Grand Duchy 66

Grand Duchy of Adventure

Session 66
September 12-23, 2015

Ambush at the Burial Mound

Tserdain 20 Yarthmont

Arrows from the Mist

Draven helps Iris to a sitting position after using his magic to help remove the mysterious arrow that had just struck her. She shakes her head and looks around, confused momentarily. Griffin and Marcel quickly scan the area, though the swirling mist seems to close in, limiting sight distances considerably. No foes can immediately be seen, though they can barely see to the far side of the mound as it is. The mound itself is about 25 yards across and approximately 40 yards wide. It is about 8 feet high and has a number of grisly totem poles placed around it, many of which have headless, rotting corpses hanging from them.

Remar is standing at the base of the mound, watching the group’s rear in case more ghouls approach while Stephan is near him wrangling some horses. Ree has not returned to the group, but sounds of a galloping horse can be heard around the southwestern edge of the mound. Mr. Softie, Draven’s horse is nowhere in sight after having bolted directly across the top of the mound and down the other side. The three horses at the top of the mound begin stamping and neighing again and Marcel quickly grabs their leads, trying to calm them.
aftermath of the battle with the Ghouls
The sound of Ree’s voice rings out from the fog, “Gnolls! I see Gnolls here, guys! Around the south eastern part of the mound, two of th… oh shit!”

Iris stands up and ensures she is armed and ready to face whatever it is that struck her. I swear to whoever is listening, I am going to make sure I get through this forsaken day!

While Draven is tending to Iris, Griffin begins to strap on his shield, then readies his crossbow again and heads towards where Ree’s voice seemed to come from. He tries to keep moving up over the mound to gain whatever tactical advantage a  little high ground could provide. Maybe that totem pole can provide some cover. “Marcel, sweep left around the mound!”

Marcel nods at Griffin then asks, “What about these horses?” He holds out the leads to the three horses he is holding on to.

The sight of the horses brings Griffin up short. What had Old Gren said?  Move through slowly and carefully until we are spotted, then make all haste to the far end.  “Hells,” he mutters. He raises his voice, “Okay, team, new plan! Mount up and ride!” He looks at Marcel, “Answer your question?” He looks around again, “Iris, you’re with me! Let’s go!”

Griffin leaps to the back of the newly named Firewild and turns to help Iris climb on behind him. He looks to Draven and Marcel, hoping they follow suit.

Iris nods at Griffin and hurries to mount, “I’m with you, Griffin!”

While Marcel and Draven move to mount their horses the slow and safe way, the young Thyatian woman leaps up and grabs onto Griffin’s shoulders behind him on Firewild’s rump. As she mounts, she spots movement across the mound and squeezes Griffin’s shoulder and says, “Look, there just past the edge of the mound, past those two totems!” Griffin looks and sees a Gnoll, or at least what he thinks is a Gnoll. The form shimmers and fluctuates, giving the impression of a very blurry Gnoll with a bow taking aim at the group on top of the mound.

Acting with a thought, Griffin wheels his mount and yells “Hang on!” He charges his horse right at the Gnoll, hoping to throw its aim off and give his comrades time to mount their horses. He looks over his shoulder at them and yells “Follow me!”

Gnoll Fight!

A Gnoll archer is spotted across the mound
Draven and Marcel settle into their saddles as Griffin and Iris gallop off across the mound. As they charge, Griffin sees the Gnoll raise his bow and let an arrow fly directly at him!

Griffin leans hard to one side as he sees the arrow fly. Hope Iris follows suit - she just got healed! The arrow whizzes over his head and he drives his mount forward past the gnoll.

Iris sees the arrow fly past her, sending some of her hair into motion. Too close for comfort…. She stares the Gnoll down and tries to quickly decide what she should do. Following Griffin has never led to disaster, has it? She gallops after Griffin and tries to get past their attacker.

Griffin and Iris, astride Firewild, charge forward, and for a brief moment, it seems as if everything become silent, the only thing that can be heard is the sound of their own hearts beating. Then the mounted pair leap past the blurry Gnoll archer right at the edge of the mound and start riding down the far side. The sounds of a galloping horse once again fill their ears. Up ahead, and to the left, behind another totem pole at the base of the mound crouches another Gnoll.
Firewild charges forward to engage the Gnolls.
Draven and Marcel begin to urge their horses forward, following Firewild.

As they draw near, the new Gnoll reaches around the totem pole and points his staff toward Griffin. A dark bolt of magical light shoots at him, coming straight for his face!

Griffin swears and lurches in the saddle, this time the other  way. The strange eldritch blast passes by, by inches. That’s it. He nudges Firewild to pass close to the totem pole as he whips out Serenity and slashes at the shaman. He is hoping to incapacitate the magical edge of the gnolls.

Griffin and Iris face off against the shaman
The Gnoll spins away from Griffin's attack toward the totem pole and then strikes out at Firewild's rear leg as the horse thunders past. The horse whinnies in pain and then Griffin and Iris feel the strength and energy completely drain out of the beast beneath them. Firewild’s legs begin to buckle, but the horse manages to keep its footing somehow as it pulls up to a stop.
Griffin and Iris have to hold on with all their might to hold on!
Back on top of the mound, Draven and Marcel urge their mounts forward following Griffin and Iris on their wild ride. Marcel goes left around the first totem while Draven stays to the right. Both of them spot the blurry Gnoll archer, less than 10 yards away. As Draven approaches, he suddenly realized that he cannot hear anything around him. The sound of the horses, his own breathing, the wind in the valley, nothing. The Gnoll ahead of him moves sideways, to Draven’s right, toward the north end of the mound, and looses an arrow directly at the priest’s chest, its aim looks to be true!

Draven and Marcel get their mounts moving
Frustrated by the zone of silence, Draven is woefully unprepared for the arrow and fails to get his shield up in time. The arrow strikes him in the chest and punctures his flesh! Reeling in the saddle, he barely manages to hold onto the reins, his cry of pain a silent scream. He takes a moment for the rush of pain to lessen, turning his horse as best he can to trample the archer or at least make him flee.

Griffin mutters “Screw this.” He vaults off Firewild and shouts, “Iris, find Ree! Move!” Griffin moves to the attack! He presses the shaman hard against the totem pole, battering its defenses. No retreat, you bastard!

Deaths Head Shaman.jpg
The Gnoll shaman
The Gnoll Shaman, a truly disgusting looking creature wearing some sort of painted animal skull as a mask. Griffin has to almost hold his breath when he approaches and then lets out a loud whoosh as the Gnoll deftly steps back and twirls his staff around, knocking both swords away. He mutters something to Griffin, though Griffin cannot comprehend the guttural language of the Gnolls then realizes all too late that it was magic and the world plunges into blackness deeper than Griffin has ever imagined. Iris too, climbing off of Firewild when she realized that the horse was completely exhausted and would not move another step, is blinded by the sudden blackout around her! From the top of the mound, Draven and Marcel see a globe of utter blackness appear down the far side of the mound where Griffin and Iris had just ridden.

Draven urges his mount forward directly at the Gnoll archer and despite his general blurryness, Iris’s horse seems to be right on track. The Gnoll looks a bit scared as he leaps out of the way, barely missing being trampled by the galloping hooves. The roar of the wind and thunder of the horse beneath him suddenly comes back, almost surprising Draven as he hears the curse slip from his lips after missing his target!

Marcel peels off to the left, “I see Ree over here! She’s in trouble!” He pushes Remar’s horse forward, ready to charge down the side of the mound to the young Half-Elf’s rescue!

Determined to deal with the magical threat, Griffin quietly slides forward and slashes at where he last saw the shaman.

His sword finds nothing but air. He is about to try again when Marcel’s words sink in. Oh my gods, Ree!  Twisting in the darkness, he heads off at top speed towards where he thought he last heard her voice.

Iris fears the worst when she hears Griffin’s request. Oh, no. Ree! She moves her mount around in the dark, trying to find a way to her friend, looking around in an effort to make anything out apart from the clear threat the group was facing.

Griffin bursts from the blackness running full speed to the south. He  is just along the edge of the mound and can see some movement ahead of him, though whoever or whatever it is, he can’t tell because some totem poles are obscuring his vision. He can see Marcel ahead and to the left, charging down the side of the mound and Draven a bit more back and to the left, charging toward the black cloud of darkness.

Iris also emerges from the inky blackness about 5 yards away from where Griffin is. She is leading Firewild, but cannot see him behind her as he has yet to step out of the magical darkness. The Gnoll shaman is nowhere to be seen. She also spots the movement around the southern end of the mound, but like Griffin, she can’t quite tell who or what it is.

Griffin continues to sprint towards the totem poles, trying to get a read on what’s going on beyond them. “We’re too spread out! Everyone to me!” he shouts, trying to recover some semblance of order from the chaos.

As Griffin and Iris maneuver to better see the movement at the base of the mound, they see two Gnolls standing over Ree, who is laying on the ground, unmoving. Remar, followed by a mounted Stephen, arrive on the scene while Marcel approaches loudly, charging down the hill wildly!
As Griffin watches this scene unfold before him, he feels a stinging impact on the back of his leg when one of the Gnoll shaman’s bolts strikes him. Chancing a look back over his shoulder, Griffin does not see the shaman and assumes that he is still inside the blackout zone.

Iris follows Griffin, leading Firewild and trying to keep the horse between her and where she imagines the Shaman is after just seeing Griffin be struck with a magical bolt of dark energy.

Draven somehow manages to remain mounted as Iris’s horse continues to run. The horse charges off the mound and turns to the right, avoiding the large cloud of magical darkness. The beast makes as if to flee the area altogether but the young priest is able to direct the horse to the right and begins circling around the mound in a clockwise direction. He spots the archer Gnoll on the top edge of the mound, not joined up with two other Gnolls, one with a sword and shield, the other with a large axe.
Draven circles the mound and spots several more Gnolls
Marcel rides forth, charging at the two Gnolls surrounding Ree. One of them raises and throws a large, barbed spear in his direction. Marcel ducks and barely avoids the lethal looking projectile.

Griffin hardly notices the sting of the shaman’s magic bolt, but realizes it could become a bigger problem. “Remar! Shaman hiding in the black zone! Light him up!”.

He does see Ree’s crumpled body on the ground and pushes himself to go even faster. “Hey! Hey, you mongrels! C’mon, fight me! Fight me!” He bangs on his shield with his sword, challenging the ugly brutes.
Stephan and Remar come to Ree's rescue
The other Gnoll throws his spear at the advancing Stephen, but he manages to dodge it. Remar lets fly a magic bolt, striking one of the Gnolls in the back of the head, though it appears to have no result. Marcel, not quite in control of his mount, goes charging past the area on the back of Remar’s horse. Stephen continues to advance on the nearest Gnoll and engages with him while the other Gnoll turns and charges toward Griffin, running partway up the side of the mound. As he approaches, Griffin sees that the blade of his sword is steaming and then realizes that the blade appears to be ice-encrusted.

Meanwhile, Iris gets a bit of a surprise when she is struck by a magical bolt from out of the shaman’s darkness. It strikes her hard in the leg. The shaman must have gotten off a shot that went under the horse to hit her there. She realizes that if she takes any more wounds, it is going to start slowing her down.

“Oh, so you’ve got a magic sword, do you? I don’t think that’ll be enough, you wanker. Better get your buddy to help you out!” Griffin slows his approach and approaches cautiously, taunting the ugly mutt the whole time. Mess with my sister, will you?

The charging gnoll throws a spear as he approaches, but Serenity deflects it into the ground. He steps forward confidently, drawing the brute into his trap. C’mon, you brute, pick on someone your own size. Griffin projects an arrogant air, continuing to verbally abuse the gnoll.

It works! The beast steps in, and Griffin launches a flurry of attacks. The icy sword manages to come up in time, then slashes at Griffin’s arm, but Serenity knocks it aside. Well, what’s good for the peasant is good for the prince! He also slashes at the gnoll’s sword arm, which connects solidly, slicing deeply into the foe’s arm and causing him to drop his sword!

Desperate, the gnoll charges Griffin, trying to catch the young swordsman off-guard with a tackle, but he brings his weapon across its path, wounding it again. Hoping to finish it off, Griffin stabs for the vitals. The weakened monster can’t get out of the way and the sword strikes home, but its innate toughness manages to keep it on its feet. It turns to run away.

Trusting that the creature will not bother him again, Griffin turns and runs toward Ariadne, hoping he will not be too late.

Pain shoots through Iris’ leg. She yells out for Griffin, “I got hit! I’m not feeling too good… what do we do? I don’t know if we… I can fight this, Griffin.” Her breathing is slow and painful. She crouches to the ground, hoping to avoid further missiles. Looking across to Griffin, Iris readies herself for a sprint to join him.

Griffin looks back over his shoulder, but doesn’t slow down. “Iris, c’mon! You’re still in line of sight for that shaman!”

Griffin continues to run toward where Ree is lying unconscious. He can see Marcel wheeling his horse around in a wide circle just past where Stephen and the other Gnoll are sparring. Remar is running toward him along the edge of the mound, “I’ll go after the shaman,” he calls to Griffin as he approaches. Iris follows behind Griffin, moving as fast as she can, running in a crouch while pulling an exhausted Firewild behind her. She sees an unarmed Gnoll, the one Griffin had just disarmed, run behind and past her, fleeing the melee.

Draven, urging his horse on as fast as he can, rides around the base of the mound, trying to once again meet up with his friends. He keeps an eye on the three Gnolls on top of the mound. They watch him as well as they move across the top of the burial mound toward the southern end as well. Finally, he comes around the far end of the mound and can see most of his companions up ahead, Stephan engaged and the others nearby. The three Gnolls on the mound should arrive at this end in a matter of seconds, he estimates.
The Grey Company prepares for it's last offensive against the Gnolls

Cast of Characters: 

Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard 

Marcel Maasa homely but sincere wielder of spears aspiring to cooking greatness commanded by +Christian Blouin 

Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos ministered by +Jason Packer 

Iris Vardaa Thyatian explorer and historian searching for answers and adventure guided by +Alex Safatli 

and +Jason Woollard as The DM


Grand Duchy 65

Session 65
September 10, 2015

Battle at Ghoul Hill

Tserdain 20 Yarthmont

Battle at Ghoul Hill

The members of Grey Company have parted ways with their guide, and Griffin's long lost uncle, Old Gren. The crusty ranger has taken Burik, Sen, Rood and Esir back up another trail to backtrack and return to the safety of his cabin after coming to the conclusion that there were not enough horses for everyone to make it safely across the valley. 

A much smaller Grey Company carefully picks their way across the edge of the Death's Head Valley, hoping to get as far as they can without being spotted by any Gnolls. They follow a path suggested by Old Gren and keep near the valley wall, following an old goat trail nestled behind a small run of hills. 

The fog is still fairly thick along the edges of the valley, though it does appear to be clearing in the higher lying areas. At one point some wolves can be heard nearby but not seen. Griffin checks the area and spots some wolf tracks and goat tracks, but no Gnoll tracks. 

Just as the Company is emerging from behind the hills, they hear a series of drum sounds echoing through the eastern end of the valley. It sounds something like a call and respond situation. After a moment the drums stop and it feels as if there was no sense of urgency in the drum sounds and the Company feels that they are still undetected in the valley. 

At mid-morning, the mist gets considerably thicker as they approach where they think a pool of water lies on the Foamfire and suddenly see some looming shapes coming up out of the fog ahead of them. It is quickly discovered that the shapes belong to grisly totem poles with headless skeletons affixed to them, obviously work of the resident Gnoll tribes. 

Realizing that this must be some sort of burial ground or graveyard, the Company turns to head back and circumvent the area only to see a pack of Ghouls approaching quickly from behind. The willful undead quickly engage, making no distinction between man or horse in their ravenous attacks. Folks quickly start dismounting when it is evident that mounted combat will be difficult with such foes causing such great amounts of fear in the horses. 

Dropping the lead on Mr. Softie, his current mount, Draven rushes forward with his holy symbol held out prominently above his head. He shouts curses at the Ghouls and does his best to attract their attention, hoping they will surround him before unleashing the holy might of his Patrons upon them. 

Draven blasts the Ghouls with holy might

Marcel battles some Ghouls
Meanwhile, Griffin and Marcel engage Ghouls while Remar sends bolt after magical bolt into the pack. Some of the horses end up getting spooked and bolt for safety. Iris manages to grab several of them but others get away and Ree takes off after them, knowing all too well that survival in the valley is dependent on the ability to move quickly across it. 

The battle rages on for a few moments until finally the Ghouls have been defeated or run off. Stephan and Remar gather up the horses on the ground while Griffin, Draven, Marcel and Iris confer at the top of the hill, checking for any possible injuries. Their congress is interrupted by a long, black arrow that flies out of the mist from across the mound and sinks deeply into Iris, causing her to lose consciousness and fall to the ground. 

The Grey Company gathers around a fallen comrade

Session Notes

We got a late and slow start due to my computer all the sudden not wanting to deal with G+ Hangouts. Not sure what was going on but we were able to utilize the Roll20 chat and video just fine in the end so... problem solved. No worries!

Cast of Characters: 

Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard 

Marcel Maasa homely but sincere wielder of spears aspiring to cooking greatness commanded by +Christian Blouin 

Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos ministered by +Jason Packer 

Iris Vardaa Thyatian explorer and historian searching for answers and adventure guided by +Alex Safatli 

and +Jason Woollard as The DM


Wandered Roads 42

Wandered Roads of Varisia
Session 42
month day, year

Campaign Timeline

Securing the Area

Starday 6th Neth

Where Is That Elf Off To Again?

Daellin finds himself, once again, in a location different than that of the rest of his companions. After taking a second to get his bearings, he sees that he is standing in a gold paneled alcove at the end of a large, lavish chamber. The domed ceiling is frescoed with an image of a starry night sky while a thick rug of exquisite manufacture covers much of the floor. Two black benches carved in the likeness of coiling serpents line the nearby walls. Another golden alcove lies to the north. There appears to be a passage leading out to the south of the chamber and across the far end of the room is a hallway with stairs leading up and out of sight.  

More Sinspawn
More importantly, two armed figures stand near each exit from the room. They appear to be the Sinspawn, creatures that were previously battled in the ruins underneath Sandpoint. These Sinspawn are wearing heavy leather armor and carry long polearms. They immediately see the newly arrived Elf and ready their weapons.

With a wry smirk creeping slowly across his face Daellin rolls his eyes in feigned surprise.  "Of course this side would be have to guarded, and by four of these fiends no less" he mutters under his breath.  "I really do need to talk to my companions about these predicaments they keep getting me into.  Sooner or later someone is bound to get hurt.  I can't always be there to protect Ehlyna and the others if duty keeps pulling me forward."

Pretending to notice the guards for the first time Daellin grabs the edges of his cloak and flourishes them dismissively as he offers the guards a curt bow.   Not giving the guards any time to react he steps forward and summons his most arrogant demeanor.  "You there!  Where are the refreshments?  Have you not been instructed to have the kitchen at my full disposal?  What sort of hospitality is this?  Heads will certainly roll if our master hears of this!"

As Daellin is putting on his best spoiled lord imitation (thankfully not much acting required there) he is trying to position himself for slipping around the guards position.

One of the creatures from the far end of the hallway yells something to Daellin in a language he cannot understand, probably ancient Thassalonian. One guard from each position begins to advance slowly, their long pole arms ready to attack. As they approach, Daellin notices some differences between these Sinspawn and the ones previously encountered. These look the same in the arms, legs and head area, but their torsos are different. Even through their heavy leather armor, Daellin can see they shaped like voluptuous, large breasted women.

The nearest advancing guard will be in range to attack within a few seconds though it will take the other one longer to close the distance. The remaining two guards each take up a position in the middle of the exit they are guarding.

The creatures ignore all of Daellin’s attempts at trickery and diplomacy and eventually make it to attack range. Not wanting to risk another combat away from his companions, Daellin quickly casts a spell and teleports himself back to the room he had just been in. His friends were still there, waiting for him to return.

A Sweet Discovery

With Daellin safely back, the party heads back to find Ehlyna and Samad and tell them what they had discovered. When they pass back through the bathing chamber, Vexeron notices a secret door that had not been previously discovered. “Well I say, I do remember casting my See Secrets spell AFTER we came through this room earlier. Good show, chaps. Let’s see where this leads!” he announces in his familiar thick accent.

It is decided that they should retrieve Ehlyna before exploring further and the Dwarf is called from her post in the next chamber. Eager to be done with guard duty, Ehlyna leads the way through the secret door even before Calina and Daellin get through checking it for traps!

The Heroes follow an ancient and seemingly undisturbed hallway around several turns until it ends at a set of double doors. A sweet, perfumed scent can be detected in the air. Daellin and Calina begin checking out the doors and when it is deemed safe, Ehlyna kicks them open. Just as Ehlyna does so, Vexeron notices another secret door just behind the party, directly opposite of the doors Ehlyna just kicked.

The liquid filled orb is quite desirable.
The air in this room is thick with the scent of expensive perfumes. Dozens of delicate crystal jars and vials are displayed on pedestals of polished pink marble along the walls. A glass orb that swims with liquid amber light hangs from the ceiling above on a delicate golden chain. As several of the Heroes enter the room, they are suddenly overcome by the intoxicating cloud of perfumes, causing quite a bit of confusion. Kallin begins looking at his hands and laughing while Vexeron smashes his own foot with the butt of his staff while Daellin and Ehlyna both try to reach the hanging globe. Ehlyna tries to use Daellin as a climbing post but as she does this, Daellin attempts to use her advance to position himself closer to the orb by using a Blink Spell but something goes terribly wrong and Ehlyna finds herself unexpectedly hanging in midair right in front of the glowing amber orb. She grabs for it, causing it to explode, which in turn causes several other vials in the room to explode as well. Glass and dangerous fumes fill the room as the Dwarf crashes back to the ground, landing squarely on top of a confused Daellin. The noxious fumes begin to cause everyone in the room to cough and choke while several of them are still confused by the overpowering perfumes. Eventually the room is cleared and the doors are slammed shut, keeping the toxic gas contained.

A Darker Discovery

After some healing and poison recovery, the party turns their attention to the newly discovered secret door. The usual precautions are taken and the door is opened to reveal a dark and secret shrine of some sort. This black marble-walled chamber’s ceiling is lost in a layer of shimmering black fog, while a long golden rug runs down the center of the room on the floor. A rectangular block of polished stone, black with blood red streaks, sits at the far end of the rug. Several objects sit atop the stone, and Daellin and Vexeron can tell that some of the are magical from the doorway. The air is filled with a strange, nagging hum and the thick scent of cinnamon. The wall beyond the stone altar is decorated with a mural of a voluptuous demonic woman with bat wings, a serrated tail, legs of molten stone and a crown of seven horns. Both of her hands are held out to her sides, palms turned upward toward the ceiling. A globe of blackness hovers above each palm.
a dark altar

Fearing some dark magical trap, the heroes forgo entering the chamber but instead send in Bob, a warrior/ butler created with Vexeron’s magic. The knife wielding butler enters the chamber and approaches the altar. In turn, he retrieves the items off the altar and brings them to the party waiting eagerly in the hallway. The gathered treasure consist of a 7-pointed unholy symbol made of onyx and pearl similar to the headdress worn by the demon in the mural, a blood stained golden goblet, a blood crusted and curved magical knife, a magical incense burner that emits the smell of cinnamon, a case with several hunks of magical incense and a silver scroll case containing a magical scroll.

The Heroes decide to head back to check in on Samad and the prisoners before doing any more exploring and find their companion doing just fine. They tell him about the encounters they have had and that they plan to do some exploring in the natural caverns outside the Grey Maiden’s base before using the teleporter again.

Several of the Maidens have made a case to be set free, they have promised that they are no longer associated with the current goals of the Grey Maidens and want no part in the events going on. They give up what other information they know and pledge to do no ill will toward the party. The members of the party consider it and release 4 of the Maidens who make themselves useful around the camp while the others rest.
Shadow dogs attack!

While the group is resting and Vexeron is analyzing some magic items, Dallin leads Samad off to show him the areas they had previously explored and they return to the exploding perfume room and each take several vials of fragrant ointments without setting off further traps. Daellin then shows Samad the dark altar room and when they enter the room to get a closer look, two huge dog like beasts form in the mist and descend to attack. The shadow dog’s sorrowful howl stuns Samad and Daellin is able to remove his friend before anything bad happens. The doors are closed and the shadow beasts do not pursue. They return to the rest of the party and decide that resting is a good thing.

Sunday 7th of Neth

Don’t Be Such a Hag

flooded tunnels
At the behest of the recently freed Maidens, the Heroes of Sandpoint set out to explore the natural caverns on the entry beach, looking for one of the Maidens that had been led that way by “Sorshen” but never returned. They follow the caverns, which twist around and often end in submerged passages. In one such watery chamber they encounter a tiny fiendish beast that throws water bolts at the party before fleeing into deeper, darker water. Not wanting to engage such a foe in its natural environment, they press on and bypass the submerged chambers until they come out to a small underground lake with a rocky island in the middle.

A single stone post extends from the middle of the island while watery tunnels lead east and west. A naked woman with a scarred face is bound to the post by lengths of dark seaweed. She is covered in fresh wounds and the rock below her is stained with blood. Standing over her and poking her with the butt end of a long spear is a hideous hunchbacked woman with wet, green skin, dripping white hair and bulging orange eyes. Several strange creatures caper and dance at her feet, the same wolf-headed, lobster-clawed beasts that were encountered in the other watery rooms.

When the Hag sees the party on the narrow beach, she cackles with joy and cries out, “Oh no! New playmates here for Daefu to toy with! Sorshen is good to Daefu! Sorshen loves Daefu as Daefu loves her! One? Two? Three? How many more playmates come to Daefu? More sweet, pink flesh to poke and prod, more mouths to sing songs of agony, all because Daefu is loved by Sorshen. She sent you to me, yes? Who wants the first kiss from Daefu? Be patient, new flesh, all will get a turn!”

The Heroes face off with Daefu the Hag
As she cackles and everyone fully takes in her hideous appearance, several members of the party feel their strength sapped from them. The evil Hag then stares at Kallin, cursing him with her Evil Eye. She sends her little gremlins forward to attack while several of the party members engage her on the island. The battle is fierce and Daefu holds her own for some time before falling to the combined might of the Heroes of Sandpoint. The Hag attempts to flee underwater but Daelin takes a deep breath and flies under the water and stops her.

As everyone recovers on the beach, Daellin swims beneath the water and drags back her treasure that had been hidden away in an underwater cave. The treasure consisted of several magical healing potions and a bag of assorted gems, two of which look to be magical in nature as well as her enchanted long spear and a magical necklace she had been wearing made of the bones of dangerous looking sea creatures. The Heroes of Sandpoint then drag themselves back toward their current base of operations to regroup and rest again after such a taxing encounter. Kallin hopes to use some of this time to meditate and contemplate on his recent actions since he seems to have overstepped his boundary with his goddess, Pharasma during the battle with the Hag.

Session Notes

This session saw the departure of an old friend and the re-acquaintence of a different old friend! Greg has unexpectedly had to leave the group but we recently reconnected with an old member of the group, Don, who stepped in and took the reins of Greg's character, the wizard Vexeron.

Session Photos

Daellin and Samad flee from the shadow mastiffs
Hag battle from above
Evil Eye point of view
The Hag, Daefu!

Characters Present:

Kallin Hawkril, Half-Orc shaman and budding Priest of Pharasma - played by +Daniel Ernst
Calina - Varisian Human archer and scout - played by +Carol Coburn
Daellin Silvanthalas, Elven Farstrider Ranger - played by +Ben Lipe
Vexeron, Human wizard - played by Donald K
Ehlyna Fuzziface - Dwarven Warrior - played by +Jodi H
Samad Aldhul, Human ex-mercenary - played by +JeCorey Holder
Vosk, Half-Orc Pathfinder who gets the job done, no matter what - played by +james schaffner 
and +Jason Woollard as the DM


Grand Duchy 64

Grand Duchy of Adventure

Session 64August 20 - September 9, 2015

Daybreak Over Death's Head Valley

Tserdain 20 Yarthmont

Waking After A Long Night

The Grey Company drags themselves out of bed in the morning after a long night of Manticore trouble. After losing two horses to the beast, the Company had believed they had tracked it to its lair in an abandoned tower nearby but as they approached the tower, a mutilated horse leg was dropped on them from high up in the air. A quick search of the tower showed that the Manticore, Shifirax, may have used it to bed down from time to time, but it definitely wasn’t it’s permanent lair. Frustrated that their newest enemy seems to have escaped, the Company heads back to the campsite to tell the others what they have found.

The news that the Manticore is not in the immediate vicinity is well received by the Company, but just to be safe, they added a third member to the rest of the night’s watches, even though it would mean tired souls the next day. After the night they had already experienced, there was no getting around that anyway.
Old Gren moves through the camp, waking everyone up. The smell of his burnt coffee not quite enticing enough to spur movement. The camp was still dark and only the tallest mountain peaks to the west had the morning’s light on them. “Come on now, ya’ll want to get down into and across that valley today, right? Now’s the best time to be going.” He spits on the ground and behind him, on the edge of the camp, his mount, the sturdy moose Bullwinkle, snorts and spits on the ground as well, as if punctuating Gren’s comment.

“You all expecting company? Maybe some backup? Went backtrackin’ a bit earlier this morning, before the sun was up. Saw what looked to be two or three campfires down at the start of the trail that we climbed yesterday. Not many folk come up here, ‘specially not so many folk as would need three campfires,” the old ranger muses. He looks around at the waking Company then over toward the tied up horses. He turns and looks down into the Death’s Head Valley. 

As the morning sun burns away the night, a misty white fog rolls down off the colder peaks and clings to the lower lying places, making the green and brown valley look mystical and mysterious.
deaths head valley morning fog.jpg
Old Gren turns back to Griffin, Draven, Marcel and Iris while the others break camp, “I’ve been thinking, it’s not looking like a good idea to take this whole group across the valley, not with missing several horses. I can lead ya down to the valley floor, then double back with the three youngins, maybe one more if ye’ think ye’ can spare ‘im. That’ll give ya one mount a piece. I can lead them back up and around, maybe even lead whoever is following us in the wrong direction. The fog down there is a good thing,too, but it’ll no doubt burn off completely in a few hours. Best to take advantage of it while you can.” He crosses his arms and looks to the exhausted Company for their decision.

Yawning and knuckling his eyes, Draven missed once more the quiet comforts of the church back in Verge. Considering old Gren’s words, Draven looks to the others. “I can see the potential benefits in a bit of subterfuge, as well as narrowing the number of riders.” He grimaces once more as he takes another bit of Gren’s coffee, tasting the grounds and something else mixed in, no doubt for ‘rustic flavor’ underneath. 

Old Gren sees Draven choking down his coffee and chuckles. “That’ll put hair on yer chest, boy. Make a real man out of ya!” He thumps his chest a few times and grunts. “Good stuff, ehh?” He spits on the ground, nearly splattering Draven’s foot with an ugly mess of brownish black spit.

Iris likes to think in the morning. What she’s thinking about right now is that morning is her least favorite time of the day. Groaning out loud, she wallows in resignation as she waters her dry mouth with some strange concoction courtesy of Old Gren. Looking to her companions, she decides to remain quiet and let the others make some sort of decision. She’d much rather not think. This is morning and it’s a morning after a run-in with some strange beast. She’d rather be anywhere but here.

Griffin nods as he grunts at Old Gren’s proposal. “Yea, I was thinking something along those lines last night. If you can get the three amigos back safe to civilization, we’ll press on.

He takes a sip of “coffee” and grimaces as he turns to Old Gren. “Unfortunately, no, we’re not expecting backup. There’s another party that’s interested in what we’re up to here - I imagine they’re who you saw. And you should avoid them at all costs. They’re not very nice folk, and I hear they have a fondness for moose steaks.” In the distance, they hear Bullwinkle snort.

“Now if you can slow them up at all without risking yourselves, by all means. But they’re dangerous, and sneaky. Be careful.”

Griffin packs his gear up quickly. He sees Burik grabbing a cup of Old Gren’s morning brew. Might as well get this over with. He grabs his saddlebags and starts walking over to the horses, away from the rest of the party. “Hey, Burik, can I get a hand over here?”

The young swordsman follows, his cup cradled in his hands. “What’s up, Griff?” 

Griffin slings his saddlebags over the back of his new mount and turns to face his old friend. Straight to the point, I guess.

“Here’s the deal. Golthar is at the bottom of the mountain. The time for stealth is over, so we need to make the best time we can. There are seven horses, and eleven of us. Marcel’s kids are obvious choices to head back with Old Gren. That reduces things to eight.”

It is obvious that Burik can see where this is going. “Now wait a minute. I’ve been in this from the beginning.” 

"You keep trying to cut me out of the action, cut me out of the payoff. Do you think I can't do this or something?" Burik's voice raises and Griffin sees his friend's face getting flush and his hands clench into fists. Griffin immediately flashes back to that incident in the Susikyn yard.

Seeing tempers flare, Draven steps forward, interposing himself between the passionate duo. “Burik, stop and think. You know good and well that we don’t want to get rid of you. You’ve been essential to this whole team from the beginning.” Taking his arm and steering him away from the others he lowers his voice. “Consider where we find ourselves? Only enough horses for a fraction of us, and the others hot on our heels. Someone has to stay behind, and those three lads of Marcel’s are the logical choice. But we can’t send them on their own, and we barely know Old Gren, right? Are you going to trust the lives of those boys to him? Who in this company can match you for self-sufficiency?” 

Burik wheels around on Draven, arms raised in front of him, and for a moment the priest thinks he is going to hit him but then Burik’s shoulders slump and a weak grin crosses his face. He looks over his shoulder toward where Rood and Sen are folding up the tent, then looks back to Draven. “Yea, you’re right. It makes sense. I need to keep an eye on the boys, watch the Company’s back.” He looks back at Griffin as he starts to walk away. “This is considered an active role, not a sideline. I still get a full share when you get back. And of course, you all will get a full share of whatever spoils I claim after taking out the yellow wizard!” He chuckles and goes to remove his gear from the horses and tell the boys what the plan is.

Well, color me surprised. Iris watches the ongoings in silence, secretly surprised in her companions’ resourcefulness once again. She didn’t think even a giant spider could get that man out of their hair. She flashes a smirk to Draven when she catches his eye and mouths “Good job.”

Griffin breathes a sigh of relief. Well, that went better than I expected. He turns to Draven, speaking softly. “My thanks, Brother. Burik and I go way back, and sometimes it’s easy to fall into old habits. I probably would have said what you did, but I think he heard it differently coming from someone else.”

He sweeps the camp with his eyes and sees nothing left to do. “Old Gren, we’ll meet you back at your place when we’re done here. Hopefully that won’t be too long.” He looks at his friend chatting with the youngsters. “Burik, give ‘em hell.” His friend nods and grins. Griffin turns his horse and starts moving down the slope into the valley.  “Okay, folks, let’s get going. The time for stealth is over. This is a race!”

Preparations are made quickly as the sun rises higher and higher, though still directly unseen by the Grey Company due to their location and proximity to the nearest mountain peak. Old Gren explains that most of the trip down into the valley will have to be on foot due to the treacherous and narrow trails, so those without mounts won’t be holding the party up at all anyway. 

The plan is to hightail it to the bottom where Old Gren will then lead Burik and the three boys back up an alternate trail that hooks back around toward Brokeneck Gap and give them a view of the trail down into the Death’s Head Valley. Once they see that the pursuing group has descended into the valley, they will head back toward Old Gren’s hut near Northolt and wait for the Company there.

Have a Nice Trip, See Ya Next Fall

As the group begins to descend, most of the view of the valley gets cut off by the surrounding walls, though Old Gren points out the various places along the slope to the left where he plans to watch for the other group. Though the trail is narrow and steep, the descent into the valley does not take that long at all, though it is more difficult for some, Marcel most of all.

When nearly at the bottom of the trail, the warrior Marcel takes a bad step and stumbles. In attempting to steady himself, he steps on loose rocks on the edge of the trail. The rocks crumble out from under his heavy boot and the Traladaran pitches right over the edge of the trail. He falls about 5 feet before hitting an outcropping of rock, bounces, then slides another 15 or so feet down a very steep section of mountain. He stops, lodged behind a small, gnarled bush growing out from behind a precariously balanced boulder. Loose rocks and gravel go showering down the slope, making quite a clatter. 

When the dust settles, Marcel is laying at a very awkward angle, wedged behind the bush and the rock, unmoving. Old Gren freezes and holds his hand up indicating for everyone to stop and be silent. He whispers, “Sound like this could echo through the valley, might alert any Gnolls nearby. We need to proceed with caution here. Your friend is hurt, but looks like he’s still breathing. It’s a bit of a distance from the trail below, so were gonna have to either climb down to him from here or work our way down and try to climb over to him.” He looks at Draven and Remar, “Unless one of you knows some good magic to use.” He looks over to Iris and Ree as well, “Ladies?”

Griffin stands at the edge, eyeing the trail, the steep slope, and Marcel’s precarious position. He pulls rope out of his pack and quickly lashes a bowline onto one end, which he hands to Burik. “You’re on belay. Just don’t move. I’ll go down and secure Marcel, then help guide him  as you all help bring him up.”  Burik nods and slips the loop over his shoulder, steps back from the edge and braces himself.

He turns to the young priest, “Draven, use your boots and meet me down there. You should look him over before we move him, get him as good you can. He’s out cold, so he may not be worth much getting himself back up.”

With that, he spins and begins the descent to his injured friend.

Not trusting to his voice not to betray his concern, Draven nods, and doesn’t wait for Griffin to begin his descent before beginning his own trip down to where Marcel lies, muttered prayers already on his lips as he travels. Once he arrives, without touching anything, he tries to ascertain just how badly Marcel is hurt, and whether he is safe to move.

Iris, concerned for her friend, goes to quickly cast a spell to aid her in climbing down to her friends, putting the smallest amount of herself into the spell. At least she should be of use to get poor Marcel back up now, and, with her other two companions’ talents, should be able to avoid anymore harm. This day gets better and better.

An exhausted Draven arrives at the fallen Marcel first and carefully begins checking him out. Fortunately it looks like he took the brunt of the fall with his body. His limbs and head appear ok. Griffin slides down the hill quickly with the use of his rope and Iris follows nearly as fast, her natural climbing skill aided by her magic.

As Griffin and Iris arrive, Draven sits on a rock next to Marcel breathing heavily. Despite their magical nature, his Boots of Levitation still take something out of him when he uses them.

Griffin and Iris look Marcel and the area over and decide upon the best way to get him tied up without causing any further rock slides. His body is wedged fairly tightly behind the bush and rock and Griffin is worried that by moving him it may cause the boulder to go rolling down the slope, causing untold commotion. 

Looking over at Iris, Draven breathes one more heavy breath before he speaks. “I’m not sure how you do this, fueling your magic with your own essence. I will stick with being a channel for divine justice, than you very much.”

Glancing back to where Marcel lies, he continues, “He’s hurt, and not just a little, but it’s not life threatening, not yet. If we can get him free I can patch him up. But that’s about it. I might not make it down under my own power as it is.”

Griffin loops his rope around Marcel’s torso under his arms and ties it off. “Burik, you guys ready?” he whispers, trying to keep the sound down. Burik waves, and he, Old Gren, and Remar grab the rope. Griffin moves alongside his comrade as they make their way
back up the slope. Marcel’s armor bunches up, actually supporting his head, as he is lifted free from where he is wedged. Griffin flinches as the boulder shifts as Marcel lifts away, rocking back and forth before coming to rest again. Whew!

Hanging Out On The Mountainside

Slowly and carefully, Marcel's limp body is dragged back up the slope. Griffin and Iris climb up with him, supporting him and trying to keep him from getting any more hurt. After a few minutes, he is safely back with the group. Draven floats back up as well and nearly collapses on the trail next to Marcel. 

Old Gren looks over the scene before him on the trail. “We got a little more’n an hour to get to the bottom. Right here we are more than little exposed to the that part of the valley,” he motions to a narrow slice of the valley below.
He then glances upward to the steep trail above them and curses, “Aww shit, lookey there,” he points up into the bright sky above as a winged creature flies past and disappears behind one of the peaks. “I dunno if it spotted us, ‘twas pretty high up, above where we camped last night, but it’s something to keep in mind. Damned Manticore is still out there, and I’m guaranteeing that it ain’t forgot about us yet!” He pauses for a second and looks around the immediate area. “If we can’t move “Big’n’Burly” here too far, we need to think about findin’ ourselves some cover so we can stay hidden from above and below.”

“Well, it sounds like somewhere else is better than here. Gren, can you scout ahead and find us a hidey-hole or maybe just a wider place in the trail? We’ll get Marcel onto a horse and follow. Slowly, but we’ll follow.”

Griffin looks around for anything that could help minimize their exposure. He snaps his fingers and roots through Marcel’s pack, pulling out his Elven cloak. “Maybe this will help.” He puts his on as well.

Remar and Griffin lever Marcel over the back of Rocky, the biggest horse they have. “This may be a little undignified, old friend, but it’s necessary” says Griffin as he lashes Marcel into the saddle. He takes Rocky’s leads, determined to help Marcel make it to the bottom of the mountain.

“Okay, guys, let’s keep moving. We can rest when we’re all rich!” He clears his throat, “Actually, we’ll rest much sooner than that. But you get the point, right?” and he smiles.

Old Gren puzzles over this for a moment and then announces, “Not sure of any good places further on, but I do remember a little bit of a overhang about 15 minutes back up the trail. Not gonna be big enough for all of us to get under, but have the procession at least, that work?” Griffin nods to him and Gren takes off, urging Bullwinkle to a scrambling trot up the rocky trail. The others turn their horses around and make to follow.

When the Company arrives at the spot, they see that Old Gren has started gathering up some brush and branches to use as cover. Marcel is taken off his mount and laid as gently as possible on the ground. Draven dismounts and moves slowly toward him.

Griffin gets Marcel off the horse and propped up under the overhang, then gets to work with Gren and the camouflage. Man, I miss Eran. He always made this stuff look easy.

Draven makes no move to begin healing Marcel up, instead spending a few minutes catching his breath. “I’m not sure I’ll be much good at this, as tired as I am, but the good gods know he needs something.” Mustering up as much stamina as he can, Draven places his hands on Marcel’s chest and abdomen and begins to pray. Yet, try as he might, the magic will not come. Chagrined, he rocks back onto his backside and splays next to Marcel’s prone form. “Rest, give me… half an hour’s rest and I can do this. I know I can…”

I think this is one of those days we ought to have stayed in our bedrolls. Each step was a labor for Iris, and she knew her body would give out on her soon, but she pushed herself mindlessly to keep up with the others. She did not want to be the one to drag them behind.

When the spot Old Gren pointed up was finally in view, she tried to recall the things she needed to do to set up camp, but grasped nothing. She looks to the others blankly and sits down, trying to wait out the white she was seeing everywhere in her vision.

Finishing with the camouflage, Griffin takes a position near the edge of the overhang, with a view as much of the sky as he can.He readies his crossbow, then sighs. “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, folks. Let’s catch our breath, see to Marcel. Soon as we get him upright, we need to be moving again.”

Griffin sits on a rock, crossbow propped on one knee, his other hand rolling a silver corona across his knuckles. Flip, flip, flip, flip, and under. Once we hit the bottom, can we sprint the length of the valley? Will the horses hold up? Will we? He looks back at Marcel, still unconscious. Is he gonna be up for this, or should I swap him out for Burik?

He pulls his cloak around him, trying to look like a part of the rocks, and continues to scan the skies.

Bad Medicine

Remar quickly looks at Marcel’s wounds and applies some healing magic but as he casts the spell, something is clearly wrong. As the young mage finishes his invocation and lays his hands upon Marcel, dark, crackling energy swirls around him and is channeled through his hands and into the unconscious warrior. Marcel’s body spasms and shakes. A mouthful of blood is coughed up all over Remar’s face. The Alphatian mage leaps to his feet and lets out a little cry, holding his hands out in front of him. Faint wisps of smoke come from the ends of his fingers. 

“What the… I don’t…. what just happened!” he spits out, looking around at his companions. “That is not what I tried to do, I swear!” Remar falls to the hard, dirt ground and sits in the corner, his knees pulled up to his chest. “I’m sorry,” he mutters quietly over and over. Marcel, still unconscious, looks even worse off than he did before. Everyone just sort of sits there, staring at each other, scared to even approach the now twice wounded Marcel. 

After about 40 minutes, everyone is about as rested as they are going to be and some are starting to get anxious to go again. Old Gren is quite anxious. “If’n you all ar’ gonna make it ‘cross that valley before nightfall, we best be gittin’ down there and started. It’s gettin’ late.” He looks at Marcel then to Draven, “If yer gods see fit to heal ‘im, then ya best get to layin’ on of hands, brother. Time is short.” The boys start moving around the area, getting the gear ready to go.

Knowing there’s little to be gained from waiting further, Draven kneels next to Marcel’s chest. “Great Lady, this one may be a child of these benighted hinterlands, but he is a valiant warrior in your fight for justice, and one who will bring order to this place. I place him in your hands.”

Preparation, determination, luck? Whatever it was, this time the healing energies coursed forth, knitting Marcel back together and drawing him back from the brink of death.

As Draven’s healing powers wash over him, Marcel sits up groggily. He looks around, “Where the hell are we? What’s going on?” He rubs his head and winces as he turns to look around him. Draven looks him over and realizes that he is still fairly injured. Apparently Remar’s misguided use of healing magic did more damage than he initially thought. 

Old Gren interjects, “Can ya walk? Stay away from the edge of the trail next time, clumsy. We gotta get moving. That fog in the valley is nearly burnt out, it’s gonna ruin your whole advantage! Plus whoever is following us is probably nearing the top of the Gap by now, lessen o’ course they got slowed down by the ghouls like we did…,” his voice trails off as he gazes up the slope to the top of Brokeneck Gap.

Into the Valley

Finally the Grey Company gets on the road again and just before reaching the bottom, Old Gren calls for a stop and scratches some lines into the ground, showing the general outline of the valley. He grabs a few pine needles and lays them down near his drawing. “Pretend that these here needles is about 5 miles long, then you get the big picture.”

“Follow the Foamfire as best you can, the mist and fog will hang heavier there and hopefully keep you hidden as long as possible. You will need to head out into the open here though, cut across this vale and then around til you see the water. A pretty good sized pool is known to form where the Foamfire cuts into the mountains before it comes out down past Verge. That will be your most vulnerable point, I think, so stay low and and move slowly. If you ride too fast, it might scare the birds or animals in the valley, and that could alert the Gnolls.” He draws some markers to show some places of hilly land. “You’re going to want to go around most of these places. The Gnolls like to set their camps up in the hills and they are gonna know them like the backs of their mangy hands. If you have to cut through the hills, watch out for traps, pitfalls and snares and the like. They are a nasty lot, these mutts!” He points toward the nearest set of hills. “These hills here,” he then stands up straight and points into the valley in front of him, indicating some low, rolling hills with minimal vegetation growing on them, “yer gonna want to go around the backside of these hills. It’ll get you nearly halfway toward the Foamfire. From my experience, the Gnolls don’t come down in these hills much. They stay here in the eastern end or up along the water, most near the hill areas. I’m gonna take these boys and head over that’a way so we can start gettin’ a move on back up the slope. Our trail ain’t gonna be a piece of cake like this one was!”

Cast of Characters: 

Garrett "Griffin" Constantine, a Thyatian rogue of a gambler from Penhaligon rolled by +Arne Jamtgaard 

Marcel Maasa homely but sincere wielder of spears aspiring to cooking greatness commanded by +Christian Blouin 

Draven Rickart, a Thyatian Acolyte of the Church of Karameikos ministered by +Jason Packer 

Iris Vardaa Thyatian explorer and historian searching for answers and adventure guided by +Alex Safatli 

and +Jason Woollard as The DM