Shaintar J&L The Shattered Warband

Greenvale - Session 2
The Fire Brigade

The conversation of the Rangers on the evening of the 1st of Eternal Sun circles around Errol Tanner, then suspected conman, and the Margrave.

In the evening on the 2nd, they decide to proceed into town to learn more.

While having drinks at the Rosewater, they again hear the story of how the Margrave rode off to rescue his daughter, but was never heard from again.

Additionally, they learn that Errol Tanner had rented a room at the Rosewater, but was evicted when unable to pay. Reener questions how a man who can create crysarium would be unable to pay for his lodging.

When asked where Errol might have gone, the proprietor of the Rosewater informs the Rangers than anyone who couldn’t afford a room in town might try Southside, the shanty town built up against Greenvale’s southern wall.

The Rangers head outside, debating whether to try the slums at night. An explosion from the south prompts their actions. They rush south, seeing the dancing light of flames projected over the southern wall. They are let out of the gate, leaving instructions for the guardsmen to rally a fire brigade.

They rush into Southside, where they find the denizens of the slum standing outside a large building. Flames escape from a pair of broken windows on the upper story.

Rakepick eyes the crowd, finding Errol watching the flames. Suspicious, the Brinchie circles around to place a claw on the alchemist’s shoulder. “Don’t go anywhere,” he orders.

Eska rushes into the building, climbing the stairs and finding patrons to rescue. One of the eight doors into the upper hall appears to have been blown open. The fire is worst here, and the interior wall has partly crumbled. Outside this portal, a still and badly burned humans lies.

Outside, the Ogre Hodor lobs barrels full of water at the flame. The first strikes the wall and does nothing more than dampen the exterior. The second finds its mark, caving in the window frame and replacing plumes of smoke with steam.

Reener and Hodor enter the building, helping the remaining survivors out and stamping out the remainder of the flames.

With the fire controlled, Errol makes his way inside. Rakepick tries to restrain him, but the alchemist is adamant. He readily admits, as he shrugs off the Brinchie and heads into the building, that it was his room in which the fire started and that it was started by a defense mechanism he’d left to prevent intruders.

Only once he’s recovered his belongings, a large, bulky bag, does he elaborate, saying that he set up a booby trap to prevent anyone from entering his room. When the rangers suggest this was reckless, he argues that it is no different than defending himself with a sword or bow. Yet, after a moment of anger, he agrees to accompany the Rangers to their headquarters as their “guest.” He does, however, claim to have an appointment the next day with Master Highlands that he must keep.

The body outside Errol’s door is unrecognizable from its burns. Furthermore, the Orc who runs the burned Inn, claims to not know if he was a guest at her establishment.

The Rangers return to town, where they find that a fire brigade was rallied, but did not venture outside the walls.

The rangers return to their headquarters to sleep.

On the 3rd of Eternal Sun, as they prepare to return to Southside to continue their investigation, the Rangers are surprised to find a dwarf on their doorstep. He bears a message from Foreman Lanyard.

A bridge, constructed prior to the Storms, has been sabotaged. Foreman Lanyard, impressed by how the Rangers dealt with the Storm Druid, hopes they’ll investigate and prevent future harm as his dwarves repair the damage. The Rangers agree, and immediately set out for the Bridge.

Near a small lake, they find that the bridge has been purposefully damaged and burned. Two beams still stretch across the gap, and the dwarves have rigged rope bridges and ropes and pullies to aid their repairs. As Anton helps with the repairs, Reener crosses the bridge to investigate the farside of the span.

There, he finds a goblinesh path. As he follows it, he encounters a one armed orc who invites him back to their gather. Reener says that he must tell his friends first, but the Orc is insistent.

Reener flees, and is pursued back to the bridge by the orc and other goblins.

A fight breaks out at the bridge, with dwarves being knocked into the waters below.

The Rangers gain the advantage in the fight, despite a goblin acolyte summoning childer to the battle. The caster and his Ogre guardian are driven off. The one armed orc is wounded and made captive.

Reener and Gandogar follow the goblins back to their Gather. It appears Ceynara has made a foothold near Greenvale.

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Greenvale - Session 1
Lay of the land

GM Note: Forgive me if this write up is brief. I got behind thanks to life.

The Rangers finally arrive in Greenvale, their new home and the center of the bit of the Wildlands they have sworn to protect.

This soon after the storm, the town is still wet and damaged, but the surrounding crops are already starting to come in. Led by Zaro, their commanding officer who is literally aflutter with excitement, they enter town through the East Gate and then take the North Road.

Greenvale, protected by the Fae Nation to the West and far from the borders of Olara and Galea, is little troubled by the events of the Crimson Crusade. Yet, upon closer inspection, does not appear to be entirely at peace. Many who walk the streets are armed, or, if they are well to do, protected by body guards.

The Rangers decide to wait to make themselves known to the town, choosing to retreat to their new headquarters for the remainder of the evening to recover from the road.

They proceed north and leave town by the North Gate. There, they find that Foreman Lanyard and his clan of dwarves are seeking to build a new road from Greenvale to Farwatch. Foreman Lanyard is quickly ingratiated to the Rangers, as they claim to have had a small part in ending the storms.

North and West of the gate, within sight of the town, is the Ranger Headquarters. Wooden walls enclose the L shaped building, as well as a training ground, stables, forge, and armory. A hill borders the encampment on the West, holding a dug out cellar large enough to be converted to a workshop. A swollen stream flows from the north, through a sluice gate, and out through another to the East. The waters are blocked, flooding the fruit trees that border the stream. North of the headquarters, a tall Sentinel Pine holds Zaro’s Nest.

It is from this Nest that a black blur descends and rushes to greet Zaro. The Aevakar lifts his son, Jesua, and spins him around. His wife, Goldie, also greets the Rangers to their new home.

The only other occupant of the headquarters is Wesselmum, the butler and scribe who has tended to the grounds in the year since Zaro and the former Rangers of Greenvale departed to the War of Flame.

The Rangers move into their new quarters and then spend the evening toasting the memory of their fallen and informing Wesselmum and Goldie of the happenings of the past year.

The next day, the Rangers don their cloaks and travel into Greenvale proper to make their presence known. They are unsure how the locals will react to the return of law enforcement in the form of Grey Rangers.

Here, their suspicions that not all is perfect in this little town are confirmed. A few, when pressed, will admit that those with power and money have the best of it. Others will lament that it’s necessary to carry a sword for one’s one protection. Yet, overall, it appears that the the Economic Council of Greenvale, a group of the four preeminent families, have kept the peace and brought prosperity to town. The Highlands, Lady Jules, The Steele Family, and the Timberset Dwarves make up the council. Foreman Lanyard has petitioned to join the council, but his application is still pending.

Furthermore, the Rangers learn the Margrave Branowen, the Lord who served as the military might and a leader in Greenvale, disappeared four years prior. His daughter had married into a family in Farwatch, but some tragedy caused the Margrave to rally his forces and march off on a rescue mission. No soul returned. In the four years since, rumors have proliferated. There are tales of vampires and a haunted estate south of town. Yet the official record simply states that the Margrave and his forces set out on a rescue mission and did not return. The rangers are intrigued and plan to investigate.

In the market square, Anton is approached by a Errol Tanner, a human with patched clothing and worn shoes. Errol announces himself as an Alchemist, and claims to have discovered an incredible power, which allows him to transform base metals into crysarium. Anton and the other rangers are skeptical, but, after taking a coin from the dwarf, Errol returns a piece of crysarium with the same shape and look of the coin.

The Rangers are perplexed. This power would be incredibly valuable and dangerous if genuine, yet Errol seems to be poor. Despite their watchful eyes, they could see no trick at play. When the Rangers remain skeptical, Errol claims to already have audiences lined up with the Lady Jules and the Highlands family.

With their heads full of new information about their home, the Rangers return to headquarters.

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The Storm

Upon returning to Kiln, Zaro, Hodor, and Anton are shocked and dismayed to learn of Karrol’s betrayal.

Though an untested leader, Zaro rallies himself from his grief to establish himself as the commanding officer of the Rangers of the Shattered Warband. He asserts that the Rangers will carry out Leandron’s wish: they will return to Greenvale to resume their post and mission there. However, Zaro will have no one feel the burdens that drove Karrol to betrayal. He tells the Rangers to see to their affairs, saying goodbye to loved ones, prior to the journey to Greenvale.

Plans are made to meet in Olara in just over a month’s time and the rangers split. Reener remains with the Silverspear Gather, discussing matters with Yulihk. Anton, Gandogar and Hodor travel to their home in Anvil. Though Eska wishes to journey to Dregordia, she realizes such a journey is impossible, and instead joins with Rakepick and Alfie, who continue with the others to Anvil.

Zaro takes the Tome of Builder Knowledge, and flies this to Krythos.

The rangers meet again in Olara, but the weather is too poor to allow them to begin their journey. They delay until the spring.

Attaching themselves to caravans, the Rangers travel south.

When they enter the Wildlands, in the town of Echer’Naught, they find great destruction from recent storms. They aid the Rangers of the Greenway Road, healing, rebuilding, and caring for the remains of the dead.

Colonel Wolfhaven tells the rangers of the events… of the infiltration by Prelacy forces and the epic vortex that erupted above the fray. He tells of the creatures of lightning that descended from the storm, sharing that they are vulnerable to white silver and salt.

On the 6th day of First Hunt, most of the Rangers of the Shattered Warband leave Echer’Naught. They leave behind Samael, in the care of Rakepick and Reener, to assist with the study of three Arclances captured from the prelacy forces.

Colonel Wolfhaven quietly makes it known to Zaro, and again to Rakepick, that a resource as valuable as a Builder should be taken to Krythos.

Without the Goblin and the Brinchie, the other Rangers make slow progress on the roads from Echer’Naught to Kator, and on to Farwatch.

On the 19th, rains again slow their progress, but they slog forward. On the 20th, they find another caravan abandoned on the road. The horses have run off or been slaughtered. There are no other survivors or bodies.

The Rangers investigate. Much of the goods have been removed. There are signs of a fight, with weapons abandoned and blood in the covered areas of the wagons. Alfie is even able to find some evidence that survivors crawled from the road.

This path ends in a nearby culvert. Further study shows footsteps leading away.

These are followed, and the Rangers soon come upon a camp. The once large fire has been reduced to sizzling embers by the strengthening rain.

Inside the tents, Gandogar finds and kills a risen corpse. He proceeds to the next tent, dropping another as more emerge from the woods.

Anton is wounded, but not grievously. Hodor and Gandogar make short work of the undead pestilence as the chiming of bells sounds in the distance.

The rangers are curious. The dead seem to be recently fallen. Some are wearing black, others varied colors. Anton finds evidence that some of the goods in the camp were removed from the abandoned caravan.

Following the repeated sounds of church bells, the Rangers come upon a chapel in a valley. The chapel’s bell sounds again, drawing the attention of the zombies clustering around the doors. A muddy, upturned graveyard is visible to the chapel’s west.

The Rangers charge forward, seeking to aid those inside. However, Gandogar and Eska are drawn around the corner, where they are overwhelmed by the numbers of the undead.

Anton reaches the door. As Hodor provides cover, he seeks entrance. However, the door is barred.

“Open up. We’re Grey Rangers.”

From within, the dwarf hears a hurried conversation:

“Don’t open it, they’re rangers.”

“If we don’t open it, we’ll all die.”

The door is unbarred, and the occupants of the chapel, a golden colored Brinchie, a staff wielding Eldakar, and two humans, await impatiently as Anton, and Alfie enter.

Gandogar, however, stumbles, and must be rescued by Eska and Hodor.

Inside, the Rangers fortify the chapel. Pews are placed across windows.

The Chapel appears to be devoted to Archanon, though its current occupants claim it was empty when they were chased here. They claim to be survivors of a zombie attack against their caravan, but the Rangers are unconvinced.

The night passes, with the two parties keeping some healthy distance between each other.

In the 13th hour, zombies attack the windows with renewed effort. They burst in from various points.

Frantically, all occupants fight back the invaders. The two humans fall, but the Brinchie and Eldakar provided needed support. As Alfie, Anton and the Eldakar rush to bolster the barriers, the others beat back the undead.

Matters teeter on the brink of disaster as one of the front doors is shaken from its hinge, but Hodor, strengthened by the Eldakar’s magic, is able to hold the door in place long enough for Anton to fashion a new pin.

As the Brinchie puts a knife through the eye of his fallen comrades, Anton pulls the Eldakar aside. In frank terms, he lays out that he doesn’t care what the Eldakar was doing prior to the zombie uprising, but that he needs to know what occurred.

With a glance to his companion and a sigh, the Eldakar provides a fuller answer. “I’ll tell you, but you must give me your word: When this is over, we are each to go our separate ways.”

He then tells how he, the Brinchie, and other bandits led a raid on the caravan the prior day. They retreated back to their camp, never suspecting that the dead would rise and follow. They were set upon that morning, losing all but the 4 who fled to the chapel.

The Eldakar further divulges that he had sensed a Loci, which might be the source of the troubles.

After telling the Brinchie of the agreement, of which the Brinchie is not at all pleased, he divines the location of the Loci and presents instructions to the Grey Rangers.

As dawn rises, they make their escape. With Gandogar sounding the bell to draw the zombies off, they leave through the rectory.

True to Anton’s word (and discretion in who he tells), the Grey Rangers allow the bandits to depart to the North as they follow a swollen stream to the North East.

Dispatching the occasional wandering zombie, the Rangers eventually reach a dead Ironwood tree. In a blackish pool at its base, an Orc Druid and a Human Necromancer make battle. Knights stand with the Shaman, doing battle against the shambling undead.

Thinking they’ve found an ally, Gandogar and Eska rush forward to attack the Necromancer.

Hodor, Alfie and Anton make for the zombies, but notice something odd about the Knights. Their faces seem to shift shift and distort in the wind.

Wounded, the Necromancer attempts to fly away, but Gandogar and Eska are in close pursuit.

“HE’LL LET THEM THROUGH!” The Necromancer screams, frantically attempting to avoid Gandogar’s hammer blows.

With the last of his power, he summons forth Phantasms, copies of himself, to distract his pursuers and allow him to fly into the storm.

Meanwhile, the Storm Druid has gained in power. Winds whip the water about his feet. Lighting dances harmlessly across his arms. Above the tree, a Vortex opens. Lightning strikes out at the rotten tree, dropping burning limbs to crash to the sodden soil. Wind Wraiths, riding spectral mounts, descend from the cloud. Charging at Hodor, Alfie, Anton and the others.

The storm grows stronger and stronger, yet the Orc is frustrated. He complains that the power is tainted, that he must wash the Necromancy’s taint away.

Realizing the new threat, the Rangers concentrate on the Orc, largely ignoring the Wraiths. This proves dangerous, as Alfie is struck down. But the human is resilient, surviving multiple blasts of lighting.

Leaving his back to the largest of the knights, Hodor surges forward. He wounds the Orc, who pivots away, seeking to keep distance between himself, the Ogre, and the charging Gandogar and Eska.

Finally, the Ogre is able to bring his mace home. The Orc collapses and the storm begins to fade from it’s full fury.

Yet, before ending completely, the mounted Wraiths pull up the body of the Orc and ride, rising into the air, into the heart of the vortex.

Soak to the bone, the Rangers pull themselves together, seeing to their wounds and searching the tree.

In the hollow of the tree, a pile of skulls is covered in a rising black ooze. Corrupted crysarium and focus crystals have been set through the structure. Eska takes these out and smashes them, saving the top focus crystal… untouched by the corruption… as a prize.

On the opposite side of the tree, Anton finds the Necromancer’s hovel. Within, he’s able to recover a sizeable number of components that will aid his alchemy, as well as a variety of coins and jewels taken off the dead. A white silver dagger is found in the trash heap.

The rangers rejoin the caravan and proceed to Farwatch. There, they send work back to Echer’Naught… as well as to the Rangers of Farwatch… regarding their adventure and the two escaped threats that may return to plague the area.

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The Unwanted Rose of Kiln
loss amid victory

The Rangers at the Mill interview Dern, the son of the Millers. The young man is cooperative, but has little useful information. He says that The Bloody, Leer, and Johan moved in about a month ago. Since then, they have not allowed him to go to town and threatened to cut out his tongue if he told anyone there were there. He asks after his parents, who ran out during the fighting. When asked where they would go, he reports that they would not go to his Uncle, the Baker in town, due to disagreements between his father and the uncle, but might go to Southgate, where they have other family with whom his fater is on better terms.

Rakepick returns with Leandron and Constable Koll. The reason Leandron was delayed by Karrol was that Teller and Rossacue had just arrived with a wounded boy. There had been a fight the previous night at Rossacue’s keep, and the boy, Volstagg’s son, was badly hurt.

The Rangers review their findings at the Mill. Alfie is able to identify the potions as a potion to Boost Spirit, a Potion of Healing, and a concoction that would cause a cloud of darkness.

The silver ball is most interesting to Rakepick, who wants to play with it. He wonders what the buttons and switches will do. He wonders if the seams might indicate there is something inside. Eska and the others do not want him to have the ball, but he secrets it away while the others are distracted.

With the note concerning The Client and the next phase, the Rangers are convinced that Kiln is not yet safe.

With the page of repeated signatures of Rossacue’s name, they suspect that he is a victim, rather than an active player. They resolve to attend his feast the next day, expecting that some trap may occur.

Reener upgrades his armor and sword to those used by The Bloody.

Koll gets the same answers as the Rangers, and brings the Miller’s son back to town with the group. Koll is most displeased when Rakepick asks, in front of Miller’s son, whether Johan might have killed his parents to keep him from talking.

They return to town late and eat dinner at the Inn, after most other patrons have left for the night. Karrol and Samael have already eaten, but join you anyway. Leandron spends the evening telling you of his adventures as a Grey Ranger. He recounts his first mission as a full ranger, breaking up a band of River Pirates plaguing the free lands. He tells of other Rangers who made forays deep into Kal-a-Nar to rescue kidnapped princesses. He is “alive” with the stories of braverism, selflessness, and honor. The new Rangers, and Samael, are enraptured by the stories. Karrol seems to have heard them before.

Remembering the similarities between the silver ball and the builder items, Eska asks Samael if he can identify the purpose of the device. It is only at this point that the Rangers realize no one knows where the ball has been placed. Suspicion falls to Rakepick, who eventually pulls the ball from a pocket.

Samael and the Grey Rangers inspect the device upstairs, where he confirms that it is of builder design. It is a device with multiple purposes. By turning certain switches and dials, it can be made to blind those around it. Configured another way, it will put them to sleep. Used a final way, it will explode violently. Rakepick takes the ball back, and then asks further about how to activate the device. Samael expresses how glad he is to be sleeping in the other room.

As the stories are winding down, the Dwarf who Gandogar has drunk with several times returns, and the two share a few (too many) more drinks and songs.

On the morning of the 14th, the day of Rossacue’s event, Gandogar and Eska travel to the Mueller and Reener sets out to inform the Silverspear Gather. They each intend to inform their previous hosts of the partial defeat of those attacking the farms. They warn that the threat is not passed entirely. Yulik, at the Silverspear Gather, is still saddened by the death of The Bloody and retreats into her tent. Grimey feeds Reener breakfast.

Near Noon, the Rangers reconvene in Kiln and make the journey to Rossacue’s Keep. They leave most of their belongings, but bring their weapons.

Rossacue’s Keep has reached more than full capacity. The three families of farmers burned out by the raiders have been put up by Rossacue, with some living within the keep and others living in large tents outside. Add to this the cooks, performers, and other guests that Rossacue has invited from Kiln and the surrounding areas, and a sizeable crowd is reached.

Rossacue greets them enthusiastically and congratulates them on the victory, of which Constable Koll, who arrived earlier, has already informed him. Gandogar tells Rossacue that there’s something they need to discuss with him. Eska interjects that it should be told in private.

Rossacue agrees. “You’ll be staying in my home. I have rooms prepared. My man, Trevor, will show you to them. Then I’ll meet you in the library.”

Teller shows them into the keep, asking them to store their weapons in the guardhouse. Some do, but others ask if they can keep their weapons in their room. Trevor Teller sees no problem with the arrangement and leads the way.

Once in the Library, they peruse Rossacue’s sizeable collection of books. Most books cover the history and families of Galea and Olara, but Eska finds 1 “mostly inaccurate” history of Dregordia. That books is more romantic in its portrayal of the foreign nation. Stories of Dragons are featured heavily, with the Dregordians featured as slayers and defenders of the innocent.

When Rossacue joins them, the Rangers present him with three pieces of evidence: The signatures, the note, and the religious pamphlet on which the map was drawn.

“Each of these involves me in some way, which is deeply distrubing.” Rossacue admits. He returns the items one by one. “This is not my signature, but is a good attempt.

“As you can see, I am missing my ring, which bears my seal. Since moving to Olara 5 years ago, I have suffered some inconvenient illnesses. Yulik, of the Silverspear gathers, sees to my symptoms. One is a persistent cough. Another is a swelling of the joints. I removed my ring a week ago and though I had simply lost track of it.

“And this last,” the returns the map, with the religious text upright. “I have never made a secret of my parentage. My father is the Lord of Oakwood, but my mother, rest her soul, was the daughter of a merchant in the service of Oakwood. My father was, and remains, married to the Lady of Oakwood at the time, which qualifies me for the second sin. I guess I qualify for the 3rd as well, as I do not worship Archanon.”

“Are you one of those sorcerers too?” Rakepick asks.

“No. I do not hit the trifecta, but I suspect the two will be enough for this “client.”

The Rangers ask Rossacue if he knows of anyone who would target him; anyone who could be the client; but he states that he does not.

Rossacue returns the evidence to the Rangers, thanking them. He states that he must return to his other guests and announces that the feast will begin once his “surprise guests” arrive.

Before he leaves, Eska tells him that she has a possession, a heirloom she has recovered for another dregordian family, that she would prefer to keep on her person, wrapped and covered. She asks for his permission, which he gives. The dregordian adept swiftly runs to fetch the Kayakor.

The Rangers then set about to cautiously enjoy the festivities. Reener makes a circuit of the Keep, finding the place where the Volstagg boy was beaten, but finding no particular scents or tracks among the much visited scene.

After an hour, the final guests arrive. There is much consternation and disturbance among the farm families as a delegation of Goblinesh arrive from the Silverspear Gather. Yulik, Grimey, and an Ogre, Orc and Goblin have arrived as the final guests.

Rossacue gathers everyone’s attention, giving a speech with regards to how the Grey Rangers have uncovered a plot to create division between the people of Kiln and the Gather, and calling for renewed peace and friendship between the neighbors. This is tolerably well received, and the goblinesh join the feast.

The feast commences, with boar, many apple dishes, breads, wine, ale, and beer all making significant appearances. Flutes and harps and jugglers entertain during the meal.

Rossacue, Yulik, the Mayor of Kiln, Constable Koll, and Leandron occupy the head table, raised and placed on the porch of Rossacue’s dwelling. The rangers, the other guests from Kiln, and the goblinesh, and the heads of the farm families staying at the keep are mixed on 2 long tables, carved of single pieces of wood.

After the main course, Rossacue arises and delivers another speech on peace and harmony. He praises the Grey Rangers, speaking of their work in Galea and the southern kingdoms, not to mention their work here in Kiln. He then invites Leandron to speak.

Leandron then delivers a speech in praise of the individual Grey Rangers who have joined him. He honors them for their bravery and selflessness in the short time they have been rangers. He presents each with a cloak of the Grey Rangers, which he had commissioned of the local tailor (explaining why he was so flustered and busy when the rangers bought cloth from him).

As he receives his cloak, and after having his honor praise, Gandogar gives Rossacue the bag of coins found at the Mill, for its safe return to the farmers who paid the extorted fee to the raiders.

Leandron closes his speech with a toast, sits back in his chair, then collapses.

The healers among the Grey Rangers leap into action. Karroll, Eska, and Alfie converge on the Alakar, who is convulsing. Rossacue orders him brought inside. The five, along with Gandogar, bring him inside and upstairs to Rossacue’s room. There, they minister to his needs.

Alfie determines that the illness is due to poison, even detecting shavings of blood steel within the concoction, suggesting that this was targeted especially at Leandron. The blinds are drawn and Gandogar arms himself in expectation of another attempted assassination. Having exhausted their talent as healers, Alfie runs to fetch Yulik, the leader of the goblinesh, known as a powerful healer.

He finds the courtyard much changed. Trevor Teller stepped in to impose order. He ordered the gates barred and the different parties moved to separate areas, in case the assassin remained in their midst. Rakepick and Samael were moved to the Guardhouse. The citizens of Kiln were moved to the stables, while the farmers were kept at the tables.

When Alfie aks Trevor where Yulik is, the falconer answers. “She’s in the kitchen with the other Goblinesh. Tell the guard you have my blessing.”

Alfie delivers the message and steps through the opening door into the servants quarters. The alchemist hears the sound of drawn steel just in time to avoid a blow to the back. He rushes for the kitchen, but finds the door locked.

Unarmed, he reverses course and manages to make his way past the guard, returning to the courtyard, just in time to see Johan Spelt, the escaped archer, and a team of goblin archers unleash arrows into the farmers at the table. “Treason! Traitors!” He shouts, as Trevor advances on him with blade drawn.

Reener, confined with the Goblinesh in the Kitchens, hears the scuffling of Alfie’s fight. He flees up the stairs to the tower top. There, armed with sling, he proceeds to take long distance shots at opposing archers.

Rakepick has not been idle in the guardhouse. He unlocked the door, almost as soon as it had been closed behind him, and armed himself with his blade. To Samael, he gives a crossbow and, with some hesitation, the silver ball. “I’m trusting you.”

He then proceeds to the courtyard, where he gets into battle with a helmeted dwarf.

Rossacue arms himself with sword and shield and proceeds downstairs to confront the traitors. He verbally admonishes Trevor Teller as he advances. “The sins of the father are visited on the son,” the traitor replies.

Alfie escapes from Trevor and dashes to the guardhouse. There, he fires a few crossbow quarrels, before arming himself with a hammer.

Reener, pursued by a guard, is pushed from the rooftops, but survives the fall. He makes his way back indoors, unlocking the kitchen and arming himself with a knife, in time to lay an ambush for the guards as he returns to the ground. Victorious, he returns to the walls and continues to pelt the enemy with rocks.

Gandogar and Eska take the direct route to the archers on the wall, bursting through the windows and scampering across the porch roof. Gandogar takes arrows, but seems to be doing well enough at turning them away with his still mending shield arm. Eska leaps past him in her battle rage, swinging her Kayakor over the heads of the goblin archers to connect with the red headed Johan.

Wounded, the archer retreats to the tower, leaving all but one goblins to be cut down by Gandogar or flee on their own.

Before she can pursue, Eska is distracted by screams from Rakepick. Though he is not bleeding, the Brinchie clutches at his chest. He can feel phantom blows. It is something he has felt before. He knows instantly that it is caused by the Blood Steel dagger that almost killed him. The same Blood Steel dagger he left in the care of Karroll. The same Karroll who is still with Leandron.

“He’s killing him! Karroll is killing Leandron!” Rakepick shouts, even as real axe blows drive him to the ground before the gate.

Instantly, Eska and Gandogar turn from their targets and rush back to Rossacue’s room.

“The Lady sends her regards,” Trevor taunts as he drops Rossacue with a poisoned blade.

This leaves Alfie and Samael to face multiple foes in courtyard. Alfie, no stranger to the battlefield, realizes that to face so many alone is near certain death. He and Samael make a break for their allies.

Samael throws the silver ball into their midst. The blinding burst it gives off allows them to extend their lead and reach the porch. The dwarf rips off his helmet to better his vision, giving the fleeing pair the opportunity to recognize him as the dwarf, Clay Talger, who had frequented the inn in Kiln.

Upstairs, Gandogar finds a bloodstained Karroll at the top of the stairs. He swings his hammer, but is unable to connect before the Adept flees downstairs.

But he finds no respite as he circles the spiral staircase, for an enraged Dregordian has burst through the front door. The traitor falls, but is still breathing until an arrow zips over Gandogar’s ear and pierces Karrol’s throat. Freshly healed of his wounds, Johan had returned to the fray. Unable to turn the tide of the fight, he chose to avoid any information being able to reach the rangers through Karroll’s lips.

With Gandogar in pursuit, the normally lithe archer stumbles his way through the broken window and onto the rooftops before dropping heavily into the courtyard. “The job’s done,” he tells his comrades. “We’re leaving.”

Clay, Trevor Teller, and the two remaining guards leave Alfie and rush for the gate. Yet the falconer is not fleet enough of foot. Eska is able to close to Kayakor range and slows his escape further.

As Clay unbars the gate, Johan turns and sends one final gift. He places a black feathered arrow in Trevor’s eye, depriving the Grey Rangers of their best hope of uncovering the truth of the conspiracy in Kiln.

Though Reener pursues, he is not able to reach the escapees before they reach their horses and flee to the south.

In Rossacues room, Gandogar finds the remains of Leandron. His chest is bloodied by multiple vicious stabs and his throat is deeply slit. He is dead, beyond even the abilities of Yulik, though the old goblin does try.

Many of the farmers fared no better. The heads of two of the three families who had been burnt out of their homes were slain by the goblin arrows. Only the patriarch of the Volstagg farm and both Muellers survive.

Rakepick, Alfie, and Rossacue survive, thanks to the healing of their allies, though are somewhat battered by the experience.

Rakepick reports that as the connection from the knife to him strengthened, he could hear Karroll’s last words to Leandron. In a break from the brutality, Karroll cursed Leandron, saying:

“We were supposed to be brothers, doing work to raise up the southern kingdoms. But at every chance you debased us and kept us in poverty. We could have done lasting good. Instead, you seem to prefer these lowly savages. Well now you’ll die with them.”

The work then turns to cleaning up the mess and investigating the betrayal.

The Blood Steel dagger is still clutched in the dead Karroll’s hand. Rakepick reclaims this weapon, as it is a large threat to him if used by any person.

In Trevor Teller’s room, a small book of teachings of the Church of the Prelacy is found. Alfie also identifies several compounds and ingredients that have no use in Trevor’s normal position. They are various poisons, including some that could be used to bring out the swelling of the joints and coughing symptoms of Rossacue’s illnesses.

Additionally, they find a number of contracts that appear to be signed by the heads of the farming families sheltering at the Keep and Rossacue himself. These bear the wax seal of Rossacue’s missing ring, though the ring is not found.

The group studies these documents. On the surface, they seem to be standard agreements on how Rossacue will help each of the families restore the farm. He promises to provide the families with seed and food, will take a reasonable cut of the proceeds, and control of the lands will remain with the families. Finally, after some study, Eska discovers the small but vile secret hidden within their words.

“This part establishes a trust for the ownership of the lands among the of-age members of the family at the time of the contract. But this part adds Rossacue to that trust. And this part concerns the resolution of that trust in the event of death. If only one member of the trust remains living, they gain sole ownership, excluding any living heirs. This would make it seem that Rossacue sought to gain from tonight’s slaughter.”

When presented with these documents, Rossacue proclaims them forgeries, to which the Rangers heartily attest. Rossacue divulges that he’s been supporting the families with no expectation of a return. He returns them to the rangers.

“Do with them what you will. Keep them. Burn them. Give them to Koll. I will not profit off this.”

When asked again if he knows anyone who would seek to tarnish his reputation, Rossacue again names no person. Only after Alfie reminds him of Trevor’s words: “The Lady sends her regards,” does he even suggest the hint of a name.

“It is true. The Lady of Oakwood bears me no love. My success in Galea was a dishonor to her. That is why I left. But this is no evidence that could stand in a Galean court. Though she may be involved, I will not name her in this matter.”

When Gandogar questions aloud why they would seek to set this up and then seek to kill him too, Rossacue answers, “I do not think they cared so much if I lived or died, no more so than they care who works these few fields. They sought to disgrace me. For some, honor gained or lost means more than life.”

The delegation of the Silverspear gather departs that night for their home.

Alfie sets about cleaning and making presentable the body of Leandron. His clothing is ruined, but his cloak is saved and washed. Rossacue provides new clothing for him. In Rossacue’s possessions are paired White Silver swords, fine mail of small ringlets, and bracers. His bag also holds two letters. These are sealed. His pack also holds 4 potions:
Succor, Boost Fighting, Healing, and a “Small Bottle of Explosive Consequence”. This last was carefully packaged in a wooden box, which was itself wrapped in a thick cloth.

Late that night, Zaro returns. He is shocked at the death and betrayal, but, upon realizing his is now the ranking member, rallies for the benefit of the others. He repeats the name of Leandron’s home and the base of their grey ranger outpost, to-be-named, and shares that Leandron would wish to be buried where he fell, with his most prized belongings being returned to Krythos to be returned to his family.

The next day, you return to Kiln. Your rooms are as you left them. The plot, evidently, did not involve stealing bags of crysarium. Or, the battle was simply so costly to both sides that your enemies decided not to risk a return trip to Kiln.

Karroll’s possession a meager. He brought some crysarium out of the Builder mine, but has nothing else of great value. You find no letters or writings in his possessions. After some searching, Gandogar does notice that a bit of paper has been added to the other contents of the chamber pot. Whomever is brave enough to fish it out can find the following legible among the runny ink.

“Emily,
I am getting out…
…why did I let losing our land mean losing you…”

You remain a few days in Kiln. During this time, you see nothing of the Red Store agents.

The Inn is packed during these days. The citizens of Kiln practice a custom known as “Last Call”. In this very Olaran tradition, the friends and neighbors of the fallen gather and drink to the memory of the slain. They fill the air with stories and memories; sometimes humorous, sometings sad, sometimes touching. A full cup is set aside for the departed. With each round of drink or round purchased, a coin is dropped into the cup, causing a bit of the drink to overflow. When the cup can hold no more coins, it is brought to the grave or marker of the deceased, where the final drops are poured out. The coins and cup are then given to the families of the departed.

During these days, you are able to discuss your options. These seem to be:

Both Eska and Gandogar express a desire to visit their homes. Anvil is close. Dregordia is not.

Some express a desire to return Leandron’s remains and/or effects to Krythos and resume his duties at his Grey Ranger Outpost. Zaro is certainly keen on this idea.

Perhaps you are feeling vengeful and wish to pursue the escaped agents who orchestrated the attack.

Perhaps you wish to stay in Kiln, to rebuild and strengthen the area.

Perhaps you wish to seek out Olivander or other senior Grey Rangers to determine their orders.

View
The Mill
In which the GM's plans are thwarted

The Grey Rangers depart the Silverspear Gather, with their prisoner in tow. Back in Kiln, they turn Ernst Gessler over to Constable Koll. Koll places him in the holding room in the Mayor’s office. The mayor, Rory Manfried, takes notes, and mentions that they’ll deal with him the next day.

The Rangers set about purchasing supplies that can be used by the gather, as an atonement for the trouble they caused. They purchase fishing and hunting supplies, as well as bolts of cloth for winter clothes. A fair bit of crysarium is added to the economy of Kiln. They intend to purchase small livestock as well, but as dusk has fallen and returning the goods to the Gather that evening would be difficult, they return to the Inn. There, they join Leandron for dinner.

The Inn is fairly busy. A dwarf at a table in the back is consuming whole chickens and mugs of beer. Farmers are at the bar, drinking and talking loudly. Others fill in the other tables. Some discussion of events are had, but as everyone in the bar is staring at the odd group; Grey Rangers, Brinchie, and Dregordians are all odd in this part of Olara; the most serious matters are left for later.

Eska overhears the farmers at the bar discussing the attacks. When he is alerted, Gandogar goes to join the conversation. Leandron comments that it is good to test new Rangers in the field.

The bar seems to be the perfect field for Gandogar, as he quickly ingratiates himself to the farmers. The loudest of the bunch, Ryan Mueller, berates another farmer, by the name of Olarson, for paying the price demanded for protection. Mueller was visited by the Orc Leer three days prior, but refused him. He brags that he and his sons will only pay in blood.

Gandogar presses him for information about the burned farms, seeking to find a pattern. A rough map is drawn in beer on the bar. The dwarf also asks after Rossacue; a topic on which Mueller has much to say. Rossacue, or the Rose of Oakwood, is a recent transplant to Olara. He has a Keep Northwest of town. “The Rose”, as Mueller continually calls him, is quite popular in town. The stories they’ve heard suggest that Rossacue is the son of the Lord of Oakwood, but was not born to the Lady of Oakwood. His mother was the daughter of a merchant, so he had a good upbringing and was excelling as a Knight. However, with every honor he earned in Galea, his very existence brought up a shame for the Lord and Lady of Oakwood. Thus, he is also known as “The Unwanted Rose of Oakwood.” Five years ago, he chose to leave Galea to make his own way in Olara.

Mueller agrees that Gandogar, Eska, and Rakepick can join him and his sons at the farm. Gandogar and Mueller treat the matter very lightly, making multiple jokes. Many are at Rakepicks expense, as they question whether the Brinchie has skills as a mouser and whether his wife should put out a saucer of milk.

When they are in more private quarters, Reener shares a bit of what he learned from Yulik, the leader of the gather, concerning the raiders. He suspects that the Goblin, known as “The Bloody”, was expelled from the local gather and is seeking revenge. He also questions whether there is a larger issue at stake. Could stirring up trouble and burning crops be a means to soften Olara before an invasion by Camon?

Leandron sees some merit in the concerns, and agrees that the Noble Houses of Olara should be notified if proof can be found. The nearest noble houses are in Stagg.

Neither Alfie and Reener in town, nor Rakepick, Eska, and Gandogar at the farm, encounter any troubles during the night… though Rakepick gives Mueller’s middle son quite a fright when he sneaks up on him during his watch. He does, however, give the boy a few pointers on how his usefulness on watch can be improved.

The next morning, the Rangers return from the farm to Kiln. Friland, the middle Mueller son, is set into town to buy flour from the Baker.

The rangers finish their shopping for the Gather; buying 7 hens, 1 rooster and cages. As they move to the Inn, they notice a commotion at the Bakery, but do not intervene.

Instead, they depart for the gather, arriving around noon. There, Eska’s wounded arm is healed by Yulik. The Dregordian now feels prepared to wield the Kayakor she won back from the Kal-a-Nar. She has learned, from study of the graphic history carved into the body of the polearm, that this particular weapon belongs to House na Brssak.

As this type of greater healing took a fair amount of time, they do not return to Kiln until just before dinner.

They meet w/ Koll, who tells them that the prisoner has been claiming that Rossacue was organizing the attacks. Koll thinks this is ridiculous, as Rossacue doesn’t have much wheat planted and has been taking in the families that are burned out. The Mayor, who’s the acting judge for such matters, doesn’t believe Ernst’s story, and schedules him to be hanged on the 14th, two days hence.

Koll also gives an unsealed letter to the Rangers. It is from Rossacue and is intended for Leandron. When Leandron shares the letter with the other Rangers, they learn that it is an invitation to join Rossacue and some other notables for Kiln for a feast on the 14th.

Leandron also introduces the Rangers to Ollivander. Ollivander is a Eldakar Grey Ranger, and a member of the Black Lanterns. They met when Ollivander broke his cover to help quell a fight at the Bakery. Some people were upset by the rising prices of flour.

Ollivander shares that he’s been tracking an agent of the Red Store, a clandstine organization that works throughout the Souther Kingdoms… and often against the Grey Rangers. The Red Store has been seeking to place agents within the Grey Rangers. As the numbers of the Grey Rangers have been severely reduced by the war against the Kal-a-Nar, they had some success.

Johan Spelt, a name familiar to these new Grey Rangers, was one such agent. He managed to infiltrate even into Krythos, avoiding the Adepts employed by the Rangers. Ollivander has been trailing him since his discovery.

The Rangers confirm that this same Johan Spelt is the name they’ve placed to the red headed archer involved in the attacks.

Leandron reports that Ollivander also has orders for the Rangers returning from war. They are to return to their assigned territories in the Southern Kingdoms. For Leandron and his party of Rangers, this means that they will not be journeying to Krythos, but will be returning to the area of <<location>>

The Rangers head down to dinner. Sameal and Karrol are already eating at the table next to the Dwarf from the night before. The dwarf gets up and leaves as the others come downstairs. One of the Rangers asks the bartender, Koll’s wife, about the Dwarf. She says that his name is Clay and that he often journeys between Defiance and Furalor. She admits that he’s often rude, but she attributes that to the nature of dwarves.

The same arrangements are made for the night of the 12th. Alfie and Reener remain in town as Gandogar, Rakepick and Eska join the Mueller’s at their farm. In the thirteenth hour, Reener chooses to spend his watch looking for Rossacue’s keep. He sets off North, and then West. This means that he is not in town as an explosion disintegrates a portion of Mayor’s office, allowing the prisoner inside to escape.

Leandron and Alfie are awoken by the noise and set out in pursuit.

Meanwhile, Reener stumbles upon the scent of The Bloody, and follows the trail toward Kiln. As both goblins are especially good at their craft, neither notices the other until they are nearly upon each other. It comes to blows, with the escaped Ernst and The Bloody gaining the advantage. Reener is saved when Leandron and Alfie join the conflict.

The two raiders escape, but Leandron and Reener combine their effort to trail them to a Mill 5 miles Northwest of town.

Confident they’ve found the base of the raiders and extortionists, they set out for the Mueller farm to muster their full forces.

As they move through Kiln, Leandron is pulled aside by Karrol for an urgent matter. The others are ordered to continue the mission on their own.

The approach the Mill from the East, starting with the Mill. There they find a young man doing the work of grinding grain. Gandogar knocks on the door and asks him if he’s seen an Orc or a Goblin. The youth answers that he really doesn’t know and that you’d have to ask his father.

As Gandogar and the young man cross the bridge over the river, an arrow is fired at the Dwarf from the upper window of the house across the river.

Battle is joined. Johan fires arrows from the upper story window. Gandogar kicks in the door, but is greeted by Leer and his Chuktar.

Rakepick and Reener have more success entering from the window, where they find The Bloody. They add to his name, wounding him repeatedly.

As the tide of battle turns against the Red Store Agents, The Bloody activates a device that sets out a blinding flash. Reener and Rakepick manage to avert their eyes, but Gandogar is stunned. This allows Leer to withdraw, retreating through the back door. Ernst and The Bloody attempt to follow, but the former falls to Eska’s battle rage and the latter to Rakepick and Reener.

Leer manages to close and hold the back door, wounded as he is, against the combined efforts of Gandogar and Rakepick. However, when Eska adds her enraged strength to the effort, simply pushing against Gandogar, the door is knocked open. Eska and Leer are send sprawling, but Gandogar remains standing. The Dwarf puts and end to the Orcs fight as he struggles to his feet.

Johan, still on the roof, loops around to avoid Alfie’s arrows, and then climbs over the roof’s peak to make his escape. The Rangers pursue him, but he consumes potions of healing and invisibility to aid in his escape.

Unable to track the invisible archer, the Rangers explore the Mill and house. The Bloody, Leer, and Ernst are all dead when checked by Alfie.

View
Smoke

After spending ten days to recover their wounds, the Grey Rangers left the Builder Mine and traveled south to Olara. The entrance to the tunnel is collapsed, and then secondary entrance is disguised.

But the Rangers do not leave empty handed. Betsy is laden with many bags of crysarium. Furthermore, Anton spent the bulk of the ten days repairing the damage done to the friendlier of the two golems. With the help of Samael, the Builder, he is able to give the golem new purpose. The stone monstrosity gladly trudges beside Anton.

The party travels West toward Bearheart, but Zaro’s scouting reports that there are too many Camon troops in the area for it to be possible to sneak by unnoticed. They turn their course south, crossing the road between Bearheart and Furalor.

After nineteen days of travel, in which the party is able to avoid any entanglements in Camon, the party is safely in Olaran territory and Leandron assures the others that there is only one day of travel remaining before they’ll reach a friendly, but small, town of Kiln.

On the morning of the 9th day of Harvest Moon, 3122, the party awakes and set about breaking camp. Just before the party is ready to depart, the sound of hoof-beats can be heard.

Three rides approach. One is dressed in blue and gold finery. The second in browns. The last is in black and silver, and has an odd pole mounted to his saddle.

The brown clad man introduces himself in Olaran, and then Galean, as Constable Koll. He is rather gruff, in his questioning of the strangers, which brings laughter from his companion.

The man in Blue and Gold introduces himself as Rossacue of Oakwood. He speaks in Galean, identifying the party as Grey Rangers who pose no threat.

Constable Koll apologizes, and mentions that there’s been some trouble lately: fires and raids of farms.

As Rossacue introduces his Falconer, Trevor Teller, the party notices that there is smoke on the horizon. When Koll and Rossacue see the smoke, they immediately depart. As he leaves, Rossacue invites the Rangers to call on him at his estate.

The Grey Rangers set out for the smoke, but, being on foot, they arrive well after the others. They find a wheat field and a barn burning. The family is unharmed, but suspects the Goblinesh Gathers of being involved. The elderly patriarch of the family divulges that an Orc and a Golbin had been around asking for money to protect the farm.

Reener is able to pick up tracks, and the party sets out in pursuit.

After several hours, they hear whistling ahead of them from a clearing. However, they do not approach stealthily, and the four rangers flee. The Rangers offer pursuit… with Anton and his golem trailing behind.

As they come to a clearing, they see a Orc wielding a two handed blade, a Goblin, a red headed archer, and a human wearing black and silver.

After the raiders disappear into a grove, arrows are fired, striking the charging Hodor.
Reener charges forward and is able to notice an ambush. He begins fighting a single human: the swordsman.

As the others catch up, the human is incapacitated, but several goblinesh crest a nearby hill. In the heat of battle, Eska feels threatened and slips into her battle rage. She charges the goblinensh, dropping an Orc archer. Gandogar and Reener join the attack, and two more orcs are incapacitated.

Hodor, however, recognizes that the actions of the Goblinesh are not aggressive. He bellows for them to drop their weapons.

The Goblinesh are frightened and comply, begging to be able to aid their allies.
Realizing they attacked a neutral party, the Rangers quickly give aid. Two of the three are healed, but the third was slain by Gandogar’s crossbow bolt.

Bringing the human prisoner with them, the Rangers help the remaining goblinesh carry their fallen to the Silver Spear Gathers. There, they meet Yulik, the Goblin Mak Torkash, or leader. As she tends to the wounds of the two surviving Orcs, and prepares the body of the fallen, she questions Hodor as to what happened.

Yulik claims that her gather is peaceful and has nothing to do with the attacks. She says that Rossacue and Constable Koll have told them of the attacks during their visits. Her gather has expected trouble, which is why Grinna, the female Ogre who helped Hodor carry in the wounded, led out the patrol that encountered the Rangers (against Yulik’s advice). As she talks, she works her craft over the wounded. Hodor sees that all trace of their wounds is removed under her administrations.

When the others come in, Yulik warns that there will be some anger over the death of Diak, the young Orc slain. There will be a ceremony that night, but they should remain in her tent. She discusses the Golem with Anton, and it is decided that it is best to leave it outside the Gather as they don’t know how it will react to the little Goblins who will inevitably investigate it.

Reener returns to the scene of the battle to attempt to rediscover the trail of the other raiders, but is not successful. It appears the one swordsman was left in order to allow the others to escape.

That night, the body of Diak is burned in accordance with the Goblinesh customs. The Rangers make a show of honoring Diak, before retreating to the safety of Yulik’s tent.
At night, their prisoner awakes and attempts to escape, but is stopped by a blow from Gandogar.

In the morning, he is questioned, but is not cooperative. It does appear that he was abandoned.

The Rangers decide that it would be best to keep the prisoner at the Gather, for a time, while they fetch Karrol in hopes of using his telepathic powers to aid in the investigation. A few Rangers head to town, find Leandron, and return with Karrol.

Grimey, the goblin freed from the Kal-a-Nar, also accompanies the party. She decides to join the gather.

Questioned again, Karrol is is able to glean some information from the prisoner.

  • The names of his companions are gathered: Johan Spelt, the red headed archer; Leer, the Orc, and “The Bloody”, the goblin.
  • He threatens that Johan will find them with his Elvish Longbow
  • Leer has been threatening the other farms
  • Karrol is also able to determine that the prisoner is trying hard to avoid thinking of Rossacue

The Rangers prepare to return to Kiln, where they will turn the prisoner over to Constable Koll. Yulik suggests that the humans will execute the prisoner through their justice system.

Grimey bids goodbye to the rangers, blessing them in the name of the name of Dranak, Illiana, Zavonis, and Landra. She tells them that she will pray for them daily.

View
The Fire Before the Gate

Retreating before the Gargoyle and Kal-a-Nar troops, the heroes send Zaro flying ahead to warn the others and have them prepare. Alfie meets Zaro at the gate.

The Alchemist decides it will be best to activate one of the golems; to allow it to slow the Kal-a-Nar troops while they retreat behind the safety of the gate. He debates which golem to activate, standing ready at the golem with a sword.

Reener and Rakepick, moving faster than the others, run ahead and secure themselves in the crack leading to the ventilation shaft used in the escape of Dourin Limestone from the tunnels nearly a hundred years ago. From there, they watch the other move past: First the the escapees, then the rangers Karrol and Leandron, and then the Gargoyle and a large number of Kal-a-Nar. When all others have passed, they follow at a safe distance, intending to spy, flank, or cut down any messengers sent back to the surface.

At the Gate, Leandron confirms that Anton identified the sword-wielding golem as the hostile guardian. This seems to suit Alfie’s purpose.

As the Gargoyle rounds the last corner, Gandogar moves to the side of the passage. However, as Gandogar suspects he was seen and Leandron ordered everyone into the city to recover, the dwarf reconsiders his action.

As the Gargoyle lumbers forward, Alfie slides the crysarium into place and darts into the city, letting the gate latch shut behind him.

The sound of battle between the Gargoyle and the Golem are loud enough to reach through the door’s thick metal. A vicious blow rattles the door, shaking dust from the archway, and then a commanding female voice cuts over the din. Silence resumes.

More orders are given. In the mine, their meaning cannot be understood, but Rakepick and Reener overhear the Kal-a-Nar War Priestess ordering some of her troops to the surface. They prepare an ambush, dispatching a few, but are outnumbered by multiple Ratzin, a trio of Kal-a-Nar warriors, and an archer.

They begin to fall back, but their progress is hampered. First Rakepick, then Reener are surrounded. They break free, but are either unable to maintain their lead or unwilling to leave the other behind.

In the midst of this, Karrol, who has pushed past the limits of his normal magical endurance at great peril to himself, reaches out and contacts Rakepick telepathically.

Knowing that they’re allies are in danger, the party throws open the gate and sets out.

Both the Gargoyle and the Golem are still standing. The gargoyle, bleeding, has retreated to the tunnels. The Golem, turns to face those in the mine.

Leandron runs wide of the Golem, seeking to engage the Gargoyle. It, however, has its eyes set on the Aevakar, and immediately takes to the air to engage the archer. There, he quickly deals a blow that sends the Grey Ranger Scout tumbling to the ground, out of the fight.

Alfie, having consumed a potion allowing him to comprehend and speak the Builder tongue, attempts to convince the Golem to attack the Kal. For a time, the golem seems confused. It strikes at both the Gargoyle and Gandogar. However, when Alfie, holding aloft the Arcdevices found on the island, claims to be the successors to the Builders, the Golem turns its full attention against the human alchemist. “Intruder!” Purposefully it strides into the mine, striking again and again.

Seeing the dangers posed by the Gargoyle and the Golem, Hodor strides forward. “Don’t hurt my friends.”

However, before the Ogre can reach either adversary, Alfie miraculously manages to duck under the golems blow, grasp the crysarium, and, by placing a foot against its rump, pull the crysarium free. Mid turn, the golem freezes in pace, just inside the gate.

Eska and Leandron, meanwhile, have reached the tunnels, cutting down Ratzin and an archer in their path. As Leandron dispatches the last warrior, the Dregordian sees a minotaur round the corner. This bull of a beast wields a long pole arm, instantly recognized as a sacred Kayakor, used by the Dregordian people.

“Blasphemer!” Eska embraces her inner beast, rushing the minotaur in a mad fury. She embeds her claws into his neck, forcing the larger creature down under the weight of her fury.

Only the Gargoyle remains in the immediate vicinity. All other Kal-a-Nar had already moved up the tunnels and are beyond reach. Leandron and Eska spin back to where the combined strength of Hodor, Gandogar, Alfie, and Karrol is matched against the lone Gargoyle.

With overwhelming numbers and no ready means of escape, the time has come to end the threat. Again and again they attack before Gandogar finally cracks the stony hide, allowing the thick red ichor to spill out.

The Gargoyle collapses before the dwarf.

Leandron decapitates it to be certain it is dead.

However, Karrol is no longer able to reach either Rakepick or Karrol via his telephathy. Both are alive, but unconscious. Continually hampered by the close pursuit, the War Priestess and additional archers reached and overwhelmed them.

Eska and the others ask Leandron if a rescue is possible. He sees three possibilities. “If the Kal-a-Nar wish to kill them, then they are already dead. If they wish to barter them, they will come to us. If they wish to sacrifice them to Ceynara, they will most likely wait until the 13th Hour, when their power is greatest.”

With that in mind, the wounded are tended to. Zaro, again, survived his encounter with the Gargoyle. Most others are healed of their wounds and the Adepts recover their Essence.

Knowing that there will be a desperate battle, Leandron makes the following offer:

“There is no greater honor than to live, and if needs be, die, in the service of others. I invite you all to join Grayson’s Grey Rangers.”

Anton and Hodor, who have already expressed an interest, swear to the Oath, Code and Cause of the Rangers. Gandogar and Alfie also join the Grey Rangers.

The oath sworn to is as follows:

Oath, Code, and Cause
Upon joining the Rangers and passing initial training, a Ranger is expected to take the Oath, live by the Code, and never forget the Cause of the Rangers.
Oath of the Ranger
“I do hereby solemnly swear, in the sight of the Ascended, that I will uphold the Code and the Cause of the Rangers. I will take no action that would dishonor the Rangers, or bring unjust harm to those they protect and serve. I will follow all lawful and rightfully-given orders to the best of my ability, and I will never shirk my duty to my fellow Rangers, to the lands we serve, or to Life itself.”
The Code of the Rangers
Our First Mission is the protection of Innocents against those that would cause them harm, deprive them of that which is lawfully theirs, or infringe upon their natural rights as Living Beings.
We abide by the Laws and Policies of all Charter Sovereignties. We will respect the laws of all lands, save where those laws directly and egregiously violate our First Mission.
Our Second Mission is to strike against the Powers and Agents of Darkness and Flame. We will oppose them wherever they strike, and we will defend Shaintar against them wherever they may reside.
We will abide by the borders and sovereignty of any nation, state, province, or other political entity, save where such abidance directly and egregiously violates our First and Second Missions.
We will respect and adhere to the Chain of Command, and we will follow all orders given to the best of our ability. Only when the First or Second Missions are egregiously obstructed can we issue a Question of Authority, and we must be prepared to defend such a Question with our Lives.
The Cause of the Rangers
To provide protection and aid to those in need; to defend the good people of the land against enemies who would deprive them of Life, Possessions, and personal Freedom; and to uphold the Laws of the sovereign lands to which we are Chartered to defend and protect.
Eska feels that her path may lie elsewhere, so politely declines.

A watch is set on the tunnels.

Above ground, Rakepick and Reener recover consciousness. The familiar, but heavily accented voice of Samael the Builder they met days before, greets them and cautions them to remain still. Kal voices and footsteps can be heard about them. In the quiet times, he explains that the Gargoyle and the Kal found them. The other Builders were killed or sacrificed. Their golem was destroyed. He attempts to tend to their wounds, but if unsuccessful.

The recaptured Rakepick and Reener feign unconsciousness as the Kal-a-Nar lift them and carry them into the underground tunnels. Each prepares to slip his bonds if need be.

6 hours after the last battle, the watch hears footsteps. They stay well back and observe as the Kal-a-Nar turn the corner and approach. Under strict orders not to engage, they fall back and take cover behind the gate, leaving it just open.

Through the sliver of open gate, they watch as Kal-a-Nar, bearing armfuls of wood, march into the chamber before the gate, depositing the wood into a sizable pile. Reener, Rakepick and Samael are brought forward, underguard.

The War Priestess, brandishing a Blood Steel dagger, steps forward. She calls for the Brinchie, and Rakepick, held up between two Kal, is dragged before her.

“Grey Rangers! I am Dorgan ki Espen, War Priestess of Ceynara. Throw down your weapons and submit to you fate as slaves in the Mighty Emperor’s realm, or you will burn in the fires of Ceynara’s wrath!”

Gandogar kicks the gate open and answers the challenge with a crossbow bolt. The Kal are prepared for such a response. The bolt goes wide and the Kal-a-Nar archers return fire.

As the newly sworn rangers stream forth, the War Priestess grabs Rakepick by the throat, locking eyes with him. “Whom the emperor has made a slave, let no man seek to free.” She screams and incantation and raises the dagger high.

Reener slips his bonds.

Alfie, takes out the crysarium crystal and rushes toward the second Golem. He locks the crystal in place and calls to Samael.

Leandron rushes toward Rakepick. The Brinchie bends his feet back to his bound hands and manages to shred the ropes with his sharp claws, but is unable to break free from those who hold him.

The War Priestess plunges the dagger down, embedding it within the Brinchies chest. Rakepick feels cold, as if his very being were being pulled into the dagger. He breaks away, but a second strike leaves him bleeding out as the War Priestess draws in his power. Waves of heat build around her, the dagger is wreathed in flame. As Leandron and Alfie close in, she floats into the air, sending bolts of flame at all who oppose her.

Reener pulls the dagger from the belt of a Ratzin, places his back against the wall, and, in a feat of agility and strength, loops his bound feet around the neck of an attacking Ratzin and somersaults the hapless creature into the fire.

The activated Golem immediately responds to Samael’s calls for help. It pushes a Kal Warrior into the flames as it strides to the Builder, smashing the guard who held him.

Eska takes several arrows and retreats behind the gate. Karrol’s bolts strike down the Ratzin rushing the gate, but is too exhausted to offer any healing to his fellow adept. Instead, he instructs Anton to pull a potion from his pack. This recovers Eska somewhat.

Leandron drops a sword and attempts to press a salve onto Rakepick’s bleeding wounds. Pressed by the War Priestess, he is unsuccessful.

Cut off from the bleeding Rakepick by too many Kal Warrior, Alfie courageously chooses to rush through the fire to administer a Potion of Healing. His bravery saves the Brinchie’s life.

Slowly, the Kal forces are whittled down, but the heroes are hard pressed, taking wounds.

The War Priestess grows more powerful. She flies higher. The fires follow her, dancing around her robes and armor, but burning nothing. A wave of flame explodes down from her, catching friend and foe alike. Diving down, she strikes at Leandron.

A well placed arrow from Zaro strikes her down, but too much power has been pulled into her being. She erupts in an explosion of flame and ash, leaving only the Blood Steel Dagger to fall. The blast extinguishes the remnants of the fire, and heavily damages the active golem.

The last Kal Warrior and Ratzin are dealt with, but not before a lucky strike downs Eska, damaging her arm.

Alfie, again, serves as the healer through his potions and skills.

Karrol collapses, exhausted, but is rallied by Leandron. “There is no rest. We must make sure there are no more.” He leads the Adept and Gandogar up the tunnel to ensure that the Kal camp is emptied.

Before he leaves, he cautions Zaro and Anton that the Builder must not be allowed to leave. He will stay with the Rangers.

Samael is extremely pleased to be within the Builder Mine. He gazes upon the gates and the city with awe. He admires the arclance held by Anton and discusses the builder language with Eska.

When Leandron returns, bearing word that the Kal Camp is empty and carrying Rakepick’s swords, he calls everyone together. There he distributes orders. He informs Samael and all the others that the Builder will not be permitted to return to Camon. Such a valuable mine will not be allowed to serve as a source of conflict. The Builder will be well treated, but will be under the guard of the Grey Rangers until they can bring him to Krythos.

Samael seems to have anticipated the turn. He expresses gratitude that the Grey Rangers do not act as the Kal-a-Nar.

Leandron states that the group will remain in the underground city to recover their health and energy. They will make the journey south out of the mountains before heading West for Bearheart.

Finally, Leandron states that they will be collapsing the gates, as diagramed by Dourin Limestone, before they leave. This draws loud protests from Samael, and a bitter silence from Karrol. However, Leandron’s decision is final. The resource is too valuable to leave alone.

Eska consoles the Builder, telling him that this is not a permanent thing. The city will remain safe behind the collapse. Additionally, on Reener’s suggestion, they disguise the approach through the crack and ventilation shaft, knowing that it can be found again if needed.

The group remains in the city 10 days, hunting, foraging, replenishing their supplies of potions, attempting to learn the Builder tongue, working with the arc devices, preparing the demolition, forging new materials, studying the history of the unique kayakor carried by the Minotaur, and, generally, stuffing every available carrying pouch with crysarium.

Rakepick, who picked up the Blood Steel Dagger, consults with Leandron. Since being struck by the weapon, the Brinchie has felt colder. He worries that a part of him is lost within the weapon. Leandron referrs him to Karrol.

The Adept warns Rakepick that Blood Steel is a horrible material, crafted with the sacrifice of sentient beings. It is an evil thing. After some study, he confirms that the weapon has been bound to the Brinchie in a way, but assures him that he is in no danger. However, when the weapon is used, it will affect Rakepick. He demonstrates by cutting the palm of his hand with the blade. Immediately, Rakepick feels the same cut as if it were across his palm. Rakepick wants to hold onto the dagger, to ensure that it is never used, but Karrol recommends that he hold onto it, as, with much study, he expects to be able to safely break the connection. Rakepick agrees.

Finally, on the 23rd day of Raining Leaves, they are ready to depart. With a cacophony of falling boulders and billowing dust, the collapse is triggered and the Grey Rangers depart for Defiance.

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In the Tunnels
-or- The Difference between Ambushing and Being Ambushed.

Gandogar rises from the table, leaving a clean bowl to rattle in his place. “More work to do.” He returns to the forges, where he will spend most of the night.

Anton is exhausted from his work and falls into a deep sleep. Hodor curls up on the ground near his bed, too large to fit any of the stone bunks. Alfie, Eska, Grimey, Karrol and most of the others sleep as well.

Rakepick, at Leandron’s request, goes to set watch for the remainder of the evening. However, the Brinchie does a poor job of it. After briefly checking the entrance to the natural cave, he retreats from the cold, leaving the mountainside unwatched.

When Eska relieves the Brinchie, she immediately notices that campfires have been lit a mile from the cave’s entrance. Leaving a much more alert Rakepick to extend his watch, she returns to the city.

Reener joins Rakepick. “I’ll be back in a few minutes,” the goblin says, before darting across the rocky slope and into the trees. Looping wide around the campfires, Reener finds the broad trail made by those who lit the fires. At least 40 Kal-a-Nar, including Ratzin and Minotaurs, passed through the woods with no efforts to hide their trail. They were dragging something with them.

Armed with knowledge of the makeup and size of the new arrivals, Reener returns and shares his knowledge with the others.

A watch is set at the entrance to the natural caves, and Zaro investigates the carved tunnels, which Reener suspects open near the campfire.

Sure enough, Zaro is able to see the light of the fires shining into the entrance of the tunnels. He overhears a chanted ritual, followed by a blood curdling scream.

Being alone, the Aevakar remains well back in the tunnels. Yet even this caution does not seem enough, for the large Gargoyle enters the tunnels and slowly makes his way towards the fae flyer.

Zaro retreats back to the underground city, where a debate is held on the course of action. Escape is prefered, but there is no guarantee that the party, including a mule and two non-combatants, would be able to make a clean escape.

Ultimately, it is decided to set a trap in the tunnels. With Zaro bolstering their ranks, Hodor, Gandogar, Eska, Rakepick, and Reener set a trap at the bend in a tunnel. Silently they wait, as the marching chants and bootfalls of the Kalinesh grow louder.

With perfect surprise, the party crushes the first wave of Kal to turn the corner. Ratzin and Kalinesh warriors fall to the vicious hammer blows of Gandogar, the mace of Hodor, Rakepick’s sharp blades, Reener’s spear and Eska’s magic.

Minotaurs charge forward, but even these Childer beasts cannot break the line held by Gandogar and Rakepick. Hodor swings his mace from behind his allies, striking down one, then another Minotaur.

Yet the Kal are not timid warriors. The war priestess, her red robes flowing about her as she channels the powers of Ceynara, rushes forth and unleashes billows of flame down the tight corridor. Friend and foe alike a burned.

Rakepick dives forward, ducking safely beneath the flames, but leaving himself exposed to the archers around the bend. He falls, appearing to the pinioned, but arises a round later unhurt.

Eska and Gandogar concentrate their energies against the caster, hoping to end her threat early in the fight. They wound her time and time again, but the wrath of Ceynara burns brightly in her and she is able to retreat behind the archers and the Gargoyle who lumbers through the tunnel.

The Dregorian overhears her order her troops to retreat and “go around behind them.”

With the Kal much worse for the encounter, the two parties retreat.

The escaped slaves plan another ambush where the natural caverns and the tunnels join. However, hours pass in the dark tunnels. The torches flicker.

Reener and Zaro slowly make their way up the crack toward the natural caves.

Gandogar, alone, travels up the tunnels. Here, the tables are turned, as he stumbles into a pack of Ratzin backed by archers and the Gargoyle. He has just enough time to call for Hodor before the Gargoyle’s claws drive him to the ground.

At a run, Hodor meets the Gargoyle; stepping over the body of his comrade to offer what protection he can. Yet the stalwart Ogre is only an even match for the Gargoyle. The archers behind the monster decorate the simple giant’s skin with dangerous feathers.

Eska rushes forth. She lays a soothing hand on the Dwarf, saving him from death, but doing nothing to heal the cracked bones in his shield arm.

Meanwhile, Reener hears enemies ahead and warns Zaro to retreat. Wisely, the pair retreat before a screaming pack of Ratzin, who charge after them through the cave.

With Rakepick, Gandogar, Eska and Hodor engaged up the tunnel, there is serious risk of retreat being cutoff. Reener sets his spear against the rocky floor and, with only Zaro at his back, prepares for the charging horde.

Realizing their precarious situation, the wounded warriors begin a slow retreat.

Leandron and Karrol arrive in relief, providing a fresh set of arms and some healing to bolster the spirits and defenses of the fighters. With Leandron at the rear, the wounded begin the walk back to the underground city.

The Kal-a-Nar, themselves much diminished by the fighting, are content to follow well back from fighting range. The Gargoyle leads the pursuit, plodding forward with all the grace of a boulder; save for the occasional bound forward when the eyes of the rear guard glance away.

There are only a few more bends before the tunnel will open upon the gates of the lost crysarium mines. How will the one-time-slaves escape the Kal-a-Nar again?

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David Fredrickson
D'oh

barrel_mace_drafting.jpgadded the mace sketch and the bracers sketch to the pool. I think.

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The Down Day

The Down Day

You awake on the morning of the 11th, at least, you assume it is morning. Morning, noon and night look the same by the orange glow of the Arclights. Yet you have not been underground so long as to lose your body’s natural rhythms.

Those of you awakening in the dormitories hear the snores of the other human. Since being freed alongside you, Owen Argort has kept to himself. Unlike the goblin, he has done little to aid the company. He has stayed in the camp, near to Karrol or Leandron whenever possible.

Gandogar and Alfie did not sleep in the dormitory. They spent the night in the forge, building the fires, working the billows, and sleeping on the bare floor.

Yet the dwarf is not long absent. Even before you have stirred out of the room, Gandogar enters with slate in hand. “Alright, the furnace in the forge is stoked and I’m ready to start working on things. What do you need?”

“I require bracers,” hisses Eska, drawing out the C and S. She says no more and departs.

Reener holds up his wrists for inspection. Each is enclosed in a wide band of bronze and iron. Each ends in a loop, previously used to secure the goblin, as is covered in the markings of Reener’s former owner. The bracers are crimped shut. They have adorned his wrists for a long time.

“Hmph. Yeah. I’ll knock those off in the forge.” He turns to Hodor and turns the discussion to replacing the Minotaur’s Axe with something more the the Ogre’s liking.

Outside the dormitory, the elderly goblin woman, known to you by the name “Grimey,” given to her by the Kal, is already up and fixing a breakfast of grilled onions and mushrooms.

After eating, Eska and Zaro depart to watch the two entrances to the cave system. Eska watches the Tunnel where the Kalinesh scouting party was destroyed; Zaro watches the natural caves.

Most avoid idleness and put their energies to valuable pursuits. Leandron observes their work appreciatively.

Alfie uses the stores of crysarium and what organic ingredients he can sneak from Grimey’s kitchen to craft new potions. His supply of high quality bottles exhausted, he stores his concoctions in bits of tubing salvaged from the workroom, tied off at both ends. From time to time, the “pop” of some unexpected reaction sounds from the workroom.

Anton gathers the Builder armor and the hammer, taken from the dwarf encountered in the mines. Draping the armor over a stone bench, he raises the hammer and swings down. A loud ping sounds through the hall, Unsatisfied with the mark, he sets his feat, raises the hammer, and strikes again. The diamond shaped indentation left on the breast brings a smile to his face. He sets the hammer aside and measures the width, height, and depth against his fingers.

“You don’t have to hammer it. I’ll melt it down.” Gandogar calls out.

Anton looks up, startled. “Although we may not be able to presently appreciate the quality and capabilities of this alien equipment, I think we would be remiss in destroying it before we learned how to engage its proper use. In other news, I believe I can identify which of the golems will be helpful to us. I intend to prepare a crysarium power source that we may activate it.”

“If you wish to not smelt the builder armor I shall not; we will need to carry it out of the mountains along with everything else. I’ll make room in one of the packs for it. For now, I need to get these shackles of this goblin.” he gestures to Reener. “The golems are beyond my scope of knowledge. If you wish to activate the friendly one I’ll be there as well as the others. I hope you know what you are doing.“

He leads Reener into the forges, where, after a harmless slip of the hammer, he’s able to free the goblin of the shackles. Reener’s newly exposed skin is calloused and scarred.

As Gandogar continues his work in the forge, reducing the metal from the Minotaur Axe and other items down to a workable form, Reener sets out to forage and graze Betsy. He collects a list of desired plants from Grimey, for use in cooking, and from Alfie and Anton, for use in alchemy.

As he passes through the gate, Reener stops at the golems. Anton is standing before the left golem, pressing his thumb into a dent in the guardian’s thick armor. This golem stands with its weight on its left foot. Its right arm, ending in a blade, is poised above its head. The right foot is slightly back, raised onto the toes.

Reener scrambles up onto the right golem, sniffing and looking along the length of the club held in its left hand. This golem has a wider stance. Its right hand is about waist height, with the palm flat and down-turned.

The goblin and the dwarf trade places, applying their search to the other golem.

“No blood,” Reener says, climbing down from the left golem, “but this one is more work.”

Anton nods. “I think that’s the friendly one. That hammer blow,” he points to the domed crown, housing the optical orbs of the golem, “seems to match the hammer we found.”

With that, Anton joins Alfie in the laboratory, calling out “Hodor?! Did you find another large piece of crysarium? I’d like to use it.” Anton does not emerge for many hours.

Reener moves up the tunnel, but diverges into the crack to exit into the sunlight via the natural caves. An uneventful morning and afternoon of foraging, hunting, and rock collecting passes before he returns to the cave. He adds to Alfie and Gandogar’s stores of components, and Grimey’s stores of food.

Rakepick spends the day re-exploring every room of the city, save the forge. When Leandron finds the Brinchie idle, he asks to inspect his swords. As the swords are dented from ill use by the Kal, he offers his whetstone to see to their sharpening. The two then spar, both fighting with two blades.

Eska and Zaro return shortly before dinner and everyone gathers for the meal. Gandogar emerges from the furnace, his face bright red. The work has proceeded well, but is not yet complete.

Anton emerges from the laboratory, holding a large object under a cloth. At the table, he shows it to Leandron. The crysarium has been refined and worked. It is now an amber color and evenly shaped into a ball. When Leandron nods, he covers it again and sets it aside.

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