Family Pathfinder

Late Evening Sunday, 25 Calistril 4718 AR -- Lastwall countryside
Waking the Dead
Routine Caravan Run is NOT!

I should have known secret cargo would cause trouble but I would have never dreamed how much. Herein I record my memory of the events and my research on what we stumbled into and how we made it worse.

Alyris and I accept an assignment run a small caravan to Vigil. A single wagon with horse, driver, and four guards were also assigned to the caravan. The owner of the cargo, a dwarf named {insert link}, had the wagon loaded and was very secretive about the contents. The caravan was also joined by an interesting cleric Menas Keruxvrakdi.

Our first hint of trouble came as we approached King’s Crossing and noticed a lack of lights and guards. Upon arrival we found the gates open and proceeded to carefully search buildings and grounds only to find no living beings, just a few body parts. Since we had already had a long day and there did not seem to be any immediate threat I decided we would close the gates, move all the body parts to the stable and divide into 3 watches for the night. We also noticed evidence that something had gone down the well, possibly dragging bodies, so we barricaded the well with a table from the inn and some extra lumber found on site.

The first watch passed quietly. Midway into the second watch I awoke to shouts of “We are attacked!” I followed Alyris out of the Inn kicking the foot of a sleeping guard on the way out.
After an intense but brief battle we were able to repel the attackers long enough to get the gates closed again. Looking back, I think that was because the attack was really a diversion to allow the cargo to be stolen. The two most dangerous opponents were not killed but left of their own accord.

After getting the gates closed we spend the rest of the night killing the rest of the zombies outside from the safety of the wall. We also discovered that the cargo was a coffin that was now empty. We then pressed the dawarf on whose body and what else was missing. He revealed that he was a bounty hunter and that he was transporting the notorious wizard Festus and the diamonds and enough gold to pay to have Festus revived to answer for his crimes.

WIP – Entry not complete.

Links to add later:

Out of a disaster we caused ...
Our overnight stop unleashes a vicious series of villains
Alyris’s Log

We took a commission for Talnor, a dwarven emissary out of Hammer Rock, to caravan a cargo back to Vigil for him. He brought along a man named Menas; among the boxes in the wagon we provided, pulled by our horse, they loaded one that looked like a coffin wrapped against the weather.
We – let’s remind you who we are: I’m Alyris, wanderer and ranger and singer and archer. Mine are catfolk, from the isle of Azleeyna; my friend and partner here is Kaidan, a puissant wizard, thoughtful and deliberate. We work for Sir Vayktor of Vigil, and over the weeks since we first came to his demesne we’ve made several caravan journeys to various places, with various guards and drivers he assigned. I own half the horse that pulls our caravan, a beast more valiant than I’ve sometimes been. On this trip we had a driver and four guards along, including, for the first time, a young paladin named Leonidas, whose fondness for the horse is charming. Talnor, as I’ve said, is a dwarven emissary, wearer of a most intriguingly made hammer; he brought with him Menas, perhaps a member of the brass-dragon clergy, if what I’ve heard about those magnificent dragon-emblazoned cloaks is true. This fellow’s the size of a mountain, but pleasant in demeanor, unflagging in his cleanliness, and apparently well acquainted with his quarterstaff and an armsman’s craft. He wears clothes that do not wrinkle or hold dirt; he seems ageless, his hair as flashing golden as the glints I see within his clothes, of silver and gold.
So, we arrived in Harmwood with dusk upon us, a tiring day at our backs as a thickening fog enveloped the ville. I wanted nothing more than a good night’s sleep, perhaps, with a meal and a flagon of ale, so arriving at King’s Crossing – the postern inn, with its palisades and resident force of night watchmen – struck me as relieving. Until I paid attention at Kai’s outburst in answer to something Talnor had said.
“No, this isn’t normal,” he announced. “Far from, and ware is what we all must be now.”
Discussion went on a bit and ended with Talnor detailing Leonidas to light the torches by the gate, and then take up a watch atop the wall.
Unsettling: the King’s Crossing inn had always done such things of its own resources on our previous visits. Kai and Talnor called me to go arrange our lodgings, and … beyond the gate ‘twas obvious murder and ravage had occurred. We scanned the premises quickly, partly out of need to know and partly out of reaction to the stench. I’d not smelled the like since one of Father’s fishing boats kept a thirty-foot shark aboard too long, and the thing burst inside the hold, spoiling everything she carried.
King’s Crossing Inn has a dozen or so residents: the smith, his wife and children, the barman and the cook and their assistants, the noble who owns the grounds and pays the bills that keep the doors open, a stables-master, the noble’s wife and their sons, the six watch-force members … well, it had. We found bits of four humans scattered about the grounds, and a well-gnawed horse carcass in the stables, with a look around the well of something having gone either in or out through it; further search revealed a general tossing of the inn, no other living folk or beasts about, and a welter of sign. While they’d been rent and gorged upon, the bodies hadn’t yet begun to putrefy; all this happened, we figured, a day or less before. Something had clawed in through the stable roof, and the panicked horse had not made it from the stall to the front gate. Ghouls, ghosts, ghasts, and zombies had left their scent and sign upon the place, but we thought them gone.
So, we felt, no matter the state of the inn, we’d be safer in its walls during the night than out in the woods or trying to press on. That in mind we brought in the wagon and our guards, split ourselves into watches and prepared to spend the night, with plans to, come daylight, dispose with decency of the remains. We blocked up the well, sent half our guards out to the tower and the wall with one to watch the service door, and I took first watch. That passed uneventfully; Kai relieved me, Talnor took up a post atop the wagon, and Leonidas and his partners went in to rest – Talnor had left us a cold supper – along with me.
Alarums woke me mid-second-shift, the driver’s voice and Kai’s and Talnor’s all.
I ran for the courtyard, to find attacks underway from both the service gate and the main gate, our sentries gone who-knew-where, Menas running for the farthest threat and Kai, with Talnor, facing a horde at the gate. I went to join them. The fight there didn’t take long, but it cost us the driver, and another of the guards. I saw but could not bring down a black-clad archer driving the undead forces through the gate we had to fight to shut and hold a second time. The dwarf and Kai worked well together, giving me time to load and sight between my shots. Presently the black-clad archer vanished, and we heard noises from the wagon, but I wanted to make sure Menas had more help to close that door. I spent some shots to that end, and presently we held the Inn again, though I saw the black-clad archer flee via the hole in the stable roof.
Dawn found us a sorry sight, our party reduced to five and one horse, and the coffin empty in the wagon, among the spilt boxes of various goods. Well; but we’d survived, and the well remained hard-shut, with me refusing to be roped down it to explore. But along with the remains we’d found the night before, four of our comrades’ bodies must be dealt with now – and the dragon cleric told us we should be wary of undead with teeth. So we spent some time in gathering, and setting afire, those corpses.
Talnor told us, then, what had gone missing: the body of a necromancer, Festus, he’d been taking back to Vigil for resurrection, and the gems to do the raising. No wonder so much treasure had been left. And Talnor vowed he’d die before he went back to vigil without that body. So the five of us and one horse set out to follow the tracks of our attackers, after Menas purified enough well-water – it was stagnant and stinking – to replenish us and our traveling vessels.
Our way led into a cavern, where three swarms of bats met us coming out because of the light magically attached to Menas’ quarterstaff. Kai cast a spell of shout to disperse the swarms; beyond the cavern’s first turn lay a horrifying pit full of dead, and dying, and undead, but we could do nothing there. Passing that, we found a door, emblazoned with prayers to Aridan, which we decided to leave shut. The next turn of the cavern showed a drop, and as Menas approached to scout it, the edge collapsed beneath him, in a 30-foot fall. Something attacked him there … eventually we learned we’d killed, in that battle, the first of the escaped undead archers from last night. We found ourselves in a maze of underground passages, one leading back to a stagnant pond, a bit of eldritch light above a portion of it. From inside there tentacles enwrapt first Talnor then our paladin, dragging them under. I lost count of what we slew in there, but we nearly lost Kai to bolts from some unseen crossbow, and none of us could heal the wound.
I spent one undead-bane arrow in that fight, intent on ending Karn, the black-clad ranger-ghast who’d pierced so many of my companions. Menas consecrated a 20-foot cone of area into the water, making it gleam a little like the ornate fountain we had passed in another chamber of the cavern; all the little haunted eyes around us flashed away at that, and something floated to the top of the stagnant pond, which began to drain away as the dragonman-cleric dove in to try and fetch back our paladin and the dwarf staggered back from under its surface warning us how murderous the water’s inhabitants meant to be.
We did not pause there, but started up another incline – and because I have, newly, learnt to throw a spell that hides us from animals, we slipped unnoticed past the swarms of bats within. Spiders big enough to show above gnomes and dwarves inhabited the ropes of web beyond, but we succeeded in not damaging the webs. There we found some serious treasures, including a healing staff, a map, some elven platinum, potions and other items. That floor appeared to bear another map – one like, but not accurate to, the country we’ve been travelling; and I acquired yet a different map, along with a diamond necklace with an amulet, in there. Another door drew us onward … to meet The Hanging Seer and hear the tale of how our stopping, the night before, with Festus’ body set in motion all the tragedy we’d seen.
We go forward; but what we’ve been through has made us stronger.

Marching Orders
Session 01, Scene 02 (Interlude)

Commander’s Log, Supplemental:

Solstice is one day past; today marks the beginning of daylight triumphing over darkness. I left the detachment under my command in the safe haven of Hammer Rock, whilst I completed the task of returning the effects of a fallen Paladin to the Temple of Our Lady.

The onslaught of warring orc hordes and undead throngs has taken its toll on the retinue of Iomedae clergy; fortunately, the winter’s chill has given a breath of respite – enough for the consecration service of a new tower, and the commencement of this year’s Lastwall Academy graduates. I caught up with my former trainer, and happened to spy an oathmate from my own order: Tobyn of Grimmnacht. It was an unsettling reunion, much to my surprise.

“So, it seems you’ve been promoted to commander, and posted at Firrine”, Tobyn always had a knack for stating the obvious, but mostly because the cogs of his mind were plotting the personal advantages and opportunities known only to him until he saw fit to share.

“Indeed. Although my patrols through Northern Fangwood are paused for now, I still manage to find ways to get out and stretch my legs.”

“No doubt, Breezemane appreciates it as well,” he added.

“No doubt.” I could tell the cogs were already in motion.

“I say, where is the old boy, anyway?” Tobyn feigned a look around the courtyard of the Academy in dramatic theatrical flare.

“I’m his friend, not his stablemaster. I’ll have little trouble finding him when it’s time to return to Hammer Rock.”

“You couldn’t be more precise,” Tobyn grinned, “in the void of your presence, the Council of Defense has appointed my retinue to rearguard patrol in Northern Fangwood. Since you’re tied up with command obligations, perhaps Breezemane might enjoy wandering the familiar paths of his forest over against the cobblestones of Castle Firrine.”

It would be unfair to assume that Tobyn actually enjoyed coming between a man and his mount, but I certainly did not appreciate the feeling of loss – nor the cold reasonableness of Tobyn’s argument.

“The thing about Pegasi, Tobyn, is that they choose their companions. I didn’t choose for Breezemane to accompany me. If you can convince him of your worthiness and your cause – just as I once did – I am sure you’ll be better for his company. I will ask him to meet with you, and I will take Cyrus – my trusted steed – back to Hammer Rock. We’ll come through Vigil in a fortnight or so. Perhaps by then, Breezemane will have made his decision.”

Although I was thankful for the familiar company of my old mount, the landlocked trot back to Hammer Rock was lonely at best, and cold- always.

Early Morning Wealday, 21 Kuthona 4716 AR -- Hammer Rock
The New Journal of Ky

A caravan escort and a time revealed.

Having been awakened from a sound sleep by the sound and bright light of explosions and having taken my turn to watch our gear and loot, the time has come to commit more of the happenings of the last few days to paper.

I now know that we arrived in the hayloft of one of Castle Firrine’s stables around the 5th or 6th of Kuthona 4716 Absalom Reckoning and met Vaykter on the evening of the 13th. The next morning, on the way to meet the caravan, I was playing with the Dancing Lights since the narrow streets were still fairly dark and I was hoping to make Alyris laugh or something. I was worried about her. Whatever brought us here to this world (I’m pretty sure this is a different world, not just some unknown part of ours) has affected Alyris much differently than it did me. All the time I’ve known her she was outgoing with strong opinions on most everything. Since we got here she has been more like the scared kitten trying not to be noticed. Although she has seemed to improve a little each day I was afraid it would affect her combat skills. Boy was I worrying for nothing! When we were set upon by the Winter Wolf and a pack of wargs her “situational awareness” and the range and accuracy of her shots were as good or better than ever. I too am having some lingering effects of whatever sent us here. I find I can’t always remember casting spells under stress. I don’t know what I did against the wolf and wargs but I must have done something effective since Vaykter asked both myself and Alyris to continue with the caravan to Hammer Rock.

Later that day Vaykter briefed us on what to expect and worked to provide us with access to upgraded gear. The QM provided me with an arcane scroll of “Protection from Evil.” I put it away till the end of the day since I was afraid that this world might record arcane knowledge in some language I could not understand. A magic user who can’t read magic would raise questions best left unanswered. Imagine my relief when I opened the scroll and discovered that I could read and understand it! I made a point to study the scroll and add the spell to my spellbook before bed.

The first day and night out of Vigil was thankfully uneventful.

The next day however was not. We met a gang of ghouls led by a fallen Paladin and accompanied by a ghoul ranger. Most of the ghouls were close enough to each other and far enough from us for me to try a brand new spell — Ice Storm. It was effective. It wiped out most of the ghouls. I could tell while casting it that it was something I had practiced some but, for me, there is nothing like casting a spell for the first time against real enemies. I almost always notice something interesting after the first true casting. For Ice Storm I noticed that the direction of movement in the spell is the reverse of what it is with my fire and electricity based spells. In those spells I feel like I am drawing the power to me and then pushing it out to manifest as fire or sparks. With this spell it felt like removing the power from above the ghouls caused the ice to appear and fall.
Alyris took out the ghoul ranger and Vaykter and Breezemane took out the fallen paladin. Breezemane and Vaykter are like no “mount and rider” i have ever seen. They seem to almost know each other’s thoughts. They remind me of Walsharno and Bahzell, characters in a story my dad used to read to me when I was a kid.

The rest of the trip was quiet. I spent most of my time trying to identify and appraise the loot we picked up. We got into Hammer Rock in the evening before the Solstice. Most of the locals wanted to participate in the all day and night solstice festivities and Vaykter was returning the paladin’s remains to Vigil, so we took over a barracks building and agreed to take turns watching each other’s gear and the loot till Vaykter returned. I was sleeping before my morning shift when the world erupted in explosions. After leaping out of the bed I find Grihson calmly looking out the window.
“What the hell is going on?” I ask.
Grihson says it is just the Solstice Fireworks starting. I stop and pay attention to the feel of magic around me and find nothing really complex or dangerous but definitely strong enough to put on a big light show and make a lot of noise. I wander over to join Grihson at the window and see this:


“Great day in the Morning time!!” I exclaimed. Then almost giggled because for once Mom’s curse almost made sense. Grihson gave me a weird look and I added, “If I ever meet that Wizard I will have to buy him a drink. Just can’t tell him why.” Seeing that Grihson was totally confused now I said, “I won’t be able to go back to sleep so you might as well go enjoy the Solsitce. I’ll take care of things here. Just make sure someone brings me some lunch!”

Well…that’s one less awkward question to worry about. At least now I know what year it is. … Unless the stupid wizard forgot to change the spell from last year….

—Thus ends another entry.

First Entry -- Hammer Rock -- 20 Kuthona 4716 AR
The New Journal of Ky

Having acquired some local coin and a few days of rest, waiting upon Vaykter of Firrine’s return, the time has come to write down and try to make sense of this fascinating new world and how we got here.

A few days ago Alyris and I found ourselves in Castle Firrine. How we got there is a mystery. My memory is like the “fog of war.” Almost seen images, disorienting sounds, and faint whiffs of odd odors come and go like the will ’o wisp. The harder I try to remember the denser the fog. The one thing I remember clearly is the sensation of immensely powerful magic… So anyway: After laying low for a couple of days while reading and listening to everything I could find we decided to brave a public space, The Black Cockerel. Here we met Vaykter. He seemed to be looking for quick help so we offered our services hoping not to have to answer too many questions. He offered to pay 750 gold each to help protect a caravan going to Vigil. We accepted.

I’ll have to stop here for tonight.
—-Thus ends the first entry.

A Caravan Escort
Session 01

Commander’s Log:

The winter solstice approaches, and the grain harvest from southwestern Lastwall has arrived in Castle Firrine, ready for transport to Vigil for distribution. Furthermore, the ward has discharged a handful of soldiers into the greater service in Vigil. I am tasked with seeing to this delivery. It is winter, so marauding orcs will be unlikely… though more than orcs stalk the roads of Lastwall. The staff sergeant informed me that the caravan will be short three souls of the full compliment for the wagons and horse train. It seems as though Breezemane will have a chance to stretch his wings… but I must find a scout of some sort, and perhaps an arcane talent as well.

My evening visit to The Black Cockerel tavern was most rewarding; an evoker by the name of Kaidan (Ky) and his catfolk companion, Alyris, seemed fit for escort, and somewhat desperate for the money. Against my better judgment, I did not inquire further than essential details as to their status and position, being pressed for time to acquire the necessary compliment. At some point, however, I fully intend to find out how two out of place and oddly-appareled individuals managed to find respite in Firrine without having their names mentioned in the gate report.

Whatever their origins, Kaidan and Alyris are capable combatants. Our caravan was set upon by a Winter Wolf and it’s pack of wargs. There was also an Ogre that may have posed a substantial threat or demand of horsemeat – in either case, there was no time for a diplomatic solution. Thanks to their adept talents (and those of the carvan compliment) we managed to arrive in Vigil with no loss of life nor horse.

The Undersecretary’s Office provided compensation for the farmer’s grain and the escort’s pay, as well as updating the arms and armament of my soldiers. A wagon of grain will be sent forward to Hammer Rock, along with more – albeit new – personnel and clergy for the winter solstice of Desna.

The way is purloined by a gang of ghouls, which seem to be led by a former Paladin of my Lady of Justice, slain by them not a month less. It is a matter of public safety – and personal honor – to dispatch the ghouls and release our fallen brother from his undue turning.

We met our quarry one day shy of Hammer Rock. The combat was swift, and only Ghrison took wounds. Mostly, the gang of ghouls was decimated by Kaidan’s use of the arcane arts, and the Ghoul ranger was no match for his catfolk counterpart. As for the Paladin, our Lady of Justice was swift and true with her sword in my hands, and he was put to rest before his ghoulish remains could inflict unwanted damage to the living.

Whilst the caravan escort celebrates the solstice with the house of Desna, I have taken the task of delivering the paladin’s identifiable remains and defaced holy symbol to the Temple of Iomedae back in Vigil, for a proper burial. May winter cease to grow darker, with the light of our Lady.

A Journey To Hammer Rock
the first session

My memory is hazy. We’re not from around here.

I’d be sure of that, even if we didn’t get stares everywhere we go.

The occasion of our arrival left me in less than perfect working order — in fact, I feel as though I have landed face-first after falling off a mountain. I rather have the impression other party members think I look a bit like that happened, too.

But I digress. What’s important is that we gathered a party, and took a job.

Kydan the Wizard and Alyris the Ranger hired on with Vayktor to escort a supply convoy of wagons with a horse train.
Kydan the Wizard is a 7th-level evoker. Alyris the Ranger is a 7th-level archer. There are a variety of others in the party; it will be well to let Vayktor describe and elucidate them in his adventure logs.
Noble provided Game Mastery for us on this journey. We had two encounters of combat, and at the end of the session we had acquired 2,370 Experience points.
- Alyris’ entry ends

Updated to correct XP to 2370 and to note that the starting XP was 35,000 so the current XP should be 37,370. The next level is at 51,000.

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