Drashlan

Transfer

Legion of the Jade Lynx received an order to intercept a large Vanasi force moving towards the south east border of the country. They have 3 days to little over 100 miles through gentle hills and sparse forests. Once near the border town of Khers they are to engage the enemy outnumbering them at least two to one. For the 800 Jade Lynx troops that’s not even worth breaking a sweat.

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Ambush

The ambush on the Vanasi force went flawlessly, although they did put up a good fight. As sun began to set above the battlefield, a dozen Jade Lynxes lie dead, and over 400 Vanasi soldiers will not be returning home. But after three day march the remaining Vanasi managed to retreat to lick their wounds.

The order was passed to get ready and move back to Khers, where they would set up a defensive line. A small unit was dispatched to Khers to make preparations for Legion’s arrival in the morning.

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Massacre

After their ambush on the Vanasi, nine junior officers of the Jade Lynx were sent back to Khers to prepare for the arrival of the rest of the Company. Partway to Khers, a dark and ominous cloud began to form over the area where the Company now traveled.

Entry by Kan’na I’ra

Feawin convinced the rest of the nine to go back and check on the company. We all had a bad feeling about what that cloud might mean. Caldren did not need to be convinced, and he galloped after her without much thought for his own safety. The only one of us that was actually opposed to going back was “Lazarus”, who only went because everyone else was going.

What we saw when arrived nearer to the black cloud was both tragic and horrifying. A group of Drakkath Praetorian Guard, clad in their glistening black armor, had already slaughtered much of the Company. The last few fought hard, but all fell, the wounded dying at by point of spear and sword of the Empress’s Dragon-born guards and Kobold minions. Even as Major Nok’toroh lay dying, he found the strength to give “Lazarus” a bundle, wrapped in rags. He told us that we must take it, and give it to Pelaios in Aascheral. Then, he fought to his last breath against the remaining Praetorians to cover our escape.

As we rode, there was a party of Kobolds followed us for a time, but stopped and turned back, for unknown reasons. The black cloud vanished, and with them the rest of the Kobolds and Praetorian Guard. When we were able to stop and rest, we took a look at the contents of the bundle. Inside was a cylinder, 12 inches long and three thick, made of a brass-like metal, and inscribed over with runes that none of us had ever seen before.

Now we head toward the capitol, to resupply on the way to Aascheral. Our path has taken us deeper into the country, following a small river, and we rest in a small hamlet.

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Negotiations?
Negotiations

Entry by Kan’na I’ra

We had decided to stop in a small village, to rest the horses and catch our breath. However, as the nine of us prepared to leave, we heard Second Breakfast scream. The poor horse had been speared by a javelin. Feawin sent Arthmael out to see what was going on, and lo and behold, we were surrounded by a rather annoying bunch of Kobolds. They had a couple of Drakes with them, too. The drakes finished off Second Breakfast, Elevensies, and the rest of the horses in short order, with Hawkeye’s pony being the last one to die.

Once we’d dealt with the Kobolds, and Quentin burned the bodies like a good mage, we went on our way once again. It didn’t take long before we got to a river, and we thought it was our good fortune to see a bridge. Things never seem to turn out the way we want them, though, because up pops a dull-witted man and says that we’ve got to pay a toll to cross. Of course…there’s always a toll.

Some of us started to cross when we found out how much the idiot was asking. He wanted 20 gold pieces from each of us! Bullets and arrows were exchanged, mostly on part of Lazarus and a couple of the bridge guards. It was a good thing that Quentin and I came up with a plan. He created a big bag of illusionary gold to give them, and Caldren was very effective in convincing them that we were to be trusted. Things almost went sour, though, because there was an old shaman with the bridge guards that insisted we pay the full 20 a piece, and then I lost my temper when the man told me that they planned to take the toll off of our cold, dead corpses.

Again, thanks to Caldren’s silver tongue, we managed to keep from getting into a second altercation. We put on some speed as soon as possible, because that illusionary gold only lasts an hour…

We can only hope to reach our destination soon.

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Wanted

After dealing with the idiots that tried to extort money out of us at the bridge, we made tracks quickly on our way toward the capitol city once again. There were several bands of Kobolds that seemed to be tracking us throughout the day, and we were attacked by two of them. These Kobolds were herding us, pushing us into the areas that they wanted us. We very nearly were killed once, but eventually dispatched both groups. What bothers me (and hopefully some of the others) is the drake that was flying overhead, and then suddenly disappeared before we reached a small town that was a day south of Okhravad.

When we got to the small town, it was obvious that they were gearing up for the war with the Vanasi. There were no horses to spare, and little in the way of supplies or provisions, so we decided that it would be best just to go to the capitol, instead. That decision was reached after some lively debate, though, because we found a soldier nailing up wanted posters with some very familiar faces on them. There were 13 posters, all told, one for each of us, and then there were four for others that were not in our group.

Since Lazarus and Quentin speak Vanasi, they went out in disguise and got information from the town leadership. Quentin fed them some bogus story about our possible whereabouts, and asked about the reward on our heads. The leaders gave him a letter, so that if we were caught by virtue of the information he gave, then he could collect the reward from any of the Okrad outposts. We left the town in short order, making for Okhravad in all haste.

Disguises were made for everyone (Quentin and I dyed our hair, even) and we entered the city in twos and threes. We met up at the inn that Quentin’s parents own, and most of us went inside. His father got a nasty shock when he finally recognized Quentin, and seemed horrified that his son had come at all. But I’ll say that he’s got great parents, because they gave us a place to sleep, and called Quentin’s friend Fatima. Fatima gave us some news, including more rumors of well-dressed Dragonborn that had been sighted in the city.

The Dragonborn had been seen going into the castle, and soon after, the wanted leaflets were everywhere. Most everyone thinks that this means we’re being framed for something, or that the Drakath really want that cylinder, and are threatening smaller countries to get at it. We bedded down in the common room, and other than a small incident when Ferox had to be called out of the kitchen, the night was uneventful.

In the morning, Fatima returned with a sack of supplies, and news that she had procured a wagon, water, and oxen for us. She was making some pretty sappy eyes at Quentin, and Kiri made fun of him for it (I helped, too). He sulked a little, but I can’t hold that against him. We left under injunctions that we should be careful. Of course we’ll be careful. We always are.

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Overdrawn at the Bramble-Bank
You've used up your bramble budget.

Entry by Kan’na I’ra

After leaving the inn, we had just gotten outside of town when we came to a bridge. There were guards, looking to extract a toll. Since we didn’t have any “normal” money, and since Quentin was asleep in the back of the wagon (and therefore couldn’t make it look different), we gave them the Drakkath gold. Caldren sweet-talked them, but it turned out that it was not necssary. Those guards were just bored. I wanted to leave them a deck of cards or something…

A few hours later, we saw a detachment of Kobolds approaching quickly from behind us, and the decision was made to move a bit faster to set ourselves in a more advantageous position. Into the edge of the forest we went, and not long afterward, the first wave of Kobolds hit. They were not precisely easy pickings, because of the large amount of brambles and shrubbery, but we managed to kill them. The second group, which had peeled off from the first much earlier, arrived soon thereafter. These, we had a bit of trouble with, as we’d all been severely winded from fighting with baddies and bushes.

Traveling further north, we arrived at a large town, where we resupplied as much as we could. There was not much to be had, since the entire country seems to be gearing up for war. Faewin tried asking some general questions around town, to see if they had heard anything about what was going on with the Drakkath incursions, but no one had. We left from there after resting up, and went on to Temiir’s Shield.

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Eight-Legged Freaks

Entry by Kan’na I’ra

Since we’ve been in Temiir’s Shield, the most we could really say about the place is that it’s hot. Dry grass everywhere, with very little to look at…until you start getting attacked by random beasties that seem to populate the area merely to make a nuisance of themselves. For the past two weeks, we’ve been trying to keep to the old trade route that merchants used to take through this area. The Heaven’s Path is hard to see, though, because no one’s used it with any frequency for about four hundred years.

The towers that used to line the road would have been our best bet to keep going in the right direction, but those are mostly just small piles of stone by now. Somehow, we started going in the wrong direction, and ended up within sight of the Thiir’vaas forest. After a while, we got back on track, but then we realized that we were just about out of water. There was a tower that seemed mostly intact, and there were trees around the tower, as well, which was a relief, since that meant the well was probably still down below the tower somewhere.

Before we could get to the water, though, there were a few problems. Actually, there were lots of problems, but they were all sort of the same. Spiderwebs thick as ropes hung everywhere, and even when put to the torch, they only fizzled and shrank. There were swarms of spiders, spiders as big as our wagon, and then there were spiders that looked like not even their mothers could have loved them. Fat spiders oozing globs of pussy goop, a spindly spider that looked more like a mantis, and spiders the size of hunting dogs with armored plates. Needless to say, we had our hands rather full.

But still, no water. We’ve taken a short rest, as I write this. And even now, we can hear more of them. The sounds of stealthy feet made less so by their numbers echo up to where we sit. There is no choice at the moment but to go on. It wouldn’t take much to get back up through the webs that they’ve used to seal the stairs, but going back would be meaningless. We need water, and it’s below, past all of those nasty, crawling spiders.

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Eight-Legged Freaks II

Entry by Kan’na I’ra

After resting and licking our wounds for a few minutes, we continued on, and after a small chamber, we entered a long, narrow hallway. The hall, we believed, went down to the chamber where the well would be.

The room below was full of cobwebs, though there were places to walk between them. On one end was a massive spider, its bulk suspended from the ceiling with yet more cobwebs. Several times, the cobwebs just sort of reached out and grabbed us, sucking our blood and pumping it into the large spider. Smaller spiders were crawling all over the room, including one spitting spider that had escaped the previous room. That spider went to hide behind the large one, using that cover and the regenerative powers of the cobwebs to last even longer than the primary enemy.

It seemed to take hours, but finally, the giant spider was killed. However, her thorax exploded into a roiling mass of smaller spiders that were more annoying than anything else, even if we were about to die before. Once all of that was over, we searched among all of the spiders and webs, only to find the remains of other adventurers that had failed in the task that we had just completed. After we recovered some items from them, we made sure that their remains were disposed of in a respectful way.

On our way once again, we came to a trade settlement, Daseri Outpost. There, we settled into an inn, where Caldren tried to make a bit of money by singing songs. Of course, the orcs in the room couldn’t really appreciate the intricacies of the Eladrin ballad, and he had to play an orc-dirge a few times to shut them up.

No one really believes me, but I saw that stupid green gnome again. I think maybe he’s got something to do with the fact that we’re going to be going in the morning to kill a bunch of cultists. A nomadic chieftain came in and requested that we “take care” of a group of people that had been abducting locals, as well as retrieving a small trunk for him. In return, he says he’ll give us tattoos. The trunk is filled with the inks he uses. I guess we’ll see how things go.

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Cult of Personality

In the morning after we had a good night’s rest in real beds, we went off to fulfill the task that Harr’zun set for us. Just about midday, we caught sight of the ruins where the cultists had taken up residence. Approaching cautiously (with some resistance from Kiri, who just wanted to charge in and start killing things), we found several cultists outside, sunning themselves the way lizards do. None of them paid us any real attention until we were close enough to throw rocks at each other if we wanted to. Then, Caldren and I tried talking to them. It isn’t often that I find attempting negotiation to be wrong. However, it turned out that this time, there was nothing that could have been worse.

None of the languages Caldren used got any reaction from them, not even the batting of an eye. I tried the local language, as well as a couple of others, but when I spoke Infernal, they all looked at me. The cultists howled like wolves and muttered things in Abyssal when they attacked, and for a time, I myself was unconscious.

When I came to, we were starting to whittle away at their numbers, and after a time, we killed them all, including a rather nasty ogre. The cultist’s spokesman indicated that their leader was inside the ruins, beneath the ground, so we proceeded downward, hoping that there were no spiders.

Though we encountered no eight-legged obstacles, there was a large room with a floor that sloped down toward the middle of the room. Chains dangled from the ceiling, and from those chains hung the body of what must be one of the abductees from Daseri Outpost. Having gotten our answer as to what they were doing with the obducted people, we decided to proceed with killing the leader, wherever he might be. The walls were painted over in blood, Abyssal curses slithering over their surface, and on the floor was a riddle in an ancient language.

We took some time to decipher it, and once we had, it read,

Bright day conceals the phantoms of despair

While the setting sun reveals the stars of hope and guidance.

Step by step the future will unfold

Beneath the gaze of the watcher false steps will be punished.

The baleful light protected forever

While celestial orbs happily play

And moon seeks flesh and blood to free itself from the eclipse

And illuminate the path to the gates of eternity.

The path through celestial and earthly seas will lead you true

The heavens and earth will lead you astray.

Your guide will keep the path safe

Until you reach the heavenly and Earthly keys.

Released as one, the keys will open

The path that is and the end that is not.

Into the hallway ahead, we found a flagstone floor, carved with various symbols. We could only assume that they represented the lines of the riddle. While I’m good with translation, I was not of much use in figuring out the riddle’s practical application. The others figured out what sequence to step on the tiles through a combination of trial and error and erratic thinking. There was a statue that shot arcane bolts at anyone that stepped on the wrong square. That hurt some of us. Then some of us got hurt a bit since there was lots of jumping involved, but we finally made it past the tiled area of the hallway. There were two alcoves where we had to use the ‘heavenly and earthly keys’, and then we were able to open a door that led down.

The passage that the door opened into was like a tunnel, and it spiralled downward in a gentle slope. On either side, there were deep pits that were lined with spikes. One at a time, we started going down the tunnel, and before I got to go, a giant ball of stone hurled down the tube, bearing down on those that had already begun to descend. They got out of its path by jumping down into the narrow, tracklike pits, but the pits were lined with tiny, razor-sharp blades that cut Sivan’s hands when Kiri jumped onto him. The rest of us followed the rock, but another one started to chase us. The entire group ran down the hallway as fast as they could, but the ball was closing in. At the very end, there was nowhere to go, and the ball was still gaining speed. We knew we were going to die.

As the ball passed through us (because it was an illusion), most of us passed out from shock. Faewin was the only one that did not lose consciousness, and she proceeded to slap us until we woke up. It took us a few minutes to realize what happened, but then we went through a door we hadn’t seen in our panic, and there was an enormous statue. There was only the lead cultist and one of his cronies left, and they stood nearby the statue.

The fight was longer than it should have been, because there was a massive pool of blood on the floor, and when the cultists stood in it, they healed fully, repairing any damage we had done to them. Once we got them out of the blood, they were much more easily dealt with.

Now back in the Daseri Outpost, we are waiting for Harr’zun to give us our tattoos.

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No Good Dirty Gnome

Entry by Kan’na I’ra

After mopping up the leftovers from the rather nasty cultists, we rested up a bit and then went back to Daseri Outpost. Harr’zun gave us our tattoos, and thanked us again for our services. We went on our way once again.

We had been following the old trade road for about a week and a half when we saw vegetation off in the distance. Since we only had three days worth of water, we decided that his might be our best chance keep from running out. Upon approach, we found a lake (with the ruins of a tower on an island in the middle), surrounded by some marshland, a few trees, and some very formidable-looking bramble vines. Caldren said that it was iron-vine, and that it was not native to this area. In fact, he told us that it wasn’t something you even find on this plane of existence. Iron-vines grow in and around the city of Sigil, on the outer planes.

This made me a little suspicious about whether there might be some kind of portal nearby, and told people to be careful. We started going toward the lake, but then this rather ugly little man wearing a red cap popped up out of the brambles and told us to leave. Caldren asked if we could get some water, and he told us that if we wanted water, we had to pay 200 gold pieces, which we thought was a bit much for water, so he started haggling. That only confused him, and after almost getting down to a reasonable price, he went back up to 200.

After some debate amongst ourselves, we decided just to pay him the 200. He seemed rather scared of what might happen to him if he didn’t get the money, really. Again traveling, we had only been gone the next day when Kiri realized that the water had been poisoned. She felt weak, and dizzy. A search of the area around our wagon found a scrap of green cloth stuck on a slightly protruding nail near one of the wheels.

I didn’t want to say anything, but I did tell people that it might be the Green Gnome. This was a step up in his antagonistic behavior, to be sure. They weren’t sure that it was him, because most of them did not believe he existed. On the other hand, there was still the little man back at the lake, and we decided to turn around and beat him until he told us why the hell he (or whoever else) had poisoned us.

One of the spriggans came out to meet us, though it was impossible to tell if it was the same one. When we asked about if anyone suspicious had come around, he denied it, and tried to make us leave. He was hiding something, clearly. Caldren was fortunate enough to confuse him into saying something about a Green Gnome decidedly not having been there. Kiri was saying that she was going to kill him and drain his blood for her water-tankard, and of course, the little guy wasn’t really all that happed about it. Caldren translated what he was saying, and when I heard the part about the Green Gnome, I sort of threatened the little guy, and the fight started.

There were a few more of the ugly little men there, as well as some uncooperative foliage, and after dealing with those for a while, and killing a good few of the spriggans, we were less than overjoyed to meet their master. A massive purple Fomorian came out of nowhere, and we were obliged to kill him, too. We let one of the spriggan go, primarily because he was the last one alive, and he willingly told us about the Green Gnome, and how he actually had been there. After that, we were able to refill our water barrels and be on our way…once we had relieved the place of any more useful items.

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