In February 2017, a roleplaying campaign in the world of Isen began...
Player Characters Edit
Caidron Fausst - a human wizard with an unquenchable thirst for magical knowledge
Rad Boomerang - a human fighter who fled from his home kingdom after being framed for a crime he didn't commit
Sasha Torchwood - an elf sorcerer who was unwittingly transported from another world and longs to understand why
Important NPCs (Non-Player Characters) Edit
Prince Yarmon - the prince of the Kingdom of Ballentia
Taarin - a mysterious green-cloaked woman who has tasked herself with finding wielders before its too late
Alarkon - a powerful wizard and crimeboss in Ballentia's capital city, Garrenton
Sheen - a thief-for-hire who joins the party on their quest to the southern continent
Territ Ironblood - king of Hearthhome, the secret dwarven kingdom deep beneath Meygas' frozen surface
Purlin Ironblood - queen of Heathhome, and keeper of the Tomes of History
Smith Ironblood - brother to King Territ, and captain of the city guard
Doralia Ironblood - sister to King Territ, and head of the hunter's guild
First Session - The Wolf Wood Edit
The story began in Garrenton, the capital city of the kingdom of Ballentia.
The beloved Prince Yarmon had been abducted from a royal carriage a few days ago, and the city was on high alert. The city guards had abandoned the streets, to reinforce security at Garrenton Keep, leaving the common people vulnerable to crime, and feeling justifiably uneasy.
In a busy market square, on the outer edge of the city, a group of bandits started harrassing people and threatening violence. Three strangers (Caidron, Rad, and Sai) intervened and tried to talk the bandits out of causing any further harm. A fight erupted, with two of the bandits being killed, and the third fleeing into the nearby Wolfwood.
After examining clues on the fallen bandits' bodies, it became clear that they are from the group responsible for kidnapping the prince. The people of the market hailed the three strangers as heroes and pleaded for them to follow the fleeing bandit into the Wolfwood to track down and rescue the beloved prince.
Hours into navigating their way through the thick and dangerous Wolfwood, the party found the bandit resting against a log. They approached him and attempted to coerce him into revealing the prince's location. The bandit, not wanting to give up his group's location so easily, attacked the party and managed to strike a few blows before a single crossbow bolt burst forth from the trees and struck him in the leg.
The party turned to look for the unseen archer, when an Elf (Sasha) stepped forth, with her crossbow still raised. She told the party to leave the bandit, and follow her immediately. When they turned back, they saw the bandit limping away, and the faces of dozens of snarling wolves appeared from the trees.
With no choice but to take her advice, the party followed the Elf and they bolted eastward through the dense wood, ducking and dodging branches, with the wolves snapping at their heels. They came across a small hunter's shack, and the Elf woman yelled for them to get inside. Once inside the tiny wooden shack, they barred the door, and waited for the pack of wolves to lose interest and slowly wander away.
While locked inside, the party got to know one another a little bit more. The men shared their stories about why they had been in the market square, and the Elf revealed that her name is Sasha, and she believes she may have been transported from another world, although she does not know how or why. She had simply appeared in the middle of the Wolfwood a few days prior, and had spent her time spying on a group of bandits who seemed to be coming and going from a large rock, a mile or so to the north. The party ascertained that this must be the bandits' hideout, and it is likely the prince is being held inside.
After the wolves left, the party of now-four ventured out to find this hideout. On the way, they passed a small pond, which Caidron sensed was emanating some kind of magical energy. He waded into the pond and found a stone which glowed a brilliant blue. Not being able to identify the particular type of magic, he pocketed it so he could study it properly later.
As the sun began to set, the group came across a large clearing deep in the Wolfwood, with an enormous vine-covered boulder in its center. They searched the face of the boulder until they found a bloody handprint. Pulling away a cluster of vines next to the handprint, they discovered an opening in the rockface, leading downward into some sort of cave.
Since the sun was setting, the party found it prudent to go back to the hunter's shack to rest and then return to the clearing the next morning. During her shift on nightwatch, Sasha climbed a tree and watched as a giant pack of wolves peacefully passed by the shack, presumably hunting some prey.
In the morning, the party returned to the clearing, pulled back the vines covering the cave entrance, and journeyed deep underground through a twisting maze of caves. After a few hours, they spied a source of light up ahead, which turned out to be torches and a campfire, seated next to which were three more bandits, including the one who had been injured by Sasha's crossbow before the wolf chase.
After a treacherous fight by firelight, the party emerged victorious and continued travelling through the system of caves. Another mile or so later, they came across a large open underground dome, with a small simple stone building in the middle, and hundreds of lit torches. The group approached carefully, and opened the door to the building, sneaking inside.
The interior was very austere, with only two large stone tables, a few tattered old banners on the walls, and three wooden doors on the far wall. Upon closer inspection, the tables appeared to have possibly been religious altars, and the banners depicted scenes definitely religious in nature. Caidron studied the scenes and determined they were inside an abandoned temple of Gilif, one of the gods of a long-forgotten ancient religion known as The Trilogy.
The group inspected the three doors at the back of the room. The door on the left revealed a small barracks of sorts, with a number of beds and various weapons and items belonging to the bandits. Then, in the darkness, Rad spied two of the bandits sleeping, and together with Sai, silently killed them in their sleep. They gathered up some of the bandits' more useful belongings, and left the room.
Back in the main temple chamber, the middle door was locked, but the door on the right opened to reveal an office, with a large desk, strewn with paper, scrolls, writing implements, and an arcane-looking book. The desk drawer was opened, and inside was a key with a wolf's head decoration. Taking this key, and the scrolls from the desk, the group went back to try the key in the locked door.
The door opened and behind it was a staircase, going even deeper underground. At the bottom of the pitch-black staircase, was a heavy iron door. The group opened it, and carefully stepped out into a dimly lit long stone room, in the middle of which was a chair with a well-dressed prisoner bound to it.
The group approached the prisoner and could tell from his noble clothing that this must be the missing prince. As they approached, two wolves and two bandits appeared from the darkness at the far end of the room. Then a man's voice warned that they shouldn't have come, and they won't make it out alive.
The heroes fought the bandits and wolves, and eventually defeated them. Then a large bandit, carrying a longsword, stepped out from the shadows and reiterated that they shouldn't have come. He attacked swiftly and struck Rad with a devastating critical blow. Then, after being hit by a crossbow bolt from Caidron, the bandit leader dropped his sword, laughed, and transformed into a werewolf. He finally fell after Sasha burned him alive.
Prince Yarmon thanked the heroes for rescuing him, and together escorted him out through the caves, into The Wolfwood, and back to Garrenton, as night was setting in.
The party helped the prince all the way into Garrenton Keep, and into the King's throne room, where there was a large emergency meeting of nobles taking place, despite the late hour. King Cuthred rushed to his son and embraced him, before silently thanking the heroes with a grateful look.
They were being escorted out of the throne room, when Prince Yarmon came out to tell them that his father wants to reward them personally for what they had done. He advised for them to take up rooms at The Grey Lioness Inn, and wait a few days for an audience with the King. The prince sent runners ahead to warn Murphy, the owner of the inn, to prepare their best rooms, and to charge everything to the royal family.
Second Session - Giant Fire Beetles Edit
The next day, while waiting for their audience with King Cuthred, a young boy burst into the Grey Lioness inn, short of breath and clearly distressed. The inn owner, Murphy, identified the boy as Smith, the son of a nearby farmer. Once Smith caught his breath, he announced that his father's farm had been overrun with giant fire beetles, and the livestock were being killed. Everyone in and around Garrenton had heard of the heroes' exploits by now, so Smith had sought them out specifically.
The party decided to help the boy, and followed his lead back to his father's farm, a few miles west of the city limits. When they arrived, they opened the front gate, and approached the front door where a large man with a wooden leg stood waiting. He told the group his name was Darriff, and thanked them for coming to help. Although once he noticed that Sasha was an Elf, he became standoffish, told Smith to show the party where to go, then trudged back into the house.
Smith led the group around the south side of the house, and into a big red barn with a broken door. Inside, there were four giant glowing-red beetles, each the size of a dog, chewing on the timber, and attacking a cluster of chickens. The party struck with crossbows, and after a small controlled burst of flames from Sasha's hands, and a strike from Rad's longsword, the beetles were dealt with.
Then Smith led the group to a sheep pen, with a busted-open gate, where four more beetles attacking some sheep, and a small fox was feasting on a blood-soaked carcass. The party dispatched the beetles and frightened the fox away, before closing the gate, and moving on.
The signs of destruction led the group of a clear path towards a light forested area on the farm's boundary. They followed the path, and found three more beetles in a riverbed. They dealt with them quickly, before moving into the forest to find the source of the infestation.
After following the trail left by the beetles, the group spotted something large through the trees. When they snuck closer, they could see a giant stag beetle, the size of a carriage, and some kind of small grey goblin. Just then, Rad stepped on a twig which made a loud snapping sound, and drew the attention of the creatures. The creature shouted something in the goblin tongue, which Rad understood as "You stole my stone!"
The party came out from the trees, as the giant stag beetle charged, managing to attack Sai with a vicious bite. The goblin, which Caidron identified as a Svirfneblin, broke away and began to strike Rad with his pickaxe, while repeating in goblin "You stole my stone! You stole my stone!" Rad continually tried to reason with the Svirfneblin but he would not stop attacking. Finally, Rad drew his longsword and engaged the Svirfneblin in combat, trading blow for blow with the tiny grey creature.
Smith hid behind the trees as he watch Rad fight the Svirfneblin, and the party contend with the troublesome giant stag beetle. After suffering a lot of damage from its bite, Sai, Sasha, and Caidron managed to defeat the beetle, just as Rad managed to subdue the Svirfneblin and knock it unconscious. Smith emerged from the trees and asked what it had been saying. Rad told him the Svirfneblin had been saying "You stole my stone!", and Smith immediately became sheepish.
The party searched the Svirfneblin's bag, and pulled out three glowing red stones. Caidron sensed that the stones held a powerful magic, and Smith became visibly frightened at the sight of them. Sensing his discomfort, the party asked if he knew what the stones were. He stammered awkwardly, obviously trying to come up with a lie, but finally gave in. He told the party that his father found one of those stones in the forest a few days ago, and took it home. He thinks it might be valuable, so didn't want anybody else to know about it.
The group determined that the Svirfneblin had most likely attacked the farm in an attempt to recover his lost property, so bound him and carted him back to the farmhouse to speak to Darriff. When they returned to the house, Darriff once again met them on the front doorstep. The party questioned Darriff about the red stone he found, and he immediately shot an angry look at Smith, before yelling at him to get inside. The party explained that the Svirfneblin sent the beetles to search the farm for his stolen treasure. After some intimidation, Darriff gave in and returned the stone, before barking at the party to get off his property. He stormed into the house and began yelling at his son.
The Svirfneblin awoke and the party released him. Rad negotiated to swap the stones for some gold, and then the Svirfneblin went on his way, back towards the forest. Caidron pocketed the four red stones, and just as the party was about to leave, Smith burst out the front door, and begged them to take him back to Garrenton with them. He did not feel safe with his father any longer. After a quick deliberation, the group agreed to take him back to the Grey Lioness, because it was clear Murphy knew the boy, and would likely know what to do with him.
They got back to the Grey Lioness just as the sun was setting, and explained Smith's situation to Murphy, who comforted the boy and gave him a hot meal. The party also had a meal, then retired early for the night.
Early the next morning, the group was woken by the announcement of a royal messenger waiting for them in the inn's common room. The messenger said they had been summoned to an audience with King Cuthred, and were given an hour to get themselves fed and cleaned up. After a quick breakfast, they followed the messenger back to Garrenton Keep, and into the throne room.
King Cuthred sat on his throne, and Prince Yarmon stood by his side, with a warm smile on his handsome face. The group noticed there was also a figure standing at the back of the room, in a tattered dark green cloak. The king formally greeted the heroes and thanked them again for the brave rescue of his son, briefly reciting an overblown, but enthusiastic retelling of the story. He then gestured to two unseen servants who carried in a large, wooden chest, and set it down in front of the group. They opened it to reveal an amount of gold larger than any of them had ever dreamed.
Then, the chest was moved out of the way, and King Cuthred gestured to the cloaked stranger, who stepped forward. The stranger removed their hood, and revealed the face of an attractive middle-aged woman with dark, shoulder-length wavy hair. She told the party her name was Taarin, and she was on a mission of grave, global importance.
She explained the nature of Raw Magic and The Surge, and that she was tasked with finding wielders before it was too late. She showed the party a small glass orb, which glowed faintly green when pointed in Sasha's direction. Taarin initially looked surprised at this, then stated that Sasha has draconic blood, and should be careful who knows about it. This was news to Sasha, but it did help to explain some things about her past and her abilities.
Taarin called the orb a "compass", which helped her find wielders, and also loose pockets of Raw Magic. It glows red when pointed in the direction of a wielder, blue in the direction of Raw Magic, and green in the direction of a dragon.
The Surge was due to arrive soon, and Taarin had followed the compass to Garrenton, where it indicated there was at least one wielder, and at least one pocket of Raw Magic. The compass led her to two youths - friends in their teens - in the busy marketplace. Taarin had wanted to talk to them somewhere less public, so kept track of their movements and waited for them to deviate from the crowd. Once they did, however, they must have stumbled into the pocket of Raw Magic, because right in front of Taarin's eyes, the two vanished in a blinding flash of light. The compass then showed a very faint red glow to the northeast, likely somewhere in the heart of Arkvale, and a slightly stronger glow to the northwest, possibly in Terranis or The Wild. Strangely, it also showed a faint glow to south, towards the frozen continent, Meygas.
Having seen the two young wielders with her own eyes, Taarin simply had to follow one of the two northern glows, if she was to have any hope of finding a wielder before the next Surge arrived. However, she could also not afford to ignore the glow to the south, and she requested the party of capable heroes travels to Meygas to find the source.
Before leaving, she noted the red stones in Caidron's possession and informed the group that they were powerful weapons that will help them in their quest. She explained the stones were made by someone using Raw Magic and placed a stone in each hero's palm. She squeezed each palm tight until the stones inside broke, imbuing each holder with a special elemental power.
After Taarin left, Prince Yarmon informed the party that he will spend the rest of the day arranging a ship to take them to Meygas. In the meantime, the group's task is to head to the city's Vice District, and locate someone called Sheen who is said to have experience in Meygas, and can act as their guide.
Third Session - Find the Guide Edit
The party set forth towards Garrenton's Vice District, to look for the guide called Sheen. They came across a city guard named Dosh, who said he doesn't know who Sheen is, but suggested they find a man called Wallace, who "knows everyone in the Vice District". Dosh explained that Wallace works as a bouncer outside a gambling house called The Valuable Dagger, then provided the group with some directions.
While walking through the Vice District, the group noted the increase of filth, refuse, and general unpleasantness, the further they went, although the citizens did not seem to be bothered by it. They passed a group of children playing happily, kicking a soft leather ball against a wall. One of them kicked it towards Sai who, in a display of his excellent reflexes, dodged and caught the ball in one swift movement. The children were awed as he gently tossed it back to them with a cocky grin.
After a few twists and turns through the narrow streets, they stumbled upon a group of thugs harassing a man carrying books and a large money pouch. The heroes intervened, and a fight ensued. Two of the thugs advanced on the party with quarterstaff and dagger, while the third stayed at a distance, firing his hand crossbow into the fray. The thugs were dealt with quickly, and left unconscious in the street for the city guards to find. The man with the books thanked the heroes and introduced himself as Elendis. They asked if he knew where the Valuable Dagger was, and he told them he is a book keeper for the Valuable Dagger, and he was on his way there when he was attacked. He offered to show the party the way.
They arrived at the Valuable Dagger, and noted a large Orc leaning against the wall next to the non-descript front door. Elendis told the party that the Orc was Wallace, and bid them good luck in their quest to find this Sheen person.
Elendis approached the gambling house. Wallace greeted him with a smile, and let him inside, before closing the door and scowling at the group standing a few feet away from him. Considering his brutish size, and the giant wooden club peeking out from behind his back, the group thought it would be prudent to deal with Wallace from a distance. They asked if he knew someone called Sheen, and Wallace admitted that he did, and likely knew her whereabouts, but held out his hand, gesturing for someone to put something - perhaps money - into his giant, meaty palm. Sasha approached and handed him a meager handful of gold pieces. He backhanded her, sending her sprawling, then tossed the few coins back to her, before saying "I'll let you try that one more time."
Sasha tried again, and gave a considerably larger amount of gold, with the group's blessing. Seemingly satisfied with the bribe, Wallace flashed a big smile and said "Sheen's inside. Came in about fifteen minutes ago. Have a nice day." Then stepped aside and gestured for the party to enter the Valuable Dagger.
The party went down a few steps into the gambling house, which was dimly lit, hazy with smoke, and packed with noisy patrons. There were several tables running various games of chance, and a number of flustered waitresses rushing between the tables and the bar.
The group decided to split up and ask around if anybody knew Sheen. Most ignored them and continued with their games or their work, but one waitress - a dark-haired woman named Betsy - took a liking to Sai and spoke with him at length, although not about Sheen. After a while, an attendant approached Caidron, stating that it had come to his attention there were four people looking for Sheen. He said Caidron had been invited to speak personally with Alarkon, the owner, and his friends were welcome to wait for him in the back room, which was normally reserved for nobles or the wealthiest merchants.
The group went through a velvet curtain, and took a seat while Caidron was led to a door at the back of the room. He opened the door. walked up a set of stairs, and down a long corridor where there was another door. He opened it and walked into a large, richly decorated office of some sort. The room was empty, save for a door at the far end, a coat rack next to the door, and a single book lying in the middle of the floor.
Caidron picked up and examined the book, when it snarled and launched itself at his face. He fended off a few more attacks from the book, before lighting it aflame with one of his spells. Then he approached the door, opened it, and walked down another corridor, to yet another door. He opened the new door, and it led into an identical room from before, except without the book. He went straight to the door at the back of the room and tried to turn the handle, when the coat rack swung an arm at him, striking him hard on the head, and insulting him with a disembodied voice. The wizard fought the coat rack, exchanging blows, and eventually knocked it to the floor.
He then opened the door and walked into another corridor, which led to another door, which led to another empty office. This time, there was no book and no coat rack, so Caidron went straight to the door. As soon as his hand touched the handle, however, he heard a gargling, roaring sound, and turned to see an enormous amphibian-like beast behind him. Before he could act, the beast swung one of its massive tentacle arms and knocked him out.
Meanwhile, Sai, Sasha, and Rad were waiting in the Valuable Dagger's back room, when Sasha noticed that it had become eerily quiet, and the noise of the main room had suddenly halted. As she was pointing this out to her friends, the large potted plant in the corner rocked a few times, before falling to the floor and making a loud crash. Rad and Sai turned to face the sudden noise, and saw three tiny green humanoids, crawl out of the pot and attack.
The fight was won quickly, with Sasha burning one of the creatures to ashes, Sai striking a devastating blow on another, then Rad using that creature's corpse as a thrown projectile to hit the other. Once the green things were dealt with, the noise from the main room returned, and the creatures disappeared.
Caidron woke up in the large office, and noticed it was now filled with furnishings including an immense varnished oak desk, and ceiling-high shelves lining the room, packed with all manner of strange and interesting items. There was also a well-groomed man in a suit sitting at the desk, who addressed him by name. The man introduced himself as Alarkon, and said he had been watching Caidron for some time, since he makes it his business to know every wizard who enters his city.
Alarkon then stated he knows Caidron and his friends are looking for Sheen, and he would love to help them find her, but for a price. Caidron was in possession of a rare - but useless - book, and Alarkon wanted it. Alarkon said that Sheen had been in his office only moments earlier, and he had told her to go and hide somewhere nearby and await instruction. In exchange for the rare book, he would tell Caidron her current whereabouts and even provide a letter giving the thief a written order to help the group with whatever they need.
Parting unceremoniously with the useless book, Caidron took the letter, and Alarkon told him Sheen was waiting in the apartment building across the street. She had instructions to disappear if she heard anything other than the passphrase "The Dagger Approves".
As Caidron prepared to leave, Alarkon stopped him, saying he had something else that might help the group. He went to the shelves and picked up what appeared to be a heavy iron ball. He handed it to Caidron, saying that he had noticed that his friend Rad like to throw things at his enemies. Alarkon told Caidron to throw the ball, but reminded him that they were in his private office and he didn't want anything destroyed. Caidron tossed the iron ball, which landed on the carpeted floor with a heavy thud. The ball then began to slowly roll back towards Caidron, and came to rest at his feet. Alarkon explained that it had been imbued with some kind of return spell, and although it was interesting, he didn't feel like he needed to have it in his collection anymore.
With the iron ball, and the letter for Sheen in his possession, Caidron headed back to join his group. When he walked in to the back room of the Valuable Dagger, his friends had just finished their fight with the small green men. They all filled each other in on what had happened, then ventured forth to Sheen's hiding place across the street. The apartment building appeared to have ten dwellings, and they approached each door as quietly as possible, and declaring "The Dagger Approves". At last, one of the doors opened, and there was a waist-high woman with short brown hair, and at least four knives visible at her belt. Caidron handed her the letter, which she read, pocketed, and said "Let me guess. You want me to take you to Meygas?"
The group explained their mission, and Sheen listened with a notable level of disinterest in the details. She said she'll need the rest of the day and night to take care of "some affairs", and she will meet the party outside the Valuable Dagger at sunrise. As she walked away, she turned back to offer one piece of advice which was to get some cold weather gear or they won't survive a day.
The group spent the rest of the day purchasing the items they would need on their journey, then returned to the Grey Lioness to rest. In the morning, they set out again to the Vice District, and as the sun rose they came across Sheen talking with Wallace outside the Valuable Dagger. The diminutive thief tapped the giant guard on the hip in farewell, and fell in line walking with the group. They all continued onto the Garrenton docks, where Prince Yarmon was waiting for them with a host of royal guards, and a tall tattooed man with his arms folded.
The Prince welcomed them, and introduced them to the man - Captain Ford, of the Old Dirty Cudgel - and bid them good luck on their journey before leaving with his guards. Captain Ford, the party, and Sheen all boarded the large cargo vessel, and after some preparation time by the ship's crew, they set sail towards Meygas.
Fourth Session - The Frozen Canyons Edit
After a week at sea, the Old Dirty Cudgel arrived on the northern shore of Meygas. A team of sailors disembarked and headed east with a cartographer to map the northeastern tip of the continent. The party, led by their guide Sheen, ventured south towards the distant icy cliffs.
They marched for half a day before coming to the foot of the cliffs and stood before a wide opening which Sheen explained is the entrance the the frozen canyons, a 300ft high labyrinth filled with pitfalls and dangerous creatures.
As the party was about to enter the canyons, a misty, white creature with a human-looking top half, and icy snake-like bottom materialised from one of the canyon walls. It slithered to the centre of the opening before stopping to gaze upon each member of the party in turn. Sheen warned everybody to stay still and quiet, and to wait for it to pass. After a tense few moments, the creature turned back and slithered away, merging with the opposite canyon wall.
Once it was gone, Sheen advised that the creature was an elemental and it was one of thousands that reside there. She warned that as long as the group is quiet and respectful, the elementals should leave them alone. They entered the canyons.
An hour or so later, they came to a small cliff. Sheen advised that they had to climb it to continue. Being naturally adept at athletic activities, Rad took the lead, and climbed to the top without much trouble. Once at the top, he lowered a rope and helped Caidron, Sheen, and Sai to climb as well. Sasha, still coming to terms with the revelation of her draconic ancestry, unleashed her claws, and climbed the icy ridge herself.
Late in the afternoon, after a number of twists, turns, and crossroads, the group came across a blood-soaked area, and four dead bodies, all wearing uniforms of Arkvale soldiers. They also saw the bodies of small ice-demon-looking creatures, that Sheen revealed were mephits. Beyond the strangeness of finding other humans here on the uninhabited continent, it was stranger still that the bodies had no items on them besides their uniforms. All their presumed weapons or survival equipment was missing. Rad dragged the bodies into a pile, and Sasha lit them on fire in a sort of make-shift burial ceremony.
Sai located some footprints heading southwest, and the party followed. Soon, they heard the distinct sounds of human voices yelling, and the loud booming roar of some kind of large beast. The party elected to carefully approach the source of the sound, until Sasha ran ahead on a wild impulse. She flew into the opening of a clearing, where she saw two more Arkvale soldiers locked in combat with a 10ft tall, white-furred creature, which had been backed into a corner. A figure in a black and red cloak watched the battle, occasionally waving a staff.
Sasha yelled and got the attention of the cloaked person, who turned around to face her. The person - a human woman - yelled back for Sasha to help her in the name of Empress Tajna and Arkvale. The soldiers continued to fight the beast. The group caught up and the woman reiterated her demand, and when noone chose to assist, she threatened that they were enemies of the Arkvale Empire and would be killed.
Sasha fired her crossbow, narrowly missing the cloaked woman, and grazing the shoulder of one of the soldiers. He turned around, now noticing the party for the first time, and asked the woman - whom he called Polarion - what he should do. The other soldier turned as well, and during this distraction, the white-furred creature bellowed a mighty roar, turned to the icy cliff wall at its back, and climbed away at great haste. It reached the top, roared once again, then disappeared.
A heated verbal exchange took place, with neither the party nor Polarion wanting to reveal the details of their mission. Then Polarion charged madly at Sasha, who already had her crossbow drawn. Caidron swiftly cast a spell to hold Polarion in place, frozen mere inches from Sasha's loaded bolt. The soldiers attacked the party, but they were swiftly felled. Polarion, still paralyzed, spat insults at the party, but after receiving a few blows from Sai and Rad, she broke and told the party to search her pockets.
In Polarion's cloak pockets, the group discovered a letter granting Polarion ultimate authority to act on behalf of Empress Tajna, some potions and poisons, and a compass orb just like the one given to them by Taarin. The group deduced that this group from Arkvale was likely sent by the Empress to retrieve the same wielder that they themselves were seeking.
When the orb was removed from Polarion's pocket, it glowed green towards Sasha, causing the woman to raise her brows, deliver a wicked grin, and mutter "Oh, the Empress is going to have fun with you." The group then put the near-dead cleric out of her misery, and Sasha took the woman's cloak, holy symbol, and letter of authority, believing them to be potentially useful in the future.
Sheen remarked that the sky was darkening, and it would be prudent to make camp soon. There was a spot nearby that she used to use as a shelter in her youth and they will be safe if they make it there before nightfall. An hour later, the group arrived at the site - a 30ft deep cave-like recess in canyon wall - and Sheen gave a stern warning to not venture out of the camp until dawn. She then unceremoniously turned from the party, lay down a bedroll, and went to sleep. The party had a few brief discussions before doing the same.
Morning came, and Sheen was pleasantly surprised that the group had heeded her warning. They continued on their way, but were soon pestered by a purple butterfly, which hovered from person to person. Sai - being a priest of Fraylin, the Butterfly Queen - and Sasha - having learned much about Fraylin from a sailor called Jareef while onboard the Old Dirty Cudgel - knew this to be a good omen. The butterfly flew off to the west, and into a small alcove, which Sheen knew to be a dead-end. The group followed, and found that Sheen was right.
However, after examining the area, the group noticed small flickers of something purple moving on the other side of the ice wall. Sasha threw flames at the wall until it melted, revealing a hidden passage and the butterfly from earlier. It then zipped away down the passage and out of sight. The adventurers followed and soon came to an ancient-looking stone archway. They passed through the archway then arrived at a dilapidated structure that looked to be some kind of temple of the Fraylin faith. Inscribed in every language the group knew - and many they didn't - was the church's motto, "She guides us always".
The entered the temple and saw a whirlwind of thousands of butterflies, rising from a pit in the center and high into the air. Peeking through the veil of butterflies, Sasha saw the pit was approximately 20ft deep, with a ladder leading down into it, and a lone wooden chest at the bottom. The group opted to lower a rope and climb down, rather than trusting the no-doubt ancient ladder.
At the bottom, Rad wasted no time in opening the chest. As soon as the lid was raised, the whirlwind of butterflies halted and shot into the middle of the pit where they coalesced into a humanoid-shaped being. It attacked Rad and a battle ensued, while the being repeatedly muttered in Elven "Must defend the door from Gilif, enemy of dreams."
After defeating the butterfly creature, Rad examined the contents of the chest. It contained nothing but a small, brown sack which appeared to be empty, but when lifted had a slight weight to it. He reached into the sack and removed a large purple crystal, with jagged edges. Caidron determined the crystal had a powerful divine magical aura, but could not determine its purpose. Sheen remarked that Alarkon would be interested in the crystal and would likely pay a hefty price for it.
The group continued on their way until they heard a sudden loud cracking sound, echoing through the canyons. Sheen instinctively looked down, to check for thin ice, and the party followed suit. Then they heard a roar akin to the white-furred creature from the day before. Looking up at the clifftops, they saw the beast hurling a tree trunk down. The group managed to leap to safety, except for Rad who was whipped by one of the branches. The creature roared again, then disappeared.
An hour or so later, the group heard another cracking sound, and this time looked up, excepting another tree. Then a web-like crack began to spread across the ice beneath their feet. Sheen ordered them to halt, but Sasha released her claws and leapt for the canyon wall. Sheen and Sai made it to safety, and Rad managed to leap for solid ground, before the ice collapsed. Caidron, however, fell into a secret tunnel. The group discussed whether to continue following Sheen through the canyons or to explore the tunnel, ultimately deciding the latter.
After a few turns and then heading southward for a time, the party came to a door guarded by two mechanical-looking creatures, seemingly built from assorted pieces of scrap metal. One stood on two legs and carried a spear, and the other on four legs with a rusted bear trap where its head should be. The two creatures jolted to life and lurched toward the group, although they proved no match for the heroes who made short work of turning them to metal piles on the tunnel floor.
They opened the door and entered a long and narrow corridor heading on a downward slope. The corridor went on for a few quiet miles, before opening up into an immense underground cavern, and a bustling secret city. Sheen immediately went into a seething, state of shock and quiet rage, suddenly learning that during her ten years stranded alone in the Frozen Canyons, there had been an entire city right underneath her.
A group of dwarves stopped to gape at the party of travelers. A woman asked - in Dwarven - if they were from 'the jungle people'. Sasha interpreted for the party, and a brief confused conversation took place. Before long, a retinue of city guards showed up, led by a dwarf with a long ginger beard. He boomed an enthusiastic and boisterous greeting for the travelers and introduced himself as Smith Ironblood, captain of the Hearthhome Royal Guard, and brother to King Territ.
Smith invited the group to follow him to the Royal Home, and swiftly left, expecting them to follow. The group decided to go along with him, and Sasha engaged him in conversation. He briefly - and excitedly - shared the history of the hidden city - Hearthhome - and its founder, Berg Stoneheart. They came to the Royal Home, and Smith guided the group to a set of rooms where he said they were welcome to rest, bathe, and collect themselves after their journey. He then invited them to dine with him, stating he will send a servant to collect them in two hours.