Fantasy Hero - Yrth

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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Hi Ho, It's Off to the Baran River We Go
Missing: 7 Dwarves

Gilli explains that he has heard of their valorous deeds and would like them to help him find his companions. He provides the group with the following background:

“Not surprisingly, recent controversy in Quartedec has revolved around gold. The Baran River, which flows out of the Bronze Mountains into Lake Styx, is rich with it. The dwarves, however, remained concerned, and offered to buy the river from the fief in 1999. Since the river is important to local agriculture and the Earl has no authority to sell Megalan land, they were refused. They have renewed the offer each year, promising more money, asking for different rights, or using a less diplomatic tone. In addition, they have been furiously digging in the headwaters of the river, looking for the mother lode. In late 2004, however, they suddenly stopped, and began asking discreet questions about Earth. What they found is unknown.”

Gilli tells them that his companions traveled to the head of the river outside of Blainiel 2 weeks ago, but has not heard from them since. He’s not sure exactly where they might be – they kept the location a secret. His best guess is a cave of some kind since they’ve been able to keep it a secret for so long.

He’s received word that an elf or half-elf purchased 4 wagons, 2 carriages, and horses in Blainiel about a day and a half ago. Tracking a caravan of that size should be pretty easy and doesn’t travel nearly as fast. The heroes decide to take a short rest before heading out for the Baran River. They should arrive shortly after the sun goes down. Maksim’s Will o’ Wisp will provide them with enough light to follow the tracks.

The group follows the tracks, which parallel the river bank. From the south bank of the river, the group can just make out campfires on the other side of the river. Quiron volunteers to investigate after allowing Maksim to mask his presence. He follows the river east and finally spots a wooden bridge since the water seemed too deep for the heavily armored centaur to cross. He makes his way toward the campfires, confident that Maksim’s spell will hide him. He spots a few sleeping figures at the camp site, including the (half-)elf from the caravan that got him involved in this whole thing. His keen centaur eyes spot what appears to be a light source coming from behind the waterfall. As he starts to look for a way back there, he hears the now familiar sounds of spell casting. Fortunately, it’s taking longer than he thought and he leaves quickly. He reports what he saw to Maksim and Chasina and they all decide to wait until morning before taking action.

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Blainiel
Now you see me...

The heroes head out the gate before it allows sellers to enter the city so that they can scan the sea of people heading into the city and find a good spot to engage Rhianon and her companions as they approach the city.

After scanning dozens of carts, animals and people that all start to look the same after awhile, they do notice a nearly identical group of carts and people walking along the path. Same clothes, animals, carts – the first group appears to have one additional humanoid figure in its midst. Chasina, perhaps guided by some divine instinct, draws on her power to cower the undead and causes the first group of what must be an illusion of some kind to stop in its tracks. Taking this as a good sign, they move to engage the second group.

Earth and iron meet, arrows pierce flesh, and spells electrify the air surrounding everyone. As the Dark Elves fall, Rhianon attempts to make herself and 3 robed individuals invisible in what attempts to be a retreat. As her temper gets the best of her, she hurls spells at Maksim and gives away her location. Quiron charges toward the source of the spells and knocks her out, revealing her once invisible captives. It appears that Rhianon had stolen not 1, but 3 flesh scrolls from Abydos. They dispatch the cowering undead, now revealed to be the corpses of boars and bears animated to do her bidding.

Quiron, Maksim, and Chasina bring their captive, Rhianon, and the 3 flesh scrolls back to Blainiel so they can confer with Gilli. Two of the flesh scrolls appear to have been recent additions to the library and Chasina is able to use her divine magic to regenerate their severed tongues. The male, despite his youthful appearance, has been in the library too long and unable to benefit from Chasina’s magic. His mind is also mostly gone, having been kept as a flesh scroll for decades. One of the two young women, Lilly, tells them she was intended to be the wife of the Earl of Quartedec in 1999. Abydosian privateers capture and loot a ship carrying her. Due to a mix-up, instead of being ransomed, she is sold to St. Magdalene’s College as a flesh scroll. The enraged Earl of Quartedec attacks Abydos. His squadron is defeated by Lady Raven Gabrielle in a brisk naval engagement. To discourage further escalation, the Lady Raven then lands the Legion of the Polished Bone to burn the naval dockyards at Quartedec, but it is ordered not to assault the city to avoid starting a full-scale war.

Much time is spent deciding what to do with young Lilly and her companion. Since the Earl married someone else not long after hearing of her fate, it is decided that sending her to Quartedec would only serve to enrage the Earl again and leave her at the mercy of political intrigue. She will be returned home to her family after being rid of the tattoos that cover her body. Gilli offers to care for the 3 former flesh scrolls, but the heroes decline and decide they should return to Morriel and Artos, who may be able to do more for them as well as keep them far away from Rhianon’s last known location.

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Morriel (cont'd)

The heroes dispatch the iron golem and the cowering undead. It appears Rhianon and her companions removed the long-dead corpses from the sarcophagi to use in their ritual. If there was anything of worth inside, they most likely took it.

They report back to Artos who, after some poignant questioning, informs them that there is a faster way to Blainiel, which will allow them to arrive ahead of Rhianon and anyone with her. He takes them to the Room of Portals, made long before the arrival of humans and the other races. While the Portals only allow travel between trade cities in Zarak, they will arrive almost a day before Rhianon and the dark elves. This will also allow them to return to Morriel quickly, since Quiron’s dwarven steel armor will be ready in several more days. Artos tells Maksim and Chasina that his contact in Blainiel will be notified that Artos is in their debt and should they require anything, Gilli can help.

Quiron, Maksim, and Chasina gather their things and head for the Portal room. They will arrive in Blainiel late in the evening, but will have time to rest and make plans for Rhianon’s arrival tomorrow. When they step through the Portal, Gilli is there to greet them. Introductions are made and Gilli is brought up to speed on Rhianon, the Dark Elves, and their flesh scroll cargo/prisoner. Gilli seems quite knowledgeable about the Lazarites and flesh scrolls. He lets them know that the trade city gates open to the general public at around 7:30am, but people start lining up earlier to get good spots for their trade stalls. The heroes decide that they will wander along the road well beyond the gate to a spot where the road narrows and the mountains serve as walls along the path.

Gilli escorts everyone to their rooms for the night. As he exits Chasina’s room, he tells her that he has heard of her great deeds and gives her a small book as he closes the door. She looks at it and notes that it is a copy of the Renewed Testament, this one written in Anglish rather than the traditional liturgical language of Greek. It’s late and Chasina decides to toss it in her backback for later perusal.

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Morriel

The group accepts Raegar’s offer and decides to leave the following morning, which allows Chasina to continue tending to any of the remaining wounded. Raegar offers them horses to speed up travel time, but Chasina cannot ride so Quiron allows her to ride on his back.

They arrive at the gates of Morriel around noon (1 1/2 days after their departure). The city gate is huge and the dwarven guards ask them to state their business and make a note of their arrival. They are directed to where they can find Artor. The trade square is surrounded by the mountains, which makes Morriel appear as a large, natural keep; entrances to what must be the dwarven living quarters are carved into the mountainside, but sealed to the outsiders who mill about the trade square. Every race and every language can be found and foot traffic slows their progress a bit.

About 20 minutes after arriving, a young human female begins yelling, to anyone who will listen, that <points>:

“That’s him! Right there! How could anyone ever forget a face like that! He attacked me and told me that he’d use his Black Magic to make me look just like him if I told anyone. <looks> 100 silver to the person who teaches that horrid, little wizard a valuable lesson about how to treat a lady and the evils of Black Magic!”

People stop and stare. Maksim and the others attempt to keep moving and ignore her, which works for a little while. Eventually, she catches the attention of a group of rough-looking men who could probably use 100 silver and who might not mind roughing up a disfigured man. Quiron manages to intimidate them enough to make them pause while everyone agrees to wait for the guards to sort this all out. Eventually, the guards check their logs and the young woman says she was accosted before Maksim even arrived. The ruffians disperse and the guards escort the confused young woman to someone who might be able to help (although she’s not under an active spell Maksim discovers).

The group finds Artos, who casts a spell on the letter which gives him “impressions” of the writer. He sees a woman (who matches Rianon’s description), undead, and a “flesh scroll.” He explains what the flesh scroll is and how they are highly guarded by the Lazarites. However, having seen Rhianon’s ability to alter people’s minds, it becomes clear she may have stolen one.

They eventually make their way to the Morning Mead Inn, and after bribing the not-so-subtle innkeeper, they find tools and dirt in the room where the dark elves and humans stayed. They then make their way to a cemetery and mausoleum outside of the 2nd city gate. There they find what appears to be the remains of a spell or ritual used to create zombies. Several of the undead stand and attack, while Rhianon lobs a dagger on the floor of the room as she attempt to leave. Maksim attempts to bind her but she evades his spell and casts a globe of darkness to aid her exit. Chasina’s white magic causes the zombies to hesitate where they are easy fodder for Quiron. A few moments later, the dagger Rhianon tossed becomes a golem of iron and attacks Quiron…

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A not-so-uneventful day (part deux)

As Chasina begins healing Felix and the other wounded, a previously unseen stone door begins to open in the mountainside where the caravan has stopped. From the darkened opening, a group of dwarves appears. Raegar, who claims to lead the dwarves, sees the Earth Elemental and approaches Maksim.

After some awkward introductions and distrustful comments from Quiron, Raegar allows Chasina to finish her healing while his men finish rounding up any living dark elves and take them inside the mountain. Raegar then invites everyone inside to take shelter and enjoy his hospitality.

Once inside, he invites Maksim (whose use of Earth magic has elevated him to “okay for a human” status), Quiron (after some goading), Chasina, Felix and the 4 humans to talk more about what happened. He lets them know that his men had spotted the dark elves doing the same thing twice already over the last week or so. However, they did not interfere the first time since they do not usually get involved in such affairs. When it happened again, they only got there after the dark elf had made off with some humans, dressed much like the 4 men here, and killed some of the caravan guards that they became curious about what the dark elves might be up to.

Not long after, another dwarf enters the room and hands Raegar a letter. It reads, in “Elvish”:

“Have made contact inside the city. Have freed the scroll. Meet me in Morriel. —R”

Raegar shows it to Maksim, but he does not recognize the handwriting. He makes everyone in the room an offer:

He asks Chasina, who appears to speak the language of the 4 men, if they would agree to let him and his engineers examine some of their bullets (knowing they are unique and expendable) to learn the secret of smokeless gunpowder. In return, they would be allowed to stay here in the mountains and out of the hands of the dark elves. Nothing good could come of them being captured like the 2 men/2 women from the other caravans.

For anyone willing to go to Morriel and find out more about the dark elf plans and the mysterious “R” his contact there, Artos, would provide him or her with an appropriate reward.

During Chasina’s conversations with the 4 men, she learns that they are from the same Earth and the same time as her. In fact, they had witnessed her “miracles” and had been assigned to watch her and learn more about her. The watched as she prayed and then vanished, only to be transported to Yrth moments later as well. She reveals a little of the Zombie plague sent to punish humanity, which leads to questions about the undead here in Yrth. Raegar reveals a little of the history of Abydos and the Lazarites who live north of Megalos.

Another guard enters later indicating that the dark elf mage “surrendered” the name of the letter writer: Rhianon. Maksim recognizes it and tells a little of his history with her.

While Felix decides he and the caravan will continue along their planned trade route, Quiron, Chasina and Maksim decide to continue on toward Morriel and make contact with Artor and learn more about Rhianon’s plans with the dark elves.

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