast Within 750, Group 3363)
Teks 4113 (Ringblorker 750, Group 3363)

LOOT
wedding rings (Jongle + Minja)
wedding bracelets (Jongle + Minja)
necklace of serpent lord scales (Minja)

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47: A Dream of Genie
our heroes meet a genie, a dwarf, and a spelljammer

The Revengers arrive in Huzuz, City of Delights — perhaps the largest city in the world. They head to al-Bidir Sallah, the Home of the Seekers of Knowledge, the world’s largest university, in search of a cure for Proteus’s lycanthropy.

En route the college, the party boards a ferry run by two dao to cross the al-Sarif river. As a number of students swim the river rather than pay the 5 copper to cross on the ferry, Bea pays for a number of them to ride for free. The two dao — tasked genies commanded to push the ferry for centuries as penance for some long-forgotten offense — gossip with the Revengers as they cross, telling them of a weeping dwarven sailor who has recently returned to Huzuz as well as a spelljamming ship docked in the harbor.

ferry_dao.png

Arriving on the north beach, Bertram spies a bottle partially buried in the sand. Filled with a roiling smoke, the Revengers suspect it holds a trapped genie — Teks manages to uncork it, releasing a slayer genie that has gone mad due to centuries of imprisonment. As onlookers gather (including some city guards who never make it across the river), the Revengers distract and battle the genie. Bea causes the genie to think he is still in a dream, while Bertram and Jongle’s illusions nearly cause the genie to climb back inside of his prison. Ervendio, who could possibly heal the genie’s madness, can’t make contact with his divine staff. Teks gets the genie in a leglock, and the mad creature is ultimately destroyed.

The party is steered toward the College of Alchemy, where they meet Nari al-Fanif, an alchemist and researcher of lycanthropy. She knows of two potential cures for Proteus’s affliction — both require the priestly spells Atonement, Cure Disease, and Remove Curse, all cast on the lycanthrope while in beast-form. The first, arguably safer cure, would require the destruction of the curse’s progenitor — in this case, the halfling Ajiht of Sri Raji. The second would require Proteus to consume the flower of the poisonous nightshade — after which he would either be cured of his curse, or he would die.

Proteus chose the latter path, though it could not be performed for two weeks. Nari said she would arrange for a cage and the nightshade, leaving the procurement of the spells to the Revengers.

With two weeks before Proteus’s transformation (unless they discovered some new way to force his transformation), the Revengers returned to Huzuz proper. At an inn in the warehouse district called The Home of the Humble Dolphin they meet the infamous Weeping Dwarf, a sailor who accompanied Jad, the Myrikhan to the Steaming Isles of the Crowded Sea. The dwarf was traumatized by what he saw there, which included the slaughter of an entire island of intelligent animals. He told the Revengers that he witnessed Jad’s retrieval of Fiat, the third key and the third piece of the Rod of 7 Parts. Afterward, Jad began his journey home to Gith — and the Weeping Dwarf left the crew and made his way back to Huzuz.

After enduring some of Jongle’s bad poetry, Teks convinced the dwarf to commit himself to helping the downtrodden children of Huzuz rather than wallow in self-pity.

The next morning, the Revengers visited the docks of Huzuz where they boarded Skyrunner, a spelljamming vessel. Met by Bo’sunGulug, they were introduced to Captain Jon Tobart, a human looking to crew Skyrunner. Captain Tobart told the Revengers he had discovered an asteroid-sized beholder in distant space, that it was headed for Urth, but that he believed he could destroy it. The Revengers were unwilling to commit to helping him until after Proteus was cured.

Bea intimated — loudly and repeatedly — that perhaps they should simply steal the ship from its current crew. Gulug told the Revengers their return to Skyrunner would not be welcome, and made sure the rest of the crew — including the hulkingly silent Stonecrop — knew it….

XP
Group Awards
Tasked Slayer Genie, 11000
A Cure for Lycanthropy, 1200
Weep No More, 6000
The Crew of Skyrunner, 0

Group Total, 18,200. Individual Awards, 3034

Individual Totals
Bea 3784 (Tis But A Dream 750, Group 3034)
Bertram 3784 (Gibbering Bottle 750, Group 3034)
Ervendio 3784 (Spelljam Explorer 750, Group 3034)
Jongle 3784 (Working the Crowd 750, Group 3034)
Proteus 3784 (Bug Slicer 750, Group 3034)
Teks 3784 (Leglock 750, Group 3034)

LOOT
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46.1 The Ghost Path
our heroes join a caravan to Huzuz...

Two weeks have passed since Proteus’s last transformation. The Revengers have completed their crossing of the Great Anvil, have entered and left Halwa, and have arrived at Huzuz, City of Delights, and the heart of Amara itself.

The Ghost Path is the name of the caravan route from Halwa, City of Solitude, to Huzuz, City of Delights.

The first 150 miles is pleasant enough, especially for travelers out of the Haunted Lands. The caravan moves alongside the Al-Malih River, the land is green, and water is plentiful.

Then comes 200 miles of parched scrublands. This is a dangerous time of heat, little water, and a high chance of sandstorm, desert monster attacks, and jann encounters.

The scrublands end suddenly at the Oasis of Solitude, a place of rest and recuperation no matter what direction you travel — to Halwa or to Huzuz. Another two days of travel brings the caravan to Zarif, a small town that can be a caravan master’s nightmare. It is the only place to stock up on supplies between the two cities, and the merchants of Zarif are well aware of it.

The caravans feel the people of Zarif cheat them at every opportunity, and the people of Zarif feel the caravans take as much advantage of their kindness as they can. The result is a spirited atmosphere of bargaining and haggling, laced with tension, usually broken at night by lively celebrations and shared meals.

After Zarif, there is another hundred miles of open desert. Here there is less danger of animal attacks and jann, and a higher likelihood of bandits. In particular, the Riders of Blood — a large bandit group numbering nearly 300 dwarves — take great delight in targeting caravans going to and from Huzuz. They attack like a whirlwind and, with blade and magic, are happy to relieve caravans and caravan guards of gold and their lives.

After that stretch of desert, the caravan route turns green again as it follows the Al-Sarif River for the last 90-mile stretch to Huzuz itself. Long before reaching the city walls, the caravans pass through farms, fields, and broad streets of private dwellings. The walls of Huzuz itself are more of a nuisance than a protective barrier — they are designed to aid the bureaucracy of the Grand Caliph and to prevent large-scale smuggling. Aside from the major city gates, there are countless open-air doorways, windows, and shimmies one can squeeze through.

But the Ghost Route itself passes through the Gate of the Ghosts, Huzuz’s largest and most well traveled gate. The number of bureaucrats and mamluks (and paperwork) to pass through this gate are more than double the other major city gates. Taxes are collected, wagons are searched for contraband or false-bottoms, and merchants await — just inside the city gates — to welcome all to Huzuz, City of Delights, home to nearly one-million Amarans.

Huzuz itself is the jewel of the land. Cosmopolitan, arcane, wonderful and strange, Huzuz is home to magicians, priests, merchants, spies, jann, yak-people, and other creatures of shadow and light. The world’s biggest university is located here — Al-Bidir Sallah, “The Home of the Seekers of Knowledge,” as well as a number of smaller colleges. Any number of mundane classes may be taken here, as well as courses designed to teach even non-spellcasters how to wield just a little bit of magic.

The Grand Bazaar is an overwhelming and ever-shifting square of shops containing anything a traveler could possibly want to buy — if they have the time to shop and the dinars to spend. Pilgrims come from all over Amara to visit the city’s great mosques, and of course Huzuz houses the home of the Grand Caliph, the Seat of the Enlightened Throne.

Powerful individuals, secretive groups, and countless mysteries await the Revengers here. They may go in any direction they choose, and they may tug on any number of tempting strings — so long as they are prepared for what they might unravel….

huzuz.png

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46: A Marriage Renewed
our heroes cross the great anvil...

Jongle and Minja back away from a room full of dwarven guards, hill giants, and ogres. They find a balcony that overlooks the castle courtyard just as the rest of the Revengers finished up the guards at the two guard towers. Bertram lasso-nooses one, another is killed by Teks’s blades and Bea’s magic missiles, and the third is cut down by Proteus and Ervendio.

Reunited, the Revengers escape with Minja rather than press further into the mysterious castle.

With a week or more of travel to reach Halwa, and a full moon quickly approaching, the party decides to ride out the next three nights of Proteus’s lycanthropic transformation in the desert. They dig a sand pit hoping to contain him, but Proteus easily escapes it on his first night as a tiger. Proteus kills and eats an antelope, stumbling back to camp the next morning covered in blood.

On the second night, the Revengers themselves hide in the pit (except Bertram, who stays topside to conceal the camels). As a tiger, Proteus stalks and kills a manscorpion in the night — returning to camp with a new scar and again covered in ichor and blood — but feeling rejuvenated and alive.

On the third night, the Revengers again hide themselves. Tiger-Proteus finds a calm oasis and kills and eats the peaceful serpent lord who lives there. Undoubtedly a sentient (and good-aligned) creature, Proteus has murdered an innocent.

The Revengers press on to Halwa. Using their crystal ball to find Jad, they spy him sailing the open seas on his vessel. Proteus uses Ruat to discover the direction of the second rod — presumably still in Jad’s possession — is due east of their current location. The party surmises this places Jad in the Foreigner’s Sea. When the Revengers and Jad parted ways, several months previous, he had left them floating in a rowboat in the Great Sea to Amara’s northwest. It appears Jad has circuited around Amara and the Crowded Sea to the south, and perhaps is now traveling north and eastward.

The group arrives in Halwa, City of Solitude, greeted with a hero’s welcome! They are outlanders who have crossed the Great Anvil, the world’s most inhospitable desert — all for the sake of sacred love. They are given free lodging at the Inn of the Violet Plum where they bathe, are given food and drink, and can rest indoors and with a comfortable bed. Jongle & Minja renew their marital commitment to one another — and agree to raise their child together, as equal members of Mildred’s Revengers.

The Revengers have passed out of the desert, having rediscovered a love thought lost and having returned a dear comrade to life. Bea tells the others of her in-death conversation with Mildred, their namesake, and that Mildred told Bea to travel to The Wild Storm itself.

For now, our heroes join with a caravan headed southwest to Huzuz, City of Delights, and the jewel of Amara itself….

XP
Group Awards
Minja’s Rescue, 4000
Scrying Jad, 600
Crossed the Great Anvil, 8000
3 Fedayeen, 405

Group Total: 13,005 Individual Award: 2168

Individual Totals
Bea 2918 (Chaos Confession 750, Group 2168)
Bertram 2918 (How’s Your Noose 750, Group 2168)
Ervendio 2918 (Battle Cleric 750, Group 2168)
Jongle 2918 (Renewed Vows 750, Group 2168)
Proteus 2918 (Ate a Guy 750, Group 2168)
Teks 2918 (Digging a Hole 750, Group 2168)

BONUS: Minja has rejoined the party as a henchman henchperson

LOOT
identified the following…

short bow +3

bronze plate mail +2

scarab amulet — unknown curse

Zephyr of the Winter Moon, a dancing scimitar

on the first round of use, this sword is +1; on the 2nd +2, the 3rd +3, the 4th +4. On the 5th it goes back to +1 and the cycle begins again.

After four rounds of melee, the wielder can allow it to “dance” — fighting on its own as the same level of the wielder. After four rounds of dancing, the sword must return to its wielder who must use if for another four founds before loosing it again.

While dancing, the Zephyr can move 30’ away from its wielder. At the end of 4 rounds it will automatically move to its wielders hand. The sword cannot be physically hit, but can be effected by certain magical attacks, such as fireball, lightning bolt, transmute wood to metal, and others.

Bards can release the Zephyr on any round that is not a +1.

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45: Krak al-Niraan
our heroes infiltrate a desert castle...

The Revengers continue their trek across the Great Anvil. Searingly hot in the day and freezing cold at night, even with the help of both arcane and priestly spells, the trip starts to take a toll on them.

The desert takes a toll on Proteus’s mind, as well. He dreams of life as a tiger, but even in dreams he is unable to eat. He wakes up each morning to find Ruat, the First Key and the first piece of the Rod of 7 Parts, has somehow moved away from him. On Teks’s recommendation, Proteus meditates on the rod and attempts to speak to it. Ruat seems unable — or unwilling — to converse with him for long, telling him that he is unwell in both body and mind.

After more than three weeks of travel, he party comes upon the remains of a a burned and ruined caravan. It matches the size of the caravan they have scried traveling with Minja. There are no survivors and no remaining loot. The wagons, dwarves, and camels that once made up the caravan have all been horribly burned. Even the sand under the caravan has been burned, so hotly that it has turned to glass.

Teks and Proteus bury what remains they can find. They are joined by an ethereal band of djinn, genies of the wind, who do not speak to or even acknowledge the Revengers. As the last of the burnt bones are buried, the djinn disappear without a word.

Continuing on, Teks’s wayfinding and Ervendio’s spells guide the group ever southward. Jongle peers into the crystal ball again and finds Minja alive — in a room now, surrounded by pillows and silks.

After a few more days of travel, the party spies a bluff rising from the desert. It is topped by a great castle with fires burning at the watchtowers. There is only one switchbacked path leading up the bluff. Believing Minja to be held prisoner inside, Jongle and Bea send a message to her via whispering wind, telling her that Jongle will come to rescue her that evening. He will come to her window, as a bat. The rest of the party ascend the trail, keeping themselves hidden until Jongle can signal them.

Jongle circles the castle walls, spying a courtyard and great fortress inside. It is inhabited by dwarves wearing white abas. He finds Minja in a well-furnished room on the fourth floor — but all of the castle windows are little more than defensive arrow slits. As a bat, Jongle flies in — but as he transforms back into a goblin, he is unable to escape again.

Jongle and Minja are reunited! Surprised to see her estranged husband, Minja says she is en route to the orphanage where Khalid was reared, and where she hopes her unborn child may be raised. She says she prayed to her maharajah for guidance and was surprised when Khalid spored in front of her, telling her of his youth under the strict
command of a Holy Order. It is possible she has misunderstood Khalid’s intent in telling this story, and in so doing, has decided to cross sea and desert to drop off her baby there.

Jongle, having been raised in a horrifying goblin orphanage in Skullcap, declares that he will raise his baby himself — and that Minja is to come with him. They quarrel (they kiss) and Minja steals the crystal ball used to spy on her from Jongle. They agree to discuss the finer points of their relationship (and its future) later, as Minja’s fate at the castle appears to include being added to the harem of Jamal, a flame wizard who commands this castle. Jongle and Minja dispatch the guard at her door, Jongle disguises himself (poorly) in the guard’s robes, and they attempt to find their way out of the castle.

Unable to receive a message from Jongle, the Revengers decide to sneak into the castle. Ervendio’s moonbridge gives them access to one of two guard towers at the gate, by they are spied by the watchdwarves. Teks bum rushes one of the guards off of the tower and Ervendio silences the alarm bell, but one other guard remains on the tower — he throws some sort of fiery, explosive ball at Teks, which misses. Two other guards, on the other tower, have also spied the intruding Revengers.

Meanwhile, moving floor by floor, Jongle and Minja have been unable to find an exit. As the signal bell begins to sound elsewhere in the castle, they open the doors to a staircase — and run right into a veritable legion of guardsmen, made of dwarves, ogres, and several hill giants….

XP
Group Awards
Djinn Burial,1200
Storming the Castle, 600

2 Fedayeen, 270

Group Total: 2070 Individual Awards: 345

Individual Totals
Bea 1095 (Whispering Wind 750, Group 345)
Bertram 1095 (Holding His Action 750, Group 345)
Ervendio 1095 (Moonbeam Bridge 750, Group 345)
Jongle 1095 (Couples Counseling 750, Group 345)
Proteus 1095 (Talking to the Rod 750, Group 345)
Teks 1095 (Bug Rush 750, Group 345)

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