Empire of the Sorcerer Lord

Yuri’s Journal 2/4/12

I waited and waited. Finally I asked about extending my pass. Since I didn’t actually have a pass, I had to get Piper from the Inn. Her pass was only for the temple so that wouldn’t do at all. I needed to be vouched for by a resident of the city to get a pass for the lore guild. Piper went off to see the Dawnspeaker to ask him to vouch for me. Luckily for me, he was willing to do so. Turns out the pass was necessary, as I was never called today. I need to return EARLY in the morning to try again. It’s all first come, first served.
We took a different route back to the gate ward. Doing so allowed us to find the theatre, a crafts hall and a fish market.
We got rooms at Rondal’s for 3 nights and Ceri sent a message to the Lore Guild about where she’s staying so they can send for her when it’s time for her audition.
During dinner at Rondal’s we learned some interesting things… some overheard, some from chatting with other patrons.
The town of Boothill was destroyed by an earthquake.
A star fell into the Sea of Serpents. It was seen for hundreds of miles.
Dragons were gathering on the Suri Steppe, far north across the Sea of Serpents.
We also learned about orcs north of the city that stole a family heirloom. There might be a reward for recovering it – we need to talk to this Fundin, the scarred dwarf, to learn more….
I also learned that the city was led by Highmaster Marsinda Goldspinner, a dwarven guild leader. The Highmaster is elected by a council of guildleaders.
Taras the bard came in to play at Rondal’s – he also plays at the Foundation Stone.
I met Mera and Ellarl. Mera is a copper-haired, tall human with a rabbit (familiar?), and Ellarl is a red-haired Halfling with a bandolier of potion vials. Mera and I went upstairs to her room for about an hour of youthful and exuberant sex. The rabbit watched – very weird, but fun.
Meanwhile, the others had already moved on to the Foundation Stone Tavern. I followed after I left Mera’s. In the street, I encountered a screaming ghost who came out of an alley and went into a wall across the street. Down the alley where the ghost had come from, I saw something glittering on the street. When I went down to investigate, there was nothing there, so I cast daylight so I could see better. I found some loose cobblestones and pried them up. There was a tunnel down below. I was about to go down and investigate when a few town guardsmen came up and challenged me, asking what I was doing. I explained and they immediately thought I was tomb raiding. I tried to explain that I wouldn’t do such a thing, but they were adamant that I leave, so I put the cobblestones back and went on to the stone, putting out the light as well.
At the Stone, I caught up with the others. Met Illirien, a tall elven woman. Ceri and I played knife throwing with her. She was much better at it then she first let on. She says she’s an Eladrin, some kind of extra-planar elven type.
The other bard, Terrell, showed up at the Stone. He is also one of these tallish elves. He sang some drinking songs, told some raunchy stories, and did some insult humor aimed at Ceri, who took it all in good humor. Ceri made friends with him.
On the way back to Rondal’s, we passed the alley where I saw the tunnel. It was all lit up and guards everywhere. The dwarves were investigating the tunnel. While the others returned to the Inn, I climbed up on a nearby rooftop and crawled over to watch from above. It turns out to be a series of tunnels, which they didn’t fully investigate, but I overheard them talking about them. It appears the tunnels are very old and might predate most of the buildings here. Perhaps it is some kind of bolthole from the original garrison? Anyway, they closed it up for the night. I assume they are going to investigate further, maybe in the light of day.
I returned to Rondal’s and offered a boy a silver if he can wake me an hour before dawn. I also left a note for Piper to wake me as soon as she is awake. I don’t want to be late since they take people first come, first served at the lore guild.

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Ceridwen journal 2/4/12

Hammerfast is an interesting city, after my visit with the Lore guild I joined Piper and Anders over at the Black Cat. The inn was a former tomb and the decorations still look like it is. The tables are sarcophagi and the waitresses wear shrouds. What a wonderfully ghoulish place. I tried to play but sound doesn’t carry in here. Considering its right next to the lore guild this must be a really popular place to conduct business or discuss things that you don’t want over heard. I talked to the owner about the place and told him how much I liked it.
Yuri/Riyu never got into see the ghost wizard but he got a pass to come back the next day. We headed back to the gate yard to find rooms for the night. We stopped by the Music Hall to see when the next show was; it looks like they are on the weekend. I’d like to come back to see a show but I’m not sure how you go about doing that. Does getting a ticket serve as a pass?
The people at the moderately priced inn were not overly friendly not mean just not very welcoming. We had an uninspired dinner and drinks. An elven bard (one of those curiously tall elves) came in and started playing. I went over at his break to talk. I told him I was a bard and looking for new songs because some of my companions are tired of hearing my songs. Most of the songs he knew I knew as well. He mentioned a few that I didn’t know. The Ogre and the farmer’s daughter? He said he didn’t usually play those here but he was going to the Foundation Stone and would play them there.
I overheard a dwarf talking to a Halfling about Dragons gathering. I figured I had better find out more. I found out what they were drinking and brought it over and asked them about it. The dwarf said he had heard it from a cousin. The Suri Steppe sounds like it is far away so I won’t worry too much about it now but I’ll try to find out more if I get in the lore guild. The dwarf said he is getting together a party to recover a family heirloom lost to an orc raid. That might be fun.
Piper, Anders and I went over when the bard left. Yuri had found a girl to spend some time with and didn’t come with us. At the Foundation Stone they were playing Giants feet. The game is played by two people who have their hands tied behind their backs. They stand on a plank over that awful smelly pit and try to knock each other in. Yuck. I listened to the bard and picked up a few new songs.
Yuri finally showed up and told us he had seen a ghost. I wanted to go investigate the tunnel but the rest of the group said they didn’t think it was wise.
We went over to throw knives instead. There were two guys sitting throwing and boy were they drunk. One of those really tall elves was there watching them. She stayed and watched me and Yuri throw. Yuri won; he is slightly better than me but not too much so it was a good game. The elf chick joined us she threw just well enough to hit every time. Next she suggested we play for a gold Yuri and I declined but said we would play for drinks and again she threw just well enough to stay with us. We got to talking over drinks and I asked her about her race. She said that they were from another plane. She said that most of the people of her race that were here had been asked to leave their native plain. She said if I stay here long enough she might tell me some stories of her home. Then she said she had to get back to work. I’m glad we didn’t put a lot of money on the knife throwing game.
When we were going back to our rooms we saw people around the ally were Yuri had seen the ghost. I told them we should have investigated sooner. Yuri stayed to watch them.
When we got back the kid I had sent to the lore guild was waiting with an acknowledgement but no pass. I guess I’ll have to wait on their pleasure. I can spend the time practicing.

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Yuri’s Journal 1/29/12

We moved on just a bit beyond where the orcs attacked before finding a place to set up camp for the night. We were extra watchful that night, expecting another attack, but nothing happened. In the morning, Piper cast ‘Gentle Repose’ on the corpses of our three dead guards before we traveled onwards. She said the spell would keep the bodies from decaying for almost a week.
While we traveled we did learn more about Hammerfast. For example, we were told it had been about 200 years since the orcs and dwarves died there in the battle for the city. Hammerfast is the largest and richest settlement in the area, and the undead are full citizens along with the living in the city. All these seemingly disconnected facts should help us understand the place we are about to visit.
Mid-morning, we met up with the Rushing River and at mid-day, with the Trade Road Once on the Trade Road, we began to meet fellow travelers and patrols from the city as well. Dogrund made sure to tell the first patrol we met about the landslide and the damaged roadway. We arrived at Hammerfast that night via the West Gate.
The Dwarves confiscated the Dwarven-made weapons and armor that we took off the dead orcs, the ones with no makers marks. Too bad, as they would have fetched some much needed cash, especially since we had to pay taxes on the rest of our belongings. Dogrund arranged for the Laskon gifts to be exempt from this tax. Piper’s new mace turned out to be the priciest item we had to pay tax on. I think she was disappointed in having to pay most of her gold in tax.
We found out about a lot of the buildings in the outer area of the city – warehouses, stables, the Arcane Star (a fancy inn), Rondal’s (less fancy inn), the Foundation Stone (tavern), rooming house across the street from the Stone.
We spent the night with the caravan, got paid 100 gold each by Dogrund in the morning and stabled our horses. We had breakfast at the Stone and discovered that they watered down their drinks. Then we took a walk, met some Halflings who were friendly enough. They told us about Siege Day and warned us to be indoors by nightfall on Siege Day especially. I think it might not be a bad idea any day in Hammerfast since the undead mostly come out at night. They also told us about inns in the main part of town – the Coach and Pony and The Black Cat. Ceri was very interested to learn there was a theatre in town as well.
Back at the bazaar, we bought clothing to be ready by tomorrow. I ordered a courtier’s outfit, with a shirt specially made to accommodate my wings. I had to pay a bit extra for it, but it will be good to have something nicer to wear.
Piper got us a pass to enter the main part of the city to visit her temple. We passed a lot of interesting looking buildings and tombs, passed the Lore Hall, where Ceri and I would like to visit, and on to the temple of Pelor. Very interesting place, this temple of Pelor… open to the sky and always sunny and temperate inside. The Sunspeaker, who I gather is the head cleric gave Piper an extended day pass so she can return and help the temple on subsequent days. He also gave Ceri a letter of introduction to the Lore Guild.
Piper and Anders decided to visit the Black Cat Inn while Ceri and I went to the Lore Guild. Ceri got in to see someone about membership in the Guild. I was still waiting on my request to see Grirdil when Ceri left to join the others at the Black Cat. I wonder if she got into the guild…

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Yuri’s Journal 1/22/12

Dogrund told us to be wary as we entered the mountains – there would be monsters and bandits as we traveled onwards. He told us about the Weeping Skull Orc tribe, the Spider Goblins, human bandits, outlaw dwarves and Halflings, minions of Queen Stravella which might include trolls and were creatures, not to mention just normal creatures. Needless to say, we needed to be extra vigilant an watchful.
On our second night in the mountains, on second watch, orcs attacked! They tried to kill some of our bison, not to mention attacking us. After taking some losses, they called retreat, but the bison were already starting to stampede. Ceri and Anders were both able to stop a couple of the bison, eventually getting the rest of them under control. Piper healed all the wounded, including the bison.
We searched the four dead orcs. They had some treasure, but most curiously, they were all armed with weapons and armor that had no makers marks, but all had the look of being dwarven made. Dogrund found this disturbing, wondering what dwarf would make weapons and armor for orcs.
Day 3 was long and tiring, especially after a night with limited sleep.
On the fourth day, the road was narrow, with cliff on one side, gorge on the other. It was a precarious place to travel, and it proved dangerous as well. While we were traveling along the steep downward road, stones started to rain down on us from above. I flew up, while the others rode on ahead and Dogrund spurred the wagons forward full speed. I found orcs at the top of the cliff… they were already scattering into the forest. I chased one down and killed it.
Down below on the road, most of the wagons made it through safely, but sadly one was hit squarely by a large boulder and rolled off the road, pulling bison over the side of the road and down the cliff. Three guards on the wagon were pulled over with the wagon as well. The drover just barely jumped off in time to save himself.
Ceri started to climb down to the fallen wagon, but was having trouble, so I flew her down the rest of the way. We found the three guards dead and the cargo scattered. The bison were dead as well. I flew the bodies up to the road, while Ceri gathered cargo together. We used the bag of holding to take about 2/3 of the salvaged cargo back up to the road to be distributed among the other wagons.
It was about this time that we noticed Piper was missing. She had apparently, since she was at the back of the train when the avalanche started, turned back to wait out the landslide. She waited for the dust to settle before she picked her way through the rubble, walking her horse. We were glad to see she was okay, and she healed those who had been hit by rocks, including the injured bison.
It was decided that we would take the bodies of the dead with us, Piper to cast spell on them to preserve them tomorrow morning.
We made our way out of the mountains, closer to the Iron Road, which would take us to the Trade Road into Hammerfast.

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Ceridwen's Journal 1/22/12

Riding with the caravan is interesting. In many ways it reminds me of home but in others it is very different. It is wonderful to have a horse again and to be ridding instead of walking. My horse is a sturdy little bay with a very smooth gate. I have named him Myyadah which means to walk with perfection.
The great beasts, that they call bison, use to pull the wagons are not very bright and not at all friendly. They remind me a bit of camels. The wagons are strange to me but the others seem familiar with them. They are open-topped and covered with canvas, with a wide seat were the drover and a guard sits. Each wagon is pulled by four bison. Our leader says that except in a few places two beasts can pull the carts. It seems to me that we should have more spare bison in case something happens to them.
Case in point, one night we were awakened from sleep by Riyu. Orcs were in amongst the bison. They apparently planned to kill some and eat them. We defeated the orcs pretty easily buy they had injured some bison. The bison pulled up their picket lines and started to stampede. I tried to put the bison near me to sleep but I only managed to get 2 of them sleeping. I grabbed onto the picket line and tried to stop the herd. Riyu and some of the others grabbed on to the lines and with all of us working to gather we managed to stop the bison.
We should have gone to hunt down the orcs. There tribe is called the bleeding skull clan. They have a mask that looks like a skull dripping blood. I wonder how many of them there are all together.
A few days later we were going down a steep grade with a long drop off on one side. The orcs started a landslide when we were in the middle of the slope. Anders and I kicked up our horses and made it down the hill far enough that we were not in the path of the falling rocks. The drovers tried to get the wagons to do the same but bison are not fast when pulling heavy loads. Riyu flew out of harm’s way and harried the orcs. Piper rode back up the slope to safety. It looked like all the wagons were going to make it safely out of the path of the landslide but the second to the last wagon was hit by an enormous bolder. It sent the wagon and all aboard crashing down to their doom.
Riyu flew the bodies of the slain member of our caravan to where the other wagons waited. It is very sad to lose some of our number so soon after starting out. We used the bag of holding to move the iron ore out of the gorge. We distributed the weight between the remaining wagons. We will be moving more slowly now with the extra weight. I hope we have moved beyond the territory of those orcs.

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Yuri’s Journal 1/15/12

After the second of her ‘sisters’ went down in combat, I suggested to the archer that she reconsider negotiations. She called off the battle, and told the others to withdraw… all of them followed her orders. I was highly relieved. She had discovered my weakness was to magical weapons and was using enchanted arrows on me. The damage was adding up quickly and she kept moving enough that while it limited her to one attack at a time, it was doing the same to me, as well as forcing me to be less defensive while doing so. Not good.
Anyway, no drovers were killed, and no guards were killed either. As soon as the harpies stopped singing, the charm effect was lifted. Piper called all the wounded to one spot and did a mass lesser vigor spell to heal all of us at once.
Anders told us that the Empire uses harpy archers as snipers, but we saw no sign that the archer or any of her minions were in any way connected to the Empire. We did find a mix of small gems on the two dead harpies and we collected these.
We traveled a few more days til we came over a rise to view a large valley dominated by a good sized lake. Dogrund called it Lake Dunmere. We descended into the valley and approached a small fishing village. Something was wrong about it – no smoke from any of the chimneys, and no signs of anyone moving. I did an aerial scout and spotted no boats except for one and no people. I reported back and we brought the caravan to the town… it was indeed empty. There were signs that the villagers left in a hurry – they packed hurriedly and took any and all animals and wagons with them, along with all their boats.
We traveled further along the road and came to another village. This one had a stockade, and signs of life – smoke from chimneys for example. This was the town of Lakeside. All the folks from the previous town were here with their animals, wagons, boats and possessions. We talked to Uden Lakehold, the leader of Lakeside. He said there were rumors of an ogre band in the area, so the people of the smaller town had come here for protection. The band of ogres is rumored to number about 30, definitely a big threat.
We visited the Broken Fishbone Tavern, where Molly served us beer and fish stew – a first time for Ceri!
On our second day in town, we heard that scouts had spotted the ogres having set up camp near the ruins of an old manor house about 10 miles south of Lakeside. The four of us decided to go scout the Ogre camp and try to get a better view of their numbers. Piper and Ceri stayed back while Anders and I did some sneaking around. We got close enough to see 2 males and a lot of females and children – maybe 20 ogres in all.
As we were leaving, they spotted us and gave chase. Needless to say, we ran…. Thinking it was only the two males, we turned to fight them. We exchanged some ranged attacks with the two males, but three females started running in from the side and we turned and ran. Eventually we outran them and they stopped chasing.
We made our way back to town and arrived in Lakeside in the wee hours of the morning with our scouting report. We had enough time for a couple of hours sleep before the caravan departed for the north.
We traveled north til we got to the Rushing River. We followed the road which paralleled the river toward the mountains on the other side of the lake and valley.
I feel bad leaving the ogres behind to harry the Lakeside villagers, but they said they thought they could hold their own. I hope they’re right.

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Yuri’s Journal 1/8/12

We made our way back to the road and without further incident, we finally made our way back to the valley and saw Laskon in the distance. While the rush of combat and the joy of triumph at the end are exciting, it was good to travel for a while without running into any foes. Laskon was a welcome sight and they were happy to see us as well. Mac and Braza gave us a hearty meal when we arrived at the Stone Dragon. It was really a relief to eat chicken again after a steady diet of rabbit. While we were eating, a messenger arrived inviting us to dinner at the mayor’s house. We had baths and dressed in our cleanest clothes and headed off.
All the dignitaries of the town were there – Thom Ironshield, Grundi, the mayor of course, and Thom’s cousin Dogrund Ironshield, who is in charge of the spring caravan. After a fine meal, we were asked if we would join the caravan to Hammerfast as escorts and guards. What a great opportunity – we want to go to Hammerfast anyway. I’m not sure if it will be more dangerous accompanying a caravan or going on our own, but we decided to agree to go with the caravan. Ceri told the tale of how we vanquished the beast. I’ve heard her give better performances. It wasn’t her best, but she got polite applause.
After dinner they pulled out the items the town had made for us during the winter. Piper’s mace, my rapier and sling, Ceri’s armor and Anders’ light crossbow, all enchanted for us. They are great gifts and much appreciated. Eventually the evening was over and we made our way back to the Stone Dragon.
Back at the Inn, Ceri had to repeat her performance and sing the tale of our adventure. She did a brief warm-up song, which she desperately needed, then sang a wonderful rendition of her new song. The patrons all loved it and showered her with gold!
The next day, we bought some pearls so Ceri could identify our found items and we also bought some cure light potions so that we could each have one on hand for emergencies. We also bought horses and feed for about 3 weeks for the trip to Hammerfast. That night Ceri sang her song again at the Inn. Again not her best performance. I think she needs to practice this song a little more.
We still had almost a week before departing, so Ceri identified Piper’s new shield as a magically enchanted heavy steel shield with a small bonus to her defense. Piper’s new mace from the tomb is a Mace of Disruption. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but Piper seemed very excited about it.
Finally the time came for the caravan to depart. We made our way into the mountains, with woods encroaching on both sides of the road. The caravan consisted of 5 wagons, 4 with goods, one with supplies, one dwarven guard rode on each wagon along with the drover. There were also 4 human guards, all on foot, and the four of us, all mounted. As we made our way along the road, we came around a bend in the road to find a barricade across our path.
Winged female creatures that Ceri called Harpies, called out to us to surrender some of our goods and gems to gain passage. Dogrund tried to negotiate with the lead harpy, but that didn’t go to well, and the harpy called out to her ‘sisters’ to sing and they did. Their voices weren’t that pleasant, but there was something about their song that pulled at the soul. It took great effort to ignore it and ready myself for combat. I’d already thrown my cloak back to free my wings. Ceri realized that she hadn’t warned the others about her ability to make their weapons flame. That could turn out to be a problem.. but first she had to sing to try to help free those who were captivated by the harpies’ song. Battle began and I blessed the party before I flew up into the trees to confront the speaker, who unlike her sisters, was also an archer. Her aim was exceptional, but her arrows did little damage, thank goodness. We could be in trouble if more of our guards don’t shake off the effects of their song.

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Yuri’s Journal 1/2/12

The long winter finally ended and spring slowly began to overtake the snow and ice. We made our preparations to leave. Rata snuck out in the wee hours of the morning, leaving nothing but his stench and dirt behind. I warned Bear to beware of agents of the empire. I don’t trust that Rata one bit. Anders and Ceri went on a deer hunt early in the morning before we left town and gave most of the carcass to Bear, keeping only a portion for own use. I gave Bear 10 gp to cover some of our expenses for the winter, but he said it covered more than we actually used and he’d hold the rest on account for our return. Whatever… Actually for putting up with us, I think he deserves it all.
We began our travels back to Laskon accompanied by an almost constant drizzle, making the going wet and muddy, though there were places where snow and ice still remained on the ground as well. Things were very quiet for our first week or so of travel, then we heard wolves in the night…. But they were a long way off.
The next day, we found ourselves between a mother bear and her cub. We ran off the trail to get out from between them… luckily no one was hurt and the bear and her cub went on their way. We made our way back to the trail and traveled onwards.
On our 9th day of travel, we were attacked by wolves in the early morning. A huge white wolf stood in the distance and seemed to be in charge of the pack. We killed 3 of the wolves before the white wolf called the others off and they all turned and fled.
For the next two nights, the white wolf came into our camp almost it seemed to be more of an annoyance than a real threat… it would come in, wake us from our sleep, alert the watchers… then leave…
Finally we decided to track it… we kept on it’s trail but didn’t see the actual wolf at all. On Ceri’s watch it showed up again that night, and Ceri tried talking to it… then had a staring contest with it… it left without further incident.
We continued to track the wolf for seven days. It seemed to be mostly paralleling the trail, so we had no problem with tracking it while still making progress toward Laskon. It turned north and we continued to track.
At last we spotted something in the distance – it turned out to be ruins. We found signs that something was buried in one section of the ruins and decided to dig. Ceri didn’t want us to, thinking we would be desecrating a tomb. As it turned off she wasn’t far off…
We found stairs leading down, some chambers, and more stairs leading down behind a secret door. We continued on down into a trapped room. Unfortunately, we left Piper behind on the stairs for her own protection while the rest of us forced open another door. That dropped down a stone wall between Piper and us, sealing us off from her. The chamber we were in was filling with sand! From holes near the ceiling. We stuffed pieces of our cloaks into the holes to slow down the sand and then moved on to the next room by rotating the statues in the sand room.
Beyond the next door we found the tomb of a paladin of St. Cuthbert. Piper probably would have been handy to have along so we could have known that before we entered the tomb. We had to make do without her.
Ceri did a detect magic and determined that the mace in the arms of the effigy on top of the tomb was magical. We took it – under the assumption that if this was sacred to Cuthbert, he’d want it out in the world doing good.
We tried rotating the statues to unlock the door back to Piper but nothing seemed to work… it would take brute force for this one and eventually with all four of us working together, we managed to raise the stone. As a gesture of good faith, Piper put her own mace into the arms of the effigy.
We left the ruins and filled in the hole down again with the stones and dirt to seal it. Backbreaking work moving all those rocks but we managed it. Broke down the block and tackle we’d built as well so as to leave no sign of our having been there and working.
We headed back toward the trail.

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Ceridwen's Journal 1/2/12

Finally it’s time to leave High Meadow. That snake of a muleskinner left early one morning. We made some preparations to leave as well. Anders and I shot a buck. I took one hunch and brought the rest to the inn. They have been so great to us all winter. We also got a small brazier to keep us warm in the tent. We couldn’t get a bigger tent so we will make do until we get to Lascon. Most of the town turned out to see us off.
It’s cold and wet but we are on the road again. It’s just unnatural to stay in a place that long. We did have any difficulties until one day we rounded the bend and there was a bear cub in the road. We backed up and there was the mother bear. It would be just awful to kill a bear and leave her cub orphaned. We ran away. The bear took a few swipes at Yuri before he got away but wasn’t hurt too badly.
We traveled a few more days and then after breakfast we were attacked by a pack of wolves. They didn’t act naturally. One looked over its shoulder at a large white wolf that nearly blended in with the snow. We killed three wolves and the pack ran off. I skinned them. Wolf pelts fetch a good price.
That night the white wolf plagued us all night we could get a full nights rest. Anders and I both had some cuts that if we had had time to rest would have probably healed up. This kept up for several nights. One night the wolf just came into camp and sat watching me. It stayed for my whole watch and I sang to it. It walked off into the night.
The next day we decided to follow it. Anders and I tracked it; at times it seemed to wait for us to catch up. It mostly followed the trail. We did this for days. One day it turned away from the trail still we followed it. When we fallowed it let us get a full night’s sleep.
We came to a cliff in the distance I saw a corner of a foundation. We went to investigate. We found the reins of a small house or perhaps a tower. In the middle of the outline of the foundation we found that there was something buried. We spent days clearing what turned out to be a staircase. The staircase led down to a stone door. With much effort we pushed it open. It led to a series of room covered in a deep layer of dust. The place was so old that the doors had disintegrated.
Behind a secret door we found a room with statues of St Cuthbert. The door out of the room was trapped a slab of stone came down separating us from Piper and the room started to fill with sand. Ander said we should stuff the holes where the sand came out with cloaks. That slowed the sand down so we could figure out how to get out.
We turned the statues to the wall and we heard the stone grating still the door was hard to move. We found a tomb with a sarcophagus holding a mace. It was magical. We took it and said thanks to the nameless knight. We left the tomb and filled back in the staircase so the knight would be left in peace.

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Yuri’s Journal 12/24/11

It was beginning to look like it was going to be a long boring winter, snowed-in in High Meadow. Ceri spent her time hunting bunnies and studying alchemy. I helped teach her some tumbling and how to strike vulnerable spots in combat when you can catch your opponent unawares. She taught me the basics of the Draconic tongue. Piper was kept busy with seeing to the town’s religious and healing needs. So while we were in town, we weren’t idle, but the inactivity was beginning to wear on us all. I even tried to learn to ice skate… I think I made quite the amusing figure for the local children. All well and good. If I couldn’t do it well, at least I tried, and it was fun.
At last it was time for the Midwinter Festival. We helped the town ready itself, hanging garland and preparing for the fun and festivities. The winter solstice arrived at last and Piper held services, followed by a feast, and then games, mostly held for skaters on the ice. It was fascinating to watch them. Then more food, alcohol and then singing.. even Ceri learned some new songs that night.
We were woken in the middle of the night by Bear – there’s a fire in town! We ran out to the back to get buckets to help carry water when we spotted a large creature carrying a bundle. It turned out to be a troll. We charged to attack it, struggling through the snow. It dropped its bundle, which yelped. Someone was alive in there! I flew in the flank it but before I could do much, it savaged Ceri. Piper managed to heal her just in time. Luckily Anders and I both struck true with carefully aimed attacks and it went down. We burnt the body quickly. It was a good thing Ceri had learned such a useful new ability since we started wintering in High Meadow. Her song now gave our weapons flame damage – something related to her draconic heritage. Without that, we wouldn’t have been able to hurt this troll much. We freed the child who had been wrapped in the bundle and calmed him.
We had no time to waste though – there were signs of three more trolls and the villagers reported three missing people – 2 children and Sybil the tinker. We had to go after the trolls, and quickly. We gave chase but they were obviously faster than us. I took to the air and caught up with them. Two of them continued on with the three bundles, while one stayed behind to exchange sling bullets with me. I waited for the party to catch up before flying down to fight the lone troll. Again, with Ceri’s flame damage added to our weapons, we were able to take down the troll… we took it’s pouch, which had some coins and a gem in it.
The terrain was getting too heavy with trees for me to follow their tracks while flying any longer, so we went after them all on foot. While tracking them we crossed some other tracks – a lone human followed by some other unidentifiable humanoid tracks… something to think about checking out later, but right now our path was clear.
Finally, we caught up with the remaining two trolls. They had stopped in a clearing and were talking loudly. Leaving the others behind a little, I snuck up closer. They seemed to be arguing with each other, though I couldn’t even identify the language much less interpret what they were saying. They had hung their bundles in the trees around them while stopped… I returned to the party and suggested we try sneaking up on them. Bad idea I guess. We hadn’t approached very close when Anders stepped on a branch and let out a loud ‘crack’. The trolls charged out to us.
Piper cast one of her new spells – which gave us all bonuses to hit the creatures and the fortitude to keep fighting longer than we would have otherwise.
With some maneuvering to get flank, we took down first one, then the other. Ceri’s new abilities to do extra damage plus giving us all flame really helped a lot, as did Piper’s spell. If not for Piper’s spell, I might have died in the battle, and several of our hits would have missed. We may be a small party but we sure do work well together. We burned the bodies and freed the captives. One of them was Justin, the sheepherder’s young son, and one was a much younger child, and the third was of course Sybil.
We escorted them all back to town safely.
The next day, we went out to follow the other tracks. Eventually the human tracks diverged from the others. We chose to follow the human tracks. After a long while, we spotted a lone figure in the far distance… It appeared he or she was being ambushed by some creatures using trees as cover. They obviously had bows, as we could make out the twangs. Sound carries well over snow. We raced towards them. I took to the air again to get there faster. I was afraid we were too far away to be much use to the lone figure otherwise.
When I got closer, I realized they were gnolls. I recognized them immediately as the Empire frequently employs such creatures, though these were dressed/armored in mismatched rags and remnants. Half the gnolls stopped to fight me, the rest followed the hooded figure into the trees. I kept them busy, took down one and the dog with him, and soon the others caught up and helped take down the rest that stayed to fight me.
When we caught up with the hooded and cloaked figure, he was sitting on a rock, smoking a pipe, the bodies of the rest of the gnolls lying in the snow around him, though they didn’t look injured, they weren’t moving either. I checked the gnolls, but nothing about them seemed Imperial – they had no insignia or uniforms. We searched their bodies and took their gold and one magical shield.
The old man, who said he was called ‘Sage’ (though he admitted he had several names, this was the only one he shared with us), invited us to his cabin over the next ridge. Since he said he was ‘Sage’, Ceri asked him about the Wyrm, Calistryx. Sage told us that tales say Calistryx can’t be killed. And Starris was the wizard who originally defeated and cursed the Wyrm. Starris hasn’t been seen in centuries. Sage gave us some hot tea to enjoy while we talked, and gave us some tea leaves to take with us. He told us that it was restorative when fatigued.
We bade our leave and returned to High Meadow.
In High Meadow, while we were gone, the town decided it would be a good thing to man the watchtowers for the rest of the winter and asked if we would take shifts , along with the rest of the townsfolk. We agreed.
Maybe because of the increased watchfulness, maybe because it was just fate, the rest of the winter passed uneventfully. We studied and learned from the town and each other… ready for the spring so we could travel back to Laskon and hopefully beyond to Hammerfast.

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