|Campaign Date||Erastus 6-7, 4722|
Four separate residents of Geb are summoned to the residence of the Blood Lord Berline Haldoli, ruler of the city of Graydirge. As each arrives, they are met by Haldoli’s majordomo, a ghoul named Mhyurk, who directs them to refreshments.
Blake Skelton arrives first. His large frame shows the undead skeleton’s hobgoblin origin. Next up is Zaheri Javed. He is well dressed in fine clothing, walking with his quarterstaff as if it were magic. He briefly talks to Blake as he partakes. Sebastian d'Cross is next, telling the majordomo that he is here on orders from the Cross family. As he and Zaheri size each other up, Tsekani arrives trying to go to a servant’s entrance. Mhyurk redirects him. Zaheri introduces himself and takes it upon himself to introduce the other two. Since everyone has arrived, the ghoul leads them in.
The group is met by Lady Berline and invited to an early lunch. The Lady is friendly and quite approachable. Zaheri is the most at ease, used to dealing with the upper levels of society. However, he is well aware that this woman is one of the most dangerous leaders in Geb.
Lady Berline explains over a fine meal that a local farm, Ergahas, is having some trouble. She sent a crew to investigate and they returned saying this was a job for swords Their job is to simply go see what is going on and fix it if they can. They are promised joint ownership of a local piece of land that fell into her hands when its old owner died. The whole group looks at each other. This seems to be a far downplayed risk to an outsized reward. They finish lunch (well not Blake, who sits there bemused) and prepare to leave. Zaheri changes into what he calls his “work clothes” and leaves his fine things behind. He also introduces the group to his familiar, Tumbly. Tumbly is a vervet monkey from the Mwangi Expanse to the west of Geb. This prompts a biting comment from Sebastian about ”The brains of this outfit” to which the Zaheri haughtily retorts about Sebastian’s low status, cowing the man.
The trip to the farm is met with more discussion and further introductions between the group. Zaheri is of the opinion this is a high risk/high reward scenario, no matter how much she downplayed it. He cheerfully predicts it is likely they will all die ( or die again in Blake’s case). Still, he is clear this is the sort of fire he intends to face in life to fulfill his destiny and would rather die trying than shy away.
The farm itself is walled off with two gates. The main gate has a trapped zombie. Looking inside, zombies are milling about, undirected. Zaheri and Blake decide to go through the side gate. The gate seems to have slammed shut on a poor soul, perhaps one of the Lady’s crew. He stays quite dead as Sebastian easily deactivates the mechanism of the trap and opens the gate. The corpse has a satchel with a lessor antiplague and some sort of gray paste. Zaheri takes these and the group moves into the farm itself. They walk between four silos, one with its grain spilled out. Sebastian and Tsekani notice that the grain is tainted with Brian Grit which causes headaches but not much else. It seems an odd way to poison grain. Zaheri asks Tumbly for his crossbow and loads it.
The group does not get much chance to puzzle over this as they hear a distorted whinny of a horse and turn to see a zombie horse and two zombie hounds approaching. Blake runs forward and block the horse from moving forward between two wagons. The hounds leap over. Blake and the horse fight it out, with the zombie striking him badly. The hounds leap forward, one on Tsekani and one against Blake. Finding the skeleton has no meat, it moves forward. Sebastian uses his short bow while Zaheri fires his crossbow. Tsekani takes traditionally monk approach and beats the hound with his fists. Sebastian uses his battle medicine on the monk, while Zaheri keeps firing at the foes while Blake is forced to step back. Sebastian moves to heal her with oil of unlife, and the last of the creatures fall. The group wonders at what is going on.
Searching the bodies does not help. They seem to have been a zombie managers, zombie themselves, but with the spark of intelligence. They seem to have died fighting in a circle. In a nearby pen, they see a huge zombie cow, missing horn clearly embedded in a nearby destroyed building. At the front gate remain the two zombies on guard, ignoring the zone behind them.
The group decides to head down to the nearby hill cave holds the oversear’s room. There they find mindless zombies uselessly attacking piled up crates blocking a passage. The rest of the area has the bed for the now dead overseer and a rather grisly table and signs of cannibalism. The room with a bed has a violet everlasting torch which Zaheri gives to Tumbly to hold.
Feeling they need to press one, the group surprises the three zombies and easily takes them down. Moving the crates, they find the well for the facility and the only remaining zombie charge hand, Sifegtk, whom they rescue. He tells a tale of the farm being attacked for no reason. He knows nothing of grain being tainted, and can only say he was been in the well for days.
The group decides to take out the zombie cow. Zaheri suggests that he and Sebastian climb a roof and attack at range while the other two move in. They go all out, but the cow is dangerous. It lands a critical attack on Blake who collapses to absorb the damage. Before she reassembles, the undead beast is dead. Tsekani just manages to pull a magical scythe imbedded in the corpse from it. They group retreats to the cave, avoiding three zombie workers who have bashed their way out of a holding area. Zaheri spends three fruitless hours trying to heal Blake, and they resort to the oil of unlife from Sebastian. After a full rest, Zaheri awakes inspired. The mage pulls bones from the dead zombies in the cave and expertly stiches the still wounded Blake to full health. They easily kill the three zombies, and Sifegtk is able to control the other two. The group departs, still unsure of exactly what happened.
|Campaign Date||Erastus 7-8, 4722|
The group rises early and heads back to meet with their employer who receives them warmly. They show her the symbol on the tattered cloth as part of their report, yet she has little light to shine on the matter. Berline promises she will look into it further. The mild poisons have her puzzled as well. As promised, she turns over the deed to Kellok Manor, wrapped around a large iron key, and gives the party 20 gold among them to share.
The Manor itself is a mere mile south of Graydirge proper so it’s quite a simple matter to travel to and from it for any business the group would to attend to. Seeing they have time, Sebastian and Zaheri ask around to see if anyone knows about the strange symbol. Sebastian manages to find a name of someone they can follow up on.
The group heads to Kellok Manor and finds an already open door. Heading inside, they see a dead hand trying to deal with a swarm of rats. Zaheri breathes ancient dust on the swarm, and Blake charges in after, literally scything through the vermin. The hand introduces itself as Arghun The Annihilator, its voice disconcertingly coming from about where a head would be. It/He asks to see the deed and key, and accepts them as equal owners of the manor. He notes the basement is not secure and offers that the group might want to head down and deal with the problems there.
Moving down the steps, they hear the rasps of bones on stone. They are confronted with three ostovites, skeletons being run by things from another plane. Tsekani and Blake quickly kill one that charges them. Another attacks from behind, menacing Zaheri and Sebastian, who retreat and attack it. In a few moments, all of the outer planes monsters are destroyed and Blake as a collection of bones to take.
They clear out the rest of the basement, finding the ostovite nest and destroying it. They also run into a Skittering Ribcage that seems to be a former pet that only wants attention. In the ostiary, they find a key to a Graydirege security box. The site secured, they go upstairs to meet with Arghun. He shows them around as best he can. He does not remember much of his death, but he regales anyone who sits still long enough of his larger-than-death exploits. It’s not certain to any of the party how much of it is true. What is certain is his genuine attachment to Kellok manor. Arghun likes to see it well cared for and attended, and seems to have little desire for affairs outside it. He will perform whatever duties the group sees fit to assign or, he sadly sniffles, “none at all, if the current masters have no use for an old hand”.
After two days a messenger arrives announcing Berline will be coming to visit later that evening and wishes to meet with the party.
|Campaign Date||Erastus 8-13, 4722|
The group takes stock of the situation. Zaheri and Blake go back to the farm to collect bones; Zaheri to make a servant and mount, Blake to add to his collections. Zaheri invests in some carvings tools and offers to help Blake make his bones more ornate and suggests using bones of defeated zombies.
After two days, Berlin arrives as promised and brings a huge lunch. They share the meal and she shares that the cloth they found was from a new gang, The Three Finger Hand. She also notes that the two items found, put together, create a deadly poison to the quick. It seems this was an attempt to poison the quick of Graydirdge. She asks the group to investigate, on their own, nothing official as of yet, and the group agrees to the charge. She is clear she wants discretion.
The next day, four split into two teams, Zaheri and Blake as one and Sebastian and Tsekani as the other. The goal is to try to find out more about this new information that Berlin brought them. Zaheri manages to get to an party in the afternoon. While no one has heard of the Thre Fingered Skull, they are talking about the Boneshards, clearly engaged in extortion. Zaheri makes friends with Bilfor, a halfling storekeeper. Sebastian hears similar stories talking to a shopkeeper about the Boneshards. This does not help the mystery.
After two days of less than fruitful research, a skeletal thrush arrives with an invitation to meet with High Preist of Zon-Kuthon, Ortagar Stich-Skull the next evening. The followers of this insane god exist to suffer and revel in it. They arrive with the sun in their eyes. The inside of the foul cathedral is haunted by strange screams and moans. They are asked to engage in a ritual of blood cleaning, but they refuse. With insistence, Sebastian drives his sword through the hand of the woman leading them, much to her pleasure. Disgusted more than anything, the group heads to dinner.
The High Priest meets them and greets them warmly. His head is a mass of scars which makes his name make sense. There is little talk of business until the end of the meal.
Ortagar closes his eyes as he enjoys one final morsel before gently returning his napkin and spoon to the table. He methodically straightens them as he clears his throat. He slowly massages his temples, straining the stitches on his head, and then places his palms on the table and snaps open his eyes.
“I hope you have enjoyed your food. Later, I must pay for the pleasure this meal has brought me, but for now, we have important matters to discuss.”
“I recently learned of an apparent plot to introduce some strange substance—poisons, perhaps—to Geb’s food supply. This plot involved not just any remote farm, where the food would undoubtedly be shipped overseas and be no concern of mine, but a farm that supplies Graydirge itself, including this temple. You all know of what I speak, of course. I have a confession to make, about why I have brought you all here. Word of this plot did not reach me by way of our mutual acquaintance, the esteemed Reanimator, Mistress Berline Haldoli. No. I learned of this plot from a member of my own congregation.”
“It is difficult for our worshippers to keep secrets from us. My acolytes are quite skilled, and it is easy to recognize when one of our own has grown accustomed to our ministrations and requires extra attention. One such congregant is a man named Dakramat, who is also a member of a Graydirge gang called the Bone Shards. We’ve long known Dakramat worked with the Bone Shards, but it did not concern us. It is a pathetic group, little more than struggling ruffians, unworthy of our attention—or so I assumed. It seems the group has a new leader. This individual plots to poison Graydirge’s food supply. Dakramat heard about this from his gang’s new leader, but as he wasn’t in the inner circle, he couldn’t provide any details, even under intense interrogation. Our modest congregation consists mostly of living people, and there are many other quick across Graydirge. A mass poisoning is no trifling matter.”
“When word of what happened at Old Ergagh’s Farm reached me, it was clear there truly is a plot against Graydirge… against its living residents, at least. I try to keep myself and the Empty Threshold insulated from such schemes, and I’d appreciate external assistance with this investigation. Thus, I have brought you here to share what I know. The Bone Shards are somehow connected to what has happened, and what may yet happen, if no one acts. I can tell you where their hideout is. Try not to kill all of them. If they have information on this plot, we ought to learn who is involved.”
The group thanks him for the meal and the information and move to get out as fast as they can. Zaheri leads them to an old watering hole and indulges in a rare drink. This is a classy place and they can converse in peace. They decide to head into the hideout. This will be another significant test. Tsekani suggests it will be a use for the figurine of power they found.
|Campaign Date||Erastus 14-17, 4722|
After a night’s rest, Zaheri bemoans that they lack servants to prepare them meals. After a (self made) breakfast, the group heads into Graydirge and the charnel houses of the Meat Market. They descend into old ruins under the area, passing bones as they go. As they follow the direction carefully, they find four skeletons with chattering skulls atop them. They easily eliminate them, but Zaheri does manage to get bitten. Entering into the next room, there are bones and blood, and several severed hands walking about. Three humans are in a recessed cove. They are painted to look undead but are clearly among the living.
Blake approaches boldly asking to talk with them, despite their entries to leave. The female orders one or the two males to attack the skeleton, and she nearly kills him in one blow. Zaheri calls to them to stop fighting as it is clear they will all die. And intimidating glare for Blake seals the deal. Zaheri enters into negotiations with them as Sebastian sews up the one wounded man. Apparently, Dakramat led a woman here who was looking for a key to a Graydirge bank vault. They had taken it from a shopkeeper at some point. She slaughtered most of the gang, animating their bodies and walking them out. A few hands are left.
Zaheri offers them contracted employment at Kellok Manor, which they tentatively accept. They lead the party around the area, astounding for its immense number of bones, and these were what is left over. Back at the house, Zahari introduces the three humans are Sahrage (the girl), Zarken, and Fentan to Arghun and places them under his direction. They have a day or so to make up their minds if they want this safety or a return to the streets.
It is clear that the ruined Bank of Greydirge is the next stop, especially as they have their own key recovered from the house. Blake notes the two keys are starkly different from one another. They group decides to head to the bank the next morning.
They go to the bank which has three giant hands patrolling in routes. They are easy to avoid and the group enters through the already open doors. There is a stone figure who appears to be running away. She does not have clear markings of the Three Fingered Hand on her, but the group is sure this was someone recently turned to stone. Sebastian checks for traps on a door and finds none. However, Blake is not sure, and he strides forward seeing a trap ready to go off. He pushes Sebastian out of the way as three large blades comes swinging out. The prone Sebastian blinks looking at the slowly resetting trap that would have killed him. Zaheri has concern in his voice as he asks Sebastian if he is OK. The investigator nods as he stands.
Blake disables the blades, and the group continues. There is a long hallway with other doors. Those will have to wait as a opkherib gesturing them away. Sebastian suggests they hold up the key, but that does not deter the undead. Knowing they have to fight it, the group readies to attack. Blake and Tsekani move up, while the others fire their bows at the creature. Zahari sends his ghost, Hanover, to harass and attack the creature. As Tumbly moves the light forward, another one is visible.
They group fights hard to kill the first and then the other before either can drain any of their lifeforce. They search over the body in the room and find proof that it was from the Three Fingered Hand gang. The deeper enemy of Graydirge and perhaps Geb has been here.
The group continues their search and recovers several continual flame skulls, which they manage to wrench off their stands successfully for most of them. There is a body in the bank, the dead manager, Tilganet. It seems she was fired with prejudice with the closing of the bank, with accusations of her working with the Celebrants. This would have put her at odds with her employers, the Tax Collectors. The poisoned food she at seems so tempting to Zaheri but he pulls away. Blake goes in to fully investigate and retrieves a sample of the poisoned food and the notes, as well as the +1 returning star knife staking the letter to the table.
Further investigation finds a door in the floor that sinks down when Zaheri approaches it with the key. They find a destroyed trap and a mangled body of a women, again someone working for the Three Fingered Hand. They move deeper into the bank, into a long hallway. They are not alone, as two large skulls with vulture-like creatures perched upon them are at either end. The strange otherworldly beasts tell them to leave, despite the presence of the key because the bank is closed. They keep wondering how the group will taste. Blake is not interested in hearing any of it and charges one side, while Tsekani leads to the other. It is a hard and fierce fight, forcing Sebastian to battle heal Blake. Tsekani struggles to hit the target, but Zaheri’s magic is well up to the task, though the ghost Hanover is destroyed in the fight. The creatures are defeated but not destroyed. Their essences back in the skulls. Sebastian opines they will be back up when they can reconstitute themselves. The being sulk in their skulls, still telling the party to go away.
Moving down the hallway, there are a series of locked doors. Each has a skull that lights up with green eyes when Zaheri approaches. They ask the question ”On what is greatness built”. Zaheri thinks on this and answers ”Death and Control”. The skull opens its mouth and Zaheri inserts the key. The door unlocks and he goes in. The first room is simply full of empty deposit boxes. So the proceed to the second.
There is a huge pile of corpses inside that moan and start to move. The necromancer quickly leaves the room and slams the door behind him, which locks. Fortunately, all the boxes in that room appeared to be opened.
Finally on the third try, there is a room, all boxes opened save one. This one fits the key!
Inside is a Scroll with a black cloth and old book. The note is from the previous owner, Kellok. He tells the new owners that he can describe, that the pool in the house will eventually show the next owners of the home. It is an unhappy letter, with ill wishes upon the group. The book is Kellok’s research into the scrying pool. Any water visited can be used as a scrying point with the normal limitations, and any rightful owner of the home can use it.
As they stand in the room, a trap door opens and a hidden spot opens. Inside is a contract between the Builder’s League and the Tax Collectors Union. The Builders agree to build the bank, but if it goes unoccupied and unused for a year and a day, it reverts back to the Builders. Technically, the bank has reverted now. This is a bombshell!
In the next room, they find the corpse of a 3 Fingered Hand worker who is just … dead. There is no reason they can tell. The corpse is near a large chest with faint residue of Tremor Paste. Clearly, this held quite a bit. His body has a map drawn to a specific place in the Court of Ghouls in the city. This appears to be where the poor soul was recruited.
There are no other boxes of significance and one room that seems full of something pressing on the door that Sebastian warns against opening. However, there is one last room to explore and it turns out to be Tilganet’s room.
This is the room of an insane woman. The walls and tables are covered in books and papers claiming many different things. Most of it is totally unhinged. Her journal sheds some light on the contract they found. Tilganet was sure it was in the bank. The group is unsure why it would open now, and can only speculate that very last security box needed to be opened to trigger it. Fate playing a hand, perhaps. It seems that Tilganet was working to betray the Tax Collectors after all.
A final look around uncovers another slab that many people seem to have tried to open but cannot. Tilganet’s journal mentions it. There are various writings around the room on what people have tried. The group decides this is a mystery for another day.
|Campaign Date||Erastus 16, 4722|
Heading out of the city, Zaheri gives a written request to Berline’s staff that they want to meet. The assures them they can meet the next day. The group arrives home to the smells of a great meal. Sharage, Zarkenand Fentonare working out. Over dinner, they agree to stay on. Zaheri proposes they restart the gang under a new name. After some haggling, Sebastian asks if there is any place that might owe them the most money. The name the baker Waygahu, who is short on payment. Zaheri disguises himself and Tsekani and they go to lean on him, representing members of a new gang, the Scarlet Reavers . Zaheri spreads the word on the street that this new gang is taking over the old Bone Shard Territory. Tsekani helps the current members intimidate other shopkeepers.
Waygahu agrees to let the gang set up shop in his unused areas next the bakery for a small share of cuts and overlooking his past debts. This gives the new gang a way to grown, and creates an independent income stream for Kellok Manor.
That afternoon, the group meets with Berline and updates her on their progress, leaving out any mention of the discovered contract. She reveals that the poison combination is quite dangerous and tests show those killed just appear dead of now causes. Apparently, the 3 Fingered Skull tested it on one of their own. Still, his death will not be in vain, as it is the next clue. Zaheri does ask for letters of introduction to the Builders Guild and Tax Collectors Union. Then it is on to the Court of Ghouls.
|Campaign Date||Erastus 17, 4722|
The group makes sales on the way to the Court, and arrives at the location on the map, a bar called The Crooked Coffin. The bar is empty save for the group. Blake moves in and sits down and Zaheri sends Tensor to join him. Sebastian takes another table and Zaheri and Tsekani saddle up to the bar. Zaheri drops 5 silver and buys drinks and asks for information from the manager, a ghoul named Keb. Keb is poorly forthcoming on any information on the Three Fingered Hand, other than acknowledging their existence.
Fed up, Sebastian leaves five silver and asks to be contacted if there is the gang is interested in work, giving the name of the bar they used the other night. Keb takes the money and the group leaves. Tsekani notes he is tempted to just charge in. Blake suggests to lay outside in a heap of bones, discreetly, while the rest wait around the corner. Zaheri leaves Tumbly to come get them if things go south. This is their stake out.
It takes only 10 minutes and Keb comes out and looks around. She sees Blake and moves towards him with the two barkeeps. Tumbly takes off to get his master, climbing and clambering over the roofs. Blake stands up just in time for the three to try to grab him. One of the barkeeps slips and falls flat. Keb manages it and goes to drag the tall skeleton away.
At this point, the others come running up. Zaheri launches a full barrage of 3 magic missiles into Keb, causing her to cry out. Sebastian follows with his new returning star knife dropping her and freeing Blake. Tsekani moves in to attack while Blake swings his scythe, slicing to pieces a bar keep. The other abjectly surrenders.
As he moved forward, Tsekani noted someone poke their head out and ducked back in. He chased him, with Tensor under orders by Zaheri to chase as well. They chase the man back into the kitchen, where he closes a door behind him. Noting the canvas roof, Tsekani takes a dagger from Zaheri and adeptly slashes through and lands on the other side of the wall. The rest of the group follows, though Zaheri orders Tensor to open the door. The four slash their way through the room and soon only one man is left standing. At last, someone who owns being in the Three Fingered Hand. He is of little use, other than he is part of the gang. With the sounds of more people to the south, the group presses forward.
To the south they find an open door and Sebastian tries to open it but is noticed. Inside is the ghoul Pesgahi, looking every bit the alchemist. He is pouring over books when he noticed the interruption. When the party does not respond to his demands for identification, he leaps up and attacks Blake. The nimble ghoul avoids all damage, while pummeling the skeleton. Finally, Zaheri lands the spell call of the grave, and the scales start to balance. As Blake and Pesgahi trade blows, Zaheri manages to land another spell feast of ashes driving the ghoul to great hunger, but he keeps his wits and uses a magic bracelet to leap away. The startled Blake cannot catch him, but Sebastian strikes him with the star blade and Tsekani catches and takes him down.
The action has aroused several zombies, a piper and giant shamblers on the other side of a locked gate. Tsekani and Blake fight the creatures through the grate, both taking damage from the creatures but able to retreat. Sebastion heals as best he can with his skills and potions. Zaheri uses grease to cause the zombies to fall and they are all beaten down. Tsekani is near death and the group drags the body of Pesgahi back to his lab and shut the door. There the group hunkers down to recover for a few minutes. They search the study and find horrifying notes of experiments on living and undead. Most damming are the notes about poisoning the grain and the strange brews they are making, including something growing out of them.
Having heard all sorts of dragging and walking outside, the group feels they cannot wait any longer. They poke their heads out and see three groups wandering, led by brewers. There are zombies regular and large brutes. Tsekani takes the lead and charges into a brewer, knocking him out. The rest of the team falls on the, with Zaheri launching fire support. That team ended, they spy the man they questioned earlier, Ambrose, running and trying to open a gate to more zombies. It takes little for the group to close on him and his minions, dropping them all. Through the gate, they can see strange oozes leaving the brewstills. After a quick bandaging of wounds, they party turns on the remaining group and dispatches them. With the area clear, they open the other door to the south and find a trapped Zombie, the reanimated original owner of the brewhouse, Siget. All he wants is to leave, but he implores the group to free Mered “She is trapped to the north”. The group agrees and moves north, to where Ambrose was trying to flee.
Heading up, they find zombie dogs that Zaheri uses repeats of electric arc to destroy before they can breach the gate. They were around a pile of flesh and a strange note left by Kepgheda to her mother. The group feels they must be close to some answers.
Entering a strange room with a bubbling cauldron, they spy an imprisoned woman. She does not talk but looks fearfully at the cauldron. Screams emanate from it as an invisible creature. As this ghoulish witch attacks, her long misshapen hand clearly has only three fingers. Finally, they are face to face with Kepgheda herself!
The fight is dangerous. Kepgheda attempts to summon a giant zombie, but Blake is in reach and disrupts the spell. However, her attacks are hard, and Tsekani falls before her, nearly dead save for Sebastion’s quick work. Blake and the ghoul dance with scythe and claws with Zaheri firing what little magic he has left for the day. Finally, the foul leader dies as she reaches for her caldron, the star knife embedded in her back.
|Campaign Dates||Erastus 17-28, 4722|
Battered and bloody, the group takes stock. Tsekani is able to be roused and further aided. Zaheri frees and talks gently with Mered. She is a kidnapped member of the Export Guild, being tortured for secrets of where to best poison. She is in little shape to travel on her own and stays with the party. They rest a while then work to clear the rest of the building. There are three unliving experiments in a lab to the south the group easily dispatches. Zaheri again uses cantrips to wipe out the oozes. The group heads home to rest and recover and the next day take Mered to meet with Berline to report on what happened.
Zaheri relates that he would like to take possession of the brewery and Berline assents. She directs them to Tremere who is a former master brewer who used to work for a man embezzling money from Berline. Now he works as the zombie, Reacher, for Berline, while Tremere tends bar in the city. After their debriefing, the group goes to find Tremere.
Tremere is indeed a master brewer. Tsekani is clear that his brews are good, though Zaheri confesses his differentiation of tastes is not good enough to tell. Tremere signs on for profit sharing and the group fronts the 100 gold to get the facility ready. Zaheri uses prestidigitation to scour the vats, and the rest of the group puts in sweat equity. There is enough time for Zaheri to reconstitute Hanover and add Whisp, a skeletal bird to his inventory of creatures. All of them are better infused with magic and more powerful. Usually, he is seen with Tensor walking beside him.
Arodus Dark Lager is a huge success. It does not take an expert investigator to figure out Tremere is now brewing at a new location and many of the regular customers from the razed bar find their way to the Undying Ales as word spreads.
Sharage, as the head of the Scarlet Reavers has the idea to reduce suspicion and ease collection, anyone ordering a “Special House Brew” which costs 10x the normal price of Arodus' (fetched from the back) is given a receipt, good for a week, that they can display in their business. These businesses tend not to experience. “bad things”.
This has a two-fold effect. On the one hand there are not ruffians going door-to-door to collect (only to enforce/recruit) and free advertising for the bar, increasing profits. The “Special House Brew” is the same Lager everyone else drinks, of course.
|Campaign Dates||Erastus 29 – Arodus 03, 4722|
A week and a half go by before they are summoned to meet with the Governor of Greydirge Taff Gekhta Seven Stomachs and Berline that evening.
The Dinner with the Governor is less a dinner and more a grilling. The Governor is most distressed both with the poison plot and the disruptions in the city of Graydirge, including the actions of the group. Zaheri does most of the talking, spinning a tale as one of heroic defense on their part. The Governor is quite upset with the instructions into the closed bank. Both Zaheir and Sebastion explain they were working to follow up on the previous intrusion. They are all interrupted by another ghoul storming into the building. The ghoul, Ishani, lights into the room complaining about the violation of the bank which is the Taxing Guild’s property. Zaheri asks Ishani a pointed question about how long the bank has been closed, which is over a year. He then asks Sebastion for the document of ownership they found. Zaheri reads it aloud and hands it to the Governor before Ishani can snatch it. The Governor reads the letter after admonishing Ishani.
|Campaign Dates||Arodus 04, 4722|
|Game Date||8/16/23 & 8/24/23|
Lady Berline Haldoli arrives for supper, but dinner isn’t served until she had a long chat, catching up with all the local Graydirge gossip: who was marrying who, who had the best recipe for pig head pie, the latest lich creation and the qualities of the estate’s landscaping, “Which is done so excellently—my compliments!”.
Once supper is underway, Berline is served by her skeletal maid, Glorinsa, while a second skeleton named Reacher remains in the foyer with a hand on his sword. With every dish set before her, Berline rubs a ring on her finger that twinkled with a green light. “Oh, it’s just a poison detector,” she explains with a happy smile. “Of course, I don’t suspect you of anything. It’s just a good habit to keep. We Blood Lords can never really be too careful!”.
“Speaking of poison,” she says as the last dishes are whisked away. “I’ve done some discreet nosing around concerning that Kepgeda person you all faced down the other day. She was a naughty young woman, no mistake.” Berline leans in as if spilling some confidential secret.
“Sure enough, a coven of hags called the Graveclaw made the toxin you discovered. The Graveclaw includes an annis hag named Iron Taviah, and Kepgeda was her daughter!”
Leaning back in her chair as Glorinsa pours a cup of after-dinner coffee, Berline continues.
“Graveclaw has quite the reputation. Quite. Iron Taviah lives in Axan Wood; they say she fled there after Magaambya representatives drove her out of the Mwangi Expanse decades ago. But the rest of the coven… they’re all scattered! No one knows where they are. That’s not usual for a coven of hags, no it isn’t. Not at all.
“Frankly, I’m quite curious about this coven. Making an undetectable poison and testing it on innocent farmers? Whatever for? And who dares even attempt such a thing in Geb, where punishment is so, well, let’s be honest, so severe.
“I know it’s a lot to ask, since you all have this lovely new home here and are no doubt as comfortable as ticks in a bottle of blood. But would you mind too terribly visiting Iron Taviah in Axan Wood? I don’t think she’ll be very happy to see you, since you eliminated her daughter, but I really think we ought to find out what this poison business is all about, don’t you?
“Once you’ve figured it out, well, I need you to clean it all up. Murder, I think, is the best fate for everyone involved. After all, Iron Taviah and anyone she’s in league with—I’d guess her coven, frankly—sought to inflict death on a massive scale. That mustn’t go unpunished. No, it mustn’t. I’m responsible to enact some justice, and I’m doing so through you.”
The group of course agrees to the “request” from the Blood Lord and says they will head to the forest to explore.
Finally, Berline offers the group a ritual, that will allow them to benefit from negative healing, but be harmed by positive healing. Well, she offers to the three quick members of the party. Zaheri instantly agrees. Sabastian and Tsekani ask some questions, but both agree. For the next year, the men will be under this effect. If they live that long.
The group heads south into Axan Woods. Zaheri rides in style upon Greyleg, his skeletal mount, while the others walk. The trees are think and the pathway winding, with occasional openings. After a few hours of travel there is something from up ahead. Blake is on point, and he hears two figures talking to each other headed up the pathway. He motions for the rest to hide. Zaheri takes his time to break down Greyleg and summon Hanover, his ghost. Thus distracted, he does not have time to hide and is on the path when two redcaps come into view. Zaheri challenges them, but remains in place, behind where Tsekani and Blake are hiding in the trees.
”I am Zaheri Javed, emissary of a Blood Lord!”
The redcaps are most unimpressed. They tell the wizard they will take his head, and indeed, the two have several heads hung from their belts. They advance towards Zaheri and right into a surprise attack. The lead redcap is felled by scythe and fire and bow. The other runs, with Hanover and Tsekani following. This one is killed with fist and ghostly touch and fire. As the fight is over, Sabastion notes that he saw a women briefly, but she melded with the forest. They group knows know they are being watch by a woman. Zaheri shouts out a warning to this mysterious woman. They do find a key upon the bodies but not much else. Zaheri takes the heads, wagering someone wants them, based on the conversations of the two.
Blake picks up their trail and the decide to follow it. As they are tracking, Zaheri decides that being mounted makes tracking and responding more difficult and keeps on foot, with Hanover floating beside him. The path leads to a mysterious pyramid like structure, guarded by some sort of undead creatures. The trail from the redcaps gives it a wide berth. As the party gives the structure the same distance, the guardians leave them alone. Zaheri is tempted to investigate, but the group wants to leave it be.
The trail seems to end at several headless bodies. Blake moves up and he notes aloud the bodies seem to be being dragged under and consumed by trees. Alarmed, Zaheri calls for him to back up, and indeed four undead trees erupt and attack. Hanover brings Zaheri’s attention to a woman in the woods, but she melds as he glances at her. Without time for that, Zaheri orders Hanover forward between two of the trees and unleashes a scorching ray into its center with a deadly hit. Reeling back in face of this perfectly placed blast, the undead monster is further damaged by the disrupting touch of Hanover. The other tree is startled by the presence of the ghost but still tries to attack Blake.
Tsekani launches into an attack on the tree closest to him and Sebastian throws his starknife. Finally, Blake, at first startled by the trees, swings his scythe, cutting into the nearest tree. Two of the trees move to entangle Blake and Tsekani in their branches. Zaheri drains stored power from Tumbly and uses his scorching ray on another tree, and again lands a perfect shot, and again so does his minion. Just like that half the forces against them are gone. The undead are unable to hold either of the warriors in their branches, and both Tsekani and Blake fight back, while Zaheri and Sebastion continue at range. Eventually, the trees fall, with Tsekani beating apart his tree with the fury of attacking his old practice log.
|Campaign Dates||Arodus 05, 4722|
The group continues down the path. The long summer day is ending and the party finds a place for a secure camp. After they have set up, the mysterious tailed woman appears to them. She calls herself Drusilla. The party is wary of her, and very circumspect. She asks their intentions, if they want to kill the hag Iron Taviah. Her tale is that the hag stole her true love, Neboah from her. She wants her justice. Zaheri takes the lead at first, refusing to commit. However, the fey offers Zaheri a book of magic. The lich-bred wizard already knows the hunger for knowledge that will someday consume him. He agrees to kill the hag, as that is his mission anyway, and takes the book. This takes his attention for the rest of the conversation.
Drusilla engages the rest of the party in a riddle game for a while before departing. After her visit, the surrounding forest seems less threatening and more safe. The party enjoys a decent night’s sleep and rest, with unsleeping Blake standing guard.
The next morning they continue to the House of the Iron Hag. Outside are two fetchlings, a male and female. They are working the farm and invite the group inside. It is clear to Zaheri they are up to no good. The two run to get into the house. The group cautiously enters the home to be confronted by a talking fireplace inviting them in. The group spreads out upon entering and sees the two fetchlings facing them plus a third. The person greeting them is actually the talkative house spirit, Snert???.
The conversations leads to the understanding Iron Taviah is downstairs and it is clear that they group will have to go through the fetchlings to get to her. A fight ensues that is brutal and short. The new man engages Blake and is cut in two by his powerful blows, ignoring his own damage. Tsekani intimidates the fetchling closest to him, causing the man to drop his weapon and flee. He then closes on one of the women, Anatalla, who places a dagger in his chest. The monk responds by knocking her out, but entranced by her beauty, he stabilizes her as Blake and Sebastion kill the remaining foe. The party heals up, and heads downstairs to deal with the real enemy, the hag poisoning Graydirge.
Moving downstairs, the group descends into a darkness impervious to normal light. Zaheri casts light upon Sebastion’s star knife and uses the torch on Tumbly. Hanover follows Blake down the stairs into the strange murk.
The basement itself is full of what appears to be decades of clutter. They are invited in by a large woman, clearly their foe. Sebastion and Zaheri pick their way through the debris to be at some distance from the foul creature, while Blake edges closer to her. Inside the room, yet another fetchling works at some unknown tasks, but she sure is not cleaning.
Taviah cackles and speaks in a friendly manner that everyone knows is a lie, and she knows they know it is a lie. Not interested in banter, Zaheri suddenly lets loose with a scorching ray, catching her in the face and declares,
”We are sent her by the Blood Lords to exterminate you”.
Despite the blast, the hag simply laughs and transforms in a large monster of a woman. Eldritch energy emanates from her claws, and her mouth takes on a too large sharp-toothed evil smile. Twin shadows appear behind Sebastion and Zaheri, who are both focused on their foe. Fortunately, Tumbly notices the shadows and calls out a warning to his master. Both turn and are not caught flatfooted, but the shadows strike them both, regardless.
Before Taviah can act further, Blake lands two strong attacks with his magical scythe upon her. Some of the arrogance of the hag is lost as she takes these mighty blows. She conjures and iron cage around Blake and moves away, with Hanover drifting along in pursuit.
A small drake appears, slithering through the clutter and throws a ball of energy to strike Sebastian and Zaheri, sending them both reeling. Sebastion quickly uses his medical training and potions to heal them both. Zaheri’s relief is short lived as the fetchling woman manages to leap across the junk in the room to stab Zaheri solidly, sending him reeling back.
At this moment, Tsekani is himself leaping through the air to attack the hag where she stands. She is able to twist and turn avoiding his blows, but she is forced to stay put as Blake bursts free from the cage as he stops it closing at the last moment. He wades through the room to strike the fetechling attacking Zaheri, landing a solid blow. The Iron Hag directs her claws to Tsekani, landing hard blows, but is unable to grab the agile monk. The drake and fetchling foolishly turn on Blake who seems more dangerous, allowing Sebastian to again heal Zaheri, helping them both be missed by the shadows hovering nearby. Still shaken, the necromancer just misses another ray at the hag. Zaheri feels some sense of despair as he looks at his blood on the floor, however, Taviah has made a critical mistake in allowing Tsekani to remain close to her. The monk lands furious blows against her, driving her ribs through her heart. She collapses dead. The menacing shadows fade away and there is a moment of silence.
Then, with a moaning, crashing sound whole room shudders. The fetchling starts to run and is brutally cut down by Blake who is quite tired of this nonsense. Zaheri and Sabastian both are convinced the whole place is going to collapse and tell everyone to run. Blake notices the terrified Drake and scoops it up. The whole group charges up the stairs, the non-athletic wizard in the rear. The whole house is shaking as they emerge into the upstairs. Tsekani grabs Anatalla and they run outside, fully expecting the house to collapse upon itself. However, Sebastion notes the house spirit inside working to hold it up.
After a few minutes, the shaking stops. Blake re-enters the home to find it quite damaged but stable. The old doorway to the basement is nothing more than dirt. The whole basement was simply a mini-dimension created by the hag. Drusialla shows up as they search the home. She greets the house spirit warmly and offers the party apples, which they all refuse. While there is not much of note, they do find a notebook of import. It leads to what appears to be bigger game.
Reading the journal, it is clear that periodically, the fetchlings load the braingrit being produced here onto a wagon provided by the Carters Consortium. The notebook is filled with pickup dates and quantities of the toxin. Notes in the margins o the book name Sahni Bride-of-the-Sea with the words “tremor paste” and “Shallowshore” beneath them. A second notes names Decoria and the town of Pagked with the words “Insufficient quantity!” These appear to be the other two hags in the coven. Clearly, the threat is not over.