Kurama - Ghostwise Halfling / Circle of the Moon Druid
Glib - Kenku / Arcane Trickster Rogue
Boljek - Hobgoblin / Samurai Fighter
Torrent - Tiefling / Tempest Cleric
Pedro Montoya - Human / Fighter, Rogue
Atavan - Human / Mastermind Rogue
Arha - Half-Orc / Oath of Vengeance Paladin
Party Level: 3
A Skirmish On The High Seas
Fifty years have passed since the Torkmund Battalion waged war upon the unsuspecting continent of Erena and the northern capitol of Frostburn was crushed. Though the Knight Owls fought valiantly in the face of the armies, they were not enough to stop the cataclysmic end of the people there.
The world has changed. An age of pirates and corsairs, brigands and cannons, sea monsters and distant lands. The Rooksmith remains an orbiting streak of ruined stone; shredded moonstones that scatter the skies above a tumultuous sea. With the Owls still under scrutiny, eager cadets in the program fall in line behind Captain Straiga aboard the Crimson Butterfly. A curious chronicler in their midst, a kindly young gnome named Dyren, they sail toward the port city of Gatha in the Wilderfall continent called Iliya.
At the dawn of their arrival, the Butterfly is set upon by two pirate ships, eager to take hold of their cargo. The young Owls and their ship dispatch the brigands easily, and finish their journey toward the city.
Iliya and The Iron City
The city of Gatha is marked first by a tall spire of encrusted bone, sinew, and desiccated muscle of various carcasses of sea creatures. It is the first of many wards; like shamanic totems to instill fear into the hearts of those harboring ill will toward the iron port. The totems telescope into the main arch of the dock, and as the cadets enter the city proper, they take note of the all-encompassing sharpened log fence that wraps the entire city. Running up its scaffolding and parapets are discrete battlements; arbalest turrets, small cannons, archer slits. It appears the city requires constant defense against the wicked vine blights that seek to breach the wall.
Upon entering the city, the group discovers their main objective and draws up a contract. They are, with Dyren as their guide, traverse the beginnings of the wild forests and explore an abandoned tomb once believed to be a Yuan-Ti temple. Dyren shares her allowance of 150 gold pieces with the group to help them outfit what they can before heading out, and the group begins to pick up on her curious stutter and vast book knowledge of the island, and the arcane. They attempt to gather materials at two local shops: Skinner's and Chopper's, but come up short for now, save for switching out a blade for an axe.
While getting ready to leave, they witness a stressful moment for the guards as they fight off a sudden surge of deadly vines trying to reach through one of the battlements, drawing scimitars and hacking away at the tendrils before spewing fire breath upon the insurgents. Dyren explains that ever since Gatha was colonized, and it was literally carved into the land itself...the land has been fighting back...
Upon entering the Wilds, Dyren sets to work locating her trail. After a few moments of getting turned around, the group and Dyren discover a set of stones that mark a very long pathway. Each stone holds a simple abjuration rune built to ward away excessive plant growth; it keeps the vines from attacking. She explains that her tribe put these here back when her brother tried to live here. The group asks about her brother, and she explains that he was working as a scribe in the north...before a big monster (a giant turtle) stepped on him; crushed his library, and him with it. She holds him in very high regard as a great wizard who knew what to do to keep others safe...and now that he's gone, it's up to her to do so.
After three hours of movement, Glib can't shake the feeling that the group is being watched... They keep moving, while Dyren panics a little, and the group prepares for a fight. Suddenly, with the snapping of a tree next to Glib, a bladed chain attached to a giant green troll carves into the kenku and a tense fight begins. The group tries not to stray from the path, summoning flaming spheres and firebolts to keep the troll at bay, even as its claws clamp around Glib and drag him into the wilds. But the group is not alone, as a brown Yeti is spotted on the other side of the path. Boljek misjudges and attacks the creature, turning its intent upon the group...which proves to be a poor choice as the group splits in half and tears into the creature. It, severely bloodied, quickly flees from the battle, dragging behind it a giant stone arm. In just a few short rounds, the troll is also defeated, and the lingering flaming sphere keeps the vine blights at bay for Glib to return to the trail.
The Skeleton Harrows
The next leg of the journey proves mostly uneventful. With Dyren as their guide, the party follows her into a desert tundra called the Skeleton Harrows or, according to Dyren's map, "The Desiccated Graveyard." The cadets are surrounded by the skeletal remains of massive creatures, long dead or more recently stripped clean, and an eerie wind is spiraling. The wards keep it at bay, and in the center of a wider end of the path, the group rests and keeps watch. Taking interest in the gnome's excellent map-making skills, Arha and Atavan notice the next forest after this leg of the journey, pointing out the curious bright pink illustration of a unicorn smiling in the forest, before the serpentine temple beyond. Dyren explains that the temple was once believed to be a Yuan-Ti shrine, but she believes a presence of good has kept this at bay.
A few notice the subtle and silent disappearance of some of the massive bones, and movement in the sands beyond. The group tenses, and keeps their movements careful and swift... Before recognizing a few of the wards have been destroyed before the next edge of grassland. The party keeps Dyren from being eaten, but are left with a dangerous twenty feet to sprint across. A found familiar grants a helpful sacrifice to get most of them across (a tiny owl named Ollie 2.0 is snatched in gargantuan jaws), but Torrent delays just a bit too long (and trips) and the enormous bulette clamps down upon her, threatening to drag her under the sand. The group springs to action, dealing enough damage to it to let go, and the group finally arrives at the temple.
A Temple Proper
At the temple's onset, the group finds the remains of two Yuan-Ti abominations, covered by florid gardens, with puncture wounds through the torso. Kurama learns from Dyren that her tribe are mostly made up of rogues and fighters, while only she and her brother had a talent for arcane study. She helps them retrieve a masterwork kris and two silvered javelins from the bodies, before lighting them on fire.
Meanwhile, Arha follows some curious hooved tracks into a forest canopy. A rush of leaves brings the omniscient presence and questioning of a commanding voice. At first dismissive, it informs Arha that it has kept dominion over this land, and has destroyed the abominations on its grounds. "Don't be greedy. Do what is right. There was evil here. I killed it. Do not bring more." Sharing this with an excited Dyren, the group wanders inside.
The temple is beset with winding stairways of great depth, red fluorescent moss, and a curious tapestry depicting a great mage wearing a red gem commanding an army of stone golems...before entering a complex room of pressure plates, arrows, and acid. The group tinkers and tests, avoiding the obvious trap, and Glib and Kurama do their best to disarm the thing. After that, they are blasted by columns of cold breath from mechanical dragon heads powered by sapphires. They dismantle one of them, and step through its casing to find a long set of hallways with a progression of paintings each depicting a pair of hands cradling a red gem. But something is wrong; each pair of hands gets progressively hairier, then transitions back to human, then back to furred, and back and forth, until the last iteration, which is a mess of slashed fabric and stained blood. The corridor ends in another set of stairs.
The group finds themself in a throne room surrounded by stone statues. A voice from the shadows seems first amused by their presence, engaging with Kurama and Torrent, and mentions that he is a servant of the Elking. His role as guardian of his liege's army, awaiting something called the Grand Hunt. Discourse dissolves quickly as glowing eyes bring life to the 14 statues surrounding the throne room and the group begins to fight for their lives. Thinking quickly, Arha spies there, floating above them, a wizard who matches the one depicted in the tapestry, and through a GREAT shot, knocks him to the ground, where the group tears into him. With a roar, his form swells and bends, changing into a giant brown yeti...before Dyren casts grease and he falls prone. Kurama changes into a brown bear and does his best to end the wizard while the others fight to keep the golems at bay, tearing the red amulet from his form and tossing it to Arha... Who proceeds to overcome the tremendous strain upon her psyche to control or halt each residual golem. Sensing his loss of control, the wizard destroys a few of them in an attempt to get away, but Kurama rips him to pieces. Arha sends the other golems to return to their resting state, and the group takes some time to bandage themselves up.
Dyren identifies the amulet as an Amulet of Mass Golem Control and Mind Shielding (manufactured and combined item), and they use it to disarm the remaining traps in the temple, opening up the secondary path from the dragon's breath. In the other room they find a rare set of bonsai-like trees: 2 in Ironwood (currently very rare), and 1 in Elderwood (currently extinct). The trees are very heavy, and the group can only carry two out of the temple (Dyren senses that this is the right thing to do). But before leaving, they drop the amulet into an exposed pit of acid...and watch the soul of the mage burn up inside.
The group plants the Ironwood and Elderwood trees in the forest canopy, and the entity there appears to Arha and Dyren, allowing Dyren to hug the creature (a silver unicorn), before dispersing in a burst of starlight. The trees take root quickly, the Elderwood depositing the first of many seeds into Atavan's hand. The seed keeps the vines from attacking them on the trip back, and they implore the lord of Gatha to plant the seed in the city to keep the vines at bay and bring the Elderwood back to the land.
First contract completed.