Jade Regent (Online)

Session 23
A feast...and another...and another...

27 June We approach the gates of Ordu-Aganhei… The guards at the gate entrance demand to examine our possessions after they learn that we crossed the Crown of the World. While the guards dig through our stuff, a man in purple robes runs up and announces that we have been invited to visit with the “Prince” of Ordu-Aganhei. The guards gtfo our presence and the man leads us to the vast palace inside the city walls.

The servants in the palace cleanse our bodies and armor (The poor servant who had to clean between Jira’s toes will never forget this day). We are then led into a breathtaking courtyard where a giant golden-skinned man stands; Prince Batsaikhar. A fierce samurai warrior stands guard nearby.

The Prince tells us he is going to throw us the Five Feasts of Hongal – a feast each night for the next five nights. Each given our own room and cadre of personal servants, we settle in and decide what to do before our first feast.

Rika takes a tour of the palace while everyone else decides to nap.

That evening, we all head back to the courtyard for the first feast. During the event, nobles and partygoers seem to have an affinity for laying hands upon Ulf and Shalelu. When confronted about this, Ulf reveals that the people of Hongal believe touching (or kissing) a blonde person will grant them luck, much to Ulf’s discomfort. Towards the end of the feast, some guards perform wonderful feats of precision, strength and animal handling for us. The Prince then asks us to participate in 3 competitions to show off our skills: mounted archery, horse racing and wrestling.

Zych attempts the mounted archery for us and at least hits the target.
Thom attempts the horse race for us and easily wins.
Thom attempts the wrestling match to much laughter and is fairly easily pinned by his large opponent.

28 June We take a tour of Ordu-Aganhei and find it very clean and lavish. We visit some shops while out, trading and purchasing as we go. Skizzik visits a local wizard’s house.

That afternoon, the Prince invites Rika to tea. Oblivious to his obvious advances, Rika awkwardly enjoys some tea in the courtyard with Prince Batsaikhar.

The follow-up to the feast this evening treats us to local bards singing and storytelling through use of puppetry. We are then asked to sing and perform as well.

Skizzik and Rika flub up the shadow puppet story.
Ameiko salvages the evening with a great song and musical performance.

29 June Rika has an awkward breakfast with the Prince and Skizzik notices that the servant who led him to the wizard’s house yesterday has been replaced.

That afternoon, Jira heads out to “sample” the local taverns while Skizzik, Rika and Thom set out to ask about the city and the Prince in the poorer part of town. Skizzik sneaks away from the mob of servants and guards to talk privately with a poor tavern keep. He learns that the Prince is quite harsh in punishing the town’s people and his servants, yet no one will directly speak ill of him. Skizzik then decides to sneak back to the palace instead of rejoining the group. When the rest of us arrive and everyone realizes he came back to the palace unescorted, his servants are called into the Prince’s presence. Sensing trouble, Rika accompanies them and steps in just as the Prince’s bodyguard is about to decapitate everyone (good going Skizzik)! She asks the Prince for a less severe punishment for the servants and the Prince decides that they will be “prepared” for the feast that night instead…

As the Feast of Fire wraps up that night, dazzling performances involving fire and swords please the crowd. However, after the trained performers leave, Skizzik’s former servants are brought in to attempt the same feats and end up terribly injured and maimed (Skizzik: the champion of the innocent). Per usual, the Prince then rises and asks us to try our own hands at the same feats.

Skizzik attempts to dance, Shalelu performs acrobatics and Jira intimidates in a collective show. Jira and Shalelu’s acrobatic fight impresses while Skizzik dazzles with fire despite obviously flying over hot coals versus walking on them.

30 June That morning, we gather in the common room to discuss that night’s feast: The Feast of the Honored Visitors. We are told that we are responsible for preparing the food and entertainment for the evening. After much debate, for dinner we decide upon:

Appetizer: bacon wrapped lamb and veggie kabobs
Entree: Spicy pork and lamb meatballs served over noodles
Dessert: Rice pudding with a honey glazed roll

For entertainment:
Dragon Fireworks
Re-enacting a tale of us saving a village from a fierce dragon on a frozen mountain told in song by Ameiko.
__
The food goes over very well and the crowd is electrified by our impressive re-enactment!

After our performance, the Prince stands before the guests and publicly asks for Rika’s hand in marriage; he would like to make her his 13th wife. Caught like a deer in headlights, she asks to discuss the matter privately.

Once everyone is quickly ushered out, Rika tells the Prince that their journey to save Min Kai and her vow to help her friends see it through is more important. Smile faltering for the first time since our arrival, the Prince claims that he understands and retires for the evening.

Sensing retribution for the denied proposal, we all argue about whether we should stay the night or leave the palace immediately. Not wanting to seem completely inhospitable and raise immediate alarm, we decide upon staying the night and setting out the next morning. The only question is…will we survive the night, or will the Prince punish us as severely as he would punish one of his servants? Find out next time on Jade Regent: Damn High Charisma Scores.

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Session 22
Yetis in the Necropolis

Our last session concluded with our caravan-less adventurers crossing beneath the Wall of Heaven through a Desna tunnel-turned creepy Necropolis. We are still arranged in two groups exploring onward with Spivey acting as a go-between. As our group departs the large room with the dead tiefling and angry ghost spirit, the word on all our minds turns to bones. As we make our way onward down the path, we see thousands of bodies of bones tucked into crypts in the walls. While some are marked by Erutaki valuables, all the skulls have been removed from the rest of the bones. Despite our sense of disquiet, we are able to press forward without incident.

When we have finally seemed to reach the end of the pathway of bones, we find ourselves unable to pass between two statues facing each other from either wall. Rika and Skizzik determine that the barrier is magical. Like earlier in the Necropolis, Rika is able to dispel magic long enough for the entire group to pass through. On the other side, we have reached an illuminated room with a stone dais and a throne. Unfortunately, we also find two large yetis decked out in loin-clothes that seem unhappy to see us. We immediately engage them in a fight that goes from difficult to worse as the Yeti Chief emerges from the shadows to join the attack. We call for help from our other remaining caravan members, but they are distracted by a pack of five or six more yeti coming from behind them. They are temporarily held back by the magical barrier, but they are pounding on it and threatening to force their way through.

The fight continues on both fronts, Jira and Thom bashing the yetis with their melee weapons while Rika throws spells their way and Skizzik flies up to rain bombs down on their heads. Even as we seem to be turning the tide in our favor, however, it becomes apparent that the Yeti Chief is more than he seems. Indeed, when he finally drops, a familiar black spectral female emerges and cackles that she will destroy us. We all sigh in disgust as we recognize the spirit of our old nemesis Katiyana.

The battle rages on, our companions shooting arrows at the yetis behind the barrier while they hear more approaching. We bring down the original two yetis, and Jira decides to attack Katiyana’s spirit with the nine-ring ghost spear he received back at Dead Man’s Dome. Miraculously, the attack is successful, and Katiyana’s spirit is destroyed with a vicious and drawn-out scream that puts us all on our knees. Luckily, this drives away the remaining yetis on the other side of the barrier and allows us a chance to breathe again.

Before we can continue on, Rika is struck by another vision, this time of four menacing figures that appear to be waiting for us in Tian Xia. Once this vision has subsided, we notice ramps to our left that seem to be leading upward. We climb these ramps together, finding our way blocked by an unnatural wall at the top. Jira and Thom hack through the eight-inch stone over the course of an hour, allowing the group to continue walking another half-mile. At this point, we are blinded by the light of day, which we haven’t witnessed in what feels like forever. Even better, we emerge and realize that we have survived our journey across the Crown of the World.

We continue walking for 19 more days, spending our June on the move into the Highland Plateau. Despite it being early summer, it is still a bit chilly as we pass through lands inhabited by tribes on horses.

June 27 – At last, we reach the Gates of Ordu-Agenhei, the only city in all of Hongall. We take a moment to collect ourselves as we approach the gates, unsure of what sort of welcome awaits us here on this side of the Wall of Heaven. For as close as we seem to be to Tian Xia, who knows what perils and dangers still await us as our journey continues? Stay tuned to find out next time…

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Session 21
Explosive Caravaning

9 May As the caravan continues on toward the “Wall of Heaven,” a white amoeba attacks Koya’s wagon! It bogs Koya’s wagon down and despite our best caravan combat attempts and even attempts to run away, the ooze destroys our entire caravan! Half of our caravan members also perish at the metaphorical hands of the ooze. We are now forced to head on foot to find civilization before we all perish in the cold.

14 May A giant owl flies over our ragtag group as we trudge onward and Thom decides to flag it down. After a poor attempt at communicating with the creature, we gather that he’s pointing us toward a different path than the one we’re currently traversing. With a little faith, we take the path the owl suggested and it proves easier for us to travel. Thanks mystery owl!

As we continue to approach the mountains, storm clouds brew on our side of the Wall of Heaven. This weather phenomena doesn’t seem entirely natural and it appears to be snowing in the distance.

23 May Shalelu spots a polar pudding (white amoeba) while scouting. This time, we manage to sneak around it.

29 May We run into a destroyed caravan. There appear to be large gashes in the wagons and the skeletons. Rika randomly postulates that it was yeti and Ulf confirms that is could indeed be a possibility.

30 May As we’re approaching the pass in the “Wall of Heaven,” a giant avalanche walls the pass shut in front of us. As the snow tumbles, we hear a cackling on the wind and the snow storm around us intensifies. Our way blocked, Koya tells us a tale of Erutaki hunters who carved a tunnel though the mountains in their trek to be with Desna (Koya’s goddess and the goddess of travel). Koya uses tarot cards to commune with Desna in order to ask her three questions about this legendary tunnel. This reveals that the tunnel does indeed exist, that it is nearby to the East; however, it may or may not still be passable.

2 June We find the statues that signal the entrance to the tunnel and head inside. It’s dark but warmer.

3 June We find demonic red skulls along the path. Jira believes they are a part of a ritual for a Tian Xia god of the undead.

4 June We see glowing undead guards pass nearby.

5 June We stumble upon Necropolis: a series of tunnels/chambers along the Desna tunnel. The area looks marked with symbols of the Tian Xia god. We split into two groups; the more fragile trailing 50ft behind the rest with Spivey acting as a link between the two groups. We explore a guard tower as we traverse further into Necropolis. As we enter, headless guards come to life!

The mummy guards emanate despair and cause Thom and Porthos to seize up. They pound Jira when he gets in their face while Rika and Skizzik strike from afar. We manage to take them down, but not before Porthos contracts mummy rot. We spend 2 of the 5 Amatatsu Seal charges to heal Porthos.

We then explore the guard tower where we find burial niches. At the end of the corridor is another chamber where two open sarcophagi sit.

The other guard tower yields even more mummies. These paralyze Rika, Skizzik and Thom; however, Spivey is able to free Rika and Skizzik. Thereafter Spivey is paralyzed but spells and fire bring the fiends down.

This guard tower proves the same as the other and so we breeze through it. As we go to explore more of Necropolis, a magical barrier prevents people from passing through but a quick dispel magic from Rika drops it long enough for our party to run past.

We then come upon a cavern with a branchless stone tree and a pool of purple glowing water. As we gaze around the cavern, two skeletal figures appear and attack. The ghostly figures deal out some temporary negative levels much to Skizzik’s dismay. We discover that they cannot move beyond the edge of the pool so everyone backs away and leaves them behind (after Rika expends the rest of her lightning bolts on one).

We use the Seal again to restore Skizzik’s negative levels, and investigate a figure lying on the ground behind the tree. The body is that of a dead tiefling. As Jira pulls the body nearer, it sits up and shrieks horribly! The shriek is so intense it terrifies Skizzik into cowering. We leave the body where it sits and turn to inspect doors leading off the cavern. As we do, a shadow attacks. It quickly deals strength damage to Jira but Skizzik destroys it with bombs.

We then go back to examining the gilded demonic doors. When they open, we find a creepy skeleton wearing a golden mask and promptly loot him.

Next time…more of Necropolis…

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Session Twenty
The Gruesome Mansion of Ul-Angorn

Picking up where we left off at the Drunken Jackal in Ul-Angorn, our group is determined to find our kidnapped friend Ameiko. We start off by speaking with Smiley Pete, gathering information about the mansion at the other side of town while Pete oversees the rebuilding of the shattered window. Before going to the mansion, however, we stop by the Guard Tower with the intention of speaking to the Sargent Olimos. The guards on duty convince us to just speak with them, and we let them know who we are. They allow us to speak to a dwarf in custody for public intoxication who saw Ameiko’s kidnapping. He describes it as Ameiko hovering a few feet off the ground and screaming at someone to let her go. Unfortunately, he isn’t sure which direction she was headed in, as he passed out soon after.

We decide to continue on our way to the mansion, but are intercepted on the way by a 30-some-year-old Tian man named Hiro. He wants us to meet with the Merchants Consortium in the Mansion, explaining to us that these merchants effectively govern the whole town. We have to leave Porthos outside, but the rest of us are treated to mutton sandwiches and slightly better-than-average wine while we wait. At last, we are called in to a meeting with the four merchants. After determining that we are indeed headed for Minkai, the four reveal that they are not the merchants after all. In fact, they are four gnarly oni that had only disguised themselves as humans. The room is plunged into darkness until Rika dispels the magic as the fight begins.

We manage to gain the upper hand, but cannot complete the victory before one of the oni tells Hiro to “activate the emergency protocols.” We rapidly try to heal ourselves while we hear the noise of something massive killing people outside the room. We dash out into the atrium to find a large mud elemental with an attitude as disgusting as the rest of him. The angry elemental manages to effectively paralyze Jira and slow down Thom with mud attacks, but is melted down by Skizzik before he can kill anyone. Rika uses her magic to free Jira and Thom from the mud before the group continues to explore the mansion.

The rest of the first floor is comprised mostly of offices with little of value to be found. On the second floor, however, we run into our old enemy Koji. Attacking him becomes complicated when we suddenly become aware of the invisible ogre mage in the room with him. Jira and Rika are both knocked unconscious by a vicious cone of cold. Rising to the occasion, Thom finishes off the ogre mage while Skizzik defeats Koji (there could only be one bomb master, after all!!). Shortly after, we find a grotesque scene in which we realize the oni made taxidermy trophies out of the merchants while they were still alive. Disgusted by this (and the spike traps waiting for us in the room), we still manage to unlock the door to the room where Ameiko was being held. She thanks us for saving her and advises us to go tell the guards what we have found.

Reluctant to believe us at first, Sargent Olimos eventually agrees to accompany us back to the mansion. He confirms our story and leaves us to finish investigating the mansion. We finish up exploring, finding no enemies waiting for us on the third floor. Olimos thanks us for our help, but is in a foul mood at the prospect that the town’s government has been gruesomely murdered. After selling off more loot and stocking up for our next journey, we depart Ul-Angorn.

April 19: The Northern lights appear at night, and Rika speaks to two spirit balls of light that offer to guide us.

April 20: Our caravan does combat with the two will o’ the wisps, invigorated by the fact that we are actually victorious in battle. We manage to navigate past a crevasse, and also gain a new supply wagon when Rika descends via rope to investigate one down the crevasse.

April 27: After an uneventful several days in which we run from ice trolls and a white ooze, everyone is sickened for a few days in the Overkeer Pass. We also have to fight off a furry 30 foot tarantula that we bring down with fire.

April 28: We reach the town of Jaagiin and re-stock on supplies.

April 30: After some refreshing rest, we carry on down the road without much incident.

May 2: The holiday for a God of thieves and assassins luckily passes without us running into trouble.

May 3: We finally catch a glimpse of the Wall of Heaven on the horizon and recognize that we are not far from Tian Xia at last.

May 4: After a normal day, the night approaches with a sudden and unexpected snowstorm. In the cold wind, we hear a female calling out for help. In spite of our misgivings, Jira and Thom feel compelled to help and approach a beautiful but sad woman. She screams at us and attacks. Jira recognizes that this is a Yuki-onna, a soul of someone who wasn’t buried properly and still lingers in the world. She is tough to battle, with being incorporeal and pummeling us with cold attacks. She also manages to dazzle Thom and Skizzik at times, but Rika manages to bring her down with lightning.

Our journey continues to draw us closer to Minkai, but danger seems to await at every turn. Now far from home, we await our next session eagerly to see what next awaits our intrepid heroes… and Skizzik…

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Session Nineteen
The Great Battle of Dead Man's Dome

With the Hungry Storms temporarily vanquished by our party’s defeat of Katiyana, Ulf seems almost happy as he informs us that we ought to head for Dead Man’s Dome and then continue south. The journey, while made easier by our recent success, will still not be easy.

March 22: After a week of travel, we experience the good and the bad. The good news is that enough time has passed for the party to activate the Amatatsu Seal again and resurrect Jira! The bad news is that an axle on Koya’s wagon cracks and we have to spend a day repairing it.

March 30: Just in the nick of time (as our food stores are running dangerously low again), we run into a friendly group of dwarves that have gone a bit off their intended course. We let them know where we are and buy more food off of them. Shortly after, however, Shalelu informs us quietly that the army of the undead that had at one time surrounded us back at the Nameless Spires was pursuing us. Given that they had no need for sleep and were hell-bent on catching us, we needed to move quickly to stay ahead of them. We keep heading toward Dead Man’s Dome over the course of the week, the undead gaining ground on us each day.

April 6: With the army bearing down on us, we make a mad break for the hill, making it inside a broken-down fortress just in time to turn around and face the onslaught. Strategically positioning our wagons against the back walls, we set up shop for battle. Zych, Ulf, and Naqueen stand guard as the final defense while Rika, Skizzik, Jira, Thom, Porthos, Ameiko, Sandru, Koya, and Shalelu fight off the undead army. The enemy is made up of skeletons, hoarfrost spirits, and wights that attempt to pummel us in three waves of attacks. Though severely outnumbered, our group works together in almost perfect teamwork to lay a beatdown on our opponents. We are also aided by a mysterious incorporeal Tian warrior that does not speak to us. When the battle concludes (with Thom triumphantly striking the last blow), all of us are still standing over the piles of undead bodies. Before departing, the Tian warrior leads Jira to a small statue made of clay that turns out to be a talisman. He also provides him with a spear containing nine charges to be used against the undead in the future. Reflecting upon his recent death and resurrection, Jira decides to adapt his preaching to the lands they are approaching. He dedicates himself to following the code of the samurai on behalf of his deity Cayden Cailean. We spend the rest of the night at Dead Man’s Dome before moving on. Over the next week, we leave the high ice behind, but also re-encounter the pesky orange fungus that contaminates our food and makes our caravan sick.

April 14: We finally rid our food of the orange fungus, allowing us to focus on moving at full speed again.

April 16: Temperatures finally move above freezing for the first time in what seems like forever.

April 17: We reach the town of Ul-Angorn, an Erutaki village near a salt lake. We sell off some of our loot, buy new supplies, and go for a round of drinks at the Drunken Jackal. Happy to house the caravan that made it across the Crown of the World in Winter, Smiley Pete invites our whole caravan to stay the night for free and have a merry evening. Most of us get wasted at the bar while Rika and Shalelu depart for some quiet reflection.

April 18: We wake up with vicious hang-overs that aren’t much improved by the sound of Koya screaming. Upon investigation, we find her room is a mess. Ameiko is gone and the window has been smashed apart. We examine the ground outside the establishment and identify some huge 30-inch footprints that make us suspect a large creature is to blame. We investigate around town, but neither the druid outside town nor the cobbler have much information for us other than the fact that while frost giants live near town, their footprints would be bigger than the ones we identified. Without too much to go on yet, we are understandably worried about the fate of our dear friend Ameiko as our session draws to a close.

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Session Eighteen
Zych, Mountain Goats, and that ruddy Tower

It seems to be about as bad as things could be as our session begins. With Jira lying dead in the fortune teller’s wagon, no food to speak of, and the caravan slowly being stalked from all sides by the undead, nobody wis in a particularly cheery mood. With few options remaining to choose from, we decide to trek to the Allabastrine Peaks in search of goats to hunt. The caravan moves at a slow speed, probably due mostly to the fact that everyone is starving to death, meaning it will take four days to reach said Peaks. Along the way, our heroes pass by a 15 to 20 foot frozen mammoth skeleton coming at the caravan threateningly, but manage to evade it by running with what little energy they still have.

On the 10th of March, the caravan reaches the area, coming across the path of an elven archer by the name of Zych Stormson. After pursuing the caravan for a short time, he decides to reveal himself to the group and almost has his bones shattered for him by a suspicious Rika. They introduce themselves, the group deciding slowly not to kill the elf who has been on the run for a year-and-a-half from the Rimerunners Guild. Toward the end of the conversation, Skizzik casually chucks a bomb in the general direction of a smart-alek from the crowd listening in on our talk. Unfortunately, this triggers a massive avalanche that forces the caravan to hightail it out yet again. Rika and Innellen have an unpleasant exchange of words as the latter frantically tries to direct the last wagon out of the danger zone, Porthos barking his encouragement along the way while Skizzik flies overhead to survey the coming avalanche.

Upon surviving the tide of snow and ice, Zych agrees to lead the others to where the mountain goats are plentiful after warning them of the dangers of ticking off the resident dire mountain goat that stands 15 feet high. They find the herd hanging out in a hidden valley that disappointingly yields no salad dressing. The group, for now consisting of Rika, Skizzik, Thom and Porthos, Zych, Naqeen, and Shalelu fail to sneak up on the dire mountain goat. Apparently not in a peaceful mood, the huge beast attacks and the fight is on. After a brief struggle, Skizzik ends the beast’s life with a bomb. Interestingly, as the dire goat’s entrails explode, they form a symbol of the demon lord Sithunde that our party keeps dealing with.

With the fight won, the caravan finally replenishes its food stores with a massive goat slaughter, followed by a feast. Everyone has a wonderful time until that night around the campfire when a bald Tian man with an axe approaches camp. He introduces himself as a bounty hunter that is searching for one Zych Stormson who is wanted for heinous crimes including larceny, rape, stingy tipping, and others. When the others turn him down, however, he reveals himself to be a not-so-friendly oni by the name of Kuwai. He summons an earth elemental that may have brought back memories of death for Rika, but the elemental is soon defeated while Kuwai flies away in retreat. We doubt we’ve seen the last of him, but the night’s watch reveals little of interest (other than fire elementals running around entertainingly)

With Zych now joining the caravan (because he feels he owes the group for eliminating the Rimerunners Guild and their debtor status over him), Skizzik encourages the others to return to the Tower where Jira was killed and finish what we started. It takes us four days to reach the tower, but roll in on March 14th. The first floor is empty, and we take the elevator platform to the second level. The dead remorhaz is gone, but in its place we find a frozen mammoth skeleton that deals out damage like it’s his job. Only be cleverly utilizing fire attacks is our group able to defeat it without a casualty. Leaving the scorpions in the crystal room alone for now, Skizzik rigs the panel to allow us to head up to the third and top floor in the tower. At the top, we find Katiyana and some hoarfrost spirits having a grand ole time under the beam of blue light being generated by six crystals lining the walls. In spite of the frigid and howling wind, the hoarfrost spirits go down fairly quickly. With Katiyana throwing spells down at us from atop her 50 ft. platform, our group focuses its attacks on the crystals until Rika is able to exhaust Katiyana with a bone shatter spell. The nasty woman with dark wings and claws finally succumbs to Thom’s lance as he rides a flying Porthos (Porthos flying!?) straight at her.

After Zych brings down the remaining crystals with his barrage of arrows, the storm dies down and the blue light beam vanishes. Our group heads back down to the second flushed with victory, perhaps granting us the confidence to attack the scorpions. After a fairly quick battle, the scorpions are defeated and we carry out a room’s worth of valuable jewels and gems. Our fortunes seem to have temporarily turned a corner, but much danger lies ahead. Our enemies in Minkai know we’re coming and are unlikely to rest on their laurels. Jira is still no more than a burned and partially-digested corpse. And perhaps most ominously of all, we’re still up on the Crown of the World, an icy hell that is testing all the mettle our group possesses. Stay tuned for the continuation of our adventures next time…

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Session 17
Jira dies a lot

21 Feb We continue our trek; traveling towards the Crown of the World. It may be cold but we push on.

27 Feb That evening, as we’re crowded around the fire, Porthos suddenly perks up as if he hears something…

Suddenly, the dark cloud from Rika’s nightmares and visions flies over the campsite!

The cloud begins to dive bomb Rika exclusively and starts to ruin her wisdom; she becomes increasingly terrified as the monster that killed her father now tries to kill her. Jira quickly finds out that it’s vulnerable to fire as he uses his Fire of Belief to deal it some damage.

After a few attacks, the cloud renders Rika incapable of conscious action or thought and she falls. It then immediately begins to swirl around her and tries to suck out her soul! At the last second, Jira and Thom stab the beast and Rika’s soul returns to her. Instead of pursuing her soul any longer, the cloud turns into a black stone and burrows itself into Rika’s chest! Blood and gore splatter the area and the group finds themselves covered in their friend’s blood. Rika is barely clinging to life as this stone obliterates her heart and takes it’s place! When the others go to see if Rika is still alive, they find that the stone is pumping some sort of arcane energy into her body and now seems to be keeping her alive.

The attack over, the rest of the caravan members come out to investigate the commotion and Koya and Spivy manage to bring Rika back to consciousness. As she wakes, she notices that she feels cold, unaffected, as if nothing matters enough to care one way or the other anymore. She is told the horrible news but no one seems to be able to help any further.

That evening, as Skizzik peruses his book of Eldritch weirdness, he notices that the tome now has a new page. This new entry is entitled “The Black Heart of Rika Nagato!” It says that this “black heart” has one known side effect: It ceases to function if exposed to an anti-magic field. Skizzik stumbles out of his caravan in his skivvies and rushes to show Koya and Rika this entry. Rika, having had her heart destroyed and replaced and all, passes out upon hearing all of this and the night ends in darkness…

28 Feb Knowing no other options to help Rika’s predicament, we depart for more traveling.

4 Mar We spot a strange blue glow in the distance that we believe is some sort of weather element. Naquin (our Iqailat hunter) is disturbed by the lack of sound in the area and suggests that the light is from one of the sacred wind spirit sites of his people. We decide to set out apart from the caravan towards the light.

After walking a few miles, we come upon a black tower much like the one Rika saw in her vision. In the tundra before the base of the tower, hoarfrost spirits roam about acting as guards. With little thought, we decide to punch our way through.

Skizzik lures them toward us with a bomb and we launch into attacks when they come within range. Fire proves effective as always but the spirits do manage to paralyze Jira. However, with a bit of good timing, the spirits are destroyed, saving Jira from being coup de graced.

We then approach the black tower where a crackling ball of blue light sits atop. The closer we get to the tower, the more the wind picks up, making it especially difficult for Skizzik to walk.

As we draw near the structure, we pass through a dispel magic field which only affects Thom’s good alignment. When Jira and Skizzik, who is strapped to Jira’s back due to the wind, begin to cross the dilapidated entryway, a bony hand reaches out of the black sludge on either side and knock both of them prone! 4-armed, small, bony, plate sludge creatures emerge from the black goo to attack.

Having been knocked prone places Jira and Skizzik in a bad position from the get-go and they take a fair amount of damage. Skizzik gets shoved into the sludge and shortly after he manages to climb out, he is knocked unconscious. We kill off sludge monster fairly quickly but the second holds on to the very last second. Just before he’s dealt with, he lands a killing blow on Jira!

With little other option, we bring out the Amatatsu Seal and use its’ powers to resurrect Jira. However, now our opponents will know we’re on our way around the world to get them!

After Jira is brought back and we all heal up, we make it into the hexagonal entry room of the towers where we immediately encounter some frost wights and a moonflower.

The moonflower shoots out a bright light and blinds some of his cohorts (Thom, Jira and Skizzik manage to cover their eyes in time). Skizzik determines the plant is weak to slashing damage and fire and is an Eldritch creature. The frost wights don’t prove too difficult when fire and slashing (plus being blinded) are involved. Burning arcs and bombs deal massive damage to the moonflower and smite it.

Immediately after, a corridor covered in white shrooms draws Skizzik’s eye. As soon as he steps in the corridor, a phantom fungus lashes out and quickly becomes invisible again. Rika swiftly glitterdusts it to make it visible and manages to blind it as well. Thom jumps forward and hacks it apart.

Nearby, Skizzik finds a crystal control panel. In the center of the hexagon, an icy shaft (perhaps an elevator controlled by the panel) draws his eye. Firstly, Rika goes to explore the last part of the hexagon but another phantom fungus attacks from obscurity.

Blind jabs work pretty well as he pops in and out of visibility as he throws punches. Although he believes Rika to be tasty, Jira chops him down.

In the last part of the lower level, we find 1,800gp worth of arcane junk.

Skizzik goes back to the control panel and takes some time messing with it and, after a bit, he gets an elevator platform to appear in the center hexagon. We stop on the platform and are shot up to the second level of the tower. As we step off the elevator, the floor beneath our feat begins to rumble just moments before a chitlin bug monstrosity bursts through and attacks Jira!
Rika begins to shatter its exoskeleton but it manages to grapple Jira and intends to eat him. When Thom and Porthos touch it, they are immediately burned by its’ skin. Unable to kill it in time, the beast swallows Jira and quickly digests him in a plethora of fiery stomach juices! Our friend is dead for the second time today, and we have no way to revive him now!

With no other option, we throw Jira’s corpse on Porthos’ back and sneak a peak in the other room on level 2 before departing. In the room, we see Cysmals (crystalline scorpions) at work. Knowing better than to risk angering them, Skizzik calls another elevator and we head down and out of the tower toting Jira’s charred body. We manage to make our way back to the caravan downhearted and beaten.

After we tell our caravan cohorts about our experiences in the tower and Jira’s two untimely demises, we call a War Council to decide our next steps. Koya preserves Jira’s body until we can find someone who can resurrect him (or until the Seal recharges after 2 weeks’ time). As a whole, we’re in terribly rough shape: Jira’s dead, we’re out of food, the area is surrounded by undead and there’s no town within 300 miles. We decide that we desperately need food if any of us are to have hope of surviving and we press on toward the Alabastrine Plane to hopefully find some tasty mountain goats.

Next Time…we will save Jira, meet a mysterious traveler or die horrible deaths? Stay tuned to find out!

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Session 16
Shaman Killing

We find our intrepid adventurers still in the village of Iqailat…in hunt of an evil shaman.

Feb. 12 The Iqailat village leader points us toward an icy path where he believes the shaman went. Along the path, we find a secret door. After avoiding a trap, we make our way down a secret icy path. We encounter an Erutaki hunter along the path and sense he is not on our side.

As we advance on the hunter, he reaches for his hand axes; it’s on. 4 magic missiles break his nose but it slowly heals back up (there’s magic afoot)! His axes are coated with a sickly green glow that deals extra damage. Skizzik’s ring of the ram punches him through a wall a into a cavern.

In the cavern, a creepy skeleton figure waits. Upon our first tentative steps into the cavern, we spot the Shaman hovering in the backgroun. The skeleton is a hoarfrost spirit and we discover that there happen to be 5 of them. Into the cavern we all go to do battle!

All the summoned hoarfrost spirits, Demon Spirits and the icy terrain make things ridiculous, difficult and slow going. Tunuak (the Shaman) directs his Demon Spirits to deal the damage so he can remain hidden by his invisibility. He however, silences Rika, Thom and Jira for a bit, as well as, directing one of his hoarfrost spirits to freeze Thom. His invisibility makes everything even more difficult and Rika must direct her comrades as to his location.

He and his minions soon drop Rika and then Skizzik.

Even though all seems lost, the Shaman eventually runs away leaving Skizzik and Rika unconscious and Jira barely standing.

With this encounter, we level up!

At the level, Rika’s eyes go white and she sees visions:
1. A dense forest with a ruined pagoda
2. a large stone tower with a black lake
3. Our caravan being enveloped by a dark cloud

13 Feb. The Erutaki hunter we fought (who was really possessed by a demon thanks to Tunuak) asks to join us because he lusts for vengeance!

In return for driving out the shaman, the village leader gives each of us “Claws of the Ice Bear.”

Ulf approaches us heroes and tells us that, because of the constant storms, we need to take another caravan route. Naturally, it’s one that goes directly over the top of the world where it’s really freaking cold.

After a lovely feast with the people of Iqailat that evening, we embark once more!

20 Feb. Scouts find humanoid footprints following the caravan. While sitting around the campfire, everything suddenly gets very silent. Skizzik sees a hunter in the distance. We don’t trust any of this so we attack!

It’s really Tunuak with another possessed hunter. They annoy us a little bit more before Rika shatters his bones and brings him down.

Tunuak reveals that he works for the Demon Lord Sithund. He wants to destroy life in Galarium to regain his “rightful place” in the abyss. He says he has a mistress names Katayana who is also helping Sithund. She is in the dark tower Rika saw in her vision.

Next time: to pursue or not to pursue…that is the question.

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Session Fifteen
Of Starving, Angry Mobs, and Dragons

Our last session finished with our caravan reaching hill country and bound for Iqalat. The following represents the daily account of our journey to the village:

Jan. 31: Still traveling, Ulf informs us that we are about to pass through a canyon notorious for bandits. Rika, Skizzik, Jira, Thom, and Porthos go ahead to check it out and ensure the caravan’s safety. With the use of flight, Skizzik is able to sneak up and spot three brigands waiting to shoot arrows at unsuspecting travelers and decides to chuck a bomb at one of them. When the brigand is set on fire, the hidden brigand leader and his crystal-like monstrosity of a pet that he calls Sparky attack and the battle is on!

Skizzik continues flying around and throwing bombs, Jira starts climbing one of the ice spires to attack a brigand, and Thom and Porthos duel Sparky, but it is Rika that has the memorable experience. Upon burning hands attacking the leader, her heat strikes his necklace of fireballs and sets off an explosion that rocks the canyon. Rika survives the blast while the leader isn’t so lucky and Sparky winks out of existence. Hearing Jira approach, one of the brigands tries to scamper down the ice spire and falls down to a broken neck. Jira’s arrows and Skizzik’s bombs and acid finish off the others and the caravan can continue on bandit-less.

Feb. 1: The sun actually rises briefly and we see that we are approaching a low mountain range.

Feb. 2: We continue traveling, but also celebrate Merry Mead Day – a time to drink from last year’s alcohol and have a raucous party. While Jira dances the night away with the cooks, Rika sets off fireworks and Skizzik adds his own flair to the pyrotechnics.

Feb. 3: Traveling hung-over, we also begin to realize we have a severe shortage of food that is about to become a problem.

Feb. 4: We pool our own private remaining rations and carry on. We are also able to purchase some rations off of a fur-wearing trapper with an impressive blond mustache, but we know we can’t go on much further without trouble.

Feb. 5 and 6: We continue traveling, ascending into the hills and watching our food disappear.

Feb. 7: We finish off the last of the rations and our caravan starts taking damage from hunger.

Feb. 8 and 9: We carry on at half-speed, caravan members becoming more and more grouchy as the hunger starts to really set in (except to Rika, who conveniently for her doesn’t require food).

Feb. 10: Matters get even worse as our starving caravan is attacked by a pack of blue ice trolls. Running like mad, however, we manage to escape. Morale is really starting to suffer now.

Feb. 11: We think at first we’re saved at the sight of Iqalat, a village carved into the side of a hill. Ulf finds it strange that no one seems friendly at all. We hear mutterings about dragons and outsider as Ulf leads us to the home of the Hearth Mistress. She at least proves friendly as she serves us cups of goat milk. She tells us the reason everyone is pissed off is because the white dragon Vegsund Vaag has decided to start attacking the village suddenly for no known reason. Some supernatural hungry storms have also stopped traffic on the path ahead of us.

We hear some rabble-rousing outside, and head out to find a large group of villagers forming around our caravan wagons. An old shaman claims that the wind spirits are displeased and must be appeased with sacrifice in order to stop the dragon attacks. Rika tries to bluff her way through, followed by Jira trying to intimidate the crowd and Thom taking a diplomatic approach. All fail to dissuade the mob, mostly thanks to the shaman encouraging them. With no remaining options, we start to fight off the village. They are simply overwhelming us, however, and we barely make it out of town with our tattered wagons.

Still without rations and no other town within reachable distance, we decide to try to tackle the dragon ourselves. This involves a tough trek up the side of a mountain and then using ropes to lower ourselves down into a tunnel in the side of a 300 ft. crevasse. Within the tunnels, it doesn’t take long for Vegsund Vaag to break through the walls and attack us with a frosty attack. Jira attempts to attack it with the flaming kitana only to be knocked unconscious by the dragon’s claws and wings. The others hold their own until Skizzik is able to bring the mighty dragon down with his fiery bombs.

Back on our feet, we continue exploring the tunnels in hopes of locating the dragon’s treasure trove. This leads to us navigating across the crevasse with ropes. Thom slips and falls, causing our hearts to collectively stop for an instant until he manages to grab hold of a lower tunnel entrance. 40 feet up, we walk down the new tunnel and find the treasure horde. While we load up on riches, Thom finds a village token and figures out that the reason the dragon was attacking the village was because whoever owned the token crushed the dragon’s eggs. After reuniting with Thom, we climb back out and head down the mountain and back to our caravan. Ameiko informs us that everyone has been holding up well enough in our absence, and we turn in for the night.

Feb. 12: We return to Iqalat again. The guards seem leery about letting us in until we show them the white dragon skin as proof that we solved their problem. At that realization, the guards usher us in and the village throws us a party. To show their gratitude, they repair our wagons, replenish our food rations, and give us discounts on buying additional parts. We divide up our loot after selling some of our dragon horde findings. One villager that doesn’t show up for the festivities, however, is the annoying shaman. The Chief gives us permission to search his residence, but we don’t find him. As our session comes to a close, we remain in Iqalat but are determined to chase down the shaman in our next session and give him a lesson in proper manners…

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Session 14
The Caravan Departs...Again

Our adventure continues on the 19th of Neth (November), just 5 days before our departure to travel over the Crown of the World. We take time to get our caravan up to snuff – adding efficient consumption, scavengers and terrain mastery (cold) to the feat list. Ulf is also designated to be a Scout for primarily hunting purposes.

The night before we depart (the 23rd of Neth) happens to be The Festival of the Seven Veils. This festival celebrates the brotherhood of all civilized creatures accompanied by a masquerade ball. All members of the caravan have a grand ole time and party long into the night knowing that this may be their last time in a civilized town for awhile.

The next morning the caravan departs for the Rimethirst Mountains and the 39 day trek is fairly uneventful. After scaling the mountain, our journey takes us into less hospitable places.

What follows are Rika’s 4th wall breaking journal entries from the first part of the caravan’s trek:

Jan. 1
Nor approaches Jira and tells him that the stores are rotting due to a strange orange fungus known as creeping rot.

Jan. 2
It continues to spread to other stores.

Jan. 4
The caravan finds itself stuck in a blizzard but we get rid of the creeping rot finally. We gain 1 point of unrest.

Jan. 5
We manage to get rolling despite the storm.

Jan. 7
A winter wolf is circling the camp. It probably wants to eat our animals. We attempt to open communications first. It runs off as we attempt to communicate with it.

Jan. 8
A pair of dire wolverines try to attack our animals. Jira walks outside and intimidates them away.

Jan. 9
We accidentally trespass on giant burial grounds and agree to go around it. The giant provides us his white wolf companion to lead us around.
We later come to a crossroads and must decide whether to go through the forest or go around. After getting on his soap box and conferring with the entire caravan, Jira determines that we’ll head through the forest.

Jan. 14
We take a day to hunt. Unfortunately, we don’t net any provisions. We notice that the Aurora Borealis is starting tonight and that it will last a week.

Jan. 15
3 forest drakes surround the caravan!

Encounter!
Rika singes a hole in one of the drake’s wings.
Jira shoots one with his bow.
The forest drakes shoot clouds of obscuring acid at us.
Rika blinks in and out of existence.
The drakes land and take bites out of crime and, by crime, I mean Rika and Jira.
Thom charges the one Rika’s been working on and kills it.
Skizzik blows another one up with bombs.
Jira uses Suisham (The Jade Katana) to cut off the last one’s head.

Jan. 16
We come across a tent village of Erutaki (the native Eskimos). We buy stores from them and they throw us a feast. Hooray for indigenous peoples and for us not slaughtering them like most peoples in history!

Jan. 19
We come across a lodge with light from inside. Skizzik sneaks around and sees an old lady sitting around the fire. We decide to bypass her since we finally decided to think logically for a moment ;)
That night, an elf ranger approaches the camp and asks to join us. Jira senses it’s evil intentions and it reveals itself to be a witchfire.

Encounter!
Two will o the wisps (it has electrical powers, can fly and can go invisible) show up to the fight! The witchfire almost drops Sandru in one hit after he decides to taunt it.
Ameiko inspires us all with a song as the will o the wisps shock everyone. Jira manages to cut down one will o the wisp.
Skizzik attempts to fly up and drop bombs on the witchfire but it flies up to counter and deals heavy damage.
Sandru hides behind a wagon to heal.
Shalelu drops the last will o the wisp with arrows.
The witchfire drops Ameiko with one hit. She falls unconscious but Koya brings her back. She quickly joins Sandru in hiding behind the wagons.
The occasional attack lands on the witchfire but magic missiles do consistent damage and eventually kill her. Yay!

The witchfire proves to be the old lady in the cabin. We go back to her cabin and raid it. We get some ale, provisions and a +1 adamantine light mace.

Jan. 21
Skizzik spots a Silver Dragon above the camp that morning. Silver Dragons are usually lawful good and paladin related. Itremor the Pure is his name and he wishes to follow our caravan for awhile.
Later that day, we come to the Taraska River and ford it.

Jan. 24
The Fortune Teller Wagon’s axle breaks. Gordant patches it up and Itremor departs to go his own way.

Jan. 25
The 1st full moon of the year rises. Traditionally, people stay up all night as a “screw you winter” protest. We all have a big bonfire and enjoy some time together.

Jan. 27
Wooley Rhinos block our path. We manage to skirt the herd.

Jan. 28
A pack of wolves attack the caravan! Caravan battle ensues! We drive them off even though they deal the caravan some damage.
Afterwords, a strange 2-headed Ettin and his two grizzly bears approach the caravan from down the road. The Ettin is pissed that we killed his wolf pack.

Encounter!
They attack! A pit drops the Ettin but one of his bears grapples Rika in return.
Skizzik bombs the other bear to death.
Jira cuts off the remaining bear’s head to free Rika from unwanted bear hugs.
Skizzik hovers over the Ettin in the pit and, despite being hit with javelins and lightning bolts, drops bombs on him.
A little too eager, Jira gets too close to the pit and falls in right on top of the Ettin! However, Skizzik’s acid damage melts the fiend before he can squash Jira.

Jan. 29
Repair day.

More journal entries to follow as the caravan journey takes a turn toward more frigid and barren climates…will we be able to withstand the elements or will we succumb to the bitter cold, snow storms and wild beasts?! Find out next time on the next episode of “The Hogwarts Express: A Perilous Journey.”

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