Having proven their mettle by saving the town of Andronia from the mad wizard Kaddo, The Silver Blade has moved out to explore the rest of the League of Andronia. In their short time together they have known sorrow and success. Will their combined strength and resolve be enough to face what comes next?

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Log of Adventure #22: The End?
The party, still stunned by the oaths they've just sworn to Cyrus Maximus, stare at each other unsure what will come next. They don't know what plans the vampire has, but certainly feel like their fate is set. Cyrus asks them to grab his casket and prepare for the ascent to the surface and then on to Koros.

They return to the secret door that they found in the altar room and hear the scuffling of many feet and the moans of many creatures on the other side. Cyrus smiles and says, "Beyond this door are my minions, the former members of the Cult of Terranullus. You made the best choice possible in agreeing to aid me on my mission. If you hadn't, the creatures beyond this door would have made made what little was left of you a sacrifice to the god of death." With that, he waves his hand at the door and suddenly there is silence and he gestures to the party to open the door.

As they do, the party sees dozens of undead creatures kneeling, eyeless sockets on the vampire. He gestures again and they shuffle aside to form a lane for the party to walk through. As they move into the room, though, Kossiri loos for the body of her one-time shield bearer, the one she was compelled to sacrifice. She sees Parvay's body, largely eaten by the ghouls in the room. She breaks down at the site of his body, unable to deal with the emotions of having participated in the death of her hireling.

After a few minutes of uncontrolled sobbing from the magic user, Cyrus walks over to her and tries to calm her: "Worry not, dear woman. You did not kill him. You *tried* admittedly. Also, you were only fulfilling his greatest desire. He desperately wanted to give his life essence to Terranullus and you helped him do that. Come, come. He's at peace now. Let us ascend." Almost mechanically, Kossiri stands up and shambles along with the group.

As they leave this room and proceed back through the rest of the underground complex, they realize that the small section of a mausoleum they found must have been only the smallest fraction of all the tombs in the temple because there are thousands and thousands of undead creatures lining the halls and rooms.

Finally, the party arrives at the tunnel leading to the surface and Cyrus reminds them of their oath before he climbs into the coffin and seals the lid. Grimly, the party climbs the tunnel and pulls the coffin up. When they get to the top and out of the cabin, they realize that every grave that they saw above ground has also vomited forth it's dead but the only evidence of them any more are tracks leading down the mountain. They follow the tracks with heavy hearts and camp where the the aura of evil seemed to ebb the last time. Kossiri looks for Scout and sees her a couple of hundred yards in the woods. She goes into the trees and, after some hesitant sniffing, finally jumps up into the mage's arms and purrs loudly. However, when Kossiri heads back towards the fire, towards the coffin, Scout hisses loudly and jumps down and runs back into the woods.

The next day, the party once again picks up the coffin and continue down the mountain. After six hours, the Silver Blade comes to Zeke's camp, or at least what used to be his camp. The skins that were strung up were torn down and after a short search, they find Zeke's corpse well chewed covered in bloody mud. Rather than being full of fear or rage, the party just looks on in resignation and proceed on down the mountain.

Finally stopping to camp in the barren grasslands north of Koros, the party sees three soldiers approach on horseback from the south. The riders circle the fire before getting off the horses and approaching to talk. They ask what the party is doing out this way. After some tense moments, they finally admit to the group that they are investigating a recent wave of undead that had overrun Koros earlier that day.

The party told him that they didn't know anything about it, worrying more about the soldiers seeing the casket at the edge of the firelight. Unfortunately, the guards notice their wandering attention and go over to examine Cyrus's sleeping chamber. The group tries to talk them out of looking, but the soldiers proceed. They try explaining that they lost a hireling and were bringing him back to Koros to his family. The guards look confused, though, as they open the casket. The adventurers assume the vampire will kill the soldiers as soon as they lift the lid, but instead they look confusedly as each other. "Well, if you are taking this casket to the family, you might want to be sure you have a body in it first." The party runs over and sees only a coffin full of dirt. After the guards leave, a mist forms around the feet of the party, finally coalescing into the figure of Cyrus. He laughs at their confusion and congratulates them on how they handled the soldiers.

As people finally settle down for the night, Kossiri sends out her thoughts to see if Scout is anywhere nearby. Indeed, some two or three hundred yards back north she senses her familiar. Seeking some solace and escape, Kossiri steals away from the campfire and finds Scout in the darkness. She curls up with the cat and relives the last few days. In the middle of the night, however, she's awoken by a hissing cat, spitting at a snake winding its way towards them. She jumps up and sends off a magic missile, drawing the attention of the party, but before they can get close enough to aid their teammate, the electric serpent had laid the magic user low.

The shock of Kossiri's death on top of their anxiety over Cyrus shatters the group. The mage had been such a vital component of the party for so long that her demise left a larger hole in their hearts than anyone could have imagined. Wendall picked up the body very gently and carried it back to the fire. He asks the others to begin gathering firewood to prepare a funeral pyre to say goodbye their friend. Before leaving the spot, however, Dalben searches about for Scout, hating to lose his furry friend as well. With some coaxing, he is able to get Scout to jump on his shoulder and come back with him, making him very happy.

After the members of the Silver Blade spoke eloquently--and at least loudly in Dalben's case--about their former comrade, they turn their eyes towards Koros and a future they can only guess at.
Session: Game Session - Friday, Dec 16 2011 from 6:00 PM to 2:00 AM
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uncomfortably numb
My gods…what have I done? Parvay's blood is still fresh on my hands. I can't keep from retching, though there's not much left to come up. Mercifully, I dropped the dagger, but my robes are stained. Anything clean about me is gone forever.

I am grateful to Desmodus for pulling me away from what I was doing - that at least someone cared enough to try to stop what I was doing - but I will be haunted forever by Parvay's pleas to complete his sacrifice. At my hands. At my voice. I'm shaking all over, and chilled, but at the same time I'm numb. I believe we've stumbled upon something far worse than I could have ever dreamed, and I know I'm a part of it, but it doesn't matter.

What have I done?

He's still back there, behind the stone door. We left him, not yet dead but dying. And who knows what has happened to him when those chasing us reached the chamber.

Everything seems strangely muted and blurry.

I have done this. Me. No one else to blame. I am disgusting.

Who would want me now? I won't ever be able to clear away the marks and memories of what's happened. What's done cannot be undone. I wish I was dead.
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Log of Adventure #21: Finding the Orb Comes at a Cost
The party wakes up the morning after their crowning from the tourney realizing that they could only bask in their glory so long. Not only did the Orb of Terranullus call to the party as a means to remove the magical tattoos that Lotar and Bretherton were marked by, but they also had possible work from Rowan, the Red Mage of Koros. Dalben, Kossiri, and Wendall decide to go see him in the Emir's Palace.

On the way, however, as they walked through the Royal Quarter, they see the white mask of Bexel coming their way. Though they can't see his face beneath the mask, they can hear the smile in his voice as he booms out a welcome to them. His bodyguards part so the newly minted Guildmaster from Bestor slaps Wendall on his back. After chatting about the Adventurer's Tournament, Bexel lowers his voice somewhat conspiratorially and tells the party that while he didn't know what their plans were, but if they found themselves near Bexel's Mill, he hoped they would stop in and help with a group of marauding Orcs. The foreman at the mill was empowered to help them any way he could.

The party continued on to see the Red Mage. After finally getting passed through the gate, they make their way through the sumptuous Palace until finally finding Rowan's private offices. It was part library and part laboratory. They found him at a table reading a large book when they arrive. After getting refreshments, the mage compliments them on their mastery of the tournament. He admits, however, that the tournament wasn't what it seemed on the surface. The Emir did ask him to organize it to celebrate his birthday, but Rowan had other ends in mind. He needed to find the best adventuring group possible for a possibly very dangerous task.

He asks these members of the Silver Blade what they know of the Dwarven exodus a few years ago. He admits that he himself knows little despite extensive research. He feels certain though that it was very worrisome. He felt that only fear could explain the quick flight of the demihumans and was certain that the Dwarves in their infernal digging must have found something that should have remained buried. He assures the group that he has no hard evidence of this but fears that if he is right, it's something that might be at this very moment making its way to the surface as a possible danger to all of Ardun. He wants the party to enter the Dwarven Keep and investigate. He promises to pay up front every member of the party 100gp if they undertake this search. The mage doesn't even know where the Keep is other than it having an entrance in the Mountainous Spine, probably somewhere near Fellstonia. He suggests that if anyone will know more it might be the mayor of that city. After some haggling with the cleric of St. Cuthbert over the wording of a contract, the party takes his money and promises to explore the underground structure recently abandoned by the Dwarves.

Returning to the rest of the party, the group explains to everyone about their two opportunities for action. Xylia feels very uncomfortable helping men who chop down trees, so the party decides the Dwarven Keep might be a good place to start, but all agree that finding the orb atop Black Bloom Mountain their main priority. The question is how. They only had a vague suggestion of the easternmost portion of the Mountainous Spine and a now disused road. That suggested a lot of wandering in the wilderness. Xylia suggests a way that might cut out some of the randomness by talking to some birds in Dasker's Green to see if any could help them with landmarks. The party sees the wisdom of this and agrees immediately.

Xylia calls upon her nature powers and suddenly can understand what animals around her are saying. She finally settles upon a seagull that Dalben is feeding biscuit to. She calls to the bird softly and he squawks back immediately, "No talk! No talk! No talk! Scare man with food!" The nature priestess begs his pardon and assures him that she'll be sure Dalben continues to feed him. She asks what he calls himself and he eyes her and says "Takko!"

After some confusion over terms--for example, he doesn't know any human names for things--he tells her that he does know of a place that sounds like it might be Black Bloom Mountain. She has a flash insight and asks him if he could show them where it is. He says he could for sausage. He loves sausage! She thanks him for his help and says the party will meet him at sunrise the next day.

The party decides to get a good night's rest instead of gambling or wenching since they didn't know what the next day would bring. As the sun comes up, the party bolts down their breakfast and head out to the park hoping that Takko was good to his word. Indeed, once the party arrives at the Green, the seagull glides down and lands on Dalben's backpack. The rest of way, the party follows the bird through quiet, peaceful grassland, heading directly towards the mountains to the north, pausing every so often to feed Takko another sausage.

He finally lands at the base of the mountain range near an overgrown trail that leads up the mountainside. Giving the seagull one last sausage, Takko squawks loudly flies over the party and then flies back toward Koros and easy pickings. Being late in the day, the party decides to make camp here. They gather wood, set up a watch order, and settle in for the night. During the set watch, Lotar and Desmodus here a rustling in the grass just at the edge of the fire. The elf quickly makes the rounds and wakes up the party as Lotar frees his sword from its sheath and peers into the dark.

Two things happen at once. A black, whiskered nose sticks out from the grass and Desmodus notices a tall figure come walking down the mountain path towards the group. Their attention so divided, they prepare for a two front fight when the man now loping down the mountain speaks to them in a whispered but urgent voice: "Stand down, stand down unless you want that skunk to make your night much less pleasant." At his warning, the party looks yet again and indeed see a bushy black tail with a white stripe scurry off back into the dark grass.

Now that everyone was wide awake and the threat was over, the party could turn their attention to the strange man. He was tall and somewhat gaunt. He had long, greasy hair with a very high forehead. His teeth lie black shards in his open smile and he is wearing poorly skinned and cured animal hides. He tells them that his name is Zeke Duncaster and is surprised to see anyone since he doesn't get many visitors to his mountain. He tells them that his home is a couple of hours up the trail and the party is more than welcome. Not really sure of what to make of this wild man, they tell him they'll stay where they are for now.

They ask him about a structure at the top of the mountain and a possible cult. Zeke instantly gets a look of panic and fear in his face and he stammers that the cabin up there is a terrible place of death. He warns the party that whatever they think they want up there it's not worth it. They ask him if he's been there and he assures them that his self-appointed task often takes him up there but never for long. Evil lives atop the mountain and it doesn't like trespassers, he assures them. He assures them that they should just head back to where they came from and heads back up the mountain.

The next morning, the party decides that they don't have much choice about their task, so they pack back up and start up the mountain. Indeed about 2 hours up, they come to what looks like a series of skins tied amongst the trees to the side of the path, providing some protection from the elements. They see some wood tablets with names carved on them next to a skin with names, some crossed off, written on it. As they are looking over the compound, Zeke comes from the depths of the skins and welcomes the party. He offers them some root tea and some snacks which look frighteningly like dried badger parts.

When he sees the group looking over the wooden tablets, he explains that his task is to go up the mountain and record the names of the victims of the death cult that used to live at the top. They try to get information from him about what to expect, but he has few details. He tells them about a cabin amidst graves and dead, petrified trees. He again begs them to give up their quest as it'll only end in their deaths or worse. Finally tiring of his warnings, the party decides to head up the mountain.

After about 6 or 7 hours they see the trees finally starting to change to stone and being much fewer and far between. They can also feel a chill that has little to do with the weather the closer they get to the top. When they can finally see the top of the mountain, Scout, who had grown more and more anxious, finally jumps from Kossiri's shoulder and runs back down the hill. The magic user senses sheer terror from her familiar as it flees. She runs down the mountain after her, but the cat doesn't stop until the trees return to normal, about an hour back down the slope. Unable to get her to go any further up the mountain she decides to leave her be and returns to the party.

As the sky darkens, the party get atop the rise and sees a cabin 500 or 600 yards farther on amidst hundreds of grave markers. They decide to camp for the night before moving on. They don't have any wandering encounters with creatures, but the evening wasn't without incident. Every member of the party has such horrific nightmares with thousands of corpses screamed at them, grabbing at them, whether in supplication or anger was unclear. The party realized that the nightmares were far from natural and so disturbing that the party's spell casters didn't get enough rest to memorize new spells. Dalben and Lotar also had such a terrible night of it, that they felt like their fighting ability would be impacted until they could get better rest. Realizing now that Zeke might not have been as unbalanced as they thought, the party decide to move on and approach the cabin.

As The Silver Blade get close, they realize that what was once a wooden cabin has also become petrified. They don't see any evidence whatsoever of any cultists, but the party has heard a low susurrus whispering without any obvious source or direction. The party proceeds slowly into the cabin and sees a large book written in a strange language which no one recognizes although Wendell seems to sense it might be related to demonic. Inside are lists and lists of names at least a few the party recognizes from the grave markers outside the cabin. They find some very creepy things like a harpsichord that plays by itself, but they don't find anything too obviously useful except for the trapdoor in the floor of the front room. It opens up to a tunnel going over 50 feet straight down.

The group decides that the temple and the orb must be underground and proceed down through the trapdoor and climb carefully down. Once down, the party feels the sense of gloom and evil stronger than ever. They move forward and see a series of very bizarre, frightening images included severed skeletal parts and more of the strange, unknown script written upon the walls.

The whispering continues to grow louder, the further the party moves forward, the party finally finds what they take to be the living quarters for the Cult of Terranullus. Finding a room with a door that could be locked, the party decides to spend the night, forgetting apparently the troubled night they had before. If the Silver Blade has nightmares unlike anything they could ever have imagined. In fact, their bodies are so wracked with the fear of the nightmares, they actually take damage from them. Needless to say, none of the spellcasters are able to memorize new spells and all the fighters are now so weary that any fights that day will be at penalty. Realizing the difficulties they now faced, the party decides to head back to the surface and see if they can get a full night's sleep before moving forward. Indeed once they return to the "normal" treeline where Scout still wanders, they are able to sleep normally. Their sleep was still full of nightmares, but their intensity is such that they get enough sleep to feel haunted but rested.

Returning to the underground temple, the party continues to move forward, feeling anxious that they have yet to encounter anyone or anything. The atmosphere is full of portents despite the lack of evident threat. They go back to explore another section of the temple and find a room with a series of books covered in the strange script with a large ocular device on a stand in the middle of the room. Kossiri steps forward and uses it to look around the room. She realizes that as she looks through the lens and chances upon the cover of a nearby book that she can now read the language. Needless to say, she takes the tool with her.

They come upon another room with a stand with an inkpot and several needles upon it. At the base of the stand a phrase written in the script in carved. The mage reads it out loud to everyone, word for word: "Oh brave ones, mark your defiance against the ones who oppress!" As she does so, Dalben is filled with an uncontrollable desire to rush to the ink and needles and tattoo the mark of Terranullus on his body. Before he can start the process, however, Desmodus leaps forward, tackling the manchild to the ground. Wendall, realizing the ink must have some evil power, steps up and with his mighty mace smashes the inkpot and Dalben instantly goes limp. After a few minutes he revives and the party moves on.

They finally come upon a hallway blocked by a large growth of hard, thorny vines completely blocking a room beyond. The whispering susurrus is now at it's loudest and sounds like a massive creature breathing. They party steps forward with great trepidation only to be surprised by a large vine whipping out of the mass of vegetation to try and attack them.

They decide to use oil and a torch to burn the plant out of the way. As they do so, the whispering gets higher and higher pitched until it finally vanishes altogether. The party is shocked by the sudden silence. Beyond the smoldering ash, the party sees a room with a large hole in the ground from which wind comes and goes. This wind in combination with the plant must have been creating the sound they theorize. Beyond they hole, they see a long, low altar with a large black globe with a swirling gray cloud moving beneath its surface. The party feels sure that this must be the orb.

At the base of the altar is another phrase in the language which Kossiri can now read. Apparently forgetting about the power of such phrases utter aloud, Kossiri reads this one aloud as well: "We hail the Lord of Death and Give Offerings to Terranullus, the Master of the Dark."

As she does so, the mage is filled with an uncontrollable desire to sacrifice someone upon the altar while her shieldbearer, Parvay, feels an need to be a willing sacrifice. They rush to the alter, shoving off the orb and the goblets that were on top as he bears his chest and Kossiri reaches for her dagger. Lotar keeps his eye to the hallway behind them as the commotion goes on at his back. Desmodus again decides to risk all to stop the effects of the spoken word, but Kossiri in her enthralled state shakes him off and stabs Parvay again and again.

Bretherton skirts the action in order to grab the orb from the ground while Desmodus makes a second attempt and finally grabs Kossiri but has no way to calm her down. While they are at this stalemate and as Parvay continues to beg for the honor of giving his life for Terranullus, Lotar hears some slight scuffle of many feet far off in the distance. Fearing the worst, remembers hundreds and hundreds of crypts they'd found earlier, he warns his fellow members and they set about looking for exits. Xylia finds a hidden door in the back of the room and the party rushes in as the sounds behind them grow louder. They scout ahead as they start to hear scratches at the door and wonder how long it'll hold, still having no idea who is on the other side or how many there could be.

They proceed down a hallway and open the first door they come to finding a ghoul inside shuffling in front of an open casket with a treasure chest at his feet. Wendall pulls forth his holy symbol and quickly sends the undead abomination scurrying away in fear. The party finds a beautiful falchion with a hilt bound in white leather. On the blade is etched the word Lifeblood. Dalben scoops up the sword and the party heads back out to the hall. The sounds from the orb room behind the closed door is even louder as the doors creak under the pressure.

The party proceeds with even greater haste, passing up many barred doors behind which they can hears moans and scratches. The hallway soon dead ends however at a door with a sun symbol etched on it. They open it up, hoping the sun was a good omen, and inside they see a sarcophagus with a casket inside and a low lying mist on the ground. Wendall steps into the room to examine the casket and realizes it's full of dirt which holds the outline of a humanoid figure. As everyone comes in to discuss their options, they realize that the mist in now gone. Instead, they now realize a figure is standing in the doorway. He is tall and slender and wears a robe of shimmering black velvet with a high black fur collar.

He tells them his name is Cyrus Maximus and he apologizes for not being a better host but he's been indisposed for some time, centuries to be exact. He assures the party that their situation is indeed dire and his undead minions will soon break through the door and make short work of the group. That is, unless they agree to do as he says. The members of the Silver Blade look at each other as they soon realize they have very little choice. They know Cyrus is likely a vampire and as such would make short work of them despite their long list of accomplishments.

Cyrus explains that he's been imprisoned here for nearly a millennium and needs their help in escaping. The curse that has kept him here requires that he find humans who will aid him of their own free will. He needs them to escort him out and then transport him to the nearest town, which the party realizes is Koros. Knowing that they might well be unleashing a plague upon the capitol, the party decides to worry about that *after* getting out of this pit of undeath as they agree to aid the vampire.

He takes them to another room with another phrase carved into the wall and makes them each swear the oath which promises that should they break their word, they will pulled down into hell for a thousand years. As each member swears the words and promises to aid Cyrus and be his escort to Koros, they wonder about the ultimate cost of this pact and who all will have to pay it. After the last adventurer takes the oath, the vampire smiles and gestures, saying "Shall we?"
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Log of Adventure #20: Winning the Tournament
I can't believe it's been twenty sessions! I hope everyone is having as much fun as I am. I hope can continue to keep pace with the party's creativity and strategic thinking. Now back to your regularly scheduled summary.

The return from Dasker's Keep brought not a little drama. When the Silver Blade showed up the next day, the other adventuring parties noticed the new members and started up quite a ruckus with not a few complaints that the party should be disqualified from the tourney. Hingard calls all of the spokespersons from the groups into his office where Rowan the Red Mage of Koros is already waiting. When the various competing leaders see him, they amp up their arguments, each trying to outshout the other. The Red Mage stares at them silently until they finally lose steam and the sound dies to low grumbles and then silence. He then looks at them and articulates their claims: "So you say the Silver Blade needs to be disqualified since they rescued prisoners from the Keep? Did any of you actually find any who needed rescue in the dungeon?" Only a couple of the parties would admit to it, and they seemed shamed because they'd chosen to leave them to the creatures of the Keep.

He cleared his throat after this had sunk in and asked if anyone had taken a treasure, perhaps a magic item from the dungeon. Several people raised their hands at this. He continues, "And did you use those items in the Arena Combat portion of the tournament? Wasn't that an object that you liberated from the Keep and used to your benefit? Why should the Silver Blade be punished for liberating people who certainly deserved their freedom more than the items you pilfered? Why shouldn't they also be allowed to benefit from those prisoners they freed if they could talk them into joining the party?" At that he smiled slyly as his own cleverness. The other leaders burst once again into cacophonous argument. After allowing it to wash over him for a few more minutes, Rowan raises his hand and waves it from left to right and then walks out of Hingard's Hirelings. Hingard, failing to hide a quiet snigger, yells at everyone to quiet down and get ready for the drawing.

The next morning, Wendall Grimstone goes to see the scholar at the Depository to see if his research had led to any answers about the location of the Orb of Terranullus. After a tedious discussion about the arcane books that the weedy scholar had had to examine which the Cleric was in no mood to listen to, he finds that the scholar does have an answer, or at least as close to an answer as he could get after all this time and misinformation. He told him of a place called Black Bloom Mountain where the Cult of Terranullus once upon a time had a very powerful temple or gathering place. He drew an X on Grimstone's map where all records suggested it was. Once people lived there, but as far as he knew that section of Bestor had been largely left fallow for years and years. Perhaps one or two lonely holdouts remained and they might have more information about this compound. Wendall pressed the scholar on how he could trust his information. How did he know that the bookish man wasn't merely taking his money for a fairy tale. The scholar went into some detail about how ancient history and fairy tales aren't as different as some might think, and could only assure him that this was the only answer he could come to. If his life depended on it, the scholar assured him, he would put his effort into looking for Black Bloom Mountain. He was so confident, in fact, that he promised the cleric that he would refund half of his fee if they found no such temple there. Needless to say, as impressed as Wendall Grimstone was by this proof of earnestness, he still had him sign a contract to that effect, quite please St. Cuthbert in the process no doubt.

I won't bore you with the details of the blow-by-blow of the two remaining battles and riddle contests that the Silver Blade faced other than to say that their easy ride through the tournament came to an end. In their first arena battle, the party were handily defeated by Seven Devils. Their powerful cleric leader managed to freeze the most powerful members of the party with a single Hold Person spell. Perhaps even more surprisingly, though, was the complete defeat they handed the Silver Blade in the very last riddle contest.

The party knew that the contest would be close and had to wait until the feast held that night. Indeed, Seven Devils turned out to be their closest competition, but the party's complete exploration of Dasker's Keep made the difference, proving that the risks they took there and even the party member's lost were worth it. Amidst the hubbub of the festival, Kossiri was very shocked to see the Red Mage approach her. In a quiet but commanding voice, he congratulates her on the party's victory as well as her own growth. He says, "I've been watching you grow into your power, and am pleased with your progress as well as the accomplishments of your group. If you would do me the honor of coming to see me tomorrow, I have a situation I would love to discuss with you. Again, my congratulations." When she recovers from her surprise, she informs the rest of the group.

That evening, giddy with their victory and prospects, many of the party decide to go out carousing, willing to completely cut loose in celebration. Many innkeepers, gamblers, and prostitutes slept that night with heavier pockets because of the party's excesses. Xylia lost all of her loose coin investing in a terrible investment opportunity. Dalben wasn't sure what happened that evening, but woke up the next day being beaten by broom-wielding clerics of Ny'Ray, the goddess of purity and water, since he was currently befouling their most sacred fountain as he was floating in it completely naked. Kossiri, finally letting down her hair for a change, woke up in a stranger's bed, fearful that she had caught some venereal disease he claimed to be mostly free of. Most alarming, however, was Bretherton's plight. When he awoke the next morning in the room he shared with Wendall, he was shocked to see that his hands and eyes were covered in some sort of black ink and a strange mark had been tattooed over his adam's apple. The cleric needless to say recognized the mark immediately and knew that unbelievably, the Cult of Terranullus had somehow inducted yet another member of the Silver Blade into their evil fraternity.

As the day dawned and the party recounted their various adventures and mishaps from the night before, they examined their prospects. They had a possible location for the Orb of Terranullus which would hopefully allow them to finally remove the magical mark of the Demon of the Underneath from Lotar and Bretherton. They also had an intriguing meeting with Rowan the Red Mage of Koros which might lead to another opportunity for adventure. Then again, there was always the open road. Who knew what the day held in store other than the excellent food from the kitchen of the Copper Moon.
Session: Game Session - Saturday, Nov 05 2011 from 6:00 PM to 1:00 AM
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Log of Adventure #19A: Lotar's Adventure
While the party has been exploring Dasker's Keep, Lotar has been laying low at Tunk's farm. He has been enjoying his time off, especially with the attentive Tunk, his wife Morra and his daughter Grace seeing to all his needs. He is feeling more rested than he has in months, enjoying the fire, his pipe, and time to play his crumhorn.

One morning, however, Tunk approaches him looking very frazzled. He asks the dwarf if he's seen Grace anywhere. Apparently she'd gone out to milk the cow earlier in the day and hasn't been seen since. Lotar known for grumbling has actually taken a liking to Grace and is a bit concerned at this news. He offers to help, but Tunk has no idea where she might be. He says Morra might know something, but he looked near by and hasn't seen anything.

He goes into the kitchen where Morra makes him breakfast with a nervous energy as Lotar asks her where Grace might be. She says she doesn't know, but the girl had been talking about wanting to be an adventurer just like "Uncle Lotar." She'd even come back with some junk pieces of copper jewelry. She didn't always listen to Grace, but she thought she said it was out past the Druid Pines that Tunk had planted for Barkle Bean. She didn't know more than that.

Lotar went out to tell Tunk what he'd learned, but the farmer didn't know anything about where the place might be. He is getting more and more frustrated, looking to the dwarf for some guidance. Lotar thinks for a second and then remembers Komouri's dog that Tunk had taken in after the monk's death. He asks him if the dog could track Grace's scent. A smile spreads across his face, relief washing over him. Of course! He'd trained the dog to follow a scent right away. He whistles and calls for the dog: "Ash!" Lotar looks at him confused and Tunk admits that he couldn't ever pronounce the dog's other name, so he changed it. He reaches into a bin in the barn and grabs a pitchfork to be of help.

He holds her nightshift out to Ash who immediately takes off running towards the newly planted pines. Lotar and Tunk take off running after the dog, following his barking. Minutes later, they hear the dog start barking much more loudly and come into a clearing to see him standing off against a large boar. After circling a few times, the boar rushes to attack and the dog dodges. After another turn, though, the boar rips a big gash in Ash's side. Lotar realizing they need him to find Grace, wades into the fight to get the beast's attention. After a short, pitched fight, Lotar times a blow perfectly and takes the boar's head off.

Tunk examines the dog's wounds and then goads him into returning to Grace's trail. After another 10 minutes, Ash comes to a halt and whines in front of a huge tree pawing at the roots. After edging closer to the tree, Lotar sees that there is a larger hole in the ground hidden among the large roots. Getting even closer, he sees that the hole is hiding rough hewn stairs going down about 40 feet into the ground.

Tunk lights a torch and they slowly climb into the hole. At the bottom, they find a large room. A door is ajar and looking inside, they see four wooden statues three of which have cheap copper jewelry. Moving on, they eventually find a large room whose floor is completely covered in huge mushrooms. Lotar asks Tunk if he recognized the mushrooms, worried that some of them were poisonous. He says that he's not an expert like his wife is, but yes he recognizes some that are poisonous. Worse, there were some whose spores were poisonous on touch, not just ingestion.

Not seeing any other way forward, Lotar decides to go forward. Before he steps in, Tunk grabs his arm and says he can't go. Lotar looks confused until Tunk tells him that the dwarf is far more important to the chances of rescuing Grace that he was himself. He wouldn't be able to do what needed to be done by himself.

Lotar looks at Tunk in a new light, very impressed with his bravery. He steps aside as Tunk steps in, uprooting mushrooms to form a path for the dwarf to follow. Through the room, he twice disturbs a poisonous mushroom and almost dies, but manages to clear a way. Lotar feels more determined than ever to rescue the farmer's girl.

In the next room, Lotar finds a skeleton on a marble slab, completely intertwined with vines and roots growing out of the earth. Lotar steps forward to examine skeleton and notices a large ruby ring on the skeletal finger. He pulls on the ring, but it doesn't come off. He pulls out a dagger and chops the bone off and gets the ring. As he does, though, he hears a scream from behind the wall next to him, very confusing since there is no obvious opening on that wall.

He steps over and examines the wall carefully and notices a small seam suggesting a hidden door. He tries to pry it open but can't find a way to open it. He decides that perhaps a straightforward approach is the best one here. He shouts through the wall that he is looking for a little girl and wants to take her home. He gets no response. He realized that the person behind the wall didn't like the cutting off of a finger, so perhaps he'd like it even less when there was no skeleton. He takes his sword and smashes the skeleton to splinters. The scream from behind the wall shakes dust from the walls. Finally, the secret door pops open.

Lotar heads in and sees a large room. In one corner is Grace, held in place by roots growing out of the wall. In another corner is a tall figure dressed in green leather standing in front of two snarling wolves. The figure begins shouting about the desecration of his master's body. Lotar tries to negotiate with him, trying to find a non-violent way out of this worried about his chances against a nature priest and two large wolves. While he does so, Tunk sneaks around the back wall to attempt to free his daughter. While doing so, though, the druid sees what is going on and casts a spell to create a wall of roots, vines, and thorns imprisoning Tunk and his daughter in the corner of the room while the wolves rush toward Lotar to attack.

After a couple of painful bites from the wolves, Lotar decides rushing the nature priest would be a better chance at success. He manages to fell the druid in a single blow. The wolves incensed by their master's death redouble their attacks, but without the dangers of spells, Lotar is able to take down the beasts after a couple of rounds, but not before he is reduced to near death. While he catches his breath, he hears Tunk finally cut his way free of the wall of vegetation with his daughter safe in his arms. Lotar steps over and examines Arax, the druid who had nearly led to his death. On his person he found a Cure Light Wounds potion and a wooden scroll tube. He isn't sure what it is, but assumes it might be a druidic scroll. He hopes that Xylia might give him one of her breathtaking smiles and perhaps even a kiss if he makes a present of it to her.

The return trip to the farm takes much longer with the wounded dog and dwarf, but finally they make it back much to the relief of Morra who has been praying for their safety. She quickly plans a feast in celebration and kills the goose they'd been saving for the Midwinter Festival and feeds Lotar and her rescued daughter in a style the Tunk household had never seen.

As Lotar the Grumbler watches the love and relief of the family who have taken him in, he thinks of his own family, the Silver Blade, wondering how they are doing in the dungeoneering test of the tournament. He can only pray that the keen legal mind of Wendall Grimstone would finally put his overly talkative mouth to good use and clear his name with the City Guard of Koros. He has loved his time at Tunk's farm, but this adventure has only reminded him that peace is fun for a time, but it's hardly the stuff of legends.
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