Open Heart

Minotaurus Interruptus

Party PCs: Saldo, Eido, Onari | Lucien, Calibri (in absentia)
Party NPCs: Davhorn/Boris, Cruward, Gaev, Iannikus, Eastern Minotaurs
…and techically Kluka (rolled up in her canvas)

Persimmon Season, 2nd Day of the Waning Moon
PART 2

MINOTAURUS INTERRUPTUS

We find ourselves battered but not beaten after dropping the Drow wizard. We have said wizard unconscious and wrapped in spidersilk, a shepherd boy cum werewolf, an extra gnome, a minotaur, and our core party. Before we can get too deeply into our usual lengthy discussion about next steps, an arrow strikes Cruward, the extra gnome. Quickly assessing our situation, we see three minotaurs dressed strangely, perhaps more crudely, than those we’ve seen before. Iannikus, our minotaur, informs us, “Those are Eastern Minotaurs. They should not be here. This is very bad.” He seems genuinely troubled, so we take this as permission to fight our attackers without pulling our punches. 

Much fighting ensues. We do our usual excellent job, by which I mean we barely scrape through, and there were many inappropriate minotaur jokes. (It’s interesting how our party tends to manage stressful situations with humor.) We dispatched the attacking group’s leader, sending her on to the next world. We were left with two unconscious minotaurs, one wounded and close to death and the other Calibri put to sleep at the beginning of our battle. This left us with someone to interrogate.

Q&A 

We learn a great deal from the Eastern Minotaurs.

  • Iannikus, our minotaur, has been banished from Minoturdûm and is, therefore, a fugitive within his own lands. This explains why he left our party to bluff our way off the ship we arrived on.
  • Minoturdûm is sinking, the entire island, and it's sinking faster on the Eastern side. There was some inconclusive discussion on whether or not this was the inevitable result of the island being split from the mainland or whether there might be some nefarious plot behind it. 
  • The Eastern Minotaurs are seeking "The Herald," whom they believe will tell them what to do. They seem to view this Herald as some sort of savior. Prophecy says that the Herald will pass through this village, but we all seem to have missed him or her. 
  • There is much discussion on whether or not the wizard we're seeking might be the Herald. No definitive conclusion is reached, though it seems probable unless there's yet another faction that we've yet to encounter. 
  • The Eastern Minotaurs confirm that the bog people are real and "somewhere on the mainland." This at least gives us a vague idea of where our fugitive wizard might be going next. 

During the course of our questioning we also ascertain that the Drow we've captured is not the Herald. However, Davhorn and Cruward confirm that this is the Drow who had taken possession of the Willford Estate and imprisoned each of them in different forms. Hoping to put an end to this chapter of our adventure and dissuade Davhorn and Cruward from continuing to follow our party, I asked them what sort of justice they were seeking, and after a short discussion I executed the Drow. Thus, we were able to convince 

We also realized that during the fight the young shepherd boy ran off. Lucien sent Victor to find him, but as of writing this report Victor has not yet returned. 

Given that our quarry has shown necromantic skills and no reservation in raising the dead to do her bidding, Eido also felt it prudent to dismember the corpses we were leaving behind. Onari performed some sort of last rites upon the bodies before Eido began his grizly work. I agree that it was a wise precaution, but I was also happy to leave the task to Eido.  

Given that our goals are at least momentarily aligned, we form a 24-hour truce with the remaining two Eastern Minotaurs who accompany us as we make our way back to the tower for a more thorough exploration. 

TO THE TOWER! (AGAIN.) 

We find the tower empty but discover a well-concealed trap door on its lowest floor. This door reveals a ladder into a tiny room with another door. The stench of death is strong in this space, so of course Eido flings open the door. Zombies attack!

Upon defeating the zombies, Iannikus informs us that these were the last of his guard squad, so we hope there will be no more mintaur zombie gaurds in our immediate future. Given that we haven't had opportunity for a decent rest and the party is rather hurt we decide to retreat to the relative safety of the tower for a short rest. In hindsight, perhaps we should have pressed on, but I cannot argue that the rest was much needed. 

Continuing our exploration of the subterranean chambers we find a thoroughly ransacked storage room, clearly once stocked with supplies for withstanding a seige. More importantly we find an open tunnel which slopes upward, and this eventually leads us outdoors.

Now I must put away my pen, ink, and parchment, for we have bigger issues to deal with. At the end of the tunnel we were confronted by our fugitive wizard. Actually, there were several of her merging and moving together in a rather disorienting way, clearly some sort of defensive spell. She attempts to parlay, but Eido fervently felt that the very first question she must answer is, "Did you create all of the zombies we just fought?" I can think of many more important and informative questions. Sadly, when she responds, "yes, I supposed I did," Eido attacks. 

UNTIL NEXT TIME

Yours in faith and Keeper of the Balance,
Kuun-Saldo

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Over the Ocean and Through the Maze

Party PCs: Saldo, Eido, Lucien, Onari | Calibri (in absentia)
Party NPCs: Davhorn/Boris, Jamhand, Kluka, Cruward, Gaev

Persimmon Season, 2nd Day of the Waning Moon

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

     The battle's done,
     And we kinda won.
     So we sound our victory cheer.

In the aftermath of the escaping Drow Wizard and subsequent kidnapping of the newly werewolf'ed shepherd boy, we have a lengthy conversation with Jamhand, the elder wolfman. Jamhand offers to help us in seeking out the Drow Wizard, but Eido is of the opinion that we should leave Jamhand with Open Heart's clerics. Ultimately, the party is split on the desire to allow Jamhand to accompany us. I feel this is short-sighted. Given that Jamhand has his own grudge to settle with the Drow, I find it likely that we will cross paths with him again soon. It would've been better to keep him where we could keep an eye on him.

There are also some meandering discussions around our next steps. We know that the Drow needs werewolf, minotaur, and gnome blood, among others. We are uncertain which bloods we have taken from her, so it's unclear what she still needs other than, obviously, the werewolf blood she has acquired in the form of a shepherd's boy.

There are two major courses of action under consideration. We either deal with the army of undead in the town's catacombs or we pursue the Drow Wizard. We ultimately decide that we should discuss with Lady Cressa what priority she would put on the many different directions we might go from here.

LADY CRESSA'S

Lady Cressa seems less concerned about the Drow Wizard's larger plot and more concerned about immediate threats to the town of Open Heart. Her reaction to the Wizard kidnapping the shepherd boy is… "The Wizard left and took a werewolf with her. Two problems solved. I hope these people got what they came for and will not return." I suppose this is understandable from her perspective, if a bit heartless. Perhaps now I understand why the town is named Open Heart, as the heart has been removed from the breast of its mayor.

The major further determines that the catacombs should be sealed off, thereby protecting the town from the undead army. This seems foolishly shortsighted to me as the army will continue to grow within the catacombs, but it is ultimately Lady Cressa's decision since we decided to put the decision into her hands.

The only lead we currently have on the Wizard's whereabouts is that she needs minotaur blood that she most likely lost to us. Given that we also have the cup they were using to find the various bloods they need, we decide that the only known location of minotaurs is Minotaurdûm. We set out for the coastal town of Sediment, a wretched hive of scum and villany, to secure passage to Minotaurdûm.

LORE OF MINOTAURDÛM

I assume The Circle is already aware of these things, but hundreds of years ago, when powerful magic users were a scourge upon the land and at war with the minotaurs, the mages cleaved the land in twain and created an island of the minotaur's lands. Since that time, there has been little contact with Minotaurdûm. It is unclear whether or not whether similar constraints were placed upon the use of magic in their lands. If I were in their shoes and thwarted by powerful magics, I might use my newfound isolation to learn how to combat such magics.

TO SEDIMENT!

Davhorn seems to have attached himself quite firmly to our party. I'm okay with this, as I think we should be keeping an eye on all of the Drow's enemies lest they pursue their own revenge and muck up our own investigations.

On our way to Sediment, I couldn't help but notice a solitary follower skulking behind our party on a shaggy Moreland pony. (It was obviously a Moreland pony due to its distinctive splashes of brown and white coloring.) We confronted our follower, and determined that a roguish gnome, by the name Cruward, was interested in joining us in our pursuit of the Drow Wizard. Turns out that we've met the gnome before, but she was a good bit furrier at the time having been transformed into a cat at the Woolford Estate. Thus, she has a score to settle with the Drow, and we find our adventuring party increased by one.

As we settle in to camp for the night, Cruward informs us that the Drow was seeking werewolf blood, a tidbit of information we were already well aware of. More importantly she informs us that the Drow was also collecting pages from the spellbooks of captured spellcasters. It is unclear if the spellbook pages are a part of the Drow's larger ritualistic plot or if it is simply the typical Wizard's desire to collect magical knowledge. However, it seems uncharacteristic for a Wizard to treat any spellbook with such disregard as to cut pages from them.

As we rise the next morning, we find that Lucien has gained a new friend in the form of a small owl he introduces as Victor. Given Lucien's new spell casting skills,

INN OF THE LAST FLAGON

As we approach Sediment, Davhorn warns the party that travel to Minotaurdûm is strictly prohibited and that we must be circumspect. He recommends that we seek transport at the Inn of the Last Flagon.

At the inn, we are approached by a "half-orc-sized" fellow in a great cloak with the hood drawn. He introduces himself as Iannikus, and quietly informs us that there is a rogue magic user he needs help with. We adjourn to a quiet, dark corner to discuss his Inannikus's needs, and Onari quietly informs me that he noted short horns under the hood, identifying our querent as a minotaur.

It turns out that Iannikus has been a member of the minotaur royal guard for many years, and he assumes he encountered this rogue spellcaster in the course of duty. He remembers that the guard had received word via courier animal that a village had lost possession of their watchtower to some sort of female magic user. going to investigate, but then he remembers nothing until suddenly he was in mid-step on the road to the village where he lives. He feels as if he returned home "as if by rote." Lucien smartly asks if there might be payment for our assistance, and the minotaur assures us that as a representative of the royal guard he can see that we are paid handsomely.

The party unanimously agrees that this is no coincidence, and the rouge spellcaster is very likely our fugitive Drow. Thus, we returned to Iannikus to accept his offer, and he sends word to Captain Moonray of the S.S. Minnowtaur. Given that travel between the mainland and Minotaurdûm is prohibited on both sides, Iannikus's recommendation is that we should assume the role of envoys from a druid circle of Minotaurdûm.

LANDFALL AT MINOTAURDÛM

A Minotaur, introduced as Kankatan, leader of the Minotaur Elite Guard, boards the ship and asks all those disembarking to state their names and purpose in these lands. Lucien steps forward to speak for our group after wryly noting that Iannikus isn't going to do so. Stating that we are acolytes traveling to a local druid circle, Kankatan warns us that the village of Kephela has been plagued by a rogue spellcaster. He recommends that we stay aboard the vessel until the threat has been resolved, and informs as that the Elite Guard reserves have been summoned. We, of course, assure him that we'll be fine, and after Eido makes us all nervous by insisting on asking questions that yields no new information of use, we disembark.

Kankatan did, at least, verify Iannikus's story, and Iannikus informs us that Kankatan has assumed command of the Elite Guard in his absence. Iannikus sought us out, because he does not feel that the Guard are properly equipped to deal with a magic threat of this nature.

KEPHELA

The village of Kephela is a small collection of huts at the center of a labyrinth. Of course.

There are no obvious signs of life in the village, and when we arrive at the village we find the ground littered with minotaur bodies. Eido, opening his divine senses, informs us that the corpses are not undead but that there are undead nearby. …just in time for a hoard of minotaur zombies to round the corner of one of the village huts and move in our direction.

Most of the party quickly moves into the nearest hut while Lucien, Davhorn, and myself clamber onto the roof. Well, in Lucien's case it was far more acrobatic and graceful than a clamber, but I would've expected no less from him. Colibri greases the area in front of the hut to impede the hoard while Onari quickly attacks the nearest zombie with a flurry of blows and a footswipe that renders it prone before retreating into the back of the hut. Much fighting, flames, and horrible stenches later, we stand victorious. Eido was knocked unconscious, but Onari fed him a healing potion.

Iannikus informs us that based on the minotaur zombies we've dispatched there are six more original members of his guard unaccounted for, and Lucien informs us that Victor has spotted two more zombies guarding the watchtower. That leaves four guard-cum-zombies unaccounted for, and possibly zombie minotaur villagers as well.

TO THE TOWER!

Iannikus leads us through the second half of the labyrinth to the tower, and we cleverly dispatch the guard zombies with a clever kiting retreat action while taking minimal damage. Approaching the watchtower, we find the door locked. Lucien carefully inspects the door and surrounding bits of tower, noting that there are no windows lower than the third floor.

After a short conversation, I volunteer to carry a rope to the top of the tower, bypassing our obvious means of entry. I transform into my favorite spider form, they tie a rope around my carapace, and I scuttle quietly up the side of the tower. I find a bare room at the top of the tower, with an unconscious shepherd boy in the middle of the floor. Entering the room through the window, I transform back into my human form. As I do so, I caught sight of movement out of the corner of my eye, spinning around to see the Drow flying out the window. I attempted to down her with a wave of thunder, but only struck her a glancing blow. The party successfully shoots her down. She falls on the far side of the labyrinth, and the party gives chase while I check on the Gaev, the shepherd boy.

THE INTERROGATION

Surprisingly, the party succeeds in chasing down the Drow Wizard and knocking her unconscious. I rouse the boy, ensure that he is unwounded, and then we repel down the side of the tower. I return to spider form and carry the boy over the labyrinth to rejoin the party. The party is, as usual, making a very big discussion out of what should be done with the Wizard, so I take the opportunity to cocoon her in spider silk. It turns out that the sorcerer who has been plaguing Minotaurdûm isn't the Drow Wizard.

Eventually, the party agrees to rouse the Drow for questioning. She cleverly tries to turn the tables on us, implying that we are competing with her to meet the same end goal. "You're carrying the blood of many species, and you have a minotaur and a werewolf." Clever girl. Eventually, through much circular conversation she reveals that (1) she's here because she heard a prophesy that this location would be important and (2) the minotaur villagers were dead when she arrived. Further, she didn't raise the zombies.

Onari questions Cruward, because she also previously mentioned a prophesy. She reveals that she'd heard about a page, loose from a book, that showed a werewolf and minotaur possibly being sacrificed.

After the Drow wises up and stops talking altogether, Lucien gets frustrated her and stabs her with her own dagger. The party then gets into yet another discussion of ethics which I end by sinking my fangs into her and draining her vital juices to the verge of death. After, I return to human form so that I can join in discussion around our next move, suggesting that we take the Drow back to civilization where we might apply divine or arcane magics to get the answers that we seek.

FIN. WE PAUSE UNTIL NEXT TIME.

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THIEF!

My champion continues seeking the light, but is blind to the path…

A full moon waits beyond the horizon.

The dark one yet lives, so the companions wisely disarm and bind her. Who knows what sort of secrets her head must contain. They pick her pockets and the room clean, save for a single feather.

Surrounded by filth and abominations, the companions seek a more discreet path back into the daylight. They fail at discretion.

While puttering about the winding halls, the sneaky one discovers the magic in the wine chalice. It’s power surges in proximity of an unknown stimuli. More scurrying around reveals the nature of the cup; it seems enchanted to locate various kinds of blood, consistent with the note found with the dark ones. The party leaves the body of a recently well-bloodied minotaur and renews their search for the exit. The feather is gone…

With minimal effort and a little bit of grease, the companions return to the surface and deliver their findings and contained caster. The party would later learn the valuable lesson of never letting a dark mistress out of their sight.

After an afternoon of much needed rest, Eido makes his vows to the struggle of Light. This oath is a distraction, and will not lead him to Truth. In the meantime, the party is battered by correspondence from their various mentors, warning them of dangers to come.

The adventurers meet up with the Stoned Elf, this time much sober. He warns them of a mysterious and recent string of sheep maulings, plus a mauled child. Beholden to their love of children, the adventurers proceed to investigate.

Simple human, Mott, describes the tale of how his son, Gaev, got injured. Currently, he is in the care of clerics in town. At the paddock shaped like a haddock, the party discovers canine pawprints leading into the wilderness. They follow and meet up with the Mediocre Wizard again. He warns of a lycanthropic menace, back from the realms of myth. The tracks terminate at an unassuming cottage, surrounded by human and wolf tracks. Inside sleeps the chained, but no longer chained, man Jamhand.

A night of bondage follows, and the morning arrives unhindered. Jamhand follows the party back into Open Heart to discover that both the mauled child, Gaev, and the dark one have both escaped. Thankfully, no one was scratched by the new young werewolf.

The plot thickens, and answers are out of reach. The mortals are still faced with the problem of an active necromancer, and now a fresh undead army underground.

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Among the Dead
A letter

Speaker-

Forgive the haste with which I had to end my last correspondence. Gracious me, but it's been a busy time!

The adventurers with whom I am working continue to show that they are capable, and maintaining brevity is a challenge. I feel I am growing stronger, and hope to move on to the next phase of my training as soon as possible. I'm finding new ways to generate ki.

In search of the missing girl, we headed to the cottage I've indicated to the enclosed map, and was immediately dismayed to discover the entire area covered in the webs of giant spiders. The druid Saldo seems entirely too comfortable turning into something with far too many legs, but his spider-form proved useful in rescuing two cocooned victims, including a halfling woman named Irietrea and the missing girl, Murmella. Eido interceded to restore both to health.

I know you'll be shocked to hear this, but we then got into a fight with a giant spider. After dispatching the foul thing, we approached the house of the local witch, only to discover her half-eaten corpse and a hybrid spider-woman. I prepared for battle, but she turned out to be polite, and claimed she'd been summoned from far away. She claimed she did not actually kill the woman, and the others believed her and allowed her to leave unmolested. I did not argue, focusing on my ki. I am here to learn.

There was some ethical debate on the part of the others, but this was cut short because zombies. We found ourselves in a brief, pitched, and puzzling battle. The presence of the zombies coinciding with our arrival strikes me as in no way coincidental. We were joined in the battle by… I think his name is Boris Davhorn? I focused on my breathing rather than ask for clarification. The path we walk is not easy.

After we defeated the undead, Davhorn suggested that he can search and secure the witch's cottage, but oh, no, honey. We examined the witch's corpse and determined that she died by being stabbed with a bladed weapon rather than, say, a giant spider bite. Perhaps Meluah, the freakish and creepy spider-woman, was honest with us?

Lucien located another body, and I managed to perform the rite for their spirits. It would really help if I could explain to the others.

We returned to Open Heart to return the people we rescued and report to Lady Cressa, who I believe I mentioned in my last missive. Having completed that quest, we're directed to the local catacombs to locate Gribbo, the missing gravedigger, which I'm sure will end well. Lucien produced a clever map from… somewhere. After shopping during which I was torn beween Ugh, materialism and Ooh, shiny new bow!, we finally set off for the catacombs. Speaker, these adventurers talk a lot. I find myself tested.

When we arrived at the catacombs, the non-elves brandished torches. It's so adorable how they manage to compensate for their many deficiencies! I just want to squeeze them! And then tell them to shut up.

In addition to the expected dead, we encountered a cavern of corpses. Please send more members of the Order. I sensed deep suffering there; this is going to require a ceremony on a scale beyond what I can manage alone. We located Gribbo dead in his bedroom. I imagine you will be as shocked as I was. I'm not clear on what caused his death.

We continued to explore, apparently because we were not yet in sufficient trouble, and we managed to successfully locate an army of skeletons. Perhaps not an army. A battalion? Certainly more than I believe a group our size could handle, regardless of the power Eido wields. We turned around and left, which is the single most sensible action I can recall these adventurers taking at any point.

We weren't pursued, which was very convenient, but our explorations clearly picked up a significant pace. We then encountered a dead minotaur, and I got to experience surprise for possibly the first time that day. It was novel. There was a tapestry in the (minotaur's?) bedroom, behind which we found a secret tunnel, and through that, we found Shit Elves.

Saldo attempted to deceive them by turning into a spider. I have no words. Further, it actually worked insofar as we were able to surprise and defeat them, slaying a Shit Elf cleric and capturing their mage. We also discovered evidence of some sort of larger plot in which they were involved, and I've copied those letters on the enclosed.

We appear to be moving again, so I should pause this for now. I'd like to get these documents into your hands as quickly as possible. Does any of this nonsense sound familiar to you? I believe I understand why you sent me here. The adventurers have largely impressed me (except when they talk), and I feel we are accomplishing some good; I am glad to assist them.

I trust the Order is well. But seriously, send monks.
Onari

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Moymeran's Tower, etc.
From Colibri, with love

"What do we tell Lady Cressa?" Colibri's quizzical eyes darted across the rooftops of the town below. He stared back into his crystal and resumed talking. "The Lady seems to think that we are nothing but house cleaners. At least, that is what we've done as of late. This new house had potential. The tower of Moymeran! The great wizard had been missing for some time and I had hoped he had been caught up in some great discovery, alas…" He scratched his chin and wondered about his own mortality. __________ The tower was an unimpressive four and a half stories. It would have been lost among the other buildings had it not been pointed out to them and the fact that, while unimpressive, it's height was still taller than the others. Deitrich, much to my dismay, had been called off for some religious duties in other areas of the country. In his place, the Lady Cressa provided an almost mute by the name of Onari. He carries a staff that he uses to passively suggest his course of action, and on other occassions will utter a word as accompaniment. While I believe in brevity as a means of efficiency, Onari fails to grasp that his lack of expression only leaves the rest of the group bewildered. In any case, into the tower… except, it was locked. Of course. This piqued Lucian's interest and, as if the rest of us had not expected it, the door promptly popped open upon Lucian's investigation. His furtive attempts to hide his instruments only mirrored his ability to mask his accent. Ahem, nothing to see here. As this was a powerful wizard's dwelling, we enter with the utmost caution, however were only greeted by a very lonely entryway that led into some seemingly unoccupied rooms covered in a few weeks layers of dust. House cleaners. The bill for Lady Cressa should be appropriate. Hmph. Onari, jingles his staff and starts searching. We follow suit and find room after room of disapppointment. While I know we wizards are not the eclectic types that we are made out to be, the lack of anything remotely intriguing is, admittedly, disappointing. Finally we find Moymeran's quarters. A bird sits near a window and there is a painting of a very elegant elvish woman. As we are looking for signs of Moymeran, we quickly try to exit since there seems to be nothing of import when suddenly a voice calls back. "Excuse me, I haven't seen anyone in weeks… would you help me?" The figure in the painting beckoned."I am a friend of Moymeran. The last I saw of him he was off to do another experiment and he has failed to return since. Would you please check his workroom?" After some conversation we learn that her name is Clucka and we decide that we are left with little much else to work with, so, we comply with the request. The bird, apparently was also Moymeran's familiar, and would accompany us to the workroom. Moymeran was a brilliant wizard who was known to push the boundaries of what was allowed with magic. When we arrive at his workroom there is a body slumped over the table. It is, to my dismay, Moymeran. What could have killed a wizard of his caliber? I wonder. Onari performs a quick ritual for the dead and Seldo does a quick ritual to rid the room of the smell of decay. I do my own ritual to see what magic may still be laying about and find that there is a very dangerous aura coming from the end of the table in a cabinet. Could this be what killed the old wizard? Seldo, being one dedicated to his task, opens the cabinet and a rope falls out and arranges itself neatly on the floor. I quickly advise that magical ropes are nothing to be trifled with and that if we have found a dead wizard such as Moymeran then we should treat it with the utmost caution. And so, we leave it where it lay. We return to Clucka and Ido shares the news with her. There is an honest reaction of grief and then a look of underplayed panic. "Please, she says, take my painting and send it to our wizard colleague. With Moymeran's death, it may be the only help left for me." She reveals that she is suffering with a rare magical disease and that the painting keeps her body in suspension. Moymeran was helping find a cure.

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Excerpt from Lucien's Journal

Excerpted from Lucien's journal:

Having demonstrated it's treachery in luring us down to the beast infested basement, it was time to use the possessed cat to free our captive comrade. I grabbed the creature and carried it back upstairs to the mirror room, where we rejoined with most of the  rest of our party and exchanged the cat for our wayward Eido.

We headed back into the kitchen, where Dietricht was still engaged in some kind of awkward stare-down with the goblins; the things didn't even speak common, how desperate for followers can a god be?

Seeing some futility there, one of our more straightforward companions, Saldo, applied a (frankly, unreasonably large) sum of gold to each goblin to coax them out of the manor house. Eido seems to have joined him in this; if I ever were to decide to part ways with this crew, I should remember them for charity; plausibly they will save me the trouble of robbing them by simply providing their purses?

As the goblins exited the manor, they triggered that same strange curse that set upon us when we entered – an unnatural darkness closed over the house as they crossed the threshold, and dissipated only after they were well away. The place was both literally and metaphorically shrouded in darkness. Ill omens, but we had our job.

We went back into the basement; I slipped downstairs, only to find that the door at the far end of the basement entrance already stood ajar. The corpses in the basement antechamber seemed unmoved, so perhaps something had come out from below? This seemed like a prime chance to investigate.

We advanced into a large chamber; seemingly once a store room, now housing an altar to a dark god. Eido seemed particularly unsettled by the thing, proclaiming things like "This place has been desecrated".

A trio of ravens sat upon the damned thing, and somehow Kalibri got the damned fool idea to try and talk to them? Wizards. Pah. Fortunately, if these birds were treacherous, they haven't shown it yet. They have claimed to be ex-adventurers, transmuted into birds by the dark elf that has been working here. They indicate that one of the doors from this room is where the Drow takes his captives, and that they never exit once they enter.

We look closely at the door; it is entirely too fine of make for such a basement – the dark wizard must have spent a fortune installing it in this place? I swear, these magicians are inscrutable. Fortunately, they are also a bit asinine; while I'm convinced that the ostentation around the door marks it as a diversion or a trap, Quokul seems to have no compulsion to wait for reason, and simply opens it.

Once again I was shown to be over-cautious; while the door wasn't trapped, it did lead in to a dungeon chamber with three unconscious prisoners – a Goblin, an Human, and a Half-Elf, along with a final human skeleton, with each in chains, and a set of four nearby levers.

Eido revived the half-elf, who asked us to pull the third lever to free her. Without much further interrogation, we comply. Fortunately she isn't such a turncoat as that blasted cat, and she tells us more of what has transpired here.

She says that the Drow has been taking their blood, and that the skeleton in the room is in fact undead (not to mention unsettling). The cleric and paladin jointly demolish the unholy thing.

We advance into the next room and find a bloody stone table, a chained up human, a lever set into the wall, and vials of blood. Eido touches the prisoner, who awakes and tells us that the lever summons "the cleaner". Ominous.

We exit the room with the previous prisoners in tow, and find that it leads back into the altar room; once the door closes it seems to meld into the wall – if it's a mechanical trick, it's beyond my discernment.  I'm reasonably certain that it's more of this place's magical bullshit.

We escort the prisoners back to the front door, and send them back towards Open Heart. In case I need to call in favors later, they were called as:

- Yenjion, the Half-Elf
- Willgourd, the human from the stone table room.
- Jamhand, the human from the cell room.

The ravens want to stay and help catch the Drow, who they hope can turn them back.  For completeness, they are called as:

- Nordak
- Wilster
- Xavfalcon

We head back into the house, and find that the Boris has been moved! We re-open the secret door and head upstairs. When we reach the greenhouse, this time we don't hesitate. Dietricht and Kalibri tried to burn out the shriekers from afar, but they simply started screeching. Quokul ran ahead, insisting that they weren't dangerous; damned fool wizards. We killed the things anyways.

We found ourselves on a Terrace with a Telescope, a Sky Map (with fresh ink) on a stone table. Nordak and company took flight and circled the manor, seeking to spot signs of a fleeing wizard, but came back empty-clawed. Unsure of what we would find, Kalibri recorded a message of our adventure so far, and sent it back to town with Nordak.

We went back downstairs to the Kitchen, and entered the door we had bypassed earlier. We found a hallway, lined with suits of armor. At the end of the hallway was another of the unreasonably fancy doors found in this place, but this one was more curious than most; it opened, but directly into a wall! Given the dimensions of the house, and the previous tricky movements, I'm convinced that this is further magical bullshit, and turn that investigation over to the casters.

Seldo thought that there might be a trigger hidden amongst the armor. In his usual straightforward way, he proceeded to simply knock most of the suits down. We didn't find a trigger for the bullshit door, but we did find a passage back into the cursed dining room. Eido did pick up some of the armor bits for his own use; I'll remember that he's got a touch of a thief's heart in him as well – maybe that will be useful later.

The magicians seem to agree that the Drow fled the house through the bullshit door, and sealed it behind him, so we are left with a responsibility to clean out the rest of the house and report back. We go back downstairs to the altar room, and un-desecrate the altar.  (redesicrate?  undesanctify?). We make another pass through the prison chambers, and pull the "cleaner" lever – it turns out to call an enormous jelly beast down from the ceiling. We quickly closed the door on that particular brand of magical bullshit.

We went up to the top floor, and found a disheveled bedroom, with a sarcophagus on a canopy bed. Eido used a device he called a "stick of poking" to open it. (aside: I'm unclear on the properties of this device, and how it differs from a simple pole). The casket was empty.  Eido threw it out of a window, which seems wasteful of an expensive looking sarcophagus.

Having exhausted the top floor, we returned to the dining room with the magic mirror; I traded places with the cat and entered the mirror world, and experienced the strange phenomenon of being compelled to make the mirror place match the real world. Quite unusual; I did manage to convince my compatriots to remove the silverware from the dining room, at which point I was able to pilfer the mirror-silver, including a cup that seems to have some kind of magical properties that the wizard has yet to decipher.

Eido broke a teacup in the real world, and I spent the remainder of my time in the mirror attempting to break bits of a teacup to match. Meanwhile, Kalibri talked to the cat, which turned out to be less treacherous than we had inferred; it was a gnome that had been transfigured by the drow. The cat told Kalibri that the dark elf was a lady.

Seldo found a small woodland creature, and used it to free me from the mirror-world.  Poor beast.

The wizard set some spell upon his eyes to spot magical items, and we did a sweep through the house. In addition to the obvious items (the cup in my possession, the scrolls we had found, the crows and the cat, the front door darkness), we discerned that the statue of Boris was also magical, as were some of the vials from the basement.

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The Man in the Mirror

<meta />Whispers from inside the head of Eido Tenebris:

  • First of the Month of the Cube: Eido is deeply focused on the door, while the rest of the mortals investigate the obvious magic in the room. The small one is endlessly curious, spouting out endless theories, and licking wood to taste magic. I admire his spark.

  • The adventurers discover a hidden tome, bursting with spells scrap-booked from all over. The small one detects young, barely legal spells, and taboo words of power. They debate the ethics of such collection; I find it quite resourceful.

  • The mortals are trying to grant the petrified elf a name. The purpose of this earth ritual escapes me. The sneaky one suggests “Boris”.

  • Boldened by boredom, and ignorant of potential threat, Eido ascends the stairs and passes through the door at the top. He emerges into a lush, spacially confusing  garden, pulsating with the verdant magic within. The shirtless animal enthusiast joins Eido in the garden. By my divine influence, I stop Eido from walking into an obvious trap. Shirtless Mortal wisely identifies this creature and educates Eido on the dangers of this situation.

  • Eido struggles to put down his halberd, but ultimately joins the adventurers in exploring the rest of the mansion. They come across a fanciful dining room, set in expectation of an upcoming feast. They come across an artifact of impressive power. Inside a mirror is a perfect reflection of the current room…except for one mortal trapped inside!

  • Eido stupidly knocks on the mirror and drags us into the mirror world, restoring the trapped wizard to the real world.

  • Due to my vast knowledge of body language, I am able to decipher the conversion through the mirror. The wizard known as Quokul tells the party his tale of how he got trapped in the mirror and the animals that occasionally let him out. He seeks vengeance on a drow still in this mansion.

  • Eido discovers a cup that does not exist in the real world. Overtaken by thirst and curiosity, he consumes its contents.

  • The party leaves Eido. Stars know if they come back to rescue the fool.

  • FINALLY, they’ve come back! And with another creature! At last, they can…oh, oh there they go.

  • Eido continues drinking.

  • ZZZ

For those not trapped in a mirror world, the remainder of the day proceeded as follows:

Quokul lead the party on a mission for vengeance throughout the rest of the mansion, and hopefully a creature to save Eido. The party came across a cluster of off-duty goblins in the kitchen, sleeping peacefully. Without giving the party much room for discussion, Quokul immediately opened fire on the goblins with a flick of a knife. The party restrained the hasty wizard and convinced him to cool his jets. Dietrich used this event as an opportunity to heal the goblins and convert them to his lord.

Meanwhile, Saldo and Lucian noticed a cat in the room, possibly one of the curious creatures spoken of by Quokul and Lady Cressa. After Colibri’s failed attempt at subduing the cat with Mage Pat, Saldo allowed the beast to lead the party through the rest of the mansion.

Upon descending into the basement, Lucian stopped the party in front of a closed door. He peeked inside, discovering more guards waiting for them. Lucian suggested an ambush, but the party’s noise caught the attention of the creatures inside. One knocked on to the door, to which Lucian politely responded “hello?” The foes responded with an equally polite rapier through the door.

The druid shouted, and the goblins flew. With a powerful thunderclap, he smashed them about the room. The foes were battered, but the sound could be heard throughout the mansion.

In rather impolite fashion, Quokul turned against the party and flung a dagger into the air toward one of our heroes. Several daggers. Plinking against the wall. They all missed. He may learn to regret his aim.

The heroes seem to have the upper hand (except for Eido), but what of the noise? Who knows what sort of trouble our heroes will face next session.


 

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Map of the Realm

Open Heart Campaign Map

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...and so it begins...

30th day past Harvest, Gibbous Moon

Today I met with Lady Cressa, and apparently I am expected to work with others in accomplishing some tasks that are causing the town's leaders some concern. I shall endure their company for now as a previous adventuring party of three never returned from the first task on the list of issues to be investigated. Thus, teaming up with others seems unavoidable, and they seem a knowledgeable and capable lot if a bit boisterous for my tastes. It is unclear if these events are related to the imbalance, but it seems likely. 

The tasks which warrant investigation are, in priority order… 

  1. Investigate an abandoned Woolford familial estate that appears to have been claimed by sinister forces. No one has actually seen these forces, so of course every suspects foul magic is afoot. The locals seem to feel that cats and birds are somehow doing the bidding of whatever dark forces have claimed the dwelling no matter how unlikely this sounds. 
  2. Investigate the city catacombs where all of the city's grave diggers, save one, have disappeared. Curiously, the only surviving grave digger is the eldest of the lot. 
  3. Determine the fate of Open Heart's resident Arcane Advisor, Moymeran, who hasn't been seen or heard from in over two weeks. Lady Cressa was likely the last to see this wizard, and she claims that he was of sound mind in her last encounter. 

My companions are an odd assortment. There is…

  • Eido, a holy warrior of some sort
  • Calibri, a wizard of unproven skills but inquisitive nature
  • Lucien, a shifty sort of adventuring type but clearly capable
  • Dietrict, a proud cleric of Lathander (as he'll happily inform you, again and again)

The group seemed somewhat indecisive, but it was clear that the Woolford Estate posed the most imminent threat to the balance of nature, so I set out in that direction first. The rest of the group followed, of course. 

The Woolford Estate was a curious 3-story structure with some sort of greenhouse and domed edifice on it's top-most story. Lucien scouted ahead and discovered a parlor. Given that this posed a clear and present danger, he summoned the rest of us forward. 

Before approaching the manor, Dietrict cast holy light upon his mace. I was dubious of this action at first, but it turned out to be fortuitous, for as the rest of us approached the building and unnatural night fell upon the land surrounding us. Undaunted, Dietrict approached the front door and opened it with nary a thought for caution or investigation. 

Inside the front door we found a foyer with three doors and a stairway leading up. We confirmed that there was, indeed, a parlor to the right of the entry with a group of chairs gathered around a low table. There was another exit from that room, but rather than investigate this path fully, Eido chose to open the door across the hall, to the left of the entry. 

The left door opened into a study, complete with books on shelves, a desk, and a curiously detailed marble statue of a male elf in a rather heroic stance, weapons at the ready. Dietrict informed us that the statue was of no god. I investigated it more closely but could determine nothing else of significance. Lucien discovered some sort of mechanism attached to the inkwell of the desk, and after much deliberation and ham-handed experimentation, the group discovered that the mechanism opened a secret door in the external wall. This door SHOULD HAVE LED OUTSIDE. I am certain of this. My direction and spacial senses rarely fail me, and yet, this door led to an impossibly spacious library. At least I assume it was a library, but the shelves were all empty. There was a table of odd height in the center of the room. I believe that Calibri referred to it as a "consulting table," whatever that means. There was also a circular stairway leading into what I assume would be more impossible rooms where none should be. 

Calibri convinces the party that it would be worthwhile if we allowed him time to cast a ritual spell so that he might analyze the magical nature of this room and anything within it. This uncovers several things. The room itself is, of course, magical. The statue of the elf was also magical. Lastly, it would appear that there were scrolls of a magical nature secreted under the tall table that Lucien discovered at roughly the same time as Calibri. Calibri informed us that the scrolls were spells of Water Breathing, Comprehend Language, and Fireball. I am familiar with the first two spells as they are commonly used within The Circle, but Fireball sounds dangerously powerful and skirts the legal limits of magic within this land. 

My adventure has barely begun, and yet I have already encountered magics as only told in children's fairy tales. Circle Elders, where have you sent me? I fear that I am not equal to the task you have set me, but I will trust in your wisdom and endure. By the time you read this, you will likely be reading a small bundle of reports, and I hope that the group of them shed some light on the mysteries I have only just begun to discover.   

Yours in faith and Keeper of the Balance,
Kuun-Saldo

 

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