Realm of Wonders!

And the Stones Slept
A Rumble in the Dark

Just outside the little village lies a small hill, and atop the hill is a small stone circle where the children often play. One of them said they could feel a strange low rumble coming from the stones, so the druid known as Decius decided to investigate further. After spending three days and nights in rigorous druidic ritual, he felt the deep, low rumble moving through his body. Then these feelings took voice:
_ Your presence here has stirred us from a long and deep slumber. Once we sang of sand, rocks, and minerals, to the cold moon we sang, and she answered. We rumbled our good mornings to the Earth Mother, and she welcomed our song with rain and sun and healthy soil.

Long ago, we fell into a deep, dark sleep, and all trace of memory, all trace of earth and moon left us. Now we wish to sing again, to fully awaken and rejoice. We cannot, not until all are reunited in this circle of Mother Earth.

You who have stirred us from our slumber, know this, we awaken fully when we all stand tall in the circle of all. Without a united voice, we can only murmur each to each, and to one such as yourself. Without all, we cannot sing our earth song. Without our earth song, Mother Earth will not bring the rains and healthy soil back to these lands.

Unite us all once again under the moon, standing tall on this hilltop, and_

Decius felt the stones return to their deep slumber. Having gleaned all he could from thw stone circle, he returned to his companions and discussed the experience and what it might mean. More important, they discussed how they might continue to solve this “missing stone.” They met a beardless dwarf in Mog’s Mug." When they approached where the dwaf was sitting, they immediately understood why he was called “Stinky.” He reeked of two week old sweat, stale urine, and a hint of vomit. His constant loud belching and farting didn’t help matters. In short, he reeked, which was why he sat apart from the rest of the pub.

Wading thru his stench and drunken stupor, the party was able to glean a few bits of information. One, he wasn’t a dwarf, but a stone dwarf. Though related, in many ways quite different from mountain dwarfs. More to the point, Stinky told them about “Stonerollers,” the members of his clan that carried the history thru oral tradition. He also told them about his home village about 60 miles due west in the foothills of Una’s Braes. Perhaps one of the Stonerollers living in this village would have information about the stone circle?

But first things first, there were still those slavers operating somewhere in the area. The party decided to seek out their trail, follow it to wherever it might lead, and dispose of the slavers (and garner some information and treasure to boot).

The party traced their steps back to where they first encountered the slavers. Having found some footprints going up into the foothills of Una’s Braes, they followed. This led them along a ravine leading further up into the jagged black hills. They arrived upon a relatively flat plateau of sorts with some trees and other wild growth due to the thin layer of earth in this area. Shortly, they came upon a clearing in the somewhat wooded area that contained a makeshift camp. Two goblins, with bandanas pulled partly down around their eyes, where busy digging a hole in the ground, while another was busy pounding a stake into the ground. The hole was for the latrine, as the existing one had reached its fill. Two hobgobllns were moving around the perimeter of the camp, clearly on guard duty.

The party—wisely—spent some time observing the camp and its occupants. They came up with a battle plan that had them moving quietly towards the camp when suddenly, Grundle found herself falling into a pit lined with jagged rocks. The bard then triggered a crude yet effective trap that caused a branch to swing violently into him causing some minor damage. Worse, this commotion alerted the enemy camp. Since surprise was no longer an option, the party boldly charged.

A brutal & bloody fight ensued, with the Decius swinging his shillelagh clubbing one goblin after another. In the end, the remaining enemies surrendered, though one hobgoblin tried to run away but was felled by a mighty throw of Grundle’s ax, splitting the runner’s skull.

All told, each member receives 545 XP

Hanging out in Apple Blossoms
Slavers & Fey Elves & Friars OH My!
After spending a few days in the little wayward village of Apple Blossoms, the would-be heroes have gotten to know some of the simple, hard-working folks who make their homes here. Though well off the beaten path, the village seems to be doing alright for itself, particularly with regard to the nearby mines where adamantium ore is to be found. As long as the mines continue to produce this rare raw metal, then the village will stay intact.

An envoy of elves from the Fey paid a visit to the village, and took council with the mayor, the chief bailiff Landolfia, and the guildhall council. They have been looking for a group of wayward elves from the Fey who have gone missing. Unfortunately, no one from the village had any information that could help locate these teenage elves. (If only they had asked the party members, perhaps the mystery would have been solved.) However, the elves did find out that some of their women had been taken by slavers, slavers who in turn met their ugly deaths at the hands of the party members. The elves were pleased that the party helped their kin, and offered their thanks in the form of an open invitation to visit the Fey.

But what of those slavers? Openly operating within the Fey, and moving along the road towards the Black Hills, this doesn’t smell quite right.

Speaking of not smelling right, the winds have been coming from the east and north lately, bringing with it the distinct smell of swamp gases and decaying vegetation, or, pigs. It is hard to tell which is worse; at least you can eat the pigs

One morning, while out and about, while Grundle the Highland Dwarf was busy practicing her hobby at the local blacksmith’s shop, the party was met by a tall, rotund half-orc. He was in his fifties, and favored his human side, wearing a simple brown robe worn and mended many times over. He walked with a distinct limp, assisted by a rather large wooden staff. He approached the party and asked for their assistance: two members of his order were sent out to find a simple wooden cup that, while having no monetary nor magical value, was held in great regard by the friar’s order. They have not returned and as he is the only brother close to where the cup is said to be located, he was tasked with this task. However, age and a hard physical life has taken a toll on this brother, and the party agreed to help find the two missing brothers, and possibly the cup itself.

They made their way across the Barren, a harsh land where flat sheets of rock cover the ground for miles. It is slow going, with the goodly chance of a sprained ankle, or worse. The party managed to find the “dolmen” where the cup was assumed to be, and they entered.

Finding the two monks, who had been buried behind a pile of stone rubble, they also found some zombies and their pets: zombie rats. These undead creatures were dispatched to the ashes and dust, but not before the rats infected two party members with some type of disease. Itching & burning aside, they were now free to explore the rest of the underground burial chamber.

After some time searching (having no thief to assist them), they finally found a secret door that, while proving difficult to open, was finally pushed aside. This chamber had similar stone platforms as the other chamber, whereon sat neatly and reverently piled bones. But these piles leaped up and formed into animated bonebots. The party was saved by Quinn Sora, the undead vanquisher cleric who was able to drive the skeletons away from the party where they could be more readily disposed of. Then, while Decious, the man of the wilds, moved near what appeared to be a stone altar, a strange green ethereal creature rose up and attacked. It didn’t so much strike as fly thru the victim’s body, causing a bone-chilling cold that caused minor damage. But the real damage was the creature’s ability to draw an attribute from the victim. The creature did some considerable damage before the good cleric was able to turn it. With that the dwarf Grundle, with a +1 dagger, was able to slowly dispatch the undead filth and send it to the underworld.

Lo and behold! The cup was setting on the altar, along with some blue gems, three scroll tubes, a strange mace head, and a small nondescript silver ring.

And it’s back to Apple Blossoms, where the party counts out its hard earned experience:

Each member (Quinn Sora; Decius; Desrtorm; and Grundle) receives: 623 XP
“Well done lads, well done!”

We're off to see the village of Apple Blossoms.
*Travel & Adventure: See the world while getting paid. Caravan Guards needed to escort wagons from the southeastern fort of Kytheria to the lovely village of Apple Blossoms.*

A bit of gold, and the opportunity for some experience facing the harsh reality of a world that doesn’t know you, nor care about you. Live – die; succeed – fail, that is your responsibility.
The party decided to hire on as guards for the wagons providing goods for the remote village of Apple Blossoms, and returning with ore from the adamantian mines. The trip, while having some minor disturbances, brought them safely to the village.

They booked a small private room at the one and only inn in Apple Blossoms: “The Two Brothers Inn” A tidy establishment owned and operated by—oddly enough—two brothers. The Brendas brothers Brill & Breen, half-elfs who have many interesting and ofttimes disturbing stories to tell about past adventures.

While poking around the village and taking a hike up into the black hills, they headed for the tavern called “Mogs Mug: Drinks-Dice-Darts: No spitting, cheating, or fighting.” This rough-n-tumble tavern is owned by Mog, a female half-orc who, for all her brawny size, looks human. Here they met the dwarf Grundle, who had only recently been driving a team of oxen. She informed them that she no longer worked for the transport company, and could prove a useful fighter in their small, yet promising, company. All were in agreement, and away they went. But to where?

There'll be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight
A Hanging, a Roasting, and a Boasting

The four never met would be heroes awake to the sounds of a clanging bell. “Fire!” The streets of Khulan are startled awake as fire can quickly take the whole town. But will it?

It was while passing buckets full of water in one direction, and empty buckets in the other, that they met. The fire burning in the small house was contained—alas, not before two clerics with divine aid brought about through strange gestures and prayers entered the now smouldering building and emerged with the body of a young child. They heroically tried to bring the boy back from the clutches of Hades, but could not. The parents burst into convulsive sobbing, while the night watch—who successfully organized the bucket brigades—disbanded the townspeople.

It was then they noticed each other, standing on this otherwise insignificant smoke filled street; while a murmur went up amongst the lesser gods, as they too noticed this destined meeting.

Later that morning they heard that the two prisoners had escaped in the night. A farmer, claiming to have come in early to the town, though everyone knew he was returning from the town after an all-night-drunk, saw some people moving north along the west wall under cover of darkness. The party offered to investigate, and with the help of the druid’s wilderness skills, they found the trail that led them to a small cabin nestled in a copse of woods. After the stealthy scout reconned the building and found only two doors and one small window, the cleric—acting far more like a bloodlusting barbarian than a good cleric who worships the god of the underworld—crashed through the door. No time for words, it was a fight to the death. While the cleric went tete-a-tete with a tall human male, the druid can up from behind and smote a halfling with his magical shillieghlee. He struck with such force that the halfling became halfling yet again. The scout was not as lucky, as he crept thru the back door, he was beset by two bandits standing in the dark on either side of the doorway. Though the bard supported the rogue by firing arrows into the building, after a few blows, the rogue fell. After a few short seconds, all was quiet, and the rogue was brought back from Hade’s Shadow, not quite ready to end his mortal existence.

A quick trip back to Khulan, and the chief bailiff made his way to the cabin to confirm that the dastardly deeds of these bandits was brought to an end. The bailiff was not pleased, he would have prefered the gang to have been captured and brought to trial, so justice could play out for all to see. However, the parents of the little boy expressed their gratitude with tears and hugs.

A Necromantic Dream

We arrived at a small fishing village, not more than a few stone huts with reed roofs. What sent us here was a story told by a local friar we met on the road just outside the village of Loganburrow. Tess, as she called herself, believed there was more to this story than one small band of undead might suggest. Other small bands of undead had been spotted in the area over the last month as well, and the good people of the region were frightened by these horrible events. She suggested the answer to this outbreak of undead could be found in an old gnome druid about thirty miles away. So, we headed northeast to find this druid.

The people of the fishing village had large rowboats that they claimed were sea-worthy, we paid them a few gold pieces for a trip across a narrow inlet of the large inland sea called by some The Irriduce. True to their word, the fishermen brought us safely to the other side. Now our search for the old druid could begin in earnest.

After much hiking around the ancient forest along the shore of Irriduce, we stumbled upon the druid. But not before we had to work out the disorientating madness of this forest. It kept turning us around such that we were never certain which way we were headed, only to find ourselves hiking down the same path we had been on only hours before. One of us remembered a story from childhood, and we began to place various bits of cloth torn from our clothing, or copper pieces to mark our path. This clever device allowed us to finally make our way to the middle of the woods. But then we were attacked by some woodland creatures who make their homes here: squirrels, rabbits, and birds. What drove them to this we didn’t know, as their attack could do little harm to us. Fortunately we used discretion, and only drove them off without causing them any harm. It was then that the gnome druid made himself known.

The druid had been watching us for some time, to make sure our intentions were good. Though he wouldn’t tell us his name, he told us about a very old abandoned temple where an altar still gave off a powerful energy from the sunlight that came through an opening in the rock ceiling. While this temple was of neutral alignment, it was possible someone with evil intent could make use of this energy to stir the dead from their graves. He knew the temple was somewhere in the area around where the undead were turning up, but not its exact location. For that we would need to seek out a retired ranger—who he also would not name—who lived in a small woodland grove to the southwest. So we were off to find this unnamed ranger.

As we came to the edge of the woodland realm, we were beset by strange fairy creatures, not more than 6" tall. They flew around on gossamer wings while firing tiny arrows at us. When they struck, it was no more than a bee sting, but suddenly, an overwhelming urge to sleep came over the one plucking out the arrow. We ran, but not quickly enough. The next thing we knew, we were waking with headaches, minus are one magical item between us, a +1 dagger.

We venture forth from Khulan

It was about 4 PM. when we came upon them. A simple farm cart alongside the road, four lifeless bodies. Two human adults, male and female, and two small children. This initial shock couldn’t have prepared us for what we saw as we moved closer, as they had been partially eaten, their brains ripped out through holes in their skulls. And worst, this had happened no more than a few hours ago. We were disgusted by the vision, and terrified as to who–or what—did this, but we couldn’t leave them lying here in this state, so we buried them. Their was little in the cart, some fresh picked vegetables probably on the way to a local market. We moved on down the road, with our hands on our weapons, alert to any sight or sound that indicated trouble.

It was right after sundown when we saw them, some human figures moving around in a mindless fashion. The stench coming from them was foul rot, causing us to retch. Our gut’s told us to run, but we were not going to leave these creatures to kill another unsuspecting family traveling along the road. Just as the sensed us, we charged them! They turned on us, but moved more slowly.

Our steadfast Dwarf Ballog was the first to strike, hacking off arms and legs with his mighty battleax, and even splitting torsos down the middle. Finestra pulled up short and began waving her arms while voicing strange sounds, and two small sparks darted from her hand and struck one of the creatures, dropping it with a disgusting squish sound. I looked for some sort of club, as my dagger would not be of much use. Finding a stout tree branch, I picked it up and entered the fray, swinging wildly, but connecting nonetheless. They still had fresh blood on them, which only made their sight and smell more gut-wrenching, and they were able to claw us with nasty nails. There were seven in total, possibly once human. We managed to bring them all down, and we burned the carcasses so they could not rise again.

Oh, to have had the companionship of a cleric, but alas, we did not.

After cleaning our wounds and resting, we continued down the road and after another hour we entered the small town of Loganburrow. We reported all of this to the local bailiff, then found lodging at the only inn in town, The Crafty Cow. For our troubles, a local healer came by and cured our wounds, with no gold nor copper required.

The next morning, after a simple but hearty breakfast, we were once again on our way. When we first started out from Khulan, nor more than six days ago, we had no idea what earning our keep as adventures meant. We were beginning to understand it was not all glory and gold. But we were certain that the paths we each had taken, the paths that had brought us together, were the ones we had been born to trod; certain that down the next road, or underground tunnel, waited bags of gold, and weapons of wonder.


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