Halmonde, Boghadóir, Rhiannon and Greyhood.
While the characters were the pawns of greater forces, they were capable of surprising all concerned and pulling off the impossible.
The Brony of Highvale was initially a lawless wilderness north of Bigany city, it was subdued and settled by The Lord Maaji Halmonde Mome and his companions. It is now the home of the famous Highvale Brandy distilled in Highvale Abbey.
Scene 1: Rescue Kurgan’s Niece
The adventuring party is informed that Kurgan’s niece has been kidnapped. They intervene to rescue her.
Scene 2: Gang wars
They bring her to a safe point. There is a big fight as rival thief factions fight over her.
Scene 3: Mission Accomplished
They meet the Salacious man’s representative, Kurgan. The niece bids them farewell.
It seems that the Salacious man was not behind the kidnapping.
Scene 4: Kidnappers Base
They travel to a vale north of Bigany to the base of operations that was set up by thieves that had been carrying out the kidnapping.
Scene 1: Taking the south pass
The entrances to the vale, later named Highvale, are defended by Orcs. After several assaults they take the south pass into the vale and hold it against counter attack.
Scene 2: Taking the abandoned Fort
They move into the valley. They encounter and defeat a large group of Orcs. They take control of the tower and environs.
Scene 3: Building defenses
They bring in backup in the form of mercenaries. They further fortify the area.
Scene 4: Halmonde’s Followers
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.
Halmonde, Hammonde, Hamond, Halmonde, Hamonde.... so many names, so little time...
"You Peasant, may address me as 'My Lord'!"
Scene 1: Battle with Western Orcs
They make an attack against the group of Orcs to the west.
Scene 2: The Siege of Highvale
They are attacked by a consolidated group of all three tribes of humanoids. They rout the attack.
Scene 3: Battle with Eastern Goblins
They attack the southeastern goblins. They defeat them.
Scene 4: Cult of The Dragon
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.
Scene 5: Smashing the Western Orcs
They eradicate the western Orcs.
Scene 1: The Nymph
They meet the Nymph. Rhiannon visits regularly to swim in her pool.
Scene 2: Orc Raid at Night
During a nighttime attack Orc forces from the northeast attempt to bypass the tower and make it to the Southern pass. They fight off the attack.
Scene 3: Capturing Cultists
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.
Scene 4: The Hooded Claw
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.
Scene 1: Battle of The Northeastern Pass
They move against the northern pass and drive out the Orcs, Orogs and Ogres that are resident there.
Scene 2: Stolen Elf Child
They find an Elven child amongst the slaves.
Scene 3: Second Siege of Highvale
They fortify the valley with a ditch and palisade to the north. They fight off another major offensive.
Scene 4: North Pass Expedition
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.
Scene 5: Watchtower attack
They attack an orc watchtower but are driven off. They regroup and attack it again.
Scene 6: Displacer Beasts
Further on they struggle to overcome a group of Displacer beasts.
Scene 1: Secret Entrance
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.
Scene 2: Guardian
They fight and defeat a guardian creature.
Scene 3: Elven Slaves
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.
Scene 4: Tactical Withdrawl
The party leave but vow to return. Many of the guards here seem to be mutated.
Scene 1: Elven Sage
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 meet The Ancient One of Elledrin an elven bard called Esterilliania Giltharanilliad. There were also many Bladesingers otherwise known as battledancers there. They were eager to hear the details of orcs wearing elven tattoos and to see the copies that we made of them using Halmonde's magic.
Scene 2: The Third Siege of Highvale
They return to the valley. The most serious assault from the Orcs in the mine. They are fought off.
Scene 3: Elf Rescue Attempt
The party move to rescue the Elves.
Scene 4: Rearguard Ambush
They get there to discover that the Elves and the Orc leadership are all gone. They fight a rearguard left to ambush them.
Scene 5: The Orc Cult Investigation
They Interrogate the orc captain prisoner. Halmonde conducts in dpeth religious research and reports his findings to The Church.
Scene 1: The Dragon in the Lake
They explore the valley near the small lake they find a boat with the conspicuous bite shaped hole in the side. They are attacked by a guardian dragon skeleton. They retaliate using polymorph to become scrags and Lance of Disruption.
Scene 2: The Pit Trap
They explore the bottom of the lake to find its lair. They find a cave under the water and venture in. The back of the cave above the waterline and there’s a rock carved passageway leading deeper into the hills. Boghadóir falls into a fifteen foot wide sixty foot deep pit trap that Rhiannon fails to find, but he saves himself with feather fall. Halmonde uses polymorph to bypass the pit while Rhiannon leaps across. Halmonde levitates Boghadóir out of the pit and he uses his spear to push himself to the other side. Rhiannon jumps across aided by an amulet of jumping.
Scene 3: Wizard’s Lair
They find an abonded wizard’s lair that is in ruins but still has a fireplace that could be made to work. They quickly search the lair and find little of value. Then the notice a huge circular tunnel in the darkness.
Scene 4: Purple Worm
Suddenly a purple worm attacks! It’s swallows Halmonde and he attacks it with fire from the inside. Boghadóir and Rhiannon attempt flank it. Boghadóir is also swallowed and he attacks with his short swords. from the inside. Rhiannon cuts a savage gash in it’s side with her rapier and darts away. Halmonde escapes from the worm’s belly using shadow form.
The worm lunges at Rhiannon and bites her, she howls in pain but dodges away and retaliates with chain lightning from her Amulet of Air Elemental Command. Boghadóir cuts his way out of the worms belly. Halmonde creates a wall of fire around its 80 foot bulk. In a wild fury the worm pushes through the wall of fire to bite Rhiannon. Fighting for her life she dodges away from it before it can swallow her and lashes at it again. Boghadóir chops at it with a flurry of shortsword attacks. Halmonde concentrates on wall of fire and fires a Lance of Disruption and the worm falls.
They declare The Feast of the Purple Worm will be a Highvale festival from that day forward.
Scene 1: Followers and Settlers arrive
Significant elven forces arrive from Elledrin to support Boghadóir. A number of Monk-Rogues join Rhiannon for training. Including Joanna from redbrick bridge. Halmonde continues to charm anyone he can into working for him. But treats them surprisingly well and earns their loyalty. Farmers arrive to settle in the area.
Scene 2: Seizing The Mines
Halmonde hires mercenary units to gradually subdue/drive off the Orcs. Highvale miners move in to the workings. For years to come they find nasty reminders of the Orcs presence, however, the pickings are too good not to mine.
Scene 3: Building Highvale Abbey
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. Highvale Brandy becomes an internationally recognised spirit.
Scene 1: Joanna
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. However because Rhiannon treats Joanna so well, and because she sees that the Lords are actually good people, the attack never materialises.
Scene 2: Reaver Attack
Reavers attack. They overrun Low Vale and break through the perimeter of High Vale before being defeated.
Scene 3: New fortifications
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.
Scene 4: Assassins
There is an assassination attempt. The invisible assassin gets into the tower and nearly kills Halmonde. Heinrich is killed in the battle, as is the assassin.
Scene 5: Heinrich
Halmonde mourns the death of Heinrich deeply. He creates several additional magical and plant based defenses for the Abbey. He throws himself into study and prayer for months to learn powerful dvine magic and to appeal to Draíocht, Croí and Bás to return his apprentice. Before the end of the year he raises Heinrich from the dead.
Scene 1: Statue Mystery
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?
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 illusory images of the stones and the surrounding area.
Scene 1: A Favour is Required
Arch Duke Montague Mome requests that Halmonde and company travel to Vitrus in Torland. They are to accompany his cousin Constance Mome to ensure that his wedding to an important vitrusian noblewoman goes well.
Scene 2: Torlandish Adventure
While there they unravel a mystery in his cousin’s new family and befriends Lady Praena, heir to The Empire of Torland. They encounter the Briongloid twin prophets and Halmonde insults The Dragon of Nagaranthiel in a dream.
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' . We observed his body language and speech to see if he had any special way of reacting to and coping with his privations.
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