Campaign 1: The Northlanders

Hjørdis Ragnasdottir

12th level Giantkin Clan Member (Wilderness Guide), Brute Fighter

Svåla Skuldottir

12th level Giantkin Clan Member (Doctor), Skald Minstrel


12th level Murong Imperial (Former Slave), Mender Healer, Greenheart Sorceror

Vitentius Laferia

12th level Imperial Itinerant (Outlander), Monster Hunter Ranger, Sharpshooter Fighter

Nathaniel Ophanim

12th level Winged Windwatcher (Exile), Expedition Leader Marshal, Skinchanger Druid

Asvald Jorgeson (deceased)

9th level Northman Warhordling (Marauder), Greenheart Sorceror

Shipwrecked in the Strait of Terror

The longship Sea Raven is on its course to Tarratoria, having made the long journey from Naxeia in the north along the coast. A few weeks now, and they will make landfall in the former capital of the Southern Empire.

But, alas, it shall not be.

A terrible storm catches the vessel, and the desperate captain steers her towards a small island to weather the storm on its lee side. Unfortunately, the storm is faster and the longship crashes on the sharp rocks and sinks beneath the roaring waves.

Our heroes awake to the blinding light of the morning sun, and the pain, that wrecks their bodies. They find themselves on a sandy beach, alright, but with no memory of how they got there. All they can remember is the sensation of drowning, of screams and dying men and the splintering of wood.

But there is not much time to think, because Svala awakes to a pain in her leg, as a giant crab tries to rip it off! The sword of Hjørdis kills the creature, that obviously thought them carrion.

Vitentius climbs the rocks that seem to form a natural dam around the island and spies someone swimming to the south. As walking along the coast is neigh impossible, the group decides to make their way inland.

It does not take long for them to realize that this island is dangerous. A giant cobra marks them as prey, but they prove themselves, exhausted as they are. They make their way through a patch of jungle, beset by mosquitoes, and finally reach another patch of beach.

Another group of survivors has made it here. The First Mate, ‘Ari’ seems to have rescued as many as he could – including our heroes. At last, he could only safe two women, an Imperial named Caristania and a Murong, whose name is Luang. Together, they decide to build a camp beneath the cliffs, a little way off the beach.

Finally, they can rest their tired bodies and regain some strength – but they soon need it. As morning approaches, Hjørdis keeps watch. It is a sound from the beach that safes her. Turning around, she finds herself eye to eye with a grotesque creature, a humanoid fish – and his companions.

Crying bloody murder, she makes a stand, but even the Giantkin cannot stand against that many foes. In the end, the companions kill most of the attackers and drive one of them into the sea from whence they came, but Hjørdis is terribly wounded.

It is Svala’s medical knowledge that comes in handy, but in the light of the morning sun, the wounds reveal their severeness. Asvald can keep it in no longer, and uses his powers to heal the fighter, making both Giantkin promise to not reveal his secret.

There is one passenger of the Sea Raven that seems to also have made it to the island, a woman named Ephimia. Her footprints lead inland, and our heroes decide to go looking for her. Ari and the two ladies will build a bonfire to signal ships.

Following a small creek, they make their way through dense jungle, coming out on a grassy plain. Vitentius spies some ancient ruins and they make their way towards them.

The ruins of an ancient Imperial building are overgrown and crumbled. A gigantic anaconda seems to have made its lair here, but it quickly is turned into dinner. The group won’t get hungry here, it seems.

Searching through the rubble, Vitentius finds an ancient bronze sword that looks strangely untouched by time and elements. The blade seems to glow in a soft inner light. Asvald believes it to be a magic blade, forged in the old Empire, before the Fall. After some discussion, they decide that the Northman shall keep it for now.

They camp inside the ruins. This night, Svala falls ill with a fever. The mosquitoes seem to carry a disease, and she has contracted an infection. In the few moments she can think clearly, she instructs Vicentius as to what plants to look for.

Luckily, he finds a plant with the power to cure her fever. But the group looses a full day, while Svala slowly recovers from her sickness.

At last, they again start to march inland, towards a peak that seems to rise almost in the middle of the island. Hacking their way through thorny bushes, they come up before another wall of jungle that seems to surround the peak.

Another survivor is washed upon a beach to the south. Tin was a slave on the oars, having been sold into slavery by his own people for healing outside his own caste. Chained to the oar, he survived by clinging to the very wood he pulled for so long.

Smoke from a campfire makes the Murong turn inland, and he finds the empty campsite near the ruins. Following the tracks, he makes good pace along the path, the group before him has hacked through the thorny brushes.

But there are still dangers about – and Tin soon finds out, that humans are not the apex predators on this island. A Giant Cobra has marked him as prey, and with only a staff as weapon, the Murong just runs for it.

Meanwhile, Svala, Hjørdis, Asvald and Vitentius brake camp to enter the jungle. The sounds of someone running up to them make them turn, and hunter and sorceror both react simultaneously. Diving low, Tin ducks before two arrows coming at him – one made of wood, the other of fire. Behind him, the snake collapses in a smoking heap.

After some introductions, Tin decides to join the group on their search mission. After all, the healer is ill suited to survive on his own.

They follow the creek into the jungle, heading towards the peak. In the evening, they reach a roaring waterfall, where the creek falls over a sheer cliff face into a wide basin. In the middle of the basin, a disturbing, moss-covered statue rises up. It looks like a snake, made from a dark stone in times so ancient, the Imperial ruins seem recent.

Asvald discovers a stone plate at the water’s edge, with very old Imperial script. It takes them a while to decode the words written there.

They follow the instructions, filling four indentions on the statue with water – and the statue slowly sinks beneath the water, while an opening appears behind the waterfall, leading into darkness.

Cautious, they make their way inside the cave, as the text also warned about a guardian, guarding seven plates. When they stumble upon a gigantic snail, they assume it to be said guardian – and the fight proves to be deadly. Acid spit drops Hjørdis and Vitentius, and it takes all the magical powers of Asvald and Tin to finally kill the creature.

Beaten up, the group makes camp in the cave behind the waterfall, bandaging their wounds and recovering.

After a day’s rest, they again start to explore the caves – and find themselves in an ancient building, the walls covered with reliefs of snakes. They encounter traps and hidden opening mechanisms for stone doors, and finally make it to what seems to be a temple. A serpent statue stands there, looming over the intruders. Coiled around its base, the adventurers find the guardian, a giant snake’s body, ending in seven cobra heads.

The fight almost goes badly, but Svala’s quick thinking saves the day. With Hjørdis down, and Vitentius grappled in an ever tightening grip of the snakes body, the minstrel frantically dashes for the entryway, pulling the guardians attention. She knows, that there is a deadly trap before the door, one they just got around – and it is still active!

As the guardian moves in for the kill, it springs the trap, and a large bronze blade cuts it in half. Vitentius is also wounded by the blade, but can be saved.

It takes all the healing powers of Tin and Svala, a former doctor, to get their friends back on their feet. The hunter had already found a secret door in the eastern wall when they entered, and Asvald finds the opening mechanism. Behind the door lies a chamber with two large stone chests. In one, they find golden and emerald snake idols and seven tablets made from what seems to be obsidian, covered in a fine, almost invisible script. The other holds a bow, a cloak and a strange longsword.

Victorious, they make their way back to the waterfall, where they want to camp before continuing their search for Ephimia. As it turns out, the noble has already waited for them. She wants the tablets, and as the group declines, she reveals herself to be a powerful magic-user. When mind-bending Magick does not suffice, she throws a ball of fire, knocking most of the group out. After the smoke has dispersed, the tablets are gone, as is the Imperial.

It takes the adventurers almost three days to make the track back to the beach, where they find the camp burned and destroyed. Only Caristania survived the attack by Ephimia, badly wounded. Ari and Luan are dead.

While they cannot follow her immediately, the group decides to survive – and get off the island eventually. But first, they build a fortified camp, where they can recover and train.

Two weeks pass, and the adventurers build a fortified camp on the eastern side of the island. At night, the Fishmen often attack, but are repelled again and again. Vitentius and Caristania hunt and explore the island – and they find something interesting. A wrecked longship, pulled up on the shore, halfway buried in sand, but maybe repairable.

The group breaks up their camp and carries their belongings to the western side of the isle, setting up near the wreck. With the knowledge of two Giantkin and one Northman, they find the ship to be indeed usable, and they all set to work.

One night, strange noises alert Vitentius. Undead creatures attack the camp, reptilian humanoids, long dead. The adventurers make quick work of them, but are concerned by their appearance. It seems, they dug themselves up from deep graves.

Another attack by Fishmen, accompanied by larger brethren that resemble sharks, is repelled and finally, after more than a month on the island, the ship is ready to take them away. They name her the Islander.

Once a longship of Imperial build, the Islander leaves Dead Man’s Island, maybe the first ship to ever do so. After they have put their backs into the oars to get past the surf, they set sail on a western course.

Not far from the island, they are once again attacked by Fischmen. This time, they have brought company: a Deep Terror. Asvald casts a spell and speaks with the animal, persuading it that they pose no threat to its young, as the Fishmen seem to have told it. It disappears, and the Fishmen attack.

It is a hard battle on the ship, with Fishmen boarding or attacking from the water. But in the end, the adventurers prevail and the Islander sails toward another, larger island to the west. Reluctant to land there, they decide, to sail past it and travel on towards Tarratoria, keeping the coastline in sight.

Out on the sea, freshwater is as important as it is in the desert – and the adventurers almost despair, as they find their water to have gone bad. They steer towards the coast, as they hope to find a landing spot, but are greeted by cliffs.

Asvald promises rain coming from the south, and he is right. They secure the ship, then collect the rainwater. Weathering this storm means life to all on board.

At last, they near Tarratoria, and Caristania tells them of her plans, that brought her on board the Sea Raven. She’s after an ancient ruin, called Nekrotheses, where she hopes to find treasure and artefacts. She’s a member of the Guild of Explorers, and as there is a guildhouse in Tarratoria, she invites them to stay with her – and consider coming with her in her expedition.

Tarratoria greets the adventurers with white sails, but as the Islander makes her way toward the haven, they can see that most of these ships are rotting at their anchors. They need a pilot to enter the haven. They pay the fee and are towed by a barque towards the quay.

The harbour-master makes his appearance, and after some hard haggling, they pay a fee and the Islander gets towed to where all the other ships rot – the adventurers don’t like to take to the sea soon.

At the harbour exit, they have to declare their magical items under the suspicious eyes of a Theurg. Tarratoria is not really welcoming them, it seems.

Caristania informs them, that they must reach the guildhouse by nightfall – before the streets are filled with the undead. Tarratoria is overrun every night by the walking dead, ever since the Plague.

On their way through the crumbling city, they are ambushed by a gang of robbers. The adventurers soon learn that the criminals in this city are a hardy lot, and Caristania and Svala are badly wounded in the fight.

And then night falls, and the dead rise again. Zombies stumble through the streets, and the groups is prepared to barricade one of the empty houses, when a man in a saurid-drawn chariot dashes through the undead. Clinging unto the chariot for dear life, they are taken to the guildhouse of the Explorer’s Guild.

Their saviour, as it soon turns out, is the Guildmaster himself, Cornelius Hradulin. He seems to be a valiant fellow, and Caristania seems to be close to his heart. After a short introduction, the adventurers enjoy a true Imperial bath and a splendid dinner. After surviving on a lonely island and braving the Strait of Terror, after fighting robbers and zombies, they can finally enjoy rest and comfort.

Out on the sea, freshwater is as important as it is in the desert – and the adventurers almost despair, as they find their water to have gone bad. They steer towards the coast, as they hope to find a landing spot, but are greeted by cliffs.

Asvald promises rain coming from the south, and he is right. They secure the ship, then collect the rainwater. Weathering this storm means life to all on board.

At last, they near Tarratoria, and Caristania tells them of her plans, that brought her on board the Sea Raven. She’s after an ancient ruin, called Nekrotheses, where she hopes to find treasure and artefacts. She’s a member of the Guild of Explorers, and as there is a guildhouse in Tarratoria, she invites them to stay with her – and consider coming with her in her expedition.

Tarratoria greets the adventurers with white sails, but as the Islander makes her way toward the haven, they can see that most of these ships are rotting at their anchors. They need a pilot to enter the haven. They pay the fee and are towed by a barque towards the quay.

The harbour-master makes his appearance, and after some hard haggling, they pay a fee and the Islander gets towed to where all the other ships rot – the adventurers don’t like to take to the sea soon.

At the harbour exit, they have to declare their magical items under the suspicious eyes of a Theurg. Tarratoria is not really welcoming them, it seems.

Caristania informs them, that they must reach the guildhouse by nightfall – before the streets are filled with the undead. Tarratoria is overrun every night by the walking dead, ever since the Plague.

On their way through the crumbling city, they are ambushed by a gang of robbers. The adventurers soon learn that the criminals in this city are a hardy lot, and Caristania and Svala are badly wounded in the fight.

And then night falls, and the dead rise again. Zombies stumble through the streets, and the groups is prepared to barricade one of the empty houses, when a man in a saurid-drawn chariot dashes through the undead. Clinging unto the chariot for dear life, they are taken to the guildhouse of the Explorer’s Guild.

Their saviour, as it soon turns out, is the Guildmaster himself, Cornelius Hradulin. He seems to be a valiant fellow, and Caristania seems to be close to his heart. After a short introduction, the adventurers enjoy a true Imperial bath and a splendid dinner. After surviving on a lonely island and braving the Strait of Terror, after fighting robbers and zombies, they can finally enjoy rest and comfort.

Buried in the Sands

Rested and fed, Cornelius and Caristania tell the adventurers about their planned expedition. The sources tell of a necropolis not far from the Umendes, now in the Desert of Khûm. As the First Emperor has forbidden embalming, and instituted cremation for the dead, a necropolis has to be pre-imperial.

Vintentius wants nothing more than to leave the city behind, and as the rest has no real objections, they sign on. The prospect of finding ancient treasure is also quite appealing.

So, Saurids are bought as pack-animals. Two Thundertails are packed with all the necessary equipment – and a lot of water and food. Three days later, the expedition leaves Tarratoria and travels along the Old North Road in sight of the river.

The first night, they make camp in one of the abandoned villages along the road, in a less ruined building near the water’s edge. This proves dangerous, as in the night, one of the giant Umendes Alligators leaves the water to hunt. The adventurers kill the beast, and Vintentius takes its hide.

Noon on the second day finds them in full view of the legendary White Bridge. Seven arcs span the Umendes, across a chasm, where the river has cut its bed. It is one of the wonders of the Old Empire, but now a crumbling one. They still have to pay the bridge-toll, though.

From now on, they will have no road, not even a path, to follow. For a day, they can follow the river southward, but then they have to turn east, right into the desert. At night, a Giant Scorpion bursts from the earth and almost kills Svala – it takes quite an effort to bring the arachnid down. Later, two Dire Hyenas are drawn by the carcass, and before another fight breaks out, Svala tosses them a scorpion-leg each. The scavengers run off into the night, satisfied.

The desert proves to be all that is told about it. Bleak, blasted red earth, covered with rubble, beaten by a relentless sun. In some places, junks of a strange greenish glass can be found, that looks like molten sand.

Late in the afternoon, Vintentius spots strange formations in the distance, that do not look natural. Caristania is exited and they make haste to reach them before nightfall. In the last light of the day, they can confirm, that they have found ruins – very old ruins, that is. They build their base-camp in some distance to the ruins.

In the night, a strange, ice-cold wind sweeps through the camp, waking everyone. Vintenius takes it as a bad omen, but the rest just shrug it off.

They explore the ruins for a day, and soon find, that the area is quite large. Svala finds a broken stone tablet, that has writing on it. Caristania identifies it as a plaque that hung over the entrance to a tomb, once. Soon, they find the entrance, covered in sand.

It takes them hours of sweating to uncover the ancient stone door beneath the sand. It is the entrance to a family tomb, untouched for thousands of years.

This night, Svala and Hjørdis have a dream, in which they are buried alive. Now, they also are not so sure about excavating the old tomb…

Nevertheless, Caristania is on fire. She makes them chisel a hole into the door, which takes another day. In the evening, the party has mixed feelings about leaving the hole unguarded for the night.

This night, Asvald has the dream about being buried alive.

Finally, the day has come to open the tomb. Cautious, they enter the dark place. An entrance hall opens before them, with a statue and a strange circle of symbols on the floor. A doorway leads into another chamber, where some kind of altar is placed.

Caristania inspects the statue and finds a name on it – Nodran. This family was famous for one of the first chancellors to the First Emperor. This may be their family tomb.

As Svala takes a look into the next chamber, from heaps of sand burst forth two armoured skeletons. Caristania calls them Ushabti, the keepers of the dead. The following battle leaves Svala badly wounded, and all can attest to the danger of the undead guardians.

But Caristania is caught in the fire of exploration and when she finds out, what the circle does, she has to set it in motion. A mechanism moves the altar and reveals a passage down into the dark below…

The Nodran’s family tomb seems to hold more than just treasures. In the entrance hall, a wealth of ancient papyri can be found, and in a sarcophagus, gold and jewels are found among the remains.

The party cautiously climbs down the stairs into the dark of the tomb. They come upon a deeper level, built from light sandstone, and a lot older than the one above. Strangely, there seems to be absolutely no dust here… And they soon find out, why.

A Gelatinous Cube wobbles through the area, absorbing everything organic. The fight is short, but leaves its marks, especially on Hjørdis.

They find three chambers, each with a stone door that has been sealed. It requires chisel and hammer to open them. In each chamber, they find a sarcophagus made from white alabaster, and in each, there lies a mummy – quite dead. Gold and jewels are on them – and some strange items.

The last of the chambers proves to be the largest – and the one with guards. Four Ushabit skeletons lead by a captain attack the party. They use the entrance to their advantage and one by one, the undead crumble to dust.

There are two more sarcophagi in this chamber – and a secret door that leads to stairs going down even further.

Down the stairs, the tomb is ancient. Really, really ancient. Built from monolithic stones, these halls date back thousands of years. Tin uses his Unseen Servant to find traps – and promptly sets off a fire trap, an ancient warding spell. Asvald finds the runes to disarm it.

The first chamber is just an empty room, but the second one houses a statue. A statue that begins to move, as it senses intruders. They adventurers flee upstairs, and the statue walks back to its pedestal.

They derive a plan to get past the guardian, and Vitentius goads it into the corridor – but as he wants to dash past the statue, he stumbles, crashing to the ground. A kick from a stony foot, and the hunter is knocked prone against the wall.

As his friends rush to his aid, the statue is hit by blade, lightning and fire. At last, it breaks and crumbles to pieces.

It is Asvald that finds a secret door and opens it, to reveal a large chamber. Only one sarcophagus stands here, and over it, an apparition forms. It is a man, clothed in a very ancient style, and his voice can be heard and understood by everybody.

He is Angelicus Nodran, the founder of the House of Nodran, one of the most powerful wizards before the First Emperor. Being told how long he has been sleeping, he wonders if “the plan” has already come to pass. As the friends ask about this “plan”, he tells them to ask “Thall”.

More inquiries lead to the information, that this “Thall” seems to be an ancient dragon, who’s hoard lies somewhere near an ancient border fortress to the west. Angelicus is rather unspecific as to the “plan”, but it seems to have something to do with the Plague…

Finally, he leaves them his sword, and ancient blade made from a gleaming crystal, and disappears. It is only in leaving, that the party finds the former empty rooms now filled with a library of ancient clay-tablets, the real treasure of this tomb.

It will take them days to pack at least some of these into crates to transport them safely to Tarratoria. Along with the gold and jewels, this expedition has been most successful. But now, they have to get their spoils safely back to Tarratoria…

After safely packing the tablets and all of the treasure, the party starts their journey back to Tarratoria. After killing a hunting Griffon, they encounter no danger, until they cross the White Bridge and begin the final leg of the journey.

The ambush is sloppy, and the adventurers get the better of their would-be-attackers. Their leader gets his mind boggled by a spell from Tin and attacks his own men, while those same men have to deal with arrows and firebolts.

The lieutenant proves to be a better fighter, though, and knocks Svala out – once again, the minstrel goes down. But as he recognizes, that all his comrades are either dead or have run, he surrenders. His name is Corades, and he seems to assume, that they have heard of him.

Finally, the walls of Tarratoria come into view. And the banners of the Theurgy flying above the Northern Gate. Caristania informs them, that this means, the Theurgy controls the gate today – a procedure, that seems to happen now and then.

While this may mean no big deal to Vitentius, Svala and Hjørdis, Asvald and Tin could get in trouble. So, Hjørdis, Asvald and Tin will camp outside and hopefully, their friends will find a way to smuggle them in without the Theurgy noticing.

The Decurio at the gate tells them to collect the bounty on Corades at the city hall, and waves them through. Past the thick walls, they are circled by soldiers of the Theurgy, and a man, they already know. Master Sabaoth, the Theurg that received them at the harbour. But now, he declares them under arrest for conspiring with witches and grave-robbery. As he finds the clay-tablets, he flies into a fit of rage, calling it heresy and even the Guild of Explorers seems to have no meaning to this zealot.

Svala and Caristania quickly decide, that their only hope lies in flight. Svala uses the training she gave the two Saurids – and the mighty Thundertails flail. Guards are flying around, one even clears the walls, and in the commotion, Svala leaps onto the back of one Saurid, and rides out through the gate.

Caristania and Vitentius make a run for the narrow alleys, trying to reach the safety of the Guildhall.

When Svala reaches her friends, they unsaddle the Saurids and set them free. They bury the crates with the clay tablets and the treasures near the river and make their way towards the only way into Tarratoria, that is still open to them – the sewers.

Lower Than Low

With Caristania and Vitentius on the run within the city, the rest of the party knows, that they will soon be hunted by the Mage Hunter Sabaoth.They have to disappear for a while and hope, that their friends can use the influence of the Explorer’s Guild to keep them safe.

Finding a safe hiding place in the wilderness is almost impossible, as they are strangers in these lands. Therefore, Asvald argues, it seems the safest to enter Tarratoria and occupy one of the many empty buildings. Keeping a low profile, the Theurgy will probably not look for them right under their noses.

The party finds an almost disappeared flood-gate for the sewers, that once flooded the system with water from the Umendes. It takes them some time to dig it free from dirt and debris.

Using the magical key they found in the tomb (a key that gnaws itself through any lock), they open the ancient padlock and enter the sewers.

The ancient builders left a system of high tunnels, that spread under the whole city. Once, they were maintained, but now, they are mostly dried up and house only the undead during the day. Therefore, the adventurers decide to enter during the night, when most of the zombies should be outside.

But there are other inhabitants of the abandoned tunnels. First, they run into a nest of Giant Spiders – an encounter that leaves them shaken (and covered in disgusting things), then they encounter swarms of big rats and some Giant ones.

They find a mysterious bronze door, looking like it closes off some important part of the sewers, but decide to first find a place to hole themselves up and recover.

There are quite some holes down here, that lead into cellars – the way, the undead move up at night. Through one of those, they reach a small house in the slums, occupied by three zombies. Getting them down the stairs and killing them off, they secure the house and make it their home for a week.

They all have to rest, heal and get their heads around what has happened during the last few days.

The group has not had time to settle, before they make the aquaintance of their new neighbours. The slums of Tarratoria are home to the desperate and hopeless – and quite a lot of them are children. Led by a youth named Issi, they make their entrance by telling the adventurers that they know who they are – they call them the „Northlanders“ – and that they are wanted by the Theurgy. A fact, that makes them allies.

Within a day, the street-urchins have turned the ruin, where the group has made their camp, into a home. They even manage to get a bath-tub set up.

The adventurers also learn, that gold does not have much value here. Food is the real wealth in the streets of Tarratoria, where only the rich do use coins. Their hunted meat provides them with friendship and loyalty – and the means to get information about Vitentius and Caristania.

Issi tells them, that they have been caught, and Caristania has been sentenced to house-arrest within the guildhall. Vitentius did not have that much luck, though. He has been locked up in the dungeons under the High Temple.

The friends want to free him, but they need a way to get into the dungeons. Issi might have the means to provide this information, but he needs the help of one of the criminal syndicates in the city, the Red Mantis. And their prize may be high.

The Mantis can indeed provide them with a map of the sewers that will get them directly to the dungeons, But along their way, they will cross the territory of a mad necromancer, a former member of the Theurgy, who has made his lair down there. Askarius Sequilles seems to be a pain in the ass for the syndicate.

The adventurers wait for nightfall and enter the sewers. An encounter with a Carrion Crawler and some Giant Spiders leaves them covered in slime and grime, but this shall not be the last stinking thing to meet them down there.

They find one of the vault doors, massive bronze gates that seal the sewers, where they lead to the palace or the temple. Svalas magical key gnaws open the lock, and they enter the realm of the necromancer. Heavy rain has been falling the whole day, and as they enter the sealed parts of the sewers, they can hear water running behind them…

Avoiding a zombie guard, they almost stumble over two others in what looks to be a treasure vault. The ensuing fight is short but brutal, and leaves them splattered in stinking zombie blood.

Entering the lair of Askarius, they find themselves face to face with a madman, a ghoul and three zombies. While Asvald keeps the necromancer occupied, the rest take care of the undead. And then, Asvald casts a powerful greenish Witch Bolt at the necromancer, crashing his frail form against the wall, leaving him unconcious.

Waking him up, they interrogate the madman. It seems, the Theurgy knows about him, somehow keeping him as a kind of defence under their feet. And he rambles something about the „Great Plan“, the Plague and that the Theurgy created the Rotting Death to gain power. As their mission is to kill the necromancer, Asvald gladly puts the man to the sword. But they take his diary with them.

In the treasure vault, they find sacks of coins, and a strongbox. After gnawing open the lock, it reveals scrolls of Create Food and Water – a real treasure.

Finally, they reach the dungeons. They soon find Vitentius chained to the wall, like many others. 

Diary of Askarius, page 1
Diary of Askarius, page 1
Diary of Askarius, page 2
Diary of Askarius, page 2

Flashback: Vitentius and Caristania flee before Sabaoth, the Witch Hunter, and his Theurgy Guards. They race through the alleyways of Tarratoria, followed by the calls of their pursuers.

They cross the wide ring-street, ducking into small alleys, running towards the guildhall of the Explorer’s Guild. With their last breath, they reach the plaza in front of the guildhall – and are met by Sabaoth. Caristania races up the steps, but Vitentius is caught in a paralyzing spell and crashes to the ground. Bound, he is taken off.

The hunter is taken to the High Temple, the center of the Theurgy in the south. Through white marble halls, he is brought down into the dungeons, chained to the wall and left alone.

But not for too long. The next day, he is brought to the torturers. Afterwards, his wounds are treated and he is again left to hang in his cell. This is his lot for a week, until his friends manage to rescue him.


When the adventurers open the cells, most of the prisoners are in a very bad condition. Four of them are frail and malnourished men, tortured and mistreated. Vitentius and a man in  the cell next to him are the only ones at least not completley drained.

The man’s name is Balthasar, and he seems to have been imprisoned for heresy – like all the others. He doesn’t say more about his charges, though.

They navigate the sewers, taking some coins from the treasury of the necromancer, but soon find, that the constant rains have flooded the sewers. They need to find an exit, or they will drown in sewage. Day is breaking, and the zombies will soon again come down. But it is no easy task to climb rotted bronze ladders for heavy Giantkin.

Finally, it is Balthasar who opens a grate and leads them to the streets. But here, they are still far from safety. A confrontation with city guards can be avoided, but then Sabaoth appears, with two Theurgy Guards. He is not inclined to let his quarries go.

The fight in the street is short and brutal. Balthasar proves to be a capable but dirty fighter, using two stolen daggers with deadly skill. The group engages the Theurgs in melee to keep them from using Magick. Hjordis fights Sabaoth, who holds himself with dagger and whip against the Giantkin fighter.

But then, the mighty backhand slash of the steel sword sends the head of the Witchhunter flying. His two companions are also dispatched, and the friends flee into the slums and their hideout.

The street-urchins tell Issi of their return, and the boy soon appears – and immediatly kneels before Balthasar. He calls the man Red Claw, and it turns out, that he used the situation of the adventurers to free an important member of the Crimson Mantis syndicate.

This proves to be beneficial, as they need a way out of the city. Reading the necromancer’s diary leads to new information – and it all seems to point westward. Balthasar and Issi organize maps from the Explorer’s Guild, and the group begins to plan their next steps.

Castel Hamilkar, the ruin of an old Imperial fortress will be their next destination.

Into the Hyaena's Maw

Three days later, the adventurers are led through the sewers by Balthasar and Issi, exiting directly in front of the northern city walls. Balthasar opens a secret door that leads into a tunnel right through the wall. Issi leaves them here, wishing them good luck on their journey. On the other side, they quietly make their way towards the overgrown fields, and disappear from sight.

After midnight, they reach the ruin of an old guardhouse in what was once a vineyard, where they are already expected. An old man, small and scarred, waits for them here – the stablemaster of the Crimson Mantis, as Balthasar jokingly calls him.

He has brought them three ’new friends‘, as he calls them – mounts for their journey. First is Penelope, a longneck, an enormous mammal with a long neck and capable to carry a lot of load. Next, there is a feathertail, a smaller Saurid that can often be seen drawing a cart, but also quite capable of carrying a rider. And the third one is a red iron-head, named Drydnos, a unusually lazy specimen for his breed.

Balthasar has some additional presents for them, masterfully crafted weapons and armour to make up for the loss of Vitentius and the others. He’s sorry ha cannot provide them with anything magical.

And so, after a final farewell, they start off into the night, heading westward.

The second day of their journey brings them right into the ambush of two ogres. The giants prove to be strong foes, but the adventurers have been hardened by toils and fights, and overcome them quickly. As one of the ogres has stolen a cow, the animal provides for meat, as the Mantis could provide them with almost no proviant.

In the night, two saber-toothed cats are drawn to their fire, but Asvalds talks to them, and as they have kittens, they are only hunting for food. So, they let them have the rest of the cow, and the cats wander off.

A day later, a family of refugees from a village named Ampelakia comes to their camp. They tell them of gnolls, humanoid hyaenas, that have raided their village – as they do every now and then with all the hamlets in the area, to capture slaves. But for this family, there is no future in Apelakia anymore, and so they try to reach Tarratoria.

After a rather emotional discussion about the Theurgy and what makes a witch, the friends give them some gold, and wish them luck on their journey and in Tarratoria. They decide to journey to Ampelakia, to see if they can provide any help.

On the afternoon of the next day, they reach the small hamlet that lies in a hollow, surrounded by vineyards and fields. They can see gnolls forming up a group of human slaves to march them off. As the hamlet is surrounded by a deep trench, they have to leave their mounts behind and attack on foot.

Sneaking into position, they almost catch the gnolls by surprise. Green fire burns one of the creatures, another goes down skewered by a spear, and then the fight is on. Swords clash against spearshafts, arrows of green fire rain down on the gnolls, and one by one, they fall.

When the battle is over, they free the captives, and learn, where the gnolls were taking them: Castel Hamilkar. It seems, the gnolls have made their home there, using the slaves to mine metals from the earth.

The group decides to accept the invitation of the people, and stay for a while to rest and plan their move against the gnolls.

The adventurers makes themselves comfortable in Ampelakia. They train, they learn, they hunt and scout. Vitentius makes the aquaintance of the village elder, Euripides. The ancient man seems to recall times long past his lifetime, but he is also not very fond of strangers.

Svala has more luck, showing interest in old epics, like Garydan and the Sea Serpent. She learns the epic poem, verse by verse, with the help of Euripides, and so he earns his trust and affection. The old man has a chest full of scrolls, some of them dating back into the time of the Emperor.

From him she learns the history of Castel Hamilkar, named after a general of the Empire, who held the fortress heroically against monstrous foes coming from the jungles in the west, only hinted at in the stories. Most interesting is the legend, that Hamilkar stroke a pact with a golden dragon named Thall. The dragon got gold and jewels for his hoard, and swore to protect the fortress and the region. He is long dead, as it seems.

It is said, that there ran a tunnel from the fortress to the dragons lair – and Euripides is of the opinion, that the gnolls try to excavate it to get into the dragon’s lair. Gnolls yearn for gold and precious metals, even though none knows why.

Euripides also knows of an old imperial road, that has long since fallen into disrepair, overgrown and only found by knowing what to look for. He even has an ancient map.

By this road, the group can get to Castel Hamilkar with much less risk of being spotted by the gnolls. Finally, they get ready to march upon the fortress.

On their way, they are attacked by hyaenas, led by two Dire Hyaenas. The animals are no match for the party – Asvald burning them within an explosion of green fire. The smoke is seen for miles, and in the early hours of the morning, their camp is attacked by gnolls.  They kill them to the last, leaving no messengers.

They creep up on the ruins of the former fortress, where they see human slaves that are lowered down a cistern. After the humans are out of immediate danger, Svala tries to create a diversion – and succeeds, even if it is not exactly as intended.

One fireball kills most of the gnolls outside the ruin of the tower, another roasts the shaman that has made his lair inside. The rest of the gnolls are quickly killed, and the adventurers take a look around.

The gnolls have gathered some sacks of coins, but those are not really of interest to the party at this moment. They use the rope to get down the cistern, following the slaves down into the darkness below.

The adventurers enter the dark tunnel and follow it to a large cave. Coins and other treasures lie about, and the skeleton of an ancient dragon has found its final resting place here. It seems that Thall has died a long time ago and will not answer their questions anymore.

But there are the slaves, and gnolls that make them excavate a set of high doors, made from a strange metal and covered in symbols. The group decides to free those wretches.

The fight is brutal and bloody. Gnolls prove to be tough, but not very bright fighters. There is another shaman here, but he cannot use his powers to full avail, as Tin creates a zone of silence, and Asvald barrages him with lances of fire.

In the end, the gnolls lie dead at their feet, and the adventurers lead the slaves out of the cave and up the rope. Asvald uses one of the scrolls to create food and water for all those people.

Soon enough, old enmities break up again, and the former slaves leave for their villages. They no longer share any bond with those that toiled beside them. Times are hard, and villages have to stand for themselves.

The group rests, then enters the underworld once more. Svala literally stumbles upon a spear, made from a dragon’s tooth, as they search the old lair.

It takes some time, to find a clue to the opening mechanism of the high doors, the strange symbols looking like those attributed to the legendary Runemasters. But then, they open with a hissing sound, and the group enters another cave, one where giant crystals grow from the ground, emitting a strange greenish light.

While Asvald almost immediatly suffers from a headache, the rest seems unafflicted. Vitentius looks into one of the crystals and discovers the vague silhouette of a human inside it.

Svala curiously looks at a kind of table, made from dark green stone, almost like emerald. It is large and high, held aloft by legs that resemble two humanoid creatures. As she gets nearer, those creatures come to life, throwing the tabletop at the minstrel.

As the doors close behind them, they have to face the crystal creatures…


The crystal constructs prove to be tough opponents, hitting hard with their glistening fists. But Asvalds Witch Bolt seems to hurt them more than expected, making them glow from within with bristling energy. When Hjordis strikes the victim of Asvalds spell, it explodes into thousands of shards – and sets off a chain reaction with exploding crystals that throw the adventurers around.

But they have to take the risk, putting the second crystal construct down – this time being more cautious and staying away from the explosion. But the strange radiation of the crystals takes their toll, seemingly seeping out their life and making them weaker and weaker.

When Svala finds a strange circle of runes on the backwall of the chamber, Asvald identifies it as a kind of portal, and activates it. With now choice than to die from radiation or take the plunge, they step into the rolling vortex before them.

After getting their bearings, they find themselves in a strange room, with the same glass-like walls. Stone tables stand in it, and strange containers, linked by tubes and hoses. The walls are covered by racks, on which containers hold what once must have been various liquids, but are now mostly dust.

A voice makes them aware to the sole living thing here – a Winged, that is bound to one of the tables. It seems, he has been captured while investigating these ruins, and his captors are Snakefolk, thought long extinct by the younger races.

Malekith of the House Nacariel is the first Winged anyone in the group has ever seen, and he seems to be very strange. While his situation is precarious, he seems not to be afraid, but rather annoyed as his studies are interrupted. But they free him nevertheless.

Together, they set out through a doorways, leading to a dark ledge over a roaring underground stream far below and a cliff-face on the other side. They trudge through the darkness, until an arrow whistles by, narrowly missing Vitentius. From the darkness, two gigantic snakes glide into the torchlight, with humanoid arms that bear weapons and long fangs, dripping with venom.

They are all filled with a subconcious dread, a horror that runs deep within them. It is a fear, that has its roots in a time long gone, when the younger races fought the Serpents for the Runemasters.

Malekith takes to the air, flying over the chasm and using an alchemical powder from his belt. He blows it in the eyes of the Serpents, blinding them.

Svala gives in to her panic, and uses the strength and size of her body to shove the Snakefolk, that has just bitten her, into the chasm beside her. With a sharp hiss, the creature falls into the icy stream in the unseen darkness below.

The second attacker, blinded but not defeated, unsheathes a scimitar and glides up to Svala. Bolts of green fire and crossbow bolts pass the creature harmlessly, but the minstrel has found a use for her strength – and pushes the creature over the edge, like the other one.

Shaken, the group marches on, following the narrow passageway upwards, and finally to a winding stairway. This ends in a small room, with no door or other opening. It takes them some time to find the perfectly fitted doorway – but it is closed magically, with a password.

While Malekith tries different combinations of words in Runic, the language of magic and the Runemasters, based on historical and magical records, Asvald just commands „Open up!“, and the door opens.

Outside, the adventurers find themselves in front of a steep rock wall, where symbols and two statues are hewn into the stone, and a large double door. They are in a forest, and the moons shine down on them.

But they also shine down on three more Snakefolk, one with a headdress of feathers. The fight proves hard, but Malekith can now use his wings to most effect. His double-spear slashes through scales, and another powder almost sends a Serpent into madness.

Vitentius spears fly, his newly found Dragonedge spear killing one of the warriors. A Fireball from Asvald singes their enemies, and a bolt of green fire burns off the head of one. Hjordis is hit by a Witch Bolt from the serpent magus, but in the end, her sword end his life.

Victorious but wounded and tired, they make camp in a small clearing. After they have found there whereabouts, they decide to go back to Castel Hamilkar and then to Ampelakia. They wonder, if the skeleton in the cave is that of Thall – and Malekith listens up. He knows that name, but by now, the dragon is known as „Thall, the Defiler“. It seems, the creature decided not to die, and turned itself into a lich, an undead dragon. According to the scrolls in the great library of Guthland, Thall moved farther norht, into the Midlands.

The group decides, that they want to follow the lead. They search the old hoard, finding some valuables that are easier to carry than coins, and return to Ampelakia. Here they want to rest up, before beginning the long journey northward.

The Cult of the Black Moon

The group takes a week in Ampelakia to rest, train and replenish their rations by hunting. Vitentius and Hjordis hunt some wild boar, providing meat for the journey ahead.

While Tin and Svala use their medical knowledge to help the villagers, they gather information about the land before them. As it seems, the route northwards is not safe, and only very few seem to make it. The hills north of the village seem to be infested by owlbears, a real danger to travellers. Farther north, swamplands seem to have appeared over the last years, making the valleys even more uninviting then the plague.

Forewarned, the adventurers pack their things unto the back of Penelope, and begin their journey. Instead of returning to the Great Bridge and crossing the river Umenedes there, they want to march directly northwards, through the wilderness. They hope to find a shallow to cross the river near the small village Vulceni.

A day north of Ampelakia, in the hills, they find the first warning to be true. They are attacked by two owlbears, and the ferocious creatures badly wound Hjordis. But they make for a hardy meal, a tough one, though. In the night, Tin thinks to see a shadow passing the moons, but he cannot be sure.

A constant drizzling rain makes the marshes north of the hills treacherous, and the group decides to march nearer to the mountains, where the land is drier. A thunderstorm forces them to find shelter under an overhang. But there is a narrow opening into a wider cave. Suspicious, Hjordis, Vitentius and Tin explore the cave, which proves to be a sight to see – but totally empty.

In the night, Svala catches the glimpse of giant wings, shimmering golden in the flash of lightning between the clouds.

The next day, they have to cross the swamplands between the foothills and the river. Thick fog lies over the land, and even Vitentius looses his bearings. Climbing one of the scarce trees, he finds the river, and leads them onward.

But these lands are not uninhabited. Suddenly, humanoid lizards spring from some pools of green water, and attack. A ball of green fire by Asvald wounds most of them, and the rest is quickly overcome. The adventurers find amulets made of bone on each of the creatures, bearing the resemblance of an eclipse.

As they near the river, their path is blocked by some sidearm – from which spring lizardfolk. Another ball of fire roasts a large number, the others are killed with arrow and blade. But the last one sounds a kind of alarm, and the water begins to boil with scaly bodies come swimming to kill the intruders.

At this moment, a huge shadow falls over them, the outline of gigantic wings before the sun, and then, fire rains from the sky, burning the lizardfolk to ashes. A Golden Dragon swoops down, burning the assailants before the group and alighting before them.

His name is Moddreid, and he has been watching the group since they stormed the gnoll keep. Thall, he states, was his ancestor, and he denies the story that this noble dragon should have become a lich. But there is a female Black Dragon, that wants to get her claws on the hoard of Thall, and every other dragon near. Her name is Xiamiarut, though her followers call her The Dark One.

She has transformed the land into a swamp to better suit her taste, and gnolls and lizardfolk are her agents and her army. Moddreid wants to end her reign before it really begins, but he is too young to stand any chance against her. He needs the adventurers to help him raise an army of his own.

His plan is, to send the group to the ruins of Jalepios, and recruit the ghosts of noble warriors, that still haunt the streets where they fell. If they could get them to fight Xiamiarut, he and the adventurers could have a chance to kill her or at least send her fleeing.

As the group is willing to undertake the venture, Moddreid flies them and their mounts over the Umendes, where they find the old road.

After they make camp, mists rise from the swampland, enveloping their small fire. In the night, first the saurids and Penelope flee in terror, then a terrible howling sends waves of panic through the adventurers. Vitentius, Asvald and Tin run off into the mist, filled with a dread that shakes them to the very bone. While Asvald soon finds his nerve again, Vitentius runs a little longer, finally coming to his senses amidst pools of stagnant water.

It is from one of these pools, that a creature attacks him, tentacles gripping the hunter, smashing him to the ground and pulling him towards a gaping mouth full of sharp teeth.

His screams alert his friends, that are already searching for him and Tin. They rush to the place, immediatly attacking the creature. Hjordis also gets grappled by the Otyugh, and pushed under water. Asvalds lances of green fire hurt the creature and finally, Svalas magical sword plunges into the body, releasing its thundering energy – and exploding the creature from within.

Vitentius is on the brink of death, and Tin is nowhere to be found. They apply one of the their healing potions, and return to their camp, that seems to have been searched during their absence. Their water supply is gone.

As the sun rises, the mist about them only gets a little whiter, and they try to follow the tracks of their animals, but they simply disappear. So they trudge on, finding themselves going in circles, even the almost mystical direction sense of Vitentius no match for the oppressing mist.

And then, the howling sounds again, sending them into a panicked flight. After the dread has subsided, they begin to realize, they are herded through the mists, to an unknown destination.

Finally, the form of an ancient wooden bridge appears before them, rotted and moss-covered, spanning the river. It is a dangerous crossing, but they make it. On the other side, a small village awaits them.

They are greeted friendly by an old man named Dusko, explaining that this is Vulceni, and they are the first strangers since a long time. He leads them to the village elder, a man named Armenius, clad in the robes of a Theurg. Their animals, it seems, have also found their way to village, and are now stabled in a large barn.

The village is inhabited only by men, and they are preparing a festival of some kind in the evening. The villagers prepare hot bathtubs for the adventurers, and clean beds for them to rest until the evening.

Svala is suspicious about the whole affair. Something does not sound right to her, but she is tired and worn like her companions. Drinking the tisane offered to them, they all sink into a deep slumber. Svala almost wakes, when someone seems to lean over her, but she soon drifts off again, waking only in the evening, when the villagers wake them.

But the scenery has changed. The men are now clad in yellow robes and pointed headdresses, covering their eyes. A stake has been erected in the middle of the village square – and from its top, the lifeless form of Tin is hanging, bound by his hands.

Armenius explains, that this is a ritual, that will turn their friend into a gateway to the Void, killing him in the process. But as there are more sacrifices available now, the gate could be enlarged.

The friends grip their weapons, and Armenius calls forth two shambling giantkin – their sight almost freezing Hjordis and Svalas blood. They are Draugr, undead giantkin, spoken about only in hushed whispers, driven by hate and revenge.

The fight is brutal. Asvald ignites two hovels with an explosion of green flames, then blades meed flesh. Some of the cultists cast strange spells, their energy deeply corrupted. Asvald steps into the green mists, appearing behind Armenius and backstabs him with his glowing sword.

It takes quite some effort to destroy the Draugr, but the cultists prove no match for the friends. They all hurt, and the carnage has taken its toll, but they stand victorious. They get the unconcious Tin down from the stake – and freeze, as the body of Armenius begins to change.

It seems to melt, growing, and than an arm forms, then another, and before their terrified eyes, it grows into an abomination like they have never seen. A slimy, swollen thing, with the body of a larvae, six almost human arms, and a multitude of eyes on top. Tentacles break from its torso, and the head splits open to reveal a kind of slimy mouth.

They decide to get their animals and make a run for it…

The creature that once was Armenius, follows them relentlessly, reanimating one of the Draugr along irs way. The party is bleeding, exhausted and Tin has just come to his senses, weak as a newborn.

Crossing some fields on the outskirts of the hamlet, the Voidspawn (for that is what Armenius has become) animates three scarecrows, that attack the group. Their wooded arrows almost kill Svala and Tin, and Asvald sacrifices their last healing potion to safe the healer. Tin can hela Svala, and together they continue their flight to the barn, where Penelope and the two Saurids are kept.

Shooting arrows, bolts, spears and fire at the Draugr, finally, the undead giantkin falls. But the Voidspawn confuses their minds with its terrible slurping sounds, making everything harder for them.

But then they decide to make a stand. It costs their last reserves in terms of strength and will, but they manage to destroy the Voidspawn.

They return to the village, search the corpses and the houses for anything useful and make their camp in the house of Armenius. They find Tins belongings there, and some valuable items taken from former ‚guest‘ of the cult.

The next morning, they try to cross the bridge, but some cultists and their ‚hounds‘ already await them. It is the bridge that costs most of the cultists their miserable life, as they try to cross the broken planks. The Voidhounds prove to be dangerous, but without their terrible howl, they can be killed just as anything can.

It takes them a day to find their former camp in the mists. They still need the saddles for their animals, and as night falls, they stay. This night, they are not disturbed by anything.

The next day, they followe the river upstream, and finally manage to leave the mists behind them. A clear summer’s day awaits, and the broken remnants of the northern road lie before them. The hills rise to the east, and the dry wind from the desert can be felt.

In the afternoon, they spy the ruin of a toll-station on a hillock near the road. Curious, they climb the narrow footpath and enter the remains of a small keep. While exploring the ruins, strange things happen. A sweet smell emenates from the well, and the water seems to have vitalizing powers on Drydnos. Shadows seem to move just in the corner of the eye, and in the tower, the air gets ice cold.

Tin uses his magical torch to look unto the etheral plane, where he witnesses life in the keep during the last days before the siege of Jalepios. And he sees a strange green light coming from the bottom of the well.

But things get even stranger, as Drydnos suddenly starts to talk – telling them that the animals want to leave before nightfall. The water seems to have even stranger powers…

They decide to move down the hill, and make camp at its foot. But Tin, kooking unto the etheral plane, finds that they are right beside an old cemetery, where bodies have been burned on pyres. A strange voice reminds Vitentius, that he should be offering a sacrifice to his ancestors, and guided by Tin, he does so, offering some blood to his forebearers.

And then, as the moons rise, their light reveals an eerie scenery, as a procession of ghostly figures holds some kind of ritual on a cemetery, that is visible through the moonlight, but in reality is nothing more but rubble and stones. And as the moonlight wanders off, a terrible, nerve wracking howling sounds from the old tower above them…

Specters of the Past

In the night, Vitentius has a strange dream. He seems to be another person, looking out through their eyes, and riding up to the keep. There he is greeted by the Imperial Knight, that Tin has already seen on the etheral plane. Whoever he is, the knight seems to hold him in high esteem and as a friend.

He calls him by his family name, Laferia, and they discuss the coming attack on Jalepios. The knight begs him to return to the city and warn all his friends and relatives to get them out before the coming siege. He warns him, that the Emperor has sent his hounds to aid in the attack – a dreaded company of shock troops.

In the morning, Vitentius shares his dream with the rest of the group. Svala thinks of it just as a dream, but Hjordis deems it a kind of memory, the memory of an ancient relative, perhaps.

They decide to enter the keep once more, exploring the well and then the cellar below the tower. In the cellar, Vitentius has another vision, in which he sees a secret door – and Svala finds the rotten lever to open it in their time.

Behind, a damp stairway leads down into the darkness. They slowly climb down, coming into a large chamber where dozens of skeletons are strewn about. Their bones speak of brutal attacks, splintered and ripped limbs. And then the specters attack.

Incorporeal arms reach out, reaching right inside their bodies and squeezing their hearts. They suck the life from them, but their magical weapons can indeed harm them. They repel theit attackers, but have suffered.

Thinking about the slain, they carry the bones up the stairs, loading them onto Penelope to transport them down to the old cemetery. Meanwhile, Vitentius and Asvald try to open a caved in opening that seems to lead even deeper into the dark.

As the sun sets, they hurry downwards to their campsite, before the ghosts of the former residents awake. Vitentius has another vision, where he sits in the saddle of an iron-head, looking back at the keep from a hillside farther north, and sees dark smoke rising from it The sounds of battle can be heard, and he turns northward.

In the flames of the campfire, a face appears, a vision of the knight from Vitentius dreams. He warns them, that the Emperor’s Hounds are upon his trail, as his blood sacrifice has alerted them. They smell the blood of the traitor, that gave the plans of attack away to Jalepios.

And then, the first werewolf springs from the dark, then another, then a strange batlike creature and finally a big werewolf that carries a greatsword. The fight is hard, and Vitentius is bitten by the large wolf, just before he runs it through with his spear.

The vision in the flames tells them that the hounds are defeated for now, and that they should bring the bones to Jalepios. But they may take the keep as their own, if they want. But Vitentius has now the curse of the wolf upon himself, and there are only three days until the next full moon…

After some study, Tin finds a way to rid Vitentius of the curse. They all put their backs into repairing and cleaning the old keep, so it can be used as a base for them. That’s when they get unexpected help.

One morning, the tower has a new door – looking like it has been formed out of one piece of wood – and there are wooden floors now, bringing the old tower back to its original layout. There’s even a large desk, seemingly carved from the trunk of one tree.

At the top-floor, they find crates filled with apples, and barrels filled with wine. And they make the aquaintance of their benefactor: Rübli.

Looking like a small saurid with a glowing antenna growing from its forehead, Rübli seems to be a kind of genus locii, a spirit of nature, bound to a specific place. He tells the adventurers, that he has always resided here, long before the keep was raised. As they have shown to be useful in cleansing the place from bad energies, he has decided to make them comfortable.

The creature seems to have control over natural things like plants and wood, and he has a certain streak of mischievousness. He likes to offer fruits that suddenly appear in his „hand“ – and after some questioning he admits, that they come from tables elsewhere. Mostly from very rich tables, like the Proconsul of Tarratoria…

He asks the adventurers to clean the dungeons below the tower, as there are still undead. As they already opened the cave in, they gladly agree.

There are only two undead still remaing, but they almost take the life of Hjordis, when etheral hands grasp her throat from outside a wall. Asvald burns a skelatal mage with his green fire, and the wraith is finally slain by the giantkin fighter.

At least they find the treasure of Castel Confinia, chests of coins hidden behind a veil of illusion.

They take some days to regenerate, train, and enjoying the comfort of having a roof over their hads and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables at their disposal. Even if Asvald misses some fresh meat.

And then, they finally pack up and set out towards Jalepios, where they want to bury the remains of the dead and raise an army of ghosts.

Just before the wastelands begin, that once belonged to the heart of the Empire, a caravanserai has been established, a town of tents, a multicoloured island of life within a dead land. As they enter, they all are reminded, what towns looked and smelled like…

And they are reminded about what rulership means. A fat man, called the Emir, is carried about on his litter, and one of his bodyguards demands a „gift“ from them – at least 20 gold pounds. Asvald intimidates him so much, he settles for 10. But the Empir is displeased and when he sees the apple, Asvald has given the guard, he frantically hits the man.

Together with his enervating voice, his abuse of his slaves and guards, the Emir immediatly is on the bad side of the adventurers. But it all gets worse, when Asvald tries to buy some dried meat. Prices are extremly high and the merchants seem to be paying some kind of danegelt for setting up shop within the caravanserai.

It is one of the rare moments, when Tin rages. The soft spoken Murong openly wants to kill the fat Emir, and Asvald, hating everyone with chains can relate to that. Svala and Hjordis are easily convinced and Vitentius has no other option – they will rid the people of the fat swine.

At night, a feast is held in the tent of the Emir, and all the traders have to attend. The friends sneak through the shadows, looking into the tent, and finding another reason for their hate: a theurg sits right next to the Emir.

When Asvald cuts the ropes at the top of the tentmast with his Mage Hand, the fabric comes crashing down and chaos breaks loose. They quickly make their way towards the Emir and the theurg, wrapping both in ropes – and Svala slits his throat. The theurg they gag and take with them for questioning.

The theurg is a female, and she is enraged. Not so much about the murder of the Emir, but about what this means. The Emir held it all together, and now, the factions will be at each others throats again. There will be bloodshed and all out war within the day in the camp! Maybe it was not so clever, murdering the man, after all…

They adventurers decide to take her with them and start in the early hours of the next day, entering the badlands. Looking back, they can already see black smoke rising from the camp…

The group travels on the remnants of the old North Road, crossing the outer regions of the Desert of Khûm. On their first campsite, Tin gets attacked by a creature, that burrows beneath the earth and grabs his feet with tentacles from below. The healer almost goes down, as the creature saps his very life from him. It takes the combined effort of his friends to free him and kill the Tentaclehound.

They decide, to move more close to the mountains, where the ground is more rocky, to avoid such encounters. But in the night, they get attacked by restless souls, and they need another day to recover fully before they finally reach the ruins of the Jalepios.

The captive Theurg seems to be less offensive than they thought. Her name is Valeria Restituta, and in the fights, she provides magical help. She even heals Hjordis after her fight with the wraiths.

Valeria makes a decision. She wants to accompany the adventurers into the ruins, as they seem to follow an honorable agenda. They soon find to their astonishment, that Valeria seems a lot less inclined to hunt down so-called witches…

As they near the gates of the burned down town, Vitentius has another vision. He sees his ancestors, riding through the heavy gates, and being welcomed by a cohort of legionaires. He is adressed as ‚Centurio‘, and rides on to his family’s house in the northern part of the town.

Jalepios presents inself as a soot-covered ruin. Black dustdevils roam the lonely streets, and the wind howl through empty windows. But there are also other sounds to be heard, like a loud roar, and then some clicking sounds that seem to close in on the group.

Asvald shrouds them in a spell, and they silently move on. They even spy one of the creatures, a terrible parody of a lion, with scissors at its tail. Cautiously, they move on to the former temple of the One.

The temple is a ruin, like most of the buildings in the town. Valeria thinks, that there should be a crypta beneath, where they may put the bones of the castel dead to rest. They indeed find the bronze parts of a heavy door that has crashed upon a staircase.

As they work to open the way, the roar sounds again, and a gigantic creature moves up to the temple. It looks like one of the great apes that are said to have lived here before the Fall, but it is heavily mutated. It’s big as a house, with large tusks growing from its jaw – and it is hairless.

They soon find out, that the creature is capable of attacking them from a distance by throwing big rocks at them – and it is quite fast when closing in. It hurts Hjordis pretty well, and it takes arrows, fire and blades to finally kill it.

At last, they step down the stairs into the crypta, where they find a magical statue, with eyes that emit a radiant light. Valeria uses Magick to dtermine, that the statue is a kind of guardian, keeping something inside the crypta. Svala, in the meantime, has broken the lock on the crypta door with her magical key…

They decide to keep out of the crypta for now, putting the bones behind the statue, their final resting place. Then, they all get up again – and are adressed by a familiar voice, one they did not hear for quite a while.

It is Ephimia, the wizardess from the isle, that almost killed them over the obsidian tablets!

Tin spies her invisible form on the etheral plane, and he uses a spell to make her visible to all – which she counters. But in doing so, she has to get visible again, and the fight is on.

The party has become a lot more powerful over the course of the last months. They are not easy prey for Ephimia anymore. And then, she finally drops, hit by a fire bolt from Tin.

Svala tries to question her soul by using a magical flute she found, but the soul of Ephimia is as vivious as she was in life. She just tells them that she was here for the ‚key‘ and that she serves the Great Serpent. But how did she find them? Was it all just coincidence, or is there something greater at work?

They decide to enter the crypt once more, to find out what Ephimia was after. With the help of a Mage Hand and an Unseen Servant, they open one of the sarkophagi from the outside – and raise the undead. The guardian statue hinders them, but it also brings the end of an undead mage, as Asvald pulls it into the beam of light with a Thorn Whip.

Finally, they make their way by the guardian and search the sarkophagi. They find a magical bow,  a ukulele and a focus crystal – and a strange looking glass, with the same kind of runes on it, like the obsidian tablets Ephima stole from them. Could this be what she called ‚the key‘?

They leave the crypt and make their way through the ruins to the house of the Laferia family. Just as he passes the treshold, Vitentius breaks down. He looses conciousness, and his body burns like with a fever. But there seems to be no medical cause for this.

Vitentius sees through the eyes of his ancestor. He hastily dismounts in front of his home, embracing his wife and telling her to pack up. She’ll be leaving town within the hour with the children. Then he hastes down the stairs to the cellar, pushing open the door to a special room.
A glowing green crystal stands there, fitted with in a ring of stone with runes, glowing in a soft blue light. A man stands before it, long blonde hair falling down his shoulders unto a robe of pure white.
He turns around, smiling at the Centurio and embracing him as a dear friend. Vitentius finds his eyes disturbing, as they are of a deep yellow and look reptilian.
They talk about the defenses of the town, and the strange man warns the Centurio, that his hometown is doomed. He utters a sad comment. „The Conclave has already decided.“ Then he leaves.

Next, Centurio Laferia is standing on the ramparts of the town, looking toward the army that marches towards them. Suddenly, a shadow blocks out the sun, and for a moment, he sees jagged wings, just before fire rains down upon the town and himself. The last thing Vitentius feels is the enormous heat that burned his ancestor to ashes…

They carry him with them, as they explore the ruin. Tin fnds the entrance to a cellar. In a small apotheca, he finds some scrolls, the papers of some long dead healer in the Laferia family. There are two spells he keeps to later transcribe into his own spellbook.

Another door is sealed with powerful magic, but Valeria discerns, that it is actually the door, not the lock that is enchanted. It could be opened from the inside. So, Asvald takes a look trough the keyhole and steps through the mists unto the other side.

As he opens the door, the party is in for a surprise. There is glowing green crystal, like those they discovered in the caves beneath Mount Chamilkar, but this one is set in stone, and once, a band of runes ran around its base. Part of this has been destroyed.

Valeria reads the runes as a spell of dampening and of steering the energies of the crystal into a spell of protection for the town. But this part has been destroyed – a  long time ago, it seems.

The energies of the crystal make it possible for the souls of Centunrio Laferias and his legion to manifest themselves. As they tell him of their quest, he offers them his sword. If they find another crystal where they need them, he and his men will manifest there to aid them.

Leaving the ruins is no easier then entering. They have to fight Sandbeasts to finally return to their saurids. After a night’s rest, they make their way back to Castel Confinia.

They give the caravanserai a wide berth, but still see smoke rising, and men fighting. They see, that their rash decision has lead to violence, just as Valeria has forseen. And they are spotted. A band of horsemen tries to catch them, but they manage to avoid them.

Hjordis and Svala recognize the leaders of the band: the Bloedletter brothers. Giantkin, they are infamous raiders and mercenaries, and Hjordis has lost a good friend to them. Them being here, does not bode well for the region.

They return to the castel, and Rüblie welcomes them. He has killed three cultists of the Black Moon, while they were absent, who were wandering the hills. The cult obviously is looking for the party.

Valeria proposes to return the castel to its former function: providing shelter and protection for the surrounding lands. Maybe, she says, people will settle here again.

They have heard some strange things about Thall, the golden dragon, from the ghost of Centurio Laferia. He called the dragon a traitor, that brought destruction upon Jalepios. And Rübli seems to know no dragon named Moddreid – at least, no living dragon, that is.

What is going on here? Who is the young golden dragon, and is there indeed an black dragon commanding the lizardfolk and gnolls of the western valleys? Is Xiamarut indeed plundering the hoards of Thall? And if not – what does a dragon want with adventurers?

The party decides to stay at the castel for a while, to recover their strength and maybe get a clearer look at the strands of the strange net they seem to be caught in.

The Dragon's Conclave

Soon after they settle in, they see riders on the hills, seemingly surveiling the castel. They suspect the Blødletters, and try to get a spring on those scouts. They lay in wait for on of them, when Moddreid appears.

The dragon asks them about their mission to Jalepios, and they confront them with some information they have gathered, that does not quite match with what he told them. It may not be wise to anger a dragen, but this is a Golden Dragon, after all, one of the good aligned…

Moddreid entangles himself more and more, and finally, he commits, that the Blødletters are in his employ. They are to conquer another castle in the valley across the river Kenaton, Castel Viverna. And he is displeased with the adventurers, especially as they deny him the sword of Centurio Laferia.

At last, the dragon is enraged, and his disguise is blown. He is not golden, but green, and he is not a youngling, but an adult dragon!

All know, that this could very well be their last fight. But then Vitentius uses the powers of his new bow they found in the crypt in Jalepios, and things go haywire. Two translucent Iron-Crown saurids charge the dragon, the first crashing him on his back, the second sending him against the rocks. The Green Dragon desperately takes to the air, being hit by arrows from Svålas bow, and breathes noxious fumes against Vitentius.

And then, Asvald casts a bolt of green fire at the dragon, igniting the gas. The explosion rocks the hill, as the dragon is torn apart from the inside.

The group is baffled. They have killed a dragon. They have killed a dragon! And only Vitentius is in need of any healing!

Svåla conjures the spirit of the dead dragon with her flute, and they try to get some answers. It seems, Xiamarut does indeed rule over the valleys to the west, but she does not plunder Thall’s hoards. It seems, there is a war going on between dragons, a conflict that dates back far longer. The mercenaries are indeed on the march on Castel Viverna, and the small contingent of warriors will stand no chance against them.

Asvald takes the head of the dragon with him, as he knows about magical properties of some parts. Vitentius also harvests some of the remains.

  • Dragon Scales (large bag): potential Dragon Scale Mail (3,350 gp)
  • Dragon Tooth (10x): potential Dragon Arrow (50 gp)
  • Dragon Horn (2x): potential Dragon Wand (1,300 gp)
  • Dragon Wing (1x): potential Cloak of Dragonflight (3,250 gp)
  • Dragon Blood (7 vials): potential Potion of Dragonstrength (250 gp)


After cleaning themselves, they confer on what to do next. They want to help their neighbours across the river, as Valeria mentions to know the count to be an honest man, in a long line of Imperial Knights.

So, they set out to find a way to cross the Kenaton, making their way over a ford and following a smaller stream into the foothills of the Dragonspine Range.

They are not gone far, before they spring an ambush. A woman suddenly appears before them on the path, warning them, that they should turn back, as there is nothing but death awaiting them – and casting a bolt of lighting at them.

Archers rise from their hiding places, firing at them, and the mysterious woman summons an Earth Elemental, before she steps into a magical mist, reappearing on the other side of the stream.

The fight is hard, and leaves most of them bloodied. The Earth Elemental hits very hard, almost knocking Hjørdis and Svåla out. Tin is heavily wounded by the bolt of lightning, but he manages to keep his comrades alive. The woman is also wounded, but gets away as she sees her side loosing.

Finally, Svåla runs the Elemenal through with her resonating blade, and crashes it from within.

The adventurers have got a first impression of the foe they are facing now – and the two brothers weren’t even there. They look for a place to rest, gather back their strength and maybe consider a new plan…


Beaten and bloody, the party searches for a sheltered place to rest for the night. They make camp in a secluded clearing, and lick their wounds. Near morning, drops begins to fall, soon turning into a hard rain, soaking everthing, from tent to earth. Wet and cold, they dredge on towards Castel Viverna.

Late that afternoon – the sun is already setting behind the mountains in the west – the rain finally stops, and they smell smoke on the breeze. When they come within sight of the small hamlet below the castle, they see two buildings burning, and a camp erected beside it. Hjørdis takes the sights and guesses, that her old foes have taken the castel and driven out the former inhabitants.

She’s right, as they soon discover.

The soldiers and Count Viverna have to live in tents below their castel. After some introducing and explaining, the count tells them, that he hired the Blødletters to reinforce his small contingent of soldiers – a bad mistake, as he was soon to find out. His son, Oktavio, seemingly fell for the sorceress Gorana, and the lovestruck youth only quickened, what was to come.

Father and son have been driven from their home at swordpoint, along with their loyal men. What’s even worse is, that the reserves on food are all kept within the castle, so the people will starve within a week. But, as Søren put it, there will be another army coming before that – one that will not take prisoners.

The party wants to help, and they are given a tent to rest. Early in the morning, alarms sound, and they burst from their bedrolls. The mercenaries make a sally!

They march down the path from the castle, and the count and his men hastily try to make a stand, whatever good that may do them. But the mercenaries do know nothing of Asvald and Valeria.

A wall of roiling sand and one of roaring fire form a funnel at the end of the path, and then, green fire explodes in their ranks. While the brothers are protected by Goranas magic, a lot of the mercenaries die a flaming death. And then, the Blødletters meet Hjørdis on the battlefield.

While Søren swings his mighty axe, his brother Grimolf has transformed into a great white bear, carrying Gorana on his back. Both are the first to fall. Søren challenges Hjørdis, but then Oktavio storms at the Giantkin – only to meet the swipe of the deadly axe. His head falls, and Hjørdis charges her foe.

Steel clashes on steel, as the two Giantkin fight, but Hjørdis is not alone. It is Svålas blade that slips between the ribs of the mercenary leader, piercing his heart.

The battle is short and bloody. With their leaders fallen, the mercenaries soon loose heart and flee. While the friends loot the corpses of their foes, Count Viverna mourns his son.

There is only a short respite, as a scout rides in, bringing warnings of another army marching upon them. He reports having seen strange reptilian creatures, some flying, some marching.

The party immediatly begins to evacuate the hamlet, but before all are behind the castle walls, the vanguard arrives. Small reptilian creatures attack the hamlet, and the party makes a stand, to protect the people. The creatures throw strange devices, that explode in impact, and shoot long crossbows. Then, two dragon-like beasts attack, followed by a kind of humanoid dragon, gliding on leathery wings.

Whatever these creatures are, they are dangerous, that much is clear. The party retreats, trying to protect the locals as best they can, until the gates close behind them.

As they step to the parapets, they can see the army slowly filling the valley beneath them…

The army gathers in the valley below the castle, and the friends look troubled down at the ever growing mass of foes. Count da Viverna has brought the body of his son in the Great Hall, and has left Commander Tisian in charge. Grief has the count in a firm grip, making him unable to command his garrison in this time of need.

A first attack is attempted by flying dragon-humanoids, that carry those small reptiloids in their claws, the party has already encountered. They use them like living bombs, letting them fall down on the defenders with their explosives to detonate. Judging by the mad laughter of the falling creatures, they seem to enjoy their plunge to death.

And then, a man rides up to the castle, on the back of one of those reptilian beasts. He sets an ultimatum: there is one of the green energy crystals beneath the castle, and he will grant all people safe passage, if they abandon the fortress by morning.

Valeria recognizes the man as a former colleague of hers at the Theurgy seminar: Arshag Skendarian. Obviously, he was not a very talented scholar, and mobbed by other students. He still bears a grudge, and when Valeria provokes him, he excepts her from his offer of free passage.

The adventurers ask the commander about the crystal, but he never heard anything about it. But the castle is very old, and was built on top of an even older structure. There is a hole in the dungeons, were nobody ever dared to venture. The party decides to investigate.

What they find is a mystery. Riddles, secret doors and traps – a lot of traps – all in just two rooms and a pasageway. But then, they finally stand before the glowing crystal.

Right at this moment, Arshag passes through a wall, accompanied by a Murong, a man, Tin can clearly identify as a Dragon Monk. Arshag locks Hjørdis in a bubble of magical force, but the fighter smashes the force with her magical sword. The monk proves to be a formidable opponent, but he can not match the combined power of the party.

Vitentius shoots two arrows from his magical bow, and both transform into trampling Iron Crowns. The smashed form of Arshag is thrown against the wall, and the mage is no more.

After the fight, the party discusses their plans, when a voice joins them. It seems, this place has its genus locii too. His name is Root, and he seems a bit different than Rübli. He knows about the army around the castel, an army Arshag had called „The army of the Dragon Conclave“.

It seems, there has always been a secret group of dragons, that pulled strings in the dark. They are said to be ancient beyond time, created by the Runemasters themselves. And now, it seems, they sacrificed eggs of their own kin to create solders – the Dragonbreed warriors, the party already fought. They want to build a new Empire, but ruled by dragons.

The party returns to the castle, unsure as what to do next. As a Forest Wyvern attacks, at least Vitentius is happy with a new trophy…

The death of Arshag provides the party and the besieged with almost two days of respite. Svala finally gives in to the pleas of her comrades, and gets herself new armour. But then, the (still growing) army gets a new commander – a dragonbreed in shimmering steel armour, riding a drake up to the gate.

His name is Molredon, and he proposes a final ultimatum: hand over the crystal or leave the castle, either the army comes down on the defenders. Svala negotiates a truce until the next midday.

The party is nervous. They have to get the civilians to safety, the count is still grieving, and there seems no way out of the castle. And they cannot leave the crystal to the dragons.

Asvald suggests talking to Root. Perhaps the genus locii can provide some help. So, they climb down into the bowels of Castel Viverna once more.

Root is not half as jovial as Rübli, but he could indeed help them. He suggests digging new tunnels down to a subterranean stream, that flows down to the river Keraton. He could do that, with the help of elemental friends, he says, but the humans would have to build rafts.

The party knows, that they have to get the whole castle working – and that needs a command from the count. Their first try is a failure. He is so deep in grieving, he won’t leave the dead body of his son even for a moment. But then, Valeria has an idea: if his dead son himself would order him to act…?

The Theurge creates the illusion of an apparition next to the body, and makes it talk in the voice of Oktavio. The ruse works, and Count Sinisto immediatly orders everybody to prepare their evacuation.

Still, even with an escape route, there is the problem with the crystal. Asvald proposes to stay behind and destroy it, right into the face of the conquering army. Hesitantly, the rest of the group agrees, only after Root promises to keep the sorceror safe.

As noon approaches, the party awaits Molredon. Their defiance seems not surprise to the dragonbreed, and he turns around. Soon afterwards, the first attack commences.

Dragonbreed warriors fly up, close to the walls, so the archers cannot shoot them, and then, they hit the parapets. While hardened soldiers fall beneath the heavy mauls of the attackers, the party stands firm. Putting their power into use, they kill their scaly opponents, one by one. Commander Tisian is lifted from the parapet by a heavy blow, and only Valerias healing spell keeps him from dying there.

But then, another wyvern attacks, and while some soldiers loose heart, Vitentius rejoices – he can finally benefit from a trophy he carries! It is the hunter that fires two arrows into the eye of the creature, killing it.

And then, there is cheering. The defenders have thrown back the attack, and Molredon may have to reconsider. Taking the castle may cost him more than he is willing to pay.

In this pause of battle, the evacuation gets on its way. Root opens a tunnel with a stairway, that leads to the underground stream, and men carry pieces of rafts down, to assemble them. Women and children are put on the first rafts, than the other civilians, and finally, raft by raft, the rest of the garrison.

The party says their farewells to Asvald, wishing him luck and reminding him to not get killed. And then, they take the last raft into the darkness.

The ride on the stream is rather uneventful, but then, as daylight comes into view, they find another obstacle – a waterfall. The stream jumps over a cliff, before it joins the river below – and rafts cannot navigate this.

Tin uses the staff he aquired from Gorana, and summons two water elementals, that form a ramp of water, over which all the rafts can glide down and across the river. Finally, they are safe.

As the party crosses the river, a mighty explosion shakes the ground, and a cloud of smoke and dust rises far behind them. The castle has blown – and they can only hope that the army has suffered heavy losses. And that Asvald is not among them.

Shouldering their packs, the adventurers lead the people to the road, and then head towards Castel Confinia. It seems the safest haven in these lands for now…


The Obsidian Tablets

While Vitentius marches relentlessly on, to get the saurids, the party guides the refugees towards Castel Confinia. With the help of Rübli, the hunter takes a short break, saddles up the animals and meets his friends on the road. Penelope’s carrying power eases the load of the people, and makes the rest of the way faster.

When they arrive at the castle, the former count orders his son to be entombed – and brings upon him the wrath of Valeria. The Theurge berates him, that he is no noble anymore. His castle lies in ruins, his people are refugees and he has no authority besides that the people give him. She brings her status as a representative of the Church of the One to bear, and orders the cremation of the body.

The group settles in, and helps the people set up a new village at the foot of the castle-hill. A week later, Asvald appears at the gates, dusty and dissheveled, but otherwise healthy. He tells his friends, how he rigged the crystal with explosive ice-roses from his wand, and how he survived the explosion with the help of Root. Buried underneath half a hill, it took them some time to get him out, and then he found the valley a graveyard. The army has almost been obliterated, and he has seen to the cremation of the dead. He then stayed a while and learned from Root – the Greenheart has obviously found new powers.

The party stays for weeks at their castle, and slowly, a new village rises up. Merchant caravans come by – and they bring good news. It seems, the actions of the adventurers have made the road somewhat safer. The swamp to the south seems to have dried up, and the deadly mists are gone. To the north, Kythians have taken over the caravanserai and keep the peace there.

But there are also disturbing news. There are rumours of another army marching from the mountains towards Olbomenus. Strange creatures have been spotted, flying things that look reptilian and humanoid at the same time.

And then, when the heat of summer is beating down on the land, a group of travellers nears the village. Asvald recognizes their leader, a red haired woman. Caristania, their comrade on the Isle of the Dead and sole survivour besides them.

The relic hunter has been looking for them by order of the Explorer’s Guild. They have finally translated some of the clay tablets they brought with them from the tomb of Nodran. And the texts are disturbing.

One of those tablets contains a kind of prophecy, and Tin can translate it by using the Glass of Translation they took from the tomb in Jalepios. It seems, things have been set in motion, that are far greater than they anticipated.

Rübli can fill some of the gaps. It seems, the dragons and the snakefolk share a deep hate for each other. The dragons were jealous, as the snakes got more and more important to their creators, and began to manipulate them into rising up. They instigated the war that would ultimately lead to the creation of humankind and the mutation of Giants.

And now, it seems, when the Dragon’s Conclave tries to fill the power vacuum, the snakefolk also makes its move. This could end in a war on a scale like that in primordial times!

Other tablets spoke of seven obsidian tablets, that held the secret to wake the Great Serpent from its sleep – and weren’t it seven tablets of obsidian Ephimia stole from them on the island?

The adventurers tell Caristania that they killed Ephimia – and only now do they realize that they never really searched for the tablets. The soul of the arcanist would only tell them that she kept them in ‚a safe place‘, but not where.

Caristania tells them, that there is another dragon army marching from the southern Dragonspine Range towards Tarratoria. The Proconsul has finally rosen against the High Theurg, with the support of the syndicates, and tries his best to bolster the defences of the city. But how long could they stand against dragons?

They decide to return to the cursed ruins of Jalepios and search for the tablets before they fall into other hands. Leaving Castel Confinia in the hands of Valeria, who wants to establish a library in the tower, they saddle up their mounts and leave in the morning.

On the road, they spot a Dragonbreed scout, landing on the road before them. Asvald uses his magic to hide them, while they circumvent the place, spotting another four of the dreaded creatures. Vitentius wants to attack them, but the others decide against it. Their mission is more important than that.

Circumventing the caravanserai, that looks different, with lots of kythian yurts instead of the colourful tents, they finally draw near their goal: Jalepios.



As the party nears the ruins of Jalepios, a sandstorm from the desert sweeps in. They find shelter in some rocky crevices to the north, and weather the storm. As night is already falling, they decide to rest in the shallow cave they found, and approach the ruins by morning.

The ruins look just like they left them. The walls are still blackened by fire, the gates still missing, and the ground is still covered with a mixture of sand, dirt, and soot. The only difference is the imprint of a leather boot in a soft patch of dirt.

They move cautiously through the dead town, but still get ambushed by two sandbeasts. This time, they know how to deal with them.

As they reach the ruin of the temple, where Ephimia fell, they find another investigator. A man of somehow ageless appearance, with light blonde hair and strange, yellow eyes greets them. Vitentius recognizes him as the man from the vision, the one that warned his ancestor about the fate of Jalepios.

He introduces himself as Arsenius, a scholar of history. He admits, that he is indeed long-lived, and that he was a friend of Vitentius ancestor. He can also explain a bit about the Dragon’s Conclave, but seems reluctant to give any deep insights. He also knows about the Obsidian Tablets, and that they pose a great danger in the wrong hands.

Musing about a place, where Ephimia could have hidden them, Tin follows his thoughts and asks about a library. Arsenius confirms, that there indeed was a library, destroyed in the attack. But it had an archive, where the most prized treasures were kept – deep beneath the library.

The party decides to look there, and Arsenius wishes them luck, as he leaves. He seems not really bothered by the dangers lurking in the alleys, and Asvald suspects him to be a sorceror with draconic ancestors.

The ruin of the library is easy enough to find, as the gigantic stone archway still stands amidst tbe blackened ruins. As they search for a way into the archive, a strange creature attacks them. Asvald calls it an Baa’tha’neeri from the Void, and indeed it seems to master the cold. But eventually, the party vanquishes it.

An old bronze trapdoor lies buried under rubble, and it takes some effort to open it. The bronze ladder, that leads downwards, is also not very comforting. Indeed, the party has to be very careful, and the rope around their waists safes them from a very nasty fall.

A broad, dark tunnel opens before them, the ceiling covered in ice. Not a very good sign. It leads up to a double door, that only hangs on its hinges. Behind it, rows of shelfs hold foliants, tomes and scrolls, tablets and trinkets.

But as Vitentius begins to scout ahead, he is attacked by a ghoul – and then two Baa’tha’neeri appear near strange columns of ice. The fight is bloody, and for the first time in their adventuring, they face defeat. Hjørdis is bleeding from multiple wounds, Asvalds spells seem to have no real impact on the creatures, and even the fire elemental that Tin conjures seems helpless.

Finally, Asvald conjures a wall of green flames, and they make a run for it. Barely, they make it back to the surface slamming the trapdoor shut behind them, hoping it will hold the fiends at bay.

They trudge to the house of Vitentius ancestor, where they know, they can hole up in the cellar. They need rest and healing – and a better plan, if they want to get to the tablets.

The adventurers lock themselves up in the cellar of the Laferia villa to rest and recover. They patch up their wounds and gear, sleep and eat. But slowly, they feel the darkness of this place creeping into their bodies…

As they leave for another foray into the archives, they hear voices, speaking in a harsh, rasping tongue that nobody of them has ever heard. They hide, and see a group of four Dragonbreed Warriors coming their way – led by an unwilling looking Arsenius, who is pushed along.

Quickly, they set up an ambush, and Asvald strikes at them with a fireball, burning three of them severely and setting the fourth on fire. Then, Hjørdis charges them, crashing into one, and sending the creature flying. Arrows strike the others, and over all hangs the voice of Svala, singing.

In a few moments, the Dragonbreeds lie dead in the dirt and soot of the street, the smell of burned flesh mixing with the lingering smell of a burned down town.

Arsenius is unhurt, and tells them, that the Dragonbreeds captured him and forced him to tell them where the crystal is – and he sent them to the archives. The four with him where the last of the troup, the rest died in the archives.

But these made him lead them to the true place. With them dead, it will take some time for the army to realize their disappearance.

The adventurers invite the strange scholar to accompany them, but he politely declines. He just wants to leave this damned town.

The group pushes on, and reaches the ruins of the library. The trapdoor stands open, and besides the torn torso of a Dragonbreed, strange footprints lead away. As a wall of glittering ice appears in their midsts, they are caught off-guard, but quickly find the culprit. Asvald conjures a thunderstorm and as lighting strikes the Voidspawn, they take heart – the creature can indeed be harmed!

Hjørdis attacks the Voidspawn head on, putting her weight and brawn into every swing. Whirling her blade, the Baa’tha’neeri has trouble attacking her back. Tin conjures an Earth Elemental, which pummels the Voidspawn with stony fists. Arrows pierce the blueish hide of the creature, another bolt of lightning strikes it, and then the Giantkin fighter finally strikes it down. It dissolves into a puddle of black goo.

As they enter the dark tunnels, they find the bodies of the other Dragonbreeds Arsenius talked about. They all have fallen to the Baa’tha’neeri, it seems. In the archive, there are still the glowing ice-crystals, and they open up a rip in reality, a portal to the Void itself!

Tin feels the mutating power coming through, developing pustules in his throat, breaking in yellowish pus. Quick-witted, the healer takes a swallow of the Green Water, washing the mutation from his mouth.

And then, a massive creature comes through the portal. Ducking its head under the ceiling, it swings a huge club, inset with sharp obsidian blades, and glaring at them with glowing purple eyes set in a human-looking skull. From its back, four slimy tentacles grow, writhing behind it,

The party strikes with all they’ve got. Ghostly Iron-Crowns trample it, fire burns it, stone fists pummel it, and Hjørdis hits with her glowing sword. But then, a tentacle hits her, fettering her arms at her sides and piercing her flesh with venomous stingers.

Now, Svala runs in to help her friend. Wielding her thrumming sword in both hands, she cuts through the tentacle holding Hjørdis, and followes through with her blade, cutting the creatures spine. It, too, dissolves into a puddle of black goo.

Tin orders the elemental to crash one of the ice crystals – and as it does, the ice explodes, sending the elemental crashing into the opposite wall. The elemental is destroyed, but the second ice crystal also shatters.

The party finally sets to search the archives. Svala finds the Obsidian Tablets in a drawer, putting them away. Asvald searches the tomes and scrolls, while Vitentius and Tin climb up a winding stairway into a small study.

A mummified body stand almost upright at a lectern, its bony hand on an open tome. Tin looks at the pages through is magical glass, and shudders. Its an incantiation to open a Voidportal! Perhaps the archivist wanted to protect his treasures beyond the grave.

They find some valuables here, and a strange device, in which a tiny gremlin tells the time. Meanwhile, Asvald has found interesting tomes and scrolls, while Svala found books with ancient dramas and heroic sagas. Vitentius has maps, showing the lands that are now the Desert of Khûm, and Tin holds an anatomical atlas.

They climb back to the surface, and leave Jalepios to reunite with Caristania and their mounts. But there is still the crystal beneath the Laferia villa, and the Dragon’s Conclave will definitely send other troops to get it…


The party discusses their problems. If they leave the crystal in Jalepios, the dragons will surely conquer it. So, it has to be either destroyed or carried away. A lot of options are discussed, some more practical than others, but all seem to be really dangerous.

Then Tin proposes to find a Dragonbreed patrol and use a Suggestion spell to make one of them destroy the crystal. It sounds good, using the enemy against itself, so Vitentius is sent to find a patrol.

He finds a small camp, not far from them, and leads his friends there. And now, the plan starts to fall apart. Tin can disguise himself as a Dragonbreed – but he doesn’t speak Draconic. Asvald has found a scroll in the old library with a spell that can fix that. So, Tin marches into the camp – but the guard doesn’t recognize him and he has a hard time persuading the Dragonbreed that he is indeed one of them. And, finally, he casts his Suggestion spell.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party observes Tins foray – and is almost surprised by Snakefolk slithering up behind them! Within a few moments, the battle rages, including flashes of fire and the clang of metal upon metal.

This catches the eyes of the Dragonbreed guard, and it sounds the alarm. As the last Snakefolk falls, the Dragonbreeds swoop in and attack.

The party has a hard fight upon them, being already bloodied, and now they have to face flying opponents. Vitentius looses his last arrow at one of them, and Tin has all hands full providing healing. Even Asvald is caught in melee, but uses his magic to lay out powerful punches.

Tin casts again his Suggestion spell, making one of the attackers leave and turn towards the east. They have only a small hope, that this will suffice.

The party drags themselves back to their camp. They are really beaten up, and need a rest. They know, they are lucky to still be alive.

In the early morning, a trembling in the ground and the sound of distant thunder makes Svala climb the rocks outside their cave. She sees a pillar of smoke rising from the ruined town – it seems, the last Dragonbreed has indeed destroyed the crystal.

In the morning, a voice calls out to them. It is Arsenius, who has come looking for them as he saw the cloud of smoke. They ask him about the Obsidian Tablets – and how to destroy them. The scholar knows only of two possibilities: dragon’s fire and the Hammer of Trajan, the giant who smashed the Great Serpent in the legends of Giantkin.

This legendary hammer, it is said, has been entombed with its wielder somewhere under the mountains – but neither Hjørdis nor Svala know, under which mountains. At least Hjørdis remembers, that Rübli mentioned an ancient Giant city in the mountains, somewhere.

Arsenius warns them, that the tablets will call for the Snakefolk, and that the serpents will be drawn to them. They should keep away from the mountains, where many caves lead into the darkness below. Then, the scholar leaves.

The party decides to travel by night and camp during daytime, as the serpents can’t stand the sun. They return to Castel Confinia four nights later.

The small village seems deserted, a barricade has been erected on the path to the castle, and there is only a single light coming from the hut of the  former count.

As they investigate, the door suddenly springs open – as do those of the huts around them. Unknown men-at-arms surround them, and Count Viverna emerges with his sword drawn. They have come home to find it under insurgance!

The party tries to argue with Count Viverna – to no avail. As Tin tries to push the noble with a little magic, his spell is countered, and they soon learn, by whom. A Theurge joins the count, and only now do the adventurers take a closer look at their opponents: they all wear the Tau-cross on their breastplate.

As the count explains only too eager, the Theurgy of Tarratoria has heard of their exploits and the annexion of the Castel. So, they sent out witch-hunters to take them back to Tarratoria, where they shall face a their trial. And he, the count explains, has been only too pleased to offer his assistance.

The people, it seems, have taken refuge in the castle, together with Valeria, who the Theurge calls a ‚heretical bitch‘. She, too, will suffer the fate of the adventurers.

But this is not what they have in mind. The fight is brutal, with the Theurge dying first under the translucent hooves of two trampling Iron-Crown saurids – the arrows from Vitentius bow. It is the green-glowing blade, that ends the life of Count Viverna. The soldiers face blades and lightning, striking from a sudden thunderstorm. And the claws and teeth of a large brown bear…

In the end, three of them surrender, the rest dies in a nameless village far from their home.

As they party inspects the huts, they find bodies. Some of the people have obviously tried to stand up against the count and the witch-hunters.

Sad and furious alike, they march up to the castle, where Valeria greets them. The people of the village have taken refuge here, and they are more than happy to hear, that they can now return. But there’s no love lost between them and the prisoners. The party decides to throw them into the dungeons for now.

Waking Rübli, they try to make sense of what has transpired. The tablets must be destroyed, but where to find a dragon that would help them? So, their only lead, for now, is the old mountain fortress of the Giants, that Rübli mentioned. The Glowhopper gladly gives them directions.

Taking a week to train, rest and restock, they plan their journey. It will take them into the territory of Xiamarut, the black dragon. The Dumobor Valley is, where the old fortress is located, and the journey will not be easy.

As the terrain will be swampy, rocky and leading through dense forests, they decide to leave their saurids behind. They are faster on foot.

Their first waypoint is Vulceni, where the ruined bridge is their first obstacle. Asvald nearly drowns in the river, but makes it to shore. The village is still empty, the dead rotting in the streets. They march through hastily, not wanting to disturb anything left of the cultists.

Following the Umendes northward, they trudge through swampland. Summerheat and swarms of mosquitoes make travel difficult enough – and they travel by night, to avoid being ambushed by Snakefolk.

In the early morning of their fourth day on the road, they are attacked by a patrol of Dragonbreed Soldiers. Though they make quick work of them, this is a certain sign, that this land is far from peaceful…

In the Valley of the Giants

The party trudges on, but the swamp soon makes it impossible to travel during nighttime. When a sudden sinkhole opens under them, they decide to rather risk a Snakefolk attack than drown in the swamp. Asvald turns Vitentius into an eagle, so he can take a look at the lay of the land. He sees dry brushland to the north, and a village at the joining of two streams into the river Umendes. There is farmland beyond the village, and people working there.

After another day, the mire gives way to a floodplain forest, burred with river-arms. A broader one they have to cross building a kind of bridge with the magical pole Tin carries.

Soon after that, they come upon ancient ruins – or the remnants of ruins, as these date from the primordial Giants. Statues, pillars and arches are overgrown and have sunken into the ground, but the two Giantkin nevertheless recognize their ancestor’s work. Svala remembers one of the oldest sagas she had to learn, the one about the City in the Mountains, and how it fell to the snakes.

But the ruins are not unoccupied. Sunbathing lazily on a statues head lies a manticore, and he immediatly starts chatting with the party. His stories are rather bloody and only halfway funny. Maybe he wanted just to distract them from the female creeping up on them from behind. But the two monsters are no real match for the party – though the femals certainly draws blood. The male is felled by a powerful magical straight right by Asvald, the female is peppered with arrows and finally plunges into a nearby river-arm, burned by Tins fire bolt.

The party looks forward to a night of sleep, but it shall not be. Soon after dark, something large begins to circle the camp, and prevents them from sleeping. In the morning, they search for tracks and follow them into the stony shrublands to the east. The tracks look every more like Troll, and then they lead into a cave.

As they don’t want to fight the Trolls on their turf, they try some very innovative methods of getting them out. Svala plays songs she thinks will enrage them – but obviously, Trolls have a different taste of music. Smoking them out seems not to work, eihter. Maybe the cave is just to large. Frustrated, the friends march off.

Though Asvald covers their tracks, soon after dark, the two Trolls storm their camp. As they are known for their keen smell, they could have just followed the smell of woodsmoke. Though their healing rate is exorbitant, fire is their bane – and of that, the group has enough for them. Smoking bodies are all that remains of the nightly disturbers.

The next day, they see the ruins of what seems to have been a large farmstead once near the river. Investigating, they find parts of the walls look molten and corroded. Then, voices from the river make them curious.

What they find makes them gasp. A black and a golden dragon wyrmling are having some kind of argument. As Vitentius has learned some words in Draconic, he greets them. The two are children, though dragons nevertheless. The golden one seems to be concerned about the black wyrmlings – who talks of himself as ‚prince‘ – antics, but they seem to share a mutual friendship. Xiamarut, the black dragon, is the mother of the black wyrmling, it seems, and both have a history lesson coming up, held by someone they call ‚auntie firebolt‘. They are rather reluctant to go there.

The golden wyrmling warns, that it will soon be nightfall, and that this spot is dangerous, as it is haunted. The party asks about the haunting, and the dragons tell them, that the ghost of a Giant haunts these parts, killing every living being.

The approach of another wyrmling – a blue one – makes them tarry no longer, and they fly off towards the north.

The party is baffled. Why are there so many wyrmlings here? And of different species? Could this be some kind of dragon kindergarten?

As the two Giantkin are curious about the Giant ghost, they await dusk. The two moons rise in the nightsky, and their light begins to form into the shape of a Giant – a primordial one, over 20 feet tall. As they approach him, he turns around, looking at them with glowing red eyes. They can hear his voice in their heads, forming just one word: „Hunger!“

The Giant Wraith hungers for life – and it grabs it. The adventurers have to use their full bag of tricks to overcome the ancient deceased, and still, Tin almost dies. The sheer terror of the thing leaves its mark on the friends.

They need to rest, and when they take up their journey again, they avoid the river and the marshes along its shores. After they leave the woods behind, they find themselves in a dry brushland. There is a discussion as to wether to visit the village or to circumvent it, and finally, they decide to sneak by.

But only a short distance from the village it dawns on them, that they have no clue as to where to look for the ancient fortress they seek. They have no knowledge of this valley – and it is a vast valley – and no hint. It could literally be everywhere around them.

So, Asvald turns Svala into a crow, and she flies off to spy on the villagers. What she learns is, that these people live in peace, and though they seem to serve the dragon they call ‚The Mistress‘, they do not live in fear. It gets even stranger, when a blue wyrmling comes looking for the alderman, and Svala overhears their talk. There seem to be more dragons in the valley – and especially wyrmlings. And they lack knowledge from outside the village, as the swamps down south blocked off any boats.

As Svala returns, they decide to pay a visit to these strange people. They already have spotted the large herds of horses on the eastern side of the river, and now they meet one of the herders. He welcomes them, and leads them over the wooden bridge into the village proper.

It seems, like the people have struck a bargain with the Black One. They provide food (namely horses) for the dragon, and she protects them from the dangers from in and outside the valley. And there are a few – a camp of hyaenamen that run a mine to the west, the former lord of the valley turned vampire to the northeast, among other things.

The adventurers rise a small commotion, as they enter the village and are led to the alderman, Demetrius. He immediatly despatches someone to inform the Black One of the strangers. In the meantime, he offers them his hospitality.

When Xiamarut finally lands, the adventurers are in awe. She is the largest dragon they have ever seen, and her presence alone sends shivers down their spines. But she seems to be more curious than evil, against all lore. Their news, that the swamp is in recline, and the river is open once more, makes her almost happy.

And then, an old aquaintance makes his appearance – Arsenius, or rather, Thall. Together with the black dragon, he explains, that this valley is a recluse for dragons that resist the plans of the Conclave. Those that do not want to give up their offspring to be made into humanoid dragons. And those that do not want the Conclave to rule over humankind.

Once members of the Conclave, both Xiamarut and Thall have fallen out of grace. Here, they try to establish a restistance. Together with some other dragons, like ‚Auntie Firebolt‘ and „the lazy blue one‘, they try to gather others to thei cause.

They do not know anything about the fortress of the Giants, but Thall points them northward, where the smaller stream springs from the mountains. There are caves up there, that could well be entrances to the legendary mountain fortress.

As the Black One takes Thall’s word for granted, she offers the adventurers safe passage through her lands, and departs. The group earns supplies by entertaining the villagers – Svala with her music, and Vitentius with his trick shots. After a good night’s sleep, they turn northwards, over the brushland.


After resupplying, the party marches off to the north. Following the river, they wander through the brushlands, were herds of horses graze – food for the dragons. In the night, Hjørdis sees a strange mist waving in on the camp, against the wind. The alarmed friends find nothing out of the ordinary, though.

Later in the night, Svala is on watch, as a stranger appears from the bushes. His glowing red eyes capture the minstrel’s, and suddenly, she strives to get closer to him. As he touches her with a cold hand, she welcomes it. When his sharp fangs pierce her throat, she finally snaps out of the spell, and screams bloody murder.

She manages to get out of the grip of the vampire, and Vitentius pierces the undead with arrows. But when Asvald threatens the creature with green flame, it becomes mist, and disappears. They speculate, that the vampire in plate armour must be the former lord, the people in Dumobor Village have told them about.

The party is weary. They stay awake until morning, then they march on. At night, they make camp, carefully having two on watch this time. This time, they are visited by another vampire, clad in robes, and he makes Tin get to him. Vitentius almost reacts too late, as the vampire sinks his fangs into the Murong’s throat. But then, the fight is on – though the vampire proves to be a very cunning foe. His gaze mesmerizes everybody, who comes near, and Tin, Hjørdis and Svala stand, charmed, ready to be sucked dry. Asvald sends lances of green flame at him, and finally, he dissolves into mist.

The party breaks camp and crosses the river, as running water cannot be crossed by a vampire. They make camp just beyond the distant shore, and settle in. They need sleep – but it shall not be. A fireball is cast over the river, igniting their tents and burning them. They have to extinguish the flames, pack what is left and seek shelter farther away.

The next day, they find a some huts beneath an old watchtower on the „vampire side“ of the river. Herders have made their home there, and after making sure, the adventurers pose no threat, they invite them to stay in one of the huts for the night. Vampires cannot enter unbidden, and as long as they stay indoors, they are safe.

Vitentius wants to slay the vampires, as he fears having to deal with them below ground, when they find the caverns. With directions from the herders, they march eastwards, where the ruins of the lord’s castle lie.

It takes them some planning and using a spell to locate the daytime hiding place of the two vampires (that seem to be the lord and his magus) under the ruins of the keep. With the help of an Earth Elemental, they open the tomb, and driving wooden stakes through the hearts of the vampires, they end their undead ‚life‘ once and for all.


After searching the ruins, the party marches on towards the north. The mountains get nearer, as they climb up and down the hills. And then, they look upon a strange sight: a standing stone points up from the ground in a depression in the hills, made from a bluish grey stone.

As they investigate it, they find ancient runes carved into the stone, high above their heads. It takes some effort to remove moss and lichen and make them readable again. The text is written in ancient Giant, and Svala and Hjørdis have to work together to decipher it.

It is a marker and memento. It tells about the Fortress Under the Mountain, where brave men and women (primeval Giants, obviously) fought a ‚tide of scales‘. The text says, that the halls are now empty, ’save for those that chose to stay‘. And it warns trespassers to respect the dead…

Above the valley, the party now can make out an enormous cave opening. They make camp, and trudge on in the morning. Still, it takes them more than half a day to reach the cave. Once, it could have been the entrance to underground halls, but time has eroded almost any hint of ancient buildings.

Behind, dripstone has covered all that once may have been built by the Giants. Stalagmites and stalagtites form narrow pillars, and everything is wet. With the light of Hjørdis‘ and Asvalds swords, and Tins magical torch, they enter this long-forgotten realm.

Carefully, they naviagte the dark, and after some time, they find, that they are not alone. Oozes converge on them, hungry for a meal. Their pseudopods not only hurt, they erode metal! The magical bear, that Vitentius conjured from the mysterious bag, is killed by one of the oozes, and after the fight, Asvald has to magically repair the armour of Hjørdis, Svala and Vitentius.

And then, a massive pillar of dripstone blocks their path. Past it, they can see a gigantic door, made of massive stone. But they have to get past the dripstone. Tin conjures an earth elemental to tear down the pillar, and they finally stand before the door, where an ancient inscription in ancient Giant reads: „These are the Halls Under the Mountain, where the blue metal freely flows.“

They had already seen, that the standing stone was riddled with veins of blue metal – a metal that Hjørdis and Svala have heard of in children’s stories: Adamantinium. It is said to be hard as steel, but considerably lighter.

It takes them some time, but then Hjørdis literally stumbles upon the ancient mechanism to open the double gates. Crunching, with the whirring of wheels, the gates slowly open.

They reveal a stairway, with steps almost a yard in height. They begin to climb down, when suddenly mechanical sounds clang through the darkness, and a voice in ancient Giant proclaims: „Security breach! Defensive measures activated!“

Alerted, they send the elemental forward – and the massive creature get blasted by two firebolts from dragon heads on both sides of the stairway. After some searching, they find the floor plate, that activates the trap and jump over it.

They now stand in a gigantic empty hall, and crossing it, they find a wall of cyclopic stones, with two high iron doors, bot rusted through in parts. But they are not without danger – a blade of blue metal almost cuts Tin in half, but the Murong jumps in safety just in time. He next tries to prod the door with his telescopic rod – and the magic rod promptly gets cut in half by the blade. It takes them some time, but they finally manage to deactivate the mechanism. The blade is indeed made from Adamantinium – a fortune fit for a king, made into a deadly trap.

With some muscle work, they bend the rusty parts of the door into an opening, and cautiously move into the halls behind. This hall is held by gigantic pillars formed into giants that hold arches over their heads. A scuffling sound from the dark warns them – and then, a horrible creature walks into the light.

Once, it was a Giant – before it had been flayed. No skin covers its flesh, and a greatclub made from a muscular leg swings in its hands. Without a sound coming from its mouth, it attacks.

The power of the Green burns the undead creature, and peppered with arrows and cut with blades, it goes down. Svala uses her magical flute to bring the spirit of the dead back and answer questions.

He was called Björni in life, but remains cryptic as to other questions. Asked about the location of  Trajan’s hammer, he answers: „In a secure place.“ And as to how to get there: „Through darkness and fire.“

The party is tired, and though the location is not really pleasant, they decide to make camp.


Through Darkness and Fire

After a rest, the party decides to explore the other hall. Jumping over the trap, they make it to the other side of the small hallway. Tin, being the smallest of the group, almost loses some toes, as he barely manages the jump.

The other hall is almost an exact copy of the one they have just left. But instead of a stairway, there is a a kind of throne, made from the blue-veined stone, on which the skeleton of a giant sits, in his hand a halbard. The blueish metal of the blade is almost as long as Tin is tall. On the other side, the soft blinking of gold and silver can be seen in a niche.

As they explore the hall, the skeleton suddenly comes to life, rising from its seat, and brandishing the halberd. From the niche, that is filled with treasure, a dog-like creature emerges, with three heads and three pairs of burning red eyes.

The party tries to draw their foes into the narrow hallway, and maybe into the trap. Tin summons an Earth Elemental with his staff, then turns and runs. Asvald casts lances of green flame at the skeleton, burning it badly with the power of the Green. Hjørdis has to face the three-headed dog-creature, which suddenly exhales a cone of fire, badly burning the fighter, Vitentius and Svala.

As they flee into the hallway, Asvald conjures a wall of fire behind them, but the dog-creature calmly walks through. The Elemental fights the badly burned skeleton, smashing it to pieces.

They are in a panic now, as the creature seems to be immune to fire, their weapons only doing little damage. In this moment, Asvald tries something desperate: he polymorphes the creature into a pig. Now, susceptive to fire, Hjørdis sword biting into it, the creature falls, and slowly begins to tranform back to its original form. Svala plunges her sword into it, finally killing it.

They are reluctant to take anything from the treasure trove, but Asvald finds a giant-sized flask of healing potion – from  which they fill six vials of their own. Then, they make their way down the stairway in the other hall.

Down there, they find ballistae, rigged to shoot intruders. Disabling them is not hard, and they explore, what seems to have been the living quarters. They find another room, with a stairway down, rigged with another two ballistae, as if guarding against intruders from below.

In one of the empty rooms, they find a tome, still intact after all these millennia. It’s the log of the Underhall, and it tells about the attack of the Snakefolk, and how they evacuated it. After some searching, Svala finds mentions of Trajan’s Hammer – but it seems not to be an artefact, but a forge. There seems to be a tunnel, below the sole of the mine, that runs directly to the forge.

They make their way down the stairs, climbing down and down into the darkness, finally reaching the mines. It takes them a long time to explore the empty mines, finding two shafts that lead to deeper levels, probably once filled with elevators.

Tin throws a pebble with Light cast on it down one of the shafts, and it falls a long, long time, finally landing with a splash of water. But then, a low growling comes up, and they decide to leave alone whatever lives down there.

They have to climb down the other shaft, but they won’t have enough rope with them, and no place to secure it. Asvald finally has the idea to polymorph into a Giant Ape, carrying his friends with him down the shaft. After a long climb, the ape lands in water and turns into the sorceror again.

The water slowly flows down towards what seems to be northwest, and they follow the tunnel. After a while, they come to a kind of resting station, and the water flows off into a hole. They take the chance, and make camp.

They trudge on for another four days, through the darkness. And then, they find the tunnel collapsed before them, just a small opening blinking with daylight. Tin summons an Earth Elemental, which opens the blockade, and they emerge into daylight.

Before them, the mountains fall down into flat land, dotted by lakes, big and small, clouds wafting above them. And to the west, following the mountain range, Svala discerns a strange mountain, a flat cone, like a cold vulcano.

They have emerged above the Lakelands, on the other side of the Dragonspine Range. And to the east, far in the distance, where the Inland Sea would lie, smoke rises into the sky…

After taking in the lay of the land, they decide to look for some settlement to replenish their supplies. They are running short of food and other necessities already, and their goal – if it is indeed this old volcano – is still far away.

They march downhill through rough forehills, traversing deep gouges, that run through the light woods like deep scratches. They try to hunt and gather, but Svala manages to bring poisonous mushrooms, and they all get sick. The minstrel therefore leaves this task to Vitentius and Hjordis.

The second night they make camp, they are attacked by Snakefolk. Deadly spells rain down on them, and the constrictors are tough. When their attackers are dealt with, they try to rest, but their foes have learned. They ignite the woods above them, driving the flames downhill – and the party has to make a run for it.

Driven by the flames, they run, stumble and fall downhill, finally leaving the woods and coming into highlands of grass and heather. In the early morning, a dense mist rises from the ground, and within only a short time, vision is limited to only a few feet. They try to use this to shake their pursuers from their trail, and change the direction of their march slightly. It shall prove to be a very bad decision.

Dark shapes appear in the fog before them, steles, ancient and weathered, once covered in runes. Now, only a few words in ancient Giant can be discovered and Tins magical looking glass can only reveal „Oath“, „Stone of Law“ and „Oathbreakers“.

As they cautiously move on, a strange hillock appears, and they soon discover it to be an ancient barrow. It has a kind of stone front, with a stone door – and that is, when the wraiths appear.

There are four of them. Two that may have been humans once, but the other two were clearly Giants when they were still breathing. Incorporeal hands freeze their hearts, and an giant sword manifests itself in the hands of one. Voices, filled with hatred and malice sound in their ears, sending terror into their mind and body alike. Soon, the fight goes sideways, and Asvald makes a decision.

He conjures up a wall of green flames, forming a ring around his companions before the barrow‘ door. He knows, that the „Stone of Law“ over which the wraiths made the oath they obviously broke, has to be down there. And he knows, that this is the thing that binds them to this world.

With his friends behind the wall of green fire, they may have a chance after all. When he shouts his knowledge, Hjordis pushes open the door with all her giantkin strength, and stumbles down the stairs that lie behind. The rest of them follows, as Asvald taunts the wraiths and runs off to give them time. Svala is reluctant to go, but the sorceror commands her to go.

In the barrow, they find a strange sight. Hung on chains of Adamantinium in a kind of broken doorway, hangs a tablet of dark stone, emitting a sickly greenish light. Behind it, a kind of stone sarcophagus looms.

Another giant wraith appears, and Hjordis again feels the icy hand touching her heart, paralysing her with terror. Svala, singing one of her Galdrar, swing her resonant sword, and hits the tablet. In a clash of thunder, the stone explodes, sending shrapnels around. The wraith dissipates, with a silent „Thank you!“

Almost at the same moment, Tin and the others hear a scream from outside. A death scream.

They rush out, but with fog and Asvalds magical way of throwing off followers, it is hard for even Vitentius to follow his tracks. When they find him, he is already gone.

Svala uses her magical flute to conjure his spirit one last time. They ask him his reasons, and he explains, that they would all have died, if he hadn’t done this. At least, that’s what he thought best at the moment. And he relays his wishes as to his funeral.

They build a pyre atop the barrow, and after the fire has burned down, Svala pushes her resonating sword into the ashes, making them fly high, where a gust of wind carries them over the land. She sees a Giant Owl flying off, a strange sight in the afternoon.

They may be sad, but their supplies are getting scarce, and they have to find a settlement. The first village they find is a disappointment. It still has a thorny hedge around for protection, but the houses have all fallen into disrepair. Not a living soul is to be seen around. Greynard, as the village seems to have been called according to a sign, seems to have fallen victim to the Plague. But there is still hope, as to the north, farmland can be seen.

Two days travel through fields of grain and vegetables, bring them to Drogdoran, the only village still occupied in this region. Farmers have told them, that there’s no ruler here – the people rule themselves as a community. But they have also told them, that they have a problem with Hill Giants…


Drogdoran proves to be a surprise for the party. Behind the wooden palisades, there is not just a small struggling village, but a thriving small town. But first, they have to pay the toll at the gate – at least that is, what the townsguard tells them. Not really believing them, Svala haggles and lowers the price.

The town is maybe the first settlement they have found on their travels, where there’s not the bleak sense of just surviving but instead an almost optimistic air. Farmers sell their produce at stalls and the local market, there are workshops and the party gets directions to the local inn – the Dancing Owlbear.

It takes them just an evening to become the talk of the town. Svala entertains the people with songs and stories, bringing them sympathy and fame.

They make the aquaintance of certain people, like the tavern-owner Peadair McEalar and his wife, Mairead. Or the – mostly drunk – Canonicus of the Theurgy Alasdair Gall. And they learn, the the town is governed by two councils, one for the men and one for the women. The hunter and butcher Uilleachan McShitrig heads the men’s council, while the healer Cotriona Blacach leads the women.

But both agree, that the party looks capable of helping the town with a certain problem: hill giants. They demand tribute at every full moon – and with two moons, this comes too often. After a week, when the party is about to leave, they ask them for their help.

The local druidess Stineag Dalais and her apprentice, Nathaniel, object against the plan to just kill the giants. Nature is balance, and the giants may be a nuisance, but do not deserve to die.

Nathaniel explains, that the giants are three brothers, and are really dumb. The eldest brother, Wilbur, has made a sketch in their cave, to remember when to demand tribute. Which leads Vitentius to an idea: What if they just change the sketch, so that they get tribute only when both moons are full? This only occurs about every fifteen years.

Nathaniel agrees to this plan, and offers to lead them to the lair of the hill giants. He changes into a Giant Eagle and scouts the land ahead, while the party marches towards the highlands.

In the night, a massive shape flies over the campsite, swooping down to attack. Hjordis sees the creature and alarms the others. As it flies in, Nathaniel cries „Bearowl!“ and draws a mask from his face, revealing himself in his true form – a Winged. Svala roars her anger, almost frightening the bearowl.

A grizzly bear with gigantic owl wings attacks them, and while arrows fly upwards, Nathaniel engages the creature in the air. A glowing arrow shoots from his bow showering the bearowl with sparks – and Tin casts a firebolt right into it, making it explode in shower of blood and feathers.

As they march on the next morning, Svala interrogates Nathaniel. The Winged disguises himself, because of the superstition humans carry for his people. Some think of them as some kind of demons, others see them as messengers from the One Emperor. Both is not, what the druid wants. He is an exile from his homeland, though he does not want to talk about the cause for his exile.

He summons a spirit of nature in the form of a small owl, he calls Jeshua to scout ahead – and the owl finds the three ginats lying in the shade of an old oak tree. So, they circumvent them, and find their lair.

The cave is dirty, the three heaps of fur and straw full of lice and fleas. The remains of an unlucky human rot in the corner, and the burned carcass of a deer hangs on a spit over the cold fireplace. On the back wall, a crude sketch drawn with coal, is the „calendar“ of the giants.

Standing on Hjordis shoulders, Svala repaints the moons, drawing two full moons instead of one. Both giantkin are targets for hordes of vermin.

The party leaves the cave, almost running into the returning giants, that carry their (probably last) tribute back. Nathaniel hides them within a globe of underbrush, and they can hear them talk – and the giantkin, understanding them, think about releaving them from their existence. They are really dumb!

After they have passed them by, the party marches back to Drogdoran. Nathaniel offers to help them reach Trajan’s Hammer – he calls it an ancient Volcanic Forge, long dormant. The friends discuss the matter among themselves.

The party returns to Drogdoran and settles in the Dancing Owlbear. They tell Cotriona, that the giants should not be a problem from now on, but the healer wants to await the next full moon, which will be in three days. The party agrees and makes themselves comfortable at the inn.

Nathaniel wants to know, what the adventurers want at the dormant volcano, and Svala offers him a quid quo pro – he tells them why he lives in exile, and they tell him about their mission. Reluctantly, the Winged agrees.

It seems, that the now druid once was an officer in the Windwatch, the border guard for the island of Guthland. He had an affair with a woman of another, very important house, and she got pregnant. As this was a terrible loss of face to both houses, the court exiled him. Searching for a way to redeem himself, he accidently found a new way of life: the way of the druid.

Satisfied with this story, Svala tells him about the Obsidian Tablets, the Snakefolk and their mission to destroy the Tablets. Nathaniel studies the tablets with the Spyglass and discovers some sentences, that seem to indicate a different venue. The tablets could also be sigils that keep the Great Serpent dormant – and destroying them could unleash it upon the world.

The party is shocked, but soon devises another plan. Destroying only one of the tablets would make it impossible for the Snakefolk to conclude the ritual, while only weakening the eventual spell, not breaking it. At least, that is what they hope…

With the coming of the full moon of the second moon, the town councils see their plan has worked out just fine, and they bring forth their reward. Knowing, that the coins won’t do them much good, they only take a small amount and ask for future food and lodging in the Owlbear, instead. The owner sccepts, and the next day, the adventurers set out for Trajan’s Hammer.

They reach the highlands, then enter a forbidding dark forest, when a lighting storm strikes. Through the deluge, they dredge on, looking for a place to make camp. Nathaniel warns them, that this wood seems to be a dark place – and soon, they learn why. A malevolent spirit of nature attacks them, a Leshy.

The being looks like a kind of humanoid tree, but wears human skulls as a necklace and the skull of a moose as a headdress. A sapling serves as club and walking stick.

Nathaniel conjures strong vines from the ground that bind it, then flies up to attack from behind. Arrows fly, blades hack, and finally, the Leshy falls, turning into an old treetrunk. As the malevolent spirit is bereft of its body, the storm overhead also disperses.

The next day, they reach a big cleft in the mountainside, where molten rock once flew downward. Farther uphill, they find ancient ruins, and the entrance to some underground tunnel. Nathaniel, having the most comprehensive knowledge about such things, identifies the amlost circular tunnel as a lavatube.

They follow it deeper and depper into the mountain, and meet a Draugr, but this time, it is an undead giant – a real one. It is Tin that fells it with green fire.

Finally, they reach an enormous cave, mostly filled with lava. The heat is almost unbearable, but there is a kind of gigantic anvil, and a mechanical hammer, that rests upon it. This has to be the place!

Alas, they are not alone. A hulking figure turns towards them, another undead giant, swinging a ball on a chain, that erupts in green flames, as it swings it. The fight is brutal, Svala is hit by the ball and wounded, while Hjordis has to struggle against being thrown into the lava. Vitentius magical arrows finally make the creature stumble and fall.

While Tin provides healing, they look for a way to use the mechanical hammer. Svala figures out, how to manipulate the levers, and Nathaniel flies up, and together with Tin’s Mage Hand, he operates the machine. Driven by lava, the hammer rises – and crashes down on the quickly placed tablet. It crushes it, sparks fly, and the mechine gets stuck.

They decide to throw another tablet into the lava – and then things go haywire. Where the tablet splashes into the molten rock, a fountain of it sprouts upward, reaching the ceiling and sprinkling death like water. They have to make a run for it, while the volcano behind them rumbles. Persued by a cloud of ash and heat, they run through the lavatube, barely making it out.

But there is no time to rest. The mountainside shakes, and a deep rumble comes from the volcano – and smoke rises above them. Using an air elemental, Tin takes Svala and Hjordis with him, while Nathaniel changes into a Giant Eagle, carrying Vitentius on his back. They fly, literally…


With the exploding vulcano at their backs, the party literally flies into the approaching night. Most of the outbreak seems to flow westward, though, and the wind from the east drives smoke and ash away from the Lakelands.

They land and make camp in the highlands. Nathaniel looks outward towards the approaching darkness of night and discovers a large mass of campfires far in the east, along the northern shore of Gorm Domhainn, the big lake east of Drogdoran. It looks to be a small army, or maybe the vanguard of a much bigger force.

The party decides to return to Drogdoran, even if the want to get back to Castel Confinia, the place they have come to call ‚home‘. But the poeple of Drogdoran may need their help, or at least a warning.

Marching through the farmlands, they meet farmers that are obviously fleeing. An army of monsters is reported to be headed towards Drogdoran, and those smart enough are taking what they can and flee towards the highlands. The townspeople are stubborn and want to defend their town.

When they reach the palisades, the gates are closed, but they are welcomed as valuable assets for the defence of the small town. The militia and every able-bodied man and woman is assembled before the Dancing Owlbear. where Conn, the captain of the militia, tries to organise his troops as best he can.

They also get to meet Stineag, the teacher of Nathaniel, and local druidess. She is a hard woman, but not unkind. But she is very determined to defend the small town and its inhabitants.

The party soon decides, that if the people are to survive this, they will need any help they can get. While Nathaniel uses his expertise as an officer in the Windwatch to organize a chain of command, Hjordis advises the townspeople of the use of armour and weapons. Vitentius schools them in archery and Svala and Tin construct fire bombs to throw them on the army. Tin summons an earth elemental and lets it dig out a ditch around the town, connecting it to the river, therefore creating a moat.

This night, Nathaniel assumes the shape of a Giant Owl, and with Tin on his back, they fly out over the camp to the north of Drogdoran. The army has split up to round Loch Innian, and there are two groups now.

Flying soundlessly over the camp, they drop massive bombs, that immediatly set large patches on fire. A  sleeping hill giant bursts into flames, taking a dive into the Loch, while smal explosions rock the camp, as Wyvernblooded and their fire bombs catch fire. Within the hour, the camp is razed, the army routed and scattered.

But there is still the larger army to the south – and they attack with first light. All around the palisades, the militia fights against Dragonbreeds, Wyvernbloods, human mercenaries and even more monstrous foes.

The parties section of the wall is attacked by Dragonbreeds and a hill giant. The fight is bloody, the giant sweeps Hjordis and Svala from the palisade, while the Dragonbreeds almost kill Tin. Nathaniel matches them in the air, using his magical bow and druidic magic. Svala hurts them all with a strange howling song, and finally, Hjordis drives her sword into the skull of the giant.

But as the giant falls, another danger approaches. Gliding along the palisade is a monstrous creature, the body of a lion with the heads of a dragon and a goat, flying on leathery wings. Militia jumps from the walls in fear, but Hjordis stands firm. Fiery breath singes her, razorlike claws rake her, but the giantkin holds fast.

The Dragonbreeds fall, one by one. Nathaniel blinds one of the heads with a strike of his double-spear, than Svala shoots arrows into both wings of the chimera. In its death throes, the monster flies out, over the palisade, and crashes beyond the moat, dead.

The attackers have had enough. Seeing first the giant and then the chimera fall, they turn tail and flee. They did not look fresh to begin with, so they might already have been on the loosing side in a batte, and this was too much. Under the loud shouts of victory from the walls, they scatter into the west and south.

The aftermath finds all of Drogdoran at the Dancing Owlbear again to celebrate. The party is declared the ‚Heroes of Drogdoran‘, and beer and ale flow freely until the early morning. The last man standing is Canonicus Alistair, who had been magically sobered by Stineag to be useful in the battle. Drunk but happy, the Theurge holds on to the bar, as Svala turns in in the morning.


After spending another week in Drogdoran, the party finally decides on their way. They want to travel eastward, towards the Inland Sea, where they want to sink another one of the tablets. And maybe they can get some information as to where that army came from.

Their first obstacle are the marshes. Marching through the marshlands between the lakes takes considerable time, and there are no boats that could be transported to the Gorm Domhainn, the great lake to the east. Svala finally decides, that they could build a craft made from reeds to cross the lake – propelled by a water elemental, this might get them across in no time.

So, they take their leave from the people of Drogdoran, and march off into the marshes. Two days later, they find themselves at the shoreline of a vast lake, its dark waters rolling against the marshy shore. They camp for the night, then get to work in the morning, cutting reeds, binding them into bundles, and strapping thouse bundles together into the shape of a boat.

When they finally take to sea, Nathaniel jumps into the water, taking the shape of a reef shark, pulling the boat along while Tin and Hjordis row. After noon, when the druid is exhausted, Tin summons a water elemental, and they make it across the lake by nightfall.

Marching along the northern shore of another great lake, they turn northeast, climbing the foothills of the mountains. It is here, that they get attacked by Dragonbreeds. By now, they are almost used to dealing with the flying attackers. Hjordis pulls one from the air by sheer force, while Nathaniel paralyzes another, sending it crashing to the ground. Vitentius pumps arrows in another one, and Svala takes the head off the last foe. Tin almost got killed in the fight – and looking at the injuries they sustained, the frail healer is very important for the party.

Finally, they reach the coast of the Inland Sea, and the old North Road, where merchant caravans travel to and from Olbomenus. They quickly gather news – and hear astonishing tales. Tales of an army of monsters, and two dragons fighting and scattering it. And then, a fight between the bronze dragon leading the army and a great golden and a brass dragon, that killed it somewhere farther down south. It seems, the Conclave has met its first direct resistance, and their strategy has been thwarted.

The Dragonbreeds and other monsters that attacked Drogdoran obviously were part of that army, scattered survivors of the dragon’s attack. They may try to regroup, but that will take a leader – and their dragon is dead.

A few days later – and almost at the end of the supplies – they reach Olbomenus. The city at the mouth of the river Menus is surrounded by high walls, and has a bustling harbour, where ships with white sails come and go.

The first impression of the city is, that it’s clean. A lot cleaner than Tarratoria. And it is thriving. Where Tarratoria is like a husk, Olbomenus is bustling with life. There are farmlands around the city, markets where produce can be bought, craftsmen and merchants.

And then, looking for directions, Vitentius spots a familiar face: Cornelius, the head of the Explorer’s Guild of Tarratoria. After friendly hugs, Cornelius invites them into a nearby tavern to talk. It seems, Tarratoria also got attacked by a Dragon army, and here, a black dragon intervened. During the siege, the Proconsul got the High Theurge apprehended, and broke his power – for the moment, at least. The warrant on their heads has been lifted, it seems. Cornelius is here for a meeting of all the guildmasters, only mentioning very interesting findings.

Cornelius takes them to the guildhall, where Caristania is very pleased to see them. And at last, they can sink into the hot waters of a bath…


The Deep

Four days of rest are a welcome change to the life of an adventurer. But Olbomenus is a bustling city, maybe the only one on the continent, and holds many interesting things. For the first time in a long while, the friends are able to actually sell some things they found along their way.

Svala makes a name for herself in the local taverns, especially those in the District of Fine Arts by performing songs old an new. Hjordis reminds her of a jewelled lute they found, and the minstrel tries to sell it – but the price is too high for the local craftsman. At least, he can tell her, that it must have belonged to some of the famous performers in the Empire, those that really rocked their audience. The minstrel decides to use it for her next performance.

The guildhouse is becoming crowded, as guildmasters from across the Former Empire arrive for the meeting Cornelius told them about. At last, Hypolitta of Windemere arrives, the scholar that has discovered some disturbing things in some of the texts, the adventurers uncovered in Nodran’s tomb. She is a Theurge, from the Naxeian temple, and one of the few experts on Old Imperial.

While Svala walks off to play, the rest of the group joins the Explorer’s at Hypolittas lecture. It is a rather scholarly thing, and Nathaniel and Vitentius succumb to sleep. But then, after three hours of linguistics, scripture and archeology, Hypolitta reveals what she has found: the reason, the First Emperor was ejected from Guthland.

It seems, he had gotten into a kind of secret library, where he found texts, that were not meant for his eyes. It seems, there are still Runemasters alive – or at least lying in a death-like slumber. It was this secret, that got him thrown out by the Creastos. And there are fragments of texts that speak about „when black stone ignites the fiery mountain“, the dreamer may awake.

Nathaniel looks very pale and worried at these findings, and the friends decide, that they want to talk in private with the Winged.

Meanwhile, Svala has found the new lute to be an exceptional instrument – but a very demanding one. It didn’t let her stop playing until her hoars throat could form no notes anymore, and left her exhausted and with bleeding fingers. And then, as she made her way to the guildhouse, a voice started whispering in her head, promising her a great future, as a team with the lute…

It is this distraction that almost costs her life. Suddenly, fishfolk appear from out of the nightly mist, and attack the Giantkin. She escapes, and her long strides take her away from the pursuers, although with some wounds, and visibly shaken.

Nathaniel tells his friends, that there is indeed a forbidden archive at the Academy, and the story of the human mage that got in, is told as a warning. The possibility of Runemasters lying in a death-like slumber was also discussed, but as he was not the best student, his knowledge is rather limited. It seems, that some of the Runemasters, that also created the monsters, may have found a way to cheat Death. They are dead, but they dream, and someday, they may arise. And that would probably mean the end of the world as they know it.

Svala returns, overflown with blood, and is brought to the surgeon. As he is not really a healer, and obviously drunk, the minstrel knocks him out and Tin heals her wounds. She tells them about the fishfolk and the lute. Again, Tin can help her with the cursed instrument, seperating her from it. Then, they tell her about the dark things they heard this evening.

It is the middle of the night, when a scream wakes them from a short sleep. Sounds of a fight come from below, and then a window breaks. The groups quickly dresses, then rushes down to the ground floor. Guards are already at a door, pounding on it and calling for „Episcopos Hypolitta“ to open up – but without an answer.

As the door proves to be very sturdy, Tin shrinks it down, and Hjordis places it to the side, so they can enter the room. The signs of a struggle are everywhere, and the broken window speaks for itself. Beyond the window lies the garden, which ends directly at the river Menus. Wet footprint lead directly to the water.

The friends suppose, the abductors will try to take the scholar to the small island across the river, where the poor fishermen live. So, they hasten towards the wooden bridge that takes them to Bridgetown, the island where the rich dwell, and then over a smaller bridge to Fishtown. As they cross this bridge, they hear sounds from below, as something bis is swimming through the river. It sounds, as if they swim towards the Inland Sea.

Nathaniel had told them, that he saw Fishfolk in the night, and followed them down into the sea as a shark. There seems to be a settlement there, as folklore has it.

They decide to follow the Fishfolk into the sea. Nathaniel casts Waterbreathing on them, then changes into a shark and they plunge into the dark waters. A short way out into the sea, the bottom drops into inky blackness.

They sink for some time, and as they finally touch the bottom, Tin lets his staff lighten up. They see sunken ruins, rocks and the entrance to a cave – and Fishfolk. The fight is short, but bloody, and one of the Fishfolk escapes into the cave. So, they follow…

Inside the cave, a squadron of fishfolk awaits the party, but is quickly despatched. The cave leads into a ruined tunnel, that runs for miles along the sea bottom – perhaps it once was a tunnel dug through a hill or even a mountain.

As there is no ceiling protecting them, a gigantic fish deems them prey, wounding Vitentius. It finally is put down, but the party is getting tired. Swimming is not as easy as walking, especially in armour. And there are unknown dangers down here.

The tunnel finally ends above a hollow, and within it, there lies a city like none has seen before. Built on cyclopic foundations, there are houses built from coral and stone, and slender towers that look like spiraling snail shells. In the streets between the buildings, fishfolk swims – and they can make out someone clad in just a nightgown, being carried by two fishfolk. This has to be Hypolitta.

In a city full of enemies, chances of rescue are alim, but with the help of Nathaniels magic, they manage to sneak their way through the shadows of the buildings. They see Hypolitta being carried into a bigger tower, through a guarded entrance.

While Vitentius wants to storm the tower, the others are more cautious. They look for a back entrance, and this one is only guarded by one fishfolk.

Nathaniel uses his mask to give himself the appearance of one of them, and confuses the guard, then paralyses it. The fishfolk is bound and gagged, and deposited in a shady corner.

The inside of the tower is formed by a circular tunnel spiraling up and down. They swim upwards, and come to an opening leading into a small chamber. There, Hypolitta is questioned by a fishfolk, that obviously tries very hard to speak Imperial. It always asks about a tomb, where the „Great Eel“ is held, or something like that. But the Theurge cannot answer the questions.

Interestingly, the fishfolk seems to know a lot about things going on in the Explorer’s Guild, and gives away, that they are working for someone.

The party has heard enough, and opens combat. Arrows dart through the water, Hjordis glowing sword slices, and the Adamantinium blades of Nathaniels double-spear pierce the silver scales. Within moments, the chamber falls deathly silent.

They untie Hypolitta, take the golden ornaments off the fishfolk,  then make their way down again. Using druidical magic, they again make their way slowly out of the city. They decide not to retrace their steps, but to take a direct course towards Olbomenus.

As they swim towards the chore, they see movement down below them at the bottom. Sand and silt slides off a gigantic back, thorny fins snapping up, than a creature breaks free from the ground – a sea dragon!

While Vitentius wants to fight it, the rest of the party is not so inclined. They hang on to Nathaniel in shark-form, while Tin summons a water elemental to propel them all on. Still, the dragon closes in, and the elemental carries them upward, breaking the surface and lifting them up, so Nathaniel changes into a Giant Eagle and carries them safely to shore. Behind them, the sea dragon jumps into the air like a whale, crashing down into the water again and diving to its lair.

They are all soaking wet, cold, and in the early morning air, shivering. Vitentius and Svala build a camp, while Nathaniel forages, bringing them mushrooms, berries and some late quail eggs. With the help of one of the last spells he has energy for, they dry their wet clothes a bit.

In the evening, they start their walk to the city, marching through the night. Early in the morning, they reach the Northern Gates, where they are greeted by the guards – and Hypolitta is recognized as the „honourable Episkopos“…


When they arrive at the guildhall, they are welcomed by Cornelius, and the guildmaster of Olbomenus, Decius Buronicus. Both thank them warmly for the rescue of Hypolitta. But for now, the party just wants a hot bath, some mulled wine and a bed.

After their rest, late in the afternoon, they have supper, Vintentius still contemplating to hunt the sea dragon, when a courier appears. The young boy is a runner for the Master Theurge Sophanis II – and brings them a formal invitiation to an audience. Knowing, that this is not just a friendly request but an order, they get off to change their attire. Master Decius, having overheard the invitation, provides them with more suitable clothes than the rags they arrived in.

So, the friends follow the runner boy through the city, dressed in fine clothing in Imperial style, but without their armour, as wearing armour is prohibited by law within the city-walls. They also carry only one weapon at their side.

They are led into the High Temple of the One, and as they have been to the temple of Tarratoria, they see the differences. While still being an impressive building, the High Temple lacks the snobbish attire of its southern counterpart. It has a refined elegance to it, but without all the gold.

They are brought to the Master Theurges office, where they make the aquaintance of a friendly man, looking much older than his bearings would have one believe. He emits strength, standing straight like a steel-rod, and power. But he greets them warmly, wihtout all the protocol someone of his station would normally follow.

As it seems, Sophanis II is well informed when it comes to their adventures. He seems to have dealings with Arsenius, the mysterious scholar who is a Golden Dragon in disguise. And he stys in contact with Valeria, who he calls his ‚daughter‘, though the friends don’t want to inquire about their relationship.

But the Master Theurge also has a request. Olbomenus has banned Poppy Paste, a drug that relieves stress but can be very addictive – but there are smugglers. That alone would not be enough to worry about, but the smugglers are members of a cult. Sophanis II doesn’t know their true name, but as they carry a lot of snake-symbols, he calls them the Cult of the Snake. He also knows about a house in Fishtown, where the cult meets, and bids the party investigate. Knowing better than to refuse someone of his power, they accept and leave.

On their way home, they run into an ambush. Hooded figures attack them, and two of them seem to be not human. They spit poison into the eyes, blinding Hjordis for a moment. With spells and blades, they fall on the unarmored adventurers, but in the end, they lie dead in the street. While most of the attackers were humans, two look more like humanoid snakes. The friends decide to carry them to the guildhall for further investigation.

The doctor dissects one of them, and finds two hearts, and clues that seem to prove that these are indeed ‚humanoid‘ snakes. It seems, these creatures are artificially created, some work of mutating magic.

Nathan wakes Hypolitta, suddenly worried if she is still safe. The scholar is very interested in the creatures herself. As the druid is concerned about her safety, he keeps watch at her door – in the form of a dire wolf.

The World Below

The next morning, the party discusses how to go about this „Cult of the Snake“ and the ambush. Svala wants to investigate the place in bright daylight, but as she gathers her things, she discovers something horrible: the Obsidian Tablets are gone!

Someone must have stolen them during the commotion when Hypolitta was abducted, or shortly after, when they were deep under the waters of the Inland Sea, without their packs. The party is on the verge of panic, as they still are not sure about the powers of the tablets.

So, they decide to tell Decius, Cornelius and Hypolitta about them – and how they made a volcano erupt. Nathaniel arranges a meeting at lunch, so Svala and Tin can go investigate the place of ambush. They find neither bodies nor blood, everything seems to have just vanished. People living there remember the noise during the night, but nothing more.

They take lunch together with the headmasters of Olbomenus and Tarratoria, and the scholar from Naxeia, letting Svala tell the story of the tablets, how they came by them and what has commenced until now. Hypolitta at once draws the connection to the prophecy, and all three are very disturbed. They are even more so, when they hear that the tablets have been stolen – from within their own guildhall!

Decius promises to conduct investigations within the guildhall, but he has only little hope. The meeting of so many members from around the Former Empire has led to many new faces within the staff. Literally anyone could have slipped in and stolen the tablets.

Menawhile, the party has only the lead to the house in Fishtown and the quest for the Master Theurge. So, Nathaniel turns into a sparrow, flying off to spy on the house until the rest of the party arrives on foot.

Crossing the bridge into Bridgetown and then onto the island of Fishtown, the friends slowly follow the druid. When they arrive, the sparrow tells them, that some people have been entering a small wooden hovel, but nobody went back out – the hovel must be full of people by now. Leaving descetion behind, they knock on the door, but no answer comes from within. Svala clearly hears the sound of moving fabric, though.

Hjordis knocks only once – with her booted foot. The door flies inward, and they swarm inside a single-room house. Two robed figures await them, one paralysing Hjordis with a spell. But they are outnumberd and outmatched, and the fight is short.

The inside of the hovel is rather strange, as one would not expect so many bookcases in a hut in Fishtown. Looking for magic, Nathaniel finds something behind one of those bookcases. It takes a while of searching, but finally the latch is found, and the case swings outward, revealing a shaft down into the earth. And a metal ladder.

Vitentius leads they way down the ladder, which seems to reach down to the very center of the world. The climb drags on, and his boot slips from a wet step, and he has to use the magic of his bow to safely fly down the narrow shaft. For Hjordis, the shaft is almost too narrov, the broad shoulders of the fighter scratching on the stones. Nathaniel simply turns into a pine marten, deftly jumping down the ladder into the darkness. Svala and Tin make it down without problems.

They find themselves in a strange location. There seems to be only one cliff-wall behind them, where the ladder came down, but nothing can be seen before them. The ceiling of the cave is high above them, and the ground is covered in glittering black sand and gravel.

Tin’s light-spell illuminates a gigantic cave with lumious mushrooms growing here and there. Tracks of boots lead away into the darkness before them, and they follow.

It takes some time, but finally Nathaniel knows where they are. It is a place of legend, the World Below. It is said, that there are caverns deep below the surface, where unknown creatures live without light, and the Snakefolk are said to have hidden away.

They cross a stream with white fish in it, when they hear a barking coming nearer. It is a big dog, wearing a kind of armour, made from bronze, and carrying a buckler, a quiver of arrows and a sword. Nathaniel talks to the hound, using his Druidic. The hound’s name is Ruffio, and he is a war-hound His master has been hurt and he desperately begs for help.

So, they cautiously follow the dog, and soon they find him lying beside the figure of a man, clad in bronze armour, with a helmet of leather and bronze and a hauberk of fine iron rings, over a blue gambeson. White horsehair adornes the helmet – and entrails falling to his knees leave no doubt as to the cause of his demise.

Tin and Svala come to the conclusion, that the wound has been dealt some hours ago, maybe as long as a day, but has succumbed to it only about two hours earlier. Ruffio mourns his fallen master, but agrees to come with them. Nathan makes mushrooms grow over the body, so it can be returned to the circle of life.

They trudge on through the darkness. And then, they hear faint voices from before them. Sneaking towards them, they see the flickering light of a campfire, and five figures sitting there. One more is standing watch. A small distance away from the fire, a small tent has been erected.

They are all clad like the dead master of Ruffio, and the hound indicates, that these are the murderers of his master. The voice of a man singing bawdy soldier-songs carries over to them, and some muttered conversation.

The party decides to eavesdrop on the soldiers for a while. They soon find out, that this troops awaits the return of two others, their commander and someone they call a ‚warlock‘. In the tent behind them, a woman resides, and they call her a ‚witch‘. It stands to reason, that she is a magic-user of some kind, hence her separation from the ordinary soldiers.

It seems, the Camadians have business down here – with ‚monsters‘ as it seems. A big pile of casks has been erected besides the camp, and they are eagerly awaiting the return of their commander, so they can finally move on. The men are not feeling well here.

The party finally decides to attack them. Nathaniel opens the attack with a Lightning Bolt, then a hail of arrows rains down on the surprised soldiers. Ruffio storms in, rushing one of the soldiers. The ‚witch‘ tries to cast a spell, but Tin counters it. And he bathes the area in Faerie Fire, illuminating it in ghostly green light. The fight only lasts a few moments, then the soldiers lie dead on the ground. One of them manages to flee into the darkness, though.

The adventurers take only a short time to rummage through the belongings, before trying to set up an ambush for the commander and the ‚warlock‘. It does not work, though.

A fiery explosion rocks the camp, then a warrior appears right besides Vitentius, slashing at him with a two-handed blade. But the nose of Ruffio and Vitentius sight at least make out the wizard, and Nathaniel sends up grappling vines from the ground under his feet. The soldier that made his escape returns, shooting arrows from his Kythian horsebow.

When the fight is over, only the wizard has fled into the darkness.

Now, they have time to loot the bodies. In the tent of the ‚witch‘, Svala finds a strange bag, that seems to shrink things placed inside. There is a whole roe deer inside, perfectly preserved, and a sack of potatoes. The boots of the commander are magical, explaining his sudden appearance. All the soldiers carry iron Spatha, and Kythian horsebows – those alone are worth a fortune.

And then, they investigate the casks – and make a grisly discovery. They are filled with salted meat, but not pork or beef. It is human flesh!

A ledger seems to indicate that the Camadians feed their soldiers on humans. At least, there are rows of numbers labeled ‚Meat‘, and seemingly bought from someone, maybe the ‚monsters‘ the soldiers were talking about. One of the soldiers carries a strip of human meat in his satchel.

As the remains are professionally butchered, there has to be something like a slaughterhouse somewhere. Ruffio tells Nathaniel, that there is indeed such a facility, and he can lead them there.

But first the party needs a rest. They track back their route and use the stream to cover their tracks. Finding a niche besides the stream, they set up camp.

Now, they have time to examine the things, Ruffio is carrying. The wooden buckler is just that, an old, worn shield. But the quiver is magical. It grows magical arrows from yew wood. And it is attuned to the hound.

The Spatha strapped to the other side is even stranger. It seems to be sentient, and clearly rejects Vitentius. But it seems to like Svala. Its name is Echo, and it seems to be a rather musical blade. But Ruffio tells Nathaniel, that his master just called the sword „The Bitch“. It seems to have a rather unique personality.


After their rest, they follow Ruffio through the darkness of the Underland. They soon find, that their are multiple dangers here.

At first, they encounter strange mushrooms, and Nathaniel identifies them as Zombie Mushrooms. It seems, their spores can kill by suffocation and raise the body as a zombie. While Vitentius wants a piece to experiment on, Nathaniel sends a Fire Hawk through the cloud of spores to annihilate them.

A while later, Ruffio warns them of ‚the bridge‘. The hound cannot explain better, but it seems, this place messes with the mind of humans. A bottomless crevasse spans before them, and over it arches a narrow brodge made from obsidian, polished to a mirror-like sheen. As they near it, first Vitentius and then Svala are gripped by a feeling of deep sadness, hopelessness and a drive to jump into the crevasse. Tin uses a powerful Dispel to supress the magic of the bridge long enough for them to cross.

Still, the bridge is narrow and slippery like black ice. Tin, Vitentius and Svala almost don’t make it across, and it takes the wings of Nathaniel to get them to safety. Whoever built this bridge was a very nasty bastard.

There are also living dangers here, as they are soon to find out. Suddenly, the ground beneath their feet grumbles, and a landshark attacks them. Svala gets a taste of its enormous jaws, but lands a hit with Echo, that drives a deep wound into the armoured carapace. At last, the beast is killed, but they now know, that this land is very dangerous.

They make camp, after hours and hours tramping through the dark. Besides low tunnels, the terrain is not really difficult to navigate, but the darkness numbs the mind.

Refreshed, they set out for the last leg of their journey. Ruffio tells them, that they get close, and they move on cautiously. Before them lies a flat stretch without any rock pillars supporting the ceiling high above them. There are campfires here, lighting an army-camp of Camadians. And an almost crumbled pyramid.

Before the pyramid, albinotic reptilian creatures (Ruffio calls them ’stinkers‘) drive human slaves from and to pits. Whips crack, and the cries of tortured people are reflected from the cavern walls. Those pits are covered in metallic cages, so the slaves cannot get out.

The party discusses their possibilities. There is a full company of Camadian soldiers encamped here, way to many to simply attack them. And then there are the ’stinkers‘ – and maybe Snakefolk. Svala bids Nathaniel call his familiar, the fey-owl Ieshua.

The fey-owl appears, and the druid tells it to fly around and above the place to get more information. The plateau abruptly falls down into an abyss, and there, on the sheer cliff-walls, are mines, where the human slaves toil. They have driven tunnels into the cliff, and mine ore, which is then transported to forges along the cliffside, where the metal is smelted – and Nathaniel recognizes the metal: it is Adamantinium!

At this point, he has to confide in his friends a secret of his race. The Creastos have kept the secret of working Adamantinium, but only in his clan, the Ophanim. They do not forge much, and only as projects of science.

It seems, the Snakefolk know at least how to smelt the metal, but maybe not how to work it. The druid remembers some passages from the Obsidian Tablets dealing with the ‚deepsea metal‘ – and Adamantinium is of a deep-blue colour when smelted.

The friends form plans, and cancel them, and then, they decide, that Tin will cast a spell to give them the appearance of Camadians, while Nathaniel sets the supply tents on fire. With the help of an Air Elemental, the fire should create enough chaos for them to slip by and into the pyramid.

All works well, until a patrol of ’stinkers‘ halts them. Tin uses a spell to make them march away – but in so doing has to let the disguise fall. In the surrounding chaos, they hope nobody saw their disguise, as Tin casts it anew, and make a run for it.

Right before the pyramid, a harsh voice stops them. Camadians form up behind them – and from the dark entrance to the pyramid, an ophidian form slithers forth…

They have only two possible ways out – either trying to fly  (which could prove difficult, as only Nathaniel and Vitentius have that ability) or they can try their luck forcing their way into the pyramid. At least, that is if they do not want to fight the whole camp.

Nathaniel measures the odds with his cool logic, and within seconds, they decide to force their way into the pyramid. The Winged crashes into the Snakefolk at the entrance, creating the opening for the others. Tin counters the spells from the wizard, as Vitentius kills off the Snakefolk with a barrage of arrows, while making a run for the entrance.

The two Giantkin are engaged by the albinotic reptiles – Troglodytes – and Svala gets bitten. The poisoned fangs transfer a kind of disease, the same stench, that makes them so hard to bear. They make a run for the pyramid, with Svala the last of them. She gets hit by javelins, and then Nathaniel makes her pull the lever beside the entrance – and a stone door falls down.

They are inside the pyramid, save for the moment, and take a look around. Shelves line the walls of a narrow room, filled with tablets of various stones, and inscribed in different languages. There are some written in Ophidian, while others are Old Imperial, Giant and Runic. There are even some in Creasto, the tongue of the Winged.  Among them, Svala finds the five Obsidian Tablets that were stolen from them. And there is another door made of stone.

Using her Gnawing Key, Svala opens the lock, and they find themselves in a kind of temple, with an altar, on which stands a copper basin filled with blood. Bodies in varying stages of decay lie beside it. Two chests stand at one wall, and Nathaniel can confirm, that they are magically protected. But he also can dispel is.

Within, they find unrefined Adamantinium, which would be worth more than a kingdom, but cannot be refined and so is virtually worthless. The sacks of gemstones is definitely not, though. And there is a pair of magical gloves.

It takes some investigating, but they find scratches on the floor beside the altar, and then a locking mechanism. Hjordis pushes the altar aside, and they look upon stairs leading down into the darkness below the pyramid. At the end of the stairs, a tunnel is carved into the living rock.

They soon find out, that this tunnel is rigged with traps. Two they can avoid, thanks to Ruffio. The dog is trained in this kind of work. But then, Vitentius takes a step to many, and the whole floor dips forward, creating a slide.

And so their march becomes a slide, going faster and faster, until an opening can be seen – behind a curtain of water. The tunnel opens right behind a waterfall, that rushes down from unknown heights. Vitentius breaks through the water, falling into the darkness below and using the magical flight confered from his bow to ease into the water at the bottom.

Behind him, Tin casts a Featherfall spell, gliding down, and then Nathaniel spreads his wings, carrying Ruffio in his arms. Hjordis crashes down, but Tin casts another Featherfall, and does the same for Svala. They all swim to shore, where Nathaniel and Ruffio await them.

They make camp to dry their gear and get some rest. And then, a ball of fire explodes within their midst, and venomous fumes engulf them. Snakefolk attack, but the three warriors and the mage are quickly despatched. It tells them, that they are not out of danger, though.

The sorceror has carried a scroll, a magical piece of parchment, that seems to show a map of the surroundings – with a glowing dot in the middle. It is a Scroll of Mapping – and it will let them find a way through this maze of caverns.

It takes three camps, until they find themselves in familiar terrain again. And then, they come upon the shaft they entered this realm from – and the ladder is gone. Molten metal is all that remains.

With the help of an Air Elemental, they make it up high enough to reach the rest of the ladder, and then they climb. It is a long climb, but they finally make it to the small hovel, where they began their journey into the Underland. Searching the shelves, they find some spell scrolls, and then they return to the guildhall.

They were missed, but they return with a lot of information – and a lot of tablets that wait to be translated…

The party stays for a week in Olbomenus and with the guild, resting, training and translating the texts they have gathered at the strange pyramid in the Underland. The texts reveal shocking new insights.

It seems, the Obsidian Tablets hold the ritual to freeing the Great Snake, but are also the anchors of the spell. Destroying them will break the spell – and wake the guardian, a Runemaster that was called She Who Rules Nightmares. It seems, she is bound to the spell, maybe keeping the Great Snake in its slumber.

Destroying the tablets is no longer an option, but so is dropping them in the deepest oceans, since they know that the Snakefolk and the Fishfolk are allies. The situation is more than complicated. As one text tells of a mysterious tomb on Hrathfeld, Vitentius is excited to mount an expedition to the island, that is mostly known as the Island of Monsters.

The involvement of Camadia is another mystery that needs solving. Maybe it is the best to attack the town while it is still possible. But that would mean raising an army…

Decius invites them of a formal reception in their honour. It turns out to be a ceremony – they are officially announced Members of the Guild. The party afterwards is rather wild, with Vitentius passing out drunk, and Nathaniel and Svala lying him naked besides a goat in the stables as a practical joke.

At the moment, returning to Castel Confinia – the place feeling most like ‚home‘ to them – looks like the best move. As the journey will take maybe more than a month, they may have time to contemplate on the best course of action.

Nathaniel proposes a faster way of travelling, but keeps vague about it. He only tells his friends that he has to leave for a day.

The others decide to do some shopping and selling of stuff. Olbomenus may not be the centre of trade it once was, but it still has many craftsmen and shops. They buy supplies, sell loot – and at least Vitentius spies people shadowing him. The Cult of the Snake has not been stamped out, and the Camadians may also have a very strong interest in them. Or any other faction they have made an enemy of in the last months…

The Winged returns in the evening and tells them, that he has secured a faster way of travel, and they will have to be at the Southern Gate come the next morning. As Cornelius is also journeying back to Tarratoria, they join his caravan through the city.

Past the gate, they say their farewells, and move off the road to a wooded hill. And there, Nathaniel finally tells them about their way of journeying: he has found Giant Eagles to carry them on their backs. It seems, he has called in a favour for an ‚old friend‘, as he calls it.

So, they mount the noble animals, and are carried aloft. It takes the eagles three days to reach Confinia – and they touch down in front of the gare.

Besides the ruffle their way of arrival creates, they are warmly greeted by Valeria and Trojan – and Rübli. Things have been running well here, the village is constantly growing, attracting people from all around. Valeria has been busy building the library in the tower – and Tin has another two spellbooks for the collection. And some ancient tablets.

In the cellar of the quarters, a thermal bath was built, and all the walls have been fully repaired. Svala pays a visit to the saurids, and introduces them to Ruffio. A sip of the green water makes the hound talkative.

Tin and Nathaniel take to building a terraced orchard, their powers making it possible for saplings to grow before the winter comes. As they have aquired quite some wealth, the party can take to enlargen the ancient fortress and the village below. They even begin the recruiting of a garrison.

With winter looming on the horizon, they think about holing in for the cold season. They have no way of knowing how the weather this far south will be, but being used to ice and snow, they keep to their old ways.

The Portal in the Desert

With winter approaching, the party begins the work on Castel Confinia. There are walls to be raised, recruitment for a garrison has to be done – and a lot of logistics have to be organised. Even with the help of magic and elementals, there is a lot to be done before the winter storms set in.

One day, a delegation of peasants appears in the castel, with wagons full of food. They are form Vulceni, having resettled the village the adventurers have cleared of Void cultists, and now offer their tithe, as they recognize the ‚lords and ladies of Confinia‘ as their masters. The adventurers have a discussion as how to deal with this – they did never expect to be actual rulers over anything. But Valeria makes it quite clear, that these people need order as much as they need shelter and food. And with their deeds, the friends have established exactly that: order. At least in the vicinity of the castel.

A stranger has come with the peasants, a Murong named Sái Hải Bằng. The old man claims to be a cook looking for employment. Tin is euphorious to get some food from his homeland, but the peasants warn the others: this food is hot, really hot!

Sái gets to work at once, providing them with tea, and then with exotic food. Yes, it is hot, but also very, very tasty.

Finally, the winter storms rush down from the north, putting white caps on the mountain peaks that slowly grow larger. Where the Desert of Khûm borders on the hills east of Confinia, sandstorms rage, where the cold air from the north clashes with the hot winds of the desert. The long evenings give lots of room for contemplation, crafting, song and story.

It is on one such evening that Nathaniel proclaims a daring plan. The druid has been having a lot of conversations with Rüblie lately, and during one of these talks, he came up with an idea to get rid of the damned Obsidian Tablets. If they cannot be destroyed and cannot be kept safe on this world, why not bring them from this world?

His friends look at him like a madman. How could this be even possible? Now, they know that there are Portals into the Void, they have closed one themselves. If the remaining tablets are thrown into the Void, they are not destroyed but still out of reach for the Snakefolk.

But where could such a Portal be found? This is where Rübli comes in. The Genuus locii doesn’t like the idea at all, but tells them of the location of such a Voidportal – in the desert, about six leagues from the castel. There are the ruins of a small town, where wizards conducted experiments during the time of the Empire. It was razed during the Fall, blown away by the winds of Magick that were unleashed that day, but the portal still stands. Its seal seems to be intact, so no entities can pass through from the Void, but it is possible that something from this side could be thrown in.

The plan is desperate, but as there are no real alternatives at hand (besides going to Hrathfeld), they decide to give it at least a try. Rübli is very concerned, but provides them all with Amulets of the Green, which should protect them against the mutating powers of the desert.

With the coming of spring, they pack their things and head out through the hills and into the desert. It is a bleak place, rocky and even in spring the sun beats down upon them relentlessly. They reach a kind of oasis, where a deep well provides some moisture to a few plants around it. Nathaniel purifies the water, to make it safe to drink, as the mutational energies could also be in the water.

The next day, they come upon a strange effect of the desert. Their vision seems to be erratical. And also the magical map of Vitentius seems to be effected by the strange powers. Landmarks appear in different places and seem to switch positions when not looking at them. As Nathaniel takes to the air, he finds that there seems to exist a kind of layer of air, that distorts vision. Above it, he can see their course quite clearly. So, the Winged leads them from above, gliding over the desert.

Three days from Confinia, the party stumbles upon the ruins of a village. There are only a few walls still standing, with the wind piping through empty windows. From above, some small hills have the strange appearance of a dragon lying there in the sand. Vitentius cannot hold in his curiosity, and begins to dig.

He comes upon the skeleton of a dragon, still covered in parts with decomposing flesh – and as he touches it, it begins to move. The undead form of what was once a Golden Dragon emerges from the sand and rubble, and attacks.

Vitentius is hit by a spit of molten gold, and then a sheet of flame engulfs all of them but Tin, who has gone into hiding behind a wall. Vitentius and Svala fall to the ground, flames dancing over their clothes. Ruffio flees behind a ruin, and Nathaniel takes to the air, summoning a thundercloud and sending down a bolt of lightning. It brings him to the attention of the dragon, and with a snap of its mighty jaws, it crushes the Winged and slams him down to the earth, unconcious.

Hjordis is wielding her Sunblade, the sword emitting a blade of pure light. It slashes through undead flesh and bone, as she desperately fights the creature. It is only her and Tin now, and the small healer has nothing to resist the undead dragon. As the dragon snaps down at her, she finally cleaves through its neck, ending its undead life.

Now, Tin sets to work. It takes almost all of his power to get his friends back from the brink of death. They all need a rest now, hoping that there are no other dangers buried in the sands around them.

Vitentius, still curious, uncovers a bed of coins beneath the dragons hiding place. But what good are coins here?

The next day sees them marching farther into the desert. Their amulets seem to protect them at least from mutation, but this place is dangerous in every way. This day, they neither find a well, nor shelter for the night. They have to camp in the open, warily keeping watch.

Around noon on the fifth day, they come upon another deep well. As they draw water, a creature emerges from the ground. It is a mutated Leshy, a fey creature and protector of the wilds. But this creature has been mutated into a horrible caricature of what was once an aggressive, but protective warden.

Luckily, the party can make quick work of it, but Nathaniel laments the death of such a creature. Still, they trudge on, pausing during the hottest hours of the day and marching long into the evening.


As the party marches on, they see stormclouds gathering to the east. The clouds rapidly form up into low hanging cells, and Nathaniel recognizes that as tornados. As they look on, the first hose forms and reaches for the parched ground. And it travels towards them!

Quickly, they try to find some kind of shelter, but here, in the midst of the desert, there is no cave, not even a hole in the ground. All they can do, is gather behind a large boulder and tie themselves to it with a rope. As the tornado passes them in only a few yards distance, they are thankful for the rope that holds them to the ground.

Finally, when the storm has passed by, they untie themselves, dusting off the sand and small pebbles from their bodies, and gather up their gear. The desert is every yot as bad, as the tales would have it – and worse.

In the night, right before dawn, Tin is suddenly attacked by a giant snake. Its venomous fang miss the healer just by an inch, but then the sinewy body wraps around him. Ruffios bark and Hjordis calls wake the rest of the party, and together, they kill the creature – but Svala gets bitten, and the venom burns through her veins. They again need Tins healing talents.

Robbed of their sleep, they travel on. Weariness and fatigue slowly creep into their bones, as they wander the desolate landscape. And then, the land around them seems to change. Where there was only rocks and sand, there are now green fields. A road stretches toward the east, and in the distance, the outlines of a town can be seen.

The only one, who doesn’t see all this, is Ruffio. Maybe the mind of the hound is not capable of seeing this, of maybe he is too stubborn. He tells Nathaniel, that they are still walking through a desert, and that there are only ruins of a town up ahead.

As they reach the road, a chariot, pulled by a saurid, almost overruns them, the driver shouting a warning. So, he obviously can see them! Is this really an illusion? Or are they in a different time?

They go to the town, where peasants greet them, and they can hear hawkers praise their wares. Vitentius enters a small potter’s shop and buys a mug, just to see if it works. It does, though there is a moment, where he sees the ruins of the shop he is standing in.

As they need directions, Svala asks a passer-by for the way to the scholars. Though the man speaks in Old Imperial, it is enough. The scholars are in the towers, of which there are a few in the town. And there is a particularly large one right up ahead.

They stroll towards the tower, when Hjordis hears a low cackle, and though she sees none, Ruffio tells them that there was a ‚blue ape‘ in an alleyway. The Giantkin thinks of the Ice Devils they encountered in Jalepios – near a Voidportal.

And then, there is an explosion if colours in the east, a wave of energy engulfing the town around them, shattering the buildings and washing over it. And before their very eyes, the town crumbles into ruins – and they find themselves within a ghost town. Only the thickest walls still stand, most of the town has been rendered into sand over the millenia.

High above them, Vitentius and Nathaniel see a flying creature, circling far over head. And Nathaniel, whose sharp eyes make out more details, turns white as snow. Stuttering, he tells them that this looks like a figure out of a fairy tale – one of the creepy kind. This four-winged creature looks like a Protocraestos, the first experiment of the Runemasters, to create the Winged. But this experiment didn’t go too well, as it was abortet, and every Protocraestos killed. Or so the stories tell.

They enter a kind of market hall, as two bronze statues of lions suddenly spring to life. With red glowing eyes they attack. As Hjordis plunges her blade into the neck of the first one, cogs, springs and wheels shower the ground. These are constructs, some kind of guardians. The second one also falls to the blade of the fightress.

As the dust settles, a strange creature descends from the sky. Larger then a Giantkin, clad in adamantinium armour and propelled by four feathered wings, the Protocraestos hovers above them. His voice is soft, as it rings in their minds, adressing them as ‚children‘. He asks them, what they seek, but at the same time accuses them of having come to close the portal. They deny it, telling him – or it – of the tablets they want to get rid of. It seems, the creature hopes that some day, the Runemaster bound to the tablets will rise again – and so it cannot have the tablets thrown into the Void.

With a kind of reluctance, it declares that the party will have to die…