Author Topic: Episode 06: Bramblethorn  (Read 70 times)

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Offline fraz

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Episode 06: Bramblethorn
« on: September 20, 2005, 09:56:43 PM »
Episode 06
Bramblethorn
[Saturday 23 July 2005]

Cast of characters:
Dale: Blackspear
Maccabeus: Johan
Maal Brengain: fraz
Ragnar: Himo
Sayer: Phin
---------------------
Sythus [Spring]
Valley Year 237
Duthash Albyr Aryor [6 May]


Maal: The morning wakes as do you. You look out the window and see that Threshold is shrouded in a thick mist the likes of which you?ve not seen since home. In typical fashion you kick off the covers and spring out of bed. Strapping on your gear you head out for your morning march. Heading outside you can see the shape of the temple across the way called The Alter of Virtue. You pass over the Rosewalk and head directly towards the Spike of Fire. Even through the fog you can see the flame burning ever-bright guiding you to the southern end of The Foot. Half way there you look up the hill and barely see the Circle of All. It stands there in a surreal white cloud singing of a primal majesty. You pass the ivy covered Shambled Tower and wonder what foolishness brought that crumbling down. You can see that it tells of an age gone by.

You get to the Spike and hear the muffled thunder of the spouting fire. On the pristine steel door you see the seal of Kossuth surrounded by the copper and gold leaves that are so thematic to this town. The seal is that of a sunburst within a three pointed star enveloped by another circle. A reflective calm comes over you and you begin to remember the comfort and security of your clan when you were very young. You look down to the mark on your hand and remember other times that you desperately try to forget. Gripping your shield tight you draw it close and realize that your hand is clenched around your spear turning your knuckles white. You turn and continue your guarding walk.

Having checked the rest of the town you now have but to patrol the road leading north across the Angelhawk. You get to the bridge and see two figures approaching. One is a large wolf and the other is a feral looking gnome. He reminds you of the night time tales of wolf folk in the Wildlands. Could he be one for real? The wolf fixes its? eyes on you snarls menacingly.

Maccabeus: You wake with a jump and wolf looks east with a deep growl of warning. Following the lead you curiously look out into the dark morning hours. Playing on the mist is the divine light of the moons. It is not yet dawn but quickly will be. In the distance you hear a wild howling in the distance. Wolf?s ears already perked, twitch a little and you see the fur on it?s back has risen up. With another ominous growl it gets up and stands in front of you as if to guard. You get up and stand next to it and put your hand on it?s thick neck to comfort. It looks to you and you say, ?I wonder what sort that was. Whatever it was you don?t like it do you? Well, it?s morning and there is no point in trying to get any rest. That to close for any sense of peace. Come, we?re almost there anyway. I?m not sure what we?ll find but we may as well have a look to see, eh? I hope the human tribes have no fear of you. You?ll probably be more fearful of them anyway?they?re so unpredictable?so say the clanfolk.? You then go into your ritual meditation dance to honor the ways of the living world.

Your dance done, you mount upon Wolf's back and grab hold of the thick for on the animal's nape for stability. You lean down to wolf?s ear and softly say, ?Soon there will be some rest. Now, let?s be off.?

You come upon cultivated fields and through the light mist you see some lights. You approach a collection of wooden structures close to a misty river. Somewhat reluctantly you draw closer to the dwellings. You see that they?re different than the earthen homes of the clanfolk but seem to give shelter nonetheless. As you get closer you hear a barking from up ahead and wolf rumbles with alarm. Quietly you whisper, ?Shh?they?ll be still once they see that you?re stronger.? Wolf quiets and continues on. The two of you approach the village to find it still at rest. Wolf looks to the riled dogs and bears his teeth and silences them. Ahead you see a wide bridge spanning the river. This is the river that your master shaman said that you should follow upon the side trail towards the mountains. Before you left she explained that the human tribes in this area are decent in their welcomes and have little fear towards folks of your sort. Hopefully she?s right. You pass over the span and continue up the broad trail. The trees quickly thicken with the mist and soon you see another small bridge ahead. Before moving further ahead you dismount. You look at Wolf and say, "Well, let's keep going." You come into closer view and you see standing at the bridge a tall individual with a spear and a shield. She looks like one of the clansfolk. Wolf starts to snarl?

Dale: Having arrived late to Threshold last night you take room and board at the first inn you see in the town. The idea of getting some extended rest is all too tempting. Since your parting talk with Lady Sondra in Sukys on Gorrish Gyth Arkus (April 28) more questions than answers have presented themselves. What does this Doctrine mean? Is it a warning of sorts or empty words? It was kept in secret so it must be important. Could it be a riddle? What did Valakai do that was so great and yet terrible. It seems that answers might be looser if Master Randiir were still here. At the very least a part of him lives on with your toad?odd as that may seem.

Having traveled far and away last year you avoided the strange illness that felled so many magic weavers. Lady Sondra would have met her doom were it not for your acquaintance, Xen K?Stalis, and his friend Deacon McTavish. They uncovered a secret that you now are pursuing?but to what end?

You rise out of bed in the common lodging where others are also starting to break their rest. Your nights sleep would have been better were it not for the old dwarf sleeping in the bed to your left. As you begin to get ready for the days events the dwarf gets out of bed with a cough and long, loud, dirty fart. He stands and scratches himself. You cast an annoyed look his way and he says, ?Sorry laddie if?n I at all bothered ya with me snoring last nite. I prob?ly kept everyone awake??. You cast a side glance over at the man getting out of the bed to your right. He seems to be everything the dwarf isn?t. He?s well groomed and has fine traveling clothes. He nods his hello.

Sayer: Life in the prestige of the noble born of Kurr has treated you well. Having been recognized as having certain gifts you made your place in the audiences of Corwyn Vallensun the Arch-Duke of Kurr. You have been an Oracle for a time in the service of the Duke and have come to be trusted as a speaker of insight to the ever elusive future.

A short time ago you did a series of readings that all turned out to be of ill omen. To get a finer insight you continued with the readings asking to where these events would reveal themselves. The Runestones revealed ?South?. Taking private council with the Duke you informed him what the runes hinted to. Duke Vallensun said, ?Hmm?the runes said that, eh? They speak some truth. In the first week of Duthash the garrisons that I?ve lent to the southern towns are withdrawing and returning home. There are rumors of mysterious shadows out in the wilds. Xanthakos may be rallying once again and we cannot take the chance of Kurr getting caught off guard. We must redeploy our troops. I cannot in good conscience leave Threshold without any sort of stead. So, I have decided that you will go to Threshold. Seek out Master Hawkhaven?he will be expecting you. I ask that you offer council to him. However, that is your charge and should be your decision. Sayer, I need you to be my eyes and ears while you?re there. Send word and reports to me of what is happening out there. This time of year Threshold is a prime location to gather such news. Many travelers from all over will be passing through on to the Valley?especially with the upcoming festivals. This needs be done Sayer, I?m trusting you.? The Duke gives you a bag of money and says, ?Here is a pouch of coins totaling a hundred crowns. That should cover expenses for a while along with any messenger fees. Be careful and alert as you always are?the axe could drop at any time.?

You arrived yesterday (Duthash Abyr Basque) but did not have an opportunity to speak with Julius. You?ve taken room at the Thornhedge Inn in the common quarters as that was all that was available. Your rest was marginal at best having been woken several times by a snoring dwarf. The man to your left seems to be somewhat annoyed that the dwarf is talking to him. He sends a glance your way as if to ask you to shut him up. You nod hello and continue to get dressed.

Ragner: For the first time in a few days you?ve slept peacefully. No Shadows haunted your dreams and no burning from the brands on your hands. ?Will they come for me?? you wonder. It seems as if these nightmares and marks would say that they are?but when? Driven by a more primal need you gather up and head for breakfast. Others are rousing out of their rooms to take their part of the morning meal. As you open the door to head downstairs three young children rush by you laughing as they?re playing a game of tag. You smile at their joy and remember back when you were their height. You would play the same game with other kids of your tribe. That was a time free from worry and pain. Both of those things seem to be a theme these days. Where did all of those good days go and will they ever return? Only time will tell.

You go to the feasting room and set for breakfast. You scan the room for familiar faces and see that some of the folk are looking at you with a dumb look of wonder on their faces. From across the room Keltan comes to you and says, ?Ragnar, what can I get for you this morning?? he leans in close to your large frame and whispers, ?Don?t let their rude stares bother you?they truly mean no harm. They?ve just never seen someone like you. Most of them are just passing through anyway?forget them.?

North of town Maccabeus greets the figure on the road ahead of him. "Hail." He says. "Good morning. Could you perhaps tell me where I might get some food?"

"Aye." Calls back a young woman, her accent clearly marking her as a wildlander. "Just yon there by the Mushroom o' the Stump." She directs the gnome.

"Thanks to you. My name, by the way, is Maccabeus."

"Maal." The wildlander replied.

Maccabeus approached the nearby building that Maal had indicated, but found it to be locked. "It appears to not yet be opened." He observed. "What time do they start?"

"Not open?" Surprise was clear in the young woman's voice. "Ahh, well, there's a'nuther place down th' street..." She began to give the gnome directions, but then appeared to think the better of it. "Hell," she says. "Jus' folla me; I'll guide ye there."

Maccabeus and Wolf fall in along side the woman as she leads them southward into the town.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Julius enters the Inn and approaches the table as he has in the past. ?Maal, Ragnar?, he says ?Ashe has told me that the boys are on their way to recovery once again. They send their greatest apologies for your trouble. On another matter, Getty Coryndar has informed me that his farm steward saw some strange men going into the thickets bordering his fields. He fears that they might be bandits hiding out. I told him that bandits wouldn?t make themselves so easily seen. Needless to say, he didn?t seem to care for my assessment of the situation. Regardless, could you go check it out? I sent a runner up to get Jarmok but he said that Jarmok was not there. He must be out hunting for the day. The bandits numbered about eight. The fields are in Little Threshold just north of here. Clearly it?s not wise to go search with just the two of you. I don?t see Hafaveraal anywhere either?do you know anyone else in town that might go with you??

As Julius is talking the door to the inn opens and an armored man walks in, ?Master Julius.?, he says. Julius turns around, ?Ah, captain. Getting an early start?? ?Aye that we are. The men are ready and these days of standing down has lowered their spirits. A good days walk towards home ought to liven their enthusiasm. As I said before, Threshold has become like a home to me and it?s not my choice to leave?but I have orders from Duke Vallensun to return to Kurr. You and the folk of Threshold have been very kind and receiving of us. We?ll miss you all. Here?s the key to the Fortmount.? The captain offers the key and Julius takes it. Julius puts his hand on his armored shoulder and says, ?Be careful on the journey north?I?m expecting that we will once again have speak over an ale. Travel well good friend.? At that the Captain turns and leaves. Through the windows you can see the garrison proceed past the inn. Several people get up from their meal to watch them leave.

Julius turns back around and says, ?Now where were we??

As Julius was talking with the Captain, Dale, Ragnar, and Sayer all arrived at the only open table the Thornhedge had to offer: Maal's.

"Ahh, yes," Julius continued. "I was asking, Maal if you knew of any others in the town that might be able to help you investigate these "bandits". He looked expectantly at Maal.

Maal introduces the new folk, Dale and Maccabeus to Julius. Julius, much to Mac's surprise greets wolf gently and ably.
Sayer intros himself to Julius and they talk.
Dale talks with Julius.

Maal suggests that Maccabeus, Dale, and Sayer accompany her and Ragnar. The three new-comers have no objections.
Dale works out some details with Julius privately and Maccabeus and Sayer agree to join as well.

Dale goes to collect his equipment.
Sayer throws his seer-stones and makes a reading as the others look on in bewilderment.
Leave and head north to the village of Little Threshhold.

The party soon finds the farm and talks to Jared MacDougal to get the whole story:
Several armed (but not necessarily armored) men were seen going to and fro around the tree line on the edge of the farmland. This is apparently cause for concern because it is unusual.

Investigate the area where MacDougal has indicated. Wolf finds tracks and they follow them to the edge of the woods and along the trees? border.

The marching order is thus:
Maccabeus & wolf
Dale
Ragnar
Sayer
Maal

At length, the party comes upon a tall, broad bramble that has been obviously damaged and is ailing. Instead of vibrant new greenery, the plant seems oddly gray and colorless. The leaves and fronds also appear to be extremely delicate, disintegrating at the merest touch.

There appears to be a tunnel leading into the bramble, and there is strange ash-like sand upon the ground.

Taken aback somewhat, the party stops and scans the area. Maccabeus kneels next to the ailing bush and begins making raspy, whispering sounds. The other companions look on in surprise while Maccabeus talks with the bramble.

After a brief conversation, Maccabeus reports that the bramble is sick and dying as a result of a presence within the tunnel.

Sayer throws his stones and makes a silent reading.

Although wolf takes some convincing, he eventually accompanies the companions into the tunnel.

As Maal passes by Sayer the seer grabs the wildlander?s arm and whispers to her: "Red among the green. Watch for it," he says. [+2 insight bonus on a die roll of Maal's choice].

The floor of the tunnel appears to be carpeted with strange ash-like sand that, combined with the dull-gray leaves and fronds creates the impression that the tunnel was burned into the living shrubbery, leaving ash and cinder behind.

The party follows the path; as they penetrate deeper into the bramble the ash upon the ground gets thicker. The plant, in the manner as it was outside of the tunnel is fragile and turns to dust at the slightest disturbance.

They follow the path to a three-way fork. Right and left seem to open into chambers with pools.
Sayer throws stones: he announces that straight ahead looks favorable. The companions take Sayer?s suggestion and proceeds straight ahead. The path gradually turns to the right and finally opens up to about 15' wide, affording the party to move a little more comfortably.

Maccabeus suddenly spots a living vine moving towards them in a threatening manner. Unsure of what this is, the gnome casts Entanglement, and the vines and plants attack each other. However, the vines are so brittle and fragile that their own movement causes them to disintegrate, filling the tunnel with ash and dust, choking the companions within and forcing them to withdraw a ways, coughing all while.

Maccabeus backs up [but fails his fort save] and begins coughing uncontrollably.
Dale fails save and begins coughing uncontrollably.
Sayer fails save and begins coughing uncontrollably.
Dale fails again and his eyes start burning and tearing.

Sayer, stationed at the rear of the party, detects something approaching from behind. Trying to call a warning to the others in the group, he coughs repeatedly, finally getting Maal's attention. Maal turns to see a strange humanoid approaching. This creature has grey-skin, fangs for teeth, and pupiless eyes. It is dripping with wet, blackish liquid and wields a sword.

Without hesitation, Maal steps around Sayer and lets fly her spear which kills the humanoid upon impact.

The party crowds around to investigate the kill. The humanoid wears a medallion which Maal picks up. Upon contace, she is aware of a strange tingling sensation in her hand and she drops the item immediately. Maccabeus then touches it and experiences the same sensation; he, like Maal, drops the medallion.
Dale, recovered from his asphyxiation, picks it up quickly and deposits it into his pouch.
Ragnar takes the creature?s scimitar.

The party follows the creatures wet tracks back to one of the pools and investigate.
The pool is dark and still; what they at first think is a thick sludgy oil turns out to be just an odorless, ash-darkened water. Dale thrusts staff into pool - no effect. Ragnar lights a torch and touches it to the liquid - it sizzles, but there is no other effect.

Exit this ?chamber? and investigate the other pool. This one is bubbling slightly, causing the companions to wonder is there isn?t something alive beneath the surface (theorize: perhaps the other pool is not bubbling because what was under it came out an attacked us; this creature must still be under there!)

Ragnar fires a crossbow bolt into the pool, but nothing seems to happen. (Reevaluate our theory: perhaps the bubbles are from incoming liquid below the surface?)

The companions decide to exit and advance again to the wide passage where they fought the strange creature. They pass the body of the downed creature, which is degenerating quickly into ash! Continue onward past a passage on the right, and continue straight until they come to another intersection. Take right passage

As they move onward, the party begins to hear strange chanting from up ahead. They approach quietly, finding that the passage opens up into a small glen and peak into the widened area ahead They see a stone circle in the center of the large area. There are humanoid figures moving about within the circle of stones.

Back off and discuss briefly. They decide that before any encounter should take place, they should first investigate that last via encountered in the passage behind them, that way, they will be assured that there are no additional creatures to flank them. They investigate other side passage which leads to a room in which another pool is there bubbling.

Discuss further. There was one additional unexplored passage. Retrace to previous intersection and follow passage back to find another pool room. More bubbling in the pool (apparently all the pools bubble except for the first one). There is no exit passage here. However there is only five feet of plant-wall between this and the stone circle room next door

[listen and spot checks all around! initiatives! reflex checks!]

Another creature, similar to the first that Maal killed, rises silently from the pool and fires some spikes from it's arm at the party!! Everyone manages to avoid the flying spikes. Ragnar Mind Thrusts the creature - there is a momentary black out and a beam then shoots out from Ragnar's forehead and kills the creature, who's head erupts! The creature falls back into the pool, dead.

Discuss a plan of attack
Maccabeus circles around and rides Wolf into the chamber. He approaches one of the standing stones and investigates it, noting that there are markings on its surface (the water symbol)
Maccabeus wanders closer and sees another standing stone in the center of the circle (this one rising more than thirty feet into the air. He can make out at least three or four creatures in the circle
There is another bull's head symbol on the center stone (exactly like the one that Dale picked up earlier only larger).
Maccabeus investigates another of the standing stone. This one has the symbol of earth upon its surface
The humanoids seem too busy worshipping and chanting to take notice of him at all
Maccabeus approaches from the other side of the wall to communicate with the rest of the party

discuss attack plan

Sayer: casts his stones upon the floor of the chamber that they are in and speaks: "Earth and Water, Fire and Air, Trap the serpent in his lair". [+2 on a die roll of your choosing bestowed upon each member of the party]

The party walks around to the chamber entrance. after entering, they spread out, surrounding the center without resistance (the acolytes continue their ritual)

Maccabeus casts Shillelagh while Dale casts Sleep - two of the creatures fall affected. a cloud of ash goes up as they fall to the floor

Dale fires his crossbow and kills one. The remaining creatures finally turn and react
Ragnar mind thrusts - the creatures head explodes!
Maccabeus charges in on wolfback and attacks: he whacks one creature in the face with the magical staff, crushing it's face
Ragnar is struck by a scimitar wielding foe
Maccabeus is struck by several forearm spikes
Maal charges forward and throws her spear - hitting Ragnar's opponent (the only remaining foe).
Dale approaches one of the sleeping creatures and clubs it to death
Maccabeus and wolf are missed.
Ragnar attacks the opponent that fired the spikes at Maccabeus - [crit!] he destroys it!
Maccabeus kills the final sleeping creature.

The party soon finds that there is a bull's head figure on each side of the center stone. There is also a black, glowing gem embedded in each bull's head. The bull's heads are all removed and it is discovered that they were covering up the four elemental symbols of earth, fire, air, and water.

Maal grabs a nearby scimitar and tries to bash one of the black gems, hoping to destroy it. She is successful; the black gem shatters, but a wave of evil energy is suddenly released and hits her dead on [-7 CON]. She collapses and pukes

Ragnar destroys the remaining bull's heads by hurling them against one of the standing stones

Maal pukes again. She sits down to rest as Dale investigates the circle o' stones

Maal retrieves her spear and Ragnar recovers his spent bolt, after which the party makes their way back out of the bramble maze. They check the pools on the way - all of the bubbling pools are still bubbling (except for the first one, which was never bubbling).
The party finally exits the bramble maze and makes their way back to the large barn at Coryndar Fields

Pick this story up in the following threads:
A Dusty Return
Ragnar?s Report
By the Light of The Emerald Moon
Ashes to Ashe?s
Aftermath
nothing

Offline Wildfire

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Episode 06: Bramblethorn
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2005, 08:50:36 PM »
I've added my adjustments in blue. If anyone else has anything to add please, by all means.
Wildfire

One should never underestimate the stimulation of eccentricity