Adventures in Willow Sap

Calcifer spent weeks scouring Willow Sap trying to find a lead on what was going on with his powers. Almost ready to give up hope, Calcifer finally has a breakthrough…

While wandering through a merchant’s shop, perusing tomes and scrolls, he notices a man seemingly made of metal, wood, and stone. The warforged politely introduces himself as “Seeking to Acquire All Knowledge Possible While Refraining from Causing Harm to Any One or Thing”. ‘But you may call me Seek. Everyone I have met seems to do just that.’

After a brief inquiry, Calcifer is relieved to finally have a clue to move forward with. It seems Seek has been wandering the world since in the middle of the Age of Heroes. He keeps relatively to himself, but wanders from settlement to settlement bartering knowledge.

Having never been to Soxitch, Seek seems incredibly excited to hear tales of Calcifer’s childhood, North Dogshaw, and the countryside as a whole. In exchange, he offers what knowledge he can about psionics.

Hazel, confined to the carriage fashioned for her by Sylva, eventually makes her way to the temple of the Mother One in search of the next druidic circle meeting.

While in the temple, Hazel meets a ragged looking dwarf with wildfire-red hair and dark, smoke colored eyes. Kret Flametongue introduces himself as a servant of the Mother’s Anger, visiting from the Dark Sun Territories, and invites her to attend the next gathering outside of town. Seeing that she is still recovering, Kret offers to help her reach the gathering.

A few nights later, Kret and Hazel find themselves in a clearing with half a dozen other druids under the half moon, with the dark star high in the sky and a low, ankle-high fog rolling in…

After a night of worship and gossip, Hazel leaves having met two interesting druids – Haskar Flaying-Sands and Elidda Turin.

Aura mixes her time between lifting purses and slumming it in the seedier parts of town, trying to locate the black market.

After a few nights of subtle questions, paid off drinks, and casual eavesdropping, Aura gets a lead for where she can buy and trade less than legal goods. After scoping the place out and making sure it’s not a trap, Aura enters a small shop in an alley deep in the maze that makes up the slums of Willow Sap.

She reluctantly hands over her weapons when the guards pat her down and is allowed to enter the shop itself. The merchant has a series of bars across his counter top, protecting him from attacks, and possibly acting as a tool to delay any guards while he escapes. He is a human male of average height, wearing nondescript browns and greys. In fact, the only alarming feature he has is a silver streak of hair over his left eye that clashes with his dark brown hair.

His eyes are shrewd, but seem more interested in her coin purse than anything else.

“Welcome to my house of many fine and exotic rarities,” he motions to the empty space around the small room. “What can I interest you in on this fine evening?”

The two set to haggling and Aura leaves only to return a few nights later. She finally leaves the shop with seemingly only a tome of knowledge, but her purse seems a great deal lighter.

After the drow attack on Tiny Root, Kevros spent time pondering what could have brought the dark elves so close to the surface. He came to the conclusion that the drow were in need to females to reproduce, but was unsure why.

For over a month, Kevros sought audiences with scholars, researchers, maesters, and even students, hoping to inform and spread his theory.

Some few rejected even meeting with the gnome, doubting his credibility as a learned individual, but most accepted the young gnome and listened eagerly to his theory. Some saw merit in his points, others thought it lunacy on principle.

Still many more offered counter-points in the debate: why would a society dominated by females need females to reproduce? Males are the ones with the shortest lifespan in that society. If they’re only being used for reproduction, why dye their skin black? If they were used as slaves for breeding, skin color would not matter to those savage monsters.

Different Kinds of Elves

Aura, Calcifer, Hazel, and Kevros spent the evening in Tiny Root discussing options and tactics available to them. On the next morning, they set out east from town, marching straight toward the drow, hoping to catch them by surprise underground.

As they neared the cliff-face, they noticed two scouts who were quickly dispatched by a well placed arrow and Aura’s new wolf ally, Seff. Concerned that drow were now aware of their presence, they set up an ambush in the woods. Eventually, when no drow came, the group made its march on the cave entrance and the drow inside.

The sentries outside the cave were quickly dispatched by Hazel’s druidic magic and Calcifer’s newly developed mental powers. When they attempted to enter the cave, though, a small squadron of crossbow wielding guards put up quite the fight. While attempting to take Aura alive, the guards were surrounded and defeated, even with the terrain and magical darkness aiding them.

Unfortunately, however, the last drow was able to issue a command to release the ‘kreeshee’. Retreating out of the cavern, they made their stand. Two large, black, mutated wolf-hybrid creatures, the kreeshee, and their feral drow companion emerged from the cavern entrance. The feral drow had ghost-like bear arms extending from its ribs and a second set overlaying its own arms.

Chaos ensued as Calcifer fell to one of the foul beasts and Kevros put himself in danger to save the carpenter’s son. Once Kevros and Hazel fell, with the latter shattering her pelvis, things were looking grim. But Aura managed to slay one of the kreeshee while Seff guarded Calcifer until he was able to regain his footing. In an epic displace of power, or possibly dumb luck, Calcifer hacked the feral drow’s leg off and Seff leapt on the weakened creature, tearing his face from his skull.

With a moment to breath, Aura and Calcifer dared not risk further confrontation with drow and retreated with their injured allies back towards Tiny Root. Just outside of town, a dispatch of elven warriors melted out of the trees and Aura was confronted with Nikta Niima, a Guardian of the Glade.

They had come at the behest of the village to deal with the drow. With them, travelled Gambit, who seemed ecstatic to see Aura again. He regaled the party with tales of his daring escape from gnoll slavers and eventual arrival in Willow Sap where he latched onto Nikta and his Guardians.

When Nikta returned from the caverns, Kevros learned that the surviving drow had retreated further into the underdark and abandoned the camp they had built in the cavern. With this news in hand, the group decided to move on to Willow Sap and seek out a healer for Hazel, since she was unable to walk.

Gambit, seemingly more intrigued with Aura than he was with Nikta, latched onto the group and followed them back to Willow Sap. Having been there before, Gambit made his way to Mylo Nikta and returned with a reward the heroes had earned.

Their new found wealth in hand, and with the knowledge that Hazel would be bedridden for close to two months, the four split up to accomplish their own ends in Willow Sap…

Events in Vasirl

After recovering from the battle with the undead, Aura Moonbrook once again sets out scouting ahead of the group as they explore the rest of the abandoned ruins. They reach a room that most likely once served as the commander of the fort’s meeting chambers. The room is decayed and rotten save for a statue of a Bugbear on a pedestal, blocking a view of an iron chest on an alcove in the back of the room. When Aura touches the chest, the statue strikes out and a battle with a gargoyle ensues.

Upon the guardian’s death, Aura breaks into the chest and discovers four magical rubies on display above a hidden cache of silver. Calcifer Thumb and Hazel Hawking decide they’ll carry the heavy chest to the surface after they find the item they are looking for in these ruins.

Passing by yet another trap, the party reaches the end of their exploration in the bathing room of the ruins. Finding an acidic zombie, they dispatch it and Kevros Davida sets out to make certain the remains of whatever monster made the zombie cannot be reanimated.

Back on the surface, their horses are missing and evidence of wounded creature changing its bandaging is found. Calcifer and Hazel set out to recover the horses seen wandering the fields in the distance. Hazel’s horse is not recovered, and the party assumes someone or something made off with her horse while they were down in the ruins.

Cutting their losses, the group returns to Vasirl and sends word to Korton via messenger raven explaining their exploration of the ruins. While waiting for word back from Korton, they each set about dividing their gains and recuperating from the daunting experiences.

Korton and Calcifer scrounge up an alchemist, Devran, to identify the tooth left by the recap they fought in the ruins and one of the magical rubies. Devran returns the tooth and a non-magical ruby, claiming it was a false magical aura meant to distract would be treasure seekers, most likely. With that knowledge, Hazel sells her false ruby for a nice profit.

Meanwhile, Hazel attends to having their money changed at Valint and Balk. With that simple exchange out of the way, she moves through the market, trying to find good deals for the weapons, armor, and general goods they’ve recently acquired.

With nothing else pressing to do, Aura scouts out a potential victim and seeks to practice her pickpocketing skills. A day spent in the market and a middle-aged merchant’s money-pouch filched later, Aura and the others meet up and divide their new found wealth.

Korton retires to the local Crusaders of Valkrath outpost while Aura and Hazel decide to spend their down time camping just outside the town. Calcifer accompanies the two women in roughing it. While communing with nature, Aura discovers a young wolf and the two begin to bond. With some help from Hazel, Aura sets out to train it.

Calcifer mixes his time with the campground they’ve settled and scouring the library and local bookshop for information on psionics. Upon discovering a copy of Excelsior: An Autobiography, Calcifer set out to purchase a copy of the book detailing one of the Age of Hero’s greatest psychic heroes’ life.

Hazel spent her time with wolves, communing with Ulu her arctic wolf spirit and aiding Aura in training Seff, the half elf’s newly bonded wolf. Meanwhile Kevros assisted the order as a temporary scribe.

When word finally arrived, it came in the form of a pair of assistants from Valint and Balk. They approached the trio in the market square one morning and Kevros at the outpost. Malachi Stonehewer extended a dinner invitation to the three and attempted to provide them with the means to be presentable. Only Aura took the offer and arrived at the dinner party looking more a noblewoman than thought possible.

A wonderful dinner was served. Malachi acted the pleasant host role while the others bared their less than noble upbringing. After desserts, Malachi presented them with a payment from Korton, via his deposits at the bank. he also delivered a letter to Calcifer sealed from their gnome benefactor.

Business out of the way, the group reconvened outside of the bank to discuss their next move. Without a new job from Korton, they were unsure where to turn. Aura proclaimed her interest in investigating the Eye Woods, hoping to develop a stronger connection with and understanding of nature. Calcifer explained that there may be a clearing en-route to the Eye Woods that contains something he would be interested in. Kevros offers to travel with the three from Soxitch in their exploration of the world.

The next morning, before they set out, Kevros investigates his own ruby and discovers it is a Ruby of Luck. Armed with this knowledge, he informs the others who seek out the alchemist, Devran, and confront him. He informs them that the rubies granted to him were not magical and that they must have been decoys. While his story seems off, Calcifer and Aura are unable to pick out what exactly he’s hiding, because they have no proof and it is their word against his. Before they depart from his store, Aura pockets a series of mysterious, colored vials. Kevros offers to sell his ruby when they can find a buyer to share the wealth with the companions who were cheated.

Cutting their losses, the four decide to head out into the Glade and put Vasirl behind them.

During the next few weeks of travelling time, Calcifer spends his evenings reading his newfound book, Kevros studies his sketches and writings of creatures he’s encountered and things he’s seen, Aura trains Seff, and Hazel keeps food well supplied. Off and on through the rain, the party eventually enters the forests. One afternoon when the sky threatens to release a heavy downpour at any moment, they stop in a small elven town.

As they look around town, it becomes clear that there is not a woman left in town. None of the men that are outside will so much as look at Aura, either. It isn’t long before a child throws himself at Aura, begging her to be his mother. Investigation reveals that for the past month, the Dark Ones, otherwise known as Drow to non-elves, have been striking the town. The first two battles were aimed at the towns defenses, slaughtering guards and retreating, using guerrilla tactics. After that, the Drow came in waves and stole off with every woman and girl in town. The last attack captured the last of the elven girls to have reached maidenhood.

Sylva Windwhisper, the town elder was doing his best to lead the town during this dark time, but it did not seem to be enough. Aura and Kevros agreed that it, at least, was worth investigating further. This town would not survive another attack from the Drow.

Event Dates: The first week of Feekitituu, 372 AH – End of Urkaat, 372 AH (Midsummer).

A New Employer

Aura Moonbrook, Calcifer Thumb, and Hazel Hawking arrive at the Elk Horn Tea Shop to meet with the mysterious stranger who sent them a note. After a brief exchange with R’Kelt, Calcifer hands over the skeleton of Rhyon that he’s been carrying around, for disposal.

The three are shown into a private tea room where they are introduced to two dark-haired, dark-skinned gnomes. Kevros Davida is a gnome scribe and apparent member of the Crusaders of Valkrath. Korton is a well-informed and well-off merchant.

After a brief discussion and inquisition about everything from Rocher to the Assault on North Dogshaw, the three agree to join with Kevros and explore an abandoned ruin for Korton. He is seeking a relic believed to interfere with, if not outright thwart, at least one of Ixelan’s plans.

The next morning, they ride out with one of Korton’s caravans and head East. After a few weeks travel, they come upon the Varah River, where the party splits from the caravan to head north. They quickly find the abandoned fort that supposedly sits atop the hill that the relic is buried under.

While exploring the old tower, a malicious fey ambushes them. Once that creature is safely disposed of, they set up camp in the ruins. After a night of heavy rain, Calcifer and Aura are drenched to the bone and not feeling too hot. The four enter a trap door in the floor of the ruins and wind down a spiral stair case to the heart of the hill. With the rain drizzling behind them, they leave the cold and enter the damp, dark undergound. Fearing traps, Aura leads the way, holding to the left wall.

A fire dart trap is easily detected and avoided, but Aura is unable to disable it, forcing the others to run through with some risk. They continue exploring and disturb a dire badger’s nest in a part of the ruins that has caved in, allowing the earth to run free. Once past the beast, Calcifer and Hazel stumble into a blood-drinking spider’s web and struggle to kill the vermin while it feasts on their blood.

Backtracking to a previous fork in this old prison-ruins, as they have discovered this place to be, Aura has a vision of a brutal murder when she enters a room. Unfortunately that brief distraction is all the lurking choker needs, as their previous battles have allowed him ample time to set up an ambush. A rough fight ensues and the choker is thwarted. As this dungeon gets stranger, the party next faces a pair of floating eyeballs and quickly dispatch it.

A triggered trap later, in which part of the ceiling collapses, and they all feel the pain and danger here. Returning to, what they believe to be, the most defensible room, the party barricades themselves in and proceeds to spend the next day resting and relying on the power of their gods to heal them.

Once they all recover, they continue exploring the abandoned prison and disturb a group of dwarven skeletons and some zombies. Hazel is a little disturbed at the amass of undead that keeps creeping up. Why won’t things stay dead?

Event Dates: The second week of Lipery, 372 AH – The first week of Feekitituu, 372 AH.

The Raven Escort

After resting, recuperating, and reequipping themselves in Nedra, the party learns that Lord Tarly is seeking them for an audience. Koda feels that his quest for knowledge is over, now that they know the ashen pearls they found on Pyatt Ash were the source of the ash rat invasion. Hazel asks him to deliver a note and a gift to her brother. With that, Koda takes his leave to return home.

A couple days pass before Maester Rickard calls on the party to attend Lord Tarly at court. Lord Tarly offers his thanks for their assistance in saving one of his troubled towns. He also requests their aid in delivering a message to his liege-lord in Bellshadow.

It seems that since around the time that the orc raids began, the ravens that flew between Nedra and Bellshadow have ceased. Fearing that bandits in the Whispering Woods shot them down, he hires the party to escort a messenger to Bellshadow. They decide the fastest route is through the very same woods.

Almost immediately upon entering the woods, Hazel hears signals being sent through the forest, but they see no one. That very night, a hobgoblin bandit patrol ambushes the camp. A small, feral, monkey-like goblin with a large rock initiates combat before disappearing into the woods. The other hobgoblins close in on the party. In the ensuing chaos, the messenger is stabbed in the leg, Calcifer loses his right ear, and Hazel’s face is filleted.

Wishing desperately to be out of the woods, the party makes as much haste as possible after Hazel tends to the wounded with the aid of Mother One’s healing magic. They are in such a rush, that they almost miss the ambush the rest of the bandits set. The rock-wielding goblin faces off with Aura, while a raging bear-hobgoblin crossbreeded monstrosity sets upon Calcifer and two bowmen fire into the horses, causing them to rear and making Hazel’s life that much more difficult. Again, the goblin leaps into the trees and disappears, while the other bandits fall slowly but surely.

Hazel sets off to find and return the horses. In doing so, she stumbles upon the rock-wielder facing down Calcifer’s horse. This time the goblin doesn’t escape, and it isn’t long before the party finds the bandit hideout.

Sitting on a log inside the cave, they find a meditative goblinoid skeleton with glowing blue eyes. After a brief discussion with Aura, a tortured, malnourished demon lurches out of the wall and tries to feast on Aura, while the skeleton seemingly goes inert. Blaming them for its pain, the demonic creature is unfocused and weak. They dispatch it quickly and ride through the forest without another stop.

Once they arrive in Bellshadow, the party takes a deep breath and counts the loot they gained from the bandits. It isn’t long before another dark omen appears, though. While walking the market a few days later, a crying child is spotted making a ruckus in the center of the market square. Guards approach to drag the child away, but not before it spots Aura. Sprinting away from the guards, the child delivers Aura a note before disappearing into an alley…

Event Dates: The last week of Lesalali, 372 AH – The first week of Lipery, 372 AH

Their First Victory

Before they set out for the Eye Woods, Hazel consults the maps she picked up in Nedra to learn that their trek will take months. A debate ensues, and Koda convinces the group to return to the orc-raided hamlet. Katara decides Maple Leaf is a good town to stay in and learn more about her elven heritage. The other four head back to the hamlet after stopping to reneg on their agreement with Rocher.

More buildings have been burned down, and the small little port looks worse than it did when they arrived two weeks prior. More wary of the locals than they are of the orcs, the party sets about trying to prepare an ambush for the next raid.

When the orcs come, a few days later, Calcifer spots them and warns the everyone into hiding. The first orc falls victim to Aura‘s pit trap, and the trap is sprung. Another building is set on fire and the orcs get off a warhorn signal before they are dispatched. After a moment’s reprieve, though, a warhorn signals back in the distance.

The main raiding party arrives with a squadron of orcs led by a mysterious figure cloaked in black. One spearman gets the drop on the party as they sneak out of a building and spears through Aura and Calcifer in seconds. The other orcs move on to find and slaughter the villagers. Near death, Koda arrives just in time to bring Primus’s magic to their rescue. Meanwhile, Hazel goes toe-to-toe with the black-clad figure.

His hood knocked back, this ice-blue skeleton of what was likely an orc in its former life seems riveted with ice-spikes. His eyes gleam with a bright blue fire. A series of well placed blows with her club eventually shatters his skull, and the party reconvenes on the small main street through town. The battle reconvenes as the orcs realize their leader has been defeated. Calcifer loses an eye in ensuing chaos, and Aura prevents the final orc from fleeing with a well placed dagger to the groin.

Having saved what remains of the populace, the party rests the night and tends their wounds before setting out to investigate the raiding camp. There they find shallow graves, a slave pen, sheepskin tents, and a decent firepit. In the largest tent, they uncover shipping manifests for merchants trading goods at the campt for slaves and corpses to transport into Ixelan. More or less of a refueling station for merchants. A quick discussion ensures, and the camp is looted and burned to the ground. The party returns what supplies they can to the hamlet before striking out for Nedra and the market.

Event Dates: The first two weeks of Lesalali, 372 AH

Wandering the Countryside
The search for clues begins

Two weeks after the Assault on North Dogshaw, Aura Moonbrook, Calcifer Thumb, Hazel Hawking, Koda Misae, and Katara Leftfoot arrive in a small port hamlet in Lord Tarly’s domain within Igglesha. The hamlet had just been raided by orcs coming in from the north. The orcs have been sporadically raiding for over a month now.

After a brief debate, the party heads east towards Nedra, where Lord Tarly rules. While collecting firewood one night, Aura is set upon by gnoll slavers. They kill one and allow the other to flee. A town closer to Nedra is well garrisoned by Tarly’s soldiers, but the smaller villages on the outskirts are unprotected.

Upon arriving in Nedra, the group is unable to gain access to Tarly’s keep. They strike south, towards the Glade of the World. On their way south, Koda meets up with Rocher. He recruits the party to strike south in the Eye Woods to recover his lost caravan. Having agreed to accept this task, the party stops a day or two into the Glade, in an elven village names Maple Leaf.

While in Maple Leaf, they meet with an elven council-member, Elara, who provides them with general advice about the Eye Woods and some rumors of Rocher.

Event Dates: The last week of Ariaza, 372 AH

North Dogshaw Burns
They awoke to the town aflame

Late one evening in early spring, Koda Misae, Hazel Hawking, Calcifer Thumb, and Aura Moonbrook awoke to odd sounds. Upon investigating, they found Pyatt Ash assaulting townsfolk and releasing ash rats to set buildings aflame. During an intense battle, one of the monstrous rats tore Calcifer’s nose off. When he was saved by Koda, his latent psionic powers manifested with blood.

Hazel managed to spear some rats and finally succeeded in ending Pyatt’s assault. The wounded retreated to the temple and their own beds while those still fighting fit fought the fires with the aid of the townsfolk. In the end, four town-members lost their lives alongside Pyatt, and two buildings were burned down. The local inn suffered severe smoke damage, but stayed standing.

At the town meeting the next day, a new sheriff was elected to replace the one killed by an ash rat. The four town heroes were selected/volunteered to travel to the mainland and investigate these dark times. Collecting what supplies they could from volunteers, they set sail the next morning.

Event Dates: The first week of Ariaza, 372 AH


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