Welcome to the New Age

The Thaw, part one
Lions and tigers and Owlbears, oh my!

February 5-11, 25NA

The Heralds are given the choice of two tasks, with the other falling to the guards.  The first was to investigate attacks by some kind of "part bear, part owl creature" near the logging camp in the Greywinder Woods.  The second involved missing families in the mountains.  The first was chosen due partially to the fact that Severus Brown seems to have gone missing for the Winter.

Partway through the first day of travel, Aideen discovered that Baldric had stowed away in her saddlebags. It was decided that the group wasn't going to turn back, so he was brought along to Greywinder Village.  The goblin child causes some friction in the group, but doesn't slow the progress overall.

They receive a warm welcome in Greywinder after four miserable days of chill spring rain.  Meeting with Oona Bristlebelt gave them information on the "Owlbear" attack.  The Heralds also spoke with a gnome named Laszlo who was the only survivor of the attack.

So the group left the village and started following the path to the site of the attack.  On the first night, as the party makes camp, Gareth uses some of his magic to speak to a local bird, who warns him that animals are being pushed away from the deep woods by something that has erected thick thorny hedges.

Remnants and cloth fragments marked the location of the attack but the trail is marred by the rain.  Iliken chose to manifest one of the patches from his robe of useful items- a pair of mastiffs- in the hopes that in the morning they might pick up the trail.  The party makes camp.

It is nearly midnight when the Owlbears attack.  One of the mastiffs is killed but the party comes out mostly unscathed from the fight.

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The Thaw, prologue
Springtime and a young adventurer's heart turns to...

February 5, 25NA

Bruce Courdry looked over the lists that John Black had turned in.  The last time stores had been this low was that first winter, when most of the food they had was scavenged canned goods and a few poorly salted game animals.  Still, no one had died from starvation this winter and the town's spirits were high.  It was a nice change from those early, chaotic years.  Years where death came sometimes with no warning.

"Bruce…?" A voice asked tentatively.  Nancy Healy was looking expectantly at him.

"Sorry, Nan, I was wool gathering.  What was that?" He turned his attention to the rest of the council: Grumbar Brightaxe sitting at the far end of the oval table; Joe Kirk looking like he wanted to back at the stables rather than making policy; the aforementioned Will Black looking like he'd just come from a shift behind his bar; Simone Reilly, broad of shoulder from years of farmwork; Nan, her concern bleeding away into an expression of soft indulgence; and Reverend Greg Jansen looking irritated and slightly red faced.  In the back corner making hurried notes in his cramped script in a book of bound pages was young Gary Moore.  Moore had gotten permission to attend the Grayson Town Council meetings when he offered to combine his notes for the town broadsheet with the meeting minutes.

"Sorry, Reverend, what where you saying?" Bruce said, hoping that he was giving the man a proper tone of penance.  Jansen was a good man, but was feeling increasingly redundant in a world that seemed ready to supply its own miracles.

"I was saying: I think it's disgraceful that we pin a medal on that boy then he makes us put him in a cell.  He should be living up to expectations, not down!"

"Ahh, let it be, Rev'r'nd," Grumbar said in a voice that sounded like gravel rolling down a hill.  "Y'kenna 'spect 'em t'change his spots in a day.  My understand'n was tha' boy was trubble from a ways back.  Fact of things is this: He'n his frein's saved this town.  Y'kenna pick an' choose yer saviors."  Inwardly Bruce groaned.  Grumbar's words were chosen to draw Jensen out into another religious debate.

Bruce cut in before the Reverend could speak up.  "Desmond has been a model, if depressed prisoner.  While he didn't give up who commissioned the papers, he's taken his punishment and not said a word of protest." He gave a sympathetic look to Jensen, "Sudden celebrity has never really been an inducement to moral behavior.  I think that we need to chalk some of this up to experience on both sides."

There was a general murmur of approval down the table and no vote was called since no actual issue was put up for one.

"Now, if we can move on, I think that Joe has some business to bring up.  Joe?"

Joe stood and cleared his throat.  He had two reports in his hand and glanced down before beginning to speak.  "The Greywinder Logging camp reports that some aggressive animals have been sighted and one early tagging team was attacked by some creature they described as an "owlbear".  Two men dead, one nearly so.  Severus Brown hasn't shown back up yet, he apparently spend the winter at some camp he'd found deep in the Greywinders.  They're asking for the Heralds to look into it." He switched pages.

"Some of the lower passes in the Appalachians are opening up already and my kids are making their first delivery runs of the season.  As you know, we have a lot of holdouts up there and they insist that roving orcs and goblins aren't gonna drive them off their land.  The Lucas stead, the Granger stead, and the Walden's place all show signs of break-ins sometime in the winter.  Timmy Jackson says that he found old bloody handprints and footprints at the Walden's.  Something killed all their livestock and seems to have eaten it on the spot.  No sign of the families.  I'd like to send the kids up to have a look.  I can't have my service heading up there if they aren't safe.  By midsummer I'm gonna have about a dozen delivery runs going up there, most of them alone."

Bruce frowned.  Technically those families weren't part of Grayson, by their own choice.  But Joe was right, part of the responsibilities of their community was to keep the area safe.  And if it was just missing folks, it might just have been that they gave up and moved on, it had happened the first few years, still did occasionally.  But the slaughtered livestock?  And animals, twisted new ones, attacking the loggers?  Bruce knew about the portal in the heart of the woods.  He and Gwythr had been there.  Maybe these things were coming from the other side?  And there was still some kind of large predator out there…

"I'll call Aideen in and we'll see which one we can send them on.  We'll get Pete Dalton to put together a patrol to check out the other one and see what can be found."  Once, that would have been him, going out to deal with these problems.  Not now.  Heavy is the head and all that.  "Any other business?  Grumbar, wasn't there something about Rapid Run giving you problems with the shipments of iron for the anchors at the coast…"

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Winter Days
How i spent my Winter Vacation

October 31, 24NA to February 5, 25NA

The Elves are grateful for the aid of the party in recovering the fingerleaf for the cure to Gwythr ap Llewellyn's poisoning.  Several days are spent among them, learning and celebrating before a return to Grayson and the lives interrupted by their adventures.

As the weeks pass, the party takes on differing tasks and some are more successful than others in their endeavors.  Mrs Finnegan continues to care for the goblin baby, who grows extremely quickly, though no one seems to know if this is unusual.  By February, the child is walking mostly unaided and talking in broken common — nearly ready for some sort of formal schooling, if any is to be given.

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Fey Tales Part 3
Fists of Fury

October 30-31, 24NA

The mummy's touch leaves a curse on Desmond, weakening him, leaving him with an unquenchable thirst.  After defeating the undead, the party explores a tunnel to a lower level, where gaining the stone requires moving through a death trap to escape.

After the return to Dialb the final door leads to a dojo in the Abyss, where they meet Oniisama and his disciples.  Oniisama makes a deal with them— he will turn over his crystal if they participate in a combat challenge.  They are not required to win, only participate.

The party is entertained after the fight with conversation and a meal before returning to Dialb and giving over the last crystal to him.  He gives them the leaves as he promised.

 The departure of the group from the Feywild is without incident and the party is once more turned into birds by Severus and are now racing to bring the cure to Gwythr ap Llewellyn.

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Fey Tales part two
Door number One? Door Number Two? Or Door Number Three?

October 30, 24NA

The Fey Knight Dialb offers to turn over the fingerleaves if the party retrieves three stones for him from remote places he either can't or doesn't want to go.

Each door is marked by a strange symbol.  

The first door leads to a strange laboratory marked with the same strange letters (DOSA) seen on the elf's remains in the dwarf mines.  The place is lit by Old Age technology, bright and well maintained.  Strange open-skulled rats occasionally pass by in open topped pneumatic tubes.  Observation Windows over look a chamber where bizarre tentacle faced creatures experiment on humanoids, twisting their forms for no discernible purpose.  The chamber with the crystal is watched over by a bizarre mass of flesh with a single massive eye and multiple stalks, each tipped with an eye.  It shouts an alarm telepathically and then attacks the party, causing a variety of strange effects from its eyes.  As the creature is defeated and Desmond takes the crystal (shutting off the power) the rats gather into a swarm and dominate him — delaying the group's exit.

Eventually the party tumbles out into the tower of Dialb.

Door number two leads into a constructed passage of worked stone. Where the party finds heavily painted images of an invading army met three times, once with flood, once with fire, and once with falling stars (Each of these points is determined to be a trap, potentially sealing the passage).  The passage turns two corners before opening into a burial chamber with a massive sarcophagus and two smaller, less decorative sarcophagi.  The massive sarcophagi has a mummy in it (that does not come to life) and a secret tunnel under it that is revealed when it is slid aside.  But as the party finds the tunnel, the other two sarcophagi burst open, and undead surge out to attack!

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Fey Tales part 01
Apples and oranges

October 29-30, 24NA

The trip to the Greywood is cut off when a toxic cloud affects the party in their bird forms, forcing them to crash to the ground in the remains of a recent battle.  While attempting to determine what happened, the party is attacked by creature resembling a large hunting cat with barbed tentacles and some kind of "displacement" effect.

After dispatching the beast, they travel to the gate, solve its mystery and cross over to the Feywild, where they encounter the dryad Afalblodeau, who watched the gate from the fey side.  She offered to help the party find their goal if they promise to hide the gate from Dialb, a fey knight holding the fingerleaf plant in his keep.

Afalblodau warns them of a pair of human hunters, whom the party defeats later, cursed by Dialb into becoming bestial monsters.  She warns them that the fey knight keeps satyrs in his service, making cider from the apple forest around them.

Upon arriving at the keep, the party gains access to the meeting hall through diplomacy and gains audience with Dialb, knight of the Summer Court.

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The Conquest of Grayson, Aftermath
Or Five Adventurers and a (goblin) baby

October 26-29, 24NA

The town of Grayson has been rescued.  Goblins, Hobgoblins, and Giants have all been dealt with. Our heroes are acclaimed by the town council as the saviors of the folk, and are now Esquires of Grayson – though what that means might be open to interpretation.  They are gifted a house and awarded handsomely for their service.

There is some disagreement over the fate of the goblin baby, with Desmond urging that the child be left in his care, while Declan, Gareth, and Aideen want to turn it over to the tower and the Magister.  In the end, the Magister turns over custody to Desmond, but makes it clear to him in private that he is now being watched.

Severus Brown and an Elven Druid arrive with news that Gwythr ap Llewellyn was poisoned during an attack that stole the Faberge eggs he held and his only hope is the leaf of a fingerleaf plant, found beyond a portal to the feywild.  A Portal that will close at sunrise on November 1st.

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The Conquest of Grayson part 04
The Reclaiming of Grayson

October 25-26, 24 NA

The city of Grayson is now under the control of the goblin army, but it's citizens are ready for the first match to light the flames of rebellion.  

A cold, late fall rain covers the party's movements as they search for help.

The heroes first attempt to approach "the Highwayman's Rest" but find that the busy tavern seems to be a haven for the carousing conquerors.  Iliken speaks to Bill, one of the kitchen staff, who tells him that he will pass on word of the impending Dwarf assault.

Red Simpson contacts the rest of the group leading them all to meet with Blackmantle, the mysterious leader of the town's criminal underworld.  Blackmantle is preparing to present resistance within the town, but she understands that without outside help, she can't hope to defeat the goblin occupation.

She wants to set the party to kill the giant that holds the town guard prisoner in their own cells as the dwarves attack, while another force attempts to rescue the town council and Mayor Courdry.

The giant is a terrifying foe that very nearly crushes Desmond with a thrown rock before the fight even gets started.  Expert teamwork allows the group to defeat the giant quickly enough to let them also turn and help retake the town hall alongside the  Blackmantle's forces.

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The Conquest of Grayson part three
or Home again, Home again Jiggety-Jig

October 24-25, 24 NA

The party completes their exploration of the mine tunnel, clearing it of devious shadows and horrible undead miners.  The dwarves are able to then clear the rubble filled mine entrance, leaving the way to Grayson clear.

A trip overland sees the town much the same as they left it, though they do spot a giant roaming the streets.  More undead prowl near the river gate on the Western edge of town, as well as a fire breathing dog.  

Now that the group is home, what will they do to raise the populace against the goblins holding their home captive…?

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The Conquest of Grayson part 02
Or a Miner Problem

October 23-24, 24 NA

Our heroes arrive at the gates of Ringing Hammer Hold, escorted by Karn Coppergleam to meet with the council about the problems facing Grayson.  Karn turns them over to Dame Susanna Cleareye-Stormborn who takes them before the council.

An argument is going on between Annah Keencut and Captain Willim Bravebeard over how they ought to pursue their own problems.  Annah wants to hole up in the village and wait out the orcs, hoping they might pit themselves against the gates of Ringing Hammer Hold.  Captain Bravebeard wants to send out troops to hunt and kill the orcs, clearing a path to Grayson.

In the end, Grunr Stormborn orders the troops made ready but takes Aideen aside, while the rest of group is sent to the home of Gaffer Foamingbrew, the Brewmaster of Ringing Hammer Hold.  Gaffer entertains the young heroes with stories and conversation and beer (and soup).

Meanwhile, Aideen learns that Grunr wants the party to go and contact a pair of dwarves surveying an old coal mine that might have an exit out of the mountains without passing the orcs.

The next morning, the group, with the addition of Lini Cinderflow – a Dwarven cleric of Dunatis – descends the shaft to find the dwarves.  Instead they find fungus creatures and the skeletal remains of two dwarves and one elf.

 

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