Chapter 01: Nocturnal Encounters

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Session Number: 102
Date: Sunday 3 July 2011
Venue: Craig's
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog1/Clr9 (Fergus) (kills: 1 inky black blob)
Feren Rog10 (Yeran) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal10 (Craig) (kills: none)
Tomen Rgr9/Drd1 (Ash) (kills: none)
Troll Wiz10 (Densial) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBA

Rowaine calls upon Troll's connections in Ashhope's mages' guild to inquire about the ruelock. After several days of consultation, it becomes clear that no one in the guild knows of such a creature, which is in itself significant - their combined knowledge is reknowned. They are prepared to assist, but would need to cast powerful divinations to further their research. Expensive divinations. The guild would need to be recompensed, but not in monetary terms. They are more interested in things that money cannot buy. Things such as:

  • Dragon scales, any kind, the older the better
  • Drow wort, a subterranean herb
  • Milart's breastplate & greaves
  • Hasbreen's glass

The mages describe the breastplate and greaves as dwarven artifacts of antiquity that belonged to a dwarf named Milart Mayweather. Those from the monastery recognise the Mayweather clan name and know where they live today. Hasbreen's glass is described as a very powerful artifact used for research, lost in the past to the guild.

Abbey's backpack takes a further three weeks to complete. The party spend this time in research. Troll Teleports Rowaine to the monastery, where she asks her former teachers about the Mayweather clan, and Milart in particular. He was apparently the clan's greatest hero. He died fighting a black dragon named Grontius.

Feren makes the long journey back to Avarriel, City of the Roielles, his home. There, he pays his respects to his foster parents, Lady Yvette and Sir Marin, minor nobles in the queen's court. He also surreptitiously catches up with his blood relatives, the Roielles, and consults with the city's learned regarding the ruelock. Troll speaks with Trina and some of Aquilla's sages. Trina can grow drow wort, but it will take six months to mature. Troll instructs her to start.

It appears one cannot simply buy dragon scales; they are too rare. If you could, the guild would simply have done so. The guild has fairly reliable stories that speak of at least seven unique dragons, including where they are said to live. Some of the stories go back generations. None of them bear the name Grontius.

A scholar on Aquilla finds reference to Hasbreen's glass in an old ship's log that was penned on one of the other original seven Ships of Song:

"This seventhe daye of Marguatag, inn ouer yeare 21780. Passd a pennensular the loecales name as Hershwaye, home to Hasebrean's Glasse."

Tomen returns to his hometown, Nowan, deep in the elven kingdom.

Troll deploys Abbey's backpack in his room at the Mithral Mug, then flits between destinations in the tower network, furthering his research. Rowaine and Arrian assist where they are able, also spending some time at the monastery.

One afternoon at Elondel, Ethalyn approaches her husband. She had heard of a rumour from Riaz, her mother's spymaster. One of his operatives has had recent dealings with a person in Bridgetown. The individual has written treatises regarding creatures similar to the ruelock. Bridgetown is a settlement in the human kingdom on both banks of the Dorval river, spanned by its eponymous stone landmark. It lies some two weeks north of Kharag Monastery on the same river, and southeast of elven lands.

Troll calls Rowaine in. Excited at their first tangible lead in weeks, Rowaine starts packing her belongings.

"Can you get in touch with Feren and Tomen?" Rowaine asks Troll.

"I suppose so…"

Tomen is exploring the forest surrounding Nowan when the ground begins to tremor. An area of earth nearly twenty feet across breaks open and a huge brown hand emerges, quickly followed by a massive head. It eyes Tomen, busy climbing a tree. It wriggles its shoulders free of the surrounding earth, causing Tomen's tree to lean away precariously.

"Tomen?" it bellows. "I have a message for Tomen. You are wanted at Trinaaaaa. Triiiiiinaaaaaaa."

"Ah… Thank you?" Tomen answers tentatively.

"Troll wants to talk to youuuuuuu."

"OK, I will go."

The earth starts closing about the creature. Tomen makes his way back into town and prepares to leave.

In Avarriel, Feren is enjoying walking behind a particularly curvaceous elven woman when the back of her blouse billows outwards in the shape of a face.

Are you Feren?" it says in a decidedly unfemale voice.

"Yeah, that's me," Feren says, looking around.

"This is a message from Troll. Get your arse back to Trina." Feren bids his two families goodbye then takes a river barge to Follyhall, the first leg of his journey. He completes the journey on foot and is greeted at Trina by Troll, Arrian and Rowaine. Two days later, Tomen arrives, completing the party. Troll quickly fills the others in on the details of a possible contact at Bridgetown. Feren and Tomen agree to join the quest, even though there is probably little reward in it. As Feren says, it's not as if he really has anything better to do.

The party transport back to Elondel, then transport two hundred miles north near the river, somewhere north of a settlement called Allentown.

…where they're closing all the factories down, and it's getting very hard to staaaaaaaaaaaay

The group materialise in the middle of the forest. Tomen quickly figures out the cardinal directions and they all take to the air aboard Harley and Discs. Tomen locates the river - not a difficult job, it is a large feature - and the group follow it as it meanders north.

As dusk approaches Rowaine directs Harley to land. Tomen immediately sets to work locating a suitable campsite. Troll interrupts him. "Don't worry; I've got this one…" He makes mystical gestures and a rope unwinds from the sky. "We're sleeping up there tonight!"

All climb up and inside the nondimensional space. Rowaine unpacks a sunrod and leaves it with first watch - Troll. "Wake me in two hours," she says, then curls up in her blanket. Troll lies on his stomach, watching the ground below.

Half way through Troll's watch he senses an inky patch of darkness approaching from the northeast. He immediately wakes Rowaine.

"What is it?" the paladin asks, seeing nothing.

"Something's coming. Something big. And fast."

Rowaine wakes the others while Troll activates the sunrod. Its light does not escape through the portal. Everyone gathers around the entrance, weapons drawn. The darker darkness moves under the portal; the party see wideset red eyes peering upwards. "It's evil!" Rowaine confirms, redundantly.

A smoky, inky, evil head pokes through the portal. It lashes out at Feren, drawing blood and sapping health. Tomen prepares to cut the creature to ribbons but pulls his subsequent strokes as the first glides right through the creature's body harmlessly.

"That did nothing!" Troll warns. Rowaine hears and changes tack, enspelling her axe with Magic Weapon. Arrian casts Recitation. Feren stabs twice with his magical rapier but misses. Troll looses a blob of Acid at the creature. It passes between the creature's glowing red eyes, splattering harmlessly against the interdimensional wall opposite.

The creature envelopes Feren's side again, leaving bleeding welts and sapping yet more constitution. Tomen feels looming claustrophobia and jumps atop the creature. It engulfs him; its chill touch blisters his skin but he falls through it unfettered and lands on the ground below. He steps backwards a handful of paces.

Rowaine's waraxe hacks at the insubstantial creature; Moradin's boon makes it count. Rowaine follows up with another equally effective stroke. Arrian casts Magic Circle against Evil. Feren fights guardedly; his stabs make no mark.

"I'm going to lose the room!" Troll yells, then dismisses his Rope Trick spell. Everyone falls to the ground. Troll moves backwards.

The creature's nebulous silhouette blocks stars well above everyone's heads. It attacks Feren, again letting blood and life.

"Arrian!" Rowaine yells. "Buff Tomen's sword!" She then steps near the oily black form and smites. Her blade parts smoke from smoke and it stays parted. Encouraged, she strikes again and hits again. Arrian moves over to Tomen and augments his sword. Feren stabs but his caution ruins the attack. He tumbles away, hoping the creature will not follow him. Troll ignites the air around the creature with a Fiery Burst. When the flames retreat, the creature is unscathed. "None from two!" Troll thinks to himself.

To Feren's dismay, the creature follows him - past the watchful Rowaine. She chops deep into the creature, fully expecting to cleave its inky black form, but this time the weighty blade does nothing. The creature continues pursuing Feren and pummels him with incorporeal force. Feren's system cannot withstand much more. Tomen stalks up and attacks. His enspelled blade hurts the creature. Rowaine charges up and lands another smiting chop. The creature backs off a step, obviously in pain. Arrian casts Holy Smite. The righteous blast destabilises the creature and it dissipates.

Rowaine Lays Hands on Feren and Tomen. The party spend the remainder of the night camped on the ground.

The next morning Arrian casts Restoration on Feren. Arrian and Rowaine both cast Lesser Restoration on Tomen, remedying most of his trauma. They continue on by air for the day.

Night falls. Troll casts Rope Trick near the river and the party set up the same watch as the night before.

During Feren and Rowaine's watch Feren spies a huge arachnoid approaching from the northwest. It is too far away for Rowaine's human eyes to see.

"Is it metallic?" Rowaine whispers.

"Don't think so," Feren replies. "But it's coming closer, straight as an arrow."

"I'm waking the others," Rowaine says. "But let's wait. Perhaps it won't be hostile."

Rowaine wakes Arrian first and asks him to start buffing. He casts Magic Circle first, followed by Magic Weapon on Tomen's sword. The creature closes. While eight-legged, this is no natural spider. Troll believes it to be a demon. Feren looks around the area to see if there are any others but spots none. Troll holds off dismissing his Rope Trick. Rowaine casts Eagle's Splendour upon herself then starts Detecting Evil. The shiver up her spine confirms her suspicion…

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