Call of the Vigilant

Pilgrimage Part I (Mawag 21 - Mawag 26)

We were given the mission to go on the T’skrang Pilgrimage in order to ask the the Prophetess a specific question about New Marrek. I volunteered to be the pilgrim. Surprisingly Dederick, Saiph and Kirra also decided to be pilgrims because they had their own questions to ask the Prophetess.

The Pilgrimage begins at the Ayodhya life rock, which we arrived at on the 24th of Mawag. We began our pilgrimage under the full moon as is traditional. Astral space is very clean around Ayodhya and on the pilgrimage route and I was curious about the spirits that might dwell there, but most of them were Earth spirits and I could not communicate with them. We made our way down to Lake Ban and V’strimon where we prayed at the six towers without incident.

We began making our way North along the pilgrimage route. We were not the only ones on the pilgrimage at this time. There were also some humans, a few T’skrang, one Obsidimen, and a rather large group of Dwarves. On the pilgrimage there are particular stopping points each day of the journey, so at night we got to talking with our fellow travelers. The Dwarves were 2 members of House Avalus (the ruling house of Throal) and their 12 bodyguards.

Recipe for Trouble II (Rua 24 - Rua 29)

Agirr wanted to get into the Kaer immediately, but we were more cautious. First of all Saif was badly hurt (something had put an enchantment on him that kept him from healing), second there were an unknown number of shadowmants near the entrance, and third we had no idea what we were walking into. He agreed that a guide would be helpful since kaers can be somewhat maze-like. The villagers agreed to give us a guide in exchange for help rebuilding their palisade wall. While the others were working on the wall, I spent part of the day learning a new spell, Life Circle of One. I thought that we might be up against a horror or construct of some kind. “The Screaming Death” that the villagers spoke of sounded like something a horror would do. It turned out that I was right.
We spent the night in the longhouse with the rest of the villagers. We decided to keep a watch because something had stole into our camp the night before and cast a spell on Saif. During third watch Dederick saw something small and childlike crawling on the roof of the longhouse heading towards the smoke hole (Dederick was outside the longhouse while Camathon kept watch inside). Dederick entered the longhouse and saw the thing crawling along the ceiling (definitely not a child) heading towards where Saif lay. Camathon, who could not see it, began waking each of us while Dederick prepared to strike. I awoke to a shrill shriek and Dederick stabbing at something that started crawling up the wall. Andros took off into the air and yelled “It’s a horror. A Kreescra.” Which started a panicked exodus of the villagers from the longhouse. I immediately got up and began weaving thread for Life Circle of One. Dederick prepared to attack if it came back within reach, Camathon threw his spear and missed, and Kira helped the villagers get out. Andros charged the thing, with only his dagger in hand, and managed to pry it off the wall where Dederick promptly skewered it. It was still alive however so I cast my spell around Saif and myself to help ward it off. It seemed bent on escape rather than fighting and began to dig its way through the wall. Andros called his Zoak and continued his attacks, while I threw several Spirit Darts at it. I was Dederick who got the final blow with a well placed thrust and a flourish. The thing turned into goo.
The next day Saif seemed to be on the mend and we began a plan of Andros’ to deal with the shadowmants. Since they were in the kaer all day and the entrance was fairly small we constructed a net from all of our ropes plus some others from the village and placed it over the entrance. When the shadowmants tried to leave the kaer at night they would get caught in the net. I would then Spirit Dart the caught shadowmants to death (the spell wouldn’t harm the net, whereas arrows might). We spent 2 days killing shadowmants in this manner (and collecting their venom). On the third day no shadowmants came out, so we figured they were all dead and prepared to enter the kaer the following morning.
Our guide was a twelve year old boy who went exploring into the kaer occasionally. He said he would only take us to the traps, as he knew of nothing beyond. This first part of the kaer was empty anything of value had been stripped long ago. Agirr figured that what we were looking for would most likely be beyond the traps. We dismissed the boy and gazed at the magical runes that lined the floor and walls in front of us. Agirr said that it was a horror ward and would only affect horrors. We passed through unharmed and Kira took the lead looking for more traps. There were many layers of traps, mostly mechanical, that we avoided on our way through. We found a cadaverman caught in one trap that begged us to set it free. We simply killed it. We noticed that the traps and the ward appeared to be set up to keep something in rather than keeping something out. We guessed that this kaer had been partially compromised and some of the residents withdrew towards the entrance and put up a new ward and traps (perhaps trapping some people behind them) to keep the horror at bay.
We finally came to a much larger cavern with residences carved out of the rock. What we saw horrified us. Many of the skeletons had an unusual number of heads, arms or other limbs. They were Namegivers only highly mutated. Astral space was highly tainted with some bodies or objects that were highly corrupted. The well in the center was the largest source of corruption. We guessed that the water might contain still active “Dread Iota”, but we weren’t sure if that would cause the mutations we were seeing. Either way we avoided the water. Looking around we began to piece together the story. Part of the wards on the exterior wall were damaged, as if they were purposefully destroyed from within. We then found a small shrine to Raggok hidden in one of the houses. It looked like a follower of Raggok damaged the wards and let one or several horrors in (maybe even our friend that we destroyed the other night). Some of the residents escaped and set up the traps and new ward leaving everyone else at the mercy of the horror or horrors. The “Dead Iota” appeared to be the only one left, although we did find the body of one horror buried beneath part of a building.
We finally came to a hallway that was littered with bodies. The door at the opposite end was still intact and radiated strong magic. Agirr looked at it and told us it was enchanted with a permanent spell that would activate when someone tried to open the door. What the spell actually was, he couldn’t say, but the hallway of bodies gave us the idea that it wasn’t pretty. The recipe we were looking for was created by a powerful wizard so we guessed that we probably needed to get past the door. Agirr managed to dispell the door and we looked inside. Astral space was open here. The taint in the rest of the kaer had not entered here, so it appeared that this was the right place. We found what we were looking for. The recipe was for a type of blood charm and the body of the wizard one of the actual blood charms on it. There was also a lot of other valuable stuff. We took everything including the aged and damaged books and then looted the rest of the place of anything of value. The horrors except for the “Dread Iota” appeared to be gone, having left when all the people were dead or when the magic dropped. We took all we could carry and exited the kaer.

Recipe for Trouble Part I (Rua 16 - Rua 23)

This mission began simply enough. We were to escort a non-vigilant Wizard to Axalalail where some tribal humans would tell him where to find a pre-scourge alchemical recipe. Our job was to make sure he got the recipe safely and to make sure he didn’t tell anyone about New MarreK. Why can’t any mission be simple?

The Wizards name was Ajirr* (*Note: Gordon made up his name on the spot and couldn’t remember it and didn’t write it down, so this is his name now). A seemingly absent minded old human, he was extremely focused in his craft to such an extent that it was hard to gain his attention on anything else. If you could divert him however, he was very scholarly on many subjects, although his tendency to need to check his notes before he did anything could be a bit annoying.

Axalalail is a T’skrang and Windling town about half way between Lake Ban and Urupa and is apparently entirely built in the trees. The only way to navigate through the town was by swinging from ropes with the occasional ladder or the even more rare rope bridge. Wynnar had a grand time especially at seeing a dwarf and an old human (Ajirr) trying to swing on ropes. We spent the night at an inn called “The Bower” and Ajirr met his tribal contact the next morning. After much conversation about the intricacies of alchemical formulas we were directed to go to a village North East of Axalalail near the foothills of the mountains to find the pre-scourge recipe.

We made our way slowly through the wilderness. Ajirr was unused to travel so our progress was slowed a bit. We finally came upon the village we were seeking only to find a hole in the palisade wall and many dead. The destruction looked like it had been done by a Hadrosaur, although these creatures aren’t known for attacking villages. When we searched through the village we found what appeared to be one living person in the grain storage hut, eating raw grain. When questioned all he had to say was that he was fine and then he would continue eating. Finding his behavior very strange I examined him on the astral (this was not easy as the village apparently lies in a tainted area). I saw that he was in fact dead and that another pattern existed inside the body, almost like a parasite. No one had ever heard of such a thing, although Ajirr continued to look through his notes for anything on the subject. Saif , who was not happy talking to an animated dead guy, attacked it only to find that it was very resilient and apparently very strong. It took Saif down with one punch from its fist and tried to escape the granary. Dederick and Kira tried to stop it by knocking it to the ground. I, on the other hand, was trying again to see through the tainted astral space to be able to target the thing inside the body. Luckily I was successful. I hit the parasite with a spirit dart and it abandoned the body and tried to hide among the grain sacks, but I could still see its pattern and directed Dederick and Kira to its location and they finished it off.

At about this time Ajirr piped up that he found it. The parasite was a Relan: a tentacled worm that lacks its own digestive system and thus “borrows” the digestive system of dead creatures. It apparently can also secrete a venom that greatly increases the strength and toughness of its host, so they can be very dangerous. Um…thanks, I think we guessed that.

While I was tending to the injured Saif, Wynnar and Camathon returned and told us they found a cellar where the women and children were hiding (the dead we found all appeared to be armed warriors of some sort). Dederick and Kira carried Saif and we went down into the cellar. The Cellar was actually a tunnel that lead out of the village. We found the women and children near the entrance of their old Kaer. We spoke to them and told them that we killed the thing that destroyed part of the village. They were saddened by the death of so many and asked if we could help them to rebuild. We told them about our purpose and they said that they did not know of what we spoke, but maybe what we were looking for was in the old Kaer. They did not go inside and dark things came out of it at night. They also kept asking if we wanted to bury Saif. When I told them he was not dead and would get better they just sighed and said that he will die.

We decided to settle down near them for the night. From where we were we could see the Kaer entrance. The dark things turned out to be Shadowmants, which have a very potent venom in their tail barbs. Saif did not recover much from the night’s rest and said that he suffered from terrible dreams. When I asked the villagers they said that he will die, it is the screaming death. When ever anyone in the village got badly hurt they would start having terrible nightmares and would not get better. I took a look at Saif on the astral (this area was even more strongly tainted than the village) and found that he was under some sort of enchantment. I asked Ajirr if he could try and dispel it (Wizards are good at that sort of thing). As Ajirr was attempting to dispel the enchantment Dederick informed us that he found small tracks that apparently came into our camp during 1st watch (both Wynarr and I saw nothing when we were on first watch). The dispel was successful, but Saif is still in bad shape and I don’t like the idea of staying in this village. There is something not right here.

Rival Gangs Part II (Charassa 8th - Rua 1st)

We quickly got our things together and set out along the caravan route to Ardanyan. We believed that The Juggler would go with a caravan since traveling alone is extremely dangerous. A couple of times on our journey we came across tracks of a T’skrang, and as T’skrang are unusual in that area hoped that they belonged to our quarry. We made good time and, since a small group on foot is faster than a caravan, we arrived in Ardanyan on the 13th only a few hours after The Juggler (by our best calculations). Dederick found out that only one T’skrang had come in with a Dwarven caravan and that he was in tavern catering to the passing caravans. This T’skrang did not match The Juggler’s description, in fact he was very plain. A closer examination with the help of Astral Sight revealed that the T’skrang was under a magical disguise and I quickly informed the others that this T’skrang was in fact our quarry.

We couldn’t just attack him in the town, so we decided to ambush him at the privy. Dederick, Saiph and myself went into the bar to keep an eye on The Juggler while the others set the trap at the privy. The Juggler was met by another T’skrang and something was exchanged between them. Unfortunately we couldn’t overhear their conversation. The 2nd T’skrang eventually left and The Juggler just sat nursing his ale. I was much surprised when Saiph got up and sat at The Juggler’s table. Both Dederick and I looked at each other confused, but chose not to interfere, hoping that Saiph had a plan.

They talked and drank for about an hour when The Juggler got up and headed towards the back door that lead to the privy. Saiph got up and followed. This seemed to make The Juggler suspicious and, thinking that he might just try and make a break for it, I chose to bolt through the door ahead of our quarry like a patron taken suddenly ill. I was glad I did this, for when The Juggler came through the door he looked like a female T’skrang. Still running towards the privy I tried to signal the others that the female T’skrang was our target, when Saiph suddenly came around the corner and grabbed The Juggler’s arm acting like he was drunk and trying to steal a kiss. Dederick then came up from behind and stabbed The Juggler. In the meantime I was in the privy weaving a thread for a spell (spell magic is not subtle and I was trying not to draw attention). Kira seemed confused by the proceedings and remained hidden behind the privy. I had no idea where Andros was. Saiph pinned The Juggler against the wall and I cast ‘Bone Dance’ at her, in the hope that it would keep her from running away. Unfortunately my spell failed, but Dederick got in another blow before The Juggler managed to escape from Saiph’s grip and start running down the side of the building yelling for help. Suddenly out of nowhere Andros barreled into The Juggler while charging with the thunder beast. The body flew several yards almost to the front of the building and being either unconscious or dead The Juggler was revealed in his true appearance.

Thinking quickly I ran towards Andros and thanked him profusely for saving me from the T’skrang. This convinced the crowed coming from the tavern that I was the woman that screamed for help and that The Juggler was my molester. If The Juggler was not dead after Andros’ hit, he was after the crowd got through with him. The guards believed me and Andros got several rounds of drinks from the dwarven merchants. Andros now has the reputation of being a heroic figure who rescues damsels in distress. It’s a funny world sometimes.

We went back to Bartertown and after a week (when The Juggler should have returned) we accosted the same T’skrang ganger as before wanting to know where his boss was. This was to keep up our previous role and to disconnect ourselves from The Juggler’s disappearance. We continued to wait around after that to see what would happen with the gangs. As we suspected, with The Juggler gone the Masks quickly took over. Our mission being successfully completed we headed back to New Marrek.

Rival Gangs Part I (Veltom 26th - Charassa 8th)

Camithon has asked for someone to take over the activity log for Action Team Hound. As no one else has stepped forward, I have decided to do so. I will add that if anyone has a problem with my record or how I choose to write it they can keep their own fracking journal.

On the 26th of Veltom we got a new mission. Apparently one of our operatives in Bartertown was having some problems with a couple of rival gangs and asked for an action team to take care of the problem. We traveled to Marrek and from there to a riverboat landing on the Serpent that is used for trade between Marrek and the rest of Barsaive. Our Journey down the Serpent and up the Coil river was uneventful. At the town of Ardanyan we took up with a caravan heading to Throal, as traveling in numbers is always safer. We told them that we were and adventuring group called Lynx and would aid the caravan if they got into any trouble. Most of the journey was uneventful, although we were attacked by some Ork scorchers while crossing a flooded stream. Andros gained a thunder beast as a mount in that fight. We made it to Bartertown without further incident and made contact with our operative, Honest Akeem.

On Charassa 4th we met with Akeem in his apothecary/pawn shop. He told us that there were two groups or gangs that were demanding protection money from him and the amount he was paying out to both would put him out of business. Also the gangs did not like that he was paying their rivals as well and had threatened him. He feared a turf war and getting caught in the middle. He wanted us to find a way to stop one of the gangs from demanding protection money from him, but discreetly. He didn’t want to be connected to us. Paying protection to one gang was fine, it helped his cover, but he couldn’t afford both. If we could also stop the escalating gang war all the better.

The two gangs were the “Juggler’s Men” and the “Red Masks”. The Juggler’s were a group of T’skrang led by “The Juggler” (a Troubadour of unknown circle), who had a headquarters in the “Hog’s Head” inn. These were the original gang that claimed Akeem in their territory. The Red Masks were muscling in on the Juggler’s territory. They were reportedly a group of former adventurers or possibly members of the Grim Legion or both. The Mask’s leader was a dwarf named Macklin, but no one seemed to know much about him or where his gang headquartered.

Charissa 5th – 7th we spent gathering information on both gangs to see if we could come up with a plan for Discreetly dealing with one of the gangs. On the 7th of Charassa we found out that The Juggler had left town and that several members of the Juggler’s men were taken ill. Wanting to know more we decided to ambush one of the Juggler’s men and ask a few questions. Our Thief, Kira quickly took the T’skrang out and we dragged him to an alley to have a nice chat. Kira talked very casually to the T’skrang while Andros tossed the ganger’s own club back and forth. We led him to believe that we were a group of thugs hired by someone who had been inconvenienced by his gang and were looking for The Juggler to make amends. The T’skrang didn’t argue and quickly gave us all the information he knew.

The Juggler_ left town that morning and would be back in a couple of weeks. This was apparently not unusual, as he did this several times a year. He didn’t know where The Juggler went but guessed by the length of time he was usually gone that it was either Ardanyan or possibly Darranis. He also let slip that The Juggler apparently had a benefactor, as he always returned with money. We let the T’skrang go told him that we would be looking for The Juggler upon his return to Bartertown.

We quickly formed a plan based on this information. If The Juggler simply never came back the Juggler’s Men would be eliminated and the Masks would simply take over, thus we would succeed at our mission and no one would even know we were involved.

Smuggling Run II
Over the river and through the woods to the sewers we go!

TH 25 Strassa 1507 (10/06/2013)

Camithon’s Journal Entry:

We successfully made it to the river crossing and on to the outskirts of Marrek. One the way we exterminated a hunting party from the Blood Foot tribe. We have come to the unfortunate conclusion that I am the only member of Team Hound who can read a map (and to be honest, I’ve never been that good at it). As such, we got a little lost in the ruins of the Via Cloaca while trying to find the first stash location. Luckily, Kira found our way out and we were able to start over. We eventually found it, and made our delivery, but ran into a small group of ghouls. Luckily, we were able to drop them before anyone was poisoned. Those windlings sure are agile little buggers. One mule was lightly injured.

Now we just need to pick up our return cargo and we can get the heck out of this hole.

Smuggling Run
Termites at a Picnic

TH 23 Strassa 1507 (9/29/2013)

Journal Entry:

After a week of furlough, Team Hound has been assigned to cover for one of the smuggling teams that keeps the citadel of New Marrek in commercial contact with Marrek. We set out yesterday at first light and headed down the hidden canyon trail with a string of mules. Despite reassurance that the Elementalists were sure there was to be no rain all day, the team hurried to avoid getting trapped in a narrow canyon in the event of nasy weather. We arrived at Rift Gap Camp with time to spare and settled down for the night.

Overnight we got an unpleasant surprise. Apparently a nest of greater termites has moved in near the camp. We barely got ourselves and out goods out of there. Agents Lenore, Androstachys, and Wynarr were instrumental in distracting the vermin while the camp was evacuated. The nest will have to be reported and cleared out by specialists.

We made do with a makeshift camp a little farther down trail. Tomorrow we’ll leave the mountains and cross the river.

Border Patrol II
Ambush Freindly

TH 15 Strassa 1507 (9/21/2013)

Mission Report
Action Team Hound – Camithon One-Eye (Team Leader)

Our 2-week patrol of valleys Delta and Gamma had 4 incidents of note:

  1. An adventuring party of 5 adepts. These poor fools appeared to be following a forged map to some rumored treasure in the Caucavic mountains. On this occasion, agents Saiph and Androstachys impersonated a mad hermit and spirit to lure the targets out of the patrol area into a concealed position for an ambush. While the lure was successful and the targets were eliminated, these two agents need to review the concept of matching cover stories. Agent Kira showed promise in the tactical use of stealth. Suggest looking into whoever is supplying these bogus maps.
  2. A wisp swarm appeared to be breeding in valley Gamma. The reproduction rate was unnervingly rapid for a location so close to the Citadel, so we intervened. A partially coordinated ambush eliminated the strongest of the wisps, and although it was a hard fight, the others were also destroyed. One wisp with useful properties was captured for experimentation.
  3. An adept hunting party from the Sharptooth cannibal tribe (standing orders – no survivors). Although we were able to place them under surveilance, they were too many for certain victory. Agent Kira was sent to request backup (Kira has shown reliable instincts for avoiding trouble so was a reasonable choice for a solo messenger). While we awaited backup, one hunter ventured up valley and was eliminated without alarm. Kira returned with the Royal Guard, who destroyed the tribesmen while Action Teams Hound and Zephyr (our relief) acted as security.
  4. Although the Royal Guard was overkill for the cannibals, their presence was lucky as the final event was the arrival of the Horror Old Bog over the ridge from valley Epsilon. Old Bog was destroyed by the Royal Guard, with two casualties (remedied in the field).

Quote of the Day: “I’ll bag the slutty one!”

Border Patrol

TH 1 Strassa 1507 (9/1/2013)

Our heros graduated from Vigilant training, despite an incident where in their final exam they set ablaze the poorer sections of the city of Jerris. Luckily, the exam took place within an illusion, and it was considered a passing grade because they retrieved the package they were sent for and laid the blame for the arson on another party.

Upon graduation at the start of the festival week, they took their Vigilant Oaths and became full-fledged protectors of the Citadel (worth 50 silver a week, plus benefits). At the end of the festivals, they were assigned to Action Team Hound, a general well-balanced team intended to fill a wide variety of roles.

Their team leader is a grizzled veteran who is months from retirement Named Camithon One-Eye. Their first assignment is the usual for rookie teams (and is also sometimes used as punishment detail). They have to travel a day’s journey from the citadel to their patrol area, and discourage any visitors.

After all, no-one is supposed to know there is a city up here in these mountains teeming with monsters, Horrors, and savage tribes of cannibals. So they are disguised as savages and must drive off or kill any Namegivers or Horrors who should decide to wander toward their home.

On the way out, they ran across an old aquaintance, Caradoc, who seems to have a self-declared rivalry with the Swordmaster Dederick. He was escorting a team-mate who’d been poisoned back to the citadel for treatment.

Continuing on, they had a little trouble due to the previous night’s rain. Some troajin had wandered up the valley looking for prey displaced by the floods, and were driven off before they could ambush anyone on the trail.

Farther on, the path had washed out and needed to be circumvented.

And finally, part of the trail had flooded by an adjacent stream. Sighting shilagrue in the water, the party elected NOT to wade accross, but instead bypassed the flooded area by climbing the nearby scree. Sadly, old Camithon slipped and slid into the water, to be set upon by the predatory shilagrue. By the heroic actions of Andro and Saiph, supported by their companions, the attacking creatures were slain or driven off before the old man could drown or more predators arrived.

At the end of the day, Team Hound has arrived at their patrol campsite where they will spend the next two weeks.