Journey to Three Axe Ford

Ozzy can add a similar tale to Memnon and Kathra’s; that of a missing innkeeper’s daughter. A game is definitely afoot!

In the wake of the Emperor’s visit, the Glaantrian Ambassador has a private meeting with Stefan to put her view across. Shortly after the heroes have word from Stefan himself that he is happy for them to act, unofficially, on his behalf.

The Heroes of Dymrak make preparations for departure. Tol pays Ozzy’s acolytes 20gp each for their assistance. Juliette requests a keepsake from Tol so that she can always find him. Tol gives her Konstantin’s Mirror before sharing a farewell romantic meal with her.

Tserdain 3rd Thaumont
A combined party of the Heroes of Dymrak and the Galeb Dhur sets out for Three Axe Ford. The Galeb Dhur know nothing about a Valley of Frost, suggesting that, if it does exist, it is not close to their territory.

The party arrives at Three Axe Pass, finding evidence of deforestation, which is soon revealed to be a result of the building of a new palisade for ‘Eagle’s Gate’, the Black Eagle Barony’s new foothold at the border with Darokin, run by Morgash, Memnon’s Uncle. The heroes spend the night at Highdell, with old ally and Lord of Highdell; Sergei Reynald. Tol presents him with his carved Elven flower as a gift.

When asked about the Vale of Frost, Sergei dismisses it as a fairytale and seems quick to distance himself from the topic. On the subject of Eagle’s Gate, no particular relations have yet been established.

At The Pick and Shovel Inn, the Adventurers hear of how Sergei’s nine year old daughter Karina went missing. Shortly after, a large vein of silver was discovered close by, ensuring Highdell’s prosperity. Sergei’s dismissal of the Vale of Frost becomes more understandable.

In a moment of searing insight (natural 20!) Tol links instances of missing children with the weather becoming colder in recent years. A child has gone missing just after each warm winter…

Moldain 4th Thaumont
The following day the Heroes ride out past Eagle’s Gate (noting that in its early stages of construction it is not yet defensible) and cross over the border from Karameikos into Darokin.

Following a good Dwarven road, the party arrives at Three Axe Ford, finding a settlement of low, black stone buildings, with no defensive wall and a river running through it. A white marble building stands out – a shrine to Moira the Pure, a crusading human cleric and vampire slayer who died defending the village from giants.

Settling in a local tavern, questions about Hargan lead to a meeting with Hargan’s sister and brother in law. The tale is told of Hargan turned up at Three Axe Ford, bedraggled and full of stories of a valley of frost, 70 years ago. Twenty years later, he vanished again. Some of Hargan’s possessions were left behind. A box containing a leather pouch, rolled parchment map (apparently of the Vale of frost itself, not how to find it) and a dagger which looks to be made of ice, were left behind. Ozzy detects that the dagger is magical, possessing several cold related attributes and worth several thousand gold pieces. Switch notes that box is water-damaged. Would this be from Hargan’s journey in the river, or did it contain something that melted..?

Ozzy conducts an object reading on the pouch and tries to gain three images from it.

Firstly he seeks the point where the pouch leaves the river after escaping with the box, but no image appears. Maybe the question was to general, or perhaps this never happened!
Then he tries for the first time the pouch sees three axe ford after coming out of the river (this will give us the direction that Hagan came in from). This produces better results, and Ozzie glimpses an unfamiliar view of Three Axe. Asking around later will suggest that Hagen came from the east. Finally he looks for tThe view just before Hagan throws himself into the river (we might see pursuing monsters, a waterfall, or [perhaps just snow!!) He sees what appears to be a snow storm. He can just make out a humanoid figure within it, indeed seeming to be the heart of the storm, but can make out no detail. Then everything goes dark (wet).

Frosty Woman, Crazy Dwarf, Concerned Citizen

Nytdain 25th Vatermont (…continued)

Memnon calms his companions’ nerves, assuring them that a Vampire needs to have killed its victim in order to turn them. This man should be okay after some rest, as the Vampire has only fed from him. The man is accompanied to a local Threshold church, where he can recover and will be watched until morning. Memnon asks both the Church and the duelist to confirm his health (and lack of pointy teeth) come morning.

The Heroes share a hot drink and discuss how to go about finding Isha. Kathra recollects a tale from Three Axe Ford; the story of ‘Crazy’ Hargan Stonefist. This bedraggled Dwarf prospector stumbled into Three Axe Ford with nothing but the tattered clothes on his back and a tale of a rockslide that killed the rest of his party. Injured and dazed, Hargan wandered aimlessly, stumbling across a remote valley where he encountered white-skinned women who possessed magical powers. Hargan was taken to a palace of diamond and gems, groined from the rock of the valley. As he recovered, Hargan succumbed to his greed and pocketed two gemstones. The women, who had been civil to him up to this point, discovered his misdemeanor and turned on him. Hargan desperately made his escape by hurling himself into a river, feigning death and following the river to Three Axe Ford.

Tol suggests this would make a good tale for children at the Storytellers’ Tent tomorrow evening and may even serve to draw out the Frosty Woman.

The evening feast begins at Charasoth’s ice palace. The venue, host and rumours of missing children, a vampire and ineffective heroes lends a luke-warm atmosphere at best. There is much fingering of various holy symbols and more garlic than usual in some of the dishes. Memnon manages to raise spirits (31 diplomacy) with some rousing declarations and the evening ends up passing happily enough.

Loshdain 26th Vatermont

The heroes hear that the Vampire’s victim is safe and well. Seeking out the Glaantri Ambassador they ask her advice regarding the Frosty Woman, but the ambassador cannot think of anything else they can try to do and says she knows nothing of these white-skinned witch-women.

Visiting Isha’s parents, the Heroes are told that they have come to terms with the loss of their child and that the matter doesn’t really need pursuing any further. New trinkets and possessions would seem to suggest the parents have just come into some money, but no ensorcelment or charm can be detected. Something seems very off though and the situation makes Memnon think of a young Tiefling he knows….

Salina is an 11 year old daughter of friends of Memnon’s parents in Eltan’s Spring.
Memnon helped to heal her a couple of years ago after she broke her leg when playing with other children. Rushing to attend her where she lay amongst rocks, Memnon noticed that some of the rocks seemed to be moving in response to Salina’s upset. He kept this to himself, not questioning her parents about it and meaning to ask Salina when he visited the ‘Spring last year. However he didn’t see her and it’s only since becoming Lord of Eltan’s Spring and taking up residence there over the last few months that she has left. This didn’t seem odd, as her parents frequently spoke of one day looking for their fortunes elsewhere, but Memnon recalls seeing several brand new items in and around their hoe when he was last in the ‘Spring.

A potential pattern of missing children (perhaps with ‘abilities’) and paid off/ coerced parents, perhaps..?

At the storytelling that night, the story of Crazy Hargan goes down well, with some of those present acknowledging that they too have heard tales of these women. There is no sign however, of the Frosty Woman in question.

27th & 28th Vatermont

The atmosphere at the Frost Fair settles over the next two days with no more strange events.

Lunadain 1st Felmont

The sun rises on the final day of the Fair and the much anticipated ice sculpture competition. There are three categories: ‘Visitors & Children’, ‘Threshold Residents’ and ‘Allcomers’, the latter of which contains Charasoth and (bravely) Kathra and Switch. In the end, the number of entrants for ‘Visitors’ is low, so the first two categories are combined into one.

The competition begins, Kathra producing a sculpture of the dragon Volvagia and the Eye of Ice. Switch works on Green Jack and Charasoth produces a tableau of a Frost Giant battling a White Dragon. The competition goes well and as all assemble for Tol to announce the winners, there’s a sudden commotion.

Winged creatures are approaching the site of the frost fair. Members of the Order of the Griffon mount up and head to intercept, Switch blagging a ride with one of them.

The newcomers are 11 Hippogriff riders, 10 wearing bronze armour and the eleventh a toga (brrr!). They request an audience with Duke Stephen and are escorted to the Frost fair. Switch notes some surprise and unease amongst the Griffon Riders. Te riders all land and as switch rejoins his fellow adventurers Duke Stefan appears, offering something of a frosty reception to the Toga wearing individual, who despite his claims to just be a ‘travelling citizen of the empire’, is quickly identified as the Thinkol, the Thyatian Emperor!

Absent many guards, Stefan requests the heroes attend him for the forthcoming discussion, so Ozzy, Switch and Memnon join the Armoured Flower, Lady Elina in the Duke’s quarters, as the Emperor is accompanied by his bronze-armoured guard.

Inside, the thrust of the discussion centres where Duke Stefan’s loyalties lie with regard to the current tensions between the Alphatia and Glaantri. Tensions between these two heavily magical nations and Thyatis are rising over the apparent murder of an Alphatian general by visitng Glatrian dignitaries in Sundsval, the Alphatian capital. The General is said to have been disintegrated (thus preventing any attempt to ‘Raise’ him) and the Glantrians were caught drunkenly celebrating the fact. Empress Ariadne of Alphatia has demanded an explanation and both sides are covertly preparing for a possible war. As a former Alphatian province, Thyatis would no doubt become involved.

On top of this news, the Emperor has in his possession a strange looking fruit. The adventurers present recognize it as something that Bargle was feeding to the Hag he held captive in a cage. The fruit is a Zonga fruit. Illegal in the empire due to its highly addictive qualities. Several high level Thyatian military officers have become addicted to the fruit and its use is becoming more widespread, a grave concern if war is looming. The Emperor appears to have laid all his cards in the table. He asks for assurance that Karameikos is not facilitating trade in the Zonga fruit and that its loyalties will lie ‘correctly’ if tensions between Alphatia and Glaantri escalate.

Duke Stefan manages to provide an answer that appears to satisfy the Emperor, although it does not give any full commitment to fighting alongside the Thyatian legions. However, it’s noticeable that he Emperor fails to give any recognition to Karameikos’ status of autonomy, either.

The Emperor, or rather, “just a citizen of the Empire”, departs with a united front from himself and Duke Stefan. Memnon requests a moment of the Duke’s time and mentions seeing Zonga fruit in the possession of Bargle the infamous, phrasing this information so it comes across as concern for any possible bad reflection on the Duke’s Cousin.

Attentions are turned back to the frost fair and the ice sculpture competition, where Tol crowns Charasoth the winner of the Allcomers category (much to Switch’s apparent disdain!). Charasoth applauds Tol’s judgement and wit an enigmatic statement that he will return when the heroes need him, he slowly vanishes downwards into the ice, leaving his ice sculpture and palace behind.

The Frost Fair comes to a close without any further incident. Duke Stefan is happy with how the fair has gone and awards the heroes with jewellery (which helps Tol to break even and to pay Switch). But now; what of the Frosty Woman and the Vampire..?

Death on the Ice

Moldain 24th Vatermont (…continued)

The Heroes discuss their icy acquaintance, hypothesising that he comes from a place where the elemental chaos of air, water, earth and fire cross (water & air, water & earth?) creating an ice plane.

Kathra’s suggestion to incorporate the tracks in the ice into the evening’s story-telling is warmly received by the others as a means to lessen the anxiety they may otherwise cause and it’s decided to split the Ice Sculpture competition into classes (but who will compete against Charasoth..?).

Conversations with local fishermen about the tracks result in various folk tales, many featuring onions, but nothing of any relevance. The Fair continues, Tol working hard to keep the mood buoyant. Switch introduces Ozzy to the Radu to discuss funding for his school of magic.

During the evening feast, Ozzy and Switch are keeping watch on the ice when they hear the clash of metal on metal – combat! Investigating, they find two men duelling, lit by a lantern held by a woman who is egging them both on. Judging by their wounds, the duel is obviously going beyond first blood. Ozzy casts a light spell, disrupting the fight. The woman, oddly alluring, explains that the duel is to see who will get to take her to the feast. Incredulous, Ozzy suspects ensorcelment, but can detect no evidence of it. As Switch tries to talk the two men out of their duel, the woman turns her attentions to him, asking if he would like to take her to the Feast…? Resisting her suggestion, Switch politely refuses and he and Ozzy encourage the trio to leave. They do so, although the woman suggests that they may meet again.

Kathra is enjoying the storytelling until the din of concerned voices from outside disturbs her. Leaving the tent, she sees the sky over the centre of the fair is lit by flames. Soon all the Heroes have gathered to investigate (Tol muttering about “Bloody Gnomes…”), finding three of Ozzy’s apprentices, in a rapidly sobering state, trying without success to control a flaming sphere that is melting a path through the ice as it heads for the Feasting Hall!

Ozzy dispels the sphere, but not before a corner of the Hall has been melted away. As Kathra organises some Dwarves to secure the structure and Ozzy chastises his wards, Tol announces the relocation of the feast to the three bars and fumarium, ensuring that the party atmosphere doesn’t fully evaporate. Upon hearing from Switch about the duel in the ice, Memnon looks concerned and mutters about the undead…

After the excitement of the evening, the night passes peacefully.

Nytdain 25th Vatermont

The fourth full day of the fair begins well, with Ghaleb Dhur demonstrations attracting particular interest. However Juliette brings bad news- “I cannot feex zis ‘ole in ze ice. The ‘all, she is frakked!” Ozzy gathers the trio of wayward apprentices and the four go to visit Charasoth, to see if he will assist with the repair of the Hall. He initially gives them the cold shoulder pause, laugh, resume as he wants people to see his work at the competition, although he does suggest that the feast could relocate to his ice tower! Tol likes the idea and as an agreement is made to do this, spirits around the fair rise in anticipation of the evening’s feast.

Not all in a positive manner, either. Several Dwarves cause trouble at the stalls of some Elven traders. Fortunately, Memnon and Kathra are close by and manage to calm the situation before the Elves resort to drawing weapons in reply to Dwarven insults. Kathra suspects that someone is purposefully stirring up trouble and makes a suggestion to Tol of some organised bouts between Elves and Dwarves to ease tensions? Memnon suspects this could enflame the situation rather than dampen it.

Another child is reported missing, a young girl named Isha. The Heroes organise a search, finding prints going out not the ice, as if a child had walked beside, or been led by, a barefooted woman. However, the tracks mysteriously stop, as if the couple who made them had vanished into thin air. Further ahead, Switch spies a small shape lying on the ice…

Concerned, the Hinn dons his cap of water breathing and heads out onto the thinning ice, secured with ropes held by his comrades. As he closes on the shape, he sees it’s too small to be the girl. As he nears, the groaning and knocking noises from under his feet turn to a crack as the ice gives way! The freezing water stuns him, but his comrades pull him to safety. As Memnon utters a Healing Word, Switch sets out again, getting closer to the shape, now clearly Isha’s doll, and managing to snatch it, just before the ice breaks again and he is plunged into the agonizing cold. More than a little red-faced in spite of the searing cold, Switch is pulled to safety once more and the Heroes return to the fair to warm him through.

Ozzy conducts an object reading on Isha’s doll, seeing, in a slightly nauseating, swinging vision:
• When Isha was joined by another… a woman with white hair and skin, wearing a short skirt and tunic of homespun material, with a pouched belt and a staff.
• The point where the doll fell to the ice…Isha flying away with the woman!
• Isha setting out… taking the doll with her to go and play
• The first time the doll encountered the mysterious woman… at the Frost Fair, during the heights of the festivities.

Ozzy has a vague recollection of ice/frost witches that live in the mountains. Are the Heroes of Dymrak destined to battle Hags again?

Asking around the Fair, the heroes are told by other children about ‘The Frosty Woman’, who seems vewy nice and fwiendwy and bwings snacks of fwozen milk and cweam. Mercifully, no other children appear to be missing.

As the Heroes are investigating, switch spies a man, one of the two duelists from last night, slumped at the side of the tent. He looks ill, but the heroes rouse him enough to tell his story. The duel resumed further out on the ice, with him winning, killing his adversary whose body was disposed of by the mysterious woman. Feasting of a different kind took place at the back of this tent, as the woman showed him “one helluva” night. He fell asleep, and has only just woken. The woman’s nowhere to be seen and the man doesn’t remember anything else. Memnon steps forward and, seizing the man by the scruff of his neck, pulls down his collar; revealing bite marks on his neck. The unmistakable mark of a Vampire..! duhn, duhn, duhhnnn

Frost Fair, Ice Master

Gromdain 22nd

On this crisp, clear morning, Ozzy and Tol become aware of grumbles amongst the traders over the perceived lack or trade. Tol gathers some of Ozzy’s apprentices and arranges for a tour of the stalls for the nobility, escorting the Duke, his wife and Baron Halloran himself in his position as Lord of the Frost Fair. Memnon engages in some ‘town crying’ to try and rustle up business, although his success is rater limited by his infernal appearance.

Kathra and Switch spend time helping a distressed man find his missing son, Mikael, who is found safe and well in the storyteller’s tent.

It becomes apparent that both Baron Ludwig and Bargle the (mwu-hah-ha) Infamous have gone.

Sale of pipeweed in the Fumarium are going well and Memnon and Switch engage in some cross marketing of ale and pipeweed, helping both of their sales. Switch continues dialogue with the representatives from Radu trading family.

Both the storytelling (tales of the brave Heroes of Dymrak nee Winterhaven) and the naval re-enactment go well, although Switch is berated by Emilio the Great whilst ‘helping’ to collect the coins thrown in appreciation for the actors involved. Some of Ozzy’s apprentices travel into Threshold to drum up business by spreading word of how great the Frost Fair is.

During the evening, the heroes divide and between them, attend the feast and storytelling. Further discussions take place between Switch and the Radu and Ozzy spends some time instructing his apprentices on the use of Mage Hand to create flyers for the event. The evening passes peacefully.

Tserdain 23rd

Early in the morning, as the Lord of the Frost Fair tours the stalls, the ice shudders. As consternation spreads across the fair, Ozzy detects arcane energy shortly before, behind the ship, the ice bulges upwards and breaks as a tower of ice rises up from the lake! Ozzy rushes to find Juliette and the two of them stabilize the ice, as Switch, Tol and Memnon approach he thirty foot high ice tower.

Atop the tower stands an ominous icy figure. As the heroes close on the tower, they can feel the icy chill radiating from it. In a low voice, every word seeming to crackle and freeze itself onto the very air, the figure speaks, introducing itself as Ice Master Charasoth, who wishes to enter the ice sculpture competition.

Ozzy arrives on the scene, expressing his belief that the Ice Master was once a person, but now appears to be an elemental being. Tol accepts Charasoth’s entry into the competition and during a brief dialogue, during which it becomes obvious Charasoth is not interested in any conversation with the heroes that does not centre on ice, or the sculpture of it; it’s agreed that Charasoth will stay in his tower until the competition on the 1st of Felmont. Brief glimpses into Charasoth’s tower reveal a beautiful palatial banqueting hall, created in exquisite detail.

With all seeming well, the rest of the morning is spent quelling any fears over the arrival of Charasoth and his effect on the stability of the ice. Tol throws himself into his role as Lord of the Frost Fair as Ozzy’s apprentices help to put a positive spin on the Ice Master’s arrival. All of this fails to quell general mutterings about it now being pointless for anybody else to bother entering the competition.

It appears that Charasoth’s presence is actually helping with the stabilization of the ice, as Juliette is finding it less stressful to maintain the magics. The evening’s naval reenactment and feast are slightly subdued although Elves and Dwarfs are still spirited enough to squabble, before Memnon diplomatically eases the tensions. Tol tries, without much success to raise the level of enthusiasm for the ice sculpture competition and the evening otherwise passes peacefully.

Moldain 24th

The heroes awake to worried murmurings across the fair. There are markings in the snow – hundreds of different kinds of foot/paw prints form a 10 metre wide arc around the fair a couple of hundred metres out from the tents. Despite searing insight (natural 20!), Tol cannot identify the prints. Ozzy voices a suspicion of extra planar activity, and Kathra notes that all of the prints are on the lake, none cover ice which is formed over land. Nor do the prints seem to have come from, or go to; anywhere.

Ozzy visits Charasoth, who agrees to investigate, eerily shuffling off to do so. He returns shortly afterwards, with a one word report – “Incorrect.”

(To be continued…)

Another chat with the historian.

In a swirl of leaves and sticks we return to the presence of the Older Historian on the Isle of Dreams.

The little historian is absorbed back into the Historian and he gasps as he learns what has happened.

We present what little water we were able to collect in the goblet. The Historian peers in and sighs. " I am afraid that there won’t be enough there to bring back these two beings."

Among the many things we learn is that the hag body was that of Griselda, the leader of the Wytches of Dymrak, and, presumably, ‘mother’. The creature that attacked Griselda and the Seer was Esmerelda. The Historian implies that she wanted to become the head of the witches of Dymrak and she has probably taken the red opal eye and the eye of death to her lair in Dymrak.

After a fair bit of prompting from the Historian, we realise that Esmerelda must have breached the pact that kept the Historian from intervening directly. We demand vengeance. There is an almighty flash and a clap of thunder and standing before us is the most magnificent Centaur. Tol gasps “Its him!” This centaur is really quite magnificent, it just oozes charisma and power. Tol is reduced to a gibbering excited wreck and Memnnon isn’t much better. I finally realise this is Zirchev. I am at last in the presence of one of the Immortals. Now watch closely Ozzie I say to myself, there is much to be learnt here.

Zirchev clicks his fingers and screaming very old woman appears. She is caught in some trap of Zirchev’s. Zirchev tells her she has broken the pact and must now pay the price. He strips her of her powers which manifest themselves in a swirling cloud of arcane mist before dispersing. He also removes the three eyes that she was carrying and then disperses them across Karimekos, whilst he tells her, her life is now forfeit. He then turns to the heroes and says what shall we do with them? He is bemused about Memnnon being a son of Halav, caressing the tiefling’s horns, before turning to Tol. “What shall we do son of mine?”

A lesser member of the wytches will lead them from now on, since the new Seer (Fyodor) is inexperienced, this will keep the balance. The blinding of the Eye of Flame and the Eye of Ice has weakened the land and must not be allowed to happen again. Interestingly this blinding of the eyes appears to be a long term effect, perhaps it has happened before?

Zirchev will scatter the eyes back to where they will do their best. Though we can hope for some reward for finding and bringing together some of them.

As Zirchev tightens the enchanted cage around Esmerelda, he looks us all in the eyes. “Is there anything else you would know before I pass sentence?”

A rude awakening

I wake to find a demonic presence leering down at me -aaaargh!
However it is only Memnnon shouting at me as he quickly heals me before rushing away. I shake my head and slowly sit up. Peering around I see a large body covered in cuts and worms and gooey liquid dripping from various wounds lying not far from me. OOOHHH Its Lord Oculus – and he appears to be dead. Yaaaay. I turn to see Wolf-Kathra and switch are immobilised, and Fydor is running over to Tol who is lying on the floor, unconscious . Switch appears to be stone.

The Historian is prancing around looking concerned and repeating that the portal is ready and that we all need to go really quite soon. ouch my head hurts.

We quickly search the palace for any other places to explore, before collecting what muddy water we can from the remains of the well. Memnnon and Fydor have patched up the party. We took quite a beating this time and I think we were fortunate – but more by luck than superior tactics possibly. I berate myself for not knowing our enemies better. the knights in particular – it is now obvious that their armour and emblems were in homage and service to Orcus.

We stagger over to the portal and are whisked back to the Isle of Dreams and into the presence of the Historian.

I am so very tired...

In my haze of unconsciousness I again find myself back in the Shadowfell, near to the temple. The Veiled Lady I can feel is nearby, but I can’t see her or hear her minions coming to present me to her. I sit down to wait – I am so very tired.

Fade to Black

The battle continues as the heroes appear to be getting the better of the beholder. Wolf-Kathra is savaging it as it lies prone on the ground, Switch is firing arrows into it as fast as he can before switching to his sword and charging in to go toe to eye stalk with it. I am still suffering from the burns of the beholders necrotic blast. Fydor’s forceful conduit allows Memnnon to run his lance of faith through it. The Beholder is taking a pounding and bleeding in several places. Some of its eye stalks are holding on by a thread, but they are still glaring evily at the party.

I realise with horror that an injured beholder is more deadly than an uninjured one as with a mighty surge and roar it shrugs off most of the effects it is suffering and blasts the party with a number of eye blasts, three almost simultaneously – something we’d not seen before…Switch had also been trying to flank the creature, however with 7 eyes this was not possible – however he still sinks his sword into its side and with a stirring shout he cries “heroes of winter haven don’t falter now.”

Fydor’s stirring poetry enables those who can hear him clearly to recall some of their more difficult and deadly powers. I see that the Beholder is bloodied and point out to in my most intimidating way that we have slain all his allies for the loss of none of our party, and he is all that remains. If he leaves now we will spare his life.

He replies by saying that he is Lord Oculus. He is impressed with our battle prowess – for two eyes, but he is not leaving, It is clear that he is worried – perhaps my own wounds and appearance were such that he felt there was still a chance he could win through – he has been after me the entire battle.

The eye blasts strike out again, Tol is overpowered and dominated and turns to fire arrows at myself. Memnnon, who has continued taking the king out of the palace is turned to stone at the doorway
I am again struck by a jet black ray with more necrotic pain. I move and try to dispel the turn to stone against Memnnon but am too sick to do so, my cloak again shimmers as it deflects another eyeblast from the beholder, it’s next shot pushes Memnnon away from me as I again pass out from the continuing agony of my wounds – the necrotic damage eating into my soul. As I pass out out I hear Fyodor laying down a bed of good berry bushes for me to collapse into – just out of reach, as is the healing potion which falls from my dispelled mage hand. Everything fades to black. Is this the end?

The Eyes have it
Mind your Eyes... and the Beholder's

BeholderThe creature’s eyes look around as it takes in the scene. Drool drips from its maw. In a deep, gravelly voice it says “hand over those eyes” as it simultaneously looks at all the holders of the eyes.

There is a smattering of nervous laughter and a defiant shake of everyone’s heads at that remark. Then Wolf-Wolf-Kathra makes her escape from the flailing axes of the knights, sneaking under a volley of arrows from the orc archers on the balcony.

Our first major success of the evening occurs when Switch swings his short sword through the knight he is battling, and then with a swift reverse of the blade skewers the orc which was trying to flank him. Two down.

With Wolf-Kathra licking her wounds and no longer tying up two of the knights, they come in towards Memnnon and myself. I duck their swinging blows, although Memnnon is not so lucky. I take the opportunity to then put some space between the Beholder, the knights and myself. Memnnon’s clockwork bomb goes off harmlessly and a divine glow emanates around Memnnon, the radiant energy having a its desired effect on Orcus’ loyal knights.

All the time I am trying to do several things at once. Deduce the strengths and weaknesses of the beholder, which I have heard about in myth and legend, but never in reality. I’m also desperately reaching for the Eyes of Time and Stasis to learn what they can do to our advantage and how we might neutralise the beholder.

The beholder’s central eye opens up and gazes around the party, Memnnon screams in pain as he is blinded. Wolf-Kathra and Switch feel that their tactics have been limited by its gaze. This creature has a devastating range of powers and appears to be very tough.

I shout to Switch to cover me from the orcs off me while I take on the beholder. Wolf-Kathra moves over to support me and Switch shifts over to cover me as well. This is where teamwork kicks in. I start concentrating on the Eyes, trying rapidly and desperately to speak with them to harness their power…

The knights, possibly sensing the battle may be about to turn against them knock Memnnon over and come after me. Wolf-Kathra protects me with a savage growl, biting her adversary and drawing blood, but the knight’s swing hits Wolf-Kathra hard, she grunts as she holds her ground. The follow through narrowly misses me, as I meld with the Eyes.

The eyes are more powerful, and are tricky to deal with, they appear to have their own personalities and agendas. I will need all my willpower to bend them to my requirements or convince them my aims are their aims. However this mental conversation allows me to understand their powers and strengths.

I lift the Eye of Stasis high above my head and turn its power onto the beholder. The eye is weak from 400 years of stasis with the Demara but I manage to use its remaining power to slow down the beholder and do some damage. The Beholder laughs a deep evil laugh and says “is that the best you can do puny wizard? Now feel my power.”

The beholder tries to move, but there’s is a translucent beam holding the beholder in place, emanating from the Eye, it is clearly slowed, it brings a particularly evil eye to bear preparing to fire a malevolent beam at me, fortunately one of Tol’s arrows takes it in the side breaking its concentration. It tries to turn its eye against Tol but can’t. Hurrah!

The Beholder then turns on Wolf-Kathra and with a slow wink dominates her. She turns and bites me. I am already bleeding profusely from a number of areas. As I fall unconscious I trigger the eye of time to slow down the dying effect. I do not have an appointment with the Veiled Lady today. My drifting mind does wonder what a conversation with the Veiled Lady would be like and if you can live to tell the tale? My mind fades to black, or maybe dark gray. And the power of the eye of stasis fades releasing the Beholder from its control.

All around me the heroes step a gear. Switch takes out two orcs. Fydor teleports himself and Tol off the balcony down next to Memnnon, both land with a flourish and Fydor gives a stirring shout and stabs the knight opposing Memnnon.

Memnnon takes the opportunity to sneak by the beholder without being seen, glugging an elixir of will on the way.

As Fydor and Memnnon rush to my side, the remaining Orc Archer charges down to my side and tries to sink his dagger into my heart. However the Eye of Time has put me into a protective state making me invulnerable to physical harm. Switch however is not so lucky, the beholder has fixed one of its beady eyes on him and Switch is unable to move under its noxious glare.

Fydor’s majestic melodic voice reaches deep into my soul with its healing power. I recover from the blow dealt to me by Kathra. At almost the same time Memnnon whispers a healing word which heals Wolf-Kathra and myself. I feel well enough to stand up and rejoin the battle. With a fierce palm out push I send the Beholder and the knight away from me across the Battlefield. Across the room Tol is engaged in a rare mano a mano battle with one of the knights. He takes a vicious down cut from the knight, and replies with a point blank two-fanged strike deep into a gap in the knight’s armour. This enough to kill it

The tide appears to be turning in our favour as the orcs and knights are being taken out, however the beholder has taken very little damage and is in no way looking intimidated by our success. It has slowed Kathra and just briefly dazed me, I manage to shake off the dazing effect with my superior will-power and teleport the horrible creature further away from the heroes. It appears to have some form of aura or its central eye gaze attack causes opponents near to it to be bereft of the ability to use their more dangerous powers. This causes a problem if we’re to kill it. I can only keep it away from us for so long. I am feeling tired and exhausted, however I still have one more powerful spell to use.

Again the beholder makes a demand for the eyes, again we refuse.

Switch again charges forward to put himself between me and the remaining knight, shooting it with his bow as Fydor’s rapier sinks deep into his adversary. Tol streaks out from behind the throne and fires his bow wildly to little effect. Wolf-Kathra bounds over and sinks her claws into the knight and killing it. All around me the party is reaching deep into their personal reserves, the floor is littered with empty potion and elixir bottles as these have been used extensively to stay in the fight.

I push the beholder back another 4 squares to other side of the battle field, but it moves back and tries to disintegrate Tol with one eye while another eye is unleashed against Wolf-Kathra sending her cowering and whimpering with fear.
Fydor is still bellowing encouragement to one and all as I create a hypnotic pattern which gleams and glitters, attracting the beholder’s attention. This enables Memnnon to race across the battlefield towards the king, and picking him up starts to stagger back to safety.

Wolf-Kathra and Fydor finish off the last two knights as Tol, who had previously been turned to stone, shakes off the effects and re-animates. I now send loving whispers of light and joy to the beholder unsettling and distracting it, slowing it down, as Memnnon staggers by with the unconscious king over his shoulders.

Aaargh! A blast from the beholder hits me squarely and the searing pain continues to eat into my psyche if not my flesh. My mental anguish is returned in kind to the Beholder and it slumps, writhing to the ground under the weight of my whispering spell.
Mind your eyes
Now is an ideal time to make our escape – hopefully the Historian has completed the portal spell. However what other treasures might there remain in this Palace? Should we stay to protect this ancient King’s property? What about leaving this powerful creature to wreak havoc on Dymrak – how will Tol feel about that? How will the ‘Seer to be’ Fydor feel about that? Are we strong enough to defeat this creature now? If we leave will it just float across the lake to the Isle – following the powerful arcane ‘scent of the eyes’ and attack us unawares?

Ozzie feels it might be time to take advantage and leanr more about this creature, smack it and talk to it at the same time. Does it serve someone else or is it just out for its own gains. If it gets the eyes how will it weild them? this isn’t obvious! Can it teleport back to it’s own time/home – where is this?

Its just a jump to the left...
baaa - ouch - baaa

The party head over to the edge of the ruin and watch Wolf-kathra as she works out the game.
After a long period of time and lots of shouting advice from us, Wolf-kathra solves the problem. By doing so a temporal gate opens in the archway of the ruin and she is able to look back in time to see the palace in the last minutes of the battle. There is a doggy look of confusion on her face as she tries to work out what has happened.

We can see Wolf-kathra but she can no longer see us. She trots towards us and then vanishes with a shimmer, which I recognise as a form of gate, but not one I’ve seen before.

I walk out to check that the ground is clear, turning around I can see Wolf-kathra peering into the reconstructed palace. Inside there are a large number of humanoids – 16 orcs Orcus knight and four heavily armoured knights to be precise and the king. The flames in the braziers aren’t flickering and the humanoids aren’t moving

I tell Wolf-kathra to stop and call for the rest of the heroes to come through, so we can support each other. When they all arrive we spend some time discussing party tactics.

Switch heads up to get behind the archers Wolf-kathra, Ozzie and Memnnon head down to King Demarah. Whilst Tol and Fydor head up onto the balcony to cover the other archers.

In each hand he holds two eyes of Traldar and looking very miserable. There is an odd solidity to the eyes

The armour of the knights is that of a high end guard there are symbols, which I don’t recognise – or rather I’m concertrating on the arcane auras surrounding me. Touching the knights doesn’t affect them. Ozzie studies the eyes and can see they are a pair. The Eye of Time and the Eye of Stasis.

Tol commences tying up the stone once next to him. There is an odd sensation of not being able to touch the orc, which can still be tied, knives just bounce. Fydor tries and fails to push one over. We can no more affect them than they can affect us at the moment. However We tie up the orcs and put four bedrolls over the archers to prevent them seeing anything when they come to life. Caltrops are set throughout the room to hinder the orcs and in general slow everything down so we aren’t set upon by everything at the same time.

Right. We’re ready to get hold of the eyes and do battle with the orcs, and maybe the knights, but there is a hope they are on our side. I cast my illusory wall, and the party prepare their actions. I pick up an Eye in each hand. This time it is obvious that I am holding the eyes, they are significantly more powerful than any of the eyes I have held before. they both start talking to me in a jumble, however there are more important things to do so I put them away. Dnd030712

The king starts to gain colour and move, however it is obvious that he is in a very bad way. He looks up and immediately moves back in shock, he is very unwell and seriously hurt. The look of fear and shock he is giving is in regard to the presence of Memnnon, who speaks to him in traldarian and heals him with healing word, as he tries to calm him down. unfortunately the king is completely exhausted and the healing word doesn’t help him.

All around the room The flames are flickering and it appears the spell is wearing off in a wave emanating outwards from the king to affect the statues.

First The knights come to life and look around, seeing wolf kathra go after her, Memnnon and I suddenly recognise the symbol of Orcus on their shields, opps. We immediately feel the weight of this error as Another knight moves straight through the wall and in a single sweep hits us with its axe, which pushes us away and knocks us over. King Demarah slumps to the ground, either unconscious or dead. However at the moment we don’t appear to have time to help him.

My Illusory wall vanishes as I maintain the Mage hand and get out the eye of lightning. Fydor stabs his Orc as all around the room creatures are returning to life. There are cries of pain and surprise as they trip over or die at the hands of the heroes.
Kathra takes a massive hit from the knight of Orcus. I take another massive hit from another knight, which I then push the palm of my hand into his visor and with an arcane heave send him flying across the battlefield. With my other hand I raise the eye of lightning, allowing it to see my enemies before releasing its pent up electrical fury on the three knights.

Kathra is flanked by two of the knights and Memnnon is calling down Halav’s wrath against the warriors of Orcus. He also sets off the clockwork bomb and heals Kathra in whirl of activity. Tol and Fydor appear to be taking a beating from their knight on the balcony and Switch is turning his adversary into a pin cushion with a series of swipes and backstabs.

I let loose or masters incendiary detonation and wipe out two of the orcs and will hit the Ozzie beholder other two with the flames that a burn in the aftermath. As I do so I get a feeling/voice inside my head saying “I can’t hold him anymore if you aren’t going to do anything.” What? Who? How?

Then there is a temporal plop and huge creature with a large central eye, big sharp teeth and lots more eyes on eye stalks materialises behind me.

Eeeek big teeth!

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