Smoke's Flame--Adventures in Punjar

Hands were shook, ales were consumed, and foes were vanquished! A humble history.

Excerpt from Vellen’s Journal:

“It was a dark evening in Smoke. Smog chocked the lungs, rain began to fall, and in every alleyway you could catch the glimpse of steel and predatory eyes. But that’s a redundant description, as anyone familiar with The Smoke District would know. Marcus and I were running late for a date we had with a few ales. Although this particular evening we were to meet with a duo who were interested in some info Marcus has, as well. I was along for the ride and a shot at some free drinks on our soon to be new “friends”, not to mention this particular topic actually piqued my interest as it was to have something to do with The Raven Queen and a temple of hers in Punjar. “While we were outside the tavern awaiting our fresh acquaintances we came to the realization that we might not be the only ones impatient for their arrival. Just as we caught a glimpse of the duo, a dwarf and a tiefling, we noticed a handful of kobolds decked in the White Dragon Clan’s attire. That’s never a good, nor rare sight these days, sadly. They began hassling our “friends” forcing our arm to come to their aid. Upon dealing with the situation at hand we stepped out of the gloom of the night and into our rather familiar neighborhood tavern (particularly so to Marcus, mind you) for our much awaited ale and conversation. After talking and exchanging information it was getting much later in the evening. We agreed to help the Dwarf (Grieve we discovered) and Tiefling (Laevian) deal with the situation, the matter of a Temple of Stately Death that had very recently been taken over by a cult of some sorts. Marcus and I led the them to another tavern, The Silent Maid, frequented by the local thieves guild, The Shadow Cabinet, in search of further information. “Marcus was also familiar with this establishment and exchanged some words with the barkeep. The man pointed us in the direction of a young fellow by the name of Skinny Roger. Skinny Roger informed us that the reason we couldn’t track down Grieve’s clergy was due to a particular woman titled Mother Zebothul and an elusive “Beggar-King”. Turns out not only was that the case but also that these two were causing troubles for The Shadow Cabinet of late. Skinny Roger continued with his information (which apparently travels QUITE quickly in this area of town) that the four of us had knocked off a rather important White Dragon this evening. To “correct” this “wrong” they (the Shadow Cabinet, having their hands in every local gangs coffers) requested we take care of the Beggar-King situation for them and all would be forgotten on their part. It was decided, we didn’t relish the idea of having the movers of shakers of the shadowed alleys breathing down our necks and it was clearly the answer to Grieve’s most pressing questions as well, we’d go do this errand for them and the peace of mind of our newly acquainted dwarven friend. “Together we headed out to Cutpurse, supposedly the compound of the Beggar-King. We were promptly met by a large and intimidating gate with a demon motif. Disabling the trap on the lock, but unable to pick the lock we scaled it (and yet it was STILL trapped with spears atop it) and headed into the complex…”

Thus began the adventures of Smoke’s Flame, a company of four friends and adventurers (though it never begins that way) into the vast realms of a wicked city, known only as the fabulous Punjar: The Tarnished Jewel. During the course of the adventures we have gained the aid of a Human Ranger by the name of Cerys (despite my misspellings in some areas) in the vast under city of the Zain-Kin which is detailed in the adventure Dragora’s Dungeon published by Goodman Games. To date they have completed three pre-publish, although most likely altered somewhat, adventures (Sellswords of Punjar, Dragora’s Dungeon, and The Tower of the Black Pearl which might not be the correct name and was scaled to the level of the group). They have met with many close calls and certainly only more await them.

Edit 3/28/09: Last Monday half the group decided to change their characters to something from the PHB2. Grieve, the Dwarven Cleric of The Raven Queen has been replaced by Cain the Cunning (Human Bard) and Carys the Human Ranger has been replaced by Neither (Elven Avenger).

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Past recap, Feb 24th

Made it back to Punjar (barely, effin aquatic Owlbears, wtf!) only to find our patrons humble abode (not really) in flames and being fought over by the random guilds of Punjar. If the Dragonne (spelling) were worth HALF their weight in salt they’d be there doing something about such a chaotic situation.. I mean.. least of all.. what if the fires spread. Dragonne are clearly just bullies out to make a coin, nothing more (Vellen’s interpretations, at least). At least we found the Vensheer’s alive and well (AND AWAKE) at Narap’s tower. No more leads on the something of Timely Death (Grieve’s faction), but we might have found the whereabouts of a particularly pesky Green Dragon (and in a temple… good chances Dragora’s back… imo). And possibly a beholder or jibbering mound (names correct?). I don’t think we’re quite prepared to bridge this gap just yet. Managed to find some more information on the whereabouts of Whisker as well. Apparently Whisker was the favored weapon (dagger? wizards don’t like rapiers!) of a Wizard named Zezrakan (spelling on that name). This wizard was said to have built a black tower that is out to sea (approx. five miles from Punjar) that is only above surface twice a year. Thankfully for us, we happened upon this information close to one of the two times we could venture forth into that location. Narap was the one providing Smoke’s Flame with said information, and as payment, requested us to bring him a specific Black Pearl from the tower. Any other treasures found within are ours to keep, as long as we retrieve the pearl and give it to Narap. He also promised to make us some constructs to help ward and protect our little hovel from further harm as Sister Christy had mentioned she’d been having problems w/ brigands and rakes. Making it to the docks, we commissioned a boat to the island on the early morning of the day this tower is supposed to surface. There was “only one man crazy enough to do that job” as all the other boats wouldn’t take us due to someone “staking a claim” on that particular location for the day we wished to venture forth. As we waited for the day to come, Narap informed us of some more information he was able to dig up in regards to the Black Tower. Apparently there is a hulking brute within the tower that will go into a frenzied rage if it smells the steel of blades, or any blade for that matter. Could prove to be a challenge for the crew, as we all pretty much rely on said item for defense/offense. We picked up a few weapons to try and avoid this problem, though we’ll see how that pans out. We set sail the morning of the fifth day after much prompting on our part to wake and coax Twig into preparing his boat for the sea. Once we reached the tower we saw another boat moored there already. We made course towards the boat to tamper with it only to be spotted by four red clad and painted orcs atop the tower. Battle ensued w/ a sea crocodile joining in (also painted w/ red). After a tiresome battle we reigned victorious and all made it to the top of the tower after mooring our own boat. We are now ready to venture forth into the tower while the tides are on our side. Hopefully that was all of the Red Orcs… and ideally this hulking brute will leave us alone if we refrain from brandishing our blades. Time will tell.. as we’re about to open the hatch within.

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Entering the Tower of the Black Pearl, March 9th

On top of the tower and without any immediate threat of the now deceased red clad orcs we were able to investigate the hatch into the tower. It was a rusty, barnacle and seaweed laden doorway w/o an obvious way to open it. I’m not entirely certain HOW we opened the door, but Grieve did take a taste of the glyph that marked the top of the latch. I can only imagine this is the mark of Zezrakan (Sazrakan, Sezrakan, spelling?) the wizard who created this tower, owner of his favored weapon Whisker, and owner (creator?) of The Black Pearl. Once we entered the tower we found ourselves in a room lined by lit candles of various burned down heights. In the middle of the room was a podium w/ a large, heavy black and gold tome and a wooden chair placed there for comfy “reading”? Grieve and Marcus were quickly uninterested in this room and went to the exit of the room, which was a staircase, and waited. Careus (spelling, sorry John) was interested in the candles and decided he was going to snuff one. As he reached for it, it belched flame at him yet he endured through and extinguished the flame. Vellen checked for traps around the book/chair and found nothing so decided to look into the book. It was full of names that had been crossed out with a black line but as he got further into the book some of the names began to refrain from being blotted out. We found our names and corresponding numbers which were also reflected on particular candles in the room. We checked the number on the candle Careus put out with the name in the book, it had a line through it. He decided to relight the candle and then we rechecked the name in the book, the line was removed and we saw it was Edwin the Third. Vellen checked for Mouringlar and Dragora’s names in the book and they were not found. Deciding the book only contained the names of heroes, we decided to leave promptly before Careus allowed his curiosity to take the better of him and see what happens when he puts out further flames and relights them, enjoying a power over life and death perhaps. I can only imagine how the Raven Queen feels about the use of such power, and over “good” heroes? As we descended the stairs we heard something approaching. Vellen suggested that we ensure all our blades are sheathed, as we are aware of a “hulking brute” who loathes blades. Certainly a hulking brute was en route towards us but harmlessly passed us by as we did not present a threat. Further down the staircase we began seeing fetishes, dolls, skulls, and other arcane trinkets in niches along the walls. Upon closer inspection on a green skull, riddle w/ arcane marks and having emeralds for eyes it burst into flames and began to terrorize us, engulfing us in green flames and calling to its aid a pair of armored ghosts and a jelly/ooze of some sort. It was a gruff battle in which we were ultimately victorious but at the expense of a few healing surges per character. After recovering and relieving the green skull of its emerald eyes we made it to the bottom of the stairs. There were three blocked off doorways here, each w/ their own dragon motif statue around them. One had emerald gemstone eyes, the second had pearls for eyes, and the last dragon’s eyes were just empty sockets (indicating that it’s eyes had been taken at some point). Each of the doorways had a glyph in front of it, but only the pearl dragons glyph was different, as it had been recently “quenched” by orcish blood. We used the recently aquired skulls eyes in the empty sockets and tried to open the door that way. We attempted moving the pearl eyes to the empty sockets at which point I decided to prick my finger and spill blood onto the glyph. The pearls glowed reddish and then plopped out of the sockets, the door didn’t budge. I pricked my finger and spilled blood over the glyph which belonged to the dragon w/ emerald eyes. At this point the stone “door” that had been blocking our progression rippled and we could somewhat see through it. We all went through and were met by a completely alien location and creature. All around us was swirling… everything. Approaching us was a giant, faceless creature w/ enormous wings and an even larger sword. The Angel informed us that we were on Zezrakan’s Pleasure Ship in a vast, powerful realm and this place was not meant to be visited by such lowly mortals. We each took our turn insulting it, albeit accidentally (I think Marcus was the only one to actually “impress” it at all, despite having lost his arm wrestling match), at which point Vellen informed the “angel” we would be on our way and leave. The creature sealed the door behind us and Vellen promptly took the emerald eyes from that dragons sockets. We spilled some blood in front of the pearly gate and embarked through it’s quivering, rippling, and glistening arches. On the other side we found ourselves in a much more familiar type location. A rough-hewed cavern with the depictions of a humanoid transforming into a multi-headed dragon were on the walls along with a solitary door and a makeshift stone stairway leading out of the current room were located. We also quickly realized we were in the company of three orcs (one a bit beefier) and a cloaked figure w/ a wand and staff (both?). Battle immediately ensued and we found that the cloaked figure was the vile Eladrin we allowed to escape from the Beggar-King’s caverns. We did not allow this creature a second shot at proving us fools again. Concluding the battle we were again deprived of a few healing surges, but gleefully accepted the treasure we found on their persons. Afterwards, we investigated the door. Inside we found copper urns, hung and rotting red cloaks, many sigils, and a bowl with a rusty, curved dagger in it. Opening the copper urns (or coffers, or whatever they were) revealed a large amount of black sand and one specific, mummified organ (which Careus seemed interested in taking, not certain if he actually did). Vellen forgot to determine if the number of urns matched that of the number of red cloaks, and if that were the case, each urn might contain one “piece” of the previous cloaks wearer. Vellen guesses this is the room in which a vile, sacrificial act was completed (perhaps turning someone into a dragon like the paintings on the walls depict). Seems like someone who would have gotten along quite well with the Beggar-King occupied this room at one point. We decided to quickly leave the room getting an eerie feeling. Down the staircase from the previous room we found ourselves being led to a small dock on a vast underground, ice cold lake. Shortly a small boat approached and was sailed by a cloaked skeletal figure. It had glowing red eyes and silently outstretched a bone hand toward us. Grieve promptly plopped two coppers into the hand and took a seat on the boat. Vellen followed suit dropping two platinum painted copper coins into the hand and also sat on the boat. Careus gave the figure ten gold coins and got on the boat at which point Marcus gave a gold coin to the helmsman and joined his friends on the small skiff. The robed and hooded figure skillfully steered his vessel along the waters surface, the destination unknown to the party. Overhead we took not of a rickety rope bride w/ some broken planks which seemed to be approximately thirty feet in length. The boat continued under and passed this lonely landmark and eventually another dock was seen in the distance. At the shore we took note of four figures clad in red. Three orcs and an elf to be exact. They in turn easily took note of the steadily approaching boat. We were ushered off the boat and met by the elf. He informed us that he felt we were foolish going against the thieves guilds rules, deciding to head to the tower knowing that they had “staked a claim” on this location for the day. He also mentioned that if we’d have made it this far we have clearly the skill and strength to be helpful and suggested that these two factions “join forces” to overcome the future problems withing this tower as there is certainly enough treasure for all persons to split. Marcus said that would be fine, although we reserve the right to be the sole persons who may lay claim to the Black Pearl said to be housed within this tower. This angered the elf, informing us that we knew damned well that was the reason he and the Red Tides had came here. Vellen informed the elf that we had no intention of sharing ANY of the treasure within the tower with this crew and Smoke’s Flame quickly decided this was not going to end in kind words and handshakes as they sprang into action. The group made short work of the group having swiftly taken action first (hurray for winning initiative completely). We gathered the gear that seemed it may prove useful in the future for us. Altogether the party found around 2000+ gold (around 600+ gold per person, I don’t recall the exact number). A pair of Hedge Wizard Gloves (Pg 135 AV, Lvl 4 item, 840gp market value. Vellen took these.), an Amulet of Health+2 (pg.249 PHB, Lvl 8 item, 3,400gp market value. Marcus took this), a Lifedrinker Great Axe+1 (pg.235 PHB, Lvl 5 item, 1,000gp market value. Marcus took this), a Diadem of Acuity (pg.248 PHB, Lvl 8 item, 3,400gp market value. Careus took this), and a Holy Healer’s Mace+2 (pg.70 AV, Lvl 7 item, 2,600gp market value. Grieve took this).

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A Tower crumbles and the White Dragons run red with blood, March 16th

We rejoin our heroes in the depths of a vast cavern. They’re on the shores of an icy underground lake or river, standing at the shore confronted with a large metallic door and at their feet the dead Red Tides. An attempt is made to determine if this large, intimidating door is trapped and all confirm it should be safe and Grieve approaches. He attempts to open the door though finding it to be lock, firstly though… that it is INDEED trapped as a flashing blade slices his chest. The trap, now “detected” is disabled by Vellen, followed by the doors lock. Marcus deems it safe and rushes through its arches. Once the party enters into the rusty, discolored room pitted w/ holes the door they entered through slams shut and locks as water begins to rush in. All have determined why this room has been littered with skeletons from ages passed and a knowing panic begins to swell. Vellen spots a locking mechanism on the roof of the room while Careus attempts to hoist Vellen towards it. Marcus surveyed the rest of the room trying to determine what else might be around, looking into the holes and attempting to decipher how the water is entering the room and notices many gears grinding on the floor that the water has now revealed. Grieve, being the dwarf that he is, studies the metal works and notices small electrical sparks happening as these gears chug quicker and quicker. Shouting a warning for all, he attracts Vellens attention towards the gears which he quickly engages and disables before much of an electrical current could form withing the quickly rising waters. Careus and then Marcus attempt to hoist Vellen back into the air towards the lock, Marcus succeding, while Grieve being the first to be taken by the water (due to height) begins slamming the door. Vellen disables the lock and Marcus slams the door open, as it is no longer jammed. The throng of heroes, looking much like shivering, drowned rats some spilling onto the bottom of a long flight of stone steps. Any fate is better than the one they just escaped, and a staircase all the better. As Smoke’s Flame crests the stairs they come to a long (thirty feet, familiar?) rickety rope bridge which Careus believes to be sturdy. Vellen quickly, with a fresh rope in hand dashes across the bridge. Below the skeletal boatman begins piloting his boat towards the bridge and below. Careus and Grieve cross, lastly followed by Marcus. It is then that the skeletal figure below becomes sinister, as he lashes out with a surprisingly long scythe. It tags Marcus in the chest as he crosses the bridge and the skeleton rattles out “You didn’t pay the toll” or something to that effect, it was tough to hear due to the churning waters below. Marcus tossed a gold coin down which seemed to placate the figure, as he caught it with his face and boated his raft off, dropping the coin into the icy waters. Continuing onward, they found a large stone casket. A dragon motif on the large stone lid w/ rubies for eyes. Upon opening the tomb they discovered a very old and long deceased eladrin clutching a dagger (WHISKER!), wearing a mask, skull braces, and enchanted robe. Pillaging these items, Grieve attempted a eulogy, fumbling on Zezrakans name (spelling). They continued onward with their spoils coming to a small stone tunnel w/ an obvious lever, pulling it, they now found themselves back at the room w/ the copper urns and red robes. Outside of this room through the still open doors is the lumbering hulk of a stitched together humanoid beast. Quick action on the parts of the party allowed them to sheath their blades in time as they recognized that this was the same beast from the stairs when they entered the tower. Careus seemed to have anticipated this as he had already had his long swords asleep in their sheathes. As the brute lumbered aware to “survey” or whatever it does in its unending spare time, Grieve used his handy sucking chest wound to produce some blood for the glyph and open the portal back to the original Tower. The rubies from the casket were placed above the doorway which initially lacked gemstone eyes and Vellen pillaged the pearls from the doorway they just came through. Vellen then touched Grieves chest and used some of that blood on the glyph below the rubies, sure enough, the dwarf was rather adept at opening doors here within this tower as the portal rippled. As our heroes gained their bearings after appearing on the other side of the ruby portal they had found themselves on another staircase. Seems to be a logical theme inside towers prior to the invention of elevators. This staircase descended from a small ledge with two burning braziers on either side. After about ten feet the stairs plunged into dark, stirring waters which filled the better part of the remaining room. Towards the far end of the room opposite the party was about a ten by ten section where the water was being restrained by some sort of force keeping a statue of a dragon held in a poise of striking, inside the dragons mouth, was a voluptuous black pearl. Churning and stirring the waters were dozens of black snakes which would congregate towards the locations that began to be stirred. After debating different methods of reaching our pearl Grieve says “I’ve got it!” and without further ado he took off at a sprint towards the statue. It was at this point Marcus and Vellen remembered the fact that Grieve has been wearing magical boots which allowed him to traverse the surface of water for short periods of time. He had been wearing such boots for a while now and had yet to use them, hence their ability to slip ones mind. Grieve, dashing across the water, snakes snapping at his every step, easily reached the location of the statue and sprang from the water to clutch the dragons head. Once secured, he took a few moments trying to dislodge the pearl. As he managed to remove the object of our quest, it dispelled the field that was beset and holding the water back from engulfing the dragon statue. Now, dear readers, all the while this had been happening Careus had been “playing” with the Dragon Skull Phantom Mask (we later realized it was called). Through it, somehow, were released two frightening wraiths. The heroes found themselves suddenly thrust into a much more dire state than being many levels down inside a tower which spends the better part of its existence submerged by an ocean. They were now within a room threatening to fall atop them, rushing water surging in to drown them, besieged by a writhing swarm of snakes (which were snapping and slapping against Grieve across a watery pool of death, swimming into and out of his armor). While Careus, Marcus, and Vellen found themselves on rapidly diminishing steps faced with two wraiths that seemed rather interested in Careus as the wearer of the mask. Two quick moments later everyone’s favorite band of scallywags had one of the wraiths down and Grieve back at the now submerged stairs. Vellen, acting quickly as usual, sprang (sloshingly) towards the entrance portal and blipped outward to the other side. Shortly the remaining members joined him and it was a race against time, or rather particularly cold salt water. Skillfully they reached the top of the tower which housed the candles as well as currently the angel from Zezrakan’s Pleasure Boat. He had been creating a very similar force to repel the water from this room, as they threatened to quaff each and every heroes candle. Smoke’s Flame quickly rushed to help this angel save as many of the candles as was possible before he (it?) and many of the candles vanished and all the restrained water came crashing into the room finally. Vellen reached the exiting hatch first, quickly licking the rune on the door as he was unaware of what else might open it, he’d only seen it opened once, and this was the method. All swam out the top of the tower and after gaining the bearings, managed to spot ol’ Twigs longboat and began swimming for it. Marcus, making it there first, took up the oars and solely rowed our heroes back to Punjars. Untiringly, mind you. He confronted the harbormaster and after a sum of 30 gold gained access to the “deed” for Twig’s longboat (as he didn’t make it long) and was allowed to moor his ship at said docks indefinitely. Hastily making their way to Nairap’s (a wizard that specializes in hair removal and hip-hop? Nair-Rap?) tower, all the while noticing that nobody cared about them (Marcus noticed this especially, having failed his intimidate check to “make way). Once inside yet another tower they provided Nairap with the pearl and learned what powers their newly acquired items held. After payment, the knowledge of their items, and a quick nibble of blue floating meats (that was in the icebox, you KNOW this Careus!) Grieve, Marcus, and Vellen made their way back to Smoke and to their humble abode. As the trio began navigating the familiar streets home they were set upon by the usual beggars, only this time, as they reached their loosely labeled manor the throng thickened, and turned into a needy mob outside their gates. All were demanding coins for needy causes, all had sick mothers and family members, in need of housing, and all manner of ill fates had beset the crowd. Marcus attempted in inspire the crowd and calm them by explaining that they would simply have to come back tomorrow in an orderly fashion and we would see what we could do, as we lacked any means to cure everyone’s ailments at once. Out of this crowd came a very familiar, albeit not in its current state, face to Vellen. It was his younger adopted sister and she had been severely beaten recently. Quickly angered by this realization and at wits end, patience all but gone at this point, Vellen lobbed a large handful of painted coppers opposite the entrance to their home and made way toward the gate. Quickly he opened the door and they all slipped in managing to hold off the masses. Vellen showed his sister his room while Marcus went and spoke with Sister Cristy about their problems and situation. Vellen learned that the White Dragons had been hassling his adopted parents and sister and through such actions had caused his sisters current state and placed his father in the hospital. They all decided a nights sleep was in order, as it had been a long day. The firebombs that had apparently been hounding the estate while they were gone for the day continued into the night and a few White Dragons were spotted in the masses outside the gates. During the next day Grieve and Marcus had began attempting to heal others and realized that many of the people at the hospital had been suffering from a loss of blood. People from all across Punjar had been coming in search of aid due to blood loss. Grieve managed to find that a large sum of these unfortunate souls had been coming from the Devil’s Thumb area of the Theater District (At least, I believe that was the location, if memory serves me correctly). Also, it had been learned that the White Dragons had suddenly became much more bold and boisterous as of late, which might explain why they had been hassling the crew and their contacts within the city. Smoke’s Flame found that they had often, in the past at least, hung out with the Pygmalion Brothers. They all headed to their establishment and confronted the brothers about any information they had on the White Dragons, if they were to overthrow them. Alewishus (Aloowishaw? spelling, by god!), the leader of the brothers, informed us that the White Dragons had recently enlisted the help of a particularly scantily clad human woman, often seen in just a chainmail bikini. Immediately they knew who they were dealing with, Dragora (and perhaps Mourniglar as well?) from the Zain-Kin city. It was decided, Smoke’s Flame would seek out and pacify these pesky kobolds once and for all. Later that day, under cover of night, the heroes made way toward the White Dragons hideout, a particularly bustling inn which housed many environments to quench the thirst of any craving. Careus, whom was unknown to the kobolds, easily gained access inside the inn and procured himself a room on the second and top floor of the building. Once alone he stealthily made his way out of the rooms window and down towards the rest of his companions. They all went back up threw the window Careus had left open and began snooping around. It was soon to be realized by Smoke’s Flame that the rumor that kobolds LOVE traps holds true. It appeared that nearly EVERYTHING had been trapped by these pesky little reptiles. The group gained entry into an office after opening many locks and disabling even more traps. It wasn’t long until they began hearing footsteps and voices approaching. Plans were hastily thrown together to use brute force for their “company” if they were discovered. That didn’t take long, as the room that was occupied by our heroes was also the goal of the approaching kobolds. A quick battle ensued and it ended with one of the kobolds being bullrushed onto the trapped rug in the antechamber and falling to the floor (and grill) below in the kitchen. The White Dragons boss, Boss Scrag, was also reputedly killed in this skirmish as well as some otherworldly being which burst into shadows at its demise. This is where our heroes were left, with Boss Scrags reinforcements en route…

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Alabaster scales and Scalding Orbs of Eyes

The quartet of heroes were hard pressed for time as the White Dragon Clan reinforcements were heading towards them. Carys, acting quickly and spontaneously, quickly said he would buy us some time and catch up with us in the future. He promptly hopped down through the trapped floor into the kitchen, swords drawn, and began clearing through all that moved on the floor below the party. Seemingly on cue, we caught the smell of freshly ground pepper as it tickled our noses and suddenly a cupboard door burst open as a female elf came crashing out of it in a burst of glitter and lights. The elven woman bluntly stated she was in search of Dragora and that her name was Neither. She had similar plans as the heroes and took up arms with them on their mutual goal. The new group of four hastily descended the staircase as it grew increasingly dark, unnaturally dimming any light source available. Not only the lighting dropped, the temperature did as well, almost to the point of seeing ones breath. At the base of the staircase was an oaken door which appeared to be devoid of traps and was unlocked (although there was one present). Smoke’s Flame quickly went through the door and locked it, Vellen pushing one of his magical nails into the wood like it was warm butter. The enchantment on the nail reinforced the locking mechanism and the party took a short breath of relief, until they looked around at their location. It seemed like a earthen cave with extremely muted colors, even the four heroes appeared almost grayish and dull. It was clear it had to be some location somehow affiliated with the Shadowfell. Not far at all from the door, they located a rushing waterfall with an open room attached. Off set from the center of this room was a robed woman stirring a cauldron. She glanced up at Smoke’s Flame and let a soft giggle out as she offered the party some of her stew, at which point she lifted the wooden spoon from the cauldron and struck out at the crew. Battle ensued and quickly there were three Darklings and two large bat-like creatures. After the outcome of the difficult battle our heroes took a short rest and searched around. Some gold was found, but that was about it. A short rest was had and Marcus, Vellen, and Neither went to investigate the nearest exit from this room led. Inside the next room was a vast amount of coins and items, atop it was a large white dragon looking a bit worse for the wear. Two armored kobolds held guard over the dragon as well. Immediately Marcus took up his axe and all hell broke loose. A kobold was quickly dropped. Neither and Marcus took to the dragon as it flew over their heads and relocated. Grieve joined in and Vellen parlayed with the last kobold a bit, loosing interest, and wanting to ensure the dragon was bested, as the last dragon the group encountered managed to escape. Under the brute force of the full group it wasn’t long before the white dragon was on it’s last legs. It shouted out to the remaining kobold, informing him to go through with some specific task. Roco, apparently the kobolds name, rushed off to the room where they were originally at and began playing some sort of magical instrument. At this point the doorway the heroes had sealed burst open and through it more kobolds and a rage drake entered into the cave. The dragon took Grieve out with a few claws, bites, and a freezing burst of it’s breath and the next moment after that the remaining heroes took the dragon down. The song the kobold was playing had been completed and Neither managed to slay that kobold as the last note was played. From another room offset from the original one w/ the witch and the cauldron was heard a deep voice thanking the dragon for releasing it. Searing rays scorched Grieves body and wrenching it away from the rest of the group. Moments later a floating optical orb with fleshy stalks ending in more eyes came hovering towards the group fixing its gaze on Vellen (the nearest of Smoke’s Flame). Realizing that they were out matched Neither, Vellen, and lastly Marcus burst through the waterfall falling thirty to forty feet to the waters below. They were now in some vast, decrepit sewer with the beholder quick on their heels. A rushing, damp, and grimy chase ensued and the heroes barely managed to make it back to the surface of the sewers and into the streets of Punjar. The trio headed towards their compound to regather their strength and the usual throng of beggars were there, but much more sedated, enjoying the song of a young, well groomed human playing some tunes. Promptly after two songs he approached Smoke’s Flame asking about Grieve, as he was in search of a man named Luthien, supposedly this young man’s father who’d become missing as the Raven Queens temple was forced out of the Temple District. This human bards name was Cain (the Cunning) and he was in search of his father as he’d been out of the city for many years of late.

It seems that Smoke’s Flame managed to fill the shoes of their two missing companions with Cain and Neither. They just had to locate Dragora and Mouringlar, before they could cause more havoc and mayhem to our heroes.

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Courier Bats, Funerals, and Undead! Oh my!

The next day our new found friends awoke to a courier bat at their complex on Cutpurse Alley. The bat brought news of their friends, Narap Seonag, funeral and an invitation to attend it at noon the following day. The courier also brought with it a portion of Narap’s Will that detailed the parts that involved Smoke’s Flame. Each was to be left with a trinket of their choice of remembrance of the accomplished sage. Along with each heroes personal item they were left some of the wizards jewels and art (3200gp worth in total) and a flagon of absinthe infused healing potions (eight doses total). After that had been resolved the group went about a days errands in a somber tone awaiting the following days activities. Marcus Urrek and Vellen Tîwele sought out gifts for their deceased friend Narap, flowers mainly, which neither of them knew much of (although Marcus might have a leg up on that topic). Vellen found a putrid tangle of bright flowers growing in the Devil’s Thumb District, nevermind where. Marcus on the other hand managed to purchase an expensive bundle of flowers from a tiefling vendor in the Souk. Cain the Cunning stayed at the complex to compose an epic tale and song of Narap’s accomplishments and adventures, despite his lack of having met the poor sod. It is not known how Bards have such vast knowledge, but they are the nigh mortal definition of omniscience. Our elven lass, Neither (sorry, no neat tag with this character), spent the day seeking out a temple to her deity and attempting to commune with it, to no avail. Later that day in his quarters Vellen felt a tingle at the back of his head and some unfamiliar voice that could barely be heard whispered his name and then ceased. Nothing could be deciphered from this happening and it was dismissed out of frustration shortly there after. All but Neither headed to The Silent Maid to drown their sorrows and hold their own personal Wake for Narap. As the night passed Cain entertained the patrons with his songs of past adventure and great feats, true or not, we may never know. Marcus bellied up to a table with a robust and large dwarf at which point he managed to drink the dwarf into a slurring heap of hair and stink (which was not much of a set back for any dwarf, if you’ve met one). Vellen sullenly sunk into a sticky seat in this seedy swill serving saloon. He silently and skillfully spied and snooped on ol’ Skinny saying and speaking in a shadowed recess of a sideboard slab of a table. He overheard them speaking of their gang, The Paper Chasers, and a new uprising crew quickly climbing the rungs of societies rakes and crooks. The new gang was known as The Red Hand, and they were quickly making a name for themselves. That is when Skinny Roger and his friend suddenly didn’t like their surroundings and decided to leave. Vellen, noticing Marcus was speaking with many more S’s than needed felt he should finish his grog and the night was to be adjourned as they hastily made their way home. On the day of the funeral our heroes dressed to the nines and headed to the funeral. There was a large number of people in attendance, many of which were great sages of varied power, and of course the minor noble house of the Ven’Shir were in attendance. Lady Noura Ven’Shir, head of the family, asked Smoke’s Flame if they wouldn’t mind saying a few words and performing a eulogie of sorts for poor Narap. Of course they would. Their attempt at such had it’s ups and downs but all in all was pleasing to the majority of the crowd. Concluding the funeral Vellen and Marcus took turns bringing their flowers to the casket. It was at this point that Vellen and Marcus realized the error of their ways, for the flowers they had chose were horrible for the occasion. Vellen had found Corpse Flowers (yes, he found them in a corpse as well, he should’ve known better, but they were brightly colored at least) and Marcus had purchased (at the grossly inflated price of 25g) a nosegay of Stink Weeds. It was suggested to Lady Nora Ven’Shir after the funeral (by Marcus or Cain) that there should be a wake held that evening. She agreed and many relocated to the Ven’Shir family manor in the noble district. On their way to the Wake Smoke’s Flame came across Cerys pushing an elderly man in a wheelchair. The man yelped out at us and Cerys chimed in asking us to wait up. As the duo approached our heroes the elderly man motioned for Marcus to lean in as if he had a secret to pass on. As Marcus leaned in the elderly man made an arcane gesture and the visage of the old man was replaced by that of an older looking Narap. It, indeed, was Narap! He had certainly been slain, but was brought back. Narap informed the crew that he planned to seek out a magical ship known as “The Crystal Ship” (The Doors song perhaps, was he just going on a “trip” to a Doors concert?). He and Cerys were to make voyage on its fabled deck. He also informed Smoke’s Flame that we were now the owners of his tower in Punjar and that we should watch our backs in regards to any seeking out the Black Pearl which caused his death. It seemed the assassins who bested Narap might be on our coattails as well. Time would tell… Shortly thereafter Smoke’s Flame made it to the Ven’Shir and partook in the celebrations of Narap, although it seemed moot at this point. Lady Nora Ven’Shir seemed distressed and a server addressed us promptly after our notice of Nora’s state. The server informed us that Lady Ven’Shir wished to discuss some matters with her before we left her estate for our humble beds. Never a better moment than the now we decided and headed over to her. It appeared that her son, and only heir to the family estate and name, Elam had found a family heirloom at a pawn shop in the Souk. This particular amulet had been buried some thirty years ago with her sister Crystal in the family crypt. She wished for us to investigate these matters and was more than willing to accommodate us financially for our time. She provided us with a key to the family crypt and the name and location of the pawn shop Elam found the amulet (Oscar’s Pawn Shop in the Souk). It was decided to check the pawn shop first, but as it seemed to be closed the heroes made way toward the crypt. In the dead of night our heroes made it to the crypt and it was Cain who first read the inscription above the arches that led within. His psyche was wracked with pain as some sort of ward was tripped. After his initial trespassing it seemed to use up whatever was left of the ward for the moment and the quartet headed inside with the use of the key. Inside they were met with a vast hall adorned with a large statue holding a sundial, a very impressive pendulum and even further was spied a stone altar at the end of the hall with a trio of doors. Some sets of rusty red colored muddy footprints were found throughout the hall and this particular mud was not common to the immediate vicinity. It seemed to match Marcus’s knowledge of the mines on the outskirts of Punjar. What it was doing here was still a mystery. Vellen, poking around at the altar, had found that it contained the family tree of the Ven’Shir family. Down toward the current time frame of this was found a few familiar names. Nora, Elam, Mara, Lorilass, and Divin. There were also two name that looked as if they’d been removed and nowhere to be found. Once Vellen had began messing with those two locations a sort of trap was sprung and two of the three doors at the end of this hall were flung open to reveal large groups of undead, nearly equally made up of either skeletons or zombies. A tiresome battle ensued and Vellen nearly met his maker if not for the cunning use of Cains healing words. The battle concluded and our heroes took a short rest to catch their breath and ensure the immediate threat had subsided. Nothing else was found in the two rooms the undead had been waiting within so Smoke’s Flame had decided to use the family key on the last door and enter. It was a narrow yet long hall with many doors on either side. The last door on the right was ajar and there seemed to be a broken brick or tile on the ending wall. No traps were found and nothing much out of the ordinary had been found. Inside the room with the opened door was found a sarcophagus missing its lid with the crumpled corpse of a long dead girl in the corner. Marcus entered this room first as the others were busy searching the rest of this room or broken brick. Once he ventured inside the room he sensed a presence behind him, it was the incorprial form of a female. Above the room was the name Drogiesha (spelling and accuracy is not quite there on this name right now). The heroes barely managed to soothe this poor ghosts needs and Marcus found a leather bound tome of the girls which she hinted at having around but was lost. It contained a few rituals one of which was able to repair the broken “soul brick” (titled by Cain). After Vellen assembled the brick which was broken and scattered along the ground to reveal the name of the ghost. Cain was able to learn the rituals within and perform them, but it would take time to review the rituals. After an extended rest Vellen had been reflecting on all his past experiences and was giddy to find he pieced together some new ways to battle and conduct his common fare of opening locks and the like. It was then that he was informed by his companions that he was ill advised, that the methods he thought he recalled had yet taken place and no new stealthy arts were to be his. Cain, however, was now able to perform a “Make Whole” ritual on the brick and did so. This seemed to fully put the ghost at ease. She was able to inform Smoke’s Flame of a bit more information before returning to her eternal slumber. The brick was replaced in the family tree and with the knowledge our heroes gleaned from the crypt they began making preparations for the next day.

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A gumbo made of Gambling Dice, Assassin Guilds, and Large Dryad Inhabited Fungi, YUM!

After our favorite heroes were finished at the Ven’Shir family tomb they deciding to leave. After adjusting to the rude assault of sunlight upon exiting the tomb after many hours they realized it was morning. Perhaps now this Oscar’s Pawn Shop would be open? They decided to find out on their trek home. Traversing the Souk, there was a dizzying amount of vendors preparing for the days spenders. Neither (no neato tab) decided to buy the largest Red Snapper one has ever seen and promptly plopped the pungent, slimy fish into her belt pouch (as it somehow could hold a very surprising amount of items). Turned out that the shop was open so the four headed in. Everyone began snooping around the junk sprawled out inside besides Cain the Cunning, who approached Oscar (assuming at the time) who was behind the counter. Marcus Urrek found an interesting rope that had been spun with some silver hairs and was unsuccessful in attempting to discretely gain Vellen Tîwele’s attention. Abandoning further attempts to be sly he headed over to Vellen to show him his find. He somewhat implied that Vellen pilfer the item. Shrugging, Vellen attempted just that but bumping into the clutter around him drew the attention of Oscar. The owner and worker, Oscar, was quick to shout that the patrons inside the shop leave at once before he pulled on a bell to alert some local guards. Cain, quick on his wit, assured Oscar that he knew nothing of, nor was he with any of these other ruffians and simply wanted to conduct business. Neither quickly paid Oscar the price for the rope and took said item while Marcus and Vellen casually glanced at each other and shrugging said “We’ll leave.”. Neither continued shopping while Cain began to ask further about anyone who might be selling specific items here without much help from Oscar. Marcus waited out front of the shop while Vellen circled around back to ensure there would be nobody slipping in or out of any possible exits. After a bit of verbal fencing on the part of Cain The Cunning and Oscar The Shop-Owner it became quite (bluntly in fact) apparent that Oscar would only spill any information at a price. Cash is King, so to speak. Cain produced a single platinum coin (mind you, a hundred gold here) and that very quickly loosened ol’ Oscar’s lips. Once the information about a Half-Orc named Ladimere (I could be wrong, I couldn’t get the NPC name Lavian out of my head) who was known to gamble quite a bit and frequented the Ferocious Famished Frog (name correct?). Thinking it might be a bit too early for much to be happening around a tavern just yet (it was still in the earlier hours of the morning) Vellen, Marcus, and Cain decided to head to the Ven’Shir estate and inform them of any news gleaned thus far. Neither was still confident in the tavern shedding light, even at this current time, and informed us we would meet there. Greeted and treated well at the Ven’Shir estate, they awaited Lady Noura Ven’Shir. It wasn’t long before she was spied descending a staircase, still garbed in her Wake attire from the night prior and not far from her green tiger. Informing her of what all had been uncovered as of yet, Marcus had difficulty articulating and ended up almost implying she needed to hire more people to help. That was certainly not the case, indeed. Promptly and politely it was assured her that Smoke’s Flame would be able to complete the task at hand, leaving the Ven’Shir compound in search of the tavern (previously mentioned) in the Devil’s Thumb District. Neither had already been there a bit and had been chatting up a serving wench. It was clear they were in the midst of this when the trio entered. She approached the rest of her companions and informed them the information that had been purchased through coin and , begrudgingly, polite “girl talk”. Ladimere often came through here to gable and he used to be in the employment of a local guild. Since there might be a long wait ahead until he showed, Marcus, Vellen, and Neither decided to belly up to a table and gamble the time away. Cain thought it best to beat the streets and see if he could gather any further information for a bit. Turns out Ladimere used to work with the Slayers, a guild of assassins of no small measure here in Punjar. That was all the information it seemed was to be squeezed out of anyone for the time being. All that was left to do was continue the wait, everyone gambling with Cain taking the musical reins. A Bard-Off ensued sometime later when a bard who frequented this establishment came in. With Marcus’s betting coin on the line, some rather enthusiastic Dragonborns on Cain’s side by some verbal prompting from Vellen, and Marcus and Neither dancing to help draw the crowd in Cain’s favor it was certain Cain would steal the night. He was invited back to play anytime he felt the fancy. Once the excitement of that subsided the search for Ladimere took roots again, and it seemed he had managed to come in while all were distracted. Deciding it best to wait for him to leave and follow him from there… more waiting ensued. Nearing midnight Ladimere had decided he’d lost enough money it seemed and headed out into the night. With Vellen and Neither stealthily on his heels and Marcus and Cain following their companions in an attempt to not draw attention to the more nimbly graced of Smoke’s Flame. Ladimere decided to take a turn down a dark alley. As he was nearing a seemingly common beggar here, that figure stood and addressed him with weapons drawn. Neither shouted out in Ladimere’s defense and battle unfolded with Smoke’s Flame victorious and Vellen stealthily procuring Ladimere’s magical dagger to ensure it would not be used against them anytime soon. Ladimere was grateful. He informed our heroes that he had been working in the employment of a group known as the Verdant Lords out in the abandoned mines (what’s that lassy!?). He had become friends with many of the fellows there and did not wish any ill towards them. Ladimere informed all of a stealthy archer often standing guard outside the mine in the rather large weeping willow and landmark of the area. According to Ladimere, Haledon (leader of the Verdant Lords) had struck up a deal with some witch who’d been requesting that they excavate corpses from the crypts of Punjar, the Ven’Shir tomb in particular. Ladimere knew nothing more of the witch and it seemed the only information we could shine on this further would be with the help of Haledon, ideally he’d be willing. Given the late hour and the fact that Cain had not yet rested while the other heroes had a moment to within the Crypt (as Cain had to learn a ritual to comfort the ghostly Drugiesha) it was decided all should head home to the mutual compound and get some rest before traveling to the mine. Once inside the very meager and humble estate two familiar faces were in the private chambers partaking in their goods. Salvador Duke and, of course, Edna were inside awaiting (rather comfortably) our heroes arrival. Salvador Duke informed Marcus and Vellen that they were to accompany him to his patrons abode and discuss some matters. They cooperated and followed Salvador Duke and Edna to the rooftop where Salvador Duke spread out a rather large carpet. Gesturing for all to sit down on the carpet they did so and a rather Magic Carpet Ride ensued (complete with portals). Shortly Marcus and Vellen found themselves in a long hallway that seemed made of dark glass. Continuing down the hall it opened into a large room surrounded by six large statues and in the center, an even larger metalic statue. Beyond the dark glass walls of the room was seen a huge sperm whale concluding the fact that they were in a large underwater establishment currently. Also in the room was Cerys and the recently deceased Grieve Rimestone and in the center, some albino dwarves milling around in a recessed center portion of the room. The largest statue informed the original Smoke’s Flame that they stood trial for past activities, namely the pilfering of a particular Black Pearl which caused the destruction of it’s tower and for some of the candles within to be quaffed. These candles were the manifestation of this worlds heroes life force. By causing the tower to crumble and the rushing waters of the sea to come in they had caused the deaths of many heroes within this world. This had never been their intent mind you, and they had not been informed of this outcome until now. The fates were in their hands, and if they were to continue life as they knew it the pure intent of the group was to be proven. Each was informed they could summon someone from their lives to speak on their behalf (they could phone a friend or use a lifeline so to speak). Carys began summoning two orphans of a slave the heroes had saved in the swamps outside Punjar from an aquatic owl bear. The father had died to the beast and the orphans have been in the protection of Smoke’s Flame (and their establishment/friends) since. Vellen called forth Uncle Divin Ven’shir to speak on the topic of his rescue from the Beggar-King’s grip and his certain doom thwarted. The powers at hand did not believe Vellen in this account and figured he surely had been in rescue for the profit alone (another low roll, which Vellen had a rash of this evening outside of battle, where he managed to roll well). Grieve called for Narap Seonag to come forward, as he was the one who had sent us there in search of the Black Pearl without informing us the dread it might bring (resulting in yet another low roll on the part of Grieve). Marcus, worried doom might unfold soon spoke on the behalf of Grieve, informing all of the heroic deeds and informing everyone that if any ill-will had been caused, it was not intentional on our parts (and a very high roll followed, thankfully). Vellen wished to speak again and called upon the Beggar-King! He was the first main villian to be vanquished by Smoke’s Flame, and by thwarting his plans had saved Punjar from much dread (thankfully a roll high enough happend here). The powers that be were content with the pure intentions, if not foolish choices, of Smoke’s Flame and permitted them to continue on with a firm grip of their own fates. They were awarded with a mighty battle standard. Salvador Duke and Edna returned them to their homes were they suddenly awoke in the morning in their beds, not certain if it had been a dream. The battle standard they still had in their possession confirmed that it had indeed happened. With a nights rest rejuvenating our heroes they made haste towards the iron mines. It wasn’t long before they found themselves within sight of a mine marked by a rather large weeping willow. Ladimere had led them true, thankfully, and Vellen and Neither decided to sneak ahead knowing there was an elven archer in the tree. A very perceptive and watchful elven archer in fact, as he had spotted their approach and fired a few warning arrows to welcome the crew. Our heroes managed to ensure the elf that we meant no harm and were merely coming to discuss some matters with Haledon in particular his dealings with a particular witch and we’d bring no harm to his friends inside. The elf elaborated on the events that had recently taken place. It had turned out that Haledon has been separated from the rest of his men by some odd creatures the witch helped the Verdant Lords bring about as payment for the bodies previously pilfered. These beasts, creatures, and plants were not the types originally in mind by the Verdant Lords and it has seemed that Haledon has become enthralled by the witch somehow. The elven archer led us through their compound and mines to where the wild things began to take hold. It was there that the elf wished Smoke’s Flame luck on our travels and headed back. Left in the dark with just the everburning torch gifted them from the elf, they headed deeper. They came to a grove of rather large mushrooms and thick growing moss and were confronted by a Satyr and vine covered Dryad who stepped from within a mushroom. Stating we would just like to pass through the Satyr chimed in, nearly singing, that their poor pet had not yet been fed and here we were! Their pet was a large worg and they readied weapons, calling for initiative. It was a long battle with an arcane eladrin showing up and four mangy hyenas as well. The Dryad proved that she might become rather annoying, being able to teleport through any of the many mushrooms within this cavern. The battle was tactically executed by Smoke’s Flame and one foe at a time, won. This is where our heroes have been left…

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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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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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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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