Pathfinder in Bronn

Chapter 2 - The Cloak

Five children entered the cold underground caverns of the Eastern Reaches, following the pull of a magical gem leading them to uncertainty. More than two weeks later, four adults stepped into the warm sun once again.

Their thoughts lingered back to when they first sat down at the Red Birch Inn and Stabling House in Willowbrook not three months ago. Their first real mystery having presented itself in the form of a puzzle box, won by winning the Jester’s Game. Such excitement left little room for worry and the gem contained within pointed them towards their destiny.

The road rose up to meet them before the sun had set, and their path through the Shady Vale brought them many new challenges and opportunities. A murderous owlbear, an orphaned werewolf, A group of demonic Gnolls. They made many new friends on this trip, and vanquished many foes, but were blind to a looming threat.

A family dinner turned sour as Imperial forces tried to apprehend them. They escaped, but were sent far away from Brighton. Markkenen was told by his father that he was adopted, and he carries the blood of the cursed traitor Theo in his veins. They were also told that the Empire is not to be trusted, that the Grey lineage is not what it seems. They fled that night, heading towards the Eastern Reaches, leaving the Vale for the first time.

The wide open lands lay ahead of them, and soon they found themselves in Knightsbridge. Passing over the Silted River, they were accousted by a Imperial Justicar, the Elite enforcers of Imperial Law. Determined to escape, the group fought but were overwhelmed by the Justicar. They would have met their end there, but for the arrival of a legendary creature. A great Golden Dragon soared overhead roaring loudly. The city, enthralled and terrified, watched as the Justicar flew into the sky and attacked. The two fought for only a moment before disappearing beyond the horizon. The group then took this time to make their escape into the East.

They travelled on, following the guidance of the gem until they encountered a group of Halfling Outriders in the service of _______. The Halflings led them to the city, which was perched atop a great mesa. There, they learned of the evil manor to the North that was razed a hundred years ago, and was to be their destination. After a brief stay, they sought out the manor, and entered it’s catacombs.

Entering a maze of underground caverns that led to a massive network of caves, the group came across a group of Gnomes who had fled their town when it was invaded by Dark Elves. The town, it seemed when the group arrived, had been ransacked and it’s citizens taken. Following their obvious tracks, the group found themselves in the Drow city. Here they encountered the High Priestess and her Black Dragon and most of them were captured.

With the help of another Drow, a Noble vying for power and trying to erase his Brother’s shame from his family, Ashabo and Estoril joined the rest of the group who had been forced into gladiatorial combat against a horrible Drider abomination. Together they killed the monster, but not before Falcar was killed by the magic of the beast.

The Noble had promised to release the Gnomes from the city as well as help them escape.
While fleeing, the group were convienently led into an encounter with the High Priestess, who they slayed, most likely the Noble’s plan all along. Upon her body, she wore a multi-colored cloak that resembled the cloak of Piffle, the Jester.

Fleeing the Drow city with the Gnomes in tow, the group then made their way back to the surface. Having bought their new lives with the blood of their friend, this new group now looks forward to whatever lies next.

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Interlude - Purpose

Yode threw up his hand, clutching the Brass Gear tightly. He felt the warmth of the metal through his glove as it began to glow with the power of his God.
“Back to the Shadow, creatures of Evil!”, he screamed, and suddenly the large cavern was alight with a blinding glow. Pure holy energy filled every corner of the makeshift labratory, illuminating every jar and bottle, every book and page, and causing the small sightless fish that lived in the trickling stream to flee the room. The Skeletal horrors bearing down on Yode flew back, their bones crashing against the floor as the energy holding them in undeath was melted away. Even his companions, the adventuring group he so recently met, and who would have no idea what to expect from a true wielder of Divine magics, recoiled at the blast. Their eyes, which only moments earlier had stained to pick up the dim glow of their illuminating spell, snapped shut in protest.
In another instant, the light had gone, leaving a fresh and clean scent in the air. He was invigorated by the feeling of the power he had channeled, and looked now to his only remaining threat.
Standing 7 feet tall on a skeletal frame composed of every sort of bone you can imagine, lashed together with rope and chain, and brought to life with sick, black magic. Two small red lights glowed from within the eye sockets of the bull’s head atop the monstrosity, which reflected onto the giant’s heavy rusted Great Axe.
Yode hefted his shield, and brought his Morningstar to bear. His companions were wildly enganging the monster, slashing and pounding at it’s frame with fury, but it seemed to take no notice. He could feel the beast’s unholy stare as it focused on him, the bearer of the hated light. As the creature lifted his Axe, Yode could feel the strength of his God pushing him foreward. He could feel the light burning inside him, eager to burn from this world the evil before him. The Axe sliced through his shield like butter, and then his mail, and then his flesh. Everything went dark.

“Yode” a voice said. Everything is dark.
“Yode” it repeated. Open your eyes, see what has happened.
Yode found that he could not see a thing. He was fairly certain his eyes were open, but there was nothing. He felt cold, as if he was naked in the winter chill. It didn’t bother him too much, but he just knew it.
He tried to move his arms. Did he have arms? He couldn’t see, he couldn’t feel anything, and try and he might, he couldn’t feel anything when he reached out.
He tried to speak, but no sound happened. Was he paralyzed?
“Genius, what is happening?” he thought, and instantly he saw a light. Far off, but still. He tried to walk towards it, but didn’t move. He tried to reach out for it, and suddenly it grew larger. It was getting closer? or bigger? Either way, he tried harder, he tried to pitch his whole body towards it, to tackle it and smother it, and instantly it grew to surround him.
It was blinding at first, and he tried to close his eyes against it, but couldn’t. He tried to scream with pain, tried to turn away, but couldn’t. It felt as he would go mad from it, from the burning pain, and then it faded. The relief of the pain fading away brought tears to his eyes, or did it. It felt amazing, it was the best feeling he had ever felt.
Slowly, a scene began to appear around him. It was…dark. There were…people? Talking? Water running? What is this place. Is there…gears? a machine turning? What is happening?
Finally, he recognized these people. He could see where he was, but didn’t recognize it. Is he dreaming. Is he…oh. These are the warriors he fought with. These are the warriors he…died…with. He was dead. He remembered the feel of the Axe, the blinding pain and then…nothing. They were talking, about him, they were speaking about his death. What are they talking to? They don’t see me, I’m here, I’M HERE!
Then suddenly, he was there.

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Session 6 - The Cleric and the Necromancer

The group, now having returned to Brighton, enjoy the creature comforts to be had there, and begin planning their trip South, now having a better idea on where the gem is pointing. Before they can leave, however, they are approached by a Cleric of Genius named Yode who tells them that his patron sent him to find them as an answer to a request for help. Yode asks them to help him clear out an old mine which holds some secrets he is being compelled towards, but cannot penetrate due to the thick pallor of evil that surrounds the place. In exchange, he will travel with them and use his divine powers to help their cause. They agree, since the mine happens to be to the South, and they travel together to the Dry Mine.
Upon entering, they are confronted by an undead force, and eventually confront the evil creature who has created them. During the fight, however, the foul undead horror the Necromancer brought to bear against the group, slays Yode with a mighty blow from it’s Greataxe.
After the battle, the group looks around and are puzzled to find another teardrop shaped Ruby, nearly identical to the one they have been following. It does not turn by itself, but the coincidence is strange. Whilst searching, Ashabo notices that the apparent end of the mine isn’t the end at all, as a broken floor has opened passage into a long forgotten room below the mine.

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Session 5 - The Possessed

The group weathers another attack by the Gnolls during the night, and invade the tower’s dungeon in the morning. They fight their way through the Gnolls, some of which have a strange glowing symbol branded onto their forehead and possess magical abilities, and reach their leader, who grows strong and furious with demonic power. They manage to slay the gnolls and recover the gem, but an otherworldly voice rebuffs their efforts, and calls them “Agents of the Deceiver”.

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Session 4 - The Purloined Gem

The group enjoys moderate fame for their efforts, but also get involved in the private life of some of the people they helped. After a minor scuffle with the brothel owner, they decide they should probably be on their way. During a seemingly chance encounter, however, Geraint gets pick-pocketed by a local rogue, and loses the Gem along with his money. The group acts fast in order to find the gem again, and use magical means to identify where it is…on a ship sailing downriver. They make haste down the Maiden’s Way towards the next port town only to discover the ship never arrived. After much speculation (and a little magical prying), they find the ship, it having been attacked and scuttled by some unknown attackers. They track the assailants into unknown group’s territory, and end up fighting against a war party of Gnolls who had taken up residence in the area. They find the Gnolls lair, and camp in preparation of a morning assault.

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Session 3 - Leaving Willowbrook

The group decided to head out to the Southeast. They find the campsite that had been attacked by the owlbear. They recover the wagon and take it to Heartwood to return it to the company it belonged to. Then they run into a grieving mother who has lost her child along with several other children. After meeting up with Rinnark again, they head to the East and find a burned down orphanage and an orphan girl which they protect (and give gold to). Then they fight an owlbear and head inside to fight kobolds. Inside, they find a myriad of creatures that they fight and defeat, including a Gelatinous Cube and some Vargoulles. They find some of the kids and then have to rest for the night to regain their strength.

At this point, I am so far behind the telling of this tale, that I will sum up the adventures of our heroes, and the details will be unfortunately, lost to time.

After resting, they push on, find more kids, encounter the remnants of an adventuring group (namely a halfling named Edgrin Galesong of the Longford School) who are also trying to save the kids, and decide to return to town before pushing on even farther after Edgrin meets his demise.
Outside, the orphan girl turns out to be a werewolf, and they are forced to slay her (not before possibly infecting some of the party). They return to town, Rinnark meets them halfway with some healing potions, and they head back in. The group finds the rest of the kids (all but one alive), kills an undead dwarven monster wreathed in chains, and goes back to Heartwood.

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Session 1 - The Harvest Festival

Having arrived in Willowbrook on the 32nd day of Tallasis, Markennen, Estoril, Falcar, and Geraint run into Ashabo outside the The Red Birch Ale House and Stabling Inn in Willowbrook. The town is bristling with preparation for tomorrow’s Harvest Moon Festival. They inquired at the inn about reserving a room, only to be told that there was no room. However, William Redbeard overheard them asking, and offered up his spare room in exchange for the group’s help with a problem.
William’s cousin Elmer was supposed to arrive yesterday morning with a wagon full of Eastmarch Red wine to be sold at the festival, but never showed up. The men that were hired to assist Redbeard at the festival had been arrested the night previous in a drunken brawl near one of the bonfires, and as punishment, the wine merchant was holding back their bail until after the party was over.
The group agreed to head to Doran and back, which was a 12 hour round trip, to search for any sign of Elmer. William would pay them 100 gold, plus a bonus of up to 200 gold for safely delivering the wine.
The trip to Doran was uneventful, but just outside of town they ran into Elmer who was having a broken wagon wheel fixed. He told them that he had been robbed in Highoak by the man he had hired to assist him, and had then cracked a wheel on the Greenspan Bridge. He had hoped to make up for lost time, but the wheel had finally given out as he was leaving Doran.
Meanwhile, a group of wanna-be bandits led by an unpleasant young man named Boral attacked the group, thinking them to be bandits themselves. A melee ensued and Boral and a disturbed Half-Orc named “Giggles” were slain, while their cohorts surrendered. The group took their weapons and armor, as well as the gold they possessed, and sent them back to Doran with the Woodworker, tied up nicely for the town guard.
Not out of the woods yet (literally), the group was attacked by a group of crazed Basking Beetles. They were overpowered with little risk as Ashabo wielded the magic of Nature itself and caused the foliage to ensnare the insects while they killed them.
Upon returning the Willowbrook, the group received their full reward of 300 gold, with a free bottle of Eastmarch Red to boot! Elmer, also being extremely grateful, threw in 100 gold of his own as a token of gratitude.
The party found their well-deserved room, and retired for the night (except for Ashabo, who passed out in the street whilst showing off her bug collection).
The Harvest Moon festival got underway early the next morning. The group wandered around the town, taking in the sights and performances of the festival. They found the Riddles of Piffle and answered them all correctly, receiving the promise of a reward when the moon shone high.
Estoril and Geraint participated in the archery contest, but were both taken out by a young woman of considerable skill. The contest was ultimately won by Rinnark Trueshot, a tracker and ranger of note from Longford.
That night, the tradtional ringing of the Harvest Bell was performed, with a blessing from Father Gelise over the harvest.
The PCs then headed to the Inn where the musician’s showcase was about to begin. Elise Windsinger began the show by debuting a song she had written for the festival and her performance was stellar. Then the musicians showcased their own talents with solo performances, followed by open stage performances as the night passed and the Ale flagons emptied. During the performances, Geraint noticed a small wooden box on the table. Inspecting it, he found it to be a puzzle box, which he set about trying to open.
Falcar did a duet with Princess which was a fantastic comedic piece, and Rinnark gifted Estoril his Longbow he used in the contest. Just as Falcar arrived back at the table, the puzzle box finally snapped open…

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