Welcome to the Flaming Faggot

Callovia is called "the boundless empire" yet you have managed to find its northern border - a notorious roadhouse deep within the Madrasan Marches on the edge of the wilds of Llanvirnesse. The sign above the door reads "Flaming Faggot," which would suggest a cozy, homey inn with fresh biscuits served at teatime if not for the severed troll heads mounted on pikes at the gate.

As you cross the threshold the raucous din quiets momentarily as all eyes dart to the door and calloused hands drop instinctively to well-worn sword hilts. The threat, instantly assessed, is dismissed and roadhouse patrons go about their business hardly missing a beat.

Grim, hard-eyed men huddle around tables in close conversation thick with conspiracy; caravan guards gamble away their earnings; Caemric rangers sit close to the fireplace cooking the damp of the Black Annis from their clothes as they warm their innards with Red Dragon Ale; minstrels play and buxom wenches dance for the pleasure of men who pay them little attention - until they need a companion to warm their bed.

As you approach the bar, a huge, bald barman with a greatsword slung across his back slides a mug of freshly-pulled ale towards you, its frothy head dripping over the rim.

"Pull up a seat, lad," he says, "and let me tell you a tale of high adventure."

Friday, April 16, 2010

Session 2: A dark cult reborn?

The adventurers descended into the dungeons beneath the ruins of Gogledd Keep. Inspection of two doors near the base of the stairs revealed a curious revelation - the locks on the doors were clean, oiled, and in new condition - in a ruined keep deserted for a century. Exploring further, the band found a large torture chamber with equipment similarly well-maintained and clean except for occasional splatters of recently dried blood.

There was little time to consider these implications as the group found themselves suddenly cut off by zombies emerging from prison cells in the chamber. Like something out of a nightmare, animated corpses shambled ever closer. They were slow and awkward, but their numbers grew faster than they could be slain and the party was soon surrounded. Arcane bolts flew one after another from Jin's hands until finally rotting hands clutched at his robes and the weight of numbers pulled him down. Theon called repeatedly upon the divine grace of Lir to save his comrades from doom, and Bvar's axe was soon clotted with decomposed flesh. Caitlin, though inexperienced in weapons of war, kept the principal "the pointy end goes in the other guy" and she stabbed repeatedly, fending off the necromantic horrors with her spear.

Though exhausted by their all too close battle with the zombies, the group pressed on with their explorations. Much to their dismay they quickly stumbled upon the lair of a large, ill-tempered ogre wielding a large, spiked club. Fearing that they had pushed their luck too far the party fled, hoping that the ogre would be too large to fit through the doorway of his lair. In their panic they failed to consider that if the ogre was small enough to get into the room it was certainly small enough to get out. This lapse in reasoning became evident as the enraged ogre chased them out of his lair, yelling "Lubash smash!" and near-misses with his great club sent shards of rock debris flying from its impact with the floor and walls.

Realizing that escape was unlikely, the party turned to fight and quickly felled the ogre with a few lucky hits. Searching the ogre's lair, the party was excited to find a wooden chest, but their excitement soon faded when they found that it contained some glass beads an a copper coins. Ever hopeful, Jin cast a spell to sense magic auras, and was rewarded by a glow from the the pile of rags and furs that Lubash used as a bed. He discovered a small-sized cloak of elvenkind and immediately donned it, despite the fact that it was far too small - hanging barely to his buttocks.

A door on the far side of the ogre's lair was barred from the inside and the group initially decided to leave it be, fearing anything that an ogre would want to keep out. After much debate the brave adventurers decided to risk the horrors beyond the barred door, and found that the adjoining room contained two merchants from Dro Madras and a half-starved halfling named Hanzo.

Upon seeing Jin, Hanzo exclaimed with delight "Excellent! You found my cloak."

"MY cloak," Jin corrected.

Hanzo eyed the tiny cloak skeptically. "You should fire your tailor," he muttered under his breath.

The merchants promised to reward the party when they returned to their homes in Dro Madras and Hanzo, the last surviving member of another adventuring group, offered to join up with the party and lend them his skills.

The party decided that they had explored as far as they dared with their depleted resources and elected to return to the Flaming Faggot to rest and resupply. Before leaving, however, they revisited the locked doors at the base of the stairs. Hanzo proved to be an adept locksmith and quickly had them both open. The doors opened into store-rooms containing racks of weapons, armour, provisions, and a large number of black cloaks with a blazing eye embroidered on the backs. Theon recognized the eye as a symbol of Balor, the king of the Fomori, a beastial race that ruled Faeridor before the coming of the Tuatha de Danann. But worship of the Fomori had died out millenia ago.

Looting as many of the weapons as they could carry, the group made their way back out of the keep and led their donkey into the marshes back toward the roadhouse. Before they got far, however, giant ticks dropped out of the trees above, several of which sank their proboscis's into the soft flesh of their victims in order to drain their blood. Once sated, the horrid beasts detached and hauled their bloated bodies away into the marsh, leaving their victim weak from blood loss. Both Hanzo, and Jin, the frail elven mage, were completely exsanguinated, falling dead into the mud.

The survivors returned to the Flaming Faggot and asked Conal Redjac if anything could be done to resurrect Jin. He suggested that the enigmatic sorceror-priest known only as Brother Frasck might be willing to help. He banged his fist against the wall in a staccato beat and a glowing outline of a door appeared, and a black cloaked figure with a deep hood that hid all features of his face, emerged. When Theon and Bvar explained their request, Frasck bid them enter his study and they entered a room filled with horrid paraphernalia: dessicated hands, mutated rats floating in jars of liquid, shrunken heads, and ancient tomes decorated the strange man's abode - a room that could not possibly fit within the architectural layout of the roadhouse. When Frasck determined that the party hadn't anywhere near the funds to pay for such powerful magic, he offered to resurrect Jin anyway as long as the group agreed to perform a job for him. Frasck demanded that they travel north into the highlands where lay an ancient crater formed by a star that fell to earth. The crater had long ago been mined by dwarves for star-metal, and those mines, now long abandoned were the lair of a sorceror known as Sothiss, a renegade of Frasck's order. Frasck required that the party track down and slay Sothiss and return to Frasck a large iridescent orb in Sothiss's possession. Theon and Bvar agreed to Frasck's demand and the sinister mage-priest performed the rites to return Jin to life, but also took a vial of Jin's blood for "insurance."

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