Grull's Companions

The Cave, 10 April 2015
Facing the great dragon Vitiator!

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Having defeated the guardian frostflails, the Companions enter the great cave. It had been recently used as a shelter, housing an orc king and his retinue. But the magic-tinged wind came from somewhere back further still within the cavern.

The cave narrowed down to a rough-hewn corridor, extending back into the darkness. Proceeding on, the corridor continued, becoming less rock and more ice, with a light – daylight, not artificial – looming in the distance. Eventually, the hallway becomes all ice, the wind stiffens, and the cold deepens. The hall comes to an archway, radiant of magic, with sigils carved directly into the ice. It is reminiscent of the stones delivered to King Boldisar of Szarvasia months before, stones described as the parts of a portal leading to a dark realm of the demon prince of foulness. This icy arch is where the ill wind, cold and tinged with magic, comes from, passing from somewhere far colder, through the portal, and into Elvenholme. Beyond the portal, the hallway turns, and beyond that, unknown – but lit with a natural daylight.

The Companions discuss their options. Gwilithon does not wish to go through the portal, but Maril tells the group that orcs are coming up the corridor behind them. Marcus drops a fireball to dissuade them, but this causes melting and a collapse of the icy corridor, sending the group fleeing to whatever lay on the other side of the portal, better than being crushed by ice!

The portal destroyed, the companions proceeded around a corner into a great ice cavern before them. Stalactites and stalagmites dot the cavern, floor to ceiling. A huge opening to one side reveals a winter tundra, and an ocean of ice beyond. At the far end of the cavern, a massive pile of gold, gems, jewels, and treasures of all measure lay. Atop the jaw-dropping mountain, a great, ancient winged dragon, blue and white, scaled and sleek, awoke to confront the heroes. Everyone sucked in a collective breath, realizing that it might be their last. Marcus quickly scruffed Jun-jun in order to keep the avaricious Pakasa from getting the group into even deeper trouble – if that was even possible. Ecclesiarch Agee pulled Sparky back to the relative protection of the melted hallway.

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The beast advanced down the mountain of gold onto the cavern floor below. It introduced itself as Vitiator, and engaged the party in a discussion about events in the world, prior to having to kill them, although it seemed that Grull was the only one willing to talk to the creature. Vitiator wished that he did not have to kill Grull, but Grull wasn’t willing to take it up on the offer of only eating everyone else and leaving the Drakine alive. The warrior proceeded to slowly maneuver to one side, and the great dragon laughed at the Drakine’s feeble effort to outflank him, when the fighter’s effort was not to flank the drake, but rather to gain separation from the rest of the companions.

Bored with his visitors, Vitiator started the fight with a great icy breath against Grull, chilling the Drakine to the bone and dropping the great warrior to his knees. Marcus muffed his initial fireball, and Merina fell back in horror. Fayette and Maril fired arrows at the fell beast, while Kanor climbed a stalactite in order to leap upon the creature’s back. Tarot transformed his sword into a sled and used it to slide underneath the dragon for whatever advantage it might give him. Elphaba threw Sacred Flame at the evil drake.

Now Marcus, with renewed resolve, reached inside himself to hurl his greatest fireball at the ceiling of the cavern, melting stalactites and causing the ceiling of the massive cavern to begin to collapse. A rain of great hail began to fall upon them all, and Vitiator elected to fly out the cavern’s opening and escape, leaving the heroes to their grisly fate.

A cry ran out from the youngest of their number, Sparky, to “Fall back!” as the Ecclesiarch finished his spell, creating a gateway in the arch formed within the melted hallway. Tarot, with the aid of the snow leopard, Sasha, and the great wolf, Ben, hauled Grull upon the sled while the others piled through the portal, escaping the gruesome icy death.

Grull awoke in a verdant field of green, surrounded by his companions, a glowing portal back to the icy cave in Turakia formed within an arch formed by two cherry blossoms winking into non-existance. A tall, very pale man dressed in white stood before them, and the Ecclesiarch greeted him, “Hello, Essaile.”

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An Ill Wind

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Our heroes follow the trail of the magic-tinged wind into the Greyward Mountains, which Kanor and Fayette agree is also following the trail of the frost giants they had just encountered. Past the tree line now, the Companions climb upward until they come to a cave from which Elphaba informs them the ill wind is coming from. The entrance is guarded by two frostflails, the elemental humanoids made of ice Grull fought once back when the party battled the sharthak back at the village of Vrazha. A huge tent made for giants sits downhill a few meters from the cave.

Grull speaks with the Ecclesiarch, and Vener Agee agrees to dispense a large quantity of grain alcohol from his Everfull Mug, which is used to soak the giants’ tent. The group, now numbering fourteen, keeps the tent between them and the four meter tall frostflails. They hide behind it and a nearby boulder, while Grull and Fayette proceed inside the tent. Slitting a hole in the corner of the tent nearest the frostflails, Fayette take one shot at the nearest frostflail in order to get its attention, then running back to the rest of the companions, while Grull steps just outside the hole in the tent in order to draw the creatures to him.

The frostflails follow Grull through the hole into the tent, and Grull stands at the door, blocking it, then shouts the order to Marcus, who uses his Fiery Orb spell to send the alcohol-soaked tent up in a conflagration of flame! He strikes the two frostflails, barely affecting one while having modest success against the other. The two frostflails, unaffected by the fire, smash Grull, stunning him, but Merina, Marcus and Kanor rush in to engage the enemy and allow Grull to fall back for a moment’s respite and receive a Healing spell from Elphaba. Kanor is hit, and falls back while Grull is able to step back up.

The companions, on Gwilithon’s mark, work as a team against the frostflail Grull had success against, with Merina providing the bulk of the damage to the creature, finding its weakness and striking it multiple times in rapid succession, laying the creature low! The party followed their winning combination, finishing the second frostflail!

Recovering from the combat, now the heroes look up to the cave from whence the frigid mystical wind emanated, and wondered, “if these were but the guardians, what lay within?”

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On The Trail Of Evil
Into The Woods

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The company stealthily makes its way between battalions of the orc army, following the dim waft of ill magic, a cold wind making its way down the tributary of the Corwine River to Ildra Boralis, the capitol of Elvenholme. Tasked by King Tirionsathymar, the heroes wend their towards whatever evil awaits…

Fayette, cautiously moving ahead of the group, thinks she hears something up ahead and pauses the party. Maril, at the front of the main group, sends Kanor and Sasha out one flank, and Jun-jun on the other. Proceeding forward, Kanor stops when he hears two creatures talking in an unknown language and the steady thump-thump-thump of a rhythmic drumbeat.

Returning to the group, Kanor describes what he heads up ahead. As the group debates what to do, suddenly a boulder crashes through the trees, followed by Jun-jun plus a second boulder. Suddenly, two frost giants come into view, and the fight is on!

One giant runs forward and slices Benwolf nearly in two with his great axe. The other casts a spell, laying a field of ice across the ground where the heroes stood, making it difficult to move. Marcus, reacting in anger to Ben’s injury, tries to drop a fireball on the ice wielder, but misses the target, causing the rest of the group to dive for cover, dropping the spell too close to his own party! Grull was the one who stood his ground, his full plate armor and the protection of the newly acquired Verse-Sword negating the effects of the fireball, while Marcus took no damage from his own spell due to the power of his Elemental Bulwark. Tarot quickly deployed his Sword of Useful Functions in kayak form and hid underneath it, while everyone else dove away from the fiery blast. The best part of the fireball was that it negated the ice field, and the companions had footing once more.

It took a moment, but Fayette, Grull, and Merina took down the first giant, and soon after, the second one fell to the heroes as well. Realizing that the fireball had likely drawn the attention of the nearby orc battalions, the heroes made the decision to press forward with their quest, knowing that the fate of Elvenholme could be at stake.

In a couple of hours, the group had passed the tree line into the Greyward Mountains. In the distance, they spied a large cave, with a pair of frostflails for guards, and the emanation of magic coming from within…

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Elvenholme At Last
King Tirionsathymar

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The companions and Ecclesiarch Vener Agee’s caravan follow the Corwine River south until the come to the true old growth forest at the heart of Elvenholme. They meet elves processing refugees coming through the area. They are delayed several hours until Fayette’s cousin Maril arrives to bail them out of bureaucratic nightmares.

Maril escorts them to the council chambers where the meet King Tirionsathymar, Elvenking these last six-plus centuries. He tells the players the story of Kal-Turak, born nearly seventeen centuries ago, the greatest evil to ever live. Eighty-seven years ago, he sundered the untamed North, creating the wall that holds his name, separating Turakia from the remainder of Ambrethel.

Suddenly, an ill wind blew its way down the Corwine, sending a chill through those in the council chambers. Something born of evil magics attempts to claim the homeland of the elves. The Elvenking asks Grull and company to seek out the source of this great evil, and send it back from whence it came.

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A Fairy Tale
Do You Believe?

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Two days into Elvenholme, the caravan comes to a halfling village, Waypoint. The village is empty save for one last family trying to pack quickly in order to get out. Their pony and sled full of furs are out front, and sounds of people are coming from the barn. Merina heads back towards the barn.

Meanwhile, Tarot, followed by Shell, walk over to the pony. Its name is Merry, and it wants Tarot to “save Impy.”

Reaching the barn, Merina meets a halfling furrier, Daryl Furman, and his eight-year old daughter, Berry. They are gathering the best furs together to add to the pile already on the cart. Berry tries to sneak back to the house, but Daryl calls her back to carry some of the furs to the sled.

At the sled, Berry implores her father not to forget Impy. He tells her that she’ll find a new imaginary friend when they get to someplace safe to settle. Berry cries and runs into the house, followed by Merina.

Grull and Tarot head over to the Half-Pint Pub to see if anyone is still there. Finding no one, they liberate a cask of beer to “keep the orcs from getting it.”

In Berry’s bedroom, a cup falls from a shelf with no one near it. Berry tells Merina that Impy can’t leave the house. Merina believes that there may be some sort of ghost or spirit here, and goes out to tell the others.

Elphaba wishes aloud that there was a wizard nearby that they could enlist to help, which jogs Fayette’s memory of a wizard who lives in a clearing northeast of here. Elphaba asks Shell if he would fly Fayette there to ask him to help, and he agrees. Grull asks his squire, Sparky, to go into the house and see if he can see the creature.

Fayette takes off to locate the wizard, and Elphaba send her Crystalline Bird to carry a request to the wizard. Sparky returns to tell Grull that indeed, he can see the creature, a short, spindly humanoid with long droopy ears and pointed nose, wearing a dress that looks as if it would fit an eight-year old halfling girl.

Daryl goes into the house to retrieve his wayward child. Merina tries to tell Berry that she will make sure Impy gets freed and comes to find her. The eight-year old has a grand, throw down on the floor and kick-and-scream meltdown, to be picked up by her father and carried towards the front door.

In a clearing some ways northeast of Waypoint, a young elf tends to the plants and animals when a bird made of crystal arrives. It keeps flying into something in the center of the clearing and crashing to the ground. Finally, the elf picks it up and opens an invisible door to go ask his tutor what it means. The bird flies up from his hand and flies inside and out of sight. Yelling can be heard in the distance. By the time he reaches his mentor’s chamber, something has happened, and his mentor tells the adept, “go to the roof and flag down the elf on a pegasus flying in from the south.”

Reaching the roof, there is indeed an elf on a pegasus flying in from the south. The adept signals the elf by firing a lightning bolt into the sky. Defensively, the elf draws her bow and stands on the back of the pegasus. But when the pegasus makes its turn to land, the elf falls from the back of the pegasus, hurtling towards the ground. But the adept casts his flight spell, catching the elf girl and falling semi-controlled into the top of the tower. After hasty introductions, Gwilithon leads Fayette to see the wizard Calariastarianath. When he opens the hatch, the little crystal bird flies past them, headed back to its owner.

Meanwhile, Marcus has proceeded inside, only to discover that he cannot see the creature. Kanor has attempted to follow, but has managed to get himself stuck in the doorway. Marcus and Merina have to push him back out the doorway. Elphaba can see the creature, where the others cannot.

When the pair reach the wizard, he is busy scribing a scroll. Once he finishes, he hands it to Gwilithon and tells him that he should travel with this elf and her group, and see what help Tirionsathymar (the king) needs. He shan’t need the adept back before the end of the decade. So the adept gathers his possessions, and the pair fly back to Waypoint.

The halfling furrier and his distraught daughter are finally ready to leave when the pegasus and the two elves return from the wizard’s tower. The pair dismount, and Gwilithon unfurls the scroll given him by his mentor, only to find a snarky message instructing the student to dispel the binding spell holding the sprite to the house. The house sprite is free, and goes with Berry, after Merina bids her goodbye, with a parting message to “always believe in Impy, and he will always be there for you.”

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On The Road To Elvenholme
Meet the Ecclesiarch

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Returning to the village of Elrin after defeating the evils of the Barrow-Mound, the company discovers a caravan consisting of the newly-elevated Ecclesiarch of Valicia passing through the town en route to Gwinden Abbey to be invested by Bonifact Santarin himself. All of the rooms in the inn are taken, so our heroes are forced to rent the loft of a barn on the edge of town in which to spend the night.

The entire village is being enlisted by the village reeve to put on a feast for the Ecclesiarch, easily the highest ranking religious personage they have ever seen in the tiny town. But the company’s contribution in ridding the area of the Barrow-Mound cannot be ignored, and so the reeve invites them to the feast in the town square.

At the feast, the group discovers that the new Ecclesiarch is none other than the venerable Vener Agee, former Archoth of Farnth, who very nearly oversaw the wedding of Lady Sharena Langwurt (a.k.a. Elphaba) to Randarath Khrom, twenty-third in line to the throne of King Zargorath Khrom of Valicia, in the summer of 5001. The doddering old man warmly greets the company, and a fine feast was had by all. The company agrees to escort the Ecclesiarch to Elvenholme, and Elphaba offers to escort him all the way to Gwinden Abbey.

The caravan sets forth, and two days later the come across an empty watchtower at the border. Tarot spies what may be an advancing army in the foothills to the north north-west. The next day, Fayette greets two of her countrymen guarding the border, and the company passes into Elvenholme at last.

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The Barrow Mound, part four (last!)
The story unveiled at last! 25 July 2014

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Elphaba studies the black sphere and the magic circle, concluding that the black sphere is the manifestation of a curse, and that breaking the circle would release the curse – for weal or woe. Grull and Marcus decide to switch places in the marching order – Grull agrees with Elphaba’s suspicions about Karol, and wants Marcus to keep an eye on him.

Grull leads the company through the door the intelligent undead construct ran through at the end of the battle in the room with the black sphere. After a short hallway, the party finds an ornate crypt with another group of zombies, this time armed with high-quality and magic weapons and armor. The company assumed a line near the door where they could defend each other. Merina had a terrible run of bad luck, dropping her sword Kesh, slipping and falling down, and breaking her sword. Grull moved in to assist and lost his balance as well. Elphaba and Fayette assist Marcus, Kanor, and Jun-jun on the opposite flank.

It takes time, whittling away at the zombies, but little by little, the heroes gain the upper hand, laying the undead to their final rest. The companions are amazed to discover the wealth of magic items contained in the tomb. But Grull is concerned that the zombie master wasn’t in the room, and determines to search the remainder of the barrow mound.

The party enters the room north of the black sphere, and find a throne with a well-accoutered mummy seated upon the throne. A shade appears at the foot of the dais, and asks Karol to release the two of them. Karol reveals himself to be a shade possessing the body of a thief who attempted to rob the tomb. The trapped shades, Veros, a paladin-king, and Pharnac, a necromancer and tyrant, fought each other in a great war. As Veros at long last defeated the evil sorcerer, Pharnac spat out a final curse, binding the two shades for eternity. And as Veros has refused to leave the barrow mound for the last 2500 years, so too was Pharnac trapped within. When the thief Karol tried to rob the tomb, Pharnac saw a chance to escape his imprisonment by convincing nearby adventurers to destroy the sphere and thereby the curse itself, releasing him.

Mulling over how to keep Pharnac from escaping, Kesh tells them to kill the possessed thief, and Pharnac will leave the possessed body. They can then safely destroy the circle, sending both spirits to the afterlife. The heroes “kill” Karol, Pharnac flees the body screaming. Grull smashes the magic circle, ending the curse and releasing the two shades. Veros gives the heroes two last gifts, a greatsword and a shield, and disappears.

Returning to the town of Elrin, the companions find a religious procession passing through the town, and the very important person is none other than Vener Agee, now the Ecclesiarch of Valicia, having been promoted to the head of the High Church in the region since the party last saw him back at Elphaba’s wedding. The doddering elderly priest is enroute to Gwinden Abbey to meet with the Bonifact himself.

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The Barrow Mound, part three
Misshapen undead constructs, 11 July 2014

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Proceeding ahead, the company, along with the rescued Karol, enter what appears to be a shrine to Kilbern, though horribly defaced and overwritten with sigils from the death god, Mordak. Grull determines to clean this area as best he can before proceeding. Karol suggests that perhaps they should move on and rid the mound of evil, then come back and clean up afterwards. The remainder of the company pitch in and they do what they can, under the circumstances, to tidy the area before continuing.

Jun-jun hears something in the hallway. Grull throws open the door, only to find several odd necromantic constructs in the hallway. One larger construct orders the others to charge the party. Marcus chucks a fireball down there and toasts them before they can reach the group, and while they make short work of the undead, the leader escapes down the hallway, calling for reinforcements in a nearby room to attack the party. The heroes make short work of these additional creatures before pursuing.

Following the larger construct, the heroes enter a octagonal room with four doors and a large swirling mass of black energy inside a magic circle in the center. The door to the north is inscribed with an enchanted sigil warding off incorporeal undead. There are another ten undead constructs, including the leader, within, and they attack the party. Too small to dump a fireball first, the heroes have to wade in and get their swords dirty on this one. Karol tells Elphaba that the black sphere looks to be the source of the evil he has sought, and that they must destroy it in order to rid the burial mound of its curse, but Elphaba mistrusts this. Before they can reach the leader, he escapes once more through the western exit.

Continued once again…

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The Barrow Mound, part two
Undead and more, 20 June 2014

The heroes open the door out of the room with the sarcophagi, and enter a hallway with a door at either end. Near one of the doors lies a fellow named Karol. His group entered the complex to rid the area of the undead, and encountered the zombies in the first room like the companions did. Karol opened the door to the hallway while his friends fought, but suffered a grievous wound in the process. He closed the door behind him to keep the zombie from following him to kill him, knowing that his friends would come to his aid shortly… except they never did.

Elphaba heals the fellow, who insists he should accompany the party to finish the quest he began.

And so the group continues on…

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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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