Grull's Companions

The Barrow Mound, part one
On the way to Elvenholme, 13 June 2014

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Our heroes enter the hamlet of Elrin, on the border between Umbr and Elvenholme. They hear rumors of a circle of death in the woods not far from the village. Traveling there, they discover a swath of death and destruction which their animals will not enter. Leaving the animals with Tarot and Sparky, the others forge into the diseased wood to investigate.

They fight a misshapen undead made from parts of a cow, a bison, and a human. Either necromancy or evil divine magics are at work here, but whose? The companions come across a barrow mound at the center of the circle of desolation. A small tunnel winds its way into the first room, where the heroes quickly dispatch four zombies.

Onward to part two…

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Jevrain Abbey
Wound Licking and Other Pursuits, 30 May 2014

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Following their defeat at the Foundry, the companions make a litter for the gravely wounded Jun-jun and travel the day-plus back to Cragswell, where they stop to attend to their wounds before moving on. They request an audience with Lord Hendry, and sup with him and his men that evening. Also arriving is Ur-Gruk, the half-orc trader they rescued from over-zealous villagers several days before. The merchant tells them that he is headed to parts east for a time, as the current conflict is making conducting trade hazardous. The companions share their tales from the recent battle, and Grull begins to realize that more happened in the combat than he first surmised. More resolved than ever to report to King Sendres, he offers to travel with the half-orc for as long as their paths match, and Ur-Gruk is grateful for the companionship, while Fayette grumbles a bit, but is willing to work on her dislike of orcs.

In just over a week, the party finds itself at Jevrain Abbey, where King Sendres is assembling his army for what he expects will be a campaign season against the orcs. The companions are granted an audience, where they report the events of the last few weeks, including demand of the rogue Drusaidi Shanir, Argill Sandoval, that King Sendres be told that the orcs have no desire to war against the Umbrians this campaign season, the orcs intent is to war with Elvenholme.

The king sees this as a dilemma. He has many influential nobles to keep happy, and presumably some of them do not wish to engage in a war until they have to do so. Grull and Sendres discuss the practical needs of Grull not knowing what actions the king will take next.

The group then meets with the commander of the Drusaidi Shanir, Ransel, and the king’s vizier, Cowl. Ransel confirms that the near miss was very likely deliberate, while Cowl describes the magical effect Elphaba witnessed as a Sorcery spell, Mind Torment. They conclude that someone else is likely controlling Sandoval. Cowl tells them that there are only a handful of sorcerers in all of Ambrethel capable of controlling someone remotely in the manner the companions describe.

The heroes take a few days to rest up and learn from the residents of the abbey and the skilled warriors in the army before continuing their journey to the seat of the elves, Ildra Boralis.

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On The Trail Of The Orcs
Battle At The Foundry

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After the fight against the orcs in the village, Grull and Tarot raise Lord Hendry’s banner over the burned out community once more. Merina and Marcus discover a young soldier alive amidst the chaotic scene inside the tower, while Elphaba, Kanor, and Fayette find a small child outside wandering around. A cat rushes into the tower after the carnage to proceed to give birth to kittens.

It is decided to return to Cragswell and drop off the two people they rescued before moving on. On the way, the heroes come across tracks from a heavily laden cart drawn by a giant wolf and guarded by orcs. They note the location and determine to return after they have dropped off their charges.

Two days later, the return to the tracks to realize that they are quite close to where the strange well they had discovered previously was located. The party decide to follow the tracks backward in order to discover where they came from and what they were carrying.

They follow the hill around to a clearing which both Grull and Merina declared was a perfect spot for an ambush. They had Fayette out on flank to watch for attackers, and Elphaba discovered that a large section of the hill was a big illusion! It was then that the ambush was sprung, with a shot at Fayette from across the field that was so close to a direct hit in her eye – might the archer have missed on purpose? But she could not find his location.

Orcs, ogres, and worgs, accompanied by a human spell caster of some sort, charged out to attack the heroes. Marcus led off with a fireball, and everyone stayed in a loose formation to react to what the enemy was doing, but even though they took down several, the numbers game became too much for the overconfident band. Jun-jun fell, and Marcus pulled him away, but it took a crucial fighter out at an important moment. Tarot dropped one, and Elphaba two with some teamwork, Fayette got the priest, Merina, Kanor, Sasha, and Benwolf held the left flank.

A scream and a flash of mind magic came from the brush where the mysterious rogue Drusaidi Shanir, Argill Sandoval, appeared to offer the a truce to the heroes that he might not lose most of his forces in the effort to kill the party. Terms given were that the heroes return to King Sendres and inform him that the orcs have no intention to war against the humans this year. Their grievances are with the elves. For that, the company may depart freely to treat their wounded and return to the Crown March.

While they company might well have held and won the day, the cost in life would have been terrible, and only a few would have likely survived. So given the possible outcomes, Grull elected the option that allowed everyone, friend and foe, to live in order to fight another day, and the Companions retreated from the Greyward Mountains.

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A Village Assault
Against The Orcs

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Avoiding the strange well seemingly out in the middle of nowhere, the company travels for several hours before coming across smoke rising in the distance. Traveling toward it, they find a village being sacked by a small decade of orcs, an ogre, and a worg. They decide to attack the band, and a moment later, have slaughtered them all. Only then does Tarot think to question whether they might have left one alive to interrogate it.

The heroes decide that the orcs likely didn’t mask their trail coming to the village, and intend to track them backwards in order to find from whence they came.

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Strangers In A Strange Land, 29 March 2014
Prelude To War

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The companions met with Lord Hendry, who pointed them in the direction of a half-orc trader, Ur-Gruk. Tracking him down, they found him being lynched by an angry mob of refugees. Upon rescuing him, he leads them to a well, seemingly randomly placed in the mountains with no particular purpose. They investigated the well, finding a tunnel in the bottom that had a warm, sulfurous breeze emanating from it. Grull could get no one interested in investigating it further, and abandoned the idea.

A day later, the company comes across a village being sacked by the orcs, and they charge to the rescue…

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Into The March, 28 February 2014

In the city of Vetróas, the companions meet with Alain, the member of the Drusaidi Shanir who watches over The Crown March. He explains the history of the region, from the breakup of the great kingdom of Carshalt forward to the conquest of the kingdoms of Jevrain and Derethon at the hands of the sons of the first great Umbrian king, Selvaine Aliere, approximately 2500 years ago. It was then that Derethon was renamed The Crown March, signifying that the region now belonged to the crown of Umbr.

Since that time, the Marchers, as they are now called, distrust the “lowlanders,” viewing them as soft and unused to the harsh mountain life. Marquis Avaine holds the March in fief from Castle Derethon. Alain explains that he will do what he can to spread the word of the trustworthiness of Grull and his company throughout the region, but the Marchers are likely to be standoffish and aloof towards strangers asking questions.

It takes a week to reach Castle Derethon. Encountering a difficult Sergeant-of-the-Watch, Grull presents the writ given him by King Laudrec Sendres, and the company is taken to see Marquis Avaine. He tells them that the word coming from the region is dire. Several remote villages have already been sacked by the orcs, with dozens slain and many more having fled to more secure areas to the east.

He recommends following the supply chain. Orcs need supplies in order to prepare for war. One caravan carrying many weapons has already been captured, but more will be needed. Avaine suggests visiting the keep of Lord Hendry at the western end of the March for names and places. Perhaps that will aid the heroes in their search for the missing Drusaidi Shanir, Argill.

After the audience, the company discusses needing the sent a message to the Elves. It is decided that the Elves will respond best to one of their own, so Maril will leave the group to travel to Elvenholme and inform them of events in the Marches, and how this may effect the preparations for defense against the orcish armies.

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The Drusaidi Shanir, 31 January 2014
The Briefing

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Winter, 5002: Marcus gets a knock at his door in the Ilurian. It is an adept from the Amberstar Guild, with a request from High Magister Selgorath that Marcus return to the guild for an audience. Upon his return, the wizard informs him that with a favorable missive from King Sendres of Umbr, and in recognition of the company having saved the city from harm, Selgorath is willing to forgo his typical remuneration on this unique occasion, and undertake the effort to try and help the wild mage fine tune one of his abilities. The guild has a fire mage, Jaelen, who is willing to undertake the effort.

Over the winter, Marcus learn to adjust his physical gestures as well as incorporate a material component in lieu of the need to use his shield as a crutch in order to focus his magical energies through it, all to be able to use the protection from fire spell on others as well as himself. He also learned that, since his spells have no verbal component, unlike other mages, his spells are unaffected by magically created silence, a valuable trick, as up until now he had always assumed that, like wizards, he could not use his magical abilities under those adverse conditions. And, like much of magic, the mage’s ability to invoke a spell is directly affected by his belief in his skill with the Art.

With the coming of spring and Firstthaw, the company departs up the Dragonsmoke River to the capital city of Dyvnar, where they are briefed by the head of the Drusaidi Shanir in Umbr and liaison to King Sendres, Ransel. He describes in detail the highly exclusive nature of the organization, and the few of their numbers needed in Umbr to watch their frontiers: two in the Thurisian Mountains, one (plus an apprentice) along the Dragonsmoke River border with the troll kingdom of Tharnrek, one in the Crown March, one in the Greyward Mountains, plus Ransel posted to Dyvnar in order to coordinate the organization’s activities with King Sendres.

The Drusaidi Shanir scout and protect the wilderness areas of the country from monsterous intruders and potential attackers. They eliminate the threat where possible, and give advance warning to nobles and kings when the forces are too great. In war, they scout troop movements and eliminate advance enemy units. Many captains would rather face an entire troop of enemy forces than a single determined Drusaidi Shanir.

Ransel provides Grull with a writ from the king, instructing Marquis Avaine of Castle Derethon in the Crown March to aid the company in whatever way is needed to stop his rogue agent and the army of orcs ready to descend upon Umbr. If they cannot, King Sendres’ army will sit at the ready near Jevrain Abbey, ready to come to the defense of the Marches.

And thus the company sets forth for the city of Vetróas, in the Jevrain region on the edge of the Crown March, to seek local information prior to entering the Marches.

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Winter, 5002, 10 January 2014
Audience with King Sendres of Umbr

Crossing the River Whitburn into Umbr, the companions discover the camp (and army) of King Laudrec Sendres waiting for them. Ushered into the pavillion of his majesty, the company finally completes their quest to see the artifact Spear of Vergaine delivered safely into the king’s hands.

The king tells them of a renegade Drusadi Shanir who may be connected to the current overall mission to aid Elvenholme against an army of orcs forming in the Greyward Mountains. This renegade now prepares the orcs to attack Umbr from their homes in the Greyward Mountains. King Sendres believes that the army may find aid in the Crown March, where the Marchers distrust the “lowlanders” who conquered the old kingdom of Derethon centuries ago.

While the Marchers would quickly identify and Umbrian agents in their province, a group of adventurers would not. Perhaps the heroes might learn details about orc army or armies by traveling there?

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One Night In Dar Vendrazhian, 13 December 2013
The company versus the entire city!

The Companions at last stumble in to Dar Vendrazhian, but not until a brief encounter with a group of bandits where they chose to negotiate their way out of a confrontation in their weakened state.

In the city, the company gets a tour from Jack, a jester they encountered at the city gates. After a night’s sleep, the group splits to set about their various need within the city.

Fayette and Maril went into the nearby forest and met with Eran, who told them that the orcs and goblins were building up along the northern border of Elvenholme in the Greyward Mountains, and that if something wasn’t done soon, war could break out.

Merina bought appropriate winter weather clothes at the bazaar and discovered that her father had been through Dar Vendrazhian just that very spring, with a cryptic comment about the ruined city of Iluria.

Tarot and Simeon stayed in the bar and picked up some rumors, one about an army encamped across the river from the city, and another about a death cult taking up residence in the ruined city of Iluria.

Marcus went to the Amberstar Guild with Jun-jun and Benwolf. He found that he can purchased charms to aid the debilitation caused by the blood demon, but it will cost magic items to persuade High Magister Selgorath to enchant them for him. Also, he’s too old to partake in formal mage training, but the guild would be willing to work with him in order to improve or otherwise alter one of his existing spells.

Elphaba and Grull pay a visit to the cathedral of Essaille Remagen, patron of Dar Vendrazhian. They talk to Templar Melioth, Favored of Kilbern, about blood demons and the Spear of Vergaine. Privately, Grull seeks spiritual guidance and talks about the need to finish the mission he has been given, balanced against the need to get healthy again in order to finish the mission. Melioth suggests once the spear has been delivered, that Grull pilgrimmage to Gwinden Abbey in the Mhendarian Palatinate in order to find his calling. Grull seems uncertain about why he would need to travel there in order to learn more about the High Church. Meanwhile, Elphaba meets with falman Ari, who is also a magus within the Amberstar Guild, and the liaison between the two organizations. He tells her about the Shield of the Soul, a spell which can help her protect the company from the major effects of blood demons and other infernal powers in the future.

After the day’s errands, the group meets back at the Ilurian (the inn) to discuss their immediate plans. During their meal, a greenish-grey pallor falls over everything in the inn save the company. Suddenly, everyone seems ensorceled and coming to take the spear from them! Trying not to kill anyone, the party discovers that throwing water on an affected person will break the black magic. Wrapping the spear in bed clothes to hide in, the companions return to the cathedral, where they are able to free the staff from the strange magic, and discover that it is likely the benefit of the spear that kept the company safe from the mind control spell. With the aid of Templar Melioth and falman (magus) Ari, they free the Amberstar Guild, and High Magister Selgorath makes it rain over the city, releasing the majority from the magic.

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The Hunters and the Hunted, 1 November 2013
The Road To Dyvnar

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After saying goodbyes to taal Aura Mirelle, who predicted that the Spear of Vergaine was a magnet that would provide naught but trouble for the companions, the heroes set out for a brief stop in Dar Enroqe before pushing on towards their destination, Dyvnar, to pass the Spear into the hands of its rightful owner, King Sendres of Umbr.

A few days later, about halfway between Tashorn and Dar Vendrazhian, the party was attacked on the open road by a group of trolls led by a blood demon! The blood demon took down both Marcus and Grull with his blood-draining touch, leaving the very fate of the companions in peril, until the archers, Fayette and Maril, filled the blood-engorged demon full of holes and sending it back to whatever hell it came from while Merina wrested the spear away as she struggled with the monster for control of the artifact.

Now the fate of our heroes is in doubt as Elphaba races off to Dar Vendrazhian with Marcus to try and seek help from the terrible wasting put upon them by the blood demon…

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