Ancient Blood

Duel at Osic Bridge

Fallout From the Battle of Deniros Glade

The agenst of East River Run will claim that the two men were murdered by the party while they were pursuing the bandits. There is the threat of reprisal and the PC’s will be targeted with a smear campaign and family forced to pay fines and threats of higher taxes. Everyone knows that they were aiding the bandits, but there will be no way to prove it that will not be crushed in either political or economic means.

Balban of Ikribu

The meeting will be overseen by the Church of Light, priest Balban of Ikribu. If the PC’s can bribe them with 1000 silver crowns, they will force the baron to back off. Balban will take a dislike to the group, as he will sense their Wyld faith influence and the poiwer of Dunstrand.

The Baron Grus Sherwald, agent of Count Griswold accuses them of disturbing the peace. The penalty is either 3 months in jail and a hefty fine, or to be declared outlaw. The church of Ikribu and Balban will intervene for roughly half the party’s silver – to ‘support’ the legal system and as a fine. The party pays the fine, saving face for all, the Oighnan family is very pleased.

The group will be challenged in a travesty of justice. A minor knight from the north will be brought in and claim to represent East River Run, who feels wronged. They will challenge Sir Robert Carlin of East River Run; knight errant.

Beedel Feels Dunstrand Calling

You feel an overwhelming draw to the water, the river under the bridge – there is power there, power that can be given to Vraxen.

You feel the power of the land rush through you as you drop your companion’s body beneath the surface. His eyes go wide as he hears singing while under the surface! He struggles and then calms, staring at you through the rushing water and you both feel a charge. As you hold his chest with one hand, you plunge the other into the water, grasping his other hand and pull him upright, while he gasps and sputters. You stare at each other, sensing some subtle power at work which used Beedel as a conduit – though involved neither of you overtly. The Priest of Balthazaar stares hard at you, and though he tries to challenge the ceremony, he can find no mystic power at work.

Vraxen Tilts with Sir Robert Carlin

9142, Month 7, Day 21

Sir Stuart loans Vraxen his horse – cutting it up as collateral in case he loses. He also loans him a shield of the family – a metal jousting shield, well made and beautiful. Sir Robert wears ring mail, a helm, a shield and carried a nicely worked broadsword – a small fortune’s worth. The combatants saddle up. Vraxen is using all his concentration and does not fight in his normally boisterous way. After a couple passes, Vraxen is nearly killed. A massive wound in his side gaps from a lance. He barely hangs on to wheel and make what seemed to be his last charge. Instead, Vraxen unhorses Sir Robert! He falls from his horse, does not fall into the river, but scrambles up, staggering, drawing his sword. Vraxen stops for amoments and everyone can see him contemplate riding his enemy down. Belim motions to do the noble thing and Vraxen dismounts. On foot and in his element, he begins his usual swagger and trash talk. The combants clash for a few rounds, Both staggering and bordering on death. Sir Robert makes a mis-step, one which everyone can see. Vraxen takes advantage – having not the “knightly” scruples of his opponent and delivers a viscous upper cut as he moves past. Sir Robert’s head flied back, his helm spinning and his throat gushing blood. Gurgling, he staggers, falls, and crawls a couple feet away, towards Balban… finally dieing messily in the dirt.

The entire crowd was holding its breath, and now shouts in unison. Balban scowls, knowing his faith has been showed up as well as his allies. Vraxen is carried on the shoulders of the smallfolk, the party quickly get him away from the crowd – afraid of a knife between the ribs in the press.

The Camps Meet to Pay Respect

The body of Sir Robert, fallen in battle, is picked up and delivered to his retinue. A group consisting of a few servants, his squire, Balban – Priest of Ikribu, the man Harpher Knap, and a pair of attendant acolytes of the Lightbringer faith. One, a woman, confirms Sir Robert’s Death. Balban does not look happy – he knows he has lost the challenge of faith. For him, its now become personal and you realize you probably lost any goodwill the bribe to the church once bought you. Seeing Harpher in the retinue, Vraxen grumbles, and has to be calmed as he shouts for his death and chastises the group for not killing Harpher sooner.

Riebar, the haggard thief trailing in the background suddenly perks up as he nears the retinue of Sir Robert. He points at Harpher Knap and shouts "You! You! I know you! I was there, i saw it! Gods have mercy on you! You were dead, now the ghost returns! "

After a few moments of stunned silence, Vraxen throws out a crude comment about weak willed thieves to break the ice. Balban tells Vraxen his spoils will be sent – the sword, the shield, pavillion and and the horse. The armor is ruined, but is his to keep too. Mostly in silence the 2 groups part and the body of Sir Robert is taken away for cleansing and burial.

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Escalating Banditry in Belmain

Attack on the Darrow Bros. Farm

Attack on Swone Family and Neighbors

Meeting Sir Stuart

Over the next few weeks, the baron will put together a force and make forays into Belmain – in the name of subduing the ‘bandit scourge’ and enforcing the peace along trade routes using the authority that the Nanford Accord of 8710 gives him.

“I fear for Belmain. The Twin River powers for years have been looking for a way into our fiefdom. From the looting of our ruins, to the institution of their Lightbringer faith, their reasons pile up into mounting aggression. Our old familes – few of them have the means to stave off. Without the aid of outsiders, even now we would not be able to hold against them. The injustice of the Nanford Accord sends a stench across these lands and the Duke’s desire to change it is embroiled in politics. The money flows from the north and the blood flows across the river in the south. This escalation must stop or it wil result in occupation. I must ask you to aid us – not just me, but all of the folk here, in stopping this so-called banditry. My people know that land better than any others – it is still theirs by that much. They say that a force of several dozen is gathering at Deniros Glade. Can you ride there, with my soldiers and what volunteers we can raise, and meet them in battle? We have little to offer in way of reward, but our gratitude is a long memory and always a safe hearth.”

Battle at Deniros Glade

Oighnan family is told they must not intervene directly (by order of Baron Sherwald), but bands of armed men roaming their land is hurting trade and scaring he smallfolk. Yjr family and crafters have put together a small force of 30 men and have decided that they are going to confront the ‘bandits’. A couple that die are wearing the colors of East River Run -

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Terrovare and the Return to Tadeus
Stealing back their gear, its r & r time

9142, Month 7, Day 12; The party returns to the surface lands of Belmain only to find that all their mounts and any equipment has vanished. The ruins of Gnedfort City stand in the distance, and the party decides to put as much distance between themselves and the dead city as they can. The village of Terrovere is the closest locale – where they were threatened before and likely where the hunters followed them from.

The group approaches, tired and sore under the cover of darkness. It is easy to steal back their supplies and mounts form the unsuspecting villagers who believe they are dead. The locales have not even made much of an effort to hide them – they must have believed the party to be dead. Beeddel remarks that the theft of the horses and gear seem more of an act of opportunism than outright hostility. There’s no evidence to connect the locals with the quality and organization of Steel Eyed Pete.

Having found the proof they needed from the crypt of the Crithomyssis family on Rom’s Mount, they wearily head back towards Tadeus, hoping to report back to Sir Stuart on their success, and to get healing and replacement supplies from the Darrow Brothers Crofters – agents of the Shady Rock Merchant Coster… Tadeus lies only a few slow hours travel in the dark away. The group can probably make the Darrow Brothers farm before sun up, before anyone can see them.

False dawn breaks in the east as the group sends Beedel to rouse a couple hands on the farm. Two teamsters and the groomsman – a man named Jiles Swone – aid the party in unpacking and stowing their gear. No one asks questions, despite the wounded nature of the party… Jiles takes Belim aside and says that he wishes to speak to him of a serious matter later. He shows Belim his holy symbol – the lord of beasts – and says that Daruphet the father and Rastur, lord of lions wishes his servant to assist their party. Belim looks grimly and nods…”Later though – there is much to discuss”...

As Vraxen files past, Jiles steps out and offers his hand. “Its an honor sir… to meet the famous Vraxen! Your duel with Dolgrath Pritchard is legendary in these parts. Well, sir, its just amazing that you are here… i hope to talk to Belim about joining you group and it would be my pleasure to serve in your company.” Vraxen just sort of stares and grins… everyone has stopped, the exuberance overwhelming all else momentarily. “Gosh kid, maybe after i get some ale and shut-eye we can talk…” He shambles off to throw himself down on a pile of hay, kick his boots off and shout for ale.

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Caverns of the Bolg Morda

9142, Month 7, Day 9; Belim, Vraxen, Ace, Grumwell, Beeddel, and Bill Clay

Initially Beeddel and Belim are both knocked unconscious. The group tries to hush the screaming hunters that fell with them, but it is too late – they can hear in the distance sounds of movement. After getting their bearings, out of the darkness comes a man dress in rags – Riebar.

Story of Riebar

Riebar the thief has survived for years in the caverns. He is mad now, but continues to lurk and skulk and survive. The denizens are aware of his presence, but because he does not try to hurt them, and they cannot seem to find him easily, the consensus is that he should be left to his own design – he killed three hunters that tried to capture him. He came down with his friends, having been in the caverns before and fought their way out. He and his companions – The Strayhearts (out of Eliek-Sa; but journeyed far and wide, hence the name) were following the lead of the magus Birman Orc-Bane, searching for buried treasure in the forgotten Riverdans and came under the effect of The Suffering Tread. Half the band was lost in the initial battle with the giant half troll, half beast that dwells int he cavern – the Bolg Morda; and the rest vowed revenge. Birman was able to use his items to escape being exiled forever into The Deeping. They returned to kill the Bolg Morda, armed with Neerciss – the Spear of Rage. This artifact from their travels is an old Orrish weapon that they found in a burial cavern deep under the Tolkisson range, before Riebar came to the group. He and Bordlen retrieved it from an old pond it had been sunk in. Encased in an iron prison, the spear was transported to Gnedford City environs. The group was being pursued by local rangers, and they were trying to avoid being located and upsetting the locals. They were brought under the Suffering Tread, the effect landed them nearly right on top of a settlement, they were overcome and all but him slain. The spear lies in a pond of water – a pond sacred to some foul dark god worshipped by the under-dwellers. Riebar has witnessed the Bolg Morda slay a few dozen adventurers over the last few years.

Exploring the Caverns

[]

The Bolg Morda is lured by the hunters who fell and Bill Clay. They stand heroically, but are completely and utterly wiped out (Bill Clay DIES) – the rest of the group attacks tactically while the expendables go down – the Bolg Morda is nearly killed. He is driven off.

The scouts find a Supply Room: This is where the skins, dyes, tools, and few supplies of this modest clergy are stored. All the sacred rites for the larger ceremony at the pool – bowls, tallow, etc. are stored here. Together the group jokingly assembles a plan to dupe the inhabitants that they have seen venerating the rough statue next to a reliquary filled with debris.

With Grumwell posing as Everdark, the group fools the goblins into attacking the Bolg Morda! The caverns are turned into a nightmare of savegery as the multitudes of goblins and humanoids one time servants of the half troll turn against it. Wounded and in fury, the caves run red with blood. The Orrish leaders, convinced their god was directing them, all die in the fight. The group slinks the the blood spatered caversn, searching for the giant’s lair where the their they caught told them was a magical device that could get them out.

9142, Month 7, Day 11; The group gets into his chambers, and Grumwell uses his limited knowledge of the items to transport them group back to the surface!

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Vraxen Follows

9142, Month 7, Day 9; Vraxen had been following, trying to catch up to the group after doing some scouting in the local towns. The locals are hostile to him and it was slow going. He found out very little for all his efforts, nearly getting into several fights with the locals. Too late he discovered the group would provoke the wrath to such a degree by where they were going. He managed to discover some of the locales were preparing a ‘welcome’ for his friends who they knew were adventurers that would stir up trouble, and eventually wandered in at the last second, to watch the Suffering Tread’s effect of bending space and pulling the hunters in ambush and the rest of the group into its effect. Terrified, but fearing for his companions, he examines the area where he last saw them. Hearing the Tread return, he simply waited and hoped that he would rejoin his companions.

Gritting his teeth he grips the round as vertigo descends and his pulse pounds in his ears. Just when he thinks he will scream, the bottom drops out from under him and he falls into a cold darkness.

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Exploring Rom's Mount

9142, Month 7, Day 6; We travel to Terrovere, a small village east of Gnedfort. The locals all get silent when we enter the only inn. We stay a night, keeping our ears open, but we learn nothing new. We tell the locals we are on out way to Malby. We try and scout to make sure we are not followed, and Beeddel hides our trails when we go off the road. We find a place to picket the horse in the rolling grasslands without being seen. We slowly approach Rom’s Mount. During our approach we are all subjected the The Suffering Tread – a manifestation of The Deeping where it seems as if a giant is about to tread on us. Wind sucked out of our lungs, panic in our throats, and a great weight descends. A few of us are unable or unwilling to back down, and though the ground drops in front of us, and vertigo makes us swoon, the 2 caught in the effect muster the will to resist. It leaves us with a sense of vertigo for a moment, and leaves no physical evidence of any kind.

As we approach, cold winds start blowing over us, and we hear the sounds of riots, screaming, horse hooves and the smell of death. Something horrible, in addition to the river flooding and killing thousands, went on here. All of us are on edge, our sanity is beginning to fray, but we manage to circle the mount to be out of sight, and come round to the earth temple. Deciding that the earth temple is the easiest way, we make our way up the rubble pile inside. Our best climbers are assailed by cold blasts, treacherous footing, fetid scents, and sink holes that tried to pull us under. Beedel made his way up to Cairn Top and scouted a bent iron we saw growing from the undergrowth – a family tomb entrance. The rest of the party made it up, with Ace’s escort for us all in case we fell. We bent back the bars enough for the average size characters to squeeze in and began to explore. There were traps enough for the unwary, including a collapsing ceiling, flooded chamber, and 2 armored, skeletal guards. The whole system consisted of a entry, a receiving chamber, columbarium, crypt proper, chapel, supply area, reliquary, and a whole set of flooded chambers over 120 feet deep that we surmised may be drained by some operation in the earth temple. The crypt of family Crithomyssis remained an enigma until we finally discovered the concealed door and lured away the armored skeletons. The stone tablets of genealogy we were seeking were found in the reliquary they guarded. We took our rubbings and got out, though one of them struck at Belim as he crawled out, a deep gash into his leg. Grumwell examined them and declared that he remembered a text he had read in the Oighnan family records in Tadeus – we had the proof we needed.

We endured the trip back down the hill While Beeddel scouted from above – spotting a pair of men making their way to our mounts picket line. He hurried back, suffering the horrific visions, smells and dangerous conditions as best we could. Many times we felt pursued by some unknown force, and could not shake the sightings at the edges of our vision. Beeddel and Ace went ahead and captured the 2 men, who claimed to have long ago sent word to town. We discussed what to do, but before long our decision was made for us by the sound of an angry mob – the locals were not taking kindly to our trek into the dead city. Apparently some hunter from the village saw us go into the ruins and found our picket. We began to saddle up and prepare to move out when that giant’s tread sound came out of nowhere, rushing in and scattering our mounts and us alike. Belim and Beddel managed to avoid its affect, and when the rest of us, including our captives, were pulled into the effect they tried to pull us out as the ground vanished beneath our feet – succeeding only in securing themselves to us to join us as we feel. Feel is perhaps the wrong word, sunk into the earth and through it, without touching anything is what happened. After a great feeling of sickness and nausea we were deposited unceremoniously in some vast cavern, in the dark. A horrendous sense of vertigo could only mean we had been pulled into The Deeping – the dark mother’s veins. Some of us retched, and the 2 hunters began to scream – attracting the attention of whatever may dwell in the caverns. In the dark, we spoke in whispers, contemplating what to do next.

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Tadeus - Sir Stuart and Rom's Mount

9142, Month 6, Day 16; We make our way to Tadeus, There we make contact with the Darrow Brothers Crofters and Pekki’s agents. We tell them everything so far and get a night of rest. The next day we find quarters at the Goats Blood Inn, inside a section of the city called Rams Gate. The old city was never finished, and the dilapidated keep reflects this. We get another night of rest while learning the lay of the land. We then try and talk to the Oighnan family – the rulers of the fief of Belmain. We are told that without an appointment, it will be 2 days before Sir Stuart will see us. We bathe and heal, learning more about the city. Sir Stuart believes our story of searching for a relative married into nobility ages ago. He tells us of the sorrowful times the Riverdans have come on. He does indicate we are in luck though,as full genealogy records exist – but these are all from memory and copies. However, in the ancient family crypts of the old capital of Gnedfort City, the noble families would bury their people with stone tablets citing ancestry. The families often intermingled, so any family tomb could be a wealth of information – rubbings can verify some key points of the genealogy copies, so it should be enough to legally serve as evidence. However, Gendfort is a city of the dead and the locals, who have made peace with their dead ancestors, will not appreciate us stirring up trouble. Because Grumwell is of the ‘dans and noble, Sir Stuart says that he trusts him. As long as no desecration is done, a few rubbings of bloodline tablets is not something Sir Stuart would worry over. He mentions Rom’s Mount as the place to search for the ancient crypts.

9142, Month 7, Day 4; Deciding that wounded is no way to go into this, we decide to hire a healer and spend 2 weeks healing up. We live well, Beeddel trains with a local hunter to improve his survival and Ace learns more of the city while Belim gets us a crude map of the region. All together we discover a lot of information. We have to leave Vraxen Pax in the care of the Darrow Brothers for the time we are in the city – he seems to have gone into some sort of comma (so the healer says). What we find out is very interesting. Gnedfort was THE shinning gem of the Riverdans. It was the largest of the cities in all the ‘dans, supporting a population of 40,000. It had three hills, one of which was dug out at one end for the Temple of The Earth – A holy place to the followers of Darupet. On Rom’s Mount was a tin mine and a small quarry. Haldor’s Hall was a craggy mount, entered through a tunnel going beneath the hill, and held the houses of many rich and on top of which stood the Fire of Pexmuth – a small keep, built by Pexmuth Oihgnan as a watch tower with its ever-burning fire which was a symbol of protection to the people. The ancient city was devastated by the river course change. Some of the ancient buildings on the rises and hills survived, and for a time levies and dams channeled the river… but ultimately it was ruined. When the levies broke, many were drowned. It is now a city of spirits, and it is said the dead walk there. Few who venture into its environs come out again. Annually at the spring festival, the clergy of Ezrilus holds a vigil to keep that which is dead barred from the fields and homes of the living in the areas around it. The locals do not appreciate anyone disturbing the peace they have made with their dead ancestors.

Rom’s Mount was named after Erwilla Rom, the first priestess of Darupet and the family priest of the founders. The great Temple of The Earth had its foundation laid in her time, mostly due to her efforts. The mount is a rock hill which had its south side washed away – it was mostly earthen. The family burial crypts were all carved into the mount. It is said the under the mount was an entrance to The Deeping. For many years these crypts stood locked and watched, opened only at times for burial. The mount was also a place where public processions were guided over – into its shadow for mourning or onto its plateau into the sun for celebrations. The tunnels flooded and crypts were ruined by the river, though damage was minimal compared to the rest of the city. A few crypts are visible from a distance – boulders of a different color marking their sealed entrances. It is said though that there are other crypts and pitfalls into the caverns that are merely covered by overgrowth. The is where most of the treasure-seekers go.

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Steed the Hunter and Pete's Lair

We take a few moments, move off the trail, bind our wounds and discuss what to do next. Steed offers information of value to us and to lead us to the groups hideout. He says he is a hunter and only fell in when times got rough. We discovered that we had killed Steel Eyed Pete – a local ruffian and highwayman. We agree to the deal with Steed, and he tells us we can collect a bounty for Pete, and that he got the sword recently and has been acquiring the armor and weapons over a period of time – some before Steed joined. The marks on the blades all indicated they were made in the Merchant Cities – north of Dunstrand. Steed leads us to the cave, about 4 hours away. Beedel and Bill stay with the animals while the rest and Steed (who we force to go first) go into the cave. Apparently Pete did not tell Steed everything, as the trap and collapse kills Steed and seals the rest of the party in for three days. However, we do manage to get hundreds of silvers in goods and treasure. Belim, Ace and Grumwell found a keg of brandy and managed to drink it during the three days – who knows how much that was worth.

Also found were 3 good daggers, 1 vase (50), mixed coins totaling 200 silver, boots + clothes, 3 old poultices (3 pt) and bandages, 2 spears, 2 bedrolls, old bear pelt (50 silvers) a good set of boots and clothes, broad sword, purse with 50 silvers and 3 rings worth 30 each. Some old food, salted meats and sundry items are scattered about as well.

Looking over it all, this is WAY MORE than some hold out for a bandits. Better organized than any the group has seen, and rich enough to have good clothes and a treasure trove planned in case they have to disappear! Something is amiss – bandits armed with real weapons, all with markings from the same place in the north, even their normal equipment is good and new to boot; coordinated with ‘peddlers’ that just happen to be waiting for the party? *No way its coincidence. *

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Ambushed by Steele Eyed Pete

After we travel for about 30 minutes and a large wolf-dog darts out from the underbrush and spooks the mounts, snarling and barking. Belim is not able to get his buckler in time, and Grumwell’s mount makes of with his crossbow. A group of 5 men rush us as we try and prepare for attack and Belim fires his crossbow while Beeddel snaps off a shot with his long bow – our foes cover the distance quick and we find ourselves in combat. For bandits, they are well organized. One, the leader, faces off against Belim with a broadsword, another 2 have short baldes and the last 2 turn out of be the peddlers Jim and Jack. Ace and Beeddel each fight 2 foes, one of them armored on each of them. Bill is stuck trying to control his mount while the wolf dog attacks the horse he on. During the course of combat, Grumwell enshrouds the half wolf in flames, causing it to run away, and allows Bill to unmount and enter the fight. Both Beeddel and Ace manage to hold their own, but things are not going well – three of our foes have leather armor and good weapons – hardly bandits in the normal sense. Belim and the leader with the sword square off in a match of blade on blade. A dizzying exchange is made with neither gaining the upper hand. Nearly a minute of full combat passes before our first foe is fallen. Grumwell climbs atop the rocks that held our foes from view and surveys the scene. An arrow flies from the distance as the hunter Steed attempts to take out our wizard. Grumwell decides that its too risky to be the only target out of combat, and with no skill launches himself upon the man fighting Belim, catching him by surprise and drives a dagger strait into his skull. They both tumble down in a heap. Over the next 30 seconds, Belim rushes the archer while Bill enters combat, turning the tide and the foes are whittled away. Though Belim shouts for captive, in the heat of battle and without coordination all our foes are downed – except Steed the hunter whom we take captive.

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The Coming of Horace

9142, Month 6, Day 16; The traveler turned out to be a man named Horace, called ‘Ace’, from Dunstrand City. He had been sent by Pekki to aid us. Apparently Pekki took care of his family while he was away, and he had returned to the city and Pekki sent him to help. He makes no mention of Grak, Bill suspects him of not telling the whole truth, and by the looks of the rest of the party, they all agree. Oh well, we all have something to hide. Ace claims to be an information man and scout… he’s a ‘city scoundrel’ says Bill. Beeddel says thats alright, since he’s preferring the air outdoors to the life in the city, perhaps we can use someone who is more skilled in an urban environment. He also brings word to avoid Applebottom Farm – a bit late. At first most of the party is upset, then we all have a laugh. At least we know he’s not with the peddlers. All is well and we set out for a 2 hour trip to the city.

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