Done with That, Let's Find A Wizard

Karlstadt wasn’t working out for the party. G’Nash didn’t want to be there at all, and Gresh didn’t like the crowded city conditions. Lythor and Cellestine were intrigued by the potential magic to be gained, but the party as a whole wasn’t too keen on sticking around to get to know The Seven. They stayed long enough for Cellestine to gain trust from The Reminder’s henchmen and thus gain a spell. The spell Generation Gap turned out to be not so useful, but the party was on the way out of town in any case.
They made their way north through another abandoned city, then on to a more populated one. The party was able to restock food and supplies there, to some extent, and spent the night. It was there that they learned a bit more about the Old Arch-Mage that lived in the area, Wilibald Schwartz. He apparently lived in a swamp far to the south.
So the party set out, heading south, off any known road. Through hills and swamps they journeyed, until ending up in Thungren, a small town of nervous peoples. The party needed time to heal up, after having a tough fight with some giant ants. They shacked up in an abandoned house. Planning to spend an extra day there. In town, Cellestine and Lythor figured they would entertain the locals by playing music. It was then that the threat came. It seemed a pack of thieves were running the scene in town, and they wanted the party to leave.
Lythor responded by putting three of the knaves to Sleep. These they tied up and dragged back to the house. Gresh and G’Nash interrogated the trio, killing one and employing the Skull, Zyklon to terrifying effect. The thieves spilled that the town was in the control of a dozen thieves, and that they had taken all of the children of the town captive. The youths were all being kept in a barn outside town.
Party members headed out to find this barn. Passing through the town of frightened peoples, they found the barn already set alight. A half-dozen thieves were pouring oil on the walls, building the flames. The party responded with violence, causing the thieves to flee. They broke into the burning barn, smashing through the walls, and began freeing the panicked children. One child far in the back was frozen in fear. Cellestine braved the falling, burning timbers and rescued the child.
The town was very thankful and created a plaque with the character’s names on it. “The Heroes of Thungren” rested the night in luxury and gained a henchman, half-way decent with a bow. From there the party headed west, toward the Great Swamp where the Wizard named Swartz lived.
They skirted away from Karlstadt, recognizing that the Bastillian army was probably already there. And made their way to the south side of the swamp. During camp, they were beset by a large pack of wild and hungry dogs. The dogs put up a fight, slaying the new henchman and biting deep into the others. Cellestine’s Sleep spell ended most of the threat, but party members were down and a lot of healing was needed. They waited an extra eight hours before pressing on into the Great Swamp.
Eventually the party came upon a path, leading north and east. They followed it north to a mound, surrounded with standing stones. This mound had a door, with a passage beyond. They avoided death by fire but then abruptly met the arch-mage, in the very stone passage.
Swartz was a very strange man, apparently a necromancer for all of his bone fetishes and claims of undead minions. He was happy to see the party and had a brief re-acquaintance with Zyklon, thinking the Skull was some kind of Lich. Zyklon, for his part, was non-plussed at meeting his old friend. Swartz had undergone a few changes over the last century, had lost his refinement and seemed a bit crazy. In any case, Swartz had a mission in mind for the party, something he was loathe to carry out on his own.
He asked the party to journey to an ancient set of caverns, on the backside of Goblin Hill. Swartz feared the coming of The Insect Goddess, a malign creature that ruled the world in eons past. The recent increase in insect activity and the opening of the fortifications on Goblin Hill gave him reason to believe that the vile Goddess was returning. As Swartz currently lived in what was once a shrine to the Insect Goddess, he knew that the Goddess would be none to happy with him if she did return. This knowledge aggravated him, but he knew the way to prevent the goddess from re-appearing. There was a ruby statue in the shape of an ant. If the statue was broken, then the Insect Goddess could never return to the world above. Swartz knew where the statue was, but more importantly, when.
Swartz entrusted the party with a scroll, the scroll contained a spell that would allow the party to briefly go back in time some 10,000 years, to a specific date. The party would have to be in the right place, described as a Sacrifice Chamber deep inside the Goblin Hill caverns, before casting the spell. After finding the chamber and the spell’s casting, the party would be in the same room as the Ruby Ant, and would be able to fetch it. Even broken, the rubies would be worth tens of thousands of Gold Pieces. Seemed a win-win situation.
The party set off to the north, met up with Rellim, their companion, and learned of the dark fate of Karlstadt. The Ranlilians of Bastillia had razed the city to the ground, slaughtering most of the city’s population. The smoke of a huge fire and the smell of death permeated the air. The party decided to avoid the wreckage of the city. They headed west, skirting the roads as possible and avoiding contact with people. Traveling through the wilds took longer but the party steadily made their way up to Goblin Hill.
It seemed that the Bastillians had gotten there first, laying siege to the “Re-Education Center” on the north side of the hill. As the caverns apparently had their entry on the south side, the party tried to avoid contact with the besiegers. Sadly they did encounter a scouting party, and slew them all, so they feared being sought out by the Bastillians.
After a surprisingly short search of the south side of Goblin Hill, the party discovered a hidden entrance to the ancient caverns beneath.

Encounters, Plus Entering Karlstadt

The party pressed on from the arcane-phobic environs of Davout, north toward arcane-friendly Karlstadt. They witnessed what looked like witch trials, as a handful of women were being tried out by a pond, by a high government official. The women were thought to be witches and devil-worshipers a guard admitted. The party thought about intervening except for the large number of heavily armed guards present. No one really liked Davout anymore after that.
Further along the way, the party met a hoard of children, abandoned refugees of various cities within the Kingdom. They fed these miserable and dirty youths with generous portions of their own food, and time. They left them after advising them to head toward Davout. Later, the party pulled into Zellingen for the night, about half-way between Davout and their target city.
This village, normally of 500 souls was largely abandoned; its people had fled in the face of the Bastillians. 12 people were found in what once was an inn. The party was hoping to refill from the provisions given to the children, but found the prices to be 11 times that of Selangod, and so declined to buy anything.
The party tucked into one of the larger abandoned houses to rest. At the start of the night, the watchers Cellestine and G’Nash noticed a child approaching the house. He was trying to be sneaky but failed. They confronted the boy and he told a story about how this house used to be his family’s, but that they had kicked him out. Cellestine fed him and allowed him to sleep in her room. How very nice.
But then the kid tried to murder her. The junior assassin continued his streak of failure by missing the easiest stab he would ever have. Cellestine tried to grapple with the child but also failed, getting cut for her efforts. But another sword was eventually brought to bear and the kid was dropped, unconscious. They tied him up and left him with a note telling the world what a murderous wretch he was. Rellim believed the youth to be an apprentice for a real assassin somewhere, possibly one of the 12 local folks. The party left in the morning, wanting nothing more to do with the ghost town.
They saw ten foot high termite mounds… Left them alone.
Journeying farther they met a group of peasant militia, the Citizens Defense Force. These fine folks invited the party into Karlstadt, reminding them of the new laws: no arms or armor allowed in the town, and no religion too. They encouraged the party to part with their implements of destruction and be escorted into town, but the party wasn’t about to comply. They also weren’t keen on slaying a bunch of innocent citizens on watch. They stated instead that they were going in another direction. They secretly planned to go around the city, to its backside where they might sneak in.
They approached the city and noticed the moat and high walls. They would need a means to get across the moat, but also saw that the rear gate was sealed, covered over with crates and pallets. They retreated to a nearby wood, not being seen by very distracted guards, standing atop the wall. Once in the woods, they set to cut long trees down to build a bridge. This would take them well into the night.
A screaming, desperate man came crashing through the trees. He was obviously covered in biting insects for the insane scratching he was doing, yet no insects were seen upon him. The closest examination revealed no insects at all. Stoney tried to rub some salve onto the man only to find that the invisible insects were contagious. Her inching and scratching distracted her to great lengths. Cellestine cast Sleep on the afflicted man and that worked for a while. She kept watch over him while the rest of the party made for the city.
Stoney felt great relief sliding into the moat around Karlstadt. The rest of the party wasted no time in setting up their makeshift bridge. They crossed to the wall around the gate and then Rellim climbed it. He lowered rope for the other members of the party while Lythor sent his cat to inform Cellestine of the situation. They all waited for the Bard and the cat’s return, fighting off a few guards in the meantime. Finally whole the party descended to the busy, filthy streets of Karlstadt.
They found a main road heading to the center of town. On one side they found an inn-turned-hospital, filled with sick, injured and dying folks, receiving little care. Not enough resources to help, so the party continued on toward the center of the city. They saw many people, whole families, sleeping in the streets. The city’s population of 1500 had doubled in the face of the coming Bastillians. Later they saw another corrupted hospital, guarded to keep peoples inside its crammed wards. All of this drudgery was alleviated somewhat when the party entered a courtyard filled with music.
Musicians, skilled and novice gathered – lived – here and spent the midnight hour playing songs and tunes. As nice as this was, the party didn’t stay long, but pressed on to the next clearing where an ancient church had been re-purposed. It had apparently been turned into some sort of barracks for the town guard, for guardsmen came in and out. Party members wondered if they might be able to pass themselves off as guards. On one side of this church was a cemetery.
Some party members approached this cemetery, when they noticed a woman walking and gesturing wildly among the headstones. Was she casting a spell? Lythor was intrigued, and under the watchful eyes of Rellim, he came near the woman who turned out to be one of The Seven. Emma Gabges, “The Defiler” as she was called, spends her nights in the cemetery talking to the dead, imploring them to stay in their graves. She seems certain that very soon the dead will rise from the earth and attack. She is also convinced that the passed members of her family are haunting her.
Lythor learned that Emma was indeed a witch, but she only has two spells in her book. Unlike other members of The Seven, she plays little role in ruling or defending the city – except against the imminent threat of undead attack. The dead are her main concern. Emma named the other members of The Seven during her talks with Lythor, at least by title: The Reminder, The Mother, The Watcher, The Provider, The Joy and The Defender. She doesn’t seem to know them all that well.
The party considered camping for the night.

Getting Through the Mountains
Reaching Davout

The party continued its trek through the mountain pass, on its way to Davout. On the way, Lythor endeavored to get to know the Skull, Zyklon, better. Lythor even set him atop his staff for a while. Zyklon seems to be magical somehow and is interesting to the wizard. Plus, the Skull seems to be a nice guy.
Small incursions of rats were occasionally noticed during the night-watches, night after night. The vermin always seemed to be making their way toward Zyklon, wherever he was placed during the night. It started out as a suspicious irritation, but then turned into a brawl when the giant rats appeared.
Nine two-foot long rats and hundreds of normal rats poured forth from the woods, making their way toward Zyklon. The isolated Lythor fled the coming infestation but lost the Skull in his haste. The rest of the party woke themselves and plodded toward the fight at the side of the caravan.
Zyklon screamed and screamed at the coming rats, tried to bite them as they approached. Celestine risked he life by sprinting into the masses of squeaking creatures, grasping Zyklon out of the rat’s very teeth. She was bitten several times but did manage to save the skull.
More party members appeared on the scene, drawing bows, slings and swords. One by one they were able to pick off the giant rats. Those who did slog in with swords found the attacking difficult as rats ran up their legs. Very distracting. Through the bites and harassment, the party was able to slay the giant rats, causing the rest of the vermin to flee. Celestine and Gresh followed them into the woods, killing scores of the creatures.
Healing was given to the bitten and the journey soon continued.
Several days passed without incident, although the small appearances of rats continued. Zyklon could not explain the rats although he did admit that, “there were always rats.” The Gnoll outposts conducted their checks as always, standards kept efficiently. More days passed.
The party members found activities to pass the time: Celestine played her instrument while Zyklon sang along, Lythor read from his various books, Gresh perfected some wood-workings, others hunted and tried to stay comfortable. It was boring work thanks to the defensive efforts of the Gnolls. After twenty days of travel, the caravan approached Davout.
Still two days out the assembly was set upon by bandits and an archer ambush. Several of the guards were brought down by arrows that flew in from the woods. Three party members fell within a few rounds as they were attacked by experienced thieves. Once again, Lythor’s Sleep spell proved invaluable, putting three rogues asleep before they could cause more damage. The lead rogue was still active, however, causing Sarrah to join the fray. He too was almost taken down by the sharp sword of the leader.
Gresh, Adrian and Rellim pressed the attack and eventually the threat was ended. Gresh chased one of the fleeing archers up a tree and allowed the others to interrogate the wretch. With the uninformative interrogation done, Gresh slew the man.
Closer to Davout, the party noted an old tree with three figures hanging from its branches. Some approached and found the desiccated remains of three women. Were they witches? Are Magic Users really facing deadly persecution in Davout?
The party got paid once in town and said their goodbyes to Sarrah. The magically inclined decided to stay outside the town. Others entered and found that yes, magical practitioners are being persecuted and that “The Seven,” apparently a pack of witches, has indeed taken control in Karlstadt, a city half a day north. A bounty of 100 gold pieces has been put on each of their heads – or 1000 if all Seven heads are collected and delivered to the King in Davout. There was also a 1000 gold piece bounty put on the head of a murderer named K’emwar Uskum.
It seemed that the people of Davout were not that concerned about the coming Bastillian army. They doubted the forty-thousand solider figure that had been around and figured that the coming Ranlilians would have to get through a number of cities before laying any kind of siege to the walls of Davout. Confidence was high although many were still concerned. War does that to people. The Bastillians are about a week away from the outlying areas of Davout.
The rest of the party that did not enter town held up in an abandoned barn near the city. By random chance a band of Bastillian soldiers approached at almost the same time. They had planned to sleep the night away inside the barn. The leader of the band asked a lot of questions about Davout, and anything around that deals with magic. He asked about Selangod as well but Gresh pretended ignorance regarding magic. Lythor hid in the back. The Bastillian patrol moved on, ceding the barn to the party.
So what’s next?

Starting the Campaign
Finding Work

Cast of characters, friends and companions:
Stony Dehone, Cleric of Mu
Rellim t’Tam, Assassin (Specialist)
Celestine, Bard of the Ocarina
Gresh, Ranger (of much puke)
Lythor, Magic User Extraordinaire
Gnatasha (Gnash), Basher type Fighter
Adrian Thelonious, Monk of Tortunia

Septibos 7: The party milled about Downtown Selangod to start their story. The friends likened themselves to armed explorers rather than adventurers, with the later warranting a negative connotation throughout Selangod. Adventuring is often tied to grave robbing and troublemaking, after all.

Explorers though they may be, Gnash pursued a guard duty job for the party. Sarrah, a Half-Orc textile and oddities merchant, hired the party to guard his caravan on a twenty-two day journey to the Kingdom of Davout, three hundred miles to the northwest. The party scored a whopping two hundred eighty gold-piece pay rate, half now, half in Davout. There is an advantage to being leveled, armed and armored in a place where such is uncommon.

The journey through the northern mountains for the most part was boring. The Gnolls who reside there deal with most dangers, protecting the trade routes between Davout and Selangod. The caravan routinely runs into Gnoll checkpoints, where the letter of the law is followed.

Along these lines, the caravan was stopped by a pack of Gnolls who were demanding payment. Sarrah argued and argued against this bogus tariff. Then, when enough of his personal guards had gathered around, Sarrah stabbed the head Gnoll with two daggers. A fight ensued, with the party participating in the defense of the caravan.

About half of the Gnolls were disabled by Lythor’s Sleep Spell. The guardsmen took care of these slumbering robbers. The rest of the party beat down the rest, slaying all of them with efficiency. A small sack of silver and gold coins was gained for their trouble.

The journey continued and several dull days passed. The weather grew colder but the thin valley they traveled through remained free of snow. Still, it differed greatly from Tropical Selangod.

The final encounter of the session once again involved the Gnolls. The party, which was leading the caravan, saw a pack of Gnolls arguing and cajoling among themselves. It seemed that there was some haunted threat living several yards off the road, and the Gnolls were too frightened to deal with it. The party, with every condescension given, marched into the woods to see what the problem was.

A thin thirty-foot tunnel sloped down at the base of a rocky hillside. No threat could be seen from the mouth of the cave, but old sacks and a few bones were spotted. Most of the party descended into the tunnel and dug through the ancient sacks of flour. Underneath was found a decayed human skull, one that apparently had life left to it. The skull spoke in empty tones, greeting the party and asking to be removed from the cave. This was enough to frighten away all of the Gnolls.

The skull’s name was Zyklon, and a hundred years ago he was a Bard. He claimed to have been killed by Gnolls way back when, and doesn’t know why he is “alive” now. He is eager to accompany the party, as he is desperate for conversation and cannot move of his own power. He knows no spells but apparently can still sing for inspiring effect. The party has put him at the back of the caravan, not quite sure what to make of him.


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