The Way of the Wicked

Log #28

Farholde was starting to unravel and Baron Vandamir is losing control. While the ogre attacks were becoming more blatant, the creature apparently acquiring the taste for female “flesh”, a large gang of young men and general thugs from Drownington calling themselves ‘Thatcher’s Crew’ moved against the orphanage. Virgil Mott, the headmaster, beseeched Vengillian (whose cohort and organization originally came from the orphanage) for assistance in repelling the encroachment and assaults. Astoundingly, Thatcher’s Crew had somehow managed to burn down the abbey and kill all the nuns, throwing the town into total turmoil and now they had moved against the orphanage. The Knessian Knot however were undeterred. Both Vengillian and Leges stretched out their arm and commanded FevilEx and Ekklessia to descend upon the rabble and the power and resources of these villainous organizations proved more than the gang of semi organized thugs and petty cut-throats could handle. Their line crumbled and each man-child was given a man’s death.
Jurack, having failed to penetrate the narrow passages of the caves beneath the Horn, had suddenly become bolder. In an open gesture of determination and hatred, the treeant began piling vast amounts of bracken and dead wood in the cave entrance, preparing to start a vast fire. While it was unlikely that even the largest of infernos could destroy the Horn, certainly the Villains were not about to take the risk from this walking tree.
The party watched from the Horn like Harris Hawks as those who had them cast abjurations and other defensive spells. Then came the strike. Leges and Vengillian opened the battle by creating Walls of Fire, Leges’ separating Jurack and the great pile of wood amassed at the base of the Horn while Ven created a great ring of flames around the Treeant. An invisible Xun lunged through the flames, his abjuration resisting the heat, and struck with a powerful sneak attack, scouring a deep, wretched wound into the tree’s side.
With fire all around him and nowhere to run, Jurack let out a bellowing call, like an ancient roar that echoed through the Bryr and resounded through the spirits of two trees that stood on the edge of the clearing. The summons rippled through their bark like a stone cast to water and summoned forth sentience into the trees. At the command of Jurack, the two new treeants pulled their roots up and began a slow, plodding advance towards Leges who merely smiled as he slowly raised his arm and unleashed a fireball. The spell detonated over both creatures, dousing them in arcane flames. As they bent and flailed at the blast, Vengillian created a second circle that overlapped with the first, encasing the two new arrivals. The heat now unbearable, the treeants both fled, running through the wall like insane animals, the flames clawing at their leaves and bark. Meanwhile, Vaelus and Xun hacked, slashed and chopped at Jurack with bestial ferocity, Vaelus swinging his tremendous bastard sword, cleaving branches as if they were limbs while Xun would scale the tree’s great form like a professional acrobat and stab viciously into Jurack’s face. However, it was the half-elf who claimed the honour of the kill as his dark wings catapulted him up and into his enemy, the great roar from Vaelus’ wrath smote the blade deep into the wooden flesh of the treeant and Vaelus hung there like a mountain climber holding onto a massive piton embedded in the rock face. Jurack swayed and fell to the edged weapon’s irrefutable command and just before he crashed to the ground, Vaelus withdrew his sword, kicked off from his foe, flared his wings and landed deftly on the bare ground with a cold expression. As Jurack’s life bled away like so much sap, the two treants he had summoned lost their connection to him, their borrowed sentience and liberty drifting away like morning mist.

As the Villains recovered, they were a little surprised to see two Boggard’s nervously step out of the caves once Leges had dismissed his Wall of Fire and approach their evil masters. In a small croaking voice, one of them stated that life in the village had been growing more difficult with the attacks. After a lengthy pause, mucus-sweat dripping from the little creatures head, he asked on behalf of his village for supplies of food, water, arms and armour (equalling roughly 3500 gold pieces). The look he received from Vaelus and Vengillian were windows into his fate.
‘I’ll show you what you’ve earned’ Vaelus said in his low, dangerous tone as he strode towards the little frogman. Both Boggards cowered as Vaelus reached down and picked the messenger up, holding him aloft with ease, strode back to the remaining Wall of Fire which Vengillian maintained and tossed him in with no more concern than one would have for adding a log to the fireplace.
The little creature screamed as the magical fire seared his amphibious flesh, causing small popping sounds and a foul smell. The screams began to grow louder and more intense than the flames before suddenly they ceased. The two half-elves offered each a satisfied snort of indignation as a eulogy.
‘Do you have any further requests you might want to add?’ Vaelus asked the remaining Boggard who looked terrified as he half knelt on the floor in a sign of submission. Leges, however, was furious.
‘Why in the Material did you do that!?’ he boomed
‘We’re not a charity’ Vaelus noted calmly back
‘Yet we demand their loyalty and service in the defence of the Horn. Does that not strike you as unreasonable, to demand service on pain of death?! How can there be trust and loyalty then?!’
‘What kind of man are you?’ Ven asked incredulously ‘We aren’t here to baby-sit these people, we’re here to summon Vetra-Kalli. You claim to be a “dark god” but you’re more of a nursemaid than a deity if you coddle these creatures.’
No sooner had Vengillian’s words been uttered when a subtle and dark aura began to spread out from Leges’ form.
‘I am the Leges, the Law. My words are those of truth and reason. The Boggards have shown us great skill and have proven themselves worthy of reward. Many have died at the edge of a weapon…’
‘Blah, blah, blah’ Vaelus chided mockingly
…‘and I seem to recall that even you Vaelus grew anxious at the prospect of facing these people en mass when we first came here.’ Leges expression darkened in irritation before he walked towards the Boggard and helped him to his feet. The human was tall even by most humanoid’s standards but to the little boggard, the wizard was gigantic. As he looked up at him, Leges placed his fingertips on the creature’s head (the only way he could touch the small creature without bending) and small amounts of cool water began to run from the wizards palm and over the amphibian-man’s skin which it found soothing.
‘The boggard’s are now under my protection. If they honour me, I shall honour them. They shall call me “Father” and neither of you will touch them.’
‘I will kill who I want, wizard and you won’t be able to stop me’
‘You wield the strength of demons, Vaelus but I wield the indomitable realms of thought, reality and energy. Your soul is within my world to affect, your sanity is within my world to affect and the very fabric of time you inhabit resides within my world to affect. Leave my children be and you will continue to sleep soundly.’
As Leges led the boggard back towards the caves, Vaelus called after them: ‘Boggards are your children? I can see the family resemblance!’ but Leges ignored the comment and began to open negations with Ziccomo.
At the same time, the Ashen Nightmare had returned! Restless from evading detection for the past week, the Nightmare slipped stealthily through the Horn and entered the third level. It drifted through the lifeless rooms, including the chapel which housed several undead skeletons until the Nightmare soon found itself face to face with Ezra Thrice-Damned. Ordered to protect the level, Ezra attacked but both beings quickly found that being undead as well as incorporeal, both combatants were unable to harm the other. As Ezra could do little to keep the Nightmare in place and unable to reason with the malevolent psychic imprint, the Nightmare withdrew.
That evening, the foul stench of Heroes had returned to the Horn and this time the adventurers decide to venture into Level 1, Leges’ realm.
Angus the Dwarven warrior took point and entered through the open passageway. Once the dwarf passed the thresh-hold, he turned into the corridor and was greeted by a great and eerie sound. A gentle yet powerful chorus began to sing, the voices at least four dozen strong rang in a low and impressive bass; the voices of mountain roots, ancient continents, frozen seas combined true and clear in a beautiful harmonious resonance which praised their deity’s glory in a language Angus could not decipher. The Gothic architecture of the corridors were admittedly impressive, the flying buttresses and archways looming overhead, the slow, melancholic hymn seeming to originate magically from the vaulted ceiling. Angus called back to his fellows what he saw and it was then that he began to notice the inscriptions in the wall. In a beautifully ornate Gothic script, the inscriptions read: ‘The Law of the Material judges all who are in contempt of life.’, ‘In the beginning there was no air to sing with, there was no earth to stand upon and there was no water to sustain. In the beginning… there was fire!’ and ‘_And the Law looked out onto the Heavens and the Abyss and saw that both were lacking. And the Law spoke, saying: ’I shall create a new world, a world that commands the beauty of the Heavens and manifests the power of the Abyss and the Circles.’ And behold! The Law moved upon the face of creation and bore forth the world._’
These passages of scripture and hundreds more like them were carved lovingly into the wall as the Heroes entered cautiously, a sense of quiet dread filling the hearts of the adventurers in anticipation. Their entry was so far uncontested. As they rounded the first corner, they were slightly taken aback to find four partially muscled skeletons rotting against the wall, large carpenter nails hammered through their wrists and ankles bearing them up. Written above each corpse was a simple explanation: ‘Unbelievers and Criminals in the sight of the Law’. Tensions steadily rose and Angus gripped his greataxe, expecting something to leap out at them at any moment. His intuition was rewarded as he rounded the next bend.
The Wrath of the Gods trap activated, the wand sliding neatly out of it’s housing and sending a pulse of lightning neatly between the iron bars and into Angus. He dived for cover behind the bend and Brunhild the druid, healed the worst of his wounds. This is what the dwarf had been hoping for, the chance for a good old fashioned slog. Angus suddenly exploded back round the corner and swung his axe hard into one of the iron bars. Steel bit Iron and the blade made an excellent gouge in the obstacle. But the trap’s Eye fixed on the target and fired another pulse of electricity. Angus gritted his teeth against it as he was blessed with another healing spell from the half-elf druid. Fineas, the gnomish sorcerer the appeared behind the Barbarian and as he disappeared back into cover again, the arcanist cast Dispel Magic on the Magical Trap and the Lightning Bolts ceased… for now.
Quickly, Angus went back to the bars and his axe soon began to allow the party to advance, first through one gate, then a second. When Fineas’ dispel expired, the air would be punctured by another crackling bolt of lightning (this time hitting multiple targets as the party advanced) but would soon be suppressed again by the Gnome.

As the Villains began to assemble in the throne room, Leges’ alarm spell having given him time to inform the others of the Heroes presence, Vaelus was not there. As Leges, Xun and Vengillian congregated at the end of the gauntlet, ready to quickly mow down their weakened prey, Vaelus had circled round and entered Level 1 from the main door! Rushing through the corridors, the half-elf half-fiend ploughed into the party’s rear, his infernal sword quickly felling Fineas. Without the gnomes dispels, the trap soon reactivated and with Vaelus forcing the party to retreat into the firing lane, two more Heroes fell to the combination of Vaelus’ blade and bolts of energy. Only Angus yet lived and he was soon reaching the firing lane’s conclusion. Yet Vaelus had his own surprise to deal with… the Ashen Nightmare was back! Using Vaelus’ own tactic against him, the Nightmare came rushing in behind Vaelus and started dealing devastating blows, the entity’s incorporeal nature managing to bypass Vaelus’ armour.
With the final gate in the firing lane defeated, Angus, after ducking under another bolt, is about to round the corner and out of the line of effect of the trap when he spies another inscription in the wall. ‘The Law commands loyalty. Even the beasts of the Planes worship him. His might is unfathomable. All who oppose the Law of creation fall to his mind. Who can hide from His great sight? The Law knows all things and sees all that occurs. Those who defy the Law are judged as evil. Woe be to the Evil-doers who worship not the Law for justice will cut them like the blade.
No sooner had the dwarf read it when a small viper-like snake suddenly manifested from the text, lunged and sank its fangs into Angus’ arm. The speed was astounding and with the attack delivered, the Sepia Snake Sigil took effect and within only a few heartbeats, Angus had been encased in a strange amber shell, keeping his body in stasis, preserved for later interrogation. As it turned out, Leges would later come to convince Angus of the merit of Ekklesia, the church of the Law and within weeks, Angus had pledged his soul to his new god.

The battle between Vaelus and the Nightmare was horrifically fierce. Claw against blade, rage against hate and it was unclear who would be victorious as both creatures began to falter. But it was Vaelus’ Crane Style and speed at arms which finally proved the superior weapon. With each Nightmare Strike, Vaelus managed to deflect it and deal one of his own. Over and over again this war of attrition contested the two malevolent creatures until finally, the stronger emerged victorious. Vaelus Wraithkin stood over the particulate remains of his foe and growled a deep call of evil triumph.

However, it was the discovery of Fineas’ journal which proved to the most interesting prize. Within these simple pages was the proof that Elise and the 7th Knot had betrayed them!

Log #27

Many have died in the Horn over the last century and that level of death leaves a scar. In one room in particular, a great deal of evil was annihilated in a single flash of eldritch fire. Now that same evil, that same malevolence bound together and made manifest as a psychic imprint returns to the room it was destroyed to seek living flesh to exact revenge upon. This Ashen Nightmare appears amidst the charred and twisted metal slag that remains from Leges’ successful mission to merge his soul with that of a fire elemental via a great machine and begins to wander the level looking for prey. It wanders past the Alchemical Golem and ignores the spiders and soon finds itself in the newly converted Ekklesian chapel which Leges has constructed for worship services.
As it takes this room in, the nightmare hears the quiet murmuring of a man and, gliding silently through doors and walls, opens the final door to find Credo, Leges’ cohort and Primary Bishop of Ekklesia, standing wringing his hands as he plans the next order of service.
The man is taken completely by surprise as the nightmare sinks wretched ethereal claws into his flesh, wounding him terribly and imparting a viciously cruel curse which plagued the cleric with waking nightmares of the creatures final moments all those decades ago.
Credo runs for his life, flinging himself into the teleportation throne and reciting the command word “RAH”, thus escaping to the second level where Leges is. Yet the nightmare is right behind him and recites the word it heard the disturbed human use.

Fatigued and laden with medium armour, Credo runs past Hexor and Vexor who stand watch over the throne room, screaming at the top of his lungs for his master.
Vexor engages the intruder and discharges his electrical breath but the nightmare dodges it. Vexor takes a swipe at the nightmare with a claw but being incorporeal, the attack does nothing.
The nightmare ignores the two outsiders and soars deliberately for the fleeing cleric. Credo slams into the large double doors and as he moves to open one, he turns round to see the horrific visage of the Ashen Nightmare bare down on him, and with a great spray of blood, Leges is struck hard and hits the flagstones, dead. Finding it impossible to combat the Daemons (and they having similar difficulties), the Nightmare drifts through the wall and disappears. By the time the party beam in seconds later, it is gone. Leges screams and curses in mourning for his bishop, challenging the undead creature to reveal itself, but his fury is answered only by the uncaring looks of his compatriots.

Meanwhile, Jurak the Treeant has banded together six Consorts of Calliaste as well as Calliaste Shanda herself, a Lillend and an Azata. Upon the activation of the Horn, Jurak called his friend, the Lillend through the trees and she has flown to his aid.

As the band step into the caves, two consorts spy a set of two locked gates of iron bars. Going to the northern gate, both attempt to pick the lock unsuccessfully and fall victim to a cultivation of brown mould that hurts them slightly. As the consorts scout further, they come across a collection of rubble blocking easy access into a chamber containing a sickly jungle of bracken and mouldering, rotten forest. They report back to Jurak who stands appalled at the description.

Moving into the body of the cave, some consorts spot the first pit trap and easily disable it. Past the pit, a collection of four assassin vines are disturbed but the bard, Calliaste, speaks to them in plant with a spell and convinces the vines to stand down. The flora, lacking minds, care only for food, making a confrontation inevitable. While the battle rages, one of the consorts is claimed, throttled. However, the vines are hacked to pieces and the battered party continue.
Juraek is forced to turn back after discovering the passages have become too narrow and so Calliaste leads the band further in. It does not take them long to reach the Boggard village.

Gathering on the edge of the village, Lillend flies into the air and hangs twenty feet above the ground to gain a better view when suddenly, a boggard leaps from a hut and releases a horrible and incredibly loud croak, affecting 4 consorts with fear. Two shaken consorts attempt an attack but they are both feeble in the light of this sudden shock. Boggards begin pouring out of the huts. Some of the consorts become even more unnerved and flee, the boggards pursuing and dealing strike after strike, their accuracy a testament to the Horn.
Meanwhile, the Azata grabs a boggard in her tail, grappling and constricting him as she rises higher. Her grip tightens like an anaconda’s coils and soon, the little frogman’s body can stand it no longer and his entrails explode from his soft belly and spill out onto the floor below. With her cohorts in retreat from fear, she become invisible and flies away. The boggards cheer and only pursue her a little way before turning back, satisfied with their victory.

Log #26

On the dawning of the twelfth week, Vaelus hears from his cohort that an Inquisitor, following the trail of burning villages left behind in the wake of the work of the other Knots, has followed the rumours of sedition and acts of destruction to Farhold like a trail of breadcrumbs, bringing with him an enclave of fire hardened soldiers. These are not simple treasure hunters any more, these are warriors, men and women who’s job it is to face some of the most twisted faces of evil in Talengarde.
The barge pulls into the dock and half a dozen heavily armoured men and women step off. According to Avagail, some of them the new arrivals have been hired to bolster the keep at Hammerhold. It is a full day until they set off into the Bryr. There is still no word from Ellise and the 7th Knot.

The Inquisition head not for the Horn but arrives at the ruin south of the Horn. However, thanks to Vengillian, the Heroes are surprised to find the teleportation throne has been destroyed. Ven’s foresight has clearly paid off as it turned out Father Matthias performed heated research in the abbey and discovered all about the history of the Horn, including all the teleporters. As there is no alternative open to them, the group heads for the second floor, the realm of Vaelus.

Thomas the Penitent, a rouge by trade, manages to stay on his feet as the opening log trap swings down. The physics fights the man and very nearly knocks him from the stairs, but Thomas stance holds firm. As he begins to disable it permanently, unscrewing the brackets from the ceiling, bolts begin to fire through the arrow slits that line the walls. As the Bloody Skeletons begin to harry the Heroes, Leges, who is also in the area, prepares to spring.

As the cleric, Armand Vyte, tries desperately to return the crossbow bolt fire, he casts holy smite, blasting the skeletons and the wizard with holy energy. The balst wounds and blinds one of the Crusader Bones as well as Ven’s cohort, Guinaverre but Leges and the other undead creature manage to take shelter and take fewer wounds. The cleric then backs away and orders the soldiers forward.
The arrows from the Pillar of a Thousand Arrows begin it’s opening volley and sink into flesh but only Thomas succumbs slightly to the poison. Leges creates first a sound like a roaring creature roll through the corridor and then follows up by creating a sophisticated illusion which makes it appear a massive seven foot demon appears from the corner, holding a small nine year old girl in its horrid arms. The lead soldier fires an arrow at it but just barely notices the arrow slide through the image before a replica appears in the ‘wound’. He senses it is an illusion. Hoping that the predictable nobility of there Heroes will have them run head long into the pit, Leges leaves the ambush room, casting Infernal Healing on himself in the process as he sets up position in the throne room. The illusion continues to roar and challenges the soldiers as it begins cruelly hurting its tiny victim, but one of the Heroes casts detect magic and determines the school; Illusion, not Conjuration.

As the arrows continue to fly, the Heroes have great difficulty dispatching the undead. Poison courses through veins, blood drips to the floor, the skeletons crack like dried wood as arrows glance off their targets and the screams and curses of wounded men ring through the level once again, just as it had done decades before.

Suddenly hitting upon an idea, Ven and Leges use the teleporter to move to level 3 then run to the entrance stairs. Guinaveere who is already looking down on the Heroes who are still gathered on the outer stairs, fires an arrow at the cleric, Vyte. Vyte fires a searing light back up at her and she gets hit. At that point, one of the guards, riddled with arrows, succumbs to the final element of poison and collapses unconscious. An order suddenly comes to retreat and the body is dragged out.
Thomas works furiously, so close to permanently destroying the log trap. His veins pump with the Death Angel Fish venom, his head rings and he dares hope he can succeed, needing only a few more seconds when he too falls unconscious, so close.
Yet another soldier falls to the poison as the group begins to run down the stairs, however Ven and Leges have reached the entrance to the third level by now and as the human ignites his oil soaked armband and launches himself into the air, the half-elf casts a Wall of Fire down the length of stairs. Everyone goes mad with panic as the sheet of violet flame scorches everyone as they run down the length of the wall. None can see through the wall and the pain is unimaginable as the Inquisitors at last feel the burning pyre they had set against so many heretics in the past.
The cleric and leader, Father Mathias, blind from being in the flames sees not where is safe to step, panics and runs off the edge of the stairs tumbling over a hundred feet and dies in a sickening smouldering crunch.

As a soldier runs back into the corridor, escaping the flames, Vaelus suddenly swoops down from the air, carried by infernal flight and cleanly slices the man down as he passes. The final guard, seeing his friend and battle-brother fall to the sword, turns and with the power of Mitra filling his heart, leaps spectacularly over the pit just as Leges’ demonic illusion disappears, expired. The man attacks the arrow trap and Leges silently drifts through the wall of flames, his flesh lapping up the delightful inferno with pleasure and fires a lightning bolt at the warrior. To the wizard’s fury, the soldier survives, ducking under the majority of the bolt. Enraged that this mortal dares live longer than desired, Leges flies the length of the corridor, summons forth a spell and delivers such a devastating Force Punch that his hand plunges into the man’s chest, giving him the opportunity to seize the soldiers heart just before the spell’s blast effect sends the man flying backwards down the level, leaving the bloody organ in the wizards hand. Leges releases the organ and cleans his hand with a sweep of his other power infused palm.

On the fourteenth week, a particularly loud and troublesome preacher named Ezikial Hallthron begins preaching a message of unity and resistance against the tide of evil and makes the the Horn a centrepiece for his sermons. He speaks of Mitran-visions and states brazenly that if they wish to avoid the wrath of Mitra, they must band together to stop the evil taint that infests Farhold. At this episcopal peak, he even talks about forming a militia. Clearly he has to go. Vaelus leaves the Inquisitor’s head Ezikeal’s doorstep, but when that proves not to silence him, the Villains plan a more nefarious end. By the time the heart of a devout Mitran believer is required for the ritual, Evil FedEx and Ekklesia, the organisations of Vengillian and Legges respectively, manage to kidnap the man quite easily and bring him to the Horn. As the preachers heart is set into the second bowel next to the first, which is now blackened and withered, yet still beating, the entire Horn begins to shake violently.

The voice of Vetra-Kalli rumbles from the statue: “I see” in Abbysal and suddenly, darkness sweeps across the land as if the suns light itself had been banned from touching the earth for an entire day. The ritual is now half way completed.

Log #25

The Baron’s Birthday Banquet is a relatively dull affair for the Villains. As Leges planted useful rumours about the Horn, hoping to spread dangerous levels of misinformation about it, Vengillian met up with Elise, leader of the 7th Knot and they each updated the other on recent activities. For reasons unknown to all but himself, Ven took great pride in stoking the fires of envy within Elise’s heart, knowing she desperately wanted to be the one to finally summon Vetra-Kalli and claim the honour. However, Ven did take note that Elise and the Baron were on practically intimate terms, sharing a great deal of familiarity. The two were suspiciously comfortable with each other and Vengillian’s paranoia flared incessantly like a great and powerful itch as the half-elf smelled conspiracy and potential treachery.

A week later, Elise sent word that a new batch of adventurers were arriving by boat, planning to assault the Horn soon yet was uncertain when they would arrive.

The adventure’s climb to the Second level of the Horn, Vaelus’ level. As the rouge, Tasker Twelve-Knives, went first, he failed to notice the trip-wire at his feet as he entered and tripped the mechanism which sent an enormous swinging log flying from the dark ceiling, striking him flat in the chest and throwing him off the stairwell, sending him plummeting from the Horn. However, by some miracle of Mitra, he somehow survived the 150 ft fall… but only just. The cleric, Traya DeMarco, healed him a little and Tasker imbibed a moderate healing potion before the Heroes began their second attempt.

All was dark save for the light spell that Hassan J’raaq possessed as he took point, past the now disarmed log trap. Suddenly though, a loud click emanated from a column directly up ahead and it began to fire volleys of arrows down the length of the corridor! While three arrows sailed passed Hassan, they did find a mark in Tasker (who was standing just behind) and she sucumbed to the poison as well and her constitution began to creep back.

Tasker ran forward, hoping to get out of the firing lane… and fell through the floor! Unbeknownst to the Heroes, Vaelus had set an illusionary floor over the pit. In the chaos, Hassan didnt notice, seeing as the floor was still intact. Tasker fell through into the cage on the floor below, and after a sickening thud, did not stir –ever again.
The Thousand Arrow trap ceased as soon as it had no one to fire at, yet no one owned the understanding as to how it could do this. Seeing as Hassan didnt see Tasker fall, he assumed that Tasker was waiting for them around the corner. He crawled on his belly across the floor, avoiding the murder holes in the walls… and followed his friend through the floor, as he too fell. However, Hassan had the good sense to secure a rope around his waist before he did so and his friends held firm. They pulled him back up and as he crawled back out, they realised the floor is an illusion.

Knowing that it was hopeless, the opening corridor apparently unassailable, they went back down to level 1, Leges’ level, hoping for an easier time.
As they entered, it did not take Blastbane long to smell the oil which soaked the walls. She silently praised herself as she threw her torch in, igniting the walls and waited for the accelerant to burn off. As she ventured into the corridor, the praise turned to curses as she walked straight into the path of a lightning bolt that lanced from the far side of the corridor as soon as she met the bend.
Traya DeMarco cast Protection from Energy on Hassan who then tried to burst the set of iron bars that blocked the way, but she was not strong enough to overcome them. Again she was struck but her abjuration protection defended her. Posca the Merchant, being a sorcerer, tried to use Scorching Ray on the bars but the spell lacked the power to harm the metal.
As the dungeon’s wrath laied low several Heores, the others fled the Horn, abandoning their equipment and vowing forever to renounce the ways of adventuring in favour of a simpler, duller life.

Within Farhold, the rumours of a wandering serial killer transmogrified from the whispered murmurings held in sewing circles and pubs to a local frenzy of fear and dread. These almost drowned out the talk of a great silver dragon which had been sighted in the area —almost.
After this however, news from Farhold ceased and Vengillian’s fears that Elise had withdrawn her assistance to the Villain’s seemed confirmed for now.

Log #24

Kill Count:-
Vaelus: 0
Leges: 0
Xun: 2
Vengillian: 0

The next stage of the ritual is at hand, a loyal sacrifice. Halthas the Flayer is led to the height of the Horn by the Villains, totally unaware of what was expected of him. When the time came and the literal sword of his damnation hung above his head, each of the Villains took gleeful pleasure as Leges plunged the blade through his chest, carved the heart from Halthas’ chest and carefully placed it into the sacrificial bowel of the alter statue.
As the blood pooled in the bottom of the basin, the entire Horn shuddered as a great voice called forth from the statue: ‘I hear’
As the Abbysal words reverberated in the Villain’s ears, ghostly green flames flared into reality and coated the exterior of the Horn. The Villain’s soon discovered with swelling joy that these flames, while causing the Horn to resonate as a vast beacon for all to see, also blocked all magical messages and teleportation within and without the fortress. While Farhold is now aware of the Horns revival, the strategic advantages are quite evident.

A week later, a message reaches the Villains from their contacts in Farhold:
“A group of adventurers is headed your way. Local heroes. Poor equipment. Little experience. Plan to arrive in three days. The dwarf has been to the Horn before and said something about entering the caves. Prepare them a proper welcome, will you? —Z.”

The Heroic adventurers who tasked themselves with exploring this new dungeon had no idea as to its significance or formidability. All they senses was great wealth within its walls.
As the party move through the caves, they fall prey not only to the spiked pit traps that Xun had dug, but also a more nefarious trap, groves of Brown Mould planted strategically throughout the network of passages which fed on the body heat of living creatures (as well as that which radiated from Hallack Amon’s torch)

Yet the real peril approached when the Heroes, nursing relative bruises, stumbled upon the Boggard Village. As they wandered into the village, Yorgan the dwarf took note that the huts were made from straw saying: ‘With all this stone around they make their huts out of straw? We’re dealing with primitive people here guys’
At this, James O’Tool set his torch to a hut and the Boggards attack! As the amphibious nation poured forth in the flaring light of the flaming thatch, their ominous croaking struck terror into the hearts of the Heroes who fled as Boggard spears bit deep. As they fled, the master of the caverns appeared, his skin pale, almost sickly, cultivations of foul mould and fungi literally crawling over his body and his long, seratted knives flashing in the torchlight. Xun charged in, flanking the Heroes and felled several before pursuing the others.
All died in short order and only the Cleric, Sister Marta, managed to put up a valiant fight. But the Boggards soon overpowered her as they swarmed over her and she dieed in a great pool of her own blood, her body riddled with wounds.

Not one Boggard perished in this assault and a great cry and croaking echoed through the caverns. The Villains celebrated in their own dark ways as to the resounding success of their defences and prepared for the next, no doubt stronger wave of repulsive representatives of virtue to come and smash into their infernal wall.

Some weeks later, a new message from the 7th Knot arrived:
“New adventurers in town calling themselves ‘Brendam’s Breakers’. They have been broken. No further difficulties. — Z”

In addition, Tiadora informs the Villains that the Baron will be having a ball to celebrate his 105th birthday and advised them to attend. It could prove a useful setting to gather intelligence about Farhold.

Log #23

Kill Count:
Vaelus: 0
Ven: 0
Xun: 1

Days go by as the Horn is gradually repaired in the image of those who govern the floors. Xun commanded the lower caves, Leges the first floor, Vaelus the second and finally Vengillian opted to oversee the third floor as well as the summoning chamber.

Over the course of the week, the Villain’s begin to assemble their resources. In Farhold, Vengillain sets up his very own business with the help of the Baron. Meanwhile, Vaelus conducts reconnaissance and scouts our the nunnery. It transpires that the Abbas, the head of nunnery, isn’t as pious as her title would imply. Sent there ten years ago as a kind of punishment, the young woman fell pregnant as a teenager so, amidst the town embarrassment, the baby was taken away and she was sent to be a nun. Through his subtle charm and manipulations, Vaelus wins himself a personal ally in the Abbess and a valuable mole into the dealings of the demon-slaying brides of Mitra.

Some days later, the Villains decide to go out on what was essentially a safari with the intent of capturing a creature for the Horn.
Out to the ruined fort, they found the tracks of a large jungle cat. Encouraged by the size, following the tracks along the river the Villains came across a cave with the sounds of eating coming from it, the dire tiger inside was very large and was enjoying a fresh kill.

After Vaelus feeble attempts to tame the creature with his Ranger skills, Leges attempts to trap it by stepping forward and summoning a pit beneath the beast, but the tiger leapt away with astonishing grace, charged and began to ravage Leges hard about the face, neck and chest, taking him from full health to the edge of his life in almost no time at all!
Ven attempted to pull Leges free while Vaelus attempted to punch at the tiger but both were unsuccessful. Both were forced to back away and the tiger shreds Leges to pieces!

With the rest of the party in front of it now, it went for Vaelus. Everyone swung at it, hurting it somewhat but the sheer ferocity of the beast surprised everyone. Through the screams and roars, claws teeth and steel, Vaelus was brought close to death himself. Given another few seconds the half-elf which survived Brandescar and the scorching of Balintyne would be a meal for a dire tiger. However, a fiercer, deadlier predator had already positioned himself and Xun brought his knives across the creatures neck and flanks, cutting it open and spilling it’s blood.
Ven quickly manages to stabilise the animal and the three of them manage to ferry the unconscious body back to the horn where they tend to it, ensuring that it’s health would return in due time.
Once back in the Horn, Vaelus used his new connections in the nunnery to acquire a scroll of resurrection which was used to revive Leges.

The group steal themselves to push on with the defences

Log #22

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

The 200ft L shaped corridor that outlines the throne room has an incredible level of detailed murals depicting the history of the pale horseman and Leges and Xun (who speak Abyssal) discover that with a full day of study, they would be able to decipher the components necessary to summon a heinous creature from the lower planes. Each day of study will reveal a new creature that can be summoned. Everyone is quite excited by this news yet it will demand time and resources and while time was in abundance for now, money was short.

Meanwhile, through his experimentations with the throne, “V.A.H.” sends Vengillian from the second level and teleports him to a small ruined guardhouse/watchtower in the Bryr! Vaelus tries it and flies vertically upward and finds he is a mile or so south of the Horn. As he notes this however, the wind suddenly picks up and as he steadies himself, looking up, Vaelus sees a great flying shape soar past heading north and Vaelus realises it’s a dragon! This causes a great deal of excitement and speculation amongst the party and they make a note to seek the dragon out at some point. Depending on its alignment, it could be a superb ally… or a terrible foe.

After they fly up to the next level and are about to step into the corridor, Cogito, Leges’ familiar, is the only one who spots the trap is before them. Thanks to Xun’s skills he renders the pit safe to cross and spares one of his colleagues the 50 foot drop. The Villains spread out and explore the floor.

Vengillian finds a small circle etched into the flagstones in a clerical meditation chamber. The inscription is a repeating pattern of “N.E.N” which is quickly confirmed to be another teleportation site.
The main shrine in the north wing of the relatively small floor is a spectacular sight with four intricately carved alters and a huge amount of Abbysal script and images painted across every available surface.
The first alter is white and depicts open pits of the dead and lepars crying in anguish.
The second alter is blood red and depicts images of carnage and unholy slaughter
The third alter is jet black and is adorned with images of mortals suffering an eternal hunger and a long slow death of starvation. Finally, the fourth alter is green, its surface dominated by a skull with two coins over its eye sockets. In addition, there is a pale horse, representing Death.
In the center of the wall is a relief of Vetra-Kalli holding 3 blades, a strange jagged key and a vial which everyone realizes is a representation of the Tears of Aklace

In their hunt for more command words, Ven with Xun discover a secret room concealed in the easter wall however beyond the door is a room with nothing in it but debris. The door also carries with it a conjuration (teleportation) aura about it. Yet when Xun says “Hail Vetra-Kalli” as suggested by Ven, they open the door to find it is no longer empty! A horrible apparition and our lesser spawn are there guarding a sizable fortune. Ezra Thrice Damned and his four spawn have been tasked with guarding “the Master’s treasures” and demands an explanation, threatening to kill the Villains for intruding. Fortunately, between Ven and Vaelus, by explaining they want to re-summon Vetra-Kalli and only wish to function in the service of Asmodeus, the creatures mood improves significantly and reveals that he has the third and final Eye necessary for the ritual to begin. After a tense and heated negotiation, Ezra swears loyalty to the group and their goals so long as a blood oath is made. All agree save for Leges who refuses to give up his blood for the oath. After yet more negotiation, Leges reluctantly relents yet makes a mental note to kill Ezra for claiming his godly flesh. Once all had been sworn, Ezra bowed to his new patrons requirements and gave up the trasure to their possession.

Of the Eyes: the Eye of Hatred allowed the bearer to detect any spell of a Mitran worshipper within the Horn and, if accompanied by the Eye of Vigilance, also would reveal where the spell was cast.
The Eye of Withering, if covered in the blood of a sentiant creature, would reveal its true nature and is the primary focus in summoning Vetra-Kalli. When placed in the alter, it will create a huge desecration effect that will affect the entire Horn and activate the beacon.

Amongst the treasure are two curious items: two non-magical iron plates marked in abysal “Attikas” and “Andian”. Their meaning and function are a total mystery. Continuing on towards the Summoning Chamber and the final level, the Villains are shocked when two large shaggy horned demonic bears with “Hextor” and “Vextor” name plates hanging from their necks materialized spontaneously just shy of the spiral stair case and assaulted them! As one of them began to brutalize Xun, Leges fired a scorching ray demanding to know who possessed the iron plates. Vaelus commanded the Coesto Daemons to cease hostilities and to stand down and with their True Names revealed, the creatures obeyed fearfully.

In the sanctum, there is a huge statue of Vetra-Kalli that is bound in chains as well as a glowing holy Mitran seal the crackles with divine energy. The area is rather crampt for the Villains and yet no sooner had they begun to consider their next move, a huge lightning elemental materialised from the ether and attacked.
The thing attacks Vaelus and Vengillian quite savagely and the two half elves tear into it, amazed at the creatures ferocity.
Xun finds he can barely keep up with the sheer speed at which this thing born of the element of Air moves with and barely managed to dodge through the lancing bolts of energy to reach a better position.
However, as the air is filled with the sound of crackling electrical power and the savage swoosh of swords, Leges delivers a carefully aimed fireball into the creatures back and then lets fly four magic missiles. The relatively small orbs of force strike like stones upon Goliath’s forehead and the mighty elemental collapses and dissipates.

With the final sentry defeated and slain, everyone begins to wonder what would happen if one of them touched the alter. It was impossible to know exactly how serious the protection of the statue was without someone experiencing it first hand. It was then that someone suggested Leges should be the one to try. Leges was very hesitant to agree seeing as that the energy that radiated from it made him feel queasy even from a distance. However, trusting in his divinity, he walked over to the alter and boldly pressed his index finger into the seal. A great jolt of holy energy coursed through his body, causing great rents in his flesh and soul but the god-wizard’s fortitude stood as a mountain against the lightning flash and while the scorching he sustained were severe, they could not claim his life.
Vaelus was obviously impressed by the courage displayed
‘Okay, you have balls’
’Don’t ever forget it.’ came the reply from the deadly stern and defiant glare of Leges ‘I am the Leges, look upon me and see my divinity. I am a god amongst mortals!’
‘I hope that didnt hurt your boot making arm’ Vaelus returned with a selfish smirk
‘Vaelus, if I wanted to, I could throw those boots off that balcony right now’
’I’d kill you if you did’
‘Then we shall both attempt to kill the other, only I am not so limited in that regard’

Log #21

The mission to gather the Tears of Acklace from the Daemon Vetra-Kali begins. As Leges’ familiar informs the wizard on as much detail of the room as possible, Leges carefully begins setting about his plan. First, he and Ven cast the Light cantrip on two very small pebbles and Leges’ familiar pushes them through the narrow crevice and positions these light sources around the chamber in order to provide the most illumination as possible. Leges then casts Clairvoyance, providing the wizard with a 360 degree view of the sanctum. After examining the various objects that are of value, Leges is pleased to discover that the crevice can accommodate each object one at a time. Because of this, it is a simple matter of casting Unseen Servant and ordering the invisible, shapeless mass to carefully fetch the objects.
The Eye of Vetra-Kali is an exquisitely fine emerald with a strange, shifting, swirling mass within it’s centre, giving the distinct impression of life. However, it is the book, The Dirges of Apollyon, which cause Ziccomo, the Boggard Shaman, to begin to dance and cry out in excitement. After a moment of hesitation as to what may lay within these pages, Leges opens the cover and begins to read, discovering that it is a history of the Pale Horseman and their attempt to reshape Talingarde with the help of Vetra-Kali Eat the Eyes, transforming it into a haven of darkness. However, on the back cover, the organised print is replaced with a handwritten note which read:

“_Behold our shame that we, the Sons of the Pale Horseman, failed in our darkest hour to defend our prince the undying and ever malevolent Vetra-Kali Eats-the-Eyes. But I have seen it! I have seen the road to repentance! 666 prayers. Three per day will break the hated Seal. With each prayer bathe the seal in unholy water and intone the dirge. At the stroke of midnight each day call forth the Supplication to Darkness. Pray to the darkness so that we shall be forgiven. Upon the first midnight make the first sacrifice, one of our own blood so that Vetra-Kali will know we are repentant. At the first light of each dawn call forth the Cursing of the Light. Answer the spread of the shining lord’s light with our unyielding defiance. Upon the 111th Curse make the second sacrifice, a true believer of Mitra so that the cursed god of the invaders will know that we fear him not and that his power to hold our master at bay is ending. At dusk as darkness returns each day cry forth the Call Across the Void. Recite the name of Vetra- Kali so that he may hear us and return. With the final Call offer the third sacrifice — one of the Victor’s own blood. By the same blood that caged him so shall our master be freed. Let ye with wisdom understand. Once the final prayer is uttered upon the 222nd dusk, Vetra-Kali will begin his long traverse across the great wheel. At the stroke of midnight on that day he will emerge into his Sanctum and the Seal shall shatter. Blessed day! Be ready, my brothers. His eyes have been stolen from him. Return them and the Prince will honor ye with one task for each. For the Eye of Vigilance ask only for his mercy upon we mortals and plead that he do ye and yours no harm. For his wrath will be great. For the Eye of Hatred ask for his greatest gift — the Tears of Achlys so that once more every corner of the world may know his mercy. For the Eye of Withering ask what ye will for in his gratitude he must answer your charge. And then behold, the Prince restored. All shall know his blessings of pestilence and despair. -R.Kappelbrenner_”

With the party realising that the summoning will require at least seven months as well as various other necessities, a fortress was required that could keep them securely while allowing for the summoning of Vetra-Kali. The Horn would do nicely and Ziccomo offers to show them around the entire complex.
After being shown the rest of the caves, the Villains ascend the winding staircase that hugged the exterior and came to the 1st floor. There, they discovered a forge, a torture chamber, a fairly large cage, an alchemical lab with a damaged alchemical golum husk and a very large throne room with demonography symbols festooning the walls and pillars. After some examination, Leges discovers that the throne has a conjuration (teleportation) aura surrounding it.
Not ar from the throne room are a set of rooms, a fountain of eternal water, a room which prevents all foodstuffs from decaying or succumbing to the passage of time and even a pub called the Death’s Head Tavern!

On the next floor up, the Villain’s discovered a note written in Abyssal telling the reader to evacuate, to head to the throne room and that the upper floors are lost and that the stairs are a death-trap. It is signed, Y.A.H, the same as the letters on the throne.

After some time, the Villain’s come to a room which only contains a statue with no head. After some debate, the party apply some stone salve and place the head they found earlier upon the statue. It comes to life and it turns out to be a formally petrified man named Halthas the Flayer, a Pale Horseman, a torturer (Death Priest) acolyte. It turns out he was petrified by a Mitran Vicar during the fighting and in Halthas’ pouch there is another Eye!

A stones throw away, there is a second throne room with a different set of initials on the throne. It is Vengillian who works out that the three letters engraved upon the thrones are in fact the command words for the teleportation system. Disappearing and appearing between both thrones, Ven begins to experiment with the Abyssal alphabet (with Leges’ help) trying to discover the codes for the other thrones.

Log #20

Kill Count:-

Vaelus: 2
Leges: 1
Xun: 0
Ven: 1

As dawn rose over the Bryr, the sounds of the night switched to the sounds of the day as the Villains began their day. Progress was good as they ventured on and the Villains all make incredibly good time and as the late afternoon sun was just considering to wane, the Villains saw the enormous spires that indeed defined the Bryr. These overgrown natural monoliths were hundreds of feet high and yet almost totally identical to each other, begging the question of how would the Villains distinguish their spire to the others. No matter, onward the Villains treked until evening was beginning to approach.
As the Villains began to evaluate a potentially good camp site in a simple clearing, a cloud of spores drifted towards them from a copse of trees to their left. The spores suddenly drifted into the Villain’s midst and all but Xun begin to experience pleasant, calming hallucinations. The forest around them appearing to shift and warp before their senses and this only served to frame the voice which accompanied the spores in a silver light when it drifts towards them.
A radiant, wondrous female voice wafted towards them on the breeze and yet once again only Xun understood the melodic tones for he is the only one who understands Sylvan. Despite not knowing what the woman’s voice was saying, Vaelus began to wander closer as his mind and body relaxed into a glorious tranquillity unbefitting his newly acquired half-fiend traits.
As Vaelus and Leges succumbed to the warming relaxation, Ven decided to cast Comprehend Languages upon himself and after a brief exchange of words, droped his weapons as the voice seemed to suggest. It was now that the predator decided to pounce.
Suddenly rushing towards the edge of the copse, the Hangman Tree launched several vines towards Vaelus and two grip him tightly across the chest and around his throat! The charming effect of the spores shatters within his mind yet so potent are the spores that Ven and Leges merely look on.
But Xun took advantage of his liberty and leapt forward, slashing into the Tree’s bark in such a devilish fashion that he even managed to carve his own name into the Tree as a part of his flourish.

With the Tree distracted, the flow of spores ceased and Ven and Leges broke free from the mind-affect. Revenge is in order! As Vaelus struggled to free his neck, Leges let fly a Scorching Ray and Ven charged, both Villains hit yet it is to Xun that the Hangman Tree turns to, more vines from the willow binding the elf tightly despite his wiring blades. As Vaelus’ called upon his fiendish attributes, his jaw seemed to suddenly buckle and the sound of crunching bone reverberated through the clearing as the half-elf’s jaw mutated and extended into a hideous, dripping maw that he turns to the Tree with. Vaelus gnashed at his attacker in fury for the insult of being grappled. He is the Reaper of Balyntine and no tree will get the best of him!
Suddenly, a great stream of vines lunge outward and this time ensnare Leges and Ven as well! Now each of the Villains are struggling for their lives!
Fortunately, both Ven and Leges managed to free themselves almost immediately and quickly backed away out of the Tree’s reach, Ven preparing for one final, desperate charge, Leges preparing himself for a mighty spell. The wizard extended his arms to his sides and suddenly brought them together hard in an arcane gesture. His hands met and the sound of thunder rolled menacingly across the forest. As his hands parted, a crackling blue bolt of electricity spanned his palms and with his dark voice summoning the final powers from the multi-verse, Leges launched the Lightning Bolt towards the Hangman Tree were it split the creature in half, tearing it open and sending an explosion of shards and splinters to shower the area. Exploration of the copse discovered some of the decayed remnants of the Tree’s victims as well as a jade necklace, a ruby ring and a handful of coins. The party rested well that night.

Upon the third day, the Villain’s knew that they drew near to their prize and it was barely passed the midday when they let out a collective cheer as they found the spire they have been searching for.
As they approached the spire, an enormous tree uprooted itself and began to approach. With the party having quite enough of moving trees, they each prepared to attack yet the tree stood clear of them and ordered the party to turn away. It warned that the Horn of Abbadon was nearby and that it was a source of great evil. It was the guardian of the Horn. After a brief discourse, Vaelus wove an exquisite lie, stating that they were on their way to the Sea of Skies. The tree appeared to buy this falsehood and wandered off.
After a bit of discussion, Leges cast Invisibility Sphere and the entire party managed to all promptly walk through the cave entrance with the guardian totally unaware.

Inside the cave, they entered together and saw two frog-like humanoids apparently standing guard. With the invisibility bubble still active, Vaelus and Ven suddenly leapt out and slew both frogmen in one fell swoop each before disappearing back into the bubble. The Villain’s couldnt help but praise their ninja-skills.

As they were the only individuals with Darkvision and fearing more frogmen ahead, Vaelus and Xun began to scout the passages ahead. Soon it split into several paths and each man decided to take a passage each.
Xun’s passage lead to an open chamber where patches of startlingly beautiful luminescent mould clung to the walls and glowed an enchanting light.
Vaelus meanwhile discovered a small chamber which contained a pool of eerily clear blue water. Within the water were tiny blue fish with pale blue scaly fins and with Leges’ help, they discovered that these were in fact Death-Angel fish. They realised together that they could harvest the powerful paralysing toxin therein and possibly even farm these fish for a sustainable supply!

The party then continued on together and the passages begin to narrow significantly as they twisted and wound their way north-east. To their left, a small chamber thick with the bones of both animals and sentient humanoids was discovered —something doubtlessly lurked close by.
Further on, Vaelus found yet another chamber with another pool of water, this one harbouring the Death-Angel fish young. After a quick snack, Vaelus turned and was met with the stoic eyes of a strange tentacled frogman statue. This is identified by Leges as the Demon Lord Daggon, Lord of the Sea, God of the Boggards and Merfolk. The strange figure had the upper body of a humanoid and the lower torso of a green scaled fish.
Close by, the passage opened up again and there appeared to be a small village nestled within, huts and footprints suggesting the occupants were close by. It is now that Vaelus decided on an ambitious plan.
Disguising himself as the god depicted from the statue, Vaelus walked into the village to everyone’s surprise. Immediately, Boggards begin streaming out of huts and side passages and before long, Vaelus was surrounded by at least thirty boggards! Unfortunately, the disguise wasn’t as convincing as Vaelus had preferred and the chieftain demanded answers. Realising that he might have erred, Vaelus droped the disguise and suddenly issued a challenge to the Chieftain for leadership of the village. The Chieftain was rather taken aback by this but accepted, expecting a quick kill; he got one. With each strike the Chieftain made, Vaelus’ Crane Style deflected the blow and delivered another. On and on this went, the Huntsman effortlessly deflecting each attempt on his life and striking the Boggard chieftain until the frogman’s body finally gave out and collapsed in a bloodied heap.
Fortunately for Vaelus who was still hopelessly outnumbered, the village Shaman was far friendlier and chose to honour the Villains for their bold venture, stating that he was eager to see the reawakening of Ventricali Eats-the-Eyes and quickly submitted himself as an ally to the Villain’s intentions.

The Shaman then took the Villains to the location of the Horn, a tiny crevice in the rock at the back of the fungal room Xun first discovered. There was no door and no obvious means of entry yet as the others begin to scratch their heads as to how to confront this problem, Leges merely smiled.
With the crack being too small for any humanoid, it was quite accessible to Leges’ scorpion familiar, Cogito.

Inside the 20ft square room beyond the wall, a beautiful orb stood on a plinth in the back. A lime-encrusted skeleton leant against the wall nearby, the shards of a broken potion bottle at its feet. A book was also nearby the former adventurer, labelled: “Dirges of Apollyon”. Thanks to Cogito’s description of the rooms layout, the party realised that the the man must have used a potion of Gaseous Form to gain entry, yet was unaware such a spell did not allow the manipulation of solid objects whilst in the gaseous state. Once the potion’s effect expired, the poor fool had no means of escape and so died there having gained his prize, yet at the same time gaining nothing but a terrible death from starvation/thirst.
Would Leges meet the same fate? Do unforeseen perils lay in wait for any who would attempt to claim the Horn? The Villains would soon find out.

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.


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