Servants of the Shard

Guardians of Arete: Session Fifteen
Godsday Festival Comes to an End and a Message is Recieved

Ysobel Shadowcaster:Rain 5

In which we are much admired.

The Goddesday festival was more exciting than any of us had expected for a number of reasons. Between competitions, while we were shopping for a few odds and ends, Nadeira noticed some Fateweavers behaving furtively in the crowd and decided to follow one of them. Being Nadeira, she said nothing of her intentions. She did tell us later what had happened, but when she came to find us she had a difficult time telling us what happened. It seems the Fateweavers in question were also part of the Republican movement in Ptolus, and they had set up several kegs of gunpowder in an obvious attempt to kill a large number of important people.

We all agreed that we really needed some help with the whole matter. The guards had been bribed to abandon their posts, and someone would have to be held accountable. We decided that Kaira Swanwing was the best person to turn to for help. Her position with the Knights of the Golden Cross gives her great authority in the city, and the people who needed to know what happened would listen to her. Had we tried to bring the matter to resolution on our own, we would probably have waited for weeks to see the right people.

Kaira arranged for members of her order to guard the stands for the remained of the day. Leto returned to the dueling lists for his magical battles, and the rest of us obtained standing-room-only viewpoints nearby. Each duel was fast – it was very difficult to see the combatants because of the great flashes of light and the trees. I do not know exactly how he did it, but Leto forced trees and other plants to grow in the empty ring in an instant and made them grab at his opponents. It was quite impressive. There were three winners of the magical duels – Leto received a scroll with three spells inscribed upon it, and a pearl of power.

My friends continue to amaze me at every turn. After winning a magical duel and saving the lives of many people, Leto and Nadeira both chose to compete in the footrace. Ina n amazing upset, Leto won by a mere arms length at the last minute, passing Nadeira in a final burst of speed. And after a long day in his armor, Otto still entered the jousting tournament.

That joust is one I will remember until I die (may that day be long in coming). The Commissar oversaw the event and presented the prize at the end – a magical longsword of superior workmanship. There were thirty-two competitors in the joust that day. So many competitors required multiple rounds and several passes in each round. The competition was fierce and many lances were broken. Otto was (in my opinion) one of the better riders today – he was not unhorsed even once, and goodness knows his opponents tried.

The final match of the day was most impressive. Both Otto and Lord Steven, his opponent, are riders of superior ability, though Lord Steven has had the benefit of many years of private instruction. I think it would not be unfair to say that Lord Steven is more skilled with the lance, but Otto is incredibly lucky and highly talented in his own right. A few more years of practice and I would certainly place money on Otto’s skills surpassing Lord Steven’s in the jousting arena.

I do not speculate on their skills outside the jousting arena.

The final joust seemed destined to end quietly. Both knights broke lances on the first pass, but Otto missed the second pass. Both knights missed the third pass. Lord Steven was to be declared the winner but he asked for a fourth pass – he seems to have a flair for the dramatic. The fourth pass was decisive – Otto unhorsed Lord Steven, surprising everyone on the field and making himself an instant crowd favorite. The Commissar himself was thrown by the upset, though his bias in favor of his nephew is understandable.

After the presentation of the sword to Otto, Kaira Swanwing stepped forward and announced our role in undermining the plot against the nobles. It seems the kegs of powder left by the Republicans were set underneath the Commissar’s seat in the nobles section of the stands, and we saved the lives of many rich and powerful people. Some of them make me nervous – the representatives of House Vlada’am for example – while others are more intriguing than unsettling. The man sitting for House Dallimothien had a small silver dragon with him, and his beauty was startlingly alluring. The lure of his house color is more understandable – my own vanity cries out for me to wear that silver and to outshine it.

Lucky am I that the chances of me making a fool of myself over someone so obviously above me in station are remote.

The final event of the day was the much-anticipated Gauntlet. Otto sat out, tired from his exertions, but the rest of us lined up to try our hand. We decided that Nadeira should attempt the last pass, as she had the best chance of victory. I made my attempt first. I might have finished had I not grabbed that handle in the darkened slit – the jolt of energy really knocked my breath out of me. Leto managed to get past that trap and some of the others beyond it, but only Nadeira managed to get out of the maze with barely a scratch on her. Her use of the traps as a means to avoid injury was amazing.

There were many people in the crowd who showed interest in her abilities – those she displayed and those she did not. I have a feeling she’ll be receiving some kind of invitation from a secret society one day. Maybe one day she’ll even tell me if it happens.

The prize for winning the Gauntlet was a magical artifact – the Chronocharm of the Laughing Rogue. Apparently it is one charm among several that can be worn at the same time – something like prayer beads, though without the divine slant and certainly intended for different purposes.

After much-needed baths all around, we prepared to join the festivities at Castle Shard. It seemed only natural for us to display our newest (and cleanest) weaponry as part of our costumes for such an eminent occasion. We spent most of the evening mingling and being introduced to various dignitaries, minor nobles, and people of influence in the upper levels of various organizations. I have to admit that my shyness overcame me, and I was too terrified of being thought a fool to ask for an introduction to Doradian Mythlord, but we spoke with Lady Rrill for some time, and she managed to have it happen without any awkwardness.

After a little while, we noticed that the light from the crystal shard began to flicker. No one else noticed anything strange at first. After a short time no one else could notice anything – everyone but us seemed to slow down dramatically, as if time were stopping and we stepped out of it somehow. A young elven man stepped out of the shard – a man with floor length silver hair. He was upset about something – he thought there would be more of us, and that we would be more powerful than we are. He caused the shard to bring us here – and he is the Dreaming King.

It seems that we are to go to Dretha Phantas and retrieve the Cask of Frozen Dreams and the Dreaming Stones. We will meet Unthon Aedar (whoever they are) and they will help us (why do we always need help?), but first we must find Callista (who is she?)

I must admit, having my uncle back to tell me that the world is full of things I won’t ever understand would be comforting right now. Having the rightful king of all elves (possibly both here in Preamal and in all other worlds) tell me that I am not meeting expectations yet is just a bit more than I can handle without some pang of homesickness. At least at home no one expected great things from me because of my hair.

And yet I find that I enjoy trying to meet those expectations, inconvenient as they are when I fail.

As the party wound down, Nadeira found a young man to her liking. I believe she was trying to get him to take her to a luxurious inn. I hope she is not disappointed – she sings when she is happy, and it makes the house more cheerful. I could use some cheer.

Nadiera Bin Mustafa: So I followed the female Fateweaver through the throngs of people. She peeled off behind a tent and I crept back to hear what I could hear. I peeked around the corner and saw two women. The one I’d been following passed striker of some kind to the other woman. She told her, “Don’t strike it until the Grand Joust.” Oh, this is not good! She said they had paid off the guards. Then the one with the striker took off. I followed her, I was not going to let her out of my sight.

She noticed me following her and tried to lose me. I kept up with her though. Then she headed under the noble’s stands. I followed but got kind of disoriented. I lost sight of her, but after a few minutes, I could see her crouching. I didn’t want to kill her, I needed to know the plan, but I had to debilitate her. I used my bolas, bit as easy feat with all the obstacles under the stands. I did manage to hit her though and I was able to pin her down and find out what the plan was. There was kegs filled with gunpowder under the Kommissar’s seat. Her job was to light the fuse at the right moment. She screamed, “Run, we’ve been found out!” I tied her up with my belt and left her there to go find help. She yells at me, “You can’t stop the Republicans, you tyrant!” Great, I’m a tyrant…

I got to my party first and told them what happened. We all went to find Kyra Swanwing. We took her to the spot, but the girl had escaped, or been rescued. At least nobody will get blown up at the joust today.

Jevakonor, the woman we had seen with the crystal arm was overseeing the magical duels. I don’t know a lot about magic, except for what I’ve seen Leto do. So today was a real treat for me. Leto was fearless, he had his standard tricks, but had backups in case those didn’t do the job. He had a flaming sphere that followed the opponent around. Cool! His first opponent seemed an easy defeat. His second put him in a web. Neat looking; Leto webbed him back. Leto knocked him out pretty quickly. The third opponent was a female. He took her out really quickly. The last was a male wizard. It looked like he was a decent challenge, but in the end, Leto won the day!! Jevakonor presented him with a pearl of power and some scrolls, courtesy of the Inverted Pyramid. Neat!

Leto and I ran a footrace together. Out of 27 runners, Leto and I took the lead. He pulled ahead at the last minute and won the race, but I was a close second! It was really fun!

Then, the Grand Joust! All the nobles were in the stands and they all has banners flying with the house colors. It was really quite a sight to see. We noticed the house of Vladaam was represented by a dark skinned woman with small horns. They seemed an accepted Noble house by everyone present. Dragons were flying around and the Kommissar strides in looking all decked out and pretty. Truly regal!

Otto certainly had his work cut out for him. His first and second round weren’t too terrible. The third opponent just looked scary. He had black and red freaky armor, but Otto won that round too. The fourth opponent was a Knight of the Pale. He kicked his butt!

But the fifth! Whoa, it was the Kommissar’s nephew, Stephen Ernst. He had beautiful armor. An eagle of Ptolus and a lion of the Ernst family showed prominently. Otto had a slight lead and then on the second pass, Stephen gained the lead. The third pass was crucial. But then, on the 3rd pass, neither one hit. The judges were ready to call Stephen the victor, but he motions to allow one more pass. I have goosebumps right now just thinking about it. So on the last pass, Otto knocked Stephen off his horse and was declared the winner.

Otto received his prize, a longsword and a 2500 gold credit to the Bull and Bear Armory. I’m sure he’ll have fun with that! But right after he received his applause and cheers, Kyra Swanwing comes down the says, “Wait! Bring down your friends!” She tells the Kommissar and the whole audience about the Fateweavers plot. Then she says, “If not for their bravery, many of us would have lost our lives today.” We noticed Lord Zavere if the audience, looking down proudly on us. The Vladaam family just leered at us. The Kommissar invited us to dinner. A simple gesture, but with huge significance.

After all that, Stephen Ernst congratulated Otto. He is true knight. He accepted his defeat honorably and says, “We’ll have to talk again.”

Next: The Gauntlet! What I‘ve been waiting all day for! This is what I’m made for!

Ysobel and Leto decided to give it a try too. They went first, giving me the upperhand, so I could watch and learn. Ysobel was stunning! I know she’s an elf and everything, and they are known for their stealth, wits and agility. But she really was impressive. Sadly, she didn’t make it to the end. But her sacrifice would not prove in vain.

Leto went next. He actually made it to the end and with very few points taken off. He was much more light on his feet than I’ve seen him be. I was impressed. He had a chance of winning really, except for me.

I went in like a gale wind. I decided to just charge ahead and let my natural talents guide me. The pit traps were easy. I’d seen them go off, so they were easy to avoid. There was a small room with a large rolling stone ball. I just weaved and leapt through it.

I scurried across a log over some water with ease. Then ducked through some falling stone blocks. So far, so good. Then there was a swinging gate with spikes. It went around a corner, so it could really get you in lots of ways. I decided to just use it to my advantage. I stood just beyond it’s reach when it came close. Then I jumped up on it, climbed up and flipped off over it when it swung to the other side. Pretty simple really, but it felt like it looked really cool! Next I jumped over swinging log.

The next part proved difficult. I had to round 2 corners with spears shooting out from 2 sides. I had to get around the next corner without getting shot too many times. I decided to just bolt. So I started running and didn’t stop. I think I got hit once. Not bad at all. Next were the pit traps all along the floor in a room where I had to pull levers to open door at the end. Thanks to Ysobel, who learned the hard way, I was able to get through that room with no consequence.

The last room was the hardest. Spears were shooting every which way and there were 2 ways to choose from. One seemed better, with just spears shooting. The other seemed more tricky with a bolt of energy shooting down the hall at you. I took a risk. I had not seen anyone try scaling the wall. My hope was that without touching the floor, the energy bolt might not be set off. It worked! I made it down that hall, with nothing happening. I had no choice after that than to tumble through some spears. Two hit me, but I was still okay (You had to have 5 hits to lose points).

The very last section and I out! I had to get past a team construct design to kill me. I decided to just try jumping and flipping through to the end and see what happened. I was lucky! I did not get hit! I landed flat at the finish line with no points deducted! I won the gauntlet! I was presented with a charm, Charm of the Laughing Rogue (how appropriate) and 2500 gold pieces. Wow! I need a bath!

Then off to the party at Lord Zavere’s. We looked fabulous, we looked proud, we felt great! The castle was glowing. What a party! Everyone was there and we were introduced to so many people. We talked to Stephen Ernst, he is quite attractive, but also kind of reserved. Lady Ryll is looking beautiful in a dress with magical butterflies on the train.

After a while, we were all standing around the shard and the weirdest thing happened. The shard started to flicker and then it seemed like time slowed. The shard started throbbing like a heartbeat. We could see a form inside the shard, an elven male. He got up and stepped out of the shard to talk to us. Am I dreaming? It HAS been along day. Or maybe I was killed in the gauntlet? Anyway, he says, “Are you al that came?” He tells us he may have caused the Night of Dissollution by bringing us here. He was trying to stop it, but something went wrong. He says he is the Dreaming King, ruler of Dredaphantus. He tells us that when the time comes we must come to Dredaphantus. Urthonaedar will help us. He tells us to find Callista and then we’ll know it’s time to come. Then he went back into the shard and time went back to normal.

What have we gotten ourselves into now?

Leto Schreyer: Ah the Gods Day Festival. A time of great merriment as well as some devious schemes that involve assassination and great chaos. At least this is what we have found out about the fate weaver in my previous journal. Nadiera had decided to follow her to see what she might have been up to. She followed her under the stands of where the Commissar as well as a great number of Nobles were to be seated for the main events.

We found explosives as well as a Flint Striker. She was planning on blowing the entire section of the stands to pieces. Well, we could not allow that so we found Krya and told her everything that we had discovered. She was extremely grateful for what we had done and said that she would take care of the fate weaver.

Now on with the rest of the festival.

The magic duel was one of my favorite events. I was in it and I was able to pull out a win. I had no idea that it would happen either. I was able to show that I not only dabbled in the arcane path, but I had a very palpable divine streak in me as well.

Jevicca Nor was the one to present me with the prize for this event. A Pearl of Power. What a boon. She also presented me with a scroll with 3 spells on it: Haste, Fly and Dispel Magic. I was in awe of her. I have always admired her and here I was receiving a gift from her. It was amazing.

I was also able to squeak ahead of Nadiera in the foot race and win some cash.

The final event was the Grand Joust. Otto’s big event. He has been waiting all festival for this moment and it has finally arrived. He goes through 4 competitors before there are only 2 left. Otto and Lord Stephen Ernst, Nephew of the Commissar himself.

They go through the passes and on the final pass, no one is hit. Lord Stephen requests another pass to finish the joust. Otto agrees and Lord Stephen in unhorsed by Otto. The crowd went wild. The commissar presents Otto with a +1 Magical Longsword as well as a 2500 gp credit at the bull and Bear Armory. The gifts were presented on the list by the Commissar himself. Kyra was present as well and she mentioned the events that occurred with the fate weaver and the assassination attempt. The Commissar was extremely grateful and has invited us to dinner at the Palace with Kyra there as well.

The final event is the Gauntlet. Ysobel, Nadiera and I all 3 try to go through. Ysobel and I got pretty far, however, Nadiera, being in the trade that she is in, was able to get through fairly effectively.

Her award was the Chrono-charm of the laughing Rogue.

After the Festival, All of the nobles and the movers and shakers of Ptolus, were invited to a party at Castle Shard hosted by Lord Zavere and Lady Rill.

It was a great time and we learned a lot. We learned that we made a lot of friends as well some enemies. Apparently, House Vladaam now is watching us very carefully.

We also learned that we may also be the group that brings back Ysobels Long since dead God Ardaen. Boy can Zavere throw a party. Nadiera even got lucky.

Guardians of Arete: Session Fourteen
The Godsday Festival

Nadiera Bin Mustafa: I’m really started to enjoy this town!

We went to a festival to rival any I’ve ever been to in all of Caedmon. First of all, the food! All the things I’ve been missing all this time. The city was hopping, the people were dressed to the nines and there was a wonderful sense of excitement in the air (and the smell of falafel)!

I wore one of my new dresses from Pythones House. And I admit, I felt sexy and high-class all at the same time. I wore my newly acquired ruby jewelry. And, let’s be honest, I was hot!

So we’re checking out the booths of vendors. One we come to has the most amazing and beautiful weaponry. We get talking to the guy, who is an elf, and he finds out Ysobel and I are competing in the archery tournament. He tells us he made the prize, a lovely longbow, which of course I can’t use, but still! Then I see it! A stunning mitheral rapier. I held it and it seemed to meld with my hand. When I tried it out, it seemed like an extension of my arm. I had to have it, I have no idea how well I’ll fight with it, but I look so cool! I didn’t bring a lot of money, so I asked the elf guy if he liked to barter. I offered him my ruby bracelet. Ysobel looked shocked, I do love it, but I had to have this rapier! I threw in a bottle of that fine perfume I had on me and he accepted! It is mine!!! And it is Sweet! I look even cooler now, and very formidable, too.

So Otto is up first. He competed in hand to hand combat. There were three rounds. The first opponent he put down right away, not even much of a competition. Then a female elf was next. Otto is so chivalrous, I wasn’t sure how he would handle this. I mean, he’s killed undead whores and plenty of beasties who may have been female. But fighting a real live female opponent? He answered my question toot sweet. He started taunting her about being a woman. Whoa! I really didn’t know he had it in him! She proved a hard fight, but he ultimately won the round. Then he kicked a halfing’s ass and it was over. Otto won! He was presented with a masterwork mace, but more importantly, he was recognized by the head of the “Order of Iron Might”, who was there scoping out talent!

I competed in the long jump next! Piece of cake for me, really. I jumped 28 feet, beating out an elf who jumped 25 feet. I won 150 gold pieces, not a bad take, but I was really just warming up for the gauntlet. I noticed this scroungy-looking dwarf eyeing me up when I was presented my award. I hope he doesn’t prove to be trouble later.

Next was the archery competition. I didn’t too bad, I made it to the final round and then I flubbed it up completely. I was using my shortbow, you see, and once the target got too far, well, let’s just say I was way out of the competition. Ysobel, on the other hand, kicked butt. She won the whole thing and got the Longbow prize. It truly was as beautiful as we imagined.

But the best part was, Kyra Swanwing came up to us and gave Ysobel praises in front of everyone and then she looked at ME and said, “I’m impressed.” Wow! Other elves were jealous of me, how about that?

We went back to the elf who donated the bow and we could tell he was happy Ysobel won the competition. While we were there, I noticed something suspicious. A young man passed something to a woman with the Fateweavers symbol on her forehead. Then she quickly moved into the crowd. I just got this sick feeling that something was not quite right. So I followed her into the crowd. In retrospect, I probably should have mentioned to my group what I was doing, but there wasn’t time…

Leto Schreyer:I guess apologies are in order. I realize that I have not been as diligent to my loyal readers as I should have been, however there have been mitigating circumstances as to why my absence has been more and more frequent. Never fear, I shall bring everyone up to speed so everyone may take in my chronicled story.

When I last left my loyal readers, we were clearing Pythoness House. We had gone in looking for the blasphemous chest. We found a stash of terrible weapons that would have been a great boon to any and all cult members that might be able to get there hands on them. The Tolling Bell Cult ambushed us outside and they stole all chaos weapons we had.

After getting ourselves back together, we received a missive from Lord Zavere about a ball being held at Castle Shard. Nadiera and Ysobel go out and by some new clothes that befits such an affair. While Ysobel was garbed appropriately that befits an elf of her status, Nadiera had dressed like a Ptolusian lady of the evening. We tried to sway her but she would here nothing of it. I think was planning something.

We meet Zavere and recap everything. He tells us that Shylukar is planning something of unknown designs. He has been going inside and outside the castle quite often. Lady Rill is having a hard time keeping up with him. We mingle, we meet some important people of Ptolus and we enjoy ourselves as the evening winds down. We head home only one short of original number. Nadiera had apparently gone elsewhere…with a man. I hazard to guess what she was doing all night.

GODS DAY FESTIVAL. Need I say more? There have been many flyers that have been placed all around the city. We have been looking forward to this for quite some time. There are crafts, food, drink and of course tournaments for the citizens of Ptolus to engage in friendly feats of endurance and skill.

Otto is first up with a hand-to-hand combat that he does quite well in. His first competitor seems to be a human warrior. He wins this easily. Next is an elvish warrior. A female no less and they seem to be pretty evenly matched. Otto is able to pull out a win. Last is a halfling named Milton Twinkletoes and everyone is a little surprised how he was able to advance this far but Otto graciously accepts his challenge then pummels him to the ground. The award for winning is a very nice Mace present by Lord Katru of House Katru and leader of the Order of Iron Might.

The next event is Nadiera’s long jump. She wins easily by 3 feet with a long jump total of 28 feet long. The prize: 150 gp.

The next item is the archery contest. Both Ysobel and Nadiera both decide to try to win this event. They go against some pretty stiff competition. Kyra Swanwing, Leader of the Knights of the Golden Cross, decided to attend this event and watch as a spectator. Both Nadiera and Ysobel gave a great showing, however, Ysobel was able to pull it out in the end. Kyra got to be the one to present Ysobel with an absolutely gorgeous Bow as the prize for the event. Kyra was very pleased that Ysobel had won. She even gave Nadiera a very powerful nod that gave the other elves in Ptolus a very jealous attitude.

Nadiera, after the presentation ceremony for the bow in the archery contest, saw out of the corner of her eye a man pass something off to a female fate weaver. Now, I know Nadiera well enough to know that when she sees something that she says is “amiss.” That I tend to believe. She has this feeling in her stomach that gives her the thought that something is terribly wrong. Either it is that, or some of the festival food has disagreed with her.

Guardians of Arete: Session Thirteen
More Adventures in Pythoness House

Ysobel Shadowcaster: Rain 1

In which I learn some things and unlearn some others.

We have retrieved the blasphemous chest, but I will write that adventure at another time. More important to me at this moment are the few facts I learned about myself that may prove fateful.

A very strange thing happened today. While I was fighting, I cast a spell. This in itself is unusual, for I no longer practice the magical arts. Stranger still is this fact: I do not know the spell I cast. It is not one I have ever cast before, nor was it one I was intending to cast. Why one earth would I want to glow like a lamp, then throw all my light at an opponent? It seems odd. And the strangest thing about it: the spell was obviously divine. Leto recognized the energies at once.

While I was being amazed at this new ability, and in the midst of the fighting, I heard a voice saying “You shall be my path to rebirth!” Imagine my shock when my friends asked me who had spoken – we all heard the same thing!

What is happening to me? My friends were understanding enough to accompany me to the temple of Celeston, when I spoke with Ranael Silverstorke about some of the strange things that have occurred. He is a very old and learned scholar himself, and he offered me some basic scrolls describing the god Ardaen, who is dead. I know that mortal beings can be brought back to life through the proper magics, but Ranael said even a god could be brought back to life.

Ranael mentioned an abandoned temple to Ardaen on the Street of a Million Gods. We stopped in to assess the damage of time. While the temple is in need of some repair and is filthy inside, some of the main features remain intact. The garden is not so overgrown as one would expect from centuries of neglect, and the sun orb still floats above the altar. It is apparent that someone has been taking care of the place as best he or she could. I hope they can teach me more.

We also stopped for some holy beer at the brewers’ temple on the way home. I have not had beer so good since arriving here – they seemed to know what they were doing. Rain 2

We continue through Pythoness House and make an unusual friend.

Nadeira has a habit steering us toward groups of large rats. The fiendish rats would be bad enough by themselves, but here they had followers. To make matters worse, the house decided to throw things at us.

The first room on this new floor after the rats seemed to have been some sort of divination chamber, but it was arranged unusually. The pillows in the center of the circle suggest that at least part of the legend of the whores of House Pythoness was true; some of them may have been able to see the future while coupled with a man. I wonder if they had any male whores here that helped female customers? This level also contained a room with a large summoning circle painted on the floor. The light in that chamber is fantastic, and I can see why someone would want to work in it, but the circle itself disturbed all of us.

Another set of spiral stairs led us to the next level. The upper reaches of this house were something of a surprise to me. I had expected the property of whores to be cheap, tawdry stuff that most well-bred women would regard as trash. But one of the madams of this house appears to have been a woman of some taste. The first true bedchamber we found contained a bathtub with some magical properties. Nadeira already has plans to make it her own. The room was in fairly good condition, and the wardrobe was full of well-made clothing that I would not be ashamed to wear. It all seemed to be of a size to fit Nadeira, which made me suspect that the house was trying to trick us with another illusion, but the clothing seems to hold up under close inspection. So too do the pieces of jewelry we found hidden in the wardrobe.

The room next door was a small study, and in it we found the records of the brothel. We may be able to track down some of the customers who came here during its heyday. We also found the journal of Maquent Dellasaria, one of the founders of the brothel. In it she described some of the goings on of the house and a few of the events leading up to the raid by the Knights of the Pale. She wrote kindly of the Cobbled Man, whom she calls a mad friend.

We stepped out into an overgrown terrace garden to search for a key Maquent mentioned in her journal. To our surprise, seven skeletal forms appeared from across the roof and walked toward us. Three of us hid; Otto, finding it generally difficult to be stealthy, stood his ground and waited. They attacked. Naturally we defended our friend.

Two very strange things happened during this particular fight that have never happened before. The first of these I have already described. The second is somewhat less amazing and more disturbing. I denied an opponent mercy in battle. The skeleton who seemed to be leading the group asked to parlay as we destroyed her sisters and I denied her. I told her that the dead have no such right. Then we destroyed her. I have never refused to grant parlay before. I hope that I may never have to refuse it again. I preferred fighting the undead creatures in the tomb of Kelvon – at least they were too stupid to remember how to speak. It is easier to destroy something that is not intelligent than something that you might consider having a conversation with.

The room from whence the skeletons came seemed to have been the other partner’s chamber. Her name was Redanna, and she was almost certainly the leading skeleton. She did not have good taste in clothing. We found a robe covered in chaos symbols here. Otto wants to keep it in case we need a disguise later. I think we should burn it.

Nadeira found a trap door in the ceiling. It was well hidden and carefully locked, but the key we found in the rooftop garden fit. In the square tower above we found half of the key to opening the passage beneath the ugly statue on the first floor. The other half must lie further up and further in.

Nadeira noticed some voices raised in anger up the stairs. To be more accurate, she heard one voice raised in anger. It was the goat-headed demon we had been warned of. He was pounding on the door of a tower, demanding to be given the key.

We fought the demon and we won, but it was not easy to manage. He was able to cast some spells to protect himself and assist his aim. He tossed Otto off the bridge and only Leto’s aid prevented a major injury. I was knocked unconscious at one point. Nadeira was nearly killed. Raelic also took some injury. Leto was able to cast the killing blow, but not before Nadeira picked the lock to the tower door and was attacked by the Cobbled Man. She used a poison against him so he would be weakened and not killed, but he nearly managed to knock me unconscious again. I doubt Nadeira could have withstood another blow.

Once we calmed the poor creature down we learned some things about him. He has no proper name now, though we may change that at some point. Leto thinks the changes made to his body are irreversible. He is kept alive by Chaosiotech, not his own desire or even his body’s stubbornness. In spite of that he does not want to die.

Cobby gave us some valuable assistance by telling us that the name of the spirit in the house is Segginal and the name is important in the cellars. We might have to speak it aloud to avoid some conflicts. He also explained that when the house says “Come to me!” the wall of force pops up in front of the door and the house is a trap for a time. We decided to take our leave for the night and return when refreshed.

In the morning we brought some fresh food for the Cobbled Man, who looked at the turkey as though he had not seen something so delicious in decades rather than merely years. We forced ourselves to search the goat pen. Nadeira was lucky enough to find a cloak inside that has some magical property we have not yet discerned. I hope it makes her harder to attack. We continued to explore the few remaining rooms in the house as if putting off our trip into the cellar. When we finally could not find anything else to search, we went to the first floor.

The Cobbled Man loaned us his half of the key, given to him for safekeeping by Maquent before she died, and we used it move the statue. The first room of this dreadful cellar was mirrored. In the corner there was a large skeleton slumped against the wall. Nadeira was the first down the hole, and she claims that a dark-haired girl appeared in the mirrors and spoke to her. The girl apparently said, “When the time comes, you must save me.” She then disappeared and the skeleton stood up and moved to attack. Nadeira, being a quick-witted young woman, screamed that name Segginal and the skeleton slumped back into the corner.

After we joined her, we found that the only way out of the room was down. A shaft of ice was cut into the floor and was covered by a membrane of skin. We cut the membrane and worked our way down the passage. The ice cavern beneath also had only one way out – by swimming. While we stood about trying to decide how to proceed, two figures frozen into the ice began to break free of it. One of them said, “Brother – the Night of Dissolution has come!” He was not happy to see us, and proclaimed us defilers. The two creatures then attempted to kill us.

It is not easy to kill four seasoned adventurers and one rock. I know this from past experience. But from the moment this fight began I expected to die. The first blow did more than knock the wind out of me – it nearly knocked me unconscious. If Leto had not been there to save me, I believe I would have died.

Nadeira swam through the ice passage to the next chamber. In that chamber were six iron chests and one melted chest that made her feel odd. There was also one iron-clad door with a warning on it. The chests all bore descriptions of what was inside. I record those inscriptions here:

1. Twinned weapons sure to deal death to the oppressor angels 2. A blade to slice the flesh of any foe of freedom 3. This is sure to pierce the heart of an overwhelmed tyrant 4. Hear the words of chaos, fools, and despair! 5. Tools of the fearsome chaos priest 6. No chains can bind us

The inscription upon the door read: “The greatest threat to the stalwart kings of order, created by that ancient elven champion Vaiod the Slayer.”

We decided not to open the door. We did open the chests to discover many weapons of power and a few disturbing items. The shrunken head may be a potent thing, but it is not something I want to handle. The swords were quite impressive. I decided to take one for my own use. Otto also found some weapons to his liking, as well as a shield of fire resistance.

In the end, we left the blasphemous chest in that cellar overnight. Our intention was to bring a lead covering for it before we moved it from this room. Our hope is to prevent anyone from scrying its location once we remove it from the house. We had also thought to provide some of the weapons to the Knights of the Golden Cross.

Sometimes I almost feel safe in this world. Tehn things happen to prove me wrong. When we left the house, we were accosted by a half-demon, a sibbekai, a lizard man, and three zombies with energy spheres embedded in their chests. We never encounter the Watch anymore – it is always something far more dangerous. The zombies, as it turned out, were walking spell delivery systems. They ran up to us and exploded in a burst of sleep, leaving most of the party unconscious. Leto was forced to surrender the chaos weapons they wanted. Otto’s new items and a few of the other things were of no interest to them. I am only grateful that we did not remove the Blasphemous Chest from the cellar on this particular day.

When we awoke, we chose to break the diamond jar we found within the house in order to see what would happen. A celestial being appeared and offered us a boon for freeinghim. He was most distressed to find that Ptolus is a prison world that he cannot leave, but he offered us a boon nonetheless. We asked him to take the spirit of the house away so that it might be habitable again.

The next day we went back for the Blasphemous Chest. We managed to get it safely to Castle Shard, where it now lies happily next to the box containing the key that can open it. Heaven forbid a curious cat get into that chamber.

And now we anticipate the Godsday Festival and plan our attack on the festivities.

Leto Schreyer:Large haunted keep or just a bunch of cultists trying to ruin the world? You decide!!

When we last left our heroes, we had begun the systematic cleansing of the Pythoness House. We had heard the Knights of the pale had come in and tried to clear the house. They obviously did not do a good job. We have encountered undead ghostly “ladies of the evening,” a spirit who likes to taunt us and keep us captive as well as dire rats and the like. So we are well on our way to an almost certain death.

When I had last left off, we had just ascended to the 3rd floor. Where we come across more dire rats. They are also feeding on one of there own kind to boot. Nadiera in a moment of strict acrobatics leaps in the air with poise and come down right in the center of the group and cleaves off the head of the main dire rat. I never thought she had it in her. We finish off the rest without any trouble at all.

We also find a divination room on the 3rd floor. This room had symbols on the floor with 4 iron candelabras flaking around the circle. There were pillows here and some pink curtains with mold on them. We had surmised that the fate weavers were also here and they used the act of sex to get information from their clients or to truly tell a fortune. On that same floor was a room used for conjuration. The runes seem to be inactive. Which is always a good thing.

We head to the 4th floor and find a decently appointed room with a porcelain tub in it. Red carpets adorned the floors and well as red curtains for the windows. There was furniture and bed as well as an ebony box with jewels in it. We also find a journal inside from Maquent, who seems to have been the mistress of the house. The tub ended up being magical. If you speak the word for water in draconic, it fills with steamy hot bath water. Nadiera almost starting stripping her clothes off right then and there. We helped restrain her a bit then all she kept saying is, “I must have it. I must.” Ysobel in her joking way did not tell Nadiera how to fill the tub. I already new and thought I would help Ysobel and keep the secret…for a little while anyway.

We learned from the journal that the statue did in fact lead to a secret entrance under the keep where weapons of great power resided. We also learned of a goat headed demon that resided in one of the towers as well as the cobbled man. There was talk about a key that seems to have been lost in a roof top garden and secret passage that led to one of the head women for the cult.

We head up to the 5th floor and find a garden that sits on the rooftop of the 4th floor. We begin to search and find a key no less. After we finish searching we notice an undead woman with 6 skeletons coming our direction. We all hide and Otto stands right in the middle of the garden so they have to come to him. We take care of the skeletons relatively quickly but she was a warrior to be true. It took a while before we were able to whittle her down and defeat her. During this fight however, Ysobel in a feat of rage begins to glow very brightly. She casts a spell from her hands which she has never done before and simultaneously while that is happening, a divine voice is heard in all of our heads and says,” you shall be my path to rebirth.” More on what that actually meant later. But we were all dumbfounded when the battle was over. I think Ysobel was a little shaken as well. Since she was trying to cast an arcane spell and it turned divine. This was all so much for everyone that we had to press on and would talk about it later. Ysobel and I must certainly talk a little more in depth as well a privately on this. The armored undead warrior had some MW chain, steel shield and an axe.

After pressing on we find Radanna’s chamber. Raddana had been the head of the cult that was using the brothel as a cover.

Heading up to the 5th floor we find the secret door in the ceiling of one of the rooms that had been listed in the journal. Glad we found the key for it disabled the falling block trap that had been placed there. We find a whole bunch of coin, gold candlesticks, a silver circlet and ½ a wooden spiral disc. Which we know is ½ of the key needed to get below.

We head back out and continue on the 5th floor. We find the library with skeletal rats and they prove not hard at all. We find an iron box that contains 4 small vials with a yellowish fluid inside. I later identified it as black adder venom. Nasty stuff.

We head to the 6th floor and fond one of the tower rooms had a rune of protection etched in it but had been defaced and twisted into something else. Before we can do any thing else, we here a massive voice yelling and pounding on a door across a stone catwalk to one of the other towers. A Goat Demon was pounding on the door yelling for the cobbled man to open up. He turns and sees us and the fight began. We almost did not make it. Otto got thrown over and if it were not for the spell of feather fall that I had memorized, he would have perished. The goat demon was almost undefeatable. If it were for spells, I do not think that I would be here writing right now.

After defeating the goat demon, the cobbled man came out as if on queue and started a fight. After a few hits, we were able to convince him we meant him no harm and that we were here to help. The cobbled man was exactly that. A man that seems to have been cobbled together from a lot of different creatures. His armor was the same way. He had on his neck a ½ of a wooden spiral. He let us borrow it if we promised to give it back. We let him go back to his home after a little bit of healing and we continued on. Before we left him, he did tell us that if we went down to the cellar, saying his name would stop him. The name was Sagginal. We did not know what he meant but I am sure we ill find out.

We decide at that point to leave the house and regroup a little. Get some healing and I needed to replenish my scroll pouch but good. We found out that the wall of force is only temporary and once the house says, “I must feed,” it goes back in place.

We head back and start on the 6th floor and find where the goat demon ad been living. We find a cloak of resistance there. We also find a room that had been covered in runes. This is where they were bringing forth evil demons. We also find a secret room that we missed. Inside were 6 niches containing 3 flask of un-holy water, a small cloth bag with a disc of incense with turned out to be incense of vision and a small gray idol of a tentacled being.

After clearing every floor, we try to head down to the cellar by putting the key in the belly of the fat man. The statue responds and moves aside revealing a secret passage.

We head down into an area that is all ice with mirrors all around. Very cold. Upon going down, Nadiera found a very large skeletal dragon that came to life when she entered. She yelled out Sagginal and the dragon went back to an in-animate state. She also saw a little girl in the mirror that said, “When the time comes, you must save me.” We head further in the cellar and 2 minataurs came out of the ice and began to attack. We were able to fend them off without too much difficulty.

We find that to press on further requires some swimming in very cold water. We get to the other side and find 7 chests that have been cased in ice. One of them in unmistakably the blasphemous chest. There were inscriptions on the others that read as follows:

  • “Twin weapons sure to deal death to the oppressor angels.” Inside were 2 long swords which ended up being twin Bane Blades – killing certain outsiders.
  • “A blade to slice the flesh of any foe of freedom.” Anarchic long sword.
  • “This is sure to pierce the heart of an overwhelmed tyrant.” Spear of chaos that will stun anyone predisposed towards law.
  • “Here the words of chaos fools and despair.” Inside was a rod of chaos
  • “tools of the fearsome chaos priest.” Inside were 3 items: o 2 doses of Dust of Chaos which will give protection against creatures of law o A divine scroll that is cloak of chaos cast o A shrunken head – Skull of chaos
  • “No chains can bind us.” Inside were 3 items o A steel shield – heavy steel shield with fire resistance o Flail – Flaming flail o Wand – Wand of Fireball

Beyond the chest is a very large steel door with an inscription on it, “The greatest threat to the Stalwart Kings of Order, crated by that ancient Elven Champion, Vaiod the Slayer.” Needless to say after reading this description, we leave that door just as it was.

We pocket all the items except the blasphemous chest. We need an Iron lock box just like the one we used for Nevrons all key. But we get everything else and head to the surface.

Upon leaving, we find at the entrance to the courtyard a ½ demon with green skin who looks obviously like a caster of some sort and with him are a sebuccai and a lizard man. There are also 3 zombie types with pulsating red gems in their hearts. The demon demands we turn the items of chaos over to him. We refuse and he commands the 3 zombies to attack. I start with a fireball from my new wand but are unable to take them out. The zombies get close and explode. But it as not a damaging effect, but rather a sleep effect. Raelic is immune and I was able to withstand it. The demon commands his 2 henchmen to attack but not to kill. After a grueling fight, they were able to win by threatening to kill Raelic. I could not let that happen. I end up giving him only the weapons of chaos. We were able to keep the 3 fire items. The sibeccai raises a bell and the next thing I know I am down for the count. Raelic sits vigil until we wake up some many hours later.

Before leaving, we end up breaking the diamond jar and inside was quite simply an angel. We find that he was summoned here by a woman and her priests. After freeing him he grants us one wish. We ask him to cleanse the house of the spirit. He does this by taking spiral key with him for the key is tied to the spirit. He also learns that he is trapped in this world just like we were. He did not take it very well at all. He tried to leave and was un able. He grudgingly takes our leave and flies away.

We were able to survive the Pythoness house and we were still able to hold on to the blasphemous chest as well as Nevrons all key. Our next step is a trip to Lord Savers and a message to the owner of the house asking for us to become caretakers of it for him.

After this adventure, I am quite exhausted. I must rest and re-group. But I here that there is a festival coming up and all of us are very excited. We shall see what happens.

Nadiera Bin Mustafa: This house is a maze. I just adore it! Spiral staircases, weird out-of-place bridges, ledges, ladders. I could totally live here!

So we keep going and come across what must have been the living areas of the madams and whores. It was opulent and beautiful! Lovely rugs and curtains, such taste! And get this! There was a gorgeous bathtub in a one of the rooms! And it filled up instantly with hot water. I am in love, I want it!!!

There were some fancy dresses in a wardrobe, I think I will be picking through those later on. I can just see myself living here, maybe I should have been a cultist madame? Hmmm, I’d be dead now though…or undead…hmmm, tangent…

We also found some beautiful jewelry. I’m not sure what I will keep and what I’ll sell, there is so much to choose from, and I do love my trinkets!

As we kept going, we found a ledger of sorts. I think if we tried we could probably figure out who the customers were. Talk about having power of the upper crust of Ptolus. If any of them are still around, that is. We also found a diary that belonged to one of the women in charge of the brothel.

We knew from the diary, we were looking for a key that was last seen in a garden. So when we came across what looked like an overgrown garden, we naturally decided to snoop around. We didn’t find anything at first, then we noticed there was a ledge, the most natural place for a small shiny object to have been lost. So I took a peek! Sure enough, I found the key! So far, so good. But then, while we were still in the garden, we suddenly saw an undead woman and a bunch of skeletons coming toward us. Creepy! We all hid quickly, except for Otto. He’s a little too clanky to be inconspicuous. So they went for him and that’s when we all snuck up from behind, under and over them! I admit, it was not as easy of a battle as I thought it might be. Skeletons are a pain and this woman was no wuss!

But here’s the crazy part, Ysobel started to glow during this battle. And I don’t mean, like, your skin is so beautiful and radiant, you’re glowing. I mean, glowing! Like magical, stars in the sky, demonblood, fireball, glowing! It was weird and obviously she wasn’t expecting it either. We didn’t have much chance to dwell on it though right then, so we kept going onward.

We found another chamber, with a trap door in the ceiling. The key I had found worked in it and good thing too. There was a trap that would have squashed us for sure! Inside, we found half of the disc that fit in the ugly-man statue.

Then, we ran into the goat-headed demon. He was banging on a door, yelling for the Cobbled Man. He almost killed us! I couldn’t do anything to him. I felt so useless. I never did get in a single blow against him. Talk about an ego-buster! At one point, he actually threw Otto off the bridge we were on. Luckily, Leto cast a spell or something on him and he fell very slowly and didn’t get hurt. But he did have to run up all those stairs to get back to help us. And considering we were having such trouble fighting him anyway, that made it worse. I finally gave up and thought maybe if I could get in to the Cobbled Man, I could ask him for help fighting this guy. I did manage to pick the lock, but as soon as I did the Cobbled man took a swing at me. In retrospect, he was probably scared to death, I am quite fearsome, but what else could I do but swing back? Luckily, the rest of our party managed to finish off the goat-headed guy and help me with the Cobbled Man.

After realizing we didn’t want to hurt him, and talking some, we found out some good information from him. He knew a lot about the house and the spirit. He apparently was very close to the one lady of the house, the nice one, so I might not take as much as I originally thought I would. He’s not a bad guy, but he’s got kind of a crappy life. I feel bad for him. We brought him some food, because he told us he lives on rats. Blech!

After much persuasion, the Cobbled Man agreed to let us borrow his half of the disc key so we could hopefully rid the house of the evil spirit. So we were ready to go below creepy-naked-guy statue.

Sure enough the disc key worked just like it should have and the statue moved to reveal a passage down. I was the first to go down and the weirdest thing happened! The walls were mirrored and I saw a girl. Yes, a girl, not a ghost exactly. She said when the time came, we had to save her. I asked when and what to do. She said, when the time came, we would know what to do. Maybe I’ve just been in this house too long or maybe I’m sleep-deprived. But I swear it was real.

Then, of course, a skeleton dragon started to attack. I remembered the good advice the Cobbled Man have given us about saying the name “Saginall”. And the skeleton went back to being inanimate. Whew, it really worked! The only way out of this room was through a hole in the ground that was covered with what looked like skin. When we cut it, there was an icy cavern below. As we were regrouping, large beasts came out of the ice around us. Minotaurs? They were a handful, they were talking about the Night of Dissolution! We fought them and defeated them, but not easily.

The rest was not going to be a piece of cake however. We looked around a little and we realized the only way to keep going was to swim under some icy water. We weren’t sure how far it was, so I went ahead first to make sure there was a place to come up for air within a reasonable distance. What I saw when I did come up was wild. There were 6 iron chests with writing and also what I’m sure was the chest we were looking for. There was also a door at the end that we decided not to pursue just yet. We didn’t think even we were ready.

So long story short, the iron chests each had a strange weapon inside, each disturbing in their own unique way. But we took them anyway! Not for long though. As soon as we came up, some demons and a lizard man confronted us. They wanted what we had found below. I didn’t have any time to argue. Before I knew it, this zombie came up to me, exploded and the next thing I remember was waking up. I guess Leto had tried to hold onto the items but at no real avail. I think he managed to keep some of the things that weren’t actually weapons though. Luckily, we had not brought up the Blasphemous Chest, because we had the forethought to decide to go and get a covering for it first. HA!

So all’s well that end’s well, I guess. We were able to get the Chest to Castle Shard. And I am going to have a wonderful bathtub soon…

Guardians of Arete: Session Twelve
Entering Pythoness House

Ysobel Shadowcaster:Wind 31

A few thoughts before we proceed.

After discovering that the Blasphemous Chest was inside Pythoness House, we determined that it was better to do what needed to be done rather than wait for permission from authorities. We entered at first light.

The iron gates were stuck, but it took only a slight effort to open them. We swung them shut behind us, not wanting any curious passers-by to follow us in. There were small animals moving in the grass, a sign that larger predators were not present. Good news for us, though the things living (I use the term loosely) in this house are more dangerous by far than any animal.

As we passed though the entrance, we started to hear noises. It sounded as though people were screaming, and a horse and carriage drove right through us though we saw nothing. The house itself seemed to be watching us. We entered through the main doors, which had been pulled from their hinges. The once-grand hall was full of leave and debris. It was open to the second floor with a stairway leading up. There was a large curtain partitioning off part of the hall.

Suddenly a voice rang out from around us, saying “Come to me!” A rippling curtain of power suddenly appeared across the door, preventing us from leaving the house. With little choice we continued on. We chose the door in the corner of the hall, one that seemed to attach to a tower. There were signs of combat here, some of them magical. We ascended the ladder to the next level.

The second level was empty, but the third level was less touched. There was a table holding a jar of what seemed to be urine and a book. Both seemed to be magical, though the jar was not enchanted in the same way as the book. Leto was not able to tell us much about them. Nadeira thought the jar might be made of diamond.

Feeling rather full of myself, I opened the book to see what it was. Suddenly, a void attempted to suck me into the book – it was most difficult to resist. Leto forced the book shut and took it away from me. After tying it shut, he stowed it for later study. The jar was less problematic – Otto poured the urine out and stowed the jar for later.

We continued up the tower. The next room was full of bones that seemed to have been cleaned and prepared in some way. There were all sorts of bones here – human, animal, some we didn’t recognize. There was also a small book of prayers of Lothien. The name Taunell was inscribed inside the cover. The prayer for exorcism was circled, though it does not seem to have done much good here.

We returned to the main floor to explore further. Behind the curtain in the great hall, the carpeting stopped and an iron staircase spiraled up. There was a large (and ugly) statue of a naked man in the corridor. His stomach had an opening that could accept some sort of key or other object about the size and shape of a dinner plate. We only found a way to open the compartment because Otto grew impatient and swung his sword at it. The house seemed to come alive for a moment again, saying “Chaos is the key!” I don’t think I can convey to you how incredibly unnerving it is to have a house speak to you.

Nadeira thought she saw a shadow move, but dismissed it as impossible. Instead of investigating further, we chose to open some doors. The first one we opened gave us a surprise. The room was opulently furnished and contained three beautiful women. They asked us to join them and tried to entice us with fruit and soft words. The smell of sweet perfumes filled the air.

Otto felt some problem with the situation, and threw holy water at one of the women. The illusion was instantly broken – the women were obviously undead and the room had decayed from years of neglect. The women became even angrier after we attacked. Unfortunately one of them got past my guard – I felt very faint for a moment and thought I might lose consciousness. Nadeira was similarly attacked – it took a while for us to regain our breath after the combat.

We found a lovely jewel box in the room. When opened, it plays a tune I do not know. It is very pretty, and I think I would like to have one made for me. I would prefer not to have the one taken from this house.

The other rooms on this level were similarly equipped with beds. One bed had manacles attached and the room contained many types of mild torture devices. I do not understand how someone can enjoy this type of sex, but I suppose each person is an individual. I am just happy these items are not currently in use. Otto cut some pornographic paintings out of their frames, thinking some collector might want them.

As we passed through the great hall again, we saw that the force curtain across the door was gone. It returned as we watched, and the house repeated itself by saying “Come to me.” It seems to be an automatic function, though we cannot be sure of that. It is still comforting to know that we are able to leave if we wish.

We found the rat-infested kitchen, though it was located in a very awkward place in the building. There seemed to be little else to do on this level, so we tried the spiral stair. At the second level we found a portrait gallery that seemed to be in good condition. The portraits are of the family that built and maintained this place for many years. We did not take any of them, feeling that they were rightfully the property of the house owner. But they could be quite valuable.

At the end of the gallery we found another door – this one locked. It took Nadeira a few minutes to open this lock – it must be well made. The room on the other side was deserted, though it contained the portcullis controls and the access to the murder holes in the entrance. Then something rather odd happened. Someone stepped thought eh door at the end of the room – without opening it.

This is obviously the ghost of a cleric of Lothien, though his clothing is very old fashioned. Otto sprays him with holy water and he is obviously harmed by it, but not nearly so much as one would expect of a ghost. He seems intent o attacking us until Otto suggests that we give him the prayer book. I do, and he stops his attack immediately.

Our conversation with him is unsettling. He feels that the Crimson Coil Cult has soiled the house, possibly beyond redemption. The Knights of the Pale did not do a complete job of eradicating the evil here. He told us that a creature of great evil dwells in one of the towers and a chaos spirit is bound to the house.

Taunell suddenly seemed quite confused – not knowing who we were or who he had been. When he recovered from this brief interlude, Taunell told us that two spirits dwelled within one form. Taunell had protected the spirit if Samuel when he was killed inside the house, but now they were both bound here. He asked us to recite the prayer for protection for him to ease his suffering somewhat. Leto and I both read the prayer aloud, and Taunell and Samuel slowly filled with light. At the end of the prayer they left. It was very fulfilling to be able to help them move to their afterlife.

We found Taunell’s remains in the next room and left them undisturbed. Hopefully we can cleanse the house and have them removed for proper burial.

Only one other thing of consequence has so far occurred in this house. We were attacked by some china figurines in a boudoir. They seemed to be animated by the house itself, which announced some chilling things during our short fight: “I must feed.”

I hope this house realizes that we will not make an easy meal.

Leto Schreyer:Pythonis House

A very large keep held up in Oldtown, is where we were told that the Blasphemous Chest was to be located. We decide that we will go inside in early morning. We had heard something that sounded like hauntings inside when scoped it out before. Zoinks**

We make our way in through the gate and find that the garden area has been completely overgrown. Which is good and bad. Good because we cannot be seen by anyone on the streets. Bad because we cannot see anything that may hidden inside the garden itself.

We head to what looks an opening in the wall where a door has been completely bash in. There is red carpet all over the place. We enter and immediately, the house comes to life with a mans voice saying, “I must feed.” At that moment a wall of force comes over the door and we are trapped inside the house. We begin to look around the first level and find nothing interesting so far. We find one of the towers and decide to go up and make sure that nothing is going to come down and kill us. In the upper room we find a book with a candle burning as well as a glass jar. The jar has a dark yellow liquid in it that seems to smell a lot like urine. The jar on the other hands is made extremely well. 6000 gp well.

I was able to determine that the book had a moderate conjuration effect on it and when Ysobel opened it, she was practically sucked in. The book acts like a bag of devouring. Not a good thing to have or for anyone to have that is for sure.

We did find another book as well with the symbol of Lothian on it. A prayer book that belongs to Tannell, or so says the name on the inside cover. After pocketing the items we found, we head back down and finish the first level. At the end of it we find a large stone statue of a very fat man grinning. He is completely naked to boot. We search it and Nadiera finds a secret compartment. Otto bangs it open and it pops out. The house comes to life and says, “Chaos is the Key.” Well obviously.

We continue our search and we find that there was a room where 3 women were staying. A nicely ornate room with perfumes and what not. The women were all very beautiful. They tried to get us to come on in and visit with them. We were a little cautious because of what we knew had happened here. Because we hesitated, the women did not like it very much. They attacked and tried to kill us. After the battle we found out id had all been a illusion. We find a lot of the things that were in the room had been here when the brothel had been on ongoing business. Beds, dressers and a lot of erotic paintings.

We continue to search and find an Iron box with a few choice items that would be nice for a person who liked to receive pain. Interesting place this is.

We end up finding the ghost of Tannell. He tries to kill us not knowing that we were here to help in any way we could. We found out what happened here first hand and was able to release his spirit to the next plane of existence. We keep his body in state and undisturbed until we are able to come back and see that it is properly taken care of. We also learned from Tannell that the statue is a doorway down to where items of great power are kept. The key is a 2-part disc. One that is held in the NE tower and the other is held by the cobbled man.

Thus far, we had some very interesting experiences in this house. I hate to think what else might be waiting for us.

Nadiera Bin Mustafa:Whoo-Hoo!!

We’re going to the Pythoness House! I love a good adventure and I love the ridiculousness and unexpectedness of a good haunted house! It really tests my metal and keeps me on my toes!

So we didn’t bother to tell the authorities we were going, the only way to enjoyably explore a place, if you ask me. It was easy to get into, a little push on the gate and through a creepy courtyard.

The first room we entered had a red carpet, how welcoming, with stairs going up, and a strange bridge in the air above our heads. While we were looking around in that room, suddenly a magical curtain closed the entrance behind us and a voice said, “Come to me!” Wow! It came from all over, as if the house itself were bellowing. So we kept going, some rooms seemed empty, but most of them had seen better days. It definitely looked like battle had taken place.

In one room, we found a table with a candle, a book and a glass jar full of some yellowy liquid. On inspecting the jar, it was obviously more than just a jar. It seemed more like diamond than glass. Why would anyone make a jar out of diamond? You can’t wear it! Go figure…

Meanwhile, Ysobel must have been a little too intrigued with the book, because when I looked up, it looked like she was being sucked into the book, literally! Leto shut the book, and bound it. Elves! Otto poured the liquid out (it smelled like urine) and pocketed the jar.

We kept going. We came across a room full of bones, lots of bones, not dead bodies that had been picked clean, but bones that had been prepared for something. We found a prayer book amongst the bones.

Going on, we went back to the hall area and into another part of the main floor. We discovered a big, gross statue of a naked guy. Ugh! What a house! It looked like there was an opening for some kind of key, which we didn’t have, a round disc. While we were looking it over, Otto did what Otto does. He decided to beat at the statue. It actually did do something, surprisingly enough, the house called out, “Chaos is the key!” Weird…

We went down the hall and started looking in some of the rooms. The very first one was the most exciting I think! A beautiful room, beautiful décor, splendid in every way, including the girls lying on the beds! Then they started towards us, all sensual and seductive. Otto (I think he’s gay) threw holy water at them. Well, he was right, it was an illusion and as soon as he hit them, they were undead and pretty gross too. They came after us. One of them grabbed me and said, “I hunger for you.” I couldn’t get away. She tried to bite down on my neck. My party came to my rescue. And we ended up disposing of them. There was some cool stuff in that room. A jewelry box that played music, a bunch of perfumes and really nice accessories!

Another room was similar but full of bondage toys and art. Otto took the art. He’s a hard one to figure out. We found a box under the bed full of more bondage toys. What a very complete and well thought out brothel this must have been.

We found the kitchen. It was full of rats. What is a haunted house without rats?

Another hall had paintings of matriarchs and patriarchs of the Klaotis family. Kind of neat! I always like a little history with my adventuring.

Going up a spiral staircase, a ghost comes at me! A priest of Lothian, Ysobel showed him the prayer book and he started crying. Aw, poor creepy ghost. After talking to him a while, he tells us an evil spirit dwells in the house. That a man sacrificed himself to become one with the house, the big ugly statue guy. We asked him about the disc. He says it is broken in half. Half is in the northeast tower and the other is held by the Cobbled Man, who was formed by a cultist.

The ghost is Taunnell, but someone else is in there with him, Samuel, both sharing his form. He asked Ysobel and Leto to read the prayer of protection and when they did, the spirit went off in a flash of light.

Now we have to find those halves of the disc!

We next came to the dining room, nowhere close to the kitchen, I might add! Then a room with beds and a china cabinet. I opened the cabinet and all of the sudden a bunch of little statues came to life and started attacking us. There weren’t hard to beat, but it was kind of disturbing. Not to mention the house was actually laughing at us the whole time!

Let’s see what we find next!

Guardians of Arete: Session Eleven
Pythoness House

Leto Schreyer: Study…..scribing…...spell books…...scribing…...studying…...Oh My!!!

As you have probably guessed loyal readers, I have been doing w hole lot of scribing of scrolls and into my spell book. I was not prepared for how tiring a process it is to copy thing from one to the other. But, it will help a great deal in the long run.

After our last encounter, while I was cooped up in my quasi lab, Ysobel went and was trying to do some research on Pythonis House. Otto I believe was trying to work more on his crafting skills and Nadiera, well I find myself better off not asking too much about what it is she does in her spare time.

We found out about this history of the one time brothel as well as some of the chaos cults that had recently moved in and used the brothel as a cover. We learned that the Knights of the Pale went in and tried to clear the house.

We spend some time at the pub and while there; Nadiera tries to pick up some guy. A shadowy figure. The more I looked at him, the more I realized he was just her type.

Ysobel and I spend some time on Emerald Hill, which I needed after the long time scribing. Just to be able to sit in a place where nature is revered, reminds me of home. How I long to be there. While the city of Ptolus is nice, I miss all the forests that I was able to go to and just commune with nature. I feel like I cannot do it here, or I should say cannot do it here comfortably.

For now, that is all I have to report. In a few days we make our way into Pythonis House. We shall see what we find there.

Nadiera Bin Mustafa:It’s been an interesting week. We decided to catch up on our research and get some mundane tasks out of the way before we go after the Blasphemous Chest. We ordered some new magical armor from the Dreaming Apothecary. It sounds like kind of a creepy process, from what Leto said. I don’t like the idea of someone creeping into my room while I’m asleep leaving toys, even if they are really good toys!

Ysobel did some research, she’s awfully brainy like that. I’m glad she enjoys it because, although I know we need to know these things, I tend to lean more toward the more physical way of getting information out of people.

We have a new addition in the house. We hired someone to cook and clean the house for us. There was a beggar woman we had talked to recently. She seemed to know the score in town pretty well. She has 2 sons, and we’re providing food and lodging in exchange for her services. Good, our place needs a good cleaning!

There’s another interesting new development in town. We went to the Ghostly Minstrel for dinner and there was a Fateweaver telling fortunes out front. He seemed on the level, so we asked him about the Chest. The “Icy Grip of the House of Python”, he says. Great…that’s not ominous sounding! Turns out Pythonus House has a very interesting and rich history. It was apparently a brothel run by a Chaos cult. But The Knights of the Pale ran out the cultists and now it sits empty. It is owned by an Elven historian who moved away and left it in bad need of repair. Otto’s foaming at the mouth over it. He wants his castle. It would be kind of cool to live in a castle…

One other interesting thing we came across this week – we saw that woman again at the Ghostly Minstrel, the one with the red crystal arm. I’m not sure what to make of her. She looks tough and has a strong-looking entourage of mages and fighters. I think they’re pretty powerful. One of the guys even glows!

I probably shouldn’t even put this in writing, but I’m terribly intrigued by something else that happened. While I was trying to eavesdrop on the crystal-arm chick, this rough looking fellow signaled me over. He had heard I was inquiring about the Longfingers Guild. He said to come looking for him when I’m ready…exciting!!!

Lots to do now, we’re going to check out the Pythonus House soon!

Ysobel Shadowcaster: Wind 29

Of dreams and disquiet and the calm after the storm.

We are now the proud owners of some highly sought-after and much prized items, and we purchased them fairly through reputable dealers in such artifacts. Truly we have become persons of means in this city. I make no immediate plans to court the nobility for connections or additional patronage (we have little enough need of such things) but in the future I think the nobles might very well come to us.

Leto placed our order for some interesting items with the Dreaming Apothecary. He mentioned that all of the bargaining took place in his dreams, but did not go into details. Suffice to say that Otto now has a magically enhanced shield, Nadeira has a magically bolstered suit of armor, and we also purchased Goggles of Night for her to use, with the condition that the other members of the group also be allowed to play with them from time to time. I have never before known what it must be like to be a dwarf. I don’t think I like it, but I can see the usefulness of being able to see in the dark.

It was even worth waiting for a week to get the items.

Having something to wait for is entertaining, but the time would have dragged had we not put ourselves to some work. Leto spent the time working with is spells. I think he said he was scribing words of power into his books, but I might be mistaken. I never did understand the need for such artifice when the power is so easy tom manipulate without training. Rather, the power was so easy to manipulate.

I’ve been having dreams again. Dreams in which I can cast spells, but no spells I’ve ever seen before. I can do things I would never have dreamed possible, and it feels like I’m living in the heart of the sun. I truly wish those dreams could become my reality.

Enough. Otto spent his time at the armory working his apprenticeship. Nadeira was busy as well, but she did not tell me what she was doing and I found myself reluctant to question her. I went to the library (ever a place of refuge) and looked for information on the Blasphemous Chest. It seems the item is incredibly powerful and was sealed with strong magic to prevent whatever is inside from being released. It is supposedly still inside Pythoness House, which has stood empty since the Knights of the Pale raided the brothel there about three years ago. Pythoness House does not have a quiet history; the original family who lived there were slain by brigands intent of robbery. Navaan Blueflight, the current owner, chooses to live in the Moonsilver Forest some distance away. A house should never be allowed to stand empty for so long; the soul of the building dies when a house is not also a home.

I also spent a short while looking up the gods of the elves in this place, but there was very little information. Celeston and Myliesha were the two prominent figures in the myths I found. I know that Doradian Mythlord could teach me everything I could ever wish to know of this subject, but I am reluctant to pester so important a person for what seems a childish fancy. Alninai Silvertree suggested that I seek the temple of Celeston in the city and ask for guidance from Ranael Silverstroke.

We have made a point of taking time to help someone in need. The woman outside the Temple of the Watcher of the Skies that we met some little while back was still begging there. It came to me that our efforts to save the world and thus everyone in it from destruction might fail. While our attempts to cleanse the dark places under this city are noble indeed, those actions may not ever impact the people who live under the clouds. In our current flush of fortune we can help individuals greatly by offering honest employment to those in need.

We now have a housekeeper, one Joan Discon, and her two sons, Ingram and Archibald, as our household staff. Ingram and Archibald are young, but can be trained as messengers if we need them. Otto has expressed the willingness to take them on as squires when they are of the right age. Joan is not trained to maintain a household but she seems quite capable and willing to learn. Our needs are simple for the moment and Joan should be able to manage them with little trouble. We have obtained a small apartment suited to her new station and have paid the rent for a year in advance so that she may have some security. They are now fed and properly clothed and, I assume, sleeping happily in their new home like children will after being out in the tempest. I hope those children have not lost their innocence from life on the street.

I cannot think of anything else of import that has happened these past days,

I write to hastily it seems. We did have an odd run-in at the Ghostly Minstrel these few days past. A young man named Bryan, a Fateweaver no less, has set up a booth in Delver’s Square and offers fortunes to passers-by. He is not unfriendly. What is odder still: his fortunes sound very true! He confirmed our guess that the chest we seek is “in the icy grip of the house of the python” and some other small fortunes we requested. He is an odd creature certainly. He said he woke up one morning and it was as if his whole life had changed: he suddenly was given a license to set up a booth on the square. He has tried to divine who gave him this gift, but was prevented form seeing clearly.

I do not think he was making this story up. He said that he had been stopped from seeing clearly by a purple haze – as if the person who gave him his license was on the other side of some barrier and only an image was bleeding through to him. The purple haze made me wonder if the shard were involved somehow, but Bryan does not reek overly of otherworldly things the way Otto and Nadeira do. I do not think he can have been brought through from somewhere else.

But has anyone though what might have happened to bring us here? Perhaps someone was thrown hence and locked out of this world when we were locked in. How very strange.

Guardians of Arete: Session Ten
Tomb Temple of Kelvin: Part Four

Nadiera Bin Mustafa: After stocking up on supplies, we decided to go down the collapsed-looking area we had bypassed before. Once we started going, we realized it was a definite corridor. It was rough-going, but no problem for me. Otto had some trouble climbing around and apparently made too much noise. Next thing we new, we were fighting this HUGE bug! Gross!! He wasn’t too hard to kill. Among some bones in that area, we found some neat stuff, including a magical throwing axe…Cool! And some malachite…I love malachite!

Next we came across an opening that opened into a bunch of split caverns. We saw a stone statue, the first of many we would find. It looked to real to be carved, which made my hair stand on end. There were weird burrows in the walls. Leto figured out they were cave morays, that would reach out and grab things as they walked passed. I am certainly impressed with their stealthy and sneaky style of fighting!! But as we inspected the burrows, they were all empty, and it looked like something had come through and got them all.

Going down one path, we saw an opening with an obelisk . I was so intrigued that I guess I wasn’t paying attention. Because I ran right into some kind of invisible wall. Ow! The weird thing is that none of us could go past it except for Otto. What’s up with that?

He went in and described some doors that went into a room. Inside there were biers, an alter, sarcophagi and, get this? A candle that kept burning! There was a body that was not decayed and a sword on his chest. Someone figured out that it read “Flail the Great…” I think Leto had heard a legend about this guy and the sword, that he was a hero that was killed by this sword and that maybe his soul was trapped in the sword. Cool!!! Well, we found a hidden way around that we could all go in. They wouldn’t let me look in any of the coffins, whatever! I wasn’t comfortable in that “holy” room anyway! Anyway, after way too much debate, they took the sword to show it to the Priest of Kelvin.

We kept going and came across…the Basalisk!! Luckily, none of us were turned to stone, although truthfully, it was not an easy fight! We fought some more of those disgusting bugs and then, we heard ANOTHER basilisk! Rats! No, not rats this time…

It was a hard fight, but Boy, did we hit paydirt! Tons of gold, armor, jewels! I think I’m getting those goggles of night I’ve been wanted for so long! What a fabulous rogue I will be then!!

But that depends who you ask, because I few minutes later, I guess I got a little too cocky and missed 2 traps on a door that I thought I had disabled. Nothing was hurt except my ego though. Anyway, I guess we hit paydirt for Leto because I swear he was about to start crying when we entered. It was full of books, not my cup of tea but whatever. We carried them out for Leto. He’s helped me enough the past few weeks. We also found a key! This is what we’ve been looking for. Let’s see if it opens the door…

Ysobel Shadowcaster: Wind 21

In search of Abbasthor once more.

When we left the burial chambers of Kelvon, we left some specific places unexplored. A door we could not open still remains a mystery, but the natural cleft surrounded by bones was more straightforward. First Otto fell down into the depressed area surrounding the cleft, then we were attacked by a giant beetle. We really need to buy that young man a ladder.

Otto was mostly unharmed by his fall. The beetle was likewise unharmed until I fired my pistol – and still it took substantial efforts from all of us to bring the creature down. Raelic fell to a single blow. I’m still not sure how much damage that poor creature can take – and I am afraid to talk to Leto about it, for fear the reality is worse than I suspect.

The tunnel guarded by the beetle was in fact a wide passage, easily able to accommodate an abbreviated funeral procession. It was obvious that only important people were buried in this area. The bas-relief on the wall pictured knights in full armor on biers. The perfect spiral to the passage also indicated the importance of this section.

I the large cavern at the end of the passage we found a strange object. A statue of a man garbed as an adventurer stood in perfect detail wearing a look of surprise mixed with horror. The detail was too perfect to have been carved by any hand. Leto found some tracks indicating that an eight-legged creature was in the area. With those two details facing us, we decided that we should assume the worst and prepare to face a basilisk. Leto additionally informed us that we were facing a cave infested with cave morays, carnivorous serpents that lie in wait for their prey.

As we explored this section of the catacombs, we found an odd thing: one of the cave morays had been petrified by the basilisk, and had become a beautiful statue. It is possible that someone among the noble houses in Ptolus could have an interest in sculpture created in this manner. Myraith has indicated that he could find a market for such an item.

Further down the corridor, we encountered an energy barrier that blocked most of us from continuing. Otto was able to pass through. He feels that the barrier was placed there to prevent the unworthy from defiling the tomb beyond. The place was the holy tomb of Flail the Great, hero of Ptolus and champion of the Church of Kelvon. Leto was able to give us some of his history, though large pieces were missing from the story. It is said that he was buried with the blade that slew him, the sword Exordius. Those rumors are true; what is more, Flail’s death seems to have purified the blade and made it something more than just a magical sword.

A fissure had opened up in the rear portion of the tomb, allowing the rest of us to join Otto. The tomb was completely untouched by time except for the crack in the rear wall. Flail’s body is still perfectly preserved. What is stranger still is the fact that, while I now find the thought of a body untouched by time to be unsettling, in the tomb I felt only peace and safety.

Leto cast a spell to identify the magical properties of the sword Exordius. The spell seemed to take on a life of its own – tendrils of light that we could all see reached out from the sword and probed each of us. It was very like being pierced by a blade of sunlight, but there was no pain. The sword contains the souls of those it slew before Flail, and it also seems to contain Flail’s soul as well, though that is speculation at this point. Only a consummate warrior with the right bent of mind could awaken the full powers of that weapon.

As we continued through the dungeon, Otto chose to wield Exordius instead of his other weapons. The sword is a thing of beauty indeed – it glowed when used in battle, and seemed to give pause to our enemies. Even the basilisk could not stand against it, though it tried valiantly. Nadeira harvested its eyes for Leto, in case he wanted to use them in his spells. She struck many powerful blows on this foray, actually. Her blow struck down the basilisk and the large stag beetle that attacked her later. She is indeed proving her worth as a fighter despite her obvious shortcomings – perhaps she will turn to a life of law one day.

Perhaps pigs will fly to the top of the Spire and preach wisdom, dropping pearls down upon the rest of us.

We had another surprise on this trip. A second basilisk laid a clever trap for us. Luckily Nadeira’s eyes were more clever still. Raelic redeemed his honor by striking this one down. The many items of value we found with this one made the extra effort of killing it worth while. Otto now has a pair of gloves that assist him with feats of strength. Leto is better protected from attack by a magical ring. The money we found will enable us to purchase still other magical items to assist us in the fight to clear the tombs.

We also found the remains of an alchemical lab on this level of the cavern system. Leto was pleased to find a wizard’s library, complete with spell books full of new information. The wizard Taren may be the statue we found in front of the hideaway, or he might have been killed at another time. Whoever he was, he dabbled with more powerful magics than he ought. There is a statue of a Vroc in his chambers, and it was not carved but created from living tissue. I pity the fool who reads the name on the plaque aloud.

Also amongst Taren’s things we found a magical silver key. It is marked with two symbols of chaos, and it changes shape to fit any lock. Leto complained of weakness when carrying the key, indicating that its nature is not entirely benign. Myraith confirmed that when we showed it to him. The key is capable of opening any lock – at a price. The price varies, but there is no way to tell the price before you use the key. It drains life energy, disabling the user to some extent. There is no indication that it would stop draining before it killed the user. We have deposited the key in Castle Shard for safekeeping, after placing it in a lead-lined box to prevent someone from scrying its location.

Myraith offered us a kingly sum for the key by itself – and triple that if we produced the chest it had been intended to open by the Tolling Bell Cult. Any item worth 60,000 pieces of gold (and obviously more, for he would simply sell it at a profit) is almost certainly dangerous. I have not decided whether we should attempt to gain control of the chest or not.

After visiting Castle Shard to drop off the key, we returned to the temple of Kelvon to speak with High Priest Tyrus. We presented him with the sword Exordius and explained that we hoped the soul of Flail could be restored to his body. Tyrus explained that such an act was impossible under the circumstance, since Flail’s soul was trapped in a physical object designed to imprison it. He also mentioned that there were none within his order capable of casting the necessary spells, even if it had been possible. His unhappiness, though muted by acceptance, was painful to see – his order has faded since Flail’s death and the loss of their burial chambers, and they are no longer one of the great religions in this land. I hope that the worship of Kelvon does not fade altogether. Even the gods get lonely.

Otto told Tyrus that he was not worthy to wield the sword. In the interests of being quite truthful, I told him that none of us was capable of awakening it to its full potential at this time, but that we would like to be considered for such an honor if the situation changes. Otto may not feel that the stewardship of such an artifact is a suitable occupation, but I disagree. The preservation of a weapon made to give the wielder the soothing comfort of sunshine and the knowledge that his fight is just is both an honor to perform and a pleasure to fulfill.

That is one of the troubles with humans, reader. Only the things that happen right now are important. Tyrus cannot see that his priesthood might gain status and followers from our actions, so he cannot see that a champion may arise to take the blade. Instead he will offer it to the Knights of the Veil to aid their fight in the Necropolis. This is also an admirable cause of course, but…

Why do I bother rationalizing my feelings? It felt like someone had torn my uncle from me once again when we left that sword in the temple of Kelvon. I had hoped never to relive that night, but my dreams are filled with images of the long darkness and the crazed light of the next dawn. The magic I once wielded haunts me. The sword I never wielded haunts me. What have I done to deserve such disquiet? To what god should I turn in my hour of need, I who have no god to follow?

Guardians of Arete: Session Eight
Tomb Temple of Kelvin: Part Two

Nadiera Bin Mustafa: So avoiding a bloody, skeleton-spewing fountain seems like a great idea for now.

We decide to go down the secret passage we had come across before. It appears the lever we had found might have shut off the traps, but we’ll see. I’m going to keep on my guard anyway! I used my handy-dandy new trapfinding balls and proceded to promptly lose one in this icky sewagy mire. I was hesitant to pull it out, their pretty inexpensive and this stuff looks gross. So I walked on past, heck, I’ve got plenty more balls at my disposal.

There was a thin passage that went past the water toward a door at the end of the hall, so I went that way. All of a sudden, this huge FROG came out of the water at me! He had me pinned to the wall with his disgustingly huge tongue. I didn’t even have the time to think about grabbing a dagger when Otto, that big brave lunk, came slicing at the tongue. He freed me in a swipe and the frog slipped back into the water.

We kept moving and through the door we found a large opening that went many directions. There was a small cliff to either side and a fissure in one area. I wanted to check out the cliff areas first. In one, we came across some empty coffins that housed undead skeletons. Great! In the other, found 6 empty simple sarcophagi and then 2 really ornate ones. My mouth was watering, I expected untold riches to be found in these. But sadly, all we found were 2 ghosts that were near impossible to fight! It didn’t matter how well I fought, I couldn’t touch them. But they could touch me! One of the ghosts got me with their knife and I felt my knees buckle. I could barely stand up, let alone jump, twist or run, which is truthfully what I pride myself on! Oddly, Ysobel hit them every time! Thank goodness! We got out of there alive!

So then come the rats. I hear rats and I have to kill them. It’s just my way. I’m not sure the rest of the group cared, but they went with me to kill them. And it ended up pretty profitable. We got some neat loot from the rats’ nest.

Not long after this minor victory though, we got to some more icky water and guess what jumps out at us? You guessed it! Huge, gross frogs. Otto got bit by one of them, it had crazy sharp teeth. Strange frog!

Something terribly interesting happened then. We came to this fork in the road, the path broken by a huge stalagmite. It was really quite beautiful and fascinating. Otto said, left, he has some sort of issue with always going left (Superstition?) So we went left and came to a stone wall, after getting over it, another wall, and so on. It looked like it must just loop back to the beginning, so we kept going. When all at once, what comes after us but an ogre! Of course! Of course, we’d find an ogre down here! We killed it pretty easily, although I must admit in retrospect, it did seem like we happened upon his home and he was just defending it. Oh well, it was still an ogre and we got tons of good loot out of it!

So, it seemed pretty much like your average day of coming out victorious over insignificant creatures. We kept going into another cavern and fought 6 or so undead creatures. They weren’t too much trouble, so I kept going in further. When I saw something I don’t think I’ve ever seen the likes of before. I started to feel my knees buckle again, only I hadn’t been stabbed or anything this time. It was a wight, and it was horrific! It shot a spell at us and Ysobel ran screaming! She ran right out the room! We all kept fighting and then another spell or something and Otto went running! Alright, this is creepy! Leto, Raelic and I kept fighting and we were doing okay. But if another of us got hit and left screaming, there was going to be big trouble. It seemed luck was on our side though, because the three of us took it down.

We hit paydirt this time, there was a lot of gold and some neat toys in there. Well, I’m off to count our wealth and appraise all our new stuff. More soon…

Ysobel Shadowcaster: Wind 18

A short while later.

Our decision to descend into the secret tombs of Kelvon was a good one. WE are still alive, mostly, and in possession of some valuable artifacts.

I think the giant frogs were the worst part of it. I had expected skeletons or zombies. But giant frogs? Otto seemed to take their measure right away – he chopped through a tongue of two during the first battle. I merely shot the frog’s body, which seemed to do little.

The secret places of this tomb are partially formed from natural caverns. It might be interesting to explore more of the Undercity to see what other natural formations have been adapted for use by various groups. Many of the walls and doors had been defaced with the symbol of Orcus painted in what looked like (but surely could not be) blood. There were also some magical amulets bearing his symbol, but they are not items we are willing to use for ourselves. We plan to destroy them and use the materials for trade.

There were a number of empty sarcophagi in the chambers. We also ran into a pair of shadowy figures wearing the holy symbol of Kelvon. It saddens me to think that these great warriors of their church could be corrupted for such evil purposes when they have long been dead. Perhaps my people back home had it right – it is better not to worship a god at all than to be subject to such an indignity when one is dead.

Something we have learned: my magical long sword can hit some creatures when more earthbound weapons cannot.

Nadeira heard whistling at one point in the cave. At another she heard rats. Naturally we always follow up on Nadeira’s tips. That may be why we are always injured. The rats were large and unfriendly. We had them almost cornered in their den – no wonder they fought so hard! There were some rat skeletons near another tunnel mouth, which we studiously avoided. We have decided that large carnivores are not always ours for the taking (though Nadeira insisted that she heard something expensive down the tunnel).

We ran into another pair of giant frogs – this time guarding a door we cannot open. I think we need a key, or perhaps a magic spell – to open this iron door. We hope to go back and open it in the future.

In another part of the same cavern we were attacked by an ogre.

There is something you should know about ogres before you go haring off on your first adventure. They smell very VERY bad. They are not clean, they are not friendly, and they certainly don’t have anything to say to you. If you, reader, are thinking of becoming an adventurer, please remember this: you WILL meet an ogre, it WILL stink very badly, and you WILL wish you had never been born at some point either before or after the conflict. Take heed, and prepare.

There is something else you should know about ogres, reader. They like to keep things, and hey don’t care what it is. If you expect to get rich from killing an ogre, you WILL have to dig through the foulest pile of trash and excrement you could ever imagine, and you WILL have to carry all of that treasure, still stinking, back home to wash it off. IT doesn’t stop smelling like ogre until you’ve cleaned it properly, and you can’t get the best price for smelly things. Remember, and use lye soap.

We killed the ogre and took its smelly treasure.

The next chamber we entered is different. WE faced the skeletons (common fare around here) with no trouble, but the wight around the corner is another matter. He must have some special power to inspire terror in his enemies, for I was unable to face him. To my shame I fled, leaving my companions far behind. Otto was likewise affected by the creature, but he cannot run quite so fast as I and did not make it so far out of the cavern. I must find some way to apologize to my friends.

When I came back to my senses, I realized that the wight must be stopped. I ran back to my companions, but the wight was dead. Leto killed it. That young man has strange depths in him – I would not have taken it poorly if both he and Nadeira had run after we fled. But they stayed, and they fought, and they prevailed.

Hmm – Nadeira might not make such a bad knight at that.

After destroying the wight we decided that the worst parts of the tombs had been cleared of vermin. We returned to the temple of Kelvon, taking the holy symbol and a few other oddments with us. The priests were better than their word, healing us of our injuries and restoring Nadeira’s strength, lost to one of the frogs, to her.

We now expect to spend some time training to better battle the undead, various spirit creatures, and other nefarious beings in the future. I intend to do a bit of research on a few subjects myself – I need to know what the religions of this world are, how they interact, and what that means to me. People believe I have a destiny here – that we all do. My hair marks me as special. I need to find a foundation I can stand on – one that is not based on what everyone else expects of me, but on what I expect of myself.

Guardians of Arete: Session Seven
The Tomb Temple of Kelvin: Part One

Ysobel Shadowcaster:Wind 18

In which we are approached by a mysterious stranger.

That sounds so melodramatic. My teachers would be very proud – it really proves that elves are meant to be entertainers. But it is true. In fact we were approached by more than one mysterious stranger, though not at the same time, and we did seek out the first.

In the time following our encounter with Shilokar, we entered upon various new activities. Otto began an apprenticeship at the Bull and Bear Armory. He intends to craft his own armor from pieces he has gathered in our adventures. I wish him luck – and I hope that his teachers will be good to him and not allow him to produce inferior work simply to make him happy. Leto spent several days in magical studies and the creation of scrolls for later use. Nadeira practiced some card tricks and little feats of legerdemain. Fortunately, nothing Nadeira did was in any way immoral – entertaining people with simple tricks is a far cry from cheating at cards.

I chose to follow the advice of Alninai Silvertree and Lord Zavere. After dressing appropriately, my companions and I sought the home of Kaira Swanwing. The exterior of the house was stone – a very human design and not what I had expected at all – but the interior had all that one could desire: a courtyard full of blooms, animals living without fear, and a serene atmosphere unlike the rest of the area.

Kaira herself was the most beautiful elf I have ever seen. She wears her silver air with pride – not hiding and shrinking as I have in this city. She informed me that the bearer of silver hair has been marked by the blood of the elder elves, and great things are expected of her. We spoke of the elder elves and their great city of Dreta Fantis. In this world, the elves had a king – one who slept eternally. Since the world is still here, it is assumed that he is still sleeping in his city, though it has long since been taken beneath the earth by the dark elves. She spoke of some artifacts that allowed the king to travel interdimensionally: the Dreaming Stone and the Cask of Frozen Dreams. These artifacts disappeared centuries ago.

To my regret, Kaira also told us what happened to the elder elves in this world: they were twisted by Ghul, becoming the harrow elves. While not inherently evil like the dark elves, the harrow elves are quick to anger, more likely to resort to violence, and driven by revenge.

We asked her about the Runebearers and Helmut’s systematic quest to exterminate them. She did not have any answers for us, but assured us that the Knights of the Golden Cross wouldn’t simply sit by and watch. Her order fights the end of all things, and if Helmut gets in her way I pity him. Apparently the Runebearers have only cropped up in the past decade or so. The first was the son of one of the Balacazars, and others have followed.

I felt it important to let Kaira know that I was not born in this world – it seems like lying to claim the blood of their elder elves when I am from a different world. She felt that my world must have been visited by her elder elves at some point in the past, and that my people are all descendants of that race. Knowing this truly set my mind at ease; I no longer feel like my existence is a lie. I also know what to expect when people approach me because of my hair. It is believed that those born with silver hair have an inherent connection to All Things, and have a concurrent responsibility as caretakers of the Multiverse.

Not long after our visit with Kaira Swanwing, a man wearing a hooded cloak knocked on our door. He was younger than I had anticipated when he removed his hood. He explained that he was a priest of Kelvon, ferryman of the dead. He asked us to return to his temple and speak with his superiors regarding the Demense of Verdevis.

We agreed (who can resist a personal invitation like that?) and followed him to the temple district. He introduced us to High Priest Tyrus. Tyrus explained that the demesne was built in or around part of an old burial ground dedicated to Kelvon. Their former high priest, Abasthor, had gone to explore about fifty years ago, but never returned. Tyrus was able to tell us that his order was forced out by devotees of Orcus about 100 years ago.

Tyrus wants to know what happened to the burial grounds. He asked that any treasure we found that was specifically religious in nature be preserved for his order, especially the holy symbol of the high priest, but agreed that any nondenominational loot would be ours if we survived. Unfortunately, the only information he could give us about finding the burial ground was that the door was carved with the likeness of Kelvon.

Knowing that followers of Orcus have a deep and abiding interest in the undead, I prudently armed myself with a club – just in case we encounter any walking skeletons. We also made sure to take some holy water with us, though we may have under packed.

When we entered Verdevis’ domain, we chose the door carved with the visage of Kelvon as instructed. The room behind was a dead end, but we searched until we found a secret passage. The hallway beyond the door was definitely not a part of Ghul’s labyrinth. The stone was not that unsettling green and the walls were carved with images of burial processions.

Much further down that same hall we found another secret opening. We opened it after Nadeira disarmed the traps set on it, but we did not walk further in that direction. Instead we went down the original hallway to inspect the fountain in the large room at the end. The fountain was full of blood, and the skeletons lying in the water sprang to life when Otto entered the room.

I have never been so terrified in my life. One skeleton hit me hard enough to cause me to lose consciousness. When I awoke, Otto was barely standing and Leto had his hands full trying to stop us all from dying. It took a good deal longer for us to kill all of the skeletons – it seems more jumped out of the fountain every few seconds. Leto is certain that more will come after us every time we enter the room – it must have some sort of magical proximity alarm. I am somewhat confused by this, as the fountain did not register an intruder until after Nadeira had been in the room for some minutes, and Leto is able to move freely though the space as well. There is something else happening when I enter this room.

After the intensive fighting, we decided to explore the secret passage we’d found rather than chance more skeletons. I can only hope we’ve made the right decision.

Nadiera Bin Mustafa: Today we did something exciting and terrifying!

First, we went to see Kyra Swanwing. She’s the Elf who Ysobel was told to see. Turns out Ysobel may have the blood of the Elder Elves after all. Apparently, with the help of the “Dreaming Stone” and the “Cask of Frozen Dreams” or something, the Elder Elves could travel to different worlds. Cool, huh? So, I wonder if Ysobel could be able to this too somehow someday. She may be cooler than I gave her credit for.

Then Kyra Swanwing told us about the Knights of the Golden Cross and invited us to join…even me!

Needless to say, I needed time to think on this and went gambling. I lost again, what is wrong with me in this world anyway?

A few weeks later, a Priest of Kelvin showed up at our front door. He asked about the Demense of Verdevis. He took us to the High Priest who wanted to talk to us.

So the High Priest tells us that there were crypts under our house (surprise, surprise) and some undead cults had forced out the caretakers of the crypts a long time ago. Great!

A high priest named Abisthor had gone to find out what happened and never came back. So we’re supposed to go in, hopefully find Abisthor or at least the Holy symbol he was wearing and, oh yeah, hopefully not die doing it. So, of course, we accepted the job!!

When we went back in to Verdevis’ Demense, we found a secret passage we had not seen before in the room the ratmen had holed up in the last time. Then we saw it, a fountain that spewed blood! Gross! But of course we went into the room! It was deliciously intriguing!

Sadly, the rest is hazy to me. All I remember was a wave or 2 of skeletons coming out of the fountain at us. We fought as hard as we could, then decided to retreat. Ysobel went down and I tried to pull her out as I backed out. But the last thing I remember was 2 skeletons coming at me from either side….

Next thing I knew, we were outside in the hallway. Leto and Otto were panting and looked totally exhausted. I guess they got us out but just barely. Whew!! OK, which way now??

Leto Schreyer: Magic can be a fickle thing. I only say this because the Demesne of Verdivis has caused me to be a little weary every time I go down to Ghuls Labyrinth. Ever since that time when my spells went awry, it has been source of apprehension for me, even more so since I have decided to add the arcane side of the art to my repertoire. But more on that later.

When we last left our hero’s, we were thinking about taking some time to ourselves. I had some major scroll scribing to accomplish, Otto was busy trying to make some armor. This was a little funny in its own right. He had found a smithy to help him craft pieces of armor into usable wearable pieces. However, he did not do as well as he would have thought. Let’s just say his first attempt could not be used as a very very large paperweight.

Nadiera was going to go do some gambling. Go figure that out. I only hope she does not cheat this time. Or if she does, that she is better at it this time. I do not know how often she would be able to afford repairs either if she gets caught.

Ysobel was talking about going to see Kyra Swanwing. There were two reasons actually for wanting to go see her. First was for Ysobel to start talking about how she might have the blood of the Elders. Second was to learn more about the Knights of the Golden Cross.

We were able to find out about Ysobel’s heritage and learned that the Elder Elves were able to travel to different planes and realms even though Ptolus was a “prison” world. Nothing in or out. So, Ysobel may have in fact the blood of the Elders coursing through her veins.

The Knights of the Golden Cross are an organization outside the scope of the government of Ptolus. They fight evil of all sorts and anyone is able to join. Kyra even went as far as to invite Nadiera. All joking aside, she may make a very nice addition to the order itself.

After about 2 weeks of gathering information and doing our various and sundry things around Ptolus, we received a visitor from the temple of Kelvin. He wanted us to come see the High Priest of Kelvin. He was asking us about the Demesne of Verdivis and what all we had found down there. He was also concerned about one of his priests named Abisthor. He had apparently gone down to find out what had happened and never returned. He wanted us to go forth and find him, or his remains and if he was dead to bring back his holy symbol.

Now I bring you back to my apprehension about going back down there where the magic seems to be in a uncontrollable form. There have been many unpredictable things that happened the last time and I was not looking forward to it again.

We agree to go down, not only to find Abisthor but also to see what might be coming through our little hide-a-way.

We get down there and find that there was secret passage in the northern room where we though there was no door. We go through the passage and find what I was able to figure out as a warding against good spell. Meaning only evil things can go through. Not a pleasant thing the first time through.

As we traverse further, we find a very large fountain that is spewing and bubbling out blood of all things. But then I thought about it, dark evil dements, eerie feeling all around, why not have it spewing blood. Fits the profile right? So we go forth to try and search the room and the fountain for lack of a better term goes crazy. Skeletons come climbing out and start attacking us. How rude. Oh my kingdom for a Cleric.

We end defeating them after Ysobel and Nadiera fall over dying. I used the wand of healing like candy to keep everyone alive. I was surprised we made it out. Nadiera was out for most of it. Go figure that one. ;) We also realized that only when we stepped in the boundries of the room did the fountain start giving us skeleton love. So we decided to go down a secret passage that we found just before the fountain room.

After healing everyone, we decide to head down that passage and see if there is a different way through.

Well, I must get back to exploring this tomb. Hopefully this wont be the last entry I write.

Guardians of Arete: Session Six

Ysobel Shadowcaster: Birth 30 – What have we done?

Our hunt for Shilokar proved successful, after a fashion. I doubt Otto and Nadeira will be welcome at the Onyx Spider ever again. I’m certain Nadeira’s little stunt with the cards is going to come back to haunt us all soon. Otto’s immediate reaction is also unsettling; I understand backing a comrade in an unfair fight, but backing a comrade who was cheating? It unsettles me. I’m glad they only told me the bare bones of that story. On the bright side, Nadeira did overhear some information that proved useful in our quest to find Shilokar.

Leto and I found some information that further unnerved us. The Idol of Ravaan is apparently in the city. I’m not certain whether I should be more terrified of the pocket watch or this thing – they are both so very evil, it is difficult to measure which is worse. The Visage of Liam, another object mentioned in the prophecy Nadeira pocketed from Helmut’s desk, also showed up in various historical texts. We put all of our pieces together and decided to concentrate our search on a vacant lot in the Guildsman district.

The lot itself was quite deserted and full of ruins. We decided to post a watch at the lot all night. Luckily we only waited about half the night for the first blue gnoll to exit the underground labyrinth.

Yes. The gnoll was blue. I promise you I wasn’t seeing things. It also had horns, glowing eyes, and bled green ichor. Leto seemed to think it has some demonic taint about it.

After killing that first gnoll, we used his key to enter the underground lair of Shilokar. IT was apparently once a part of Ghul’s labyrinth –that annoying green stone was prevalent throughout. We took a number of the more ordinary type of gnoll by surprise – there was a lot of blood shed. Then we were confronted by the other demonic creature.

We survived, as you who read this know, but only because Shilokar chose not to destroy us. He stepped forward to parlay after we killed what might have been the last of his guards. I am certain that he could have burned us to cinders where we stood, but he wanted us to take a message to Lord Zavere.

Nadeira was most unhappy about it, but we eventually persuaded her that it was fo the best. I’m uncertain if Leto assented through a true conviction that we had no other choice, or if he is merely biding his time for a later attack on Shilokar. I do not think that would be wise – our current level of expertise with our various weapons is not enough to defeat him and Leto is not yet capable of supplying us with the type of magical support we would require for such an endeavor.

Shilokar’s message was simple: he wanted us to assure Lord Zavere that he did indeed have the restorative for Lord Abercoomb’s unfortunate condition and that he would supply it to Zavere if he were offered asylum within the city. Shilokar, as a dark elf, is not legally permitted to operate within the city limits. He may not even be permitted to reside here for nonprofessional purposes, though I am no expert in the laws of Ptolus.

We did as requested. Lord Zavere is prepared to offer asylum to Shilokar. Our attempt to retrieve the restorative was his only hope of not doing so, and we did not completely succeed.

On a more personal note, I think I may have found a haven within this city. The area known as Emerald Hill is home to a great number of local elves and to a sanctuary called The Wind’s Mystery. I think I shall enjoy making some new friends there. I certainly enjoyed my conversation with Alninai Silvertree. She seems to be the personal assistant to Doradian Mythlord, the de facto leader of the Emerald hill contingent.

Alninai suggested that I should seek our Kaira Swanwing, the leader of the Knights of the Golden Cross. She also has silver hair, but as she grew up in this world she knows more about what that means to people here. I hope she can explain it to someone so unused to the idea that silver is a strange color for hair.

I almost feel distain for the elves I see here – they seem so human and wrong somehow. I must work against that impulse until I no longer feel it.

Lord Zavere also gave us advice about other organizations we might want to work with in the future. Leto is interested in the group of druids working out of the Necropolis. Zavere has warned him not to venture there at night – I only hope Leto heeds that warning. And Nadeira is interested in the Longfingers Guild. It is odd to think of thieves as having honor, but compared to the Ballacazars, the Longfingers Guild seems almost genteel.

Otto seems miffed that he has not been singled out for an organization – but he does not present himself as one looking for sponsorship. Perhaps we can change that.

Lord Zavere almost seemed to take pleasure in our discomfiture as he listed all the people who are showing an interest in us. While Brother Fabitor is pleased with us the Chaos Cults that know about us can’t be happy. And Helmut is not happy. And the Fateweavers are not happy. In fact, I am not happy – Fate seems to be paying attention to us very closely right now, and that does not indicate that our sojurn in this city is going to be uneventful.

Imagine my astonishment when Zavere presented us with friendship bands after listing our “accomplishments”. Now everyone we meet will know where our loyalties lie – and who has pledged his honor to vouch for us. It is a bold move on his part, and a scary thing for us to live up to on ours.

Nadiera Bin Mustafa: My gambling skills may need a little work.

I thought I might find some good information about Shilukar by hitting one of the seedier joints in town. Otto offered to join me in case I got into trouble. It was good to have the back up, but I told him to keep his distance so it didn’t look like I had a bodyguard.

I overheard someone talking about blue gnolls and no one believed him. This could be something. So after his buddies left, I bought the stranger a drink and found out what he knew. Sure enough, I had heard correctly, blue gnolls, and an elf named “Sheelikar”. Coincidence? He told me where to look for him.

I went up to the gambling tables to see if I could find out anything else useful. Yeah, I might have pulled a fast one once or twice, but the hothead at the table threw a hissy fit. He accused me of cheating and it looked like I might have a problem. Then Otto came to my rescue. Good thing Otto didn’t know the guy was right about the cheating, or he might have gone to get a drink or something while the guy pounded on me.

Long story short, we (Otto mostly) kicked his butt and we made a hasty retreat from the tavern. I probably won’t be going back there soon…ever.

Meanwhile, Leto and Ysobel had been doing their own research. So it was decided. We were going to track down Shilukar on his own turf in the Guildsman District.

We scouted out the part of the city he was in and found a door of sorts that led underground, but it obviously used some kind of magical key. So all we could do was wait.

Ysobel wanted to visit Emerald Hill, some Elven sanctuary or something. We all went, but it was obvious Otto and I were NOT welcome there. We waited outside the tavern while Leto and Ysobel did their thing. Pretty place, a little clean for me.

Then we went to the stakeout! Boring for a few hours, then out came this blue gnoll. He was not too hard to take and I pocketed the magical key. Really interesting purple fur! I wonder what I could get for the hide and horns? My plan was to skin him later…

We went underground and fought some more gnolls and a mage. The mage gave us real trouble, but we were doing okay until Shilukar shows up and casts a sleep spell. Otto was out cold, and the battle kind of fizzled. Besides, Shilukar just wanted to talk. He claimed he could just kill us if he wanted to, but he had a purpose for us. He said he’s been orchestrating this whole thing the whole time to get us to take his case to Lord Zavere. He wants sanctuary in Castle Shard and will trade the cure for Zavere’s Golden Guy friend. Whatever…what else can we do? We told him we’d take it to Zavere. At least we got some good loot out of the fight!

So we went to see Zavere. He agrees, what else can he do but offer Shilukar sanctuary. We told him about the blue gnolls, and my plan to skin them, and he blows his top. He calls me a barbarian! Yeah right, like I’d ever be a barbarian! Not in THIS world! So I see we have differing opinions on the case, so I apologized and told him I’d drop it. I guess it was the right decision because Zavere presented us all with Bands of Respect, that will mark us as friends of Castle Shard. That could prove very useful. Oh yes…

Leto Schreyer: Before delving into what might be another epic chapter in the events of my life since entering Ptolus, allow me to preface the words that I do not know what goes through that woman’s head sometimes. I am of course speaking of Nadiera. Who apparently is not as able-bodied at thievery as she thinks she is. Here is what brought me to this relatively simple conclusion:

On the orders of Zavere, we were to do whatever was deemed necessary in order to get the restorative from Shilukar, a dark elf that has sent missive to Castle Shard offering a trade of the restorative for sanctuary. So we went and were going to try to get the restorative in the 2 days we had left from Shilukar’s noted deadline.

Now, Isobel and I were taking the research approach. A noble time spent in the library researching for things and events that might help us. We looked up the Idol of Ravan as well as Visage of Liem. More on those very interesting topics in a moment. Otto and Nadiera were to go to the casino and try to learn a few things about Shilukar and where he might actually be hiding. Long story short, they started a bar brawl that got them kicked out not to return. Although it was not a total loss I suppose. Nadiera was able to overhear about a dark elf that has blue colored gnolls.

Now being of the druid persuasion, I was able to here the account from Nadiera and I quite honestly did not know what she could be talking about. As far as I was concerned, there was nothing like that in nature. So, were going to be going up against a new creature that I am not sure how I will be able to fight against. Except to say hit it hard and often.

Now, where was I… Oh yes, the more sensible research topics. The Idol of Ravan is a squat stone statue of a chimerical beast. It is chaotic evil in nature and will turn your best friend ever against you to the point of death just being around it. The statue being ancient to be sure also has one major feature… it is able to change the features of itself at will. You could be looking at horns on the statue one minute and the next they will be gone. It also has a great negative effect on creatures.

The visage of Liem is a statue on Brandywine Street in the guildsman district. Liem, or Liem Oathbreaker was a soldier that had standing orders to stay at his post when barbarians were breaking down the gates of his city. He disobeyed those orders and took up men and arms and went out and met them head on killing the opposing forces General forcing them to surrender I believe. Isobel had this topic… this is all second hand; for his victory, the erected a statue to him. According to the prophecies that we found in Helmut’s house, we are to seek Shilukar near the Visage of Liem.

Before heading over to the lot, we decide to let Isobel go and visit the elves. We are actually going to see the elves. I like elves. They are very helpful and understand my persuasions better than anyone other than other druids.

We enter Emerald hill and while Isobel and I seems to be accepted, Nadiera and Otto not so much. Go figure that one. Big surprise there. Do not get me wrong, I owe a lot to Nadiera. But there are times when I just want to go over there while she has her back turned and….................calm…......................calm….......................calm.

We head over to what we believe to be the tavern of Emerald Hill. Nadiera and Otto feel it is best to stay outside with Raelic while Isobel and I go in. Probably smart move. Though why they felt the need to make my poor little earth elemental companion play fetch is beyond me.

The waiter who, like all the elves in here are befuddled by Isobel’s hair greets us. They seem to think she is related to the elders. I do not ask questions about it. I am afraid of what the answers might actually be. He gets us our drinks and an elf by the name of Alninai Silvertree comes over and welcomes us the Winds Mystery Tavern. She tells us that she is the aide of Daradian Mythlord who is the defacto leader of the elves here in Ptolus and would like permission to let him know that she is here. She grants her request. Alninai also suggests that since we do not know if Isobel is actually of elder decent to talk to an elf by the name of Kaira Swanwing. She is of elder decent and can possibly help Isobel find her heritage. She also heads and organization called the Knights of the Golden Cross; an order that seems to be trying to stop the night of dissolution.

We also find out that Shilukar is in exile even from his own people. That he has been walking around under the guise of a Scholl elf.

I also find out where the druids of the city are. They are trying to reclaim the area in the Necropolis where all the undead and zombies seems to be. Andak is the leader of the druid resistance. Alninai invites Isobel and I to come back and visit as often as we wish. Otto and Nadiera are welcomed as well, as long as they do not cause trouble.

So we decide to wait till after everyone closes up shop for the day and head over to the vacant lot where the statue seems guarding. A lot of brush and stone are in the area as if something great once stood there. We take up our positions and wait for Nadiera to scout ahead. She was able to find a cover stone that seems to lead beneath the lot itself. Once I get over there I am able to determine that it is a magical opening devise that will take a key. So we wait and sure enough something opens the cover stone, steps out and starts to close it behind him. I would never have believed my eyes, but it was one of the blue gnolls. It was actually a blue gnoll. He put up a great fight. I was worried for a little while. Once dead, I go over to examine the body. He smelled of sulfur and Brimstone. He has blue skin and purple fur. He also has abyssal blood. Great.

After entering and dispatching a few more gnolls (normal gnolls that is,) the second blue gnolls appears and give us trouble. Just as we finished dispatching him and his cleric friend who was incredibly hard to hit and just would not die, Otto falls asleep. I turn around and there is Shilukar. After finding out that he has the restorative, we strike a deal and want to go to Castle Shard to present it to Lord Zavere.

We head up to Castle Shard where we have a huge breakfast. We talk to Lord Zavere and present Shilukar’s offer to him. After discussing our concerns, he has no option but to agree. Shilukar will have Sanctuary and Lord Abercombe will be restored.

Before leaving, we find out more about the Order of the Golden Cross that they operate outside the government per say. They keep a low profile and oppose any chaos that comes around. They have no legal charter however they are not stopped by anyone in the empire. He also tells me about Andak. He is located on Clasthamus Isle just off the Necropolis. He was the head druid of the Circle of Green before Ghul destroyed them. He is trying to make sure the dark reliquary does not expand. Demons in the area are trying to bring about the night of dissolution. He is opposing them at all costs.

After finding this out, Lord Zavere gives us 4 rings. He tells us that these are friendship rings. They are engraved with Castle Shard. This will let anyone know that we are friends of Castle Shard and have earned and deserve the loyalty and respect thereof.

Thus we must close another chapter of my stay here in Ptolus. I hope that my next adventure will not be so exciting. While the excitement is good is most regards, I am ready for just a little less action. Till next time loyal readers.

Guardians of Arete: Session Five
Trouble with the Balacazars 2 and the Search for Phon

Ysobel Shadowcaster:Birth 21: I have one at last.

The past few days seem to blur together up to a point. I don’t quite recall what we discussed with Lord Zavere a few days ago, but I know we left the Illitor in his care. Lady Rrill was going to examine it at her leisure.

Lord Zavere asked us to look into a matter concerning Laneck Cran, brother of Toradin Cran. We did, though it cost us some few hours underwater. I love the surface of the sea, but it turns out that I do not care for getting wet under it.

Laneck wanted us to retrieve his daughter’s casket from a wrecked ship. We would have done so, but Linnel had already vacated the box and was willing to accompany us without it. When we arrived at Laneck’s offices, he was startled and upset that his daughter was no longer completely dead. Unfortuantely he was less concerned with his daughter than with her possessions.

It seems ironic that Linnel’s prized possession was a watched possessed by a demon.

I know that my friends and I were expecting something to happen when we brought Linnel home. We wee not surprised when she attacked her father, ripping his throat out. We were unable to stop her (she has gained quite a lot of power since her death) but we fought anyway. She allowed us to live. She seems to be some form of vampire that can move about in daylight. Unfortunately she still has the possessed possession.

No, that joke is certainly not going to work.

Shanus, Laneck’s helpful secretary, explained why the watch was so important. Apparently the pocketwatch contains a demon that is the only Praemal-bound source of the recipe for Shivvel. It is an evil object that corrupt those who are in contact wth it, which could explain why Laneck’s daughter rose from the dead in sucha n unorthodox form.

Shanus agreed to give us the statue of Lord Abercoomb as our reward instead of spending coin on us. I believe he means to escape the city and his connection with Laneck, though he may seek employment with a different group of scoundrels instead. He asked us to inform Lord Zavere that he gave us the statue freely, knowing that we would pass it on. Lord Zavere was mildly surprised by that information.

We used the reward he gave us to purchase some furnishings for our home. We are on our way to having exclusive rights to the portion of the undercity attached to Verdevis’ domain.

A few days after our adventures with Linnel, Brother Fabitor asked us to help him find Phon. She was abducted from the safe haven he had provided for her. Her host was roughed up in the tussle, but not so hurt he could not identify his own son among those who took her. That type of event is the kind of thing that breaks the hearts of the strongest men.

Rather than confronting the coppersmith, we put out the word that we needed his son for a job. Gareth met us at the Ghostly Minstrel with some of his fellow thugs. Not one of them could have been more than sixteen years old – Gareth was barely thirteen! It pains me to think of such young creatures ruining their lives and the lives of their families by dealing in treachery. Gareth told us that he had been paid to take Phon to a prearranged meeting place and leave her there. He also claimed that she went willingly, and that she knew the man she was supposed to meet. The only thing redeeming about Gareth was the fact that he still isn’t ready to kill his victims – but I fear that may change someday.

In preparation for our expected confrontation with Helmut, we decided to enter the Temple of the Watcher of the Skies in the temple district and learn what we could. I was surprised that the Watcher is thought of as neutral; I am not used to gods that do not take an active role in the lives of their followers. Most people prefer to think that they are being taken care of by their deity.

Several of the people in the temple bore the mark of the Fateweavers upon their foreheads. I knew that Helmut was the titular leader of the Republican movement in Ptolus, but I had not realized that he took an active role in encouraging such groups.

One of the acolytes in the temple gave us some general information about his faith. He also mentioned that Helmut was out of town at a conference far away, and that he would not be back soon.

When the cat’s away…

Poor Minaster. A worse day to be someone’s household sorcerer I could not imagine. To almost die, then to lose the one whom you have been charged with protecting must be a terrible burden. We managed to sneak into the house easily, but the house was not designed to allow silent movement inside. Minaster tried to kill us all with magic, and his sister tried to kill us with her sword. I think the only thing that stopped her was my threat that I would kill her brother outright if she did not yield.

Phon was lying in a secret room beyond the main bedchamber. It was quite comfortable: not a prison in the usual sense. Phon actually wanted to stay until she heard that Helmut planned to have her child killed. She could accept almost anything from him, but not that. I think she will make a good mother yet.

Phon’s guards and guardians explained that Phon’s child was a runebearer and the harbinger of the end of days. Her child is fated to be a part of the Night of Dissolution. Having examined some of Helmut’s other prophecies, I see large holes in his interpretations of these portents. We know that the original runebearers were heroes who fought against the Galchutt; why then will these new runebearers be evil? Of course, he is the one who has prophetic dreams; I merely have strange dreams telling e to look for lost objects. I wonder what Helmut would make of that one?

There are many things we learned after that which I do not yet comprehend. Brother Fabitor was very grateful to have Phon back in his custody. (It cannot be easy to love a beautiful woman who truly loves another man.) He was also shocked to learn that our group is from other worlds outside of Praemal. He told us that the Vallis moon, of which the crystal in Castle Shard is a part, will appear again before the Night of Dissolution, and that we must be here to stop the end of the world.

In fact, the only unadulterated good that came of the past few days is my new obsession. I finally have a gun after so many years of wanting one. I’m going to have to keep it secret of course – only citizens have the papers to carry a gun. Btu if I don’t carry it in the city and only use it underground, will anyone really care? And that large chamber in Verdevis’ domain would be so perfect for a practice range.

Nadiera Bin Mustafa: We led Lineck’s daughter back to his office. We decided we should probably clue him in as to her undead state before reuniting them. He asked if she had anything with her. We told him about the pocketwatch. Freaked out as he might have been, he wanted to see her right away. She entered and suddenly turned on Lineck. She was out for blood, Lineck’s…and lots of it. A vampire!!! Although I have no great love for Lineck, we were still technically in his employ and I don’t really like to see anyone devoured by a bloodsucking demon. We tried to protect him, we got a few good blows in, a few of us were wounded pretty badly, and she still got to Lineck before we could stop her.

She turned to go and we tried to stop her. But she was too fast for us. Surprisingly, before she left, she told us she wasn’t after us and didn’t want to kill us. We were her way of getting to her father, so she left us alive.

Lineck’s right-hand-man, was put out. He started packing and said he was leaving town. He told us Lineck only wanted the watch anyway, it held the secret to Shivvil-making. Anyway, he went to start to pay us and we asked again about the golden statue. After explaining its importance to Castle Shard, he was willing to give us the statue in lieu of our payment, as long as we told Zavere that he gave it to us willingly. Looks like he’s trying to earn a little favor with Lord Zavere. We rounded up a cart and took the statue back to Lord Zavere.

When we got to Castle Shard, Lord Zavere was happy to have the statue back , but they still didn’t know how to release him. We’ll start looking into that right away.

So, we got a huge payment from Lord Zavere, enough to furnish our new house! It’s becoming quite homey now! But just as we were getting settled in, we got a message from Brother Fabitor. It seems Phon had been kidnapped.

We did some recon and tracked down one of the thugs. He was little more than a bratty kid, so getting information from him was pretty easy, though we had figured that it was Helmut and the Watchers anyway. Strangely though, the kid said Phon had gone quite willingly. After a little underhanded research (and bribery), we found Helmut’s address and thought we’d start there.

We went to the house and knocked on the door, faking a delivery. The person who answered said no one was home and there weren’t any servants. We decided we could take them and broke in through the window a little later.

An interesting thing happened. I had a new potion of invisibility to try and thought this would be a good opportunity to give it a try. So I snuck around the house and was promptly spotted!!! Some potion!! I had just made it up the steps and this guy hit me with a blast of fire. Not good! A fierce battle broke out in which I think I may have lost consciousness for a couple of minutes. But Leto must have healed me quickly. Then, in my anger at the first guy, I may have showed a little too much zeal, because I heard Ysobel yell not to kill him, right as I made contact. Well, luckily I didn’t kill him, but came close, close enough to knock him out good. Oh well, he deserved it, throwing fire at me when I’m supposed to be invisible!

So it turns out, the man and woman we fought were the only ones there and they were protecting, you guessed it, Phon! She welcomed us and seemed happy to see us, but not relieved or anything. The kid had been telling the truth, she was happily staying here until she had her baby. But something just wasn’t quite right. I could tell the woman watching her was hiding something, and I wasn’t giving up until I found out what. I think my companions must have thought I was nuts because, after asking several times and not getting a satisfying response, I pulled a knife and held it to her throat and demanded she tell me what was going on. Extreme? Yes, but it worked.

We found out they were planning to kill the baby when it was born because it was destined to bring about the end of the world. Okay, this needs more research and we know just who to ask.

We took Phon back to Fabitor and decided to let on where we were really from. We got more information than I was ready for. My head is spinning, I need a bath….

Leto Schreyer: The things we do for a job. I cannot remember being this run-around in a long time. Where I came from I was learning the arts of being a druid. Learning how to be one with nature and respecting every living creature. Now, Ever since being in Ptolus, that has been put into serious Jeopardy.

When we last left our friends, we were escorting Lanek’s daughter Lanel, back to him. Just to recap very briefly, we found her coffin empty and we found her… dead. Well, dead in the sense that she is no long living, however is still moving about. Really kind of freaky if you ask me. She had been clutching a watch the entire time we had seen her. However, the watch was not magical when I attempted to see if it had an inner light.

We got her back to Laneck without to much trouble. In fact, she was very eager to go. We went into his office and right when she entered, she attacked him and her true from became apparent. She had turned into a being of the night. She had turned into a vampire. No one is very clear how this has happened as of yet, only that it did. And one more thing that has really stuck in my mind… it was broad daylight. How can she have survived?

She attacked Laneck fiercely and killed him. Before we could finish her off, she thanked us as we were the vehicle for her revenge and then misted away. The watch and everything was all gone. We were able to find out that the watch was the key to shivvel production; that it was possessed by a demon and it could have a very powerful way if suggestion about it. Now there is a succubus running around with the key to Shivvel production ad we do not know where she went. This has turned out very bad. We were able however to secure the gold statue of Lord Abercombe and was able to get it to Castle Shard.

After talking with Zavere about the incident with Laneck, he told us about the Covenant of Blood; a vampire syndicate that the Balakazars were holding “hostage” for lack of a better term. We were paid 2000 gp for retrieving his body. Much needed wealth I might add.

After leaving and heading back to our house and furnishing it with very nice furniture, Brother Fabitor had sent a messenger to us and asked us to come immediately.

We go and see him and he tells us that Phon has gone missing; that the person watching her was beaten up and she was taken. After a bit of information gathering, we were able to find the kid that attacked Phon’s protector. It ended up being his own son. The watcher of the sky hired him.

After doing a bit of recon in the temple of the watcher of the sky, we learn that the high Priest Helmut is out of town. This became a perfect opportunity to search his house.

We head over there, after brining a city official to learn his address, and learn that the fate weavers have been helping Helmut in the little adventure for Phon’s care. We find in his house a few prophecies that I will go into later, and we find Phon. She was being kept here. We learn why she seems so important to everyone… or rather why her child is so important. He is believed to be a rune bearer. They believe that he will bring about the night of dissolution. Where the Galchutt (Lords of Chaos) will be able to break out of their prison, which is supposed to be beneath Ptolus, and destroy the world practically.

Well… this little adventure just keeps getting better and better. It has been one little turn after another. Well my loyal readers, I am tired and there is a lot to think about. I shall write more when I know more.


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