Edge of Darkness: The Broken Circle

Session 24
Module S3-1: Return to Revenant Keep- Part 1

Greenleaf 35 – Early Morning

Upon receiving a dark omen from a Messenger in the middle of the night, Dusan awoke everyone and they made their way in the dark back to Phoenix, pausing only for the divine casters to regain their abilities.

Upon arrival in Phoenix, the party immediately heard about the attack on the party at Count Fardawn’s. The Duchess was able to escape, but only with the help of Ser Crownguard. Both Ser Crownguard and Deputy Warden Wolfson were apparently left behind fighting the shadows that attacked the party.

When the party reported in to Firestorm Keep about their encounter with the Shadows, Lord Wolfson was there, having returned from the siege in the south at the reports of his son’s possible loss. He was gearing up to go out and handle the problem by himself when he was stopped by High Prophetess Brightguard. She informed Halt that he was needed in the south or all would fall down there, while the situation in Revenant Keep, where the shadows had been tracked back to, could be dealt with by the PCs. Four of the PCs readily volunteered; one might have been on the receiving end of a itty-bitty bit of coercion.

The High Prophetess and Lord Knight Wolfson gave the party a series of scrolls, a magic sword, the unique benefits of a Miracle spell, and a Heroes’ Feast before they set out.

The decision was made to approach by speed rather than by stealth, so the party made their way as fast as they could up the primary road to Revenant Keep. Just short of the keep itself, they were stopped by an old nemesis who apparently doesn’t know how to just stay dead. With him were no less than fifteen ghouls, which promptly overwhelmed half of the party’s horses and one PC.

The battle was long and difficult, but in the end, the ghouls met their final rest, the commander was beaten once more, and the party used their reserve assets (Look up Wand of Cure Light Wounds in the dictionary) to return to as close to top-notch as they could get.

Revenant Keep itself looms ahead. Staring down at the party. Looming. Ominously.

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Session 23
Playing with shadows

From Greenleaf 22 – 35

From the time they finish up their work catching up with the Blades of Dawn until the evening of the 28th the party has no official assignment. In the afternoon of the 22nd Dusan sends a message to the party re:visiting gnomes and then he leaves town. There’s a fire overnight and several party members help put it out. The fire started in a shop where the party once sold some goods. The morning of the 23rd Takeo and Wren are interrogated by the gnomes about Sprocket. Then the gnomes leave town.

In general the party spends their time off running needed errands and dealing with things that have been forgotten. Dusan makes himself scarce for several days while Lauren’s father is in town and that allows him to deal with things at home. He checks in every day and gets started on some research. Wren has her father to deal with the 23-25. Her Trial of Knighthood date is set for Sunreign 1 in Phoenix. Takeo is splitting his time between research, meditation and training. Caiden is working on a map of the surrounding area and healing people and getting very little sleep. Simon is trying to decipher some journals (not Sprockets of course, those were destroyed accidentally). After Wren’s father leaves several of the party members and Derek and Karinda get drunk together to celebrate. In general things are quiet.

On the 28th Simon’s mother comes to ask him for help with a village that’s ‘gone silent’. Will agrees that it would be best for the party to investigate. Simon takes the party to dinner and they agree to look into it. Wren needs to be back in time to teleport to Albalara for her great-grandfather’s funeral on the 35th so they leave early on the 29th.

About mid-day on the 31st they arrive in the village of Zernthal to find it deserted. As they investigate it becomes clear that the entire town has physically disappeared, leaving their clothes behind. They determine that this was probably the work of shadows. They camp far from the village overnight and return to the village in the morning. They get set up, gathering around a large bonfire and setting up a large circle of torches, and wait for dark. As dark falls they are attacked by a total of 12 shadows. Wren is killed during the fight, but Caiden calls on Mirala’ana and she is restored (her eyes now bright blue instead of green). In the morning Caiden wakes to discover that his field of vision has increased from 30’ to 60’. The party begins the journey back to Phoenix. Caiden & Dusan working to heal the strength damage the party suffered along the way. At about 1am on the morning of Greenleaf 35 Dusan wakes the party to tell them he’s had a vision and they need to get back to Phoenix as quickly as possible.

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Session 22
Gallivanting through Phoenix's Rose Ward

Greenleaf 22

The party was awoken early in the morning and told to report to Will by 4:30 at the latest. When the party arrived, Will informed them that they had, with Publius’s information, tracked down the last remaining safe-house of the Blades of Dawn in Phoenix, and that the Knights were going to strike at dawn. While Wren and Titus were assigned to the main assault force, the rest of the party was assigned to cover the safe-house’s likely escape hatch in the sewers and make sure no one fled out that way.

After picking up some supplies (arrows, caltrops, blast discs), the party entered the sewers, and slowly made their way toward the likely escape area. The Blades had apparently planned on using the sewers as their emergency exit for quite some time, as quite a few traps had been laid down through the tunnels, including a set of blast discs that could collapse the one tunnel they were covering.

Despite an otyugh, and the efforts of the darkcreepers (tiny little gnome-like creatures that can absorb light), the party made it to the exit hatch for the Blades’ safehouse and set up defenses. The use of tanglefoot bags, blast discs, and caltrops dissuaded the few Blades that made it to the exit hatch from leaving that way. It did, however, draw the attention of 6-7 darkcreepers, who attempted to force the party to fall back from their defenses.

The battle was fought in nearly complete darkness, thanks to the light-absorbing abilities of the darkcreepers, and the assassins’ tactics were quite simple: surround and overwhelm the melee fighters by overloading them with poison.

Thanks mostly to the efforts of Caeden, who called out the locations of the darkcreepers for the melee fighters, half of the darkcreepers were killed or captured, and the remaining half scattered.

In the aftermath of the fight, Will told the party to get some rest while others picked through the remains of the safe-house and interrogated the prisoners.

The Three Patrons of the Kights apparently did not see fit for Dusan to rest well that day, for they sent him two visions during his nap-time that morning. On his way to inform Will of what he saw, he came across M.O.R.R.A.G. agents standing guard outside of the Deputy’s office, along with one of the Duchess’s bodyguards. When Dusan was finally able to speak with Will, he was informed of M.O.R.R.A.G.‘s interest in Sprocket, and the office of the Warden’s obligation to cooperate. It was immediately after the meeting that Dusan set out his letters.

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Session 21
About last night...

So remember that time when we had some time off and Wren almost got assassinated in the chapel at the priory… well I’m beginning to think having time off is a bad thing!

The party went their separate ways on the afternoon of the 20th and Wren went to speak to her great-grandfather about getting her punishment rescinded. He agreed if she would give him forty-eight hours of her time and travel with him. Ser Wolfson and Ser Titus immediately objected to the plan (cause an 81 year old Knight and a 17 year old squire should not be traveling alone in the country-side outside of Phoenix in the current climate). Wren decided to let her elders hash it out and went to spend the afternoon with Dusan (part of the re-negotiation of her punishment). On her way to find Dusan she had a mysterious encounter with a “messenger” from Rozerus. As a result she ended her romantic relationship with Dusan and cut her hair. All this contributed to a change of plans. Instead of traveling outside Phoenix, Livius and Wren would teleport to Rozeril to see her parents and Titus would accompany them and instead of leaving at dawn they would leave immediately. When Livius was informed of the changes he attacked Titus and it was revealed that Livius had been replaced by the missing doppelganger. Wren and Titus subdued him and he was taken into custody.

The next morning Wolfson is still investigating, but can confirm that the plan was to take Wren captive and turn her over to Rashid. It seems that Rashid and the Blades of Dawn are pulling out of Phoenix. Will is looking for leads, but has nothing for the party to do immediately. Dusan takes the opportunity to travel to Markess and Takeo accompanies him. Will contacts the remaining party members to interrogate a woman named Celeste who has come forward with a lead on one of Rashid’s associates. Simon has had previous contact with this woman and her boyfriend, Publius, who she is offering to turn in if he will be treated fairly. The party is able to negotiate with her. Once Dusan and Takeo return and with Derek Crownguard’s help the party follows Celeste’s familiar, a large wolf, Summer, to Publius.

On the way back to Phoenix Publius is attacked by an unseen force (an Invisible Stalker). After several tense moments and lots of attacks by the unseen foe, the party puts it down. They hurriedly get Publius back to Phoenix and into Will’s custody. While they are waiting for Publius to be processed they head to dinner and during the dinner break Dusan takes on several squires, including Wren’s roommate Karinda, in the practice yard. Hilarity ensues. Afterward they interrogate Publius he’s able to give them lots of information about what Rashid has been up to. Included in Pub’s confession are greater details about the disappearance of Baroness of Brackenwood and more confirmation that Rashid wants knights, living and dead. Perhaps this new information will help the party finally track down Rashid.

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Session 20
FLŰGGÅƏNK∂€ČHIŒβØL∫ÊN!!!

Greenleaf 20

The party meets up at the Temple of Romd to interrogate the corpse that was discovered on the rooftop. Questioning the corpse reveals much the same sort of vision the homeless man near the docks claimed to have seen.

At this point the party splits up: Simon, Takeo, and Wren head to the library to research possible creatures; Dusan decides to follow a hunch and drags poor Caiden with him.

Checking the stone seraphim atop the belltower of the Temple of Rozerus is a time-consuming and treacherous task. Which is why it was for the best that the least-dexterous member of the party went to check it out with the blind guy.

Fortunately (?), the search was not in vain, as indeed two of the seraphim were actually gargoyles who had adapted to the local structure. Dusan and Caiden, unfortunately, were in no position to fight back against the gargoyles, and they made their way off of the roof as quickly as possible.

By falling.

With a little help from gravity, the two were able to make it to the ground. Dusan began to blow his whistle as the gargoyles descended on them. The two of them were pretty quickly torn apart before the rest of the party arrived. Dusan was barely conscious after healing from Caiden when he was lifted off of the ground by one of the gargoyles. Takeo saved Caiden from a similar fate.

The two gargoyles then began to fly up and away with Dusan. After healing and praying, Dusan struggled free of the gargoyles grasp and fell 150 feet to the ground, landing in front of the Temple of Romd. As luck would have it, he barely survived the fall.

After reporting to Will, the party was given the rest of the day off.

In the meantime, can someone help me learn to pronounce Gravity’s safe-word? She apparently uses the same one from Club Vandersexx from Eurotrip.

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Session 19
A sock full of copper coins, for great justice.

19 Greenleaf

The morning finds the party gathered at the Deputy Warden’s office to get their next assignment. Will rewards the party for the retrieval of the Crystal Blade of Redemption with equipment upgrades. Then he asks that they investigate a series of disappearances. Wren has been forbidden to speak with or be alone with Dusan by her great-grandfather, but Will gives her permission to speak to him re: the case.

After the meeting there are several conversation that stall the beginning of the investigation (Simon & Wren, the Deputy Warden & Wren, Wren & Dusan, Simon & Wren (again), and Dusan and Wren (again)… anyone see a common element?). Caiden and Takeo wait. Afterward Takeo, Caiden, and Dusan head to the business of two missing merchants. Wren goes back to the priory to meet up with Simon (who will not be joining the investigation – he has something else to do) and then catches up to the party at the Blackstone Arms. They speak to the wives of the missing men and find no leads.

Next they go to the Blind Dragon Brewery and speak to the boss of another missing man. His boss indicates he had trouble at home, but otherwise a great guy. The party goes to speak with his wife. After a couple of excellent intimidate checks she tells them the truth; her lover (a guard at Firestorm Keep) killed her husband when her husband discovered their affair. The party takes her into custody and then heads to Firestorm Keep. When they question the man he is adamant that there was no affair and asks to be taken to the Inquisitors. Then, of course, he bolts when they get him outside. That was a bad idea. He’s dead now.

Next the group heads down to the docks to speak with the captain of the Cold Dawn, a ship that is missing two sailors. They head to a bar where the captain is drinking. In the bar Wren gets quite an education and Dusan shows everyone the value of a sock full of coppers. Afterward the party questions people on the street and a wino tells them that angels carried the men off while they were cavorting (yes I used the word cavorting… deal with it!). They find one body on the roof of a warehouse, but not the other.

Caiden takes the body to a guard post. Takeo sends his researchers in search of a lead on what the creatures who carried off the soldiers could be. Wren goes to clean out the Priory stables. The party plans to meet up again at the Gelded Dragon… where the merchants were last seen before they disappeared. They find no leads. They are interrupted by the sudden arrival of Derek Crownguard who tells Wren that Simon is back, but has been horribly injured. She and Takeo head to the temple of Mirala’ana to find out more details. Caiden stays with Dusan.

A long night seems to be ahead for everyone…

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Session 18
A Return to "Normal"

18 Greenleaf (continued)

After the party did their best impression of a pincushion last session, they then turned their attention to the keep itself. After healing up, Takeo and Dusan promptly HeroQuested the main entry to the keep, only to discover that the leader of the mercenaries and his annoying cleric were waiting there for us, along with the cleric’s grave elemental familiar. Or something. It was freaky little bugger at least.

The commander informed everyone that all but the Knight would perish, and that the Knight would be captured and turned into a sexy, sexy piñata. (Imagine that last sentence spoken in Zap Brannigan voice). The party, incidentally, was of a different opinion of how the encounter would end, and this disagreement led a wave of fully justified violence.

The villains, surprisingly to all involved, played dirty. An aura that impeded healing spells, a grave-dirt-homunculous-thing that pulled Simon under and nearly suffocated him (only to be saved by the ever-amazing Caiden), while the mounted commander played whack-a-mole with the paladins: one would pop back up and swing, and he’d knock them unconscious again.

Eventually, the cleric went down, taking his creepy mudball with him into hell. The commander, upon being distracted by Caiden’s goading, turned his attention away from the fighters long enough for them to recover and take the commander down.

A search of Saltmourne Keep led to the discovery of a treasury room, in which there was only one object, a crystal sword. On touching it, Dusan was almost soul-drained by a gem and and illusion. (Oh, the old Soul-Trap-under-an-Illusion. Should have seen that coming; that stuff is classic). Upon further inspection, a hidden compartment was found with the actual crystal sword.

The party then retreated back to town, only to discover that an army of skeletons was heading their way. Simon went through the portal first and informed Will, Titus, and Derek of the situation. The three knights went back through and held off the army of undead long enough for the party to make it to safety.

At this point, with a little bit of knowledge on how the blade worked, Dusan stabbed Takeo back to life. Go ahead, reread that last sentence, because I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to write something like that again. Anyway. Takeo’s among the living again, the majority of the party is headed back to Phoenix for some R&R before reporting for duty tomorrow morning (19th). Dusan and Derek stayed behind to discuss a possible setback for Dusan.

So, Takeo is alive and keeping quiet, Simon is off doing sneaky things, Caiden is out of healing, Wren is in trouble with one of her relatives, and Dusan is at the center of some sort of scandal that could ruin his career.

Everything is back to normal.

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Session 17
Ranged attacks, our old nemesis... we meet again.

On the morning of 18 Greenleaf, the party met up outside Deril Manor along with Dep. Warden Wolfson and Ser Titus. After a brief debate and Caiden handing out goodies to the rest of the party, Takeo cracked the dragon scale he had been given, and a small, nearly invisible portal opened up. Dusan jumped through first, followed quickly by the rest of the party.

They arrived in a shop in the ruins of a town. After marking the shop’s location, the party searched around the city, finding a mapmaker’s shop through pure, blind luck. The shop, surprisingly, still held an old but serviceable map of the local area. The party avoided the (admittedly rare) undead patrols in the town and made their way up the road to what was marked on the map as Saltmourne Keep.

About 400 ft away from the keep, a guard officer of some form challenged the group from the keep’s gatehouse. Attempts by Simon to convince him to let the group approach didn’t succeed, and the party began to take ranged fire (our dreaded Achille’s heel!) from the walls of the keep.

Dusan, Takeo, and Simon charged the keep, while Wren stayed behind with Caiden, advancing slowly. Unfortunately, Wren and Caiden seemed to draw all of the initial fire. Simon managed to levitate Takeo up to the guard captain before falling to arrows.

After taking on the captain by himself for a few rounds, Takeo jumped down and began to raise the portcullis, allowing Wren and Dusan to move into the entryway of the keep before being bottled in by skeletal warriors (in what I’m going to insist was AN EPIC BATTLE OF BLOCKS, PARRIES AND NEAR MISSES, and totally not anything to do with getting dice-screwed). Caiden brought Simon back from the brink of death, and the two of them took out the remaining warriors on the wall. Takeo took down the guard captain (by himself!), Wren managed to break through and assist Dusan, and with her help Dusan finally managed to make it through the UNSPEAKABLY SKILLED DEFENSES of the DREADED SKELETAL WARRIOR OF A THOUSAND PARRIES (Seriously sticking to this story).

The party ended the session recovering from the battle. Saltmourne Keep lies ahead of them.

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Session 16
A trial, some trouble, and some time off for good behaviour

Greenleaf 12 thru 17
The party is reunited by a summons to Deputy Warden Will Wolfson’s office. The events at Bolton’s Crossing are re-hashed for Wren’s benefit and she tells the party about her fieldtrip with Titus. Afterward Duchess Ambria Lightheart comes in to personally thank the party for their work in Bolton’s Crossing and gives them a generous reward. The Deputy Warden also gives them the reward of some well-deserved time off until after Dusan’s Trial of Knighthood is over. The party discusses Takeo’s situation and it is revealed that Takeo has been approached by a mysterious being and given a gift; a scale that will open a portal. This portal will lead the party to Saltmourne Keep off of New Din’Garreth where they will find the Crystal Sword of Redemption. The portal will be open for only 24 hours. This sword can restore Takeo. There is some debate as to whether this is the best course, but as no one will be going anywhere until after Dusan’s Trial the matter is tabled. Several days pass. Wren has her 17th birthday. Dusan meets with the Knights Inquisitor as a part of his Trial.
On the 16th Dusan has his Trial of Knighthood. Before the Trial his sponsor, Ser Brenna Aurius comes to warn him that a letter has been received from Prophetess Moira Brightguard speaking against his entry into the knighthood. In general the trial goes well. Derek Crownguard and Wren and several other trainees are in attendance. Wren, having received a letter that morning from her mother, is pale during the trial. Moira’s letter is read and it reveals that she has had dark visions regarding Dusan’s entry into the knighthood. After all the evidence is given several hours of deliberation occur and Dusan is granted entrance into the order of the Knights Petitioner and knighted! After a very awkward conversation (“I’m sorry my mom thinks you’ll destory the knighthood.”) Wren and Dusan join Derek and go out drinking to celebrate. After a stressful day they unwind a little too much, but eventually get back to the priory in one piece. They eventually find most of their clothes. Takeo shadows them to make sure no one tries to hurt them, but he lets them do plenty of damage to themselves.
Late in the morning of the 17th the party re-assembles. Several conversations about what’s next take place throughout the day. Finally in the Deputy Warden’s office it is decide they are definitely going to Saltmourne Keep. Supplies will be needed. A location to open the portal will need to be chosen and the party will need to be ready to report for active duty again on the 19th. Later in the day on the 17th it is decided that the portal will be opened near Deril Manor. Dusan, Wren, Takeo, and Ser Titus head for Deril Manor the evening of the 17th and will meet Caiden, Simon, and Will there on the morning of the 18th.

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Session 15
And he would've won too, if it weren't for us meddling brats!

Escape from the Well-

Simon’s brave attempt to distract the goonage at the top of the well succeeded, allowing him to use a tanglefoot bag to secure the rope and grappling hook the party needed to climb up. This did lead to him taking enough damage to fall unconscious, and slowly float back down into the well. As he fell down, Takeo made it to the top, and started taking out the guards.

While the battle was going on up top, the two prisoners decided to attack the party members still in the well. Jaf quickly killed the cleric, while Dusan crippled the mage. Jaf then joined Takeo ad a healed Simon up top, and the guards surrendered. After Dusan, Caiden, and the emo twins were lifted up, the guards were stripped of their gear and lowered into the well for the time being.

The House-

Dusk was rapidly approaching. Even so, the party thought it best to skirt town instead of walking straight through, avoiding the guards, as they made their way to Alia’s house. On arrival, they found two guards watching the tiny road to the house. When approached and informed the party was there on behalf of the Warden, the guards quickly let them through.

There, the party saw the baron speaking with the ghost. A silver mirror on the ground appeared to have images manifesting inside of it. A mist was beginning to cover the ground, and the ghost was beginning to sing. Simon and Caiden were dispatched to get backup, while Takeo, Jaf, and Dusan would do their best to stop baron’s plans.

The baron had convinced the ghost that the interim Warden was responsible for stealing the doll, and the party members were assassins there to keep the baron quiet. Dusan attempted to talk the ghost down, but the baron’s words had persuaded her. Alia unleashed her fury on Takeo, killing him in moments. Jaf and Dusan brought some new levels of hurt on the baron, who fled via magic, just as the ghost reanimated Takeo as a skeletal warrior.

As the ghost was about to turn her attention to the two remaining, Jaf quickly reminded her that the party had until sunset. The ghost reluctantly agreed.

The town and the keep-

Jaf and Dusan, convinced that assaulting the baron’s keep and hitting its treasury in eight minutes was impossible, mounted up and charged into town, intent on alerting the people of Bolton’s Crossing in order for them to flee. In town, they were stopped by the mercenary, Brynn. On hearing the situation, seeing the mist, and coming to the conclusion that she and her men were not getting paid, offered to open the gates and doors of the baron’s keep, in a last ditch attempt to find the doll.

By the time the three arrived at the keep, darkness had fallen. The mist had risen, and there were screams in the distance. Brynn led Dusan and Jaf to the treasury, where Jaf managed to pick the lock, despite the extreme pressure. The three quickly tore apart the treasury in desperation, eventually kicking over a box that held the ragdoll.

Dusan grabbed the doll, ran out of the treasury, and presented Alia with the ragdoll she had been searching for. The ghost backed down; terms for bringing her to rest were negotiated, and Takeo, undead but still sentient, was freed from Alia’s grasp.

The doll was buried next to Alia’s body, and final rites performed over the new grave. Riders were dispatched to bring Simon and Caiden back.

The day of the 10th of Greenleaf is spent recovering in Bolton’s Crossing, while the townsfolk hold a celebration in honor of our intrepid heroes.

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