3) Shadows of the Last War


Adventure: Shadows of the Last War
Session: 2006-12-02
Player: Rachel Reddick
PC: Antinua
Status: Wizard 3

After securing those items, we prepared to depart with all possible haste, as there was no telling what mischief Failin was accomplishing, or that he had even waited for us. Additionally, the dire wolf agreed to depart with us, and wished to take her pack with her. While Xame and Mike hauled them up, Anson and I decided that were should speak with our driver, and assure him that we were still among the living.

However, we did not find Failin. Instead, we found a number of skeletons, a necromancer, a cleric, and a large number of guards wearing the emblem of the Emerald Claw. Although the vampire from before was nowhere to be seen by mundane means, it was he who spoke. In essence, he demanded the schema and threatened our lives. I insisted that most of our comrades had perished, and that we had failed to find the schema. The necromancer chose to examine us for magical auras; fortunately, Mike had the schemas and the disk, and so she found nothing.

Being of the opinion that continuing negotiations would not have positive results, I dashed back into Whitehearth. Anson did the same. The vampire responded by saying something much like, “Don’t bother, we have all the entrances guarded. They’ll have to come out eventually.” This was not reassuring.

We gathered our group together to plan a method of escape. Fighting our way out was clearly foolhardy. However, there was still some debate over methods. I had enough skill to make three persons invisible, and Xame indicated that he had means for traveling very quickly if need be. Anson suggested that we could simply leave through the opening that the fire elemental had used. I pointed out that the Emerald Claw claimed to have all entrances guarded, and Mike stated that they were unlikely to have missed seeing the fire elemental departing.

Our ultimate plan of action was this: first, Anson would employ his magic to lift him up through the ceiling in the heated chamber. He was rewarded for his efforts by an arrow in the side. Thus, we executed the rest of our plan. I created a mist before the entrance we had used, to obscure our movements. I then cast invisibility on myself, Mike and Anson. While we left both quickly and quietly, the wolves and their dire leader ran out into the mist. Xame, carrying one schema, dashed out, waving that schema aloft as a diversion. We hoped to be able to avoid detection, regroup, and leave the Mournland without further incident.

Xame, true to his character, dashed out as planned. He was either too far away to notice or too intent upon his own escape to help us when we ran into trouble.

Though the wolves held their own, the guards and skeletons they attacked killed a number of them. As for the rest of us, we would have managed our escape; however, we soon found Failin next to the land cart, unconscious. Furthermore, an invisible opponent who could see all of us attacked Mike, who was now carrying one schema and the disk. This attacker was the vampire we met before, and also apparently both Raidith and a changling. I cast a spell against Raidith which failed to stop him. Mike was severely injured, and so did what he could; that is, he threw the schema away from himself. The vampire/Raidith ran, took the schema, jumped onto a horse, and rode. Anson immediately mounted on a horse himself. Watching that druid ride would have been amusing, save for the circumstances.

In the meantime, a pair of men arrived to aid us. I had met neither before; however, it was clear from the actions of the first that he is a paladin. The other is affiliated with dragons, judging by his ability to breath fire. The paladin was able to lay his hands upon Failin and heal him, despite being in the Mournland. Failin willingly drove the cart away from the area, after Raidith.

I find it interesting that cure fails in the Mournland, while the skills of the paladin still function. Perhaps it is a more direct channeling of divine power than cure, and therefore can pierce through the effects of the Mournland.

The paladin introduced himself as Valith; the dragon-like one, as Malik. They had known Raidith as Garrow, and were tracking him down for other crimes.

Anson entangled Raidith, and Malik was able to finish him. We retrieved the schema, as well as a few magic items of interest, from his remains. I am puzzled, however, by the fact that he did not attempt to control any of us, as had been his favorite tactic in Sharn. He might have been able to escape had he done so. Perhaps losing his coronet reduced his abilities.

Why were Raidith and the Emerald Claw so interested in the schemas? The Lord of Blades’ interest is simple to see, but what is the connection between the Emerald Claw and a creation pattern? Perhaps they were looking to weaken House Cannith, but that again leaves the question of why. What do you think of all this?

By then, we had had enough of the Mournland, and left with all possible haste. Our driver was no less eager to leave than the rest of us. When we met Elaydren, she was pleased to have both schemas and the adamantine disk, and did pay us well for having found them. Thankfully, she also agreed to notify the families of Tui and Alain. We could not bring back Tui’s remains, and, due to the impediments to our departure from Whitehearth, could only take a few of Alain’s ashes.

That leaves another mystery, however; we did attempt to move Alain’s body, but needed to take off his armor to do so. When we did, we noticed that he bore a dragonmark of House Deneith. Clearly, he had used his abilities to shield Elaydren from the warforged when she originally gave us her instructions. I wonder why he did not mention his relation to that house. Then again, need I ask when I do much the same? He did not wish for us to know, and I will respect that.

I also wonder about this Malik. Apparently, he is from Argonnessen. He can breathe fire like a dragon and wield wands like a mage. He says he is searching for information about a Dragon Prophesy, and is very interested in dragonmarks.

Also, I must add that I did find a decent Audarian wine to use when I identified the few magic items that we recovered. I will probably use the Brelish wine next time. The Audarian vintage reminded me too strongly of home.

Please reassure Uthen that I have not been neglecting my studies. Let me know what is passing in Fairhaven, and take care.

Your sister,

Antinua

Player’s Notes

That is one thing I’ve been wondering (now that I think about it) — why didn’t Raidith/Garrow/vampire/whatever use his psionic abilities to control one of the party? It would have definitely improved his chances of escaping. In fact, he could have just dominated Mike and had him hand over the schema without needing to fight him. Even if leaving behind the coronet removed his abilities, he couldn’t have needed that much effort to replace it. Hm… maybe this is another one of those “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” sorts of things.

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Adventure: Shadows of the Last War
Session: 2006-11-19, 2006-11-26
Player: Rachel Reddick
PC: Antinua
Status: Wizard 3

Dear Kanathas:

You will be pleased to know that I did not need to chastise anyone regarding Indigo’s safety. He had been playing with a young gnome, and the boy had decided that he wanted to take Indigo home. With some assistance from his mother, I convinced him that Indigo would be happier with me.

I believe I left off in my previous letter with the events at Rose Quarry. I will resume there.

The location of Whitehearth was well within the borders of the Mournland. We had some difficultly in persuading Failin to take us there; he was rightfully afraid of the Mournland, and demanded a very high price to enter it. Mike paid him immediately. Alain took the handy haversack with the supplies in it from Mike after this. It is likely that Failin would have accepted a lower price if we had bargained with him. Mike seems to see little use for money.

What I had read about the Mournland did not fully prepare me for the reality. It is surrounded by gray mist; inside, day is a perpetual twilight. The ground is littered with molten glass and rubble in areas that were once inhabited. The bodies lie as they fell, untouched by scavengers or the decay that normally follows death. I was grateful for the land cart that hastened our journey; the Mournland is not a pleasant place to linger.

We would have reached White Hearth without incident, save for Xame. Our “commoner” cleric was curious when we passed an old battlefield; he apparently detected magic in some item, and leapt from the cart in order to satisfy his own greed. The rest of us were obligated to stop and defend him from a trio of skeleton trolls. Xame turned one, Anson entangled another, but the last injured Mike rather severely. I repaid that skeleton with the light of Lunia, although it had far less effect than I had hoped. We managed to delay the undead long enough to return to the land cart and outrun them.

When Xame attempted to cast cure on himself, the spell failed. Apparently, just as the dead do not decay, healing magic does not work in the Mournland.

I must mention two other things about my companions, if I have not done so previously. First, Xame is apparently a cleric of Olladra. This gives me some small comfort, as the good goddess may restrain some of Xame’s less admirable qualities.

We reached the entrance to Whitehearth just as the day came to a close. We were reluctant to camp inside the entrance, since we did not know what to expect inside. Unfortunately, this was a poor choice. We set watches, with Tui and I on the second watch. I had finished my trance, and was preparing my mind for matters of magic, when an undead, predatory bird decided that I was a suitable target. My response to the bird was sufficiently loud to wake the others. We eventually subdued it, but not before it had removed significant pieces of my shoulders.

The rest of the night passed without interruption. That morning, we made another unpleasant discovery; despite our rest, none of us felt much improved over the previous day. No one’s injuries had even started to heal. The Mournland appears to be a place of stagnation. Little grows, the dead do not fade, and wounds remain as they were.

With this upon our minds, we entered Whitehearth. The entrance, and just beyond it, were simple caves. We entered, and went down the first tunnel to our left. There, we found a metal panel, a door of some sort, which contained a socket. An otherwise inexplicable item from Elaydren’s supplies, a short rod with a sapphire on it, fit perfectly. Alain placed it in the socket; for his trouble, he was shocked by lightning. The door opened, revealing only the rock floor. Clearly, this was one means to prevent unauthorized intrusions. Anson had a hand of the mage with him, and used it to withdraw the rod without injuring himself. We were forced to explore the remaining passages, and found that each of the other three had similar doors.

It is fortunate that Anson had his hand of the mage, since the Law of Murphy was in full effect. Only the last of the four doors did not exert lightning. This last door opened without protest, into darkness. Mike dropped a small rock down, to see how deep it was. There was no sound.

We eventually realized that this was only a spell; a room existed not far below. It was spherical, with a table in the center. There were various sockets in this table, each with a color; the blue ones clearly matched the sapphire-topped rod from Elaydren’s pack. In each case, inserting the rod caused the opening in the spherical room to turn to the side, permitting the user of the rod to enter another chamber.

I will spare you the details of our exploration; suffice it to say that it required considerable time and effort. We found two other such spherical rooms, and were forced to search for the other rods. We encountered an awakened dire wolf that was leading a pack of more ordinary wolves. She gave us another rod, which opened another area. As she requested, in exchange we destroyed a menacing stone wolf. This was at a cost; most spells were ineffective against it, and it had its own magical defenses. Alain was injured almost to the point of death by the creature.

We also encountered a total of three living spells. They were fantastic! Admittedly, they were quite unintelligent. We were forced to destroy both a living flaming sphere and a living color spray, due to their dangerous nature. However, I wish there had been opportunity to examine the living rope trick spell. I suspect that it, like the others, would act to do what the spell would do ordinarily; that is, the former two attacked, and the rope trick itself was most likely to attempt to “consume” unwary travelers, and keep them within its extra-dimensional pocket. It would be a fascinating experiment to attempt to duplicate such a living spell; clearly, the duration is much greater than that of an ordinary spell. Controlling the spell would be an issue. If it were possible to endow the living spell with an increased intelligence, one might even be able to train the spell to follow basic instructions.

I seem to have digressed; Uthen would find this interesting, but I know that you do not.

By now, all of us were more or less severely injured. Having little alternative, save exiting the Mournland in this unfortunate state, we continued on.

One of the other spherical rooms required a second, red rod in order to it to open to anything other than a deep well. Unforunately, when we first tried it, we did not have this rod; most of us kept our balance, and Alain had been left in the main entrance, owing to his severe injuries. Tui’s plate armor, however, caused him to overbalance and fall. The impact with the water must have knocked him unconscious; by the time Mike was able to descend with a rope, Tui was lost in the depths.

We did manage to find a scroll for an ordinary rope trick. Reasoning that if we were in an extra-dimensional space, we would not be in the Mournland, and therefore healing spells would function, I cast it. Thankfully, this hypothesis was correct, and Xame’s divine magic sufficed to restore all of us.

Then there was the chamber of heat and flame, where the schemas were kept and guarded by a pair of fire elementals. I did not enter, for I had already exhausted most of my magic on earlier obstacles. Xame and Mike entered quickly, to obtain the schemas and other contents of the chest; Alain and Anson worked to contain the fire elementals as best as they could.

While Mike and Xame worked with the chest, the greater fire elemental gathered itself up, and barreled into Alain. Whether it was the heat or the strength of the blow that did him in, I do not know; whatever the ultimate cause, it was more than Alain could stand.

However, the smaller elemental had been vanquished, so I could enter and examine an alcove that Mike indicated. I had not dared enter before, since I realized that these elementals would be too strong for me to face. I am certain that the blow that felled Alain would have killed me twice over. But now I could enter safely. There was, in fact, a control mechanism in the alcove. At first, I could not understand its purpose; after a moment, I remembered a book I read a decade or two ago, General Mechanisms in Architecture. This panel strongly resembled one of the basic diagrams, and suggested that adjusting certain controls in the appropriate manner would open the ceiling. I did not see what purpose this could serve; I hoped it would let in water or some other cooling method, and I was concerned that it would unleash more fire elementals upon us.

I need not have worried; the moment the ceiling opened, the greater fire elemental cried, “I’m free!” and departed through the opening. That was most unexpected. However, I am left to wonder what would have happened had I entered earlier, or been brave enough to pass the fire elementals before Alain perished. I fear that I am partially responsible.

I am nearly out of parchment; I fear I will be forced to ask Tui for—

But he is lost. I will have to wait until we arrive in Sharn.

I hope that the schemas and the adamantine disk are worth the price paid for them.

Player’s Notes

I wonder if it’s possible to cast living spells by some means other than creating another Mournland… that could become very interesting…

Adventure: Shadows of the Last War
Session: 2006-11-11
Player: Rachel Reddick
PC: Antinua
Status: Wizard 3

Dear Kanathas:

If you would, please tell Uthen that it is a pity he has not previously encountered many psionics. However, considering my experience with Raidith, this may not be an entirely bad thing. I am glad to know that you are both well. I myself am in good health, which is fortunate, considering the activities in which I have been involved of late.

I must apologize for not writing for so long. I have been traveling on behalf of House Cannith, and therefore have been out of touch, out of Sharn and out of Breland altogether.

I also apologize that my handwriting is worse than usual; I am writing this on the lightning rail back to Sharn.

We were passing by a post office for House Sivis, to check for a message from Lady Elaydren, when we noticed that it had been damaged. We entered, and found the place in serious disarray and the clerk, unconscious. When the poor gnome awakened, she said that one tall humanoid and a number of smaller creatures had entered. The taller one had demanded, then apparently taken, a number of the messages.

Afterwards, an owl delivered a letter from Lady Elaydren. She had apparently noticed that transferring messages through House Sivis was unlikely to be successful, and asked us to meet her in the usual place.

Soon thereafter, we again met Lady Elaydren in the Broken Anvil. A somewhat broad human druid and his wolf accompanied her. She seemed anxious, and did not waste time with introductions. She gave us a pack, and stated that it contained both supplies and instructions. She also suggested that we would be well rewarded if we succeeded.

We had little more time before a tall, cloaked humanoid and a large number of kobolds entered. He fired an arrow directly at her head; however, it was somehow deflected to her shoulder instead. Additionally, a wound appeared in Alain’s shoulder at the same time. I took note of this at the time, but did not consider the implications beyond those of the magical capabilities of Elaydren’s enemies.

After a skirmish in which we all demonstrated our talents for subduing kobolds and causing mayhem in taverns, we found that the lead attacker was another warforged. This seemed hardly surprising, considering the interest of the Lord of Blades in the matter of the schema.

After this, and a quick application of Xame’s healing magic, Elaydren stated that we should leave as soon as possible; we asked her to join us, but she apparently had other tasks and means for departure.

We soon discovered that the sack she had given us was a handy haversack, and contained many useful items, notably a letter of credit with House Orien. It also held the critical instructions, which were essentially thus:

We were to meet a man by the name of Failin in the Bloody Market of Rhukaan Draal. He would take us to Rose Quarry, where we would be able to determine the location of Whitehearth, a House Cannith workshop. We would then go to Whitehearth, and retrieve another schema, which was connected to the same creation pattern as the one we had previously retrieved on Elaydren’s behalf. Afterwards, we would meet Elaydren in Rhukaan Draal.

This task was somewhat more arduous than we anticipated; Whitehearth lies in the Mournland. I did not remember enough of Uthen’s warnings about the Mournland before beginning this venture. Tell him that I consider his “I told you so” to already have been said.

The well-fed druid introduced himself as Anson Silverkin, of House Orien.

Thus, we took advantage of the letter of credit from House Orien, and rode the lightning rail most of the distance we needed. However, Rhukaan Draal is not sufficiently large to merit a station of its own. We accompanied a caravan that traveled there, and defended it from a group of bugbears and kobolds. I learned something of the negative qualities of thrown spears, but there was little trouble otherwise.

We reached Rhukaan Draal without other incident, where we eventually found Failin. He was formerly of House Orien, and operates an elemental-bound land cart. He was willing to ferry us to Rose Quarry, for a price. He also seemed to be in rather a hurry.

The reason for the hurry was a pair of bugbears who claimed that Failin had cheated them. After some confusion, we managed to evade them. Thence, we boarded his land cart, and began the journey to Rose Quarry.

We reached Rose Quarry around dusk. Some calamity had befallen Rose Quarry. Most of the area was burned, or covered in molten glass; much of the rest was touched by frost. Many of the buildings were reduced to the foundations, disconnected bits of wall, and rubble. We approached with caution. By “we,” I mean all of us save Failin, who was content to remain in his cart.

We immediately observed that a large group was camped within the ruins. The details were difficult to make out without a closer approach. Xame claimed that he would be the stealthiest of us, and I did not doubt it. I cast invisibility on him, which permitted him to observe the camp unnoticed. He described the camp as being guarded by both skeletons and living guards; he also observed a human woman who was apparently a necromancer, and a strange cleric. They all wore the symbols of the Order of the Emerald Claw.

When Xame returned with this information, we decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and chose to examine the parts of the ruins away from this group. We did not get very far. When we passed one of the more vitrified buildings, a group of dwarf zombies emerged. They were burned, covered in glass, and floated rather than walked. I pity the dwarves who died in Rose Quarry; I wonder how many more of them did not find their proper rest.

As zombies are unintelligent creatures, few of my ready spells would have any effect on them. I had not expected to meet undead. Tui, Alain and Mike held them off, while Xame called upon his divine powers, and turned a number of them. However, this problem would not be so easily resolved. The noise had attracted the attention of the members of the Emerald Claw; a pair of clerics came and rebuked the undead, sending them against us again.

By this time, we had determined that we would rather not remain in this position. We departed in the direction of one of the more intact buildings, from which a light could be seen. We entered as quickly as we could, and left Alain and Tui to guard the door. They were most effective, as their plate armor protected them from nearly all of the zombies’ blows. It took them time to deal with the undead due to the difficulty inherent in striking an enemy protected by glass.

Anson, Mike and I went towards the back of the building, to determine from whence the light was coming. In one chamber was another glass-encased dwarf, hauling rubble. In the other were two human guards, a man and a woman, both in the uniform of the Emerald Claw. Between myself, Mike, Anson and Anson’s wolf, we managed to subdue them.

Anson himself used his club to smash the male guard into oblivion, after the man was already unconscious. Anson is a rather brutal druid.

Alain and Tui joined us afterwards, having defeated all the zombies and seeing no other opponents in near proximity. Apparently the Emerald Claw thought that their zombies and the two guards were enough to destroy us. This is at least one case where it is better to be underestimated.

Xame healed the female guard, but only for the purpose of questioning her. She was rather strong-willed, and refused to say anything. He then attempted to forcibly persuade her. Torture is not effective; Alain, Tui and Mike were also of that opinion. Something of a tussle followed. As a result, no torture occurred and no information was given. I suspect that there was little to gain in any case. We then had another argument, over whether or not we should kill her to keep her silent about us! I seem to have joined a group with widely varying moral philosophies.

We had sufficient time to examine the chamber in which we had found the guards. It contained an unlabeled map of Khorvaire on the floor, as well as three hearths of different colors, one of which was white. Each had two statues, one on either side; each statue had written directions on the back, leading to a particular location on the floor and, thus, Khorvaire. One of these clearly indicated the location of Whitehearth. We took this information, and left the living guard. Before we were able to leave, however, we encountered a strange vampire. We asked no further questions, and simply dashed for the land cart.

I am afraid that I must resume writing later. Indigo seems to have gotten himself into trouble.

Your sister,

Antinua

Adventure: Shadows of the Last War
Session: 2006-11-26
Player: Dave Zhang
PC: Xame
Status: Rogue 1 / Cleric 2

Part III: A Plan of Stealth and Speed

Eventually, we found all of the key stones, and located the fiery room containing the schema. Expecting some form of ambush or other, we convened to discuss strategy, but could not agree on a single plan. General chaos ensued when Mike pushed open the adamantine doors leading to the room: Alain (fully cured, thanks to a scroll of rope trick we found earlier) and Anson’s wolf charged at the guardians of the room (a pair of fire elementals, one large and one medium). Mike and I, meanwhile, dashed for the chest containing the schema.

As I was busy trying to break open the lock on the chest, a scream of anguish sounded from the entrance; Alain had been utterly decimated by a mighty blow from the large fire elemental. I continued working at the lock, but the stress of the situation and the heat of the room were distracting, and I was taking much longer than normal. Antinua, the elf, in the mean time, found some arcane controls in a corner of the room and fiddled with them. That caused the roof to open up, and seeing this, the elementals immediately flew out, leaving us rather baffled on why the fight was necessary at all. Ah, I suppose elementals don’t think in the same way we do.

I rushed to Alain to see if I could manage to resuscitate him somehow, but he was long gone. And to top off our misfortune, so was the haversack, in which we placed quite a number of items of importance. But our troubles weren’t over yet… Anson and Antinua reported that we were quite surrounded by Emerald Claw soldiers. While we remaining adventurers were still in decent shape, both of our musclehead meat shields had passed away, leaving us in an even worse combat situation. While we had support of the awakened dire wolf and her followers, by Anson’s accounts we were still quite clearly outmatched.

Anson suggested that we hand over one copy of the schema (for some reason or other, there were two copies in the chest. They register the same by detect magic, but I strongly suspect at least one is a fake). His hope was that perhaps our opponents would show mercy. A foolish plan. No villain in his right mind ever lets his foes live when they’re at his mercy.

Stealth and speed were clearly the only solutions. After some debating in the sanctuary of inner Whitehearth, the others finally agreed to my plan: Antinua would make herself, Mike, and Anson invisible. I would run at top speed away from the entrance with one of the schemas held high, hoping to attract the attention of all the guards, while under the protection of a sanctuary spell. The three of them would then sneak away, and we would all meet 2 miles south, 1 mile east, about an hour later. This plan put myself at considerable risk, since I would be the bait, but I didn’t see any better way. If I could manage enough of a head start over my pursuers, then the Mournland should have enough cover for me to hide for about an hour.

As we enacted the plan, events deviated very quickly, or so I was told. I ran for a full two minutes, covering about a mile, before I paused, looked around, and realized no pursuers were on my tail. An hour later, when I showed up at the pre-agreed location, Anson, Mike, and Antinua were joined by two others, a human paladin named Valith and a man with dragon-like features calling himself Malik. They told me that, thanks to the help of the two new arrivals, the leader of that squad of Emerald Claw soldiers, a changeling who took the guise of Raidith earlier, will trouble us nevermore.

We turned in the two identical schemas, as well as the creation pattern, to Elaydren, and she paid us a bonus of 1000 gp. Additionally, she hired us to escort her back to Sharn. We readily agreed, but it wasn’t until after I got on the train that I remembered to ask if they frisked the corpses of all the downed opponents.

Those idiots forgot!! Argh!! Some day soon, we’re going to have to come back.

Player’s Notes:

Ah, finally, 2nd level cleric spells! There’s one that I’m particularly interested in: divine insight. It gives a (5 + caster level) bonus to any one skill check, which de facto means I can moonlight as a full-fledged rogue for certain skills that aren’t often used (Open Lock against a particularly difficult lock, Diplomacy for selling loot, etc.).

And in other news… using the 2000 gp from this past adventure, plus selling the boots of elvenkind for 1250, plus selling 8 second level potions Xame had “collected,” the cash pool grew to over 4k, enough to get my first round of nice items. After considering a crown of wisdom +2 and cloak of resistance +2, I decided to go with the combination of a +1 mithral chain shirt and a +1 mithral heavy steel shield, netting a +3 to my AC value (had a masterwork buckler before as the shield). Given divine protection and cat’s grace, I hit 25 AC. Yeah, go defensive nightmare!

Adventure: Shadows of the Last War
Session: 2006-11-19
Player: Dave Zhang
PC: Xame
Status: Rogue 1 / Cleric 2

Part II: Inside the Mournland

A dark, emaciated man accosted us in the ruined temple shortly after. Mike threw some holy water at him, but it didn’t seem to do anything. He then casted a spell and shouted for his lackeys for support. As we were all rather low on health and power by then, we decided (for once!) that discretion was the better part of valor, and fled. Seemed at the time that we managed to lose them, but would find out later that they let us escape to follow us… apparently Mr. Faux-Vampire wasn’t quite bright enough to figure out the location of Whitehearth despite the obvious clues.

As we journeyed into the Mournland towards Whitehearth, I detected a magical weapon amidst all the corpses. Figuring that should be a good 200 gp even after splitting it with the others, I jumped off the elemental land cart to grab it. Three skeleton trolls charged at me though, so I had to quickly revise my plan. Remembered the Traveler also mentioning another bestowed ability, turning undead. Seemed like as good a time to try it as any, and was satisfied when one of the three turned and ran. One of the two, however, took a rather large chunk out of me and my armor. Retreated to the land cart and tried to cure myself, only to rudely discover that my cure spells have no effect inside the Mournland. Anson, the druid, managed to delay the other two skeletons with a nice entangle spell, and then we took off again, figuring 2000 gp isn’t really worth any of our lives.

The inside of Whitehearth was a maze, with a number of unexpected occupants: an awakened dire wolf, several living spells, and a golem dog. The first was friendly towards us, but we had to put down the others (though not without some trouble: Alain was actually on the verge of dying in the fight against the dog, and I had to use my mundane healing skills to stabilize him).

Multi-hued gems acted as keycards to various chambers, and we had quite a difficult time securing all of them. One in particular (the purple, I think) bypassed a trap. We, however, didn’t find it until after we set off the trap. With a rather violent jarring motion, the room rotated perpendicular to its normal orientation, and dumped any clumsy folk into a damn deep well. Of our group, Tui proved himself the one with the worst motor skills, fell in, and then promptly died (due to either drowning or falling). Ah, the bastard didn’t even have the good grace to die somewhere where we can salvage his equipment.

Player’s Notes:

While Xame is rather happy that Tui died (though he has enough sense not to show it), as the player I’m actually rather sad to see Tui go… he made for a good foil, and was the source of plenty of party strife antics.

Adventure: Shadows of the Last War
Session: 2006-11-11
Player: Dave Zhang
PC: Xame
Status: Rogue 1 / Cleric 2

Part I: Hunting Clues

Some time after the trade treaty events, the five of us were summoned once more by Lady Elaydren. Or rather, we were individually instructed to go to the message station, which got sacked by a warforged and some kobolds. A giant eagle then delivered the message by dropping us a note to tell us to meet Elaydren at the usual place.

Once again, I’m utterly baffled by the stupidity of this aristocrats. If it was important enough a message to warrant sending the eagle, why not send that in the first place? Also, they should know we’d be smart enough to look for her at the Broken Anvil after seeing the ransacked message station. Geez, save on those costs and pay us more, dammit!

At the Broken Anvil, Elaydren informed us that a member of House Orien would be joining us for our next mission. As he had a rather large wolf as a pet, I can only assume he’s one of those “druids” I had heard about a while back. This should have been my first tip that perhaps the coming days would be rather difficult, but I was growing overconfident with my newfound casting abilities.

Immediately after introductions, the afore-referenced warforged and his kobold cronies charged in and attacked our patron. I was quite shocked to see that the fired crossbow bolt damaged both Elaydren and Alain… Holy! These guys were armed with seeker bolts!? (I would later find out that Alain had the Mark of Sentinel.) Well, at the time, it looked to me like they had prepared only a single one, because we managed to dispatch of the larger attack force with relative ease. In any case, Elaydren then sent us on ahead, emphasizing urgency and telling us we’d have everything we need in a bag.

After reading through the information in the bag (which, I might add, was a rather nice Heward’s handy haversack), we decided to travel via lightning rail to Sterngate. From there, we journeyed with a caravan to Rhukaan Draal, where we met our contact, a man named Failan. He had rather the amount of greed I would personally liked to have think was unique to myself: he charged us an outrageous 1000 gp for fare on his elemental-driven land cart.

Journeyed to Rose Quarry, rumored to contain clues on the location of Whitehearth. Only to find that a group of Emerald Claw soldiers arrived before us. The elf wizard casted invisibility on me (a rather neat trick, actually… I’ll need to buy myself a potion of it later; it could be useful for certain… hobbies), and I went ahead to scout. Foes looked redoubtable, so we avoided them and explored the rest of the town. Found the location in a ruined temple, after we subdued its inhabitants. Wanted to interrogate the one who wasn’t quite dead yet, but the annoying Tui tried to grab me when I poked my rapier under her nails. Bah, stupid and uppity musclehead.

Player’s Notes:

Yeah, yeah, I know. Torturing is leaning a bit too far towards evil.

Adventure: Shadows of the Last War
Sessions: 2006-11-11, 2006-11-19, 2006-11-26, 2006-12-02
Player: Michael Busch
PC: Mike
Status: Monk 3

Elaydren had told us that she would send messages to the gnome at a post office near our lodgings if she had need of us again. Every day we would go there, and there would be no work. Then came the predictable interference. That morning, the post office was ransacked and the gnome knocked out. We awakened her, and she told us that a half-dozen people had come, one large and several small. Tui was very interested in interrogating her, but it seemed more important to contact Elaydren. As we left the office, an owl dropped a letter at our feet. It was from Elaydren, and told us to met her at the Broken Anvil immediately.

At the tavern, Elaydren seemed harried. She introduced us to a man with a wolf, saying that he would accompany us to Rhukaan Draal and that we should leave immediately, as another party was trying to stop her. This party presented itself in the form of a warforged and eight kobolds. The kobolds were disposed of by Tui and Alain, while the warforged fell to a combination of the man with the wolf casting a freezing magic, Antinua cursing it with disabling laughter, and me kicking in the chestplate. I did not know warforged could laugh. It is a strange sound.

Elaydren gave us a haversack containing supplies and instructions, and ordered us to go, saying she would make her own way to Rhukaan Draal after us. As we went towards the lightning-rail, the man with the wolf introduced himself as Anson, a druid of House Orien. In the haversack was a writ of passage to Sterngate, where we would join a caravan across Marguul. We made it to Rhukaan Draal without major inconvenience.

There we were to meet a man named Failin, exiled from House Orien, to take us to the village of Rose Quarry and to then locate a House Cannith research station called Whitehearth, where Elaydren believed there was another schema. We found Failin in a place called the Bloody Market, which is bloody whenever someone feels they have been robbed. Failin possesses an elemental-powered landcart and an unhealthy obsession with coin, but he agreed to take us to Rose Quarry. There we found the village laid waste, covered in molten glass. There was also an encampment of soldiers of the Order of the Emerald Claw, who were apparently engaged in ransacking the ruins for treasure and bodies for their undead. I do not like undead, nor am I wild about getting stabbed by swords. Fortunately, Alain and Tui formed a wall of steel in the doorway of the ruined quarry headquarters and killed all zombies that came. Xame runs remarkably well at times: I doubt you or the stormtalons could catch him in a sprint, although they would win any distance race. Anson is rather militant for a druid: I saw him very persistently clubbing a prone Emerald Claw soldier to death. His wolf was also very violent, but that might be the result of having a mouth full of crushed glass.

We found the location of Whitehearth, but encountered a very ugly, vampire-like person as we left. We managed to run around him and made it back to the landcart, where we persuaded Failin to take us to our destination. It is inside the Mournland, to the east and south of where Mykispar once was.

You haven’t been to the Mournland? If you do go, either take a wizard who can make you extradimensional space, or bring gallons of goodberry wine. Paladins can heal there, and my masters could cause injured tissue to knit by sheer will, but normal healing does not work and the dead from the Last War litter the battlefield as if they had just fallen. Undead roam, and we were attacked twice before we reached Whitehearth, which was built into an old mine.

Elaydren had given us a key to the outer door. We left Failin behind in the cart, and entered. We soon found that the doors were all electrified, but Anson can pick up and move small objects without touching them. The mine is a warren, with individual chambers linked by a network of rotating key-coded spheres. It is filled by experimental magic, mangled by the Day of Mourning. Some is good and some bad. We found a wolf-pack whose leader had been awakened, and a stone wolf holding them hostage. Antinua found a prepared spell she calls rope trick, which let us heal Alain, who had been knocked out when the stone wolf fell. We had to fight our way through living spells to find the keys to the rest of the mine.

We eventually found where the schema was being stored, in a room at one end of the mine that was boiling hot, with fire elementals guarding it, but at a high price. There was a trap in one of the spheres, so that it opened into a well. Tui fell. I jumped after him, but by the time I reached the water at the bottom, he had drowned and sunk too far down to even recover the body.

In the hot room, Alain tried to hold off the elementals, but was smashed to the ground and set afire. By the time Antinua figured out how to open the roof and make the remaining elemental leave, he was all but reduced to ash, along with the haversack from Elaydren. Enough of his body was intact to reveal that he carried a dragonmark of House Deneith. We did recover the schema, as well as an apparent copy and a disk, which we now know is a creation pattern.

We four survivors managed to get the wolves out of lower levels of the mine, only to find that the soldiers of the Emerald Claw had encamped outside. We conceived of a plan, whereby Antinua would make herself, Anson, and me invisible and we would sneak out, while Xame ran, carrying one copy of the schema. We would meet at a fixed point away from the mine, so that I could guide them out of the Mournland if Failin was dead (none of them can remember which way is north). The wolves would attack the soldiers.

This plan broke to pieces when I found Failin slumped by his landcart. I was then swept off my invisible feet by a whip, to find the vampire-like commander, who could apparently see me and demanded the schema, before rippling into the form of Raidith and saying that he recognized me. I started attacking him, but eventually had to throw the schema away to avoid my own death.

We probably would not have survived, although most of the Emerald Claw soldiers were dead, except that two others arrived. One was a paladin by his armor, the other sprayed fire on the surviving Emerald Claw before getting on a liberated horse and chasing the changeling, who he apparently knew as Garrow. Anson, whose wolf had gone with the pack, had also grabbed a horse. The paladin awakened our driver, and we followed.

Garrow, who may or may not have been Raidith, died in fire. We took the schema, and our new acquaintances, the paladin Valith and the dragon-born Malik, accompanied us back to Rhukaan Draal. There we met Elaydren, who had us accompany her back to Sharn.

Now you know who I am and what I have done. I hope our fellows in Xen’drik find some amusement from the tale. And should I reach the flocks of Xen’drik, when I have fulfilled The Walk, I will stay and speak more with our people. But I feel that enlightenment is to be found in other races, so I shall stay with my companions for the while. Farewell.

* * *

From the top of one of the five spires around the central dome of Dalannan Tower in Upper Menthis, two winged forms jumped. One flew with towards the air galleon port with powerful wingbeats, although a keen eye could see the flickering of the air as the skypledged twisted the wind to her bidding. The other glided silently, slight wing movements turning his course towards the House Cannith enclave.

Player’s Notes:

I’m not sure if two out of six PCs dying in a 3rd level adventure is the right number, but we certainly don’t have the option of resurrection at this level. Fortunately, Dan Thai and Scott Wilbur had some good characters as back-ups. I’m still not sure what this fire-breather Scott developed is.