Blackmire Marches

Graveyard

Viaja sits down on her bed, blank paper in hand and sets the ink on the corner of the bed, wedging it between the bed and wall to keep it from tipping.  Pen in hand she looks at the paper then chuckles to herself, gets back up and grabs a book to place under the paper and returns to the bed.  She begins writing
 
“To learn from our journey, we must find time to be introspective and consider our experiences.”
 
She raises the pen and looks with head crooked to the side at the paper.  Minutes pass and she sighs impatiently.  “Clearly this isn’t working,” she thinks to herself.  Grabbing her supplies she heads to the common room, sits at a quiet table and tries again, but not a mark makes it to the paper before she decides this isn’t working either.  She rises again and heads to one of the bridges heading out of Blackmire.  Sitting with her feet dangling into empty space, she leans over the book that she brought, paper on top and begins writing again.
 
“The graveyard was full of undead as expected.  What wasn’t expected was just how useful that little sling that I picked up would be.  Many skeletons fell because of the bullets flung from it, some with only one hit!  I wonder how much more damage I could do with a bow (clearly not to skeletons but in general).  This is something that I need to look into.”
 
Viaja spends a few minutes looking out over the water of the river, then stands up, crosses to the other side of the bridge and lays down on her stomach, using the planks of the bridge she continues writing.
 
“The adventurers here are impressive.  Bronson and Ba’zou and Isidren, they all did a tremendous job combatting the undead.  I’m not sure how many skeletons we killed but there was even a large bugbear skeleton that we destroyed!  And there were zombies and ghouls too.  The ghouls turned out to be the worst.  I think that we were all paralyzed at one point except for Bronson and he took such vicious hits that he was unconcious and near death when I was able to move again.  Only Isidren’s unknown talent for binding wounds saved his life until I could heal him.”
 
Viaja stands again, looks around, and picks a tree and climbs it before continuing to write while sitting on a branch.
 
“The adventurers here spend too much time in town and too little time on the road for my liking.  I’m not good at being still.  But I hear that this is the place to experience the ultimate form of travel, using the obelisks.  I will find a way to be still at least until I get an opportunity to have that experience.”
 
With that she decides she’s written enough and returns to her room to put away the paper and writing supplies.

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Of Revenge and Remorse

Isidren bar Turion
Personal Log : Blackmire Year 1st, Month 2nd, Week 1st
Location: Bandit Hideout/Abbandoned Fort, Cradle Woods
Party Members: Isidren, Melody, Khaidu, Ba’zou ,Nera

‘And for my pride did he die…’

These would have been the words on Panzer’s epitaph had I his remains to bury. But alas all I have left of him are the memories of our short time together and of how I have squandered his unwavering loyalty.

I had planned a raid on the recently established orcish encampment within the Cradle Woods and called on other adventurers to join me. It was to be both an expedition to gather information as well as an effort to drive the orcs out and perhaps gain some coin. But what most of my party members didn’t know was that it was equally about revenge. Revenge for my injured pride from having to flee the orcs before. Revenge for being dragged unconscious by savage dogs. It was for information and fortune true, but it was also for revenge. And now how bittersweet it is that I have all three.

Our group was strong and was well prepared for a hard fight. We knew from our last encounter that the orcs had substantial numbers and were not to be trifled with. We were, however confident. We had stout warriors in both Ba’zou and Khaidu and were not lacking in the healing and arcane arts between me, Melody and Nera. And so on the appointed day, we ventured boldly from Blackmire, reached the outskirts of the orcish camp and was immediately aware of their activity. The orcs were all very busy cutting down trees, trimming logs and reinforcing their makeshift fort that they did not notice us immediately despite my abysmal failure at stealth. When they finally spotted us, the orcish response was swift. Immediately warriors dropped their woodcutting axes and took up either their falchions or bows and started to converge on our position. The orcish dog handlers were also quick to command their animals to engage us. It was I who killed the first orc. The uncouth savage was making his way towards us among the trees about a hundred feet from our position when I saw him. I immediately blasted him with my potent arcane missiles which weaved between the foliage towards their mark. His death, however, did not deter his comrades. By this point Khaidu and Ba’zou were both in the frontlines receiving and dodging arrow fire from the orcs on the battlements. Nera, the druid, moved towards the northeast to support Ba’zou and confront the attack dogs while Melody moved to support Khaidu, singing a song of valour and victory. I lingered behind for a few moments, trying to command Panzer to defend me, but my guard dog was not on his brightest that day. I eventually moved forward to try and support the rest of my party. The fight was going well for us. We scored some quick kills and I incapacitated approaching enemies by the tactical use of my spells. Our luck, however, was not to hold for long. One of the orcs scored a devastating hit on Melody with his bow and the bard immediately fell to the ground. We were all worried about her that almost as one, we all positioned to defend her prone form. This however opened our flanks to our attackers. Slowly, our warriors were being whittled down by cuts and blows from the orcs and their dogs while some of our quarry were successfully resisting my spells. In the midst of all this chaos, Nera was able to stabilize Melody’s condition and the bard was soon up and fighting once again. By this time the orcs have formed a formidable battle line in front of us and were threatening to flank or move past our fighters. I commanded Panzer to attack the orc nearest us to reinforce our lines. It was a big mistake. Immediately, my guard dog was surrounded and cut down. In rage, I disregarded my careful spending of my spells and blasted one of the orcs in front of me but it was too late. I could not get to Panzer in time to try and heal him. From then on I had to force myself to focus on the fight. Melody was doing an excellent job of keeping Khaidu alive as he duelled with the orc captain and his minion. Likewise, Nera continued to heal Ba’zou as the warrior fended of our orcish attackers. We continued to reduce their numbers as I rooted the orc captain on the spot, dazed and unmoving. Eventually, we were able to capture the orc captain by knocking him out without killing him. The remaining orcs, seeing the death of their comrades and the capture of their leader, fled to the woods in haste.

After the battle, we rummaged through our fallen enemy’s equipment and bound the orc captain. We then went inside the fort to investigate the area, dragging the bound orc with us. There we found a large stash of the same strangely minted silver coins we found before and other sundry items that held no value neither in coin nor information. Finally we started interrogating the captured orc. Melody, assisted by Khaidu and Ba’zou, attempted to intimidate the stubborn creature but failed to elicit any meaningful response. We finally decided that the best approach was to hypnotize the savage.

All in all the information we got from the orc leader is both intriguing and disturbing. We found that some “big and hairy” humans from the south have given the orc tribal leaders the silver to persuade the orcs to move to near Blackmire and “cause trouble”. Who these southern humans are, I have yet to discern, but I will most definitely investigate their identities and motives.

Alas, the taste of success is dampened by my loss. Despite our short time together, I have found Panzer’s presence as reassuring and somewhat reminiscent of what few fond memories of home I have. Once again, Blackmire has reminded me of the price of folly and arrogance in this frontier, and this time it was Panzer who paid for my mine.

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Laughter and Shadows

From the Memoirs of Amras Sáralondë

I began my next adventure in blackmire working under the Wizard Bernardo again, with the fleet Khaidu, Isidren, who had recently acquired a warhound, and a new face, a warrior known as Ba’zou, who was quite handy with a shield, though only on the defense as I do not recall him landing a blow.

We were returning to the Coppice lakes, in search of an old Verundian outpost. I am not entirely sure what the Verundian were, maybe I will find out in the weeks to come if Bernardo hires to assist again.

The journey to the lakes was mostly quiet, we encountered a black bear, which Khaidu struck down after a fierce group effort of missed crossbow bolts and other such tomfoolery.

Upon arriving in the area in which the outpost of rumored to be, we were quickly able to pinpoint its location, though it seemed it was currently inhabited and not as forsaken as we were led to believe.

I personally volunteered to scout the building, noting that the rest of the party where less then ideal for such a task, and in my scouting I happened upon a gnoll, snoozing underneath an overturned wagon. Removing that problem quietly, I returned to the group to relay my findings, unfortunately not finding a proper entrance that wasn’t boarded up. Isidren has his raven scout the rest of the perimeter of the building and found a smaller boarded up entrance.

Coming to the decision that this is where we would penetrate the building, Khaidu, with the rest of us covering, carved out enough wood in two mighty blows for a singler person to move through the gap unhindered. He was immediately set upon by some kind of wild dog, not sure what kind, doesn’t really matter. The beast managed to push Khaidu to the ground, though Khaidu promptly responded by cleaving the animals legs from its body, even as he laid on the ground. (Note to Self: Don’t attack Khaidu without some fodder if I’m ever forced to take him down.)

The party entered the building, a gnoll having ducked out of sight after his pet dog was slain, alot of good that did it, as Khaidu chased him down and decapitated the creature. We moved past the entrance hall into the building proper, and and things started to go down hill from here.

Khaidu was holding off a flood of Gnolls from entering through another room when I decided to move into a vulnerable position to distract a gnoll whom Ba’zou was having difficult landing a solid hit on, though in doing so the beast landed a solid blow on me. Unfortunately not my best decision, but you know what they say about hindsight.

Another pair of gnolls erupted from the shadows of a hallway and struck at me and Ba’zou as Isidren ordered his warhound to assault the same Gnoll me and Ba’zou were fighting. One of the new gnolls gave me a rather nasty wound, and I was forced to retreat, and the amount of gnolls that started showing up after I withdrew from the combat also forced a full retreat from the rest of the group.

Khaidu and me where the only ones to take any wounds on this venture, I shall endeavor in the future to come out of these scrapes as bloodless as possible, though I suppose I’ll have to work with the others on such alien things as tactics.

The Paper is torn here, as though hastily ripped from a book.

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Orcs and coins or Dogs and more dogs

Melody makes the following points known around Blackmire:

- There are still far too many wild, hungry dogs in the Craddle Wood

- Orcs are fortifying and expanding the old Bandit Hideout in hex 76.25 and probably need dealt with, especially so close to Blackmire. Be aware that there are pit traps around the perimeter of the fort. She personally informs Bronson repeatedly of the traps in case he ever heads there ;-).

- Attempts to diplomatically get information about the Helvetii coins from the orcs, especially those in hex 76.25, will likely not work now that she’s already tried and failed.

Feeling more introspective, Melody forgoes any type of poetry or song and merely records the following for herself:

There’s one question that continues to perplex me, what is it about adventuring that brings people to risk their life time after time. Sure the reason is different for each person, but in each case I’m always curious. And here I am, doing it each time myself. Death has been too close too often, yet I keep stepping outside of Blackmire as if I think myself invincible. And why do I do it? Sure you can write better stories if you’re there yourself, but you live longer if you collect them from the adventurers as they return to the Winning Wager. So while I tell myself it’s for the stories, perhaps it’s not that at all.

One thing that I am certain of is that I have a growing hatred (more like fear, but we’ll mask it as hatred) of dogs. That’s twice now that wild dogs could have easily caused my death.

Conversing with the orcs was fascinating. And perhaps there’s something from that encounter that reveals what it is about adventuring that keeps drawing me back out of the safety of Blackmire’s gates. Negotiations fell appart and the orc lieutenant shouted to the other orcs, “Kill them all. Except for her, she goes under the knife to see what she knows.” Instead of being afraid, I was excited by the thrill of it all. Of course it helped that I had that invisibility potion ready and knew my chances of making it out of there were good. Perhaps there is something to living the adventures that can’t be duplicated in words. I want to experience it, not just to record it, but to live it.

Of course, to keep living through these experiences, I do need to continue to develop a more healthy degree of caution. The Blackmire graveyard is full enough as it is, and I must always remember that. There’s little that you can experience once you’re in the gut of a wild dog…

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Ancient Structure Investigations and other sundry musings on proper summoning magics...

Journal Entry, Octo Octobris…

The group that I hired on spec to investigate the sunken Hellic ruins in the region of Blackmire called Coppice Lakes was a motley crew at best. A barbaric warrior of some ability name Khaidu, a rather good shot with a crossbow named Amras and a Sorceror (I will withold my opinions here of such as that…) with a Raven familiar. Dupin took an immediate dislike to all of them as is his wont. I on the other hand decided to joyfully participate in the company that I am forced to keep to search out my fortune and glory.

We made good time initially, leaving the civilized lands around the city. Upon entering the thickest woods of the day, we stumbled upon a group of hooligans. We attacked them under the pretense of keeping the woods safe although more than a few of us had shrinking change purses as our true motives. Never-the-less, we prevailed and did make out with enough gold to effect the purchase of a cart and a rowboat, which would be needed to fully investigate the sunken ruins.

Upon arriving at said ruins, the lake waters around them were humming with a large water elemental. My studies of the outer planes assured me that we were no match for such a creature. Especially unprepared and in such a tiny boat. We abandoned the search of the ruins but decided in stead to head to a hedge maze a group of dimwitted Fishermen clued us in on.

Upon arriving at the maze I smelled the tell-tale stench of Druidism in the air. The maze was indeed magical in nature and upon entering we found it full of spiders, snakes, bears and wolves. At the center was a strange magical tablet that when moved, disappeared the maze and revealed a cubby with a sack of gold. We took the gold and returned home.

One of my companions dared compare the perfect creatures from the planes that I summon forth to do my bidding to the base animals and vermin that Druids summon. I endeavored to explain to him his stupidity.

On our return trip we were unfortunate enough to run afoul of a pair of wild boars who viciously attacked! As if that wasn’t enough the sounds of combat and smell of blood drew a pair of Dire Weasels as well! It must be mating season in the Cradle Wood…

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How many is more than 4 but not more than 6?

New adventurers in town,
hanging around.
Might as well take them out,
see what they’re about.

Two fighters (hope they’re brave)
they go up front (not so safe).
A bard joined the expedition,
sigh, I hate the competition.
And a sorcerer from afar,
more reliable than Levin by far.

We were more than four but not more than six
as we set forth to get our adventuring fix.
Orcs were heard within the temple
what is heard with ears so nimble?
Voices number more than four but not more than six
we defeat the foe, but not without taking some licks.

Further in Bronson proved his strength
deflecting the snake’s grapple though it had great length.
And I literally let him down
forgetting the trap in the ground.

We returned to Blackmire
all a little wiser.
Anxious to venture forth again
gather more material for my pen.

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Pike Forest Incursion

I love it ffen a plan comes together, ja!

My planning and preparations for the expedition were excrutiating, but ultimately rewarding. I gathered Ebban, Tarmon and Alfonsus along with trusty Hurmore to sail up the Blackmire river to harass the cult of Nerull that has taken root there. Our river trip was uneventful and we landed near a barren hill to get a view of the surrounding area. To our surprise we found a magical fountain there. Tarmon and Alfonsus were unable to determine exactly what it does but I marked it in the map room for further exploration.

While flanking through the forest we had a chance run in with the panther people the crazed logger spoke of. I guess that means he was not so crazy after all. They were wary but ultimately the meeting was bloodless. Alfonsus’ attempts to form an alliance with them were unsuccessful but we did get a relative location of some Nerull buildings nearby.

My newfound wilderness skills led us unerringly to the destination of the first building described by the Panter-man. A guard house cum alchemy factory of some sort. We wasted no time with subtelty and attacked them head on. We made short work of the guards, freed some slaves, including a witch-woman of some sort, and fired the building.

We then moved into the forest to set an ambush for the soldiers that inevitably would come to investigate. Our trap sprung flawlessly and we killed every last one of them, disappearing into the wilderness to return safely to Blackmire.

Although we may not scare the fanatics who must lead this cult, the rank and file must be sleeping a little more poorly after our ghost-like raid. Next time we will have to be more creative in our approach. We also need to find out where the real treasure is hidden. These lowly guards each have 50 or more gold coins so their masters must be very rich indeed.

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Shadow, Castle, Mohrg

Yondalla forgive me, for the first time in my life I gave serious consideration to running away and leaving a friend to die. An impulse made even worse by the fact that the Mohrg would not just have killed Darem but would also have raised him as a zombie. I would never have forgiven myself. Thank goodness I found the courage to stay.

The day started out simple enough. Olaf was having an off day again and we wandered around the Moor for a bit, but eventually found the redoubt. The direwolf we were warned of had not returned and we made quick work of the shadow. I was relieved to know that this particular evil would no longer threaten the living. And we found a chest of platinum coins.

The day was early so we decided to wander around for a while and eventually came across the remnants of what we suspect to have been a Verundian castle built into the wall (OOC: northern portion of hex 73.40, which appears to line up with one of the symbols on the map found of the highlands). The castle had crumbled and collapsed in many places but we eventually found a way in. We were repeatedly assaulted by large groups of zombies as we explored the castle, but Darem and I made quick work of them each time. The most logical guess is that they were at one point Verundian soldiers.

Toward the center of the castle we found a room with a ghost. The ghost was surrounded by bodies in various states of decay and appeared to be guarding some standards and a valuable looking golden eagle. A casting of comprehend languages and we could tell that he was warning us to stay away. Knowing that killing the ghost would be ineffective since he’d just come back a few days later, we decided to skirt the area and perhaps return one day if we found a way to communicate with it (comprehend languages doesn’t let you speak back). I need to see if anybody speaks Verundian (what we guess he would have been speaking)…if I can gather the courage to return to that cursed place.

Most of the rest of the castle was much the same with the zombies. Though one room had a pair of wights resulting in a level drain on Darem. Luckily he was hearty enough to recover, though I am now definitely working toward learning how to do the full restoration should it be needed in the future. We found a trap door in the southwestern corner that lead to a room with a lot of valuable items that we gathered and took.

That just left the room in the northwestern corner. It too contained a ghost. This one sitting and pealing ghostly potatoes. He warned us that we would die if we opened the trap door and went down, but at this point we were too cocky to listen. Darem went first and encountered more zombies. I followed and Darem went to work hacking them up. With only one Turn left for the day I decided to hold it in case there was something worse. There was something worse. Much worse.

The Mohrg came out of a passageway, hit Darem with his tongue, and Darem was paralyzed. A quick reflection on what I knew about the abilities of Mohrgs, and I knew that we were in a lot of trouble. If I were hit with that tongue too, we’d both be dead. I quickly grabbed and drank my potion of invisibility (remind me to thank Alfonsus for saving our lives by having made that…and to order a replacement). It was all that I could do not to panic…I even forgot that I had a scroll of remove paralysis…as the zombies and the Mohrg continued to beat on Darem, I cast Shield Other and then Sanctuary on him to bide my time and figure out what to do, but that clearly wasn’t going to be enough. Still giving some thought to fleeing, I decided instead to take a potion of levitate and levitate Darem back up through the trap door while I carefully climbed the rope. At this point the Mohrg figured it out and lashed his tongue in my direction, only the invisibility and the fact that he didn’t know exactly where I was saved me. Once through the trap door, I closed it and levitated Darem to a height that I could reach him. A heal on Darem but we could see that the rope was pulled taught with something coming up…plus the ghost’s warning that it was going to come after us. I cut the rope and started pulling Darem through the castle. We were not moving fast enough that way though and soon the Mohrg was right on our heals. Thankfully we made it to the room with the ghost guarding the standards. Apparently he had a score to settle with the Mohrg and attacked it. I didn’t wait to see who came out on top, we continued fleeing…all the way back to Blackmire.

Someday I must see to it that the evil of that place is dealt with…someday…

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Vespasian Wall

Melody organized another expedition, this time to an unexplored area called the Clannach Highlands. Tarmon and Levin the Untrustworthy, joined us, and Melody hired Olaf to guide us. I guess Olaf was having a bad day, because we spent the better part of the morning getting lost and turned around. We eventually found our way to the Vespasian wall, and found the remnants of an ancient fort.

Olaf and I noticed the the ground was torn up as if by large creatures, so we entered the fort on alert. As we moved through the entry way, we noticed most of the courtyard was also torn up. Just as we were moving in, I heard some growling coming from the remnants of one of the towers. We turned to investigate, and two Dire Wolves ran out towards us. Levin enlarged me and I drew my great axe. As the first won came into to range, I took a mighty cleave out of its hindquarters, and Tarmon hit it with a few arrows.

Unfortunately for me, they saw me as the greater threat, and both attacked me, knocking me to the ground. I decided to attack from the ground rather than risk getting mauled standing up, and killed the first Dire Wolf. Levin hurled a flask of alchemist fire, and the second wolf went running into the Howling Moor faster than I could overtake it, so we went back into the fort.

I noticed the ground around the other tower hadn’t been torn up by the wolves, so we went into that tower to investigate. The main level was empty, but very cold, so we went down the trapdoor ready for something strange. The basement was empty, until this strange shadow came out of the floor and raked me with it’s claws, and I could feel the strength leaving my body. I was hit a second time before I could take a swipe at it, and my axe went right through it. This was enough for me, and I ran for the ladder.

Levin said he had an idea, and he summoned a dog to fight it. I didn’t see this helping, and Tarmon was attacked too. Melody called the retreat, and up and out of the tower we went. We regrouped in the courtyard, and decided to head back to Blackmire. On the way, Melody and Olaf fell into a Moorland pit, and startled a Dire Weasel. Levin quickly stunned the thing, and we were able to kill it before it came around.

We finished our journey without any further issues. I was quite surprised to see the Levin was actually helpful and stayed with the group the whole way.

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Pike Forest Raid

Dear Mother and Father,

I have spent the last several months pouring over the etchings from the Obelisk, and was real close to figuring it out, but I hit a wall in my research. I tried looking at it from every angle, and just couldn’t find that missing piece. So it was with great enthusiasm that I joined up with Eiger on an expedition to search for some lost magic items. Hopefully the distraction would be good for me.

Eiger enlisted Ebban and Tarman and hired Hurmore and Olaf to round out our force. We took the impressive folding boat and headed up the Blackmire River. The day passed uneventfully, then just before dusk, we saw a wooden watchtower in the distance. We brought the boat in closer, and saw several guards around the tower. As we approached the river bank, the archers fired a couple of ranging shots, so we landed, and after some preparatory spells, we rushed the tower.

It appeared that these people had some slaves with them, and sent one running off to the West. Tarmon summoned a Griffon to stop the messenger, but an enemy Cleric did something to it, and it flew away. As I neared the tower, I sent a Flaming Sphere to distract the Archers, and started shooting Magic Missiles to cut them down. Hurmore and his dogs engaged on guard to the south of the tower, and Eiger and Ebban moved to the north and threw themselves on several guards there.

Tarmon healed me a few times as I drew the attention of the enemy archers, and Hurmore was being forced back. I was able to finish of the archers, and sent a few magical bolts at the guard fighting Hurmore, and he tried to run away, but Tarmon cast a spell and held him in place.

On the other side of the battle, things look touch and go for a moment, then Ebban just laid into the enemy and cut down their Cleric. The remaining guard surrendered, but refused to talk, so we went to talk to the slaves. One of them was a logger from Blackmire, and he told us one of the slaves was sent to the main camp for help, and also alerted another tower to the west of our presence. It was getting darker, so we decided to take out the other tower before reinforcements could arrive.

This battle was over almost as soon as it started. I put one of the archers to sleep and Eiger and Ebban cut down several of the guards, with the rest surrendering. With our prisoners in the hold, to be turned over to the loggers guild, we burned their towers, bridge and piers, and took their boat with us back to Blackmire.

On the way back it hit me! The final piece to the ritual! I know I can use that Obelisk! Now to put together an expedition.

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