Session Four Summary (Graveyard of Empires: After the Fall)
Session 4, July 22 2020
The party has found their way back through the labyrinth and spoken with Keliha, Montoa's shaman, about their vision. They plan to leave the morning of the 5th of Tenrilden with the refugees to protect them on their journey home ...
It is the morning of the 5th of Tenrilden.
We gather our gear and organize the Montoans for the journey to the village of Montoa. 17 children (all mobile), 20 men, 7 warriors (amazons), and their shaman Keliha.
Kauri asks Tik Tok about being a counter, and he complains that it seem unnatural, he'll wait until he has something to countdown.
We put water from the blessed healing pool on Tik Tok and it has no effect. We lock him up in the chest.
We head down the mountain and follow the trail, Alea one of the amazons walks with Rallion to direct the way. The men and children are in the middle of the line of march, with members of the party in front and behind with the other 6 amazons guarding the rear.
There is a heavy rain but we make decent time. We come to a fork in the trail and the right fork heads West towards Montoa. The left fork goes to a cleft in the rock with a totem of the Matriarchs outside.
We go to investigate and meet the cleric of the Ark, Felix who is from Vargen. He is fleeing the undead and a few days ago, the end of magic added to his issues.
We make offering at the totem and enter and shelter the group out of the rain. There are more totems. We follow them back and find a green area that looks cared for but is now overgrown.
There is a pool and a collection of timbers from a fallen simple hut. Next to the pool is a small altar with signs of blood sacrifice and a stone below the altar with a depression for collecting blood. It has been a long time since the last sacrifice. Keliha prays and Peronel's ears perk up as it is ancient common. Peronel said that she said something like, "May the road be good to us."
There are bones of small animals under the altar. The collapsed hut holds the bones of someone who appears to have been laid to rest and at some point the hut collapsed. There is a crude gold necklace in the neck area. There are squares that hold runes that spell out in ancient common, "Praise The Matriarchs." Keliha says that her former senior shaman had one like that.
Laris keeps searching and finds a scroll case. He notices that it has a spiked trap. He could open it without setting off the trap, but tries to disarm it but fails. Inside are rolled up papers of very old paper. Some fall to pieces on removal, but enough is left that is legible that allows Laris and Peronel to determine that it is some sort of screed against the other shamen of Montoa who have turned from the old ways. She will keep the old ways. Keliha is not sure of the details of the old ways, but from what the elders once said it was akin to necromancy. It was forbidden with the new magic. So either at the time of the arrival of the dragons or the dwarves, we suspect that the Montoans quit the use of blood magic. Keliha says that is not the way of the Matriarchs. (Later she said that maybe it is something that Cerida might do.)
Bavmorda collects ingredients to make poison antidotes and divides them among the clerics. Kauri collects herbs for alchemical ingredients, and both Kauri and Oskar collect cooking herbs.
Rallion detected a flying creature approaching and avoided being surprised, and got off a shot with his bow, but the others did little in response to his warning. The song of the harpy caused half the party to start climbing the walls of the grotto. Rallion and the others not charmed did minor damage to it. Vikram went up and punched it and it fell dead into the pool.
Rallion drug the harpy out of the pool. Kauri put it on the altar and bled it, and with his mask could see a faint light. He found he could draw tendrils forth, and a bit more with a few drops of his own blood. He cut himself more seriously and the volume of blood had more bluish glow. Kauri tried to cast light on his dagger, it started to glow, then shake, and he dropped it and it exploded. Vikram only saw the cutting, bleeding, and shattering. Next Kauri and Laris mingled their blood and Kauri tried to cast light on a gold piece. It began to glow and grow hot. Laris dropped it and it melted. Vikram only saw it change state.
This blood sacrifice bothered the shaman Keliha and the amazon Alea. Kauri thinks there is something missing. He tried wearing the amulet, saying the phrase from the amulet, "Praise the Matriarchs," etc. We don't seem to have enough information to crack this. Rallion is against blood magic.
It was late afternoon by the time all this was done, so rather than travel and risk spending the night in the rain, we just set camp here. we set 4 watches with two on each watch, one at the cleft in the rock and one watching the sky over the grotto. Laris saw a lion during second watch, but it eventually passed. In the last watch, Felix saw it rushing him and backed away calling for help.
We all rushed in to help and did a bit of damage here and there. Laris got in the killing blow from an advantageous position.
We butchered the lion and have enough meat to feed the entire group for the day.
It is now the morning of the 6th of Tenrildon and we are preparing to continue our march West to Montoa.
Skeins and Invisible Mountains. Wayward or Wicked the Ways of Old.
Tenrilden 4 Refugee camp on top of Old Greybeard, all covered with nothing??! According to Vikram...
Evening As the party settles in our quarters. I see if Vikram wants to go take a look around and maybe do some practice with the new harness system. He instead wants to go climb the invisible mountain. I’d kind of forgotten that he couldn’t see the thing. Intrigued and curious, we both head out and go for a short climb to a ledge large enough to relax and hang out.
He and I discuss various things surrounding the mountain and the ‘skein between worlds’ the Shadowrealm as we call it. He’s curious that this mountain has no shadow or presence in the skein which may be indicative that it’s solely present in THIS world, existing uniquely only here. If this is true, then this is the only instance of such a thing existing individually across all realities that he’s ever heard. He didn’t think such a feature was even possible. Those that are live and exist more solidly in the ‘skein’ than a particular world cannot perceive it. It does appear that he can feel it, as he had little trouble climbing…
The mountain’s effect seems to shield the area from the skein since it seems there is no boundaries touching the ‘in-between’ here so he’s pretty sure that he can talk more freely here.
Since we’ve got a little freedom for conversation, I pick his brain and I’ll list briefly what I learn here and provide the long account separately.
- He is his own master, no one commands his loyalty by force. - Shaitan and chief lieutenants know the party and he has no doubt that they’re watching. - He is generally careful in his conversations with us as his voice carries across the skein and can be easily overheard by DVL’s listening in from a good ways away. To hear us mortals, they’d have to be close enough where there presences would be obvious. He does not wish to give the party’s enemies a reason to believe we are a threat. - The skein vibrates when something touches it especially something foreign to it. Something like the Shard, being a powerful artifact not of the skein would have sent shudders throughout reality. It’s certain that Shaitan felt it and now is in possession of it. - TickTock: He’s likely mentally degraded from millenia of enslavement because of his willingness to stay with the clock. It could also be, but he believes less likely, that he’s here for more sinister reasons. Vikram volunteers to guard and spy on the creature to keep him under control. Only by fleeing back to the City of Brass or communicating with a DVL in this world would he be able to get info back to Shaitan. However when in Vikram’s presence, he will not be able to betray us. He’s likely got normal hearing and sight, but not 100% sure. - DVL spies should be relatively easy to detect when close enough to observe mortals. Smell or hear them unless they’re concealing themselves successfully. - Shadowstepping: Creates a vibration in the skein. The vibration may be larger the further you step, but he’s not sure. Going from the cave mouth to the first totem might be felt by those sensitive to the skein within several day’s journey. - About the tentacled creature we fought: sometimes those forms taken by DVL’s are more solidly real, and this makes them immune to mortal weapons lacking a commensurate level of ‘realness’. - Vikram does not have the same immunity as the creature we fought does. - The material of the mountain seems ‘wrong’ to him. More stubbornly ‘mortal’, less real and solid than normal. He doesn’t think that the material would have any additional effect against such DVL’s as we encountered. - He says that a number of the questions we’ve discussed would take a more philosophical DVL, or one more knowledgeable about such things.
At that last, we sit and enjoy the rest of the evening in companionable silence.
Tenrilden 5 AM
We lock up TickTock in the chest that housed the Shard.
As the group of refugees (17 children, 20 men, 7 female warriors and Keliha) gather their things and prepare for the journey, Laris secrets away in a nearby abandoned area all the Dwarven and other items we deem unnecessary for the journey ahead. Letting the rest of the party know where they’re hidden.
We head out toward the Montoan village. It’s raining again. And it’s a lot of rain.
About mid day, we come to a fork in the trail one continuing west toward Montoa, the other going left with chiseled steps going up a narrow path to an overhang in the rock with a totem to the Matriarchs we can see up the trail. It’s likely a Matriarch’s path going somewhere.
As we approach the totem, there’s a huddled figure under the overhang. We approach in our usual careful way. He is Felix (Karen-Spelling?) an Ark Cleric from Vargen who’s fleeing from the undead and dealing with his loss of magic. Lambertus is still pretty tore up about his lot in life, philosophy and everything, seeing another of his order doesn’t do much for him….
Did I mention that it’s raining. A lot. Being soaked isn’t that great a feeling when your travelling.
We welcome Felix to travel with us and continue up the path...yes, in the rain….
As we make our way, Keliha says in a phonetic, ritually memorized iteration of Ancient Common that Peronell can understand saying “May the road be good to us”. Keliha seems curious and a bit uneasy. She has never heard of anything holy to the Matriarchs in this area.
We continue to follow the path passing another totem, on which we make offerings, and make our way to a fair sized grotto with a clearing that looks to be unused and uninhabited for quite a long time. A tumbled ruin of a small wooden dwelling sits near a pool of water. An overgrown garden is noted by Kauri and Bavmorda. There is a rough stone slab, alter-like, with old bloodstains draining to a stone depression below the alter. There’s a pile of animal bones below the alter.
In the ruined dwelling, there’s a small humanoid skeleton. It looks like the person died there naturally and the dwelling collapsed from neglect.
Being charitable and kind, I search the bones and find a gold necklace of average workmanship. The necklace has a series of gold squares with runic characters spelling out “Praise the Matriarchs” in proper ancient common.
Kauri, Oskar and Bavmorda do some herb gathering. Bavmorda spends a couple hours brewing up some anti poison draughts. Not sure they’ll taste as good as Oskar’s tea, but hey, if one is poisoned, one shouldn’t be too picky. I’m guessing there could be a reason Bavmorda doesn’t do the cooking…
While the brewing, picking and preserving are happening, we take the time to thoroughly search the house, I find a scroll case and it is trapped. The spike trap can be bypassed by holding the tube a certain way, but I try and disarm it… and fail. Now we’ve got a spiky scrolltube. Anyway, once opened it contains writings in ancient common. Peronell and I transcribe the writings that are intact and find them to be the records of a Shaman that is consumed with preserving or reviving the ‘Old Ways’. They describe using rituals and blood sacrifices to perform magic. She rants and is quite denigrating of the other shamans back in Montoa for not following her lead. There are no details on the how, just the what.
Keliha says that the necklace is one of an Elder Shaman, and while she’s heard of the Old Ways, of the ritual magic, there’s been no record or practice of such things in at least a generation. Such things were frowned upon, akin to necromancy and were put aside. The writings are in the language of the Matriarchs and it’s very unusual for one such as an Elder shaman to be living alone.
While we are distracted by all these things, a Harpy flies in and attacks. Rallion gets off a bowshot and alerts the rest of us. She sings in what some of us think is a most heavenly serenade and part of our group starts moving to get near her, the rest fire missile weapons and Vikram fells her from the sky with a well aimed punch. Go Vikram! Glad he’s on our side…and that he didn’t think too much of her singing...
The Harpy’s body falls into the pool and Rallion pulls the nasty creature out. Kauri experiments in blood sacrifice with the alter and the harpy’s blood.. Using the mask, he sees faint tendrils of blue, the magic of the blood of the harpy. He then uses his own blood, which has a more powerful and bright blue aura to it, while wearing the necklace and almost successfully casts light, except that for my brand new (to me anyway) dagger he cast it on exploded. Then a goldpiece melted down with his second try intoning the words inscribed on it. Vikram didn’t see the glow, just the material effects of the spell attempts.
Rallion, Keliha and the rest of those who have a closer connection to the Matriarchs, think they would frown upon a blood sacrifice to use magic. The feeling is there must be another way that doesn’t require such an uncomfortable circumstance. Physically and psychologically I’m assuming.
Keliha suggests that there may be information at the Elder Shaman’s abode in Montoa if the Shemites left anything intact.
We went a little long on our brewing, searching and experimenting, so we decide to camp in the grotto for the evening.
Watches: Rallion path /Alia grotto, Laris path/Vikram grotto, Braad path/Oskar grotto, Felix path/Peronell grotto
Late Tenrilden 5 - Tenrilden 6 A lion comes by on my watch in the middle of the night, I gather the forces, but it moves on and we leave it be.
Early AM Tenrilden 6,
The dang lion comes back and attacks Felix’s on his watch and we take it down. I was able to use the distraction of the front line fighting to get a well placed sword blow between the uppermost vertebrae and the skull. It falls and we butcher and plan to use it’s meat to feed our group for the day.
Once we get gathered together and our lion butchered, we’ll head out, continuing our trek to Montoa.