Chapter 2 – The Gray Forest

As our heroes approach the forest to the east of the destroyed Kobold camp, they see many tracks leading around and through the forest. They can discern that the caravan went through the forest. They realize that this is the Gray Forest, a dark and dangerous place.

They enter the forest, and immediately feel a sense of dread about them. The forest is dark, and a foul wind blows through it. A gray moss grows over most everything, giving the forest its name. Nettles and poison bushes are everywhere. They see signs that the caravan has passed through here. As they progress further, they see supplies and clothes strewn about. They also see signs of a battle and pools of blood, but no bodies.

As they move further, Atentir hears strange clicking sound coming from ahead, like buzzing insects. They slow their horses and move further cautiously. Ahead they see two strange looking beasts blocking the path ahead. They are about man-sized, and can be described as hideous gorilla-like reptiles. They have glowing red stalk-eyes, and huge mouths with hundreds of sharp teeth. Their teeth are clacking together, making the sound that Atentir previously heard.

The group dismounts and attacks the beasts, driving them back into the forest. After several moments they are finally killed. Nearby is spotted their lair, and next to it a cache of items hidden in a hollow tree stump. Found there are a rusty dagger, a battered short sword, some ruined armor, a large belt with an engraved lion on the clasp, a quiver with 30 arrows, a waterskin filled with wine, a reddish bar of metal, a purse with 35 silver, and another purse with several small jewels.

Galandil takes the belt and examines it. Pressing the engraved lion apparently gives the wearer great strength, and causes the visage of a lion to appear around them. He puts it on and finds that it shrinks to fit his waist. Elowisyl takes the reddish rod and presses the switch at the base. It suddenly expands to an 8 foot staff. Galandil and Elowisyl agree to trade items, since Galandil is adept at using a staff as a weapon.

They move on, and soon afterward see a disturbing image — above them one of the caravan’s wagons is perched upon a large branch. There are swords laying around and the ground beneath them seems disturbed. Elowisyl’s horse is spooked and takes off running back down the trail. Atentir spurs his horse and rides after it.

Suddenly the ground shakes, taking 3 of the party off their feet. A huge insect, what looks to be a millipede, emerges from the ground nearby and begins to attack them. It is roughly 4 feet tall and about 25 feet long. Several attacks are aimed at it, but Elowisyl draws his sword and does a mighty strike to its head, killing it instantly. Atentir returns with Elowisyl’s horse and they continue on. They spend a night in the forest and are not further harried.

In the morning they continue on and soon find themselves at a crossroads. They decide to continue north, as Meran is able to determine that the path leads to a nearby village. By midday they are out of the forest and continue on the road.

They camp another evening before they reach the village. During the last watch, they are assailed by two youths with longbows. Elowisyl is hit in the arm by one of the arrows, and becomes angry. Meran attempts to attack them but is badly wounded, an arrow breaking his arm and another wounding him in the leg. Elowisyl runs full-tilt at the two bandits, brandishing his bastard sword. Galandil hits one with an elemental bolt, breaking his arm and sending him reeling.

Combellon, eager to join the battle, gets up and starts to run towards the others. Atentir grabs him and refuses to let him go. Combellon becomes angry and swipes at him with his hand-axe. Though he misses, he is able to get away and run towards the battle.

Elowisyl finally reaches the two youths and slashes the remaining one in the groin with his sword. They search and find a small amount of money on the youths, as well as a very nice looking longbow.

They gather their supplies and continue on towards the town.

Chapter 1 – Exile

The once grand Elven city stands before our heroes in ruins, torn asunder by an unknown force and a cadre of hideous undead.

Erillas thanks the party for looking after his son, Combellon, during the battle. He chides Combellon for fighting alongside the deployed forces like a common foot soldier. Combellon apologizes but protests, saying that he wishes to be a fighter and not a prince.

Erillas tells the party to look help in the city and look after their own families. He then tells Combellon that he wishes to speak to him in private.

The three Elf-brothers rush quickly to their family home, and the Desert Ranger, Meran, accompanies them. They find that their home is burning, and they hear cries of their family members from inside. After Meran tries to scale the burning tree and falls onto his backside, Galandil and Atentir manage to climb up the trunk of the tree and get inside.

After breaking down a heavy door, they manage to get to their family members inside. Their father, it seems, has succumbed to the smoke and heat and has passed on. Their other family members, including their mother, sister, grandmother and grandfather are suffering from smoke inhalation.

The family members are lowered to the ground and tended to. The father’s body is also removed from the burning building, and given to the town’s cleric for a special healing rite. After a long while the cleric returns with sad news — the father has passed on and nothing else can be done for him.

Later that evening, Erillas addresses the remnants of his people and announces that this day will be a day of mourning for the homes and the lives lost — sadly, his wife Shanni was killed in the battle. On the next morning, they will leave their ancient home and travel north to the Human city of Tymirr to seek refuge. King Arayen of Tymirr has long been an Elf-friend, Erillas says, and he will welcome them there.

The next morning the Elf brothers bury their father in a brief ceremony. Elowisyl, although the oldest child, is too overcome to speak. Galandil mutters a prayer under his breath. Meran plays a sad tune on his lute to honor him, and the sister says a few short words.

Packing what belongings they have, the Elves set out for the long journey to Tymirr on horseback and in wagons. The band departs (made up of our heroes, Erillas, Combellon, 150 civilians and 50 Elf-soldiers).

While traveling it is noticed that the ground on the nearby plains has been eaten away by the oncoming threat, leaving little but dead grass and dirt. It is nearly impossible to follow the road north, and navigation must be done by compass.

Soon after the caravan leaves, their path takes them to a small village that appears to have been attacked by a similar band of undead that ravaged the Elf Guild’s city. There are only a few remaining survivors, one of which is a young woman who appears to be dressed as a warrior. She introduces herself as Neith. Elowisyl invites these people to join their band traveling to Tymirr. They gladly agree, and they all pack up their belongings to leave. Neith also decides to go with the caravan.

Another evening passes without incident, and the band enters a mountainous area that does not seem to be affected by the surrounding scourge. The weather turns to rain, and they camp that evening in a rocky hollow with some trees for shelter.

While scouting the perimiter, Meran hears a noise off in the distance. Silently approaching the area from which the noise originated, he sees a man in his mid 50’s, exhausted and wounded. Meran attempts to help him to the camp, though the man’s horse cannot get up and after a few moments, it expires.

The man introduces himself as Aesmos, a resident of a small town about 20 miles east of their position. He explains that he was out riding earlier in the evening and was attacked by undead. Meran takes him back to the camp and the party attempts to heal him, but a large wound on his neck remains open. The party calls for the cleric, but before he can arrive the man displays strange symptoms and then attempts to attack Elowisyl.

The party attacks the man, Atentir finally slicing him apart with his javelin, but not before he can strike a brutal blow on Neith. She is soon healed, but is worried that the attack would cause her to become an undead. The cleric checks her wound and says that it is not infected.

Erillas, hearing of what happened with the man, asks the party to scout out the area for any other dangers that may threaten the camp. With a few Elf rangers as escort, they ride out and make sure that the man’s horse has not become an undead. Finding that it is indeed dead, they ride up to the north over the ridge to search for any other threats.

As they crest the ridge, they see campfires to the north. Moving closer they see a group of at least 20 kobolds making camp in the area. While attempting to sneak back to camp to warn them, the party unwittingly makes a sound that alerts the kobolds to their presence.

They race back to their horses, the kobolds hot on their heels. They manage to get back to camp to alert the guard, and see that the kobolds have turned back and are not attacking the camp.

Elowisyl attempts to convince Erillas that they must mount an offensive on the kobolds before they could plan their own attack, but Erillas refuses, saying that he will not waste the lives of his people. Instead he says that they will leave early the next morning and give the kobold camp a wide berth — but to make sure that there is no further threat, he volunteers the party to ride up and check the camp to see if the kobolds are still there, while the caravan continues north.

Later that evening, Elowisyl further examines the strange blade that he recovered from one of the undead that attacked their village. It seems very dull, and does not cut human flesh. Atentir also examines the blade, and is able to divine that it is used for cutting wood. Elowisyl tests it on a piece of wood he was carving for a bow, and it cuts through it easily. He then tries it on a dead tree, and it slices through it as though it were a hot knife cutting through butter.

In the morning they follow Erillas’ plan, but Combellon hears of the plan and takes the place of one of the guards set to go with the party. They advance on the kobold camp, but see that they have been wiped out by a group of undead. Meran finds the tracks that the undead left, and (using a spell) finds that the trail originated in the southern Wastelands and ends a few miles north at another village.

Traveling north in pursuit of the caravan, the party crests another ridge and sees the village to the west, already destroyed. They surmise that the caravan moved further to the east to avoid the town, and have entered a heavily forested area. They follow with all haste.

Prologue – A Land Under Siege

Our story opens in a Tree Whisperer (wood-elf) city southwest of the Human city of Tymirr. Over the past few months their defenses have been eroded by increasing numbers of undead and other foul beasts, all seemingly coming from the Erstland Wastes to the west.

Another threat are the so-called “Terrors”, a mysterious force that have the local farmers and city-folk talking. Strange disappearances and deaths are blamed on this unknown entity or entities, but nothing has been sighted in the area.

Erillas, the silver-haired leader of the Western Elf Guild, makes a grim proclamation to the gathered masses at the Guild’s largest city. “Our outer defenses are all but destroyed and the Enemy advances on our city. We have received reports of hundreds of undead and other menaces only a few miles away. Logic tells us that these “Terrors”, whatever they are, are not far behind. Prepare to defend yourselves for true!”

Erillas’ wife, the beautiful and waifish Shanni, steps up next to her husband and addresses the crowd. “We will hold fast. Have faith, brothers and sisters, that the Gods may deliver us from these evils.”

Erillas continues, “I have divided our forces into four groups. Two will defend the city from within, and two will flank the enemy as they approach. To your stations, and the Gods be with you!”

Our heroes are among those of the 3rd Guard, taking left flanking position against the oncoming threat. They notice that Erillas’ son, Combellon, has snuck into the group and stands with them to fight.

Presently a rider appears in the distance, a swarthy Western nomad. He introduces himself as Meran Al’Sahiri, and he warns that the enemy is not far behind him — a force of kobolds, zombies and skeletons, more than a thousand in number. He joins the group to defend the area.

After moments of terrifying silence, waves of enemies appear and begin to attack, trying to corner and drive back the Elves. Strangely they appear as if they have already been attacked; zombies have large chunks of flesh and limbs missing, and skeletons are only slightly better for wear. The archers fire upon the attackers, taking down several before they reach melee range.

The battle is joined, and our heroes fell many kobolds, zombies and skeletons. Several of the rangers and townsfolk who had joined the group fall in the battle, but the Enemy are finally struck down.

While searching through the remnants of the battle for survivors, Elowisyl finds a strange looking dagger. It is made out of an unknown alloy and appears to be dull. Galandil confirms that it is indeed magical.

Meran notices that the boy, Combellon, is missing. Galandil finds him nearby caught under a fallen zombie. His arm is broken and he is bleeding badly. Atentir uses spells to stop his bleeding and mend his broken arm.

Just then a earthquake rips through the ground in the area, sending Elowisyl toppling to the ground. Galandil tries to analyze if the quake was caused by a magic spell, but he does not believe it was so.

The survivors are gathered up and they continue back to the Guild city, aware of the eerie silence after the earthquake.

As they crest the final hill on the way towards the city, they see droves of mauled undead and slaughtered kobolds. Meran ascertains that some of the undead were men from Nomad clans when they were living, some of which he recognizes and some of which he does not. Approaching closer, they see more Elf corpses, many of them familiar.

The city itself is a smoking ruin, the immense tree that was at the center of the village completely uprooted and snapped in half. What evil could have done this?

Nearby a pile of zombies shifts and Erillas emerges, covered in gore. “They will pay for this,” he hisses.

Session 14 – Get the Girl and Get Home

We are hanging out at GG’s place when there is a commotion — someone is arriving. We se our old friend and Owl Shaman, Tebriel. It seems that he was sent here by Smoke Jaguar to help us out. After a brief re-introduction we tell him of our current mission.

Our plan is to take the sub south to the area that Fenola is being held in, and find a way to get her out.

We load up all of our gear and take off in the sub, since we will not be returning. On the way out, Nutz manages to scrape the sub on the side of the wall, causing a small leak.

Nutz pilots the sub south and finds a small boathouse that looks safe to store the sub in. All exit and move into the city. It is mid-afternoon and there is a light rain falling.

We make our way through the city to her building. Nutz sends the flying drone around the perimiter of the building. The north entrance looks sealed off but the others seem to be open. There are lots of security cameras around. Some people are coming in and out of the building but they do not seem to be armed.

We move towards the door and they barricade themselves inside. Skelfeng casts Magic Fingers in case they need to be “coaxed”. Jack approaches and asks them if we can rent a room. They let him in and tell him that it is very expensive. He says that he can provide several things, including passage out of the city.

We decide that we could sell one of Nutz’ drones in order to buy the girl back. Jack goes back in and one of the guys, named T’krit, asks him about getting out of the city; he wants passage for himself and a few of his men.

Jack explains that we want the girl in exchange. The guy agrees and lets us into the building.

We go up to the penthouse and get settled in. They bring up the girl and we explain the situation to her. She begins crying, and seems very happy to be getting out of the city and to see her brother again.

T’krit announces to his men that some of them will be leaving the city, and some will be asked to stay and help out. We will leave some supplies here for them as well.

We start packing up to leave. Fenola explains that she needs to get some of her family heirlooms out of her apartment before she can go. Some of T’krit’s men will go with us to the apartment building, which is nearby.

All of us head into the building, but we leave some of T’krit’s men on the ground floor. We head up to the 26th floor, but smell a sweet odor and decide to head back down to the 19th floor since there are most certainly bugs upstairs.

We ask Fenola about the location of her items, and her apartment number. She gives us the information and we head upstairs, leaving her with the others.

We get back up to the 26th floor and there seems to be activity. Skelfeng sees several bug spirits around. We launch our grenades into the hallway and take them out. We find two more in the apartment and kill them as well. We take her belongings from the safe in her room and clear the area.

Returning to T’krit’s building, we pack up our belongings and take the passengers with us.

We leave in the sub and are able to escape the same way that we came in, through the hole in the fence that we previously made. Our trip back to Milwaukee is without incident.

We deliver the girl back to Dorchatus and she is very happy to be back. He makes good on his promise and says that he will tell his superiors that he has killed Nacre.

Some of the passengers stay with us in the warehouse base. After a day or so, most of them leave, thanking us profusely and promising to return and repay us for helping them.

A few days later we deliver the cage to Smoke Jaguar. He adds 1.25 million nuyen to our account, which amounts to 250,000 nuyen apiece. He tell us that we are going on a trip, and takes us in his plane to Seattle.

After landing we go through a DMZ area where an Urban Brawl had just occurred. We go inside a church nearby and into a room with an Aztec-style altar with petroglyphs. Each person present has a piece of the codex.

A ritual occurs — they assemble the pieces of the codex and a flash whites out the room. The codex is glowing intensely. We all feel very good. Skelfeng approaches the codex to look at it. Several other magicians do the same.

He casts Analyze Magic on it, to find out the codex’s purpose. Apparently it is a focus, gathering nearby mana into the crystal at the center. It could be called a “mana battery” of sorts (force 9).

In game terms, it increases everyone’s Essence by 1.

Session 13 – Bug City

The “queen” cockroach approaches us.

Nutz, already wounded, beats a hasty retreat and calls for the others to follow. Nacre runs forward and fires an arrow at the bugs. The queen dies from the hit. We quickly dispatch the other bugs, but Nutz’ walking drone has been hit and cannot move.

The roto-drone scopes further in to the room and sees only dead bugs and bodies. Skelfeng heals Nutz some, and we begin to make our way to the electrical panel.

Skelfeng checks astrally and does not see any threat. Nutz attempts to fix the power and accidentally electrocutes himself. Skelfeng uses his war club to knock him away from the live wires.

Skelfeng is able to heal Nutz and he continues working. 4 hours later Nutz is able to fix the power.

Nutz then fixes his drone enough so it can walk. We return to the Sanctum.

The guards let us in and we go to meet Two Spirits. He gives us the birdcage and Skelfeng confirms that it is real (or at least magical).

Skelfeng heals some of the others group members.

Two Spirits is asked about the girl and say that she is outside of his realm, he does not know her.

We go back to GG’s and she helps fix up Nutz and Jack. After five days, Jack is down to a light wound.

Nutz goes back into the tunnel and fixes his walking drone.

Skelfeng speaks with the other mages at the Sanctum, and they trade spells. He learns 2 new ones.

The mages offer to help find Dorchatus’ sister. They participate in a ritual using the photo that Dorchatus gave us of the two of them during their childhood. She is in a tall apartment building that is silver with purple glass. There are several trolls and orks around, they look like some sort of gang. She is in servitude to them, bringing them food. She seems threatened and unhappy.

The mages fashion an amulet that will lead us to her approximate location. We search for old photos of the area that Dorchatus told us she lived in, and we see the silver and purple building nearby.

Session 12 – Bug City

During the night at GG’s stronghold, we hear her men moving about, possibly doing reconnaisance outside. They are using a keypad to open a secret door.

Morning comes and we get up. We find that there are areas for us to get cleaned up. Nacre slept outside and is very cold due to something called “winter”.

A combat mage approaches us and gives us some information about the Field Museum (now called the “Sanctum”). It is run by a shaman called Two Spirits, an Owl shaman. He was reportedly in Chicago a year before the bugs came, and foresaw that something bad was going to happen. He stayed anyway, and when it all went down he opened his doors to many refugees, and has been there ever since.

We go to seek GG to ask her about the Sanctum. We eventually find her in her room. She says that her men will take us through the freight tunnels under the city to the Sanctum. GG loads the tunnel map to Jack’s datapad. We find the general area of the Field Museum on the map.

Skelfeng goes outside and finds Nacre. The doctor says that Nacre is on the verge of hypothermia from sleeping outside. She puts a blanket on him and has him lay down for a while.

The two coming with us are Maxim (combat mage) and Matchlock (street samurai). They will be our guides. We are scanned so we will have clearance to get through the tunnels. They scan our retinas and fingerprints.

We wait another hour for Nacre to thaw out, then we leave, bringing all of our guns. Nutz decides to leaves his drone at the complex.

We are taken to a large steel door that looks like the door of a sub. We are authenticated and the door opens. We are led into a tunnel that is damp and musty. Nacre tries to light a torch but is told to put it out. We go single file.

We come to a corridor that is sandy with coral around it. There are old railroad tracks as well. We come towards the Field Museum, and go to a large door. They let us in and take us to a guard station. They seem excited that outsiders are visiting.

A shaman comes to us and says that we must leave our weapons to go in. They lead us further into the Sanctum. We see a Native American man talking to a bunch of people. He invites us in and introduces himself as Two Spirits.

Maxim gives Two Spirits a message from GG, and the two of them leave.

Skelfeng introduces us and asks Two Spirits if he has seen anything like the birdcage we are looking for. He says that they indeed have it, and it is in storage. They would like us to do a favor for them in exchange for it.

They have a problem with their power systems; a nest of cockroaches in a nearby garage is disrupting the power to the entire building. We say that we will help in any way that we can.

Two Spirits tell us that we could have some of their mages put protective spells on us before we leave. We can take the tunnels most of the way to the place. They will also give us some equipment to help out. We hook into their frequency on our coms as well.

We go back to GGs through the tunnels. They ask us if we will be back for the Christmas celebration in 2 days. We tell them about our task and they seem to think we might not make it back.

We go to the sub to get some items and tools for our mission. Jack hears some sort of a party going on. We see a heat signature upriver — it looks like a boat is approaching.

A barge comes down the river with a Jolly Roger symbol on the front. They seem to be dredging the river, and are getting close to the location of the sub.

Nutz tries desperately to get the sub out of the way, and seems to succeed. The barge goes over the sub and passes by without incident. They don’t seem to see us, either. Nutz gets what he needs from the sub. Nutz moves the sub into a flooded basement so it is safe from further Jolly Roger ships.

We return to GG’s for the evening. Nutz uses his datajack to find info on basic electricity and to study up for our mission. He logs onto a local chat room. One of the other users gives him some schematics for the building. They say to be on the lookout for cyberware on our mission.

Nutz continues to study throughout the night. The rest of us turn in. The next morning we wake up to eggs frying — GG’s people make us a special meal because of our mission. We are delighted to eat real food. They also say that they will try and help us out if we need it.

We get ready to go on our mission and get equipped. We need to go down to sub-level 3 of the parking garage. We go through the freight tunnel with the two drones. We come out two blocks away from the building. Nutz sends to drones towards the building.

Jack smells something horrible and puts on his respirator. The rest of us follow suit. Obviously there are lots of bugs here. We load up our weapons and proceed into the building. The walking drone goes ahead of us.

We head down to the third sub-level. Skelfeng looks astrally and sees cockroaches all around. We decide to fire grenades in the area and clear all of the bugs. Skelfeng gets a direct hit on one of them. The gas from the grenades fills the area.

The cockroaches awaken and begin to surround us, not staying in the gas long enough to be affected. We fend them off in melee combat. Skelfeng kills several of them using magic.

Suddenly the queen shows up.

Session 11 – Bug City

We sell all of our trappings from the last mission and receive 703,240 nuyen in return. Nutz spends 642,000 of the nuyen on the sub, purchasing decoy torpedoes, auto-navigation, and a few other upgrades.

Nutz also buys another drone, “crab”, and a deployment rack on the sub. The drone will be used underwater to secrete an acid and burn through the underwater fence surrounding Bug City. We will need to get within 3 kilometers to control it.

Dorchatus gives us info on his sister. Her name is Fenola Ciran, and she is Elven with fair skin, 1.7 meters tall, 50 kg. He also gives us her SIN, and says that she is originally from Galwey, Tir Na NOg. She worked in the Chicago Loop building 4, Suite 5705. Her apartment is at 8644 S. Daymon Avenue, Apartment 1920. He also gives us a picture of Fenola from when they were kids.

We leave for Chicago through Lake Michigan. We encounter something near Chicago, an enourmous sturgeon. It passes by us without incident.

We get 3 kilometers from the fence and deploy the crab. We use the sonar to try and detect anything. The crab spurts out acid and cuts through the fence.

Skelfeng checks outside the sub in astral very quickly and sees nothing significant in the area.

We begin to move forward and a hard ping goes through the ship. Nutz deploys the “chameleon mode” to try and hide us. We continue moving forward. We go through the fence at 2 knots. There are floating sensors somewhere near us.

The sub goes right through the fence perfectly, thanks to Nutz’ navigation. We have made it through the sensor net and there should not be any more to hinder us.

We move towards the breakwall and go south to our target area. Skelfeng goes astral again and checks out the area. No one seems to be around. Nuts deploys the sensor drone and scans the area as well.

Nuts uses the sub’s arm to bring us to shore. The sensor drone goes off — some older man is approaching at the side of the river. Skelfeng assenses him, and sees that he is not magically active nor does he have cyberware.

Nacre disembarks and sneaks behind the man, attemping to knock him out. He does not go out, but is hurt by the blow. He begins begging Nacre not to kill him.

Jack gives the man a food bar, and asks him if he knows where our contact, Doctor Griselda Gawarski (“GG”) is located. He says that his name is John and that he will lead us to GG. Skelfeng heals him.

Nutz goes to retrieve the drones and the cargo. John leads us towards her building, on the way a few people see us but scatter. He leads us to a building and goes inside.

Skelfeng sees three people inside the building in the darkness, heavily cybered. More people are on the stairs. Jack throws up his hands and says that we are only here for a pickup and a delivery. One of them speaks on a subdermal mic.

They tell us that the Doctor will see us. The old man leaves, after Jack gives him another food bar. The cybered men take our weapons. The doctor approaches us and leads us downstairs. We tell her that we have 2 crates of medicine for her. She is pleased.

They bring us into a sub-basement that holds a bunker and bomb shelter behind a hidden entrance. We drop the crates, and the Doctor’s men open them, revealing the medicine and other supplies that we brought.

GG asks us what we are doing here, and we tell her about our mission for Smoke Jaguar. She explains that the art museum was ransacked a while ago, and the Field Museum is now a bunker for a powerful mage. We ask if we can get in contact with the mage.

They offer to let us stay for the night. Nutz asks about the area to the south of us, where Dorchatus’ sister is supposedly located. GG explains that there are a lot of shamen and “liberals”. They trade with the other people and farm, but mostly keep to themselves. The Field Museum is now called the Sanctum. Bugs apparently cannot penetrate the Sanctum, but those who inhabit it seem a little “off”.

The girl lives in “Swamp Thing” territory. They may have an insect shaman with them. North of us is “Ghoul Territory”. The “Jolly Rogers” trade flesh with the ghouls in the area.

We are told to stay away from subways and underground areas, as well as high areas like skyscrapers. These can all be havens for bugs.

We are also told to stay away from the Freeway, because it is a common ambush area. There is one restaurant that manages to stay open and safe somewhere in the city.

Many other things may be floating around, including advanced cybwerware and other technology.

We decide sack out for the night.

Session 10 – Home Sweet Home

We return to our warehouse base for a few days, rest up and (in some cases) heal. Skelfeng learns a couple of new spells, spending a long time in a magic-induced trance.

Suddenly we hear a loud noise coming from the water docking bay. A large ship smashes through the dock door and several individuals begin firing on us. A mage among them begins casting fire spells, setting the crude drywall rooms ablaze. Skelfeng goes into astral and checks the ship. He finds 3 individuals.

We begin fighting back, Jack firing his revolver and Nacre shooting arrows at the vessel. We hear popping sounds and no longer any movement from the ship. Skelfeng confirms that they are dead, but we weren’t the ones responsible. Markings on them show that they were the Trinity, the group funded by the Vatican to find the pieces of the codex before we did.

An Elf in commando garb approaches the warehouse. We are about to attack him, but we realize that he could have killed us all with his sniper rifle as he killed the Trinity. He introduces himself as Dorchatus and says that he was hired to kill Nacre, but has a proposition for us instead.

While he was surveilling us, Dorchatus found out that we were traveling to Bug City for our next mission. His sister, Fenola, has been trapped in Bug City since the borders were closed off. If we can get her out, he will repay the favor by not killing Nacre.

Session 9 – A Small Favor

The group is continuing to hide out at the warehouse just outside Aztlan. The other Gator Shaman wants to exchange spell knowledge with Skelfeng before they leave. Jack is seriously wounded, but is healing.

El Chupacabra asks if we are willing to help the resistance with a small matter before we leave, in repayment for their help on our mission. He wants us to intercept a blood mage on his way to Tenochtitlan. He is coming through a “slum” area unnanounced and we need to kill him and his entourage.

It will occur in 4 days. We begin planning the hit and visit the area. Eclipse goes to one of the buildings and tries to sublet an apartment for 3 days. She is able to sublet from an older couple for 1200 nuyen.

We leave for the slums and take our positions. Eclipse and Skelfeng go on the roof of the building, Nuts is in his truck on a side street and Jack is on an opposite building.

The cars approach and Nutz slams into the second and third cars with the truck. Jack fires a grenade and misses badly.

Skelfeng goes astral and checks out the third car, it appears that they are heavily cybered and not magically active. While he is in the astral, Skelfeng notices that a spell was cast against him but it was unsuccesful.

Nuts fires the autocannon at the second car, which is still trying to get away.

Skelfeng moves to the fourth car in astral space, and sees a powerful mage in the car with a strange leaf-shaped knife. He suddenly sees the man’s astral form in front of him.

Nacra shoots a grenade-tipped arrow into the third car through the back window. Jack fires some explosive rounds into the first car’s tires.

Skelfeng is hit with a manabolt spell. He responds with “slay human”. Suddenly the blood mage’s form is no longer on the astral.

The mission seems successful, and we begin to pull out. Skelfeng verifies that the mage is dead and recovers several magical items from him.

El Chupacabra jacks the trunk of the car and finds a package. It is some genetic material that the blood mage was going to use to track one of Chupa’s friends.

We escape just before helicopters arrive. El Chupa thanks us, and we say brief good-byes. They make a distraction so we can safely leave.

We travel back to Milwaukee and meet with Smoke Jaguar. He is delighted that we have returned with the the crystal. We realize that the last item, a bird cage, is located in Bug City.

Smoke Jaguar says that he has set up a legit corporation as a front business for our dealings, and we will be paid as sub-contractors from here on out.

Session 8 – The Temple

We get to the east entrance of the temple and call WizKid to ask him if he can open the door for us. After a few moments he is able to do so and we sneak in. He also manages to lock the outside gates so no one can easily get in behind us. He is having trouble accessing the internal security systems, however.

In the center of the building are escalators going up and down. Everything seems shut in the building and several areas are gated off.

Skelfeng goes astral and checks out the area. He descends into the basement, supposedly towards our objective, and sees several feral looking (dual natured) creatures running up the escalator and towards the group. He returns to the group and warns of their coming.

Everyone takes position around the escalator. One of the beasts, what appears to be a hell-hound, rushes up the escalator and dashes around the corner. Skelfeng wounds him with a manabolt and Eclipse shoots him with her pistol. He continues running and disappears from sight.

We move downstairs via the escalator. It goes for a very long way down into the basment. There is a large temple down here that is 60 feet down from our current position.

Suddenly four of the “hounds” converge on us, 2 from above and 2 from below. One of the ones above us breathes fire on all of us, Jack is hurt from the fire. One from below rushes and bites Jack’s arm, wounding him severely. After a brief firefight the hounds are killed. Jack looks very hurt.

We move down the remaining steps and stop a moment to rest. Skelfeng attemps to heal Jack with magic.

Before we can completely recover, two werewolf creatures appear and begin approaching us. We are all petrified as they howl horribly and begin to attack. Skelfeng kills one with a manabolt spell and the other one moves in close. We manage to dispatch him without taking further damage.

We approach the smaller temple and check around the sides. There are no entrances, though there are steps that go up on each side. We ascend to the second level, and Jack notices a symbol carved in the rock that resembles the marking on the compass.

Skelfeng places the compass on the outcropping and suddenly a gigantic earth elemental rises out of the side of the temple. He attacks Jack and nearly crushes him to death. The rest of the group attacks it, Skelfeng with magic and Eclipse and Nacre with physical weapons. After a few rounds it finally goes down.

Skelfeng heals Jack again. Jack picks through the rubble where the elemental came out from, and finds a wooden box. Inside is a crystal and a gold rod with a snake around it.

We take it and retreat back to the warehouse. We inform the rebels that we have completed our mission and that they should fall back. They sound harried, as if they are under heavy fire.

We finally meet up with El Chupacabra once again, and he tells us that we must pack up and move to another location. They meet us at a different warehouse outside of town.

Skelfeng shows the other Gator shaman the snake symbol. He says that he has never seen anything like it before. Just then, the other rebels return from the battle. Many of them are wounded. Skelfeng heals them, and realizes that his healing power has been increased dramatically. The snake talisman must be a powerful healing fetish of some sort.

We rest at the warehouse for a few days.

Session 7 – The Temple

As we enter Aztlan, Skelfeng realizes that one of the guards has assensed all of us, as well as the truck. Hopefully we have not been already marked.

We continue into the city, wary of our surroundings. The people here seem more heavily armored than we expected. Eclipse recalls that in Aztlan, it is not illegal to cary guns, just illegal to use them. The air quality is noticeably worse here than in the UCAS.

Skelfeng checks the compass for magical activity, and finds that it is slightly so.

We search for our contact, El Chupacabra, using our GPS. We come to the place to meet El Chupacabra and leave the truck double-parked. We all walk into the building. As we are walking in Jack hears something. Skelfeng goes astral and checks out the adjascent room to see what is in there. He comes upon an astral being in the form of a gator.

Nutz rings the doorbell and it is answered by 4 Mexicans. Skelfeng, who had been staring down the other Gator in astral form, returns to his body.

The leader tells us that we must go somewhere else to meet. We follow them in the truck to another location and begin discussing the task at hand. Nutz asks them if they have any information, and they agree to help us in any way that they can. We agree to give them the scrap metal from the back of the truck, and they gladly accept. We dig out Jack’s car from the scrap and give it to them.

The rebels sell us 3 gas masks to assist us in breathing around the city. Skelfeng pays them 100 nuyen.

We turn in for the night. Nacre realizes that we are at a higher altitude here, which may explain why we have been having trouble breathing.

We ask them about the area and how things work in Aztlan. Skelfeng asks the other gator shaman about blood magic — he warns Skelfeng about blood spirits.

Jack and Skelfeng go to the 7-11 down the street to get munchies, cigarettes and alcohol. We return and rest for the night. Jack pigs out.

Nacre looks outside and is depressed at the lack of vegitation here.

In the morning, we start doing recon in the area with Jack’s car and Skelfeng’s bike. We discover while riding on the bike that it helps to put cloth over our maks to assist in breathing.

This place is exceptionally poor — the rich simply don’t live here. Everything has something to do with Aztechnology.

We find the target building, and see that it is a 4-story temple in a ziggurat form. It is the temple of Xiutecutli. There are several guards at each entrance.

We return and ask our hosts what the temple is about. He says that it is a temple of the fire god. People can go in and make their “sacrifice” by buying trinkets and sacrificing them.

Nutz and Jack decide to go to the temple to take a look around, but reconsider and decide to search for cyberware instead.

We contact WizKid and he says that there is an older temple inside it and that it goes very far underground. He finds satellite pictures of the temple to show us.

El Chupacabra tells us that most of the guards will be gone in a couple of days for the ritual games. This is perhaps our best window for entry.

WizKid finds an old sewer line that runs into the parking lot of the temple, where we can get into the compound.

We ask El Chupacabra if he will assist us in the break-in by causing a distraction. They agree, and say that they will set off an explosion in the area of the temple to draw security forces away. They also have lockpicking devices that will assist in defeating keypad systems.

WizKid finds that the only entrance to the compound open during the festivities will be the south entrance.

The time of the mission arrives, and we stop 1/2 mile to the west of the building, in an old abandoned tenant building. Skelfeng hides his bike at the location with his shotgun.

We sneak through the sewer lines to the temple grounds and open the manhole cover. Jack takes a listen and hears nothing.

We signal our contacts to create the distraction, and hear the explosion in the distance.

Nacre and Eclipse sneak out onto the grounds. Nacre goes towards the guard building and he and Eclipse are suddenly attacked by two large bear-creatures.

Nacre takes damage and Eclipse shoots one of them with her slivergun. Nacre and Jack kill the other one.

Skelfeng quickly heals Nacre and they move towards the building.

Session 6 – On To Aztlan

The characters have been resting for a few days since our trip to California. Skelfeng has moved into the warehouse, and the others have purchased equipment and made calls to contacts for information.

Smoke Jaguar contacts us and says that they have fashioned a compass that points towards the next artifact. It is their estimation that it lies in a temple somewhere in Aztlan. Nutz and Eclipse try to triangulate the position of the artifact using the compass and a GPS unit. It seems to be somewhere in the central plains of Aztlan, formerly Mexico.

Nutz contacts his friend in Minnesota for further information.

Jack contacts a man about installing a machine gun on his Jackrabbit car. Nutz, Jack and Skelfeng go to the man’s shop to pick it up. At first the man balks at helping out strangers to get gear, but soon he is convinced and shows us the merchandise. Jack buys a Vigorous Assault Cannon, and gives the man 1000 nuyen more than the asking price. The guy is impressed and said that he would accommodate us if we need anything else in the future.

As we return to the warehouse, while walking back from the car Skelfeng’s leg explodes in pain. He has been shot — badly — and goes down. It is apparent that someone is trying to kill us. Before we can fire back he disappears on a motorcycle. At the place where he was hiding, Jack finds a shell from a high-powered military grade rifle. It has markings that suggest it came from Tir na Nog. Skelfeng heals his own wound but passes out from the spell drain.

When Nacre hears about the bullet and it’s supposed origin, he becomes agitated and calls a meeting. He tells us that he used to live on an island for many years, but people of an undetermined origin invaded his home, bearing the same marks as the bullet Jack found. He killed several of them and has been on the run from them ever since. He thought that he would be safe from them in Milwaukee, but obviously that is not the case.

Skelfeng tells him that he will help him out no matter the danger. Jack gets angry and eats a sandwich.

Nutz’ contact finally returns his call and says that in order for us to get into Aztlan, we should go to one of the official border crossings and bribe the guards with some nuyen, instead of trying to go across the Rio Grande.

We speak to Wiz Kid the decker about assisting us more directly in our missions from now on. He says that he needs better equipment to be of any real help, especially while hacking into systems. We decide to give him 50,000 nuyen of our group funds to start him off with new programs and equipment.

The group also talks about getting more security for the warehouse and rigging the sub to automatically submerge if Wiz Kid is in danger. We spend more nuyen on adding the security.

We also purchase registered SINs for each of us, and Nutz gets a special one that will allow him to haul weapons on the truck. We put Jack’s car and the surveillance drone in the container on the back of the truck and pile scrap metal on top of them, so it makes it look like we are hauling scrap metal to Aztlan. We also pack medicine to bribe the guerillas with.

We take the long trip down to the border, and bribe the border guards with 1000 nuyen for passage. We keep moving and soon we are on the outskirts of Aztlan City. We catch a glimpse of Quetalcoatl flying over the city.

Session 5 – Adult Swim

We stay on the Island for the night to recuperate. They return our belongings in good working order as promised.

The next morning, we begin loading up our stuff into the sub. Nutz asks about the location at which we intend to land to search for the staff. The tribe leader says that there are many creatures on the island that may be dangerous, and also underwater threats, but it is impossible to tell what we may face. We ask to buy some spear guns from the tribe to defend ourselves underwater. They sell us 6 spear guns at 450 nuyen each.

We leave for Santa Rosa Island with an escort of 2 patrol boats. As we approach the island, one stays with us and the other leaves to continue patrolling the area.

We come to the place where the “middle toe” of the paw-shaped island must have been before it was swallowed by the ocean. We begin “active” sonar pinging to search the area. Nutz does not find any anomolies from the scan.

The magicians go astral and search the area underwater. Very close to the position of the sub, they find a cave opening about 8 feet wide. Moving to enter, they see a multi-headed beast lying in wait in the cave. Being dual-natured, it sees them as well and moves to attack. The magicians quickly leave and go back to the ship (and their bodies).

After a short discussion, it is realized that the creature we saw was a Hydra. Tebriel also mentions that he saw something else in the cave that seemed to be man-made, perhaps the staff that we are seeking.

We reposition the sub at a safer location and search the surrounding area in astral space — the creature did not follow us and is nowhere to be seen. We return and weigh our options. Finally we decide to beach the sub and bring the codex symbol with us to show the beast, and perhaps he will let us through. Skelfeng holds the codex in front of him and approachs the beast, but one of its heads engulfs him in flames. Obviously he is not impressed. Luckily Skelfeng and Tebriel are not badly harmed and make it back to the ship safely.

We move the sub closer to shore and call in the nearby patrol boat to protect our ship while we are underwater. He agrees and moves towards us. Everyone except the mages suits up and jumps in the water, swimming towards the cave. The mages lead in astral space, attempting to make themselves visible to the other party members so they can easily follow.

The mages come in from opposite sides of the cave and begin to attack the Hydra, Skelfeng with his manabolt spell and Tebriel with his axe weapon focus while the other team members come up into the cave and ready their weapons. The Hydra does several breath attacks, but soon keels over dead, slain by Tebriel’s axe.

Skelfeng, searching its aura, notices that it is not truly dead — it will regenerate in a short amount of time. He returns to his body on the sub and radios his friends, telling them to grab the staff and get out of there. They do as instructed and retrieve the staff, moving quickly to get back to the sub.

We journey back to the main island, greeting the Native American tribe victoriously. We rest briefly and Jack spends some time getting drunk. After a short while, we thank the tribal leaders and take the sub back to the LA docks. We pick up our vehicles and drive separately to Milwaukee.

Inspecting the staff, Skelfeng sees that it has many glyphs carved into it, and ascertains that it is indeed magical from its faint astral glow. We meet Smoke Jaguar and give him the staff, and he credits us all 20,000 nuyen for our success. Smoke Jaguar is thankful for the delivery and we leave for home for a few days.

Nutz finds that he has been credited 250,000 nuyen for the Sea Drake carcass that was harvested by the Native Americans.

Skelfeng spends a few days moving out of his apartment and into the team’s new warehouse, making room for all of his belongings and his new motorcycle.

Session 4 – California Coast

After putting Nutz’ truck and our other vehicles in storage at the Los Angeles docks, and paying a heavy fee for the protection of our goods, we embark on the submarine towards Santa Rosa Island. Our goal is to retrieve the sacred staff. We are using our GPS to track our progress.

It is noted that Smoke Jaguar had given us 10,000 shares of Pueblo stock to help us pass through the Pueblo lands. These were issued by the Pueblo Corporate Council and are sale-able.

Sensors detect a large creature in the water coming towards us, and Nutz quickly takes evasive action. The shamen check it astrally and see that it is very large, but not magically active nor dual-natured.

Nutz sees on the sensors that another creature is approaching us from underneath, and brings us up to the surface. Skelfeng reacts quickly and casts the illusion of a large shark approaching the vessel. It does not seem to have an effect.

Nacre pops the hatch and pulls out his bow, attempting to target the creature. Nuts tries very hard to outmaneuver the beasts, but cannot seem to shake them. Skelfeng changes his illusion to an inky blackness to hide the ship. Everyone else braces for impact as the creatures come ever closer.

The creature from below grabs onto the sub and bites down, causing several of the crewmembers to fall and take damage. Nacre and Bloodhound come out of the hatches and draw weapons on the creature.

Skelfeng draws on his magical power and casts manabolt against the creature approaching from the side, killing it instantly. Nutz prepares to launch his air tank out of the torpedo tube (with C-4 attached to it) into the maw of the beast.

Nacre shoots an explosive arrow at the creature, nearly killing Bloodhound in the process. The creature’s head explodes from the impact, and Bloodhound is covered in goo. Frustrated, he flops down in a chair and lights a cigarette.

The corpses of the two creatures float up to the surface. We try to assess the damage and see that there are a few minor leaks, as well as a good amount of teeth sticking out of the hull.

The mages realize that this creature was a Sea Drake, which is very valuable if harvested and sold for the creation of magical items. Nutz is agreeable to dragging along one of the creatures (after it is explained how much they are worth), and we use a grapple line to bring the one Skelfeng killed to shore.

As we reach shore, two patrol boats arrive without warning and instruct us to exit our vehicle. They fire warning shots. We see a spotter with binoculars on the shore. Nacre shoots him with an arrow.

We cut the line to the Sea Drake and try to leave, but they quickly catch up with us and demand that we stand down. They are heavily armed. We soon find out that they represent the Anacapa Nation, the natives of these islands. We exit the sub and they arrest us.

They hook up a tow line to the sub and bring it along. Jack overhears on their radio that they are deploying more forces to our position. They soon pull up to an inlet that appears to be sparsely populated. They tell us to get out, and walk us up to the village at gunpoint.

We are taken to a “City Hall” building. Tribal leaders are gathered here. One man in particular seems to be in charge. He asks us why we have come, and we say that our ship was attacked and we needed to land to do repairs. He asks us why we attacked one of his own men, and we say that we are not aware of anyone being attacked (since no one saw Nacre shoot the man with binoculars). We apologize for the attack anyway. Skelfeng offers to heal the man using magic, and the chief declines.

He says that he will search our ship for any smuggled items, assess us a fine for injuring their man and then he will let us on our way. They do a search and find nothing on our sub and charge us 25,000 nuyen. Nacre pays him and Jack loans him 400 nuyen so he can make the balance. They let us leave.

We get back to the sub and find that it has been stripped clean — they have stolen all of our wetsuits and other gear, basically anything that was not nailed down. Jack returns to the island and tries to negotiate the return of our items with the chief. They deny any wrongdoing, and offer to sell us back our items at an exorbitant price. Jack attempts to intimidate them, but is unsuccesful. We depart from the island.

We head back to the LA docks where our vehicles are stored. We are greeted by a nightwatchman and get some sleep. Jack eats several ration bars to satisfy the craving of his suprathyroid.

We wake up and speak with the dockworkers; they inform us of how to order out for food. Nutz begins to repair the sub with his tools. Skelfeng asks around for information on the islands and the creatures of the water. He finds out some info on the creatures (mostly that the ones we encountered were small ones), but little else.

We contact Smoke Jaguar for help. He says that he will send someone to help us fix the sub and will try to get equipment as well. Two days later, a guy appears in a truck and delivers wetsuits, air tanks, rebreathers, fins, etc. The stuff is in very bad shape. We attempt to clean it, but it seems barely operable.

After four days the sub is finally repaired. We leave and attempt to return to the island, this time without incident from any sea creatures. As we approach the island we are again spotted by a patrol ship. We are escorted back to the main island.

The chief meets us on the main island and is angry that we have come again until we show him the cover of the codex. He then tells us to come ashore. He explains that their people had been waiting for generations for our coming, and that the previous misunderstandings would have been avoided had he known the truth.

He says that he will share the profits from the slaughtering of the Sea Drake, and will return all of our stolen items. We tell him of the passage that has lead us to the area, and he explains that Santa Rosa Island is not inhabited and considered dangerous. Also, the place that the passage speaks of is likely now underwater.

We continue to plan our mission. He promises that no others will approach the island to threaten our objective, and that we will have an armed escort to assist us.

Session 22 – Return to the Surface

We continue going west for 3 days. During one of these days we rest and let Porodo hunt for food, but he is unsuccessful.

While we are walking through a small canyon, suddenly two large boulders fall in front and behind us, blocking us in. Thatsaru uses a hearing spell and hears sinister voices on either side of the boulders.

Arrows bury themselves in the ground near us, and we see goblins and orcs approaching. We attack, and several more appear. We kill the goblins and orcs, and take their belongings. Thatsaru takes a java stone, a meteorite, and a crystal rod.

The next day we continue traveling and finally see grass – we have reached the end of the mountains, 25 miles from our starting point. In the distance, we see a small village and a river. This is possibly the river on which the River Rat lies.

We camp again before reaching the village.

Session 21 – Return to the Surface

After finishing our battles in Y’rzadel’s lair, we return to the storage room to retrieve Dan’tok, Gorin (the Dwarf) and Telly (the Sprite). As we are discussing our plans to return to the surface of the planet, Ennar tells us that he will not be returning with us — since we were successful in our mission, he will stay to combat demons in Mulkra.

Since Ennar will need the use of the port-stone to eventually return to the surface, it is decided that we must find another way. We return to the chamber with the portal, and attempt to decipher the runes on the control panel. Nadia attempts to use the Translating Orb that we found, but it seems to be undecipherable. Krodmich tries pressing the buttons on the console, but there seems to be no effect.

Hoping for the best, we step through the portal and find ourselves in a rocky valley surrounded by mountains. Krodmich and Gorin recognize the landscape, and surmise that we have arrived somewhere on the Spine Mountains, near Skraag. We decide that we must travel west, where we will eventually meet up with Josephus back at the River Rat.

Finding the terrain difficult to maneuver, we travel a mile west and camp for the night in a small cave. We wake refreshed to a light rain and continue moving west. At midday we come across a small encampment that was recently abandoned. Porodo finds orc tracks coming from the north and splitting off in every direction from the camp. Gorin warns that Orc patrols and Ogres are in the area, and that we must be cautious.

We camp another night and continue the next day. As we travel suddenly there is a rumbling that seems to be getting closer. An Ogre and a Giant appear, and Krodmich tells us to stand fast; he has some skill in fighting Giants. After fighting and killing both of them, we find that they have large sacks attached to their belts containing some treasure.

Thatsaru takes a large garnet gem, which seems to enhance his spellcasting abilities. We give a tattered cloth (which grants armor to its wearer) to the Sprite, since he was without any protection. We camp again for the night and heal ourselves.

Session 20 – Journey Into the Earth

As we continue through Y’rzadel’s Fortress, we find the torture room in which Ennar was previously imprisoned. Fighting the enemies that remained, we were able to free two Dwarves and an Elf. Unfortunately one of the Dwarves and the Elf perish before we can revive them with healing magic.

We take the Dwarf and the Sprite (that we previously rescued) and hide them among barrels in the entrance area. Dan’tok stays with them to guard the door.

We ascend to the second floor and find a large chamber with an immense throne at the rear. Upon the throne sits Y’rzadel, surrounded by his minions.

Eilenos demands that Y’rzadel give up the holy sword, Berethenu’s Will. Y’rzadel laughs heartily and refuses. Eilenos and Thatsaru begin the attack, and Ennar quickly joins by striking Y’rzadel himself with his Spear of Pain.

Ennar and Thatsaru go unconscious from damage, but Krodmich and Eilenos bring them back so they may continue fighting. Eventually Y’rzadel and all of his minions are defeated.

As we survey the room, we realize that all of the heavy iron doors are locked. We find two keys, one made of metal and one made of a demon’s horn. We use the demon’s horn key to open the surrounding doors and search the other rooms.

In one of the chambers beyond there is an immense pile of gold, upon which rests a statue of Grom. In Grom’s hand is held a glowing longsword. Eilenos approaches and takes the sword — it is Berethenu’s Will!

Our task completed, we scour the remainder of the castle in search for further items which may be of use. In another room we find a large chest, in which lies Y’rzadel’s journal. Thatsaru takes it. In Y’rzadel’s study, we find many vials and human organs in jars. There is also a demonic pendant, and Thatsaru takes it.

Thatsaru realizes that the iron key must be for the foot locker in the demon’s bedroom that we were previously unable to open, and we descend to the bedroom to try. The foot locker opens, and inside we find a large emerald, demon armor repair kits, and a potion of full healing (Krodmich takes it).

Session 19 – Journey Into the Earth

We continue through the demon fortress. Presently we find a small room with what appears to be a portal. A keypad rests next to the portal gate, ostensibly for choosing the portal’s destination. We decide not to go through the portal until we have searched the rest of the fortress. We hear screams from the next room, and find that it is the castle’s torture chamber.

In the tower’s torture chamber, we fight a large monkey-creature and a crystaline entity who were torturing a Sprite. After the battle we attempt to heal him, but he is in very bad shape and does not seem to know where he is. We attempt to explain that he is in Mulkra, but is very confused. He passes out from exhaustion. Deciding that we cannot take him with us, we hide him underneath a large bed and move on.

The group finds an “orgy room” with succubi who have (nude) men in their thrall. We kill the succubi and the men recover from the spell. Porodo is only momentarily affected by the succubi, and does not manage to cause any damage to the other party members.

The (nude) men seem to know each other, but are confused as to their whereabouts, similarly to the Sprite. They ask us if we know a way out of the castle, and we explain that they could either help us defeat the rest of the demons or go through the portal that we found. They decide to go through the portal, so we lead them to the room and they depart.

We continue through the fortress, and fight a roomful of stunted demons.

Session 18 – Journey Into the Earth

The party continues through the citadel. Tha’tsaru goes off on his own and encounters an Abyssal Maw, a hideous creature who attacks him with a flaming mace.

We find several foot lockers containing a wealth of gold, though there is no way that we can carry it all. We take a few coins and move on. We also find an armory room with demon weapons and equipment, and Tha’tsaru dons a suit of black plate mail.

The group continues through the fortress, exploring and fighting many demons. Two succubi (female demons) attack us and we defeat them.

Session 17 – Journey Into the Earth

We continue to set up camp, along with our 150 ranger companions and 30 dwarves, at the River Rat Inn. A bald, greasy man approaches us and demands to know why we are here. We tell him that we bear bad tidings from Elleday. Eilenos and That’saru accompany the man (who appears to be the proprietor of the River Rat) into the inn. The place is crammed with rowdy patrons; mercenaries, traders and merchants, and also several guards armed with swords and shields.

We find Josephus speaking with a hooded man at a table at the back of the bar. We notice, strangely, that he has gray hands protruding from his cloak, but we cannot see his face. Josephus gathers us and introduces the man as Ennar, the guide who we met at Dunnerton several months ago. His skin, as we saw, is a pale grey and he has a strange rune tattoo over his left eye. His eyes have an eerie, reddish hue to them.

Josephus explains that he sent Ennar on an “errand” after our adventure in Dunnerton. He traveled to Mulkra, the center of the planet, to find one of Antinius’ Trappings: Berethenu’s Will, the paladin’s fabled longsword. He reached an evil fortress in Mulkra, the home of Y’rzadel the demon and many other sinister creatures. These demons, the servents of the evil god Grom, were charged to protect Berethenu’s Will from falling into the hands of the righteous. Ennar was able to find the resting place of the sword, but was captured before he could obtain it.

Ennar was held captive at the tower for over four months, and was horribly tortured. The demons attempted to turn him evil by casting spells on him, but he managed to escape. While he was fleeing he was able to find the Ring of Restoration, another of Antinius’ Trappings.

Since his return to the surface, Ennar has been studying ways to combat and kill demons. He shows us a weapon he has obtained, a spear with orange glowing runes. He explains that it is the Dark Lance, imbued with runes of pain to slay nearly any foe.

Josephus explains that he will remain and gather more forces to stand against Necros, but we must accompany Ennar back into Mulkra to retrieve Berethenu’s Will and the other artifacts which reside in the demon’s tower. The dwarves and rangers will assist Josephus in his task, as only a small group of us can be transported to Mulkra. The Shadow Hunters, too, will continue their mission of warning the outlying towns of Necros’ return. They have already encountered scattered bands of undead in their travels.

Agreed on our task, we retire for the evening. The next morning we pack our belongings and say our good-byes to everyone. Presently, Ennar produces a black stone from his robes, speaks in a strange language, and a swirling red vortex surrounds us. We feel nauseous, and things go black. We come to and find ourselves on barren rock, with an angry red sky above us.

We see before us our destination, a huge black tower. As we travel toward it, Ennar explains that demons are generally immune to lightning attacks and poison, and can communicate telepathically. In order to resist demon mind control, the party consumes emerki roots before entering the tower.

The party approaches the front door and Ennar proclaims our purpose to the demons within. A small demon appears, and Ennar jabs his wicked spear into it. We advance into the castle and fight the demon hordes in the entryway. After defeating the first wave, we take in our surroundings. There are murals and carvings everywhere, and it is lit by red torches. We move through the fortress, led by Ennar.

Session 16 – Necros Returns

It has been four months since the defeat of the Gnolls. The party has been aiding in the efforts to reconstruct the fort and bury the dead. A stone masoleum is constructed for Cardollan by the Brewing Brigade at the spot he was killed. Cardollan’s body and all of his belongings are placed in the shrine.

As we see Cardollan’s body, we finally understand the reason for his longevity. By his telltale ears, it is apparent that he is a Half-Elf.

There have been no reports of Gnoll activity in the area since the battle. The remaining Gnoll forces have either fled Gnollwood entirely or have remained in hiding.

The rangers of Fort Talathas are now leaderless and seemingly aimless, not knowing what to do next. Josephus approaches Porodo and suggests that he consider taking command of the ranger forces, to assist our group and the Dwarves in their efforts to regain control of Skraag.

We call a meeting between our group and Josephus late that evening. We decide that we will return to Daemyr to seek the advice of the Matriarch. We will take the rangers with us, and close down the fort. Porodo decides to take the responsibility of leading the rangers.

The next morning, Josephus announces to the rangers that Porodo will be their new leader. The rangers cheer with approval, and Porodo makes an empassioned speech, saying that they must assist the Dwarves in retaking Skraag, because they came to the aid of the Elves. The Dwarves join in the cheering.

Porodo then pays his respects to Cardollan. Josephus tells him that Cardollan mentioned before he died that he would have stepped down from his command to allow Porodo rule the rangers. Josephus gives to Porodo a gift from Cardollan — a magical ring with the etching of a shield and a unicorn.

The group starts packing up the fort for the long trek to Daemyr, and this takes the remainder of the day. The next day everyone is prepared to leave, and we decide on the (longer) easterly route to get to Daemyr, since we would travel through less forest.

We travel for three days with no incident, but as we near the northern border just 20 miles from the city, we hear a strange whistling roar on the wind. In the night sky we see a giant flaming ball that seems to be hurtling down to earth. It is coming down to the southwest of us, towards Daemyr.

Upon seeing the object and closing his eyes for a moment, Josephus orders us to ride to Daemyr, as fast as our horses will carry us.

We ride as quickly as we can to the city, but soon we hear an immense explosion that shakes the ground under our feet. Ahead we see the town of Fionna, which stands just north of Daemyr. The entire city had been leveled — blasted flat by the fireball.

We continue to Daemyr, riding on through the night. As we near the city, however, Josephus stops us. He informs us that Daemyr is gone, and a black citadel has arisen in its place. At that moment, Eilenos hears Necros’ voice in his head, mockingly saying “I am here!”

Josephus tells the party that Necros will raise all of the Elves that had been killed in the attack and use them as his undead army — we cannot stand against his might, even with the strength of the rangers and the dwarves together. We must travel to the Midlands, he tells us, to the River Rat tavern, to meet an “old friend.”

The Shadow Hunters agree to stay in Elleday and warn all of the villages in the area that they must evacuate. We travel north again to River Run, and tell the inhabitants there what has been happening. Josephus gives a small glass orb to the Shadow Hunters and one to Porodo — apparently this is something of a two-way radio so we can communicate directly with them over long distances.

We ride north, and on our way to River Run we warn as many towns as we can. We finally make it the River Rat tavern, more than a week later. We unload our gear and set up camp nearby.

Session 15 – Gnollwood

As we are at our camp in Gnollwood that evening, we hear a strange noise and a flash of light blinds us all. A 20-foot tall man appears with a large huge hourglass in his hand, which is turned sideways. Time slows and stops for everything except for us. The man tells us simply, in a booming voice, “It is happening.”

We rush back to the fort, knowing that the warning must have meant that the battle had started, and find it being assailed with many siege devices. It appears that most of the battle has been fought, with many Gnolls lying dead on the battlefield. Arrows from the rangers’ bows stick into the ground like so much wheat in a field.

We quickly attack the Gnoll forces from the rear, managing to disable several of their siege devices, but the Gnolls topple one of the fort’s battlements.

The party gains entrance from the back of the fort and begin assisting the rangers and Dwarves with the battle. The Dwarves open the front gate, flanked by Cardollan. After attacking for several minutes they retreat back into the fort and close the door. Cardollan, unfortunately, had been struck by many arrows as they fought, and seemed in dire shape.

The party leads a charge out of the front gates, and Krodmich blows the Horn of Summoning to challenge the Gnoll Leader. We kill him and his captain, sending the ranks of Gnolls into despair.

The Gnolls finally retreat, and we count our fallen numbers. 175 rangers and Elf warriors were killed in the battle. We tend to Cardollan, but realize painfully that he is too far gone. The arrows that slew him, we find, bear the mark of Necros’ Assassins, the same ones that previously attacked the group.

The long process of rebuilding begins.

Session 14 – Gnollwood

It has been four months since we raided the Gnoll hideout, and winter is fast approaching — there is already snow accumulated on the ground. We have been spending most of our time practicing our fighting skills with the rangers and doing scouting missions. We are now well acquainted with the fort and all of the rangers, and seem to have been accepted whole-heartedly by them.

The Gnolls, however, seem to have been gathering their forces. We have seen them moving siege equipment to their base, so they may be readying a large-scale attack on the fort. The rangers are waiting for reinforcements from Daemyr before they can act against the Gnolls.

A group of 30 dwarves, a band known as the Black Mountain Brewing Brigade, arrive at the fort. They have come to assist us in our battle, and we are greatly relieved by their presence. Krodmich is elated to be with his kinsmen.

That night, as the rangers are celebrating with the Dwarves, Eilenos sees a vision of Berethenu in his drunken haze. Berethenu warns him that Necros can see everything that he does, and that he, Berethenu, must undo it yet he does not know how. He tells Eilenos that he must trust in his friends, and to continue searching for Antineous’ trappings.

The next day, several hundred Elves appear — the reinforcements from the Matriarch of Daemyr! Josephus arrives a day later.

Josephus informs Eilenos that he has found the names of all of Antinious’ Trappings:
*The Hands of Justice
*Charm of the Righteous
*The Ring of Restoration
*Berethenu’s Will (Longsword)
*The Helm of Truth
*Justice Guard (Chain Mail)
*Holy Ward (Shield)

Josephus tells the party that he will remain at the fort for the duration of the battle.

The next morning, Cardollan tells the party that we must go to the forest to scout the area, and report if the Gnolls are beginning the attack. We leave for the forest and set up camp, beginning our scout. Porodo hunts and kills a wild boar for us to feast on as we wait.

Session 13 – Gnollwood

Arriving in River Run, which is a town only 15 miles from Fort Talathas, we stop briefly to rest and re-supply.

The next day we finally arrive at the fort. We meet the leader of the ranger forces there, an impressive man named Cardollan. He tells us of the Gnoll creatures that have taken over the forest to the north of the fort, which is now known as Gnollwood. They reside inside the fortress Grath, which is in the middle of the forest, and it is guarded by a force of 1000 Gnolls.

We spend four day settling into the fort and celebrating with the rangers. We also find out a few tidbits from our time with the men: apparently Cardollan is much older than he appears. We also learn of a small group of rangers that all hunt together, who call themselves the Shadow Hunters.

The Shadow Hunters consist of five individuals:
Rayner, a Human
Shiera, a female Elf
Beorn, a Dwarf
Dorgal, a Dwarf
Kerry, a Sprite

In the days that follow, we raid a small Gnoll “nest” that is near to the fort’s supply route. They had previously been attacking shipments to and from River run. We wait until they attempt another raid (which was really a caravan of rangers, meant to suprise the Gnolls and wipe them out), and infiltrate their lair. Killing the Gnolls that stayed behind, we wait for the raiding party to return and dispatch the remaining Gnolls.