Blood and Honor

Episode 5 - On Bankiqa's Trail

The party headed back to Rybalka’s library to return the book. Ignis was interested in the Emerald Grove and asked Maestra about it. He said he didn’t know. The group asked him for assistance, and he said he could help if his alchemical supplies were returned. As they were found in the cave, they were returned to him. Maestra gave each party member a Potion of Healing, and he also gave offered the group a Potion of Climbing and Dust of Disappearance.

The party’s next stop was to see Mayor Igor Leonid. That man was happy, or perhaps he was just drunk. Regardless, the report was made regarding the missing hunter, the library break-in, and the existence of werewolves in the area being controlled by the Devil of Darkwood. At the mention the Emerald Grove and the Vikmordere family, the mayor seemed confused.

Rona suggested to Ignis that he take the doll out and bend its leg backwards to see if anyone around nearby cried out in pain. The fourth werewolf would then be made known. Uri said, “Your beautiful face does little to hide the cruelty in your heart.” Rona, always irritated at Uri’s arrogance, now angrily why him why he went around insulting everyone. She then walked outside to wait for the rest of the group.

Uri was confused about this, unsure what had just transpired. He could not understand why people took offense at his demeanor. He and Tyven then got into a heated discussion, and Uri actually drew his glaive. Luckily, Ignis diffused the situation. Uri was very sensitive about his homeland and comments about it.

The group decided to head to the plains north of Rybalka to seek out the wandering Vikmordere clan. On the way, they ran into a Valihideen woman. She said, “I hear you’re looking for us.” Rona introduced herself. The woman’s name was Thelena. Ignis showed her the doll, and she said it looked like Bankiqa’s doll, and Thelena is no friend of the Demon of Darkwood. So the demon’s name was Bankiqa. Nolgrim asked if we could discuss this somewhere else, like around a fire eating a rabbit. His mind was usually on food or fighting. Uri asked why was Bankiqa was turning people into werewolves, and Thelena answered, “Why do devils do the things they do?”

She wanted to know why we were seeking out the Vikmordere family. The party began to argue. Rona said, “I don’t even know anymore,” and sat down on the ground. Uri got impatient and wanted to make haste to the capital, wanting nothing to do with any of this. He said there was a “bigger demon” to deal with, and that was the Corvenian Empire. Nolgrim spat upon the ground and grumbled, “Politics! More useless talk!”

“It will not be politics when Corvenia consumes this land, burning and killing their way westward,” replied Uri, agitated and haughty as usual.

Eventually the party got back on track, and they learned that Thelena was no longer welcome in her clan because she made the decision to join the druids. She also said that all the Vikmordere tribesmen were dead; there was just a grave. Some wanted to go to the grave; some wanted to go to the clan. Uri, of course, wanted to do neither as he planned on taking over Ecchia.

The party ended up heading to where the clan used to be; it had all been burnt.Searching through the ashes revealed nothing. Suddenly, Uri’s huntress said she heard something unusual in the woods nearby, and Rona cast Faerie Fire. Uri swiftly used his glaive to knock out a 16-year-old boy who had been hiding. Thelena said he looked like one of the Vikmordere clansmen. Uri, in an odd show of regret, gave him his healing potion.

The young man, named Quinn, told the party that his people were slain by dead things, zombies. Two women had walked out of the woods and were controlling the zombies. The zombies killed all the clansmen and then left. He didn’t look like the doll, and he was the only survivor. Rona asked him how he was able to turn invisible. He said he was “blessed or cursed” with the ability to do so.

The party was interested in going after the zombies, but since the attack happened “a few” or “a couple” weeks ago, the trail could be hard to find. So the group rested among the ashes and set off the next day to find the burial mound as Quinn posited that the zombies came from the bodies of dead Vikmordere clansmen. Indeed, there were zombies and even a banshee, but the party was victorious.

A very large sarcophagus laid at the end of a hall with the name Conall carved on it. It was undisturbed unlike the rest. Nolgrim and Tyven expressed interest in opening the crypt. Uri expressed his displeasure at this, and he insulted Nolgrim, calling him one of the “lesser races” in need of gratification in regards to looting the crypt. Rona turned on him and said, “So Uri, you’re okay insulting the living but you respect the dead?” He had no response.

Nolgrim and Tyven tried to open the grave, but they were unsuccessful. Uri boldly told them to step aside, and he tried. His attempt was miserable, and Rona loud laughed at him. However, eventually it was opened, and inside was a fine rapier and studded leather.

A Scarab Shield was also found. It was magic, from a far-away land. Keats took it and attuned to it (this shield functions as a +1 shield and in addition, any swarm can not enter the space occupied by the wielder.) Ignis attempted to attune to the studded leather, but he could not. Rona then tried, and she was successful. The armor was crafted by the great skald Conall Vikmodere. Legend has it that Conall, during his travel through the vale, came across a viscous winter wolf chasing a Valihideen girl. He played his pan flute, calming the winter wolf and allowing the girl to escape. The girl turned out to be the daughter of a Valihideen chieftain, who rewarded Conall by having his mystics weave magic into his armor that would harmonize with whatever music he played.

Episode 4 - From Rybalka to the Devil of Darkwood

The party managed to locate all the supplies on the manifest, but there was far too much to carry to get everything back to Skolland in Cerl. It was suggested that only the most valuable items be taken as proof of contract fulfillment, but scavengers could fall upon the place and discover the rest. It was at that point that someone recommended heading to the nearby town of Rybalka since that’s where the provisions were supposed to go in the first place, it was closer, and the party could get assistance there.

Rona sang to raise the spirits of the weary party:

We’re going to Rybalka
We’re happy to be gone
We’re a crazy bunch of assholes
With a bunch of shit to pawn

The group moved through the snow, slowly taking in the new and alien sights and sounds of the remote village. The smell of cedar wood burning along with the searing flesh of wilderness animals was carried along as the smoke from small log cabins mixed with the valley mist. Large poles made from solid wood and carved with all manner of animal faces stared at the party members like trapped lost souls begging for salvation.

Many of the log cabins displayed elk horns above their front doors, while others sported large wooden discs with eerie faces carved in traditional Echian fashion. It seemed quite strange that after taking the village of Rybalka that the Klave Clan did not rid themselves of all the silly wooden idols the original Echian settlers so prominently displayed.

Just then a man with skin the color of ash stepped out in front of the party and looked them up and down. His eyes were dark, almost black, and he gazed into each person’s eyes, seemingly piercing to the soul. “You are new here; today you live, but you have the smell of death upon you. See Sulwotik at daybreak to be cleansed, or the beasts of the wood will come for you.” The tall man then turned and walked away back into the mist from where he came.

“Don’t mind him” said the captain, “Just another Vikmordere loony. A local family that still hasn’t quite come to terms with idea of settling.”

So the party went to the Bugg Inn, and it was relatively run down and torn apart. Bugg himself was there and asked the party what they wanted. They wanted to get word to Skolland, the valet to the Baron of Lampshire. He instructed them to go to the town hall.

The Rybalka Town Hall is a striking structure decorated with onion domes. Oddly enough, there was the carved wooden head of an eagle protruding over the entrance. Double wooden doors opened inward, presumably so in times of heavy snow, access can be maintained. Upon the wooden doors were the carvings of many local animals in the traditional Echian tribal style.

The great hall had wooden beams crisscrossing the ceiling and a long, old red carpet covered in stains and mud stretching the length of the wood lodge. A roaring fire blazed away in a great hearth, radiating a significant amount of heat into the large structure. The entire building smelled of wood and smoke, and the sound of someone reading aloud could be heard from a back room. The jingle of chain mail armor greeted the party as they struggled to shut the enormous double doors.

Two of the Rybalka village guard emerged from behind a drawn curtain in a side room and approached. Both the men wore slightly damaged chain mail and carry long blades at their sides.They were dirty and smelled quite foul. One of the men sported a curled mustache, which he twirled as they approached. The other donned a tweed cap and coughed.

“Hail travelers and welcome to the fine village of Rybalka. This day, on the edge of the last foothold of civilization that you show true honor and allegiance to the king of your kingdom,” said one of the guards.

The other man snickered and said, “Ah, they heard enough, Nolan! Let ‘em relax. I bet they wanna talk with Igor and get away from our stink.”

The man with the mustache turned to face his fellow guardsman. “Barret, have you learned nothing of honor and respect in your time here? Those who fail to follow the ways of the God of War will fall in battle. You must remain alert and always represent yourself and our village in the- ”

“Ah, shut it.” The other guard chuckled and motioned the party onward. “Mayor Igor Leonid is in the office. Just go on in.”

The party members pushed aside the red curtain which hung over the doorway and found a man sitting behind a huge wooden desk. He was writing feverishly, and sweat dripped down his face. He glanced up and grinned from ear to ear. “Ah ha! You have made it! Very good!” He dropped his quill and walked out from behind the desk. He wore only an undershirt and pants cropped short with a pair of huge fur boots. “I am Igor, Mayor Igor Leonid of Rybalka, the village on the very edge of the great Echian Kingdom! I pledge allegiance to King Owen Ivor and will uphold the laws of the Echian Kingdom until the day death takes me. I trust your journey was a safe one? Please, sit down, have some whiskey. Tell me your names and a bit about yourselves.” The mayor pulled up some stools from the corner of the room, poured liquid into small glasses, and pushed them toward everyone while he drank from the flask.

Rona drank with the mayor and offered him entertainment. He said it had been a long time since they’d had a skald in these parts, and he welcomed the offer of story and song. The mayor also paid the party and sent men to retrieve the rest of the items that the party had hidden in the cave. Finally, he spoke of things occurring in Rybalka, most notably some Kyladians that had come to town, which was a very odd thing. They could be found in the Thirsty Serpent Tavern. Also, there had been a break-in at the local library.

The party decided they could use some food and perhaps more drink, so they found their way to the Thirsty Serpent. It was a large building which looked like a two-story log cabin. It was quite large, and the sound of laughing and drunken ruckus escaped the cracks around the wooden door at the entry.

Above the entryway hung an old wooden sign upon which a twisting sea serpent with its tail wrapping around a mug of ale was carved. Pushing the doors open revealed a large barroom, warmly lit by a glowing fireplace and a raging wood stove. A long wooden bar faced the kitchen and was lined with rough and tough looking men covered in dirt and sweat. They pounded ales and talked about their day while enjoying the company of other laborers.

The inn keep, a spry looking young man with a handsome grin, rushed to and fro attempting to appease his customers. A serving boy brought plates of steaming venison and potatoes out to the round tables where the captain and his men sat. There was one seat left at the captain’s table and he motioned at the party should one of the members you to join him. But as they walked in, everyone stopped drinking and turned to stare. It was obvious that they didn’t encounter outsiders too often, and they didn’t look very friendly.

Rona sat down, took out her lute, and started to play softly as the party was served food and drink. The mood started to improve, so she continued to play a bit louder and sing a jolly tune. Meanwhile there was an elf sitting away with what looked to be an entourage; those were the Kyladians. The red elf had a massive glaive, and he gave Ignis a cold stare as Ignis, being himself, went over to introduce himself and make friends. This elf’s name was Uri, and he was tired of being stuck in Rybalka. He grudgingly accepted the party’s invitation to hang out together and possibly investigate the library situation.

The group wanted Rona to talk to the captain, so she went to his table and did so. The pertinent information gathered was that a hunter went missing and the library got broken into. A shepherd was tending his flock, and some sheep went missing. So he hired a hunter to go after a wolf, and that hunter went missing in the Darkwood. It wasn’t completely unheard of, but it was out of the ordinary. Also, the library break-in was odd because the only thing stolen was a book of genealogy of the town that the librarian/alchemist was working on.Rona, having heard tales of lycanthropes, conjectured that it was a werewolf and wanted the book to hide bloodline information.

There was no room at the disgusting Bugg Inn, so the party camped and went to the library the next day. They met with the librarian named Maestra. There were claw-marks on the door halfway up like where a human would scratch if they had claws. There were also broken branches outside the library and a few bits of brown fur. Rona asked if there were any bloodlines that were strange, and Maestra said no, although there was some inbreeding. However, that was not uncommon. Rona then asked if there were any families that were not forthcoming with information, and he said the Vikmordere clan, but that was to be expected because they were out in the wild and didn’t like these folks. Once again, Rona stated that werewolves were likely.
Uri’s huntress stated that if werewolves were to blame, the group should not go unprepared. They asked the alchemist for alchemical silver, but he needed silver to make it. The group split up to get sources. Rona sought an audience with the mayor to discuss the situation and hopefully get some assistance in either coin, weapons, or silver. Uri accompanied her, which was the beginning of a very strained relationship between the two.

Silver was found, and crossbow bolts were made. The party headed into the Darkwood for werewolf hunting. They followed tracks, and a heavy rainstorm moved into the area. Before long, the entire group was soaked and chilled.

As they approached a pile of ice-covered rubble, a human voice called out. “Get away! I’ll kill you! He’ll make me kill you! Get away! I can’t do this… I… someone please… stop me…” There was a human man in blood-stained clothing nearly torn to shreds and hanging from his water-soaked skin. He clutched his head tightly in his hands and screamed as if his mind was being torn asunder. “He’s going to make me kill you! Don’t you understand?!”

The party asked who, and he replied, “The Devil of Darkwood.”
“Who is the Devil of Darkwood?”
He would not, or could not, give a clear answer.
Rona asked if he was a werewolf. He replied, “How did you know that?”
Ignis asked if he took the book. He replied, “How did you know that?!”
He begged us to kill him.
“How can we find him?” Uri asked, referring to the Devil of Darkwood.
“He lives in a cave.”

The party dispatched the man and went into the cave. There were indeed werewolves, and the fight was long and gruesome. Finally, a demon appeared. The group, awed, tried to make a plan, but the demon flew off and disappeared before they could do anything. Within the cave proper, the party found an ancient stone table with stolen alchemy equipment on it as well as some additional apparatuses.

We went into the cave, fought some werewolves and tried to fight a demon. But the demon flew off and disappeared. Within the cavern proper the party finds an ancient stone table with the stolen alchemy equipment and some additional apparatuses. Also, the party found strange fetish dolls discarded by the devil. Three were able to be matched to werewolves the party had killed, but the fourth did not match anyone the group had seen. Rona cast Suggestion on the doll in the hope that she could force whoever its counterpart to go to her, but she could immediately tell that it resisted.

The book of genealogy was found, and the last entry was about the Vikmordere family. Inbreeding was definitely happening in that family, but the most pertinent piece of information was their connection to a druid circle called The Emerald Grove.

Episode 3 - The Shit Cave

The party carried on with their original mission to find the missing provisions. They journeyed for some time until they found the scene of the ambush. On the other side of a small river, a wagon was overturned, and rubble and damaged supplies spill over the side. Two dead Echian Longstriders, gutted and mostly eaten, were still yoked to the over-turned vehicles. No bridge existed on the path. They quickly deduced the caravan must have forded it.

A tribe of goblins seemed to have found this bounty first, being the notorious scavengers that they are. Little heads suddenly poked out from behind the carts, crude bows and blades in hand. They gazed upon the humans’ flesh and licked their lips voraciously.

The goblins flung disgusting arrows at the party while others charged in, gleefully singing a death song. The goblins didn’t stand much of a chance, but they didn’t care.

After dispatching the goblins, the party followed the tracks of the remaining wagons of the shipment to find a cave inhabited by kobolds. After figuring out that standing outside the cave and making idiotic animals sounds didn’t lure them out yet instead notified them of their presence, the party ventured in and slew the kobolds. They were also confronted by a giant hyena the kobolds kept as a guard dog. The team took a few scrapes but were victorious. The found the missing shipment in the cave along with a few other baubles.

Episode 2 - Big Damn Heroes

After receiving a free meal and a good room from Skolland, he offered the party employment on behalf of Baron Leolin McCelland. A recent shipment of provisions to the township of Rybalka had gone missing. Skolland offered the party 15 gold each if they could secure the provisions.

The party accepted the offer and set off for Rybalka.

On the first day of their journey with the sun nearing its zenith, the otherwise peaceful journey was broken by the sudden sound of a woman’s scream. In the distance, a human woman burst from the tree line to the west, panicked and covered in blood.

Out of sorts, the woman didn’t see the party walking along the road way until she was barely fifteen feet away. A look of terror filled her eyes, and she screamed again. She fell to her knees and threw her hands in the air; “Please! Don’t hurt me!”

The party didn’t do well to try to calm the woman down, but they did learn that her name was Silis MacLuirg and that she lived in a ranching homestead currently occupied by bandits. She managed to escape, but her husband and two children were still in the homestead.

The party hesitated about whether they should take the excursion and help, but in the end decided to assist the woman. Leaving her on the road, they rushed to the homestead and slayed the bandits that had taken up residence there.

They freed the two children who were, much to their surprise, tieflings – Vancia MacLuirg and Varena MacLuirg.

The party was wounded and tired and decided to rest for the night at the homestead, despite Vancia begging for them to go out and look for their mother who hadn’t returned.

When they set out in the morning, they found Silis dead on the road. An crossbow bolt made of white alder pierced her heart. It seemed well made and Viktor Nolgrim deduced it was likely not a bolt made from highwaymen or other bandits since they tended to have rudimentary tools at best.

Episode 1 - Founder's Day

The city of Cerl. Each of our heroes found themselves in the city during the festivities of Founder’s Day. The great war-hero and the city’s founder, Sir Gerant Carlyle, honored the citizens with a speech. It was, after all, the tradition.

Baron McClelland started speaking on the stage, but the crowd’s noise makes it nigh impossible to understand what the man was saying.

A few moments later, it became apparent that he was making some sort of introduction. The crowd that filled The Promenade erupted in wild cheers when an elderly, but strong-looking, man stepped to the front of the platform. The cheering, applauding and tossing of hats into the air continued for minutes with no sign of dying down. A person next to the party, noting their bewilderment, hollered that the man is Gerant Carlyle, as if it explained anything.

When the man at the podium signaled that he’s ready to talk, the crowd obediently fell into rapt silence.

For several minutes, he heaped civic praise on Cerl, expounded on the virtues of shared opportunity and waxed poetic about the future.

Then quite suddenly, Sir Carlyle’s speech trailed off, and he started looking around among the crowd. But he wasn’t looking at anyone in particular.

A worried murmur started in the crowd, but above it all someone shouted, “Hey! Look up there! In the window!”

Not knowing which window to look at, the party quickly scanned the nearby buildings and among the onlookers from the upper floors they saw several people armed with crossbows. Then they fire.

Both the party of adventurers and the Baltair Companyman stationed at the event leaped into action, charging into the buildings and firing from the ground with bows and magic.

Soon after, horrified screams pierced the frightened clamor of the crowd. Glancing around, they saw small clear spaces open up as people struggled to distance themselves from scenes of slaughter. Armed warriors are grabbing people in the crowd and stabbing them.

While the adventurers and Baltair Company tried to deal with the new threat, a darkly cloaked figure suddenly leapt up onto the stage near Gerant Carlyle as two menacing-looking ruffians separated from the crowd and take up stations at either side of the stage.

The cloaked figure said, “now we finish this!”

Gerant nodded to him, and the both drew their swords. And squared off in a spectacular duel. Gerant refused the help of the adventurers and Gerant manged to slay his attacker.

A horrified hush cames over the courtyard as the slain man crumpled to the ground. The survivor then unleashed an unearthly howl of anguish. Bones cracked, flesh was torn and armor squealed and snapped as the victor’s body warped into a grotesquely muscled mockery of a human being.

What emerged was not a man anymore, but a monster. It opened it’s blood-rimmed eyes, stared out with a look of madness and bloodlust, and roared, spraying the ground with spittle from its fanged maw.

The heroes and surviving Baltair Companymen fought the mutated man and with great effort, managed to defeat it. After being slain, the beast exploded in a spectacular display of blood and viscera. The shock knocked everyone in the promenade to the ground and covered the area in gore.

The silence that followed the strange, bloody explosion was broken by the groans of fallen citizens. As people picked themselves up, the Baltair Companyman attempted to restore order, cordoning off the bodies of the fallen and getting citizens to help attend the wounded. Many in the crowd doffed their hats or bowed to the heroes as they attempted to do as the Guards commanded.

A robed man who introduced himself as Skolland came to thank the party on behalf of his master, Baron Leolin McCelland and offered to board them up for a night at The Fireside and buy them dinner.


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