Shadows of the Past

New Recruits
Session 47: Year 977, on the 20th of Jularon


Jularon 20th:

In the afternoon, Quinn and Wyverna headed down to the docks to find out why Emberfell Excursions wasn’t allowed in their warehouse, while Corvus and Janos headed to the arena to look for some new recruits.

Quinn and Wyverna noticed that there were a lot of new faces at the docks and warehouses. The Menevolla militia seemed familiar with them, though by appearance they seemed to be vagrants, thugs, and, Wyverna suspected, possible members of the Hangsmen gang.

In their normal spot was a strange ship, the Flying Serpent, which was said to have priority for the dock and also the warehouses this week. Inside the warehouse where the Emberfell goods usually sat, were strange crates filled with new weapons, with the company names burned off the wooden planks.

After talking to the foreman, a fat sloppy man named Gershel, Quinn and Wyverna began to suspect that someone with a lot of power (and money) had bribed the foreman and most of the warehouse owners, to have them drive out their own customers to make space for these new mysterious goods coming in this week.

A few more questions and they were told that things would be back to normal next week, leading them to believe that whatever was happening would collide with the end of the games, scheduled for that weekend. They also heard the name Lo’Haarash, who was said to be in charge of the recent changes. With that, they headed to the arena to fill in the others.

Corvus and Janos had shown up at the games in search of new recruits, and split up to double their chances.

Corvus headed up to the stands to hobnob with some of the moneyed spectators who were betting on the games, trying to figure out who they were expecting to do well. He was told to place bets on an archer named Togonia, and a strongman named Horace. He also heard that there was said to be a Wyndarri poet in the city, an ancient order of magical sword-fighting bards, thought to have been nothing but myth.

Janos headed to the practice area below the stands, and saw a familiar face immediately – Coscia, from Silverwatch Fort, once a member of the Amazing Minotaurs, and then Crazy Crow’s assistant at Silverwatch House. She and her friend (and former teammate) Abaddo were preparing to compete in a last-man-standing event in the middle of the arena, and Janos mentioned that if they did well, there might be some work waiting for them.

As Quinn and Wyverna arrived and shared the news of the docks, Corvus and Janos shared their own prospects, and the group decided to keep an eye out for the new talent. Corvus and Janos volunteered to enter the competition to get a firsthand account of the fighters, while Quinn and Wyverna stayed in the stands above, using hand signals to show Corvus and Janos which fighters they should engage and size up.

Twill Tweed gathered the fighters below the stage beforehand, and begrudgingly allowed Corvus and Janos to compete, quietly begging them not to destroy the entire arena this time. The competition granted points per round still fighting, as well as bonus points for occupying certain areas of the arena, which caused most of the conflict.

Though Togonia was indeed a skilled archer, and Horace proved to be a tough foe, Corvus and Janos were too much on their own, and easily cruised to a dual-victory, with Corvus taking the prize with the bear’s share of points available.

As the dust cleared, Twill Tweed announced the point totals, and the party compared notes as Corvus took the stage for his victory.

Sleepy's Hollow
Session 46: Year 977, on the 18th - 20th of Jularon


Jularon 18th and 19th:

After recuperating from fighting the troll, the party found a clearing and slept. The next day, they used the sun to head in the general direction of Liras Menevol, becoming lost a few times in the forest that seemed to go on forever, but eventually finding tall golden towers in the distance to use as a landmark.

As the sun was setting, the party emerged from the forest to the location of the towers, which they saw now were enormous corn stalks, nearly 100 feet tall, surrounded by a pumpkin patch covered in pumpkins that were 5, 10, even 15 feet around.

Before they could process the spectacle, an old man called to them from a nearby farm house. The man’s name was Loren Loo, he said, but friends called him Sleepy. He offered seats to everyone and served them some stew, along with some extremely potent spiked Pumpkin Rice Cider, and shared his story.

Sleepy’s farm was once a prosperous vegetable patch specializing in pumpkins, but recent pests (giant insects, he said) had ruined his crops (and killed his two dogs), and he was desperate for help when a man named Crane came by, selling a concoction called Miracle-Gro 2, which he poured all over his farm. The crops came back to life, growing to enormous sizes.

He told the party that they could crash at his place that night, that the judges for the Harvest Fest are coming by first thing to judge his giant pumpkins, and he’d love for them to be around to see his prize winning pumpkin. The party agreed and spent the rest of the evening with Sleepy and his cider.

After the party was sufficiently intoxicated, Sleepy asked for a small favor in return for his food, cider, and lodgings. Though the Miracle-Gro-2 had worked, it had worked too well, and some of the weeds in the farm had also grown enormous, come to life, and displayed violence, attacking Sleepy when he came near.

He asked the party to whack the weeds, if they wouldn’t mind, and they begrudgingly accepted.

Sleepy drunkenly climbed atop the largest, 15 foot tall pumpkin, where he would direct the party as they worked. The party donned their gear and weapons, stumbling drunkenly out into the field, ready to fight.

Moments later, enormous plants broke out of the ground and attacked, pulling them in close as giant toothed maws tried to devour the pumpkins (and the party). Each pumpkin that was eaten exploded in a shower of Miracle-Gro-2, which sank into the ground, and, unfortunately, brought back to life whatever had been buried below.

As the weeds were whacked, the Miracle-Gro-2 revived a handful of skeletons, reminding Sleepy of the rumors that this had once been a graveyard. In addition, the concoction brought to life several of his scarecrows, an enormous skeletal cyclops, as well as his two recently deceased dogs, Ichy and Body.

Then, brought back to life by Crane’s potion, came the Threadless Horseman, an undead minotaur, the buck-naked terror of the night, riding bare, bare-back, stripping the flesh from his victims just as his clothes were once stripped from him, in cruel, irony.

Finally, the plants and undead were slain, and the largest pumpkin survived. Sleepy and the party quickly passed out, exhausted.

Jularon 20th:

Early the next morning the party headed back to Liras Menevol, with some nasty hangovers. In the city, everyone was preparing for Thorne’s Games, a celebration of Thorne Silvershot and his Games of Thorne in Silverwatch Fort, where any up and coming adventurers were welcome to join and compete to honor the fallen hero.

Camodian Frell was pleased with the amount (and freshness) of troll’s blood brought back, and paid a considerable reward to the players, mentioning that the tale of their troll slaying (or frightening off) would spread and help the Emberfell Excursions business.

Speaking of which, Camodian Frell said that there were issues that had come up in the last few days which needed attention. The Emberfell Excursions warehouse lease at the docks for their merchandise was not being honored, and the company could not store or send out any goods. Quinn and Wyverna volunteered to head down there later that day to check on it.

Also, it had become evident in their absence that Emberfell Excursions would need some employees familiar with a sword to protect their goods going forward, and Janos and Corvus were given the task of heading to the games in the center of the city and keeping an eye out for any skilled combatants that they could hire as new recruits. Though not thrilled to once again be part of any tournament carrying Thorne’s name, they reluctantly agreed, and the party headed out.

Trolling for Trolls
Session 45: Year 977, On the 15th-18th of Jularon


The party spent the 15th enjoying a day off. Corvus and Wyverna took in some sights around the city and festival, while Janos and Quinn spent time at the city archives researching trolls.

The morning of the 16th, Camodian Frell detailed the logistics of the troll hunt. He had arranged some supplies from a vendor named Crowley’s Contraptions to assist in extracting the blood, and suggested they also visit Dareheart Lodge, the residence of the famous halfling hunter Drazzel Dareheart, and a place where many knowledgeable hunters were known to spend their days.

Crowley gave the party a couple of heavy-duty syringes for extracting blood from a troll and many nearly-unbreakable vials. Impressed by his many mechanical devices, Corvus also purchased a small clockwork gnome, which would perform a small (and loud) dance when wound.

Paying an entry fee to enter Dareheart lodge (which came with a commemorative mug), the party spent some time asking the lodge members about their hunts and types of trolls in the area, and eventually found a man who was interested in the troll hunt: an older man named Walterson, who offered (for a fee) to lead the party to the southeast, where they believed they might find a bridge troll – the weakest and slowest of the trolls in the area – a perfect target for their task.

The party purchased some healing potions and met Walterson at the gate, and headed south out of Liras Menevol.

After 2 days of trekking through the woods, Walterson pointed them to a nearby bridge and said he’d wait a few hours for them to return.

Unfortunately, the “troll” turned out to be merely a vagrant posing as a troll to extort the party out of some gold, and maintained that there were no trolls in the area. Irritated, the party returned to Walterson, but he had already left, waiting only a few moments (or none at all).

Trying to find their own way back to Liras Menevol, the party became lost in the woods for a day, delving deeper into the forest and even discovering an abandoned watchtower guarded by a Black Guard, which until now they had assumed only existed on Meddes.

Eventually, the party stumbled upon another bridge, grown over and surrounded by large crocodiles and giant frogs, who tried to pull them into the water below. While fighting off the pests, a large bridge troll appeared, brutish and slobbering, lazily watching the encounter from afar while eating an entire boar.

Once the food was gone, the troll began to attack the party, fumbling around as it tried to grab them, throwing them around and trying to soften them up for its next meal.

Quinn used his fireball (knowing trolls are afraid of fire) to steer the troll away, while Corvus ignited his flaming axe to corner it, allowing Wyverna a chance to extract some fresh blood from the troll’s hide. Finally, Janos cast a dark spell, igniting the small black demonic dog Demas into a large fiery beast to keep the troll at bay.

Burned and bleeding and facing a fiery dog and a giant ball of fire, the troll turned in fear and ran away. By the fight’s end, they had recovered one large vial of pure troll’s blood, one of slightly used blood, and one completely useless vial of black hardened blood.

And with that, the party sat down to take a rest and gather the strength before heading back to the city.

Fires & Fires
Session 44: Year 977, On the 14th-15th of Jularon


Shortly after the audience cleared out following Prince Ranton’s speech, Janos and Quinn followed Camodian Frell back to the Liras Menevol branch of Emberfell Excursions, with Corvus and Wyverna in tow.

As they arrived at the warehouse near the waterfront, the party noted that across the road was a charred out husk of a recently burned building which previously had carried the Emberfell sign out front. Inside, they learned that Camodian Frell was not the well-dressed goliath, but the small strange, color-changing lizard upon the goliath’s (named Gerard) shoulder.

Camodian Frell welcomed the new help in expanding Eynn’s business, and offered positions to Corvus and Wyverna as well, as Eynn had previously vouched for them, granted they, along with Janos and Quinn, could prove their worth with a small task: relieving the previous employees, who had run off with some of Eynn’s valuable goods.

The party was to find the soon-to-be ex-employees, said to have fled the city on the road south to Arrowhelm, serve them termination papers, and recover the stolen goods. An older guard named Nolan would meet them at the south gate to provide more information on their quarry.

Camodian Frell also talked briefly about the organized crime in the city, the Hangsman gang and the Birdseye gang, advising the party to steer clear of them, lest they interfere with Eynn’s business in retaliation.

And with that, the party was off, sent by Nolan through the rocky hills of the southeast in an attempt to catch up with the employees. With a brisk pace, they overtook the men in a matter of hours, demanding the goods and their signatures on their termination notices.

The men signed after some gentle prodding, but said the goods had been stolen by feral goblins, their hiding spot dug up, and they were chased off by the vicious creatures. They pointed the party in the direction of the monsters, and then left empty-handed on their way to Arrowhelm.

Following their directions, the party soon found the dug-up spot, and followed literal signs of goblins toward a nearby quarry. The signs were meant to warn off trespassers, the party assumed, noticing the poor common warnings of “get losd” and “go awy” and “kiler goblns heer”.

Finding the quarry, and a final sign placed upon a wooden door to a cave inside, reading “kiler goblns insid”, the party noticed broken glass vials outside. They used some phrases taught to them by the Monster Manual by P.Q. Toggert, which garnered nothing but laughter from the goblins hidden in the treelines above the quarry. Seeing diplomacy wouldn’t work, and assuming the goods were within the cave, the party began to hack at the door.

Suddenly, a horn blew, and rock elementals sprang to life, attacking the party and hurling giant boulders at them. After a few minutes of combat, Quinn threw a fireball at the wooden door, hoping to provide some shelter from the elementals. However, as the door burned, giant mutant goblins emerged, having been trapped within, and gnashed and gnawed, ravenously attacking attacking the party.

Coming to their aid from above, a dozen or so goblins slid down the quarry walls, assisting the party and attacking the mutant goblins. The mutant goblins tried desperately to eat whatever they could, including a few of the smaller, unfortunate goblins.

After a short while, the party realized that the mutants were susceptible to fire, and managed to burn them down, quickly cremating their bodies.

Inside the cave, the party noticed several large piles of goblin bones, and nearby, an Emberfell Excurions crate filled with glass vials of troll’s blood, a notoriously unstable and mutative liquid used in some alchemy. Many of the vials had been shattered, causing the mutations they had seen.

The party took the rest of the goods without any protest of the goblins, and the leader, who introduced himself as Hug-Hug, then showed the party to their treasure room, giving them a chest with gold and magical gems as a reward for helping with the monsters.

Back in Liras Menevol, the party returned the remaining (12 of 30) vials to Camodian Frell, who paid them for their services. The party then signed contracts (for a few hours) and were given pre-arranged lodgings and food allowances in a nearby inn, the Anchordrop Inn & Tavern, on Emberfell Excursion’s tab.

Their next task, Camodian Frell said, would be to find a troll and replace the missing vials of troll’s blood, which is quite valuable and has a buyer already awaiting shipment. The party was given the next day off while logistics were sorted out, and were to arrive at dawn on the 16th to begin their troll hunt.

Session 43: Year 977, On the 14th of Jularon


It had been nearly eight months since the events of the Games of Thorne and the ensuing Battle of Silverwatch Fort, and the world had moved on. And so had the once members of the Falling Stars.

After a short stay within Silverwatch Fort, Janos left for the city of Stonewall, joining Meister Eynn’s business, Emberfell Excursions.

Heading back to Elazaraan Academy to hone his skills, Quinn eventually met up with Janos, assisting him and Eynn in the business.

Returning home to Liras Avanor to check on his family, Corvus eventually headed south in pursuit of a violent criminal organization called the Hangsmen gang.

Seeking answers, Wyverna found her way to the pirate city of Razza and tangled within the lives of the Cleaver and Scult Ralfsdatter, before returning to the Sra Lussian Military Academy.

Elsewhere, were not looking good for the conflict between Valanor and Issalin. The small conflicts in Meddes were now spreading to engagements on the other continents, and though there had been no official word of war, it seemed that both sides were gearing up and preparing for it. It was becoming somewhat unsafe to travel between the kingdoms, these days, it was said. And it appeared that many of the smaller kingdoms were starting to take sides. The one attempt to bring the sides together, Silverwatch Fort, was now gone, now a Forever Endeavor Trading post called Everport, its ambassadors and unity all abandoned, in the wake of the battle and Thorne’s death. War was looming now, much closer than it ever had before.

And it happened, Corvus, Wyverna, Quinn, and Janos all arrived in Liras Menevol shortly before an event organized by the kingdom of Valanor to celebrate Thorne Silvershot, held one year after the beginning of the games, on Jularon 14th. It was an unveiling of a statue honoring the man and his death – an official funeral – held in Liras Menevol, his town of birth and where he spent many of his adventuring years. You weren’t excited at the prospect of revisiting the days of Silverwatch and Thorne again, but it did seem like fate, somehow, to once again be caught in the shadow cast by the Silver Arrow.

Finding each other after a brawl with some members of the Hangsmen gang, Wyverna and Corvus met another patron of the Maidenhead tavern, a man named Ranty, who soon revealed himself to be none other than Prince Ranton, younger of the two Antorius brothers. Along with some other familiar faces from Silverwatch Fort, as well as Ranton’s older brother and heir to the throne, Aldar, Ranton gave a rousing speech in honor of Thorne Silvershot and the legacy left behind.

The coming week was to be a celebration of the Silver Arrow, complete with games, parades, and retellings of Thorne’s exploits. Corvus and Wyverna were briefly brought on stage for their participation in Thorne’s most recent endeavor; waiting in the crowd for their Emberfell Excursions contact, Quinn and Janos recognized their old friends, and after the event, reunited.

Now, together once again, the party was met by the mysterious manager of the Menevol branch of Emberfell Excursions, Camodian Frell, who bid them to follow him in Meister Eynn’s new endeavor.

The Battle of Silverwatch (Part II)
Session 42: Year 976, On the 10th of Octovon


Augos 10th:

There was a moment of silence. Vara and the other house leads stood poised, ready, as an invisible form pushed through the smoke. As clouds passed overhead, a glimpse of the creature’s shape became visible – a hundred feet tall, at least, covered in horns. A glint of sunlight reflected from rows of teeth, large as a man.

An inhuman, echoing voice pierced the air in abyssal:


Vara’s eyes began to glow a bright green, and she hovered slightly over the ground, brandishing her daggers.

“Well then, filth,” she said. “Come and take it.”

The creature roared, and two nearby buildings exploded in splinters of wood, throwing guards and others hundreds of feet across the Fort. The retreating demons stopped, turning back, empowered by Gal’malok’s presence.

“Now!,” a loud, unfamiliar man screamed, and several seemingly empty guard towers sprang to life. Hidden compartments in the top fell away, revealing elaborate elven-made, giant crossbows. Behind each was a pair of Ghosts. Without pause, the crossbows fired, leaving a shadowy trail of magical energy as they soared, striking into the invisible form of Gal’malok.

There was a strange hum, and suddenly the giant demon’s form became visible as the dark energy was absorbed by the demon’s skin, turning it a dark, scaly grey. The creature was enormous, bulging, glowing with energy lighting its insides. It was covered in scars and old, ancient injuries. Many old arrows and spears still stuck out from its back and shoulders.

Gal’malok lurched forward, scraping at its own skin, heaving, injured, looking to the sun for help.

“YES,” it said, looking around, searching. “ALWAYS THE CLEVER BOY. WHERE ARE YOU HIDING?”

The crossbows continued to fire, and Gal’malok screamed in pain, slashing at the nearest tower, and smashing it to pieces. Then, it showered the other towers with a green poison breath, killing the ghosts who occupied them.

“ENOUGH OF YOUR GAMES,” it shouted to no one in particular. “NOW I SHALL PLAY MY OWN. I SHALL SLAUGHTER.”

And with a roar, Gal’malok strode to Silverwatch House, roaring in anger as it began its attack.

The remaining Silverwatch fighters engaged Gal’malok at Silverwatch House, shooting ballista rounds, waves of arrows, and trying to hold the beast back as Vara and the other house leads unleashed a torrent of attacks and magical spells to hold it back.

As the others made their way into the foray, the Stars realized that this was a fight that not even the house leads could win – not on their own. The Stars made their way back into the fort, running into several small groups of demons returning to the battle, emboldened by their leader.

Corvus shouted to the others to get to the towers, and charged the demons to slow them down. Without wasting any time, Janos rushed across the rubble toward the furthest tower. Quinn ascended the closest tower, finding a large ballista, powered by some sort of magical ammunition, with 3 large runic-covered bolts nearby.

Quinn quickly analyzed the bolt, activating its magical potential, and did his best to load it into the ballista, firing a strong shadowy bolt at Gal’malok. The bolt struck the demon’s midsection, and it howled in pain, its skin darkening, absorbing the shadowy energy.

Seeing the damage done, Janos climbed the other tower, finding an injured ghost at the top. The ghost rose to his feet, helping Janos load and fire the ballista, striking another hit against the demon.

Below, Wyverna drew the attention of a group of attacking demons, leading them within range of a few ghosts, who tried to assist the dragoon with a barrage of arrows. Nearby, Corvus, having forced the demons away from the tower, climbed up to help steady the ballista as Quinn fired another bolt, sparing what seconds he could to strike down an enormous demon which had attempted to ascend the tower after him.

Gal’malok turned, spraying another mist of green acid at the Stars and ghosts, who took shelter when possible, fighting through the pain and attack to continue their ranged assault. On the ground, Vara and the other house leads did their best to dodge the demon’s attacks, climbing atop the massive creature to strike blows upon its head and upper body, but its armor was seemingly invincible to mortal strikes, and one by one, the heroes of Silverwatch were thrown aside.

As Quinn prepared to launch their last bolt, the large demon found purchase upon the top of the their tower, cornering them. Trying to buy Quinn time, Corvus leaped on the demon, sending them both crashing to the ground below, just as Quinn’s ballista fired.

Janos and Wyverna saw to another successful bolt fired, and earned Gal’malok’s attention, for the last time. The giant demon took a single large stride, destroying both towers, sending a hail of stone, wood, along with the Stars and ghosts, to the ground below. An avalanche of debris fell upon them as they hit the dirt, exhausted, struggling to maintain consciousness.

As the Stars slowly crawled out of the rubble, Gal’malok roared with fury and strode to Silverwatch House, before pausing abruptly. Crouched atop the remaining roof of Silverwatch House was Saze, who stood to face the demon.

“Where is he, she-elf?”, Gal’malok rasped. “Where is Thorne?”

Heren, covered in blood, rose to his feet defiantly.

“I’m right here, filth,” he said. “Come and get me.”

Gal’malok laughed, taking a step to the stage, grabbing Heren in one of its claws lifting him off the ground like a doll.

“We had a bargain, she-elf,” Gal’malok said to Saze. “You were to deliver the clever boy.”

Suddenly, a murmur spread through the crowd, and above the Stars could see a blanket of incoming fired arrows, which struck the remaining smaller demons with uncanny precision. Then, emerging from the smoke and flames from deep in the fort, a large creature strode forward, slowly. It was the Crone, a monstrous form of wood and foliage and vines, flanked on each side by no fewer than fifty ghosts, who spread out in groups and began emptying satchels, placing objects all over the fort grounds.

Gal’malok held Heren in front of him as a shield, starting to crush him.

“Deliver him to me, creature,” it said. “Or I shall kill them all, beginning with the false boy.”

“Very well,” said a loud, booming, masculine voice, and the Crone fell apart in pieces, revealing a giant, multi-arrowed, glowing arbalester underneath, which fired immediately at Gal’malok, wrapping around the midsection of the giant demon and pinning its arms to its sides, holding a large, blazing hot ring in place over its chest, which hissed as it seared into the demon’s skin. The demon screamed in pain, dropping Heren as it struggled to break free.

A tall, thin man emerged from the rest of the Crone disguise. Underneath was a pale, weathered, scarred ranger with silver hair and long beard, adorned in leather and animal skins. He reached behind the arbalester, producing an enormous, elaborately decorated golden longbow, slinging it over his back as he looked up the sky, which began to darken quickly as clouds swirled above.

“Thorne,” Manton muttered to himself.

The ghosts froze, looking at Thorne, then each other, apparently confused.

“To your posts!” he shouted to the ghosts. “You’ve all sworn a blood oath, fulfill it now or forever be forgotten by your kind.”

The ghosts immediately returned to work, emptying sacks and arranging stones in shapes all over the fort grounds. Thorne strode toward Gal’malok, and a dozen demons charged forward, each struck in the head by an arrow by Thorne, who loosed multiple arrows at once without looking or stopping.

“I’ll take it from here,” he said to those at Silverwatch House as he advanced. “Need to make this quick.”

Gal’malok strained against the ties, addressing the ranger.

“Always the clever boy,” it said. “But no matter. I have grown powerful, too powerful for your games. The wrathblood flows through me in excess, and it answers my call!”

With a scream, Gal’malok ripped the bonds, freeing itself dropping the strange stone disc to the ground. On its chest, strange runic symbols were visible, burned into the creature’s skin. Janos and Quinn exchanged a glance – they were common teleportation runes, but written mirrored.

As Thorne approached, Gal’malok spewed a shower of green acid. Thorne lifted his bow and a magical shield extended around it, absorbing all of the liquid, which was drawn into an arrow and shot back at the demon’s feet. The acid erupted, burning through the ground and creating a large pit, which Gal’malok fell into.

“Enough, ranger!”, Gal’malok hissed. “Return it! I have not followed you to the ends of the world, waited a lifetime, just to—.”

“Shut your mouth, trash,” replied Thorne, in abyssal.

Thorne motioned to a pair of ready ghosts nearby, who launched several arrows at the pit, covering the edges in a shiny, slimy substance. Gal’malok tried to climb out, struggling and slipping as he failed to gain purchase on the now-slimy ground.

Thorne reached into his tunic, removing a black stone which was covered with bright green pulsing runes, then tossed it casually towards the pit.

“No!,” Vara screamed in protest, as Gal’malok desperately reached for the stone, swallowing it. The demon began to laugh maniacally.

“You fools,” Gal’malok hissed. “You should have stayed hidden. Now I shall end you all, beginning with—”

In a motion almost too fast to see, Thorne pulled and loosed an arrow, which struck Gal’malok in the perfect center of the runic ring on his chest. The arrow began to glow blue, and the runes lit up in response, pulsing with magical energy. Similar bluish glows appeared within the stone circles placed all over the fort grounds – teleportation rings, Janos and Quinn realized.

“Pitiful,” Gal’malok sneered, breaking off the arrow and tossing it aside. “Nothing can penetrate my armor.”

“Now!,” Thorne shouted, ignoring the demon.

All over the fort grounds, groups of ghosts pulled out bags labeled with “Forever Endeavor Mega-Magic Arcane Explosive”, dumping handfuls of small metallic balls into the portals at their feet. The Stars could hear a handful of muffled explosions within Gal’malok, each bomb lighting up its chest cavity as it went off. After a few seconds, the explosions stopped, and Gal’malok collapsed into the pit, blood pouring from the demon’s mouth and eyes. The pit quickly began to fill with the demon’s blood, black and green and glowing.

Without hesitation, Saze dropped from the roof of Silverwatch House and strode through the exhausted survivors, removing the abyssal key from a satchel and setting it down beside the pit and uttering some strange incantations.

The other house leads tightened the grip on their weapons, approaching her, but Thorne waved them off as he approached the dark elf.

Above, the sky continued to darken, the clouds swirling violently.

“He’s coming,” Thorne said to Saze, motioning to the sky above.

Vara wiped blood from her face, limping over to the Silver Arrow.

“Who’s coming?,” she coughed. “And what is this? You had the wrathstone, all along? We could have killed it at any—.”

Swiftly and without warning, Saze struck Vara from behind, sending her sprawling on the dirt, unconscious.

“Get her out of sight,” Thorne said to a trio of nearby ghosts, who began to drag Vara away from the battlefield.

Saze returned to the abyssal key.

“She’ll never forgive you for this,” she said.

Thorne sighed.

“No,” he replied. “But maybe one day she’ll understand.”

Thorne turned to face his army of ghosts.

“Get in position,” he said. “Phase three.”

The ghosts immediately began to move, taking strategically high positions all over the Fort, within view of Thorne, bows drawn and at the ready.

The sky above had turned nearly pitch black now, dark as night. Most of the other house leads, Rynn, Zaelorius, Manton, Somdutto, Heren, and Pelore, joined Thorne and Saze. Thorne gave Heren a hearty clap on the back.

“Well done, boy,” he said. “Well done indeed.”

The others were solemn, quiet.

“What the hell is this?,” Manton asked, stone-faced, gesturing around.

Thorne went deadly serious, cleared his throat, and took a step atop a nearby pile of stones, addressing the house leads and the survivors of the battle. The Stars, leaning on each other, limped their way to the rest of the crowd.

“I know you’ve been through a lot,” Thorne began, looking around. “In a few minutes, you shall be free of this, be free of me, forever, but now…”

Suddenly, an icy wind blew through Silverwatch Fort, now shrouded in darkness. The wind seemed to carry whispers upon it, hissing.

“I’m sorry for what is about to happen,” Thorne continued. “There was simply no other way.”

He reached inside his tunic, removing a strange silver medallion in the shape of a bird, placing it around his neck.

“I’m sorry,” Thorne said, barely audible. “I’m so sorry.”

Nearby, the abyssal key hummed loudly, having devoured nearly all of Gal’malok’s blood. A pair of ghosts ran to Thorne’s side, dropping a small stone ring on the ground, which began to light up with runes as the portal within activated – there were dozens of them, all over the Fort grounds, all glowing.

Thorne nodded at them, then turned to Saze.

“Is it enough?,” he asked.

“It might be,” she replied.

The wind suddenly picked up, chilling the bones of everyone within Silverwatch.

“Well, it’ll have to do,” Thorne replied.

“Thooorne,” it seemed to hiss. It was now dark as night, above.

The Stars all felt themselves freeze, their eyes wide with fear, a sense of endless dread, crushing phobia. They dropped to their knees, trying to fight the feeling, but nearly unable to move. Most of the others in Silverwatch fell in similar fashion. The house leads seemed frightened as well; Somdutto dropped to a knee as the others looked around, wide-eyed, terrified.

“No,” Manton said, his voice shaking. “No, oh gods, Thorne, what have you done?”

Then, a shadow, black as an abyss, appeared, engulfing Thorne. The clangs of metal, and grunts of pain were the only sounds to escape the dark mass.

Suddenly Thorne disappeared, dropping into the portal and emerging from another, some fifty feet away, hailing dozens of glowing arrows at the cloud. The Stars could see that Thorne was already covered in blood and cuts, his clothes shredded, revealing armored plates of metal with glowing runes beneath.

“Get down!,” Manton shouted. “Everyone get down!”

The ghosts began to fire arrows at the cloud, which sped toward Thorne with lightning speed. Dozens of daggers flew out from the cloud, each one striking a ghost in the neck, cutting their throats as they dropped to the ground, lifeless, their bows clattering to the ground.

The shadow vanished, then reappeared around Thorne, who howled in pain, and his bow was knocked away. The ranger disappeared once more into a portal and appearing hundreds of feet away. His face was badly slashed, and his left arm hung mostly limp at his side. His clothes were ragged, now, nearly in tatters, and most of the runic armor had been cut away. Thick streams of blood ran down his chest and legs.

Thorne whistled, and Razza appeared from behind Silverwatch House, diving at the shadow.

“Saze!”, Thorne screamed, furious. “For fuck’s sake, Saze!”

The tiger hawk and shadow collided, and there was a screech as the bird was sent tumbling into the dirt, a trail of bloody feathers floating behind it. The shadow rushed towards Thorne with lightning speed. The Silver Arrow backed up, slowly, looking for an escape he knew wasn’t there.

With the shadow mere feet away, the abyssal key exploded in light, creating a large dome of pure white at its center, pushing the black and darkness away to its edges. The overpowering dread and fear instantly left the Stars, and the icy wind vanished.

Where the shadow had been now stood a man, thin, masked, covered head to toe in black leather armor and a flowing, hooded cloak, that seemed to move as if alive. In his hands were a pair of ornate curled daggers, dripping blood.

The man looked around, confused, for only a moment, but it was enough for Thorne to act. The silver arrow produced a length of Forever Endeavor’s magical chains, hurling them at the man, who was forced to his knees as the chains bound his arms and legs behind his back, leaving him entirely immobile.

Thorne relaxed and spat blood, before turning to the man and holding up the bird medallion.

“Recognize this?,” Thorne asked.

Thorne tore a piece of his cloak and tied it around his bloody left arm. The kneeled man raised his head, and spoke in an eerie, raspy, echoing voice that sent shivers down the Stars’ spines.

“So,” the man said, amused. “A trap, after all. How elaborate. The demon was a nice touch. And here I thought you had forgotten about me.”

Thorne grunted, shedding the rest of the runic armor.

“The Silver Arrow never forgets,” Thorne replied.

A ghost approached Thorne, cautiously, handing him his bow. Saze walked briskly to Thorne’s side.

“Kill him,” she said. “Kill him now.”

“Not yet,” Thorne replied.

The other house leads joined Saze and Thorne, their weapons drawn.

“By gods, what are you waiting for?,” Manton asked, exasperated. He lifted his axe and took a step forward. “Fine,” he continued. “I’ll do it myself.”

In a split second, Thorne had an arrow notched in his bow, aimed at Manton’s neck.

“Get BACK!,” he shouted at Manton, sweeping his bow toward the other house leads. “ALL of you, get back!”

“What are you doing?!,” Saze screamed, furious. “We waited a decade for this – we won’t get another chance. Kill him!”

“Yes,” the man said, sounding bored. “Get it over with.”

Thorne turned to him.

“Oh, you’d like that, wouldn’t you?,” Thorne snapped. “No, I know better. I know it all, now – who you are, WHAT you are. I know everything Relmand knew.”

“Ha,” the man scoffed. “Then you know nothing.”

“Where are they?,” Thorne asked.

“Where ARE they?,” the man replied. “Then you know even less than Relmand.”

“I know this,” Thorne said, producing a strange dagger, its blade of purple, glowing glass, wispy shadows swirling around it. “Now, answer me – where are they?”

The man sighed, looking around at the carnage left by the battle.

“An abyssal key AND a soul reaper,” the man mused. “There is so much blood on your hands. The once gallant Silver Arrow, we’re not so different after all.”

“I’m nothing like you, murderer,” Thorne said through clenched teeth. “You left me no choice. For years! Decades! There was no other way – I had to see it through.”

“Then,” the man said, looking up, now serious, “you finally understand what it takes.”

Thorne stiffened up, pointing the dagger menacingly.

“Tell me where they are,” Thorne said, “or I’ll end you. For good, this time.”

“Do it then,” the man replied. “Add my body to the pile at your feet. Thousands by now, I believe.”

Around them, the white dome flickered slightly, then dimmed, as the humming of the abyssal key grew slightly quieter.

“And yet,” the man continued. “Still not enough.”

Saze and the others closed in, starting to surround Thorne and the man.

“Do it,” Manton ordered Thorne, gesturing to the failing magic around them. “Do it now.”

“This is it,” Saze rasped. “We won’t catch him again.”

“She’s right,” Zaelorious added. “Do it now, or we will.”

Thorne turned, brandishing the glowing dagger, spinning in a circle.

“No,” he said, desperately. “He knows where they are, don’t you see? He knows—”

The hum of the orb dropped out for a split second, and the immense fear once again flashed through the crowd, like a bolt of lightning. Manton cringed, holding his head, while Somdutto and the others dropped to a knee.

“Not yet,” Thorne said, his voice hoarse, almost gone. “No, not yet.”

Saze sprinted toward the abyssal key, shouting to the nearby ghosts to grab every body near the pit and toss it into the remaining blood. The white orb brightened once again, for a moment, then began to visibly dull – within moments it would be gone completely.

“Now!” Manton screamed, pushing past Thorne and swinging his axe at the kneeled man.

The man deftly backflipped from the ground and out of the way, still chained, while wisps of shadow began to slowly surround him. Rynn leapt into the air, thrusting with his spear, and the man rolled out of the way, standing up as he kicked the leg chains off.

A burst of flame exploded near him as Zaelorious shouted an incantation, and the others leapt into action. The man easily dodged the oncoming attacks, kicking Somdutto to the ground as he flipped over Rynn, knocking him into Manton’s oncoming charge.

Pelore unleashed a flurry of arrows, and the man spun, deflecting them back, striking Zaelorious in the chest. He fell to the ground, coughing blood.

“Not yet,” Thorne muttered. “No, not yet – there’s still time.”

Manton charged again, and the man rolled through his legs and over the back of Rynn and Somdutto, who fell to the ground, bound by the magical chains. The man, now free, spun, throwing a fan of silver daggers in Thorne’s direction.

Heren pushed Thorne, taking a dagger in the neck and dropping to the ground, as an injured Pelore crawled over in an attempt to stop the bleeding.

“Saze!,” Thorne cried.

“It’s not enough!,” she shouted back. “Kill him, kill him now!”

The dome flickered out completely for a moment, during which the man disappeared and the icy terror returned. When the light came back, Manton was down, disarmed, and bleeding, with the man standing over him.

Now, only Thorne and the man remained.

“Damn you,” Thorne said through clenched teeth. “Damn you!”

Thorne pulled out his bow, notched a few arrows, and loosed them, with inhuman speed, toward the man. With the arrows a mere instant away from the man, the abyssal key suddenly went quiet, and the dome disappeared completely. The arrows lodged into the wooden wall of a building – the man had vanished once again, leaving only a wisp of shadows behind.

The air turned icy cold once again, and every onlooker, survivor, and ghost fell to the ground. Even Saze was knelt over, holding her head in her hands, shaking.

Suddenly, Thorne coughed blood, as the point of a dagger emerged from his tunic, above his heart. The man materialized behind him out of dark wisps, holding the blade.

“I’m sorry, old friend,” the man said, solemnly. “But you’ve seen the way, and the Silver Arrow never forgets.”

The man let go, and Thorne’s lifeless body fell to the ground with a thud. He looked over the body for a moment, contemplating, then reached down and picked up Thorne’s glowing purple blade, snapping it in half. The blade and its handle turned to dust, blowing away in the wind.

Without warning, two glowing halberds pierced the man’s midsection from behind. Saze screamed as she crossed her weapons, ripping the man in half. The man coughed and gurgled as his upper torso hit the ground, trying to grab the dirt with his hands and pull himself away.

Saze took a step forward and impaled the man into the ground. She spoke some ancient elven tongue, rasping, and her halberds glowed with a bright blue fire, then burst, disintegrating the man’s body, leaving nothing but a charred outline in the dirt.

The clouds immediately parted and the sun appeared, as the icy cold darkness and terror quickly dissipated. The other heroes regained their footing, running to their injured friends. Zaelorious was bleeding but alive, as were the others, though most were seriously wounded. Pelore wailed, holding Heren’s lifeless body in his lap.

The Stars, along with the survivors, ghosts, and other team members of Silverwatch, slowly gathered around the heroes and Thorne, taking in the scene.

Vara, now conscious, broke free of the ghosts restraining her, and rushed to the others, who now surrounded Thorne’s corpse. Saze used her foot to flip his body unceremoniously, grabbing the bird medallion from his neck and jerking it, snapping the cord as she looked it over. She then reached down and wiped the blood from her halberd’s on Thorne’s cloak, then casually sheathed her weapons and took off toward the docks.

“And where do you think you’re going?,” Vara, demanded, pointing threateningly at her.

Without stopping, Saze hung the bird medallion on Vara’s hand and brushed past her.

The Rook is dead,” Saze said, calmly. “I am free of you. If any of you enter the Darktide, or dare call upon me again, your life is forfeit.”

She continued on. No one followed her. Vara stood there, speechless, staring at the medallion.

The ghosts all removed their masks; each one was an elf. The Stars recognized most of them as former members of Silverwatch teams, who had disappeared, been disqualified, or been said to have left the games.

The remaining Forever Endeavor administration came out, quiet, for once, looking over the carnage with wide-eyed terror. There were hundreds of bodies littering the grounds. Few buildings were left standing amid the destruction.

Vara and the other house leads stood over Thorne, as Pelore covered his brother’s body. The ghosts joined them and the other teams, seeing to injuries and looking through the rubble and piles of bodies for survivors. A warm ocean breeze blew over as the midday sun beat down.

The battle of Silverwatch Fort was over.

The Battle of Silverwatch
Session 41: Year 976, On the 9th-10th of Octovon


Octovon 9th:

As Quinn spent the night in a cell being interrogated by Nimmonin and his Forever Endeavor cronies, Wyverna, Janos, and Corvus managed to escape into Farhoon Forest with minor injuries and return to the guard post.

Octovon 10th:

As the awards ceremony took place, an enormous army, thousands of demons, attacked Silverwatch Fort, quickly overpowering the guards and slaughtering anyone in sight. During the commotion, Quinn managed to escape from his cell in the FETC headquarters, and ran into Wyverna, Janos, and Corvus, who had followed the invasion force from Farhoon Forest. As yet, Gal’malok himself hadn’t made an appearance.

“I just want it on the record,” Janos said, gesturing at the mass of attacking demons. “I had nothing to do with this.”

“Now what?,” Quinn asked, looking around.

“We leave,” Wyverna said. “Through the forest. To the Boneyard or the coast. There’s nothing we can do here – not without…”

Her voice trailed off as a dozen more shapes emerged from the smoke. It was at least twenty people, members from Silverwatch teams, most of which had been imprisoned with you in the dungeon. They were covered in ash and blood.

“…an army,” she continued.

“They’re slaughtering us,” one of the fighters said. “And the spectators. Everyone.”

“We’ve got to stop it,” said another, pleading to Wyverna.

The group lined up, waiting for a response.

“We’re ready,” said a wizard, gesturing to Quinn. “What’s the plan?”

Wyverna sunk her spear into the dirt, then turned to face the other Stars. Janos shrugged, rolling up his sleeves. Corvus twirled his sword and clanged it against his shield. Wyverna looked to Quinn. Her eyes were cold, determined. The decision had already been made.

Quinn sighed and stood up, brushing the dirt from his tabard and slinging his gear into place. He gave her a small, tired nod.

“So,” a man in front asked. “What do we do?”

Wyverna turned to face the teams, pulling her spear from the ground.

“Something,” she said.

She shot Corvus a look. He smirked and gave an approving nod.

“We do something,” Wyverna said. “We fight.”

The Stars took command of the other team members, separating them into groups to create battle formations. Janos took the quickest ones, to strike out from cover. Quinn gathered those with magical users to combine their spells and attack from a distance. Corvus took charge of the armored fighters, creating a wall of formidable fights to protect the others. Wyverna assembled a line of pikemen for support, and took a command position between the other formations to more effectively give orders. Those with bows and arrows took position behind the others, waiting to fire on command.

Leading their makeshift army, the Stars moved forward into Silverwatch Fort, climbing through the collapsed buildings and fighting their way through fire, smoke, and a seemingly endless force of demons of all shapes and sizes. Through the haze, Janos could just make out Silverwatch House in the distance of screams and clanging swords, where the majority of the battle seemed to be taking place.

Cutting down dozens of demons along the way, the Stars came across what remained of the Sleeping Dragon. The building had been nearly torn in half from artillery rounds, but still, what remained of the walls sheltered a handful of innocent spectators who had been caught in the middle of the fight. The Stars took a protective position around the bystanders, trying to keep them safe within their ranks as they marched onward through the battlegrounds.

Finally, the group reached Silverwatch House, and saw the full chaos that had been brought down upon the Fort. Outside the burning house were Vara, Manton, Heren, Pelore, and many of the other house leads, along with some of the team members present at the award ceremony, Tavus, Raemus, Cecili, Krodor, and others, who struck out at the attackers when possible.

Surrounding them were endless hordes of demons, hundreds of monsters threw themselves at Vara and the other fighters, climbing over mountains of bodies to reach their quarry. At the very center of the battle was an enormous demon, nearly 50 ft. tall, wielding an enormous broadsword. Vara’s eyes glowed green and she seemed to float in the air as she dodged the attacks, screaming orders to the others as she fought, flanked by a dozen other green-eyed warriors dressed in spectator garb.

Saze was nowhere in sight, but the Stars noticed a handful of the Crone’s ghosts on rooftops, hiding out of sight, waiting for something.

As the Stars looked for an opportunity to join the fight, a handful of screams drew their attention. Several dozen spectators, those who had made a run for the docks, had been ambushed by another group of demons, and were being slaughtered. Manton yelled to the Stars as he tried to fight his way toward them, pleading with Corvus and Wyverna to protect the innocents and lead them to the docks, to the safety of the ships.

The Stars directed their forces to the northwest, intercepting the demons and holding them back while they saved those they could. Spectators were being struck down with joy by the demons, though an act of bravery from Corvus’s soldiers broke through the attacking line, sacrificing themselves to buy the innocents enough time to escape.

During the fight, another enormous horned demon appeared from a fiery crash, nearly 30 ft. tall, bearing down on the Stars and their small force. Suddenly, Manton appeared, sprinting away from Silverwatch House, and engaged the demon, ordering the Stars to take out the smaller demonic forces nearby. The Stars led their army through and around the fiery attacks of the massive demon as they dispatched the remaining forces, then led the survivors to the ships while Manton returned to Silverwatch House.

Once the innocents were safe, the Stars returned to the house, and their army spread out, joining the fight. Most of the invading forces seemed to have been quelled. The grounds were littered with the bodies of guards, teams, demons, and innocents, piled high within the debris of the Silverwatch buildings. As the others watched, Vara dealt a finishing blow to the giant demon, ripping a hole in its throat and sending it crashing to the ground.

There was a moment of silence, and as everyone caught their breath, something new arrived.

Crushing buildings below, an invisible force strode quickly through Silverwatch Fort. A booming, gravelly voice began to laugh as the giant footsteps shook the ground.

Gal’malok had arrived.

“Here it comes,” Vara said, wiping black blood from her face.

Manton spat at the ground, lifting his axe.

“I suppose so,” he said. “Too late to make a bargain?”

Vara smirked.

“I already made mine,” she said.

“Well then,” Manton replied. “Let’s get it over with.”

The Coming Storm
Session 40: Year 976, On the 9th of Octovon


Octovon 9th:

Tossing Corvus a shield from one of the FETC guards, Tavus drew his rapiers and advanced.

Nearby, Lucille stirred in her cage.

As the fight began, Wyverna pulled the unconscious guards out of the way, Janos watched from a distance, and Quinn and the Rolling Thunder stood back to give some room. Tavus was fast – too fast, it seemed – darting in and out with cruel precision, thrusting and slashing at Corvus, dancing around him as he tried to maneuver him into a corner.

Corvus fought back, slamming Tavus with his shield and slashing with his axe as he tried to spot a weakness in his opponent’s form. Tavus was a force, the Stars realized, and Quinn, Wyverna, and Janos exchanged worried glances. Corvus refused to back down, however, keeping his feet as he dodged attack after attack, looking for a chance, waiting for Tavus to make a mistake.

But so far, no luck.

The other Rolling Thunder members looked on smugly. Things were looking dire. Corvus began to lag, stumbling from the flurry of attacks, and it seemed that defeat was inevitable. But the Stars weren’t willing to give up, not with so much at stake.

Capitalizing on a strong hit from Corvus that knocked Tavus to the ground, Wyverna suddenly leapt into action, striking Bordstrom in the back and buying Corvus and the Stars a few precious seconds to make their escape. As the rest of the Rolling Thunder cried foul and drew their weapons, Quinn wasted no time, throwing a bottle of alchemist’s fire into the back of Lucille’s cage. The armored creature panicked and tried to escape, slamming against the bars and breaking free.

All hell broke loose.

Lucille began to charge around the vault, demolishing anything in her way – crates, merchandise, and, fortunately for the Stars, the Rolling Thunder. She was seemingly indestructible. Wood splintered as everyone scrambled to get out of the way of the trampling creature, while the Stars fought through the Thunder toward the rear exit.

The noise drew guards, both from upstairs and the rear storeroom, and, still wearing the FETC uniforms, the Stars took advantage of the chaos to slip by the confused guards, declaring that Tavus had let Lucille loose. Once inside, the Stars quickly made their way to the secret door, dropping into the tunnels below Silverwatch Fort.

Up ahead, they could hear voices and see a light – guards were coming down the narrow tunnel from Silverwatch House! Quickly consulting the map, the Stars ducked into another tunnel leading to the Arkane Spires, hoping to escape out the front door. They pushed open a trap door and Janos looked over the piles of crates and leftover game props, realizing that he wasn’t alone. A bright blue light revealed a handful of the Crone’s ghosts, surrounding none other than Saze of the Darktide. In her arms, she held a small wooden box, blue light escaping from the lid.

Saze’s ears perked, and Janos saw the ghosts begin to fan out. He dropped back into the tunnel and reported, and the Stars began to turn around, but heard a commotion in the tunnel ahead – the FETC guards, now looking for them specifically. They quickly weighed their options, choosing to take their chances above where they could look for a chance to escape in an open area.

As they left the tunnel, Saze warned them to stay out of the Crone’s business, and ordered the ghosts to make sure they don’t follow her, before leaving through the front door of the spires.

The Stars tried to act quickly, spreading out and engaging the ghosts, who gave several warnings to stand down, saying they couldn’t allow them to follow. Corvus and Wyverna charged to the front lines, trying to force the ghosts to retreat, while Janos and Quinn spread out, attacking from afar.

Before long, a handful of FETC guards emerged from the trap door, looked over the ongoing brawl, then commanded everyone to surrender. The other ghosts called out to one near the door to escape and go on without them. That ghost, revealing their magical prowess, froze their pursuers and created an enormous ice wall to stop the others, before escaping.

The Stars fought desperately to elude the guards and make their escape. Quinn activated some of the game equipment to unleash a fiery beam which melted the icy wall enough for Janos to dodge through, as Wyverna and Corvus leapt over from an upper platform. Guards surrounded the ghosts, who immediately surrendered, and Quinn, who was soon overtaken.

Wyverna slammed against the doors with all her might, realizing they had been frozen shut. Managing to get them open just in time, she, Corvus, and Janos, waited as long as they could for Quinn. Seeing that he had been captured and that they were likely next, they ran out into Silverwatch Fort.

Ahead of them were nearly twenty FETC guards, armed with spears, pointing at the Stars as they rushed toward them.

Taking Inventory
Session 39: Year 976, On the 4th - 9th of Octovon


Octovon 4th:

After a few days of slow travel (due to Dinnigo’s missing leg), the Stars and remaining Golden Lions arrived at the Pens. They thanked Janos and the Stars (though Hobbs did so reluctantly), and left to rest before heading home and away from Meddes.

Making their way to Vara’s tent, the party overheard that Vorle, Perrath, Smed, and Barl had already been detained by the Forever Endeavor Trading Co., likely fined and sent home.

Inside, Vara and Heren stood over a desk signing the bottoms of stacks and stacks of official looking documents bearing the FETC seal. The Stars filled Vara in on the happenings at the old Silverwatch Fort, Jaxx’s involvement, and that Saze was looking to open a portal not only to the shadow realm, but to the plane of darkness beyond it.

Vara said that was what they had feared, but now they knew for sure. Answering what questions she could, she explained that they had tried to trap Gal’malok before, but that the first Silverwatch Fort was barely staffed, poorly defended, and that things had failed before they had a chance to begin. Thus, the need for FETC’s funding and support in the games.

She explained that the documents they were signing would give them some much needed resources from FETC, in exchange for signing away Thorne’s name, merchandising rights, and ownership of the mythical (she said) Silver Stash, a secret, legendary vault said to hold all of Thorne’s greatest treasures.

This new FETC support came with many limits and stipulations, and would last only until the evening of Octovon 10th, the day of the final awards ceremony. After that, Vara, Thorne, the teams, and all non-FETC personnel were to evacuate the fort immediately, as it was now the sole property of FETC.

Now, Vara said, it was up to herself and the other house leads, the heroes of old, to find Saze and stop her and Gal’malok both. The Stars wanted to stay and help, but Vara told them that this fight, these foes, were far out of their league, and that they had done enough.

She thanked the Stars for their service and said that FETC, and Nimmonin specifically, were searching for them, and that they should take some time away from Silverwatch until after the awards ceremony, when things calmed down.

On a map, she showed them an abandoned guard post about three hours away from both the Pens and Silverwatch Fort, a post that had been left off of all official documents and maps, left for the Ghosts of Farhoon Forest to utilize in their tasks, but it now sat empty. She advised the Stars to gather some rations and head to the post until things blew over, that she would send someone for them when she had secured them passage off of Meddes. If they didn’t hear from her in seven days, they were to assume things had gone wrong, and to get off of Meddes as quickly as possible.

The Stars left soon after, and found the guard post as described, in a peaceful and sunlit corner of Farhoon Forest. A stream nearby provided clean water and fish, and the greenery around them supplied game, berries, and nuts. The housing itself was built into the trees, empty inside except for some simple bedding and a table, and a magical light beacon which Quinn explained had been one of the lights they had watched for many nights atop the roof of Axe House.

Now out of the games and out of danger, the Stars spent the next week relaxing, recuperating, and forgetting about the troubles of Silverwatch Fort and Meddes. Indeed, within the calm and tranquil forest, it was like the outside world didn’t even exist.

But such a thing could never last.

Octovon 9th:

Announcing her arrival with a loud clanking of clanking metal and supplies, Vara hailed the Stars down to hear her. There had been an incident in Silverwatch Fort the other night: Saze had broken into the basement of the Arena, now being used as a warehouse for FETC, and something had been stolen.

Several guards had identified the intruder as a tall cloaked figure with a pair of halberds – Saze, of course. Though the guards were injured, no lives had been lost, which was a surprise to Vara, as Saze had seemed to have already passed the point of sparing others.

The other house leads were currently pursuing her, but Saze was an expert ranger, rivaled perhaps only by Thorne, and it was unlikely they would find her. In the meantime, Vara had another task for the Stars.

FETC denied the theft, which made it even more suspicious, and Vara said that Saze was cold, cruel, and calculating, and that she did nothing at random. If she broke into the warehouse, she had a plan, and they needed to find out what it was. She and her own men were too well known, she said, but the Stars, if disguised properly, might be able to slip in, find out what had been taken, and escape without alerting FETC to their presence.

Vara emptied out a large sack, which contained four FETC guard uniforms, tabards, swords, and other accessories, as well as a detailed blueprint of Silverwatch House and tunnels beneath it. She said that she knew they had been through a lot, that they had no reason to risk themselves further, but that she needed them, now, to stop a threat greater than one they had ever known.

She said they had all come to Meddes for different reasons, but they had come together something bigger than themselves, for a greater purpose, and that if they were willing, they had a chance to help stop others from experiencing horrors worse than their own, that they could help Thorne put an end to Gal’malok once and for all, before the demon and Saze have time to see their evil unfold.

The Stars agreed, and Vara explained the plan. They were to disguise themselves as FETC guards, enter Silverwatch House through the back door, and enter a series of secret tunnels that spanned the area below the Fort, entering the basement of the Arena and finding out what Saze had taken from FETC.

They would have to be careful, as rumor had it that FETC had hired more muscle after the recent break-in. If they were caught, they were not to implicate Vara in any way, as it would void her recent deal with FETC and put the greater plan in jeopardy. She also warned them against stealing from the warehouse, as FETC had a reputation for tagging and tracking their items.

And finally, she told them not to kill anyone – enough lives had been lost already.

She told them to find her at the Pens as soon as they found out what she had taken, and then she left, saying she needed to get back before anyone became suspicious of her absence.

The Stars donned the FETC gear and swords, leaving behind their other gear, armor, and weapons, making sure not to wear or carry anything that would give them away, then left for Silverwatch Fort.

Arriving near nightfall, the Stars hid in the treeline outside the northeast entrance, while Quinn magically imitated some animals nearby to distract the guards long enough for them to enter without close inspection. They then split up, feigning a patrol as they approached the back of Silverwatch House.

Inside, a pair of guards assumed Janos and Quinn were their replacements, and left, and Corvus and Wyverna joined them shortly after. In the basement of Silverwatch House, the party noticed the cells were filled with civilians and merchants they had seen around the Fort, likely competition for FETC that was being sent away.

In the supply closet, the Stars found the entrance to the tunnels and followed the detailed map given to them by Vara to a secret door in the basement of the Arena. Moving as quietly as possible, the Stars split up and began to search the shelves of goods in the warehouse, paying special attention to the most secure areas.

A short while later, after narrowly escaping several patrolling guards (and Corvus knocking one unconscious), the Stars had seen an empty crate of magical chains, an overflowing barrel of Thorne action figures, and some sort of alchemist’s fire. Corvus found and collected a handful of experimental healing potions, and the group met up near the hallway to the vault, where the most valuable items were kept.

Inside, the Stars found a pair of FETC guards and a door leading up to the Arena, as well as many reinforced metal cages (which had contained animals, previously). They distracted the guards long enough to knock them unconscious, and found what Saze had been after; one of the cages had been ripped to shreds, as well as the crates within, which were labeled as “Megamagic Incendiary Devices” – she had taken powerful magical bombs, and a lot of them.

One of the other cells contained a strange creature – a bull, unnaturally large and covered in interlocking plate armor similar to Razortusk, but more complete, fully armored so that no flesh shown through at all. Labeled LC33L, “Lucille” was fortunately locked in one of the cages, with warning signs plastered around.

Satisfied with what they had found, the Stars turned to leave, and were surprised as five shapes walked out of the shadows behind them. It was Tavus and the rest of the Rolling Thunder, adorned with FETC sashes.

Tavus said that the FETC had paid them to keep an eye out for intruders since the break-in, and how fortunate for him that it was Corvus and the Falling Stars. He dared the Stars to fight back, saying he had waited for this moment.

Quinn spoke up, trying to explain that they were here to help, and that Tavus and his team should step aside, if they wanted to help Thorne and save lives. He scoffed, saying that he wasn’t willing to let intruders go and risk his name and reputation with FETC for whatever the Stars had gotten themselves into.

Corvus spoke up, inciting Tavus to challenge him to a duel. If Corvus won, Tavus would let them all walk out the front door, no questions asked. But if Tavus won, they’d all be arrested and held by the FETC, to his pleasure.

Nearby, Lucille grunted, pacing impatiently in her cage.

A Second Silverwatch
Session 38: Year 976, On the 1st of Octovon


Waiting until the cover of nightfall, the Stars stealthily inspected the walls of the second Silverwatch Fort, looking for a breach in its defenses, as, though old and overgrown, the new tenants had taken pains to secure the perimeter. After an hour or so, Janos scouted a small span of the wall uncovered by greenery, realizing that part of the outer wall was an illusion and they would be able to pass through.

Inside, they noticed that the layout was similar to the other Silverwatch Fort, with a few minor changes, and the difference that, besides Silverwatch House, all of the other buildings were still incomplete – wooden beams and skeletal frames of structures littered the area, the remaining lumber and equipment strewn over the grass and dirt, mixed in with a handful of rusty shields, swords, and other old weapons.

Quinn activated the wand for tracking Saze, and they moved deeper into the fort. In the distance, the party could see the orange glow of lit arbalesters at the front gate, and they treaded carefully and quietly at first, trying to avoid another ambush from demons – or something worse.

On the ground nearby was a bright, polished shield bearing a lion’s head – belonging to the Golden Lions, Janos said, a team which had threatened him before and they heard recently had left Meddes altogether.

The trail led to the front doors of Silverwatch House, which Corvus tested, noting they were locked. Fearing a possible ambush, the Stars decided to look for another entrance. Wyverna leapt up to the rear balcony of the house, and Corvus followed, dropping rope to bring Quinn and Janos along.

Inside, the house seemed to be structurally sound, but something wasn’t right. There were no lights, and the place had been completely abandoned, including all furniture, trinkets – there was nothing to suggest anyone had ever been here, other than the building itself. Janos led the party through the dark hallways of the second floor and to a glowing, runic door. Inside was a strange runic circle, which Quinn and Janos determined to be a combination of warding and fiery magic.

Disabling the circle triggered the trap, which shot flames throughout the room, scorching the group. They gathered themselves and moved on, entering a vestibule of the entrance. Wyverna tested the front doors, revealing a pair of demons that had been left on guard. The Stars quickly took one of them down, and the other fled out the door and deeper into the darkness of the fort. Corvus gave chase while he could, hoping to keep the demon from reporting their presence, but lost track of it after several twists and turns.

Back inside Silverwatch House, the Stars began to search the first floor, finding a magically secured door to what they presumed was the basement. Heading upstairs in search of a key, the party encountered another trap while stuck in a stairwell, and as Janos tried to disarm it, were greeted by a familiar face – the tiefling Jaxx, from the Creeping Mold. He greeted Janos warmly and apologized for the violence, then led them down a few hallways and into a room filled with magical and demonic items, where a ritual was taking place.

In the corner was a pile of Golden Lions armor and gear, which Jaxx proudly claimed credit for, saying that he kidnapped them and had been using their lifeforce to power the rituals.

Jaxx explained that he had two different summoning circles going, for bringing demons into Idariel, and that the other was in the basement (and near completion). Foolishly assuming that Janos had come to assist him, he willingly spilled many of his secrets and answered the Stars questions.

They learned that Jaxx was working with the demon Gal’malok to summon demons into Meddes to attack Silverwatch Fort and kill Thorne, who had something of great value to him. Gal’malok had already attacked before, but his army had been depleted and he was himself too weak to kill Thorne (who the Stars now knew was merely Heren Belderone, posing as the Silver Arrow).

Jaxx mentioned that ever since Dalosh (a tiefling that the Stars had found hanged in the woods, months before) had been killed, things had been much harder for him. In fact, they had made a deal with Saze, where she would supply the green gems necessary for their summoning rituals, and in exchange they gave her instructions on how to carry out an ancient ritual for opening a portal to “the black”, a plane of pure darkness that exists beyond the shadow realm in which Gormahoon was said to reside.

The Stars realized that Saze’s plan involved the abyssal key after all, and using it to open a gateway to this plane of absolute darkness.

Jaxx also thanked Janos for destroying New Balbareth, an incident which sparked a tiefling revolution and war against the human nobles of the city. Jaxx said the movement was called the Brotherhood of the Void, and encouraged Janos to join.

In honor of his deeds, Jaxx then offered Janos the honor of finishing the summoning ritual to bring another demon under Gal’malok’s will. Corvus began to protest, but Janos gave he and the others a meaningful look, and accepted the task, intentionally sabotaging the ritual. At first, Jaxx allowed the mistakes, but tried to retake control, and that’s when Wyverna and Corvus grabbed him.

Incredulous, Jaxx began cursing them and then disappeared in a cloud of smoke, barely making his escape from the room and through the next door, which he sealed behind him. He had barely begun taunting the Stars when Wyverna kicked the door in, and the fight continued to the roof, which was frail and barely able to support everyone’s weight. Janos stayed behind to finish destroying the ritual.

Corvus tried to reason with Jaxx, who had been cornered, but still the tiefling continued to fight, trying to evade the Stars long enough to escape. Corvus and Wyverna kept close to him, however, with Quinn attacking from afar, and eventually, they managed to bring him to his knees.

Cackling the evil laugh of those who have a backup plan, Jaxx removed his cloak and revealed that he had written another demonic summoning ritual in tattoos all over his own body, which he then activated. However, Jaxx’s ineptitude showed once more, as the portal instantly sucked him through to the other side, just as Janos appeared in the doorway and joined the others.

Sighing relief, the Stars were shaken by a loud guttural growl, and a pair of enormous, slimy hands reached through the closing portal, forcing it open as it climbed through. The creature was an enormous toad demon, nearly fifteen feet tall and thousands of pounds, enough to make the wood supporting everyone creak, and then break as the Stars and the demon plummeted through the below two floors, landing in a storage room of the basement.

Trapped in a tiny room with an enormous monster, the Stars tried their best to spread out and surround the creature, but the demon could easily reach the party and swung its fists in a frenzy, destroying crates and pillars as it furiously attacked, throwing the Stars to and fro. After a hardfought few minutes, the Stars managed to bring the demon down, and they all took a seat in the ruins to rest.

A nearby locked door led them to the second ritual room which Jaxx had spoken of, where a demonic summoning ritual was nearly complete. Janos quickly assessed the situation, warning the others that there was no way of stopping it, but he might be able to lessen the effects. They stood by as Janos tried to manipulate the dangerous fel energy, bringing a torrent of flames through, which scorched the room as a piercing demonic howl sent shivers down their spines.

Leaping through the portal was a large demonic hound, jet black with bright green eyes and covered with roaring flames. The flames dissipated to a gentle simmer, and the hound shrank in size as a green rune burned itself into both the hound’s forehead and the back of Janos’ left hand. The felhound quietly walked to Janos and sat at his feet, ready to serve its new master.

Though the others expressed concerns, Janos let them know that he had done them all a favor in summoning the least powerful demon possible, and that its will was bound to his own, so the creature would be no danger to them.

Nearby, they found an advertisement for the Brotherhood of the Void, as well as a handful of potions and a pouch of what they assumed was gold belonging to the Golden Lions. They also found a mysterious note on old parchment which read “Beware the weeping man”.

As things settled down, the Stars heard cries for help nearby, and discovered a small antechamber containing three of the Golden Lions: Hobbs, Keller, and Dinnigo. Dinnigo was missing a leg, and the others looked badly beaten. They thanked the Stars for rescuing them, offering them the gold as a reward, asked about their missing friends, and then, together, everyone began the trek back to the other Silverwatch Fort.


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