The Verden Realms

Game Sessions #15
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(DM perspective)

So, little Gnarl is clean – the family has grown, and everyone is rather worried about this gnawing fear in their gut that things are gonna go bad soon. Smart, aren’t they?

Queen Caroline is kinda looking for an excuse to get out of the castle. She is, after all, a fifteen year old girl that honestly needs a bit of adventure every now and again ;) The opportunity presents itself – the Mayor of Mallad has informed her that the hobgoblins (Yep, those same hobbies that the crew met many episodes ago) have entered Mallad and gotten into a horrid row with a group of Byton Traders. A rather political mess has ensued. The Byton Merchant requested either the Queen or the Mayor of Orn (an elven woman that was once the leader of one of the army branches, and rather good at the political smoothing of things) be the individual that hears their disagreement.

Caroline tries not to giggle herself into happy – an excuse to leave home! She talks to the crew, and asks them if she’s nutters – they, also being happy teens, are totally up for this little trip! So the whole family heads to Mallad. Grandpa and Salkana included. And girlfriends and wives. They leave the Gnarl behind, however. He’s practicing with his new instructors and it might be a bit odd to have him around this early.

The first night is a good old Taur’onian hoot-a-nanny. Dancing, singing, more dancing. The crew convince Captain Thornwood (who they’ve all decided is a good enough guy for their sister) to ask the Queen to dance… since everyone is avoiding such for fear of insulting her. He gives them his best wicked grin, and takes Caroline for a twirl. The line then forms to the left. Everyone has a blast. Even more so when a fireworks cart explodes on the edge of the square. Scares everyone silly… but, it was probably just an accident. Right?

Caroline handles the hobgoby matter in court the next day – basically a “He insulted me, I punched him, then I got my ass stomped” type disagreement. (although there is a bit of a moment where big brother interrupts his queen, forgetting she’s more than his little sister – and she gets girly ticked at him – but hey, that’s siblings for ya). However, one thing is odd – the two men that attacked each other – one human, one hobgoblin – are both very ill from a fall flu. Like, sick as hell. In fact, the other hobgoblins seem to be under the weather, and other members of the Byton travelers are also sick. Questions are asked – seems the whole population of the jail is ill. Odd, that.

Questions are asked… The jail is next to the “hospital” – which is full of people sick with a fall flu. They aren’t getting better, a few have died. Stranger still, the hospital staff is fine and don’t seem to be contracting this illness. Darn weird, yeah? Is this a flu? Or is this a disease? Huh, damnit….

The Lady of Orn and Caroline sit down to discuss the problem… oH, and did I mention that the Lady of Orn’s son is Captain Thornwood? Poor Caroline, the guy you have a slight crush on just happens to be the son of one of your mayors.. ah well, so is the life of a queen. The crew, they are in “Investigation mode” hardcore. With a bit of work, they discover that every single person in the jail and the hospital – is infected with a rather virulent disease. Even more interesting, none of them have it….. until they leave the group for a few minutes. Upon returning, one shows signs (through magical means) of being infected… however, in just a few minutes – something has cured them. What the devil?

Lets trace it… the crew realizes the jail and hospital have one thing the rest of town doesn’t – they have their own separate well….. which… holy Raven’s wing….doesn’t have gypsy flowers on it. They start testing. Sure enough, the well with the Gypsy Roses is HEALING people of the disease… That is when they all also remember that Caroline has a gypsy rose that she wears all the time – Roland the Unicorn and their Deva Teacher Steven made it into a pendant for her she always wears… and it is healing anyone around Caroline. Constantly.

Wow. Those Gypsies know their shit!

Speaking of Gypsies, one suddenly shows up – out of the damn thin air it seems. He politely requests a meeting with just Caroline, Adale of Mordova and Tori of Wrathmourn. The three ladies enter the room. The crew is outside, talking a mile a minute – they need to figure out how many of their own country’s wells are not protected and move flowers there immeidately – hell, these things were growing around temples and on the river in Thorn – They just have to encourage everyone to drink the water from clean wells constantly. Seems the disease has about five days of dormancy – they you fall ill, and die in about four days to two weeks – depending on how well you fight. Mallad has lost a handful of people, they’ll have to move fast to shut down the borders to prevent the disease from moving further into the country. Holy crap… plague. Damn you DM! evil giggle

The door opens, Adale hugs Conner and tells him goodbye – she must leave, and walk out, she does. Tori runs to Aldric and tells him she won’t leave him. Her brother will understand. What the hell?

Caroline walks out, shakes hands with the gypsy who heads on out the door. She explains that the gypsy has told her and the other girls a few things – some of which they cannot share with anyone outside of the country unless they are willing to give their first born child up to the gypsies.
Conner is insistent about why Adale is leaving. WHY?!?
Caroline looks at Conner and says, “Because only a Taur’onian can be healed by the flowers of Taur’on. If she stays, she dies.” They all look to Tori, she smiles and says she will stay here. She considers them her family, too. This is her home, now. She has sworn fealty to Caroline.
Conner signs and accepts his girl is leaving. But hell, does the rest of the crew EVER accept such? Hell no. They go and tell Adale’s bodyguard – the stern elder soldier, Lennox (who they have all realized is a total badass, and also seems to have some magic item on him that is rather powerful). Maybe he can convince her to stay? He can deliver the information that Adale needs to give her brother?
That is when Caroline says, “No – we can’t tell. That is one of the agreements with the Gypsies. I cannot tell ANY other leader what I know about the flowers. It is theirs to learn on their own. They live or die by their own hands – not mine.”

Damn Gypsies.

But Lennox is told that Adale is leaving – he goes into her room to discuss the matter with her. A verbal fight breaks out, which most folks are kind enough not to eavesdrop in on. Lennox kicks open the door, informs Caroline he will be leaving in Adale’s place – she is to stay. Adale starts to argue with him again and he says, “As your FATHER, I order you to stay. You are no good to your brother and king at home. Here, here you are safe. Do as I tell you for ONCE in your damn life, Adale.”

She’s stunned. He just outted himself. The rest of the crew is staring dumbstruck. Father? But her father was murdered years ago! Wasn’t… he? Oh hell. Guess not. Grandpa smiles at him, “Well, I’ll be damned – thought that was you, Marcus. I’ll take care of your girl, you go help your son.” Grandpa Vardis and the though-murdered-once-king of Mordova shake hands. Lennox/Marcus stares at Conner, and says, “You are worth her, boy. Pray you stay that way.”

Well, ain’t this been “way to much interesting info” day??!

Conner hugs his girl – he’s gonna get to keep her. But, it is a hefty price she must pay. She cries, and swears fealty as a Tauronian citizen.

And the family goes into all out “what the hell do we do to contain this” discussion again… only to be interrupted by an explosion. Cause I don’t let them rest, folks. Hell no ;)

Seems something just tried to blow up the protected well. Gremlins. The town starts saving their roses, while folks start hunting invisible sabotaging gremlins. Damn, DM. Bad enough you give us an airborn death virus – but GREMLINS destroying the only thing that can save us? Yep. Suck it ;)
The crew heads home to Thorn, making plans and trying to figure out what they can do to save those that are guests in their kingdom (the Hobgoblins are given free passage out of the valley, with an invitation to come back when they are well) – Byton and Kaydian travelers are encouraged to return home. Either that or swear fealty to Caroline…. well, that or die.

That particular game ends there – with me telling the crew they’ll get a nice email from me detailing how bad the plague affects the rest of the valley kingdoms.

And the answer is? BAD. Long and short of it is, the South seems to be okay. Probably because they are a bunch of elf and halfling hippies that like flowers ;) The largest city in the valley? That wonderful town they were in less than a year ago? Glanmour? Yeah, half the population is dying of the plague. Entire villages are wiped off the earth. Citizens of one nation are fleeing to another – after all, if you see your neighbor is well, maybe the disease isn’t there, right? Poor souls don’t realize that the thing saving their people, little flowers growing on a well – won’t help them one bit. Rumors flood in – every country is having horrid issues… well, cept Taur’on and Proud Pony (Halflings love them some flowers, yo). They realize this don’t look good – after all – no two countries are as tight as they are with Proud Pony. Shit, people are gonna think they started this crap… not good.

And then, as they all sit about the dinner table on the 23rd of the Coyote – Captain Thornwood comes crashing through the doors. He’s covered in slime and gore, and he grins as Queen Caroline. “My Queen, what could possibly be worse than a plague upon your people?” Caroline blinks, “Uh, Victor’s chocolate ham-bread recipe?” Thornwood grins, “Try Zombies.”

Yep, Zombies. You died from the plague? On the 23rd of the Coyote you stood back up and did the zombie shuffle!

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Game Session #14
--But I NEED my LICE!

(DM description)

Okay, now where was I in game? Right, Caroline the Fourth is crowned, Mom leaves to save her twin sister from the torture at the hands of demon-spawn… that’s about right.

Well, as tradition dictates, the Queen must request and receive (yes, you read that right, request) a vow of allegiance from the elected mayors of the larger cities/villages in her kingdom. In truth, this is a show of respect – The Queen respects the elected, and they acknowledge she is their sovereign and the work for her. This has historically been done by the Queen herself, she travels to each city – but, there have been instances where the Queen was unable to travel – and the Queen’s eldest brother or sister will travel in her place.

Caroline figures this is 1. A great vacation for Victor and his new bride, 2. Will let Mel see the kingdom she’s about to call home and 3. If Haven goes, it will get her mind off her kidnaped mom. So – she asks them to traipse off. Prior to game start – I sat down with Victor and Haven, and they played out picking Rose Guard to defend them on the trip. I gave them the run down on how each visit played out (basically, "Hi mayor! Swear? Cool! PARTY! Onward to the next). However, when they reached Stokesfield (which is a farming city, also housing the majority of the training grounds for the standing army) – a Captain wearing designation of the Road (the scouts and road protectors) rushes up to Haven, and with a wicked grin, orders her to do a mission – she is a soldier in her Queen’s army, coorrrrect?! Haven salutes and say “You bet!” Captain Hadrian Thornwood (who I describe as a rather grinning and handsome fellow) explains a small farming area south of here had some issues – he sent three men down there and they haven’t come back – “And you, with your connections Lieutenant, should be able to go see what adventure might be lurking, yes?”
Oooooh! Adventure! Haven is all for this, as is Victor. A colonel enters, orders the dashing Captain to exit please – and explains that Princess Haven should just disregard Captain Thornwood – he’s panicing over nothing. Haven quickly realizes this officer isn’t treating her like a soldier, but a princess – and honestly, she liked the soldier better. They send a quick note to their family to say “Hey – adventure?” And Felix, Aldric and Conner get sis to spend the gold for them a quick teleport to Stokesfield.

(I thought I’d say that all the major cities in Taur’on have a set of teleport circles set up. They are HIGHLY guarded, and aren’t cheap to use. But, they are the royal family – and who wants to wait the weeks it would take to ride it, heh?)

The crew sets south, realizing they are heading strait for an old tower that was held by an adventuring crew. Their leader, known as Stormcrow, was actually a male family member of theirs who adventured under the nickname to keep his royal name outta trouble. Neat!

They arrive, and find – GNOLLS?!?!? Holy snot! After two very bloody fights, they realize they have run out of healing surges (I was hitting like a champ.. it was bad for them) and they go to rest it off in what they hope is safe place. Fortunately, they bar the doors – so when the suckers start getting broke down a few hours later – they flee to another part of the underground – strait into a crypt… with its own guardian spirit. As the Gnoll leader chases them in – they realize the gnolls can’t enter. It is protected against those “not Taur’on” – be that citizen or actually of the blood? Who knows. But then again, the Gnolls are just gonna wait them out – and they didn’t exactly bring enough food and water to last that long in here. This is bad. The Gnoll leader speaks minotaur – which so does Conner – and Conner attempts to make parlay with them… however, the Gnoll’s second, clearly a necromancer, doesn’t seem to be having any of it. Haven insults her, she starts ranting about something (probably a “I want that human bitches’ head on a stick”) and the Gnoll Leader says “Seems you have as hard of a time controlling your bitch as I do controlling mine.” He and Conner laugh over their predicament – and the Gnoll Leader grins – “Why don’t we help ourselves? We’ll let our bitches fight this out!”

An agreement is reached – Haven (who has no healing surges) will fight one-on-one with the Gnoll Necromancer. The survivor wins and stays, the losers leave. A crowd of gnolls gather, including a pup, to watch the fight. Long story short – Haven wins. Barely. As she gets rather into her victory, the gnolls pick up the body to take it away (and the little gnoll pup is crying, hugging what must be his dead mom) – Haven begins to get irate she wasn’t allowed to take anything from the corpse. Surely the necromancer had some powerful items of some sort. LOOT DAMNIT!! She yells at Conner that she should have rights to the body – Conner translates. The Gnoll Leader (whose name is Warden) tells him, what does she want? Conner Translates. Haven replies, “Her most valued possession.” Conner translates exactly back. The Gnoll grins and says, “So be it!” He barks an order – and the gnoll pup is handed to a very confused and flustered Haven.

SURPRISE HAVEN! YOUR A MOMMY! AND HE’S FURRY!

Let it just be said, as a DM? I wish I could say I planned for this to happen. That somewhere my evil little mind I had designed the perfect trap. But no. That would be a lie. But the MOMENT that came out of Haven’s mouth? Oh YEAH! PUPPY TIME!

So, now Haven has a kid – (who actually took his mom’s amulet off her body before he was deposited into Haven’s possession). Through a bit of mimic (he’s a gnoll, he sure as hell doesn’t speak their language) they realize his name is Gnarl. Yeah, this couldn’t get any more awesome.

The next two hours of play – is the family trying to figure out what the HELL to do with this pup. He isn’t stupid, but he doesn’t “get” proper behavior. He hordes food, eats everything put in front of him. As the group returns home, reports to Captain Thornwood – the Captain gets a hoot out of his “new little furry princeling” – Haven realizes that having a furry son might affect her ability to date… seriously, the King of Mordova has a furry step-son? At this point, I’m giggling with pure DM glee.

They get home, and as they introduce the little furry fellow to Aunt Blair? She passes out. Grandpa and Salkana seem stunned, but figure, what the hell. Caroline? She’s trying her best not to freak, nor to giggle herself into stupidity. They finally think to figure out what the amulet little Gnarl took from his mom does. DM rolls… and begins to laugh herself totally stupid… fate loves me It allows for the wearer to choose one humanoid race other than his own, understand their language and gives them a disguise check to “fit in” among them. Lucky little fellow, isn’t Gnarl? :) As they turn it on, and help him get it working, grandpa decides to give him a bath.

The family discusses the problem of having gnolls in the area, even if they are leaving – and Conner informed Warden if he ever wanted, he could return and join Taur’on (after all, the guy kept his word). Conner then excuses himself to go tell his pretty Mordovan girl that he has a new nephew when Victor just grins at him and says, “Who do you think grandpa was gonna get to bathe Gnarl?”

They all run downstairs – and sure enough, little Gnarl is in the tub, howling himself silly – and washing him is the princess of Mordova, looking very put out and on the point of tears. She begs him to shut up, won’t he be happy clean? Gnarl sadly says, “But you killin’ my lice! What I eat when I get hungry if they dead!? I NEED my LICE!”

Did I say this game was awesome or what? ;)

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Game Session #13
--LONG LIVE QUEEN CAROLINE!

Salkana strides to her family, informs them that dire news is heading to Taur’on. Vivian and her traveling companions have been kidnapped by dark forces (actually, the Helvani that rule a distant kingdom over the mountains – removed from any of the Viori Valley politics). The Orc is a friend of hers, and the two decided to bring the news to Queen Victoria as quickly as possible.

Victoria wastes no time, she immediately charters a Volken Airship for home. By the 20th of the Dragon, they are in Thorn – and Victoria is plotting. The Orc (who seems to be friendly with Beatrice – could this actually be the same orc from the play?) has offered to lend any aid – he is a friend of Vivian’s, after all. Victoria asks Stazia Almari if she would like to lend any aid. While Stazia says she cannot leave, Ashurta the Goblin decides to go with.

Speaking of Ashurta – strange things have occurred to this little fellow. The Hobgoblins didn’t locate him, but as they brought the final item of his holy crown closer to him, he began to change. To become… alive. In fact, he is no longer an undead at all – but a living goblin. He has avoided the Hobgoblins (who have actually reached the Eastern border of Taur’on – and are looking for Ahsurta’s old home) and figures getting completely out of the valley might lead them away.

By the 27th of the Dragon, the emmisary from the Helvani has arrived. She presents the Queen with a horrible decision – “Give us your second son, Felix and your niece, Allison – and we will return your sister and your brother-in-law to you.” They provide a Vivian’s left pinky finger, and poor Casper’s shape-shifted tail as proof they have them.

The Queen is not happy with this – she orders the creature questioned (and executed after) and then goes to speak with Caroline in private. She has made up her mind – she will go to save her sister. But a Queen cannot do such…

On the 28th of the Dragon, Victoria II abdicates the throne to her only daughter, Caroline.

Long Live Caroline IV, Queen of Taur’on.

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Game Session #12
--For Unification!

(DM description)

The Taur’on and Wrathmourn Contingents leave out of Thorn on the 4th day of the Tiger, bound for Dwyndon and Starfall. The plan is to arrive in Dwyndon for the first stage of the 200th Unification Celebration, then travel with the rest of the nobility to Starfall for the final party to be held on Unification day itself.

They pass through the city of Edge, meeting King Ivan of Reneaux and his family as well as Morgan, King of Proud Pony. These four groups ride together, as one large traveling block. Politically, this says a lot – these guys will stand together.

Caroline is actually quite the spectacle – most have never seen the teenager at all. This really is a “coming out” party for her. And Roland has demanded that he accompany – so a beautiful red-headed princess riding a unicorn is quite the sight. But, what most seem to notice is that Caroline doesn’t seem the sickly child that most said – and she isn’t. She has finally found her nitch – she’s a Ardent, another form of Aesthetic like her brother, Victor. However, aesthetic power is rare, and she’s decided to keep it hidden from the other kingdoms for now. But, she’s also discovered that they get this through blood – for Fess the Bold was an aesthetic as well, a battlemind. Caroline hopes to find out more in Starfall.

During this time, Victor has fallen rather quickly head over heals for Mel. She has tried desperately to get him into her bedroom – only to discover he has what he calls “Family Solidarity” – if his little sister has to wait till marriage, so will he. This is rather frustrating to the fae – very frustrating. Victor makes up for it by proposing – and asking if she’ll help him with a devious little plan. VERY devious! The rest of the players are left to wonder what he’s up to.

As well, everyone in the Taur’onian crew is a bit worried – Princess Vivian was to go over the mountains near Stavros with her group. But no word has been heard from them at all. While Victoria doesn’t want to admit it- it is very clear she is very worried about her sister.

The troop arrives in Dwyndon promptly – on the 15th of the Tiger. Festivities are held, parties begin – and everyone finally gets to meet these kings, queens, princes and princesses they have always heard of. The list is long – they desperately try to take notes.

Everyone is a bit on edge – for you see – the Gypsies are here as well. They have requested permission to perform two plays. One in Dwyndon, which will be a new play. One in Starfall, which will be the newest sensation, “The Death of Adaron.”

Everyone gathers for this first play- and many are stunned when they realize the subject – the Orc Siege upon WhiteHold some 19 years back. All eyes turn to Beatrice, one of the very few survivors. She sits expressionless, watching. And the story seems to be about her – everyone is entranced… for the Gypsies show a meeting between Beatrice and the son of the Orc Chief she felled. They meet at the body of the fallen orc, and discuss how unfortunate it is they can not stop this matter. The two part as friends, with the understanding they must try to kill one another in the morning. Of course, the morning brings the gypsy saviors instead… The play is a rousing success. And Beatrice stands, looks to her friend Victoria and says, “I need a drink.” The two proceed to get completely drunk that night as the children meet important folks throughout the kingdoms…

After the first stage of parties, the Valley Nobles all travel the 9 days to Starfall. They arrive in Starfall and are taken aback by the amazing structure of the city – as well as its obvious decline. The nobles are all “housed” in a tent city structure on the outskirts of town – but the parade into the city square weaves about, trying to keep the dilapidated structures from prying eyes.

The first night, the Death of Adaron is held. However, as the final movement begins (and Queen Victoria tries her best not to sob openly in front of all these people) the last song, her solo piece, has changed. The light dims, and a shadowed figure dressed as the Queen begins to play the same violin solo… however, midway through, another spotlight strikes a figure high above, playing the cello, plays accompaniment. It is Adaron – telling his love he misses her, but that he is always with her. As the song ends, a standing ovation erupts.

And on the stage, Victor takes off his wig – while Mel, standing on high, removes her costume as well. The place goes crazy.

Victor explains to his family that he and Mel have been working on this for months. He felt that his mother’s sorrow wasn’t the right way to end it. Not at all – it was important to know that his father was always there, watching over them. He suggested the change to the gypsies and they were thrilled to have him perform it with them.

His mother hugs him, and tells him his ending was perfect.

Mel’s grandfather and the HighLady of Winter are also in attendance. The HighLady Morralain presents Victor with a small box she was sent to deliver. Inside, is Victor’s Coin… the very token used to claim a fae to a court. She explains that it belongs to him – he may give it to who he pleases. Victor gives it to Mel with a grin… Mel’s grandfather does the same – and Mel’s appearance changes rather dramatically over the next few days. Instead of being an obvious fall fae, Mel now seems to reflect the season she is in. As she puts it -means she gets a lot larger wardrobe with her hair changing colors all the time!

That night, they also meet a new addition to their household. Their teacher, the Deva known as Steven, has been given a charge to care for – a rather scatterbrained and frighteningly shy Deva named Erendira. It seems that an elder Deva by the name of Ixtoc feels that Steven will be able to assist the poor girl – for she is a sad case among their people. She has no memory of her past self. It has made her a broken and lost creature, a pitiful site actually. Steven is rather afraid of the girl – and worried this was a bad choice – but, he does not argue with Ixtoc and takes the girl in.

The next morning, Caroline gets the crew to take her to the center park of Starfall – a circular area where statutes to Viori and all his Knights are erected. She is met by King Ivan (who is also descended from Fess the Bold) and the two actually seem to talk to Fess’ statue for a few minutes. INteresting!

The Unification Party is held on the 18th of the Dragon, a large ball in the main ballroom of King Ulrich’s palace. Aldric sees an amazing site – the ghost of the murdered king stands in the ballroom! He even speaks to Aldric, and seems to be waiting for something. He tells Aldric, he is bound there until he can finish his duty to his kingdom.

After a few political moves, a stupid fight breaking out to the side, and a bit of dancing, the party begins to wind down. That would be when the door opens… and in strides… Salkana? Their Great-Grandmother?

And an ORC?!?!?!?!

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Game Session #11
--To Home

(GM description)

The crew wakes in DeerFoot, and continues their talks with King Luther and his mother, Beatrice. The two explain they are worried some great calamity is coming, Conner’s dreams only strengthen that worry. They set out for Proud Pony’s capital, Merra – and stay only a short time. They then head for Taur’on.

They make excellent time once they hit the Eryndel… they seem to be traveling faster than normal, and feel they are under watchful eye. The kingdom guards that met them, mostly men of the Road, tell the family to not worry – they are safe. They aren’t so sure about the Wrathmourn folks wink

The night before they arrive in Taur’on, Luther stands and says he must talk to someone – he leaves into the woods, alone. No explanation and his mother and guards seem quite troubled; but he comes back, happy and unscathed with a “The matter is fine, worry not.”

The crew spends the next week or so showing Luther their city, Thorn. They discover a lot of interesting information about Luther’s family – including a rather interesting secret. Seems Charlie and Beatrice used to be an item when they were kids, even engaged! But, Beatrice arrived early to her winter visit, and caught Charlie fooling around on her. She left the court in anger, telling Charlie she never wanted to see him again. That winter was the dark winter of Beatrice’s tale, and by spring she was married to Raphael Wrathmourn. Ah, gossip! Also, they are privy to a rather solemn meeting – during Luther’s 18 birthday party, they are introduced to the true power of the Eryndel, a race of plant-like creatures that apparently also dwell in the forest that Luther protects. Very interesting!

The game session ends

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Game Session #10
--Aunt Blair Gets Serious

(told by Victor Taur’on)

Well, our time in Reneaux is gone-and-done. We started the day out with a nice little lecture from Aunt Blair; well, HAVEN got a nice lecture. Blair was an old runnin’-buddy of Phineaus Tanglestaff, and he felt it necessary to tell SOMEONE about Haven’s faux-pas in mentioning her godmark. He was kind to her and chose Blair; if he had told Haven’s mom, she mighta hunted Haven down and beat her senseless, and had she told our mom… well, Haven would have learned what being trapped in a tower felt like. Blair basically told Haven that was her one shot, and whenever something like this happens, she should ask Aldric (the anchorman) or, barring access to him, Felix (the info guy). As a penance, Haven now owes Blair some work-service; mission one was to find out if the two sisters of the King in Reneaux are lesbians! EMBARASS-O-RAMA INITIATED! And since Phineas did us a solid, he gets to see Fess’s desk. :)

Well, we meet up with Adelaide for lunch; Conner swoons, but charms. We schmooze until the desk-transfer party starts. We go in, pleasantries are exchanged, and we kick everyone not us out. Upon looking at the desk (which a masterwork of carpentry), we find a couple of secret compartments (one with cold-slate panels for storing wine and one just general storage). Other than that, I found some strange writing; when Conner used his magic decoder glasses, he got a brief glimpse before the letters started shifting; obvious magic at work. The words worked fine for Haven and Allison, tho, stating “You are not the eldest.” I verified that this was indeed Fess’s handwriting, meaning it was added after she got it from her future husband, and for unknown reasons. INTERESTING!

Well, we hit the desk party, Conner schmoozes with Adelaide (who only has eyes for him), Uncle Charlie fakes being drunk (GREAT practice, and needed to keep up his rep for now), and Haven and Aldric discern that the twin sisters of King Ivan are either straight or VERY good at acting. I wonder why two pretty, smart, and talented noblewomen haven’t married yet? INTERESTING

The following day is Lover’s Day; in Reneaux that means a outdoor Masquerade festival! We get some masks, with Haven getting an EXQUISITE mask of blue ribbons in the mail that day from an unknown admirer (ROFLCOPTER!). We head out to chill at the party; Adelaide hangs on Conner’s arm dressed as a Mordovian soldier, complete with sword and armor. And, lo and behold, up walks a GALLANT gentleman (fashionably late, as usual), dress in matching blue to Haven, and in crocodile-skin boots. Sebastian, here in Fess, damn near half the Valley away from home. MY DAY IS AWESOME! The two dance a bit, and Haven is WAY less disturbed this time; she allows herself to just enjoy the company and attention, FINALLY!

SLAP! Out of nowhere, a lady walks up to Adelaide, slaps the crap out of her, and challenges her to a duel! Since Adelaide is carrying a sword (costume or no), she is required to duel for herself. The challenger chooses one of her guards as a proxy, and Sebastian gives her his armor and sword. The guy she faces off against apologizes to her under his breath, and they start fighting. He’s got MAD skills (around level 8), but a miracle roll by me (dropped a 20, the only roll that would do), notices something in Adelaide’s form; she’s VERY carefully masking footwork that seems like Swordmage forms!

Adelaide, thus hamstrung, loses the fight (to first blood). She’s ok with it, saying that now she should go sleep with the chick’s husband, since she was already punished for it. When Aldric heals her up, he gauges her at about 5th level. Sebastian mentions to the Lady challenger that she WILL be remembered; her political career is is about to be interesting and brief! We all go to the side, and I (incapable as I am at keeping it secret that I know for later blackmail) tell her that my relative expertise in this particular subject (being trained by a Master Swordmage for most of my life), has outed her skills.

She’s kinda bummed that someone could tell, but glad it was us; we’re not likely to use it against her. She’s been trying to train herself; all the people she could get to train her are either security risks or won’t train her because she Mordovan. Understandable, but lamentable; until she proves herself otherwise, she’s OK in my book for being a buddy to Allison while she was away from home. Besides, if Conner gets his way, he’s a-gonna MARRY dat girl! Of note, he KNOWS she’s probably gonna break his heart; but finds the risk acceptable. :)

Well, as we are leaving the next day, we break for the evening. I spend the night copying a 5th circle swordmage form from the writings of Salkana; it could help her, and seemed the right thing to do. I give it to Conner for him to give to her; wingman protocol, yo! She’s thrilled, and Mel offers to look into getting her an eladrin swordmage tutor. She’s super-relieved that we’re so amicable to helping, if not a bit weirded out that we, nobles from a reputed “goody-two-shoes” kingdom, seem perfectly willing to help her, the “Beautiful Pit Viper of Mordova” with no expectation of recompense, just because she needed the assist. Some folks just can’t understand heroes. Allison, Charlie, Gwen and Mel (who wants to meet my family at home, preferably on her own so they can meet her as she is, and without being talked-up by the rest of us) board the lightning rail with the desk and their 30 Taur’on guards. They roll out, we head to the stables and mount up. HORSEBACK, HO!

None of us are used to this, and it SUCKS! It rains for several straight days, and after we hit a town and figure out when/where we could catch up to King Luther, we hit the road again. After getting jumped by a couple of ankhegs (which I ain’t fought since 2nd ed!) and almost losing Haven and Conner, we meet with Luther and his big, heavy-cav retinue. As we travel along, we get near the town of Dear Foot… and Conner flips out; VISION TIME!

In his vision, he sees Deer Foot burning, and citizens running from the fire being arrowed-down by assembled ProudPony troops as they near the border. This simply is NOT ProudPony kinda stuff; so Felix figures that plague is the logical call; either that or total war against Reneaux. Conner decides to tell Luther about his prophetic visions; if we can’t trust him, we’re in deep crap anywho. Luther agrees with the plague call, going so far as to relate plague to Conner’s previous vision in/of Glanmor’s abandonment. When we mention the tarot cards, FOR NO DAMN REASON, a card flips out onto the table; The Tower. SHEESH, OMINOUS MUCH!

Well, we’re in Deer Foot now. We’ll see what we can do; the scale of these things waffles between intensely personal or trivial matters and OMG THE VALLEY IS DOOMED! No pressure!

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Game Session #9
---

(Told by Victor Taur’on)
Well, adventuring done for the moment. we all settled back for our week of chilling in La’kola. As we got back on the 1st day of the month of the Crane, which is called “The Day of Beauty,” I decided to take Mel out to dinner. Other than that, we goofed off a bit, and came to the decision that we were going to go talk to Stasia’s chief rival in town, Cornelius Hawthorne, the next day.

“Why would you do that,” you might ask? Simple; we had just REALLY pissed off his eldest son and heir apparent, Ian, at the Great Insane Mage Escape. Ian is known to have a CRITICALLY SHORT fuse, and to be a bit duel and grudge happy. Cornelius controls a sizable portion of La’kola’s underworld; he’s kinda like their Tony Soprano, just hopefully with a better ending.Not only is he the kind of guy we don’t want pissed at us, but Ian stands to inherit his job. Having a pissed off mob boss in a town we need to have as a retreat point is bad for business. And getting to Cornelius first before Ian gets home means we can tell our side of the story with no interruptions.

We head over to his bar for breakfast the next morning, and its what you would think; Cornelius is holding court in a bar full of his peeps. After a few people are let to his table to talk to him, he comes over to our table to chat. Of course he knows we are staying with Stasia, and he also knows that Stasia has recently purchased land back home for a summer villa. Gotta love information gathering. We tell him that we were up investigating around Amos’s place because of the explosion, and had used Ian’s larger crew as a diversion as we rolled in to rescue Amos, leaving all the goodies and a few rooms of combat for Ian an Co. Cornelius then made a GREAT (and thoroughly WRONG) deduction; since we were checking on a mage and not adventuring, and since we got home SO fast, we must be doing it as a favor to Phineas Tanglestaff (archmage of the La’kola Library), not Stasia. Sounds good here, why not!

We inform him that, while we are friends of Stasia, we don’t take sides in local politics. We wanted to meet him as well, and though Stasia and he may not see eye-to-eye, she obviously respects him enough to say it is a good idea for us to meet him. He is a genuinely nice guy (for a mob boss), buys us breakfast, and we roll on out.

We move on to go to the Library. Notice the capital “L” in that; it is the biggest public-access library in the Valley. We all peruse the shelves for a while, noticing that there are marker-blanks for books that are stored ‘upstairs’ in the restricted-access area. When we ask to get in there (dropping Phineas’s name as we do), we are told that he has time to escort us through a couple days from now. Shibby!

Long story short, we hang out in La’kola a few days. We shop, Conner goes a-whorin’ for the first time (while Haven finds it EXTREMELY distasteful, he was learning skills that, as a diplomat, he may need to have), Aldric finds some great earring settings for the two matching sapphires we confiscated from some cultists (our enemies du jour these days!), and I get to cook a bit. Fun was had!

We eventually get to roll into the restricted area of the Library with Phineas, who we try to convince to tell us more about godmarks. He is VERY reluctant at first, guarding this knowledge so strenuously that I ascertain that he must be an expert in the field. I let him know that I am an ‘ascetic’ (monk), and also godmarked, like the legendary Bart was. He mentions that, to his knowledge, Bart was the only godmarked ascetic he has ever found evidence of, although as godmarks are usually kept SUPER secret and ascetics are also generally rare AND secretive, he might have missed a few. Haven also shows her godmark to him, and eventually he shares a bit of info; he keeps a record of every godmarked individual he finds out about after their death. He is somewhat of an expert on the subject, and it is that reason that he does not let us peruse the books on the subject.

Evidentally, one of the books is a legend that states that at some time, someone will gather all the godmarked people together for a battle against ‘The Darkness,’ bringing the world into a better place upon its defeat. As every time this has been attempted it has ended in spectacular tragedy, he believes it to be false at best, and a trap for godmarked people at worst. He goes on to tell us that there was a person not too long ago that set out to ‘take’ godmarks from people, thereby bringing all of them together (in him) and fulfilling the prophecy. As these stories go, he went all Darth on folks, and it ended BAD. Phineas refuses to let us look at the book; I can definitely dig that. We find that the other book he has is a copy of Fess’s godmark treatise, and, upon his letting us see it, realize that he has a beaten, edited, and in some cases (specifically the whole section on ‘transferred’ godmarks) defaced copy. I tell him that I’ll ask Mom if she can have a real copy made for him, since he was nice and helped us out.

After this meeting, we all go back and chill at Stasia’s. The next day, my big ‘surprise package’ arrives; its Gwen (my guard from before)! She announces to Uncle Charlie that she has been made his new official guard, with orders to do as she sees fit and take no order that she deems unnecessary. Charlie seems to be perfectly OK with this; he and Gwen kinda grew up together, and he has mad respect for her. As I tell him later, I figured he needed a friend for when his path eventually diverges from ours, and Gwen is a great friend, and one who won’t take crap from him wile at the same time always work for the betterment of Charlie’s goals. Since she was currently without a charge, it made sense to me; Charlie agrees.

Remember way back when Conner caused Gwen to split from us? A few episodes back (Episode Four), Conner and Gwen tied into it, and it was never resolved. Well, the second Gwen stepped off the airship, Conner faded into the background, obviously rattled. After a bit of cajoling, and a warning from Gwen that it would be better for them to just resolve this shit and Conner get the ‘blue letter’ from his sister than for him to stay obstinate and get the ‘red letter’ from Caroline, Conner and Gwen made up to both of their satisfaction. The red letter went into the fireplace, we finished packing, and boarded the airship to Reneaux.

We were itching to get there, as Felix had gotten a strange letter from Aunt Blair asking him to investigate a guy while there. When Gwen mentioned that apparently our cousin Allison had met a boy there, it became apparent as to this fella’s identity. We make it to town, set up in our estate there (which, as we feared, was unbelievably spartan due to Allison’s paladinistic urges), and sent people off to buy stuff for dinner. A bit after we get in, the doorbell dings, with Conner making it to the door first (Haven, Felix, and I were too busy fighting to get to the door first to beat Conner there!).

At the door is a very pretty human gal, all bare-shoulder outfit and sashaying sexiness. Shana shows us some art representing her; she’s a looker. We roll some Diplomacy and History rolls to see if we can figure out who she is, which most of us do; she’s Adelaide, the sister to the King of Mordova, Sebastian (Haven’s dance partner and dress-buyer). Also, according to all accounts, shes a notorious man-eater and arch political player; she’s Sebastian’s political hit-girl.

Conner immediately FALLS IN LOVE. Not a little, peeps; Conner’s player plays it PERFECTLY. He falls in love the way only a 15-year-old teenager can; after she leaves to get ready for the dinner party she going to have catered for us here, Conner FLIPS OUT! “She’s perfect! Everything has to be PERFECT for her!” The whole shebang, peeps; it was hilarious, fun to be a part of, and virtually GUARANTEES a future train-wreck! When she does show up later, he is in his BEST clothes, and all twitter-patted over it. So much so that when Allison flies into the house, crying her eyes out as she runs upstairs, Conner barely notices…

Yep, you guessed it; her beau broke up with her. While Allison is our age, this is her first real boyfriend, too. Using fresh-baked cookies to lure her out of her room, we hear the story; he basically wanted her to forswear her military rank, move here, and manage his household. To Allison, that is impossible; she has our family’s deeply-seated need to protect our home. The fact that he refused to really try to see things from her angle made it even worse. I mentioned to her that his family (minor nobility) probably have raised him in the culture that states that a woman’s best place is at home, and that the problem they have is a cultural one, at best, and something that can be overcome if both parties really want to do so. Haven disagreed at first, but then sat and thought about it a second and, as we realized that our country was the only one that really let women rise to the same heights as a man, there was probably some truth to that.

Well, that is where we left off. Conner wants to DUEL the guy (which is like Don Knotts wanting to duel Darth Maul), Felix has intel to get on him, Aldric, Haven, and I want to meet him and see what we can discern about him. We still have a desk to procure and get sent on its way, and then we get to have our first cross-country trip on horseback to meet up with King Luther en route to the Big Parties at the Unification Day festival. All this, plus Conner is smitten with a mutha-farkin’ succubus.

Good times, good times.

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Game Session #8
-- How to kill Cultists

(DM perspective)

Our little heroes awake a few hours before dawn on the 28th of the Rabbit, and head to a secretive area of Lah’kola’s shore – and then hitch a ride on their dragon friend miles north of the city. Now, they’ve only seen Stazia in dragon form once before – but, an adult steel dragon isn’t anything to scoff at. A special harness is applied that lessens their weight and straps them in for the ride.

They are dropped off not far from the wizard’s keep (which they notice has a light) and not far from a portion of the forest that was clearly aflame not that long ago. They decide to trek to the burned out place (even though Conner really wants to meet this wizard). On the way, they are attacked by a scout and his wolves which they handle easily enough. But, when they approach the “fire zone” they find a problem. They sneak up to what is clearly the entrance to a cave – HEAVILY guarded by men wearing uniform of some sort. Not a kingdom, but maybe a merc crew? And, to the side it seems this place was seiged recently – fire has gotten into the trees and scared them.

Yeah, they decide to go check in with the wizard instead of charging willy-nilly.

At the wizard’s tower, they are first told to stop approaching by a young elven boy – then a gruff older man tells them to bugger off. They explain who they are and kindly ask to discuss the issue of the well-guarded cave in the distance. The gruff man invites them in. They meet Amos, who is… wait.. over six feet tall? Built like a brick shithouse? Doesn’t fit into his threadbare robe well? The elven kid and this pretty female servant provide them gruel – they guy sits down and is rude and gruff…. this is odd. They eat.

All but Victor fall asleep (and I must thank the crew for being okay with having eaten the gruell – none said they weren’t – I assumed. They were kind to me :D ) Victor stares at the guy and says “not Amos are ya.” and the fight starts. The kid and the lady run out – she casts a web behind her.. they are in the wind. And “Fake Amos” hulks out – no kidding. He grows two feet, and begins to pound on Victor like he’s a drum. The others are awakened by Aldric’s spirit companion – and the fight goes down.

IT was hard – but they lived. Barely. In fact, the first death saving throw for the crew was rolled… and the first death saving throw fail occurred as well ;)

They get the guy beat down, the chick is long gone – with stolen goods from Amos’ house… Amos’ little “house servant” is actually a brownie – who they nickname “Andy” And tells them his boss headed out a few days ago – and hasn’t come back. He went to the caves… well, hell. No place to go but to the caves, huh?

On the way their, they almost bump into another adventuring crew (a crew belonging to Stazia’s rival), heading the same way -this gives them a GREAT idea. A diversion.

They not only let the other crew attack, they make sure to sneak in the door and alert guards – so the basic mass of troops heads outside. They then sneak in, find poor Amos starving and driven insane. They get him out and leave the place to the other crew – and notice a few interesting things on the way.

1. These are cultists – no doubt. These guys are crazy, and have intentionally driven Amos insane for fun. And maybe to turn him into one of the icky things in cages they found.
2. These guys are apparently into some sick things…. they snuck past a party of cultists having some rather sado-masy fun time.
3. They saw a few empty bags and boxes… all bearing an odd symbol on them.

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Game Session #7
--Visions of Doom

(DM perspective)

Our heroes sail into Glanmour, their Uncle Charlie in tow as well as the cutie red-head eladrin fae that was ordered to mack on Victor. As they sail into view of what is undoubtedly the largest city in the entire valley kingdoms, our beloved little Conner has one of his “visions.”

What did Conner see? The city of Glanmour, stretched out before him – empty, and smoke surrounding it. Plumes of colored smoke float over the town, and it has a foreboding sense. dum-dum-DUM! Conner is rather worried now.

They get Conner up, dust him off and decide to worry later. Charlie takes care of the worrisome things, heads them and their bags to the home that Taur’on owns and uses as a small embassy of sorts. They tour the town, see the harbor and the forest of boats that flow in and out. They buy some salt-water taffy! (Yes, that would bite my ass later… just wait), and as they wander down the boardwalk with a bag of taffy and nothing but fun in their minds – they see an ODD boat on the dock. People are gathering about it, watching the passengers disembark. They are odd people, strange people… holy shit those are hobgoblins. Yep, an entourage of hobgoblins from a distant kingdom arrive. The crew is very interested ;)

As they shop and look about, a pretty white-haired tiefling-gypsy girl gets their attention by offering to do a tarot reading of Conner’s future. Something Conner is all for! If anyone actually wants the reading- I’ll be happy to provide it. But, it started with the Tower. Not good. As the last card hits the table, it flies away – luring the kids on a merry chase through the town shopping district. When they finally find it, it is tangled into a mass of vines, covered in white roses, that is wrapping itself around a rather beautiful old fountain. The card? Death of course ;)

The roses… wait, these are gyspy roses! Much like the ones that grew in their own city! The Gypsys planted them there before they left this spring. … It seems they did so, everywhere? Wow, neat?

They worry. But, frak that – they have a party to go to, lets get dressed. Haven panics. Haven worries. She’s wearing the dress that the king of Mordova gifted her. This could be bad, right? She gets to the party, and sees a lot of girls staring – it is a VERY new fashion after all. Then King Sebastian appears, wearing a matching suit. Girls fume, girls sigh. Seems the princess of Glanmour is pissed as hell. Wonder why. Sebastian tells her – OH, she has a dress JUST like that for the big party this summer, poor girl can’t wear it now, can she ;) Haven so wants to punch him. Hard to do while dancing… I love watching Haven’s player want to claw my eyes out
But leave it to Charlie during all this to get a dinner party with the Hobgoblin ambassadors. Good Ole’ Charlie. Next night? Hobgoblin dinner. The Crew discovers that the Hobbies are in the area searching for the body of a long dead hero of their people. A man that created their civilization, that gave them hope for a true future. Ashurta.

Wait, isn’t that the name of the little goblin undead-thing that is friends with Stazia Almari? Why YES IT IS! INterESting!

The crew keeps their tongue, but are kinda happy they are heading to Lah’kola to visit Stazia in the morning. Ack, the Hobbies inform them they are heading that way in a few days. Oh boy.

The river trip is uneventful – but once they get there, they have a ball. Well, more a backyard ho-down ;) It all begins as the crew settles into their rooms at Stazia’s home – Illiana Snow (a member of the Lah’kola Council, as well as a fae of the winter court) shows up with… none other than the LadyRuler of the Winter Court herself. Seems the lady wants to meet Victor. Oh that’s right – you guys don’t know what Conner did about Victor ;)

See – every Fae-touched creature is chosen by a Fae Court. Nobody is quite certain how this works, but at some point during their teen years, young gnomes, eladrin, etc will suddenly show a “mark” of some sort by one of the six fae courts (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Tears and Cave). See… Victor never did. Even though he’s eladrin, even though he visits the fae realm, here he is at 18 and shows absolutely NO sign of being marked. THIS is odd. But, nobody really noticed it…. Till Conner decided to make a deal with the powers of fae for Warlock Power. That made people go “Oh, wait… where is Victor at, anyway…” and every court realized… Victor hadn’t been picked. Mel has already been sent by the Fae Court of Fall to see if he’ll choose them… and now… every damn court out there wants to meet Victor. This scares his siblings… he isn’t, well, very tactful.

Stazia decides to toss a party to “introduce her guests” (i.e. Victor) to her fae friends in Lah’kola. The party is rather fun, every court sends a rep – every one asking Victor if he’d like to join. Haven dances with boys, Victor plays his mother’s song from the winter opera for the crowd. Haven cries while dancing with a boy. Totally fun. ;)

As the party breaks up, Stazia asks the guys if they’ll do a little errand for her – her usual group is out of town – and it seems a rather large fireball was seen a few days north near a crotchety old wizard’s tower. They wanna take a dragon express up there and play in the woods a few days to see what is up?

Do Taur’on kids get into trouble? ;)

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Game Session #6
--Uncle Charlie joins the crew

So we hop back on the lightning rail after last game’s adventure, all flush with success. About the same time as Haven realizes it, the Ah’ved group from Ostcrag comes back to speak to us. Or rather, to speak to Aunt Viv; when Haven speaks the OBVIOUS leader of their group shoots her a look that could wither oaks. Basically what they have found is that the fomorian-trap yadduah on the tracks was actually a large and VERY elaborate teleport circle designed to LOOK like a yadduah. He and his guard leave us (after I make it a point to speak to him, regardless of his obvious distaste of an ‘inferior’ doing so; he’s in OUR train car, so he can learn to roll with OUR customs!), and his sister stays, a really nice gal who is accustomed to our social structures (and moves like an ex-adventurer). We hash over what this probably means: this heist was LUDICROUSLY funded, but far less so than the value of the goods they could have made off with; they had access to fomorians, whether they were mercs, captives, or just in the right place at the right time; and we probably shouldn’t go to court in Ostbrag, as our political leanings aren’t that compatible.

Also, Conner relates to the family that he has recently figured out after speaking to me and others that his new found multi-class into Bard with Warlock flavoring has become a full hybrid Bardlock. Since his pact is the same regardless of how much power he draws from it, he might as well get what he can! Its new PHB 3 rules, and so far as we can figure, will work REALLY well!

We hit Fario and are informed that the ceremony for giving over the super-lumber will be in the morning a couple of days from now. This isn’t a huge surprise, but Aunt Viv and Uncle Casper are kinda bummed; their adventuring company will have to head out from winter break without them, meaning they have to meet them en route. More interesting BY FAR is the person giving us this information…

UNCLE CHARLIE! Our wayward social gadfly uncle has somehow managed to meet us here, much to Aunt Viv’s surprise and somewhat consternation. A bit of info is in order; Charlie is Taur’on PRESENCE in the courts of the north, but not really our VOICE. He’s always been somewhat of an embarrassment; he means well, but his well-known alcohol problems leads him to speak stuff he shouldn’t, and woo women that he DEFINITELY shouldn’t! Moreso, when Dad died, something happened between him and Mom that she has yet to forgive him for; while we kids get to see him every year or so (and always loved it when we did, as Charlie is FUN!), he never came to the capital, and we found lately that he is semi-exiled from Mom’s presence. This slight is also present in Cedric, but not in anyone else, at least for those reasons. Charlie burned bridges with Aunt Blair in a separate (but alcohol-related) incident, and everyone else just kinda pities him. Mom’s never spoken ill of Charlie in front of us proves she hopes that he will someday make good on whatever slight is hanging in the air there, but she holds him at arm’s length.

Well here he stands, clean, sober, bright and FOCUSED. So much so, I immediately mention DOPPELGANGER! Haven gets flustered by this, so the night’s inside joke becomes accusing everyone we meet (and may have known) of being a doppelganger. He virtually BEGS Viv to let him handle this hand-off, and its clear that she wants to, but this responsibility is huge, and she obviously fears him relapsing into ‘old Charlie.’ She vetoes his wishes in the hand-off, but we mention that we were heading to Glanmor after Fario, which is one of the courts with which Charlie is INTIMATELY familiar. After the ceremony, we head out with Uncle Charlie along with us, much to his and our delight, as we want to see him and Mom at least on speaking terms; life is too short in a family with the Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads, ya know?

We get into the wagon to head out, with only one extra passenger on board a 10-person wagon. Charlie is perplexed by this, as he paid for the whole thing, but is rapidly stuck silent when he meets the passenger in question. A flip of her cloak reveals a 19 Charisma Eladrin gal, about our age. Simply put the prettiest girl we’d ever seen. Charlie amps up the mack-o-meter, but she blocks him immediately; she’s a lady on a mission, and evidentially that mission is ME!

She introduces herself as Melonormaeadsefsdw, screw it, we call her Mel. She immediately tells us that she is the grand-daughter of the ruler of the Fall Court, and as it had currently come to the attention of all of the Courts that I was unaffiliated (because of Conner’s warlock dabbling, and now much to his embarrassment now). While she was going to be sent regardless to try to seduce me into marriage because of my close ties and observed training with Grandpa Vardis (heir to perhaps the greatest swordmage legacy in the known realms), my status as ’free agent moved his timetable up, and he sent her out to snare me.

She flat out TOLD us this. Kinda weird, eh? But not really, she’s had similar bird-in-gilded-cage symptoms as us, but instead of love and happiness in the cage, it was study, etiquette, and silence. She read the dossiers on our family (remember, the Fall Court are our neighbors), and realized what eladrin culture left her grandfather incapable of seeing; Taur’on respond POORLY to subterfuge, and even worse, dishonesty. Now all she wants is to run with us until we no longer want her around; she wants to spend some time outside her cage and learn of this world outside her own, which obviously amazes her. She’s a dragon-focus sorcerer, at least TRYING to be honest, and fun to be around, so we figure why not! Its better than her following on her own and getting killed by whatever is running to/from us!

We hit the river, get on barges, and head out. Nearing the fork in the river that will take us north, we spy the barge that left before us foundering in the water, gaping holes in the side, with four BIG-ASS crocodiles climbing on board to eat some crew. We immediately spring into action, with Felix, Haven and I preparing to board, while Conner, Charlie and Aldric use ‘suble persuasion’ (re: threats) to get the crew of our boat to move us alongside. Mel seems transfixed; she’s about to get to FIGHT, but weirder still, why are WE fighting? This isn’t our boat, neither is the one being attacked; we could just float on by. But she’s with us, she wants ADVENTURE!

I’m over first, unveiling my ability to run on water for a short burst, catching the rope tossed to me by Haven and tying it off. Haven pulls the boats closer, letting the crew of ours know that we ARE going to board; they relent and move us closer. As I engage, everyone piles onboard, including Charlie, with a passion to save the endangered crew matching ours, and Mel, who Fey Steps to a corner and starts blasting. Crocs do good damage, but can’t take the pressure; they cave in short order, with only one crewman of the other boat as a casualty. But before dying, the last croc’s eyes flashed green, and it spazzed out on us, going all berserker rage and whatnot. It was a coordinated attack, to be sure; but we are too busy transferring the cargo of their boat to ours to be able to look for whodunit. With this under our belt, we putter on to Glanmorr for our next session!

It was a short session, but DENSE with role-play. LOTS of fun, and good times all around!

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