Eberron: Twilight of the Last War

The Beginning of a Weave...

Episode 01: Introductions – Blacksheep Gathering

Hi-lights: Places

* Karrnath (country), Korth, (capital city):
Cannith East (house enclave): Brimstone Forge (arcane foundry); Dragonbreath Vault (secret research facility)
– Phiarlan: Demesnes of Motion (training academy)
The Twelve: Ziggurat of the Twelve (inter-house university)
Bone Boar Brewhouse (middle-class tavern, small inn and brewery)

Hi-lights: People

* House Cannith: Bigubu Beaze d’Cannith (PC), Sammeth Beatee d’Cannith
* House Phiarlan: Oscolo the Monkey (PC), Dracos Jovahr d’Phiarlan
* Bone Boar Brewhouse: Farin Rvok-Feyonai and Bron Rvok (owners)
Talon and Hal Davenport (companion characters)
* The Twelve: Professor Matilda Maroe d’Cannith (potential patron)

Date: Sar, 15th of Therendor (Early-spring), Festival of the Sun

Enter: Bigubu Beaze d’Cannith

  • visit from uncle Sammeth Beatee d’Cannith
  • news of an interesting artifact
  • a trip to the Bone Boar Brewhouse
  • dice with Hal Davenport and seeing the artifact
    • artifact-shard: made of a strange material, has symbols that relate to a partial schema used in a secret weapon development lab in the Dragonbreath Vault
    • convinces Hal that the artifact may have worth, but first needs to be professionally analyzed
  • visit Professor Matilda Maroe (great-great grandmother) at the Ziggurat of the Twelve
    • leave the artifact with the Prof for analysis
    • Bigubu browbeats Hal into leaving it there

Enter: Oscolo d’Phiarlan, the Monkey

  • come upon the bully Dracos Jovahr d’Phiarlan (several conflicts at the school)
    • use psionic powers to defend a halfling busker Dracos is picking on with his goons
      • Mindspikes him when he hits the halfling
  • Dracos leaves with a bloody nose and an oath to report him to the academy’s elders
  • make friends with Talon,
    • he leads Oscolo to a tavern with a promise of food and drink for thanks
  • accept a Talenta Boon from the Rvok brothers for protecting Talon
    • Bron Rvok dwarven bartender
    • Farin Rvok-Feyonai halfling brewer
  • the boon provides free room and board as well as a feast
    • meet the rotund halfling head chef, Muleen
      • takes a keen liking to Oscolo
    • meet the massive orc pastry chef, Grom Blackfist
      • from the Shadow Marches, he mixes exotic tastes into Karrnathi pastries and pies
  • teach Talon the finer arts of Motion (handstands and the like)
  • present brews as only an d’Phiarlan can (acrobatic performance)
  • partake in the festivities of the Festival of the Sun
    • Farin, the brewer, opens up several kegs and shares them with the crowd
  • wake up a little worse for wear
    • the room given to Oscolo is filled with people passed out
      • Talon has landed himself a couple halfling hotties
  • Oscolo and Bigubu are the first to wake, and make acquaintances over a delicious breakfast
    • Hal comes down from his room, with a big grin (thanks to the head human waitress)
    • Oscolo hears they’re off to the Twelve, never have been to Ziggurat he asks to tag along
    • Bigubu, knowing he has things to do first (Vault) and doesn’t want Hal off on his own (lack of trust) till the artifact shard has been analyzed, asks Oscolo (assumes he’s a house member) if he’ll accompany Hal to Wollvern Park off back to the Twelve to check in with the Prof
On the Road
Out of Korth and Beyond...

Episode 02: On the Road – to Q’barra and Back

Hi-lights: Places

* Karrnath: Korth
Bone Boar Brewhouse
The Twelve: Ziggurat of the Twelve
Cannith East: Graystone Keep (Cannith East main enclave compound), Brimstone Forge (arcane foundry), Dragonbreath Vault (secret underground research facility)
– Phiarlan: Carnival of Shadows: Dancing Dreams Wayhouse (stop-over, apartments)
– Valdalis: Three Crescent Stables (Vadalis enclave)

Hi-lights: People

* The Twelve: Professor Matilda Maroe d’Cannith; Quinneth
* Carnival of Shadows: Shadow Seer (Oscolo’s mother)
* Ragpile (beggar)
* unusual stranger (apparent military spy)
* Ruby Fang (unknown organization with criminal ties)

Hi-lights: Events

* MAJOR QUEST: Locate Prof. Wyr

Date: 16-17 Therendor (Early-spring)

#1. Scene: A Tour of the Ziggurat of the Twelve

  • breakfast done Oscolo and Hal head off to the Twelve
  • Bigubu makes a short stop at “the library” to sign-in for the day
  • few people on the street after the festivities (still a noticeable military presence)
  • the three meet at Wollvern Park where Bigubu has prepared an air gondola for the trip up to the Ziggurat
    • the driver (old and squat, looking to have some fey-blood/a retired magewright) takes the trio for a spin around the floating academy
  • inside, a guide takes them for a private tour of the The Twelve’s public face
  • into the Department of Archaeology and Artifact Requisition
    • meet up with Professor Maroe-ma to talk about the artifact-shard
      • see Content Not Found: arc001
    • the good: no one died handling the artifact; research has revealed that the language is not Draconic and Prof. Monroe believes it pre-dates this early language
    • the bad: the graduate tasked with making a replica (etching) of said artifact sunk into a state of befuddlement, babbling incoherently (Jorasco healers have been brought in to deal with him) and failed to make the replica
    • the worse: research into the artifact is still ongoing, the expert in this field of ancient study is currently off-campus (i.e. Q’barra)
    • the task: locate and return with the expert; given a sealed missive to deliver to Professor Duorum Wyr
      • see above for quest link
  • Oscolo takes interest in the Phiarlan Tower, chats up the dancer/receptionist
    • finds out his grandfather is pitied/feared by the house
    • his father was a well-known illusionist
    • his paternal grandfather holds a high-level position in the house
    • his paternal uncle works at the Twelve, currently he is away in the Lhazaar Principalities
    • DM/Player: give some back story here

In Between:

  • Bigubu arranges leave from the Vault directly from the Vault’s Head of Operations
    • Prof. Maroe has pre-arranged the leave without problem
  • Oscolo and Hal return to the Boar and run into a dirty beggar
    • “My Masters, They seek for you, child. Taste of the earth and They will find you.”
    • the ragpile offers Oscolo a worm to eat in return for a few coppers, which Oscolo does
  • Oscolo visits the Carnival of Shadows wayhouse and talks with his mother and words of divination are uttered:
    • The Worms of the earth are down Below / Seek not They or They will find
    • The dust will burn and the lightning dry / In mountains old stones once again cry
    • The Shadows move again / Do they weave around you?
    • Will I ever see the light again (different, quiet voice)
    • Beware the Lords of Over
  • Oscolo leaves a message for his aunt about his leave-taking
  • Bigubu and Oscolo collect horses for the journey from the Valdalis stables (on loan from the Twelve)
    • a young black stallion almost warhorse (Bigubu), a piebald mare (Oscolo), a tan matronly mare (Hal)
  • a feast is prepared for the journey at the Boar
  • suspicious interactions are noticed in the evening
    • assumed military man keeping a watch on the brewhouse
    • Bigubu conversation with Quinneth, a member of the Twelve
    • Oscolo is left with a coded message (left as a coaster) bearing a mark of a table with serpentine legs and a dark lantern
    • Hal gets in some trouble outside
      • using his quick wit and sharp tongue, Bigubu threatens the gang of thugs calling themselves the Ruby Fang and they back off
  • a package arrives from the Twelve via a young messenger
    • a minor picaptura has been made of the artifact providing a illusionary 3-D representation of its like upon a foil of bluish metal (electrum) and sealed in a voiding case, a scrolltube that dampens magical flows in or out of the compartment

Date: 18 Therendor

#2. Scene: Out of Korth

  • Oscolo wakes from a intense nightmare, his bed a battleground and the scent of lush soil permeating the air of the room
  • Oscolo is presented with a Talenta tribal boon from
    • a necklace made of feather and lizard leather made in a specific style the identifies the wearer as a friend of the tribe

#3. Scene: On the Road

  • second run in with the Ruby Fangs, when the party stops for the night at a roadside campsite
  • defeated by Oscolo’s swordplay and Bigubu’s GSC prototype cannoning
  • the leader escapes into the night (or up a tree…)
Stormy Weather Gone Weird
Don't go chasing clouds...

Episode 03: Stormy Weather Gone Bad

Hi-lights: Places

* Karrnath:
Wayward Inn (road-side inn/farmstead, hard days ride from south of Korth)
Karnod (small thorp, nestled in the The Nightwoods, 1/2 day walk south of Korth)
Vurgenslye (old hamlet, farmers and fishermen, border of Scion Sound, 1.5 days ride south Korth)
Cyrus (new village, 4 months old, Cyre refugees)
Fort Barrow (keep/fort – in construction, for new road/area patrols)

Hi-lights: People

* Karrnath Military: Officer Samuel Sheen
* Black Hats, or the Brudavol
* Old Man Woody
* the caravan

Hi-lights: Events

* MAJOR QUEST: Locate Prof. Wyr

Date: 19 Therendor (Early-spring)

#1. Scene: Wayward Inn

  • fort-like, square, days ride from Korth
  • wake up the night watchman – get rooms (5 sp, common room, double cot) and stable the horses and riding drake (2 sp ea)
  • morning smells of pheasant stew, rockberries (Mror tuber/root) and fresh scones
    • Hal gets into the ale early
    • Oscolo cashes in on the free breakfast
  • watchman’s son, Alwinder, enjoys feeding Gimp (Talon’s riding drake) live chickens
  • the inn guest’s include a military group, a few farmers and an Orien messenger
  • Bigubu Beaze d’Cannith teases Hal Davenport about his Ruby Fang mark, trying to convince him he’ll turn into a zombie
  • Oscolo the Monkey and Bigubu chat with officer of Karrnath Military, Officer Samuel Sheen
    • seems to be more administrative than combative
    • travelling from Fort Bones to Korth
    • travels with 2 veteran soldiers/bodyguards
  • warns the travelers that the roads have become more dangerous the last few seasons due to:
    • reduced military patrols; due to: Valenar incursions, Mournland border patrols, anti-terrorism, decommission of undead military assests
      • several old forts and stations are being recommissioned for new road/territory patrols (e.g. Fort Barrow)
    • increased banditry (caused from Last War ending?)
    • Valenar scouting parties (Valenar seem only attack groups that pose a threat)
    • weirdness coming out of the Woods (includes: The Nightwood, Rekkenwood, Shadowmount Forest, Karrnwood, Icewood); some possibly due to the rise of Fey activity since the ending of the Last War

Between: On the Road

  • leave the inn to continue onwards
  • few travelers on the road and those travel in groups/with protection
  • meet a group of strange farmers (like modern Mennonites)
    • dressed in deep black and stark white, somber, sharply cut dress; men: suits with long coats and bowl hats with peaked, raised brim; women: full skirt dresses with vests and bonnets, wear their hair with back ribbons and braids
    • women and men segregated; women not allowed to associate with strangers/men; only the elder of the group spoke with the PCs
    • travelling to Korth to sell vegetables
    • Bigubu offers a gold piece for a selection of veggies in an attempt to procure info, but Oscolo starts flirting with the girls and the group leave

Date: 20 Therendor

#2. Scene: On the Road

  • pass the outskirts of the small hamlet of Vurgenslye
    • most of the farmsteads in these areas are abandoned with the exception of the surviving hamlet off the main road
    • regional architecture: long house – blocky, logwork, wide and sweeping, carved with totems, animals and symbols, turf or shake roofs; stone manors – granite, big blocks, militaristic, many narrow windows, turrets and balconies, walled, multiple outer buildings, clay tile or stone block roofs
  • several hours ride past Vurgenslye, new buildings and repopulated farm land – focuses on the new village of Cyrus
    • more travelers on the road (local farmers); dress differently – common, uniform-like clothes; Cyre refugees
    • regional arcitecture: new houses – box-like, non-descript, wooden frame and pannels, wooden slake or clay tile roofs; some seem temporary
    • center of the new village: new townhall/old hostelry (architecture: see long house description above)
    • protected by a garrison from Ft. Barrow
  • hours ride from Cyrus on a round hill near The Nightwood rests the recommissioned Fort Barrow
    • hasn’t been used since before the Last War started
    • Fort/Keep is in major disrepair: masons (humans, dwarves and minotaurs) have been hired to repair it
    • built atop a barrow mound (pre-Galifarian nobles/chieftains) and before that an ancient tomb (Dhakaani goblinoids)
    • new command center for roadway patrols along the Scion Sound/Mounland
  • run into an elderly halfling calling himself Old Man Woody
    • invites the PCs to share his campsite
    • seems to be a forester
    • for a warm meal (that Hal makes with Talons help) he trades several stories:
      • tell a tale about the nighthags of The Nightwood
      • briefly speaks about the Black Hats, also called the The Brudavol, worshipers of The Blood of Vol living around the hamlet of Vurgenslye
        • explains about bloodroot a special herb that is used in necromantic and restorative rituals and apparently is an strong attractor/aphrodisiac for vampires, and other blood-feeders when consumed; Hal doesn’t think he added it to the stew
      • tells a short tale about vampires from his younger days – basically they’re prissies
      • warns about The Nightwood and the beasts within – a group of rangers were hunting something big a few weeks back
    • he is carrying seasoned hardwood harvested from a number of rare trees found in the Nightwood
      • works with Clive Hewer in the thorp of Karnod outside the city of Korth, who turns the hardwood into highly sought after furniture and artwork
        • Karnod (thorp, unvisited by PCs, Woody trades there, half-day travel south from Korth)
  • in the evening Oscolo falls asleep on his watch and slips into a nightmare world that has troubles waking from
    • his friends appear to be figures made entirely of worms
    • the world is foggy and muted, barely any color
    • the smells are stronger and more aromatic/rancid
    • there is no wind
    • Oscolo wakes himself by hitting himself in his head

Date: 21-22 Therendor

#3. Scene: Roadside Strormfront

  • night 21: notice a storm brewing in the distance, the direction of the Mournlands
    • lightnings of multiple colors
  • morn 22: notice a strange “cloud” form moving steadily from the west to the east; seems to be following the road
    • follow the cloud from a distance
  • noon 22: cloud splits, half continues to follow the road, the other heads towards the Nightwood, follow the road bound one
    • notice a small tendril of smoke in the distance, gallop towards it
    • find a caravan in a pressed retreat, fleeing from the cloud-thing and a host of ash-animates/zombies
    • rescue the caravan and travelers
    • Bigubu takes 2 samples of the magical abberration, which he determines to be a living static shock spell
Oscolo - Lightning Popheads and Other Wackiness
Schools out, so why not a little adventure...

Holy fucking shit… I’ve done so much in the last few days but what the crap was that? A cloud that blasts lightning bolts and not only kills things but turns them into zombies that try to munch your brains and don’t stop till you drop them – then when you do they explode and lay half your surviving allies to waste. What is it that Bones always says… all’s fair in love, war and skullduggery – anything goes so don’t bitch about it. That was fine if someone gets a black eye, but your friends turning into exploding undead that want to rip your face off is uncool. He’d still say don’t bitch so I won’t.

So let’s look at what we’ve got up to. I feel a bit bad that I’ve skedaddled from school, not about school – they can eat shit and die, but I might have let Aunty down a bit, she has hopes for me and I guess she doesn’t want me to have to live like she and Bones do. I don’t know why really, they’re happy and have got all they need. Still she wanted me to stick it out and there’s not much chance the school’ll let me back. I’m definitely a skiver for not going and telling her face-to-face, and Bones will have a piece of me for that – he’d be on my side but for the fact that Aunty will want to rag me out – he’s not likely to stick up for me and that’s pretty fair. I better make them proud – no pressure.

Bigubu, while he’s a bit of a rod, he’s all right you know. He pissfarts around with his “gun” or whatever he calls it when we get into sticky situations but he’s smarter than a hatful of beholders and actually pretty interesting to talk to. He got us some horses, nice to have a buddy who is connected to the Twelve, and we hooked up with Talon and headed off to cross the Plains. It’s gonna be a few days and if the first three are anything to go by, we’ll be lucky to make it.

The first night we were set upon by Blood of Vol devotees and we sorted them out. Everyone else is nightblind so I got to show my worth to an audience who couldn’t see me, nothing worse, but they saw the results by the light of the fire. Bigubu and his blaster, damn near started a forest fire. The boss got away, I expect he’ll come back again but I think he learnt that night time ain’t the right time to dance with the Monkey, unless he’s got some other friends. We’d better find out more about the BOV or we might be USC.

We finished the night in a nice inn that looked after us – they appreciated Gimp and his appetite for live flesh. We met some militiamen in the inn who chatted to us about bandits and Valenar elves “incursions” whatever that is. Later on the road we met more passing Fort Barrow – an unabandoned? repopulated? fort along the road that is copopulated by the undead former owners. We’ll look them up on the way back.

Also we met some weirdo locals on the road and paid too much for some fresh produce – I’m pretty sure Bigubu hasn’t had to shop before – but Hal used it all to whip us up a pretty good meal in a nice secluded clearing we got led to by an old halfling we met on the road. Ol Woody he calls himself and he’s pretty comfortable in his own skin. Was not pertur… potherb… worried by us and told us some hair raising stories about night hags, hunters and their even more dangerous prey, vampires and locally dodgeworthy haunts. Also pointed out that we had got some Bloodroot, and that eating it isn’t a good idea unless you like Vampire teeth waking you up at night.

I didn’t have the best sleep, whatever Ragpile fed me a few days ago gave me fully real visions of wormpeople attacking me and left me cowering like a girl against a rock until I wacked myself and the vision cleared to reveal my friends trying to wake me. At first I thought the old halfling was messing with us but Hal reminded me of the worm I ate that Ragpile gave me. Fuckshitfuckshitshit, woulda been fun if I had have known – instead I lost it. Never got to meet Ragpile’s “lord” either.

Things were pretty sombre through today as I guess the whole thing shook everyone up a bit, and because we came close by the Mournland. Took something coming out of there to cast a darker cloud over our day literally. We’re riding along and a cloud passes overhead streaking lightning and generally looking grumpy. It separated and a half of it settled over the road ahead. We weren’t too keen on meeting it until we found that it had attacked some travellers and, like I said at the start, started turning them into zombies. The travellers had some guards who were battling away but we saved their butts by turning up when we did. Bigubu still has sparks coming out of his britches but we came out of it all right. His gun need some repairs though I think. I’ve heard of zombies but they really are unpleasant foes – still we smoked them. Bigubu needs to learn what fights to pick, I might find I’m protecting his sheltered arse more than I care to.

Caravan and Rescues
Ever wonder what might happen when an innocent tribal halfling goes whoring with a treasure-hunting gambler in the streets of Old Karrlakton... then read on...

Episode 04: Caravans and Rescues

Hi-lights: Places

* Karrnath, Karrlakton (large city):
Elvenhome Company Hub (office, inn, stables and warehouse; company members only)
– Sentinel Citadel
– Greyskies, tavern

Hi-lights: People

* Trenton Weather

Hi-lights: Events

* MAJOR QUEST: Locate Prof. Wyr (ongoing)
* Minor Quest: Rescue the Elvenhome Caravan (completed)
* Minor Quest: Protect the Colonists (completed)

Hi-lights: Rewards

* Minor Quest: Rescue the Elvenhome Caravan:
– 50GP/member once the caravan is guided to the outskirts of Karrlakton
Oscolo the Monkey received a suit of ironleaf scalemail +1 (feels like leather, LV 3, no speed penalty, +2 stealth in wilderness setting)
Bigubu Beaze d’Cannith received an efficiency spellbook (LV3, reduced component cost of rituals by 5GP/level of spell, looks to hold 100 pages when closed, but when open actually holds 500 pages) and 3 ritual scrolls: comprehend languages (LV1), floating disk (LV1), endure elements (LV2)
Hal Davenport was compensated with 1 barrel of Karrnathi “Blackblood” sausages and several wheels of Karrn cheese
Talon did not seem to get an award but Trenton spoke to him in the Talenta dialect and there seemed to be some type of ritual to honor him

Date: 22 Therendor (Early-spring)

#1. Scene: Elvenhome Caravan

  • rewarded by Trenton Weather the caravan master for saving his caravan and men
    • middle-aged half-elf, merchant/trader specializing in long hauls over the Talenta Plains
    • works for the Elvenhome Trading Company
      • Elvenhome is the 3rd oldest half-elf family in Khorvaire, they are rich/political, economy based, and even have members of nobility in the higher echelons of their ranks, they are also connected to House Orion, House Vadalis and House Lyrandar
  • caravan operates with 2 large wargons
    • wagons pulled by Vadalis Wagoneers (huge, mage-bred fey draft horses)
      • one lost during battle (cost ~10,000 GP)
  • caravan protection crew includes:
    • 4 caravan guard, foot; human
    • 2 caravan guard, horse; human
    • employed from Road Brothers Guild (connected to House Orion and House Dennith)
      • 1 foot and 1 horse lost in the battle
  • guards names:
    • Switch (horse), Brownbag (foot), Burgis (foot) and Wheels (foot)
    • Bigubu saved Wheels at the end of the battle by applying his only healing potion
  • caravan carrying Karrnathi goods to the Talenta Plains and Q’barra
    • goods include:
      • bundles and crates – leather products (armor, harness, etc)
      • iron-bound chests – paper products (spellbooks, scrolls, books)
      • barrels – sausages, crates – glass products (artistic, functional)
      • burlap & cloth bundles – cheese wheels (variety)
    • caravan only 60% full, picking up goods at Karrlakton and other towns along the way
  • caravan being used to transport/protect colonists
    • colonists originate from Karrnath
    • mostly farmers and country folk
    • fleeing the horrors of the Last War; most lost family and friends
    • traveling to Q’barra and the areas around Newthrone
    • 11 people; 5 families (4 man/woman partners, 1 single woman) + 2 children (1 boy, 1 girl)
      • colonist details:
        • Kuthor, Damian (M, leader, breeder), Emone (F, gardener) and Thom (M, boy, 12 yo, plays flute)
        • Karrdurh, Suyain (F, semstress), Sylvee (F, girl, elf-blood, 9yo, dancer)
          • Guron, husband, died in living spell attack, wagoneer, elf-blood
        • Greenbough, Gavin (M, rancher), Uvain (F, herbalist/minor witch-warlock, fey pact)
        • other pairs are: 3 farmers, 1 blacksmith
    • people ride (along benches fixed along the wagons edges) and walk

Along the Way:

  • little Sylvee Karrdurh (lost her father) is crying
    • Bigubu offers her the doll he found on the road several days back
    • Oscolo presents the dolly (she recognizes it, its named after her, looks like her too)
      • does a really poor job and scares her with a dolly-voice that would better belong to a demon
  • strange terrain begins almost a days ride from Karrlakton right to the city’s outer edge
    • ripples in the earth, now filled with marsh and water ways
    • doesn’t seem natural (Talon’s Nature check), but now filled with thick ecosystem
    • older than the Orien Highway (bridges set along the entire way)
  • the mist of the Mournland draws closer by the hour – creepy
  • farming communities start up about a half-days ride from the city
  • road traffic picks up steadily
  • first impressions of the city of Karrlakton

Date: 23 Therendor

#2. Scene: Karrlakton

  • Trenton Weather awards “the heroes” 50GP each, as earlier promised on the outskirts of Karrlakton
    • instead offers stocks in his caravan route
      Oscolo decides to take space instead
  • offers party the chance to travel with him
    no pay, can’t afford it
  • go to town fix gun – moded range and loader
  • kel perform, following Trenton – how to trade
  • bought 100 GP of goods, trade roll 21 (said it was 250GP) needed 15 to get profit, 20 double, +25% after (run will take 2 months + 1-4 weeks to sell)
  • Trenton picked up goods in Karlaton – weapons

Date: 24 Therendor

#3. Scene: Greyskies Tavern, Red-lantern District, East-Outer Town, Karrlakton

  • located and rescued Talon and Hal from some thugs in a bar
  • Guild
Old Man Woody's Fireside Tellings, part 1
Setting the scene.

Whack. Whack!

The rapier thin willow stick slashed through the air to land soundly on the rump of the donkey. The donkey, though, made no move to acknowledge the disgraceful whipping. Neither with the fidgeting of ears nor trembling of skin. It continued to pull the rickety two-wheeled chart along the narrow, branch-filled tunnel of a road. Not two hundred paces earlier its stubborn master had made another ignorant move and wrestled it upon this rut and tumble wooded path. Hadn’t the grayed two-leg picked up at least some travel etiquette along the way, it wondered. Truth be told, they’d traveled together long and far. Ease and comfort. That was the donkey’s way. The much smoother main road to Korth was by far the better route. But, it knew two-legs, stubborn as stones. Better just to struggle on through. Step by step.

As the cart gradually creaked along, the skeletal canopy of deciduous trees receded. Ahead, a small glade was revealed scattered with bright spots of color – the hardy blossoms of early spring. A short ways in, the sound of willow kissing donkey ass ceased and with a patience borne of divinity so did the forward momentum of the cart. Donkey ears flicked forward and back, scanning the destination.

The wielder of willow, hunched into the bench of the cart, struggled noisily to stand. “You boys! Give Ol’ Man Woody a hand here. Would yeh? Mine bones be as crickety-rickety as this here old box on wheels.”

From behind the cart piled high with hardwood, a figure appeared, stepping nimbly as if making a show of crossing the short distance, made a flourish and ended it with a bow that could be straight out of the Carnival of Shadows for its practiced elegance. “May I be of service grand elder?”

“Sure as a maiden’s milky tit could whet my thirst. ‘Course, boy. Give me a hand ‘ere so I can get down off this dried-out-dryad, rockbed of a seat. Would yeh?”

With a face-splitting grin that gave a telltale as to the young elf’s adolescence, Oscolo presented the elder his hand. The man-child sized hand that in turn met his looked as gnarled and brown as aged oak but held too that selfsame power of an ancient tree concealed within. It took only a slight pull to get Old Man Woody, as he had introduced himself as a short time ago on the road to Korth, into a standing position.

Taking a deep breath and with arms reaching tall Old Man Woody stretched to his full four feet of height. Bringing his hands down he began to flatten and rearrange his homespun robes of earthy tones, but then up again they went to readjust his wide-brimmed pointed hat. His wrinkled face broke into a grin and clever, brown eyes met Oscolo’s, who stood patiently with hand upraised to help the old halfling down. “Now aren’t you a regally-beagley sort of elf folk. Why thank your youth and uprightness. As tall as a silver birch you be.” And with a grasp of hands the gray haired halfling brought himself down to the grassy turf.

“Over here be me ol’ fire pit. Quite some pheasant been roasted on that fair hole. And over yonder, there behind that weeping witch willow, you’ll find yerself a crick of water as fresh as Siberys’s tears. Down and behind that craggily old oak you’ll find a couple faggots of dry timber – good for cooking. Well get along, youngsters, mine bones be too crickety-rickety like me old cart to be of much good use for quick work. But cook something to fill Ol’ Man Woody’s belly up nice and warm an’ I’ll spin you all a tale or two.”

At this, a man of average height and average build and even more unusually, average looks, stepped out from the dimpled shadows of the incoming trail. Raising intelligent eyes, he surveyed the meadow critically. “Looks quite nice, Old Man Woody. Thank you for the hospitality you’ve shown by sharing your campsite. We’ll you heard him Hal. Get to work – a fire and something to eat.”

“Why’s it me doing all the war-cursed work,” a tall, well-built man muttered. “Hal fetch the water. Hal feed the horses. Hal make some stew. I ain’t nobody’s manservant and I sure as the Wastes’ ain’t nobody’s slave.” For a moment, he touched the curved long daggers hanging from either side of his hips, a dangerous gleam in his eyes. But then a haunted look passed over his face and his pride deflated. He turned to the stunted oak and with a frustrated snort headed over.

“That reminds me Hal. Deal with the horses first, then the supper. And try to make it taste better this time,” smirked Bigubu Beaze. “I’ll make the fire, so, not to worry about that tonight. Don’t go shirking your duties tomorrow, though.”

Under his breath Hal retorted, “Sure thing I’ll fetch some horse dung for your soup, master sir.” Then he presented to Bigubu’s just turned back a sarcastic smile and shallow bow, followed up by a complex gesture that looked rather rude.

Trailing in last from the forest path, came a more unnerving sight, if the donkey had anything to say about it, which it did by voicing a pathetic hee-haw. Long and sleek, the snake drake eased into the clearing with a two-legged grace no horse could ever match. Snaking its neck to watch the donkey, it touched its forelegs to the ground, and a small figure catapulted from its back. “Friend of mine, Hal. Talon is lucky today in forest. Not like stupid deer. Hunt two rabbits. Good stew tonight, not only root food.”
(Edit: need to fix the drake’s description)

Hal turned from unsaddling a massive black riding horse, which could easily have been mistaken for those bred for war. Giving Talon a genuine smile he replied, “Thanks muchly, Talon. Now only if we had something to make it not taste of only tubers and salt.“

“Yes, more luck too. I find some utullu flowers on road side. Maybe seeds come with birds from Talenta Plains. Use flowers in stew. Give nice talenthae taste. Try, try. Very nice. But no smoke or burn, make you see guylenna. We no have galandra drink. Cannot go for spirit walk.” He ended in a frown that stayed for but a moment and then quickly sprung back to a smile.

“Okay…” Hal answered looking more than a little confused.
(Edit: Add in part about the blood root and the black hats)

At that, the group got to work, well most of it, anyways.

Talon took over unsaddling and brushing down the horses from Hal. After that he brought the horses to drink their fill from the small crick that bubbled up from a pile of moss covered rocks to meander deeper into the woods. That done, he let the horses graze on the lush grasses filling the meadow. Going over to his uncle’s raptor drake, he pulled the elaborate riding cantle from its narrow back. Then, leading it away from the donkey and horses, he fed it a third rabbit still moving, which it made quick and bloody work of.

Meanwhile, Hal got to work on preparing a stew of assorted tubers, all local Karrn varieties, care of the farmers they’d ran into earlier that day. Into it he added the rabbit brought in by Talon and a packet of dried berries Old Man Woody offered. The smell of the stew wafted deliciously over the camp, and when Hal added the utullu flowers, everyone demeanor became relaxed to the verge of sedate.

Turning its head to the fire with a mouthful of grass, the donkey continued to observe the gathering of two-legs. He had come to a conclusion. There definitely seemed to be a disparity in the work being done. So, it wasn’t only four-legs that those silly two-legs abused, but other two-legs as well. Bizarre behavior, the donkey mused. Absolutely bizarre.

A fire had begun to blaze, courtesy of Bigubu who had followed Old Man Woody’s instructions and stacked up a nice pile of dried oak, which he had ignited with a tiny metal box concealing an inner flame. Beside the fire, sat Oscolo engaged in pleasant small talk with the old halfling. Old Man Woody had brought out a heavily polished long-stemmed pipe carved of redwood in the shape of a fox. The smell of sweet pipe smoke and uttulu-scented stew mixed together in a dreamy kind of way, hinting of the Talenta Plains.

Bigubu sat opposite Oscolo, and by the failing light of the evening and the growing light of the fire studied a strange contraption help upon his lap. About as long as his forearm, the long cylinder that took up most of its length ended in a partial globe encircled by a ring that further curved perpendicular to the length into what appeared to be a handle to grip the contraption by.

The arcane looking device was melded together with distinct parts, each being composed of a different material. Metals both hard and precious could be seen glinting in the firelight. Various crystals had been embedded along the ring and complex glyphs and arcane geometries had been etched or engraved upon the surface.

However, the most unnerving feature of “the infernal contraption”, as Oscolo liked to refer to it, would have to be the set of demonic looking eyes crafted into the globular head. This feature would become all the more unnerving if one were to see the device in action, or even more so if the observer were to face the device eye to eyes. At this point of view, the destructive potential would be all too obvious.

“You finished tinkering with your monstrosity,” muttered Hal who stood hunched over the fire stirring a cauldron full of stew set up on a tripod. “Were about ready to eat and I don’t like the way that thing looks at me.”

“Mind your business Hal, not my work. Serve the stew. What I do with the GSC is none of your concern.”
“Ain’t gonna be no stew till that demonic crossbow is put back in its case,” Hal returned, exemplifying his decision by tapping a wooden spoon on the rim of the cauldron.

Smiling wickedly, Bigubu met Hal’s eyes, then slowly brought them to rest on the arm holding the spoon. “How’s the Fang’s mark feeling now, Hal? Any more blood? Has it started to stink of rotten flesh yet? Obvious signs of zombification…”

“I ain’t turning to no damned zombie!” Hal shouted, the color draining from his face.
Oscolo, wearing a whimsical smile, looked from one of his companions to the other and shook his head. Just like the academy, he thought to himself. Then, he coughed into the tension. Both immediately looked his way.

“Come now, boys. Let’s play nice and not ruin the serenity of this meadow with talk of the rotting undead and infernal contraptions. The stew smells ready and Ol’ Woody here promised us a tale or two.”
Giving Hal one last evil grin, Bigubu eased the GSC back into its tooled leather case. At this, Hal reached into a set of saddlebags and pulled out a stack of wooden bowls and began to dollop fragrant stew into each one. Talon, coming over from the outskirts of the meadow, reached into another set of bags and pulled out a paper-wrapped package of trailbread and a clay pot filled with a sharp, creamy Karrnathi cheese.

Bowls in hand, scooping chucks of tuber or rabbit into their mouths with slabs of hard, crusty bread, the group of five fell quiet enjoying this warm meal. The satisfied air lasted until bowls grew empty, where upon seconds were scooped out of the cauldron.

“Mmmm… this stuff is pretty good, Hal. You’ve definitely out done yourself,” Oscolo commented, scrapping the last of the stew from his bowl with a sliver of bread.

“Mmmm…good,” Talon agreed mouth overstuffed with stew, bread and cheese.

Nodding his head, Bigubu added his assent. “See, Hal. You shouldn’t complain about your chores. If nothing else, this trip will enhance your next to nonexistent culinary skills.” But all Bigubu got in return was a cool glare. “You are definitely improving. This stew is actually edible.”

“Oh me oh my,” Old Man Woody exclaimed, placing his empty bowl at last on the ground after filling it to the brim four times. “Faeries dancing on me belly,” he added patting his rotund little pot, “that be some graciously good stew, Hal, me sir.”

“Well, it’d be time for a bit ‘o story telling, I imagin’.” All eyes came up from finishing their meal to alight with interest on the elderly halfling. Old Man Woody rubbed his gnarly hands together to produce a rough sound. A glint of something unknown could be seen in his gray eyes as he opened his mouth. “Well this story me grandpap passed down teh me, from a time his pap was a young feller.” As the old halfling fell into the role of story-teller, a strange thing happened. His strong Karrnathi country-dialect disappeared, replaced by a deep, sibilant voice used to captivating listeners with poetic intonation and pause.

“This is tale of passion… Passion bred beneath the dark boughs of the Nightwood in a time when King Galifar still walked these lands.”

* * * Continued in part 2 * * *

Guiding the Elvenhome Caravan, part 1
Running into the Bleeding Heart Band

Episode 05: Guiding the Elvenhome Caravan, part 1

Hi-lights: Places

* Karrnath, Vedykar (small city):

Hi-lights: People

* Trenton Weather

Hi-lights: Events

* MAJOR QUEST: Locate Prof. Wyr (ongoing)

Hi-lights: Rewards


Date: Therendor (Early-spring)

#1. Scene:

  • interrogating the guards
    • info about the Guild – cross-continent loose organization of thieves and criminals
    • hit on the party’s head 500GP capture
  • leaving Karrlakton
    • Dennith Sentinel – warned about the Ravenwing Gang
    • ex-Karrnath military
    • marines/special ops
    • labelled traitors when they attacked Aundair on the day the peace treaty at Thronehold was signed, caused difficulty for Kaius III during the peace talks
  • Guarding the Caravan (Skill Challenge)
    • day 1, night: Oscolo checks out a farmhouse as a good place to camp, but encounters the Bleeding Heart Band, several goblins escape (one on wolf)
    • day 2, noon: notice goblin wolfriders in the distance, also notice a huge wolf that doesn’t act like a wolf coming out of the ditch
    • day 3, early evening: reach Vedykar
  • in Vedykar
    • Bigubu – makes potions and alchemicals
    • Oscolo – entertains
    • Bigubu – sends living static shock samples (3 consumables) to The Twelve (Prof. Ma) to preform research on

Along the Way:

Date: Therendor

#2. Scene:

Date: Therendor

#3. Scene:


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