Boghadóir, Halmonde, Rhiannon Thread.
The basic point of this storyline was that the characters were the pawns of greater forces. Even so, the characters were capable of surprising all concerned and pulling off the impossible.
Thieves and Trickery in Bigany
PCs are informed that Kurgan’s niece has been kidnapped.
They intervene to rescue her and bring her to a safe point.
There is a big fight as rival thief factions fight over her.
They meet the Salacious man’s representative, Kurgan. The niece bids them farewell. It seems that the Salacious man was not behind the kidnapping.
They travel to the north to the base of operations that was set up by thieves that had been carrying out the kidnapping.
The liberation of Highvale
The vale, later named Highvale, is defended by Orcs.
After several assaults they take the south pass into the vale and hold it against counter attack.
They move into the valley. They encounter and defeat a large group of Orcs.
They take control of the tower and environs. They bring in backup in the form of mercenaries. They further fortify the area. They make an attack against the group of Orcs to the west.
They are attacked by a consolidated group of all three tribes of humanoids. They rout the attack.
They attack the southeastern goblins. They defeat them. They discover an assassin/shaman of the cult of the claw amongst the Goblins. He gets away initially, however, on a return visit they find and capture him.
They eradicate the western Orcs.
They meet the Nymph. Rhiannon visits regularly to swim in her pool.
Halmonde uses his charm to persuade people to work for him. The fact that he casts the Charm spell, to start them off on the right foot, is purely a matter of ..er.. let's call it tradition. :) Actually Halmonde is surprisingly good to his retainers. Which why they stayed loyal even after the spell wears off. This surprises him most of all! This was one of the biggest changes to Halmonde during the orc campaigns. That and overcoming devastating laziness.
The Hooded Claw
During a nighttime attack Orc forces from the northeast attempt to bypass the tower and make it to the Southern pass. After fighting off the attack the characters chase down and capture some important Orcs. They manage to kill the an Orc Shaman and Capture her bodyguard. They capture a large Bracelet made out of semi precious stone. They capture the mercenaries and merchants that were due to collect the delivery.
Interrogation of the prisoner doesn’t reveal much. However, it does seem that the orcs are members of an obscure cult – the cult of the hooded claw. Investigation reveals that the extensive tattoos on the Orc’s skin are of Elven origin.
The Orc Mines
They move against the northern pass and drive out the Orcs, Orogs and Ogres that are resident there. They find an Elven child amongst the slaves.
They fortify the valley with a ditch and palisade to the north. They fight off another major offensive.
They move to the north through the North pass. They pass what appear to be the workings of a half finished canal. Further on they pass through wooded areas and by a high mountain lake.
They attack an Orc watchtower but are driven off. They regroup and attack it again. Further on they struggle to overcome a group of Displacer beasts.
After some time they reach the mine. With three great entrances it clearly houses a great host of Orcs. They search for and locate a secret entrance underwater. All of the fumes from the mountain are filtered through the lake water. They fight and defeat a guardian creature.
They break into the mountain and penetrate to its heart. There they find that there are a large number of craft Elves engaged in their work. They find out that the Elves agreed to work in exchange for the freedom of their children. The party leave but vow to return. Many of the guards here seem to be mutated.
They take the Elven child to Bigany to the Elves there. They arrange for the child to be transferred to Boghadóir’s homeland of Elledrin. They return to the valley.
The most serious assault from the Orcs in the mine. They are fought off.
The party move to rescue the Elves. They get there to discover that the Elves and the Orc leadership are all gone. They fight a rearguard left to ambush them.
The Orc Cult Investigation
Interrogation of Orc captain prisoner
The Lord Maaji Halmonde Mome submitted the following report to the order of Shale. It relates to an interrogation of a prisoner regarding the existence of a non-authorised cult. The actions taken were post-facto approved/edited by an Inquisition member.
I instructed my companions, the 'bad cops', to strip the captain during his sleep deprivation periods to see if there are any distinguishing marks or tattoos that might have revealed clues as to 'the way'
I suspected that he was a member of the same cult that was to celebrate the feast of the 'Hooded Claw' two weeks later.
Our intention was that if he had a tattoo we should get someone to wear a copy of the same tattoo, impersonate a cult member and get him to talk. We could get that person to ask if he needs any message delivered back to his superiors.
We proceeded with that course of action and aquired little information.
Also, a number of slaves had been rescued. These were interrogated to find out details about the orc outpost, the mine, the traders that the Orcs deal with, the surrounding geography, the origin of the Elven Child, supply lines, trade routes, other slaves, layout of the outpost, Armaments, numbers of Orcs, Orogs, Ogres, whether there were any other elf slaves.
Meanwhile I carried out research on the Fallen cults that humanoids and Torlanders (especially the Dirt Legion) tended to Favour. I looked into the following Fallen Gods: Athrú (God of Mutation) was the prime candidate: being a humanoid favourite, a master of disguised killing power (mutation and hybrid killers are his speciality) and he has claws (refer to the religious depiction of him). Feo was another suspect, also being a humanoid favourite, but he's not usually that subtle.
Saint is a god followed by evil human power crazed people and unscrupulous merchants, as well as favouring evil dragons, so I considered that he could fit the Torland/Trading element well. Other than that I used my astrology and religion knowledge to derive from the stars which Fallen Gods would have the most amount of influence around the upcoming feast day. And then I researched their cults, sub-cults and demi-deities.
The Lord Maaji Halmonde Mome of Highvale
Studious Servant of Draíocht
Protector of The Faith
I researched Torlandish humanoid cults and sub-cults, to find those that have a stronger Saint and Athrú influence. I also tried to see if Fraoch (God of Slaughter) has any influence on these warlike cultists. I thought that this cult could be an unknown fallen cult that had only a few of the Fallen as its Patrons. The possibility of the cult being unknown caused me great concern. How had they remained secret and what are they up to? If there was a unknown cult forming, it may be time for a Master to 'Commune' with the Chosen. This sort of blasphemy cannot be allowed to go on!
I also contacted any known specialists on Humanoid Wars in Torland (Including a Charon Priest from that nation), as that didn’t reveal much I requested the assistance of the Torland Collector that we showed the book to. This was to determine whether the victory was located anywhere near where the brandy came from? I read the book (The History of the XIII Legion Volume I) again.
I talked to an expert in Athrú symbols and a tattooing priest. The Tattooing art is very popular among many Shale orders and some invoke their powers using it (See Damondreds portrait).
I attempted to identify the amulet and cast protection from evil and slow poison before touching it. He invoked all known rituals and blessings against Athrú, Fraoch & Saint. And he draw some blood from the captain while he was asleep or meditating and later fed that blood to the amulet and observe the reaction.
The tattoo expert and Athrú expert used a 'copy' spell to copy the entire set of tattoos from the Captain while he was sleeping. They painted the same tattoos onto a 'volunteer', one of our men, who masqueraded as a follower of the way and interrogated the captain. The Ranger Sterces hid a lot during the fight so he tried the interrogation.
I will asked the tattoo expert if he knew who in the city would have done the tattoos or where they came from and did he know what magical properties they possessed?
I checked to see whether any of the captain's scars were self-inflicted or whether they looked like part of ritual scaring or punishment scarring.
I checked with Montague Mome (Dad) know anything about Ferdad the Munificent Purveyor of Goods that might be interesting.
I deposited the Ore in a Mome strong house. I got a mineral specialist (a dwarf I know from the Dwarf Quarter) to do an analysis on a sample. Thrumnor GemCracker is a terrible gem-smith, but a great miner and one of the best assayers in the business. He's expensive but honest and reliable.
I circulated the evil merchant's description around the Guildhall and the Temple of The Moons to see if he's recognised.
I interrogated the mercenaries that were with the caravan. I told them that they are unlikely to be killed. I lamented the fact that they don't work for me, and told them that when goods are being run to the Barony there will be work for reliable mercenary companies...
I am having a great time. All this research and investigation could be the foundation for another thesis! I barely have time to drink more than a barrel of wine a day!
Kirr (My falcon) is busy sending messages. We currently have a bet that Kirr cannot deliver every message and return with a dead pigeon within 30 minutes. Currently Kirr has delivered 23 messages and returned with a dead pigeon each time. I am wondering if Kirr has a stash of pigeons nearby. Kirr no longer flies at night. Although she is beginning to be able to see at night, she has developed a fondness for brandy and but she has not developed her master's tolerance yet.
The Lord Maaji Halmonde Mome of Highvale
Studious Servant of Draíocht
Protector of The Faith
Halmonde, Hammonde, Hamond, Halmonde, Hamonde.... so many names, so little time...
"You Peasant, may address me as 'My Lord'!"
The Ancient One
The Lords met an ancient high priest of Shale among the Elves when returning the elven child captured in orc raids. There were also many Bladesingeras or battledancers there to hear our report of the orcs wearing elven tattoos and to see the copies that we made of them using Halmonde's magic.
The Purple Worm
They explore the valley, they finally notice the boat with the conspicuous bite shaped hole in the side. They fight the guardian Dragon and explore the bottom of the lake, its lair etc.
They fight a purple worm; at least one of them nearly gets stuck inside it.
Imposing Pax Momana
Significant forces arrive from Elledrin to support Boghadóir.
A number of Monk-Rogues join Rhiannon for training.
Halmonde continues to charm anyone he can into working for him.
Farmers arrive to settle in the area.
Halmonde hires mercenary units to gradually subdue/drive off the Orcs. Highvale Miners move in to the workings. For years to some they will find nasty reminders of the Orcs presence, however, the pickings are too good not to mine. Highvale prospers accordingly and it’s treasury funds the building of Highvale Abbey, which specialises in magic research and brewing. Highvale beverages become famous throughout the kingdom.
Trouble in Paradise
Rhiannon gains the services of a refugee/settler (name Joanna) as lady in waiting. This later turns out to be the widow of someone that Rhiannon killed (and a trained assassin) here to seek revenge.
Reavers attack. They overrun Low Vale and break through the perimeter of High Vale before being defeated. A palisade is added to the lower vale on a line between the two statues. No one bothers to find out what the statues might be of.
An assassination attempt. The invisible assassin gets into the tower, nearly kills Halmonde.
Heinrich is killed in the battle, as is the assassin.
Low vale Statues
Halmode investigates the statues in the Low Vale.
He has many questions about their origin: Does it relate back to the time of Tain Mac Lir? Is it a waypost for pilgrimages to the Giants of The Horn? Were they put there by Jurius Kinnett? Are they of Torlandish Origin? Were they place there by the church, risen, fallen? Are they just big concrete block placed by lazy building contractors?
In the end his research determines that the stones date from the time of Tain Mac Lir. They have a faint magical residue. He copies the runes from them and stores them in Highvale Abbey with illusary images of the stones and the surrounding area.
The story of a motely band of nobles and lowborn adventurers, daring to take on The Fallen in a heroic, if often mismanaged, attempt to save the very nature of life itself.
If they happen to get rich, famous or drunk in the meantime, then that is their destiny. But on of their number has a far greater destiny that seeks to hunt him down.