The World of DaNar

Smells like.....adventure?
Ser Seifer

Our path was set and we were about to head off to Carrion Hill when Exelar Vitarri and Xar’eth Teken’und walked into the Inn we were staying at. Apparently he had a vision and he believed he was needed in our quest to The Boil. I won’t argue with having another honorable fighter and noble, yet tunnel visioned man with us. The Drow however I have to keep an eye on. I am glad he in not skulking in the spire anymore.

We boarded a barge and were on our way on the river towards Carrion Hill. I offered my service to help row the barge while my companions simply sat there and did nothing. that is there right to do so as we paid to board, but I felt it good to have good relations with the boatman as I was going to ask for directions and information and did not want to be mislead.
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The stench came first and then the view. The Boil was a fitting name for the festering town that lay before us. Trash, dead fish, excrement, and other foul smells all rolled into one disgusting wave. This was what we were greeted we as we arrived in the dirtiest part of the town. Before departing the boat I thanked the boatman and asked if he knew anything about the Ironclad and their whereabouts. He pointed me to a tall building a ways up the hill with what seemed to have a boat on the roof. That was my destination regardless of where my companions were headed. I needed answers and I need to know who and what the Ironclad are.

The town seemed to be separated into districts. We were headed towards the middle district known as “The Tangle.” Posted at the junction between the districts were the city guard known as “The Crows.” Again I asked them were I could find the Ironclad and they pointed me towards the building with boat on the roof which was next to the Mucky Duck Tavern. They asked us to not cause trouble, stick to our business and not to travel the alleyways alone at night. Seeing as I don’t go looking for trouble and I had no other business here I was happy to oblige and be on my way.

Arriving at the Mucky Duck my companions went inside while I was still convinced the Ironclad were in the boat on the roof. As It was getting dark I was skeptical of knocking on every door asking for directions so I tried the front door. The man was very upset that I was bothering him only in search for the Ironclad. He pointed me up to the roof but did not tell me how to get there and proceeded to toss his chamber pot at me, as did many more people in the building. Continuing my search for the roof I seemed to have gotten turned around and found myself lost in the alleyways alone. I was not scared of being alone and what might happen as the crows warned us not to be alone, but I was lost and not able to find who I was looking for.

After some wandering, a kind lady pointed me in the direction of some narrow stairs that seemed to lead to the roof. Half way up the stairs, I was confronted by a man who barred m way and demanded a toll. Three more men were behind me. I was outnumbered, but they were outmatched. He demanded “two steel”, which I presumed was the currency here. I politely told him I did not want trouble, I was “simply looking to find the men known as the Ironclad.” He demanded two steel to leave, or proceed. I told him I had two steel and told him I would show him the first. I then drew “Black Ice” and asked if he wished to proceed. They struck first. One from back, and the man in front of me. Both glancing off my armor. Activating “Black Ice” the lights went out around us and skill came more into play. The narrow stairway hindered my fighting ability with a sword, but I was able to thrust and thrust I did. Into the man in front of me went “Black Ice” and deep at that. His entire weight seemed to fall towards me. I reacted by hoisting the man over my back and tossing him down the stairs onto his "friends: below. As his body stopped his tumble down the stairs, I told them " one down, three to go" and they fled.

After my encounter, I proceeded onto the roof to find the boat, which was one a roof several buildings away. “Goddess help me. Some times I have the worst luck.” As I wandered on, I came across Exelar Vitarri and the others at another set of stairs. I lead the way up and there was the boat. Before we could get close to it, we were confronted my a giant of man with a hollow booming voice. It was not a man at all. It resembled the stone guardian at Temple Rise, except this one was my intellectual and had a mind of its own. Made of metal, wood fibers, and stone he had symbols etched into him that resembled the armor we had seem in the armory of the Temple be slightly different. Hoping he would see reason, I said I was here to talk with the Ironclad. A boy came from the shadows and halted the guardian and introduced himself as Lance Corporal Wallace. He was the last of the Ironclad left here in the city. The rest had gone on an expedition many days ago and had not come back.

As it was late and we needed lodging for the night, my companions left to seek lodging. I asked to stay with Wallace and his guardian to get to know more about who and what the Ironclad are. I was intrigued by both the boat which he said “flew” at one time, and the guardian that accompanied Wallace. Perhaps they would help us in The Wildlands if we help them? Perhaps I could use them on my crusade against the Bowmen? Time will tell.

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The Boil
Journal Entry of Exelar Vitarri

Sorscha, Hershel, Nathaniel and his companions had only left with Soggy Pete hours before I had the vision during my midday prayers. Though there was nothing specific in it to make me worry, they feeling that my presence was necessary was enough to bring me out of my reverie. Xar’eth arrived just as I woke informing me of his progress with the Spire. He believes he has control of the Spire but more time will be required to be sure, and possibly the Soul Gem. I inform him I will be leaving to join our companions and he agrees to accompany me, and after borrowing a house from the new arrivals we set off.

The trail is fairly easy to follow being only hours old and them being on foot. We talk to several people they passed on the way to Anglers Cove, including those at the Graham Homestead. We catch up before they set off from there and store our horses with the stable, paying a week in advance. Finding a boat to rent was the next step and before long we set off towards Carrion Hill, also known as The Boil, for reasons that would become plainly obvious.

Why anyone would choose to live in a place like this is beyond me, but live here they do. Thousands of people crammed into islands, natural and man-made, that reek of sewage and filth. Living amongst the people are bugs that infest the place, giant cockroaches that these people grind up and turn into a makeshift building material in what they call Midden vats. Between the smell of cooking bugs and the waste floating down the river it’s a wonder that everyone isn’t dead or at least infected with various diseases. The boatsmen tell us the smell improves as you move up into the city, which certainly gives us a sense of urgency to hurry into the city and find the Ironclad. We are directed towards a building with what appears to be a boat on top of it.

The town guard, The Crows, are as plentiful as the bugs and just as helpful in finding the Ironclad. Finally we are directed towards the Mucky Duck, which is a bastion from the smells of city. Quite honestly if I didn’t know what was all around me I would feel very relaxed. Seifer went off on his own to find the Ironclad on his own while I tried asking at the bar. The bartender directed us towards their ship and we tried some ale, while Hershel decided to ask some of the locals about a former member of the Bowmen known as Cotton. While if could be just a lack of knowledge of our customs or something else, he appeared to say something that caused a gentleman to get up and leave. As he was gathering his things Hershel than made a gesture towards the mans crotch and said something about being interested, after the man left Hershel said a symbol on his sword belt buckle was familiar.

Just as the bartender was going to throw us out I explained who we are and our intentions in the city and he said he might be able to help. Saying people are aware of our battles with the Bowmen and he would try and get a message to Cotton if we could be back the next day. We agreed and set off to find Seifer, who had been missing for far too long. Heading towards the stairs that would lead us to the Ironclads boat we found him but in the process lost Hershel. When we arrive on the roof and find the ship it is being guarded by a large armored being that questions our presence. He is joined shortly by a young man still in his teens that invites us on board to talk.

Apparently they are all that’s left of their contingent that crashed their flying skiff here roughly a month and half ago. The others traveled northeast of here to explore ruins and have not been heard from since. He stayed behind along with their living, sentient suit of armor to guard the ship. We discuss the Bowmen and our problems with them, and we agree to help locate their missing allies if they will assist us against the Bowmen. Or meeting was interrupted by the sudden appearance of Hershel which caused great alarm to the large automaton. After the meeting Seifer stayed behind on the boat while we moved further up the hill to find an inn. Apparently our appearance didn’t look up to par and if it wasn’t for the timely intervention of some new friends we wouldn’t have rooms.

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Into the Basin
Sorscha

Though recently returned, our time at Temple Rise was not to last.

Upon reaching Three Cedars, I saw that they had begun to establish a perimeter. Additionally, the knight, Seifer, had a handful of villagers running through their paces. He appeared to enjoy the work and, if I’m honest, there was at least some improvement from when we last did battle here.

A few of the townsfolk from Hemlock Field decided to stay. Apparently they knew people at the Cedars and preferred to take comfort among them rather than seek a more defensible location to resettle. This would also benefit the hamlet, if Seifer could get his training to take hold. We left for Temple Rise and he decided to accompany us.

We stopped briefly in Lochaid, to ensure that the new residents were getting settled in. Hershel made a point of advising that no one try settling in “that building”, the dark one that he’s had a morbid fascination with. Can’t say that I disagreed with him. Talking with Olt, I learned that he had requested an additional contingent of dwarves to help rebuild and guard the suddenly booming population.

Through some sorcery, I assume, Xar’eth now occupied a restored Scarlet Spire. Though not unimpressive, I’ve seen similar feats before. Though he certainly acted in his own best interest, he had yet to move against the group directly, so I had other priorities. Our new magehound seemed to be getting more comfortable with Nathaniel and very much less so with our warlock companion. I left the others to hammer in vain at the solid door, demanding entry (though they made their way soon enough). I needed to report to Exelar.

After conferring, we collectively decided that we were deficient of information. If we had any hope of dealing with the Bowmen, we needed to know more about them and the wider area that we’d entered into. Soggy Pete agreed to guide us and after a night’s rest, we set back down into the Basin.

Coming Down the Mountain.
We decided to take a different path known to the trollkin, rather than risk going back through Hemlock Field so soon. We left the Rise, headed through Three Cedars, and then on to the village of Pulga, which we’d heard from refugees had been destroyed. Upon arriving, we could see that they were correct. Pulga had been razed.

Smoke and some guttering flames still belched from what had once been a small settlement. Naught was left of the buildings but a few portions of stone foundation and the charcoal remains of timbers. More disturbing was the fact that there were bodies staked out in front of the town. Dead, all of them. And then we caught movement in the village. Moving in closer, I was able to see that they weren’t people; not any more, at least. Like Elder Greene and the bodies locked below the Spire, they were dead. A few well-placed shots from Hershel felled them. Is this the remnant of the ‘plague’ that the dwarves had been concerned about?

At Pete’s insistence, we moved on from the remains of Pulga. We were bound for a place he called the Graham “Homestead”. A rather grand name, in my mind for a house with growing lands and a secondary, smaller residence. There turned out to be a primary couple living here – the titular Grahams – along with a second bonded couple and a labor hand. The family heads were Siogh and Aariama.

For a change, they seemed a fairly pragmatic lot. Though they had no love for Bowmen, they allowed them through and even provided supplies, if they caused no trouble. Interestingly, it seems that factions among the Bowmen have something of a reputation of being reasonable, or more trouble than others. They also anticipated who we were, having heard rumors of some activity around Temple Rise. We accepted their offer of respite and stayed for the evening. In our interactions, I did note that the people themselves were from different areas around the Basin. Apparently, this was intentional, especially on the part of a community called Anglers Cove (which turned out to be out next destination).

Heading to Angler’s Cove, Soggy Pete again proved his worth as an emissary, buying us pause from the locals that we otherwise might not get. Convincing him to come along was an action on the part of Hershel and Nathaniel. However, in this case, that goodwill was tested. One of these ‘covemen’ challenged our entry, accusing us of being or working for the Bowmen. I must admit that my self-control…slipped…a bit and my companions had to lay a hand on me to keep me from breaking our accuser. However, this seemed enough to convince him and we were allowed entry.

Obviously, the people here held no love for the Bowmen. Similar to the Grahams, my impression was that they may tolerate them moving through sometimes, but brooked not foolishness from them. It seems that everyone in this land had to accept Bowmen authority, to one degree or another. The only good part of this is that does appear to have bred resentment, as well.

Pausing before our next leg, we took rooms in the local inn. Listening to the townsfolk and some of my companion’s conversations, it seems as though Angler’s Cove actively manages it’s population. It frequently sends people out into the lands in order to remain a certain size. This was perplexing until I caught a familiar sign near the docks, heading to the inn: troglodytes. Not the creatures themselves, but sign of them and their work. Did the town have an arrangement with a nearby tribe? I’ll have to keep this in mind.

While we were partaking in a meal (except for me, the new ring has taken effect and though extremely useful, I find not need to eat a bit odd), A bar tough started making a ruckus. Having been among my companions for so long, I had almost forgotten the kind of attention that a drow can draw on the surface and the troublemaker’s gaze settled on me. Just as I was loosening my limbs and making sure that I had enough room to move as I needed, Seifer moved in and intercepted the man. Was he itching for a fight or did he truly believe that I needed protection? Either way, he was an excellent distraction.

Seifer blocked the man’s way, insisting that he return to his own business, at which point the man attacked him. Assuming that Seifer was capable enough to deal with a single tough, I took a look around the common room. At the last moment, I noticed another figure moving toward the fight. So, there were two of them, and Bowmen at that. And this one was mine.

Using my own trained swiftness, enhanced by the greaves I’d acquired, I was on him in an instant. At the last moment, before striking, he whispered that he was trying to help and to let him make his move. I don’t know why, but I took the gamble. I knew that I could drop him if needed, and Seifer was encased in metal, so I had reason to fear yet. A quick knife throw and this new one had fatally wounded the other. He then asked me to play along and walk with him back to my booth. Intrigued, I followed.

Sitting down, I asked why he had helped us. He answered that it wasn’t his intent and that he was here for the ruffian; despite the fact that they were both Bowmen. The strife among their factions ran deeper than we realized. He was clearly on edge and preparing to leave, but he also said I should ask any questions that I had now.

I asked after Trask and was told that his men had several mobile camps, but that their main base of operations were in a set of caves to the North of The Sink. And that they kept a presence in The Boil. I then asked why the Bowmen were spread out over the basin. What were they looking for? I don’t know what I expected, but it certainly wasn’t the fact that they were searching ruins for “an artifact lost to Law”.

He also mentioned a ‘feared name’ in the search or among the factions that had been hiring
surfacers as well as darkfolk to carry out their missions. As he said this, he stood to go. I pressed and asked what this fearful name was. He only looked back, said “Nakarris”, and left. I have no idea who this could be, but if our luck stays it’s course, whoever this is will be bad news.

Ah, Seifer appears to have been cleared of charges from the authorities. Time to rest, then. Tomorrow promises no less interest than today.

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The Theatre of War grows
Ser Seifer

The training of Three Cedars went well. For three days I have taught the villagers what I can about knightly combat and using my knowledge to their advantage. On the fourth day, refugees from Hemlock Field began to arrive followed by my companions. They told me of what had transpired and the new threat we face in Lieutenant Trask, a man of savage brutality and no honor. Beheading an Elder of the village just to prove a point, while his men watched in acceptance. This I can not allow. Learning also that Trask was accompanied by what appeared to be a mage solidified my decision.This man had now become a target for me to unleash my righteous wrath.

Returning to the Ruins of Lochaid and Temple Rise, I immediately went to the temple to pray and make a new vow. "I set down my lance, symbol of duty. I spurn those whom I love. I relinquish all and take up the tools of my quest. No obstacle will stand before me. No plea for help shall find me wanting. No moon will look upon me twice lest I be judged idle. I give by body, heart and soul to the Goddess whom I serve. Let my crusade begin. When the clarion call is sounded I will ride out and fight in the name of liege and Lady. I, Ser Seifer Garrow, hereby declare my Crusade against The Bowmen.

After resting and gathering our wits and strength, we set forth to The Boil, in search of answers. Answers about the Bowmen, the order known as the Ironclad, and answers about the plague making the dead walk. As a rather disgusting man, if you can call him a man, guided us through the lands we came upon another village that seemed quite odd. The village was known as Anglers Cove and it was not quite what it seemed. The economy and busyness of the village was that of a settlement twice its size, yet this place did not grow in size and prosper. The village was not run down or poor by any means but something didn’t seem right. Our entrance to the village was met by the overseer and we were questioned of who we were and what our business was. It seems the Bowmen are still a threat and a menace even this far south. Sorscha did not take kindly to the man accusing us of being Bowmen. With a little “persuasion” we were allowed into the village.

As my companions enjoyed the relaxation of a tavern, the first one we have seen in a long time, I walked about town trying to figure this odd place out. After a while I returned to the tavern to rest. Upon entering something caught my eye. Two men were observing Sorscha. However out of place or disturbing to see she was in this place, she is still my companion and I would not allow her to be ogled at from the shadows. As I confronted the hooded figure staring at Sorscha, he denied his actions. Once pressed and agitated, he lunged at me with a knife. I was more disappointed with him than upset. To think that a knife could stop me, much less kill me. A fight ensued, but after drawing Black Ice and snuffing all the fires in the tavern, I disposed of him with ease.

Only after the fight did I know that he was a Bowman. Sorscha apparently approached the other man watching her and talked the entire time I was dealing with the other man. Either she has faith in me, or does not care I was defending her honor. I must question her on this. At the same time, Hershel, was gambling the entire time. Standing up briefly only to take advantage of the dim lighting I provided to win his game. But I digress, the other man was a part of Vladamir Kronin’s men. It seems the Bowmen are not as unified as we thought. Many names came up in the parley between the man and Sorcha. She would remember them better than I, but one has stuck in my mind, Nakarris. Who was he? Why is he spoken of in hushed tones? I must know.

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A Settlement in Danger
Sorscha

Although the time deciding seemed interminable, the decision was actually made quickly. The only real option was to aid this new village.

Having only just beaten back the Bowmen from Three Cedars, we couldn’t commit everyone and leave them open to a possible counterattack. Myself, Xar’eth, Hershel, and Nathaniel would accompany the runner, Horatio, back to his home. The others would remain to help establish defenses and train the Cedarmen against future aggression.

The village was another half-day away and was called Hemlock Field (a foreboding name, I would later learn). Apparently, they had brought Bowmen attention upon themselves by wearing Watchmen insignia openly and patrolling their borders. Though it seems innocuous enough, our activities have must have set the larger Bowmen group on edge a bit and their scouts spotted this defiance and reported to their superiors. They were warned to stop owing Watchmen allegiance and that they would soon be visited by their commander.

Though small by surface standards, Hemlock Field turned out to be the largest settlement we’ve encountered since leaving Qataban. Somewhat more than a hundred people lived in several buildings in roughly circular roads. Farmlands, by the look of them. Nothing made it look like they would be willing, or able, to stand up to the Bowmen. Not after what we’d begun to see from them.

They were governed by a group of five elders, whom we were introduced to. The town had built on the ruins of an older one and the original was something of a Watchmen stronghold, when they still existed. So after hearing rumor of their resurgence, it inspired two of the villagers to “reconnect” to their heritage and don old Watchmen attire that had been passed down through families. Foolish, if you ask me, though the Nathaniel and his entourage seemed impressed. Human sentiment is strange.

After debating with ‘new’ Watchmen, Hershel somehow managed to convince them to evacuate their families to Three Cedars so that they would not present an easy target the Bowmen’s wrath. A note for for future: do no let Hershel do negotiations that you care about.

We all took hidden positions around the town center and split the the targets of pursuit among us, along with some others that martial experience. Ideally, the Bowmen would come and leave when they found their targets and families gone. But we couldn’t relay on that. And then they arrived.

Bowmen. A Death.
Upon arriving, they split into multiple groups, covering the lanes of exit. A robed figure stayed back with a group, blocking where they had entered. In to the town center walked one who was clearly in command. He was clad fully in black and red armor, the Bowman insignia blazed on the chest. He head was covered in tattoos. Though they held no specific meaning for me, they reminded me of a technique in Knif n’Karandras where a warrior was mystically bound to a mage. I’ll have to keep that in mind.

The village primarch, Elder Greene, awaited them in the square, with others further back. The tattooed figure, identified as Trask, demanded to know where the men were, and the Elder informed them they were gone. Trask looked down and mumbled something about ‘disappointing Bloodfire’. He insisted that an example still needed to be made and, in an instant, Elder Greene was dead. I saw Trask’s hand go to his sword, but barely saw the stroke. His weapon or person is magically enhanced to speed his movement. This man is a threat to us all.

I had to restrain my companion from attacking. Rushing for vengeance at this moment would get us all killed and make the Elder’s sacrifice mean nothing. Trask and the Bowmen backed out slowly, possibly looking for a counterattack, then left the way that they had come. Clearly in pain, the villagers were becoming hostile toward our presence now. Giving them time to sit with their sorrow, I grabbed Hershel and we tracked after the Bowmen to ensure that they were not leaving men behind and to see if we could locate their home base.

We tracked them as far as a marsh, when they paused, there was a flash of light, and they were gone. Clearly they have impressive resources. As we were preparing to return, there was a deep, rumbling growl from withing the marshlands. We saw nothing, but I must admit that it sounded large and reptilian.

With little to show for our efforts, we returned to the town. However, as we were about to enter, I saw sigils of some sort, carved into trees at the entrance. They had a glow about them that I’d seen before in the underdark. They were created so that they would be seen specifically by those for whom darkness does not impede vision.

We checked with the elders to see if they had made the marks. They professed no knowledge of them, but when I described their nature, they scoffed somewhat and said that the only creatures that had the ability to see like that in darkness here were the vorscha, and that it was lucky that they were just legends. As we companions explained that they were real, and that we had encountered them, the blood drained from the faces of those gathered. The elders followed up with old stories about how when marks like that appeared, the village where there were made shortly was wiped out.

Our original guide spoke up, indicating that a traveling merchant of some type was soon due in the village and that he may have more information as he tended to travel the entire basin, trading and gathering information. The trader’s name, Soggy Pete, did not inspire me with confidence.

Upon arrival, Soggy Pete appeared (and smelled) to have had trolls in near family tree. Despite his hygiene and slow speech, he was a solid source of information, as was claimed. He told stories of several other villages in the region had recently been wiped out. It had been explained away by natural disasters, disease, and the like. But now, with the vorscha being real, and with them having an alliance of some sort with the Bowmen, it was clear that this land was being brought to heel or emptied out. And that a power behind both the Bowmen and the vorscha was driving them.

This was enough for the town leaders to realize that they had to leave or lose the lives of everyone there. Of course, we offered them sanctuary within Lochaid. They accepted, still clearly displeased to be forced to leave at all. They placed much importance on their land and homes, but these things can be reclaimed and rebuilt; lives cannot. Hershel and Nathaniel felt it important to bring the part-troll as well, and Nathaniel managed to coerce him by handing over an enchanted robe he previously had claimed. So we set up in the town church for the evening, ready to move people out at the dawn.

During the night, Trask reappeared with a few others. I don’t know all who were up, but as I was only in reverie and not full human sleep, I was alert enough to detect them. They came only to the walls of the church, where Trask quietly threatened that moving was not enough to avoid their wrath and that would follow us even to Temple Rise, if that was made necessary. Then they were gone.

The next day, we worked to send the villagers off. They left in small groups, about an hour apart, and were shepherded to the treeline by townsfolk guards and we companions. There’s now an active train of people and supplies heading through Three Cedars to Lochaid. This would be the ideal time to strike against them. But I must leave that to others, as I’m striking ahead to try and alert our people and make preparations for the arrival of a town.

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Painting a target
Hiroshima Sakai (Hershel)

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Painting a target

I once overheard a general in service of the Golden Lord say that if a man paints a target on his chest, he should expect that sooner or later someone will loose an arrow on him. The people of Three Cedars didn’t seem to care for this advice, and I was asked to leave the council meeting rather soon after dispensing it. Though I agree that the Bowman issue must be addressed, it is foolish for our people to go about openly bearing a symbol which marks them for death. Better to have allies to the cause who live long enough to actually support it. And that means being cautious.

While Hiraishin-sama and Three Cedars council discussed among themselves the next steps that should be taken, I talked with Sorscha, Xar’eth, and Nathaniel’s posse about what should be done with the message from Hemlock Field. We decided to rest for the night, having just gotten through another exhausting encounter with the Bowmen, who apparently count Werwölfe among their allies.

Our journey to Hemlock Field brought us another half-day away from Three Cedars, and further into hostile territory. Though it made me ill-at-ease to come so far away from the temporary safety granted by our imprisonment within Lochaid and the Rise, it was clear that something needed to be done about these constant requests for assistance. Neither we nor the people we aid can afford to travel between destinations where we are harried by Bowman forces at every turn. As we approached, the messenger let out a bird call which was answered by a spotter somewhere at the village perimeter.

Hemlock Field was like our base of operations, in that it consisted primarily of structures built upon the ruins of great stone buildings, obviously from the time of the ancient Thyatians; but that is where the similarity ended. Where Lochaid and the Rise had cold, stone roofs, Hemlock Field’s were made of thatch; where our place of residence was dead and long-deserted (save the recent presence of Bowmen), Hemlock Field had a feeling of home.

The villagers gathered around to see the strangers who had entered their town, and I noticed on some of them sets of armor similar to those we had seen at Temple Rise, though obviously more well-used, subject to the wear of centuries, and maintained with care. These bore symbols I was largely unfamiliar with, save one: the twined horns and triple triangle of the Thyatian Empire. As I surveyed the crowd, a man from a group of older villagers in the middle stepped forward, and announced himself as High Elder Johnston Greene. Elders Gray Anderson, Arlo Horton, Archie Murrow, and Alice Hart followed suit, and we began discussing the nature of Hemlock Field’s plight with the Bowmen.

As Greene explained, I grimaced at the similarity of this village’s story with that of Three Cedars. Yet again, it seemed to be a case of pride in the Watchmen overriding common sense in keeping one’s head down to avoid the ire of an enemy which clearly (at present) is much stronger. Three of the townsmen who were former Watchmen, inspired by the story of Exelar Vitarri and the Risers, had taken up the old symbol again. As they were returning from patrol, they ran into Bowmen, a fight followed, and (predictably) one of the men died. Apparently they were able to put up a fight sufficient that the Bowmen needed to retreat, but as they did so they vowed to return and slaughter the Watchmen and their families. Again I found myself voicing what turned out to be a very unpopular opinion about voluntarily donning targets in a land brimming with archers. One of the Watchmen, a man by the name of Quentin, offered me some platitude about not giving in to the demands of oppressors. I offered that the saying would make a fine engraving on his tombstone.

Marked for Death

We proceeded with discussion of the Bowman threat: when they were expected back in Hemlock field; what were their numbers; from what direction were they likely to come; until we had a plan of action for fighting squared away. Then I suggested that perhaps the best way to approach this was to avoid a fight at all costs. With the Bowmen likely a day away from returning, we had ample time to get the Watchmen and their families to the safety of Three Cedars. If they were gone, it might be that the Bowmen would be satisfied and be on their way without any in Hemlock Field needing to die. If it did come to blows, Sorscha, Nathaniel, Xar’eth, and myself would be prepared. To my great surprise, after some discussion the council and the townsfolk agreed with my proposition, save that Watchmen, Quentin and Derrick, would stay behind to fight the Bowmen, if necessary.

Preparations were made, tearful goodbyes were said, and a day passed. I lent my new bow to one of the more competent archers among the Hemlock Fielders, and told him to seek a good vantage point. He seemed ecstatic to hold the bow, and offered me most of his livelihood (several goats, a cow, and possibly one of his daughters, though I was only half listening) for the thing, but I declined emphasizing to not fire unless it was clear we would join the Bowmen in battle. Nathan took up a position in the belfry with the archer, with Caleb and Wulfgar standing guard below. Sorscha was hidden somewhere with Watchman Quentin, and Xar’eth was also presumably ready for battle (though he was well-hidden). I took position with Watchman Derrick in Elder Hart’s house, as it had the best vantage point for all the possible roads by which the Bowman could approach. Greene stood at the head of group of Elders in the center of town, just as he had to greet us the day before.

As the sun reached its zenith, the Bowmen came in from the Northeast. Two groups of three split out in opposite directions from from the main force as they came into town, presumably to flank the town’s center. Another four followed behind the main group, and spread out to hold a position a little up the road from Greene and the Elders. The rest came down into the center of town: four heavy infantry along with a man in robes, and the apparent leader; a man in black and red armor, with the arrowhead of the Bowmen emblazoned in crimson on the chest.

As he approached Greene, the crimson man removed his helmet, revealing a head covered with many strange tattoos. He spoke in a grating voice, introducing himself as Lieutenant Trask, and demanding that the Watchmen living among the Hemlock Fielders be brought forth for punishment. Greene informed him that those men and their families had been sent along to Temple Rise by way of Three Cedars a day ago. Trask muttered “Bloodfire will not be pleased by this,” and grit his teeth. Then he said that an example must still be made; the village folk should choose one among them to take the punishment meant for the Watchmen who deserted them. Barely a heartbeat passed before Greene offered himself. The crimson man seemed to shift position slightly, and Greene’s throat was open from ear to ear, blood spraying out over the soil of Hemlock Field. I could feel the tension in the air as Derrick moved his hand to the hilt of his sword. I motioned for him to stay, “Greene sacrificed himself so that his people wouldn’t have to die. Don’t throw that away.” The Elders cried out. Women and children wept. The Bowmen turned around and left.

Sorscha and I left the townsfolk to their mourning, and followed the Bowman force Northeast to make sure they didn’t leave anyone behind, or turn around and march back to destroy the town. They went a few miles, through a forest that looked like it had been levelled at some point by a huge blast, but had since re-grown. It had begun to storm, and my outfit was drenched before the second mile. Sorscha and I stayed back and watched as the Bowmen travelled downhill, around what appeared to be a large marsh. A flash of lightning blared in the dark, and the Bowmen were gone. Satisfied that they had left, Sorscha and I turned to go. As we started back to the Southeast, we heard a monstrous roar from the marsh. We shared a look, and supposed that the sound might be a dragon. Possibly the “Bloodfire” mentioned earlier.

Back in Hemlock Field, we discovered marks on trees around the perimeter of the town, apparently crafted only for the eyes of those who can see in the dark. We found the villagers in the town hall performing some sort of death watch ceremony over the body of elder Greene. We told them of the marks that we found, and they said it reminded of some ancient legends they had heard of the Vorscha; legends that implied the town was marked for death. After some debate wherein we assured them that the Vorscha were, in fact, real and were, in addition, working with the Bowmen, we convinced them to leave Hemlock Field in favor of the relative safety provided by Lochaid and Temple Rise. In the morning, Nathaniel, Sorscha, and I assisted the townsfolk in building a cairn for Elder Greene. As they set Greene’s body alight, he began to rise from the pit, groaning and reaching out to grab whoever was closest to him. Fortunately, he fell pack into the pit, and the weight of the stones crushed in around him as his body burned.
Over the next couple of days, the people of Hemlock Field began to pack up and leave in small groups, spaced an hour apart, until the last group which consisted of us, the Watchmen, and the archer to whom I had again lent my new bow.

Information revealed

We were waiting for a man named Soggy Pete, a tinker who, it was said, may have some information on the Bowmen in the area. We smelled him before we saw him; a fetid combination of rotten midden, mold, and what I can only describe as “swampfoot”. Standing at almost a pace above my head, Pete had greenish skin, carried a big satchel, and spoke in a slow drawl. After about an hour of talking to him, we learned much of the Bowmen, and the surrounding area of the Ruin. The Heart of the Ruin, to which Cutter had referred as the dwelling of the Vorscha, was the area Sorscha and I had been generally headed toward when pursuing the Bowmen. Pete said something about a “Great Patron” driving the Vorscha and the Bowmen to work together. He told us of Marcus Crowley, a Captain loyal to Vladimir Kroenen; of Boris Cotton, Kroenen’s right-hand man and high-ranking member of the Bowmen until Kroenen lost a bout for power with Idris Khan and fell out of favor, forcing Cotton into exile; of Kylan Bloodfire, a Captain of the Bowmen loyal to Idris Khan, who commands Lt. Trask, murderer of Johnston Greene; and of The Ironclad, from a land Pete called “Estrain”. The Ironclad, Pete said, hate the Bowmen and the Vorscha equally. They can be found in small presence at “The Boil”, a place called Carrion Hill, deep in the Ruin on the other side of “The Sink”, more than 20 miles east from Hemlock Field. Also at “The Boil” can be found Boris Cotton, a man with much information and no love for the Bowmen.

After a good deal of conversation with Pete, Nathaniel bargained for his company on the return journey to Temple Rise. He offered to give Pete a cloak that will disguise his appearance, though I can’t guess what use the man means to put it to, seeing that his stench would likely give him away more than his appearance. For the moment, I am glad that we are heading back, and that we have been able to convince the people of Hemlock Field that it is senseless to stay out in the Bowman-infested parts of the Ruin when there is room enough and there are people enough to help defend them in the area around temple Rise.

A hasty note

Lights at the Spire. It is now… complete?

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Return to Three Cedars
Journal entry of Exelar Vitarri
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When we arrived at the Spire to find what the map was pointing to I had no idea what to expect, and now that I think we found it I’m still confused. The final words found on the body of Sir Godsblood suggest that the plague that took place all those years ago was more than we first thought. The magical device that was discovered has our new knight companion, Sipher, convinced that something bad is happening back in his homeland but I’m trying to be cautious about misinterpreting visions from a magical device we know nothing about. Between that and other things we have found, the magic is well beyond a power level I’m comfortable experimenting with. The soul gem seems to be the key to working the device but one step at a time.

During a couple of days of blessed quiet we were able to get better situated, and with the vegetables the druid helped us fast track and the stag the hunters brought back we were well fed for the forest time in eons. Unfortunately the peace want not to last as a messenger brought news of Bowmen threatening the town of Three Cedars. Believing the Bowmen to keep their word and not attack Temple Rise a contingent set out to lend aid. Since I was on horseback my arrival was first and found out the situation was dire for these people. Apparently they had attempted to militarize their village under the banner of the Watchmen and the Bowmen, true to their word, were threatening violence in return.

When the rest of my companions arrived we readied for battle, with Hershel setting traps, Sorscha scouting out, and Xar’eth doing….well whatever he does to get ready for battle. I explained to the elders that they could return with us to Temple Rise our risk their numbers in battle, either way we would stand with them. Not wanting to abandon their homes they chose the latter. Expecting them during the night had us standing in the dark listening to the wildlife and wondering how much of a force to expect.

We didn’t have to wait all night for the answer as their footsteps were not hard to detect, especially when one stepped in one of the traps that had been set. The five men that approached had an air of confidence about them, when I introduced myself they recognized me and I think made them hesitate slightly. After informing them of our intentions to aid the villagers and offering them a chance for retreat, which was refused, I drew my sword and battle began. Nathaniel brought forth an illusion that combined with mine and Siphers presence caused most of them to flee, and when Sorscha sprang out of the shadows to attack the remaining Bowmen it felt like we had things well in hand.

Attacks that I have seen fall many men seemed to miss this one though, which caught everyone by surprise. When the wolf-like creatures attacked from the shadows it felt like the tide had turned against us. The knight strode forward as he vocally challenged the leader, and with Xar’eth sniping him from afar the rest of us focused on the new creatures. We finally defeated them, though Farrell fell in the battle. With the villagers feeling good about themselves, another messenger showed up from another village with the same problem, the Bowmen…..

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Too far from either home
Nathaniel

I know I have neglected my journal for quite some time but at this juncture, i feel that the upcoming explanation will quite justify my written absence. As I have hardly found true rest or time between fighting for my life, discovering an ancient civilization, and fighting off a band of well organized marauders who called themselves “The Bowmen”.

It has been many months since Caleb and I have ventured from our home – at the order of my father – toward a grand city in the northern desert where my uncle runs one of the most prolific mage academies this side of the continent. It was a tradition that the aspiring mages in my family make this trek. Though in times past, we went by sea. Sadly that was not to be the case for Caleb and I, as the war that continues to ravage my homeland has left my family coffers with much to be desired. So it was that we were to travel along with the trade caravans through the thousands of miles of great forest that spans the gap between my former home and my final destination.

Neither my cousin nor I truly expected to end up where we are now. First, our caravan was slaughtered – save a select few – by a band of what I would describe as over-developed orcs. It was with that caravan that I met my months-long mentor and fellow mage who would only allow himself be referred to as “Sir” Winston.

He was a boisterous fellow, who seemed to always have a jovial manner about him. Even until his dying breaths at the end of an orc spear. He will be missed. At some point in the future, I intend to go back and put his remains to rightful rest.

It was only through what I then thought of as luck that Winston had several magic scrolls on his person when he died. I acquired those scrolls and, by the grace of the gods, managed to cast a fireball spell at our attackers. Among other things, I also procured his spell book, spell components, and what else I hoped would be useful for the continued survival of Caleb and myself.

Though the fireball proved extraordinary at the time, my casting of it was not enough to halt our attackers from continuing to put my fellow travelers to the blade and spear. our saving grace came in the form of what my studies tell me to be some sort of apex dire bear. I can only assume it smelled the blood from the battle and attacked both the orcs, and my own people. It was in the ensuing chaos that several of us fled into the forest. We knew shortly after that we “weren’t out of the woods yet” so to speak when we saw that our attackers were STILL on our trail. During this flight, Caleb and I met up with our current companions. Which I will describe as the STRANGEST ragtag group of adventurers and warriors I’ve ever laid my eyes upon.

I will describe them later as I fear I currently do not have the time between the bowmen attacks and defense of our current stronghold to continue writing in my journal. Though I WILL make it a point to do so as soon as I find respite.

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Observing from the shadows
Xar'eth Teken'und

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For some time now I have been traveling with this mixed bunch of surface dwellers. Their logic and understanding of the world still baffles me. Maybe I have spent too much time under the surface to understand their way of thinking. But I must learn to understand them, to at least comprehend their ways. Take this last foray into the Spire.

Nathaniel, the party’s manipulator of the weave is an incompetent fool. He must be afraid of the dark. Instead of using the darkness to his advantage, he wastes his powers on a light spell. This waste of power alerted some nearby enemies of our presence. His lack of common sense could have cost the party greatly. I have yet to see his usefulness. If it wasn’t for his traveling companions he would be unavailing.

As it stands now I fear this group is doomed. We have too many enemies. Dragons flank us, bowman have boxed us in. Our only real allies are these dwarves who have been isolated for generations. Real help might have to come from below. If a passage to home could be found. If any of my family still live. After that witch told me my fortune I’m not so sure that they do. I must stay alert and my eyes open for the answers i seek are out there.

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A key, A book, A choice
Ser Seifer

Entry 2

The Mage, Nathaniel, now has my full attention. Learning that after the incident with the key, he then was caught tinkering around with a soul gem, I now have to watch him for further misuses of magic, possible possession and other be-devilry. The one good thing that came from the mages curiosity, we now have a new direction to explore and secure. The Spire.

The next morning we set out to see what the Spire had to offer and the mysteries that the mage’s vision provided. Being partially collapsed and blocking our path, a few of us assisted the dwarves in clearing the rubble under their precise incite on stonework. There is another drow that I was unaware of that accompanied commander Vitarri . He is sneaky and somewhat stand offish and my new training suggests he is another mage of sorts. Those of us that cleared the rubble were outside the Spire, but somehow when the rubble was cleared, the drow was already inside and sneaking about. I know not what to think of this and if this is normal behavior for him. Exelar Vitarri was not alarmed of his behavior as much as I was. " Was this group always this dysfunctional? Have I gotten myself into another situation where I was not needed, or am unable to help?" Entering the building, I was cautious and on my guard and for good reason.

Upon further exploration, we came to the conclusion that the Spire was some kind of mage academy or mage enclave. All of my skills and new found training would be put to the test and I was unsure if I was prepared enough for what was to come. My suspicions were confirmed about the new drow when he hindered our progress for his own advantage. Nathaniel shed a magic light to illuminate the rooms and as soon as the light was bright the drow cast a shifting darkness in the same area to conceal the light allowing only himself to see clear. “Is he always this selfish or are there other things at work I am unaware of?”

UNDEAD! A sure sign that evil magic was used or contained in this place. Before I could act, the mage Nathaniel entangled five of the undead with a spell. Maybe Nathaniel is not evil, just needs guidance and help. Then the commander showed why he is the Prime of Heironeous. With a few proud boisterous words and a raise of his holy symbol, ten of the undead were turned to dust. I had never seen anything like it. Barely proving I can hold my own in a fight, I only destroyed one before the rest of the party finished them off.

After the undead were cleared and the rooms searched, we confirmed the theory of a mage academy. The next room was opened with the key that I had to “remove” from Nathaniel’s hand the day before. A room full of mage robes and items. Not knowing if these items would do us harm or if in the hands of a mage they would cause trouble I attempted to grab the tome before the mages took it. This turned out more perilous and dangerous for me than I had anticipated. Lightning coursed through my body as I grabbed the tome and what seemed like some kind of spell or essence attempted to enter my mind. My willpower and mage hunting training prepared my mind but the lightning took its toll. Not to be deterred, I attempted again with the same result. My body has been badly damaged by the lightning in the tome but I must continue on.

Nathaniel then did something that I did not see coming but ended up earning my respect. He offered his staff, mage book and ultimately his life should he become possessed or turn from his natural state. I will have to try and be more understanding and cooperative with Nathaniel in the future. Now to press on and continue into the Spire, even with my body as damaged as it is. Creators protect me and guide my hand to do what is right and necessary.

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