The Thundering

A Night of Roleplaying

Our party, still injured from the encounter at the waterfall, limped back to Styrewood to report to Charles Wolfe. Wolfe demanded that the party find and reclaim the Jade Warrior from the bandits.

Through various means and hours of investigation, the party eventually found the following information:

  • The thieves were insiders in the manor, and used magic to remove the statue from it’s resting place.
  • The Jade Warrior had a weak magic aura safeguarding the region, although from what isn’t known (the party suspects earthquakes). That aura is now gone.
  • The Jade pieces encountered were part of a collection of jade figures carved by a wizard centuries ago. There is talk of them being enchanted, however details were lost to time.

After winding down for the night in a tavern, one of the kidnapped merchants arrived, surprised. He gave the party their next clue: one of the kidnapped merchants, Rakai Crevan was on route north to Harrowden, in the Llyandra Valley.

Interrogating Rakai, and after a little bit of grilling, Rakai told the party that he was charged with smuggling the Jade Parrot, and that the kidnapping was set up to hide the smuggling. He was now following a lead to the next figure for him to smuggle, the Jade Rose.

Just before the party reached the gates of Harrowden, the Iron Circle ambushed them again. After delivering a letter from The Necromaancer, the leader of the thugs slew Koradar, leaving the party stunned.

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A Bit of Light Reading
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Upon returning to Styrewood after rescuing the missing merchants from the Iron Circle, our group was summoned by the newly returned, Charles Wolfe, the young lord of Styrewood, with what seemed to be a rather tedious, if relatively simple, assignment.

Wolfe, fearing that the various political entities are engendering the recent bandit troubles with the Iron Circle, requests that the party meet with his chancellor and go through a variety of documents pertaining to the Circle, including some research into cults. The party accepts only because of the vast sums of gold involved in such an endeavor, and Koradar is quickly bored by the very prospect of reading.

Upon diving into their research, Koradar, Grakk and Virgil were able to piece together, through their collective knowledge of historical and religious context, that the Iron Circle appeared to be the military arm of an entity known as the Jade Brotherhood, which had abruptly gone silent some 70 years past due to assumed internal strife. Upon returning to Lord Wolfe to report this disturbing discovery, the party was informed by Lord Wolfe that the centerpiece of the Styrewood crown jewels was missing: The Jade Warrior.

Determined to recover this item and discover any possible connection to the Parrot of Akhanat (as well as take out Koradar’s frustration at being shut in a small room for several days), the party set out in hot pursuit of the thieves, following them through the countryside and into the eastern forests. In the forest, the party found a set of stone ruins from ancient times, held by a group of Iron Circle Soldiers. The party set an ambush, but Koradar gave away their position and a vicious struggle ensued that saw Virgil nearly killed. The Circle men were found to undergo some sort of accelerated decay when killed, with a strip of flesh across their brow turning grey. One man, who had been slashed across the face by Koradar, survived the battle long enough to spit defiance at the half-orc, who summarily spit him on a sword.

A letter found on the man’s body identified a Necromancer among the enemy, but none was found. Trace informed the party that a small group had fled the ruins as the attack began and the party set off in hot pursuit. As they reached the edge of a waterfall, the enemy trail abruptly disappeared. In their confusion, the group was ambushed with magic, stunned, and approached by The Necromancer.

The Necromancer told the party that it was in their best interests as mercenaries to stay alive, rich, and away from anything to do with the Jade Brotherhood. To add emphasis to his point, he had his men break Koradar’s leg. The party was informed that Sultan Hakim had sent the Jade Parrot across the sea to the Brotherhood’s agents, but also added that his involvement ended there, perhaps in an attempt to make the party focus on Hakim the man as opposed to Hakim, the potential ally of this cult. The Necromancer finished his warning by informing the party that if they should hear the name “Hadron Graves”, they would not long survive the hearing.

Following this highly polarizing experience, the group limped back to Styrewood.

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After the Games

Rounding out the Styrewood Games was the baking competition, which the party won using their accumulated knowledge, plus some underhand sneakiness. However, just as the mayor of Styrewood was about to give the party their medals during the award ceremony the next day, a page ran up and game him some news that quite visibly unnerved him. After that the ceremony was concluded without a hitch.

Approaching the mayor after the festival, the party learned that some merchants traveling home from the Games early had been kidnapped by bandits from the mysterious Iron Circle. The bandits had fled across the Western border separating Styrewood country from the Ug’Ulash confederacy, and the mayor didn’t want to anger Styrewood’s neighbors by sending an official armed party into any of the Confederacy’s territory. So he hired the adventurers to act as an independent party to rescue the merchants and bring them back safely to Syrewood. After warning the party of the rumors surrounding the Iron Circle they were led to roughly where the merchants were taken and entered the forest.

The party followed the bandit’s trail, which they didn’t seem to be trying to conceal, and came to a lonely stretch of road. The party was noticed by a gnoll patrolman, who explained that the Confederacy knew about the bandits, but did nothing about them because of the rumors that the Iron Circle had pacts with devils. The patrolman promised that he would leave the party alone when traveling back to Styrewood.

Following the patrolman’s directions, the party soon came upon a cave guarded by Iron Circle bandits and felldrakes. After dispatching these enemies the party entered the cave. Inside they found the rest of the bandits as well as their infernal allies in the form of a pair of tar devils. Also inside the cave were a pair of tar pits, the merchants and a large pile of gold.

The enemies in the cave did not provide too much of a challenge compared to some of the party’s more recent fights. The party helped themselves to the treasure in the cave, which included a mysterious ruby. After experimenting with it, Grakk discovered that it actually bounced quite high. The party finally freed the merchants and escorted them back to Styrewood. When they reached the road the party had encountered the patrolman on they found it deserted and crossed back to Styrewood without incident.

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A little R&R

Our fellow adventurers were put on a ship quite forcefully, and under the direction of Captain Brosia, set sail for the continent of Dracmont. The first couple days were light in excitement, but gave the Captain time to teach the adventurers how to maintain and operate a ship. Things went well, except for the eladrin, who didn’t take well to the open seas.

On the fifth day, with everyone feeling a bit green, a storm hit with ferocious strength, and only through strength and determination did the party make it out safely.

The ship docked safely in Teios, a decent sized port town. It was relatively empty, and a friendly bartender told the adventurers that the Styrewood Games have drawn a huge crowd from every corner of the region.

With their curiosity piqued, the troupe traveled to Styrewood, bitching Gilsdorf into staying awake all night on guard two nights in a row. With Gilsdorf staying awake sufficiently to keep any pickpockets away, and the guard believing that Trace wasn’t just another low-life pickpocket, the adventurers found themselves in the packed streets of Styrewood.

Under the encouragement of Virgil, the party first engaged in a test of the mind against the Chessmaster. After a long and close match, Virgil came out on top, and was awarded a Potion of Eladrin Shape (funny enough). And the party went to bed for the evening, waiting to join the Arena in the morning.

First thing after breakfast was signing up for the arena. For technical reasons, roleplaying was skipped and everyone proceded into the arena combat. After killing a decent amount of creatures, and getting a decent amount of xp, the party all leveled up.

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A Diplomatic Mission

We had left our fellows as they returned to Lord Vladistone in the Forunian capitol of Hammerfast, fresh from their victories in the deep places of the world. Hammerfast, it seemed, however, had more problems than simple earthquakes now, though. Vladistone had received a pair of letters from the Akhanati government within days of each other, one requesting a trade agreement, while the other set forth an ultimatum with the threat of military force. Vladistone asked that our heroes act as emissaries for Forun and go to Saladir, the Akhanati capitol, in an attempt to glean the meaning of these messages. Meanwhile, Vladistone was unable to ignore a possible threat to the south, so he moved what armed forces he had to the Akhanati-Forunian border as a preventative measure. He gave the stand-in diplomats a warning to preserve the stability of Akhanat as much as possible.

The heroes made their journey south in the company of the eclectic merchant Jan Ludendorff, a Pirithian merchant who happened to be making the journey to Saladir himself. The nervous, seemingly mild-mannered man with the thick accent made some of the party, particularly Koradar, rather edgy. However, Ludendorff assured them that while he was a poor merchant, he was not unprepared for the journey. Taking the merchant at his word proved to be a fateful decision as the cost cutting fool was using old water barrels that had seeped much of the water out over the course of the journey, leaving the heroes with no water left and two days remaining in their journey.

They stumbled into Saladir tired, dehydrated and dusty only to discover that Saladir itself was in no fit state to be sending correspondence to any nation. On their way to an inn, they discovered a murder scene in the streets, featuring a prominent merchant and a pair of thugs wearing black arm bands. The city was caught in a power struggle between Sultan Hakim, the new ruler of the city, and former Commerce Minister Mahmoud Abou Raba, an affluent and sly merchant and politician, following the untimely death of the previous ruler, Sultan Jamar. Prices were skyrocketing, disappearences and murders common, assassins and spies roamed the streets of Saladir.

The heroes had audiences with both of these feuding nobles, discovering that Jan Ludendorff was an agent of Abou Raba and that Hakim had sent two regiments north to block any forays by Vladistone into the Holy Desert, and were offered large rewards for the retrieval of the Jade Parrot, a highly symbolic figurine that would win the people’s approval of that ruler as the victor in the succession. After a great deal of debate over the various merits of both candidates, the adventurers decided (very) tentatively to retrieve the parrot for Abou Raba, mostly on the urging of Koradar, who desired the longsword that Abou Raba offered as reward, and a favorable dice roll. The main cause for hesitation was the understanding that Vladistone did not like Abou Raba and Abou Raba had stated openly that he would take preemptive actions against Vladistone if he deemed it necessary.

Guided by the ever changing accent of Ludendorff, the heroes set off for the tomb where the parrot was hidden. The cowardly merchant ran off as soon as he dropped them off there, fleeing for the safety of Saladir. Our fellows were perturbed to discover runes on the door of the tomb identical to those that had been in the mine shaft that the Forunian earthquakes had been emnating from.

The tomb proved to be a challenge unto itself, housing several undead creatures who tried in vain to keep our heroes from reaching the parrot. The zombies were vanquished in a battle that almost saw Grakk fall once again, but in the end proved to be only slightly challenging. A hidden room filled with runes housed their goal. The parrot was kept in a box that only the priesthood of the Raven Queen knew how to open, and appeared to be the source of these runes, but the diplomats showed their diverse skillset in weasling open the stubborn container. As they left the tomb, events took a startling turn.

Jan Ludendorff returned with a bulky lackey to kill our heroes! Ludendorff confessed to being an extremist Pirithian agent, intent upon throwing Akhanat, Pirith’s ancient enemy and Forun’s stalwart ally, into massive chaos and civil war by stealing the parrot, the only quick solution, opening the door for a Pirithian invasion of Forun. Whilst Ludendorff’s sorcery proved potent, our fellows quickly overwhelmed him with arrows and sorcery of their own, felling both enemies with little incident. They did, however, decide to reconsider their choice for parrot recipient based upon these new details.

They returned to Saladir, only to discover that Abou Raba had known of his agent’s deception and had decided to let the heroes take care of the loose end for him. He also promised specifically that he would not allow the Pirithians to leave their shores, but made no commitment to land support for Forun. He then requested the parrot. Not wishing to put their home country in danger and sensing his animosity toward Vladistone, the heroes attempted to bluff that they did not yet have the parrot, but he saw through them, ordering them to leave his sight as he would have preparations to make for leaving the city, as they clearly intended to give the parrot to Hakim.

The heroes left and visited the royal palace to finally bring this messy diplomatic mission to a satisfying, at least for Trace and the misers of the party, close. Hakim would prove to be a deadly opponent, however. The heroes gave him the parrot, earning a handsome sum of gold and a duelist’s short sword for Trace. Then, things began to unravel.

Hakim announced that the forces he had sent north had lured Vladistone’s troops into the desert and utterly destroyed them, opening the way for invasion. When he received news of Ludendorff, he laughed, saying that the Pirithians were right on schedule, attacking Forun from the north with a powerful force of 60,000 men. Hakim marveled at how he had managed to play the diplomats for fools, but acknowledged that they had made this possible. Hakim bought them passage on a trade galleon to the destination of their choice and requested that they hurry and leave. Grakk’s angered smoldered, barely contained, whilst Trace had to be physically held back for the good of the group. Virgil Tharne was speechless, humbled by his utter and complete outmaneuvering by this brutish Akhanati.

Our heroes boarded the ship, Sea Breeze, and set off, their homeland burning behind them, in hopes of a new start and the ever present goal of eventual revenge.

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Into The Deeps

As soon as they arrived at the mountains the party made for the Dwarven settlement within. Upon conferring with the Dwarven lord they found that the Dwarves had also been plagued by earthquakes in recent weeks. This appeared to be due to the recent excavation of a mine shaft as the miners had all gone missing. After some persuading, the adventurers were promised 100 gold pieces each, with half paid up front. They went to see the mine overseer and learned that he suspected magic was at work and that the rest of the miners were spooked by the shaft. The party check the overseer’s library and discovered that the area had been the spot of a structure constructed by an infamous wizard some 400 years ago.

The party entered the mine and were immediately beset upon by a swarm of stirges. The pests were dispatched without much trouble and the adventurers went on to check the bodies of the deceased miners. They found 30 pieces of gold and a Rod of Deadly Casting. It turned out that just inside the mine was the entrance to a structure that matched the time period of the wizard. The walls of the structure were lined with glowing green runes. Proceeding further the party were attacked by a tribe of strange albino kobolds. After a harsh battle in which Grakk was nearly killed the party discovered the source of the mysterious quakes: a large cauldron filled with earth somehow influencing the land itself. Using their combined magical aptitude (and some encouragement from Trace) the party was able to disable the bizarre device, but were dismayed to find that there were signs on similar sites scattered throughout the land.

Returning to the Dwarven settlement the party received the rest of their payment from the lord. After a debate about what to do next, they decided to update the lord of Hammerfast about what they had discovered.

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Quest Get!

The party started out as a rag-tag group of guards hired by the merchant’s guild, led by Grakk. Their first assignment was to protect a small caravan of a handful of carts between the small town of Garrant and the city of Hammerfast,about two days of travel.

The morning of the second day, the party was ambushed right outside the ruins of Castle Inverness, the halfway point of the trip. After getting bruised up, the party trekked on without looting the bodies.

Once in Hammerfast, their pay was withheld, and told to report to the local ruler, Lord Vladistone, to get compensation for the trip. There, he revealed that he has been hiring mercenaries to investigate the source of several earthquakes that have plagued the region. He explained then explained the theories circulating.

Scholars have told me that earthquake dragons used to roost in the mountains to the east. Now they haven’t been around in my lifetime, nor that of my father, but I’m not prepared to rule it out. Rumors from some dwarven merchants say that a dwarven klan has discovered fire-powder, and have been experimenting with it. Some of our clergy have been ranting that duergar, or other devils have been digging out under the region, and that they will soon breach the surface. Now we have workers and scholars digging to answer that, and some groups have been sent to a handful of dwarven clans, but we need you to investigate the mountains. Either diplomacise with the Ironfist clan, or search and destroy any and all dragon roosts.

The party quickly set off to hunt for some dragons, and left early the following morning.

We left the party among the various severed branches of a carrion vine, with no bodies to loot.

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