The Peering Eye

Introduction

The following is the tale of several villagers who came from a small colonial settlement in Stormwatch called Woodhaven. It tells of their humble beginnings and their rise to greatness.

The Battle of Woodhaven

AK510-13 High Summer End Week 1
[Charon Ruling, Shale Sleeping, Cycles Resting]
(Festival of ‘The Sword’: Charon, Games and Jousts)

It was wet. An especially heavy rain storm had stopped work and most of the villagers were gathered in Joe of Kell's makeshift inn drinking mead. A coil of mist snaked up from the coarse fabric of Bob’s rough cut sleeve, into a meagre beam of light that had fallen across his arm. The wisp of cool steam had an ethereal beauty to it he mused as he counted the drops persistently beating the stone floor as they fell from his sodden tunic. It was going to take a long time to get dry, a long time before he could return to tending the hives.

Staring out at the rain and thinking about his bees, Bob Charmer noticed a strange clinking sound on the wind. Shaking off the webs of boredom, he went to investigate and spotted four figures slowly meandering into the village. The villagers roused themselves, braving the lashing rain, to see who it was. They were quite distressed to see that the visitors to their isolated fledgling village were orcs.

A brave few stood boldly in the downpour to confront the intruders, while the rest of the villagers barricaded themselves in the makeshift inn.
It became quickly apparent that these were not normal orcs. Their skin was a sickly pallid yellow colour and their eyes were hollow and dead. None of them responded to Tim Tanner's greetings in either common or orcish. Ethan called for more help from the inn and a few more reluctant villagers joined them, clutching their hunting slings.

Suddenly, like the strike of lightning, The Battle of Woodhaven erupted! The villagers loosed stones from their slings and Joe of Kell's stone flew true and struck one orc in the eye. Yellow puss splattered through rain soaked air and splashed down on the muddy ground. The orc dropped. Ethan Namer hurled a club at another with mighty force, cracking its skull and sending yellowish blood and fleshy brains flying, but the creature walked on! Bob Charmer charged and lashed out with his staff catching the creature with a resounding blow. Its head snapped back breaking its neck and it dropped. It's fleshy plant-like brain hanging out of its crushed skull like market vegetables crushed underfoot.

Then the tide turned, the 'Orc Plant Creatures', as Ethan named them, attacked. One charged at Joe of Kell, swinging a heavy iron flail above its head. The flail crashed down into the side of Joe's face ruining his jaw and cracking his skull. Dark red blood flew, briefly bright against the rain and mud. He collapsed and lay still, as his life drained away into the earth. Another of the freakish creatures swept his massive flail up under Bob Charmer's chin the resounding blow snapped his head back and again blood flew, trailing behind Bob's body as he crashed into the mire.

Anger overcome terror as the villagers rained sling stones upon the creatures. Under the focused barrage another of the creatures was pummelled to death. Ethan, Orin, John and Tim charged the remaining creature, hammering it, striking high and low with frantic blows. It dropped and its yellow corpse was pulped into the mud before their adrenaline subsided and calm returned, and the patter of the rain returned to their ears.

Emelda attended to the maimed innkeeper and beekeeper and miraculously managed to bring them back from the brink of death. Tim prayed continually during her ministrations, pleading successfully with Bás and Croí, to grant his comrades mercy. Having demonstrated his piety and wisdom, Tim then demonstrated his fallibility by suggesting that,
'The orc plant people should be planted in order to grow an army of orc plant people to defend the village.'
This suggestion was not met with even remotely the same enthusiasm as his previous pious efforts.

John Appleby examined the corpses and concluded that they had somehow been transformed into plant like creatures and so were no longer true orcs, but freakish yellow parodies of their former selves. More strangely, he noted that their skulls contained fleshy things that resembled seed pods more than brains. Even as he watched, root like tendrils were worming out of the creatures skulls and grasping desperately towards the muddy ground.

A mad scramble ensued. The victors wildly attacked the seedpods, pulverising them with staves and clubs, before they could take root. Orin Smith, wielding his forge hammer, landed a clumsy blow beside one of the pods, which eerily scuttled, slithered and burrowed away from him in a bid for survival. He stood stupefied as it disappeared into the soft mud, until Martin Farmer hurled a spade to him. His reflexes caught the heavy hafted tool and he thrust it desperately into the earth. He felt a satisfying tremor as the spade's blade sliced the buried seed pod in two. Despite the pressing rains, the villagers ensured that all of the plants were gathered burned before returning to the inn. Despite the victory a cloud of weariness and wariness blighted the settlers mood rest of the day.

They were all brooding over the same thoughts. Where had the creatures come from? Were there more? Was Woodhaven under threat of further attack? Who would venture out into the wilds of Stormwatch to find out? Little did the sombre and fearful settlers know that some among them, plodding through their muddy streets and sitting dejectedly in their inn, would someday be shrouded in legend.

The Plant Creature

AK510-14 High Summer End Week 2
[Charon Guiding, Shale Resting, Cycles Watching]

Over the next few days Emelda nursed Bob and Joe back to health. The village council debated the best course of action and eventually they agreed with John Appleby. An expedition should attempt to determine where the creatures came from. Some believed that the Earl's Sheriffs should tackle the problem and that it was too dangerous for common folk. Perhaps the village funds should be used to hire a band of heroes to rid them of the vile creatures. In the end several villagers agreed to investigate.
Ethan Namer of the council agreed to lead the group, having the most knowledge of the local terrain and being a capable tracker. John Appleby and Tim Tanner volunteered to accompany him. Amazingly, Bob Charmer insisted on going, in spite of the hideous wounds, still red raw and scabbed, on his maimed face. No one blamed Joe of Kell for wanting to stay behind. He was suffering from horrendous painful wounds and his skull was still misshapen and bloody. They were grateful that their brewer was not to be put at risk. In true Joe of Kell fashion however, he completely changed his mind and insisted on going, once he heard that there was a possibility of John and Ethan finding apples.


The tracks were long since washed away by rain but the creatures had left obvious signs of their passage as they had trampled their way to Woodhaven. After a couple of hours Bob Charmer's keen ears caught the telltale clinking of heavy flails. He quickly located three creatures hiding in a yellow flowering creeper growing around the base of a mighty tree. They were unable to identify the creeper but John Appleby immediately recognised the Darkwood tree. Ethan's heart quietly sang with the promise of great wealth. Darkwood trees were rare and valuable. A claim would have to be submitted. However the tree appeared to be tainted with the yellow curse and may have had to be destroyed.

Meanwhile, they crept forward unobserved through the grass, closer to the orcs-plants, hoping to appraise the situation from a hidden vantage. Blissfully unaware of this tactic, Joe of Kell strolled forward and casually loosed his sling at the creatures. The stone flew wildly off target through the leaves of the creeper. The orc-plants charged. Again it was over in a flash.
All three orc-plants were felled by sling, club and staff. But flails whirled high and struck home. Ethan and Tim suffered the same fate as Bob and Joe. However, instead of hovering helplessly at Bas' door Tim climbed to his feet, his ragged, maimed face running with blood and shrugged off the pain. The power of his exceptional faith in the Gods fortified him and he stood ready for battle. Amazingly Ethan also forced back the onrush of his doom. Reaching into inner reserves he could not understand or explain, he rose, smiled grimly from beneath his bloody shattered brow, at the dead creatures, ready for more.

Caution forgotten in the heat of battle, the intrepid band of wounded villagers ambled forwards, to take on the mighty tree. As they approached the creeper showered them with a yellow musk from its large yellow orchid flowers. They were momentarily cloaked in its perfume. The musk fought to control their minds. It whispered of the creeper's warm loving embrace, of a life without care or pain, a beautiful life. The hapless villagers stove to fight off the urges and escape from the creeper. Its power was too great for Tim Tanner and Bob Charmer who were drawn to the creeper's deadly vines.

“No!” cried Ethan, trying to wrestle Bob to the ground. Bob lashed out, his mind clouded by the musk, his staff cracking Ethan's skull. Ethan staggered back. Bob moved closer to the creeper's grasp. Ethan slammed his club into Bob's skull and knocked him unconscious. Meanwhile, Appleby and Kell were unable to prevent Tim from walking into the creeper's clutches, they tried to mimic Ethan's manoeuvre but Tim was too fast and their blows missed wildly. The creeper coiled its vines around him and tendrils began to snake into his skull.
Heroically, John Appleby charged after him, through the wildly slashing razor sharp vines. His throat was deeply gashed and bleeding profusely as he reached Tim's happily entangled body. He slashed at the vines holding Tim, heedless of his own safety and noticed to his horror that the creeper was regenerating almost instantly! Not good. The creeper squirted its flower musk at him but again he fought it off. It raised its vines to strike him down.
Meanwhile the other villagers were hesitating. One man's bravery is another's foolishness. They settled for dragging Bob's body way from the creeper and while doing so they noticed that there were orcs observing them. They cried out for the orcs to help them.
Honour bound to wait until a hunter requests assistance, the orcs had watched impassively as the villagers had fought. Once called, they charged. A dozen roaring orc warriors crashed into the creeper. The orcs fought bravely but creeper's ropey fibres and nimble vines were an even match for them. Then it sprayed its musk and several orcs fell under its spell. Their companions dragged them away from the creeper, suffering badly under the lashes of the vines.

While the creeper was momentarily distracted, John shook Tim, desperately trying to rouse him. A fragment of Tim's mind, praying to Seilig for deliverance, was rewarded as his prayer was answered and his mind was released from the creepers grasp. John freed his body and together they raced from the creeper.

The Revenge of Woodhaven

AK510-14 High Summer End Week 2
[Charon Guiding, Shale Resting, Cycles Watching]

Having retreated to a safe distance, they thanked their saviours. The Orc leader introduced himself as Tharg Ironfist. A Seilig hunting priest, named Grakk Swiftbow, offered divine healing to the injured villagers. The power of Seilig flowed strongly through him as he prayed and in turn, each of their wounds was healed by his touch. Bones mended, flesh knit and bruises disappeared. Tim, in awe of this amazing power, asked the priest to teach him, but Tim had not proven himself worthy, by hunting and slaying a Baphen, so Swiftbow could not agree.
The villagers discussed what was to be done next and the orcs listened patiently to their suggestions. However they believed that a stampede of Baphen was the most effective way to deal with this creature. The villagers thought this absurd and so elected to stay while the orcs loped off to attempt their unusual plan.

Ethan lit a fire and built it up to a bonfire. Then they threw burning brands under the plant hoping to set it alight. It threw the brands back at them, wrapping its vines along the fireless ends. One particularly large, fiery and well aimed log soared through the air and slammed into Ethan's chest. It shattered several ribs, seared his flesh and ripped open his chest from shoulder to groin. The smell of burnt flesh and the smoke of singed hair surrounded him as he regained his feet dripping blood. He grinned. Wherever this unnatural strength of spirit was coming from, it had again saved him from death and despite the extreme pain, he was beginning to enjoy himself. Shock is a wonderful thing he thought to himself as the pain was numbed.
Fearing flame the creeper began to move along the ground, away from the fire and its tormentors.
In the distance, Bob's keen ears again picked up a slight disturbance. He processed it. He puzzled. His jaw dropped. Stampede!
They leapt into action and ran to climb the mighty Darkwood tree. As the Baphen approached Tim and Ethan, attacked one of the Baphen hoping to bring it down. If they could, it would be a massive boost for their villages dwindling food supply. Sling stones rained down upon one of the charging beasts but while they managed to wound it, it ran on regardless. In their disappointment, no one noticed the feral look in the Baphen Bull's eyes as it inhaled and memorised their scent. The orcs had gathered the rest of the Blackfist tribe and were controlling the direction of the stampede, blowing hunting horns from the back of their sleek black horses. Grakk Swiftbow rode under the tree. “The hunters have become the hunted!” he laughed. "The quarry is down villagers but we must ride with the beasts. The kill is yours! With that he rode off to join his tribe.
Bob surveyed the scene. There was a sea of mud where grassland had been just minutes before. The hundreds of beasts had churned the soft ground to sucking mud and lying broken in the middle of this mud sea, was the creeper. He pointed this out to the others. Cautiously they went to investigate.
As they arrived at the crushed plant's remains, a bedraggled muddy flower lifted slowly out of the ground and looked in their direction. It recognised them. As they watched, leaves were slowly straightening, vines were minutely mending and flowers were returning to bloom. It was struggling back to life. The flower kept watching them. Quick as a snake, John Appleby whipped a sling stone at it and it burst asunder. The others fell upon the creeper itself, pounding it into the mud. Ethan and Joe of Kell built a fire while the others kept the undying plant under control. Finally they burnt it, until there were only yellow ashes remaining.

Charmer looked up. His constant alertness and sharp senses warned them of the charging Baphen before it could catch them unaware. The wounded bull had tracked them once the stampede had ended and was looking for revenge. They all took aim and sling stones sang through the air. The beast bellowed as the heavy stones hammered into its flanks. Blood flowed freely down its green hide. As if guided by a higher power Tim stood in its path, daring it to attack. It raised its massive head and bellowed at him. He smiled; this was the opportunity he needed. The sling stone left the leather pad in a perfect trajectory. It shot into the Baphen's mouth and ploughed down its throat. The shock was too much for the exhausted wounded beast and its overburdened heart gave out. It stumbled and fell, crashing to the ground. Over a ton of beast-flesh skidded to a halt at Tim's feet.
Ethan ‘Named’ him “Baphenslayer”.

Other Events
Ethan tracks down the orc tribe who are butchering some Baphen. The leader recognises him and instructs his warriors not to attack. His is impressed with Ethan's generosity in returning the dead warriors' gear. They consider weapons to be his by right of combat. He accepts the mead, honey, bread and candles as gifts from the village. In return he offers Ethan an Orc-friend Tattoo, which all orcs in the region will recognise and respect. He presents the Magic Flail to Ethan, stating that the Priest believes that he was destined to bear it. He also offers to let Ethan hunt with them for a few weeks, while they are in the area.
They agree to warn the village of any danger in the area. They suggest that the village could sell some of their excess hides and flesh for them (for a commission of course). If this is acceptable, they will let other villagers join them in the hunt. Anyone hunting will be away from the village for several weeks.
Ethan speaks to the councillors about building a defensive wall.
They suggest that fortifying the Inn and Storehouse (which are adjacent) is the first, fastest and least resource intensive option.
Now that the Plant Creatures have been defeated they believe that the danger has lessened and a wall is no longer needed.
If more threats to the village become apparent, they will revist the Wall Plan.

Life in Woodhaven

AK510-15 High Summer End Week 3
[Charon Guiding, Shale Resting, Cycles Watching]

The villagers roast and butcher the Baphen the PCs are all hailed as heroes. The Day is selected as a village feast day.
The Village is running low on flour, so Rollo's arrival is eagerly awaited.
The Inn and Store are Fortified by the Carpenter with help from all the village.
Ethan hunts with the Orcs. He is being trained as a Barbarian (just needs XPs) and with the Cold Iron Heavy Flail.
John Appleby is elected Sheriff thanks to Tim Tanner singing his praises. Orin is not pleased but accepts the decision.
Appleby's first tree has a tiny apple on it.
Alison Berry Flirts with Bob Charmer and brings him bread and fruit.
Three of Charmer's four hives produce queens. They need to be housed. He starts building new hives.
Ivellios attempts to determine what the Flail's powers are. Training himself, requires gold, so it's slow going.
The Blackfist Orcs come to town to trade Baphen Hide.
Swiftbow sends his regards to Tim Tanner and they all commend him on his Kill. He is now an honored hunter.
Tim Tanner experiments with Baphen Hide and manages to make Baphen leather armor.
He also discovers that superior leather can be made from Baphen hide, and possibly silk. He cures more hide.

Badgers Stuffit, Apples and Battles

AK510-16 High Summer's End Week 4
[Charon Guiding, Shale Resting, Cycles Watching]

Badgers attack the potato crops. Ethan's legs are ruined by badger bites. But he fights on.
After the fight Tim Tanner discovers the power of The Book of Creation. He starts learning priestly ways without needing a mentor.
He heals all their wounds and they are filled with the power of Croí.
Todd Dot Stuffit arrives in the village. The villagers are very suspicious of him. But he is allowed to stay.
The Blackfists inform Appleby and Kell that there is a wild orchard in a glen four miles away. They go to the orchard and find massive rose barked oak trees that amazingly hold apples on their highest branches.
They are protected by a dryad. John Appleby speaks Fey to the Dryad and wins her affection. She grants them 6 sacks full of apples. The apples are sweet and blood red. Joe of Kell agrees to pay her in scrumpy and they agree to brew mead together.
The Dryad will allow Appleby to take one bloodoak sapling with him if he can give her an appropriate gift.
Rollo the merchant arrives at night. He sleeps all day. He hates Garlic and avoids the river. He has several wagons. His main wagon is marked RAEWU, Rollo's Amazing Emporium of Wonders Unsurpassed.
He buys and sells various low cost wares. He is accompanied by 8 warriors.
Rollo has a keen interest in the Bloodoak apples and the Tanned Baphen Hide.
He agrees to return with both a “Scroll of Growth” for 300gp and a spell book. He sells them iron to make swords.
Todd Stuffit catches Thieves from Ozkellthorp sneaking around. He fells their leader, knocking him from a rooftop with a sling shot.
The resulting battle lasts only seconds. The heroes attack and injure the thieves.
Tim Tanner dashes across the square, leaps over Charmer's hives and knock one thief to the ground, his knee against his throat.
The warriors unleash a hail of arrows and soon all the thieves are injured or have surrendered.
Scale mail, bows and weapons are retrieved.
Todd finds an incriminating letter from the Mayor of Ozkellthorp to the thief that Sheriff Appleby killed. Todd considers surreptitiously travelling to Ozkellthorp and to seek for rogue training.

The council decides that the leader of the Ozkellthorp thieves should be subjected to a “Trial by Combat”. Sheriff Appleby volunteers to champion the village.
Tim successfully invokes the Gods to help for the combat. Sheriff Appleby feels the power of Cogadh.
Narrowly avoiding some lethal jabs from the thief, Appleby wins with an impressive staff blow that somersaults his foe into the air and out of the makeshift ring. He lands dead.
Tim Tanner woos Helen Trainer.
As village defence is so important they take stock of which armour is available to them. Tim Tanner is the only one who can wear scale mail comfortably which leaves a suit of scale mail available for one of the other villagers. Joe of Kell and Todd Stuffit elect to wear leather armour taken from the Ozkellthorp thieves. Ethan Namer wears the studded leather taken from their leader. John Appleby favours the coarser leather hide of the Baphen.

The Black Knight and the Witch

AK510-17 Gold Autumn Week 1
[Charon Watching, Shale Watching, Cycles Guiding]

The Villagers complete the forge.

A humanoid figure clad in ornate black armor, entered the village and stood at the centre. Sheriff Appleby addressed the creature in friendly, authoritative and eventually threatening ways but it took no heed. The villagers (at Joe's instigation) decided to have a feast to celebrate.
Tim Tanner called upon the power of The Gods to determine if the creature was Fallen. It seemed to resonate with the song so, obviously it was a chosen minion. They also noted that it was not a Black Guard as it bore none of the usual insignia. It ignored all activity until Tanner covered it in bunting. They noticed that the creature shifted almost imperceptibly. Taking the hint they removed the bunting and backed off. The party decided to maintain a watch on the creature during the festivities. They kept watch all night.

The following morning two of them were sitting near the creature, bored. Then one of them noticed movement and quickly noticed a kobold hiding poorly in the grasses around the village. They called the others and then parlayed with him for safe passage. Once his safety was assured the rest of the twenty kobolds appeared from hiding around the villagers.
They were members of the 23rd Torlandish Imperial Legion. The 3rd and 4th Kobold Ranger/Scout Cohort (inactive).
They were willing to pay for food and accommodation and eager to ally with the humans. The Kobold leaders agreed to train settlers as fighters, rangers or scouts. These Kobolds made their living by capturing Wild Beasts and selling them to Torland for games. They are not above capturing intelligent species to be sent back as slaves or for the games. They had a large cage drawn by a pair of Baphen.
After negotiations it was agreed that the kobolds would train the villagers in warfare and fortifications. They agreed to help build a wall around the village as long as they were granted the right to stay and build their own enclosure, within the village.

Soon afterwards the Zodar left without warning to seek out Koohd'Natnih Siénsiá. It ensured that it was followed by the group who had to leave in some haste to follow. Once it reached her it shut down again. It left unobserved. [Note: If anyone who had followed it had been attacked (Boar, Lizardfolk, Ape, etc) it would have assisted impressively, but only if their need was great and they did not instigate the battle.]

After spending the whole day traveling the group reached a heavily wooded hilly area and began to climb. Soon enough Ethan was forced to produce a lantern to light their path in the encroaching darkness. Eventually they reached a hill larger than the rest and the armour clad figure walked directly to the top and disappeared from view. Caution overcome the party who hid with varying degrees of success in the undergrowth, once they remembered to extinguish the lantern. In the darkness they noticed the dancing warm light of a fire illuminating the lower branches of the trees on the hilltop. A voice, easily audible, despite being a whisper, politely asked them all to stop skulking around and step into the firelight. They were addressed by name.
At the top of the hill John Appleby immediately recognized fey energy and warned his friends that this hilltop's circular ridge was in fact a fey circle. The ring was clear of trees and held only a small hut and a fire pit. An old woman, hooded and in black, introduced herself as Koohd’Natnih Siénsiá. She was roasting rabbits over a spit at the centre of the fey circle. There was one rabbit each but curiously there was one to spare. With little
ceremony she asked them if they wanted their fortunes told. Ethan Namer was extremely eager, and they all agreed.

She took a strand of thread from her cloak and placed it in each subjects hand. Then she held their hand over the fire and bade them drop the thread. The light of fire turned deep red in Shale tradition and the threads smoked and burned. Magic protected their hands from the flames. She observed the thread's smoke and ash drift through the red air and read aloud prophecies for everyone at the fire.
Todd Stuffitt arrived outside the circle in the middle of the ceremony and she called him in before he could be seen. She told his fortune last. Once she had completed her prophecies, the fire went black. Ethan lit the lamp and she was gone. Todd ate the spare rabbit and they all excitedly debated the meaning of the witches words.

They spent the night in the hut in the circle and set off for the village the next morning. One the way home they encountered a herd of Baphen and in Blackfist tradition they selected a old weak baphen to hunt. The hunt was poorly planned and Todd Stuffitt proved himself unreliable in battle. Ethan, Bob and Tim took terrible wounds from the large beast. Then it ran and the hunters vainly tried to keep pace. Slowly they lost ground. Then Tim "Baphenslayer" Tanner called on Seilig and used his power to strike down the beast. They brought the carcass back to Woodhaven.

Later in the week a dretch attacked Orin in the forge. They all attacked the vile creature but their weapons could do it little harm. The cloud of vile gas from the creature rendered many of them helpless. Bob called on the Kobolds for help. They came running shouting "Don't kill it!" hoping to sell it for the Torlandish games. Finally Ethan managed to overcome the poison cloud and he struck the creature. His blows with his flail were able to damage it. It tried to use the power of the Fallen to terrify Ethan but he managed to overcome it and struck the vile fiend again. The others were wary of the little fiend especially Joe who had been badly slashed by its claws. However it feared Ethan's flail and it fled. They chased it out of the forge and into the main square. Ethan lashed out with the flail again and killed it. He was named Fiendslayer. Tim declared that the body of so vile a thing should be destroyed. They were unable to track the creature...

Bob Charmer ignored Alison Berry so much and she has turned to the more attentive Sheriff Appleby for comfort. Helen Trainer is set to marry Tim Tanner. Ethan Namer is quietly courting Felicity Charmer, the quietest woman in the village and she is very pleased with this.

The Heroes Grow in Power

AK510-18 Gold Autumn Week 2
[Charon Watching, Shale Watching, Cycles Guiding]

Ethan's training is complete, he assists with the wall building.
Todd Stuffitt has been away from the village. He has been in communication with Ozkellthorpe thieves. He has 'joined' their guild. The guild is only really a small gang of about six thieves. Whose leader Salieri Corlini is on the run from the Salacious Man of Bigany and the Thief Takers. Commissioner Chantilly Vegas is especially keen to talk to him.
Ivellios has been continuing his researches but is finding the lack of facilities and equipment hampering his efforts. He is worried that the Dretch knew his name, and although he tried to question it as to who it's master was, no answers were forthcoming.
Bob Charmer has been training with the kobold rangers and has been progressing very rapidly. He is relieved that Alison Berry has given up on him. He has spent much time helping to build the wall and tending to his bees.
Tim Tanner has not been able to tan or assist with the wall as he has been praying and meditating. And his skills are growing.
Appleby spend the week overseeing the walls construction and training with the Kobolds. Alison Berry is still keen on him and she lets him know, hoping that he will claim her at the wedding festival.
Joe invest plenty of time spreading rumors every night. He trains as a scout during the day with the kobolds.

Rats, Lizardmen and Womenfolk

AK510-18 Gold Autumn Week 2
[Charon Watching, Shale Watching, Cycles Guiding]

Harvesting takes precedence over wall building so the kobolds work alone.
Since the meeting with the witch, Ethan's bardic knowledge has increased to the equivalent of an experianced level Bard.
Ivellios finds a Spellbook and inks and quills on his table when he awakens in the morning. This was placed there by an agent of The Entity. A small note says, with thanks from your old friend.
The bond between Bob Charmer and his bees has become supernaturally strong since the meeting with the Witch. He now has an empathic link with his hives and can communicate with the bees and guide their movements.
Tim Tanner had a vision that informed him that he may now pray for a spell. Each time he successfully casts a spell he may pray for a new one.
John Appleby's position as Sheriff has been officially recognised by the Stormwatch Chief Justice. He receives a badge of office from a courier, who is dispensing such titles in several villages. The courier looks alarmed to see Torlandish regalia among the kobolds.

A family of Ashrat's are attracted to the forge. Smoke, sulphur, heat.
Some of the Ashrats are killed but Ivellios manages to charm one of them into being his familiar.

Woman folk get extremely active in preparation for the marriages expected next week.

The Festival of Fertility and Betrothal

AK510-19 Gold Autumn Week 3
[Charon Watching, Shale Watching, Cycles Ruling]
(Festival of The Ring: Cycles – Fertility and Betrothal)

The whole village helps as the harvest is brought in. The kobolds also assist quite efficiently in bringing in the harvest.
Cleric Vedic Arthus Sunseeker (to conduct ceremonies and swear in Var-Jen Tim Tanner) and Bard Ribaldini The Famous (to write love songs) visit. It is good luck for both of them to perform at a new settlement, and word of the Woodhaven Warriors has reached them. The Bard is intrigued by Ethan and may be able to help him. He knows where the tomb is…

John Appleby is married to Alison Berry much to the relief of Bob Charmer.
Ethan Name is pledged to Felicity Charmer after an excruciating wait as she stood in the middle of the choosing circle unclaimed for several minutes.
Tim Tanner married Helen Trainer.
Joe of Kell, who is desperate for a bride, decided that he was too repulsive to be wed and so did not step forward at the circle of choosing. The two homely buxom women who wished to share him and his inn, were quite disappointed and decided to make their wishes know to him a bit more clearly.

A dretch attacks Orin in the forge. After a long battle with fear and toxic mist, Ethan Name crushes the creature with his cold iron flail.

Lizardfolk traders arrive Weapons, potions, salves, food, seeds. They try to put the villagers of the other humanoids in the area, but the party decides that they will make up their own minds.

Tim Tanner is sworn in as an official Church of The Moons cleric. Vedic Sunseeker performs the ritual of Var-Jen on him and the omens are good. Then they perform the ritual of village blessing. The power of the Chosen washes over the village. This has several beneficial blessing effects on all members of the congregation who participated in the ritual.
Those who were marked by the prophecies of Siénsiá felt their links to the prophecy grow stronger and subtle changes took place in the Balance. Those who were striving to better themselves gained the benefits of their experience. Sword arms become more sure, spells came unbidden to mind, trackers became more hawk eyed.

The Road to The Dark Keep

AK510-20 Gold Autumn Week 4
[Charon Watching, Shale Watching, Cycles Guiding]

Moonday:
The guests depart.

The party kill a Baphen in order to leave food for the Earl’s men.
Ethan Namer asks the Kobold’s to take an extended trip so that they are not in the village when the Earl’s men arrive.
They set out for the Dark Keep.

Shaleday
The party sets out for The Dark Keep.
They are trailed to their camp by some villagers from Honeyglen. These villagers are intend on attacking and stealing from them however they are spotted by the couple on watch and they slink off into the night. The following morning Bob Charmer finds their tracks and leads the party to their camp. They surround and subdue the bandits, then with diplomacy and intimidation the persuade them to go to Woodhaven and take up commoner life once more. They are given a letter of safe passage.

Croíday
A few days later Charmer and Appleby pick up signs of humanoid undead heading towards the dark keep. The party are therefore not surprised when they encounter human zombies on the trail. Var-Jen Tanner channels the power of The Song and confronts the zombies, who flee. They party makes light work of perusing and dispatching the frightened undead through the forest.

Meanwhile, 100 of the Earl's men arrive at Woodhaven. There is a knight commander (Arkthuus Poten II, Fighter 8, Aristocrat 2) and 20 Stormwatch knights (Fighter 4, Aristocrat 1) with them.
He is a haughty and arrogant middle aged knight with little regard for peasants (Halmonde Mome on a bad day). He and his knights and beautifully presented but are deadly combatants nonetheless.
They also have a retinue of about 50 servants, squires, whores and other hangers on. They intend to occupy the Dark Keep and put an end to the Lizardfolk menace in the area. They also intend to take a large number of supplies from the village. They will pay for most of them but the Commander is very liberal in his reading of the laws and will commandeer anything he sees fit. He wouldn't consider that Woodhaven might not survive the winter without the supplies.
They will not tolerate the Torlandish Kobolds Military Unit to stay in Stormwatch. They would prefer to kill them, but if they are not given an excuse to attack they will accept surrender, take their and weapons and armor and exile them.
At best they will be simply allowed to leave. If John Appleby intervenes.

That night two Baphen Zombies, badly mutated young bulls, whose bones appear to have been partially melted, attack the camp. Var-Jen Tanner again confronts the undead but they are too powerful for him to quell them. One of them attacks ferociously and rams his horn through his side and into a tree, pinning him there. They rest of the party flee up trees.
A comedy of errors ensures where each party member in turn tries to simultaneously attack, leap from a tree and distract the zombies.
Ivellios unleashed a magic missile and then crashed bone crunchingly into the ground almost killing himself. Charmer broke his bow and almost fell out of the tree, ending up hanging by his legs. Ethan fell out of the tree too and landed right next to the Baphen and Appleby couldn’t manage to climb out of the tree. Finally and miraculously the Baphen were distracted long enough for everyone to escape alive. Although Ethan and Tanner had received horrifying wounds and the others were almost all wounded.

Draíday
On the fourth day the arrived at the forested foot of the Dark Keep hill. They spotted a black armored figure climbing onto a horse and riding in their direction. Ethan recognized him as a Black Guard. He boldly hailed him giving honor to the King. The others decided to join him. The Black Guard, being treated mostly with respect, conversed sociably with them. He introduced himself as Sgt Roderick Vale and informed them that he has been to the Dark Keep and it has been pacified. He intended to meet with the Earl’s men and to curb any military excesses before continuing south. He warns the PCs to be prepared to face undead and to cede the keep to the earl’s men when they arrive.

As they approached the keep they spotted four Blackfist Orcs shuffling slowly from the around the back of the keep. They charged them. Ethan’s raging blow smashed one zombie’s head to pieces and the rest were swiftly dispatched, they party working efficiently as a team for the first time.

Enter The Dark Keep

AK510-20 Gold Autumn Week 4
[Charon Watching, Shale Watching, Cycles Guiding]

Draíday (Night Fall)

Arkthuus Poten is a man in love with himself. He sees the Woodhaven Heroes as jumped up peasants. He sees that they can be used and will try to get all he can from them. However is not particularly perceptive and he does respect the church.
He doesn't want the portal opened.
He believes that everything in the keep now belongs to him as the Lord of Darkkeep. He insists to being referred to as Lord Darkkeep.

They drain the basement and even though there is four feet of water left.
They fight a zombie crocodile.
They search some rooms.
They fight two lizardfolk zombies
They find an interrogation room and manage to take a 60lb steel light amplifier off the wall.
Charmer fits the device to a door and they float it before them as they explore.
They flee more zombie crocodiles
They are cornered in the interrogation chamber and are almost slain by the zombie crocodiles.
Appleby is crushed by a crocodile's tail but Charmer reaches him with a wand of healing and with a communal prayer to the Chosen Appleby is not taken by Bas, despite his crippling wounds. Namer finally wins his underwater struggle against the crocodile and emerges bloody from the dark water.
They thank the Gods for their narrow escape.
They search a storage room and Appleby finds suspiciously crooked drawer. After several attempts they manage to pull the drawer asunder.
Appleby finds a map of the dungeon. It shows a passageway beside the main stairs. They investigate and find a concealed doorway. It has been sealed, coated with painted plaster and coated with wax to prevent leaks.
Charmer uses his carpentry skills to open the top of the door above the receding water level, so that no water leaks into the passage behind the door.
They fight a nest of starving dire rats behind the door but some of them contract filth fever in the process.
They prepare to open the door at the end of the narrow passage.

The Library

AK510-20 Gold Autumn Week 4
[Charon Watching, Shale Watching, Cycles Guiding]

Ivellios, Ethan and Var-Jen Tanner decide to tackle the library.
They examine the door to the library closely and discover that there are buttons on it bearing symbols. Ivellios identifies them as the Torlandish alphabet.
He translates the Torlandish inscription above the door as “The Three Generals” realises that “The Three Generals” refers to the three greatest military leaders on the history of the Torlandish army. One of whom Ethan says was “Tacticus” they then remember that there were three pillars in the centurions quarters that bore the names of generals. The bust of Tacticus being the only one remaining on it's pillar.
They return to the room and while they are there Ivellios re-examines the centurion's scroll for further clues.
None are to be found, however he notices that the script is too far apart on the scroll and deduces that there may be secret text there. He places Tin Tan in the golden bowl of Tine and use the heat to warm the scroll. They discover hidden instructions on how to open the door as well as a secret arcane spell.
They also discover that the darkwood chest that the scroll came in was in fact a standard bearers chest and had the power to rally warriors in battle.
They return to the secret passage with the library door.
On their way down the narrow passage, they hear an arcane buzzing sound and a strange creature made of molten flesh appears and attacks.
It severely injures Ivellios. Ethan and Tanner are unable to inflict any significant damage on it.
Another appears in front of them and then both lash out with their claws and inflict more damage. Ivellios flees to safety between the others and casts a fear spell at the creatures to no effect. Their weapons have little effect and even Tin Tan the Ashrat finds his fiery breath useless against them. Var-Jen Tanner eventually recognises them as Lemures, the lowest of the fallen devils of hell.
Another arrives and Ethan manages to damage it by pure ferocity. Tim resorts to prayer hoping the Gods will hear him.
Another arrives and inflicts more serious claw wounds on Ethan and Tanner. Ethan remembered the 20ft deep spike bottomed pit they discovered earlier. He bull rushes one slightly injured lemures into it. It is impaled on the spikes below and dies. It vanishes and is sent back to hell.
The gods hear Tanner's prayers and bless his mace with the power to hurt the fallen.
Ivellios punches the names of the generals into the door and it slides open.
They are immediately attacked by yet another devil and a hideous blob of a creature that appears to be made of pink ooze in the shape of a magic circle.
The creature lashes out with a blob-arm and hits Ivellios, but the vicious acidic blow glances off his mage armour force field and he narrowly avoids death.
Var-Jen Tim Tanner is using the power of the gods and his skills with the mace to good effect and is slowly beginning to prevail against the devils.
Ethan runs to protect Ivellios and attack the new grotesque foe that they face.
He slams his magical flail into the creature and injures it but is rewarded with a crushing scalding blow to the chest which almost cripples him as a reward.
Ethan and Tim decide to retreat and regroup. Tim starts to heal himself and his companion.
Much to their horror, Ivellios charges into the library to take on the creature. His spells are exhausted but his ring still functions.
After a short but heated argument in which Ivellios cast obscuring mist and dodged around the creature and Tim healed Ethan and himself with the wand, they both return to assist Ivellios.
Within the mist Ivellios calls on the power of the standard bearer's chest and Ethan and Var-Jen Tanner both sing in prayer to the gods from the book of creation and invoke the balance, mind and body. Their effort is in tune with the song and the internal symmetry of their place in the universe and they are bolstered by the resonance of the song.
Rallied by the chest and bolstered by the gods they attack and injure the creature which has been healing rapidly. Ethan strikes hard and inflicts terrible damage upon it.
The creature attacks Var-Jen Tanner but the magical mist hides her from it's vicious flailing arms.
They all attack one more and again the resonance strengthens them and again Ivellios calls on the power of the chest.
Tim strikes well and wounds the creature. The power of Ethan's mighty blows cannot be endured by the pink monstrosity and the flail smashes the creature into oblivion.
They thank the gods and collapse.
They search the library and narrowly avoid several traps. But they find a library, and alchemy lab a set of 39 first level wizard scrolls a messenger’s ring and a standard bearer's cloak and the produce of the alchemy lab.

Going Home Sweet Home

AK510-20 Gold Autumn Week 4
[Charon Watching, Shale Watching, Cycles Guiding]

They all regroup in order to pack all of the library contents away safely. Stuffitt creates a holder for the alchemy items and uses tapestries to line a couple of barrels and pack away the glassware from the lab. The books and scrolls are thrown into sacks and after a couple of hours they are ready to depart with their booty. They reluctantly leave many weapons and sets of armour behind in the forest.
Charmer sends his bees to scout out Arkthuus Poten and his men and they are reported to be less than a mile away when the party leaves the dark keep.
They are attacked by more poison dusk lizardfolk firing poisoned arrows from behind dense bushes. They put down the booty and quickly dispatch the lizardfolk. They loot black adder and their blue whinnis poisons from the bodies and then at Tim's insistence the move the bodies to the keep.
The zombie boars keep turning the machines to drain water from the lower levels all this time. They are still moving when Arkthuus arrives at the keep.
They head home and using the bees to avoid any undue attention they are untroubled on their journey home.
Appleby attempted to 'plant' the Applewood staff in the ground. It reacted strongly. It shook with power and grew large sharp thorns, the colour of apple pips, serrated like the teeth of beasts. But Appleby sensed that there was more that the staff wished to do but that something was 'not right'. He blamed his companions for forcing him to wear metal armour and renounced metal from that day forward.
Tanner sends Stuffitt to scout out Woodhaven to ensure that there are no spies left by Arkthuus, to report of their arrival.
Stuffitt scouts out the village and has a secret conversation with Helen Tanner who tells him all is well.
They return to a warm welcome from the villagers who thank Ethan for his wisdom in sending the kobolds from the village and in slaying a Baphen for Arkthuus' men. The small army made a muddy mess of the village and took more than they were entitled to, with Arkthuus' blessing. But because of the Baphen meat supply and the presence of the Blackguard, the villagers were left with enough to see them through the winter.
Todd Stuffitt visits the ex-bandits who the party had sent from the wilderness. They had been welcomed by the villagers and a house had been built for them. They had been given the opportunity to use what skills they had and to learn pottery and tailoring.
Melkior Ellrohiriad is an almost noble, but he was too far removed from money or influence. He turned out to be a rope maker with a great knowledge of history.
Xavier Zengarion is a close friend of Melkior's, who shared distant relations and close circumstances, is a blacksmith and is forming a strong bond with Orin who he sees as an amazing craftsman.
Decimus Belioni was a Torlandish rebel who fled to Stormwatch from the senate's assassins having said the wrong thing a few too many times. Minions of the dragon want him dead. He is a barber by trade.
Michael Labour the atheist ringleader of the Honeyglen bandit group disappeared after the party left them. No one knows where he went.
John Appleby decreed that Ethan's rather sad crop of Hemp was fully legal. He also declared that poison use was legal under certain circumstances in Woodhaven, not specifying what those circumstances were. Then he was with his wife for two days. She became pregnant.

The Applewood Orchard is Born

AK510-20 Gold Autumn Week 4
[Charon Watching, Shale Watching, Cycles Guiding]

Something else tugged at Appleby's mind though and after long debate, Tanner persuaded him to meditate in his frosty apple grove and then attempt to again plant the staff. He wore only a simple robe. He stood in the centre of the snowy orchard field. Sad drooping saplings suffering under the icy grip of a harsh winter surrounded him under a dull and clouded sky. He communed with nature and offered praise to Nadúir.
He planted the staff into the icy ground. It sank in deeply. The staff shook with great power. They saplings looked up. Their leaves blossomed and stood proud. Their trunks thickened. They grew. The earth heaved and the staff sang as Nadúir heard Appleby's call. The saplings became trees in a blink of an eye and their trunks grew straight and tall and thick. Well beyond the size of apple trees they grew, until their upper branches reached toward the sun bursting from a clearing blue sky. Standing as tall as an ocean ship they basked in a warm autumn day. Their mighty branches bearing the great weight of large green and red apples ripened in the light of Nadúir’s pleasure.
They all stared in awe. Appleby welcomed his new children.
Joe of Kell appeared seconds later with a basket in hand and rapidly collected some apples. Within minutes Applewood cider was being made.
Stuffitt, Namer and Tanner spent the next few hours naming streets and planning a Woodhaven economic empire based in apples.
Var-Jen Tanner decided that it was time to start building a proper Church of the Moons temple in Woodhaven. Wood was acceptable in the short term, but a temple of stone was required. Ethan and the kobolds wanted a Charon arena and Ivellios and Appleby wanted a Shale tower.
Appleby decided that he would become an even more dedicated worshipper of Nadúir and would learn the ways of the druids.
Tanner and Namer in the course of building the temple finished the process of becoming attuned to The Cycles and Charon.

Todd Stuffitt Gets Busy

AK510-20 to 24 Deep Winter Start
[Charon Resting, Shale Guiding, Cycles Watching]

Todd Stuffitt visits the mayor as himself and is introduced to the thieves guild. Meets Salieri Corlini.

Todd Stuffitt assumes the identity of Jim Kard in Ozkellthorpe.
Then he meets Diego DonFuego as Jim Kard Trader and uses a Baphen handkerchief.
Stuffitt's disguise is masterful and he easily fools the mayor and drinks a few cool ales in The Tipsy Rat tavern with him.
Stuffitt presents an Applewood apple to the mayor who is surprised how much he enjoys it.
He is even more interested in the prospect of Applewood Cider.

Stuffitt agrees a monopoly with the mayor at a rate of 2.2sp per small sack of apples. Cider to follow.
Diego DonFuego then agrees to find contact for cider apples and brandy in Darkbridge.

The Investigation of Honeyglen

AK510-25 to 29 Deep Winter End
[Charon Sleeping, Shale Ruling, Cycles Resting]
(The Festival of The Book: Shale – Knowledge and Magic)

The Heroes of Woodhaven, having spent a few weeks huddled in Woodhaven training, studying, praying and fortifying the village, decide to investigate Honeyglen.
They encounter several bands of Lizardfolk on the way but manage to defeat them.
Travel is slow and difficult due to deep snow and terrible cold.
At Honey glen they discover that most of the village has been deserted.
The Town Hall is still occupied however.
As they investigate they are attacked by Zombie Lizardfolk that were lying beneath the snow. After an intense battle, Charmer was holding off the zombies by fighting defensively between two frozen ruined buildings.
Ivellios and Tin Tan destroyed them with fire and while Tim Tanner called upon the Moons to destroy many others. Ethan Namer crushed several zombie heads while raging.
When searching they found many human and animal remains. Their bones were badly bent or broken as if they had melted. Ethan remembered a conversation that he had once had where he had been told that poison dusk lizardfolk lived in areas of the swamp when the water could cause bonerot. They surmised that Honeyglens’s water supply had been poisoned.

Inside the town hall they discovered a strange resin like ichor. The strange purplish substance was covering the walls and floor. It formed several cocoons, inside which could be seen the bodies of Steel Clan Lizardfolk, they appeared to be mutating into tentacled creatures. There were symbols of Athrú all around the room. The mutated creatures began to move and the slimy substance cocoons to disgorge their contents. They smashed all the creatures before the could awake fully. They then decided that the building must be burnt to the ground.

Quickly the searched the building and found that all the Honey glen hives had been brought inside and that the bees were still alive. Bob Charmer communed with the bees and they agreed to joined the Woodhaven hives.

Upstairs the found several Steel Clan warriors. All but one were killed in the inevitable battle. Charmers newly formed bee swarm proved very effective.
They questioned the survivor and he told them that a creature calling himself The Prince of Schliss had forced them to do his bidding by destroying their tribes one by one until they succumbed to his will. They could not stand against him. He was the one creating the strange tentacled undead creatures. They invited the survivor to join them as a weaponsmith in their village rather than risk the wrath of the Prince. He agreed.

They took shelter in a small building to avoid a terrible storm. Then they loaded all of the bees and other scavenged equipment onto a cart and brought it home.
On the way home they are attacked by a Zombie Baphen but they defeat it after a difficult battle.

The Bard’s Tomb

AK510-30 Low Spring Start Week 2
[Charon Watching, Shale Watching, Cycles Guiding]

They engage in more training, helping out with the planting and apple harvesting. Then the PC decide to set out again.
They intend to visit the Tomb of Setanta Fochlachan on the way to Darkbridge. At Darkbridge they intend to hire a mason to assist with the building of a church.
The travel to the Tomb via Tarbuck Ferry.
The Tomb is guarded by a Massive Zombie Minotaur dressed in Ancient DéDannan Bardic Robes.
Ethan, Tim Tanner slay it with relative ease.
They encounter a COTM symbol on a massive stone disk which bars the entrance to the tomb.
Var-Jen Tanner channels divine energy into the disk and it magical runes form glowing on the surface. He recognizes this as a test.
Each symbol represents an aspect of the balance (Charon, Shale or Cycles). They need to correctly identify which symbol belongs to which aspect. Each symbols required a higher understanding of the church’s philosophy and the accordance of the Gods. The Pious Var-Jen and his companions pass all seven tests with ease.
The stone disk moves aside and allow them to enter the tomb.
A 40 tunnel descends deeply into the burial mound hillside. It is decorated with frescos depicting the life of the bard. Ethan feels memories of a past life, his life, the life of the bard, coming back to him. He remembers doing all the things that are depicted in the frescos. As they are examining the images on of them seems to look back. Then Ethan triggers a magical trap. Lightening blasts him and knocks him to his feet. A blast of that power would easily kill a normal man but Ethan stands up and looks rather annoyed. Better check for traps he says, as Tim heals him.
They are then noticed a thin man in bard robes who had appeared to be part of a painting. He had been so perfectly still and covered in dust that they had not noticed him. Ethan named him and he activated. He explained that he was a guide as asked Ethan what he should do next. Ethan questioned him but his memory was very hazy and he was not able to assist much.
They then turned their attention to the imposing door to the main Tomb.
It was sealed and there was writing upon it in ancient DéDannan. After he moment of recall upon seeing the frescos, Ethan realizes that he can read the writing. This time it is a DéDannan puzzle that must be solved. They guess that the password to open the door is in four parts.
“The Great Fool” – Tain MacLir
“The Great Bard” – Setanta Fochlachan
“The Singer of The Eversong” – Fileadh
“Speak Friend and Enter” – The DéDannan for Friend (Cara)
The guide the announces that Ethan must learn to play the harp before he can proceed any further into the Tomb. Even though he now has the memories of the great bard, this will take several weeks to complete (at the very least).
Tim Tanner, Ivellios and the others decide to continue to Darkbridge.

The Knights of Stormwatch

AK510-31 Low Spring Start Week 3
[Charon Watching, Shale Watching, Cycles Ruling]
(Festival of The Song: Cycles – Songs, Storytelling and Music)

They travel towards Darkbridge.
They hail a passing ship which bring them to the other side of the river which has a road on it. This allows them to travel more quickly. Not quickly enough though. They decide to spend the day building a raft. Appleby’s druidic and engineering skills enable them to put together a serviceable raft.
Before they can launch their craft a group of Stormwatch knights known as The Knight of Winter ride up accompanied by their squires. The knights are arrogant and expect servitude from the PCs whom they regard as jumped up peasants. They have no regard for either Tharanaian’s nobility or Var-Jen Tanner’s priestly status.
Ivellios takes exception to Sir Barristan’s comments and challenges him to a duel. Sir Barristan’s will is to strong for Ivellios’ fear spell and he smashes his bastard sword into the wizards skull, almost killing him with the first blow. Var-Jen Tanner retrieves the bloodied body and manages to keep Ivellios alive. The knights laugh heartily but allow the Heroes to skulk away. Tanner waits until the following day before reviving Ivellios. He is enraged to find that the knights have escaped him.
They launch the raft and travel swiftly along the snow melt swollen river. They make great progress.
At night the make camp. They are accosted by bandits.
Despite being severely outnumbered and surrounded, the heroes use their superior combat and magical abilities to best effect and defeat their foes. They capture the outlaw leader a man in golden armor. They capture the outlaws horses and confiscate the considerable wealth. They create a pyre of the bodies and send it out in to the river. They bodies, half burnt, sink into the inky waters,
The leader turns out to be Sir Eagon DelFuego. He is displeased that they have burned his companions as he had agreed to have them raised but his is glad to be alive.
Var-Jen Tanner accepts Sir Eagon’s atonement for his crimes and uses his honeyed tongue to recruit Sir Eagon as a defender of Woodhaven. Eagon agrees. The Var-Jen celebrates church ceremony to thank the Gods and Sir Eagon participates. The Book of Creation glows and send a bolt of bright sunlight to the knights chest. A visible change comes over him as he is imbued with the power of the Chosen. His armor shines brightly and the symbol of the church emblazons itself on his breastplate. His year drop away as he becomes a Champion of The Chosen.

The following day Joe of Kell delays the party by chatting to all travelers much to the disgust of the rest of the party. Todd takes note of the commoners banter to formulate a strong alter ego. He then disguises himself before he enters the town.
Later the road seems unnaturally quiet. The ranger hears a movement, Tanner guided by the Gods hears several large creatures heading towards them through the trees.
They prepare for battle. Six massive Lizardfolk, around twelve foot tall emerge from the trees wielding huge longspears and attack. The battle is vicious and bloody. Todd goes down in the first assault. Charmer hides in a tree. Appleby and Tanner take severe punishment from the attackers. Ivellios almost slain by a longspear, rides around the combat finishing the bloodscale Lizardfolk that are weakened by his allies. For some reason he sees fit to taunt his allies more than the enemy. Sir Eagon Charges the bloodscales on his mighty warhorse and smites them with his lance. Appleby trades vicious blows with his foes. One of them climbs up a tree after Charmer, whose bees and bow are causing serious damage. Finally the battle is won. They find an idol to the fallen made of copper which the bloodscales had been carrying with them It appears to be the wild-marsh druid in the form of Athrú. Var-Jen Tanner and Ivellios use their magic to alter it’s form. They melt it in to a massive cooper disk with the church’s symbols on it.

Welcome to Darkbridge

AK510-31 Low Spring Start Week 3
[Charon Watching, Shale Watching, Cycles Ruling]
(Festival of The Song: Cycles – Songs, Storytelling and Music)

Croíday
They finally enter the town of Darkbridge.
No one notices Todd behind his disguise nor Sir Eagon behind his great helm and Chosen armor.
They take rooms at The Tipsy Fish.
Appleby formally vows loyalty as Sheriff
Tim Tanner passes three trials (combat, magic and song) to become a Vedic
All PCs chant together at his inauguration.
Ivellios redeems himself in the eyes of the church as he composes a powerful new chant during the festival of The Song.

Draíday
Vedic Tanner is promoted by Serena to be the Religious Leader for the Northern area.
The Church of Woodhaven is to be the centre of this religious domain.
An acolyte of the moons is assigned to train under Vedic Tanner. He will administer the temple during Vedic Tanner’s absences.
The Darkbridge temple provides several sets of church regalia, clothing, wall hangings, alter cloths etc for the temple.

Vedic Tanner then visits the Master Mason of Darkbridge in a Sumptuous Mansion in the centre of the town. The building is made of Iron Stone from the Ironstone Hills near Stormwatch as well as from local stone. The interior is decorated with golden black and white marbles from around the region and the rooms are laden with exquisite wooden carvings and furniture made of various expensive hardwoods, particularly darkwood.
The Master Mason, Lord Ezechial Torc, agrees to design the Woodhaven Temple and assign one of his most capable journeymen Jeremy Stone Splitter to oversee the building.
Darkwood and Applewood trading partnerships with Woodhaven are also agreed. The Masons will take all the Darkwood that Woodhaven has to offer at a 10% discount. For another 5%, The Mason’s will arrange all shipping if required. They will also take a limited amount of Applewood at twice the darkwood cost, if they are granted exclusive rights to applewood in Stormwatch and Darkbridge. Otherwise they will purchase it at 140% darkwood value.
They are also willing to provide their services in direct exchange for wood, instead of trading in gold.
Jeremy Stone Splitter, is delighted to take up the challenge, but is horrified at how unprepared the Vedic and her flock are. They have no stone! What can a mason do without stone!
Taking the matter in hand he suggests finding a quarry, starting mining it, setting up some transport for the stone, hiring builders, carpenters, labourers to build the temple, and most importantly finding some way of paying for all this.
Vedic Mistress Serena of Darkbridge supplies an initial letter of credit to the masons and Jeremy starts working on his design.
Vedic Tanner and Bob Charmer, try to figure out how they are going to sort all these logistics out.

The Darkbridge Tournament

AK510-31 Low Spring Start Week 3
[Charon Watching, Shale Watching, Cycles Ruling]
(Festival of The Song: Cycles – Songs, Storytelling and Music)

Charday (Festival of The Song)
Ranger Charmer’s attention is firmly fixed on the Tournaments being held outside of the town. He convinces Tanner, with his new acolyte in tow, to accompany him to the archery lists. The Swarm notices that they are being followed through the crowded streets. Tanner spots a couple of suspicious looking thugs following on the street while another two are keeping pace ahead. The bees point out another two on the rooftops.
Unconcerned the trio continue through the northern bastion out into the open fields.
An ambush is sprung. Six would be thieves fire crossbows at them from behind some weathered roadside bushes. The trio manage to dodge the bolts and press forward the attack. In a few short moments the thieves are defeated and Vedic Tanner is demanding to know who has the audacity to attack a member of the church. The sole survivor is cowed into submission.
The acolyte is sent to summon the town guard. They take the prisoner into custody and remove the corpses for burial. The Vedic’s robes along with the thieves notoriety, persuade the guard not to ask too many questions about the violence or the fact that the bodies are stripped of all valuables.

Charmer enters the archery contest. The first prize is rumoured to be a pair of magical gauntlets, blessed in honour of Seilig. The prize was donated by Ulthuu himself. The Vedic and the ranger offer up several prayers to Seilig before the tournament begins, other contestants offer their own prayers and a small few are blessed by other clerics. Charmer makes the first cut with ease and scores well. In the second round as the targets are set to move back and forth he shoots very badly and only a serious error on the part of his nearest rival keeps him in the event. In the final round however when there are only three contestants and the pressure is on, his five shots at the distant moving targets are all well taken and one hits the bull. The other contestants are unable to match his accuracy and end up sending several shots wide of the target.
A convincing victory in the end. The Magical Gauntlet is presented to Bob Charmer by Ulthuu Poten with a hearty congratulations and a two hour ‘quick chat’.

Sir Eagon DelFuego who was still in the guise of “The Golden Champion” had also entered the tournament. As the day progressed he advanced through the lists with the goal of avenging the slight on the church by the Knights of Winter.
As dusk was approaching Sir Eagon had unhorsed all of the Knights of Winter of than the leader, Sir Barristan Martin “The Red Death”. He was tired and battered as an ageing knight should be after a ferocious day of jousting, but he sat tall in his saddle, the power of The Chosen was with him. Tanner and Charmer arrived just in time to see the two knights charge. Sir Barristan tilted his lance and angled his shield to take advantage of a flaw in Sir Eagon’s posture. The crowd held it’s breath as the two closed. Sir Eagon’s mount leapt at his foe despite the great weight he bore and Sir Barristan’s lance flew wide. Sir Eagon’s smiled as his lance smashed into Sir Barristan’s breastplate and splintered, sending the Read Death sprawling to the ground. The Red Death took his defeat gracefully and they both proclaimed that the issue of the slight on the church was now resolved. However the look in his eyes proclaimed something quite different.

Vedic Tanner then paid a bard to sing of his exploits and those of his companions and about the wonders of Woodhaven the Safe haven. The Bards was of reasonable talent and agreed to compose and sing the composition throughout Stormwatch and Darkbridge.

Sunday
Ulthuu had informed Charmer that there was a reward to be had for ridding nearby Axlethorpe of a pack of Slevakor hunting cats that were preying on the cattle and folk of the settlement. The reward of too hundred gold pieces would hire four more bards for the glory of Woodhaven.
Charmer and the Vedic and The Bees tracked the Slevakor, to a small wood. They were sleeping on the low branches of some oak trees. Their green and black tiger stripe camouflage a stark contrast to the bark but hiding them well amongst the leaves.
Vedic Tanner flew into the air and called on the ring of maces. Charmer used the power of Nadúir to Charm on of the hunting cats. He sent the Bees to Swarm at another. When they awoke he loosed a volley of allows at them. Tanner called forth a spiritual weapon which hunted a fleeing cat. One of the cats leapt at Charmer and sent him flying out of the tree. He managed to catch a branch as he fell but the cat was on top of him. Tanner slew it with her mace. Suddenly it was all over. They butchered the cats and returned to Darkbridge to hire more bards.

Trading in Darkbridge

AK510-32 Low Spring Start Week 4
[Charon Watching, Shale Watching, Cycles Guiding]
(Festival of The Song: Cycles – Songs, Storytelling and Music)

Jo of Kell hunts down a Slevakor single handedly and brings the most choice butchered pieces to his friend in the Tipsy Fish. They spend most of the next two weeks experimenting and Jo manages to concoct a brace of healing salves. And blow up some stuff.

Oz Harvest (Todd) spends several days making contacts among the traders of Darkbridge. He sells all of the mountain of arms and armour that the party had dragged into town with them. He takes over management of The Hungry Horse Inn and makes it an exclusive outlet for Woodhaven apple pies and candied apples. The party all join the adventurers guild in Darkbridge in order to avoid paying taxes on their adventuring proceeds. Todd manages to sell a large quantity of poison to some underworld contact and this is worth a substantial number of gold pieces. The others don’t ask any questions.

Having cashed in all their assets they realise that they now have enough gold to realise their goal of buying the Deed to Woodhaven from Zengarion Torc. They form a delegation to persuade him to honour the standing offer of 10,000gp for the deed within the first year.
Todd and his many aliases are busy with his many affairs so he doesn’t attend. Ivellios Tharanaian is Zengarion’s representative on the town council so he leads the delegation. Vedic Tim Tanner, Sheriff John Appleby and Jo of Kell the Alchemist accompany him.
Thanks to the excellent work of the well paid bards, Zengarion is very well informed on the status of Woodhaven and is better appraised on the village and it’s inhabitants than they would like. Ivellios puts forward a very strong case as to why Zengarion should allow them to purchase the village. They others then join in and all but threaten to leave if they cannot. Zengarion stops them there telling them that the threats are not required and that he is of a mind to sell to them. They manage to hold their tongues. Zengarion then inquires about investment opportunities in the village and they agree to set up a distillery, a brewery, a lumber mill (with a replanting program), a tannery, an armoury and a smithy.
They try to persuade him to invest in a mine but he has little interest in that once they admit that they have no idea where t find a mine.
Zengarion them magically summons the village deed and they all sign it. The next day Bob Charmer and Oz Harvest sign the document. Sir Eagon has no interest in it and cannot reveal his identity even if he wanted to. Ethan’s name is signed by Tim Tanner.

Over the next few days the party attempt to recruit more settlers for Woodhaven. They hire Geneis from the Hungry Horse Inn to assist them and together they canvas the docks and the new arrivals at the south gate. They convince 8 families to come to Woodhaven and Oz arranges transport for them with Cheno Melek. Sir Eagon sails with the settlers to ensure their safety. Oz takes care of more private business in the town.

For the following few days the party each go about their individual business.
Todd’s activities are too numerous to mention but involve astute mercantile pursuits as well as other more nefarious activities.
Jo Of Kell delves deep into the mysteries of Alchemy using a tome copied from the Master of The Drunken Val-roi. He looses his eyebrows and patches of skin in several modest explosions but manages to heal himself with healing salves. He decides that a much bigger alchemy lab needs to be built in Woodhaven and discusses designs with Jeremy Stonesplitter.
Vedic Tim Tanner mentors his acolyte in the ways of the church. He spends many days praying to the gods, who reveal further magical powers to him in reward for his devotion. He composes a new Chant and decides to use it to bless Woodhaven with it on his return.
Bob Charmer and his bees scour the countryside hunting down Slevakor. The bond between the ranger and the swarm becomes more powerful and the hive mind becomes more intelligent and more dangerous.
Ethan continues to learn the ways of the Bard in the Tomb of Setanta Fochlachan.
Sir Eagon Trains in the Temple of Charon and prays in the Temple of the Cycles, then escorts the new settlers on the long ship with Cheno Melek.
Sheriff John Appleby, walks among the trees bringing and communes with nature. He meditation is rewarded with more powerful druidic magic.
Ivellios Tharanaian, meets the Sarah the Mason and they discuss their homeland. The majority of his time is spent in the Temple of Shale studying the libraries and researching new spells. His efforts are rewarded by Draíocht.

Oz Harvest Gets Busy

AK510-32 Low Spring Start Week 4
[Charon Watching, Shale Watching, Cycles Guiding]
(Festival of The Song: Cycles – Songs, Storytelling and Music)

Todd spends a quiet couple of days in Darkbridge during the week of the festival of The Scythe.
The others go about their business and leave him to his own devices.
He spends a small amount of time in the Tipsy Fish to keep up appearances and he even has a long chat with Ulthuu Poten there.
He spends the rest of his time skulking around the city sticking his nose into various places.

Xavier is an innocent and likeable person who is no match for Oz’s powers of persuasion.
His wife is suspicious of Oz at first but he soon wins her over and they become good friends. She is also a reasonable cook.
She can bake apple pies and make candy apples.

She suggests that her brother could handle the shipping of a cart of apples every month for a couple of gold pieces.
Todd agrees to sell the apples from Woodhaven to the Hungry Horse at 20% discount.
Xavier and Iseult are happy to accept 40%.

There are several merchant caravans in town during the week. Rollo’s is one.
Another is Royce Mome who is selling Bigany luxury merchandise on to local merchants to be put onto wagons for transport around the colony.
Roberto Vec is the largest (Big Fat greasy man with a huge walrus moustache) land based merchant and tends to throw his weight around in the caravan area. The majority of caravans trading along the rivers and the coast are his.
There are several other independent traders but none that initially seem worthy targets for Todd’s skills.
Oz on the other hand might find them useful.

The Hungry Horse is large enough but not the biggest Inn in the area.
It has 10 bedrooms, a tap room, a common room, three backrooms, a kitchen, a large cellar, a storage room, an outhouse, an two family rooms. Guests horses are stabled nearby.
The décor is not particularly classy in the public rooms but the place is very clean
Xavier cuts hair in a backroom every Charday but undercharges. He also has a small alchemy lab and library in the cellar
A few of the rooms are suitable for business meetings but none for conferences.
In Darkbridge, the middle classes are the merchants and guild members.
They will come for good quality at a low price, or for popularity or for a gimmick.
If the quality of the rooms is increased, but Royce and Roberto could be convinced to take long term rooms. If they feel the place is safe and of good quality.

Oz Harvest Interviews Sethur Walker (Iseult’s brother).
He’s full of himself and has a suspicious manner but in spite of that he appears willing to work hard and Todd reckons that he couldn’t bluff his way out of a paper bag.
Todd expects that he would be capable of making the deliveries.

There are a few Bards in town for the Festival of the Scythe. After the festival they will be a lot less demand for their skills and so there will be quite a few looking for a meal and a room in exchange for a song and a story. Vedic Tanner has hired a couple of Bards to sing the praises of Woodhaven so one of them offers up residence and play for free if given room and board. Her name is Geneis Kendyramin.
Geneis hears Oz’s plans for making the Hungry Horse Famous and on the first night she is there drags several patrons to the Inn. She plies them with (free) booze and gets them all up singing The Ballad of Woodhaven. The next night she tells stories of the Gods and of the Heroes of Highvale and rewards members of the growing crowd with (free) booze when they can remember details of the stories with her.
Currently she is looking for ‘players’ to act in a newly penned ‘masterpiece’ called “The Var-Jen, The Vedic and The Safe haven Temple”.
She never asked for Oz or Xavier’s approval, but she didn’t seem to think she needed to.

Todd gathers information about the traders along the docks and finds a couple who seem honest and in need of employment.
Royce Mome, Zebidee Waterwood and Cheno Melek. He takes a liking to Cheno Melek.

The Journey Home

AK510-33 Cool Summer Start Week 1
[Charon Watching, Shale Watching, Cycles Guiding]

Finally they all decide it is time to return to Woodhaven where the crops are being watched, animals tended, more buildings are being constructed. Light warhorses and other paraphernalia are purchased near the Hungry Horse Inn and on the morning of Moonday they set off. The first day passes without incident. The Knights and the army have been patrolling near the city in light of recent lizardfolk attacks and both merchant and commoner alike can walk the roads in moderate safety. On the second day however they come upon a merchant caravan that has been decimated. There are sword wounds on the slain and wounded and there are massive giant sized footprints.
They approach with extreme caution. And are well prepare for the ambush that awaits them. Eight steel clan lizardfolk spring from cover to charge them. Tanner and Appleby take the brunt of the assault. The steel clan wear chain shirts over their impregnable skin, so the party have are hard pressed to make any of their hits count. The leader of the raiders is a steel clan captain, a skilled ranger and dangerous swordsman. His magical long and short swords glow brightly as he slashes ferociously at Vedic Tanner. In moments he is badly injured and seeking to escape.
Ivellios charges some of the lizardfolk much to everyone’s surprise but doesn’t manage to strike them with his longsword not to anyone’s surprise.
The tides is turning against the party and even though the lizardfolk are taking a pounding from the ring of maces they are still threatening Tanner. Javelins are being rained down upon them, and the lizardfolk seem to have an endless supply. Ivellios is struck and baldy injured as he rides away from his foe to get a clear shot at the captain. He burns him baldy with a scorching ray but the captain stays up. Then Tanner strikes with a vicious mace blow but the captain manages to stay in the fight. Appleby is hard pressed to make his blows count against his foes but eventually the Applewood staff find a weakness in their armour and he fells on with a mighty blow. The Staff singing with the power of Nadúir.
Jo of Kell dashes about confounding his enemies and striking viciously from unexpected quarters.
The Captain summons a crocodile from the river and it attacks Ivellios’ mount. He barely avoids it’s jaws. Then the ranger charges slashes at him and slices his neck open. Ivellios slumps forward in the saddle. The battle rages on as Tim attacks the captain to prevent him finishing Ivellios. All the party are beset by foes. Javelins rain down around Appleby and Kell while Tanner dodges several swords.
Jo somehow manages to get past the ranger and pour a healing potion into Ivellios. Revived but almost dead Ivellios rides from battle. Then with a swift prayer casts a power barrage of missiles at the captain. The captain is all but felled by these grievous injuries but somehow he manages to will himself to stay on his feet and look for a way to escape. Appleby and Kell now seem to have the measure of their opponents and a round house swing from the Applewood staff crushes the skulls of two lizardfolk. Kell tumbles past another and stabs him in the back. Tanner brings his ring of maces to bear on yet another and he is battered to death by the divine power.
Ivellios calls upon the power of Draíocht one more time and again throws a magic missile barrage. There is no way the captain can take any more punishment and he falls dead. In response a lizardfolk hurls a javelin into Ivellios’ belly and again he is on the brink of death. The tide is now turning and the lizardfolk are looking to flee. Appleby and Kell strike down another pair while Tanner’s magic and mace take down more. The last survivor flees and they finish him with ease.
They return to the battle site to examine the scene, when the hear the deep crashing sound of giant footsteps. The ground shakes, a giant is coming…

The Giant and The Druid

AK510-34 Cool Summer Start Week 2
[Charon Guiding, Shale Resting, Cycles Watching]

Tim Tanner leads the party in prayer while holding the Book of Creation and their prayers are answered by the Gods, infusing them with zeal. Ivellios calls upon the power of Draíocht to speed the party with unnatural haste, then a Giant Double headed Lizardfolk mutant with mottled skin, red green and steel, wielding massive stone axes charges at the party. A badly wounded John Appleby takes the brunt of the attack, reeling from the assault of an enormous stone axe.
The creature’s attacks are vicious but the party soon have his measure. Appleby summons one of Nadúir’s air spirits as a decoy and then escapes the creature while it swipes at the swirling flyer. Bob unleashes a hail of arrows at the giant and it roars in pain. The Swarm closes upon it and sting it however it’s enormous bulk saves it from the poison’s grip. The frenzy of the swarm confounds the simple minds of the creature and it thrashes about heedless of it’s other attackers. Tim smashes his mace into it as it crashed past. Bob lets loose another trio of arrows with blinding speed and punctures his chest and neck. The creature is in terrible pain and the swarm menaces it relentlessly. Jo darts about and loosing occasional yet well aimed arrows at it. Tim lands another cruel blow. Then Appleby returns to the fray sending the Nadúir spirit before him. The last thing the weakening creature feels is the crushing power of the Applewood staff cracking it’s skull and breaking it’s neck.
The creature falls lifeless at the druid’s feet.

Jo and Bob notice movement in the woods but the poison dusk tribe’s reinforcements are too late to save their champion. At a glance from the woodsmen they skulk off back into the woods. While surveying the area for possible threats, Jo notices that there is a strange disturbance in the air near the wagons. He calls to Ivellios who declares it to be a scrying sensor, which would allow someone to spy upon others over vast distances. Appleby surmises that the sensor may well belong to the Wild Marsh Druid.
The party scavenge the remainder of the wagon and recapture the horses. The Ranger and the Druid tend to the animals and ensure they are fit for the journey. They recover arms and equipment from the raiders. The Steel Clan Captain was exceptionally well equipped. He had crafted his own weapons, a magical longsword and short sword and his own armour a magical shirt of fine chain. He also carried a couple of cure potions.
Vedic Tanner, tends to the wounded and the dead. The later are given the last rites of the Chosen and are burned. The former are blessed with Croí’s healing touch and are brought back from the brink of death. Of the original fifteen strong caravan only three survive. Almost instantly Vedic and Todd Stuffitt pounce upon them to sell them their wares. Quickly they are persuaded to join Woodhaven as town guards serving under the hastily elected Chief Constable Stuffitt’s command. He negotiates a 50gp a year salary, with free room and board for each of them as well as a night of free booze once per month to be donated by Jo of Kell. Once the negotiations are complete the mercenaries take up their posts and assist with the ordering of the wagons. ‘The Chief’ issues their orders and draws up rotas for their service in Woodhaven.
Meanwhile Vedic Tanner has been examining the mutants back and noticed that the skin on his back was grotesquely marked with painful looking marks. He was unsurprised to recognise the mark of Athrú. He believed that this was evidence that the Wild Marsh Druid was a Fallen worshipper. Ivellios all but had to be restrained from marching straight into the Dark Swamp to confront him there and then. Tim Tanner admired his enthusiasm for assaulting The Fallen but not his wisdom.

As they are engaged in this Appleby notices that there is another disturbance nearby. The water is moving in a strange manner. A large spirit of Nadúir lurks beneath the river waters. With a roar a pair of waives rise out of the water and onto the river bank. Standing majestically on the top of the waves is a blue skinned creatures covered in glistening scales. She wears strange leather clothing and a breastplate of coral. A vicious looking two handed trident rests casually in her hands.
She introduces herself to John Appleby and addresses him as ‘Holy One’. She is a Triton Druid called Shella Waterweaver. She wishes to advise the Fey druid and guide him in the ways of the druidic order. She is most impressed that he has learned his druidic powers directly from Nadúir by meditating with the Applewood staff, but she is eager to teach the ways of the order and even more eager that Appleby join them. She has decided that The Wild Marsh Druid has broken the druidic council's laws and must be opposed. She advises Appleby to journey to the Thornwood forest and bring the staff to “The Pool of Nadúir” where it can be joined more powerfully with the God and with Nature. She tells him that he is revered among the fey and that he will be welcome in the Thornwood forest where others would not. They spend they spend the rest of the day and night discussing the ways of the council and the powers of the druids and both of them learn much.

The Problem with Undead

AK510-34 Cool Summer Start Week 2
[Charon Guiding, Shale Resting, Cycles Watching]

They started the long tiresome journey back towards Woodhaven slowed dramatically by the wagons. After a few days Charmer, Kell and Appleby picked up the trail of a zombie Baphen that was plodding along the river. Slowly they gained on it a eventually spotted it in the distance. Vedic Tanner’s power had increased dramatically since his first encounter with one of these vile creations. “Leave this to me”, he commanded as he sailed into the air. He flew casually up to the stinking carcass as interrupted it’s course. “By the Power of Croí, Saol and Bás, I Command you to return to Death!” she prayed as she held out the symbol of The Church of The Moons. The creature gave out the slightest sigh as it crashed lifeless to the muddy ground. Vedic Tanner was pleased and thanked the Gods.

Over the next few days the scout and ranger occasionally notices signs of poison dusk tribe lizardfolk, watching them from forest and swamp. But even at night they were too craven to come close enough to warrant a chase. They number of travellers they met on the roads was diminishing as they left the south and headed into the wilderness.

The day was dull and cold when they again spied another unusual sight. A mob of undead was blocking the road. Where were are these creatures coming from? No one seemed curious. All were more focused on where they were going. Back to the grave. The heroes summoned the power of the Gods, of Nature and of Magic and charged into battle. Vedic Tanner channelled the power of Bás, his immortal scythe cut the insubstantial cord of unlife that bound the dead to Talamh and sent their souls screaming back to the Wall. Undead humans and lizardfolk fell lifeless all around the Cleric as he called upon the power of the Gods time and again. Ivellios, chanted from a scroll and unleashed a fireball, which completely incinerated several more undead and set many more aflame. Bob Charmer last out with long and short swords and slowly hacked his way through the throng. The Swarm followed him but the undead ignored them. Jo of Kell held off half the horde almost single-handedly, though his weapons seems to have little effect on them. John Appleby was afire with passion as the Applewood staff whirled through the air and crushed zombie skulls. This was where he felt most alive, the power of Nadúir and Draíocht coursing through his veins. As the battle Todd Stuffitt skulked around the edges always looking for a chance to strike. His rapier was little use against lifeless flesh and his acute eye could find no vulnerable places to strike. Still he watched and waited and when the time was right he would lash out to strike a punishing final blow. The relentless assault of Bás’ power wielded by The Cleric rapidly took it’s toll and soon the warriors were hacking the last life from the last few bodies.

A loud voice shouting in the forest caused their heads to spin and they scoured the woods for the source. Four more undead lizardfolk burst from the tree line heading for the river. A feral figure leapt from within the trees and covered thirty feet to land on the back of the foremost zombie. It bit into it’s cold dead neck and bloodlessly ripped off it’s head. The figure leapt snarling to another and broke it’s neck, ribs, elbow and both legs in a series of blindingly fast punches and kicks. In a matter of moments all four of it’s quarry had been brutally broken and slain. At this point the slim pale creature stopped. It straightened it’s hair, relaxed it’s demeanour and stood upright with an aristocratic air, to meet the gaze of the party. He smiled. “I am Prince Mantorok of Mantorok Island, Vedic of The Church of The Moons and Assassin of Bás. There is an undead problem here and I have been sent to fix it.”

Todd Stuffitt managed not only to acquire a trio of mercenaries funded by the party but also a few little trinkets…
One of the human zombies, that Todd recognises as Peter Gemfoot a crooked Darkbridge merchant and fence, has an azurite worth 12gp and a deep blue spinel worth 400gp, hidden in the toe of his shoe.
While searching the giant’s body Todd notices that there is a rock wedged under it’s headband. Another quick sleight of hand and the ‘rock is in Todd’s purse. Later private appraisal reveals that the rock is a valuable gem. A blue white diamond worth 6000gp.

The Hunters of Woodhaven

AK510-35 Cool Summer Start Week 3
[Charon Guiding, Shale Resting, Cycles Watching]

John Appleby, Jo of Kell and Bob Charmer ranged further and further from the lumbering wagons until they decided that it would be a good idea to ditch the wagons and head to Woodhaven.
Appleby and Charmer both notice that a mated pair of Slevakor are stalking them through the trees. Appleby walks over to them and after invoking Nadúir’s power he speaks to them. They are initially hostile but he wins them over gradually and gains their trust. He convinces them to seek prey elsewhere as the are outmatched. Once they realise that the human’s are not a source of food, they trot casually off into the tree to seek some Baphen calves.
On arriving home they discovered that Arkthuus men had been regularly visiting the village and taking supplies. There were constant hostilities between the Steel Clan and the Dark Keep’s forces (History repeating itself). Arkthuus Poten has taken to calling himself Count Darkkeep and is styling himself as the overlord of the region. Most urgently though, Helen Trainer asks the druid and the ranger to investigate claims by settlers in nearby farms that there is a flying beast terrorising the countryside and carrying off livestock! They set off at once and using their intimate knowledge of the area they soon find evidence of a large flying creature killing prey and carrying it off. They spot large spikes buried in the ground and deep into wooden posts around the farm. Appleby suspects that they are dealing with a Manticore.
After a day of laborious circling around looking for clues, Charmer eventually finds a blood trail of a recently killed meal and tracks it to the Manticore’s feeding lair. It is away when they arrive but Charmer deduces from the carnage in the lair that the creature should be returning from the hunt in a matter of hours. They prepare an ambush. The Swarm is sent aloft along the creatures most probably approach vector to provide an early warning of it’s arrival.
Finally when it appears, the druid calls upon the power of the Applewood Staff and hardens his skin with Applewood bark. As the creature lands it spies the pair of would be ambushers. With a lightening quick lash of it’s tail it sends a volley of large deadly spikes to impale Charmer. Spikes pierce his legs and puncture his lungs and Charmer teeters on the brink of death. In response Appleby charges in to attack. He smashes the staff into the creatures face and it bellow in pain. Then the bees swarm around it and sting it ferociously. It’s thick hide and stout heart are not enough to fend off the effects of the poison and it beings to slow. Then Charmer calls on the power of Nadúir to entangle the creature. Trees, bushes and tall grasses writhe towards the Manticore but it dances nimbly away from their grasp. Charmer staggers deeper into the safety of the trees. The beast lashes at John Appleby with massive claws and lands a powerful blow, but the strength of the bark protects him from harm. It’s mighty jaws snap at him and take a chunk out of his arm but Appleby is made of sterner stuff and shrugs off the flesh wound. In response to the attack he smashes the creature with a double strike from the Applewood Staff and the creature reels under the onslaught. The bees continue to swarm and sting. The ranger creeps carefully forward and looses another arrow at the beast catching it in the chest. The damage is taking it’s toll and it is heavy on it’s feet. The plants again attempt to entangle it and again it dances away. It leaps into the air to escape the druid. As it climbs into the air is flicks it’s tail frantically back at the druid and sends another volley of deadly spikes back at him. Expecting this tactic Appleby manages to avoid the worst of this and the Applewood bark deflects some of the spikes. Charmer tracks the climbing creature with a notched arrow. He fires. The shaft flies wide. Unfazed, he notches another and releases it in a fluid motion. The shaft sails true and pierces the back of the creatures neck, severing it’s spinal cord. It dies instantly. The body falls gracelessly from the sky and crashes into the rocky ground with bone breaking speed. Appleby calls upon the power of Nadúir to heal the worst of the rangers wounds. The two woodsmen then efficiently butcher their quarry. They find several valuable items on the body of a merchant and his body guard and this is returned to the village. The Longsword and Plate mail will be welcomed by the town guard.

The following day is spent healing and by using all his druidic skill and the power of Nadúir, Appleby manages to restore Charmer to full health.
Then they set off to hunt Baphen to replenish the village’s dwindling food supplies. The track down a Baphen herd and manage to separate a trio of aging Baphen from the rest. Appleby and Charmer cast their spells and enter the fray. The druid attacks with his staff as the bees swarm around a panicking Baphen. He summons a Hippogriff which soars into attack one of the fleeing Baphen. His claws are sharp and rend the fleeing Baphen’s flesh. The ranger send a pair of shaft’s into it’s flanks and it begins to slow. One of the Baphen is enraged and it gores Appleby with her great horns, but the druid sidesteps the worst of the damage. Another couple of blows and the enraged Baphen is down. Another pair of arrows and the fleeing Baphen is slain. Appleby summons another Hippogriff and sends them both to hunt down the last survivor. It’s speed is no match for the chasing Hippogriff’s and the rangers arrows and within moments, all three Baphen are dead. The villagers arrive with their wagons and the food is butchered, loaded and carted home. All in a days work.

Covered in Bees!

AK510-36 Cool Summer Start Week 4
[Charon Guiding, Shale Resting, Cycles Watching]

Moonday
Severe storms lash the coast of Stormwatch and the rivers swell to the brink of flood. Priests of Áisnéis and Brionglóid claim that the storms are a bad omen. They speak of a Dark Tide rising and of Death. The Priests of Bás merely smile. The Vedic of Woodhaven is extremely displeased as he and his companions are forced to a slow crawl dragging the wagons northwards towards the village. Only his Gods given powers save the wagons and all upon them from falling into the mire and swelling waters of the river. The going is very slow and the tedious journey takes far longer then expected. With the Ranger, Druid and Scout gone, the food supplies and morale begin to run low. Everyone is cold and wet and exhausted, but they press on. Meanwhile the Storms prevent Cheno Melek’s long ship from making any progress. The Winds are too strong for sails and the current is too heavy for rowing. All but a small distance is travelled every day. Worse still, when sea sickness turns to filth fever, arguments break out as to who is to blame. Sir Eagon’s diplomatic skills and sword arm are all that prevent several episodes of serious violence from erupting. He tends to crewman and settler alike and wins the respect and gratitude of all on board. Those who follow the Chosen fare best and many are spared the worst ravages of the disease.

While Sheriff Appleby decides to spend some time in his orchard with his wife and while Jo of Kell devotes his time to his experiments in his new lab, Bob Charmer settles the bees back into their hives. The queens and larvae have survived the winter well and the hives are almost back to full strength. During the worst of the rains Bob creates a few more hives and requests new queens be readied for these. After only a few days in their hives hiding from the rain, the swarm is itching to get out into the wilderness again. Bob’s restless nature has taken root in them more than they know. The hive mind has already sent scouts ranging far and wide when Bob calls upon them to join him on the hunt. Bob has sensed something unusual to the north and when he mentions this to the bees they too can feel a faint ‘something’. They set off north through the sodden countryside to see what they can find. There are few creatures abroad in the stormy weather, even Baphen and Lizardfolk are scarce to be seen. A boar comes snuffling about his damp campsite late one evening but he easily befriends it with some soothing words and a little food. The large creature is welcome protection and heat in the cold and rainy night.

Cogaday
Another days travel brings him upon a strange site. Several humanoid creatures are tending to large flowers, the size of a grown man. Some appear to be gardening others appear to be gathering pollen. The creatures resemble a cross between an elf and a giant bee. They wear no armour and only very light clothing. They each carry tools for their trade as well as a bow and a javelin. They have large gossamer wings and their chests are covered in thick black and yellow stripped fur. Their elvish features are contrasted with their black compound eyes and antennae. Bob calls on Nadúir to hide himself and the swarm from the bee folk and approaches cautiously. After a long period of inspection, Bob decides that they are not hostile and that he should greet them. Not wanting to alarm or annoy them, he moves away over the brow of a nearby hill before dismissing his magical concealments. When he approaches and hails them, they are taken aback and raise weapons. Quickly they sense the hive mind and the bond between Bob and his swarm.
“Greetings Your Highness,” says the closest bee-elf.
“Huh?” responds Bob Charmer with most excellent alacrity of wit.
“You are a Queen and yet you choose to take the form of a human. Why is that?” he continues.
“Oh I’m not a queen, I am a man. These bees are my friends,” Bob finds his tongue.
“How odd”, the lead bee muses. Then he seems to have a silent conversation with himself.
Charmer senses the bee communicating with it’s hive.
“You must come with us.” the bee commands and with unspoken unity all the bees in the field finish working and start to fly northwards.
Charmer attempts to keep up but inevitably falls behind until the bees slow down to allow him to follow. There is no further conversation forthcoming from his new companions. As they move tirelessly northwards they are joined by several other groups of elf-bees all garbed as workers but well armed. None talk, but the drone of their buzzing wings carries across the wind and it has a relaxing effect. The swarm often have to prod Charmer into wakefulness as the buzzing seems to have an insidious soporific effect. Then several larger specimens join the group. They are over 10 feet tall and powerfully built. The angry buzzing from their wings sets Bobs teeth on edge but thankfully seems to counter the droning from the smaller bee folk. They glare suspiciously at the human and his swarm until a silent communication appraises them of the situation. They then move into a flanking formation around him, their huge razor sharp glaives or their massive powerful long bows held in a way that leave no doubt in his mind that he has quietly been shifted from companion to prisoner.
After several hours of travel in the direction of Honeyglen, they arrive at a lightly forested valley. In the distance, a rocky hill juts jaggedly from the valley floor. Perched atop this hill is a hive, larger than a Torlandish keep. There is only one entrance. High above the valley floor at the top of the hive is an entrance just large enough to allow a the bee warriors to fly through. Before Bob can ask how he will get up there, a couple of warriors grab him under his around and shoot up into the sky. Bob is deposited on the lip of the hive door in a matter of seconds. He manages to catch his balance and wonders not only at how comfortable he is at this height but also at how much he enjoyed the sensation of flying. He makes a mental note to investigate this further. A gentle jab from a warriors glaive reminds Bob that there is no time for sightseeing and he moves quickly into the hive to avoid the incoming warrior. The interior of the hive is a magnification of the tiny hives of his own bees. The walls in all directions are interlinked hexagons, almost as if parts of a perfect honeycomb had been removed to make the passage. The hive is dark inside and after turning a couple of corners Bob can barely see. Smaller bees then start to place glowing globs of a honey like substance in small holes in the honey comb. The bathes the hexagonal passages in a warm amber glow. Bob then sees that there are other passages leading off in various directions and that there are many bee folk going about the hive’s business. An occasional curious glance or a moments hesitation are the only signs that the other hive dwellers have even notices the strange human visitor.
As he descends, the decorations change. Crude empty thickened walls give way to ornately decorated delicately engraved masterpieces. Other materials begin to make an appearance within the walls. Exquisitely crafted glow lamps, wooden panels depicting the lives and myths of the bee folk and hardened amber sculptures of unknown legendary figures and familiar gods, become more frequent. Finally the passage widens and then ends at a pair of doors resembling gossamer stained glass. The glass is shaped like a warriors wings but closer examination reveals a mythical story depicted in the details. Again a glaive point cuts short Bob’s examination.
“The Human!” Bob is announced, and the door is opened.
The audience chamber beyond is well lit by both glow lamps and cunningly crafted hexagonal light wells. The room is large enough to accommodate all of Woodhaven’s settlers and contains enough works of art to buy and sell the village several times over. There are several warriors guarding the occupants. They are all dressed in rich and exotic fabrics and without much effort Bob can see that they are arranged neatly in order of importance around a figure that he instinctively recognises as their queen.
“Vzzz Bvzzz WWvvvw Tzzsd Dxssvv…” the queen says formally in her own tongue. Bob’s expression is blank he can barely sense any meaning from her words.
“Sherath Nillitanial eruatharial Ilseth?” she inquires. Bob lack of linguistic skills continue the verbal impasse.
“Was that Elvish?” he ventures.
“Fyr Tryyk Chocck Jharek Tyyrish?” the queen attempts to reach him in the language of the Fey.
“I’m pretty sure that was Fey,” Bob responds, “but I have no idea what you are trying to say.”
The queen’s antennae do an uncanny impression of a human rolling their eyes to heaven and she resorts to the clumsy common tongue.
“Wwellcome human Queen,” she greets him.
“I’m no Queen, your Highness,” Bob responds, getting quickly but politely to the point.
“I realisze that from firszt glance, and I appreciate your honeszty. Many of your race do not havve that much good szensze. If you are not a queen though, wwhat are you? Howw do you control you hivve?”
“These bees,” Bob says indicating his swarm, “are my friends. I don’t control them and they don’t control me. They follow me because the are willing. I can’t explain how or why because I don’t know.”
“Let me introduce myself I am Queen Lah'Lee Lu'Ley of the Larval Abeil City of Zzziiivvv. Although my mother Queen Lah'Lee Lu'Ley of the Abeil Imperial City of Diiszzha still calls me Princess, you will find that title no longer fits me well”, she smiles a strange little smile. It’s meaning is lots on the woodsman.
“This is my council of vassals,” she indicates the slightly overweight collection of foppishly dressed bees-elves decorating the chamber. “And this is General Zzodazz commander of my Soldier army.” The general gives a fearsome military salute which involves slamming the butt of the glaive into the floor. The Queen and several advisors frown and move their antennae in a vaguely disapproving manner as the muscular soldier Abeil breaks an expensive floor tile with his salute.
“We are the Abeil,” she continues. “My vassals do the work of the hive, my soldiers fight and die for the hive and my council advise me and do my bidding”, she continues to extol the virtues of the tightly knit Abeil society and her voice carries musically throughout the chamber.
“Why have you come here?” the queen snaps suddenly in an attempt to throw Charmer off guard.
“I want to form an alliance between Woodhaven and your hive”, he calmly responds. His awareness of the hive mind giving him an preternatural sense of the queens intentions moments before she acts.
Suddenly the awareness is cut off. He feels the hive mind softly probing at the edges of his consciousness. He can almost make out the words but they are muffled as if underwater. The hive mind is trying to contact him and he is not sure of their intentions. He attempts to close his mind and his swarm’s hive mind follow suit. The queen’s probing is silenced. Her expression reveals surprise before she can conceal it. Bob recognises a momentary lapse and memorises the changes in expression.
“I wish to know if you are worthy of brokering an alliance. Attempt to contact me.” Again the mental closeness of the hive minds surrounds him. This time with the help of the swarm, he manages to form a tentative bond with the other hive and they are able to impress vague sensations upon one another.
“That’s enough for now. You do have potential. We are willing to accept you as a broker. Now, why should we form an alliance with this Woodhaven hive”.
“Woodhaven is not a hive, it’s a village. But we have many things to trade and we can help protect you.”
“Interesting, what kind of items do you have for tr…”
“Hah!” shouts the General. “We can make whatever we need and these puny human’s are worthless allies in battle! Just look at them! You will need to prove yourself in combat if you wish to be taken seriously here!”
“Thanks you General,” the queen gracefully takes the air out from beneath Zzodazz’s wings and continues her interrogation of the puny human. “Zzodazz has a blunt but valid point human, what military value are you to us? Why form anything more than a trading agreement? Are you willing to show us your mettle at the risk of you life?”
“I will fight whoever you want” Charmer replies, unperturbed by the Abeil's outbursts.
“My weakest Soldier would crush you human!” Zzodazz laughs, attracting the smirks of his supporters in the council.
“I think we should start will a vassal first”, the queen suggests ignoring Zzodazz’s laughter. “Then we shall see if it is safe to pit you against one of Zzodazz’s troops.”
“What weapons will we use?” asks Charmer.
“Whatever you are most effective with,” the queen replies. “We shall see you in the Charon Arena, ready for battle.”
The entire council then turn as one and fly out of several concealed hexagonal doorways dotted around the chamber. The doors are closed behind them leaving no trace of their passage.

A large warrior escorts Bob and his swarm up through the hives winding passages and into a hexagonal chamber. The chamber is well lit with glow lamps and there is already a growing buzz as important Abeil vassals and soldiers take up positions small hexagonal viewing pockets around the chamber. The soldier explains that the two glowing hexagonal lights suspended in the air at either end of the chamber are the staring points for Abeil combatants. The lights have been lowered to ground level to accommodate the human challenger. He also mentions that if either combatant survives they will receive healing from the arena’s Charon Priest.
Charmer decides to pray to Nadúir for help and his prayers are rewarded. He chooses to strengthen his body against poison having seen the lethal green venom that coats the stingers of all the Abeil.
Drawing his dagger and longsword he enters the glowing hexagon. An Abeil vassal enters the one opposite javelin in hand. The lights wink out and the vassal hurls his barbed javelin at the ranger. Surprised by the sudden strike, Bob is barely able to react and the javelin catches his arm and draws blood. The vassal flies up into the air before Bob can react and it starts to draw it’s bow. Bob responds by hurling his dagger at the vassal and catches him squarely in the throat. The creatures’ wings falter and it falls unconscious to the ground as blood gushes from the wound. A Charon soldier priest flies over the downed vassal and manages to save it’s life.
A murmur passes around the room and Bob and the swarm sense a growing respect. The Priest then heals the gash on his arm before he is sent back into the glowing light. Obviously he is deemed worthy to face a Soldier.

A large Soldier moves into the light and sneers at his opponent. “This won’t take long”, he brags loudly to the audience in broken common.
The lights wink out. Bob, now aware of their meaning, has loosed three arrows before the Soldier can react. They all fly true but the soldier’s hide has strange powers and the arrows don’t penetrate it as they should. The mortal wounds are reduced to painful shallow lacerations as the arrows embed in the stripped hide.
The Soldier confident in his strength and size levels the glaive at the ranger and charges. But fate is on the rangers side as the soldier clumsily misses his mark and his weapon slips out of his grasp. Trying to recover his balance he opens his flank to a counter attack. Another arrow thuds home from the rangers bow. He sidesteps and unleashed yet another volley of arrows. All hit true and although the soldier’s magical hide protects him, the relentless stream of arrows is rapidly taking it’s toll.
Angered the soldier leaps at the human to impale him on his venomous stinger. Again his anger defeats him as the ranger reads his move and opportunistically stabs him with an arrow as he reloads. The rain of arrows continues and the soldier is tries to retreat. He flies off and unslings his own enormous bow. A couple of shots from the mighty weapon slash through the side of Bob’s leg and hip, he manages to avoid the worst of the damage and overcome the pain but he realises that the battle must be ended quickly. He sees that the warrior has changes the rhythm of his wings and that he seems to be concentrating intensely on their beat. He senses some dangerous Abeil weapon being prepared. One more arrow flies from Charmer’s Torlandish bow and it is all over. The last shot hits the soldier in the neck and like the vassal before him, he falters bloodily and slips to the ground.

There are no cheers and no comments. In unison the audience quietly leaves the chamber. The priest tends to the wounded soldier and then to Charmer. He congratulates him on a well fought battle and states that Charon had blessed him Charmer dismisses the comment as priestly bias. He is escorted back to the council chamber and is greeted by the Queen.
“Is everyone in Woodhaven as powerful a fighter as you?” she asks bluntly.
“Yes they are,” Bob lies boldly. A battle of wills ensues as each tries to sense the others intentions.
“Really?” the queen presses unable to determine if Bob is telling the truth and hoping for some evidence in his demeanour.
“They are all powerful at what they do,” Bob continues diplomatically.
The Queen seems satisfied with this. They continue to discuss the alliance and by nightfall the broad strokes of a military and trade alliance have been agreed. After a nights rest, Bob is escorted from the hive. While being lowered to the ground he notices a pair of soldiers carrying a lizardfolk head each. The blood is still fresh. The bodes well for our alliance he smiles to himself.

Croíday, Draíday
Bob then spends the next few days, surveying the surrounding lands in order to blaze a trail between Honeyglen and Woodhaven. The trail he eventually cuts, reduces the travel time between both settlements. The travellers can move along the trail as quickly as on a good road rather than through forest.

Charday
Weary but satisfied, Bob Charmer Abeil Ambassador sets out for Woodhaven, for a well deserved rest and a cold pint of honeyed cider.

Cheno Melek Delivers

AK510-36 Cool Summer Start Week 4
[Charon Guiding, Shale Resting, Cycles Watching]

Meanwhile, after a tortuous journey the twenty new settlers are deposited by the “Crocodile” on the tiny makeshift pier. The villagers are extremely alarmed at first when they see Melek leap off the ship and stride into the village. His massive mottled bloodscale frame and ferocious scaled orcish face terrify the villagers and they fear a lizardfolk invasion. A few brave should lead by Orin Smith, confront the invader.
“Here’s your damn pox-ridden puke-bucket settlers, you can peel them off the decks yourselves, I’m sick of them. Now where can I get a decent pint of ale in this Stoirm-forsaken shanty?”
Orin and the others are completely taken aback as Melek walks past them towards ‘The badger and boar and baphen and bear’. Their slings dangle loosely and their staves waver as they wonder at the passing monstrosity.
Melek opens the locked tavern door with a powerful shove and the crude metal bolt gives way under minor protest. Jo’s wives armed with tanglefoot bags are ready to attack. With lightening speed Cheno Melek’s hand reaches into a pouch and hurls a tiny object across the room at the shaking landladies. Catherine’s had reaches out reflexively to catch it. Only after it lands squarely in her palm does she realise what was thrown. Marge starts to throw the bag. By now Cheno has almost reached the bar.
“So, what’ll ya have sir?” asks Catherine in her sweetest innkeeper voice.
“Pint of yer best ale. Don’t slack on the pouring arm and crack a fresh cask,” he replies.
Marge stops herself in mid throw almost falling on the bar and looks quizzically at Catherine. A tarnished coin sits in her palm.
Gold.
Suddenly Marge is all smiles and gossip. Soon Melek’s ale is served in the tavern’s only half gallon mug. Although he towers over the bar, even while sitting, the two women are unafraid. After all a paying customer is a rare thing in Woodhaven.

Outside matters are not proceeding quite so well. The seasick and feverish settlers and crew are slowly limping and staggering off the longship an into the village. Orin knows a plague when he sees it and sees it as an even bigger threat than the nine foot tall monstrous river captain. He arranges his men in a semi circle around the dock and prevents the new arrivals from proceeding.
“Ye have the Filth Fever and yer not welcome here. Back on yer boat and sail away,” he levels his crossbow at a crewman.
“We were told we could live here and that you would welcome us!” accuses a settler.
“Hah! You think I believe that you outlaw scum? Ye can keep yer plague on yer boat.”
Sir Eagon still clad in his golden armour walks calmly down the gangplank, carrying a small child in his arms, surveying the situation.
“You must be Orin. I am Sir Eagon DelFuego, Champion of the Chosen. These were invited here by Vedic Tanner. They are under my protection and that of The Church of The Moons. If you do not assist them you and your village will loose the blessing of The Gods and be cursed. The Chosen reserve far worse punishment than this mere fever, for those who displease them. So put down you weapons and help bring the sick to shelter. I will tend them under the Vedic arrives.”
This leaves Orin speechless and he watches open mouthed as his wife Emelda moves to attend the worst of the fever victims. Others in the village follow suit and soon all the new arrivals are being tended to. Orin vents his frustration on Sir Eagon accusing him of bringing fever to the village but Sir Eagon manages to calm him with assurances that he can cure this plague with the power of the Chosen.
The villagers tend to the sick and feed the hungry. They agree to allow the settlers to stay in their homes but insist that there is no room for the half breed crew and that they must stay on their ship at night. Sir Eagon manages to procure free ale for the crew and so this sleight is ignored.

Too many shoemakers spoil the broth

AK510-36 Cool Summer Start Week 4
[Charon Guiding, Shale Resting, Cycles Watching]

Sunday
Everyone arrives back at the village to find it in an uproar.
There is no food or accommodation for the new arrivals and they are very ill. The fever has spread to some villagers.
Tim Tanner commands everyone to calm down.
Chief Constable Stuffitt separates the settlers and the villagers.
Vedic Tanner prays to Croí to grant him the power to heal the sick. His prayers are granted and immediately he is able to set to work.
Stuffitt organises the digging of latrines, the construction of temporary shelters and the reallocation of supplies. He ensure that hot heads are kept busy and that the work teams mix settlers with villagers, in order to foster a spirit of co-operation.
Tanner and Stuffitt walk amongst the crowd old and new and convince them of the merits of having new people in the village to assist them and help grow the village. They spend much of the day using the diplomatic skills to placate both sides.
Ethan Namer, recently arrived back at the village uses his newly acquired bardic skills to magically improve the morale of the villagers and settler, singing of the future prosperity of Woodhaven.
Soon he has all the people of Woodhaven enthralled by his enchanting skills. He boldly proclaims that the settlers are now Woodhaven villagers. To his astonishment the antagonism between them ceases instantly.

Orin is unhappy that yet another position of authority, Chief Constable, has been granted to someone other than him. After negotiations Todd appoints him as Deputy Chief Constable and states that he will be in charge of the new town guard when the other are absent.

They hunt and easily kill three Baphen. They track some strange creatures which turn out to be a couple of Owl Bears. Todd Stuffitt sneaks into position downwind of them and kills one with two artfully places bow shots into its vulnerable neck. Ethan, Tim, Todd and Bob, use spells and weapons to bring the second owlbear. The Vedic notices that spells are weaker this close to the Charon festival of The Orb.
Rooting amongst the carnage in the owlbear den, Stuffitt finds several skeleton’s five of which resemble a Torlandish Tax Collector and his escort. They recovered 2000 silver pieces hidden buried in the floor of the den. They also discover a valuable dragon comb and a jewelled signet ring. Tanner wants to give the ring to his wife as a gift but the other argue that it’s is too expensive a gift, so Todd prises out the jewel and replaces it with an onyx. They also find a magical heavy mace which all agree should be given to the Vedic.

The villagers and setters assist in carting all of the Baphen, owlbear and Boar meet back to the village. There is a welcoming feast that night to reinforce the spirit of co-operation. With Bardic accompaniment, proclaiming his exploits, Sire Eagon’s identity is revealed and he removes his helm.
At the feast they have time to notice other changes in the village. The Kobolds have finished the walls and gates but have left due to constant visits from the Count’s men. The villagers eventually begin to enjoy the news that the village has been bought out from Zengarion Torc and that their repayments of the loan or no longer necessary.

The Goat Grill

AK510-37 Cool Summer End Week 1
[Charon Ruling, Shale Sleeping, Cycles Resting]
(Festival of The Orb: Charon – Craft, Combat and Feasts)

Moonday (Morning)
In new villages crops are watched, animals are tended and more buildings are constructed.
In established rural settlements the focus on relaxation and celebration of feasts

The feast continues long into the early hours of the morning.
Just after midnight, once the week of The Orb has begun, there is a shout from the gate.
“We are Reaves of Charon. It is the time of The Orb. We request food and shelter and a chance to fight!”
“I am a Vedic of Croí. You are welcome here Reaves of Charon. Eat and drink your fill. At dawn the will be fighting.” Responds Vedic Tanner.
The gates are opened an 20 Ibixian Clerics march casually into the village with their great Charon axes in their hands.
Their leader introduces himself as Be’eh’eh’eh’ria’. Or Beria in common tongue.
He laughs at almost everything and is easily the most cheerful fighting machine they have ever met.
The Ibixians carve haunches of Baphen off the spit by throwing hand axes past it and into large ‘catching shields’ held by their brothers on the other side.
They offer to build a Charon arena for the village by hewing stone with their axes.
While they do not are anything about logistics or design they do insist that their stone hewing abilities are formidable.
They sleep in the kobold built wooden Charon arena.

In the morning they insist that the Bel-War of Neart, a very hung-over Ethan Namer, join them in training at first light. Ethan wonders if he converts to Fileadh and becomes Cei-Liúr Ethan Namer, will there be more time spent abed. An hour later they roust an equally hung over Bob Charmer from his bed to find them a dozen or so Baphen to fight. They assume that someone will help them carry the meat back to the village but don’t bother to ask.

The Incredible Hulk

AK510-37 Cool Summer End Week 1
[Charon Ruling, Shale Sleeping, Cycles Resting]
(Festival of The Orb: Charon – Craft, Combat and Feasts)

Moonday (Afternoon)
Meanwhile, Helen Tanner requests that the heroes investigate the disappearance of farmers from outlying farms. Ethan expresses dismay that people could be foolish enough to live so far from the protection of a village.

Ethan, Bob, Tim and Todd head to the Mortar farmstead nearby where they investigate a disappearance. All occupants of the small farm have disappeared. A horse has been ripped in half and the porch and door of the log farmhouse have been torn asunder as if they were paper. Inside a meal is still sitting on the table but is beginning to rot. It looks like a family meal was interrupted. A bowl lies carefully placed, upturned in the fireplace and a lump of coal lies carefully placed in the stew pot on the table. A knife lies in a soup bowl and a spoon is jammed into a loaf of bread.
“Looks like a really strong creature came here and confused everyone.” Bob noted with a burst of intuition. Todd Stuffitt finds a pouch with 20 gold piece stashed in the fireplace. He explains that it is a ‘rescue fee’ from the Woodhaven town guard. And claims he will give it back if they ever find the owner, James Mortar alive. Tim looks enviously at the stone fireplace and wonders if they will find whoever built it. It is well made and loose stone is easy to find in the village. Bob finds tracks showing a massive creature that can burrow almost as fast as a man can walk. The human tracks show that their owners ran about in a confused way for a while then they all started walking slowly in the general direction of Ozkellthorpe.

The four then investigate another disappearance and speak to Jenick Loner at his farm a few miles away. His son has been taken. He is slightly odd and refuses to go to the village for protection. In a muddy field where the son disappeared, Charmer picks of the same tracks again. This time he also detects tracks of a creature that resemble sticks being poked rapidly into the ground. They follow the boy’s tracks and notice that they lead in the same direction as the Mortar’s. However the massive creature’s tracks move off in another direction. Ethan calculates that they are heading to another farmstead.

They ride will all haste and manage arrive at Jack Krippen’s farmstead as the creature is about to attack. It is the size of an ogre and looks like a cross between an insect and an ape. It strange set of mammal and insect eyes confuse Charmer as he attacks and he accidentally fires at his companions. Tim Tanner attacks with his new magical mace and with the spiritual mace of Croí. Ethan sings and rages and smashes the creature with a mighty blow. Ethan is badly wounded in the battle but suffering from Ethan’s crushing first blow with the morning star, creature is soon taken down. They look up from their fallen foe to see a man and woman hugging a small child. Her eyes are filled with tears of relief. Helen Krippen calls out to their saviours…

Journey to the Bard’s Tomb

AK510-37 Cool Summer End Week 1
[Charon Ruling, Shale Sleeping, Cycles Resting]
(Festival of The Orb: Charon – Craft, Combat and Feasts)

Moonday (Evening)

The Farmers thank their saviours profusely and promise never ending gratitude. The usual.
The heroes forget their names.

Vedic Tim Tanner, Chief Constable Todd Stuffitt stay at the farm to question them.
Bob Charmer and Bel-War Ethan Namer head back to the previous farm to pick up the tracks.
As they are following the tracks through a small wood they are accosted by a band of Black Scales.
A ferocious Charon fuelled battle ensues as Ethan and the four Black scales are all attuned to Charon.
Sheriff Appleby disguised as a tree appears from no where and surprises one of the blackscales.
A ferocious battle ensues in which Ethan is pummelled by massive greatclubs of silver and darkwood.
Appleby’s Hippogriff’s and Charmers bees along with staff and bow, help to turn the tide of battle.
They loot the creatures weapons and jewellery. The leader carries a magical wooden lightening javelin.
(This is claimed by the druid. Ethan take the cure potion and Charmer the shield of faith potion).

Ethan, John and Bob continue to follow the tracks eastward but gradually the pull of the Tomb and his past life get too strong for Ethan to resist.
He persuades John and Bob to go with him, while the other continue the slow tracking process to the east.
Ethan decides that they must get to the Tomb by Cogaday on The Orb festival. They ride hard and reach Tarbuck ferry
They reach Tarbuck ferry by midday on Shaleday and are enthusiastically welcomed by Tarbuck.
With the proceeds of Ethan’s gifts of weapons etc he has hired himself a quiet muscular ‘assistant’ called George to ensure his safety.
They press on once the river has been crossed. And make camp within a few hours ride of the Tomb.
After pre-dawn prayer and mediation they manage to reach the Tomb an hour before midday on Cogaday.

Test of Faith

AK510-37 Cool Summer End Week 1
[Charon Ruling, Shale Sleeping, Cycles Resting]
(Festival of The Orb: Charon – Craft, Combat and Feasts)

Cogaday (Morning)

The Tomb has been re-sealed and Fear Iarann is nowhere to be seen. The area is eerily quiet.
Bob and John attempt to open the seal. Bob reaches out towards the massive stone disk to push against it.
When he touches it the church symbols glow brightly and three symbols are projected in a luminous orange glow a couple of feet from the face of the seal.
Bob’s hands glow as he touches on and he feels a strong connection with the seal’s magic.
He knows with a certainty that trying to break away from the seal or failing it’s test will be painful or worse.
John and Bob are both held within a Church of The Moons testing field.
Ethan has been trained in the rites of the Cult of Neart and the Lore of Fochlachan but he is unable to assist them as he is outside the field.
Using their scant knowledge of religion and some insightful ad hoc theology, they manage to pass the test.
Each trio of symbols is identified and assigned to the correct Moon, Charon, Croí and Shale.
Unfortunately, Bob mistakes Charon for both Sharon and Karen and then confuses Shale with both Seilig and Shile, much to the displeasure of the Gods.
John Appleby’s natural wisdom is just enough to guide them through the challenge.

The Choir of The Dead

AK510-37 Cool Summer End Week 1
[Charon Ruling, Shale Sleeping, Cycles Resting]
(Festival of The Orb: Charon – Craft, Combat and Feasts)

Cogaday (Morning)
The seal rolls back once the test is passed and reveals a wide entrance chamber sloping down towards a set of golden double doors.
They enter the chamber and examine the frescoes depicting Setanta Fochlachan life.
After some well educated, wild guess work, they figure out the door passwords.
The door opens to reveal what appears to be a large white marble concert hall. But there is no stage.
Ethan plays his lute to dispel the illusion clad force wall found by Appleby. They find the stage behind it.
Then he plays the huge five ton concert harp on the stage. The four magical glass guardian statues do not attack.
The double doors to the Hall of the Choir of The Dead open once he manages to play well enough.
They step into the 200 foot long corridor behind the door and see well lit cases holding preserved DéDannan ogre and minotaur bodies.
Some of these cases have been smashed and the occupants are missing.
Several large shapes move towards them.
They are DéDannan Ogre Zombies with small trees freshly ripped from the ground as clubs.
Filled with hate for the undead, Appleby charges recklessly at them, his druidic powers all but forgotten.
They almost kill Ethan, Appleby and Bob. Bob flees. Some lucky attacks of opportunity save the day.

Bob “Split the party” Charmer, who had fled the zombies is then attacked by a couple of DéDannan Minotaur Zombies coming from the opposite direction. He manages to escape by fleeing again this time with his spade arrows flying into the undead as he moves.
Appleby summons fire, hippogriffs and the power of the staff before entering battle and does serious damage to the undead.
Ethan sings and invokes Fileadh’s power to strengthen his music. The power of The Tomb flows through them and they are filled with a heroic surge far beyond the power of mortal music.
Ethan then prays to the Gods for help. Fileadh responds. He reminds Ethan of the Eversong Song. Ethan is fleetingly linked to Fileadh as he plays a fraction of a chord of the Eversong. He uses the music to describe his wounded body and then he subtly changes the music to describe his body as healthy. The music of The Eversong changes reality to match it’s notes and the horrible wounds inflicted by the ogres are healed.
Ethan is now fully committed to converting to Fileadh.
Charmers spade arrows along with Ethan’s Charon attuned combat abilities and Appleby’s impressive druidic onslaught of spell and staff, win the day.

The Illithid Experiments

AK510-37 Cool Summer End Week 1
[Charon Ruling, Shale Sleeping, Cycles Resting]
(Festival of The Orb: Charon – Craft, Combat and Feasts)

Cogaday (Mid Day)

Arch Vedic Tim Tanner, Chief Constable Todd Stuffitt and Ivellios Tharanaian arrive at the Tomb having lost the trail of the hostages.
They are attacked by another DéDannan Ogre Zombie which almost crushes Bob Charmer with a tree stump.
The Ogre Zombie is destroyed within a few seconds.
They spring the Warforged Charger trap and fight a few warforged before Ethan commands them to stop.
They all sing together and the statue of Setanta at Play starts playing, leading the choir of the dead in a chorus of Barbara Anne.
A similar scene plays out at the other end. Ethan puts his flail into the hand of a statue of Setanta at War.
This causes the chorus of the choir to become stronger and there is a just audible click heard by Bob.
After several attempts the Chief Constable manages to unlock the golden double doors.
They open the door to find a gruesome Fallen incubator. The walls of the room are covered in a purple slime that has hardened into a brittle cocoon.
Inside the cocoon is a DéDannan Ogre Bard from the Choir of The Dead. They attack the cocoon with weapon and flame.
The cocoon bursts open to reveal Ogre which has a massive tentacle protruding from it’s forehead.
It uses it’s mind powers to suggest that everyone attack each other. Bob’s mind succumbs to the subtle influence. The other resist.
They all attack and inflict serious damage on the creature. Then it spays acid all over the room from it’s mouth.
After that final attack it is swiftly destroyed.

They set to searching the slimy ichor covered walls of the room. The slime is running down the walls and down the corridor in writhing almost living tendrils. They spend much of their time dodging the slime and trying to resist it’s evil magical effects.
Ivellios clears an area with by conjuring a magical splash of acid. The tendrils are badly burned by the acid but quickly the oily liquid pours back in from the rest of the soaking floor. Then they hear shouting and approaching footsteps above ground. They decide to stay in the strange room but move to defensible positions. The slime is now freely flowing down the passage

Lizardfolk attack. Held back by Charmer.
Some start to transform into mutant slime creatures.
Ivellios chases them for a while,
Namer activates the portal down into the tomb.

There’s Something About Ethan

AK510-37 Cool Summer End Week 1
[Charon Ruling, Shale Sleeping, Cycles Resting]
(Festival of The Orb: Charon – Craft, Combat and Feasts)

Cogaday (Evening)

Marble octagonal with eight double doors, statues, tables, stringed instruments and symbols.
They match the symbols to meaning and gods and activate each symbol.
The song in the tomb heals them.
They open the fire tomb but tale nothing.
Ethan plays several instruments each unlocking a later one and stops with the Canaith mandolin.
They open the sound tomb and enter into the water trap.
Ethan commands it to stop and it releases them.
They enter Setanta’s Tomb.
Setanta’s and Ethan’s spirits combine suddenly with light, wind, song and power.
Ethan remembers all for a short while.
He will now be able to occasionally reconnect temporarily with the lifeforce. This will grant great powers.
More Lizardfolk have arrived and been transformed. They drop ropes into the tomb and start to descend.
Stuffitt is called forward by suggestion.
The other drag him back into Setanta’s Tomb.
They lure some lizardfolk mutant’s into the water trap where they eventually drown.
The rest in the Namer locked room overnight.

Lizardfolk Mutants in Setanta’s Tomb

AK510-37 Cool Summer End Week 1
[Charon Ruling, Shale Sleeping, Cycles Resting]
(Festival of The Orb: Charon – Craft, Combat and Feasts)

Croíday

They cast many spells in the morning and when they emerge fully charged with magic, they decimate the large number of foes who wait for them both above and below the Tomb.

They Search for Treasure
Ivellios, Stuffitt, Charmer, Stanten and Namer contract Flayer Doom, which eventually could result in ceremorphosis.
The lizardfolk were carrying a Cogadh Statue which has been subtly alerted to become a Fallen Idol. Could be the work of Cealg.
Discussion on The Prince of Schliss and The Wild Marsh Druid. They are not working together.
They rest overnight to gain cure disease spells.

Draíday (Morning)

Druid and Vedic heal most of them. They need to exercise the power of their faith to remove the disease.
Ivellios cannot be healed by Tim Tanner for some unknown reason.
Lizardfolk incursion.
Arch Vedic Tim Tanner Exerts his authority
Blackscales attack the Arch Vedic being fanatically loyal to the Wild Marsh Druid.
Normal Lizardfolk obey the orders of the Arch Vedic being more loyal to the Church.
They interrogate the lizardfolk who are quite helpful to the Arch Vedic. War has started.
Lizardfolk are all over the land.
Many key locations are being taken. This includes Dark keep, Woodhaven, keeps, towers, fords, bridges etc.

War!

AK510-37 Cool Summer End Week 1
[Charon Ruling, Shale Sleeping, Cycles Resting]
(Festival of The Orb: Charon – Craft, Combat and Feasts)

Draíday (Afternoon)

Return to Woodhaven avoiding patrols. Most patrols are on foot and unable to overtake the party. The fact that Tanner proclaims himself as an Arch Vedic of The Church Of The Moons, makes make lizardfolk reluctant to attack. The Blackscales and Steel Clan ranger Captains are unable to coerce their troops quickly enough.

Charday

After breaking camp Appleby finally manages to heal Ivellios.
At Tarbuck Ferry they find 200 lizardfolk in a fortified encampment.
Appleby is very tempted to attack but didn’t.
They decide to scout another way across.
In Crocodile form the Druid finds fordable point in the river and leads them safely across.

Sunday

They meet a Griffon-riding mountain elf knight carrying a passenger.
The elven passenger introduces himself as Khranen.
He states that he has been sent by the Mountain Elves and the Draíocht Church to be Ivellios’ new Apprentice.
He is arrogant and has very little time for ‘Seaward peasant hovels’.
Arch Vedic Tim Tanner put him in his place and his respect for the Church leaves him unable to retaliate.
Ivellios is presented with a Draíocht Gem.
Khranen explains that this can be magically tuned to a Draíocht Ring in order to make it more powerful.
Once the ritual has been researched and completed, the falcon projectiles will be able to use some of Ivellios’ spell power to fly even more quickly than before. The ring will also be attuned to Shale rather than Charon during combat.

The Liberation of Woodhaven

AK510-38 Cool Summer End Week 2
[Charon Guiding, Shale Resting, Cycles Watching]

Moonday

Ivellios Spied remotely on Woodhaven using his magical abilities.
Appleby brachiates into his orchard and assists in the spying.
Lizardfolk have taken over peacefully. The Ibixians have not attacked them as they are all Charon worshippers. Several combats have left many lizardfolk battered and bruised but this is all innocent, Charon worshipping fun.
The Heroes cast a few spells and walk in to claim the town.
The Lizardfolk Steel Captain in charge has violent disagreement with this.
John Appleby calls lightening, which crashes into the Captain who barely manages to leap out of the way.
His blackscale bodyguards pummel Appleby with massive stone clubs the size of anvils.
Then the Ranger slashes viciously at him, opening his chest and slashing his throat.
Mace, Fireball and flail are unleashed upon the invaders.
The Arch Vedic calls on the faithful to stand with him and so again, the common lizardfolk to not attack.
Several blackscales fall under the fury of fire and the power of mace and flail. Ethan fells two with one blow.
In righteous anger Appleby smites the ranger captain with another powerful bolts of lightening.
The powerful strike fries the captain and almost melts his armour. With his furious dying breath the ranger skewers Appleby on his longsword.
They both collapse in the bloody mud of the main square.
The Ibixian leader arrives in desperate haste and kills the last standing blackscale.
The Arch Vedic commands the lizardfolk to leave in the name of the Church. Their leaders are dead and they are no match for the heroes and 20 Ibixian Charon Priests so they have little choice. They leave.
Victory goes to the heroes.

The Dark Tide Rises

AK510-38 Cool Summer End Week 2
[Charon Guiding, Shale Resting, Cycles Watching]

Shaleday

Tim, Ethan, John and Bob are all sitting in Joe’s Tavern supping some cider and swapping stories with the villagers about recent events in Stormwatch. The eviction of the lizardfolk from the village and the possible retaliation is foremost on their minds.
The Druid Appleby feels a storm rolling in from the coast but something more sinister is abroad in the wilds of Woodhaven. Bob and the bees sense it too another presence, malevolent, evil and hungry. Tim senses the hunger of Craos, Fallen God of Gluttony in the divine harmony of the balance. Ethan patiently tries to explain to the Ibixians how he is not a heretic for converting from Neart to Fileadh. The Ibixian clearly thinks he’s mad.
A scream pierces the air and Joe reflexively wraps his hands around the Tavern’s only glass drinking vessel, to shield it from harm.

The heroes are out of their seats and into the lashing rain of the Cool Summer storm before the villagers can react.
Little can be seen through the driving rain and the ground is treacherous underfoot. They head for the source of the scream, the riverbank, near the makeshift jetty. Jasmine Farmer is standing at the end of the Jetty, frozen with dread. A dark tide has risen from out of the swamp and is rushing towards the village on thousands of tiny legs, with fangs dripping with blood.
The onrushing cloak of horror is a sea of swarming swamp striders. Vicious black beetles, half a foot long with arrow-sharp bloodsucking mandibles. The clicking and splashing of their millions of feet is like the crash of waves on a thunderstruck beach.

Before they can react the horror of the insect plague is upon them. The entire village is engulfed. Houses are covered. The muddy streets are alive and writhing and boiling with insect bodies. The insects’ ravenous appetites draw them towards the warm living blood beating in the heroes bodies. The greatest mass of the swarm attacks the closest targets so the villagers huddling indoors near their smoky fires are temporarily safe. The bravest of them can fend off the handful of beetles falling in on top of them. The brave, slow or foolish trapped outside in the heart swarm are not so lucky. The heroes are almost instantly covered from head to foot in a thick black shroud of beetles. Thousands of teeth biting into soft flesh between armour joints and under clothing. No inch of skin is safe. Each deep slice into their flesh starts to pour forth blood and the beetles, in a lethal frenzy, suckle on it like demon children. The pain is intense. Jasmine Farmer cries out is terror and agony. Panic seizes her as she falls into the mud, being devoured alive.

The Heroes of Woodhaven are made of sterner stuff and although they are filled with revulsion, they are quite used to horror and pain. Over the chittering clamour, they calmly discuss they best approach to dealing with the dark menace, attempting to strip their flesh. Their reasonably effective attempts to frantically brush off the insects, helps them to survive where a lesser man would be consumed. Arch Vedic Tim Baphenslayer Tanner, Protector of Woodhaven, selflessly puts his own life in danger to rescue Jasmine from the insects. He heals her bloody wounds and placing himself between the insects and the terrified woman. Jasmine flees. The swarm closes around Tim. The Druid momentarily shakes off the swamp strider swarm and calls on the power of Nadúir. A creature of fire is summoned from another realm and Appleby sets it on the swarm. The creature burns fiercely, but the rain is heavy on the ground muddy. A hiss of steam and the scorching of the earth follows the creature as it burns it’s way through the swarm. Appleby is pleased. Ethan Fochlachan Namer, Cei-Liúr of Fileadh and Namer of Woodhaven, spies Deputy Chief Constable Orin Smith bravely defending the village under a mountain of beetles and mud. Orin’s pain is intense and his gushing wounds are about to overcome him. Ethan charges the mountain of beetles and scatters them. He pushes Orin away from danger and sends him staggering to the relative safety of the Tavern. The swarm closes around Ethan. Bob Charmer, the Abeil Ambassador is no stranger to swarms. He calls on the power of his own swarm to attack this new menace. Bees sting the beetles and the beetles carve up the bees. The carnage is impressive but the bee swarm will not last long against the dark tide.

The sea of beetles inevitably submerges the heroes once again under a wave of muddy black bodies. All goes dark under the swarming bodies. Pain is everywhere. Teeth and claws rip flesh. Hollow suckers pierce veins. Blood flows freely. The insects drink. The Heroes are already beginning to feel the weakness of blood loss. The Druid debates the merits of wind over fire and casually frees himself of his painful insect coat. He creates a ball of fire and hurls it at the nearest mound of beetles. Hundreds of them are superheated and explode as the flaming sphere rolls over them, hissing and scorching the earth. The fire creature continues his attack scattering beetles before him as he tries to protect his master. The beetles flees before him as his touch is searing death. Ethan having attracted Orin’s attackers is covered in painful bleeding wounds as he shakes off the swarm and sings to Fileadh and Tine, the Song of The Burning Ring of Fire. He uses The Song to describe the flames and the village and the changes music subtly to add a note of fire to each harmonic. All flame in the village burns hotter and more fiercely than before and the fire creature glows brightly. Tim and Bob throw vials of alchemists fire at the swarm. The vials explode with considerable heat and kill many insects but the swarm is everywhere and the rain is so heavy that they have only a minor effect. Meanwhile Ivellios is at the other side of the main square giving a master class to his apprentice Khranen in the best application of fire magic. Tin-Tan the Ashrat hates the rain with a passion but is assisting. An opportunity to lash out with his flames is too good to miss. Joe of Kell emerges from the Tavern with a mass of strange looking vials in a pair of makeshift bandoleers. One of his eyebrows is missing and the side of his head is smoking. His experiments have been going well. The Ibixians have emerged from the arena to support them. Their weapons however have little impact on the hundreds of thousands of beetles and they are soon engulfed in black bodies and covered in blood. The goat-like roar-bleating can be heard all around the battlefield.

Again the beetles flood through the village and cover all. Ethan, John, Bob and Tim are all engulfed in pain once again. Blood covers everything and spatters the ground from many wounds. Still they do not falter. Tim shakes off the swarm but stays nearby, offering himself as bait to the swarm to protect the weak. He trusts in his companions to destroy the swarm with fire. He calls upon Croí to heal him and she closes his wounds. Appleby, forces down his pain and fear and momentarily escapes the insects. He creates another flaming sphere and it burns as fiercely as the others thanks to Ethan’s song. Appleby’s fire is beginning to take it’s toll as thousands of beetles are incinerated. But the dark tide rolls on. Bob throws a tanglefoot bag at the closet beetle-mound and they are covered in a mass of sticky strands. Most are trapped but they set to work trying to free each other. Ethan barely manages to escape from under another wave and again calls on the Song. This time he describes his own body and alters the music to describe it as healthy. His wounds close and the flow of blood stops. Jo starts throwing vials. He shouts ‘Fire!’ an instant before the vial hits the ground. It explodes with an ear splitting bang and a blinding flash. Beetles, mud and blood are flung across the village in the explosion. Thousands of them are killed. The wizards and the Ibixians look impressed in spite of themselves. Jo grins like a madman and prepares another vial.

The Battle rages on. A cycle forms. Waves of bloodsucking beetles rally and wash into the village attacking all and are then driven off by flame and the power of the Gods before they wash in again. Only the power of the Gods keep the heroes alive. Appleby attacks with fire and blows the insect away with powerful gusts of wind. But he is eventually overcome he takes the form of a tree to evade them. Bob uses his nature magic to entangle the swarm. Most of the village is choked with writhing plants that press up through the mud and trap the insects. Then he binds the Woodhaven and Honeyglen hives together with the power of his will and the swarm increases in power. It swells with new arrivals who ignore their hatred of rain and attack the invading swarm that has entered their territory. Jo throws vials all around the village and explosions cause serious damage to both the sea of insects and the village itself. He doesn’t seem to notice. His wives keep an eye on him to ensure that he doesn’t get out of hand. Ivellios is protected from the swarm by a shield of Ibixians and he decimates them with sheets of intense flames from his outstretched hands. His apprentice attempts to master the magic from a scroll eventually creates a modest sheet of flame. Ivellios tells him that he has a long way to go before he can attempt to match the ‘best character in the village’. The Ibixians are forced to heal themselves use magic to combat the swarm, much to their disgust. Ethan shapes his music to form another creature of flame to bolster the failing fires that are hissing and smoking in the rain. Then Tim calls upon Tine for aid and composes an new verse for The Book Of Creation. Tine is impressed by his effort and rewards him by destroying the heart of the swarm with a massive pillar of flame. Inspired by this they all chant a song of praise to Tine, lead by Tim. Their prayer is rewarded and the fires in the village burn with an even greater intensity. The fire creatures that were fading burn with a primal incandescence and they grow in size and strength and heat. Now patches of clear ground and beginning to show as the flames burn through the entangling plants and the trapped beetles.

The fires continue. Explosions from Joe. Great fireballs and fans from Ivellios. Flaming spheres and fire creatures from Appleby and Ethan. All empowered by Tim’s prayers. The insects, trapped by Bob’s plants are doomed and soon they are all engulfed in flame. Only a handful of the beetles survive to float back into the river.

Dripping with blood and covered in smoking fragments burnt beetle flesh, they all hobble to the temple to give thanks and receive healing. The Ibixians seek to atone for their use of healing and magic during a battle.

Then the question arises. Who sent them? Is the Wild Marsh Druid really that powerful?
‘Maybe we should build that wall,’ suggests Martin Farmer. They all agree.
Ethan raises an intact eyebrow, ‘About bloody time’, he thinks.

I Wyvern

AK510-37 Cool Summer End Week 1
[Charon Guiding, Shale Resting, Cycles Watching]

Cogaday

The wind felt cold and wet against his skin. Not that it mattered. Far below the countryside swept past. The forest was teaming with lizardfolk. Yeuch! He couldn't understand how the dragon could eat them. He shuddered, then unconsciously adjusted a wing tip to correct his flight. The lizardfolk were clumsily driving all decent prey to ground. While he slipped through the clouds like a hulking ghost, they clambered noisily through the trees. The sooner they went home to their reeking swamps the better.
With all other prey being particularly timid today, humans would be worth a visit. Sweep in out of the clouds from behind the trees and then up and away. The thrill of the ground speeding past, their puny voices screeching in panic, the bleat of a panicked sheep, warm and bleeding, in his powerful talons. The pleasure of plunging his stinger into the soft helpless flesh. Mmmm. A few drops of dark green poison fell towards the earth. Even thinking about the kill made the venom rush. Shouldn't be dripping like that he thought, momentarily disquieted. Then he turned his mind back to the kill. A new human settlement had formed and humans meant prey. If they ran, he took their animals. If not, he took them instead. Both died just as easily.
After a while the settlement came into view far below. There were no humans in the outlying fields and no animals either. Damn. They must have been scared off too. These lizardfolk were a nuisance. He was hungry. He was always hungry. Even when he had eaten so much meat he could barely fly, there was always room for just a little more. But now, hunger gnawed insistently at him. When he was hungry he liked to kill. Attacking a human settlement could be risky though. They were feeble but occasionally cunning. He would have to be careful. To avoid detection he put some distance between the settlement, then exited the clouds and swept down to cruise in just above the trees. He beat towards to village out of sight and quiet as breath.
The he spotted them. A small group of humans outside the protection of the village. Easy prey. And they had horses too. Horses were so hard to find out here and delicious, not too mention the way they panicked when snatched up from the ground. This would be fun.

As he broke cover he was spotted. But that was of little consequence: humans tasted better than they fought. He beat his powerful wings and accelerated. The humans were all praying to The Gods, which was normal. One offered up a prayer to Naduir, a good idea but it wouldn't help. They were also shouting loudly at one another, again perfectly normal. He wasn't sure if he could read human expressions correctly, they all looked the same to him, but they did appear to be quite enthusiastic about his appearance. That was not normal. That was very worrying. But he was hungry. Then a ring of metal weapons sprang into existence around one of the humans who was covered from head to toe in shining metal hide. Metal-hide then jumped off it's horse and stood ready for his attack. He immediately struck metal-hide off his list of potential prey. Magic and a metal hide made prey harder to kill and worse even harder to eat. And the metal hide ruined the taste. Last time he attacked a metal-hide he almost broke his stinger. He felt a twinge in the stinger at that memory. Focus on the kill, he reminded himself. Another one of the human's finished praying and aimed his bow at him. He changed his course slightly to confuse the prey but was confident that a clumsy human bowman would have to be very lucky indeed to penetrate his thick dragon-hard scales. The first arrow almost took him out of the sky! It flew from the bow like a viper straight into his chest. It lodged between two of his scales just above his heart. It hurt like hell. He would rip that human's legs off!

Then a particularly muscular human stepped forward away from the safety of his herd to challenge him. What an idiot! That weapon would be useless against his bulk. He flexed his talons. A ferocious but surprisingly musical bellowing issued forth from the human's small body. Not bad. He roared back, almost deafening the human and drowning out his scream. The hair on the human's head was pushed back by the passage of his roaring breath and the beating of his powerful wings. The human lashed his flail at his chest with all his might. Inevitably, it was just a glancing blow. Then it was all over. He snatched the fool from the ground and was beating away into the air before it's herd could help him. The meal struggled weakly as he stabbed it with his stinger. Oh that felt good. It survived the initial effects of the venom. Not to worry, there was plenty more where that came from. All too easy.
He watched the air for a swift breeze to take him home and shifted his course to ease the pressure in his chest. He was already looking forward to returning for that archer once he'd recovered his strength.

Then it all started to go wrong. Metal-hide was praying again. A mace of solid air appeared in his path, it swung, it connected with his jaw and pain seared through his skull. Then the archer fired again. This was familiar ground though and despite the pain he could deal with that. He nimbly moved the meal to protect himself and heard a satisfying combination of thud and scream, as the arrows plunged into the meal. He could barely follow the screamed exchange between the meal and the archer due to the ringing in his head but the meal was obviously very unhappy. Then a hippogriff appeared in mid air right in front of him! What the hell was going on? This was not good. Another arrow hit him and his wing faltered. The pain in his chest grew worse as he tried to stay aloft, his vision was beginning to blur from the painful blow to his head and his wing was flailing around uselessly. He began to panic and decided to drop the meal and flee. Then the mace swung back into view and all went black. He never felt the hippogriff snatch the meal from his talons or even the bone shattering impact with the ground far below. His spirit was already on it's way to Seilig, to hunt without hunger in the heart of Croí.

I Tin Tan

AK510-37 Cool Summer End Week 1
[Charon Guiding, Shale Resting, Cycles Watching]

Cogaday

Tin Tan lounged happily in the fireplace watching his master. The Mountain Elf, Ivellios Tharanaian, Heir to the Griffon House, Wizard of Draiocht, Follower of Tine and Protector of Woodhaven, was impatiently explaining the finer points of evocation magic under battle conditions to his new apprentice Khranen. Again. Khranen seemed to be quite talented, his master had grudgingly admitted but he could be quite obtuse on occasion.
Over the past few days they had all been cooped up in the library or busily conducting magical experiments in Joe's lab. Tin Tan loved the alchemy lab, things were always blowing up or burning down and it was always filled with smoke. Great! His master and the apprentice had both managed to discover several new spells with Tin Tan's help. He knew that they needed him for research, because he was the best character in the village, so he agreed not to burn anything in the library. Pity that, books burned so well. Tin Tan had been urging his master to learn more fire magic. Tin Tan loved fire magic. He couldn't have the druid knowing more about spells than his master. That wouldn't do. After all, he was the best character in the village!
They all heard the commotion of a battle outside. A roaring, like the bellow of a bull alligator pierced the quiet of the village. Mage Armor. Shield. The two spells were cast before his master considered doing anything. Tin Tan made sure to scurry to his side to be included in the magic. The apprentice tried to follow suit but the Mage Armor spell fizzled as he miscast it. They all moved into the street to see who was attacking the village this time.
It was quiet. A wyvern has been slain by the others and there were no other threats to be seen. The distant sounds of bickering over tactics and the oily sounds of a wyvern's stomach being opened drifted over to his keen elven ears. He could sense his master's disgust at the waste of two good spells as they all returned to the library. Tin Tan busied himself by experimenting with the effects of mage armor and shield spells on an ash rat familiar in a fireplace, while Ivellios took Khranen to task for miscasting under pressure. Tin Tan decided that he would one day write an arcane discussion on force and fire effects on magical beasts. It would be a great work. After all, he was the best character in the village.

Wyverns, Red Ragers and Bees

AK510-37 Cool Summer End Week 1
[Charon Guiding, Shale Resting, Cycles Watching]

Cogaday

In the heat of this battle Todd Stuffitt is collecting taxes and is attacked. He is paralysed by a single shot from a hidden assailant. He is taken away and meets an assassin who agrees to train him in return for Todd's assistance against The Dark. The Dark sent the assassin to kill Stuffitt fearing him for a reason unknown to the assassin.
An initial training session ensues. He gets 'floured' a couple of times when the assassin hits him with specially prepared targeting crossbow bolts.
But he is a quick study and he learns his assassin skills quickly.
Over the next few days the assassin visits him out of sight of the party and teaches him the art of the Bigany Assassin.
Todd is tight lipped about all this upon his return.
Todd opens the Wyverns stomach.
Then takes the carcass back to his home for stuffing.

Draíday

After using healing magic and Ivellios learning more spells they set out for Honeyglen to assist the Queen of Zzziiivvv against the Lizardfolk.
They are attacked on the first night by poison dusk lizardfolk whom they easily defeat.
They change the watch roster after realising that the least capable watchmen were all on the same watch.

Charday

They continue past Stein and north towards Honeyglen.
The queen sends a plea to Bob to make haste as they are currently under siege.
They press on through the night rather than making camp.

Sunday

They arrive at the Zzziiivvv valley in the early hours of the morning.
There are hundreds of lizardfolk surrounding the rocky outcrop that holds the fledgling city.
Most are common lizardfolk but there are many blackscales, poison dusk and even bloodscales there.
A massive Bloodscale Barbarian leads the war band.
Soldier Abeil make devastating storm wing attacks that kill many lizardfolk and injure many more but they are outnumbered.
Many soldiers are killed by vollies of poison dusk arrows but they remain out of the larger lizardfolk's reach.
There are several crude siege machines being used by the lizardfolk.
These stone throwers are beginning to smash the city walls.

The queen and Bob agree on a simultaneous assault.
The PCs cast preparatory spells and as the enter the battle they hum with power.
Ivellios launches a fireball into the middle of the enemy and many of them are incinerated. Then he starts picking off the survivors with magic missiles.
Ethan charges the massive Redscale Rager and is almost cut in half by a stroke of his enormous shining axe.
Ethan misses.
Appleby summons hippogriffs and then charges into the fray.
Bob pumps out a hail of arrows and severely wounds the Redscale.
Tim Tanner charges and demolishes several blackscales. They flee his ring of maces.
Then Todd who has been studying the Barbarian's moves, anticipates his movements well enough to put a crossbow bolt through the side of his head. The massive creature falls to the ground. Dead.
The battle continues but with their leader dead and the Abeil on the offensive, they quickly break and are routed.
Thanks to the fierceness of his companions attacks Ethan somehow manages to avoid a fatal blow and staggers away from the battle to heal.
It's all over before he can return.
The queen thanks Bob for honouring the alliance and he judges that the Abeil city his be a strong ally of Woodhaven from now on.

Shadows of The Darkkeep Past

AK510-39 Cool Summer End Week 3
[Charon Guiding, Shale Resting, Cycles Watching]

Moonday

The following morning Bob Charmer acts as ambassador to the Abeil Queen.
She thanks the party through him and offers whatever equipment they need as well as promising her military aid in the future.
The Queen tells them that there are no major forces active in the area but that nearby settlements have been taken and held by small lizardfolk bands.
The party searches among the bodies of the slain to find items of value. There is a considerable amount of gold and jewellery.
Tanner finds a tapestry, worn as a cloak by a blackscale he killed, depicting Arkthuus Poten being conferred with the title of Count Darkkeep.
Ethan finds a platinum and gold pendant worth over 3,000gp which he identifies as having been worn at a ball in Stormwatch my Arkthuus Poten's mistress Kita Andropov. Todd notes that it was worn by her when the Count's retinue passed through Woodhaven a few months earlier.
These items lead the party to deduce that Darkkeep may have fallen to the lizardfolk army.

They travel back towards Woodhaven. Tanner contacts Orin who is happily running the military affairs in the village. All is well.
A group of poison dusk rangers are intent on waylaying them until Tanner identifies himself as a Vedic.
They stop and parlay with the party and Tanner uses his diplomatic skills to convince the poisons dusks to help them.
They tell them that all towns and villages are being attacked and that the Wild March Druid is in command.
They state that the Bloodscales were bred for this war by the Druid.
They are Blackscales whose eggs were covered in a strange red substance including various dying agents and who were trained from birth to be fanatically loyal to the Druid.

Using his sending magic Tanner is able to assess the military situation across the continent. He sends to Arch Vedic Serena of Darkbridge who tells him that both Darkbridge and Stormwatch are under assault by lizardfolk but that the defences are holding.
They Charon lizardfolk priestess is fighting with the Churches forces to help the Earl.
The King of Bigany has formally requested the Church's assistance.
Tanner's knowledge of Church procedures tells him that because the conflict is between two nations of Church worshippers and in not on the Bigany Continent the church will probably not commit to sending additional support. Unless there is compelling evidence given to the inquisition that the rulership of the lizardfolk nation is under fallen influence, they are unlikely to become directly involved.
The local clerical hierarchy are expected to handle the situation as they see and with the resources they have to hand.

They return to Woodhaven, swiftly moving along the tracks trail blazed by the Ambassador a few weeks earlier.
They stop briefly in Woodhaven on the way to investigate the Darkkeep. Tanner uses a sending to contact Arkthuus Poten.
He tells him that they are under attack and pleads with them to make all haste to the keep to assist in the defence. His superior arrogant attitude has been replaced with a humble pragmatism.

They decide to make haste to Darkkeep. Tanner prays and the gods grant them all swift speed. They make the 3 day journey in a few hours.

They find an army camped around the Darkkeep. Dozens of Redscales and Bloodscales leading several tribes of lizardfolk: poison dusk, steel clan, wild marsh, etc. Appleby transforms into an eagle and takes to the sky. He spies on the lizardfolk host and spots several siege weapons in the distance. They are being floated up the river to the keep. They will arrive in less than a day.

They dimension door from the tree line into the keep. There are only about 40 people left alive inside and all are wounded and malnourished.
The Count, 9 knights, 10 infantry and 20 camp followers are the survivors. Tim creates food and heals the sick. They are told how poison dusk assassins infiltrated the keep and garrotted a large number of key figures including their clerics and knights. The count barely survived but being a strong man and a skilled fighter he managed to defeat his assailant. A nasty red scar is cut deep into his neck and he wears a bladed gorget now.
He wants to hold Darkkeep to protect the rest of Stormwatch and delay the tribes here to prevent them attacking the towns. Tanner exacts a monthly payment of 1,000gp from Arkthuus to Woodhaven Church in return for saving the Darkkeep. The Count agree to pay it once the County is secured and prosperous again. Tanner informs him that the village is now a protectorate of the church and Arkthuus agrees to that as well. Todd draws up a proclamation and the Count signs it.

Todd searches the keep for a secret door to escape but he search is fruitless.

The head into the basement looking for a secret door or a library or merely out of curiosity. The find the sealed door to the lower levels and start to examine it. It appears to be solid. Suddenly from out of the darkness shadowy figures attack them. Their insubstantial hands reach through their armor and drain the strength from their bodies. John Appleby calls lightning down upon them but it has only a minor effect as the strikes pass through the shadows incorporeal forms. The shadows drain strength from all the party and they are almost overcome before Tim channels the divine power of Croi through the Church Symbol. The Power of Croi destroys two of them as the last one dives away from the light. It then attacks Ethan hoping to drain the last of his strength and pull him into the realm of shadows. Tim manages to drive it off with the power of Croi. After a frantic series of spell castings, potion drinking and scroll reading Ethan is brought back from the brink of death. Then Tim starts to pray for another spell to return all of his strength from the shadow realm.

While this healing and praying is continuing, the druid John Appleby get bored and decides to call down lightning down upon the army outside. He ascends to the roof and strikes a distant bloodscale leader with a bolt from the sky. In retaliation for this the bloodscale calls out and the army surrounding the keep surges forward. Scaling ladder and bowmen to the fore. The siege weapons have not arrived but the Redscale want to teach the insolent humans a lesson. Stuffitt deals a vicious wound the Redscale with his new heavy crossbow and Ivellios incinerates scores of wild marsh lizardfolk warriors with a fireball. Over a hundred poison dusk archers appear from trenches near the keep and unleash a hail of arrows at the keep. Charmer, Tharanaian, Appleby and Stuffitt are all hit. Tharanaian is poisoned. The counts men return fire from behind crenulations and arrow slits with a modest success rate. On the roof the count is firing crossbow bolts with impressive accuracy at the approaching army. Two servant and reloading for him trying desperately to keep up with his demand for bolts.

The army advances and the scaling ladders are raised…