Dark Sun 3.5 - The Lost North

Session 5 Recap

We picked up right where we left off: Larry had just blown the competition away in the archery contest during the festival in Rockfell. It was getting on towards evening and the town was preparing for the culmination of the Festival of the Strawman. The bonfire had been lit and the fire priest, Letru, and the town mayor, Olbrad, were seated up on the raised stage area with people lined up to talk with one or both regarding any number of things.

Larry joined the townsfolk by the bonfire and tossed in her own straw doll praying to her own spirits for cleansing and a fruitfull new year. Jeremy and Brian (who just managed to catch up to them after running all the way from town) decided to hang out by Olivar's Inn where the innkeep (Olivar…) had set up beer stalls outside on the square. In the conversations going on around them, the party learned that Letru was the junior priest of the fire temple but since the more experienced priest was out of town on temple business he was filling the roll for this year.

Everything seemed to be going just fine when a scream rang out and a ripple spread through the crowd. They were falling back in terror as a tall ragged figure entered the square from the northeast and cause the general shaken panic. It might have been the town drunk but the pumpkin for a head said otherwise. The glow from inside the carved face left little doubt that this was a magical construct not a person. It paced into the square in full view of everyone, stopped, raised an accusing finger at Letru, and said "The bigger the sin, the bigger the straw man! I am your straw man, priest—living testament to the number and gravity of your sins!” Then it began to advance on the priest.

The party didn't know what was going on. What if the priest had actually done something to deserve this? Larry decided to jump in, firing a burning arrow into the ground at its feet and telling it to halt. It ignored her and continued to close with the priest. Jeremy and Brian began to engage but did little initially. Letru began casting spells to help the party help him. When Larry managed to hit the Scarecrow with an arrow, it turned its withering gave on her which made her cower for the remainder of the encounter. Jeremy tried to interpose himself between it and the priest, got clawed and was also out of the fight due to fear.

So it was down to the halfling and the (first-level NPC) priest. It was close but they (just) managed to defeat the Scarecrow, at which point it collapsed into a heap of straw, sticks, and clothing before imolating itself into ashes. Which was when Mark came wandering out of the latrine wondering what was going on.

As the crowd was starting to pick itself up, the Water cleric Laurallis came running back into town. She claimed that she was still getting used to being surrounded by people all the time after having traveled alone for so long. She had left early in the day to clear her head and had been returning when she heard the screams. No one had any reason to doubt her story. She went through the crowd healing and tending, as the fire cleric was also doing. After things were mostly straightened up, the party remembered why they had come in the first place. They presented the box and sealed letter from Finde to Laurallis. She took the box excitedly and then cooled upon opening it and looking inside. Similarly, when she read the letter, the party saw an unmistakable frown cross her face before she could conceal it. She thanked the party for delivering such wonderful gifts and asked that they stop by the Water shrine on their way out of town tomorrow so that she could have them return to Kurn with a suitable present for Finde.

The party was then treated as heroes (for all that most of them didn't actually do much…), given a reward and a free stay at the inn. Indeed they weren't allowed to pay for any food or drink at all through a long evening at Olivar's taproom. As the hours extended, the crowd thinned and dwindled. At which point, Letru the fire cleric entered the inn and asked to join them. Jeremy for one was still thinking that the priest might have done something but they allowed him to sit. Once he was sure that there was no one listening, he told them that he potential task for them had just become even more urgent.

Letru tells the party that his superior, Tavaros, has been missing for two days. He hadn't said anything to anyone and had made up the story about the temple business trip to Kurn to avoid panicking the townspeople. He had planned to tell the mayor and constable about it after making sure that the festival went off without a hitch. But after the attempt on his life tonight he knew that there was something bigger going on. The fact that the party showed up when they did, he takes as elemental providence without question.

He tells the PCs that Tavaros left the temple the previous morning saying that he was going to investigate some interesting reports of unusual activity out beyond the outlying farms to the west. He hadn’t said what kind of activity, other than “It’s probably just some young ones making poor life choices.” But when he didn’t return that evening, Letru knew something was wrong. The farms in question are 5 miles west of Rockfell. The Jervo and Tanzin farms adjoin each other at the end of the road, with unpatrolled lands beyond. The families were the ones who reported the activity and would have been Tavaros first destination after leaving the temple. They may be the last ones to have seen him before he disappeared. Letru is desperate to have someone help find Tavaros and bring him back safely. He will have to tell the mayor and constable of course, but they have the town to look after.

After much hemming and hawing (only 1 good character in the bunch leads to a lot of moral ambiguity), the party decided to take up the case. Letru was unabashedly thankful. He told them to stop by the Fire Temple on their way out the following morning. Larry wanted to get her nose on some of Tavaros' possessions to get his scent and Letru promised them some provisions. When they arrived the following morning, he presented them with 3 potionfruits of cure moderate wounds and 2 potionfruits of shield of faith which constituted most of the small temple's magic on hand. Larry was able to get Tavaros' scent and they scoured his apartment for any clues without success.

The party traveled west along the town road for a few miles until they reached the literal end of it. The half-elven Tanzin family lived to the south and the dwarven Jervos family to the north. They spoke first with the Tanzins where they learned that the son of the family often hung out in the pastures of the Jervos family with their son, but on some recent occasions he had felt like they were being watched when they were out in the far northwest fields. They said that they had sent word to Tavaros who had indeed come to speak with them three days past. They went next to the Jervos family. They thought the Tanzin boy was imagining things ("freakin' half-elves") but they had lost a few of their kip (shy, six-legged, armored herbivore) in that same area so they had asked Tavaros to look into it.

The party went out to that section of the Jervos farm and Larry picked up the scent of the priest. They followed it over the walls of the pasture into the un-incorporated lands beyond. They spent the rest of the day tracking the scent, losing it several times. The final time of the night that Larry lost and then found the trail, it became clear it was obscured because the priest had been set upon and was being carried in such a way to dilute the trail he was leaving. The party decided to make camp for the night and continue in the morning.

During the night they were set upon by two Lirr (tiger-sized reptilian predators). The party was able to defeat them and then spent the night and next morning resting and smoking the meat for rations which they stored in the saddle bags of holding.

After restarting their trail, they followed it into the foothills of the White Mountains where they found a cave entrance and the scent led inside. They also saw tracks of humanoids with claws and no shoes going in. Immediately upon stepping across the threshold, they discovered that it was not a natural cave but some ancient structure hewn out of the stone. The craftsmanship was very good and the decoration included writing in a language none of them had ever seen. Inside were several large chambers with elaborate scenes decorating the walls. These deteriorating scenes showed a civilization of short reptilian creatures including family, civic, and religious life. None of them have ever seen creatures like these (kobolds).

The party came to a junction where there were three locked doors. Jeremy had activated a find secret doors spell and this showed him a peephole in one of the doors and beyond they could hear feet shuffling away from them. They tried to force that door but apparently some sort of bar had been laid across it thwarting all efforts. So the party turned their attention to the door on the right and managed to bust it down, finding an already-ransacked burial chamber. They searched without success and were just about to leave when three Gith sprang through a now revealed secret door. Combat ensued during which 3 more Gith exited from each of the other two doors. It was dicy for a bit, but the party dealt with them.

They then followed the secret passage ways deeper in and found a large room with stone rings carved into the walls. Tied to one of these rings, the party found the body of a woman dressed in the robes of a water cleric. She had obviously been tortured and had been dead for over a month. After much (!) discussion, Jeremy deduced that the priest they had met in the town was an imposter but was the only person the town knew to be the water cleric, since the real one had been waylaid before reaching them. But why?!

They decided to continue in search of Tavaros. If the imposter had meant to skip town she could have already done so since they left the previous day. Upon entering the next room, they were set upon by more Gith including one that look like it was in charge. The battle did not go well for the Gith. One of them managed to escape and run further into the complex but the rest were slaughtered. Larry took off (alone…) after the one that got away and managed to take it down just as it entered the next room a hundred yards down the halways. What Larry saw in that room was a raised portion in the corner upon which had been stacked bags of food stuff to provide cover behind which were three more gith. Behind them was a very large statue of the lizard people and behind that, tied to a ring in the wall was a human dressed in red robes.

The party caught up and dealt with the remaining Gith, freeing the man who was indeed Tavaros. He had been tortured and beaten every day since being captured but was not permanently damaged. He confirmed their theory that the woman in town was an imposter. Not only that, she was a cleric of the paraelement of Rain who was out to discredit and destroy the fire temple and turn the town to worshiping Rain. It was late in the day, but the party agreed that at first light they would start back for town and confront her.

In the mean time they decided to search the complex, since the Gith threat had been neutralized. They found some secret doors and passageways that they decided to leave untouched for now. But in their searches, they did find some useful tools and weapons as well as a map case with maps of this part of Kurns territory. What was going on? In addition, they also found a hidden compartment in one of the rooms that contained a sealed scroll tube and a steel!?!?! shortsword in a crumbling leather scabbard. After damaging the edge of one of the documents inside the tube, they managed to get some pages far enough out to confirm that no one could read them and that they matched the writing on all of the walls of the burial chambers.

They rested and then set out for town, knowing that they need to return to finish exploring and searching.

XP: 1150

Session 4 Recap

After the ambush at Karis' bookshop, the party has to figure out what to do next. They are obviously being targeted now that they've taken out two theif teams. The thief (that lied) said that there were three teams of 5 operating in the city. So that meant that they only had one more team to deal with (since she was obviously telling the truth this time).

After much hemming and hawing, the party decided to check out the Farm Gate and see what they could find about the token. They showed up and started asking questions about the tokens and also asked about halflings. They are rare in Kurn so they should stand out if they come in openly. The guard on duty recalls an incident about a month past where one of the regular farmers came in with his halfling assistant, but when he left, he said that his assistant (and his gate token) had vanished. The assistant (Cuthir) had left the farm stand to run an errand and had never returned. Turned out that the gate token had also disappeared.

As told by other farmers in the Market, the halfling had shown up on the road by the farm looking for work about a year ago. He'd worked steadily for the farmer since and had come to the city several times in the intervening months to sell in town without any incident. The disappearance disturbed the farmer and he hadn't returned to the city since, making agreements with other's to bring his produce to market for him.

After learning all this, the party split up. Jeremy and Mark went around to all the militia outposts and posted a APB for Cuthir the Halfling. If anyone saw him or knew of his whereabouts, (not that other halfling who likes poisons…) they should seek out Jeremy in the Market. Larry and Al went to see the Grove Master to see if she had any insights. She wasn't able to isolate a particular individual in the city, but she knows whenever anything happens in one of her forested areas. Apparently she had been getting visitors to the forested blocks directly across from the House Azeth compound in the southwest part of the city over the past month. She hadn't seen them and they didn't do much damage (apparently knowing that they wouldn't survive an encounter with her), but several times there had been 2-3 individuals using the cover of the forest to watch the trade compound.

About the time they party met back up in the Market, a militiaman from an outpost in the west of town reported to Jeremy that a halfling had been seen several times crossing the main street near the outpost over the last week or two. So the party went to the intersection and started knocking on doors. Many of the buildings were empty, so they decided to find a good spot to stake out the place. As they were doing this, Mark and Larry happened to see a head poking around the corner a long block away to the north. They couldn't tell if it was a halfling or not. Larry played it totally cool and was about to subtly direct the party's attention to the watcher, but Mark was like "HEY! Look there!!" at which point the head disappeared.

Larry flew to the next street over and didn't see anyone cross the intersection. The rest of the party ran up the street to the intersection where they saw the spy. There was no sign of anyone on that street. Jeremy blew his signal whistle to try and get Larry to join them so that she could shift into her canine form and track the person. As Larry was flying over the building to get to them, she saw a figure (smaller than average human) running north up a street away from them. She swooped down over the others and called for them to follow her up the street. She got to the end of the block and again saw no sign of the runner. But shifting into canine, she got the scent of the halfling she recognized from the morning outside Karis'. He had turned left at the intersection and gone into a building about 30 yards down the street.

When the party caught up, they went to the building. Without waiting to prep (what could possibly go wrong?), Jeremy kicked in the door, let it swing all the way open to see inside and then swing back shut. In that view they saw a large (50'x50') warehouse space with rows of boxes.  But no halfling was visible in that moment. So the party went in. There were rows of crates and a large open center of the room. Larry shifted back to her normal form, spread her wings and launched up to get altitude. Which is when she spotted five people on top of crates distributed around the room. They saw her too and took to firing ranged weapons at her. The halfling was atop one of the sets of crates away from the door and he did not shoot Larry, but was instead looking through the party like he was trying to find someone in particular.

Al enlarged Jeremy, and Mark used his mul strength to push over a pile of crates with an archer on top. When they all came around the corner of crates, they discovered that in addition to the 5 archers (now four) above, there were an addition 5 individuals on the floor armed with melee weapons. It wasn't actually a long fight, because Enlarged Jeremy does even more damage with his trident than normal. He "accidentally" shoved it through the chest of one of the attackers and then remembered that they were trying to take them alive. Throughout the battle, the halfling continued to ignore everyone while he searched unsuccessfully for the one he wanted to hurt. One of the archers called out to ask Cuthir why he wasn't shooting and later to call him a coward for leaving through the roof without firing a shot.

They had taken down most of the force within a few rounds and the leader (Gery) made a break for it, but he was greedy and didn't want to leave without the loot they had amassed. Jeremy caught up with him while he was trying to grab stuff and made short work of him. After binding all the unconscious or surrendered thieves, Larry flew to the nearest milita outpost to get help dealing with the 8 bound and 1 dead bandit.

In the pile of loot, they found some bags marked with the seal of one of the noble houses, a pair of crates marked as belonging to the Makers Clave, and a bag full of altar goods from the Water temple (looks like Finde was wrong about being distracted by the attempted theft). In addition, there was a pack with unmarked loot that the party would be able to keep: a potion fruit, a wand, a scroll, a set of splint mail, and 270 Cp. With Al in the party, they were able to spend time identifying this stuff as well as the potionfruit they received the first night from Akive's saddle bags. They have potionfruits of cure light wounds and now endure elements, a wand of darkness (15 charges), and an arcane scroll of 3 spells (Floating Disk, Magic Aura, Owl's Wisdom). The militia took possession of the identifiable loot and the party went home to rest.

After consulting with their map of the city, the party surmised that Cuthir and the other thieves had been traveling between their base near the Farm Gate south to the wooded blocks across the street from the House Azeth compound near the Trade Gate. Perhaps they were casing it for some sort of robbery or attack?

After resting and getting the identifications done, the party went to Karis to see what he might have available to trade for a spells on the scroll. He didn't have anything Al needed and could cast so Al put the first two into his spellbook and kept the third on the scroll. Then they went to see the Makers Clave and learn about how much magic items would cost to purchase. (Who ever heard of being able to buy magic items!?! Openly?!?) Turns out the makers are very efficient and have lots of trainees who need practice, so they have most common weapons and armor at the 1 level available in stock for the cost of 750 Cpthe cost of the item. Above +1 level, most things will have to be custom ordered. Simliarly, if you are looking for miscellaneous magic, you can expect to find items with crafting costs of 1000Cp or less in stock and potions of 500Cp in stock.

Mark also shared what he had learned about psionic items at the House of the Mind during the week that Jeremy was being brainwashed. The effect is basically the same as with magic, although only common weapons/armor (1000Cp or less) and Universal Items (1000Cp or less) are available stock. All other psionic items are custom crafted, and most psions craft such items as djores or psicrowns only for themselves or close/trusted friends. 

Also, Larry bought a kank for a mount.

Jeremy was itching to get outside the city and see more of the countryside (read – more monsters and XP outside of the city). As luck would have it, the much chagrinned Finde showed up at their house one morning to apologize for being arrogant and foolish during the investigation and to ask the party to do something for him. The town of Rockfell, north west of Kurn and up against the base of the White Mountains, recently got a new Water cleric. She had passed through Kurn on her way and Finde wanted to send her a gift to help her start her new ministry to the townsfolk. The gift was a beautiful bowl made from a single piece of lapis and inscribed around with symbols holy to the water element. No one checked, but it was obviously valuable and likely magical. That and a letter of official welcome needed to be delivered by someone he trusts to Lauralis. A quick out and back assignment for which he would pay them 50 Cp each.

The party accepted the job and prepared to set out the next morning knowing that they could make it there by the early afternoon.  As they left the town the following morning, they all felt something "notice" them as they passed through the gates. Just a sense of being regarded for a moment that faded just as quickly. They made good time and indeed got to Rockfell in the early afternoon.

Upon entering the farming village, it was obvious that some kind of town festival was going on. Given that the season had just changed from Fruitbirth (the greenest, most productive season) to Ral's Rest they surmised that this was some kind of harvest festival. In the village square, there were the makings of a very large bonfire. And all the villagers were wandering around with small figures made of straw and sticks. As they went about their business, they would whisper things to the little dolls and by eavesdropping the group heard people confessing wrongs they had done over the past year. 

Then they started looking for the water cleric, but no one seemed to have seen her since the morning, but suggest they try looking at the shrine on the east end of town. The shrine was small, a three-sided structure open to the elements with a single altar inside, and a small apartment cell behind with a bed and a dresser that could be seen through the single window. No sign of the priest at the shrine. So they walked back through the festivities to the other end of town where there was a larger and more established fire temple. There was a fire priest (Letru) sitting outside the temple at a table selling the little straw dolls. He explained the festival as one of atonement and renewal by fire that would culminate with the villagers throwing their straw figures into the bonfire that evening. He said that he also had not seen the water cleric since that morning but was certain she was around. He welcomed the party to enter the fire temple and look around. They did so and found the space large enough for a main altar and a smaller side shrine with living space for two priests. But no sign of the water cleric. On their way back out, Letru mentioned that he had a possible job for them if they would still be around the following morning. He couldn't spare the time to talk about it now, given the importance of the festival, but he felt sure he could make it worth the party's time if they would hear him out in the morning. The party was noncommittal but knew they would need to stay the night in town regardless.

After speaking with Letru, the party sought out the village constable. They felt he need to to take the missing cleric seriously. He did not see an emergency in need of immediate attention, especially with his charge of keeping the festival goers safe, but promised that he and his men would look for the cleric after the townspeople had dispersed back to their houses.

With no other leads to follow, the party decided to at least enjoy some of the festivities themselves. Larry and Jeremy decided to enter the archery contest that was being put on by a retired ranger, Jannek. The prize for the winner was a mastercraft longbow that Jannek had crafted himself. Larry put on a display of archery that left all challengers (even Jeremy) in the dust and received the prize with great appreciation and compliments to Jannek. She was fawned over by several of the tow-headed farm boys who had fancied themselves good with the bow that morning.

As the afternoon drew to a close and the evening set in, the villagers prepared to light the bonfire.

XP: 900

Session 3 Recap

We picked up with Jeremy going off to join the Templars of Oronis. Onboarding and indoctrination took about a week in which time,

  • Brian made some cool poison from the cactus parts the group got for him and made friends with Shetek the alchemist (Poisonmaster) in the marketplace. He's willing to buy poisons and alchemical agents that the party comes across, but won't always buy everything.
  • Larry spent time with Selbin the grove master of Kurn in her forest about half the time and spent the rest wandering the town in canine form being careful to stay out of view.
  • Mark spent time at the House of the Mind getting to know the psions, wilders, and whatnot at the psionic academy. He also learned that there are psionic items available for purchase.
  • Jeremy sells himself out to The Man. ;)

In that week, the party collectively learns some things:

  • Oronis does not rule Kurn. The city is governed by a tribunal of 20 plus the presider who are elected from the populace by the city's claves. Kurn is a democracy! Oronis is revered and respected and he alone controls the Templars. But the city militia answer to the tribunal. The Black Brethren act quasi-independently, but are bound by oaths to Kurn and Oronis. The party is suitably freaked out.
  • There are seasons here unlike anywhere the party has ever heard of. The 5 seasons are basically the same as the 5 months observed in Kurn. Each is 75 days long.
  • The seasons also showcase another oddity of the Trembling Plains region. While the area around Kurn is under the protection of the White Mountains spirit of the land, the rest of the Trembling Plains actually has 5 spirits which share the same space but wax and wane over time, one per month. There is always only one spirit present at a time and it is unknown whether each knows of the presence of the others. Larry plans to go ask them…
  • In Kurn as opposed to every other city you know, the streets are all cobbled and maintained. The alleys are in rougher shape but are also cobbled. Every street corner is illuminated by a torch that burns night and day and is never consumed.

After Jeremy is sufficiently brainwashed, Andas charges him and the party with tracking down the thieves that have been hitting the Marketplace. There is a bounty of 10Cp from the Tribunal for each one brought alive to the city militia. It turns out that a group of them had attempted to rob the water temple and Andas sends them there to begin their investigation.

They meet Finde the water cleric in the temple. He strikes them as unusual because his skin has a bluish cast and appears to be faintly scaled. His large blue eyes also have a slight milkiness that does not appear to hinder his sight. Finde tells them that the would be thieves attempted to steal from one of the side altars in the temple but were quite bad at it. He heard them and came out and chased them away before they could get anything. Larry changed into her dog form and got something of a scent off the altar. They were able to follow that west until the scent was lost on one of the busy streets.

The party decided to make Mark look like a drunk target in the market to try and draw out the thieves. They tried this for 5 hours with no luck but heard someone else scream out to "Stop that thief!" They gave chase and followed to an abandoned warehouse several blocks from the market. Jeremy busted down the door and inside they found a group of 5 humans and half elves that looked like they were about to set up camp and divide spoils. The fight was quite short as 2 of the 5 wet themselves in surrender. 

Then the party split them up to try and get information about the group's headquarters. Brian tried the whole cannibal-halfling-gonna-eat-you routine. Jeremy tried to "reason" with the one who seemed to be in charge. And Mark used torture to extract info. She eventually told them where the hideout was and how many thieves there were. Larry healed the torture damage and tried to get through to sway that person from her life of crime with some apparent small success.

After turning them over to the militia, the group went in the night to check out the building she pointed them to. There wasn't much sign of use but everyone was on high alert. They looked through the windows and saw what looked like bunk beds with people on them. Not wanting to take a risk opening either the front or back doors, they used Larry's wings to check out the roof and found an entrance there. The top floor of the building was open like a ballroom and deserted except for some chairs and such covered with cloth. They decided to make their way down to the next level and discovered that the stairs were trapped. Jeremy bull rushed down and triggered the traps. The second floor was a long hallway with several rooms on either side. None of them had anything in them. More stairs down to the main level and more traps. Turns out that the beds just had pillows and blankets on them to look like they were occupied. The stairs to the basement weren't trapped but there only appeared to be some boxes and refuse down there. When they lit a torch they discovered that there were two sewer grates which completely covered any other smells, and also a pile of stones against one foundation wall. When they cleared that away they found a small door behind it. When opened there was a tunnel that went down and under the street for about 10 feet before being blocked by a cave in. In searching the room, the only thing they discovered was a small green token with an ear of wheat depicted on one side. It looks similar to one they saw the wagon driver receive when they arrived in Kurn via the Trade Gate, but that one was red and had a coil depicted on it. They waited the night to see if anyone would come and no one did. They had been lied to!!

While Brian and Larry went back to the house to get some sleep, Jeremy and Mark wanted to confront the thief that led them astray. When they got to the militia outpost they found that the thieves had been transferred to HQ so they went there. They found the thief and her lawyer were countersuing the city for brutality saying that she had been innocent of the charges. Mark denied torturing her and they got nothing further out of her. Later Larry tried and accidentally confirmed her side of the story that she had been tortured and then healed. (Could be trouble a brewing!)

After her heartbreaking failure with the thief, Larry wandered the marketplace for a while. She found out that the token they found is for passage through the Farm Gate in the west of the city. The tokens are given to wagons when they come in and taken back when they leave. This is meant to allow some knowledge of who is coming and going. But the tokens themselves are not distinguishable. Then she went to spend the night in the forest of the Grove Master. When she arrived home the next AM, she heard the sound of shattering glass coming from the direction of Karis' bookshop down the street. She messaged the party inside and dashed off. When the party arrived, the store's front window was shattered and they were about to go looking for Karis when they were set upon by sling wielders from multiple directions. It was a trap! They managed to stop all of the attackers even though the one inside the shop almost managed to get away. As they were cleaning up, Larry and Mark noticed they were being watched from down the street. A halfling. The only halfling besides Brian that they had seen since getting to Kurn. When he saw that his cover was blown he dashed off. Be the time Larry got there, he was nowhere to be found. And the halfling had almost succeeded in completely obscuring his scent with herbs and spices, but Larry managed to get the barest scent. If he gets close he can probably identify that one.

Karis was found beaten and tied up upstairs. They free him and he accompanies them to the militia outpost to press charges on the thieves.

XP – 563

Updated Map of Kurn

Here's a new map of Kurn reflecting what you have learned about the city in your few days of explorations. Things to note:
1) There are four colored squares distributed around the market area. These are the locations of the 4 elemental temples. Colors should be self explanatory.
2) The umber colored block directly south of the Market is the Inn of the Fire Drake where Jeremy did some drinking the first night.
3) The block bits distributed throughout the city are outposts for the city Militia. (Related: Every citizen of Kurn is required to spend a period of time each year serving in the militia. As a part of that service, every citizen also keeps a long bow within reach even when they are not actively serving and they know how to use it.)

Session 2 Recap

After the various errands that you were all on at the end of the first night, you all returned to your house to discover Baelon had returned and had an Al-shaped human in tow. Apparently they got an unexpected immigrae via one of the smaller caravans that came in from (Al hasn't picked a backstory yet). Baelon thought that he could bunk with you all at least for now rather than putting him someplace by himself.

The party pooled all the resources that weren't going to be immediately used and sold them, including 2 of the 3 sheets of shimmercloth. They kept one to try and find out what they are sails for and what a "sail cart" is. Mark is currently keeper of the party treasure list. Someone tried to pick Al's pocket in the marketplace but he caught them at it. They ran and the party did not pursue.

After selling and buying, the party skipped forward to the next morning when they were going to meet Oronis and tell him that they plan to stay. He was pleased and he introduced you to his seneschal, Andas, a rogueish half-elven Templar. She handles getting things done in and for Kurn that aren't directly related to the military or official Templar business. If you're looking for work, you can see her for options and she sometimes will seek out the right people for the right job.

So your maiden voyage as Northerners involved acting as caravan guards to a pair from the Water Haulers Clave who were tasked with going to retrieve a baby cistern fiend. (Cistern fiends are nasty nasty nasty things 20 times more powerful than you guys. But during the 24 hours around giving birth to their young they are docile. After that period, the parent will eat the offspring if it isn't taken away. Cistern fiends are prized because in addition to eating anything they get their tentacles on, they consume all the particulates and microorganisms in bodies of water. So cities always have them in their water supplies.)

The templars received a tip that there was a cistern fiend north of Kurn that was going to be giving birth soon and were sending the water haulers to get it. They learned about it from templars from Eldaarich and were trying to beat them there. So the party was along to keep the water haulers safe and return them and their cargo to Kurn as quickly as possible. The haulers had several very large barrels filled with water. One as a holding tank for the baby, one as a spare, and one for the group to use as well as be a tertiary backup.

On the way out, there was no sign of the party from Eldaarich. They took the road north from Kurn to where it ended in front of Fort Protector which is a massive fortress the size of a mountain that is built into the end of the White Mountains and serves to protect Kurn from all threats to the north. It's the primary seat of the Black Breathren.

Everything was fine without incident. Until the cacti attacked them at the oasis where the cistern fiend lives. Jeremy got paralyzed by a spider cactus and so did one of the water haulers. But Larry managed to kill it with his bow. There was a patch of hunting cacti as well and Al noticed that there were remains of people and animals underneath them. So the party had Larry kill those too and they acquired some small treasures. They also stripped the dead cacti of their poison pods because they thought Brian could do something poisonous with them.

On the way home, Larry was flying and he noticed a party off in the distance headed toward the oasis from the angle of Eldaarich. The party decided to continue like they were minding their own business and made it all the way back to town safely. They got the fee for the mission and then went back to the market to spend it (and try to sell the poison they "got for Brian"). They saw the alchemist Shetek in the marketplace and he offered them some money for the cacti poison but not enough. Shetek says he will pay more for more unusual or exotic hebs or alchemical items.

As they were leaving Shetek's shop, there were cried of "Stop Thief" from another market stall. Larry took to the air and saw a ripple passing through the crowd where someone was running. He gave chase in the air while Mark and Al pushed their way through the crowd on foot. Larry caught up to the urchin after the broke free from the crowd and swooped in to grab her. She was young and half-elven but not a child. Larry was able to grab her but not fly off with her. After a few seconds, the urchin's friends came pounding out of an alley and all 4 of them started pulling out slings and firing at Larry. He dropped her and retreated, watching as the little gang disappeared back into the alley they came out of taking the thief with them. Several moments later, Mark and Al caught up. Jeremy didn't follow, but rather visited a brothel in the marketplace.

XP: 700

Prologue: Into the North
A New Home

North and East of Draj, beyond some client villages, there is region known as the Trembling Plains (you don't know why) that appears more lush than any place you've heard of. At the southern end of this region, lies the walled trading outpost of Azeth's Rest, seat of House Azeth, who seem to be the primary trading house in this area. it was clear that House Tsalaxa (the trading house that spirited the party away from their civilization) has relations with House Azeth but if appearances are true, House Azeth is a more humane outfit.

The party, having been bought from Lorsk of House Tsalaxa by two templars of an unknown sorcerer king (Baelon and Jun) at Azeth's Rest, continued their journey north into unknown lands. The wagons were attacked by a mul named Akive and a training band of her marauders from the village of Ravish in the bandit states. The PCs helped fight them off and made a positive impression on the Templars as well as the mercenaries running the wagons.

Passing through the region of the Trembling Plains, the party saw the White Mountains forming a wall to the west and north. Larry and Brian noticed miniscule figures flying above the mountains and learned of the Aarakocra city of Winter's Nest high in the highest peaks.

The party learned of the Black Brethren, the uniformed army that patrols the region, sworn to the service of the sorcerer king Oronis. They bore the same sigil on their uniforms as the templars – a red sun bisected by an upright blue sword.

They learned of two cities in the north, lost to memory and myth in the Tablelands. Eldaarich, city of a mad king – closed to all save a few interactions with traders from House Azeth at particular times and places. 
And finally, Kurn, at the northern end of the Trembling Plains where the White Mountains fall back to earth.

The city-state of Kurn appears to be an Eden compared to any of the city states the PCs have known. The surrounding lands are fertile and irrigated. The walls, impenetrable. The people, healthy and benevolent. There are near-jungles of forest within the city walls and Grove Master watching over them. The leader himself, Oronis, appears to be a fair and even handed ruler (he claims not to rule at all, but that the people rule themselves) and he has offered you a new beginning in the north. He has laid out a need for honest and talented people to help rebuild the city the surrounding region while insisting that the survival of everyone in this part of the world relies on not attracting the attention of the powers that control the Tablelands. He has given the party 24 hours to think about his offer and explore the city before returning to give him their answer. 

He has also placed a geas of some sort on the PCs insuring that they cannot speak of Kurn to anyone other than themselves who they do not know to be a citizen of Kurn. At least for a time. He has asked that the party not venture far beyond the city walls for the time being and seemed to imply that he would know if they did.

Then Baelon set the party up in a vacant (one of many) house in a nearly deserted residential district, gave them a map of the city, and gave the party the spoils from the run in with Akive's bandits since they had nothing of possessions. Between what they can use and what they can sell, it is a beginning.

Prologue: Azeth's Rest
The Railroading Continues

The party arrives in Azeths Rest after 8 days in the slave wagon.  They are malnourished and dehydrated in the extreme.

Pulling through the main gates, the PCs can see lots of activity going on.  This is obviously not just a backwater puddle, but a major trade hub.

  • A human and 15 dwarves all dressed similarly and with a stripe of ash across their faces around the eyes have pushed handcarts full of obsidian and giant’s hair rope up to the House Azeth trading post.
  • What appear to be family units of half-elves ride in together speaking a non-Common language that nevertheless seems to be understood by most of the merchants in the market.
  • Families and children can be seen in abundance in a residential sector west of the oasis.
  • A large pen for mounts and livestock hugs the southwest wall between the two sets of heavily fortified gates.

When the House Tsalaxa Agent inquires, House Azeth isn't interested in buying any slaves at the moment.  Nor are the other traders who happen to be in town at the time.  But the Azeth agent tells the Tsalaxa Agent to check with the Templar outpost near the north gate. “Sometimes Oronis buys slaves to augment his workforce.”

The Tsalaxa Agent walks to a small building just inside the northern gate and goes inside.  After a few minutes he returns accompanied a female human and a male half-elf.  The female of the pair appears to be in charge and speaks with the House Tsalaxa Agent.  In the conversation, the party learns that her name is Baelon and her associate is Jun.  They also finally learn the name of their chief tormentor – Lorsk of House Tsalaxa. 

Baelon is a human female with an athletic build. 5’8”, flame red hair to the middle of her back tied up in a braided pony tail.  Jun is a half elf male; 6’1” with the long lithe limbs of elf-kind. His black hair is worn short and spikey.  Both are dressed in sand-colored Templar robes under armor.  Up close, the party can see a symbol on their chests that they've never seen before: a blazing red sun bisected by an upright blue sword. 

After some preliminaries, Baelon slips a sash over her face which holds a single lens of obsidian over one of her eyes.  Then she begins to simply inspect each of the slaves on offer in turn.  After some curiously long examination,  Baelon negotiates for the PCs and one of the wagons with team.  The party notices that her successful bid is less than what the people of Ket offered.  This leaves Lorsk with 3 slaves that he hasn’t been able to get rid of including the elf, Kyloth.

The slavers comment that some of the ones she purchased aren’t in as good shape as some she didn't. He flippant response: "They don't have to live long."

The wagon bearing the party is pulled over near the House Azeth trade complex by the oasis, after which the Erdlands are unhooked and taken to the animal pens.  Baelon orders the slaves taken out of the wagon.  They are led to a small warehouse bearing that same symbol where they are presented with bathing facilities and told to clean themselves.  Then they are given actual food and water, enough to begin to lift the dehydration and hunger. 

After they have eaten the PCs are fitted around the chest with a leather strap holding a single crystal over their hearts.  Baelon explains that these are slave leashes.  They do not cause pain or injury but if anyone steps out of line or attempts to escape, they will be incapacitated.  Following an impromptu demonstration of said incapacitation, courtesy of Mark, they are led to a holding area with sleeping cots and told to rest.  The wagon will leave for their new home early in the morning.


Prologue: Inn of the Bleached Inix - Draj


The human fighter (Jeremy) walked in because he wanted a drink and didn't have enough ceramic for a whore.

The halfling bard (Brian) walked in to celebrate successfully making it across the Tablelands from his home in the Forest Ridge.  Tomorrow would begin his hunt for weird new plants and creatures to use in his poisons and alchemy.

The mul psion (Mark) walked in because the bar was open.

The … dog… (Larry) walked in out of curiosity. 

There weren't many other patrons.  It must have been a slow night.  Just a thri-kreen, and no one really knows how to talk to those insect brains.  So Mark, Jeremy, and Brian start to chit chat.  It's clear from the outset that they have nothing in common and Jeremy's racism is just about piss someone off.  The dog just watches to see what happens next.

As they argue and enjoy spicy bowls of stewed lizard and kank honey, a slave bearing a pot of stew crashes into thri-kreen. Hot broth sprays everything, soaking all their clothes in stinging heat. The soaked thri-kreen clacks in irritation.  Seeing the accident, the innkeeper Timrol blusters over and berates his slave. He orders free drinks as recompense for the PCs.

“Clumsy oaf! I curse the day I bought you! My greatest apologies for this slave’s graceless behavior. Name his punishment., whatever amuses you!”  

Mark, being a former arena slave, isn't particularly impressed with the slave's treatment and tries to get the innkeeper to lay off.  The thri-kreen helpfully suggests that he could eat the slave if that is appropriate.  The dog tries to nuzzle and comfort the boy before he is whipped back into the kitchen to fetch the proffered round of free drinks.  When he returns, the boy passes out the drinks, scratches the dog behind the ears and leaves as quickly as he can.

After downing the drinks, no one notices that the thri-kreen isn't talking anymore.  Then Jeremy's head hits the table.  Mark and Brian feel really disoriented but remain conscious.  There was something in those drinks!  Timrol returns to the main room accompanied by a gang of dwarven toughs.  "It would have been easier for you if you'd just passed out like those two, but no matter.  Take them."

The dog initially attempts to flee but is cut off so she, Mark, and Brian attempt to beat back the assault.  One by one they join the rest in unconsciousness.  The hard way.

The PCs awake in jolting, rattling darkness, and are bound hand and foot. They are in the back of a wagon. Jeremy, Mark, and Brian recognize the thri-kreen in the wagon with them but not the very attractive woman in a red cape just coming around or the Elf scowling at them from as far away as possible.  She (Larry) tells them all to stare someplace else and that they smelled better when she was a dog.  

After several minutes, the wagon stops and the tarp is pulled back.  The wagon sits outside the gates of Draj, on the main trade road leading away from the city and right outside the trade compound for the trading company House Tsalaxa. The group sees Timrol the innkeeper taking money from an Agent of the house.  When the deal is done, Timrol heads back toward the city gates without a second look and the Agent calls for the wagon driver to pull up behind 3 other wagons that are beginning to pull out from the compound. One other wagon contains slaves.  The final two are filled with trade goods.  The Agent mounts one of the other wagons and the caravan is off.

After taking stock of their situation, the PCs understand that they have only their clothes.  All of their equipment is gone.  Their hands and feet are cuffed and chained with short chains of giant's hair rope making movement difficult.  The wagons have only a rudimentary cover, and once the sun comes up they'll be pretty well exposed.  They are truly up the silt creek without a paddle.

The first day in the wagon sets the stage for their ordeal.  The slaves are only allowed out of the wagon twice a day under heavy supervision to take care of bodily functions.  Food is meager and water is the minimum necessary to survive.  Any attempts to escape from the wagon is punished with flogging.  They never learn the names of any of their captors.  Questions are ignored the first 2 times.  A third and any further questions always results in a beating.  Mark, having only just escaped his slavery, is driven nearly mad with being back in chains.  He provokes their captors at every turn and winds up spending large amounts of time unconscious from beatings.

The first full day of travel brings the small caravan to Bitter Well.  They were headed east and north, not west and south toward the rest of the Tablelands.  That didn't bode well.

No one is interested in buying slaves here but there is active trading of goods.  The PCs are not able to entice anyone to help them and receive more beatings when they try.

The caravan leaves for Ket the following morning and the trip takes two and a half days.  The whole way north, the road lies right along the coast of the Sea of Silt.  A few times, off in the distance, the PCs see a true giant, wading up to its chest in the Silt, but the behemoths are not interested in the small caravan and never approach the shore.

During the hours chained together, Brian, Jeremy, Mark, and Larry learn that the elf's name is Kyloth.  But aside from the fact that he has intricate tattoos on his forearms, they learn nothing else.  The thri-kreen calls itself kkjsdhf'ie,nfizn (but the q is silent).  Conversation grinds to a halt.

When they arrive at Ket, the farmers need more field hands and bargain hard for all the slaves, but the Agent won’t drop his price low enough.  In the end, half of the slaves (including kkjsdhf'ie,nfizn but not the PCs) are traded for enough of their grain to fill one of the wagons.  All the remaining slaves are packed into the same wagon which makes things more uncomfortable.

The following day, the caravan leaves early.  They overhear their captors talking about pushing to reach Fort Ral by nightfall.  They do make it but the hour is so late, the slaves are let out to do their business and then promptly locked back up for the night.  They stay in Fort Ral for a full day, trading with the garrison and other traders.  The addition of a couple of slaves to the bunch forces the redistribution of the cargo and spreading the people over two wagons again.  In the shuffle, one of the original slaves tries to escape due to the mental strain.  In his attempt he manages to kill one of the guards before he is put down and executed.  This puts the Agent in a very bad mood and he gives the slaves only enough water to avoid dying during the night but no food.

The next morning, the wagons pull out and continue north and east, but no one hears a destination and none of the party even knew anything existed up here anyway.  They are all also suffering from malnutrition and dehydration so they aren't thinking particularly deeply about anything.

After two days on the road, they reach the walled compound of Azeths Rest.


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