Arke

7 Nightal, Continued
Cold hard diplomacy fail

Investigating the hut reveals several clues. Its construction is so old that the wood is almost petrified. There are no signs that it has actually been lived in. The place has been ransacked, and valuable pieces of a small altar to Bahamut were removed. Several sets of very old but well preserved footprints on the floor include some that seem unusually large for a human, but too small for a giant.

A well, unnecessary due to the nearby lake, sits near the hut. Upon investigatng more closely and dropping a light, our heroes conclude that no water lies below. They begin connecting their ropes to begin a descent, but giant footsteps begin to shake the ground. Attempting to go into hiding with the rest doesn’t pan out for Virva, who hopes to speak to the giant with civility and diplomacy. She has no opportunity to do so; the blue frost giant roars and attacks on sight. Soon he finds himself overwhelmed by the party’s counterattacks and jumps off a small cliff. Crashing through the frozen surface of the lake, the giant escapes.

This time the climb down the well remains uninterrupted and simple. The shaft and tunnel below are entirely stone—unlikely for a water well! Extravagantly high and beautifully carved, the tunnel continues for distance, and light glows through it from beyond a curve. Walking cautiously through the tunnel, our heroes soon hear giant voices from ahead. Sayen makes herself invisible and scouts ahead. She reports that two giants lie between her friends and a poorly hidden door. The party prepare themselves, ready attacks, and suddenly attack the giants all at once. One giant soon runs for the door, while the other nearly dies. Virva stabilizes him in an attempt to ask questions, but the moment he comes to, he brushes aside her ministrations and cranes his neck towards the door, ignoring her words.

Our heroes move down the tunnel and through the door, leaving the giant conscious but incapacitated. They find themselves in an over sized kitchen—too big even for giants. A 16 foot tall creature would find this painstakingly crafted room spacious. Frescoes of draconic history line the upper walls. The giants have been using the space, leaving it filthy. Layers of dust leave the otherwise tidy pantry and shelves looking abandoned for a year, at least.

Peeking through the kitchen door to the immense ballroom garners the attention of the seven frost giants waiting there. They circle around the door, forming an impassable wall of bristling weapons. Virva asks if any of them speak Common. They look around at one another, then bring in their chief. Virva attempts to simply seek pardon for intruding on the giants’ territory, but it is clear that our heroes won’t escape that easily. She offers to provide food for all of them in the morning. All of the other giants look immediately to their chief, showing that they understand and that food is likely scarce. The annoyed chief doesn’t bite; what good is one day of food? He demands food for a month, and Virva accedes.

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6 - 7 Nightal
Giant blizzard

The party arrives mid-morning in Nazilli. A blizzard blows in the below-freezing air, and townsfolk are safe in the castle. After asking around, our heroes find that most people think the paladin Vanzan has died. A farmer says that he saw a giant carrying off two of his sheep. He also thinks there are dragons in the mountains. The soldiers say that Koth works with goblins and orcs to ambush supply deliveries, and to raid and harass the border. However, the current aggression is unprecedented; this far south is usually safe. Rumors have spread of a powerful, secret weapon: something up Koth’s sleeve. Noot finds her brother and his ship’s crew among the mercenaries.

Our heroes depart in the deathly cold to seek Vanzan’s home, protected by the warmth of Pelor. After exploring for a few hours, they set camp, and take up the search again in the morning. A number of giant tracks cross their path. Late afternoon, they come across a battered hut that appears to have been abandoned for some time.

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1 - 5 Nightal
Battle brewing

Early in the morning, our heroes are summoned by the bey, Jael. The are met by Oremis, who tells them of an invasion by Koth. Jael gives assent to Oremis’s request that they accompany him to the front at Nazilli, far to the southeast. Koth troops are camped to the north of the city, which is split by the river Typhon. Izmiran troops are camped on the south side, across the river. The paladin Banzan who protected the border has not been heard from in over a year. Oremis requests help finding him, and Jael sends the party to the alchemists and weapon smiths to improve their outfitting.

A new cult rules Koth, since the people of the nation demanded a god-emperor be placed on the throne forty years ago. The tightly sequestered ruler, if he exists, reveals his will indirectly to his priests. It is said that the high priest has audience once each year.

Mim offers little advice to Izmir in times of war but is present at the table. He has little to add in information about his country of residence. Phaedrus did not return with him.

Departing with Oremis, who is headed to lead Izmir’s troops against Koth, our heroes travel for five days through increasingly high and frigid country.

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9 The Rotting - The Feast of the Moon
Off camera

The party settles in for the winter at the wraith-free house of Lord Oremis.

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Calendar dates
Gettin it straight

No more campaign based dates from here out…switching to actual Calendar dates, based on the Forgotten Realms calendar. Day 1 => 10 Leaffall. Day 29 => 8 The Rotting.

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Day 29
Name, shame

Lord Oremis blesses our heroes before they travel to investigate the forge, Izekel’s likely hideout. Upon their arrival hours later, the ersatz paladin waits expectantly outside the forge, sword in hand. She speaks cryptically of serving two masters and claims she expected the party to find her. She is glad, and she wishes to die. The party beats her down and ties her up despite her desperate attempts to cause her own death. They must leave her behind in order to explore the hidden lair underneath the forge.

Images of Nerul on the walls below have been defaced and replaced by newer images of Cas, a minor devil known for making bargains related to revenge. In the sanctuary of this evil place, a bane wraith emerges from the altar as Phaedrus and Virva go to investigate it. When asked why he attacked the party, the wraith replies, “Because she didn’t want me to.” With delight, he spins his tale of how Izekel came to her wretched state. King Dragomir had fallen from grace long before the battle with Koth, which he pursued out of desire to capture more land. He had many mistresses and even tried to seduce Izekel, his sworn protector. Soon afterward, while still emotionally reeling, Izekel came upon the cult of Nerul which had taken up the long abandoned forge. She slaughtered all of them while begging for help to save her king. Cas answered and gained her devotion for a time. However, she was tricked. On the battlefield, a wraith sent by Cas attacked Dragomir. Izekel herself delivered the final blow to kill the king and prevent him from being turned into a wraith. Trapped in her bargain with the devil, Izekel’s loyalties were painfully torn between her king’s good name, the country, and Cas.

Having delivered his morbid message, the wraith summons more of his kind, and battle ensues. The minor wraiths are dealt with easily, and the other is eventually beaten down and destroyed. Our heroes find what might be a piece of navigational equipment hidden in the altar. It is slightly magical (abjuration) and has no evil aura.

During the fight, Izekel managed to bite her tongue off and depart the mortal realm. A note written in expectation of her death profusely apologizes for everything she caused and for ending her life the way she did. It was all to protect Dragomir’s good name.

After returning to Illyria, our heroes deliver the remains of Izekel and her story to Oremis. Mim is there also, requesting the magical device, and Oremis encourages the party to hand it over.

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Day 28, continued
Serious suspicions

Virva reaches the castle gate and waits to speak to Lord Oremis. Phaedrus and Mim appear, and Mim’s presence prompts the guards to open the gate immediately. Virva, Phaedrus, and Mim are admitted to see Oremis. Virva lays out her suspicions about Izakel’s corruption. The rest of the party is summoned and head back to the house to test Adllal’s tracking skills. He detects dirt and coal in her prints, which lead out to the street. He suspects that she was spending time at an abandoned forge north of town. Oremis and his guards investigate Izakel’s residence and find it empty. Our heroes rest up for the day to come.

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Day 28
A war on many fronts

Midday brings sight of the lush city of Illyria. Its army camps around it. Inside its walls, bustling markets open to wide boulevards through domed white buildings. Oremis leads the way to the old part of the city, full of civic buildings, guild halls, and manors. Before he continues to Castle Illyria to meet the bey Jael, he directs our heroes to the currently unoccupied home of his relatives. They split up to research the killings by the wraiths.

Virva heads directly for the temple of Pelor. A priest there tells her the killings in the city involved no blood or injuries, and sends her to talk to the priests of Bahamut, who tend to the dead. Virva finds the priestess Shoshannah, a venerable cleric of Bahamut. She remembers that Ellis died very recently. They have identified no pattern in the victims, except that they have been killed at night, probably by wraiths. She points out that Dragomir was close to Loka and that one must be careful speaking to him. He held his position long after consorting with demons. With this in mind, Virva prepares herself, and goes to speak with Loka. Compelling him magically to speak the truth, she learns a little. Dragomir started the war and soon after took the very popular lady Isadora as a mistress. Loka sacrificed her to his demonic mistress. He spread rumors about Koth, made deals with mercenaries, and spread many rumors among the nobility. Loka doesn’t know if he wants redemption, and a vision of heaven forced into his mind by Virva leaves him stunned.

Sayen explores the city, finding interesting locals to speak with. She hears of many young nobles who have been killed and of the paladin Izekel who still protects the city. Izekel was the one who brought King Dragomir’s body back from the battlefield. Sayen heads to the more upperclass area of town, finding the servant of a family whose son died. There seems to be a pattern, but what is it? Could they all be the children of military officers?

Noot sees a ship with her family crest across the lake. She finds her oldest brother Torben is dealing in arms, hoping to improve their family’s declined means. She sends a bit of money home to the family with him, but he gives some to her also after impressing on her the need for the war to make his investment pay off.

The paladin Izekel is waiting when the party reconvenes for dinner. She says she hasn’t gotten to the bottom of Dragomir’s death. During the meal, assassins attack. Izakel runs to the door. Wraiths appear, and Izakel is gone. The party is left drained from the attacks of the wraiths and poison-wielding assassins. After retreating to the temple of Pelor, Virva leaves her friends there and runs full tilt back to the castle.

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Days 22 - 26
Shine, Order, shine

The party joins Oremis and his private guard on his journey to Illyria via Mardin, where he is the bey. During the journey, they discuss the Silver Court. This is the group of the seven highest ranking paladins who direct the Shining Order and choose the king. Oremis reveals that in the wake of their failure to discern Bahamut’s choice for the next king, one of them killed himself. Ezar is the only other remaining shining paladin.

On the evening of 4 The Rotting (Day 25), our heroes arrive in Mardin, which is elevated over the surrounding countryside of roads, farmland, and villages. The estate of Oremis provides a lush welcome, with well appointed rooms and a banquet. A breathless messenger arrives to tell Oremis that the military is pressing for war against Koth in revenge for King Dragomir’s death.

Screams pierce the rest of the night, as wraiths attack the daughter of Oremis. They have facial features, which is quite unusual for wraiths. Oremis even recognizes one, a young soldier named Ellis who survived the last battle with Koth.

On 5 The Rotting (Day 26), Oremis sends his personal guard with his family to stay with a relative. He departs with the rest of the travelling party, with the addition of his young squire Isa. Noot questions Loka about the undead intruders. He claims that the wraiths could only be created by an extremely powerful necromancer or by another wraith. She punches him in frustration.

The travelers pass through villages, forest, fields, and farms on the road to Illyria.

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Day 21, continued
I saw the light

Everyone does maintenance on weapons and visits their respective holy places. Sayen visits Sevgi at the hostel. Sevgi tells Sayen about premonitions of danger and gives her a ring of protection.

During Virva’s evening prayers in her room at the temple of Pelor, Siani, the gravekeeper, motions with a red light for her to come visit her hut in the graveyard. She reluctantly delivers a message from the Raven Queen. She has had nightmares of murder, and the dead are restless. She says to be careful, and act quickly. Virva notices that Siani has long canines and is extremely pale. She is trying to hide her discomfort, fear, and something else from Virva. Virva tells Ithamar about the encounter. He takes the warning seriously but is not free to speak of Siani’s strange form. He reminds her that the Raven Queen does not look kindly on murder.

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