Princes of the Apocalypse

The Bard's Tale, Session 18

The Cal(m) Before the Storm(banner)

Six men on the road to their fortune and fame,
To treasure and blessing and to win the game!
The mystery of the Spire is still to unravel,
But destiny calls, once more time to travel!

Lady Stormbanner from bright Summit Hall
An urgent, dire threat asks them to confront:
Beyond Jundar’s pass, a friendly patrol
Reports of Orc raiders way out of control.

Far bolder than usual, they’re spreading despair
Of smell of destruction they’re filling the air.
But something important Iceshield Orcs don’t know:
A long-brooded Vengeance is readying its blow.

Six men on the road to their fortune and fame,
To treasure and blessing and to win the game!
Fierce as the weather might seem to your eye,
There’s nothing more dreadful than Maul’s battle cry!

After clearing up the Spire, our heroes ask Bree-Yark if he can send to the Aarkockra word that the Spire has been taken, and that it would be helpful if they could come over to reclaim it, lest the air cult comes back with reinforcements. A philosophical argument rises between Maul and Alexander, the latter contesting the ritual of the Oath of Vengeance that Maul performs in front of his dead enemy. In the end they settle on the agreement of just searching the bodies and the floor.

The bedrooms are upstairs, but their priority is getting to the dungeons to find the prisoners. While looking for the place, they enter a room full of floating baskets with hanging plants. They have no idea what they are, and Nogara tries them out by biting them. Besides being disgusting, they don’t do anything; it seems like this is a greenhouse. Another room looks like a very barren dormitory. The last room on the bottom floor looks like a dining room. Over a steaming cauldron, three guys dressed with feather decorations who are seemingly asleep. In hope of tricking them into fleeing, Mephelon shouts: “Wake up! The Earth Cult is attacking!!” But they slowly raise their head and look blankly at the sorcerer. The party realizes they might be high on something. They don’t even pose any resistance when the party accompanies them to the door. But in the cauldron there was only water.

On the bottom floor, they only find stalls, possibly for hippogriffs. It seems like there are no dungeons here…so they take a short rest, and in the meantime the aarkockra return. The fleeing vultures were too fast for them, and they split in different directions, so they lost them. After about an hour, the party finishes the exploration of the topmost floor. The bedroom of Marosska has a tapestry of a flying knight wielding a spear in front of a bolt of lightning. They find coins and a potion of heroism, and two scrolls – one of a spell called Beast Bond and one called Skywrite. The other rooms are similar to this one.

The rooftop has a stone gazebo, a compass is drawn on the floor, and a spyglass lies in the middle. Ophelia looks into the spyglass: it is pointed down to a slit in the side of the hills. For a second, Ophelia thinks she sees a hooded figure slide a rock open, walking in, and closing it back behind him. Bree-Yark comes up to tell them that he decided to stay with two of his other people to keep the Spire while waiting for reinforcements. They decide to interrogate Savra before going to sleep. The interrogation is difficult, her hating them not only for slaying her friends, but also for betraying her trust. She looks completely different from the kind and welcoming person that they knew. She seems to get nastier and nastier as the interrogation goes on. She talks about their hate for the Earth cult, which they seem to despite more than anything. She spits hatred words and among the names, she talks about someone called Yan-C-Bin. The name rings a bell to Ophelia, but further investigation would be required.

They decide to search the bottom of the rock on which the Spire is standing on the following day. However, during the night Maul is woken up by a sending spell: Lady Ushien Stormbanner calls him and Nogara back to Summit Hall since orcs are attacking in the area. In the morning, Alexander sends another sending spell to her to have confirmation, which they receive. They head towards Summit Hall the fastest way possible, which is going to Red Larch to get horses, and by way of Womford. They make their way easily enough; 12 days after the sending, they are in Summit Hall.

Thanks to Alexander’s sending, they keep in touch and the people at Summit Hall know when to expect them. They are well received. As always, recruits are training all over the place. As they enter a room off the main hall, they realize that’s the last place where they saw Timor Ling. And cappuccinos are there waiting for them.

Lady Ushien welcomes them and leads them in what looks like a war room. Two elves are waiting there. On the wall, highly decorated, there are several shields with figures of heroes; the biggest two shields show a wizard and a warrior; all of them knights who have given their lives for Tyr, heroes of Summit Hall. The biggest two are the Samular and Renwick Caradoon, brothers and two of the three founders of the Knights of Samular. Ushien tells them the sad story of the fall of Samular, but who saved his brother only with a magic potion that grated him unnatural immortality. Ushien then asks them about their mission, but Ophelia wishes not to speak in front of strangers. The elves that are with them are part of the Emerald Enclave, which do not wish their names to be known. They step out, and Ophelia tells them about the cults. Ushien knows about the Haunted Keeps, but does not know the specific place of the last one, that might be home to a fire cult.

Ushien finally tells them about the reason why they were called. The Order is currently low on manpower with many of their order were sent away, too far for responding quickly. They’ve had scouts reporting orc raids – the Iceshield Orcs. The Iceshields are known to venture out of their territory from time to time, but this time the attacks are more important, and it seemed they may have started with the weird weather. The Order and the Emerald Enclave have sent requests to the Elves of High Forest sent for help, but they’ll need time to arrive and the homesteaders need timely help from our heroes to take care of a splinter group of orcs, between 25 and 50, that are being particularly troublesome. Maul wholeheartedly accepts the mission, given his hatred for the foul orcs, and Nogara also timidly shows enthusiasm. They are given healing potions, and on the next day they leave for Jundar’s Pass. After a few days of horse riding, the weather, which looked normal at first, gets extraordinarily hot. Then a 30-second earthquake shakes the earth, and again some days after another one even stronger, causing a landslide that catches the leg of one of the horses, breaking it. On the fifth day, they spot smoke from behind a ridge. A homestead is burning; the barn is a smoking ruin and the house is on fire. Screams can be heard from afar.

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