Ancient History Pt. 2 Jan-June 2004
Exploring underwater ruins, and a journey to a new city

Everyone was a little shook up after the undead invasion, and everyone re-examined their priorities. Crag decided that he would be better off searching for his half-brother on his own, and set off to pave his own path. Jervais, who had been eager to find and join the Red Lion Elite (the elite king’s guard) decided to stop adventuring and devote his time to study of the Desecrorb. Smoth intensified his magical study. He spent time in the nearby forest communing with nature, and after several hours, re-joined the remaining group with a small ferret companion, who he dubbed Qianto. Famish decided that what his life was lacking was an even greater store of randomness and flashy colors, so he set about to research and find or build a rod of many colors.

While traipsing about the city, they even discovered some new blood to bring with them – a halfling barbarian named Shin, and a drow wizard named Solist. Shin had been carried to the island against his will, sold as a slave in the black market. He had broken free, and was adamant about not being captured again. The group aided him in a fight against something, so he claimed he was blood bonded and would help protect them. Solist was in the city to do research of some kind – he had a very strange amulet he wore which seemed to have some kind of connection, and he wanted to know more about it.

They even got to talk to the governor of the city, Duke Harcourt. After helping fight back the undead invasion, they were allowed to come to the palace for official thanks from his lordship. Smoth discovered that he had actually known his father Derrick, had fought alongside him in the Red Lions. Smoth asked about his memories of their service together (to subtly find out about anything that might have sparked his current behavior), and was told about a certain event that happened in Wessen.

However, Ashaurok had assignments for her new student, and sent him off to a submerged ancient temple out in the bay a ways from the coast of Nent. She did not have a familiar, strange for a wizard as experienced and powerful as herself, but in the previous weeks she had felt a strange connection with some creature there. She knew that it was her future familiar, and wanted Smoth to go collect it. Everyone was up for exploring ancient temples and taking valuable treasure, so they went.

Using scrolls of water breathing, they descended down. The temple contained mostly air, so they were able to function normally after entering. The first room contained 3 statues of men with diferent animal’s heads being consumed by sharks, as well as a painting on the ceiling of ‘The Storm Queen’, an angry scaly female, raising a horrible storm. The Storm Queen, whose temple it seemed to be, was apparently an evil nature goddess. The party puzzled over the levers, but eventually figured out their trick and made their way through the temple. They fought off sharks and other underwater animals, as well as different varieties of lizards, but ultimately found their goal – there was a group of small creatures that looked like halflings with black fins (actually a water mephit). They seemed to be kept there for sacrifices to the Storm Queen. The group rescued them all, as well as bringing a certain one back to Ashaurok. They also nabbed some very interesting tridents from a series of statues in one of the halls, and Smoth took a very interesting dagger from one of the priests. It was constructed out of a large sharktooth, with smaller teeth forming the hilt guard. When holding it, he could feel a sort of hate and disdain for humans – pretty disconcerting, since he was one himself.

Plans were hatched to travel westward, to the city of Mensington. Famish wanted to do research at the library in the temple of Boccob there, as there was none in Nent. He had heard that he could find information there on the fabled Rod of Many Colors, which occupied most of his thoughts. Smoth had been given another task by Ashaurok, to kill the familiar of a wizard called Fuegis who lives in Mensington. They had been rivals for a long time, and Fuegis had killed Ashaurok’s old familiar after catching it trying to steal a ring from him. He had sent the familiar’s ashes back to her, along with the ring, claiming that it was unimportant. Now Ashaurok wanted revenge, and for Smoth to kill his familiar Flammon, and leave the ring on its corpse.

Shin was very determined to NOT get on a boat again, since he had arrived on the island in the hull of a slaver ship, did we cross on a ship or not? But ultimately, they arrived in Mensington. There were several things that struck them about the city. To go inside, you first had to be tested by the guards for arcane magical ability. Anyone who tested positive was classified as Arcane, and had to wear a large red A. Anyone who tested negatively had to wear a drab lowercase m, for mundane. Mundanes were considered second class citizens here, with open discrimination against them. Among the four of them who made the trip, Smoth, Famish, Solist, and Shin, only Shin had no magical abilities, but he seemed to take it in stride. He wasn’t too concerned about what a city full of weirdos thought of him.

While exploring the city, they were in for a large surprise. There were troops moving around in the city, seemingly separate from the regular guard force, or even regular military. These special troops were wearing the exact same type of armor worn by the commanders on the ships of the undead invasion; black and with distinctive skull images on them. Smoth was left with no choice but to think his father now worked for Baron Edwards, the governor of the city, and another who vied for the Red Lion throne.

Famish and Solist set about to find the Library of Boccob, but were denied access to go inside. They only allowed members inside, of which there were different levels of membership. Most of them involved very large sums of cash, but they did seem to have special cases for those without such money. Famish agreed to take on a task involving hunting basilisks and collecting their eyes, while Solist agreed to investigate the strange happenings with the sewers. While in the sewers the party stumbled across an entrance to a demiplane where multiple sewers in the world drain into. While there they discovered a crazy gnome scientist experimenting on two captured people, a human Kensai with a flaming adamantine sword named Roland, who had been a member of the Red Lion guard, and an Anthropomorphic-Bat creature named Findail the Destroyer, a druid. The party rescued these two adventurers, and in gratitude they both joined the party to offer their assistance.

They completed those missions I wasn’t there for the basilisk mission someone should fill it in, and were granted access. .

History had a way of catching up to Smoth and Famish, who were targeted for an attack by a group of Banderans. Apparently the mercenary band stretched across the island, and had not forgotten their run-in in Nent. All of the original group was being targeted, and they thought about finding Crag and warning him. Jervais was still in the temple of Heironeus in Nent, so he seemed to be safe enough.

Ancient History Pt. 1 Aug-Dec 2003
In which the origins of the campaign are revealed

In the city of Arness, in the county of Nent, Count Alron Tarris stood before the motley crew who had responded to his call. He needed people to go and wipe out a horde of kobolds that had infested the nearby iron mine, killing the workers, and that meant using adventurers. They stood in a line before him in the courtyard outside the city hall: Crag Hack, a giant of a half-orc, bristling with muscles and weaponry with a particularly large and mean looking glaive standing beside him. Despite his intimidating appearance, he was polite and proper to anyone he talked to, sometimes even chatty. Jervais, a particularly short and stout man wearing fully plated armor bearing the holy symbols of Heironeous. He seemed reluctant to show his face, keeping his visor down as much as possible. Famish, a lanky man wearing colorful robes, with a faraway dreamy look in his eyes. He seemed very amused by anything and everything he saw. The last in the row was Smoth Harkshire, who was known to Tarris, though he seemed to be trying to hide his identity. A very young boy of about 16, he was wearing very plain working clothes, very different from the nicer clothes of nobility he was used to seeing him in. He had a very determined look on his face, as though he was preparing himself for Tarris to tell him to leave.

The group, after introductions and getting their marching orders, headed north for about 3 days. They located the mine and the small encampment around it – completely empty. The investigated inside, killing kobolds as they went. As they went along, they discovered something disturbing – The kobolds seemed to be acting under specific orders from some higher organization. They were under orders to find some specific artifact called the ‘desecrorb’. Further progress in the mine revealed a shaft that had broken into some kind of underground temple. Investigating further, they were attacked by several kobold zombies, which guarded what could only be described as the desecrorb. It emanated an evil aura, which made everyone uneasy about touching it. Jervais decided that it needed to be studied and dealt with, so he packed it away inside layers of cloth and stuffed it down deep in his pack.

The party encountered no real resistance on trying to leave, until they reached the mouth of the cave, whereupon they were attacked by a small green dragon, who seemed to be waiting for them. They barely managed to overcome it. (did it zombify?)

While travelling back to Arness, they discovered at least one property of the desecrorb – any creatures they killed while the desecrorb was near would be immediately raised as a mindless zombie. The zombies would take no action to harm or hinder them, and they could figure out no real way to command them to do anything.

Once they returned to Arness, they reported the elimination of the kobolds to the Governor. They split for a while to take care of personal business, and when they returned, they all had some news for each other. Jervais felt it his solemn duty to eliminate the danger of the desecrorb, and he thought that the Temple of Heironeous in Nent to the south would be a good starting place for information. Crag Hack seemed to be searching for his brother who had travelled to this area secretly, and figured Nent would be a good place to search. Smoth revealed that his father, a local minor noble, had mysteriously left while they were gone, riding south in the middle of the night, sword bared. Famish, a happy go lucky soul, decided to follow along for no particular reason.

The group trekked southward, along the way dealing with orc raids from the nearby territory of Argan, which was encroaching upon Nent. In a small hamlet on the way, they helped rescue some children who had been taken hostage by the orcs, and were rewarded with some masterwork weapons from a grateful father. A dagger with a cursive engraving of ‘Lily’, and a sword with another flower engraving. They also tracked down and killed an orc leader, Gradak Skullface a large beastly warrior who would surely have done major damage to a lot of the party, except for Famish’s very disturbing Hideous Laughter, which rendered him helpless while the group stabbed him.

Once the group reached Nent, they meandered around for a bit, taking in the sights. Smoth had taken an interest in the arcane arts after observing Famish, so he sought out a local wizarding master known as Ashaurok, who he just barely managed to keep from offending enough to take him on as a student. Jervais spent time in the temple of Heironeus trying to read up on the desecrorb. The group noticed a group of mercenaries who were given a wide berth walking around, and set about to inquire how to gain that same status. Famish was turned away at the door of their base, and managed to offend them mightily, earning a nice beating for himself. However, the group later returned to kill all the people there.

Crag was searching for his brother, who he heard had gotten involved in some kind of criminal organization, so he followed some leads among the city’s unsavory element. The group was following up on one lead, and were ambushed by a group of halfling snipers. They barely managed to survive, and found an odd occurence on one of the bodies. Magical detection found something inside of the man’s hand, but they could not figure out exactly what it was. So, Smoth proceeded to chop off the hand, store it in a solution in a jar, and decided to figure out exactly what was going on with this strange hand.

However, it was not long before disaster arose, and in the middle of the night, undead suddenly began invading the city. Everyone awoke from their sleep and began fighting the skeletons and zombies in the streets. The party fought their way down to the docks, which the undead seemed to be coming from, and arrived there just in time to see a series of black ships sailing out of hte harbor. Smoth looked at the back of the ships, and standing on the deck facing back, he saw his father looking out on the carnage, wearing a suit of black armor with some distinctive skull symbols.