Smoke's Flame--Adventures in Punjar

Blessings From the Gods

Excerpt from Adventure’s with Smoke’s Flame

Whether my comrades in Smoke’s Flame were willing to admit it or not, we were blessed by the gods on more than one occasion. The most significant of which occurred just after our arduous battle with the “Bat God” and his dominated servants. Though we emerged from that fight battered, broken, and bruised, the gods smiled upon us and blessed us in our moment of rest. We awoken ready to take on the challenges of Mag Daluer not only revitalized but strengthened.

Kord in his awesome and brutal might bestowed a martial prowess unto Vellen allowing him to become ever more deadly with his chosen weapon – the dagger. Bahamut in his infinite nobility bestowed a protection greater than any shield upon Marcus giving him the ability to shrug off the most potent spells and poisons as if they were nothing. Neither, poor Neither, was not abandoned by her Sehanine as some have proclaimed. Nay! She was blessed with the moonlight radiance of the love goddess herself. Corellon blessed not only Cain but Cain’s words with potent magic giving his healing touch all the more power.

Finally, I, too, was blessed in that moment of respite. My lady of knowledge, Ioun, bestowed upon the insight into magics both divine and arcane. I was given the power not only to smote those that opposed us but to bolster those in need.

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An Interesting Article

Bats in the Belfry by Kippatrick Burgundy

For a while now I have been receiving reports that Punjar is in danger of a Vampire Epidemic. Not one to take such rumors to heart, I immediately sought out the best group of adventurers my money could buy. This led me to the doors of Smoke’s Flame – a small band of adventurers who, of all things, save orphans. I commissioned them to find and eradicate the source of these horrid bloodsuckers, if they even existed. Upon their eventual return this is what one of them told me.

They had tracked down the source of the vampires to a strange cult, worshiping their Bat God, which had overrun the Temple of the Raven Queen. In order to infiltrate the temple, the hardy band took to the sewers, where they battled a fiery beholder and hordes of monkey-men. Upon entering the catacombs of the temple they had to fight off armies of demons and more monkey-men, apparently summoned by the cult.

Deep in the bowels of the catacombs, the intrepid heroes found the source of the demons – an evil tree that sucked them into its otherworldly plane. In that plane they battled a giant hydra and upon their victory they destroyed the tree. Now with the catacombs crumbling around them they moved into the deepest, darkest section of the temple. There they came face to face with the cult’s “Bat God” and proceeded to vanquish it.

Be sure to purchase tomorrow’s special issue of The Punjar Gazette for all the gory details of the battle with the Bat God.

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... The Bat God at long last..?

Shortly after the battle with the Zain-Kin leader and Displacer Beast was resolved the party was able to pilfer a pair of magical boots (Assault Boots) and a Solitaire Citrine. They also managed to gather together many pieces of pewelry, totems, and other pieces of loot totaling approximately 6005 worth in gold. Nothing remained to be had in this room so Smoke’s Flame made their way though the remaining door in this room. Two large zain-kin were guarding the hallway the heroes had entered. Marcus quickly took hold of the situation, being the new owner of the King of the Zain-Kin’s Axe. Mid conversation, if you could call it that, they just hooted at Marcus as he attempted to command them, Neither took the head of the Silverback and bowled it down the hallway toward the duo. Seeing their leaders decapitated head at their feet and Marcus wielding the axe, they turned tail and ran. At the other end of the hall they ran into the remaining two guards and the four of them continued on out the door leading into a huge room. Rather than follow them the heroes investigated a trio of doors they were at currently. Only having enough time to listen to each before hearing tons of racket coming from the area the four guards had ran. Smoke’s Flame decided to see what all the commotion was about, as that seemed to be the more pressing issue at hand. Bursting into the room Marcus brandished the axe and Cain quickly took perch on a large root and began shouting out praise of Marcus and his conquests over the Silverback. Neither didn’t miss a beat with the decapitated head either, sending it sailing through the air over our heroes heads and into the mass of zain-kin within the room. Vellen and Ajrash (spelling) spotted a few unique looking Zain-kin in the room ahead. Aside from the common ones and the few metal infused they’d seen around the catacombs in other areas.. there seemed to be some hidden within deep cloaks and robes. It wasn’t long before they lost track of them in the mass of Zain-kin that had just began to break into disputes with each other at the confusion Marcus, Cain, and Neither had caused. That’s when the more sturdy Zain-kin made they’re move. Before the party could shout more commands.. battle had been brought to them. Nearly in the middle of this skirmish portions of the ceiling began to fall all around the room and water began trickling down from above. Next our heroes knew.. the battle was ours and the ceiling seemed able to hold for a short bit more. All went to go investigate the tree.. but it was Neither who struck it first.. in an odd sort of foxhole in the base of the truck. There seemed to be a glowing section there, and that’s what she aimed for. A flash of blue a second later and she was gone, Cain quickly followed in aid. Vellen ransacked the fallen from the battle for any daggers that might prove useful and headed toward the tree. All five heroes had now gone “into” the tree where there seemed to be a giant cobalt hydra in the center of shifting sands engaged with Neither. Battle with this huge beast rang out in this strange room, all the while soul larva, now in their true form, assaulted our heroes. Once the battle was firmly in Smoke’s Flames hands and the hydra (of sorts) was slain.. the very fabric of this odd space began to warp. A portal had seemed to open where the hydra had been stuck.. and all was being sucked towards it. Dreading where that might lead.. the heroes quickly choose to burst through the fiber of the walls and out towards whatever might remain. They quickly found themselves very much born into this world again via that hellish tree. The room they were now in was again that where the zain-kin battle had been struck.. only much of the floors and ceilings had collapsed fully. It was nearly four floors upwards.. and one down (that they could see). Below our five heroes was spied a shadowy cathedral, vast in size. Deciding that might be worth investigating before leaving the catacombs, they descended the rocky walls. It was uncertain if they would ever be able to make it back to this location, especially after the ruckus they’d caused thus far. While climbing lower, Cain turned out to be particularly good at using his face for climbing (having failed his check). Safely on the level below they entered cautiously into the cathedral. i don’t recall if there were more levels below this one, but i think there might’ve been As Smoke’s Flame entered they began to see many sets of glowing red eyes about them in the corners. There had been many ancient dead laid out, seemingly in a very similar of The Raven Queen’s methods. Across a vast room, surrounded by the dead, faint sets of crimson eyes, and suits of vile looking armors, rested a large, crystalline wing of deepest black. The “Bat God” perhaps? A face was faintly discernible on it’s surface, and quite reminiscent of the one they had witnessed above their persons during the fight with the hydra. It opened it’s eyes and looked unflinchingly at the five battered heroes… this was going to get ugly…

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One Long Day...

Excerpt from “Memoirs of a Divine Agent”

I remember my days with Smoke’s Flame quite fondly – even Neither. There was one day in which that damnable sword tried to have her kill me three times. It had to have sensed our progress towards the Dreaming Door and its doom at Mag Daleur.

The first attack came just after we cleared out a riverside embankment of evil fey and their vile crystal. I don’t know if it was her own compulsiveness or the sword’s doing, but soon after interrogating the imprisoned vampires she took a swing at one of the vile tree’s roots. That action summoned a spectre of death, its two will o’ the wisp minions and a large water archon. All this we faced with an exhausted and wounded Cain.

The second attack came during our bout with devils who were torturing some prisoners to the point of insanity. During our fight, the sword did not seem to appreciate my efforts to save Neither’s weary soul and it had her attack me, yet again. This time I could not quell my anger and I invoked an image of one of Sehanine’s archons to cause her to falter. I fear the impact of the image sent her reeling back a few feet.

The third attack of that day came after gaining entrance to a secret tomb in an attempt to rest our weary bodies. After successfully overcoming the magics that protected the tomb, she once again took a swing at me. Once rested, however, we were able to make our way further down in the crypt – fighting off swarms of Stirges. It was at this point we fought a contingent of Zain-Kin and a displacer-beast. Marcus became the leader of the Zain-kin and Vellen got his displacer skin…

But those are stories for another time.

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HAPPENINGS
Summing up the last month or so

SO…

Dragora proved a capable and cunning opponent but after a lengthy battle, she was FELLED by our intrepid heroes. As they dealt the final blow, they saw a small bat fly away from the citadel. WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THIS BAT

Returning home, the heroes were confronted by SEHANINE HERSELF. She warned that Neither’s new sword, the RUNEBLADE is a dangerous artifact holding an ancient fiend and that the “hand of Ioun” will guide the way to the blade’s destruction and promises. She then promised her favor to Neither if the blade is undone.

(Neither’s humanity keeps slipping away as she harvests the souls of her enemies in the meanwhile).

Marcus’ ex-partner Jidaire said a reporter, “Kip” is slandering his good name and asks Marcus to teach him a lesson.

The heroes encountered this reporter, “Kipp” who managed to convince them to help write a news article about the vampire spawn that are all over town. Marcus’ “lesson” remains untaught for now.

Much research took place, Ajrash had a vision and learned that the blade can be destroyed in MAG DOLEUR-a mythical mountain in the Feywild. It can be reached via portal, planar skiff, or the DREAMING DOOR-an Eladrin artifact POSSIBLY HELD BY Dragora/Mouringlar’s clan. Marcus also sexes a dude with a beard (on a boat). The Ioun priests warned that using the Dreaming Door would be yet another beacon of eldritch magic to summon the banished FLOATING CITY OF ELADRIN back to this realm.

The heroes took to the sewers in search of vampire spawn. They found the BEHOLDER THAT KILLED GRIEVE. The beholder is slain.

They also found the subterranean entrance to the Raven Queen’s enclave (source of vampire spawn?) patrolled by Zain-Kin legionnaires and vampire spawn. The heroes almost entered the enclave when a member of the Thief’s Guild emerged and warned them they are fouling up the Guild’s plans by entering the enclave now instead of waiting until the next meeting (as requested by Broha). The heroes told him to go fetch backup and proceed, heedless of this warning.

Devils, daemons, soul larvae, twisted fey, hags, DRAGONS, and other EVIL NONSENSE. Are all over place in this enclave. The heroes snooped around a bit. They found some waterlogged vampires being tortured and learn that many vampires have been moved to another HQ, the “Dirty Demon” Tavern.

TO BE CONTINUED

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...there and back again... but not your common hobbits tale.

Fuzzily stirring from their hard stone beds on the floor of a balcony the quartet Neither, Marcus Urrek, Cain the Cunning, and Vellen Tîwele, Smoke’s Flame, rose in time to witness a score of barbarians climbing the walls to their perch. Before any parlay could be had blades were flashing and the barbarians lay at the heroes feet. A troupe of heavily armored eladrin were next seen and diplomatic methods were exacted this time around. The four were led by the armored eladrin to a throne room where a raven haired king, of sorts, was seated. He rose and addressed himself as Nyrea the Crow King. Smoke’s Flame explained that they’d been sent here to aid the Crow King, a lie not difficult to sell as it seemed this King was eager to believe such stories out of a hopeful disposition. Nyrea explained that they were in dire need of a blade known only as the Rune Blade. His brother, Prince Wrinth had escaped to the dungeons with it and they’ve not yet been able to retrieve it. The Crow King led the heroes to a stairwell and explained that they hadn’t much time (the next few sessions were a bit of an odd play style, as the characters were stuck in a sort of time loop, where after a certain number of hours in game time, everything would reset and they would be back on that same stone balcony). Smoke’s Flames first attempt into the labyrinth below resulted in encounters with an illusion based teleporting doorway, a Fomorian running a torture chamber (complete with Iron Maiden, same one from the previous post), a crazed eladrin guard with a bit too much love for rats, shape changing oni, slaadi and a portal to the Chaos Plane, a golden Warforged named Cogwell, crazy flammable gas filled chamber hidden along a staircase lined with lit candles, and an ancient eladrin village. The second attempt below our heroes managed to bypass some of these previous encounters and make much more haste. They infiltrated the eladrin city below (although this time the gas ignited on the stairs, collapse the whole stairwell) and had met up with a fifth adventurer trapped in time. Ajrash the Wise and Knowledgable was this persons name, an invoker and dragonborn. With his aid the four, now made five, and managed to best the remaining length of dungeon and retrieve the Rune Blade (from the long dead corpse of Prince Wrinth), but not before they had to maneuver a mushroom elevator and battle a large Devourer Worm. They returned to the King Spire above with their trophy, which Neither had taken as her own, and attempted to seek out Lady Arioch (whom they had met with upon their second waking on the balcony and discussed how she could truly help them if she were able to get the Rune Blade). The Crow King managed to intercept the heroes of Smoke’s Flame on the bridge leading to Lady Arioch’s tower. A entertaining and deadly battle ensued, ending with the lives of the Crow King and his stealthy assassin. Lady Arioch took the five heroes to the room where the pillar (still complete in this time) lay and informed them to strike it with the Rune Blade in order to end this hellish temporal loop and break the Curse of the Kingspire. This was done, right as the advancing forces of the barbarian army fully took the castle. The Rune Blade struck the pillar as Lady Arioch herself was being overrun by barbarians. A blinding flash overtook the five heroes and a maddening warping sensation was felt as they spun forward thousands of years to their current year. Back in their own time, armed with the ever hungry Rune Blade, Smoke’s Flame was back in the ruined husk of the once glorious Kingspire. In this setting along with them was Dragora and a small force, blades drawn, rushing at them with bloodlust in their eyes…

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Communing with an Iron Maiden and commencing with the Time Travel.

The four heroes descended the musty stairwell towards a second door in the darkness (which, yes, was attacked many times with magic missiles). Once opening the door at the bottom of the stairs Vellen Tîwele was the first to look in. Most of what he saw was in ruins, chains that had deteriorated into broken segments of their former selves, torture blades whose handles had rotted away, piles of debris that might have once been sturdy tables for victims to be strapped too. The only item that kept much of it’s previous form was a large Iron Maiden that seemed to be tilted some and acting as a support of sorts for a portion of the ceiling. Once Vellen’s eyes fell upon this horrid device his mind was assaulted with the screams of a tortured woman. Falling to his knees, clutching his ears and head, he was wracked with psychic pain. Quickly Neither (no nifty link here) rushed into the wreckage and flung the Maiden open. A section of the ceiling threatened to crush her but, thankfully, her nimble elven instincts took hold and she managed to avoid the worst of it. A delicate skeletal figure had fallen out of the Maiden, on one of it’s boney fingers rested an ancient ruby ring. With the corpse free of it’s dreadful tomb it had been trapped within for thousands of years the pain Vellen felt subsided. Gathering his senses he was able to join the rest of the group in searching the ruined room. A secreted room that had been ransacked many years prior was found, but nothing more of note could be gleaned from the wreckage and the four made their way back up the stairs. Once back at the crossroads, the tower and broken bridge on their lefts (west), the archers room and stairs to the torture room to their backs (south), a hall of immense amounts of broken glass ahead of them (north, and the courtyard with a still huge writhing mass of worms on their right(east). Before they had made a choice on which way to go they heard commotion to the east and decided they should investigate that, stealthily. It was the large cloaked guard from before whom had been sent to deal with them. He had two other guards with him/her/it. Getting the jump on the trio, Smoke’s Flame was victorious after a short fight and noted the door the guards had been heading towards. This was the direction the heroes choose to go as clearly it was going to lead them to the skull lord they had seen previously. Through these doors was a long hallway extending east and west with a double sided staircase against the far wall. Both these stairs met at the same landing where a bridge headed south back towards the courtyard (and the balcony) and to a third staircase heading north into an unknown room. Chanting was heard by all. Capitalizing on her inherent racial speed, Neither rushed towards the stairs and ascended them catching sight within the room above. In her wake she had tripped a trap which had set a section of those stone steps ablaze and therefore perilous for the remaining three heroes. Marcus Urrek acted next and with the aid of his new boots managed to run up the wall and along it dropping down onto the platform a few paces behind Neither, safely avoiding the flames. All this sudden commotion had easily drawn the attention of all who had been within the room ahead. Two guards moved to block the stairs up, the Skull Lord himself moved in a few paces behind them and began lobbing spells towards the heroes. Behind the Skull Lord a few archers moved into position. Vellen and Cain the Cunning moved to take the stairs on the east side, not yet ablaze, up towards their companions and see what was happening. Battle unfolded with one of the cultist chanters managing to complete his work. Once all were slain, the heroes moved up the stairs within this room. From floor to ceiling a green, pulsing stone pillar split the center of the room where the Skull Lord had been. Once up the stairs, the quartet saw that this same pillar continued up through the floor and towards the heavens themselves, as this rooms roof was missing. The green pillar rose for about thirty or so feet above the chambers floor and ended abruptly in a jagged fashion, imply it had been broken at some point in it’s past. In this chamber, alone with the pillar, knelt Dragora, she had just finished a ritual of sorts and rose to her feet. Smoke’s Flame had not time to act before the pillar began pulsing brightly and a large raceless green face emerged. Looking at the four heroes of Smoke’s Flame it addressed them, Dragora screaming in the background “No! You are supposed to choose me!!”. A bright flashed was next and many moments passed. When next the heroes had awoke, they were back on the balcony overlooking the courtyard, only something was different. The barbarians were there from the ghosts they had seen prior, but now in the flesh. All the stone masonry was much more fresh and exact, none of the years of wear like our heroes had witnessed not long before this. It was clear they had been sent to the past, many thousands of years.. during the battle which had taken place here.. and seems.. was now taking place with them in it!

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Three sessions worth of updates...

The following morning our four heroes headed to the noble estate of the Ven’Shir Family to inform them of the news which had unfolded the previous days. Meeting with Lady Noura Ven’Shir they were informed that Cadavra was actually her daughter Drugiesha and had been sent to an institution as she had caused the death of her sister Margosha out of jealousy. Smoke’s Flame continued to enlighten Lady Noura as to their findings among Cadavra’s belongings, namely a map. It was discerned that the map detailed the locations of undead hidden throughout the city for an attack on the Ven’Shir household. Smoke’s Flame set out in an attempt to slay these pockets of undead throughout Punjar. After accomplishing nearly half their task (three of seven pockets of undead, one of which being a peculiar trio of undead known as the Undead 3) they returned to the estate for the night to ensure that it would remain safe while they rested. The next morning came without any future undead threats, although the house was greeted with a different assault. Turns out that the Verdant Lord’s, now without their leader, were seeking out Smoke’s Flame for guidance. The four heroes took them under their wing and provided some coin for better equipment and set them on a mission to slay the remaining undead. As Smoke’s Flame headed to their humble abode in Old Punjar, they were informed that a fellow with a metal cap had been inquiring about when the heroes would be back. This could be none other than Skinny Roger, and they were certain they could find him at the Silent Maid(en?). Sure enough, he was there, he informed the quartet that the Shadow Cabinet wished to extend an invitation to the leader’s of Smoke’s Flame. At midnight, if they so wished, they were to meet at a specific bridge and gain entry to the meeting grounds of the Shadow Cabinet. Deciding this might lead to future helpful advice/friends/secrets, Smoke’s Flame were set upon attending said meeting. They had plenty of time now, until midnight, so they set out to help destroy the remaining undead in the event that they proved too powerful for the Verdant Lord’s (now the Smoke’s Flame something, forgot what they called themselves). The heroes discovered one more pocket of undead and dealt with it, just as they were finishing the former Verdant Lord’s came screaming in to take care of the situation themselves. They informed Smoke’s Flame that the had taken care of the other locations. Feeling confident that the undead threat had been quaffed, they set about preparing for their meeting later that evening. Heading back to the Old Punjar location, they spoke with Magma and heard his story. He was from a distant time and had his lifeforce entombed in a metalic bronze suit of sorts. He fought to ensure that the ancient Eladrin magics would not threaten the world further and played a great part in sealing away the Dreaming City of the Eladrin. It seems that the Red Hand are seeking to awaken some of this ancient magic in a location known as the Kingspire in the Drakenvold Swamp, as that castle was built on many very powerful lay lines of eldritch power. Armed with this knowledge, Smoke’s Flame assured Magma that they were intending to investigate this matter. As it was getting late into the night, the four decided it would be optimal time to head to the warf district and use they’re long boat, crewed by a few of the former Verdant Lord’s (Deacon, Gorax, and Persimon) and meet with the Shadow Cabinet. After gaining entry into the secret halls of the thieves guild they were provided a magical device that would allow them to exit at any point during the meeting. They were to meet with all the houses contained in the Shadow Cabinet and go through the procedures of a common meeting. This entailed, primarily, of the different houses bidding on “jobs” to be done throughout Punjar and it’s area for anonymous patrons. Smoke’s Flame took such a job to locate and slay a particular menace below the temple district, a temple of Palor to be precise. They were allotted 48 hours to do so. Knowing that there was already a pressing matter of investigating the Kingspire, they headed there first, unsure of how dire that situation might be. The exact destination was somewhat shady as our heroes headed off into the swamps surrounding portions of Punjar. They were hard pressed to tough their way through the swamps and encountered an old crone in a shack full of this and that (aswell as avoiding a group of Draggones, encountering and helping a pair of refugees). She spoke with the party a short time, and after taking a bit of Vellen’s hair she cast it with some bones and blood to divine his future. Upon reading the outcome she removed an emerald ring from her gaunt hand and, handing it to Vellen, told him to give it to the raven haired regent and she would favor him. Continuing their journey they eventually managed to find the small village bordering what was to be the Drakenvold Swamps and the Kingspire Castle. The village had been taken by the Red Hand and the hobgoblin forces that were in charge were being led by a powerful hobgoblin by the name of Jonscat (so Gogo?). Led by Cain, they decided to lie, and hopefully gain easy access into the village. It was explained by Cain that the four of them were the right-hand men of Dragora of the Red Hand. This, indeed, gained Smoke’s Flame entry but at that point they were uncertain as to what they should seek. Jonscat himself led the quartet to a large windmill. Inside there was a huge ogre at a chopping block, the smell of ichor and mold assaulted ones nose as they entered the mill. It was not long at all before the ogre reached into a large crate and pulled a weeping child from it, placing the kid on the block. Bursting into action, Smoke’s Flame quickly took the duo down to save the children’s lives. Not the point at which they were hoping to blow their cover, but a necessary one. Dispatching a few more guards that Cain bluffed into initially leaving us alone (pretending to be Jonscat and needing some mustard for his meal of child leg) when they came back with said mustard. They had the children (two boys) play hide and seek with them and to ONLY come out at the voices of Cain or the others of Smoke’s Flame, then stealthily they headed towards the docks to gain a ship to the castle in the middle of the swamp-lake. At the dock, they encountered three hobgoblins who didn’t quite believe that the four heroes were agents of the Red Hand. Believing they’re ruse was up, the heroes again sprang into action hoping to silence the trio of hobgoblins before they could sound an alarm. A long and tiring battle followed, towards the end many more hobgoblins were headed toward the docks (alerted by a few riders who witnessed the battle) and the four barely made it to a boat. Marcus, who fell during the battle, was revived and the four headed, slowly, towards the Kingspire. The still waters proved to be all the deadly, as many hours into the trip they were ambushed by bloated corpses, flying undead things, and a giant snake. A battle followed, and the bloated undead attempted to spill our favored heroes into the swamps depths, although this was thwarted (mainly thanks to Marcus’s rowing/axe swingin’ skills). The battle won, our heroes made it to the shore of a large island covered in ruins. As Smoke’s Flame climbed a rounding, long stone staircase faint ghosts began to rush past them towards the main ruins. They’re numbers increased and some were distracted by Vellen. Fearing he was in trouble (and worried he was noticed due to his Eladrin Lineage) he quickly spoke to them, assuring the phantasms that he was here to storm the castle and take down the Eladrin within (if there even were any left after so many years). This seemed to quell them for the time being. Reaching the top of the stairs it opened up into a large courtyard littered with rubble and battle scarred pock marks. Shortly a vast battle erupted within the court between the same primitive human phantasms and their enemies, ancient ghostly eladrin. Attempting to not draw the attentions of these entities again, the heroes crept along the battle field, trying to reach the other side without encounter. A few caught notice at times, mistaking the heroes for villains, scoring a glancing blow a time or two. Eventually the group made it to the base of the entrance, a wide stairway leading to large, double doors. Blocking their way were four ghostly eladrin decked out in battle attire. Vellen spoke to them a moment, and realizing his folly, changed his dialect to elven. Explaining these four were the elite guard of the “king” within, they were admitted entry to the inner compound. As they began to enter, Vellen’s clothing began to take on a more insubstantial and ancient look. Once within, his normal wardrobe returned and the ghosts in the courtyard were gone. Stealthily they made their way to a large, stone room (avoiding trouble from some pesky seeming arrow holes in a hallway) were very real and tangible cultists seemed to be dancing and performing an odd ceremony. Marcus was nearly noticed as the four began sneaking through the room but the attention of the group was caught by a three headed skeletal figure on a balcony above. He addressed the cultists and at his side was Dragora, an enemy of Smoke’s Flame for some time now. Marcus tried to catch up with his companions when he was noticed by the skeletal figure and it leaned to one of it’s cloaked guards and spoke commands. The figure stalked off out of sight and the four heroes left the room as the cultists began to fight over the contents of a wine glass that was tossed to them from the skeletal figure (both Dragora and the figure drank from it prior to this). As the cultists writhed over each other for the glass, millions of worms began coming out of the earthen floor and burrowing into the bodies and any of the heroes that remained within the large room for any period of time. Escaping this room they were presented with three options. To the right was a hallway littered with many shards of broken glass (and also perhaps the way the skeletal king, Dragora, and the two cloaked guards would likely be). To the left, a hallway they were fairly certain would lead to the archers hiding behind one side of the previously encountered arrow slots. Straight ahead a rusty set of large metal doors, and the way they choose. Upon opening them it led to a stone bridge spanning a chasm that seemed to fall downwards for many hundred (perhaps thousand?) feet. There was a broken section approximately ten feet towards the middle of the bridge where one would have to jump across. The heroes decided to head back in and try they’re luck w/ the left option, the suspected direction of the Archers. Sure enough, a few rotten doors later they had encountered three archers. Having gotten the drop on them, they made short work of all but one. They learned his name was Victor and learned the name of the groups captain (now slain, and I don’t have my notes right with me for the details of said name). Another door in this room was to head down to a old torture chamber complete with Iron Maiden. This is where the heroes of Smoke’s Flame were last left…

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Smoke's Flame live up to their title...

The barren courtyard leading to the dilapidated windmill was littered with corpses, some the animated bodies of giant “scarecrow” and others a troll and half buried zombies. Glancing back up to the window they had seen the white haired witch peering out of prior to the battle they now saw nothing. The party of adventurer’s known as Smoke’s Flame decided to circle the windmill in search of a less obvious entrance, and somewhat in case the witch had attempted to make a break for it. Around back there was a smaller door that appeared to be locked, as well as trapped with a glyph. Vellen disabled the trap and set upon the lock making quick work of it as well. The quartet made their way within once the door was confirmed to be safe. Inside this windmill they were assaulted by a horrid smell, it was clear that the grindstone of the windmill had been recently used to turn bodies into a fine paste, some of which was still left within the recess of the grindstone. Littering the floor was old, rotten hay and grains. A solitary staircase wound up the outer wall leading up to a single closed door. Hidden in the soiled floor was a trapdoor leading down to some unknown location. The heroes decided to follow the lead of the witch up in the window and took to the steps cautiously. Neither took the lead and found a rickety step that looked as though it had been rigged to squeak loudly when weight was pushed against it. It was avoided by all. Reaching the door safely, the group listened intently to see what awaited them on the other side. Only muffled groans were discernable through the door. Marcus burst in through the door and our heroes were faced with a large spider, each of it’s eight legs ending in a lethal point, mandibles chittering…. it sprang to life. A nearly overwhelming fear consumed Vellen once he realized they were facing a large, predatory spider. He made sure to deal with this foe from a distance for a bit prior to coming within reach of the beast to strike the finishing blow. Their foe vanquished, it was then that the adventurer’s realized the room had been locked and the muffled noises they had heard was from an otherworldly eladrin bound up in the webs of this spider. Shortly after these realizations they began to smell smoke coming from the portal leading into this room and it became frightfully clear that this had been a trap. Quickly the room was filling with smoke and everyone began making efforts to exit the room. Vellen removed the hinges to the door and once Marcus pulled the door away all could clearly see the main tower of the windmill was aflame. Cain attempted to release the eladrin from his webbed prison. Neither began using her recently acquired magical rope to aid her escape down to the main floor of the burning tower. Once the eladrin was freed he had suggested we flee through the window that was twenty feet up. Cain was already ahead of the new companion and Vellen was quickly on his way to aid the party with the window. Down on the floor, Neither had already scaled her rope to the main floor and had set upon opening the trap door in the floor to head down into safety and likely pursue our quarry. She’s into that sorta’ thing. She had no luck with the trapdoor and, having lingered too long in the flames, was weakened by the smoke as a large flaming support beam collapsed onto her. She was now pinned to the floor. Marcus saw the last portion of what had happened and took Neither’s rope to the floor below and attempted to free Neither from the burning timber, his brute strength proved to be on his side once again. Meanwhile, above, Vellen had opened the window and Cain and the eladrin were scaling down the rope Cain had secured for their escape. Vellen wasn’t having much luck at the window, as he attempted to flee via the window an explosion from below shook him from his perch sending him down into the sticky embrace of some remaining spider webs. Marcus and the now freed Neither were working on breaking a door down while Cain and the eladrin were attempting to find a way to unbar it, it was Marcus’s reliable strength that proved to be the better choice yet again, and Marcus and Neither came crashing through the doors, coughing and covered in soot. Only Vellen remained, nimbly escaping the webbing he made his way back to the window only to now be stuck on a very burnt rope. Under the stress of his weight the rope snapped and he plummeted forty feet to the safety below. Thanks to his acrobatic skills he only received somewhat minor injuries from the fall. After catching their breaths and surveying the immediate area, Vellen checked to see if he noticed any recent tracks near the door in an attempt to determine if the witch had exited here or the trapdoor. He did not see fresh tracks, but what he did realize was that there was a cliff side overlooking the sea very near. When he went to the cliff, below he could see a large ship exiting a sea cave below heading out to the open waters. Quickly he yelled for his friends to join him and they all quickly came to the conclusion of leaping down from the cliff to the boat below. If they could land on the sail just right perhaps it could break their fall somewhat. Neither and Marcus landed on the hull of the ship, Marcus landing a bit harder as his feet broke through the wooden floor some. Cain, Vellen, and Magma (as Smoke’s Flame learned the eladrin was named) landed in the Crows Nest, extinguishing a Red Caps life in the process. The ruckus above deck alerted their quarry on board and it wasn’t long before a group of five beings came to the blood drenched upper decks. It was a group of two icy zombies, two flaming skeletons, and something called a Grue (spelling). Battle ensued with our heroes being the victors. They quickly regathered their strength and headed below deck. Reaching the lower decks of the ship Smoke’s Flame encountered a slew of mindless zombies chained to benches and had been put to rowing the ship. At the far end of the hold was the witch they’d been in search of, Cadavra. She was standing behind a rather large cauldron who’s foul ichor swished out of the pot from here to there as the boat pitched. She stopped their pursuit with a raised hand and began a maddened rant about how she was to bring the Ven’Shir family down and be the only heir to their fortune and name. After her very misguided speech was finished our heroes sprang into action. Quickly joining the ranks of the witch was a mass of swarming Skeletal Claws and shortly into the battle she summoned four vampire spawns to do her bidding. After a long battle, in which half of Smoke’s Flame nearly met their end, they finally bested Cadavra. They had also found a map on her that detailed what we believe might be the location of many undead around Punjar that might be heading to attack the Ven’Shir estate. Steering the boat back to the hidden sea cave they destroyed the cauldron, learning that it was how she was summoning the undead into this realm. The ships hull was full of a mass of swarming undead, and to destroy the army the adventurer’s set the ship aflame with many barrels of oil they’d found within the cave. Watching it burn awhile, they were confident in their work and headed back to Punjar. In the morning they would confront the Ven’Shir’s and explain what had unfolded. They were also curious to search out the meaning of the map they’d found on Cadavra the Witch.

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Lycanthropes, Kitty Cats, and Fey-Infused Horses apply within...

After the battle with the Dryad and Satyr, our heroes continued to explore further down the mine. It wasn’t long before Vellen and Neither had spotted movement ahead, while they took the lead as to ensure their chances of moving stealthily. Vellen secretly made his way to the opposite side of a large boulder where they had last saw this movement. From here he was able to spy a nasty creature adorned with a crusty red cap and a wick looking blade, awaiting his comrades as they approached. Vellen skillfully darted around the rock silently sticking his dagger into the small creatures throat silencing him before he could raise an alarm. Cleaning his blade he motioned for the rest of the group to join him and they continued on. They reached a rather large opening leading into a room covered in odd moss and littered with more of the foul Red Caps. Among these nasty fey was an extremely odd house cat the size of a person and a frolicking green steed prancing around and naying. Up a small cliff the group could see a human in the throes of anguish. Lastly, a large portal was seen in one corner of the room, with a few of the Red Caps eerily dancing around it. Darting in quickly, Smoke’s Flame brought battle to these vicious creatures. As the battle raged the portal was able to summon in more Red Caps and the tortured human managed to afflict Vellen with Lycanthropy. All foes were slain aside from the human who had bit Vellen, as he was not in his right mind. Turned out this man was Haledon who the group had come in search of. Haledon offered up information about the witch he had been dealing with. His life was spared but Haledon was so stricken with guilt that he wandered into the tunnels alone, armed with a silvered short sword, to end his existence for fear of causing more havoc. Smoke’s Flame back tracked toward the compound of the Verdant Lords, there they explained what had taken place and were able to stay and rest within their mines. The next day the Verdant Lords gave Smoke’s Flame the same wagon they used to transport corpses to the Witch who was living out at a windmill on the cliffs overlooking the sea. It was decided that all but Cain would lay in the wagon under blanket to play the role of fresh corpses and he would lead the wagon to the windmill. Cain was stopped by a small group of Dragonne and forced to pay a small bribe (thanks to his cunning use of his quick wit and sly tongue, this bribe was much less than originally asked of him, 15gp vs. 55gp)and the group was able to make it to the windmill shortly after that. At the windmill Cain was once again stopped by a large lumbering beast of a form in robes. It was here that Cain gave the secret knock that had been determined prior to the trek and all within the wagon sprang to battle! The troll, as it turned out, was prepared and had his own tricks up his sleeves. The large scarecrows that had been spied on their way to the windmill animated and randomly around the field of battle corpses half dug themselves out of the ground and lashed out at anyone near them. It was a tough and grim battle, much like the last one in the mines, and many of our heroes nearly met their end. This is where the session ended this night, with our heroes victorious, but barely. Outside the Windmill… having spied a white haired women in the top window of the mill, watching the battle. DUN, DUN, DUUUUUNNNNN!

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