The Way of the Wicked

Log #19

Kill Count:-
Leges: 0
Vaelus: 1
Ven: 0
Xun: 2

With Tiadora stating that she will set the groundwork with Baron Vandamir in preparation for their meeting that evening, the Villains are left to their own devices.

Vaelus, having gotten to know Leges a little better on the trip to Farhold, offers an apology for any rudeness he may have advanced and offers to bury the hatchet. Leges agrees and the half-elf requests the wizard to construct a pair of very special boots for him, boots that would cost in excess of 20,000 gold pieces should they appear on the open market. Being a generous god, Leges agrees to this task and as he seeks out quite, comfortable lodgings, Vaelus acquires the magical components Leges will need, using his share of the treasure gained from Balyntine.

Vengillian meanwhile has done some investigation and, following up on a story of a man who was staying in the Wandering Toad tavern not long ago not paying his bar tab, discovers that, within the man’s empty room, there is a map of the Bryr set out on the table. Ven concludes that this man must have been part of the 4th Knot which was claimed by the Bryr. He takes the map. In addition, Ven investigates the local orphanage and discovers that Baron Vandamir is the patron of the establishment. While the Baron himself rarely shows himself, the headmaster, Mott, is a staunch supporter of the baron. The children, who are mostly young adults in their teenage years, are largely quite thuggish and Ven wonders whether Vandamir uses them on occasion to perform various acts of thuggery.

Meanwhile, after aiding Leges, Vaelus discovers that the Abbey of Saint Cynthia Celeste is home to a great number of nuns who turn out to be accomplished demon hunters, possessing martial skills and divine powers. Furthermore, he hears from one of the nuns that a powerful angel has been summoned to guard the town through times of great turmoil.

When the evening descends, Tiadora, dressed in an exquisite white gown, collects the Villains who are dressed in their own finery and head for Cavalier Green, home to the Lordly estates of Farhold. Soon, the carriage rolls through the gates of Vanderhall Manor.
Inside, the Villains are tended to diligently by scores of servants and they are soon treated to pre-dinner food and brandy. Vaelus appears to adore the offer of food and enjoys the lavish treatment.
At dinner, when all are seated, Baron Vandamir, a half-elf, dressed in burgundy and white enters. He appears young and has piercing beady eyes that seem incredibly calculating.
They engage in small talk at first but eventually, as the brandy flows and Vaelus feats in glee, the Baron expresses a great curiosity as to why the Villains have approached him. He says that the Mitrans and House Darrious have stripped away the titles and honours of so many of his peers and that worshipping Asmodeus has brought him great wealth, but he states quite frankly that compared to him, the party are mere beggars who appear to be waving their begging bowls under his nose. He asks what he has to gain for aiding the party. Ven then stands and draws his great-sword, threatening harm upon him and his household if he does not comply but Leges (who is disguised as an ancient, almost decrepit man) leaps to his feet and orders the half-elf to either sit down or leave, whichever will gain his silence. As Ven leaves, Leges explains to Vandamir that he will not attempt to spin lies of further power and wealth. Instead the wizard explains that in truth, there is nothing the Baron can gain, but in helping their cause he defends everything that he holds dear. Should Mitran interests continue to spread, Vandamir’s estate may well come under scrutiny and the possibility of the discovery of his Asmodean leanings could ruin him. After all, the Baron has already admitted that many of his peers have been disgraced so anything that furthers the cause of Thorn and Asmodeus will help cement and ensure Vandamir’s prosperity. Vandamir acknowledges the wizards logic and agrees to help but refuses to seal the agreement in writing. Nonetheless, the Baron offers a great deal of support. When asked later about the reports of an angel guarding the town, he states that he honestly doesn’t believe such a thing is possible as he feels confident that he would know of any summoner with power equating to that magnitude.

After dinner, Tiadora requests that the party greet the 7th Knot at the docks tomorrow. The next day, the meeting goes well and Vaelus (who is the only surviving member who knows the individuals of the 7th) discusses their duties and responsibilities. In order to stay in contact with each other, Leges suggests that they use Bird Feather Tokens to ensure efficient communication as they venture into the Bryr.

The Bryr is thick and difficult but it is not until the Villain’s venture into a small clearing that they meet resistance. The ground soon begins to rumble and a great worm with rows of spike- like teeth in its circular maw erupts from the earth. Vaelus lunges for it and as he attacks, the worm suddenly generates a great ball of crackling electricity in its mouth and expels it at Vaelus! Fortunately, the aim is poor and Vaelus quickly slices it in half. However, no sooner than the worm’s corpse collapses to the ground, a second springs from the earth and expels another crackling bolt of electrical power, this time hitting Leges. Vaelus turns and lets out a great cry: “Noooooooooo! My boots!”
Fortunately, Xun is nearby and has little difficulty in delivering a mortal wound with his daggers.

Continuing on, the party are startled when two massive arrows come hurtling out of the north and strike Vaelus! The arrows are the length of shovels and the party look on in dread as the owner, an enormous giant, comez barrelling out of the undergrowth.
Leges pulls free his wand of Fireball and sends a scorching orb directly for the giant but amazingly, the giant’s reflexes pull him away from the brunt of the blast and as the flames lightly lap at his sides, the arcane fires begin to be sucked into the giants body, the glowing tattoos heralding a great deal of dread for the wizard as he realises they are absorbing the spell!
As Vaelus charges in, swinging his blade into the giant’s leg, the tattoos begin to illuminate again and suddenly, a fireball launches from the giant’s skin and catches Leges hard, wounding him terribly. Ven, Xun and Vaelus fight furiously, battling the giant with a vigour borne of desperation more than malice as the party realise this giant poses one of the greatest threats they have ever faced. The giant is an incredibly potent force, pulverizing both Vaelus and Xun until both are close to death. The air is thick with blades and their savage song as they sliced through flesh and eventually, Xun manages to plunge his knives into a major artery and the giant fell with a crash to the forest floor.

The party breathe a collective sigh of relief which turned into one of trepidation as they realised they were but a quarter of the way through the Bryr and they had already met stronger resistance than they had first imagined. They agreed to camp for the night in the Bryr in order to make the most ground at first light on the morrow.

Log #18

The Holston’s Folly is a simple and crude barge commanded by Tiadora. The deck is bare and there is a single private cabin which she occupies. As Vaelus has destroyed the great majority of the treasure the party were to have gained in his fire, Tiadora offers a small amount of gold in recompense and she orders the barge to set sail. They head for Farhold, a small settlement on the far end of Talingarde.

Two new members of the knot eventually emerge from the cabin and introduce themselves. Vengillian is an inquisitive, happy-go-lucky half-elf with strange divine powers that flow through his being not of his will. Leges is a towering 7 foot, muscular human with olive skin who styles himself a god and possesses a fierce knowledge of the arcane. Vaelus begins with some light banter to the human wizard and is met by a frosty reception with Leges accusing Vaelus of a damning reputation that precedes him, stating that he is a small man with a small mind and who thinks in small ways and warns that if he should do anything crude and over-the-top without first consulting the party beforehand, Leges will ensure that everything Vaelus prides himself on will be stripped away until all that is left is a mindless form suitable only for food or sport. Suffice it to say, the two begin building a deep relationship but whether this depth is akin to a grave or a foundation, neither can tell at this point.

The nights are cold and the Villains are forced to sleep on deck throughout the journey. One night, Ven spots a blazing villaige on the shore and too curious to pass the opportunity to stretch his muscles, dives into the icy water and swims to shore. There, he hears screaming of a cult of Asmodeus and frantic prayers to Mitra.
Upon his return, he relays this information to the others and Leges asks Tiadora on the event. She says that Cardinal Thorn has many Knots and each conducts various operations to further the fall of Talingarde. She assures him that if we are to know, she will inform us of the relevant details when the time is appropriate.
As the journey progresses, more villages are spotted which burn furiously, calls to Mitra and screams of Asmodeus present at each one.

On the 9th day, the barge sails into Lake Skarddin and the Villains draw close to their destination now. They are all called into the cabin and they find Cardinal Adratus Thorn waiting for them. ‘Come, come’ he says in welcome ‘so many new faces. Tell me, are you ready to serve me as your master?"
He places the compact before Xun, Leges and Ven to sign afresh and seal their bond together officially. Once these have been signed, Thorn delivers the Villain’s new mission.

To the south of the town of Farhold is a dense and wild forest called the Care Bryr, a place that the locals hold in fear for its ruthless and ferocious nature. Somewhere within the Bryr is an ancient temple which contains the Horn of Abbadon, a powerful seal. The Horn binds a powerful Daemon prince called Vetracalli Eats The Eyes who serves the Lord of Pestilence in one of the Circles of Hell. This daemon guards an incredibly deadly and virulent plague, manifested as an artefact known as the Tears of Aklace. It is these tears which Thorn desires to further the Asmodean cause.
As it stands, the 4th Knot has already tried and failed at this task and so Thorn is sending the 9th to complete the task. The Villain’s are to be supported by the 7th Knot in Farhold.
In addition, Thorn also states that a local baron in Farhold, Lord Vanderin, while decadent as he is wealthy, is a staunch Asmodean supporter and fears Thorn. The Villains will be able to find his support incredibly useful if they can but win it. Tiadora will help us in that regard.
Finally, the party is given a small seal which, when broken, will summon Tiadora should they need her.

Upon reaching Farhold, the Villain’s discover that the town is centred in a flood zone with the main structures built upon four large hills. However, the district of Drownington in an area of low lying land is quite different to the elevated districts and is a shanty town of crime and vice.
The party buy a map and get to know the area that will be of use to them, noting the baronies, the abbey, the orphanage and the economic centres.
As they become acquainted with the area, the Villains disperse and begin gathering intelligence.

Log #17

A painful adventure to be sure but arguably a fine close to this chapter.

Kill Count:-

Vaelus: 5 +
Rythern: SLAIN :(
Xun: 3
Vanalyn: SLAIN

At 5.30 am, it is decided that Vaelus and Vanalyn should disguise themselves as Father Donnagan and Captain Varning respectively and call in the rest of the workman from the guardhouse, kill them and then the two “leaders” will be able to redirect the investigation all over the area, allowing Xun, Rythern and Sinnoman to rest until the next night

The resulting slaughter was quick, efficient and painless (for the Villains) and by the time the gatehouse stands silent with death, the sun has begun to creep over the horizon.
Unbeknownst to the rest of the party, Sinnoman’s newly acquired vampirism (which she has kept a total secret) demands that she must shield herself from the newborn rays of the sun. Therefore, she climbs into a bag of holding (which contains her coffin) and removes herself from consideration, her apparent disappearance being a minor mystery to some people.

As they discuss their next move, a signal horn sounds nearby and ten guards assemble on the main bridge. It turns out that the bodies from the main passage have been discovered, each infested with a strange fungus that clings hard to the dead flesh (Xun’s signature). The remaining captain, Captain “Iron Sam” Barhold is organising an investigation to discover the whereabouts of the murderer(s). The Villain’s disguise themselves as common soldiers and merge with the group below and engage in the conversation.
Vaelus manages to convince Barhold that Captain Varning and Father Donnagan wish to speak with him in the guardhouse and lead him away from the soldiers, escorted by Van, Vaelus and Xun, leaving only Rythern on the bridge with the men. Once they have steered the captain into the gatehouse and away from witnesses, they pounce. Barhold is by far the most resistant of the four captains and puts up a tremendous fight, sustaining wounds from Vaelus and Xun while simultaneously hacking mercilessly into Van.
As this is going on, Rythern engages in conversation with the guards, sowing the fast growing seeds of fear into their hearts. The mysterious fires, rumours of undead, talk of a necromancer in the forst and the general collapse of Aldencross civility are painted in vivid detail by the cunning sorcerer and soon, all ten of the guards begin fearing for either their own lives or the lives of their families and desert, abandoning their posts and fleeing the tower. Satisfied, Rythern heads for the battle. However, upon hearing the sounds of battle and notably the cries of pain from Van, Rythern realises that his healing spells are most likely needed. However, the main access door is being blocked by Van himself as he fights to the remnants of his bleeding life. Rythern therefore runs around via the long way, going through the opposite door, up the ladder to the first floor and down the ladder on the opposite side where the battle is taking place. Just as he leaps down through the trapdoor, he is just in time to see Captain Barhold sidestep Van and bring his war-hammer down from on high where it shatters the old soldier’s skull, killing him instantly. Vaelus plunges his sword through the captain’s chest, avenging their newest member.

Suddenly, a massive call rings out across the Tower for all personnel to report to the keep. Donning more common disguises, the villains run to the keep. Just before they go in, Rythern speaks to both Xun and Vaelus and says he wishes to attempt a plan. He requests that they follow his lead and offer support when he signals for it. The two men agree and they all enter the keep.
Inside, Sir Thomas Havalyn is trying to bring order amongst the remaining guards and instilling courage once again. Rythern bursts in, making a dramatic entrance and, encouraged by the excellent results gained from his scaremongering on the bridge, attempts the same tactic again. He cries that Barhold, Varning and Donnagan have all be butchered in horrific fashion, that their leaders have failed them, that Aldencross has been thrown into turmoil, that Mitra seems to have turned his gaze away and that approximately half of their number are either dead or missing. He raves how each soldier knows at least one person who has been killed by the forces at work and appeals to each man’s sense of reason to abandon their posts and flee for their lives. Xun and Vaelus are rather shocked at this speech but remain silent, not knowing what to do. Sir Thomas still commands the room however and orders Rythern to be bound and gagged and held in custody upstairs. Shocked that his plan yielded no results whatsoever, the sorcerer beseeches his comrades for help with silent pleas with his eyes yet is offered nothing. He is locked in he very cell Vanalyn was discovered in.

As Sir Thomas Havalyn continues to speak, Vaelus and Xun leave the keep and Vaelus bars the doors with various swords and spears. He then goes to the storeroom and fetches several barrels of oil and begins to spread the liquid around the keep and on and in front of the door. The half elf then planted the red rocket, lit the oil and launched to rocket, summoning the bugbears.
He and Xun then went back to the gatehouse and jammed the portcullis open. From here, Xun eventually fled to Aldencross. Vaelus went to watch his latest conflagration from the rookery but was disappointed to see that little was happening. The main doors were ablaze and two men died in an attempt to escape but otherwise the flames did not enter the keep. Vaelus then went and fetched two more barrels of oil from the storeroom, punctured one and tossed it into the keep. He then spread the contents of the second around the courtyard and set this too ablaze and left. He went back to Aldencross where he met up again with Xun and the two eventually watched what they could of the invasion before leaving the area where they met Tiadora again upon a barge floating on a river that spurred from Lake Tarrik.

Meanwhile, Rythern, who sat shackled in a cell, remained confident that he would eventually be able to free himself. Once he could sleep, he would regain his spells and have little difficulty in escaping his bonds and the keep. However, after thirty minutes, he sensed that he wouldn’t be afforded the time as smoke began to waft from under the main door. Realising that Vaelus had doubtlessly started yet another fire, Rythern began to panic. He managed to melt through his bonds with his acidic rays easily enough and his last remaining Knock spell defeated the door to his cell. However, by know, the smoke was thick and his fragile lungs burned from inhalation. Rythern fell upon the remaining door yet it was locked. Cursing that he did not have one more Knock spell, Rythern desperately hammered on the door, yet no one thought to free the prisoner. Rythern began cascading gouts of acid into the lock hoping to liquefy the mechanism, all the while his body growing weaker and weaker as his coughing got stronger and stronger. He cursed profanities that his acid wasn’t acting as fast as he would have hoped but as he drew his crowbar, he felt the door begin to give. Yet just as he dared to hope he might be able to escape, he lost consciousness and collapsed. Drained of spells the sorcerer and with no way of effective escape, the dhampiric sorcerer succumbed to deathly sleep, caged as an animal and bought by the flames just as he would have been had he not escaped Brandescar.

Log #16

Kill Count:-
Xun: 6
Van: 6
Vaelus: 10
Rythern: 2
Sinnoman: 2

To put it briefly, the party decided to rack up some raw numbers in the art of murder.
The party unanimously decide to hunt the remaining two officers of the Tower, but finding their rooms empty, they decide to head for the gatehouse wherein which major construction is taking place. In addition to getting to the gatehouse, the party leaves a trail of bodies in their wake, with Vaelus using lashings of deceit and trickery to lure the Villain’s prey into position before they were swiftly sent to the arms of Mitra. In this way, the party cleared the main corridor and the contingent of guards watching the main door facing Aldencross.
It is here which Sinnoman demonstrates a very peculiar action wherein which she drains the blood of one of the freshly slain guards in the kitchen. Unbeknownst to the rest of the party, Sinnoman is a freshly resurrected vampire, going through the birth pangs of the species. This is why she has been gone so long and has been so secretive. However, her purposes, even at this time, are still shrouded in mystery. The Villains then head East towards the gatehouse and, after more deceit from Vaelus who is still disguised as Father Donnagan, the Villains are able to clear the bridge leading to the gatehouse.
Now donning the faces of the freshly dispatched guards, the Villains cross to the gatehouse where they discover Captain Varning, the officer who commands several dozen stout rangers and whom they met once the Villains left the Frost Hammer, now oversees the gatehouse reconstruction.
As “Father Donnagan” takes Varning aside for a private conference, Varning’s keen eye detects something gravely amiss and sees through Vaelus’ disguise. Everyone attacks, striking well, but it is Rythern who manages to earn the killing blow, revealing his former disguise to the dying captain and reviling in the horror of this revelation. All the workman/guards on the level then attack seeing their commander slain and the Villains have little trouble is killing them all to a man.

Van then dons Varning’s full-plate armour and calls in the rangers from the upper bridge. He berates them and orders them to clear the bodies and while each archer is distracted, the party descend on them too, murdering all. The Villain’s then debate where they should head for next.

Log #15

Kill count:-
Vaelus: 7
Sinnoman: 1
Xun: 5
Rythern: 6
Vanalyn: 0

Having halted the Bugbear advance, buying the Villains a few more days, Vaelus swims back into Aldencross via Lake Tarik and manages to infiltrate the angry crowds by disguising himself as an overweight 14 year old girl. He discovers that Father Donnagan has led an investigation and discovers Barnabus Isenbok’s body (the leader of the dwarven troop). Using the Speak with Dead spell, Donnagan interviews the dead dwarf who states that it was the late Frans Mott who murdered him. Needless to say, Donnagan is deeply disturbed by this revelation.
After preparing some fresh extracts for the day, Xun returns from the forest also disguised as a child and is welcomed into the crowd. Much of the remaining populace of the small town are then moved into the protective arms of the Tower

Some hours later, Rythern decides on a course of action in order to gain access back into the tower. After disguising himself as a Mitran soldier, a battle sorcerer, he inflicts some convincing “battle damage” on himself using his knife and hobbles into Aldencross demanding to speak to those in command, carrying with him a frightening story of a necromancer who wanders the forest trails. Rythern rants and raves in his telling of the story, yet Donnagan’s perceptive nature smells something fishy with the story. However, even though Donnagan posts three guards to watch Rythern, he seems convinced of the presence of undead in the area and leaves to consult his texts and consult with the officers.

Thomas Havalyn addresses the populace in a reassuring speech in the main keep which has now been set up as the main headquarters for preparations (a war room if you will) and there he assures everyone that the rumours of undead are unsubstantiated and probably entirely fictitious. Furthermore, everything is being done to ensure their safety.

Meanwhile, Sinnoman returns from her excursions to a very different Aldencross than the one she left. After finding out roughly what happened, she disguises herself as a refugee and manages to bluff her way into the Tower again.

With the entire party now under the same roof for the first time since entering Aldencross weeks ago, they have little difficulty in recognising each other and Vaelus (still disguised as a small child) manages to exchange some words with Rythern and together, they come up with a plan.

In the middle of the night, once he has enjoyed a refreshing eight hours of rest to regain his spells, Rythern watches for Vaelus’ cue. The little girl slips out of the barracks to use the rest room and is completely overlooked. A few minutes later, Rythern too requests of his escort if he can use the facilities. Once in the privy, Vaelus disguises himself as Rythern (specifically Rythern’s disguise) and Rythern casts invisibility on himself. As Vaelus is then escorted back to the barracks, Rythern is able to steal away and quickly disappears into the Tower. He walks back upstairs, into the courtyard and into the chapel. He then descends the trapdoor therein and finds himself in the small ante-chamber. He silently creeps into Donnagan’s quarters, his dark-vision seeing the sleeping form, completely unaware of the great amount of danger he is in. Rythern offers up a silent prayer of thanks to Asmodeus for this opportunity, charges his hands with a fatal charge of electical energy and delivers a coup de grace against Donnagan, the Dhampir firmly pressing his hand into the priests face. As he does this, Rythern recites a passage from one of the Mitran holy texts, but twists it slightly to form a grisly epitaph. As Donnagan’s body convulses like a condemned criminal in the electric chair, Rythern quietly says the following:

The Lord Asmodeus has declared in my hearing:
“Surely the great houses will become desolate,
the fine mansions left without occupants.
A ten-acre vineyard will produce only a litre of wine;
one tonne of seed will yield only a kilo of grain.”
“Those of high rank will die of hunger
and the common people will be parched with thirst.
Therefore, Death expands its jaws,
opening wide its mouth;
into it will descend their nobles and masses
with all their brawlers and revellers.
So people will be brought low
and everyone humbled,
the eyes of the arrogant destroyed.
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
and clever in their own sight.
Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw
and as dry grass sinks down in the flames,
so their roots will decay
and their flowers blow away like dust;
for they have rejected the law of the Lord, the Underfather,
and spurned the word of the Unholy One.
Therefore the Lord’s anger burns against the people;
his hand is raised and he strikes them down.
The mountains shake,
and the dead bodies are like refuse in the streets.
He lifts up a banner for his distant nations to destroy you,
he whistles for those at the ends of the earth.
Here they come,
swiftly and speedily!
Not one of them grows tired or stumbles,
not one slumbers or sleeps;
not a belt is loosened at the waist,
not a boot strap is broken.
Their arrows are sharp,
all their bows are strung;
their horses’ hooves seem like flint,
their swords glowing like the fires of Hell.
Their roar is like that of the lion,
they roar like young lions;
they growl as they seize their prey
and carry it off with no one to rescue.
In that day they will roar over it
like the roaring of the sea.
And if one looks at the land,
there is only darkness and distress;
even the sun will be darkened by clouds.”
This is the word of Asmodeus, quake all you who reject his glory.

Once the deed is done, Rythern then casts another Invisibility spell on himself and proceeds to murder each of the five acolytes, each by an electric shock so powerful, the victim’s hearts practically explode in their chests yet leaving not a mark on the bodies.

He then circles round the tower again until he is in a side corridor that leads off from the main corridor on the ground floor. These four doors have always been locked and until now inaccessible. Rythern uses the Knock spell to unlock a door and discovers the quarters of the late captain e
Edderly. He realises from this that these four doors are the officer quarters, a valuable place to note. After a quick search of the room, he finds a set of expensive aristocratic clothes and considers gaining some rest in a dead man’s bed.

Meanwhile, the one remaining acolyte goes to his friends quarters and discovers his dead compatriots. Guards come in to investigate and the others pounce. With astounding speed, Vaelus sinks his blade into a guards belly, Xun back-stabs another and Sinnoman summons a swarm of scuttling, predatory spiders in the cramped confines of the corridor, behind the remaining acolyte.
Xun leaps forward, building on his fast initiative and a horrific and instantly fatal wound on a guard standing next to the door. Similarly, Vaelus sticks the second guard by the door, practically disembowelling him while Sinnoman’s swarm proceed to crawl over and poison the acolyte and a guard.

Vaelus deflects a blow using Crane Wing style of the Crane martial art and kills his aggressor.
As Sinnoman’s swarm goes for the fleeing guard and acolyte again, biting and poisoning both of them, they try to flee up through the chapel, the guard closing the trapdoor behind him. This is bad, the Villains can leave no survivors at this point!

Xun starts mutilating the bodies, Sin dons a guard uniform, Vaelus disguises himself as Father Donnagan and circles round the tower as Rythern had done and enters the chapel to find the two men trying to catch their breath and tend to their wounded courage and bodies. Sinnoman shockingly moves through her own swarm, clambering up the spider infested ladder, immune to the poison and opens the trapdoor, admitting the swarm into the chapel!
Xun meanwhile, having eviscerated the bodies, slits the throats of three townspeople sleeping in the barracks, as to why, no one but he can know for certain.

Seeing his Father Confessor, the guard runs towards Vaelus/Donnagan who promptly sticks his blade through the man’s back as the spider swarm gruesomely overcomes and devours the acolyte.

They decide to use the Donnagan disguise while it is useful and Vaelus goes to investigate “the prisoner” that they had previously heard was being kept in the upstairs rooms of the main keep.
Sin advises Xun to dispose of Donnagan’s corpse and aids him in doing so.

On the second floor of the keep, Vaelus discovers a small series of holding cells. With “Father Donnagan” unchallenged, Vaelus meets Vanalyn Hawklight, an old soldier with a penchant for betrayal, having unsuccessfully attempted to murder a man and woman. Vaelus then calls in a guard, kills him and advises Van to get dressed. Van grabs the corpse, using it as a meat shield to protect himself as Vaelus calls in and dispatches the remaining two guards from the next room and fishes out the prison keys.

Now wearing the bloody uniform of his captors, Van grabs a longsword and he and Vaelus go back to the courtyard where they meet Sinnoman, Xun and Rythern. After quick introductions, the group quickly debate their next move, a sense of unity and camaraderie now replacing individual agendas. The Villains were reunited and all quarrels seemed to have been forgotten as they move to end the Tower Balyntine once and for all!

Log #14

Kill Count:-

Vaelus: 5+
Sinnoman: 0
Rytehrn: 2
Xun: 2

The exploration of the trapdoor beneath the chapel is placed at the primary topic of the agendum tonight.

Xun uses his alchemical expertise and prepares three Chameleon extracts for he, Rythern and Vaelus to sneak past the guards and Barhold who are all dozing in the pub. Their new found (albeit temporary) ability to blend in with their surroundings guarantee the Villains success in sneaking into the basement and into the storeroom.

Hearing no sound from the forge, they judge the coast to be clear and Rythern and Vaelus disguise themselves as guards and walk through the courtyard. Xun however decides to rely on his extract and has little struggle in blending in with the shadows.

Once in the chapel again, Rythern is getting tense as memories of the archon become very palpable. The sorcerer encourages Vaelus to approach the alter, yet Vaelus refuses, sensing foul play. He begins to grow impatient with Rythern’s reluctance to continue, counts down from 3 and upon seeing Rythern is not going to compromise, walks back out of the chapel! Suffice to say, Rythern is very flustered at the prospect of being forced to continue without the martial skills of the swordsman. His fears however were unwarranted and the chapel remains undefended.

Under the trapdoor is a small room containing various Mitran religious paraphernalia; goblets, holy water, communion bread, spare hymn books etc. However, the room is not closed, a short corridor peels off from the area, with five doors on the south wall, one in the west wall and one in the north wall.
Rythern casts invisibility upon himself and opens the northern door…. to find eight people in a tiny room having a meeting (2 guards, 5 acolytes and Father Donnagan). Incredibly thankful that none could see him, Rythern barely dares to breathe as one of the acolytes closes the door again with a shrug, the sorcerer’s presence still unknown.
The western door at the end of the corridor leads to the main barracks and each of the southern doors are the acolyte quarters.

Suddenly, alarms start going off! Donnagan and three acolytes dash out and up the ladder into the chapel. Having no idea what is going on, Rythern decides they should make the most of this distraction. Casting Invisibility on both himself and Xun, together they storm the northern room, each killing an acolyte and a guard between them. As Xun desecrates the bodies, maximising the emotional impact the discovery of the bodies will have, Rythern checks out Donnagan’s quarters and takes a Mitran holy text, cursing the simplistic and wholly irritating vow of poverty Donnagan and his acolytes have apparently taken. There is no loot here.

Casting invisibility on them again, the two begin to make their escape. They dash out of the chapel to find the Tower is on fire! They realise that Vaelus must have done this.
With no other way out of the courtyard, Xun and Rythern run for the tower. With no means to plan, the two men are forced to split up. Running into the forge, they discover that Vaelus has set the storeroom alight. Rythern runs back up to the 3rd floor just as three guards run from the Rookery saying that it has been destroyed and Mad Marcus is missing.
Rythern fights through the smoke, disguises himself as a guard, dismisses his invisibility and helps fight the fire from the bucket line, hoping to avoid detection until he can sneak away.

Xun however heroically jumps down into the inferno, lands the 12 foot drop perfectly and sprints through the blaze, sustaining some semi-serious burns and has to sprint through the tunnel. He appears in the Dalliance and finds it too is a raging conflagration. He runs through the pub and out into the street.

As he works on the bucket-line, Rythern is standing on the bridge helping to ferry water to the tower when he suddenly sees a red rocket fire into the sky!
Realising that Vaelus has signalled the army to advance, Rythern legs it back through the keep shouting that someone has to warn Aldencross. He is not challenged. Sprinting through the streets he comes across the Lords Dalliance and realising that there is nowhere for him to hide or meet up with the others, he runs into the forest, realising that the Bugbears will be upon them in six hours and that no disguise will save any of them from the onslaught of the Hoard.

Meanwhile, Vaelus has disguised himself as a guard and heads for the guardhouse.
He re-leaves a guard at the murder holes, saying that the man is needed to help fight the fire. Alone with the other guard, Vaelus pushes the remaining man into a cauldron of molten sand/glass where his screams are silenced immediately. He then pours the contents of the cauldrons through the murder holes, killing all on the bottom floor.

Vaelus then examines the portcullis mechanism and decides to jam the stake holding the portcullis open. He does the same with the drawbridge, effectively disabling them.
He runs back into Aldencross into total pandemonium. Once he has secreted himself away, he starts rolling a cigarette, proud of himself for what he has achieved.

After a celebratory smoke, he later disguises himself as the late Captain Frans Mott (who was only executed days before) and tries to confirm all the rumours of undeath by openly wandering the streets, beating people up.

Eventually, the Friday morning sun begins to rise, much of Aldencross is a smouldering ruin, the tower fire is largely under control and the party is divided again and the Hoard is on its way…!

Log #13

Kill count:-

Sinnoman: 2
Vaelus: 0
Xun: 0
Rythern: 0

Continuing with her plan, Sinnoman summons a large swarm of rats and calls for help. The two servants who attended the kitchen ran in to investigate and Sin quickly slammed the door behind them where the agonized screams of the two women barely last twenty seconds as the rodents devour their victims.
Sinnoman attempts to lure more guards into the trap but is sadly unsuccessful as the guard merely peeks in and bars the door so they can wait for help to arrive.

Sinnoman then decides to fetch the bag of weapons which were earlier confiscated from the merchant guild by the Tower. When she arrives in the forge, she discovers a man searching for the very weapons which Sinnoman has come to collect, not knowing that the innocuous bag of holding tucked away in the corner holds the stolen items.
As Sinnoman looks for a means to make off with the bag without seeming suspicious, the man begins to see flaws in her imitation of Mad Marcus. As he is about to take her upstairs “for a chat”, Sinnoman has the quick wits to cast Charm Person on the man and defuses the situation.

As they discuss things for a while, another guard comes enters, demanding an explanation for why it is taking so long to distribute the weapons and equipment. Thomas Havalyn is apparently very anxious to increase security as much as possible. After a failed attempt to poison both men, Sin manages to take up the bag with the equipment the soldiers are looking for and leaves.

The next morning, Rythern sits down and introduces himself to Xun and informs him of the party, the nature of their mission as well as Rythern’s next plan of action. Xun appears more than happy to participate.
Upon seeing the dwarves leaving for work in the morning, the two quickly disguise themselves as dwarves and chase after them. Once they catch up with the group, Rythern has little trouble in casting Charm Person on Barnabus Isenbok and convinces him to allow them (Rythern and Xun) to aid in the daily labours in fortifying the guardhouse.

Both disguised men pay close attention to the details of the guardhouse and are quite astonished at how well defended it is as well as the numerable defences for repelling an invading force. However, during the day, the two Villains observe the siege engines very closely and in the final 30 minutes of the shift at the end of the day, they begin to subtly sabotage the catapults and ballistas, Rythern through the application of his acid, Xun through his impressive knowledge of similar complex devices and mechanical principles. As the two head back to the Lord’s Dalliance, they quietly celebrate at their successful castration of the engines of death.
It is here that they meet up with Vaelus, who, having had all day to plan and plot, has devised a cunning plan to kill Havalyn and Father Donnagan.
However, Rythern is a little irritated that it is only now that Vaelus wishes to work as a team when the half elf had been so dismissive before.
After exchanging laughably poor apologies, they listen to Vaelus’ plan and largely agree that it could work.

While they discreetly discuss these things in the Dalliance, Captain Varning and some of his Rangers return and ask Barhold for provisions, as Varning plans to go out on patrol again as soon as possible. After commenting on the repugnant smell that clings to the interior (provoking a private smile from Rythern who knows that it is in fact Grakas’ rotting body secreted beneath the floor), Varning leaves.

Aldencross is awash with rumours and omens and it is clear that fear and paranoia are spreading rapidly amongst the populace. Vaelus decides to capitalise on this and literally stoke the fires of this fear. During the night, he sneaks just outside Aldencross and sets fire to a barn then spreading further rumours and superstitious lies about the crowds.

The Villains then re-assemble once again and discuss their next move. Rythern wants to storm the gatehouse, disable the rest of the defences and summon the bugbears ASAP.
Vaelus argues that to provide the best chances of survival, they should give Sin more time to get back for own self appointed mission and that there are more places in the keep to explore, Rythern agrees.

However, they all agree unanimously that they should begin to apply more force and that they should summon the army in the next week or so.

Log #12

NB: Due to the fractured nature of the party at this point, with each member pursuing their own agenda, it has been very difficult in piecing together a logical narrative. I therefore apologize for this incomplete log. As facts and plans are revealed, I may well add to this one in order for things to make sense.

After dragging the body back through the secret passage and stowing it in his own room, Rythern prays over Grakas’ body, asking for Asmodius; kindness towards this fallen son of evil. Shaken up at what has transpired, Rythern is in a state of agitation and minor panic as he spends the night with the corpse. After succumbing slightly to his vampiric urges, the sorcerer simply awaits the return of one of the others.

After having breakfast, Vaelus return to his room and Rythern uses the opportunity to fill in what happened. Rythern pleads with Vaelus for help in disposing of Grakas’ body as well as assistance in penetrating deeper into the chapel. Rythern is convinced the Archon was protecting something but will not venture back there without help. They argue and Vaelus refuses to help, apparently amused at the floundering efforts of the dhampir. Rythern insults him several times and Vaelus goes off to find poisons in the forest, ultimately doing well.

As he is about to leave the inn, Vaelus overhears a young dwarf talking with Barhold and discovers that he and his brother (Hammerstow) own a dairy farm nearby yet Hammerstow never came home from the play last night.
Outside, Vaelus asks the dwarf further question and after the two exchange a few casual racial slurs, the half-elf offers his assurance that he will keep an eye out for his brother.

That night, Rythern enacts his plan. During the middle of the night when all is quite, Rythern sneaks out of his room and heads to the kitchen downstairs. However, as he attempts to open the door to the kitchen, Barhold is roused by the sorcerer’s attempts and comes out to investigate. Seeing his opportunity, Rythern requests a glass of water from the publican and as Barhold’s back is turned, Rythern picks up a bottle and swings for the man’s head, missing. Barhold suddenly turns and stabs Rythern with a knife but the sorcerer counters with a shocking grasp spell and knocks Barhold out cold. Rythern then drags the unconscious man back into his room, moves the bed aside and with a crowbar, begins to pry up the floorboards until a good sized hole has been created. Rythern then returns to his room and begins to saw Grakas’ limbs and head off with his dagger. He then makes stuffs these into his Handy Haversack and places all but the head under the hole in the floor. He then reassembles the floorboards as best he can, replaces the bed and lies Barhold back upon it, offering one final heal and quickly leaves before the man regains consciousness. Rythern then leaves and the Lord’s Dalliance and buries Grakas’ head deep in the forest.

The next morning (Monday) the town is bustling with activity. It turns out a murder has taken place not far out of town. The dwarf who was enquiring about his brother has been found dead not far from his dairy farm but even more shocking was that the body of Shivani was also there, silver scattered around the road. It appears the corpse rose from the dead and attacked the dwarf!
Father Donnagan fears the worst and the Keep goes on high alert. In addition, Barhold reports the assault he sustained last night and Captain Varning remembers that Rythern’s alternate identity knew Shivani well. Clearly he is connected with this strange occurrence and it is very suspicious that he has suddenly disappeared. Necromancy is suspected.

Over the past few days, Vaelus discovered a tarot reader in the market whom, disapproving of her craft, Father Donnagan cast out of society and publicly shamed. Vaelus enters the home of Katlyn Mott and throttles her to death. He then brutally carves: ’ZAKK’S WHORE’ in her chest and leaves a Death card in her palm, implicating the tarot reader. She is quickly arrested.
Discovering his wife’s affair this way, Mott confronts Zakk Edderly and in the resulting argument, Captain Mott kills his rival in the street. He too is arrested and scheduled to be executed the next day.

With the tower guard now extra vigilant, Sinnoman, disguised as Mad Marcus, is given a note to distribute to Farhold requesting reinforcements. Sinnoman then uses the rest of the day to practice the handwriting and signature and forges a similar note but one which states the rumours originate in a town in the opposite direction, therefore buying the Villains time.
That night, “Marcus” then goes exploring the keep and discovers the barracks, the kitchen and the dining room. Sinnoman then wanders into the pantry and cunningly summons a swarm of rats.

Meanwhile, the new recruit, Xun, enters Aldencross and observes all that is going on around him from his table in the Lord’s Dalliance. Rythern also returns, this time in a new disguise, and notices the strange figure. Perhaps this is Grakas’ replacement?

Log #11

This was an especially dramatic game, so the Log is taking a little longer to finalize. In the meantime, I include a brief synopsis of the events that took place

Vaelus: 1
Sinnoman: 0
Rythern: 1
Grakas: [SLAIN]

William and his merry men arrive into the town, greeting the people. It is obvious to see they are exceptionally popular with everyone, carrying celebrity on their sleeve like an accessory.

In his attempt to scout the keep further, Rythern poses as a cleaner and is permitted to clean the fountain in the central courtyard. There, he gets a sense of the courtyard he viewed on his previous scouting mission with Vaelus. He locates a private outhouse and discovers where the play will be held, approximately 60 ft from the fountain on the western quadrant of the courtyard. The tower to which leads the secret passage back to the Lord’s Dalliance is to the south-east.

As William Marcus Marlow and his troupe arrive and prepare for the play, Rythern observes Father Donnagan and three acolytes enter and leave a door to the north of the fountain, a door which Rythern surmises is the Cleric’s private study or residence.

Later during the evening, as people prepare to set off for the play, Rythern assembles the others (minus Sinnoman) and proposes the murder of Donnagan, arguing that any investigation will be headed by the Cleric and that his violent, degrading murder will strike fear into the hearts of everyone in Aldencross. Further, as a priest of Mitra, he must be killed for his blasphemies. Vaelus refuses, saying its a stupid idea and that he wants to use the opportunity to expose the affair of Mrs Mott. While Rythern passionately pleads with him, it comes to nought.

At this point, Sinnoman, disguised as an elf, walks in and speaks elvish to Vaelus again. Rythern asks Grakas to help him. Bored due to the lack of activity, Grakas agrees listlessly.

After Vaelus points to Rythern saying: “he knows where the body is”, Sinnoman says: “you, the loud, violent one" she stands before Rythern and demands to know where Shivani’s body is buried. Rythern asks why she wants to know. Shocked, she asks incredulously if his question is quiet serious. Apparently unmoved at such sentiment, Rythern states in no uncertain terms that Shivani is at the table of Asmodeus, but not sitting at it, she is a meal upon it. He openly mocks and ridicules Shivani as Sinnoman walks away.
“Fool” Sinnoman mutters as she walks out the door
“No more than her" he calls after her.

Vaelus & Sinnoman pair off and head towards the Rookery, Rythern and Grakas disguise themselves as Acolytes and head for the secret passage.

The play has already begun and Rythern and Grakas find it more than simple to cross the courtyard unchallenged and enter the northern door.
They find it is a small chapel, upon the alter is written: ‘No matter how deep the darkness, the smallest candle will penetrate it’

However, as soon as the two Villains spot a trapdoor in the far corner of the room, a series of small lights descend from the ceiling and demand that the two to repent of their crimes and sins.
Rythern’s knowledge on religion tells him it is a Lantern Archon. More lights descend from the ceiling and coalesce into a large being sending Rythern into a horrified shock of these unexpected turn of events.

The following battle was long and brutal with Grakas tearing as best as he could at the Archons damage reduction and Rythern doing his best to debilitate the Archon from afar.
Ultimately, Grakas is slain despite Rythern’s efforts to save him and the sorcerer has no choice but to flee. In his attempted escape, Rythern is hurt badly and barely manages to barricade himself in he outhouse to the east of the fountain. The Archon does not follow.

Meanwhile, upon reaching the Rookery, Vaelus and Sinnoman come to a locked door
Using her charm and apparent innocence, Sinnoman manages to talk her way into the Rookery and there the two meet Mad Martin Rayard, the warden of the ravens.
He is very timid and trusting and the two Villains have no difficulty in getting the man to reveal various pieces of valuable information, including the surrounding geography and the garrisons posted within various places, how one can send messages via the ravens as well as other titbits.

As soon as Mad Martin has told them everything, Vaelus knocks the man to the ground and chokes him to death with his bare hands. Sinnoman then uses prestidigitation to flavour the body to that of bird seed and the hundreds of ravens descend upon their warden and tear the meat from the bones in short order.

The two leave the room and wait, discussing whether to assume his identity. They agree to take shifts. Sinnoman takes the first watch. She uses the vantage point and gathers surveillance on the keep however she then recalls that she has a meeting, so Vaelus takes over and she leaves.

Now fully healed again but with very few remaining spells left, Rythern steals his courage and goes back into the room, He dives behind a pew, takes significant damage but then manages to hit the creature with one final Acidic Ray killing the creature!
He walks up to the dead body, spits upon the body and says: “You are now but the appetizer to a great banquet held in honour of the Trusted Thousand who will head the spear-tip of the second coming of Asmodeus”
He drags Grakas’ body outside, back to the secret passage, the roar of the crowd masking his movements.

Log #10

The Villains debated for many hours as to what to do next. While Vaelus attempted to enact his plan of poisoning the storeroom supplies by seeking sources of harmful toxins in the forest, Rythern used the time to apologise to Isenbok, the lead Dwarf of the maintenance team, for beating him the other night. During this time, Barhold, the tavern owner, was discovered to favour only premium wine yet was exceptionally evasive as to his main supplier.

During the night, Vaelus and Rythern snuck into the storeroom and carefully scouted out the tower above the room. In doing so, they became familiar with the layout as well as the location of the Rookery. However, unwilling to penetrate deeper into the keep and risk detection, the two men returned to the basement of the Lords Dalliance. Waiting for them it seemed was a woman, one who bore a striking resemblance to Shivani, the one the party had met the previous night.
A conversation entirely in elvish ensued between Vaelus and Sinnamon and, disturbed by the presence of this new arrival and unable to understand their speech, Rythern assaulted the bard but was restrained by Vaelus.

However, despite the mistrust, Sinnamon Sweetcream was brought into the fold of the Villains Knot and as they gathered round the breakfast table the next day, they plotted their next move.


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