Kingmaker

The Discovery of the Ghost Stone

Desnus 6th – 17th, 4719

The session begins as the party deals with the aftermath of previous events. Iola is dead and they have captured 4 Spriggans.

Through the faith of Wan-fu and the mercy of Erastil Iola is brought back to life and healed at the town’s temple to Old Deadeye. A scroll of Raise Dead found at the temple is used for this.

Luckily for the group one of the spriggans (the formerly drunk one) spills the beans, much to the annoyance of the other survivors. Unfortunately he doesn’t really know that much. He tells the group that his tribe (the Culcheck tribe) came down from the mountains to discover Varnhold already empty. He tells them of a fearsome tribe of centaurs that roam the plains, and that the impressive bow discovered amongst the loot was stolen from the centaurs some time ago. Finally, he speaks of a haunted place a few days to the south, a grey stone pillar and the surrounding area that is infested by spirits.

Mercifully the group releases the one who snitched first, giving him a good head start before releasing the others.

After dealing with the prisoners the group decides to explore the town more fully (this also gives Iola more time to recover). Again, the town is completely deserted. The one unexpected discovery was the stretched and tanned hides of what looks like a horse, closer inspection reveals it is actually the hide of a centaur!

The group strikes out South from Varnhold, following the edge of the Tors of Levenies mountain range. They discover the former home of the Culcheck tribe, the trio of spriggans released together from Varnhold are found here. After a brief conversation the group continues on.

They continue to explore the foothills heading South. One night Scotia is plagued with horrible nightmares. The next day the group comes across an extremely peculiar sight. A bounding stag which appears to be leaping up through the ground then landing back underground. As it nears it stops leaping, staying under the surface. Rising up amongst the group is a twisted stag creature, it’s appearance a horrid corruption of Erastilian imagery. Scotia is shocked to recognize the horror from her nightmare the night before. After a tough battle the animate dream is dispatched.

They continue on, at night the group begins to notice a faint white glow on the side of a mountain. They make their way toward it. Along the way they are approached by a strange woman hidden in a copse of high bushes. She says her name is Zzamas. Only her face is visible initially and she speaks in a strange buzzing voice. She asks the group for help, she wants to return home. She offers a reward (a fancy chest) if they can help. They ask her to come out from the bushes, she does so reluctantly revealing herself to be a phase spider! She explains that she inadvertently came to this world from the ethereal plane through the Spirit Stone (which coexists on both planes). Once through she was chased off by a group of Xill that has set up camp around the stone.

The group agrees. They approach the area to discover a large group of Xill obviously enjoying some sort of intoxication which they derive from the stone itself. The group easily dispatches the group of addicts (thanks to some handy fireballs and well placed sneak attacks). Zzamas immediately makes for the stone, disappearing into it, before the fight is even finished. However, true to her word, she returns some time later with the promised chest (along with the treasure it contains). She thanks the group and returns to the ethereal.

The game concludes with the group heading NE for some exploration and in hopes of finding the Nomen Centaur Tribe.

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The Varnhold Vanishing

Desnus 5th-6th, 4719

Through the pouring rain the group continues exploring Varnhold. After Iola “finds” (nearly falls into) a couple of pit traps the group makes their way to the local inn, a place called the Water Horse. On their way in they notice the word “NOMEN” has been hastily scratched into the front door. Once inside the first thing they notice is a large gnome like creature (holding a book) frozen in place and surrounded by a strange amber energy (Scotia recognizes it as the effects of a Sepia Snake Sigil), the poor creature’s head had been bashed in though it’s face shows no sign of pain. They continue to explore the inn to find the bar has been looted of alcohol though the kitchen has only been half looted. In the rest of the inn they only find some possessions in one of the rooms and in the corner of the tavern sits a pile of books and papers. As the group rummages through these they quickly discover that they belong to Evril Pendrod (the academic from their Academy). Among Pendrod’s notes they find reference to an ancient jade bracelet found on a nearby riverbank and mention of something called Vordakai (a centaur god?). Pendrod believed the bracelet, Vordakai, and the Nomen centaurs were somehow connected. The inn is otherwise abandoned with no signs of struggle. The group leaves the injured Wan-Fu in the inn root cellar as they continue their exploration of the town.

They continue on to explore the local temple, cemetery, well (where they find another of the gnome like creatures bodies, this one small), grange, potter’s house, tailor’s house, and weaver’s house. All they find are abandoned buildings (except for a cat named “Dragon” in the weaver’s house, Iola befriends it and they drop it off with Wan-Fu). The entire town seems abandoned except for the ubiquitous crows. Next they explore the blacksmith and livery, the livery yard contains the carcasses of dead horses and the highest concentration of crows in the town. Again, abandoned with no signs of a struggle. As Scotia enters the livery yard a murder of aggressive crows attack, injuring and blinding the High Sorceress of Innisfree. Adal immediately retreats into the blacksmith while the others do their best against the swarm of birds. Eventually the group all take refuge in the blacksmith building and wait for the crows to dissipate. With Scotia injured the group returns to the inn to spend the night in the root cellar. The next morning Scotia has regained enough vision to continue. The group explores the gem cutter’s shop (which has been completely looted and destroyed) and a sod hut (where they find a journal and a Folding Boat). Finally they set their sights on Varnhold’s Stockade, which sits atop a hill overlooking the entire area. A thin column of smoke can be seen rising from it’s yard.

They approach the front gate to see the tops of 6 guard helmets moving around in the tower, it takes little time to realize the helms move with the wind and are obviously just propped up on sticks. The group calls out to no response, the still pouring rain making hearing difficult. Scotia casts fly on Adal and he flies over to unlock the gate. Unfortunately he is spotted. The fort is actually inhabited by a group of strange blue-green skinned feral gnome like creatures (like the bodies they saw in the town) and a small pack of wolves. The alarm is raised and the battle is on. The group try their best to talk to the creatures, but the inhabitants have none of it. The creatures enlarge themselves and attack. Magic and steel are tossed across the sloppy and muddy battlefield, the group comes out victorious though at great cost. Iola is slain attempting to retreat from the creature’s chief (a fearsome warrior skilled with the great club).

At the end of the day the group has secured the town and captured 4 of the creatures. Still no signs of human life. The session ends as the group takes Iola’s body to the temple of Erastil and decide what to do (have Wan-Fu try and use the scroll of Raise Dead they found or contact Jhod and Deoryr to raise Iola).

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The Duke is Dead, Long Live the Duke

Gozran 8th – Desnus 5th, 4719

(Quick retcon: It is established that Caelan’s son has had his naming ceremony and that the child’s name is Dannon.)

The group readies themselves for their trip to Varnhold. While doing so they learn of a few more possible jobs/missions they might accomplish during their trip. First, a local aristocrat named Edrist Hanvaki has a brother who is overdue from returning from Varnhold. Edrist offers a reward for Tomin’s safe return or at least to learn the fate of his brother. Second, the chef at the Duck and Wagon (Jamery Gerbaskin) wants an undamaged Roc egg. If he gets one he will organize an omelette cooking competition in Innisfree.

The group decides to travel cross country to Varnhold so that they may do some exploration along the way. Along the way they have various encounters: a group of Worgs, a young Silver Dragon who is searching for an elder of his species in the area, and some very shy Grigs who live along the banks of Silverstep Loch (the Grigs seemed preoccupied by finding out whether Tyg-Titter-Tut sent the group or not).

One devastating encounter involves a band of 4 Cyclops. The two groups saw each other from a distance. As the group approached to talk with them the Cyclops were setting up a hasty ambush. As the group crested a hill the giants opened fire with crossbows and the battle was on. The first moments of melee were swift and brutal as the Cyclops charged with their greataxes. Within seconds the Duke was slain, dead before he hit the ground. The battle resumed and the group is victorious.

Wasting no time the group makes haste back to Innisfree (sending the silver raven ahead of them with orders). They decide to make for Iola’s estate. They worried that if it was known that the Duke was slain there would be panic; Quinn, through magic and mimicry, impersonates the Duke for the trip to keep up the facade. The arrive to find the Queen and High Priest awaiting them. After some tense hours Caelan is brought back to life through the power of Jhod’s prayers. Everyone is extremely relieved, in particular Jhod who became quite emotional afterward. The Duke spends some quality time with his wife and son before the group is off again.

They find an abandoned, but newly built, tower in Varnhold Pass. In heavy rain they arrive at the town of Varnhold. The place seems utterly abandoned except for the crows. They explore a pig farmers property (and fight the starving boar hidden in the barn) and cross the river by the natural ford (and have a difficult fight with the Chuul that has set up shop there).

The game concludes as the group approaches the town’s inn.

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An Heir is Born

Neth 10th, 4717 – Gozran 8th, 4719

The council responsibilities of the characters take precedence and a year an a half whizzes by. During this time the Duchy grows by leaps and bounds. Vitally needed buildings and expertise is added to all of the communities of Innisfree. Also some major projects were completed, these include: a Courthouse and Mint in Deepwater, a Brewery in Guinness, and a Resort at the Skunk River hot springs.

Two historic events also took place during this session. The Constitution of Innisfree was completed in Arodus of 4718, making Innisfree a nation of laws. And Caelan’s first born, a son, was born two months later.

Finally, a few other things happened that were noteworthy. Jacobi’s wife Mary had a daughter whom they named Scotia. Strangely, the child has begun showing signs of fire sorcery (at an incredibly young age). Rumors fly that Scotia love Jacobi and used some foul magic to arrange the awkward situation. The less superstitious believe this has more to do with Jacobi baptizing the child at a church of Cayden Cailean than any real connection between he and Scotia. Also, a Marsh Giant attacked the newly built resort and spa (causing some damage). The group dealt with the creature, though almost lost some members by their own hands due to a well placed confusion spell.

At the conclusion of the session the group begins learning of trouble in the neighboring settlement of Varnhold. A Swordlord by the name of Jamandi Aldori formally (though secretly) requests the group find out what has happened since Restov dares not show support for the fledgling settlements at their Southern Border (for fear of the Brevan Crown). Callum Argyle also sends a charter for the group to stop the nuisance of the Nomen Centaurs on behalf of Restov; either by force or by negotiation. Scotia also learns that a researcher from the Academy, one Ervil Pendrod, has not returned from his trip to Varnhold.

The game ends with the group readying to hit the road once more. A welcome thing after two and a half years of council sessions.

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Sweet Home Innisfree

Desnus 11th, 4716 – Neth 10th, 4717

This session was very much a meta-game session, we quickly skipped through the journey home and then went straight into a long session of kingdom building.

On the journey home:

  • Quinn performs for the Pharaoh of Osirion, unfortunately it is a forgettable performance.
  • In Absalom the group meets with the Pathfinders, visits the Great Library, advertise the kingdom and Scotia’s new school, Scotia buys some books, and research the River Kingdoms. They also talk to a sage about Starhold Prison and the shard they found in the Mwangi Expanse. The sage tells them that both are artifacts of the Mercane, an inter-planar and inter-stellar race of magic merchants who haven’t been seen on Golarion in many centuries. Though there is much scholarly debate around these topics it is believed that the prison was buried by a less reputable mercane merchant house to bury their mistake; also it is believed that the shard is a later mercane artifact which is designed to negate plane shifting and teleportation. While much more study is needed the group is told that the shard might be able to be used to shut down the prison.
  • In Almas Quinn’s investigations into his parent’s past bears fruit. He wasn’t able to find out anything about his father, but he does learn about his mom. She was part of an adventuring group consisting of 3 people (Fara Laduren an air sorceress from Cheliax, Harn Jorun a barbarian from the lands of the linnorn kings, and Pendra Polpopinger a gnomish rogue from Cheliax). They were a typical adventuring party that adventured in the Andoran, Taldor, and Qadira regions. Their final mission involved trying to uncover a cult, something about “Lurker on the Threshold”. Quinn is also told that his investigator accidentally reported some of this information to a man who looks exactly like him and goes by the name of Crevan the Gray Fox.
  • In Kyonin the group meets with Adal’s father. They find out he is a high ranking ranger in Kyonin’s defense force fighting the forces of the Tanglebriar near the town of Arabrecht. It was he who arranged the shipment of bows to Innisfree. He does what he can to keep tabs on Innisfree from afar. Wan-Fu also meets with his family.

The group finally gets home near the end of Lamashan 4716, almost a full year since they left for their epic journey to the South. A lot has happened in the past year:

  • Verina Chanistasta is in prison for assault and murder. She did not take the news of Kesten Garess’ death well and when she overheard a racist loudmouth woodsman insult both her and her former lover she went berserk. In the end the woodsman (Jeremy) was dead. The council decides to wait and sentence her later, perhaps a quest to redeem herself.
  • The Bronze Dragon Colette Desmarais spent a few weeks in Innisfree before moving on. The kingdom was just not yet ready to host someone of her taste and refinement. She left an address in Cassomir, Taldor.
  • The first annual Eel Festival was a rousing success (bringing in a lot of money to the kingdom). The winner was Tyg-Titter-Tut’s team of herself, Pervilash, and Munguk. Half the winnings were spent on whiskey and lentils, the other half on paint and a paint brush. Noone knows where Tyg got the entry fee in the first place.
  • Iola’s group has set up a Noble’s Villa and begun planting their vineyard a few miles SE of Deepwater.
  • The Mivonian Tinker Alex Greenbough has moved his family up to Guiness from Mivon. Oleg authorized a start up loan, a house and exotic craftsman was set up in Guiness.
  • In Deepwater 2 tenements, 3 houses, and a black market were created. (The black market is still a bit of an open secret, many people know of it and many don’t.)
  • Two professors from Liberthane have moved to Deepwater to work at the academy (one of political philosophy and the other of military history); also a small group of Andoren halflings have moved into Stagholm.
  • The Hydras have grown up and their trainer begs for better housing for them. While trained they are still aggressive and ravenous.
  • Reported to Quinn and Scotia only: Mr Hammer and Castiel tell them that a homegrown crime guild has sprung up in Innisfree. It is called the Silent Order and led by someone known as the Faceless Man. They have been keeping tabs on this guild but have not done anything about it. Crime has actually gone down and the guild has done much to keep other influences from the River Kingdoms at bay. Mr Hammer and Castiel leave it to Quinn and Scotia to tell the Duke or not (and they don’t).
  • Also reported to Quinn and Scotia: Everyone but the Pharasmites are serious creeped out by the Queen-to-be. When close to Torri malevolent voices and sounds can be heard, small objects seemingly move on their own often in an aggressive manner, and once a piece of chalk wrote the word “KILL” while she was with some commoner children. Most people now avoid her.
  • There was also a series of kingdom events that happened over the past year. These include: gift of food from Sootscales, Disease in Deepwater, silver mine playing out, unrest due to group’s absence (Grigori soothes the masses), more disease in the overcrowded Deepwater, and an extremely generous gift from Rolgrimmdur (masterwork armor for the army).

After all this exposition the group is finally able to get down to the business of kingdom building. Many long and raucous council meetings happen over the following months.

  • Three new council positions are created. Chief Justice: Fadil Ebe is given this honor and begins drafting the “Laws of Innisfree”. Economic Advisor: Iola Voralius takes this role and begins advising, as well as being mentored by, Oleg. And Head of the Royal Guard: Wan-Fu takes on this role and is responsible for the security of the Duke and Castle Tusk.
  • Innisfree expands in all directions. Many farms, camps, roads and bridges are built.
  • In Deepwater: a new city district, school, water tower, some houses, and a market.
  • In Guinness: a smithy, school, monument to the workers (after industrial accident event at gold mine), water tower, and an arena (houses Hydra when not being used).
  • In Stagholm: a smithy, school, water tower, and monument to the faithful (Erastil).
  • Kingdom events include: bad weather, “leaders are made not born” (free leadership feat for council members), industrial accident at the gold mine, a growing sentiment to get rid of the Sootscales now that they aren’t producing silver, food surpluses, an economic boom, and the return of your old friend Guglielmo the Janni.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, on Archer’s Day (Erastus 3rd) 4717 Duke Caelan McCallan takes Torri to become his Duchess. While few approve of his choice of brides, it is a joyous occasion. Dignitaries from far and wide attend the event. The wedding happens at the Temple of the Stag in Stagholm. Also wrapped up in this event is the unveiling of monument to the faithful as well as a ceremony performed by an Absalonian wizard (paid out of the treasury) whereby the Duke and Duchess now have a permanent telepathic bond between each other.

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Welcome to the Jungle

Gozran 11th – Desnus 11th, 4716

The adventure begins with the group trekking across the desolate Kho-Rarme Pass. It is two weeks of heat, sandstorms, and slow travel. Along the way they are at times guided by a flame in the distance; also they come across a massive dead Behir killed within the last few days. As the group leaves the pass they see a majestic phoenix flying back North.

Beyond the pass is a hilly land, which gradually transitions from arid to lush to full jungle. The group comes across a local who is moving some cattle. Thankfully Iola knows Polyglot and is able to communicate with him. He tells them how to get to the village of Ombassa.

The group quickly finds Tophran (the Chelaxian man mentioned in Faramore’s letter) who turns out to be an outfitter for those heading into the jungle. They find out Faramore is overdue by weeks, and believed to be dead. The group explains the situation (that Faramore’s brother Roland is dead) and convinces Tophran to give them the directions to the temple. He does so, sells them some survival gear, and arranges a boat and boatman (his brother-in-law) to take them down the river.

The group travel down river. They are attacked by a couple of Girallon’s (and are watched by a huge silverback girallon from the jungle). After a few days they head into the jungle. They have to deal with the hazards of the jungle (disease, quicksand, poisonous plants, aggressive insects). When they are close to the temple the draw out the Bulette they know is around (so they won’t have to deal with it later). They kill the creature (along with a troublesome poop-slinging monkey).

The next day they head to the temple. They are immediately attacked by the dark-elves that inhabit the place. There is a long running battle against: drow, 2 hill giants, and a drider sorcerer and his barghest companion. They find a key to get into the inner temple.

The inner temple appears to be a room within an alien landscape. The floor has been shattered and is now a series of islands surrounded by strange mist. They see an altar to Erastil across the room, it is in the shape of a stag’s head with expansive antlers.

Thanks to an inspired moment by Wan-fu (praise Erastil!) the group immediately figures out there is an invisible bridge across the room. The group fairly easily dispatches of the drow and human warrior (in red dragon style armor) protecting the room.

They find that a large crystal with alien lettering carved into it rests in the antlers of the altar. The lettering is similar to those found at Starhold Prison. They take the crystal (finding out it won’t go into a bag of holding). As they head back out into the main gallery they see the spirit of Eugene, now at peace. He bows to them then disappears.

They loot the area and then finally…finally…head for home.

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Traveling through Osirion

Pharast 20th – Gozran 11th, 4716

The game opens with the captives of the gnolls reaching Caelan and Jean who are defending the cave leading into the former giant scorpion nest. Caelan falls defending these people against a giant scorpion, thankfully Jean finishes the creature off and bandage up his mentor. Wan-fu finds them, heals Caelan up, and tells Caelan that he is tapped and that he will take over defending the cave. He tells Caelan where to find the group.

The group finishes exploring the fortress of the (now deceased) Laughing Marauder. Iola picks the locks to the chained off area. Inside they discover a greater shadow (which almost one-shot’s General Quinn!) and defeat it. The area is mostly collapsed, though they do find a fountain with a Decanter of Endless Water built into it…which of course they loot. The only other thing they find in this area is an ancient statue of the god Nethys.

They make their way back to An. A group of gnolls catch up. Speaking with Iola they tell her that the new alpha is happy the Laughing Marauder is dead. They offer Iola a nice sword if she and the group don’t tell the humans in An where their town is. She agrees (lying) and off they go.

The group makes it back to town. The “leader” of the captives, Dendera Ebe, invites the group to her house that night. The group drops off the remaining captive to city officials and make their way to Dendera’s house.

When there they find out Dendera and her household (her husband Fadil, her daughter Habibah, and six slaves) are extremely appreciative to the group for saving Dendera. The family tells them they owe them everything and that nothing is too much to ask of them. After a long evening of conversation they encourage the family to move North to Innisfree. The skills of Dendera (a architect/engineer) and Fadil (a renowned lawyer) would be invaluable to the kingdom. And Habibah, who is a natural magic user, would be welcome in Scotia’s planned “School for the Gifted”. The family agrees, they believe the group are good and honorable and would be willing to swear allegiance. The group also discovers the family worship Sarenrae.

The group supplies up, learns about the trip, and head South. The trip to Ipeq, the southernmost major city of Osirion, is uneventful. They continue on, quickly leaving major roads and civilization behind them. They make it as far as the Slave Trenches of Hakotep, a fascinating and ancient series of earthworks built in geometric patterns and dotted with broken black obelisks. They are attacked by a massive earth/sand elemental and they destroy it.

Game concludes just as they pass the Slave Trenches, heading into the infamous Rho-Karme Pass.

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Fortress of the Laughing Marauder

Pharast 20th, 4716

The group starts in the giant scorpion nest, the remains of many humans litter the ground. They continue through the cave system (killing off the baby scorpions and eggs along the way). They find a narrow side passage. The follow it and come out in a cave with 6 captives of the Laughing Marauder. A woman named Dendera Ebe speaks for the group. They discover there is a jailer nearby and they learn that the captives believe they are being held in order to be eaten by the gnolls. The group sends Dendera back to Caelan and Jean (who were keeping an eye on the scorpion cave system.)

Iola unlocks the jail cell door and the group begins exploring the fortress. They kill the jailer and some sleeping gnolls. They discover a kitchen/butcher-area/unholy altar room, it is obvious that this is where the human captives are butchered for the gnolls. The altar has a painted symbol of Lamashtu on the wall behind it.

The group has a large battle in the next room (dining area). Battered and down on resources the group decides to press forward while they still have an advantage. The group explores a bit more and then they find the throne room.

The Laughing Marauder simply says “Destroy them” from behind a curtain. The group charges forward, Wan-fu falls into a pit trap that was covered by a rug with a Lamashtu symbol. Just then a great and swirling Sand Golem enters the room from behind another curtain, it attacks.

What follows is a very challenging battle; first against the Golem and then against the Laughing Marauder along with some bodyguards and members of his harem (who were creepy gnoll women “blessed” by Lamashtu to raise as zombies when they are killed.) The group prevails (despite some Rod of Wonder fun and games) and loot the room. They find the vault and find many valuables stolen from local caravans and a magic staff.

They also find a letter leading them further on to the Mwangi Expanse!

The game ends here, the group wanting to explore a barred and chained door they had seen on the way to the throne room.

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Tracking Down the Laughing Marauder

Pharast 7th – 20th, 4716

The group bids farewell to the Skipper and crew of Delores, they head into the great city of Sothis. It is a loud, smelly, crowded city of confusing streets; it is foreign and overwhelming. The first few days are spent dealing with red tape and minor bureaucrats. During these days Scotia and Iola have some fun with the local street children (culminating in the group literally having to flee the street as a mob of begging children rush toward them), Adal chats up other adventurers, Wan-fu feeds the poor and discovers some important information, and a truly inspired Quinn gives some legendary performances at the Inn the group is staying (The House of Reeds).

During these days Wan-fu finds out from a recently “retired” fighting man that the Laughing Marauder is a rough translation (Eutaicho Katai-turuq) of a bandit lord near An. The group learns that the Laughing Marauder has been hitting the main roads around An every few weeks. The bandits are careful not to target anything too big or too important and they also take the people from the caravans (again, except anyone too rich or influential). They also learn that this bandit group is made up of gnolls riding dire hyenas.

The group buys some magical desert survival supplies and walk to An. Along the way they encounter some sand burrowing Death Worms and a group of papyrus merchants. They learn from the merchants that some of the Laughing Marauder’s bandits had been captured on the last attack and that they were currently on display in An’s main square.

The party heads into An and soon finds the main square. There is only a single remaining gnoll, chained to a great stone. The gnoll (whose name is Narl) feels betrayed by the Laughing Marauder. He tells Wan-fu if the cleric can end his suffering (kill him) he will tell where the bandit’s hideout is. It is agreed. Narl gives the group a landmark in the Shining Mountains to look for, he also tells them that approaching from the East would be impossible (a gnoll town and fortifications) but that there is a cave on the West side of the mountain. The hideout is inside a mountain.

The group heads out, thanks to Adal’s wilderness skills and other’s geography skills they soon find the hideout. After seeing the gnoll town they sneak around the mountain to find the cave in the West. The see from a distance that the cave is inhabited by giant scorpions. They make their way to the cave under the cover of darkness (killing a few scorpions on the way) and get into the cave (killing more scorpions quite easily…though Iola does get into some trouble.)

The group ends the session in the cave system.

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Fast Lane to Osirion

Calistril 14th – Pharast 7th, 4716

The group makes good time through the civilized land of Andoran. Traveling by foot they experience Andoran’s people and places unfiltered. They see what a large and wealthy country can be.

A couple days North of the capital of Almas the group comes across a group of soldiers (Andoren Eagle Knights) searching some wagons on the road ahead. The owner of the wagon seemed to be quite animated and was trying to stop the soldiers from taking away supposed “contraband”. A young gangly soldier on the road tries to wave the characters off. He doesn’t look quite right and is definitely not acting like a soldier. The group decides to intervene.

They ignore the soldiers warnings; the wagon owner’s pleas seem genuine (the soldiers are stealing family grape vine cuttings!) and something is definitely a bit off about these soldiers. After a display of strength and prowess the group makes it clear they are not messing around and will get to the bottom of what is going on. The leader of the soldiers very obviously has no stomach for a fight and they run off.

It is now they meet the Andoren woman Iolanestri Voralius; youngest daughter of the famous vintner Voralius family. They discover she is heading North to Innisfree to settle and begin some business ventures on behalf of her family. The group avoids telling her that they are in the ruling council of Innisfree, deciding to feel her out a bit more.

Iola, incensed by the encounter with the “soldiers”, insists she will travel back to Almas with them to report the incident to her family. They agree.

That night the group is attacked by a pair of Belker’s, demonic smoke creatures from the elemental plane of air. A shadowy figure is seen blinking away as the fight begins. Again the Duke seems to be targeted specifically. The group defeats the monsters.

They head South and soon find themselves in the metropolis of Almas, likely the largest city any of them have ever seen. Iola takes them to her family mansion. One of her elders sisters appears exasperated as Iola makes her way to the door (obviously Iola returning so soon with a “problem” was not entirely unexpected.) Her sister, after seeing her sister with a road weary group of adventurers, tries her best to get Iola to drop what has happened (Uncle says she has to quit bothering the family lawyer so much.) Iola, threatening to embarrass the family if she does not get her way, insists and as usual her sister bends.

The group is set up in the guest house (nicer by far than any house in Innisfree). Iola finally discovers who the group really are and an agreement is proposed.

They spend a few days in the city. Quinn is finally able to sew some oats and simply just be a fun-loving bard for a few days; he also sets to finding information about his parents now that he knows their real names. Scotia spends her time at Almas University speaking with various sages and professors. Adal spends time spreading the word of Innisfree among the halflings, putting up posters regarding Innisfree’s Eel festival, and speaking with other adventurers. Caelan’s time is taken up with formalizing an agreement with Iola and the Voralius family lawyer. And Wan-fu seeks out and talks with various elves around the city.

The group then sets to the task of finding passage across the Inner Sea. Of the various options they decide to travel with a lumber freighter by the name of Delores. Her captain, Skipper Hayden Sterling, is a displaced Rostlander and is very excited to have people from his distant homeland aboard. Caelan immediately befriends the crew by bringing treats and Rostish home-cooking aboard with him.

The trip to Sothis is mostly quiet, punctuated by a very dangerous battle with a juvenile Sea Serpent. The battle almost costs the newest member of the team Iola her life, but as always the heroes of Innisfree prevail.

The game concludes as Delores is sailing into the huge city of Sothis. If the group feels they’d seen strange and foreign lands thus far….they ain’t seen nothing yet!

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