A Few Friends Wander Online...

Death Ode
Ode to Gavin Vors, brave, adventurous, member of the Pathfinder Society

dead.PNGThe events surrounding my death are what some poets will call heroic. At least that is how I imagined it would be ever since I was a young boy in Lastwall. At present, my mind is stuck in a magical, ethereal place disconnected from my senses. I could not smell, feel, nay, even see really. I am just dying. The final battle with the mimic was what got me in the end. I lived long enough to know we killed it and the rest of the party will survive. I shielded my companions in the face of eight skeletons when we had no options but to retreat. They all survived and we won that encounter. But the mimic, carefully concealed as a barrel among barrels squished me until there was just nothing to hold on to. Perhaps that is why I am floating here in this white space, waiting to meet my god…or at least I hope that will be the case. The alternative is much worse.

As my consciousness is slowly slipping away my mind replays the alternatives I could have taken that might have changed the outcome. Light. A decent light source would have made all the difference this day. Why did we go into the cave with only the one lantern? Why hadn’t I prepared the light spell I have used so many times before? If only I could have afforded a wayfinder before beginning this blasted peril-ridden quest. What good is money when you are dead? The simple, elegant, icon of the Pathfinder. So beautifully wrought of silver with gold inlay. The artistry making it worth much more than its weight in the precious metals. The badge of office would have provided a constant brought light to the darkness just like the Pathfinders do to the secrets of the ancients. Just like I was meant to do.

The skeletons, raised by necromantic magic long undisturbed, had shattered the first light source. Their dark cave proved a perfect death trap. The magic had lost some of its power. The skeletons were but fragments of their potential. Thankfully they had not acted with intellect but with simple drive to attack. They had not gone for the weakest and that allowed us to fight our way back to the entrance feeling our way along the rock walls. Once in the light of the cave entrance we destroyed them as they emerged. We retrieved torches from the keep but those smoky burning torches threw flickering light that did not offer me the chance to see the mimic for what it was. Yes, with torch and sword in hand I fought to free myself but once in the clutches of the mimic’s tight clutches I was a loss. I will remember that I died with a war cry of support to my companions who slew the beast as I drew my last breath. They have avenged me and I can only hope the bard will tell my tale for years to come.

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A Day in the Life
An Unconventional View of Adventuring

I don’t have a name in the proper sense. I’ve never needed one. I began life 20 sleeps ago in a pretty spot near the river. As I grew I witnessed the large structures with the two-legs be abandoned and used many times. The latest occupants appeared to have deposed the last in typical genocidal fashion. Two-legs were cruel and unspeakably brutal to each other. While we fight for sun and water it is a slow struggle and a fair one. No ambushes, no tricks.

I was surprised to be harvested by the most recent owners. I’d seen my fellows fall to the axe or sword but not till they advanced in years. I’d come to understand a bit of the two-leg language. This group had a small one, a medium sized one and two big ones. They used a makeshift saw from the structures and quickly I can to earth, limbs shattering and life blood pouring from my stump. I hope my roots survive and can sprout a new tree. If not, my seedlings have spread far and wide and my kind will go on.

We do not lose our consciousness immediately. Death for us is slow – just like our life and our struggles against the elements. So I was aware of the stripping of my small limbs and the hacking to make me into a different shape. Two-legs are too soft to shape into much of anything. I’ve not seen them converted into anything of use besides fertilizer. They do make excellent fertilizer. Slowly, I was reformed into a point on one end and then cut again to shorten my trunk. The larger branches were shortened to 4 handles. In all I was about 3 leaves thick and about 60 leaves long.

I was then drug to a hole in the ground. Something blocked further passage of the two-legs and it became clear why I had been cut down. They quickly used me to batter down the barrier. Glowing green symbols exploded from the barrier and a groaning noise, like that of old limbs in the wind erupted from behind the barrier. As is usual for the two-legs I was discarded moments after bashing through the barrier. The small one created a portable, false light and then the all moved deeper into the dark hole.

My sap seeped out of my abbreviated trunk and I thought my last recollections would come as I lay in the dark, without wind, water or sun to to return my essence to the earth. I felt sadness at being wasted in this way but could do nothing to fix my situation. Time passed, sap leaked and still no return of the two-legs.

Finally they came back in a rush. Several leaked sap and all seem upset. Things followed them – they looked like two-legs but were not the same. Perhaps they were dead two-legs that somehow still walked – like my brethren who’s wood was too strong to yield to nature – even after their demise. In any case, the picked me up and ran me at the first of the perhaps-dead-two-legs. I crashed into it and parts of it flew – like a bark from a dead branch that falls from on high. Its parts did not rise and it seem to perish. More were behind it however and the two-legs that lived left me wedge in place; like a large rock near a root, stopping slowing the remaining perhaps-dead-two-legs. The two legs, both sorts, seemed to go back and forth swinging their branches at each other. Sap spilled from the living two-legs and the perhaps-dead-two-legs continued to shatter apart. Some of the live two-legs left the cave to the sun for a very short time. The small one came running back with one of my branches clutched in his fist. He proceeded to swing it at the perhaps-dead-two-leg that loomed over my trunk. His sight, perhaps, was poor as he always missed the perhaps-dead-two-legs. Bit by bit the perhaps-dead-two-legs fell to the normal two-legs and these rejoiced and shouted with each fallen foe. After they all fell, one of the big two legs came back with branches dead and long dry. He proclaimed them “torches” and the living two legs laughed and headed to the “keep” for “lunch”. Several leaked large amounts of red sap which stained their bark.

They disappeared and then returned a bit later, looking clean, fresh and healed. They each clutched a fire-stick and marched into the darkness. They drug me out of the narrow spot, over the shattered remains of the perhaps-dead-two-legs and dropped me to the soft, dark soil. After they moved through the narrow spot their light faded with them. At last I sit here, sap leaking, slowly perishing and wonder – how have the two-legs come to control this much? They seem a fickle and foolish species forever chasing and grabbing for light when the prudent path is to slowly and steadily grow to it. Chasing light means you are in the wrong spot tomorrow, when the clouds come in. Perhaps, if my original seed had fallen further from the waterfall…

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A Peaceful Evening and a Troubled Morning

The party rests overnight in the keep. They will have to negotiate a reasonable reward from Shefana to cover their rental fees of the horses, pay the cart drivers and rebuild their supplies. It should be possible however. Not to mention the addition of more hands to split the take. It could be tight for a week or two unless they came through with a score of some kind. Perhaps another of the jobs from Fairhill could be accomplished quickly, and hopefully, with high reward. As they ruminated on their fate, the next day, and odd transformation of their friend and companion Brom,i the adventurers drifted to sleep in the now abandoned keep (minus the obligatory sentry of course…). No sign of Arjana or the rest of her band showed. It was a clear night around the keep; those that ventured out to the courtyard or walls clearly heard the mewling sounds of a crying baby or, alternatively, the pitiful cries of a person in agony. Whatever stalked the surrounding woods, it was certainly NOT friendly and some of the band knew the sounds by their likely source – leucrotta. After an hour or so the cries drift away and dissipate in the night air.

The cart drivers did not show at first light. Or after breakfast. Or around mid-morning. By lunch no sign existed of them either, and the party began to grow anxious and fanciful imaginings spun in their minds. After sometime it was agreed a portion of the band would go back towards town, on mounts, to check and ensure all was well. Perhaps they simply lost a wheel or axle on the bump road. Or perhaps something darker was afoot.

After riding an hour or so of hard riding they come upon the campsite of the wagon drivers. The situation was foreshadowed by circling of buzzards, and as they approached, the cawing of crows and ravens. A clear fire was made and burned out. The wagons are parked with wheels chocked and the road side looks like the scene from a sadistic butchers shop. Blood, bits of bone and other bodily parts are strewn about – with two selected concentrations were the drivers likely fell to whatever attacked them. Already flies and the carrion birds were at work. Near the concentrations fights broke out by the most greedy of the scavengers.

Circling the area the party find prints from the horses, and later, similarly gnawed remanents of the beasts of burden. The carts, interestingly, are unharmed and intact. Looks like more decisions will be needed by the party. Can they determine what ensued at the site? Can they track back the attackers to their lair? Do they dare to deal with this threat now? Or better to venture to town with the goods and return?

All this and more…next time when a Few Friends Wander Online…

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Bromi's Journal - An Awakening

Upon returning to Arjana‘s Keep, the party discovers Bromi in the store room, apparently buried underneath a pile of stone as if he were caught in a cave that collapsed in on itself. However, the walls and ceiling of the store room were undamaged and made out of timber. Gavin, Felinor and the newcomers (Alton and Lilith) were initially perplexed by the odd circumstances in which they found Bromi, but rushed to free their comrade from his earthen prison. As they began excavating, the rocks seemed to be connected to Bromi, as if the stone had formed from the boils that covered his body. Bromi groaned in pain as the rocks were peeled away from his skin. A sickening combination of tearing flesh and scraping stone assaulted the ears of Bromi’s rescuers. Surprisingly, he emerged from the ordeal in relatively good condition – although his skin, especially the area surrounding his boils, had taken on a hardened, rock-like appearance. The disfigurement of his face had also been smoothed over, almost taking on the appearance of a fine stone statue (Gained +3 CHA!).

Gavin in particular took a keen interest in Bromi’s new features. He noted there was a distinct influence from the Inner Planes in play. Bromi had undergone some sort of transformation… an awakening. Deep within him, the primal forces from the Elemental Planes of Earth had burst forth, altering the very chemistry of his body. Bromi himself knew nothing of the source of his predicament, he suspected it might be related to the Curse of Zolurket placed upon his family – although he had never actually heard of any of his forefathers afflicted with spontaneous stone-skin. What else could it be?

While the others took a well deserved respite after the long ride from Fairhill, Bromi clambered up onto the cliff overlooking Arjana‘s Keep. He needed some time alone to contemplate the recent events. As he sat down to meditate, he felt grounded to the earth more-so than he had ever felt before. Bromi could feel the cliff, the rocks, the stones, the pebbles, he could even feel the individual specks of dirt surrounding him. He concentrated on a nearby boulder. In his mind’s eye, he saw how the individual molecules of the boulder were bound together… he could even see the slight vibration of each molecule. Curious, he summoned the dwarven fortitude deep within his core and focused intently on the tiny vibrations. The vibrations became erratic, the molecular binding started to decay. Bromi felt intoxicated by the elemental power, he continued to push, willing the individual molecules to stretch apart as far as possible, then… blackness.

Bromi awoke a short time later with a ringing pain inside his head. He gathered himself, took a deep cleansing breath then stood up to head back to the others. As he stood up, he noticed a pile of dust and rubble where the boulder once was.

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Failure or Opportunity
Campaign Reboot!

The night air was cooling rapidly around the heroes as they finally gave up the outdoor search for Arjana. She had slipped away into the safety of the surrounding forest – much as she had for weeks now. Tracking her seemed out of the question for the party and, given her skills, any ambushes she laid would likely be deadly in the extreme. Yet it rankled them she’d blooded them, snubbed their noses and then slipped away to “safety”.

Amlodd’s treachery, and his connection to the Fairhill Thieves Guild seemed clear and obvious from his actions. Fairhill, in the minds of the heroes, was fast turning from a safe, friendly backwater oasis to a deadly, corruption and fear-ridden little town. While Amlodd clearly was a dangerous foe but he would be moving slower with the horses and cart. If he abandoned them he’d be abandoning much of the spoils of the fortress – something that seemed unlikely. Nonetheless, a cautious pursuit would likely be best.

The moon shone brightly overhead, a near full moon, and with it being fall, almost a golden color. The stars twinkled brightly in the sky and it seemed a crisp and perfect evening. The counterpoint to their situation was not lost to the heroes. As ever, choices would have to be made. Try to track and follow Arjana – despite the risk? Abandon Arjana, and the bandit quest for now, knowing the majority of the band was slain and head back to the relative safety of town? Or pursue Amlodd and mete out justice for his betrayal? Perhaps some combination of those ideas, in an attempt to find the true connection between Amlodd and the Thieves Guild, the Guild and the town’s merchants and the merchants and Ajrana?

These questions swirled in the minds of the heroes as they made a small fire, scrounged food from the fortress and debated their next move. Perhaps abandon it all and strike out to find Tsen and make their fortunes as vampire slayers.

As ever, the decisions were not easy to make.

campfire.jpg

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Gavin's Journal - Thief

After learning that Amlodd had made off with the horses from the estate and stolen our own caravan of equipment and that Arjana had escaped into the night through the woods [Bromi is out searching the rocks] Gavin speaks his mind.

Delph, Felinor, our own ally has betrayed us and taken off with our equipment. If there is a hint of truth to what Arjana says then we must pursue Amlodd and find out if he is involved with the scheme. He is no doubt running back to town to either report us as alying with Arjana against the town or to seek aid from his supposed allies and then ambush us upon return for what we now know. Either way he poses the greatest risk to us now. And he has my donkey and cart full of our food and equipment. The time to pursue is now. He is not ten minutes gone from here and traveling with four horses, a donkey, and a cart. He will be forced to stay on the road and move at a reduced pace. If we do not go now and catch him tonight then his lead will grow as we are unable to make up the distance.

I propose we catch Amlodd, and his companion, and then question him. Once we have him perhaps we can use him as a bargaining chip to gain Arjana’s trust. We will get to the bottom of what she is doing. We can still take her into town but I think we are going to have to get our hands dirty and trick her by siding with her first. To whatever outcome I think our path now is clear.

If we were to pursue Arjana on her home field advantage, at night, we would waste precious time and allow Amlodd to beat us to town. And either way I think that would end poorly for us.

[Post responses below].

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Tsen Takes His Leave

As you ride into the outskirts of Fairhill, Tsen pulls back to the middle of the wagons and signals a short pause. After the cart and wagon roll to a stop on the side of the road he clears his throat and states:

“I think this is where our paths diverge friends. It seems you are set on one course of action and I am on another. I very much appreciate your time and help in putting to rest those undead and driving off the mage. Perhaps he will be in town here as well and we can enlist the help of the local guards – I’d be on the look out either way. I do not know my contacts name but I’m to stay at the Waving Hand Inn for a night or two and I expect they will come to me. I’ll report into the guards in the morning regarding the family and their deaths. I’m not sure of your intentions but I’ll be providing a full account of what I saw.

If our paths don’t re-cross, may Sarenrae bless you and illuminate your path.” He nods and taps his palomino’s flanks setting him to a canter and pulling the pack horse behind him.

As the dust settles out and you pull back on to the highway you are now down one member of your impromptu party….

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Felinor's Research

During our morning gathering to break our fast (second full day in Fairhill), Felinor passes on what he learned while serving in the Temple.

The Curse on House Muric is, by far, the most significant issue and has been on-going for roughly five years. Those afflicted by the curse slowly mutate into monsters and go mad. Apparently those afflicted generally stay on the Muric estate though. There are some whisperings of the curse beginning to spread into other areas, possibly threatening other parts of the town. We should speak with Caiden Arien for more information. the head cleric Jestine, offered assistance if we wish to address the curse.

As for the bandits, they are better equipped than most after having hijacked shipments from merchants in the town. We should speak with High Guardswoman Shefana of the town guard if we wish to address the bandits.

Regarding the live stock, I found out little more than we already know, other than it is a grave concern in an area already suffering. If we wish more information we should speak with the High Guardswoman.
If / when we chose to address either the tower or the vamp, she may be persuaded to accompany us.

After breakfast Felinor will go speak with the High Guardswoman regarding both the livestock and the bandits to identify which issue is more pressing for the town. At this point I believe we should address one of these two issues first to build rapport in the town, then address the curse.

Should we cast a vote for which issue to address first and in what order?

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Gavin's Journal - Legwork, Leucrotta

Gavin made his way to the temple of Iomedae on the western edge of Fairhill after a light breakfast at the Waving Hand and stopping to see his trusty pony and new draft horse at the Blackbrand Stables. Viktor Blackbrand had put them up at an affordable rate. The breakfast had been tasty and the horses in fine shape.

Gavin was heading to make his prayers and thanksgiving for life. Iomedae had tested him but shown light on him these last few days. He thought the warrior goddess would have expected more of him but he had come out on top, with help. He would beg her forgiveness and strength to go out and best his enemies with greater honor the next time.

He had celebrated life in his usual methods: Food, drink, company, and sleep. He wrote in his journal and then washed this morning. There was a simple shaving bowl and mirror in his small room above the Waving Hand. It was a nice wood building. Likely built out of the local timber a hundred years ago when the forest was closer to the town. He used his small shaving blade to trim up his shaggy hair and then dressed. He had dressed in his nice cotton shirt, flax leggings and laced up his leather boots. He buckled on his belt and short sword over that. Securing his long dagger in his boot he took one last look in the mirror. Nothing special to look at he reminded himself. But better than yesterday. Light pink scar tissue crept up from beneath his shirt collar. If it hadn’t been for Delph that wound would have killed him. But thank Iomedae, he was here today.

Arriving at the stone building Gavin was struck by the fortified look of the building. It was a beautiful building for the relatively small community but yet looked like it was ready to be the town’s last defense in case of an attack. Whomever built this building had certainly had the goddess of war mentality in mind. The building itself was in the shape of a shield with walls as the outsides of that shield. Beautiful but stark in its decoration. More function over form.

Gavin mused over the slightly interesting nature of such a large presence of the warrior goddess in this town. Her priests traditionally go toward the fight and it may be nothing, but it could mean something is going on here. Or maybe a battle might have brought them here centuries ago.

Walking inside the main public temple Gavin observed an area for the followers to sit and worship. The walls were whitewashed, inside and out. There were high doorways and arches with pillars supporting the ceilings and walls. Statues of knights adorned cutouts along the walls. Emerging from an alcove a priest clad in ankle-length white cassock with gold trim and matching mitre. The symbol of Iomedae, the sword of valor, was elaborately embroidered on the front of the cassock. The priest wore an ornate long sword hanging from his belt.

“For Victory, For the Heart.” The priest greeted approaching me.

“She gave nine drops of her blood.” I responded with the phrase of the ninth act of Iomedae. It was a common saying among the cavilers in Lastwall that reminded themselves of her sacrifices and that they may be called to do the same someday. That act also portrayed Iomedae freeing nine knights being held by a vampire-mage. If there were a vampire problem in the area as Tsen had been lead to believe, then perhaps this would encourage the priest to talk about what he knows.
“Well met, traveler. I am Sword Knight Greer. What can we help you with today?

“Well met, Sword Knight, I am Gavin Vors. I am hoping to speak with your historian about some creatures we encountered on the road. Something about these creatures rings a bell but I cannot recall the details.”

His eyes glazed over at the mere mention of “historian” and he did not even show interest in the creature. But without any hesitation he pointed me in the direction of a priest named Hardigan. I guess if it didn’t have to deal with a sword Greer wasn’t your man. Sword Knights of the Inheritor were an interesting breed. They used their swords for everything. Even baptisms required the use of a sword. It was the chief symbol of their order and they made sure to incorporate it at every event. Except apparently research.

Hardigan proved to be less military in appearance and didn’t carry a sword. The embroidered symbol was enough for him. The fourty-ish year old man looked happy in his small room full of books and scrolls where he took to his duties as scribe and historian very seriously. Greetings exchanged I asked him about the Leucrotta we had met on the road. He was not familiar with it but began pulling down several texts dealing with magical beasts and we narrowed it to evil ones based on Felinor’s detection by the spell. Hardigan and I read through sections from a dozen tomes before finding a description under another name. There was no doubt this was the very beast we had run into in the woods each night.

This chimera resembles a strange mix of animals with the head of a feral badger, the body of a lean predatory cat and the feet of a stag. This odd mixture probably results from being the spawn of Lamashtu, the mother of monsters. If legend is to be believed this chimera was created when Lamashtu took a particularly large, virile hyena as a mate. They are about five feet tall and weigh around eight hundred pounds.

Both our studies of religion and studies of evil immediately called to light the tales of Lamashtu. Lamashtu (pronounced lah-MAHSH-too) is the mother and patroness of many misshapen and malformed creatures that crawl, slither, or flap on, above, or below the surface of Golarion. Hardigan grabbed a tome off the shelf dealing with divinity and flipped to the section on her.

Lamashtu was once a mighty demon lord. In ages past she was allied with Pazuzu, though the exact nature of their alliance is often disputed by scholars of demon lore. Some say they were lovers, others say siblings, or simply convenient allies. What is known for certain is that she lured the god Curchanus into her territory and beset him with swarms of demons and other monsters until he was weak enough for her to attack him. By defeating him, she ripped his godly domain over beasts from him, beginning an ancient vendetta with Curchanus’s protege Desna. This imbued the demoness with a small amount of his divine power.

Pazuzu was enraged by this shift in power and as she returned from that battle he betrayed and attacked her. He wounded her terribly, but her newfound divinity allowed her to survive. They have been mortal enemies since. Lamashtu’s vendetta against him is only equaled by Desna’s own vendetta against her.

It is claimed by many monstrous humanoid races that she was their first progenitor and creator.

I spoke with Hardigan in hushed tones about a possible threat from a cult practicing in the vicinity. But he assured me he had heard nothing of the kind. The church was dispersed without any formal organization so it would be tough to know for sure. I would have to do more investigation into the killings of the livestock but if it is the leucrotta then perhaps someone had called them here.

It was lunch time and Hardigan invited me to eat with him and I was impressed by the eight members of the temple I saw in the meal hall. These were good people in this temple. It was good to have them around.

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Loot/Items from Session #4

Sirs,

The following items are in the immediate area:

From Half-Orc and Farm:
-———————————
x1 Shortsword
x1 Battleaxe
x1 Shortbow
x15 Flight Arrows
x1 Draft horse
x1 Wagon

From Korzan:
-——————————-
x1 Dagger
x18 Crossbow Bolts
x1 Crossbow, engraved with the word “Betty”
x1 Flask of Acid

General items: backpack, bedroll, map case, flint and steel, vial of ink, inkpen, 5 sheets of parchment, 8 days’ trail rations, water- skin, sack, 5 torches, belt pouch with 12 gp, 6 sp, 5cp and a journal.

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