For backgrounds on the characters played in this campaign, look here~
Once affairs had been settled in Tamran, several days seemed to slip by with nary thought nor incident as Captain Walren ferried the party back to Kassen’s Hold; from there, the pilgrimage to the Crypt of the Everflame was made once more, that the spirits therein might be put to rest. With the return of the amulet fragments and the accompaniment of Iramine, the ghostly manifestation of Ekat Kassen and Asar Vergas found some semblance of peace—offering in turn insights into the battles and trials that lay ahead far to the north in Tsar. Kassen bestowed a final boon upon those who had striven to such length to make things right—and further, the trio of former adventurers provided one last gift, teaching those assembled special techniques and feats lost from the ways of old.
With this complete, the group returned to Kassen’s Hold where their caravan, funded by the Pathfinder Society, had finished being assembled; as well, the party was joined by Ameiko and Shalelu, the pair intent on accompaniment to what lay ahead in the north in pursuit of a dragon there. Ameiko provided harrowed fortunes for each member of the party, providing portents of what may yet come—and with this, the ensemble set out across the Tourondel river, soon to depart from Nirmathas as they ventured into Lastwall, their destination: Vigil.
Though the journey proved at first uneventful as the northern fangwood was given wide berth while strange sounds were heard intermittently at night whenever the caravan circled to rest for an evening—near to the end of the approach to Vigil the caravan elected to pass through the very fringe of the wilderness in favor of attempting to ford the river, the ancient histories of the Oregonian Sojourners providing somber reminders of the perils inherent in such. Near the end of this trek, the caravan was assailed by brigands and bandits who requested a toll of five gold per head—a sum paid by Pandora, noted by she as a cost paid to avoid bloodying her weapons, as the bandits seemed unimpressed by young Anselme’s attempts to intimidate them.
Placing the incident behind them, the caravan soon arrived at the southern gate of the magnificent fortress-city that is Vigil, greeted warmly by the garrison before being led inside; once past the high walls and heavy fortifications, the party was swiftly greeted by a procession of the Knights of Ozem whom invited all to accompany Brother Vang into the city’s inner sanctum. There, a report was made to the upper echelon of the Knights of Ozem as to all the events which had unfolded, before Brother Vang’s relic was requested for study and verification and the party was provided a sizable feast while the council convened privately.
After a short delay, the council emerged, and having taken Brother Vang’s request, quest and information into careful consideration declared that he should continue his journey northward—not only with the blessings of both they and Iomedae, but bearing a new rank, title and official knighthood. Now named Inheritor Crusader by the council with all the responsibilities and privileges which accompanied such, Brother Vang was also assigned Sister Anya Blackwood to serve his cause and act as chronicler, shield bearer and assistant in the trials to come. Brother Vang was returned the relic he had been bestowed by Kassen, cleaned and mended with care, before the party was adjourned for the evening.
En route to Vigil, the group had encountered Sir Valio Ilmonen of the order of the Crimson Swords on the road whereupon the knight had declared his quest to slay a green dragoness within the northern fangwood; at the time, the party had requested that the man await the conclusion of their business with vigil before they might accompany him on his endeavor—and with affairs settled with the Knights of Ozem, the group once more convened with the man before venturing into the wilderness together.
After searching for some time with the knight, the party came upon a small dilapidated ruin from which an elven woman emerged; Pandora and Cassandra strode ahead to parlay with her and inquire about the dragoness, only to be entreated that they lead Sir Valio from the wilderness—insistent that the dragoness in question had done no wrong in Lastwall and that the man was wicked in his quest for her destruction. Pandora spied suspicious characters in the shadows behind the woman, but together the pair returned to Sir Valio and the party and the search continued loosely just the same.
An evening of rest soon came as snow fell steadily from darkened skies; Meryk experienced one of his visions while he slept, and upon the morn an owl was spied observing the party where they lay. Anselme, consulting a scroll, endeavored to speak with the owl—discovering her to be a druid and the same elven woman encountered in the ruins. Once more she entreated that the party relent from accompanying Sir Valio, insisting that only an inevitable bloodshed would await—and that this time, the dragonslayer would meet his demise. Together, the party accompanied the knight further once the druid had departed.
It took little time afterward for a muddied clearing to be discovered and from the fringe the immense shadow of a dragoness swept the ground; Sir Valio was swift to advance despite those who implored him otherwise, and soon thereafter a huge dragoness descended to slam into the the ground amidst a great furrowing of mud and snow. Bellowing fiercely that the ‘cat and mouse’ would cease, Sir Valio couched his lance and quickly charged, heedless of the declaration that the presence of others had been sensed before the dragoness—too late to halt when several invisible figures were revealed, braced for the dragonslayer’s charge.
Steed toppled, Sir Valio was quick to return to his feet despite his heavy armor and armament, engaging then with the two shadowy figures Pandora had spied alongside a half-orc woman and soon flanked by a sizable white she-wolf, discovered to be the lady druid. The dragoness took flight, strafing over the clearing in passes while Sir Valio engaged with his quartet of adversaries on the ground; in one pass, Pandora let fly with a thrown dagger but missed the belly of the dragoness, and soon the party began to fight fiercely with words rather than arms.
Imploring Sir Valio to abandon the fight, to reconsider and relent, the dragonslayer proved stubborn and stalwart in his charge; turning aside numerous blows between his armor and shield, Sir Valio insisted that were he not to slay the dragoness under pretense that she might not deliver evil unto Lastwall- only to have such occur- that his negligence would be responsible in kind for whatever she visited upon the populace. Opinions were mixed among the party, and while Pandora seemed to side with the word of the dragonslayer, ultimately the ensemble pressed strongly to impress upon the man that he must relinquish this fight. At long last, Sir Valio threw down his weapon, yawping bawdily to curse those gathered and ending the combat thus.
Brother Vang relinquished the bulwark of the dragon knight, citing himself unworthy given the circumstances of their encounter; with Sir Valio’s steed saved from death, the knight remounted the beast before departing from the party’s company with grim countenance. Once the combat had been concluded, a wary dragoness descended to land and give audience to the strange band of adventurers who, for once, seemed less keen on her demise and the acquisition of her treasure than on parlay as a party. It was discovered then that she sought the lair of her parents, that she might reclaim both her history and heritage—noted as well that the order of the Crimson Swords had been the ones who had slain the pair so long ago. Sir Valio had already once defeated Aurakraul and she yet bore the terrible scar of the man’s powerful lance.
Soon after the party agreed to accompany Aurakraul at the behest of her druid companion, that together they might discover the lair of the dragoness—the shadowy duo who had worked in tandem with her before had made themselves scarce. Anselme, taking to the skies, was able to locate a strange cavern surrounded by magical obfuscation and maze-like briars before together the party ventured forth to arrive at such; once there, recent tracks were discovered along with ropes trailing down into the caverns below. Pandora entered first, finding the great many bats and their leavings within; the party was assailed by the thousands of creatures before making their way deeper into the caves.
At the rear of the caverns, the remnants of a treasure hoard were discovered—along with evidence that others had recently begun to pilfer and abscond with its contents. With no further sign of the thieves, Aurakraul began to take account of the treasure which remained, deep in reflection while the party explored the remainder of the cave. A magic circle of teleportation was discovered at the back of the cavern, and while the party began to debate how best to explore it, Pandora stole her way through such and emerged atop an immensely tall tower. From her new vantage, Pandora spied in the distance the castle home of a vampire lord of Ustalav before noting a clearly trapped trap door, another matching teleportation circle, and a glowing short sword atop the tower itself. Retrieving the sword, it took Pandora several attempts at the circle before she was returned to the party’s company to report her findings thus.
A puzzle-locked scroll tube was discovered by the party and then opened by the dragoness, eager to read its contents. It was revealed that the red dragon Verthimirix had steered the order of the Crimson Swords towards Aurakraul’s parents so long ago. Afterward, Aurakraul regarded the adventurers with mixed feelings, holding the lot with both a wary eye and one of curiosity; voicing a gratitude to the peculiar party, the dragoness gave a somewhat awkward intonation before allotting them a portion of her hoard for services rendered. Noting the gathered group as what may be ‘friends’ after consultation with the lady druid, Aurakraul departed with the remainder of her hoard—citing that she would venture northward towards Tsar to further seek her past. Had the party gained an ally in the dragoness? Only time would tell.
Returning to Vigil, the group saw to the purchase of a number of items and supplies before partaking in a further heroes feast provided by the Knights of Ozem; with the caravan assembled once more, the party struck forth from the northern gates of Vigil, accompanied by an escort of Knights of Ozem out to the border of Lastwall and entrance to the Hungry Mountains. Wishing the group success on their journey to come, the knights parted ways with the ensemble and the caravan struck further northward into the mountainous terrain. As snow fell and scouts returned with a smattering of recovered supplies, the trek soon encountered a solitary robed figure standing in the path ahead.
Spreading his arms wide as he grinned, the robe figure declared that Orcus sent his greetings—before the caravan was assailed by an army of orcs and undead and black orcs began to emerge from the nearby trees in ambush. Pandora charged to engaged the priest, only to be bushwhacked by a towering invisible ettin awaiting her—the mighty Charnok, just as Meryk had envisioned so many days prior in his dreams. A half-fiend minotaur descended to engage Brother Vang and a bloody battle was soon at hand.
As the caravan and its protectors fought against the sizable tide of enemies to the rear, the party engaged their foes at the front; Brother Vang smote the minotaur to free himself to disengage from the beast before Cassandra laid into the beast with ruinous magics, quickly dispatching it back to whence it came. Emma and Pandora fought and maneuvered about Charnok, attempting to reach the high priest of Orcus beyond before Meryk loosed a devastating volley upon the orc—prompting him to quickly quaff a potion of invisibility and vanish from sight. As volcanic ash was rained upon Charnok, the party quickly discovered the incredible resiliency of the ettin as the melee continued fiercely.
Battering, smashing and bludgeoning away, Charnok’s attention turned to the pursuit of Meryk as another volley was let fly; the high priest of Orcus emerged, attempting to slay the inquisitor twice with the power of Orcus—but Desna, it seemed, looked favorably upon the man and he was able to elude his foes with timely invisibility. Channeling powerful negative energy, the high priest of Orcus remained close to Charnok as the pair began to cut a bloody path through the party’s rear, still pursued by Emma in turn while Anselme and Leone flanked about the towering creature. Magic and blade both brought to bear in equal measure, the high priest of Orcus was at last dispatched—and in a bloody blaze of glory, a short while afterward so too was Charnok.
While the party mended their wounds and recovered from the sudden assault, the remainder of the forces assailing the caravan were dispatched and the ensemble broke to rest from their ordeal—now freshly reminded that the forces of evil were both aware and awaiting their presence ahead…
See what Emma thought about this session here!
See what Meryk thought about these last two sessions here!