Shadowvale

Adventure Log for Session 3
Dour Days

I must allow myself a few sentences here for my grief. Master Vontaze is dead, and I am devastated. Though the corpse is grotesque, I know it is him. I vaguely recognize his features, as if shaped with soft ash, but mostly I feel it. I feel a dark hollow where, before, his formidable authority filled me. He is gone, and I don’t know where to find my revenge. Enough. I will faithfully relate the events of these dour days in due time, but through the more remote and trustworthy perspective of mind. My heart will wallow on if I allow it.

As previously recorded, our return to Hammer Hill from tracking the goblin party was met with frenzied activity. We were immediately summoned to a meeting with Burdic and the City Council; we told the tale of how we found Andor and tracked the goblins; we turned our goblin prisoner over to the City Guard; the meeting was interrupted with an urgent trip to the fishing docks; and, we discovered hundreds of dead fish on the shores of Lake of the Clouds. As the smell was threatening to trigger The Cough, I retreated to a safe distance. After about two bells, we moved back to the City Council meeting.

Aimon shared his thoughts about the possible causes and sources of the dead fish. In summary, a black substance coated the gills, the eyes had gone soft, and the flesh had turned into gel. With the mixture of stream fish and lake fish, he feels we may be able to track the source by looking at the streams feeding the lake. No one had seen anything so foul before, and we couldn’t even discern whether the substance could be arcane or natural. I was given a small sample to take to Vontaze the next day. I studied my spells, and attempted to write my first scroll during the early evening hours. I did not last long. My exhaustion drove me to my bed before the light was gone from the sky.

At the end of the City Council meeting, Councilman Burdic offered to pay us to investigate the source of the black substance. Aimon declined. I don’t know enough about his background to discern why he would do this – a noble blood? A debt to Hammer Hill or to men? Misguided honor? My conjectures are a waste of time. I hastily grabbed Burdic’s vouchers before Aimon could refuse again. With the first voucher, Alexey purchased a second healing potion for the party. I feel better having these available. I am holding the second voucher (worth 50gp of equipment/items from our local vendors). When we know what we need, we’ll use it for the party, or if they all forget about it, I’ll use it for myself.

In the morning, after studying my spells, I hiked up to Vontaze’s academy. Gledrick gladly joined me, hoping to hear some telling news about the strange black substance. How the dwarf was able to get up so early, I don’t know. Maybe the Three-Club Ale was not flowing so freely the previous night.

I could not have been more unprepared for the evil we witnessed at Vontaze’s academy. (He would be disappointed in that statement, as he always stressed the unexpected.) I harden my heart against this retelling. The simple facts we learned from Apprentice Baron’s testimony and the evidence we found are as follows:
(1) Two nights ago, Vontaze very hastily left his office and went to the
dorm room of Apprentice Storin,
(2) Apprentice Baron heard strange noises and shouting, but was told
by Vontaze to stay in his room,
(3) Apprentice Storin had received multiple visits from a being with the
name of Kosmenoark (From a scrap of his own journal, “Kosmenoark
appeared to me again last night…”),
(4) Vontaze appears to have suffered a horrific death, with parts of his
body turning to ash or charcoal,
(5) His body was staked to the stone floor (Apprentice Baron heard
something like hammer strikes at some point), and an intricate and
artful drawing on the floor fully surrounded Vontaze’s body (I’ve made a
copy of the drawing in my journal,
(6) Apprentice Baron was magically locked in his own room (a spell
well beyond the abilities of an apprentice),
(7) Apprentice Storin is missing.

Magic_Circle.png

I knew Apprentice Storin to be more ambitious and impatient than suits an apprentice. I can easily imagine Vontaze preaching patience and deliberately slowing down Storin. Could he have intended to kill Vontaze? Did he stumble across a magic item that was too powerful for him? Or, even more frightening, could a magic item or force have sought him out? I’ve pushed on all these questions in my head. There is no answer, only the stone of Sisyphus.

With no answers about the nature of the black substance from Vontaze, I decided to try my own hand. After a couple hours of study, I was ready. Detect Magic and Detect Poison spells are familiar apprentice spells, though sometimes not powerful enough. I couldn’t find any remnant of a magical aura, but I had an overwhelming sense of toxicity. The taste in my mouth was so bitter that I could taste it through multiple draughts of Three-Club Ale. So, we have a non-magical (presumably natural) poison killing the fish. Although the poison may be natural, it is abundant in unnatural quantities.

At Burdic’s request, we set off tomorrow morning to investigate the west side of Lake of the Clouds and to check the streams and rivers. It is an interesting coincidence that the main goblin camps we found are also to the west. Is there a link between the goblins and the poison? It’s easy to imagine that they understand Hammer Hill’s dependence on the fish. I’m anxious to see what we will find. May the Gods watch over us and our city.

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Adventurer's Log for Session 2
Decisions

With Andor’s cabin engulfed by our rekindled flames we turned our attention to Gledrick’s wounds. They were substantial, and we discussed our options. Do we set out immediately to follow the goblins? Do we take a day, despite the threat of rain, and allow Gledrick to rest? Or, do we split up and try to do both? Ultimately, Alexey and Gledrick insisted that we couldn’t miss our chance to follow a fresh trail. In a true expression of dwarven grit, he refused to rest. We applied some bandages, and started out.

Aimon led us on the trail of the raiding party. He was able to confirm that there were several goblins, and that they were alternately dragging or carrying something heavy. Some patchwork clouds rolled in bringing an early darkness to the forest. Again, we had to stop to make a decision. Do we risk losing the trail in the dark, or rest until morning? Of course, resting could provide some healing benefits to Gledrick, and I must admit I was quite tired. Aimon was convinced he could follow the trail a while longer with the intermittent moonlight, and he felt we were gaining on the goblins. Apparently, they grew weary of carrying and spent more time dragging their bounty. We decided to proceed.

Somehow, Aimon was able to continue the trail. As for me, I couldn’t see anything and ended up following Gledrick with the aid of a rope. In the dark, the going was much slower. With Andor’s pup tied on a length of twine and my loose robes, I became tangled in the underbrush often. I eventually had to carry the pup, which was no small feat given his urgent interest in sniffing the trail.

After another couple of hours, Aimon halted us on a ridge, snuck off for about fifteen minutes and then returned. He could see a small encampment and had identified several goblins and a few of their vicious hounds. He saw a couple prisoners as well, possibly more of Andor’s prize dogs. One wasn’t moving at all and the second was bound in chains. There was no decision this time. We all saw the opportunity to take them by surprise. We formed a plan and Alexey an Aimon evaporated into the darkness of the woods. I picked my way closer, again fighting the pup, the underbrush and the darkness, to cast my Dormireus Spell.

Casting notes: Overall, I think Master Vontaze would be pleased. I did mishandle the third rose petal during the casting. I feel that I spoke my words properly, and my stance and hand motions were right. My spell location was also good, since there was a small sapling on which to fix my gaze. The first two rose petals tore cleanly through the middle. In my excitement, however, I tore the last one hastily and off center. The result was a less effective spell than I had hoped. Two of the three goblins in my view fell to the effect, but the last was unfazed.

The actual combat happened so fast compared to my controlled combats under Master Vontaze. I didn’t see Alexey at all during the fight, but I understand he personally killed two goblins. Aimon had several hits and kills with his arrows, and despite his wounds, Gledrick took out the two vicious hounds with two lightning strikes of his hammer. I must relay that I was swept up in the melee and tried my ‘Hand of the Apprentice’ strike with my dagger. I was pleased that I was able to wound one of the hounds, but now I have to step back and wisely consider my actions. Had Gledrick not been so capable, my wound would only have angered the animal and turned it on me. I would not have survived a direct attack. I must be careful about when and how I use this attack.

After just a couple blurred minutes, the combat was over. We had slayed four goblins and two of their hounds. We also captured one goblin (thanks to my Dormireus Spell) and rescued one of Andor’s dogs. The other was dead. We briefly discussed our next options, but the decision was easy. Aimon told us there were probably other goblin camps nearby. So, we decided to head back toward the cabin immediately.

Gledrick led the way back. I think he felt re-energized by the battle. He seems to thrive with his war hammer in hand and cries of battle in the air. The false dawn was coloring the sky when we finally decided to rest. I was so thankful for the break, and slept soundly despite the morning noises and the threats of the wilderness.

We woke to a damp sky and soon found ourselves walking through a steady rain for the rest of the day. A day and a half later, the rain ended. Eventually, the hazy columns of smelter smoke and the ringing sound of Hammer Hill welcomed us home. More than once, while studying in Master Vontaze’s library, I have sworn oaths against the constant hammering. I will never again swear against that welcoming sound. It carried us home.

One of councilman Burdic’s assistants greeted us at the gates. They knew to look for us with the note we sent on the carrier pigeon. We found ourselves wet, exhausted, with two dogs in tow, and standing in front of the whole city council. I was more than a little overwhelmed, but Burdic was very cordial. I relayed our whole story. The only part the council seemed to hear was that Andor was dead. This rekindled an ongoing argument about the city watchtower. It was during this argument that another of Burdic’s assistants interrupted.

She requested that the council come to the lake shore immediately. We followed, only to discover the shore and the shallows were littered with dead fish. I choked on the foul air, coughed violently and had to retreat to a safe distance. I could see the council talking, but I couldn’t hear. I can guess the topic, though. With the questions about the trade caravan, and now the threat to Hammer Hill’s fish supply, how can we possibly survive the winter. We need both, and for the moment we have neither. I’ll have to talk with Master Vontaze, and see if he thinks we should go to Yolsk for the winter.

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Adventurer's Log for Session 1
Setting Out

An excerpt from Robinov’s journal:

Master Vontaze, my instructor, told me last week that I have learned enough basics that I should test my skills in the real world. Frankly, I think the real world might be safer than his ‘tutelage.’ I am now his only surviving student, and my nerves are frazzled. I find that I duck or flinch whenever anything nearby moves, afraid another of his magical booby traps has been set off to test me. Still, I’m pleased that he has shown this faith in me. He suggested that I talk to Burdic Chainsunder, Hammer Hill’s Council Leader, to see if he needs any help with the trade caravan.

I mentioned this idea to Gledrick while sharing a drink at The Bludgeoning Ogre Inn. He said he’d like the excuse to get out of Hammer Hill for a little while. Before long, Aimon and Alexey offered their help as well. I think the act of drinking together creates comradery. I’ll be glad to have some companions again.

Thanks to the lingering effects of Three Club Ale, we didn’t get to meet with Burdic until well after Sun Pass. He told us that a man named Andor is always the first to know when the caravan is en route. Apparently, this Andor has been unusually quiet lately. Burdic asked us to check with Andor and bring back any news of the caravan. One of Burdic’s assistants provided a crude map. It didn’t make any sense to me, but Aimon seemed to know enough about the surrounding area to make it work.

After an uneventful trek of a day and a half, including an unpleasantly twitchy night, we found ourselves atop a ridge and looking down on a burning cabin. The house was situated in a yard with several small outbuildings, animal runs, small fields and a well. We all noted that the flames and smoke were unusually and unnaturally yellow. After cautiously approaching the cabin, Aimon took the lead to push open the door and enter. Unfortunately, the open door provided a new path for the smoke and I was completely taken by The Cough again.

Several bleary-eyed minutes passed before I could breath. I wrapped my facecloth over my mouth and nose and got to my feet. Gledrick stood facing the cabin door with his hammer drawn and one foot on top of Aimon. Aimon was struggling, but not much. Inside the house, a humanoid covered in a fuzzy, yellow powder came through the door toward Gledrick. I scrambled over to Aimon and dragged him away. He was covered in the yellow film, and he was struggling to breath. His eyes looked lifeless. After dowsing him and scrubbing him with water, he started to recover himself again. However, the movement stirred up another small cloud of yellow dust and triggered more of The Cough. Curse my weak lungs!

Gledrick and Alexey must have killed the strange creature. In the aftermath, we pieced together the following details and plan:

  1. A strange plant with bright yellow pods grew through the floorboards of the house. Aimon called it a Yellow Musk Creeper. Once he named it, I was able to recall some details I once read about it; It’s spores kill the host, Andor in this case, and turns him into an undead creature. This is how Yellow Musk Creeper feeds and reproduces. Strange that such a rare and subterranean plant should suddenly grow in Andor’s cabin. And, how could a growing plant surprise a man in his own cabin. There are things here we do not understand yet.
  1. A goblin raiding party must have come to the homestead and, finding the Yellow Musk Creeper, attempted to burn the cabin. Goblins are not known for being very thorough and did a poor job setting the fire. After lighting the cabin, they cornered and butchered Andor’s prize dogs. One yearling dog has survived. I’ve nursed it a little and given it food and water. He’ll live. He’s tied to my belt with a length of twine.
  1. We’ve decided to track the goblin party. Maybe it will be an opportunity to learn more about the raids on the fields, too. There are enough of them that Aimon thinks the trail will be easy to follow, as long as the weather doesn’t pull any mischief. We’ll decide what to do depending on what we find in the next day or two.
  1. I’ve written a brief note and attached it to the carrier pigeon, but we’re not sending it back to Burdic yet. We’ll see what the next days reveal. We only have food for another week or so. At this time, the note simply reads, “Andor dead. Tracking a goblin raiding party. Back in a week.”

There are only a few hours until dark and Aimon is looking anxious, so we will set out immediately on the trail. Gledrick has been injured, but feels he can keep up a decent pace. I didn’t think to purchase any healing salves before our trip. I hope we don’t regret that later.

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It is late summer in the Shadowvale. The trading party sent to Yolsk is past due and the town is on edge. Many say a hard winter is coming. The last few have been the worst in recent memory. If the trade party does not return in time then it is feared the lost provisions they carry will mean hunger and sickness through the coming winter. Efforts are underway to increase fishing from The Lake of the Clouds. Hunting is also being increased.

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