Signs and Portents

Session: 7/20/97


Kathy - Vochma

Micah - Cardhu

Mark - Corlis

Ben - Drew

Liz - Quera

Mike - Phaedrus

Many possibilities - Servants of Vine - Giant Insects II - The Baboon People - Destruction of the Portrait

Windsday, Harmony Week, Sea Season

After a brief stop in Wanda's to refresh ourselves, various members of the party elected to take care of various small tasks that awaited us upon our arrival, notably delivering the Jinko seeds to Halor and checking with Rayward concerning his research on our behalf.

Our first visit was to Halor. We entered his shop to find it filled with the sickly odors of incense or some foul herb. Deciding it was better to be done with this as quickly as possible, Drew took care of our transaction, collecting a fee of 100 wheels and 50 lunars for the seeds we had so sadly collected. Something about this man, Halor, troubles me.

After escaping the smelly domain of Halor (perhaps those strange herbs were the reason Corlis was so lethargic the rest of the afternoon), we made our way towards Rayward's, passing Gerald the constable along the way. He was in the process of announcing a caravan was going to be arriving in town in the next day or two, along with some Brothers of Balance, and that the citizenry should leave them alone. Seeing no reason to pay more than passing attention to this, we continued to Rayward's.

When we entered the shop, we noticed for the first time a heavy quarterstaff, bound in iron, hanging behind the counter Rayward usually used to carry out his business. After spending a moment admiring the fine weapon, we managed to gain Rayward's attention, and received significant news about both the items (cloth and portrait) we had left with him.

Firstly, Rayward told us that he believed the fine cloth we found could be the altar cloth of the high table of Lopnel, a holy relic of the church. He was not yet sure, but he had been in touch with one Eric the Pious, a scholar of some repute, who was supposedly on his way to study the item and possibly shed more light on the matter.

The second piece of news Rayward told us was less encouraging. The portrait we had discovered was actually a token of a devil known by the name Vine. The portrait apparently contained a portion of Vine's soul, and could be used to aid in his summoning. Luckily, Rayward had discovered a means of destroying the item, which involved a ritual in the Dismal Swamp, beyond

Veldman's Needles. Basically we would have to take the portrait there, and on the Wildday of Death week dip the thing into the river Dunstan, using a rod of elm wood, and crushing an opal over the portrait while speaking the words "Acba Lo Kum Xy". This ritual could only be carried out by a practitioner of magic.

The final piece of news was just as disturbing as the second. Apparently a man attempted to break into Rayward's and remove the portrait, a person bearing a piece of cloth embroidered with a seven-pointed star (a symbol which apparently is associated with Vine). Rayward managed to defeat the thief, and suffered no apparent harm in doing so.

Given this news, we decided that as soon as practical, we would have to make our way to the Dismal Swamp and be rid of this item once and for all. We relieved Rayward of the portrait, and made our way to the Inn of the Seven Stars. Along the way, a rather questionable looking person with a hunchback approached Cardhu and I (the three siblings, Drew, Vochma, and Quera paying a brief visit to their father). This person wanted our assistance in recovering some item the Brothers of Balance traveling with the arriving caravan had "stolen". We rather pointedly told him we were not interested, and suggested he depart, which he did. After a brief discussion, we alerted Gerald to the stranger's presence in town, which he reacted to with his characteristic energy.

The siblings meanwhile had learn of two interesting things while visiting their father. First, that two local farmers Shmeple and Igor, were having serious problems with giant insects, and secondly that a gentleman named Felix (who turned out to be a representative of the Tumerian government) was looking for some assistance in a cartography survey of Veldman's Needles. After hearing about this, we all elect to eat a late lunch at the Inn of the Seven Stars, and contact both Felix and the two farmers.

A brief discussion with Felix revealed that he needed a larger time commitment than we were presently able to commit to. We agreed to meet with him on Waterday of Death week, after we had our meeting with the Knight Marshall. We also met his cartographer, Smeely, a cowardly seeming fellow concerned only with his scribblings.

While we carried on this discussion, Vochma and Quera had approached a stranger in the Inn, and returned to reveal that he was a huntsman, interested in capturing some pegasi which had been spotted near Veldman's Needles (why is it that everyone wants to go to the Needles these days anyhow?). Before we left, I approached him and told him that we were possibly going out that way in the near future and would be interested in assisting him but could not commit to any obligation at present. He gave me a feather token to leave at the Inn should we wish to get in touch with him.

The only remaining business we had to follow up on was talking with Shmeple and Igor, who happened to be in the Inn. We approached them, and discussed their problems with them. It seemed their bugs were different from those we encountered earlier. We agreed to visit the orchard with Shmeple and see what we could see.

Before we could depart, Lord Quival himself arrived at the Inn, and immediately sought us out. After all of us were introduced, and we updated him on what we had been about, he congratulated us on doing a fine job and paid us each the sum of 50 wheels. He then let us know that we were to look for an addition to our party in the coming caravan, one Phaedrus. We agreed to do so, and he departed, no doubt to prepare for the arrival of the caravan and the associated Brothers of Balance.

Since we now needed to await the caravan, we sent Shmeple and Igor on their way, with a promise that we would arrive as soon as possible. As they departed, the caravan arrived. Our new party member was a man of generous size, wearing eerily glowing splint mail, and wielding a halberd. After Drew made a somewhat overzealous approach and was brushed off, I introduced myself. Together with Cardhu, we got Phaedrus (who it turns out is a fellow follower of Lopnel) and his mule settled and convinced him to accompany us to Shmeple's orchard. But not before the hunchback approached Phaedrus and received a response from him similar to that he received from Cardhu and I.

Additonal note on the caravan: There were two locked, bronze banded wagons, each marked with mystic runes. There were also two Brothers of Balance, Juanq and Heui.

Additional note on things we learned in the Inn before the caravan arrived. Apparently a captain of some repute who had recently circumnavigated the continent will be paying a visit to Kernan soon.

Once we reached Shmeple's orchard, we discovered both he and Igor in a pitched rock battle (Shmeple's three-legged pig was dragging bags of rocks to the pair in vast numbers) with numerous dog sized insects, each bearing reddish spots upon their bodies and heads. Drew identified them as fire beetles. He also said these were of a dangerous variety, as their bite could turn flesh to stone! Seeing that Shmeple and Igor would have trouble vanquishing this threat, we elected to help them. Drew first attempted reason, but when that proved useless, we attacked. After a pitched battle, during which four of our number were sorely wounded and bitten by the foul things (not to mention the errant flask of oil thrown by Quera, which nearly put an end to Vochma), we were victorious. After insuring there were no remaining insects, we took a sample corpse back to town, and sought out the healer hoping they would be able to aid those of us who had been bitten, particularly Phaedrus, who was having difficulty breathing as his chest turned to stone.

After a long ritual (one bearing a steep price I might add) Freda and Walwyn were able to cure each of the affected party members. In payment, we offered them most of our treasure, and vowed to perform a service for a friend of Walwyn's, a wild healer known as Elias of Gebnik Glade.

Fireday, Harmony Week, Sea Season

With the party restored, we elected to visit Igor and see if we could rid his property of the insects plaguing him. When we arrived, he assured us that the bugs on his farm were of yet a different variety. These attacked with pointed spines on their heads, and had killed his dog. In a flash of inspiration, I realized that perhaps there was more going on in the area than insects run amok. I wondered aloud whether all these insects might in some way be related to the dead Chidale or the second circle in his hut. We decided to raise this possiblility with Rayward, Walwyn, and the Knight Marshall when time allowed.

Given the nature of these insects, we elected a simple frontal assault. Unfortunately, we elected to have Drew lead the attack by firing his strange wand down one of the holes leading to the creature's den. A strange purple beam sprang forth, followed immediately by the sounds of combat and fighting deep beneath the earth. After a short time, all grew quiet, though we could still cause motion in the churned earth where the den was by tossing rocks on the surface. We remained for quite a while, hoping that whatever had been summoned, for that was our theory of what happened, would suffocate and die. It was only after an hour or so of this that I noticed a horrible thing. Ichon, my sword and a family heirloom, was glowing with a greenish light, and shaking and pulsing within its scabbard.

According to my family history, this could mean only one thing -- a Voidling!
Acting quickly, we sent Cardhu, Quera and Phaedrus back to town to inform the Duke of this disaster. Once they actually managed to meet Lord Quival, he responded quickly. He gathered Freda, Herernavi, Walwyn, and Rayward, and rushed to the scene. After some hasty preparations, the Duke and I prepared to do battle with the creature, after being fortified with mighty magics by Rayward, Herernavi, and Walwyn. As the mages brought the thing to the surface, the Duke and I struck out blindly, again and again (we had been warned not to look at it). From behind us, Herernavi hurled magics, while Walwyn struggled to keep the thing contained with some mystic force. Alas! The foul creature managed to break free long enough to strike down the gentle healer Freda with a single spell. Towards the end of the battle, we felt the creature grow weaker, but it still had the power to nearly drain my soul from my body. Luckily Cardhu retrieved Ichon and helped Lord Quival complete the foul beast's destruction.

After Golga removed the remains of Freda, we all made our way back to town, resolving not to use the strange wand again except in the direst of emergencies. Along the way, we filled the Duke, Walwyn and Rayward in on our latest suppositions. Walwyn agreed to attempt a divination that would allow us to gain some knowledge of what was moving in the land. We returned to his home and performed the ritual. We discovered:

The insects were indeed related to Chidale and the devil Vine.

That there is still an active summoning circle somewhere in the area.

The armored and disciplined kobolds in the Needles were not related to the insect invasions or Vine.

That the men bearing the seven point star tokens are attempting to recover the portrait.

Finally, that the altar cloth is in fact the true altar cloth of Lopnel.

With this information, the Duke ordered us to immediately be on our way to destroy the foul portrait, so early the next morning, we left for the Dismal Swamp.

Godday, Harmony Week, Sea Season

A quiet day of travel.

Freezeday, Harmony Week, Sea Season

A quiet day of travel in horrible weather.

Waterday, Harmony Week, Sea Season

Just south of the Needles we spend a few hours working our way across a raging river. On the other side, we discover some tracks, but none of us can decipher their meaning or origin.

Later that night, during the first watch, a few baboon-like men (or man-like baboons) approach our camp and, with difficulty, make it clear they wish us to follow them. We elect to do so, and discover an entire tribe of the creatures nearby. Their leader, an ancient fellow gestures for us to join in their ceremonies, and we do, with some strange results. Cardhu and Quera are granted some sort of vision, which seems to indicate the tribe was expecting us and were going to aid us in our quest to destroy the portrait. After an exhausting day's travel and evening's excitement, we abandon caution and remain with the baboon people. Along the way Vochma is gifted with a necklace of kobold's teeth, and I receive a scrap of leather with some symbols upon its surface (including the seven pointed star).

Clayday, Harmony Week, Sea Season

Its true, the tribe awaits us the next day, and escorts us toward the Dismal Swamp. Uneventful travel.

Windsday, Harmony Week, Sea Season

Another day of travel, broken only by the attack of a huge snake, which the baboon people fought off. We healed their wounded.

Fireday, Harmony Week, Sea Season

We rest and wait in the Dismal Swamp

Wildday, Harmony Week, Sea Season

Success! Vochma carried out the ritual, and successfully destroys the portrait! As she dipped the thing in the waters, the portrait dissolved away, revealing a new image... In celebration, the old leader of the baboon people gave her his skull pendant, engraved with runes. She is unsure what to do with the gift, but accepted it to show our appreciation.

The new image seems to show the altar of Lopnel, the altar cloth, a gem on the altar, and a sword over all. There are also numerous symbols, bloodstains, numbers, and random scribblings upon its surface. This will take some time to comprehend fully.

Session summary:

The party has (not including items distributed):

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