Immortal tales, the epic saga of Kaelen

War of the Lizardfolk

During the next week

In Restenford, we talk to our friends.
Contrary to our assumption, Alton's wife does not hate us. He agrees to join.
Loriel personally asks Perk and Pelo to join us, bats her eyelashes and they can't say no.
Kaelen goes to see Yalta, who is unable to assist at this time. She next goes to the church, Qualton puts Krellar at our disposal!! Plus 7 of his 8 acolytes for rear guard medics only!!
Christofer and Kaelen go to the Baron himself. We want Gelpis to stay put to watch over the Baron, who wants to keep him here anyway. The Baron otherwise allows anyone of his men to go who volunteers. A soldier Mark (mail and longsword), his friend Webber (mail/LS/longbow), an elf ft/mage Villie (leather/LS/longbow).
Kaelen spends political tokens to get Felix to join up for far less then normal.
Kaelen sends Loriel with Perk, Pelo and Villie to the priests of the wild in their forest temple. She calls our boating brother friends to give them first hand knowledge of the aquatic environmental disaster they have been causing. Loriel uses all this to help lay down the law to them big time.
They send the senior curate Posted and Telmar, their most junior curate.
During the meeting, we see a closed book on a dais. 4 tables arranged around it, each with 4 stone benches. The clergy has us sit at the tables for food and drink.
A priest names Myla gives Feldalac a leather cup, which he looks into, seems pleased. He splits us up at different tables with his priests. He brings out a pitcher of wine, filling wooden cups for each present, urging all to drink in preparation for the great quest before us.
All do as requested. Within a minute, we are feeling intoxicated. Strong wine apparently. Feldelac opens the holy book and reads. Inside leather cup he has are dice. The priests all begin to bring out varieties of dice and begin offering wagers to one another. The Master they worship was not only a master of nature but also a wild gambler. We join in while The Word is being read.
It's good food, good drink, and good gaming. Posted rolls something they call The Divine Kanus. The priest yell a hurrah! Calling it a good omen of sure victory for our side. They are sure we shall return alive and victorious. They ask to please bring brothers Posted and Telmar back alive too.
They declare us official friends of this enclave!! Specifically those present. Though our friends are welcome to come with us.
Next we go to the tower to see our bugbear allies. Much work has been done here already between themselves and townsfolk assistance. We ask only for volunteers.
They had alread heard of the troubles the day before, and though we weren't going to ask. They have already talked about it. 10 males and 10 female warriors are equipped and ready to go.

Saltmarsh Meetup

Emissaris meet in Saltmarsh

The lizard man shaman believe its not the will of their god that the alliance itself is an afront to their god. This should be handled by themselves.
The sea elves arrive on edge about working with the coalinth.
The Danes arrive, and are still concerend about Norcross doing anything while they are gone.
The mermen and Locathah are fully ready to rock.

We meet with Reeve Willes, Lord Salte and the council. They have a crew of militia ready under our command. The Stoughtley brothers (Tom and Will); their cousin Ebenezor Smithson; pvt's Nathaniel and Den Fisher, and Jeremiah Brown; 

The Lord assembles everyone in the council hall. 
They give us militia and sailors as listed below with who we brought.
Then the discussions to bring all into the fold who have reservations.
70 northmen showed up.
The shaman of the lizardfolk says he refuses. He and his half of the tribe loyal to him are out!!
The Coalinth and sea elves are at odds.
These problems cause a nervous ripple through the others.
Kaelen lays it out. She tells the shaman to blow. But he and his men can't move in once its all over or we'll slaughter them all personally.
The meeting breaks, all to return tomorrow after more thought on the issue.

We are given rooms at the Lord's house. After we settle in, Kaelen with Clyde, adn Loriel and Geoffrey spend a few hours hobnobbing personally withe the edgy groups before meeting up and returning.
Christofer disappears with a servant girl.
Going through the castle, Kaelen and the pseudo notice faint smears of mud and small drips. Its not so much a trail as wandering. LIkely from a sea creature.
Finally it just stops. More than 1, skulking around all over like they were scouting where people were positioned for the night.
We start rushing through the halls searching. Kaelen and Clyde go for the Lord's room fast, while Geoffrey starts randomly searching halls. Loriel rushes to wake up more of our guys to search the place.
The Lord's usual guard isn't there and its cracked open a sliver.
She and Clyde bust in. Salte is still asleep, but moving up toward him is a large black lizardfolk closing in on him stealthily.
Clyde charges and leaps upon it, stabbing with short sword. Kaelen yells a warning to Salte and hits with thrown dagger 15 then closes in. Salte wakes up as It tries to attack. It misses badly with a sword, but hits with an off hand dagger but not badly. Then it bites but misses thanks to Clyde!!
Clyde climbs to his front and stabs it in the face, Kaelen then moves up and finishes it off!!
The Lord swoons and drops over. Poison! Kaelen administers antitoxin!!
3 groups of our men are making rounds when one of them hear the commotion from the Lord's room. As they approach, a Lizardman intercept shaking rattles and chanting like a bard. Ogrumat is dazed by the effect. 3 lizardfold warriors attack Alton, Krellar, Beorn and Nate.
Geoffry's group with Martin, Wolk, Ebenezor, the Stoughtleys and Den hear the rattling nearby and start making for it. 3 lizardmen come out of a room as they near the hall, covered in blood of a victim, and intercept them. The shaman is with them!!
The 2 battles join. We take them down, with Eebenezor and Nate Fisher KO'd.
In the room the 2nd group came from we find a partially devoured woman.
We keep searching in earnest but find no one else. We found that one of the groups had gone to Kaelen's room but found it empty. Same with Loriel/Christofer's room for the other group.
Christofer is in the kitchen downstairs for an afterfornication snack. The eaten girl is the girl he left minutes before the lizardfolk found her.
The Lord recovers fully.

Next Day

Council gathered. We bring all the bodies of the assassins. 
The lizard king says he should have no problem getting the rest of the tribe on his side now.
The Coalinth talked it over and decided to stay in the deal and help us.
The sea elves refuse to be shown up, now, by the Coalinth and dishonored. They sign up fully.
They do wish to be assigned to opposite positions in the battle.
Salte spoke to the bugs and viking commanders, and others, this morning. There are still more men on they to finish the numbers off.
Some of the dock wardens noticed what they think may have been sahuagin probing around the docks. 3 wardens are missing as of this morning. They may be planning something real soon vs Saltmarsh. It will take maybe a couple days for the rest of the forces to gather. He'd like us to take our sailors and chosen men, 12 lizardman warriors and subleaders to recon en force their lair. Determine their actual strength, locate their positions w/in it, take note of significant defensive measures, and how advanced their preparations are for an attack on the town.
We will take our boat and sailors. The chosen men are the town militia. The lizardmen provide just what Kaelen wants from them: a map of the lair. It has 3 levels.

We leave before the afternoon is out.
On the way down, a large shadow goes under the boat. Milo looks over the edge, and Castano swears he saw it too.
They call for Cpt and Mistress (Kaelen).
As we approach the Kraken attacks!!! It yanks Milo over as he screams!!
It then pulls itself up on the other side of the boat to attack. Geoffrey hacks off a tentacle its using to hold on. Perk and Pelo begin shooting at the body, Loriel casting soundbursts at the body. Alton is called up to attack tentacles as well. As does Felix.
We continue hacking. It actually climbs fully on deck and Loriel blinds it with glitterdustt!
It sprays ink all over the place, distracting enouth for it to swim away, a few tentacles missing.
We lost Milo and Danber eaten.
We then find that an attack happened on the next deck down, via a porthole, by a humanoid thing with a tentacled squid like head. Jeremiah cut it in half diagonally. Christofer said it caused some kind of mental attack, creating the most horrible thoughts in out heads that took 6 of us down instantly.
Also, the deck below with the lizardfolk, were attacked by another one of them that they killed.
Whatever they are, it can't be good to have a new player in the game.

We continue on.

We anchor the boat in the nearby river mouth. Only scouting groups will go to the lair right now.
Kaelen sends a gang of lizardfolk with Martin and Ogrumat to scout the causeway, but they see no guards outside.
2 groups.
7 lizardmen including a leader, Oceanus, with Ogrumat and Ean (via magic helm and ioun stone) to sea entrance.
Kaelen, Clyde, Loriel, Muerto, Christofer and pseudo to main entrance.

The sea side group pass a gang of sharks uneventfully. A gate normally barring the cavemouth is not shut by the sahuagin. The first room is enormous. Steps straight ahead go up to the landing. A door far left and right against the back wall. A gong alarm; Pillars support the ceiling. About 70 sacks line the far wall.
We see about 60 sahuagin drilling on the platform. After a few minutes, a new one enters and talks to the chief. Soon after he stops the drills and all but 4 march out, they seem to be quite energetic about what they are doing.
2 at each doorway, annoyed at being left behind. We wait for those who left to get far enough away, then skulk out the water and strike. Its quickly apparent they do not hear well ouside of water.
We take them out easy. Each leads to a lowfloor water room. Oceanus and the remaining 3 lizardfolk start getting the bodies back to the boat. The sacks are not of much interest, but for 1 that is tied shut. Inside is a bunch of small algae or fungus balls, like a spore. None of us are sure what it is. We take a couple, giving them to Oceanus. The lizardmen only know it is poisonous to them. Popping one releases spores which asphiziates them so they stay away. Grow in the shallows.
Oceanus returns and we show him. He says to all non mammal water breathers, these are poisonous. Like a gas when they pop. Once breathed in and killing the host, they bloom inside, fertilized and grow. To mammals they can't take root, but popping one in your mouth gives you oxygen for up to an hour per ball!!
That means more people coming this way!
Out of the water, makes it more difficult to breath, and coughing is common for a few minuntes until you expell the spore.
We take handfulls of the stuff, passing them off the Oceanus team to take back to the boat.
We retie the sack to look undisturbed. Each water room has a hall exiting north.
Ean maps as they explore.
Both sides quickly run into large barracks rooms full of resting soldiers.
To the right, Ogrumat comes to the arena. Hundreds of sahuagin in an arena on stone benches. At the bottom is a match currently going on. A small group of underequipped aquatic elves facing a large shark. Big enough to kill them by the end.
Ean gets a good estimate of the population watchinhg: mid 300's.
With the barracks rooms we are at about 400.

Further on, more barracks totalling 11 enemy.
An armory and storage.
Behind a secret door is a coffer of 200pp with other stuff too. We leave it be.
Prison cells area and dungeon/torture chamber.
3 sahuagin are in the middle of stretching a locathah.
The prisoner screams out one word only we understand: "Saltmarsh"
2 stairways going up. Entire next level is filled with water before it returns to surface level outside.
We can't let them get that info, obviously important to them, so we attack and kill them instantly. There is a locking mechanism to open all the cells so we free everyone:
* Triton warrior named Kysh: unharmed but for lump on head; clan is from about 100 miles south. They have yet to find a suitable opponent for him in arene. His companion animal sea lion Barkish captured too, equipment stolen including his prized horn. He doesn't know where it is. We saw it in the coffer with the platinum. He goes to get it.
* Barkish: the sea lion
* Locathah, tortured that we rescued, named Borgis: has giand eel companion; Ean gives him first aid
* Eel companion: its dead, Borgis is distraught. He is out for serious payback

We get the torturers bodies set to be taken out by the lizardfolk above.
Up the central stairway from the cells we continue, after Kysh gets his trident, scale, and horn.


Front:
Almost to the causeway, Kaelen hears something coming up behind them. We take cover and wait. Minute or so later "hey, hey boss. You up here? Hey?" We recognize Jeremiah quietly walking through. We stop the loyal imbecile.
He says he swears Kaelen told him to come.
"Ok you have to be really quiet then."
It takes several minutes to get the idea of what no talking and total quiet means. Then we continue. The mole is 200' long.
We run for it fast as we can to the doors.
We open it just far enough to squeeze through into a wide foyer, alcove on far end to another door.
5 guards are sitting off to the side of the room in here, alarmed at our arrival.
Loriel casts what she was specifically brought this direction to do if need be, throws a silence spell in front of the gate across from us, blocking all noise leaving the room.
Kaelen tumbles across the room, behind the closest foe to the gate.
We flood in, killing all but 1 before he reacts. He charges but misses Muerto, then he and Kaelen finish him off. All in total silence.
Beyond the gate is a 30' deep 50' wide room. 3 other exits, left, right and forward. 5 more armed foes. A sixth is a larger sahuagin Lt.
They have noticed nothing, Loriel opens the gate, Chris runs full speed across the room to block the forward exit. We clean house again. Clyde gets busted up though by 2 good hits.
The lt wears a gold armband.

armband: 20gp

Left first, long hallway then turns right 100' some down. 2 doors along the way, one at the end.
Right hall turns left quickly, then door on right and further down on left, further it turns right.
Forward hall from fight room goes 30', turns left for 20' into an armory. 2 doors north and another south.. Lots of spears, javelins, and nets.
To south is a huge room. Side doors connect to the other side passages from the guard room.
We contue exploring, mapping along the way and noting numbers of beds and other evidence of numbers. Evidence of rooms still being finished, as if important members of tribe or allies have yet to move into the place.
In a long, large room lined with manacles, one figure is hunched over breathing heavily. When called to from our side of the gate, he says something to low to be discerned but otherwise does not react.
We leave him be for now.
Kaelen sends Clyde back to our boat with a note for the remaining lizard men to come and take the bodies from our 2 fights back to our boat.

As we move on, we hear sound of work being done ahead. It gets loud at a large area of construction. Water laps a couple steps down a stairway. 10 slaves of 3 different races are at work. Shacked and with metal collars. 2 sahuagin supervise with scourges. 6 others lounge at steps talking. Another Lt. is here with his gold armband.
One exit going down to next level, so we reverse from here.

We find more empty rooms.
Larder of dead carcasses, including a dwarf and human.
Storeroom.
Secret Door: room with stuff. 
Leather cloak (cloak of the mantaray)
human sized plate armor (lvl 3 mst; insignia of a Lesser Master of this region)
chainmail (dwarf sized; mithril)
3 hvy steel shields (lvl3, 2, 1 spec ability)
spear (mst bohemian earsticker)
scabbard (bejeweled, 500gp) with longsword (very light weight, stylized swept hilt, fancy, perfectly balanced; magic, bypasses DR but no actual plus; runes written on blade: short poem id's it by clues as a luck blade, one spot glows so 1 wish left)
coffer: wand in a bone tube (wand of missiles, 22 chg: 1 chg = max magic missile; 5 chg = fireball or lt bolt of 7d6; or use all and explode 5 round later for 1d6/chg left 30' radius); alchemical potion of water breathing (4 doses, fort save or become addicted; spend next 3 days in withdrawals); 4 rings: dr plus 1, free action (20 chg, each 1 minute duration); partial invisibility (90% miss chance, plus 10 hide, 1 hour per chg, 8 chg's; hour is not dismissable), fire resist 30; spellbook from wizard named Elmo; potion cure critical wounds

We start looting all this stuff out, as we have no where else to go since the next way is water.
Kaelen gets to sabotaging as many spears as she can so the point disassembles upon use within a round or few.

We check out the huddled body in the manacle room. A human, badly disheveled and malnourished. Whispers sickly his name is Elmo. The wizard of the found spellbook. Leader of a party of adv's, or was, paid by a Lord to south to investigate the loss of some ships. Finally it led them here, but werent' as equipped as they thought and bit off more than they could chew.
We help him up. Lots of sores and evidence of beatings. Was able to resist the torture masters, and is happy to hear they are dead. Worked as slave labor on level 2 when it was dry. Sahuagin had barracaded the doors to let the slaves in to work. Then flooded the level and drowned the slaves there. Probably ate them at that point. He hasn't seen any of his friends in days, at least.
By his description, its the remains we found in the larder. The knight was a First, too. Elmo was an arcane student to the First's Master.
We break the bad news to him.
He says the knight First was well travelled and xp, over 140 years old at death.
Kaelen is really angry at that, being a First herself.
He's in no condition to move, doing so could in of itself kill him. He says his spellbook can be cast as scrolls individually, and they'll vanish. He wants Loriel to have the spellbook. Spellcraft check DC 15 plus spell level to cast. He says use it at will vs these scum sahuagin.

Spells:
fireball
water breathing
daylight
strength
wizard lock
charm person
friends
shield
unsees servant
magic missile

We show Elmo the crude lizardfolk map, and he clears things up concerning the second level, where he worked. Now, the lower group can block the slave guards retreat from below as we attack from their level.

He says the slaves they are using to mine are the last that they have "Monster humanoids or not, no one deserves to be a slave to these things".
Kaelen sends a lizardfold messenger around to catch up to the lower group and report the coordinated attack.
That group has found steps to right behind the Baron's throne. He is holding court!!

They turn and find the female quarters and hatchery.
When we attack in force, there shall be no quarter given to these blights upon the world.

Ogrumat skulk up to the top of throneroom steps to take a peek inside. The ruler is a monster of a sahuagin with 4 arms holding trident and net. On his right is a female with a wood rod. On other side is an adult male warrior. 3 adults stand before them, warriors, standing at attention. Something is happening between them she can't make out. She skulks out a bit more, being very careful.
Between the 2 trios are 2 unarmed sahuagin, one female and one elite guard with the gold armband. Off to the side is another humanoid figure completely covered in hooded robes, simply observing. A shark circles above the throne.
Ogrumat backs off as slowly as she came. It looks like the female is accusing the male of something. The ruler orders the punishment and the 3 guards spear his legs and start eating his arms. Ogrumat stops and leans forward.
A 4 fingeredhand, long nails on each, reach from the robed figure and grabs him. Long tentacles reach from the hood eating his brain. The shark then joins in.
The female with the rod has tentacles on it, moving freely.
Once they are all done, the 3 soldiers send the female away. The 3 guards leave. It's now just the 3 on the dais, squid face and the shark.
She hears an echo of the creature speaking mentally to the room. It and the Baron, the ruler, speak of a mutant born to the sahuagin. They rise to dominate when such a thing is born. Hence, the 4 armed sahuagin Baron. They are seen as a gift from the gods. The conversation is in thoughts not words so much. Difficult for her to fully understand, but seems something was born recently extra special. Squid man is untrustworthy toward it. Baron is excited but wary. It may be some sort of prophet or harbinger. They know about our alliance as well.
They seem to be hanging out here for a while.

She goes back down adn tells Ean to report this opportunity to Kaelen fast. He sends Oceanus.
As Ean is getting to our entrance, he runs into an aquatic elf sneaking into the water. He looks back surprised and shushes Oceanus. Warns that there are Sahuagin all around.
This guy is making his escape. Ean says to go with Oceanus. THis guy says someone must have killed off the prison guards. He was in a side room to be taken to the arena and broke free. Killed one sahuagin who came for him. He is to stay with Oceanus til we leave.
They take off to get message to Kaelen.
His name is Mal.

All the lizardfold are ready to fight with us. As are all our rescuees but for Mal. He's willing to attack with the whole force, but not attack the Baron.

We gather the spore bombs to eat and use as bombs vs them.
The lizardfold will hit the shark first. Jeremiah gets the helm, Ogrumat the manta cloak, Christofer the ring. Ean is the best swimmer so he is on his own; same with Kaelen who will use the ring of shadows to skulk in. Muerto will use the new partial invis ring. He is to hit the squidface from the rear and cut his throat out. Jeremiah, Kysh and Borgis will go right for the king. Kaelen the shamaness. Ogrumat, Ogrumat and Ean the bodyguard.
Kysh will summon sharks via the horn to keep the Ilithid busy until Muerto gets to him.
The sea cat and a few lizardfolk will hit the shark. The rest will join the summoned sharks vs squidface. Christofer will face the Baron too. Oceanus is with Kaelen vs shamaness.
Loriel returns to the ship with the loot bearers.

Kaelen slowly skulks, shadowy, along the floor to the shaman as Muerto skulks around the preriphery on the squidface's side.
They are talking about attacking Saltmarsh in a week!!

We attack, but he squidman must have just sensed us and warned them.
3 lizardfolk fall in the attack but we kill them all!! Shaman dropped by Kaelen's spore attack, Muerto finishing off the squidface and the bodyguard.
Borgis grabs the Baron's trident and net.
Oceanis was gabbed by the tentacle rod but saved just in time. He has a slightly punctured skull though. 

We make for the slave work room and attack, its a slaughter of a victory when the slaves join in with their pics and shovels on our side. Everyone books it out of here to the ship!!
We even take the chance of getting Elmo out.
The ship was attacked in our absence by a patrol of about 15 sahuagin but fought them off w/o serious casualties.
We sail back for Saltmarsh with all the intelligence we were looking for, all rescued with us.

We get back w/o incident. Elmo makes back alive somehow, we set him up to heal. All the allied communities have been brought in to give them only one attack.
The plan changes to defending Saltmarsh with the land based people, while the swimmers attack the guard left at the lair.

They attack 3 days later at twilight! Hundreds of them poor onto the docks and boats. The militia is overrun early on, then the lizardmen counterattck and the Vikings, once armed, boost our numbers soon after. Our men on shore are on the docks when a mass of tentacles bursts from the sea edge. Climbing out is a terribly grotesque squid, colors constantly changing. Pulsating veins run under the skin, spiney as well. After a round of attacks, it grabs Snitch/Narc and ALton and swims off.

On the boat, we are fighting off the attack with our crew. A sahuagin is making its way directly for Kaelen but Christofer and Clyde and Loriel are nearby and move in to block it form the sagave monster. Oceanus comes from no where with Mal and they attack first. Mal's eyes suddenly bulge out, his teeth grow into needle fangs. Oceanus screams "Ooooh a malenti!!!"
What that is we do not know. Apparently, a special born sahuagin of high intel that can change into another being that was nearby when it came into being.
Mal and Oceanus engage, leaving the sahuagin champion to Christofer, Loriel, Clyde and Kaelen.

The squid comes up onto Kaelen's ship, ALton and Snitch/Narc still in grasp. Ogrumat, Perk, Pelo and Beorn attack, then a firey ship comes in at full speed and rams it, pushing it off and away. That ship starts too sink. The people on the ship are fighting humans, we don't recognize the ship! Wtf.
ALton and Snitch/Narc are dropped into the water.
Ogrumat dives in to save the armored Alton.

Its a rough fight vs Mal before Clyde's bite brings him down right after he took Christofer to neg 1.

Snitch/Narc are wildly treading water.

The burning ship takes out one of the piers as it sinks fast. The armored men on board, not the crew, start sinking while the lighter crew swim to shore and joins the fight on the land.

Finally, after a bloody battle its a hard fought victory. The remainder of the sahuagin retreat.
The sea going folk say they are following to mop up the remnants. They will return for the celebration.

The mystery crew is Stiletto!! HIs ship now at the bottom of the harbor. Doh! Hit hit did kill the squid beast however!
He failed to show up originaly because the Crimson order has a blockade. They were stuck on Jesrick ever since. They just broke through but a couple faster sciffs caught them and boarded. They fought as they entered the harbor here.

Oceanus was not killed.

Lots of cleanup and then rest.

Next Day

The sea folk arrive, forces significantly lower. It will take a couple generations to recover their numbers. It was not an easy fight but they won out.

Next Day

As good a celebration as we can muster after morning funerals.
None of our own ship crew were killed!!

The council wants us to stay to relax, no need to rush away. We plan on it.

Stiletto says he spoke to the Crystal Seer while on Jesrik. The Seer says when we are done dealing with things here, we will make it to see him. The Seer knows of Kaelen's eventual arrival. He'd like to borrow our ship and crew. Has heard tales of a legendary ship on one of the islands, since he needs a new one once to go for it. We say no problem.

View
Dun of the Lizardfolk

Next Day

We set sail along the coast, disembark about 2/3 of the way there and then march to the lizard man base.
From a high point along the way, we can see the Dunwater's marsh. A Dun is a dry mound rising above the marsh. There are a bunch in the marshland. We camp so as to not hit them at night.
Just before sundown, scouts have reported that there is some sort of a defended campsite, well hidden and camoflaged, near our camp. They don't know who made it nor who is there. We hear croaking of toads all around, and starts getting louder and louder. No one knows what this may be.
A Viking on watch blows his horn as an alarm. We rush out to a large group of bullywugs just hitting the outskirts of the camp. The first wave leaps over the first defenders as the 2nd line hits our men at the front.
A frightful croaking begins, shaking some men including Beorn.
Loriel immediately successfully countersongs as the fight wages.

5 vikings are dead by the end. The enemy secreted a poison with their tongues which got into their wounds leading to their death once they were dropped.
In their belongings we find the lead large bullywug leader wielded an adamantine broadsord. His hvy wood shield is lvl 3 mst.
3 ioun stones: irridescant spindle; pale green prism; deep red sphere
Wolk is a master of ioun's. One sustains you w/o air; another a plus 2 bonus to dex; another a plus 1 effective level to checks and rolls..

Chest nearby:
550 gp
5 rubles worth 250 total
leather helm with the word Styx engraved lightly on its inside: Wolk says its a helm of underwater action, Styx is command word (so limited number of uses left) so freedom of movement, breathing both.

Oceanus says this was a wandering group, he knows of none who liver here long term.

Next Day

We move to the duns.

The lizardfolk lair is beneath a dun promintory connecting to the sea.
We find 3 entrances. One from the water side, one along the shore an another to the rear of the sea side.
Kaelen chooses the backdoor.
Its a large cave entrance. Many overlying tracks of large creatures. Its muddy as we go in, but it leads to a stone pathway going left and right at the rear.
3 giant lizards here, but do not react to us as we come into sight.

We pull back and check the shore entrance, essentially around the near bend of the dun. It is a stought unlocked wooden door concealed by foliage. Kaelen listens, hearing nothing.
She slowly opens it, no light. Ogrumat steps in first with a torch into a hall; there is a right turn before a T secion, 
She, Kaelen and Muerto go to the right to a room with 5 lizard men. Pull back out, up to the T section and take the right to look for a way to come at them from another direction. We first come to a barracks room with table and beds. 7 lizardman warriors are here. They look to be gearing up.
Kaelen sends Muerto back, bringing Loriel and the pseudo dragon back to overhear. THey are about to patrol the entrances, but especially the water cave entrance that we skipped, looking for interlopers so as not to have a repeart of what happened here last week. And make sure there are no enemy scouts at the water cave.
They are marshaled now. They are definitely wielding the weapons from the smugglers.
The first room is wiped out by Geoffrey's group, with Snitch/Narc and skyldings, fast.

Kaelen and her broup ambush the lizarfolk as they come out, capturing 2 and kill all but 1 who Martin attacked. It lets out a brief cackling call and makes one attack but misses him then Ogrumat brings him down. We get the bodies fully into the room again and all gather through the 2 adjacent rooms.
Kaelen stays out and watches the hall. She hears feet approaching, they comef rom further up the hall, pass by and check down the halls, an dhear them talking. Loriel's pal translates:
They speak of the warning call, thinking the interlopers have returned. One talking most seems to be a shaman, tells them to split up and search the halls "They must be in here somewhere."
The move away. He details 3 to get to the chiefs room to see that he is safe.
The head further to the left of the entrance T section.
We wait for the movement to die down after about 10 minutes. The 3 report to the shaman teh chief is fine, they have found no one deeper in the caves. He figures the patrol saw someone outside and was being cautious. They leave.

We ask the prisoners who the interlopers are via the pseudodragon. 2 groups. First, who he thinks we are in league with, was a party of humans and orc types raided the dun about a week ago, costing many lives. The 2nd are the seadevils. Evils from the south who stole their old lair and forces us here. Part fish with teeth, but humanoid. Horrifying and friends with sharks. Oceanus says this does not sound like Locoanth, perhaps Sahuagin, but they normally aren't up this far north. He has never actually seen one.
He says his chief is planning to counterattack, doubts it can happen succeed. The chief had a sweet deal until the supply was cut off.
Oceanus says that the sahuagin are not ecologically friendly. Kaelen immediately finishes his though, the fish shortage is the work of the sahuagin.
The lizardman says the old lair is about a day travel from here, on foot. Half day from Saltmarsh to here.
He insists there are hundreds of sahuagin there on the coastline. They are friends with sharks, too. It's bad.
He says they have 6 warbands and allies outside. They have teamed up with the Locoainth. Oceanus isn't happy, they and the sea elves do not get along.
We have him take us to see his chief after we dump the lizardman bodies out in the sea. The other alternative is we kill these to, then get our boat and show up offering help as if we had never been here before. He volunteers to keep his mouth shut.

We have a meeting with the chief, subchief, his misister, and shamans.
While we are talking, the shamans look at us disapprovingly. Kaelen ignores them utterly. A group of Coalinth arrive, followed by 4 locathah, then behind them 5 mermen.
All have suffered under the sahuagin, they have all already been in talks about how to properle deal with the situation.
In total, they are sure they are doomed, still. The elves were left out because the Coalinth they felt were the stronger force to have of the 2.
Oceanus is on Kaelen's side that for the safety of all, the sea elves may have to work with their normally foes.
Kaelen tells Knut his duty is done, really.
"What do you think?"
Knut says that as dangerous as the Norcross issue is, they are a sea faring people. This sahuagin issue seems like their potential demise as well. Norcross is always marshalling forces. He offers to set up a war council in Saltmarsh, with the town leader and get this all put together. He offers a week from today, and all emissaries agree tol meet in Saltmarsh then.
The lizardmen for their part, never even considered human allies. They are all in.
Kaelen learns that the lizardman minister is quite skilled in politics. He even has 2 books on the subject by western authors (politics of power and triumph of diplomacy; reading the first gives you plus 2 bluff and intimidate; the 2nd a plus 2 to diplomacy; both in political settings only). She is to borrow them once this is all over. He has a book on the sahuagin also! It is at our disposal!! Book on learning draconic. Another book by Tenser on gemstones. He is actually interested in buying ours.

We go back to Saltmarsh and report to the council and Lord Salte. The lot of them are quite nervous of the situation. The lord and the council are fast convinced the town should know what is going on at this point. Kaelen is fine with that. They are willing to muster any help they can.
We go back to Restenford as well.
Knut sails home directly.

View
Saltmarsh and the Smugglers

Next Day

Friday

Baron has sent word to the Lord we will be coming, but the power lies with the council.
We load up on holy water from the magic cup the church has.
It's Kaelen's core; The Bald Hill 4 and the Tavern Two.
We mount up and ride to Saltmarsh.
Small fishing town with hardworking and friendly folk. Some farms around countryside.
Population of 2000, 2/3 live in the town proper.
Its sort of like a mini republic. There is a local lord who works with a town council who gets things done. The local Sheriff is the law.

Town is hustle and bustle when we arrive. Cryers calling out news, market is jumping.
2 tavern/inns:
The Bear and the Fox
Crimson Flask
Lots of shops for just about anything

Both inns were recommended in Restenfort. We take the Bear and the Fox, considering our aversion to Crimson these days.
The council meets once a week at all times. We schedule our arrival for 2 days before the meet on Sundays.
They have enough space if we double up. Kaelen takes a single bed room, Clyde sleeps on the floor.
We came mounted, a few boys take our stuff up to our rooms.
Oliver says hi to the Bald hill 4, he saw them before we met them.
Oliver is a great guy.
We tell him we are here to look into this supposed haunting that's driving you all so crazy.
He confirms folks are getting scared. He's not, as he lives no where near it. The house is a bit outside of town about 4 miles to the south west. It was a alchemist's house obsessed with philosopher's stone type. That was Tulvar's master.
He doesn't know what killed the alchemist. The apprentice came through, said he was dead, and left. Shortly later lights would come on in the house. Couple of guys went to check on things. No one answered though noises continued. One of the walked right in the front door, them boys came runnin' back to town talking about all sorts of ghouls and goblins and all. Frightened out of their britches. This was couple years to.
The activity settled down then stopped altogether.

Until 20 years ago, alchemist/magicial, sinister, lived there. Now, house has gotten great air of evil and mystery. Abandoned and dilapidated. Some have looked for secret hordes of alchemical gold, but returned with nothing but word of perils there.
None now dare to enter, what with that and the haunting sounds. Prime ground around it lies untilled and weed infested.
Oliver intros us to an aged poacher, Roger Davies. Roger hangs here often.
Roger tells that he wndered into the house's back door couple years ago looking for food. Like free wine in the cellar. Going gownstairs, heard gastly shrieks and wails. Scared to death he ran, had never heard its like. He figures undead. He volunteers to take us there.
There is also a well out there.
He also saw steps going up as he ran out, and swears he saw a woman at the top of the stairs only for a moment, then a flock of bats flew out behind me "Beware the vampire woman."
Oliver says we should consider, beforehand, meet with the council. We say that's our plan.
He loves Baron Grellis.
He wishes us good luck.
Martin asks him about the other tavern. Old Roy is a friend of Oliver's dad. Older now, with 3 sons: Roy the Younger, Thomas, John Boy. Age 33 to 21.
He says Payne is a bit of a snob, richest of the council. Tim, as authority figure to other drivers and such, is used to getting his way, acts like the world owes him something for nothing. Nathaniel is a swell guy, peacekeeper type, balances the whole council. Tim and Payne do not like each other. When they do agree though, no stopping it.
Gordon runs the docks, does not seek to be on the council. All shipments into town land at one of his piers and he sets all tariffs.
We mingle.
Loriel puts on a so so performance. Christofer dances quite average tonight, too.

Next Day

We take the morning to get acquainted with the town's layout.
Then we meet Lord Salte and tell him we are here to see the council tomorrow. He's maybe 19. Strapping looking young lad.
If we need strong arm help, we go to him and the sheriff, not the council. Only they can mobilize. He hasn't had much time to really think on the haunting himself, has bigger issues:
Duke of Norcross always has scouts and such lurking on the fringes, he says. Their location is prime realestate so some Skyldings occupy some land nearby as well. With Restenford's open defiance of the Crimson Path not as many ships are getting through anymore; Path ships are interfering with trade. Plus usual random humanoid problems and such. Fishing has been crap for year or 2, also. No one knows why either.
The house is on the coast to SW.

Martin, Ean, Beorn and Ogrumat go to manor house to scout the surroundings for any creature evidence.
They will stay near it all night as well to listen for the haunting sounds.

Christofer and Volcifar gather info in the town all day, rumors and such.
Kaelen goes to meet the reeve. He has 5 full time dep's, all mounted and professionally equipped. Also a regular paid beat cop force of 10. There are bells all around town to ring in case of trouble, just keep ringing. It is a bad offence to ring it as a gag.
4 others stay at the HQ full time with a wagon full of water barrels = fire brigade.
Kaelen makes a list of where the bells are and will share that with her team.
"Have you checked out the haunting?" No, to them just rambling of the old drunk poacher. Now, when Tulver first mentioned his death, the reeve's predecesor went to look into it. Found nothing untoward so let it go. They never did get any body out though. Within days the first tales of the haunting started.
"Anyone new in town, say, the last 2 years?" None of note that stick out to him. Couple small landowners, new shopkeeper here and there.
No evidence of Path or Norcross infiltration, but they really have no such network to keep tabs on that kind of thing.

Rumor gathering:
Christofer finds a few seedier taverns in town, hears about a thieves guild of sorts, or at least a local chapter of a larger guild elsewhere. Word is there is an op in town, bringing in contraband, from drugs to poisons and such. Location and members unknown. There have been arrests that some had some of this contraband on them. At least one found overdosed on drugs of some sort, bad stuff. Arcane and alchemical, even.
Volcifar has no luck finding any good info.

Ean et al explore the environs, coast, looking for evidence of movement to and from the house, nearby caves, etc.
The house itself is rundown. Built in a T shape, 70' above the sea, 80' off from the sheer cliff that runs several miles up and down the coast. 6' stone wall surround a garden, partially collapsed. All is well and overgrown. A well to the east rear of the house is 5' wide and 15' deep to 3' of water.
Peak pointed roof, with holes of missing slate tiles.
No tracks found in the vicinity of the house.
At low tide, its not easily traversable down below. Night is downright deadly. We'll need a boat to look for caves. Couple time we do see a brief flickering light in a room then it will go out.
No caves around here.
Ean sens Beorn back this evening to report to Kaelen.
We do hear the spook sounds of moans and creaks and groans from inside the house.

When Beorn returns Kaelen asks around about a high quality local fisherman who's a great boatman with a really good boat, private operator. Kaelen finds out about Roary Hawkins, lives a bit outside of town. His brother and their sons have a 15 footer. Their boat is the Master's Revenge and they only use Thatcher Netting. Their old boat The Golden Master sunk ironically about 3 days after the stories of the Masters disappearance.
Kaelen rides out immediately. Its after supper at this point. One of the boys is wiping down the boat.
"Doing fine work there, boy."
He calls in for pa, and Rory and his bro come to greet Kaelen, each with a small hatchet just in case.
Asks to rent one of them as a pilot and the boat tomorrow. They agree for good pay.
Their wives live here as well.
They invite her inside to meet everyone, get a drink and a bit of food.
Kaelen gets from the wives that the best pilot is Rory, more xp.
She tells them where we are going, so that they are prepared for it. We need to arrive at low tide day after tomorrow.
He tells her about Dead Man's Cave about a mile north of the old mansion. Bad one, plenty of wrecked ships. One more south of the mansion called Locat Cove. Still no fun ride, looks like a gaping maw of some sort of hell beast.
Sharp rocks stick up out of the water at the entrance, 3 grisly stalagtites stick down from top.
Kaelen will pay them an extra gold per day she's in town that this stays a secret. We may come here late tomorrow and camp out at their place to get an early start the next day.

Back to town.
Loriel puts on a fine show. Christofer gets himself some local young beauties for the night.
Locals are thrilled by Loriel's exotic look and sound, though. Not many sightings of elves here.

Volcifar takes off for a short bit. We don't know why.

Next Day

We hit the market, hobnobbing and window shopping.
Kaelen and Volcifar go around to shops and such, dropping some subtle thieves 'cant to see if anyone picks up on it, but they get no feedback.
We stop in at all the establishments in town run by council members to introduce ourselves. All act pleased to meet us. All of them seem quite affable, even Payne. At least he acts like it. He does tell us there is a 5% adventuring tax on loot gained w/in the county. We're pretty sure we're immune to that, but he will need that in writing.
The chairman is Barne today.
Nathaniel was at the tavern last night watching the show. He'd love for us to furnish us with a fine instrument. He was impressed by Loriel.

The meeting is this eveing, dinner is served there. 
Kaelen gives Clyde a note, and sends him off to meet the house scouts on their way back. They will not enter town; he takes them to the fisherman's house, they will then go into the country and make sure we are not followed out of town tonight after the meeting.

We lunch at our tavern. While we eat, a man walks by and says a 'cant code. An acknowledgement they caught our vibe, that if we want talk, midnight tonight come to the wharf and meet the contact.
Affirmative.

Council meeting: 
The Bishop is also here, as is the reeve, Porter.
There are a number of standard local issues dealt with first. Then we officially meet the entire council. Kaelen introduces everyone here.
They say the council is not sponsoring investigators into the house, the man who came to Restenford requesting assistance was sent by some of the more panicked residents. They think its a bigger issue than it really is. No up front compensation is offered. But, if we do investigate there may be financial compensation if an actual problem is dealt with. That will be a judgement call. We are free to operate so long as it does not cause any disturbance of the peace in town, hinder business, nor invade anyone's rights and liberties unless they are commiting a crime.
Kaelen brings up the rumor about illicit smuggling. They are all absolutely surprised at this announcement. Reeve say 'yeah, yeah, we did have one townsfolk found unresponsive in an alleyway. Dep that showed up found a pocketful of sanish on him. He presumably OD'd for there were no wounds.
A particular shop on Moore End is rumored to be dealing in contraband. The council is perplexed at not being informed, but reeve felt it being all hunches and such, w/o any real evidence, was not worth their time.
Reeve offers an apology and we move on.
They really have no major tasks necessary, like Restenford did.
Their main concern is the fishing problem actually. No dead fish washing up or anything, they've just dwindled considerably.
No tales at all of boatman or close to shore homes being assaulted by any creatures from the sea.
Loriel "How quickly did the fish dwindle?" 3 to 4 months, wasn't really as noticeable at first.
They say solving that problem is worth some cash.

Back to tavern. All we know about the guilds in this area is that in Avery in particular, they are more than just thieves. In these lands lots of contraband and assassin guilds.
That's what Kaelen is worried about right now, that there is an assassin's guild in the are, and therefore what are they doing here?
Beorn "Our ends were written long ago. If we are to be killed by assassins, that is our fate."

Midnight, Kaelen, Christofer and Volcifar meet the contact at the wharf.
Kaelen and Volcifar see 3 guys in dark garb by one of the piers. We head that way, and they move through the shadows to not be seen by anyone from a distance. Faces covered.
2 keep their arms concealed in the sleeves of their cloaks, hunched a bit. The 3rd approaches "greetings and well met stranger, what is your business with the guild. One does not 'cant unless on actively seeks the attention of the guild."
Kaelen says if there are assassins here, its going to be a big problem. To ease your mind, the guild has not been dealing in what we speak of.
"Good, so who has?" There has indeed been an uptick in travellers coming through town, he says. Most heading north. But no obvious signs of something big about to happen.
He says Bardaye is one of the most honest, on the up and up people you'll meet. 
They know literally nothing about such an operation we are asking about. On the same note, they haven't tried much.
Kaelen recommends they keep their eyes open a little bit more.
The Moore's End shop the reeve spoke of is a general store. The guy there is pious in the Covenant. Flynn's General Store. Flynn only showed up maybe 9 or 10 months ago. The Bishop been here a long time, lifer.
Kaelen "He and Flynn known to talk much, together, on their own?"
"Not that they now of, not especially."
He says in order to contact them quicker, but tell no one else, out our tavern window hang a blue cloth. They will contact us by end of the night.
If not at the inn, draw an X with chalk somewhere semiconspicuous. One of their agents should see it, that marks the meet spot.
End.

To Rory's house go Geoffrey, Wolk and Beorn. They tell Clyde to make it back to the inn before daybreak.

Kaelen, Christofer, Volvifar and Loriel remain in town.

Next Day

Talk in the moring of old Roy at crimson flask had a customer skip out on their bill for their room and their tab. A traveller named Ned Flanders.

Ean, Martin, Geoffrey, Wolk, Beorn, and Ogrumat take the boat out with Rory.
Dead Man's has 3 partially sunken small vessels on the rocks. Low tide, we navigate through the rocks. Inside, its a great place to pilot in and stop. Very tall. No danger of high tide flooding.
There is a platform with a path going deeper within. A number of skeletons lie there, seemingly undisturbed since.
We get out and start walking in. It goes to 1 chamber, filled with different seaweeds and fungi and such.
We make a detailed search, Wolk guiding us around such things, avoiding the dangerous stuff. We find nothing.
Back to the boat and down to the next cave.
We navigate inside. Fish bones area throughout the cave. Thousands.We can get out onto a sandy interior. 2 passages lead out. We explore. We will need to get out of here before high tide.
Both lead to smaller cavern complexes. Was definitely once a lair of some sort, Locatha fishmen Beorn says, hence the cave name. Beorn finds some of their skeletons, a year or so dead.
Beorn says they are highly reclusive, living in close knit groups. Not much specific is known about them but that they smell out of water. They try to not be noticed.
We find their old living area. It looks like someone layed waste to them. Stuff lies about broken by force.
No other ways out of these passages.
We keep cruising up and down looking for anything else suspicious.
We notice large collections of boulders, many huge ones, along the cliff bottom. Possible Master's War havoc collapsing the cliff back a short distance. At 3 points on the coast between Locat and Saltmarsh, the piles go almost up to the top.
There are hundreds of glorified rock 'islands' jutting out from the water. A few big enough to built on. They run all along the Bay's coast. Nothing farther until Jesrik.
We start back for Rory's home, checking out a few of these island on the way back before it gets too dark.
Beorn spots a boat, crew of maybe 30, beached at the base of one of the rocky islands, big hole in the side like it ws rammed. Then managed to each itself on the shore. Bloated bodies lie on the shore, full of arrows.
We move in and investigate.
Fast moving ship. Whatever got it was meant for battle. Arrows are all quality arrows. No signs of who attacker could have been. The flag on the boat though is of Grandfeld, the kingdom east of Restenford's area. All the arrows are fletched with red.
The hold has been washed out, looks like weapons and armor and such, not much left.
On a second island we find an old campsite off shore. A search finds whetstones, half sheet parchment they thought was left to burn with a partial coastal map and a couple markings untitled and a dotted line going along to them.
Back to Rory's.

Kaelen to go a church function today. She senses nothing untoward about the place nor the people nor services.
Flynn is here. He is happy to meet Kaelen, loves talking to new people in town. He thinks the house is haunted for sure. The old alchemist was up to no good.
Flynn moved here cause of its safety, and also the original owner of the store picked up the withering sickness. Flynn paid good cash for the shop so the guy could live out comfortably. He died a few months ago. Flynn has always been a merchant, his last one was less then half the size of the one he owns now.

Kaelen then introduces himself to the Bishop, and how she knows Qualten et al. She offers any assistance she could offer.
"Well, there is one thing. Find out what happened to Ned Flanders if you can." He explains Ned was recently passing through. Seemed good Covenant man; up and skipped out on his bill at the Crimson Flask leaving a lot of his gear. "I think something more insidious is happening" since he left all of his stuff.
Kaelen "I'll do some asking around."
We both wonder about connections to the drug death and haunted house.
He says lots of newcomers have come on the trading ships. He has noticed they might come with 20, leave a man or so light, and they'll leave by foot later.
Including a handful of shady individuals, mostly making their way north toward Restenford. Several have spoken of getting to Falco's Tavern.
That matchers the odd folk visiting we have seen not paying Falco.
Ned never did mention Falco's.
We talk religion and how the Path is tearing the church apart.
Ned associated with few people regularly, was only here 3 days. Spent most of his time at the Flask, The ship he came in on was a merchant ship, must have had its name changed from something, for the paint on it was a slightly different shade from the rest around it. The current name was the Prince of the Sea.
Go to Gordon about merchandise logs. He's a nice enough guy, probably just show me what I need, Bishop says. His house is right off the docks, his office is close.

To our inn,
Christofer and Loriel start gathering info on Ned's disappearance:
day before he vanished Ned was at tavern most of day but for buying some basic supplies at Flynn's, then returned. Spoke to someone, no one is sure who. That person left. Ned never left after that, was actually going back to his room.
Roy has the room still in Ned's name for a few days in case he returns.

Kaelen goes to the merchant receiver with Volcifar. He greets us kindly.
He has no problem giving me the info I need.
While he is showing Kaelen the info, we lift and wax imprind all of his keys.
The cpt was Sigurd, mage Bjorn, boson Frithoff. They were Tharangian,crew a mixed batch. Thinks they may have gone for a drink briefly. They dropped off a lot of brandy, seafood and spices. Sent throughout town. Picked up their payments plus couple cases of…."well, that's strange, that page of the log is missing."
Kaelen gets a list of imports broken down by receiver.
The ship and crew were new to him.
She has him check for more missing pages. He does have one more missing, from about 9 months ago. Just about everything from the ship is missing in the log. Name of ship was The Sea Ghost. No real specific memory does he have of it. That ship name is new to him as well. What is listed, it came from a town called Bessel. On the continental coast. Their last port of call prior to Saltmarsh was Laclaire in Peldanor, across sea from the penninsula south of Langbay.
We take our leave.

Back at our rooms, we look over the lists. Rather than gold payment, most is done in equal trade in return. Not so much supplying a ship as soldiers hidden in plane sight. Just the right amount of canvas and type for tents, wood good for arrows and bows, etc. This is what they were paying the ship with here in town.
Nothing being sent out is unusual for the town to have, someone could be using this town to weaponize their force.
This style was unique to that ship.

Kaelen puts out a sign to talk to the thieves' guild. One of the thieves meets her. She wants to meet their records guy concerning shipping, Slippery Fingers Tommy.
He says the Prince of the Sea delivered some stuff for them actually. 1 box in a crate. Flynn hires hands to help him unload his stuff, and one of the day laborers is one of our guys. On one of Flynn's crates listed as spices was actually a box of thieves' tools. The Sea Ghost has an even larger shipment for the guild. Disguised as alcohol they got acid and other liquids.
The person who told them the ships would be coming is from out of town, he comes by every few months at best. However, he notices anomalies in Flynn's. Someone else smuggled in stuff on Flynn's shipment. Officially, it was in the same crate as the guild stuff, with the spices and so on. So likely chemicals etc.
Kaelen "Drugs, and poison."
"Could be. Certainly."
Their Sea Ghost records are damaged!! Spilled ink.
Kaelen "You have a mole, my friend."
He says, for sure, there is a name in common on both ships: the bosun Frithoff.
Ned Flanders came off on the Prince, off the Ghost came one Ned Snakeshaft.
Flynn came in by land, he says, about 2 weeks prior to the Ghost and Snakeshaft.
She asks them to watch Flynn if they have a good crew, and look for an in house mole.

Search Flanders' room:
Nothing to be found whatsoever.

Next Day

After breakfast, a townsfolk named Edward Holly comes to us "Tommy wants you to have this" and walks off.
It says: the timing of events from when the fish started depleting, then couple months later the ghost arrives. From that time all payments were in supply not coins. Then the Prince being the same thing, arrival of the Neds, timing is right with the haunting. A pattern. The Ghost's arrival was about the same time that a bunch of other ships came through with smuggling happening. Most have, actually. Definitely a 2nd organization.

Kaelen notices a code in his writing saying that in a population of 2000 total, the guild itself has 12 guys that are real thieves of skill, plus petty criminals associated with it; plus maller groups in outlying towns. All in all, 60.
Whatever org. is running under their nose is really good and is not doing anything really big in Saltmarsh at this time. Their business is going north.

During the day, the other part of the team arrives, informing Kaelen of no subterrainean entrance into the house from below, and all the other evidence.

Kaelen sends Ean home to Restrenford immediately with a note detailing evidence of a plot against him. Ean is to keep a guard on the Baron, keep the guards on alert but try not to look like they are on extra alert. Also letting the church know as well. But that's it. Also recommend having a person or 2 over who we trust, seemingly for dinner and spend the night, just to have extra guards. ALso, talk to people who might get out often like Perk and Pelo about possible lairs around Restenford these potential killers might be hiding out at.

Next Day

To the hounted mansion, just before first light.
We check the backdoor first, to seye if it is unlocked like it was for the poacher. It's unlocked so we enter. A voice welcomes us to our deaths with a terrible laugh, too long lasting laugh. Wolk lays down an area dispel and it stops. 1 door leads out. 

SIngle large told earing=20 in refuse pile inside

Kaelen searches the room in detail while Ogrumat opens the door, Volcifar, Martin and Loriel ready to go. Opens into a hall to the foyer, 2 doors opposite one another. Martin goes right to foyer as Ogrumat/Volcifar listen at the doors. Loriel and Christofer in the hall now with them. Clyde enters with Kaelen.
Stairs climb from foyer to a balcony. He checks, steps seem safe. Left goes deeper into the stem of the T shape of the house, turning, 3 doors visible. Forward has a hall into the other wing.
Volcifar's room is the library, most not intact and only 1 pile of books here. Ogrumat's room once a study/den. Writing desk broken and rotted. 2 of 3 drawers broken open on purpose. Volcifer finds 13 books, covered in mold and rat crap.

3 might be of interest:
The Magical Properties of Gemstones by Master Tenser
The Magical Properties of Herbs and Flowers by Tenser
The Metaphysics of Mathematics by Master Nystul.
We take them. 150 ea to right buyer. Can offer bonuses to reader in right circumstance.
In the last is a handwritten paper, 2 words legible only 'beyond skeletons'.
Ogrumat busts open the desk completely. Bunch of documents of no value, the alchemists book keeping

Glass Vial (rose colored liquid, spicy scent) =  2 doses neutralize poison, alchemical so will not work on magical poisons.

Kaelen finds leftovers of muddy footprints, cleaned up well. Came from door Ogrumat is at, and about halfway through the room. In front of the backdoor, the floor boards are perfectly lined up in the shape of a square rather than each board being staggered like normal floorboards.
She closes the back door, looking for a way to open it like a hatch. There is a thin gab, she feels a cord underneath to a coiled cord which she pulls out and lifts the entire secion up. She does not do so yet.

The last 3 now enter, Wolk/Geoffrey/Beorn, everyone in foyer now.
Kaelen sends Christfer/Wolk/Martin straight back from front door. Left door goes to a sitting room with fireplace, chair cushions torn apart, table broken apart. Mantle portion lifts into a hidden cavity":

Ring pure gold set with sapphire = ring of DR plus 1

Right room is the dining room, table lies broken as is the china.
Last room the kitchen. Gray old and cob webby. Steps leads upward, steps decayed; one door out to the scullery. Lots of mold and cob webs, worst room on the floor. Steps lead down to cellar. This is the room the poacher went to.
To other wing to Ogrumat/Volcifar/Beorn. They come to a living area first, nothing of note to find but for mushrooms growing from the floor. Small cavity in the chimney is a leather poucn:
Another living area, plaster from ceiling on floor more than elsewhere even in broken ceiling.
amethyst=120
Geoffrey stays in foyer to respond as needed.

Upstairs goes Kaelen/Loriel/Clyde. Find steps to kitchen.
Another set of steps to 3rd, but rotten.
2 rooms at that end of the house, first a large bedroom. Lots of rubbish, matress torn up. Large wooden chest with moldy clothihg and documents which are letters related to original purchase of house. One sheet is a scroll detailing the binding of a person.

Scroll Hold Person

Other room was for storage, large oak chest full of old nasty clothes, broken chairs. One bundle of clothing is new, no dust, nasty moldy sack with rotten clothes.

11 gp in pocket of the new clothes

2 bedrooms on opposite wing from stairway. Evidence of rodents.

Last 3 rooms in final section.

Fist sized chunk of crystal in a fireplace, cheap zyrconia but well cut.
Last door is locked or held by some means. Ogrumat tries to push it open but it doesn't budge, then starts to give. We hear the sound of a gagged voice inside and she shoves it open. We releast the bound and gagged man. He says he's our missing Ned Flanders and thanks us for finding him.
He says, to be honest, he's a thief. He came up from the south to Saltmarsh, was planning on staying and trying to join the thieves guild eventually. Heard about the haunted house so decided to check for valuables. He skipped out before sun up, just like we did. Was attacked in the kitchen from behind, only waking up a few hours ago captive and w/o any of his stuff. He did not see his attackers.
Beorn inspects his wounds and they check out with his story.
Says Ned Flanders is his real name, though fond of Black Bart as a pseudonym.
He thought he heard noises in the basement, but a ghostly voice scared him away. Sounded like someone being murdered. "I don't do to well with the death and killing. Not my thing."
We untie him. The clean clothes we find are his. He's disappointed those rotten clubbers took his traveling coin. Hahahaha.

We toss a grapple up and climb up to the attic and search. Other than lots of bats and guano, only an old leather purse with ring that matches the DR ring, but with an agate rather than sapphire.

Ring: when worn as a set, this becomes a ring of prot plus 1. Otherwise this one does nothing.

Back downstairs. Martin checks the kitchen for evidence of his story on the floor but finds nothing. Possible its been eliminated.
Wolk detects magic on the trap door area, Bed tries to talk us out of doing this, talking od death below, how he remembers now that he saw red eyes at the bottom of the steps before the murderous scream.
We ignore him and open the trap door.
Ogrumat, Martin and Beorn stay above, watching the kitchen with Ned. The rest of us head down.

Ogrumat leads the way, then Kaelen and Geoffrey. Ogrumat enters into a room, several lit torches on the walls. Looks like about 10 people might live in this room. Large tablet with lots of chairs, fireplace, beds.
Volcifar is next, but yells "Ah mother me dios! I thought I recognized him!" then rushes past Loriel, Wolk and Clyde and toward the kitchen as we hear a cry of pain from Beorn from that direction.

Kitchen:
Ned insists they made a huge mistake going down there.
Martin "What makes you so sure?"
Ned waves his hand and a flaming blade is conjured "Because I can't let you!" and swings at Beorn hitting 16. Christofer then crits him back. Martin then shield bashes him.
He swings at Beorn again and takes him down. Martin fails to but Christofer grapples him. Volcifar bursts into the room "I thought so, Ned Snakeshaft, you have met your end."
Christofer while grappling "Who the heck is Ned Snakeshaft? And do we want to kill hm?"
Volcifar says "Well, he is a nefarious aranist/assassin."
Christopher pins him and Volcifar cuts his throat wide open, reaches in and pulls his tongue out, the infamous girhellian amulet.
Volcifar explains that many years ago a man who went by Black Mamba Bart or Ned Blacksnake and the like, we were competing for a target and interacted. Ned tried to eliminate Volcifar which allowed the target to get away. Ned fled the scene. Volcifar shows us a nasty scar on his side Ned left on him. Its been several years now.
Kaelen and Clyde arrive as the story is being told.
We drag his body upstairs and meet the others still down in the living quarters below.
Ogrumat has found a secret door in the room to the north to a wine cellar. The kitchen steps from above lead her. No intact bottles. A human lies dead in the room in plate and steel shield and longsword. We investigate him first. All 3 items are high quality but if smells foul, died relatively recently so he's ripe still. Has a belt pouch, nice boots and gloves, pack, dagger.
We'll take him out later and bury him proper, Martin assembling a makeshift drag stretcher. He's infested with rotgrubs, which luckily we avoid by having dragged him onto the stretcher rather then looting him immediately.
We will clean his stuff thoroughly

Lots of good crockery in the common room here, ham, sausage and such as well. We'll eat here when this is all over.
Cheap ale, water, salted mutton, casks of brandy, honey. We take all this.
Loot:
Plate mst, 1 ability
other gear mst, no ability
high quality riding boot, padded for extra warmth
emerald = 250
bolt of fine silk

Search the private quarters of a leader type, 3 candles burning.

Bullseye lantern
3 books: Erotic Poetry, fully illustrated (Christofer takes this); Naval ALmanac of tides for the area, 100 total miles covered; learned volume on mesmerism and its effects with some common tongue words and their gnoll equivalents.
Oilskin coat
3 flaks oil, tinderbox, fling/steel/8 candles
parchment with curious markings upon one side, the other a map of nearby coast.
Small book: series of spells
Small iron box (Kaelen deals with the needle trap): 5 vials (3x healing, delusion, speed potions) in wood shavings
11pp

We find a secret door on our final search, out of the main room, into a passage going down, 2 flights of stairs, then into caves not worked stone.
We hear what soundsl like ocean and salt air. Hmm.
Volcifar stays here by the barred door. Loriel watches up top, Beorn with her as well.

The rest of us head down, to a Y intersect. To the right, empty and unused chamber but another exit out.
To left a long passage continues and turns, then Y's off again. Right goes to a room, left up to another Y section. Left to dead end, right continues. We check the right room, nothing but an exit to the other cavern with the exit.
We take the last direction to the forks right, to another fork. Left first, well lit by torches on brackets.
We see 1 female, looking roguish. And a man in leather, with broadsword and dagger, weraing gold chain with large rabbit's foot, gold ring in ear, and belt pouch. A pirate.
Plus 2 gnolls, looking hypnotized.
No visible exit out.
The woman speaks to the gnolls in bark and yelp like sounds, who are opening the crates. The man is detailing on parchment what they pull from the cargo.
Wolk goes for a dispel, but it does not work on the non magically mesmerized gnolls. The woman, however, turns into a guy to the surprise of the guy keeping the records.
"You fool, "I'm still your chief, do what I say."
We attack and mow both down easily. As the mesmerist dies, the 2 gnolls snap out of it.
They speak no common.
We call Loriel down who casts Comprehend Languages. Their pack had been wiped out, and were waylaid while sleeping, eventually sold to this illusionist who hypno's them so they wouldn't try to escape.
Orfik and Gilrod are their names.
What they can tell us: they know this person was female when she bought them, female name was Sanbelet. Had a crew of 8 men, smugglers, working with a boat docked now in the cave.
Volcifar knows that name too. He looks at the body later. He's Ortega San Belet, a somewhat known smuggler wanted by 3 kingdoms. Might be a reward for his head. We take it. One, the high king where Volcifar is from, also a warrant in northern Peldanor

Loot:
Spellbook:
3 gems 250 ea
60gp
Manifest of contraband
5 bolts of silk = 100 ea
8 casks brandy = 50 ea, same as upstair. 
 
the gold chain and charm above =10
loaded dice

We continue on now to the upward sloping passage, floor matted. We quickly encounter 3 more guys carrying contraband. They drop it and draw weapons.
One yells "Intruders." Geoffrey with 2 crits and Ogrumat cut them down.

250gp

We move forward quickly and are greeted by 3 men throwing axes. Ogrumat, Geoffrey and Christofer deal with them.

3 more bolts of cloth
5 more casks
same as above

3 bolts of cloth

Passage leads to a cave into the sea. Tide is out. A small boat, maybe 8 men, anchored here.
Nothing nor anyone aboard.

5 bolts of cloth
8 casks elsewhere

This cave entrance must have been blocked by illusion before.

Back upstairs. Behind the barred door are a couple of skeletons which we destroy.
In a room behind is the old alchemist's lab:
Sitting at a table is the dead alchemist, body still sitting there. Probably killed where he sat, old dried blood spurt upon the book open in front of him. His apprentice likely murdered the poor guy.

Ye Secret of ye Philosopher's stone = up to 500 to an alchemist in a city
3 small copper pots
gold human skull 750
gold apple 150
gold rose 150
5 small gold discs 10ea
Apparently he succeeded at least these few times.
Spells
47 gold coins, turned from copper
Smooth ovoid pebble, pale gold colored, faint glow = luckstone

That's all we find here. Only smugglers, no assassins nor the ship that brought Ned to Saltmarsh. The gnolls have no where to go, but not adventurers neither. But they are thankful of our help and feel they owe us something.
Kaelen asks them to come back to Restenford and help scour the surrounding countryside for hideouts. As a matter of fact, Martin draws them a map of the area. Clyde leads them to Restenford now so they know how to get there.

Back to Saltmarsh and the council. 
They hold a special meeting for us. Lord, merchant receiver, Lord and such are present.
We explain what we found, lots of question. They are very pleased we solved the mystery and shut down the smugglers.

We start organizing our loot being gotten from the house in one day, hiring teamsters to do so.

Kaelen meets and shows the ciper/map parchment to the thieves guild. The ship marks look like stopping points. 3 islands they call the 3 Sisters. Uninhabited, legend says once Sirens living on them. Good places for ships to stop during storms, beach the ship and hunker down.
They say the cipher is similar to that which they use when they are getting shipments in. He explains if this were them, the small and long dashes are how long to hold the light open with a bullseye lantern. Its ship to base signal and vise versa. You wait for the ship to give their code, then give the response. He offers to do it for us but any action afterward, he is not taking part in. He explains it in detail how it would work.
We show them all their ledgers and paperwork as well. Looks like a ship is returning in the next couple days.
He offers 2 guys who work for the merchant receiver who can lend hand with fighting. We take them up on it. They are friendly to the thieves' guild as well as being the receivers employees. Pvt. Tom and Cpl. Will Stoutly, so also in militia.
A good portion of the cloth bolts are potential spell component cloth in large bundles, like cloth from priest robes, from a ghoul's cloting, etc As well as bolts of patterns that one could simply cut pieces out of to make into a false standard, false coat of arms, etc.
The rods binding the cloth are potential casting related: turned into wands, Rods, etc.
Hmm.
The other mark on the map at the tip of a Cape, WSW of Saltmarsh and past the 3 Sisters, is a small river called the Dunwater, but there is nothing there.
The council did not realize this, they only say cloth and alcohol.
The guild will help look into where it all may have been going.
We ask them to immediately keep watch on Flynn and how he reacts to smuggling op being taken out.
Also, we get a layout of all the villages and hommlets and such between here and Restenford.

Kaelen sends Beorn with Rory on his boat to meet with the Northmen to gauge their interest in taking us to investigate the map site.

Tim Wainwright had a meeting with a bunch of teamsters, reports the guild; Gordon Porter has been going through his logs and paperwork with his staff, very busy doing so. Roy of the Crimson Flask his younest John Boy as a messenger leave town that night heading North. All have potential reason to be active with the recent sacking of the smugglers. 


We will hang at mansion, lying in wait. We have the Reeve commission a boat from town. It will lie off the coast in the darkness. It will come at the ship from the opposite side of the coast. Kaelen, Wolk, Christofer, Ogrumat, Muerto, and Martin will sneak aboard while their attention is drawn and hit them from behind as Loriel, Geoffrey, WIll and Tom, and a few militia come dressed as pirates from teh front. Loriel will use some simple illusion to assist at disguise so that in the dark she will look like the false female Cpt.
We assume, since they are using light communication, they will arrive at night.

We set up a sting on Flynn, putting Muerto in a dark corner disguised as Ned and fake wounded, to see how Flynn reacts. HIs reaction is not one of recognition of Ned, its "Hed Flanders, ain't you the guy that owes old Roy money? I'm not gonna ask you what you're doing in my shop right now" and talks approaches to help him and get the doctor.
Muerto responds with "I thought you were on our side, you're a dead man, Flynn" and leaps out the window. He reacts by locking up and boarding up the windows.
He reports to the Reeve, who spends the next couple days looking for Ned.
We eat breakfast afterward, and around lunch time Kaelen and Muerto go to Flynn's shop. We do a bit of supply shopping and tell him we heard of his trouble. He insists on having no idea why his life was threatened. He's concerned he may have fallen afoul of the thieves' guild. He admits he may be on the roster of getting things from the smugglers, for the previous owner did deal in small contraband which he continued to honor. Mainly with hedge wizards in the wilds and such; plus a couple dopers in town who like their exotic drugs which he has procurred occasionally.

Before we head out to the house on the 2nd day, we check up on Wainright and Porter. Porter says he is simply making sure all their books are on the up and up and where the tax fraud was happening, etc. All legitimate.
We ask him to show us what he found, and while doing so he acts like a real bureaucrat. Total jackass, trying to go fast and trying to talk over our heads, etc.
His circle talking gets Wolk and Loriel's minds in a stitch, but he's not swift enough for Kaelen. All seems to add ok at first, but he seems generally off in his talk. She can't quite place it though. He is turning from page to page rather quickly, tiresome of the interruption if nothing else. She skillfully sees, still, that his paperwork in impeccable though. Then she and Loriel, in spite of his efforts, spot several documents that he is a bit faster with with oddities. Loriel misses it totally, but Kaelen sees in that instant that the ledger pages are in varying handwriting, often deletions and overwritten/ammended. She feels there is certain doctoring and forging on those. Predominantly doing with the accounting side, not so much the materials.
Kaelen give a quick series of taps to the pages as she draws his attention to another paper to repeat himself, signaling Ogrumat to lift them which she does smooth as silk.
After all said and done, we depart telling we are more than satisfied.

The guild gets us the list of names the teamster met with. He did so with 2 or 3 guys at a time not all at once.

We take the documents to Slippery Fingers and go over them. Looks like expenditures on his part but altered. A transaction where he gave money to a person for services rendered and services to be rendered. It's a decent sum of gold paid to this person with the initials of NS. Below is another expenditure for a bunch of equipment and other sorts of supplies that are erased and rewritten in. He can't make out what was erased.
Kaelen has Wolk, being quite the skilled alchemist, put together something to bring out the hidden older writing. He only pulls up a few words: stuff supposed to go the Flynn's was originally something else then rewritten as different. Some of the things going to merchants getting contraband material got something other than what was officially intended. This at least in part had to do with Snakeshaft. Looks like he was defrauding them.
There are 2 dates on the NS paper, one is just a few days ago, another the night that Ned Snakeshaft disappeared. The furture services is set for a couple days from now.
To the Reeve! We are going shut his arse DOWN. He says the first job looks like it was the same day they found the dude OD'd on drugs. A teamster. Who just had meetings! Looks like Porter may have been trying to frame Flynn for the drugs. We suggest to him he ignore the Ned aspect, let us deal with that, and pull all his people to get the Porter and his people. They will take care of that tonight.

We have to get to the house now.

On this 2nd night since our raid of the house, about 11pm, we see the light at sea!!!
The guild man communicates with it and they signal to send the boat. Through the spyglass, its the Sea Ghost but also the same as the other before that! Changed the name.
8 men on the boat to the ship: Geoffrey, Ogrumat, Will and Tom of the militia, Volcifar, Loriel in disguise (at first glance she looks like the chief illusionist as a woman).
It's a single masted vessel. It's the Sea Ghost.
One man in the crow's nest, couple others on deck awaiting the smuggler's boat. Its a barely crescent moon, nice and dark. Perfect for us. Also a man fore and aft.

Kaelen recognizes them as Gotts. Rivals to the northmn at the Langbay court.  
It's a surprise attack and we massacre them, taking 2 crewmen and the Cpt captive. Then, Kaelen hears noise right below her, she is standing on one of the grates to the lower hold. 3 lizard men almost pulled her in but she jumps aside! We kill them quickly.
1 of the militia, however, is killed by the Bosun in one mighty hit.
Lizard Men armed with anglo blades.

Loot:
Lots of salt beef, dried beans, flower, ale, honey, olive oil in their galley.
Lots of building tools for ship repair and lots of 100' rope.
Wine.
1000 ep in the lizard quarters
Miniature dragon, size of a house cat, tied in a room like a guard dog. Loriel and Kaelen know it as a pseudo dragon. Loriel knows they like eggs and fish. We feed it and it is totally friendly, communicating telepathically. Takes a fast liking to Loriel! She takes to it as well and frees it. It's name is 
It was the pet of one of the lizard men.

Punketah was the name of the wizard; in his quarters:
Silver bowl, Karaffe, goblet = 400gp total
Spellbook: Read Magic, Magic Missile, Sleep, Mending, Spiderclimb, Web

Cpt. cabin:
Personal and intimate letters from 3 ladies, each under impression she is Mrs. Sigurd Snakeyes.
Document requesting further consignment of Iron Ware, signature in pictograph of a lizard, same as on the lizard men shields above.

Potions: 2x healing; cure disease; neutralize poison
Key
Charts and sea/coastal maps professionally prepared
crude chart marking rendevous point with lizardmen, the other mark on the cipher map?

Crews Quarters:
Lots of useless personal effects
Loaded dice
Book of addresses of ladies in various coastal towns, with comments on each lady

Cargo:
90 bolts cloth as before
81 contraband brandy
219 casks fine wine
3 casks scented soaps
1 cask salt
cask with portioned spell components and drugs
Total worth to sell = 15480
But, the town confiscates the illegal drugs and such = down to 11610 for us!

Bosun's cabin:
Parrot which sqawks 'pieces of eight' and other pirate like things
200sp
spear
dagger
strange crossbow thing

chained up aquatic elf: the key just above opens the chains; name is Oceanus tribe of Manaan, in coastal waters 15 to 20 miles SW of Saltmarsh; the Pirates dealt with them for the territory; they got suspicious of the Sea Ghost, and he followed it 4 nights ago. He boarded to investigate but captured 2 nights ago. The spear and dagger and crossbow (speargun for aquatic) are his.

Cpt is Sigurd Snakeyes (does have beady eyes)
Mate was Bloody Bjorn
Bosus known as Frithoff the foul

Mate's cabin:
500sp
Book: principls of navigation by Dakorma
Legal distinctions in letters of Mark, by Tazaar

Cache:
Various weapons and shields, all already emblazoned with the lizard symbol

Questioning begins to our captives, including Porter and his workers. All are questioned separately.
Via Ned as contact, Porter overlooked some of their shipments; separate from the other contact (the guild contact). The lizard men contacted the pirates about arming them, why the Cpt does not know. Not his business. They paid in rare ingredients for spell that you could then sell. They are arming a tribe on that spot on the map we have, at least 50 but probably closer to 100. That's fighting force.
Only Porter was in direct contact with them from town. Another man in town got different contraband, often travellers too, fare paid in advance by others. Ol' Roy at the Crimson Flask did so many times over time; 1 from Restenford too, a priest named Qualton once paid for some of his priests returning back. One was named Krellar. That one was maybe random, not paid in advance. Father Bartholemew paid it with Qualton's credit then they went and picked them up. Not unusual for any ship, if you're going the right direction though.
He drops some names from his ledgers that stopped at Ol' Roys. All check out as those who stayed here a day then went north.
Kaelen to Reeve "I think it's time to bring ol' Roy in." Ogrumat and Geoffrey join him and they bring him in.
Wainwright and Porter usually work closely, regular business. But apparently one of the teamsters must have found out something he shouldn';t have known about. Old Ned was preparing for a hit last time he came to town (referring to the OD'd murder).

We send for Wainwright to be brought in as well.
Old Roy and his 2 sons are found in the back room of the tavern, throats slit. Muerto has been with us the entire time. No one saw anything suspicious. The guild says one of their guys went to the inn shortly after it happen and found them so snuck off; they do have a suspicion that there might be a rival guild.
Porter says he was instructed by a man he finds to be scary to help facilitate the arrival of goods and services. Ned was a fee agent, not part of the assassins guild. Its a loose network of about a dozen in Saltmarsh and several outlying villages. They are here to do a particular job. He used Ned a few times. Initially lesser crimes than murder. When the guild started wanting Porter to get their men and goods in he wasn't keen until they threatened friends and family and slow painful death. One of the teamsters found out what was going on by being too nebby. He found the assassin accoutrements so Porter hired Ned to take him out. The fall guy was trying to frame Flynn, taking advantage of his arrival date. Was then going to use Ned to help get him out of his issues with the assassins. He sent Ned out to warn the men in the caves.
The assassins were in cahoots in some way with ol' Roy. Details he does not know.

Timothy Wainwright says the teamsters are treated unfairly all the time. He knows a guy who will sometimes tell people who want to rip them off not to, convincingly if necessary. Hiring this man as a tough. As part of that, we don't just move supplies, we deal in information as well. Carrying communications delivered designated dead drops in the area. The way they contact their tough is that he used to hang out at the Flask.
He gives us the dead drop locations. The name of his knuckle breaker is Cain the Despised, he lives outside of town in a hamlet.

We send Oceanus off post haste to inform Beorn/Vikings about the lizard man details and that if they agree, come here asap.

John Boy's trail goes down the main road, then goes onto a side trail to one of the hamlets. It is following the trail to Cain the Despised.

The cops go to the hamlet with Ogrumat, Martin, Geoffrey and Christofer but he is not home. He and quickly packed possessions are gone. John Boy is no where to be found. Christofer asks around, but no one saw John Boy arrive nor them leave.
Martin starts at the house and looks for a trail but after a mile or so loses him. But there were 2. Easterly direction.
Ogrumat and Geoffrey with the Reeve's men search the house. It is obvious they are not a big fan of the Path, though not on an offensive with them either. Cain likely killed Roy or was in on it. Notably, some personal effects Roy should have had on him when found including a teardrop shaped blood amulet! Roy may have been Path!!
The cops say that generally in that direction lies more hamlets and small villages.
Back to Saltmarsh.

Back there, we meet with the Reeve and Lord and talk in detail about all that is happening. Its agreed to keep the lizard man/viking stuff in this room only. Lord says that we need to do fast whatever else we are doing. The vikings make him nervous, and he is worried about taking care of the lizard man thing ASAP.

There is a dead drop listed in Restenford.  The drop is with Falco, the teamster says. Eventually someone will come along and ask for any deliveries they assume. They are just to tell Falco "This is for a drop" in the 'cant slang.

Our ship, the Sea Ghost, is resting in port.

Next Day

Kaelen, Christofer, Ogrumat, Loriel go to Restenford, using a scared teamster to perform a fake dead drop tonight, to draw the assassin there out.
We meet Ean and Clyde.
Kaelen talks to the head of the Baron's guard, telling him al that has happened. He joins us with Perk, Pelo and the berserk to make sure no one takes off.
Several hours pass w/o a visitor.
Finally, almost closing time, he starts sending people home. At the last minute a man enters, hood up etc. He sees people still inside and turns around, walks out. Ogrumat follows him out and signals for those outside to grab him. Kaelen gets up and walks to teh bar with a note of her own, says the same code and gives Falco the note "Gotcha".
Outside they nab the cloaked man, though he tried to escape.
They bring him in to Falco's. We bring the dart thrower down too.
Falco says they were adventuring rogues, so they know a lot of people. They don't keep any real connections, people just use this as their hub of communication.
The pick up man is John Bumford. From a nearby village. He is one of the assassins, it becomes clear under interrogation. Which we do in the inn. He will only say the power structure in this region is going to look absolutely nothing like it does now. The Barony of Restenford is the epicenter of the change.
Kaelen threatens to take him to Norcross and drop him off at a Path church with the teardrop amulet and convince them he murdered one of their kind.
He loosens up a bit at that entirely not hollow threat: currently there are 12 other assassins in the area. He is the only one who is originally a local man, the rest are from outside; moved into cottages in the wilderness a lot of the time. There are 2 death plans, one by the guild and another by a competitor group. Both on the same person. These 13 were hired by a foreign power to take out the Baron. He is to be the first, within the month. The larger plan involves other cells we aren't connected with. Pelitar, Baron's wife, etc were all to be assassinated. Then Gary Salte, too. The whole Barony was to be destabalized. There was a frame job involved as well, sowing chaos among the remaining lords and such to begin conflict, the other cells doing jobs within that framework. This is ALL orchestrated by a royal family from the continent. He does not know exactly who, however.
The competitor are the Inuisitors. The Path has men around this part of the country, though maybe not in this direct area, with their own plans. That stems from Norcross.

We help them get going and plan over thre next day or 2, then the assassins, over next week, will be set up and taken out by the Baron's men plus the 2 gnolls, Ettin, Bugbears as backup. We set them all up on the same night, its like a Godfather finale multikill across the area.
Cain however is never found. Neither is John Boy.

Clyde and Ean stay put. Perk, Pelo, berserk will take turns going to the Baron's house and guarding overnights. We grab the Ettin to take with us vs the Lizardmen.

Back to Saltmarsh. Some of the militia meet up. Couple hours prior to our arrival a longship pulled up. Wolk and Geoffrey met them. A raiding party of about 20 Vikings, with Beorn and Oceanus. They are led by Knut. We meet him immediately. He says the Skylding colony is having some issues, so not able to send more men. Norcross is the issue. Something big is going on with Norcross, massing up their men. Looks like about 2000 inf, 1000 cav, 4 times that many in conscripts. Plus the Path fanatics and Church Guard.
The colony is close to Cuthbury, on Norcross northern border. Lots of skirmishing there. The leader of the colony, still, sent what he could. The colony can't handle those kind of numbers.
3 others events they can tell us of, in terms of news:
Halvgrim and his 2 compatriots from Langbay have killed a great fire wyrm. He has a number of dwarves making a magical weapon for him, word says. The one he has from the Master was badly damages in the combat with the dragon. They are actually staying with the colony right now, but for how long they don't know.
2nd, Lance and his gathered force fo augments have been seen moving around the northern parts of the island, Avery most recently. They are trying to save as many as they can inside the lion's den.
News of the world: on the continent, the kingdom of Argonia no longer exists. The post Master vanishing chaos down there was its downfall. The barbarians who had moved in could not keep unity, its now all city states and independant fiefdoms. Their once glorious legions are now warlords or mercs for others.
The Crimson Fleet (church's navy, effectively) is moving like a school of sharks around the Island. Likely, we figure, why Evans is being held up. Trade ships going to full church controlled territories are allowed through. Its loose regional blockades.

We leave tomorrow morning. We will sail partway, then attack from land. We will have to take our own boat. The Stoughtleys and Hawkins brothers will act as crew on our ship, Beorn is cpt.

Oceanus' people have noticed the fish shortage as well. They do not know why. The Skyldings say that the number of Lizardmen would not disrupt fish that much, so it can't be them.

View
Doppleganger Kaelen; Bald Hill Orcs
Alton enlisted to help

Baron sees us immediately upon our return. Very happy at our success and loves the idea of the relationship with the bugbears plus the siege engines his people can repare. The fort is well placed as a lookout toward Norcross!

The church will begin fixing the temple area and reconcecrating it. We leave the church to take care of Krelar's ghoul fever while Beorn works on ours. If anyone still gets bad, they get the cure potion.
Krelar gets the true seeing helm, the church gets the statuette. We also give them the holy cup to keep a regular creation of holy water going, with us having free use of it.
Kaelen requests and gets a lunch with Qualten tomorror.

Next day, Baron iivites us to stay and dine again. He offers the 300gp bounty, but we decline. His friendship is what's important here.
We pass out all of our loot.

Next day

Ogrumat has to drink the cure potion.

Kaelen lunches with Qualten. He's different, something bothering him. He snaps at an acolyte before apologizes. He says only had a solid hour of sleep throughout the night. Been like that a lot lately. Kaelen offer her trustworthy ear if he should need to speak about anything, now or in the future. He says all he's seen in his life keeps him from sleeping a lot, and is sure it will kill him eventually.

Tonight, dinner with the Baron. He thanks us graciously. He and his wife Fairwind are very impressed. Its a feast! Loriel puts on a fairly good peformance for those in attendance.
We get to see Grellis' sword, he's in full ceremonial regalia. He has a flame tongue! Carried by First in days past; all drink a toast to us. The daughter is in hero worship mode on us, starting to talk of adventuring when she grows up. She is currently learning spellcasting, tutored by Pelitar and church [priests both, as she is also a devout member of the church.
Its a good old time for all.

The talk comes to the orcs. The orcs struck while we were away, but fortunately no deaths. Only killed some horses and cattle of a homestead on the way to market. We say give the bounty to this and the other to a good cause, not us.

Key figures of town are invited as well. Krelar is here in Qualten's stead. He offers to release us from our charity obligation, but we are all in on that.
We meet  the wife of Grellis' cpt Gelpis.

This night, an evil double of Kaelen sneaks into the Baron's castle where we sleep for the night. It came from the mirror. Kaelen does not wake; however, sleeping at the foot of her bed on the floor, Clyde does. He leaps up to guard Kaelen vs the intruder and begins to gibber.
At this sound, Kaelen wakes up.
Evil Kaelen is halfway through the room toward Clyde who springs upon her, but she is ready and stabs him with a vicious looking dagger. Clyde's bite hits home as well.
Kaelen gets up and grabs for weapons.
Evil K hits Clyde again and he drops.
Kaelen then tumbles in, catching it off guard 13.
She makes a grab at Kaelen, whose AoO hits, ruining the grab.
Kaelen tumbles to her rear, but she reacts fast enough to ruin the move. The crit still hits home.
Evil K reaches into her vest pocked, and throws a smoke bomb onto the floor filling the room with smoke.
I can hear her feet moving in the smoke. Kaelen hurls a dagger in that direction but it hits the wall.
Kaelen pinpoints her movement and hits with another dagger 6.

The smoke is clearing some. The door opens fully and Geoffrey, Een and Christofer are backlit in the doorway. Kaelen moves for the window in the room to cut off her only escape route. Evil K tries to tell everyone I'm an evil doppleganger, but I tell them "look at the dagger, it's not even mine".
"That's exactly what an assassin would say."
"Look, one of you just get Clyde out of here at least."
Christofer rushes in and pulls Clyde out. The others freeze, confused.
"Ok, which one of us was concerned about Clyde?"
Geoffrey and Ean then rush the evil Kaelen on the floor. Eansfring stabs her to KO. But, upon hitting 0hp, it bubbles, skin sliding off, insides liquifying into a puddle on the ground. A mirrored liquid, then evaporates.
The dagger is gone as well.

Must have come from the mirror that only Kaelen looked at herself in.
Christofer "Best send word to the bugs not to look into that mirrior." We will do so tomorrow morning.

Now, Geoffrey asks "does the mirror create a good version of an evil person?"
Good question.

Next Day

Visit the armorer Alton after breakfast. He is not there, as sign on the door tells he is at our tavern!! We go straight there.
Alton and Fiona are there, as is Smythe.
Kaelen "Everybody's taking the morning off."
Half dozen other fold and passersby.
2 guys in cloaks are here, drinking in silence. There are often these types of guys here, he always fills their drinks and they never pay. Very generic in look, can't tell if rangers, thieves, or something more normal.
Few words even pass tween them and Falko. They are generally gone after one day or night.
We go straight for Alton. He is up for whooping on the orcs since it directly influences the town. Both the cave and their other base, too! We say we are heading out in a couple days likely, and will let him know the night before.
Ean casually mentions that he thought he saw Volcifar talking to Smythe, what was interesting was he went back to bar for drink while we were sealing deal with Alton, SMythe went and talked to one of the hooded men a couple words and then went back to own table, finished eating and left.
Odd.

Alton's wife is very concerned. Kaelen promises her his safe return.
"I'll use him wisely."
She doesn't like to see him 'in his moods' as she likes to call his berserk rages.

We have our own breakfast then rest up.
Kaelen sends Volcifar, Ean, and Martin SE to spring glade to investigate the Ettin/giant rumor. She tells Clyde to join them.

Kaelen, Chris, Geoffrey, and Loriel lunch at Feldman's. We want to see if he is a First. He has lots of food and drink from the continent.
Now that we have money, we can eat for real!
His grandson Yelda is one of Pelitar's apprentices.
Feldman thanks us for taking out the necromancer and offers a bottle of port on the house. We drink.
She is pretty sure he's a First.
She asks him to come drink tonight at Falco's. He agrees and meet us there later.

He is half First, half an elf. Slight but not noticeable point to ears, only a bit of elf eyes. He's 187 years old.
He was being groomed as a mage when young, but his elf aloofness was too slow going. His master let him choose his own way and he became a chef. Especially treats and sweets. His little magic training helps augment his finished product.
His wife was a half elf, had kids, she's dead for some time now. Those kids have passed on as well. The kids are all human.
Yelda is 16 and is quite the magical prodigy.
He recalls the first Crimson Path forming in the church as the Crimson Brotherhood, monks who sought to organize a supposed purist sect. Seemed nothing unusual at time though more diehard than others. Nobody saw it coming, though.
About 20 years prior to Master Vanishing, over half the cardinals were Brotherhood members. From there was organized a Crimson Path for people to follow, later caused a schism tween the central church and the Path churches. The following grew, and was a difficult movement to stop when they started getting weirder. Now, we see the side effects. In the fringes like our island, less centrality leads them to more freedom.
He says most of the augments who live around here live in the countryside.
He and Qualten, even prior to Grellis taking over, had taken them in secretly many times to hide them. This is a great guy. We tell him to stop by our inn often.

At the glade, they do find that there is an Ettin living there! Seems just one lone Ettin! Not an adult, though. Maybe equal to 12 year old human. It lairs in a cave at the glade at the base of the hill.
They return and report. the next night.

Next Morning

Off to Bald Hill.
We set up a trap. At camp, partying away, are Kaelen, Geoffrey, Loriel, and Christofer. 
Clyde watches the cave to report their movements.
Ean, Martin set snares around the camp. WIth them hiding to ambush are Volcifar and Ogrumat.
We were hoping for just a squad, but they attack in force.
They are geenskin wood orcs. Special wilderness experts but for the leader who is a black orc.
We make quick work of all but KRellis and Gorarg. Gorarg the thief is the last left, in a one on one with Ogrumat. Immediately after Geoffrey kills Krellis the chief, Ogrumat brings their thief down. Both were crits!
Clyde is down but stable, Alton at 0 hp exactly.

We go to the other lair where there is only a band of 6 more orcs. They give up.

We loot them and their bases:
We leave 2 of the ko'd orcs alive to take back with us, Gorarg and one of the archers.
mst broadsword +1 att
girdle of str +2
hardened leather (studs equivalent) but as light as leather
mst longsword +1 damage
GP 228
EP 284
SP 1680
PP 18
Gems: 500
Collection of heads, human, hanging from the walls
10 blood drop amulets, same amount as the heads on the wall

Back to Restenford.

Next Day

To the Ettin. We see Grellis first to report about the Ettin to see if he wants us to make a deal. He says go for it.
Kaelen diplomacizes. His clan of 6 were originally from east of here. Several weeks ago, band of cavalry came from the city (we figure Norcross) and killed and scattered them. He, er they, came out here and found a healthy looking spot to live.
Also figured the cattle around here would be some mighty fine eating.
It succeeds. They will work peacably for food and safety. He, they, are Snitch and Narc.
The gnolls apparently harassed them, he notes he hasn't seen them recently. We tell him we killed them wholesale, which makes him happy.
He says if we ever come across any Ettins from his clan, talk to them first and tell them we met Snitch and Narc. Or even dead bodies. If we find a great 'bonking' club, his father's, bring it back would make him very happy.
Agreed all around.

Back to town.
Baron gives us the rundown on Saltmarsh.

View
Under Bone Hill

After lunch:
Into the lower levels we delve.

We indeed feel the negative auras down here and a slight unnatural chill.
Kaelen takes Clyde, Christofer, Geoffrey, Krellar plus aclolyte, Ogrumat, Yalta. If need, we will switch people out.
We enter via the tower. Korg, the first gnoll guard we met, comes with us as a guide. At teh entrance area, stairs go down to the dungeon. A secret door lies slightly ajar so we check it first, into a hall that turns south then west to a dead end. Kord says there is a secret wall here but does not know ow to open it. Kaeled does so into a storage chamber with a bunch of furniture. Net total, after repairs, 300gp if we take the time.
3 doors, north, south, and a hall. Dimly we see a turn at the edge of the castle above following its outline. Krellar opens the north door, another door in here west. This is a small den with some books, very damp. Stronger negativity in here.Will get stronger the deeper we go. Desk is rotted out badly, as are the books of no value. Brazier is only iron. Kaelen easily opens the lock on the door that is still in good shape. The knob bolt is rusted out, we only have to push it open into a 40×40 bedroom. Wardrobe, vanity, chest. Thick, think damp to the point of a light mist in the room.
Krellar and Geoffrey enter first, Ogrumat next who is effected by the negativity to the point of being shaken and is very impatient all of a sudden.
Torches are not giving up enough light. Kaelen next, unaffected and is not surprised by 2 glowing red dots exit from under the bed. A shadow moves towards her!
She leaps back as it nears pointing it out to Yalta behind her. Krellar turns "Oh my god, that's not a shadow, that's a wraith!" He and Yalta adjust their holy powers accordingly. The wraith halts, shaking like in pain, twitching and jerking, unable to move. They have rebuked it! Totally under their control.
It was once a man but does not recall its name even; was one of a group that killed the priest of the temple next door, but killed long ago and his personality was so strong this essence of all the evil of the attack; all prior to the siege; all in here is rotted mundane. The priest they killed was a good and pious man; a guardian is in the temple, a living statue of stone; wraith will not enter it; there they came for the magical chalice the priest had which should still be there; we should be wary of 4 of his former companions and a weird lot, dead but not dead, the same but having changed; they are his rivals but they can't hurt each other, they do not know they are the same as me; they 4 roam as a pack; not wraiths, have bodies; never physically died in what we understand death yet no heart beat nor pulse.
There is a secret door out of this room into the temple.

Now back to the first room, taking the south door into a large room 40×50. A large cell of some kind. Old skeletons chained to the walls and ceilings, one chained to floor by neck with only about 4 rings, keeping him on the ground at all times.
1 door leads out which we follow into a hall, same as the hall from the first room. 2 other cell rooms as well with only skeletal remains. Now, into the corner room. Kaelen picks the lock, Krellar opens the door to a horrible stench almost knocking him over. He says it means ghouls. Must be wraith's 4 pals. We can see a small pile of loot and suit of armor in middle of room. The mist is almost like a blood color.
Also, steps going back up to the castle.
Kaelen says to back of to both sides, just as we see the 3 ghouls rushing through the red mist toward us.
Kaelen "Watch our rear, the other door is behind us." It opens carefully. The ambush she expected.
They hit our 2 front pairs: Ogrumat/Geoffrey, Yalta/Krellar.
The stalking one is a pale white, breathing in deep heaves, eyes balck pupil with blood red veins around his head. It charges, sickening Clyde and Korg but not Kaelen.
The 3 ghouls go down almost at the same time. The ghast keep coming, hitting Clyde hard.
Clyde, Krellar, Ogrumat, and Geoffry all have ghould fever.
We kill the nasty thing and search them. They all still wear the remains of their old gear. However, the ghast has a pouch with 3 darts, very sharp and still pristine shiny.
Darts +1! One use each.
All 4 wear pendants, blood drop!
This cult has been around a looooong time.
Nothing left but the tempe.
MIst is already starting to thin a little.
107gp
83ep
dwarf sized plate
hvy shield
mst hvy shield
Potion of cure disease.

To the temple via the actual door, not the wraiths secret door.
We bring the elves into look faster for secret doors, finding one to the bedroom. A collection box set into the altar. We leave it go.
Only the altar remains, upon which sits an angelic statue. Krellar and Yalta lead the way in case the room likes holyness. Only them, Geoffrey and Kaelen enter.
Altar to the Masters for certain. Statue looks like some celestial form of the master. No guardian in sight.
There is magic on the statue.
We search more throughouly, finding nothing else.
Krellar takes the statue to bring to the church. Underneath in a small hole is the chalice.

Chalice: purifies dirty water, makes clean water holy water (requires 1 hour time, lasts 4 hours until it evaporates); under certain rituals, may have other abilities. They will study at the church on this.
Question wraith about the symbols: all were members of crimson path. They were picking off Master priests to weaken their grip over the magic of the earth. Their high priest in charge was powerful up here, a governor for the Empire then named Rudnios. The Path worship blood, relish in death; despise actual undeath though as a complete blasphemy.

Back upstairs with the loot and tell bugs what has gone on, eat dinner.

We take the tower steps into the dungeon for at least a few hours tonight.
First door opens into a cave system.
Undead immediately, skeletons (1 looking different in armor) and zombies. We bring the elves, Martin and Ean down for missile support.
The big skeleton pulls a ball of flame out of its ribs and unleashes a fireball on the priests and Korg who engage it. The rest of us take zombies, Christofer and Ogrumat the big one.
A shadow drops from the ceiling and lands right behind the charred priests/Korg, attacking Krellar. Its the wraith from upstairs!
The skeleton warrior is then quickly brought down.
Yalta has an enchanted made though and attacks while the other 2 use holy water; it goes after Krellar all it can. It's an epic battle! Before they take the wraith out. Krellar comes out miraculously unscaithed, but Tello is taken down on the last assault. When it is destroyed, its Path amulet drops to the ground.
The zombies are taken down in a few rounds by the rest of us, gone by the end of the wraith.
They bring Tello to, though, but he's done on this adventure. The elves take him up, then return.

The permeating negativity is gone!!

We continue through the caves.

Loot:
74pp of ancient origin
235gp ancient origin
402ep ancient origin
1340sp ancient origin
17440 copper coins, blank
neclace strung with black pearls 4000: beauty very rare, prestige value more than its gold worth
dwarf urgrosh, mst 2 spec abil
shield, wood back with metal casing, hvy; metal pounded out to look like that of a lion, mst (lt fort)
Ring, white gold band, rather than a gem set in, its made to look like a dervish (creates a gust of wind in a cone out 20' otherwise as the spell)
Lots of ink, pens, paper in a study
Silver pitcher, platter and mug: an unseen servant is tied to those items, pitcher 3/day will fill with water, tea or wine on command; platter 1/day complete meal for 4 on command, mug mead, beer or ale on command 6/day. Must then be rinsed and wiped clean to work again.
Books of little real use, but could be sold for 100gp to scholars
Skeleton chained to wall of study is animated, but not undead, and does a dance when approached: the remains of the good hero who came to battle the necromancer

We find a corridor to the other half of the dungeon, with the stairs  that should lead  up to the basement temple.

In one hazy looking room with floating things, Loriel notices just in time it is a gelatinous cube! But, also that there is a crystal ball inside it. Kaelen and Loriel have read of such a thing, their Master had one in his basement! No blung nore pierce. SLashing damages but splits it. Fire is what you want.
Water is the worst thing in the world.
Get w/in 10' and it can lash out at you.
This one seems to be the stationary type. We send Korg up to get some bugbears and oil kegs.

Another room with orbular tentacked masses, eyes at end of tentacles. Loriel knows them as spectators, much lesser forms of beholders.
"Stop human, resistance is futile."
Perk and Pelo fire upon one of the larger, as Krellar, Ean and Geoffrey go after the other big one, Christofer takes the small one.
They order us to stop and leave, and a now enchanted Ean turns and walks away compulsively while telling us to leave them alone. As Christofer pops the small one like a puss balloon, a swarm of bugs comes out annoyingly all around him.
The one shot at takes both elves down with energy shots from the eyes, but it is in bad shape.
The other 2 do some good damage before we take them down. More annoying bugs,.

Loot:
11pp
22gp
17ep
44sp
Libram of Gainful Conjuration
longsword with runes up one side, Beorn read the name 'Gerling'; mst 1 ability; also has an intelligence w/in it; can't speak but tuned into the wielder but only certain criteria. It hums when happy, empathic with wielder with other feelings transmitted; 12 question 1/week commune positive or neg answers only by empathic feel to wielder; in combat, 1/day heal to reserve as if rested 4 hours; does not count as magic for attacking though; it wants to be used by LG or LN

The bugbears burn out the cube under Beorn's advising.
Cube Loot:

450 and 650 gems
crystal ball
mst shield (max w/ono abilities)

Next room has larger version statue of small one in temple. It speaks telepathically that we are here for good not evil we get:
the brass helmet on hits brow, has red ruby adorning it = 3000gp; if worn by cleric type nonevil, 3 times can True Seeing for 3 rounds; any wearer gains vision of people's auras (aka old detect alignment, more subjective in IH).
Plus, not now but when needed, we can use a Contact Higher Plane as spell, answer in form of short sentence up to 12 words, 3 questions. Whenever we may need, as a group.
She says she was the celestial that the Master of this area had aligned himself with. 
Krellar will inform the church that this place should be reconsecrated. 

Next room, digging through rubble first, find a mirror. The glass looks more like glass of a window than mirror glass though. Looking in, see yourself. The rim is gold but black in color.
Its attached to the wall sovereign glue. Never coming off.
Nothing else in here.

Later, find a staff in another room. Finely careved blue dragon head atop of it, paint worn away though. Kaelen knows it from her readings of the dragon wars.
11 charges: dancing lights (1), light (1), spark (1) (30' line 2d10 to metal armor wearers), lightning bolt  80' range to start and 80' long 4d12 (save for half, metal always get at least 3/die even if save, 5' line only, 2 charges)

All done, back upstairs for the night, get up late tne next day and head back to town.

View
Bone Hill: Castle
Wolk Rescued

Next Day

Bright and early, leave for the Dead Forest and Bone Hill. We leave mounts behind, possibility of undead is too likely.
Perk shows up with Pelo as well!! And, Kelnar is toting one of the acolytes who is also the cobbler in town Tello, half elf.
Geoffrey and Ean join us too.
2 possible routes:
Straight east through the heart of the Dead Forest, out the other side to the road then across it to Bone Hill.
Or, follow the road around, which runs right past the far side of the forest tween it and Bone Hill and go from there.
We ask Yalta, any reason to really do the forest before the tower? Since we want to save Wolk. Or could he be at either place?
He says we can skip the forest for now, since we have a friend's life to worry about, he should be the ruin on the hill.

Off we go, via the road.
Wary of of orc and other dangers, we keep Perk and Pelo scouting our right flank, and Martin and Volcifar to our left.

Its an uneventful trip to Bone Hill. We see the tower first as we stop partway up the hill to await dark
We move forward, Ogrumat scouting the grounds first: The tower is 3 levels with 10×12 hole at ground level; tower on NW corner with gaping hole in the wall. Another spot has a battering ram at a broken spot; another spot with a siege tower at another hole; otherwise walls seem quite sturdy. There was a siege here, a few siege engines concentrating on a few particular spots and broke through. A couple elf skeletons, 6 at the battering ram, even a hill giant.
Meanwhile our rangers scout for tracks, and finds a plenty of evidence of booted and bipedal lupine feet.
She leads us to a hole in the west wall that leads directly into the castle itself.
Kaelen sends Kelnor leading his acolyte, Beorn, Ean and Geoffry, Volcifar and Christofer.
She leads, into the tower to get onto the walls, Ogrumat, Loriel, Pelo and Perk, Yalta, Martin and Clyde.

As we close in, we see sentries on the wall. Christofer stops his group "wait for Kaelen, she's going to see them and probably take them out.
The sentries are bugbears.

The moon has come up, its a blood moon!

The tower is a dusty mess but rubble is mostly cleared. We take the stairs up to the sentry walkways. We see them both by the moonlight. 
We use Clyde to lure one of the sentries to us, and it starts making its way to us. He gives a bark to the other sentry and it starts coming from the other wall connecting here.
The first enters, and Martin's shot and Ogrumat's sneak attack kill it.
As the next enters, Kaelen and Ogrumat cut it down.
We call everyone in, and check for more but those were the only 2 sentries.

Christofer sees them lurking above and tells Krellar to move in. Kaelen's group goes back down and into the courtyard, entering the castle via the main entrance.
Krellar is entering the old throne room; frescoes of men and elfs fighting vs bugbears but now much defaced. Makeshift toys are spread thoroughout the room, from present. Bugbear kids?
Volcifar skulks in first. Doors lead out left and right, room oft used but empty.
He recommends nabbing kids as bargaining tools.
We go right to the right door, hear whistling on the other side. Someone just hanging around. Bugbears can't whistle.

More skeletons outside in the courtyard, seem like a force of humand and elfs attacked one of humans with at least 1 giant. Also a few bugbear remains in the courtyard and a huge burnt circle of ground. Magic.
Walls and floor inside the entire castle are solid; there is a large wooden bar here to close off the doors coming in, but they seem to be expecting not trouble. We hear a couple more bugbears before we even enter.
Cracking one door open slowly, Ogrumat and Loriel see them, but it creeks. The 2 guards draw their weapons. Loriel puts one to sleep, we rush in, Ogrumat telling it to surrender in goblinoid.
He drops his weapon and arms up.
He says Telvar the wizard is in charge here, fancies himself an archmage. Bugbears already lived here, remnants of the originals here. He used his magic to do horrible things to their champions.
Kaelen gives him the option of helping, we are here for a friend. He recogizes him as Telvar's prisoner. He refuses to take us to the area, but tells us how to get there: 2nd floor, up the stairs. Down another stairway is a basement then a dungeon. 
He says he also has an alliance with a band of gnolls and their ogre chief that live in the Dead Woods.
They would prefer not to be under Telvar's thumb.
We tell him his friend is only asleep. He says most dead you see around can rise on Telvar's command. There is also a ghoul, a shadowy horror below, and maybe a few others.
They don't venture to the dungeon if they don't have to. There's a horrible living pool, liquidy, that one of the Masters put there, that moves about. A stone guardian, a magical mirror of some sort. The local Master, lesser, many of his goodies he gave to the lord here are still down there.
Kaelen says we'll leave them in peace if he guides us through his tribe. We will steal nothing from them either.
"Take us to the stairs."
He leads us through another room with a bugbear, tells him we are going to take care of Telvar.

Volcifar says the door is unlocked. He peeks inside, 6 chairs about and a mean looking dude looking up at a painting on the wall, whistling, portrait of the old Master. Volcifar skulks toward the man and pulls out a grisly looking dagger, recurved almost like a sickle, with barbs on the blunt side.
Volcifar stabs the man, yanking it out pulling a string of guts. While he's down, he start sawing his head off!
Christofer "The gods!"
Beorn "What are you doing?
Christofer tires to calm him down.
Volcifar "And thus falls Telvar."
Eeh gads!!
He beheads him completely.
Chris "Why ware you cutting his head off?"
"Personal business, I told you not to ask about that please."
Beorn "You know that's Telvar?"
He reaches into his cloak pulling out a piece of parchment which he unrolls, comparing a sketch portrait to the body "Yes., that's him."
Christofer 'Well, let's go find Kaelen."
Just as he is about to open the door, Kaelen's guide opens it.
We all meet up. It's quite the surprise that Telvar is finished.
Kaelen "Is that really him?" to the bugbear guide.
He checks the hands "No, it wasn't. He's not wearing his ring. He always wears his ring."
Volcifar shows him the head. It's now 10 years desicated, a failsafe of some sort, much to Volcifar's chagrin.
He throws the head into the wall in anger.
Bugbear "Chances you are, Telvar knows your're here now."
Kaelen "All right, let's go find Wolk."

Upward we go into an area just offcenter of the level, the center of the halls.
Bug guide 
Volcifar picks his; Kaelen does to but it is also Arcane locked. Yalto dispels it after Krellar's failed attempt.
We open simultaneously, bedroom and workshop.
Other than a lab and trapdoor upstairs, nothing and no one.
Some of the potions in the lab have a faint magic to them. We take the potions. Volcifar also finds one of Telvar's spellbooks.
Kaelen finds a secret stash behind a painting withj:
47 pp
7 × 20gp gems
3 × 50gp gems

The guard from teh lookout room comes out, but our bug guide calms him down, then checks on teh kids. There's a bit of a ruckus we can hear downstairs now. The other guards we met are explaining to the others what's going on.

Kaelen heads downstairs with Ogrumat and Clyde, with Ean and Geoffrey.
One of the shamans immediately says we should appease the wizard and kill us now. Our guide tries to be the diplomat. He is actually an old subchief prior to Telvar's takeover.
There are now 50 skeletons outside trying to get in, plus a few zombies, about to use the battering ram. Telvar certainly knows we are here.
We hear a bugbear howl from behind. Gnolls are coming up the hillside. They are not friendly at all, but are still about a mile away.
Kaelen has Ogrumat call everyone down to fight the gnolls.
He says the undead were here before Telvar came, he controls them but his death will not eliminate them.
Kaelen tells him to use the fact that she brought Clyde and Ogrumat down with her (purposefully) to show them that she is friendly to races others are not.
SHe rushes upstairs calling for any of the priests with power vs undead. Yalta steps forward, and she sends him to the front door.

Meanwhile, the storage rooms brought noting of import.

Once Kaelen is back up, we take the trapdoor.
Kaelen picks a high quality lock, then keep it for her own use DC 30.
The hatch is a pulldown stairway. She hears chanting.
A bloodroom ceremony!? Let's go!?

We are coming up against one wall. There is a large window at the center of the other 3 walls. A ladder goes to the roof where the chanting is coming from. A crude telescope sits in the middle, with drawings of the night sky by month.
Kaelen/Volcifar, Ogrumat/Martin and Pelo/Perk go out the windows in pairs and climb up.
Krellar leads the rest up the ladder. A wooden altar is right in front of where we appear, Telvar standing at its side to the ladder's right, a cultists on the other side. Wolk is tied to the altar. To Telvar's rear are 2 ghouls. Behind the other cultist are 2 skeletons. Behind the ladder entrance are 6 more skeletons.
Another man is tied and on his knees next to the cultist; a second next to Telvar.
Kaelen and Volcifar come up next to the tied up ones, closest to Telvar and the cultist.
Our 2 elves come up behind the ghouls, Ogrumat/Martin behind the skeletons.
We wait for Krellar, who gave us a minute to get into position, to come up the ladder and we strike. Krellar destroys a skeleton immediately. 
Volcifar on Telvar, Kaelen jump stunts the cultist, Krellar and Christofer engage the rear skeleton rank, elfs fire at the ghouls, Ogrumat and Ean the rear skeletons too.
Geoffrey and Martin arrive next, taking on skeletons to keep them off the central fight.
Kaelen kills the cultist.
Volcifar continues on Telvar, who then steps back from him and casts at him a bolt of energy in the shape of a fist knocking Volcifar 10' back and off the edge, but he grabs the ledge dropping his killer dagger.
The elves drop a ghoul and Ogrumat kills Martin's skeleton.
The ghouls and the skeletons finally counterattack.
Perk's ghoul moves, clawing him and the hanging Volcifar's hand! He lets go with that hand but still hanging on.
The staggered cultist goes for a stab at Wolk but for min damage then drops.
Geoffrey attacks Telvar from behind.
Geoffrey sends his skeleton off the edge.
Volcifar climbs up, Ghoul's AoO missing; he misses the ghoul.
Kaelen tumbles over Wolk on the altar, and stabs Telvur, flanking with Martin now, 20 DEAD!

View
Yalta; Meeting the Baron

Next Day:

To Yalta's house. Recall, he is the spiritual advisor to Baron's wife. Very modest house but owns good stuff. He is happy to meet Kaelen and offers lunch.
Hanging on his wall is a fine suit of chain, ornate shining shield, staff topped with a clenched fist, mace, large holy symbol on the mail.
We talk religion and history and magic. Kaelen senses nothing suspicious, he's very pleasant; get feeling that he eats law, shits order, and goodness pumps through his veins.
He talks about the things he's done and how he came to meet the Baron's wife; chooses not to live in castle to avoid their life of opulence.
"The tower ruins on Bone Hill is a conundrum to me." He's been keeping an eye on it, just far enough away that the city guard and Baron's men don't want to deal with it but close enough that it makes him uncomfortable.
A while ago a wanderer went there and never returned. There are 3 levels to the tower, has gotten an ominous feeling from it recently. The dead forest surrounding the hill has something going on as well, he can tell. There is evil there.
We come clean to him on who we are and what we have been through. Tell him in detail of Wolk's disappearance.
"I would never have guessed you were the person I've heard about". From people he knows on the outside spoke of one who caused some trouble and has become a small thorn in Norcross' side. This puts Kaelen up many pegs in his book.
"Fortunately, he does not think Wolk was inquisited. The inquisition, when they get sneaky like this, use similar travel, but moreso than anyone else I can tell you there are NO Path in town. But, there is something evil still. Similar. The blood portal is not exclusive the the CP." As much as they like to pretend they are original, many things they use are borrowed from bad magic used piecemeal by others. The wizard that once lived in the tower on Bone Hill was a Necro. "This sounds more like his style."
Why would he be scrying the entire area? Yalta does not know.
He feels that its just because Wolk was a creation of th Masters and a spellcaster.
Concerning the other magic vanishings: from what he gathers, someone is trying to frame the Path, just using it as a potential cover.
He says he is willing to help us in the forest and the hill!! This is a mission particular to his ideals.
Also, the elf with the crush on Loriel.
He says Krellar would likely be willing to help too, but we'd have to talk to the Abbott himself.
He agrees to attend the dinner tonight with the Baron and speak to him on our behalf.
He thinks there is nothing suspicious about Qualton's illness and such, but he feels very bad for him. He did see some truly horrible things on his crusade.
We ask what messed Qualton up so badly.
He says most of the people who entered the city of the Veiled Masters perished, any that came out spoke of unmentionable horrors they'll never get out of their minds nor want to talk about.
He does not find any link tween that and the CP.
Concerning the arcanist with the warehouse: they have little contact. He loves law and order like the Baron, but Pelitar is a bit morally gray about it. His acolytes are very similar to Pelitar. If we are persuasive enough, and can find an angle or pay enough to make it worth his while, he may help with an acolyte if not himself.
He says if we tell the Baron who we really are, everyone who will be at the dinner will soon know. Only who he absolutely trusts will be there.
His opinion is that Kaelen should do what her gut says for now as far as telling the Baron the whole truth.

We go to see Kelnar, who says Almon must ok us seeing Qualton.
Kelnar speaks to Almon, and he ok's talking to Qualton considering the reason.
He takes us to Q room, a very plain one but for the religious accoutraments and nice painting of Celestia and Imbrun. Kaelen makes it clear how impressed she is with that. He seems like a genuinely good man. He looks like he's slept for 10 hours in the last decade. The mention of Yalta going as well lightens his heart. He says on the festival of Fhalcon, he want us to volunteer in return for Kelnar's help for the entire day, just helping out.
We leave tomorrow morning.

Dinner at Barons.
We meet all the fine folk who live there.
Dinner: Baron, wife, daughter, Pelitar, Yalta, our Guard friend, Kaelen, Christofer, Loriel.
The Baron asks politely for teh elvish performance he was promised.
We give him the general story of escaping the south, but not the whole truth nor who we really are.
Loriel puts on what must be one of the best performances she's capable. The court is flabergasted.
For such a peformance, Baron says she deserves something. If there are any small favors he can do, don't be afraid to ask.
Fairwyn is taken aback, as it reminds her of days among the elves.
Pelitar is relatively unmoved, but politely compliments.
Andrella, the daughter, is moved at heart by it. 18 years old and is astounded.
We tell the Baron our local plans.
Kaelen compliments his painting again, Celestia is one of her absolute favorite figures in history.

He despises this new CP sect, causes him much grief and hates Norcross though he technicaly owes him fealty. Approves of nothing Norcross does though. HIs main goal is keeping all of that outside of his territories.
He says Jesrik is quiet, last he heard. Not much action there. Not much contact lately though, isolating themselves as much as they can but for supply ships. Mainly smuggling now.
We ask him for his help funding to eliminate the local threats.
They have 13 horses here that are extra mounts we can use at our discretion but we owe for any killed, including barding if we feel it is necessary.
He does have gold piece bounties we can prove was completed.
Agrees to fund our inn stays, a stipend for 2 full weeks.
As far as Salt Marsh goes, though part of the barony, it falls under the jurisdiction of the town council of Salt Marsh. So we'll have to speak to them about that issue.
"Restenford is a haven for all people. He has made it very clear that anyone of any sort are welcome so long as they start no trouble". So Clyde is welcome, as would be Wolk!
We tell him our first order of business of Bone HIll, which he says Yalta has told him about.
A chest of 300 gp is the reward for taking care of the issue. All loot we find is also ours. It would make him happy to have the missing wizard's body for proper burial.

Loriel stops and sees the bowyer with the crush on her, he wants to join us as well.

View
Arcanist's Warehouse; Rat Cave; Bald Hill; Church

Kaelen sees Felix and Old Man both patrol the warehouses. They each go a different direction, and when they meet back up they sit at a small table, smoke, talk and after half an hour do it again. Old Man has 3 dogs who follow him w/o command.
She beaches the boat, and goes to the side opposite their table station. She waits for them to pass and breaks in.

The front door is gone, entering into the common room. Its easy to see rat prints all over, big ones. We start to explore.
Under a carpet, a once secret door is now a gaping hole just small enough to keep the carpet up.
We continue downward to a cave complex!
1st room rotten bedroom furniture, plus a decent looking chest. We hear a scraping noise on the far side of the room.
We turn out torch in that direction, and see 2 skeletons and a ghoul making for us.
We ready, they both shield bash a skeleton, killing 1 and wounding the other. Chris wounds the ghoul as it misses him.
Chris kills the ghoul as they finish the last skeleton.
Chris "Well, that was unexpected."
We take a look at the chest and break it open. A poison needle trap is inside that is old, very old and rusted. The stuff down here is older than above, it seems no one even knew this place was here.
Inside, we find old clothing worth nothing, belt with ornate dagger (5gp) and elaborate buckle (10gp), 4" square box with a medallin within (symbol is a closed eye)
We search the rest of the place:
70gp
80ep
80sp

Continuing to next room, old kitchen.
Then, to a room with large hexagonal table. One chair is broken, with a throwing dagger under each seat. 6 total.
Deck of cards, in surprisingly good condition. The face cards are of famous Masters, symbols are unique rather than clubs, hearts etc. Neat collectible.
300cp piled on 6 piles on the table. A card game had been going on.
Later, Een finds a secret room behind a false wall. Opens to a room, small box with a vial.
Another chest with 7gp, 38ep, 210sp, gems: 3x 50, 150, 200
Pair of dark green leather boots not rotted at all, inside is a light green suade. Very nice. Small emblems of a tree on inisde when the tops are flipped down.

Find a breeding cave of 20 small rats. Another has lots of eyes that turn to us. Een immediately says there's got to be 30.
Chris without missing a half a second "RUN!"
They poor out as we flee. As Chris is in the lead in the card table room, he crashes a vial of oil onto the table and lights it with the torch.
He turns and as they are about to pounce on Een he overturns it oto their lead as Geoffrey passes to the exit of this room. It squishes one, a coupel other are burned, and we continue to flee. The rest stop frightened for a moment, just enough for us to get enough of a lead that we barely make it out.
There are other cave passages we did not go down, so there may be other secret doors in town no one knows about.
We put rubble on top of the hole and get back to the tavern.
We'll have to go back for the loot. We got very little on us.

Meanwhile, at Kaelen:
She tries to pick the lock, and a small burst does a point of damage. 2nd round, she picks it but it is a double lock. She picks it again, but there is a third and she gets it. She lip in and turns the 3 locks quietly back into place.
Lots of wine, rations, quality clothes, 4 sets of identical plate on frames each with crest of Restenford and metal disc with the covenant symbol of the sun circle. More supplies; 3 tapestries of high value, suite of noble style furniture. Footlocker with feint glow coming from inside. There must be somewhere around 20,000gp of goods in the warehouse.
She notices a listing of a crystal ball on some paperwork, finds a tripod labelled crystal ball for one but no crystal upon it. Nothing else she looks over seems missing but that one thing. Perhaps it has not come yet, or he's using it, or someone stole it.
She looks through ledgers, and he has had a lot of arcane components come through, both rare and common; food, lots of pricey furnishing (hmm); ship names are listed for payments:
NEED THESE 
The crystal is not on any recent ledgers.
Welkar's 3 dogs are barking outside, he orders Felix to make another round while he quiets them down. Welkar checks the door.
Felix "Watch the trap, last thing I need is for you to get burned old man."

Once they are gone, she sneaks out and back to the boat. She sneaks around toward the back. Welkar tells Felix how much it sucks being a First, been alive almost a century now, you're alive so long and lose so many friends who don't live like you do. That's why he likes dogs so much, just keep breeding them. They get into personal matters, seems they get along well.
Welkar talks how he's been all around the world. Has a brother that lives on mainland who is also a dog trainer. He heard not too long ago he'll be having a child soon. Talks of regrets of life, war hero before now likes living quiet life. Just happy being a dog training security guard, but does regret never settling down and making his own family; so he cares so much about his dogs.
Felix says that's the damn stupidest thing he's ever heard "crazy old coot; let's do our rounds."
Kaelen takes off and  relocks them deftly, back to boat. Stays there and watches.
About 2am, a single masted small rowed ship arrives and docks. Kaelen skulks forward as Welkar opens the door and goes inside.
About half a dozen men are take 2 large lockers inside.
Welkar grabs the ledger, they exchange paperwork and the sheet goes inside the ledger.
After about 45 minutes of the unloading/paperwork stuff, they walk out with a bag of coinage payment and row away. They keep guarding, but take turns walking perimeter alone, so one guy is always in sight of the door.


When we meet, Loriel says the vial is a potion and the boots are boots of elvenkind!!

*Next Day *

Hear word about campers on Bald Hill.

We ride to investigate the campers.
We meet Clyde first, and he has a piece of wood he marked counting the orcs that came and went.
K "Great job Clyde!" Rousing scratch on the head.
We figure on on around 10. Some would leave north toward the Mt. Xerbal. Probaly another enclave of orcs. That gives more creedence to our adv friends' story.
He tells us he has seen the campers as well.

Campers:
Arcanist adventurer Beorn Stephanson, down on his luck. Spent a lot of $ travelling but no big score. He's wary at first of admitting he's a magic user but Kaelen gets him to open up. Half orc and ranger are friends of his.
Swordswoman cutpurse halforc female Ogrumat; knows the arcanist for a long while
Ranger Martin: recently met up with arcanist and halforc a few months ago; he's from south of here; he wandered the countryside, knows the lands well (does not know Sgt); on a quasi self imposed quest/goal. Duke of Norcross is a worthless SOB, bands of inquisitors and bullyboys tend to impose will, his village was not into his agenda so Norcross imposed heavily. Ranger wants to depose Norcross.
Sneaky looking guy: Volcifar; not from anywhere near here; his name certainly an alias, real swarthy; we guess from mainland; tanned complextion, black hair, magnificent beard, lots of dark clothes; well kept and functioning quality clothes; relatively quiet. Clear and to the point when he does talk; has a platinum ring on his left middle finger with writing upon it; sling, broadsword, dagger; on other hand wears ring on middle finger with an emerald set in it. Wears the rings over gloves. He admits to being of the thieving craft; and quite good. Guarded on his life's philosophy but insists he is not evil, just prefers privacy.

We buy some fruit and stuff off of the farmers at the orchards below and spend the day with them, gathering Clyde as well.
Kaelen gets not sense during the day that he is lying, but that he will be guarded even to his best friends.
The ranger says the 2 orcs that lead the raider band, he of them. Crellis and Gorharg, brothers, sons of a warlord in the south. They are brutal fighters, and Crellis dabbles in the arcane. Theory goes that in this Age of Chaos a lot of caster types had fled to teh wilderness for decades now, gathering loyal groups of various sorts to keep themselves safe. Sometimes, maybe they passed on their skill to such primitives. Orc holy man of sorts. Gorharg is decent fighter but much better sneaker.
They are all Black Orcs.
Halfgrim, the viking ally to the former lord of Langbay, has been spotted in this land recently, with his 2 associates. He knows not why. Saw them a few weeks ago heading north of here. Seemed to be tracking something into the hills.
We ask about the orcs going to Xerbal, he says there is an old fortification there. This is probably a temp camp here on Bald Hill. Xerbal must be their layer.

All are willing to do some possible paying jobs, but the sneak available at least for now as well.
They will go to Salt Marsh if we do.

Ranger knows of a similar story to ours of outfitter: a mysterious blood sect, Crimson Pact, are not only strong with arcanists but they are like a religion and society unto themselves. A priestly class runs it, noble follwers seeking power and territory, thieves guild of common fold dug into society just to gather info and watch out for things. Some may even be impersonating a regular folk.
We talk on the Path, orcs, Wolk, rangers, etc.
He knows the druid's boyfriend somewhat, met him a couple times at Foregatherings.

At the mention of Wolk and details of his vanishing, ranger says sounds as though he may have been inquisited. He's probably local, considering the gate. Within miles.
So, we have to find him, first place to begin w/o any evidence = the church. That same sort of thing happened in his village leading up to the big hit. Its the Inquisitors who do such things.
In an unfriendly area such as this, and Inquisitor would stay low key.
The Ogrumat offers to join us in breaking into the church, seems like "an opportunity to ply his trade", he says.
Asked about the Stiletto: they have heard word that the ships under the Church had a battle with him as they hunted pirates, and either it was sunk or beat a retreat into hiding.
Kaelen tells them to stay at their camp, only come in tomorrow morning. We go back to town until tonight.

Kaelen visits the Covenant after dinner to scope the place out.
2 ways in:
Backdoor and main wood double doors. Entire staff is here, the Abbot, curate, 3 priests and 8 acolytes, all performing various duties, but for 1 of the priests who is in town right now. She gives her alias, saying she has fled the great troubles south, to an acolyte. He says they try with all they have to keep the inquisitions away. Asks to meet the priests and when their services are.
Morning service Saturday, morning and evening on Sunday.
Day of Fhalcon is approaching in the next couple weeks, St. Fhalcon's day. There will be a special service that morning and the feast that night. The day he defeated another Master's incursion in this territory and other cool things.
The feast is done in the middle of town.
Curate name is Almon; Hoilrag, Selmo, Krelar are the priests. She asks to be introduced to everyone present. He's happey to have another member in town, especially from different branches. More to discuss. Selmo is the one in town. Qualton is currently ill.
"To be honest, Qualton spent his early years working up from an acolyte. During his time as a Curate he went crusading, following Fhalcon to the far south in the aid of Imbrun. While there, he saw some things, and did some things, that shocked him and still affects him to this day. Has a difficult time sleeping and maintaining his demeanor. At this moment he has a bout of the flu. Magics have done nothing for it."
K "Who is the most recent priest to work here?"
"That would be Krelar, he was a knight who met Qualton on the crusade. Though still a good fighter with flail and mace, he has renounced use of bow and sword. Though very devout, still bears the military demeanor."
He is the one supervising the acolytes at this moment, He is direct and precise in his orders.
K to Krelar "Your leadership is highly impressive." He thanks her, wishing he could break his discipline and be more even keeled, but years of crusades changes one. You can't just turn such things off once ingrained.
They talk a bit on dogma.
He does not dig on the Path at all.
They appreciate Yalta's presence and respect his decision to not join them, he is not a devoute of Fhalcon but he brings much wisdom and knowledge,helps the church when they need it and is a phenominal human being. Caters to outsiders more akin to his branch and similar ones.
We plan to have dinner soon at the more family friendly tavern.

He introduces to Hoirag, very priestly. Lots of 'my child' and such language. He is a very relaxing man. He fully sympathizes with Kaelen's plights as well. He has been here his entire life, a native of this town. Since before Grellis took over, and glad he did.
"With more backing, he could be a king one day."

Selmo they say likes to spend his time among the people, makes house calls to many families. Make sure they have what they need, blesses, heals, etc.

Krelar is the defender of the faith, Hoirag the soul of the operation, Selmo the spirit of the people.
She askst to be able to wander around, appreciate the art and such all over, since she has been w/o for weeks and weeks on her travel here.
They let her peruse her way around the place. Also let her go the the rectory to read up on her interest in local lore and history. If she takes anything out, just fill out the ledger.

All the acolytes seem decent. At the altar, there are feint marks on the floor as if it slides away.
Nothing strange in supply room in the back. Lots of theology and philosophy in library, even non covenant mythology. She studies Celestia's prophecy in detail and reads up on anything on smaller religions and cults. She was favored and rumored lover of Imbrun. She was convinced there were gods beyond the Masters but too far beyond mortals to need their worship, the Masers worshipped them as a conduit.
She gets the details of her prophecies leading up to the Masters vanishing, the disappearance itself. Concerning their return is really vague.
The only references she finds of anything that could be the blood cult is the knowledge that many many years ago, an Angel who had fallen from grace was slain. As part of his punishment, once killed on earth his body was consumed by some Force. His essence (aka blood in some references) was cast out to another plane of existence. Every so often, part of this comes back to this world as a Blood Angel. Its usually alluded to vaguely and peripherally, not directly mentioned.
Celestia personally makes mention of that the ones who revere the Blood of the Angel would be deeply involved in these troubled times and a thorn in mankind's side for 1000 years after. She finds other terms that may also be of them like 'Path of Blasphemy' or 'the Red Path', etc.
There is a scroll about the crusades Qualton fought, seems to have been a civil war of The Masters vs The Veiled Masters, who were a group of far southern Masters, a shadowy cabal.

Back to town.
Kaelen has Christofer gather some info on Selmo tonight.
He finds that Selmo is seen as a pillar of the community, many have had a bone reset or some injury taken care of, crops blessed, etc. He does not come preaching the word either. Just about helping the folks out.

We buy several barrels of oil.

All of Beorn's team meet Kaelen and Clyde outside the church grounds. Kaelen finds a secret passage leading the stockade wall around it. It does not open from the outside. It comes up on teh other side of the stockade, its just a secret way under the stockade.
We get into the church relatively easily.
We search for secret paths and such.
K "Where the F is Wolk?"
She opens the altar to a ladder to a secret room with chests and bags full of gold, silver and gems. Being astute, K notices several glyphs drawn around the room. They are certainly wards of some kind, probably damaging wards. We leave and close it all up.
Finish searching and find nothing else.

At the rats, Ean, Geoffrey, Loriel  use the oil barrels to burn them out and find 2 other entrances down the other tunnels. A clump of bushes covers another just beyond the town pallisade. The other is hidden in foliage in the middle of town.
We loot it as well.
Broach of shielding (17 pts)
50gp gem
31gp
18sp

The vial found in the box is a potion of gaseous form.

View
Restenford: Getting to Know the Town

The journey is thankfully safe and uneventful. Gib and Wolk are staying hidden outside of town. When we arrive, Stiletto has never shown, very unlike his reputation. None in town have heard any word of him.
This area is a safe zone, the Baron is not tolerating the violence, easier for him because of his area's isolation.
Falco's tavern and inn is run by a dwarf, the namesake. His assistant is also a dwarf: Gap.
The other is the Tavern of the West Wind, run by 2 humans.
We make the left to Falco's.
There is also the Inn of the Dying Minotaur.
Big rumor right now: all kinds of talk of a haunted house in the village of Salt Marsh. Legend is that it had been the home of an alchemist, sinister local rep, up until about 20 yrs ago. Shunned because of his mysteriousness and occuption. Now, 2 decades after his disappearance, it is an even more earie and lonely place. Tales of secret alchemical gold have led some to venture there, all unsuccessful. Recent years, shrieks and strange lights such that none have gone since.
The fields around are prime land, but none are brave enough to cultivate it.

Other rumors we gather today: 
* man in tavern claims to have seen movement in the old river guardhouse, shadows.
* "one night, i was coming through Kelman pass. A woman on horseback rode by into the Dead Forest; the horse's hoof prints were on fire!"
* another man says he heard that the Baron owns a statue that turns into a man
* a pack of wolves, to the south of town "the wolves of some evil giant, no doubt".
* "Bone Hill is occupied by huge orcs! Beware!"
* "That abbot on the hill, is an honorable man I says. Go to him if you need help."
* soldier tells a yarn about the garrison cpt of the guard, that he has a magic horn that collapses walls, he saw it in the Master's War
* Bone Hill guy is refuted by another: the dead walk on Bone Hill, not huge orcs
* another adds to that "Not just Bone Hll, its the whole range, they don't call it the Dead Forest for nothing"
* "Don't look now, but I have reason to believe that Falco's Tavern is run by 2 assassins, hiding out from those who'd like to see them meet their end":Lorial asks the man about the assassin rumor, he says Gap is such a champ dart thrower he has never missed a bullseye. Second, both are kind of shady. Neither is from here, they just showed up with cash to open a tavern. Many more visitors from out of town stay there, and he associates with many as if they had known them for years. Stuff like that. 
* One guy, about the cleric the other guy was talkin about, claims that he heard 1 or more priests at the abbey are some sort of evil blood worshipping cultists: The abby directions are given to us, on a hill behind Falco's; its dedicated to a minor local Master named Phaulkon. The abbot is named Qualton; he thinks Qualton and perhaps a few others. He has seen strange things at night, and some disappearances of augments and such near town who he says had dealings with the church. 1 augment Qualton visited, but came back and said he was missing. Then it happened again. Concerning disappearances, no sign of foul play. Nothing stolen. We get the positions of the 2 houses. The other guy says Qualton is a main reason the Inquisition has not touched here, he is not interested in such purgings (this man is a regular church goer).

* 2 adventurers sit in the bar, describing how their party was attacked by orcs as they crossed the bridge at Restin River: Kaelen talks with the adv's of the last rumor concerning the orcs. He says there were 8 men in their party originally. The band of orcs beset them on the bridge. They killed their arcanist first, for they had a shaman among them that out magiked him right quick. Then their archer was sniped at, taking an arrow to the eye. As the warband of about 20 came at us from cover, they killed the rest. These last 2 got away, sans horses and supplies. This was about a week and a half ago. They did inform the constabulary, and the Cpt went out but found no signs of the ambush nor orcs. They are ready to whoop some orcs. This was the closest attack to town of any such humanoid attack in the entire area. They would be very interested in joining us if we looked into the matter. One of them is Geoffrey, a Man at Arms, with chain, shield (which is certainly recently marred) and long sword. The other is a Hunter named Eansfring, longbow, LS, chain shirt, shield. They also stay at Falco's, plan on staying until they make money to leave as they are broke. They owe money to Falco and Gap both. Kaelen does not feel like they are BS'ing her.

We crossed at the ford, right at the town, to arrive here. The bridge is farther in the hills south.
Loriel performs, which covers her room plus a couple meals and some drinks.
Kaelen figures, we need loot, so we need to adventure aka look into these rumors and hope for danger leading to treasure. Plus, that could get us into the good graces of the Baron in case we need his patroage.

There is a 2nd church outside of town also, on Dweomer Forest: not a Covenant church but more akin to the old ways, druidic religion. 
Faldelac is the high priest, and a handful of others.

On Bald Hill, covered by low foliage but trees are rare. Crops planted at base up to edge of town. There is a known cave on the far side of the hill.

We find that Falco is a very good cook.

Kaelen leaves and tells Clyde to investigate the cave around Bald Hill.

We also meet a man from Salt Marsh. His name is Darwin, visiting for any interest in investigating the house. Recently, it is distressing the locals even more. There are homesteads near it, and are just long ready for it to end.
Geoffrey, the leader of the 2, heard of this as well of course and considered going but there arcanist, who was also a priest, is gone. They felt unsure about any undead without him. They would go, but not before the orcs are looked into.
Kaelen "You havn't asked the priests at the abbey?" Salt marsh is almost entirely non Covenant. So they have not considered trying. As far as the druidic one, they didn't even consider them.

Very little association between the 2 churches, but no hostility either. Same tween their followers.

Wolk and Clyde squat in one of these abandoned houses.

Gap holds a dart competition every night. A few join in, including Christofer. He gets one good throw then craps out in the first match, so he plays again and does much better. Gap hits all bullseyes in both. On the 3rd round, Gap says no one has ever beaten him, so there is an award for 2nd. depending on your points. Chris does little this time. No one wins the potential prizes. Watching Gap, he has certainly not just been playing darts his whole life, likely of the archer class actually. It takes him little effort to bullseye.

Loriel's performance wows an elf in particular, the town bowyer. Good to see a familiar face, he makes a point to introduce himself and they talk. His bow is outstanding craftsmanship and and Elven Bow (2E style) of a peculiar wood. He says it comes from a special grove, local but not really close, that only he knows about, so far as he can tell. They talk a lot during the night, he says he has not heard such singing in many years. His name is Perk, his cousin Pelo is the town fletcher but he does not make an appearance. Perk is not really interested in adventures, but is willing to help in other ways possible so long as Loriel keeps entertaining at the tavern. He has contacts in and around town/equipment/discount bows and arrows. He says Pelo is a trusted member of town militia, and will do field work but not to the death. Soon at its looming, he's out unless Loriel is in danger. 

The local smith, names Smythe, spends all evening at Falco's, and they are obviously good pals. 
Some of the local guards of the Baron come in and out for a drink. He has his own retaines. Baron Grellis, his wife Fairwind (not her real name), daughter Anjrela, a compliment of 11 retainers; plus 9 servants. Loriel particularly schmoozes on Gellpras, married but he thinks she's great. If he wasn't married, look out! He says he and the Baron have been buds for years (his cohort). Baron earned his claim to fame in the final years of the Masters War. Fought many battles, and slew this town's warlord in their first action together. The people were so grateful the begged him to stay. He calls Grellis a great man, the other retainers are followers, as are the town militia! Before she can even bring it up, he offers to try and set up a peformance for her at the manor. The baron had some elf friends in the past. She asks him about some of the rumors. They just don't have the manpower to look into Saltmarsh's haunting, small potatoes to them. As far as Bone Hill, none here are skilled enouth to potentially investigate undead.
He says orcs have attacked around here before, but no proof at all of what those adventurer's said happened. Calls the Crimson Path a very dark sect of the Covenant, and Qualton specifically wanted Baron Grellis in charge because he would keep the slayings out of the area. He takes no value in any blood cult infiltration rumors. Which makes the 'disappearances' all the more mysterious.
She asks how interested the Baron is in these things being investigated? He loves his people, and is sure the Baron would offer something. He will ask.
He also mentions that the Duke of Norcross is the Baron's rival, though this barony is techically within the Duke's area. The man Grellis overthrew was a man of the Duke, that guy was evil and the Baron is a good man so he and his party and followers took him out.
He says there are other men here who could help us.
Felix the mercenary: came as a merc about 10 years ago and liked the area so much he stayed.
Some of the priests will hire out
Evan a few arcanists; any tavernkeeper can point you in the right direction.
Alton the armorer is an armiger: prior to marriage and settling, he was a viking berserker named Nori. His wife calmed the raging fire within, so he took a more civilized name.

Felix and Alton, with his wife, actually show up during the evening. Kaelen spends time with them after the 2 adv.
Alton was born on our big island and still wears a wolf pelt shoulder cloak. His wife Fiona is redhead, gorgeous to the point of enchanting, heavy scots accent, brought here as a young girl by the former baron to be groomed as a sex slave (they coroborate the evil baron story). Alton merc'd for him when she was brought and once she got older, fell for her. The Baron found out about their relations he had to run, and planned on getting vikings to sack the place but ran into Grellis first so guided him in. Alton then settled down with Fiona, and the Baron set him up as the armorer. They're a true love story together. He is unwilling to go on minor adventures; but if there is a village threat he'll be ready.
Felix is money up front, merc to anything if you pay him enough. Has an attractive female companion of his own.
He was worked a lot of jobs around, he also merc'd to the old Baron. Grellis does not particularly like him, but has used him often.
Christofer loves to dance, and dances his arse off, 'impressing' 2 particular young ladies tonight (cough cough). He disappears with them at some point during the night.

Next Day

Check in on Clyde and Wolk. Clyde is there, but not Wolk. He was gone when Clyde returned. He confirms there are orcs in the cave, no doubt. He saw them with his own eyes, a bit deep inside but they are there.
Kaelen searches from top to bottom.  First thing that makes us think he didn't just up and leave: when powerful magic is used, sometimes there is a residue known in arcane circles as amorpha dust. It is present here, undisturbed, in the common room over a 5' area. Something whisked him away. Also, a feint dark u shaped mark on the wall, as if something were rubbed on it to outline an archway right next to the area of dust.
Loriel detects magic in the area and feels it strongly, necromancy and conjuration combined. She detects no device nor item to alert one to the presence of a target, but feels some sort of an eye scrying the area.
We scram out of this place back to town.

Kaelen sends Clyde to case the cave and watch for our arrival.

We lunch with our 2 adv pals.
Christofer to Gap "If we find any orcs around, you want a piece?"
"Not unless they cause the town any trouble. We make a hefty profit, and ya can't make money if you're dead."
We ask about the arcanists.
* The cobbler is named Telo is an acolyte at the church and dabbles in magic, in addition to the arcanists.
* Feldman, runs a fine food and drink establishment, they thing is a First or aranist. Has been around longer than anyone in town. Oldest person in town over 100 years, his age is finally showing. So, unlikely he's taking out augments unless they're being taken to unwilling safety not danger.
* Pelitar, arcanist, is the head of 3 other completely loyal arcanist acolytes: Abracus, Filiban, Grisla; he's very skilled at teaching magic; imperious and independant, almost convinced he's a Master; his followers are skilled but no masters; he owns a warehouse, and Felix is a part time paid guard along with Old Man Welkar.
* Zelmar, runs Tavern of West Wind, arcanist of some repute, impresses kids with small scale shows; his friend and assistant Haki; familiar Blacky the Crow;  
* Yalta, lone priest of the Covenant, free agent; dabbles in arcane arts; huge law and order fanatic; friend and advisor to the Baroness, her friend before she had even met Grellis. Moved in along with them; he attends the church occassionally, when the Baron goes sporadically.

Welkar was once a badass, worked for a Master as a dog trainer. Had string of bad luck during war and took refuge here. He helped Baron take the town from the inside, then took the job with Pelitar. Felix is hired occaionally for larger or highter value shipments.

The Duke's name is Crighton.

We dinner at Zelmar's Inn, to meet them for our own. This is more family oriented than Falco's. Sign says no cursin', cussin; fightin', fornicatin' etc. It's a clean estabishment. Quiet dinner service. Blacky sits on his shoulder and does a lot of the speaking for him. Haki's familiar is Soot the black cat. We bring up our potential adv jobs. He has no interest in hauntings or anything, no action for them. For sure, he says, "that old warlock Pelitar" could, though he doesn't hire out to anybody. Has in the past offered services of his apprentices but bleeds you dry for it.
"You might have more luck talking to Yalta, though he's a priest. Skilled at healing and I get the feeling he wasn't a priest in the past, more pure wizardly.
Thinks Feldman gives him the feeling of being a caster, too. Asked about our tricks before, and could talk arcanology very well. He feels Telo has magic too, uses it for his work; the abbot uses him to do good deeds at a clinic one weekend a month doing healing mostly, and for free. His grandmother is an elf, so it runs in his blood.
K "What do you think about these disappearing augments?" Has no idea what could be going on, but he's worried about he and his assist., being arcanists they could be next.

When we return to Falco's there is a message from the cpt of the guard: we have a dinner and entertainment invite for tomorrow night! 

Christofer had been gathering info all day and evening, and returns with more rumors:

* Couple folk talked of a wizard came through 2 yrs ago, who went up to Bone Hill to take car of some evil there. Never returned. Was only in town for a day or so.
* He meets someone on a ride in the countryside, he has a cousin who has a friend whose brother claims a band of evil gnomes live in dweomer forest.
* He overhears someone talking about how Lark Hill is a haven for bandits; great temporary hideout for that ilk
* Guy tells him "I couldn't believe my own eyes, a giant not with one, but 2 heads! I saw him drinking by the lake near spring glade." The glade is SE of town. We recall the wolf/giant rumor, which was also south of town.

We party the night at Falco's.
Zahrdahl the bait shop owner comes tonight. He reeks like fish and worms, and kind of a shifty fella. Always lookin' over his shoulders like he's keeping tabs, but not unfriendly. Kaelen has a known townsfolk introduce her to him, she buys him a drink, talk with him friendly like for a while, then asks him about his nervousness. He simply says he's always been so, never the cool kid nor the toughest. Picked on a lot when younger. With recent craziness and disappearances, can't be too sure who to trust "I bet ya somehow Duke Crighton is involved, he's just been itching to get Restenford.' He's worried about the myster of the disappearances leading to pithforks and mobs vs arcanists et al.
K "You think there's a mole in town? Anyone newer you can think of who could have been sent by the Duke and has been here long enough to know who and where to target?"
"One of Pelitar's apprentices isn't from town, only 2 years maybe. Then that turd Felix, he'll do anything for a price."
Felix is not here, he's guarding the warehouse tonight.
K "No new priests at the church?"
"No, but the Abbot hasn't been giving the congregation their surmons. He rarely shows himself". This has been going on for perhaps a year or so. Usually, his acolytes do the church duties. Kelgar is the newest, but he's from the town. Telo does the healings, as we know. You can still get to the Abbot, but he has become more reclusive.

Loriel's performance is enjoyable.
We find out that the burnt guard house has been burned out only a few months via lightning strike that lit the thatch roof. Everyone got out.
Story that a child of a fisherman was bitten by a giant rat a few days prior to our arrival at the crossroads by the abby. Its suspected that the rat came from the area of the burnt guard house, being across from the warehouses and the only abandoned building in town.
Christofer almost vanishes again with his a lady tonight, his dancing is really catching the eye of some ladies, but Kaelen stops him. She wants him to check out the burnt guard house, Geoffrey and his pal are going with him.
Kaelen skulks out and to the river, steals a small boat, and makes her way to the warehouse wharfs.

View
With the Witch

We knock and wait.
Later, after dark, a female voice yells "Go away, we don't want any."
It is quite a haggle, and she's not happy at being disturbed.
She says not too far from here is a grove of berries. Get a bushel and she' will consider letting me in. It is south, in the gully. Tells us what they look like.
At the mention of Sarge, she still says get her the berries. "Good luck with that." Hmm.

The berries are the size of crab apples. Loriel has seen them before, now she knows why she said 'good luck with that'. Elf word for them roughly translates to zombie berries. The flowers let off a pollen if threatened. The pollen has a strong effect on most living things. A sort of mind control, using you to then guard the bushes. All throughout you there are probably animals and maybe people who are guarding the place.
More plant eaters are immune than carnivores. Gibs don't normally live near the plants. Its a rare fruit.
Once charmed, it releases pollen to keep you nearby.
Wolk is certainly willing to try. Mongrelman may be immune. 
Kaelen gives him the haversack to put the berries in. She says clip whole branches off and slip them into the haversack, we'll pick them from the branches later.
It is obvious quickly he is immune to it!
During the second bush, 3 of wolves are visible stalking us. A bunch of birds is actign weird. Then 5 people are watching us, obvious commoners
Loriel casts sleep, 3 of them fall asleep.
The other 2 and 3 wolves start making their way to Wolk.
She casts again, the other 2 humans go down.
The 3 wolves start moving in fast. Kaelen and Christopher move to block the wolves approach. As does Gib. It has no effect on him either. Kaelen feeling woozy. She backs away.
One comes at Chris, the other 2 begin circling for a flank. Chris donks it on the head with his basket hilt, knocking it out. Loriel puts one of the wolves to sleep.
Kaelen yells to Wolk to tell Clyde to drag those humans out of the grove.
Chris engages the other wolf as it lunges for him. It trips him, and he is beginning to feel woozy. It takes Chris down. IT stands on top of him, holding him down, Tendrils from teh bush start to wind their way toward him, puffing the entire way.
Kaelen has wrapped her shirt around her face and moves in to help Christofer.
She dodges and saps it KO. Clyde gets Christofer out of here. Kaelen starts pulling the wolves out as well.
We get them far from the grove.
Wolk finishes up.
More guards were gathering as we leave.

We knock on her door again after carrying all the bodies there as well.
She opens up a slot in the door and looks out.
She opens the door and lets us in, telling us to drag the bodies in with us. The entryway is covered in lines of runes.
Inside looks like a regular hut, with a back door as well. Main room and cooking room with  the back door, its open into daylight even though its night time.
She's still abrasive, but takes the berries into the kitchen, begins crushing them in a large pot.
The front door opens. In walks a boy, maybe 12. She calls him into the kitchen calling him Theodrik "What have I told you about walking the prime material at night time" scolding him. Then tells him to get ready for dinner.
He bears a strong resemblance to Hrethel.
She says Kael would frequent up here, specifically promised to give her something he found on one of his jobs she helped him with. He never made good. Because of that, she's in self imposed exile.
Her enemies would smite her immediately. The Crimson Path. They learned the truth about them but none would listen to the 2 of them. Now they have assassins always looking for Kael's old companions.
Kaelen tells her the last she knows of Kael. Fiona has a certain connection with him, and can tell for sure he no longer walks among the living. His light was extinguished within the last few months. He met his end in the Fallen Lands east of Tharangia, adjacent to the Master's Sea. It was surely at the hands of one of the 3 in the alliance mentioned above.
What was he supposed to give her? Amulet of non detection and a ring of protection. She has no idea where they are.
She says Slicer and the Cloak are with him still, where he was killed I assume. Where he is is a very dark and lonely place. Probably not above ground.
The other sage in Jesrik specializes in Scrying, he may provide more detail. It would have been a year to year and a half that he was supposed to bring her the items.
The wards on her door keep her place secret from the Path.
Meanwhile the boy is wandering around, talking to Christofer a lot. He's really interested in tales of travel and derring do.
Chris embelishes heavily. Kaelen throws the chocolates over telling him to give the kid these. The boy goes at them immediately "These are just like the ones dad made!"
She snarls at that a bit, calling Hrethel a rat bastard. Always wanting the boy to go and live with him. We give her Hrethel's message. She's not impressed.
Kaelen asks for names of Kael's buds and cache locations.
She says she has gone out occassionally in the past and travelled with Kael, but she was typically more of an information and lore provider.
There are several places she can tell us to check out. One in particular in Restinford.
That's convenient!
Somewhere in the Fallen Lands as well, a ruined town NE of Bridgemarsh at a fork in the old road. He was a master at hiding his stuff, so likely no one else has found them.
Another in the Meanderwood. Empty lot of land, she gives some markers near lake Hotspur. SHe warns it crawls with orcs and goblins who laid waste to the area.

As far as contacts, she gives us at least a couple.
Kaelen asks her of the terrible vision after her second draw from the cards. She says its a Deck of Many Things. She knows exactly what I saw, and says I'm royally screwed.
'The being is one that we were concerned about; the lord of the Malakaz. She explains what Duncan in the Expedition learned. The demon lords were supposed to be banished to a prison realm. It sounds like he may be free. It is the stronges of them all, named Andzus. Maybe spiritually free, but not physically, she can't be sure, but he's very bad business. If he's on your tail, its big trouble. I recommend to know everything about everyone who comes around you."
I ask about Geat, she has never heard of him and has a bad feeling about him. Not a good thing, a likely problem.
She says we should go back and talk to Hrethel and make sure everything is all right there.
She says she'll get these guys and wolves free from their drugged state.

She says the Baron of Restinford is a good guy. Former adventurer. We should get along well, would make a good patron. Safest place we could hope for right now.

She asks if we want to hang out a few days. We do, just in case trouble comes. We want to be here if anything goes down, especially considering this Geat person.

Takes a couple days for the drugged men and wolves to be ok.

She makes pie out of the berries. She feeds us well. The boy Theodrik leaves all day and all night, only returning for meals. A young ranger in the making.
Every so often, a bird will tap at the door and give her work of local movement.

On the 3rd day, she recommends we leave that night after a bird visits. Last patrol has gone away.
Later a bird scout has told her Theodrik has been abducted, taking him toward Norcross. She is horrified. 1 plague priest and a handful of fanatics.
We immediately vonunteer and leave immediately.

We ride hard. Nearing the perimeter villages of Norcross, about 12 miles out, we see them ahead. They are going quickly, the PP plus 8 cultists. Other than 1 professional, the others are goon militia.
We cut across the hex of forest at the foot of the hills east of the city, hoping to cut them off w/in a few miles of the city and ambush them in the cultivated land. We avoid settlements along the way. We see signs of inquisition as we go, like burned out homesteads.
We find a good spot in a large copse of trees along their path by the river. Perfect!
We tie up our horses well out of sight.
Soon, we hear them coming. One milita is in the lead about 30'. The plage priest is next, followed closely by the PP. The rest behind them, one about 30' rear guard. The boy Theodrick is is with a militia in the middle of the pack, out of the sack now and concious. He is tied up, being walked behind the guards horse.

Loriel sleeps the 2 guards right behind the soldier. Gib attacks the rear left by the boy and gibbers, shakening a few others. he kills his man. WHile they turn, Kaelen drops from above on the man leading Theodrik. Christopher attacks the other rear soldier.
Wolk hurls a rock at the soldier, it grows on teh way and slugs the soldier. Kaelen kills her man.
Kalelen draws a dagger and throws it, hitting the soldier 13. Chris shifts and deftly mounts the horse as a free action, then pulls the boy up a Kaelen tumbles off the mount. Loriel clouds the mind of the soldier now, who can not take any actions for 5 rounds.
The pointman turns and sees the wreck that was his group. He yells "Ah, the gibbering beast, its horrible" missing Clyde with a bow. The rear guard, also a yeoman, shoots at Christofer but misses badly.
The PP, holding a huge sickle, turns and moves to Kaelen but misses her just barely.
Clyde chargest he rear guard, making a leaping attack with short sword 6.
Christofer turns and rides off with Theodrik.
Kaelen hits the PP 14. Loriel's performce fails to inspire, Wolk fails his second spellcraft check in a row.
PP tries a touch attack and misses Kaelen again. The front yeoman shoots at Christofer as he rides away and grazes him.
Rear yeoman drops his bow, draws his short sword and missed Clyde. He kills the yeoman.
This time, Wolk succeeds as Loriel fails to inspire again, sending a bolt of blue energy into the PP.
Christofer is now out of sight. The yeoman fires into the woodline at Wolk but misses. The PP tries to touch Kaelen again, and misses by an inch again!
Clyde charges to the PP, Kaelen tumbles under the mount to flank and kills him.
Loriel hits the last yeoman 13 with her bow DEAD.
We hide the bodies in the copse and book it out. We do take their horses. The PP has a returnist holy symbol that is pure silver worth 50gp.
We ride straight through to get the kid back.
Now that we have double the horses, we can swap out and let the exhaused horses go. We still lose 4 horse we have to cut free along the way to fatigue, we ride so hard.
We arrive the next day.

Back at the cottage:
She has been pacing and hasn't slept. The boy is unharmed. She is very thankful "I owe you a debt of gratitude."
She says Andzus if wandering the earth already, he left to wander the earth incorporeal. His quest is to become corporeal and bring his brethren back to this plane.
The seer on the island of Jezrik, the crystal seer, is more of a visionary. With his crystal ball he can show you what I want to see. He is limited in ways, its not all powerful. He often requires a hefty payment of sorts.
Kaelen "You have anything he might want?"
"Not that I can think of."
Kaelen asks if she can do any sort of ritual magic to help cloak our travels, even just to our next stop on the coast.
Her eyes light up, she hastens to a closet and rummages around for a few minutes. She gives Kaelen a pallat of cream, If rub your exposed skin, it stays on for a couple days unless washed off. 1 application per person given to us, makes us appear as something else. The mongrelman could appear human, Kaelen as a man, etc….. 3 day duration. 2nd day there is a less effect, 3rd day lesser until it ends.
We stay here the rest of today and all night. She brings the mounts through the cottage into her back yard to feed and water them, then they go back out front.
She does to a ritual on Clyde, making him more understanding of Kaelen's language! He may pass the trait on to offspring as well.
A bloodcurling scream wakes us up just after midnight.
Theodrik screamed, and we hear footsteps in the house.
We draw steel and investigate straight to the bedroom. 6 PP are in the room, in the process of clubbing Brynhild!!
We yells out to us to take Theodrik and run. He is at the doorway screaming.
Christofer grabs the boy and we rush out, we get our mounts and grabbing our gear fast we literally ride through the house and right out the door.
Outside there are a dozen footsoldiers milling about.
They are spread out, we rush through with them on our heels; only Kaelen taking a shot 10.
They try to follow, but our riding horses easily outrun their barding wearing warhorses. We ride until we lose them, then Kaelan and Loriel double back. They have Brynhild outside. The soldiers hold her down on a large crucifix as the priests put the nails in then raise it up.
They have executed the leader of the guards that were outside. For failure to stop us from escaping.
One PP takes out a glowing holy symbol. Kaelen notices a slight shine coming from her saddleback. Its a homing device! It was all a dupe/sacrifice to find her! He can tell where we are. We leave the symbol behind and take off. We make a wide circle of the area.
They send guards out so look for us. We put some distance between us north, meeting the others.
We circle back around to the hill hex the ranger lived. On the way we see a patrol in the near distance, but we avoid them.
Within an hour, a ranger meets us.
They see we have the boy Theodrik with us.
Kaelen tells what happened, and we must get Brunhyld before she dies.
The head man is distressed.
He is coming with us leading all of his men.
No time to waste, we rush up on fresh horses.
Brunhyld is close to death. No enemy in sight, the rangers scouting carefully. She is taken down and attended to.
We spend the rest of the night here with her.
She and her former beau, and their son, have quite the moment.
Far in the distance, we see a fire in the ranger hills, and black smoke floating in front of the moonlight. They have burnt out the ranger camp.
Headman "Good thing you came and got us."
She asks to see Kaelen, no amount of healing can save her. The PP did a number on her with terrible necromagic.
She says the crystal seer cares not for money. He will more likely ask for a favor or job of some sort. Payment is up front, before the scrying and what not. So do not expect that to be a quick visit unless we have something high power to give him.

She dies before dawn. Theodrik and dad are heartbroken, but they had a final quality moment.
He says they are all riding south. Kaelen reminds him check on the mysterious Geat Sellers.
We make for Restenford.

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