Call to Arms

Child of Malice, Part 2
An Ancient Hatred

While the PCs restore some order to the desecrated crypt, Dorn notices a black cat watching them. It runs off and he sees it was waiting beneath an old religious carving from the cult of Malice. More line the hallway every 20 feet.

This leads the group to a huge tomb (20’ ceilings, over 100’ wide) belonging to Cadmus Tyron, leader of House Tyron over 500 years ago, his hatred of the Bloodwicks has turned him into a Wight. He has 12 zombies at his command, some slain members of the Caetari Redguard.

Cadmus smells the blood of his ancient rivals and demands they turn over Kendal. They defend her and destroy the undead. Sova takes bracers of protection (+1 AC) from the dust of her ancestor.

Brother Dalca blesses and re-inters the remains in the tomb. Dorn finds a way to the surface nearby, after some discussion they agree to go home and rest up before having another try at finding the cult.

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Child of Malice, Part 1
The Crypt of Diano

Anselmo meets with the Champion of Caetar and discusses the growing threat from the cult of Malice in Felleg’Avin. With the Campion and most of the Vanguard focused on plans to retake Rookhaven, it’s up to Dalca to learn what he can about the cult. (If the opposition is too strong, the Vanguard will assist.)

Dorn is comfortable in the Tyron estates, yet it’s clear everyone is repulsed by his appearance the family tries to be polite and make him welcome. They have a long history with Hammerfall. Sova enjoys her brief time back with her family and take part in a private ritual to Vesta along with her mother and sister.

The PCs meet with Kendal Bloodwick at the Fountain of the Lost Children. She is dressed for travel. Kendall confirms Sova is now safe, the Bloodwick’s have dropped their case against her with an understanding the Tyrons will do nothing to embarrass Kalen Rustheart, like reveal how Kalen ignored the orders of The Chamber of Five.

Kendall learned what she could about the captive the Grimlocks killed. He was a bricklayer who disappeared repairing the sewer. They all agree to track the Grimlocks and discover what connection they have to the cult of Malice and the bloody hand.

Exploring the Undercity, the party comes across a swarming pile of 20 giant rats. Kendall obliterates half of them with a lightning bolt, some flee and the fighters clean up the rest. The rats were swarming over 3 dead dwarves (Fellhammer clan) who were killed by arrows. One of the bodies has a hand carved horn of Caetar, which Anselmo keeps.

Still trying to track the Grimlocks, the PCs enter a catacomb and stumble on the ancient crypt of Diano Tyron, an ancestor of Sova’s from about 1500 years ago. The crypt has been defiled by 8 ghouls, and a pitched battle ensues. Sova and Anselmo are briefly paralyzed but the cleric recovers and turns the 3 remaining ghouls, who flee.

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Rogues, Part 5
The Undercity

Sova and Dorn sneak into Felleg’Avin through a labyrinth of hidden underground tunnels known as the Undercity. Home at last, she reunites with her family and tells them of her plans.

The next morning the Tyron family has breakfast with Dorn and Anselmo. Brother Dalca tells them about the cult presence in the city. Sove asks Anselmo to contact Kendal Bloodwick and ask to meet in the very alley where her cousin Ellesh was slain.

Without her disguise, Sova cannot move freely about the city, so they again travel underground, along the same path she used many times to meet Ellesh in secret. There in the Undercity they see the sign of the bloody hand, proving the cult uses these same tunnels. They also hear a muffled cry and movement.

They find a group of 8 Grimlocks carrying a captive and give battle. They slay all of the Grimlocks but find the captive has already died from bite wounds.
ody of the captive the Grimp
The PC’s meet with Kendal. She is excited to see Anselmo, (especially since he asked her to come alone!) but is wary when he introduces her to Sova. Sova quickly explains that she did not kill Ellesh, and allows Kendal to detect thoughts to confirm the truth of it. Kendal is shaken, but apologizes to Sova for thinking she was a murderer.

Sova also tells Kendal about her brother Kalen’s activity fighting slavers near Dellenshire. Sova asks Kendal to broker a deal with the Bloodwicks: if they drop their case against Sova, the Tyrons in turn will not tell the other nobles that Kalen is flaunting their decree against attacking the slavers.

With all of that settled, Dorn, Anselmo and Sova return to the Undercity while Kendal summons the city guard to deal with the body of the captive the Grimlocks killed.

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Rogues, Part 4
Otter

Reaching the outskirts of Felleg’Avin the PC’s stop at a tavern for the night. The waiter signals Anders that he needs to meet a contact. Slipping away alone, he enters the secret underground lair of Raker the Boneless.

Raker touches up Anders’ disguise and tells him Otter was found and is waiting nearby. First though, bad news: Finnot was found dead in the sewers and it looks like a professional job.

Anders talks to Otter and tells him that if he tells anyone Kalen attacked the slavers it will destroy a good man’s prospects and reputation and cause major damage a noble house. Otter agrees to confess to murder but leave Kalen’s name out of it.

Returning to Anselmo and Dorn, Anders makes a confession of his own: Anders Zollis does not exist and never did. Removing some of the disguise, Sova Tyron introduces herself to them honestly for the first time and tells her story.

Dorn suggests that they can save Kalen and Otter if Sova just threatens the Bloodwicks: “drop your case against me or I tell the council what Kalen’s been doing.” She can keep Otter safely confined as a possible witness. (This would satisfy Otter’s desire to face Justice and protect him from possible assassination by the Bloodwicks.)

Dorn and Anselmo don’t seem to hold the deception against her, but Anselmo is adamant that Otter not be imprisoned as killing Kalen’s men was really Kalen’s fault for dressing and acting like bandits.

Dorn and Sova don’t want to be seen entering the city, so they plan to sneak in with Raker (and Otter?) following a secret underground route. Anselmo walks to his temple alone following the normal roads.

Lady Kendal Bloodwick calls on Anselmo at the temple of Caetar. She searched for Finnot at Anders request but could not find him. Along the way she saw wall marking matching the cult symbols Anselmo showed her. Thinking it might be important, she scoured the archives of Felleg’Avin for the symbols. She thinks a cult of Malice has been operating underground (literally) in Felleg’Avin for centuries, but it was never too much of a threat. The hand-and-eye symbol is new, and started showing up on walls around the city very recently. She thinks they are meeting and recruiting. Anselmo thanks her and she leaves, vanishing in a swirl of silver mist.

NEXT TIME: Sova and Dorn in the Undercity!

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Rogues, part 3
Blood and gold

As the group heads south to Eghal, Otter is solemn and withdrawn. He confides to Anders that he feels they committed a terrible crime, Otter personally murdered seven men who came here to free slaves. He plans to turn himself in to the constabulary in Felleg’Avin. If they don’t join him, he will not implicate them to the law, but he also can’t respect them if they won’t take responsibility for what they did.

Reaching Eghal, they find a crowd worked up over news that Rookhaven has fallen to orcs. The local mercenaries demand the nobles raise a small army to take it back. Rafael Lonzo is there (having teleported or flown?) and urges caution. Better to lure the orcs out onto the plains instead of fighting them in the mountains.

When some of the crowd throw rocks at Lonzo, Dorn steps in and defends him. Anselmo and Anders stand and watch.

Anders and Anselmo meet with Chancellor Belloch and other nobles of Eghal to discuss the matter. Eghal will need to follow the decisions of the nobles in Felleg’Avin.

Privately to Anders, Belloch suggests that if they manage Otter correctly, Kalen Rustheart’s defiance of noble decree could cause enough damage to the Bloodwicks that they would drop their case against Sova.

Brother Po at the Shrine of Caetar assists Anselmo.

Anders checks his underworld contacts and hears that Otter already left for Felleg’Avin. He gets Dorn and Anselmo and they rush to overtake him.

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Rogues, part 2
The bo'sun or the wain

Anders and Anselmo talk to Rosanna, the leader of the caravan, who offers 50gp each if they join her caravan as guards, plus a large bounty if they deliver the bandit leader alive to Queensport. She has a ship waiting for them 20 miles away and will take them. (She works for Gwynneth Havar, noble of Estaria.) She also invites them to camp and break bread with the caravan, whatever they decide.

Dorn is securing their prisoner a short distance away. Suddenly he smells orc. A brand new buck-naked orc appears right where the attackers had gathered to charge. When discovered, the orc flees. Otter runs it down and runs it through. Dorn checks its tracks and confirms it did not sneak into the area, it appeared there as if by magic. But the bandits don’t seem capable of magic, so what’s going on? Dorn draws parallels to the goblins they fought at the barn last month and urges Anselmo to consecrate the site against evil. (He does, if only to make Dorn feel better. Anselmo doesn’t expect it to have any real effect.)

Returning to look over the prisoner, they notice his clothes are common but his armor is too expensive for a bandit. He’s wearing the signet ring of the Bloodwick clan. They decide to get the bandit’s side of the story before they give Rosanna an answer and wake him with a splash of wine in his face.

He explains that he’s Lord Kalen Rustheart of Felleg’Avin. He and his picked men have been harassing these caravans for months now trying to shut down slave trade from Dellenshire to Estaria. Otter sneak off and finds a dozen hobbits in chains, with sacks over their heads in the back of a wagon.

Kalen is acting on his own, the noble families of Felleg’Avin know about the slavers but choose to ignore it, sacrificing their allies in Dellenshire to avoid conflict with the much more powerful state of Estaria. So Kalen took it on himself to do something about it, and disguised his men as bandits so his family wouldn’t intervene and wouldn’t be seen as going against the wishes of the other nobles.

Anders, a fellow noble (though from a less prestigious family), sides with Kalen. They agree to help Kalen, and discuss whether they should kill the slavers.

As they speak, Rosanna approaches and invites them again to eat and camp with the caravan tonight. Anselmo confronts her with the slaves, she asks, “is that a problem?” (Slavery is illegal in Felleg’Avin, but not everyone opposes it.) “We are at your mercy,” she declares and surrenders her caravan. After the previous battle the slavers have no fight left in them.

Anselmo speaks to some of the hobbits and learns they were sold into slavery by their own people.

In the end they free the hobbits and send them home in two of the wagons, with Kalen and his remaining men as guards. Rosanna and the he slavers go on their way alone, with their gold and the rest of their good intact.

After a good rest the PCs set out again for Eghal. The forest is still a dangerous place though, and a few days later they are attacked by giant wasps. Otter puts three of them to sleep and they dispatch the rest without taking a single hit.

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Rogues, part 1
A raven, and Raven's kin

Knox, a raven from Rookhaven, encounters the party outside Peat, cawing “mail! mail!” But the waterproof cylinder on his leg is empty.

Otter talks to him he learns the Knox is seeking Lonzo, but by then Lonzo is long gone. The raven fled from Rookhaven when it was attacked by “flocks and flocks of orcs and goblins.” But Otter has little patience for the bird or for any notion of helping Rookhaven, (“we could go count the bodies” he offers) so he gives Knox directions to where they left Lonzo and sends him off.

The PCs go south toward Eghal, and on the second day Dorn notices obvious tracks of several wagons on the road from only yesterday and subtle human tracks shadowing them, as if scouts or bandits were tailing a caravan.

Indeed, the scouts are from a larger force, and another day’s travel down the road they find the caravan has literally circled the wagons and is under attack. On one side a group with crossbows is keeping the caravan guards pinned down while a second group of attackers prepares to charge in form the other side.

Otter sneaks in among the archers, silently backstabbing and killing seven of them. The confused archers eventually break and run.

Dorn, Anselmo and Anders intercept the swordsmen on the other side. These are fairly skilled fighters (4 Thugs with a Veteran leader) but they kill two and Dorn knocks their leader unconscious.

Victorious, the people from the caravan celebrate and thank their saviors.

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Crossroads, part 4
Three Heresies

The PC’s arrive in the Hobbit hamlet of Peat, where Raphael Lonzo is enjoying a fine spring day (which he made with Control Weather ) molding some clay from the river and passing the time with his friends Whistler (hobbit) and Haggis (a talking goat).

Lonzo is evidently mad and spends half their conversation standing on his head. He tells Anselmo, “You and Kendal have a lot in common. She spent years studying divination of all things, and still can’t see what’s right in front of her face.” Holding up the figurine he fashioned, he asks “What is this?” and nods when Otter answers “a lump of clay.”

Indeed. Learn to see a thing for what it truly is, not what you want it to be, and certainly not what others tell you it is.

He tells Dorn that he grappled with the curse of Hammerfall five years ago, but it bested him. He wishes him well, but warns against false hope.

Anselmo is frustrated by Lonzo’s evasiveness. The wizard acts as if the cult is nothing new, noting that ten years ago orcs were burning villages on the coast near Felleg’Avin, nothing has really changed. He agrees that fighting the orcs is necessary, but there will always be more. Lonzo expects that the Purge force which went to Rookhaven would meet a bad end. He chides that Anselmo doesn’t understand the problem, so how can he be part of the solution?

Just before he leaves, Lonzo gives Anselmo three heresies to investigate. “Answer these and you will know what you must do.”

1. How many races of man are there?
2. Where do goblins come from?
3. Whatever happened to Ephistea?

Dorn takes Lonzo seriously but the rest dismiss him as a lunatic. After some deliberation the PCs decide to visit Anneth Tarryn and ask Aethelred Graymantle about the spell which could save Hammerfall.

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Crossroads, part 3
Into the Woods

Kendal bids farewell to Anders and asks him to tell Otter she will help find his missing memories whenever he feels ready.

The PCs gather and set off to find Lonzo at the hamlet of Peat in Dellenshire. After they travel a few days deep into the wild wooded hills between northern Felleg’Avin and southern Dellenshire, they cross paths with the goddess Vesta and Dorn pursues her, following the trail of spring flowers that sprout wherever she steps. Otter refuses to leave the path they were following but Anselmo and Anders go after Dorn.

The goddess leads them to a thicket which has ensnared a cockatrice. Dorn cuts off its talon and now has two of the twelve components needed for the spell which he hopes will save his people. Vesta has vanished but he gives thanks to her anyway.

Anders considers the trapped cockatrice and decides to kill it with his crossbow. (Why?)

The next night an owlbear attacks while the group is getting ready to bed down. Dorn takes a powerful blow but together they slay it before it can do too much damage.

Dorn ponders why an owlbear would be in this part of the country when they are usually found close to the mountains. Two days later Dorn helps them avoid three giant boars which also seem out of place.

After getting directions from a friendly Hobbit tinker, the group finally arrives at the tiny hamlet of Peat and looks for Lonzo.

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Crossroads, part 2
Kendal

Kendal finds Otter and the girls in the Purge camp and tells them she is looking for a fugitive lady of noble birth who fled Felleg’Avin after murdering her brother Raven and cousin Ellesh. Kendal is investigating the crime as a member of the Adepts.

Kendal is fascinated by Otter and delighted to meet a gnome in person, but Otter puts her off, no wanting to share too much about his past or the things he can’t remember.

Dorn, Anders and Anselmo return. Anders is welcoming, hoping to learn what Kendal knows about Sova Tyron and the murders in Felleg’Avign. We learn Sova is Anders’ cousin.

Anselmo, perhaps sticking up for Anders’ absent cousin, makes Kendal feel unwelcome and she leaves them, striking out on her own at night from the Purge camp.

The next morning the group leaves for Glenmorrow, where the villagers are elated to have Sophie back. They refit the party and promise to find a place for Nessa and the others.

Setting out for Eghal the PCs are met by LooLaa who has news from the Faerie Queen. They believe the witch Folga made a pact with a powerful dark fey named Lilith the Shadow-weaver, who gave Folga the power to corrupt Hammerfall. The elves know a spell which could heal the land, and Dorn should seek out Aethelred Graymantle — the archmage of Anneth Tarryn — when Dorn has acquired more of the components for the spell and proved he is worthy and able to save Hammerfall.

The PC’s arrive in the logging town of Eghal, ancestral home of the Zollis and Tyron clans. Anselmo visits the Shrine of Caetar and makes an offering of the battle tokens he’s collected. Dorn asks the local smiths for news of the Fellhammers, but it has been many years since they have seen a dwarf. Anders visits the local mercenary hall and learns Kendal has arrived before them and is in the noble’s tower in the center of town.

They all go to the tower of the wizard Raphael Lonzo, but his servant Gervais informs them the master is not at home and may not be for a month or longer.

Anders visits the noble’s tower and arranges lunch with Kendal. They get along well and while Anders pleads Sova’s innocence Kendal is receptive. She reads Ellesh’s love letter to Sova and declares,

I need to know what happened. He wrote this for her and she killed him. The world can’t really be that … broken.

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