Fantasy Hero - Yrth

The Ruins of Eldrahil

The PCs head toward the North West coast to look for the Ruins of Eldrahil. Zelia is nowhere to be found in the morning. Having just met her, the PCs decide to head to the ruins, figuring she’ll either follow them or maybe even meet them there. They travel almost three days before managing to find the ruins. The first clue that they must be nearby is the changing landscape. The grass and sparse trees they had been seeing while traveling suddenly vanish, an almost invisible line they cross along the road. They continue on and there are no signs of any obvious life. The plant life is dead and if there are any animals, they are hiding. The first sign that there may still be life nearby is the dead raven Quiron spots off to the side of the road. Upon closer inspection, the party sees that it has a wound and Magesight reveals a minor magical aura near the site of the wound. They continue walking, but more warily now. They spot two more dead birds, both with similar wounds. They can’t remember whether the Roanoke descendents had seen Maksim change into a bird or whether ravens are just omens. Either way, scouting ahead in bird form seems like a bad idea to Maksim.

As they get closer, they see what appears to be a woman and child running from the ruins, the woman turning her head to see if she’s being followed. The woman and child are, at least to those with Magesight, obviously magical and most likely an illusion. As the two figures run down the road, a cloaked and hooded figure (also magical), steps into view, casts a fireball spell and kills the woman and her child. The figure then pulls his hood back and Maksim’s face is revealed!

Familiar-looking figures appear within the ruins and fire upon Maksim’s image, which vanishes. Quiron rushes toward the broken gate of the ruins, where men armed with flintlock rifles are moving into defensive positions as Quiron charges into the courtyard. The men are never able to fire a shot because he moves around the southwest tower out of their line of sight.

Once Quiron separates from the party, Maksim spots a spell being cast off to his left although it doesn’t manage to dispel his defensive spell. Once the spell fails, a group of three men wearing the sigil of the Order of Ariakis make themselves visible. They tell Maksim they are here to take him back to the Order and that they brought the Roanoke descendents here to keep his friends occupied. Maksim and Chasina don’t think much of him or his plan, and a brief battle of magic begins, only to end a short time later with the three mages bound, relieved of their items and being questioned. The men inside are quickly taken care of and sent packing back to their home.

The PCs investigate the ruins, but don’t find much of interest. They find the Order’s sigil burned into rugs but no books or other items of interest. They do manage to find a scrap of cloth in a chamber belonging to the former Lords of Eldrahil, which glows with a fading aura of magic. The members of the Order finally cough up that the entire place had been ransacked prior to their arrival and that they put their marks here to torment Maksim, knowing how much he would have wanted what was here. They managed to find a single book, with a single spell that worked on a large scale (created a deluge of rain over a large area, which made movement difficult on anything but rocky ground). Chasina remembers Quiron talking about Castle Defiant and Zelia had also mentioned seeing large groups of orcs gathering in the south.

The PCs decide to take their captives to Artos for holding and to tell him what they’ve found so far. They’ll head east toward the first trade town, make contact, and eventually take another portal to the southernmost dwarven trade town and then head west toward the castle.

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Making new friends

Zelia has been traveling with the group of humans and dwarves who have been searching for the Messenger. Their group approached the ruins by following what was left of the road, since it would be easier for the wagons and other wheeled transports.

Zelia has been waiting for the others to arrive and checks them out before approaching. The Messenger group wants to reclaim the ruins as a sanctuary dedicated to the Messenger, but aren’t as confident about entering them and clearing them out. They don’t object when the PCs tell them they want to enter and aren’t interested in any valuables they find inside.

The PCs enter and encounter a group of goblins. The goblins speak to them in their own tongue first, which no one understands except for Maksim who had cast his Comprehend Languages spell. The PCs attack before the goblins can attempt to negotiate in their not-so-great Anglish. The two powerful goblin mages hold them off for a bit, but eventually surrender to spare the families who live deeper inside the ruins. They offer up books and spells they had been studying. The books help provide a general direction of Eldrahil and provide some landmarks Quiron recognizes near the coast to narrow down the search but that don’t give a specific location.

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Don't know much about history...

After dispatching the strange, sandy blob the PCs open the door into a large dining hall. There is a large wooden table that seats up to 22 people and chairs for all. There are place settings, but they are made from glass, most likely created from the abundant sand above. These items have no inherent value, except to a collector of antiquities or historian and transporting them will be challenging. They leave the items in the hope of finding a way to transport them safely later.

The dining hall has two doors. Quiron is certain one door will lead to a kitchen and opens the southern door. It does open to a kitchen that does not appear to have been used in centuries, but contains nothing of value. He then listens to the western door, which is deathly quiet. He opens it and it leads to a short hallway that leads to a double door. Quiron opens the double door, which opens into a large room containing a dais with two large thrones flanked by two smaller ones on the wall opposite the doors. He enters the room slowly, when his attention is drawn to the door on his left opening. Two wights (one dressed on princely robes and the other in ancient, broken armor) come out from behind the pillars on the opposite side of the room and move toward Quiron. Chasina enters the room and Turns the two wights who become cowed and frightened. Maksim blasts one with a lightning bolt, stunning it. The other runs toward the closed door to get away. From the open door, they hear incantations being spoken in a language no one recognizes. Quiron rushes toward the door, only to find himself face-to-face with two more wights, these dressed in royal garments and surrounded by a cold, blue light.

The two remaining wights prove to be powerful mages in undead bodies. One redirects Quiron’s arrow back at him using a spell that opens a portal, while the other covers Maksim’s eyes with sleet. Chasina manages to awe them with her Turn Undead ability, but they recover and use their Suffocate spell on Quiron, knocking him unconscious. Maksim and Chasina manage to bring them both down before they kill anyone.

The party searches the remaining rooms and find several books describing three royal elven families and their apparent role in creating the Banestorm spell. One of the books describes the role the Beleg family played and contains a spell they wrote while working on reaching other dimensions – a Dimensional Vault. Maksim casts it spontaneously and finds three magic items (Boots of Traveling, Cloak of Quiet Comfort, Beleg’s Companion – Bow). The vault appears to make a good way to get out all of the valuables from the Beleg ruins. The books talk a little bit about the other two royal families – Túrin and Eldrahil. Túrin was responsible for researching spells that would only affect one race, while Eldrahil was responsible for a spell that would affect everything on a vast scale.

Maksim and Chasina start discussing where to go next while Quiron recovers from the effects of the Suffocation spell…

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Lost and Found

The PCs decide to approach the villagers in the hope that they will be able to tell them more about the ruins since they live so close. There are some doubts expressed about how welcoming they will be and mentions about ducks and whether Chasina will float. Maksim takes on his raven form and sits on the cart, while Galen remains unusually quiet on the ride there. They are “greeted” by a group of 5 armed but seemingly relaxed humans and one Orc. The slightly older human male speaks to the Orc in English, although a variation several centuries before Chasina’s time, who then interprets the message of greeting into Anglish for the travelers. Chasina responds in English, which startles both the Orc and the human into a moment of stunned silence. The human, who does not give his name, is intrigued by anyone outside their community knowing the King’s English, even if it is a slightly odd dialect. The exchange between the two seems to go well for a bit, and Chasina learns they settled the colony once known as Roanoke:

_The Lost Colony of Roanoke was set up in 1585 and its first settlers lasted almost a year, until they went back to England with Sir Frances Drake. A small force was left to guard a fort.

A second expedition returned in 1587 to try again to establish a settlement. The guards were all missing. About 115 people stayed behind. When English ships returned three years later, all the people, and their buildings, were gone._

However, things take a turn for the worse when the man hears Chasina utter what he considers heresy and blatant admissions of having performed witchcraft. Things go from slightly tense to hostile as the human riflemen cock their wheellock rifles and point them at the PCs. He tells them to leave and to stay away from the ruins of the pointy-eared demons who once dwelled there or he and his men will destroy them and burn them and their possessions. The PCs turn and leave without another word (mostly because he threatened to shoot them if they did).

Undeterred by their threat of violence, they head toward the ruins of Beleg while asking Galen once again about whether he knew about these people. After Quiron threatens to bury him in the sand up to his neck, Galen says that while he and his men didn’t encounter this particular group, he ran into others much like them outside the ruins at Túrin. The others were far more aggressive and killed two of his scouts before saying a word to them. Galen is satisfied that his initial answer – knowing nothing about the villagers at Beleg – was technically correct/truthful (which to him, is the best kind of correct). The PCs decide that the villagers were far too zealous and would undoubtedly come to the ruins expecting them not to heed the warning. Quiron comes up with a strategic defense and they pile up building stones and create a bunker of sorts near one of ruined towers. They agree to give Galen a weapon despite his earlier lies of omission. Chasina spots the villagers heading toward the ruins, driving two wagons filled with enough wood to make an awful lot of s’mores and extra rifles with the patchwork magic aura.

The villagers are outclassed despite the fact that their weapons are able to pierce magical defenses. Maksim receives a minor wound, but Chasina is able to heal it with ease. She offers to heal the wounds of the villagers but they shrink back in horror at the thought. After stripping them of their magic weapons, the PCs let them take their wounded in one of the wagons and tell them not to return.

Maksim uses a lock picking spell to unlock the door on the one mostly-intact tower, but it needs an additional shove from Quiron (that knocks it off its hinges). They enter and check the second level before heading down the obvious trapdoor. Quiron manages to navigate the narrow, stone steps without falling. At the bottom, they see what appear to be empty sconces that cast a bluish light when someone with magical talent comes within 5m of them. They walk down a hallway and come to an intersection. Each of the 3 hallways leads to a room, the most curious of which holds a number of skeletons huddled in a corner of the room. Unlike the raiments found in the other two rooms, their clothes are dry and brittle and the floor near their skeletons is covered with a fine layer of sand. Maksim’s Magesight detects a small good luck charm on one of the skeletons, which he removes. The room with the two armoires has another door, which leads to a slightly larger room that has nothing more than a pile of sand in the corner. Quiron approaches the mound of sand with his shovel, ready to move it aside and uncover something fantastic. The mound, however, objects to being shoveled and attempts to grab his arm. He drops the shovel as he moves back a few steps and watches as his prize shovel is dissolved by the living sand. The strange, silicon-based lifeform is dispatched, but only after destroying Galen’s prized Great Pick.

This room has another door, which remains unopened….

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Getting the band back together

Q & M reach Ekarriel and decide to ask around to see when Chasina was last seen there. Q starts at a local inn and talks to the innkeeper. In addition to 2 ales, Q finds out that she came through Ekarriel maybe 2 months ago. She stayed for a week or two, helped travelers coming back from the Orclands for free. She made quite the impression and was dubbed by some as the Messenger, although is sometimes described as a male. Apparently, people she (and Q & M) had helped elsewhere in Zarak and Quartedec were awed by the things she did, reportedly bringing the dead back to life (but not as zombies) and healing wounds that would have let many people die. They followed her through the mountains, tracking her by finding those she had touched. Q tells M what he found out and head out to the gate to talk to the caravan of travelers heading out to find her in the Orclands. Q talks to the old man who appears to be organizing the group, but decides that he is perhaps a bit too zealous in his desire to find Chasina and that the two of them could find her faster on their own. He gets the old man to tell him where she may have last been seen (she had aided two people after the village had been attacked by Orc raiders), and the two find the trail to the nearby village. They arrive at the village close to sundown, but the guard at the gate allows the two to enter and sleep in a barn for the night. The next morning, they engage him in conversation and find out there is larger town southwest of their current location and the trail should be easy to find though the trip will take about a day and a half.

While Q & M begin the second leg of their journey, Chasina wakes at dawn to begin working and helping the villagers. Shortly after noon, a little boy loses his pig but just as he is about to ask Chasina to help him find it, the pig finds the boy near the front gate. A little while later, Chasina hears “thuds” coming from near the village gate. She goes to get a closer look with her binoculars and sees an enormous armed and armored figure walking toward the gate. Behind it are several Orcs as well as another crouching giant talking to what appears to be a beardless dwarf. The lead giant sees her and runs straight for the gate, which is already open. Chasina and the local militia engage the enemy and keep them out of the village for as long as possible, while Q & M are approaching from road behind the attackers. The attackers manage to get through the wall and some of the Orcs begin taking what they can. After a tough fight with both giants, the orcs and the outcast dwarf, Galen, the PCs subdue the giants and enough Orcs which convinces Galen to surrender and order his group to surrender.

Galen tells the PCs that after being cast out of Zarak by Artos and the other dwarven leaders, he and other dwarven outcasts did what they could to survive in the Orclands. Q engages him in conversation and gets Galen to rant a bit about how he intends to gather items from the Elven ruins and get his revenge. Galen addresses Maksim (who took the magic ring from his finger) and tells him that there’s more where that came from and that he can tell them where to look if the PCs let him and his group go. Not surprisingly, Q & M don’t trust him enough and agree to let his group retrieve their armor before letting them go. Galen is told he will accompany the PCs to the closest ruins. They toss him in Chasina’s cart and head out, following the markers Galen put down to help him find it again. They manage to see a fortified village or town several hundred meters from the ruins, but the defenses and buildings themselves have been painted to blend in with the desert environment. M casts an invisibility spell on Q, who goes to take a closer look at the town. He reports back, but after seeing some things he can’t explain, Chasina heads out – invisible – with her binoculars to take a closer look. With her Magesight, she confirms that the buildings are an older style, most likely several hundred years ago, and along with the somewhat distinctive dress of the people she sees, she and Q think they may have been brought here by the Banestorm. While Q thinks they are a fairly recent arrival, Chasina thinks they have been here for a long time, possibly even a few hundred years based on the condition of their buildings and how they’ve adapted to their environment. Her Magesight reveals that their weapons (including the old black powder rifles they carry) and even parts of their buildings give off a slight magical aura.

They must decide to talk to the villagers or simply go around them and head for the ruins…

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Dark Elf/Lazarite Wrap-up

Despite being down a few crew members, the Mithril arrives in Quartedec. While Artos did not actually hire the ship, he catches wind of what happened at Thulin’s Wall and, using his spells, is able to see the heroes arrive with the Flesh Scrolls in Quartedec and arrives there in time to meet them at the dock.

The forged note is not far from the truth though. Artos has been able to find a way to erase the Lazarite tattoos and had already been in contact with Lilly’s parents, so contacting them once the tattoos are gone is no trouble. They arrive a few days later and extend their gratitude to Artos and the heroes. While not especially wealthy, they do have connections in Megalos and promise to find a way to repay them in some way.

Artos tells them that he’s had some time to “converse” with the dark elf mage who ambushed their caravan. The dark elves convinced Rhianon to steal the flesh scrolls, which proved to be an easy task. The two female scrolls were simple Undead Creation spells to better understand Lazarite black magic and to stir up animosity toward the Lazarites to serve as a distraction. The male flesh scroll had an ancient spell, hidden away by the Raven Queen, which was said to wrest control of nearby zombies and skeletons from their masters and give it to the caster. The dark elves were collecting the humans from Chasina’s time to open a portal to her time, so they could leave Yrth. They would open the portal in Abydos (areas of which were said to aid in the casting of black magic spells), use the scroll to control nearby undead and then send them in to fight the undead on the other side while they used the scroll to control the undead there as well. Foolproof! They would be seen as heroes (and eventually conquerors…).

The Officers of Truth from the Megalan Ministry of Serendipity were simply doing what they always do: keeping Yrth safe from the dark elves and from the horrors of technology. And no, Artos still hasn’t figured out how to make the motorcycle work…without Telekinesis anyway.

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If it ain't broke...

Having spent the majority of the day investigating matters, the heroes decide on a plan of action identical to one they’ve taken before. They are fairly certain Gilli will enter the city through the main gate and will wait for him just outside the city to avoid interference from the city guard, knowing that Thulin’s Folk are friendly with the Lazarites.

They see Gilli, 4 Raven Guard and the 3 Flesh Scrolls approaching the city and decide to intercept them. Gilli recognizes them and, knowing that they wished to desecrate the spells written on the Flesh Scrolls, charges forward while one of the Raven Guard lets out a shrill whistle to summon the proctors to their location. The heroes defeat Gilli and the Raven Guard and save the Flesh Scrolls from being carried off by the gargoyles.

They decide to bring the Flesh Scrolls back to Artos and head out without returning to the city, worried about Lazarite-friendly forces interrupting things. About an hour and a half outside the city, a dwarven rider comes up the road behind them to deliver a note he says is from Artos. The note says that he will meet them in Quartedec and that he has already arranged for a boat to take them there. He will meet them and the scrolls in the city, where he has arranged to have their tattoos removed before delivering Lilly to her father. The heroes head to the dock and find the Mithril and her captain.

The letter looks legitimate and they board the ship. Chasina stays in the hold with the scrolls, while Maksim and Quiron stay topside to keep an eye on things. Chasina notices an elf exit the crew quarters and quickly put his cap on to hide his ears. She mentions it to the others, who then ask the captain if he’s aware of other elven crew members. The captain is completely unaware of having hired elves, but given that some of his crew didn’t come back from shore leave and being short-handed took precedence over hiring on beings who nearly destroyed the world, it’s no surprise when several of the new hires morph into weresharks.

Despite the best efforts of the dark elves (including verbal threats – no time for strongly-worded letters – to hand over the male flesh scroll) to escape with the male by jumping into the water and placing a water-breathing amulet around his neck, they are defeated and the flesh scrolls are kept safe.

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Bring them back

The heroes agree to help Artos and charter a fishing vessel to take them to the Ravensmarch, a strip of the Nomad Lands along the north shore of Lake Styx, up to the lower foothills of the Whitehood Mountains. The winds are with them and they arrive several hours later at a large (for the Nomad Lands) established fishing village just south of Thulin’s trade city.

The village resembles those of old Viking settlements (one-masted dragon ships, semi-permanent homes/buildings, men and women wearing simple clothes and weapons). The men of the Northland eye Quiron, assessing whether they could take him in brawl but no one seems brave or curious enough to challenge him. After some time, they observe most of the non-Northmen heading up the road to the Northwest a decide to follow them, remembering a map of the area showing Thulin’s Folk in that direction.

They arrive and enter through the familiar dwarven trade city gate, where they are briefly questioned by the guards and their information entered into a log. Unsure of where to being their search, Chasina decides to take out the copy of the Renewed Testament given to her by Gilli and read while walking down the street. She is spotted by a dwarven woman who beckons her over. Chasina, in her somewhat broken Anglish, convinces Jacklin of her sincerity and is taken to a small Lazarite chapel at the outskirts of the open air trading area. With Quiron and Maksim shadowing her, she finds herself being introduced to Agatha, the dwarven Lazarite priestess. Agatha tells Chasina that the Raven Guard is rumored to be in the city and tells her of a meeting that night at 7pm. Maksim decides to take his raven form and watch the building from a nearby rooftop, while Chasina and Quiron decide to confirm the Raven Guard rumor by speaking with the city guards. Once on the roof, Maksim notices two gargoyles on the nearby rooftops, but not on any of the other nearby buildings. Once his friends are almost out of sight, the gargoyle on the rooftop opposite him launches itself into the air and follows them from the skies. Using his Detect Magic spell, Maksim discovers that the gargoyles are magical in nature.

Quiron and Chasina do not notice they are being followed, but confirm that 4 Raven Guards entered the city the previous evening. However, the guards did not note them traveling with anyone else. They head back to Maksim’s location and they exchange information. They learn that one of the gargoyles appears to be following Chasina while the other is keeping an eye on Maksim. Chasina feels that she should talk to Agatha again and knocks on the door. She tells Agatha about the gargoyles watching them. Agatha is excited to see the “proctors” from St. Magdalene’s college here in the city. She tells Chasina that they are the messengers and are tasked with retrieving that which is lost. Chasina tells her about the missing Flesh Scrolls, at which Agatha confirms that the Raven Guard and proctors must be here to retrieve them. At this point, the heroes believe that Gilli and the scrolls may not have arrived and that intercepting them before they enter the city is the safest course of action.

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What's in all those crates?

The sun rises and the party prepares to investigate the camp. Chasina recalls the (half-)elf saying he worked for the Ministry in Megalos and that he was a little too interested in her presence on Yrth. The wagons must be for transporting goods and the carriages for people (or dwarves). Gilli told them that the Ministry of Serendipity did its best to keep anything that came from another Earth a secret and would most likely go out of its way to silence anyone who was involved.

Unfortunately, Quiron’s skulking alerted the Officer of Truth (the half-elf) to their presence and the camp was expecting visitors. However, the party had been observing them and expected a few spellcasters in addition to the Officer. Ministry Elementalists and a Ministry Summoner tried to fend off the group of adventurers but were outclassed. After making sure they would not trouble them, they entered the cave behind the waterfall where they found the missing dwarves as well as 6 humans (2 from Chasina’s Earth 2015 and 4 others who had been on Yrth for a few months or even years). They ran off the guards who were watching the dwarves and human prisoners and took a closer look at the crates and other objects in the cave.

One of the dwarves tells them that the Officer of Truth surprised and subdued them. He had brought the humans with him and communicated with them in a tongue he had never heard before. It appeared that he was having them translate writings that had come with the weapons and ammunition (he had seen weapons like them, once, decades ago) and the strange, metal 2-wheeled device. He thought the half-elf was insane and he kept casting spells on the humans to make them forget they had spoken to him (and how crazy he was) so they would happily tell him more every time he approached them. All the dwarf knew was that the Earth items and the prisoners would be traveling to Megalos.

The decision is made to take everything back to Blainiel and hand most of it over to the dwarves, minus a few items Chasina finds useful. Quiron begins loading the wagons. The trip back should take about a day and a half given the weight and additional passengers. The Officer of Truth is kept in a carriage with the dwarves, who promise to look after him on the ride back. They travel the rest of the day and stop for the night.

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On the road to Blainiel

Francis, the Megalan Officer of Truth, warns Chasina and the others that allowing those weapons and technology to be researched by anyone on Yrth will only mean the destruction of their way of life. It is not something he can allow and that the Ministry simply cannot let it fall into the hands of the heathen dwarves.

As breakfast ends, the caravan continues on the road toward Blainiel. A few hours away from the trade city, Maksim (as a raven) and Chasina (using her binoculars) assess the group of travelers as they approach. Several hooded figures and a few armed and armored men are riding toward them at a fairly casual pace. They move the caravan to the side of the road, sending the message that the travelers can pass unmolested. A brief, awkward exchange of words takes place and the travelers continue moving past the caravan. As the armed men reach the rear wagons, they being hacking at the crates and wagons, while the hooded figures throw elemental spells at the party and at the wagons in the hope of destroying as much as they can. A second Officer of Truth reveals himself and summons plagues of locusts while casting a Plague of Boils and Shielding Winds (missile deflection). Despite their fervent convictions, the Megalan forces are defeated and the caravan continues toward Blainiel with a new Officer of Truth in tow.

When they arrive, they are greeted at the gate by guards who run to tell Artos they have arrived. Maksim wonders why Gilli is not there to greet them since he asked them to find the dwarven prisoners. The Earth weapons and equipment are taken inside where they will be examined and kept safe.

Artos tells Maksim that representatives from the Order of Ariakis had come and promised they would deal with Rhianon’s misdeeds. Maksim does not say much, knowing the Order is not on his side.

Artos is extremely angry that Gilli (confirmed using his spells) took the 3 flesh scrolls back through the Portal to Blainiel and is now missing. Using his magic on items touched by Gilli, he knows that the Ravensguard was in the city and assumes that Gilli left with them. While Gilli’s Lazarite beliefs were known, the elder dwarves have chalked it up to Gilli’s youth and travels to the Whitehood Mtns. Even St. Gilli, for whom he was named, had little luck converting many dwarves to that faith.

Artos had already sent word to Lilly’s family and let them know she was safe. He was waiting for their reply, but now has no long-lost daughter to send back. He had not yet had time to work out a solution for the tattoos.

Artos asks the group to intercept Gilli – the traitor that he is – and retrieve Lilly so they can help her and send her back to her family. While Artos feels confident Lilly’s family will take in the other young female flesh scroll, he’s not sure what to do with the young man. He’s not lucid enough to tell them what spell is tattooed on his body, but it must be important or he would not likely have been taken. He suggests they travel to the Whitehood Mtns, home of Thulin’s Folk, a group of dwarves known to have good relations with the rulers of Abydos; the extended life-spans of both groups have allowed them to take the long-term view of things. Thulin’s Folk have maintained a boycott against Megalos, which adds to the political intrigue.

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