For backgrounds on the characters played in this campaign, look here~
Upon the party’s return to camp from their foray into the Ashen Wastes, numerous new arrivals were found to await them outside of their newly constructed gatehouse. Several processions set to meet the adventurers upon their appearance:
Meeting Zantric were Valrim and Delgur Thorlode, dwarven clerics and brothers both whom were accompanied by six dwarven warriors to further bolster efforts in securing a foothold among the Desolation. Together with his new-found comrades in arms, Zantric retired to central tower to see to making arrangements following his experiences in the days prior; later, Zantric would emerge to reveal the beginnings of his journey into becoming a paladin to his fellows.
Cassandra came to find a curious duo awaiting her, a dapper sell-sword with a handlebar mustache who introduced himself as Jory Menadue and a sizable but predominantly silent man with a pair of mailed fists branded upon his cheeks–introduced by jory as Daveth. It was revealed that the duo had traveled for several months from Katapesh at the behest of Cassandra’s parents–both to oversee their daughter’s continued safety as well as to deliver a vast train of gifts and accouterments to make her accommodations more comfortable.
Cassandra was rather distressed by this sudden contact from her family, and more so at the conundrum of the newly arrived pair: Jory was affected by a magical geas to see his contract through, an arrangement he insisted was a voluntary one for the considerable pay he’d received. Daveth, in the meantime, was revealed to be a former pit fighter of some repute in Katapesh whom won his freedom and had since come bereft of such arcane assurances. After much debate, Cassandra accepted the arrivals and daunting mule train into the fortress before penning a reply to the letter she’d received from her parents–leaving no uncertainty as to her feelings on their continued avenues of trade.
For Brother Vang a most sizable retinue awaited, with much heraldry and many holy symbols and emblems on proud display. Among them, the most sizable man introduced himself as Sir Peder Skewes before naming his traveling companions: Lady Eseld the Charitable, a paladin after her father’s demise at the hands of a demon. Sir Gawen Annear, a seasoned knight struggling to reclaim his former prowess after suffering at the hands of a lich. Sir Wellby Goodbarrel, the ‘Toy Knight’–a halfling of small stature but immense resolve in the pursuit of thwarting evil.
Finally, Brother Vang was introduced to Father Howell Odgers, a corpulant but boisterous cleric with a generous mien. All five had heard of Brother Vang’s growing exploits and accomplishments, as well as the speed with which he had ascended through the Order of Ozem in service of Iomedae–and each were inspired to take up arms and fight alongside the young crusader. As well, several cavaliers had come to take up banners against the forces within Tsar–further emboldening the resolve of the party in their mission.
With a bawdy call Emma recognized an old but familiar face in the figure of a broad, bald and burly man nigh covered in runic tattoos and toting a mace at his hip; Gregor, a master transmuter from the lands of the Linnorm Kings whom had first aided the young barbarian in her early days with the Pathfinder Society. Gregor introduced Caja, a young woman with a similar mien to Emma herself–though she favored a longbow where Emma carried heavy steel. Having set the two to chatting, albeit with somewhat of a language barrier, Gregor set out to seek Pandora leaving much of the party to settle in with the new arrivals.
Back in the Camp at the boarding house Pandora, its recently instated new proprietor, found a trio of new faces arriving with fresh introductions in store. Ruan Endean had the look of a hard-bitten soldier and had served as a drummer for a time, moving from outfit to outfit in various military deployments; when the opportunity came, he spoke of being taken in under Gregor’s tutelage–not unlike Pandora herself, it seemed. Now Ruan and his counterparts had arrived with the same-such mentor and been instructed to seek out the drow herself.
Ruan was joined by Tamsyn Cass, a Varisian woman who carried a long-hafted axe boasting many notches and a Harrow deck at her hip; Tamsyn’s family had been put to the sword by marauding orcs in service of Orcus and she pined for vengeance. Lastly introduced was Alan Ahearn, a giant of a man with an immense falchion whom had been the son of a brawny mage and her loving bodyguard; Alan had come upon hard times before Gregor’s aide but now sought to set down the path to a marriage of martial and arcane might.
Together the trio spoke with Pandora of their experiences before Gregor himself arrived at last, yawping of word that Pandora had finally ‘taken the books’ and insisting upon immediately beginning her instruction in transmutation. Once the pair retired for study, the eve quickly passed as all rested, recovered and recuperated from their ordeals while preparing to set out for their next destination: the Firebase of the Damned.
While sequestered in contemplation that evening, Brother Vang began to feel a disturbing itch and tingling manifest itself upon his chest–soon afterward, the crusader felt a presence impress upon his mind, only narrowly able to rebuke it. Much to the crusader’s dismay, it seemed that at long last an element from his childhood had come to haunt him: gathering his fellow compatriots, Brother Vang revealed the strange and mysterious scar he bore from when he was but a babe.
Over flickering candlelight and a solemn supper, Brother Vang shared the private story of his youth–that he had been orphaned as a baby, taken in by a matron at a church to Iomedae and raised within the faith. Since he was a child the strange scar had been present, but Vang had never quite understood its meaning or significance and had strove to keep its presence secret throughout his life.
Now, however, the crusader was dubious of the ramifications of such and sought the knowledge of his fellows and their insights; Meryk and Anselme were unable to identify the markings, nor were Vang’s new companions. Together then the party went to seek out Asharru in the hopes that the Raksasha would be able to weigh in her own knowledge on the matter–and once arriving in the fox-headed woman’s shadowy corner of the Sip of Blood tavern, sure enough she swiftly identified Vang’s marking with a musing look.
Baalzebul–the very archduke spoken of during the Army of Light’s first foray against the forces of Orcus so long ago; when Vang had received the ritualistic scar was uncertain save that it must had tied into his earliest years–prior to arrival at the orphanage. Distressed at this discovery, Vang reconvened with the others and immediately sought to send word back to Vigil and the Matron of the orphanage at distance–only to discover that the woman, long since retired, had departed heading northward from the city some seven days prior in the company of a group of robed monks. Before long it became clear: ever more answers awaited within the walls of the temple-city of Tsar.
Word from other adventuring parties spoke of continued ventures out throughout the Boiling Lands and much of the remaining Dead Fields; ahead, the group set their sights on Asharru’s task–the retrieval of the remains of the base commander within the Firebase of the Damned. With their destination mapped out, the party set forth from the Camp and made their way up the long path past the cross-roads–deciding then to continue further before their target in order to at long last catch a glimpse of the supposed guardian of Tsar and the defenses of the city itself.
No sooner had the group grown near to the temple-city than did they find themselves faced with a broad field of tar pits set throughout the terrain–and from one of such pits emerged a gargantuan and terrifying tar dragon, a fearsome sight which set the party to swiftly withdraw from the field to fight another day. Wary of their ultimate adversary, the group doubled back before making their way down towards the firebase–and late in the day, arrived to find a hilltop fortification of palisades with siege weaponry observable over barricades and barriers.
Spying undead giants lumbering about and manning the siege equipment, the group shored up and hastened down the road on the approach to the fortification; Emma broke off in the lead, endeavoring to make a quick approach to the blockade at the entrance of the base and vault it. Upon mounting the defenses however, Emma found herself suddenly assailed by twenty juju zombie spearmen in a phalanx behind the barrier–the barbarian felled and bleeding in her sudden shock and surprise. The spearmen again attacked the barbarian as she struggled to withdraw and her companions hastened to her recovery–and after pulling back, the group decided to make a return to the Camp in lieu of better preparing for the fortified position.
Rendezvousing with Meryk back at the base, the party rested and coalesced a plan to attack the firebase from afar, making better use of the considerable range Cassandra and Meryk alike could bring to bear with their respective arsenals. In the meantime, Brother Vang experienced a disturbing vision of men in robes of blue and black traversing twisted and dizzying streets beneath a dark and terrible pall; the inheritor crusader shared this with his compatriots, declaring it a glimpse of Tsar itself–and soon enough the party made haste back to the firebase to besiege it.
Their approach became long, with measured and meticulous caution in their advance; from afar, Cassandra loosed empowered fireballs upon the site of the siege equipment and was rewarded with satisfying explosions as the nearby munitions cooked off and detonated, sowing much destruction within the fortification. Both she and Meryk rained respective barrages on the phalanx within the base, though found their efforts stymied in part by the revelation of several priests of Orcus making their way about the base.
With the growing reputation and apparent irritation the party had sowed with the forces of evil, countermeasures and targets had been laid among their own number as well; as the group engaged from afar, soul eaters suddenly arrived in ambush of Cassandra–nearly slaying the sorceress where she stood save for Zantric’s quick intervention. The party set upon the soul eaters swiftly, dispatching the monstrous creatures–and then began their advance on the base, continuing their barrage of arrows and arcane might as they went.
Destruction was wrought at great range as the battle stretched on at length–and so long went the conflict that additional monsters began to emerge from the nearby Dead Fields to join the battle, assailing the party from the rear. A mohrg, a grotesque undead abomination, attacked as the party began to gradually thin the ranks within the base. Anselme once more set about a whirlwind upon the defenders and Zantric, enlarged by magic and bearing a great pole-arm, began to make headway against the barricade and its guardians.
Over many minutes, the party exhausted much in the way of their resources in order to break up the defense of the firebase–sowing havoc so long that eventually the defenders were marshaled forth to meet them on the field. As the remainder of the juju zombie phalanx engaged the party, a pair of armored clay golems entered the battlefield alongside a contingent of skeletal warriors, the lot descending upon the party–and joined by a second mohrg not long afterward.
Earlier, Pandora had utilized newly learned transmutation magic in order to burrow down underneath the fortifications and seek what she could beyond; finding a bunker with additional troops, the drow had stirred up the further defenders before making her way deeper into the base to man a ballista and slay one of the priests of Orcus. Now, the secondary contingent she had discovered had also moved to engage the party–but by now the air elemental’s whirlwind coupled with countless arrows, fireballs and strokes of Zantric’s ranseur had devastated the rank and file of the firebase’s defenders.
Though not without injury nor considerable exhaustion from such an exceedingly long fight, the party at long last slew and destroyed the last of the undead and unexpected arrivals to the field and found themselves faced with the smoking and smoldering ruin of the firebase ahead. The bunker which Pandora had discovered would doubtless contain what the party sought for their patron alongside further untold discoveries–but for the moment, the party halted to regroup and re-assess before they would continue on…
To see what Meryk wrote about this session, look here.