Way of the Wicked

Tower of Saintsbridge
Tears of the Blessed - Session 6

It was time to begin the attack on the valley. The ninth knot gathered their forces near the cliffs at the entrance to the valley, about 1000 yards from the tower. Mardoc cast a spell that allowed him to communicate with some of the leaders of the army, and then he, Gardain, Chantra, Damien, Izevel, Raiju and Grumblejack advanced half-way to a spot under the wall, about 500 yards from the tower. While Grumblejack, Raiju and Chantra waited at that spot, the rest used dimensional doors to appear in the fourth level of the tower, just outside the soldiers’ barracks.

The two guards were killed quickly, and Mardoc manipulated the stone of the wall to lock all the guards inside their barracks. Damien sent a telepathic order to the duergar forces to advance and then they headed up the spiral staircase to the roof, where they knew to celestials were waiting. Two quick banishment spells got rid of the celestials before they could react. Also on the roof was a big brass gong, secured by sturdy ropes. No one at the tower would have any chance to operate it.

Mardoc ordered Grumblejack, Raiju and Chantra to advance, and they did, the oni flying through the use of magic and the ogre using his wings, each of them holding Chantra under one of her arms. They tried to sneak on the two soldiers patrolling the east side of the wall, but they noticed them, and attacked. They did not present much of a threat to the trio, though. The pair of soldiers on the western side of the wall were dispatched of similarly.

The party then headed to the third floor, where the elite forces were barracked, as well as the captain of the tower. That fight turned to be a little harder then the previous two, with the Captain doing some real damage to Grumblejack, who had to withdraw from the fight in order to get some healing. The fight involved 6 knights and the captain, with 5 more soldiers climbing the stairs from the floor below to join the fight, but they were never much of a threat to the party.

Climbing down to the second floor, the party noticed that one of the doors leading to the walls was open, and assumed correctly that one of the guards escaped to rally the forces. They were now eager to finish cleaning the tower from defenders so they could open the portcullises and let their army pass. But cleaning the rest of the tower was a doozie, with two small groups of guards and knights populating the guard rooms on the first floor. The two clay golems in the corridor through which the army would pass were also easily destroyed, as they seem unresponsive to Damien’s attacks from outside of the tower.

And so, Mardoc ordered the forces to pass through the gates and into the valley. But as the army was passing, they could already see Mitra’s forces arriving on the field of battle on the other side of the canyon.

GM note:
Since the party managed to take over the tower without the alarm sounding, they gained automatic surprise. They also gained the benefit of positioning their forces on the north side of the wall instead of on its southern side. The defending army, on the other hand, could not muster all of its force on time, and some units are straggling behind, to join the battle only later.

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Izevel
Tears of the Blessed - Session 5

The party went on with the next thing or their agenda – finding and recruiting the medusa. They found her lair easily enough, in the ruined temple of beauty nearby the vale, but recruiting her was a different story. The medusa was having none of those pesky humans bothering her at home. Mad with hatred and loneliness, she immediately attacked them. Mardoc’s and Damian’s sweet talk was having no effect, and only force seemed to work. But in the end, after they knocked her down, they managed to knock some sense into her, and she agreed to join them.

Now, with all their forces recruited, the party continued to make plans for the attack on the Vale.

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The Valley of Valtaerna
Tears of the Blessed - Session 4

Armed with Chantra’s knowledge of the Duergar (and Gardain disguised as a short human), the party still found it difficult to track them, but in the end they encountered a group of twelve Duergar, who agreed to take them to their thane. However, heir leader refused to let their companions, Raiju and the Nessian hellhounds to go with them. After killing their leader, his second in command quickly agreed.

The party was led into the magnificent caverns of the duergar and to their chief, the thane Zashur Arthane. After convincing the thane that they have enough power to demolish the Valley of Valterna, he agreed to withhold his plans to throw them into the deepest dungeon around, and to actually send along his son, Zargun Arzen, and 100 duergar warriors to help them.

After securing the duergars’ help, Gardain, Mardoc, Damien and Chantra made use of the necklaces that Dessiter gave them and went to look at the Valley of Valtaerna. The entrance to the valley was well fortified. A tall wall was blocking the whole valley, and in the middle of it stood a fortified tower. A wide corridor passed through the tower, allowing entrance to the valley. On top of the wall, the party could see a couple of winged outsiders. Once they passed through, the party could see two sets of stairs, one at each side of the tower, leading up to the wall.

The valley itself was serene and idyllic, and the foursome made its way to the town of Sanctum which lay in the middle of it, on the shores of Lake Parynthus. They talked to people, gathered information, and spent the night at a local inn. An attempt to get some information from Brother Nicodemus, one of the high-ups in the valley ended in failure. The next day Chantra did some scouting and tried to search for a way to get out of the valley through the mountains, but that was unsuccessful.

On the next morning the party left the vale. An identify spell revealed that the only magical defense the tower had was a spell that kept the inside of the tower warm and pleasant. Mardoc then used clairvoyance to check the structure and personnel inside the tower.
After that, the party sat for a joyful picnic and discussed passionately how to break the tower’s defenses so they could conquer the vale and murder all its inhabitants.

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Enter Dessiter of the Phistophilus
Tears of the Blessed - Session 3

In the last week of their stay in Ghastenhall, the party sent some of their minions, and those came back with the rumor that there are vampires in the city. It was whispered that Prince Gaius Vestromo has been lurking in the shadows under the city for more than a hundred years. After some investigation, the party arrived at the mausoleum of the Vestromo family in the old Barcan cemetery. There they found a nest of vampires, with Prince Gaius residing over them. Instead of feasting of their blood, Gaius has agreed to what they had to say and finally agreed to lend them ten vampire spawns for the conquest of Valtaerna if they promised to return to him the chalice of Aurelius Vestromo, a family relic that was stolen long ago by the priests of Mitra and was now held in the Vault of Saint Angelo in the Cathedral of Mitra Made Manifest in the valley.

The party has also learned of a clan of duergar that reside in the mountains, and Chantra took her time to study about them in the library, learning more about their location. Furthermore, Mardoc did some communing with Asmodeus, learning some vital information about Valtaerna, including the presence of three “flames” in the valley: the phoenix, The Flame-That-Sings, a Peri, and a wall of flames.

Finally, their month’s rest finished, Tiadora appeared in their mansion and took them to Fireaxe. She teleported them to Castle Westkirk, a partially ruined fortress in the mountains. that was swarming with bugbears, ogres, goblins and more. They were led to Sakkarot who greeted them heartily and suggested they discuss things in his war room. He agree to grant them Hekkarth’s head hunters, which consisted of 100 bugbear warriors, but seemed reluctant to allow them to also take Shaggaroth Night-Mane’s 150 warriors. Damien did some convincing, and at the end of it, Sakkarot relented.

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Sakkarot also suggested they approach the duergar and enlist them to their cause. Tiadora mentioned a medusa that they might convince to join them, and who lives in an abandoned temple not far from the valley. Finally, Sakkarot told them of Raiju, an oni who killed a bugbear chieftain’s son, and was probably as good as dead. They might be able to convince him to join if they could find him.

It was not hard to find Raiju’s room in the castle, and once there, Chantra notice a depression in the bed. They concluded that he is invisible, and started convincing him to join them. Raiju demanded a promise of 250 gold pieces a month. The party was shocked by this high number, but after some unsuccessful attempts of bargaining agreed.

On the next day, the party headed towards the duergars, and sent a message to their minions in Ghastenhall to head towards Valtaerna. When they stopped for lunch, a devil appeared in front them, amid a cloud of sulfur and brimstone smoke. He introduced himself as Dessiter of the Phistophilus and offered his help in conquering the Valley of Valtaerna. He would give them three Nessian hellhounds, and they would agree to destroy all three flames in the valley of Valtaerna and sign a contract to that letter. Having read the contract (which was kinda longish) and finding no fault in it, and considering that they were aiming to do exactly the thing that he has asked, the party agreed and signed the contract. As a parting gift, Dessiter also granted them four necklaces that would help them mask their evil in the eyes of any who can see such stuff.

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No Rest for the Wicked
Tears of the Blessed - Session 2

The next couple of weeks were busy time for the sixth Knot. They kept hunting for rumors, but found nothing of importance except for a rumor of a new magic item shop in town. A quick check by Damien revealed it to be nothing more than a fraud. Damien and Chantra also tried following up on a rumor they discovered regarding a mad killer in White Quarter, but they could find no affirmation that such a killer indeed exists .

Mardoc kept on scrying on Havelyn and on Elise. The former seemed to be still on some kind of quest, and the latter in a big city, gathering new companions. Chantra also researched the valley of Valtaerna in the Library Ghastr so that Mardoc will have a better chance to gain meaningful information when casting “Legend Lore”. Indeed, after casting this spell he discovered that the valley holds three flames: The phoenix, The Flame-That-Sings – a peri, and a flaming wall in the holliest of hollies in the Cathedral of Mitra-Made-Manifest.

Gardain spent his time trying to train a pet parrot and owl that he has purchased, drinking, and fighting in the arena under The Golden Palace – his first opponent was a woolly mammoth, and the second a dire lion. Damien spent his free time frolicking with the maid Eileen and continuing studying battle tactics. The knot’s minions were ordered to continue recruiting, which they did, swelling the knot’s organization to just the size they thought they could handle.

Eileen and another servant fell ill (Eileen twice), and were both cured by Gardain. The party suspected that this is either the result of the Tears of Achlys, or that the immunity to disease they have received from Vetra-Kali was not a complete blessing. When Mardoc examined the patients the seemed to be suffering from different maladies.

Chantra remembered that in the Horn of Abaddon they have discovered a gallery of trophies from people that were disposed by the cult of the pale horsemen. The actual trophies were gone, but the wall was still discolored where the trophies hung, and there were plaques beneath each such trophy location. One of the plaques had the following inscription: “Iris of Ghastenhall, dead from a broken heart and a poisoned dagger”. Underneath the inscription they have found a small ring, clearly intended for a very small finger and had a tiny inscription ‘IoG’ beside an ornate rose. After doing some research, Chantra discovered that Iris was a daughter of the Duke of Ghastenhall who disappeared 80 years ago, searching for adventure. Iris’ father decreed that anyone who produced a proof to Iris’ whereabouts would receive a prize from either him or any of his descendants. Chantra and Damien tried to get an interview with the Duke of Ghastenhall, and surprisingly were accepted, and instead of telling the truth told him that Iris has died of old age not too long ago, and that they have cared for her for the past 20 years. The Duke did not seem very impressed, but agreed to give them a gift after they participate in a ceremony that would clear the mystery in the eyes of the public. A little skeptic, they arrived after a few days to participate in the ceremony and receive the gift – 2000 gold pieeces.

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Meet Vetra-Kali-Eats-The-Eyes
Tears of the Blessed - session 1

All ready, the party started the last ritual to summon Vetra-Kali. Mardoc was the master of ceremony, and after a short and unpleasant dialogue with Sir Darian, he cut out his heart and put it on the altar, where it blackened and shrivelled. Soon after, the abomination that is Vetra Kali appeared, demanding its eyes. For each of its three eyes, the party demanded a favor. First, they demanded not to be harmed in any way by the daemon. For the second eye they demanded the Tears of Achlys, which was handed to them in a vial. For the third eye they asked for immunity to disease.

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The job done, they broke the clay seal and summoned Tiadora. She examined the vial shortly and told them to wait while she fetched their reward and further instructions, in the form of a letter from Thorn. In the letter Thorn instructed them to head to the city of Ghastenhall, where they would meed Barnabus Thrane, a Mitran priest, Asomodean whorshipper, and the sole member of the fifth knot. After handing him the Tears of Achlys they will a month rest, after which they will meet with Sakkarot and receive from him a kernel of an army. They are to build upon this kernel, and after they have an army they should attack the Valley of Valtaren, the most holy place in Talingarde.

After arranging horses and a carriage for their equipment and loot, the party and the few remaining minions they still had started the voyage to Ghastenhall. The voyage lasted more than a week, and in the end of it they have arrived at the second largest city in Talingarde, After finding an inn, they went to Library Ghastr to meet Father Thrane, who was responsible for the library. After asking him “who do you serve?” he replied “only knowledge” and ordered them to meet him tomorrow evening at a lecture hall.

The next day was spent mostly in shopping around Ghastenhall and looking for a more permanent abode for them and their organization. In the evening they met with Thrane and handed him the Tears of Achlys. Strangely, he seemed a little suspicious of the wisdom in Thorn’s plan, but seemed to go along with it. He then told the that he has a villa ready for him – the Crowley Estate, already stocked with supplies and servants.

The party settled in the villa, and each spent the next week not doing much: Damien studied military tactics in Library Ghastr and in his free time started a romance with Eileen, one of the servants, who fell in love with him, despite him masquerading as a fat, jovial merchant. For Damien, though, she was just a plaything. Mardoc mingled a bit with the scum of Ghastenhall in the Golden Palace, the den of any possible vice. He also did some scrying on the sixth knot’s emenies that managed to escape/ Elise Zadaria was in some inn, and doing some shopping, but Sir Havelyn seemed to be in the middle of some quest. Chantra spied on her family business, and Gardain did not do much more than drinking. The remaining minions were told to try and recruit more scum of the earth to their cause, which they did successfully.

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The Story So Far

The party, disguised as members of a church of mitra sanctioned delegation to the lands north of the wall, took around a month to infiltrate, undermine and weaken the forces of Balentyne. They used their wit in order to pitch officer against fellow officer, and subterfuge in order to sabotage the defenses of the fortress. When they were done, all Sakkarot and his forces had to do was stroll in and take out the remaining defending forces. Their victory was complete.

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The party, ready for their next mission, were then taken on a river barge by Tiadora to the town of Farholde, on the northern edge of Caer Bryr, where they were told that the fourth knot was ordered to locate the nearby Horn of Abaddon. The Horn used to be the stronghold of a daemon-worshipping cult that worshiped a fiend called Vetra-Kali Eats the Eyes, a nasty daemon of disease. The cult was wiped out by the meddlesome Mitrans about 80 years ago. The fourth knot were then supposed to bring Vetra Kali back into this world in return for him granting them a disease called Tears of Achlys so they could spread it across the land.

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However, the fourth knot failed in its mission, disappearing in the Caer Bryr. The ninth knot was now ordered to take over the mission, and succeed where their predecessors failed. There to help them, were their acquaintances The White Ravens, better known as the Sixth Knot, led by Elise Zadaria. The Sixth Knot’s mission was to stay in Farholde and supply the party with intelligence, and try to dissuade anyone from trying to interfere.

It was relatively easy for the party to find the horn, a huge pinnacle of rock covered in greenery. In the caves at the bottom dwelled a boggard tribe, which quickly became the party’s minions. The dungeon above those caves was mostly deserted, except a couple of demons called Hextor and Vexor, who were bound to defend the place, and a few wraiths, led by Ezra the Damned, the former leader of “The Sons of the Pale Horseman”, the cult that used to live there. They all became allies of the party. After some investigations, the party discovered that bringing back Vetra-Kali is no meager task, requiring a ritual that takes 222 days, and the sacrificing of three individuals – a follower of Vetra-Kali, a true believer of Mitra, and a blood of the Victor.

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The party started fortifying the fort, and gathering minions from amongst Farholde’s orphans, and then proceeded with the task of summoning Vetra-Kali. The first sacrifice was easy to find, in the form of a descendant of one of the cult members. However, this first sacrifice cause the horn to flare in a green light, alerting everyone in the vicinity that something was going on there. From this point, the party had to be ready to defend the horn against intruders. One such group of intruders included Damien’s own sister Daria who in the meantime became a cleric of Mitra in repentance. The party captured and imprisoned her, but after Damien failed to convert her to Asmodeus, they sacrificed her on the midpoint ritual. Damien was the one holding the knife. Grumblejack had some weird sensations when he entered the sanctum in the Horn, and after drinking from the unholy water in the fountain there he sprouted a pair of wings and horns.

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Another group of invaders was a Mitran delegation, headed by Father Matthias Harkon, whom the party recognized as the inquisitor that tortured them when they were imprisoned. They managed to kill him and his cohorts, but not before the now half-fiendish Grumblejack was killed. In order to preserve his body until they could revive him they put him an the atrium, which had a strong spell in it, preserving anything stored there.

After another group of adventurers, called the Banner Verdant seemed to have inside information, the party started suspecting the sixth knot of double-crossing them. They lured them to the horn and ambushed them. Only their leader, Elise Zadaria managed to escape.

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The party discovered that the commander of the local fort, Lord Valin Darian, was a blood of the Victor, and were trying to think of ways to kidnap him, but Valin came to them instead, along with several knights of the Alerion. All were killed except Sir Darian, which was captured.

The last days before the last ceremony were particularly eventful, with some of the events including a strong tremor that destroyed many of the features of the horn, a mud elemental that killed some of the boggards (the rest of them fled the horn), an attack by an Avoral and several giant eagles, and a Lillend that already tried attacking them once before. Also, the silver dragon Agrossarian tried to attack them but was easily slaughtered, and Ezra the damed and his wraiths tried to take over the ritual and were slain. The last invaders was a group of four adventurers headed by the paladin Sir Richard Thomasson Havelyn, the son of the same Lord Havelyn that was the commander of Ballentyne, and a once bodyguard to princess Bellinda, that had a run-in with Mardoc. With him were Father Carthus Donnagin, the brother of Ballentyne’s priest, Meinhard Mott, the brother of another Ballentyne officer, and the wizard Erik the Falconer. The party was ready for them and killed Donnagin and Mott, but Erik and Richard managed to escape, which seemed strange, since teleporting out of the horn should have been impossible.

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The last thing the party did before commencing the last ritual was reviving a very confused Grumblejack.

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Session 5
First Day in Aldencross

Mardok woke up to the sound of footsteps, the kind that only men that try to be quiet make. He opened the door to his room to a crack and saw Bellam, the Lord’s Dalliance owner, tip-toeing his way in the direction of the stairs leading down to the common room. Mardok did the only thing that made any sense to him. He closed the door and went back to sleep.

In the morning, the party decided to pay ballentyne a visit. It took them half an hour to reach the fort, but the guards didn’t seem too happy to let them into the closed military zone. Instead, they called Captain Franz Mott, only one of several captains in the fort. He seemed a stern and serious kind of fella, but he did engage with them in some conversation. They told him the cover story that they decided on – they are on an errand to try and convert the bugbears to the worship of Mitra. Mardok posed as a Mitran priest and Damien, Chantra and Gardain as his chaperones. They are stuck in Aldencross because they are waiting for some other delegation members to arrive, which could take a few weeks. Mott, on the other hand, did expose some information on the fort. He also promised to let Father Althus Donnagin, the Chaplain of Ballentyne, know that A Mitran priest was looking for him. The party concluded the visit by taking a trip along its northern wall and observing the bridge across the Tyburn river, the bridge spanning it and the gatehouse on its other side.Balentyne.png

After that, the party separated, each member trying to explore and gather information some more. Mardok went to the church and the alchemist shop, discovering that it holds quite a quantity of rat poison. Chantra disguised herself as a little girl and went fishing in a stream that was not too far from the road to Ballentyne, but could not gather any crucial information. Gardain (with the help of Mardoc and Damien) tried to recruit some birds or bats to help him reconnoiter the fort, but not very successfully. Damien worked the crowd in the Lord’s Dalliance and did find out some information. Ballentyne’s commander, Lord Havelyn seemed to command the respect of all the soldiers and is a very efficient officer. Another officer was Captain Varning, who was the leader of the scouts. Another important information learned was that there used to be a tunnel leading all the way from the inn to Ballentyne. That tunnel is now, of course, blocked.

In the evening arrived at the inn a group of dwarven engineers, back from their work at Ballentyne.

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Session 4
Fire-Axe

Traveling up the Taiga River took half a day, and finally, the party arrived at Fire-Axe’s camp, not far from the banks of Lake Tarik. Thousands of bugbears were already assembled there, but there were also fur-clad goblins, the occasional polar bears, and even a few giants. The only place to dock the boat was a crudely made pier. On that pier waited for them six bugbear warriors, who apparently had a taste for human (and dwarven and gnome) flesh. By disposing of the bugbears quickly (one managed to run away), the party prevented more bugbears to join in the fray. Soon, Sakkarot Fire-Axe, an imposing bugbear wearing plate mail and armed with a red greataxe appeared and greeted them welcome, declaring that they should not be harassed or eaten in any way.

Sakkarot held a feast in honor of the arms shipment and his allies. It was a brutal, savage affair with bugbears fighting each other and all sorts of monsters in attendance. The highlight of the party was when a great shaggy dire boar brought in and slaughtered. Grumblejack and a female ogre participated in a courting ritual that included mostly of hitting and throwing spears at each other.

During the feast, Sakkarot and the party engaged in conversation. Sakkarot suggested they leave on the morrow across the lake, in the direction of Ballentyne and the town of Aldencross. The party agreed and decided to leave Grumblejack with Sakkarot’s forces, as they were afraid that he was unsuitable to an infiltration mission.

As the boat neared the southern shore of Lake Tarik, the villains jumped a surprise attack on Odenkirk and his crew. Damien cast darkness on the rear part of the boat, and Mardok cast silence, in order to confuse the sailor and be able to control the fight better. However, in a last moment change of plans, Gardain and Chantra both shot at the Odenkirk, exposing their plan, and letting the sailors know exactly what is happening. A tense fight commenced, with Odenkirk doing large amounts of damage on Gardain. Chantra was also hit and lost consciousness (again). In the end, the party pushed through, slaughtered the whole crew and burned the ship, disposing of all evidence.

It took the party a couple of hours to reach Aldencross, a good sized town of 1800 people. On their way to the inn, they noted the existence of a scrolls shop in town. The Lord’s Dalliance Inn was packed and they had some food before getting a room.

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Session 3
The Frosthamar

The last chamber’s door was locked, but an iron key was hanging on a peg beside the door. They opened the door, and to their surprise found Sir Balin imprisoned inside. In the short conversation that ensued, he claimed that Damien’s sister did not take much convincing in order to betray him. Of course, Damien could see through Balin’s lies and dismissed this as pure hogwash. Getting rid of the inquisitor was easy work, and by the end of it, the party has the needed pendant. Adarastus Thorn was very pleased with their success.
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Following the nine tests began three months of training under the tutorage of the Cardinal and with the help of Tiadora. Once these were over, Thorn held a great banquet in their honor and awarded them the title of the Nessian Knot in a ritual involving blood and fire, and a summoned devil consuming the flesh of a slave chosen by Gardain. When the ritual was done, Thorn announced that they will set out on their first mission the following day. They are to guard a ship carrying arms to a bugbear chieftain named Sakkarot Fire-Axe, located north of the great wall. The captain of the ship, Kargeld Odenkirk was not to be trusted and disposed of as soon as they finished their first task and he brought them to the town of Aldencross, not far from the tower Ballentyne. Then they were to proceed and infiltrate the tower, murder its commander, weaken its defenses and open the gates, allowing the bugbear army to take it by force and start a war with Tallingarde. Gardain was interested to know how they would control the bugbear horde from taking over all of Tallingarde, but Thorn advised him not to worry about that just yet.

The next day they set sail with the unsavory Captain Odenkirk and his rough crew. The going was rough, but the first week of travel was quiet. Not too long after they passed the great wall, though, they were confronted by a patrol ship. Using his considerate persuasion skills, Damien managed to convince the patrol’s captain that they were carrying weapons to Ballentyne. A bit later, they were attacked by several merfolk, their leader mumbling a strange prophecy before dying: “The shining sun has seen the wickedness you hide in hearts. And thus it will be the son who brings your doom.”
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When the Frosthamar passes near some large island, Kargeld tried to persuade them to stop there to get some fresh water, but Damien was adamant that he could supply all the drinking water the crew needed. The captain didn’t like this and tried to argue his point, but Damien and party were resolute on no delaying. Actually, they were so resolute that when a group of Yutak in kayaks appeared, the party refused their attempts at trade.

On that night they encountered a cold front, and when the sailors lighted some torches, they could hear an unearthly laughter from above them. They were then attacked by ice mephits. The sailors were pretty much useless in that fight, but after a hard fight, the party managed to fend off the attack, losing only one sailor to the mephits. On the next day the Frosthamar finally arrive at the ice-choked mouth of the river Taiga.
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