Mythweald

The Rimespire
Ricsig's Secrets

The Night Guard raced towards the outskirts of town, the clang of alarm bells ringing in their ears. They passed buildings that had been set alight, and saw town citizens preparing their defenses. At the city gate they found an elderly and bearded human in blue robes, flanked by two charging humanoid warriors dressed in furs. A horde of white and silver kobolds advanced toward the gate, led by a dragon-like humanoid snarling orders in Draconic.

Val tried to ask the bearded man what was happening but, he only snapped back – “Can’t you see we’re under attack?!” Val quickly cast a Stinking Cloud to incapacitate the kobold force, while Tam cast a wind wall to block the archers’ arrows. Alfo waded into combat, slashing left and right, with Shadow – unfortunately fully visible – at his side. The bearded man implored the party not to harm the silver kobolds, though the white were fair game.

Amid the chaos, Manny stood stock-still – because one of the fur-clad warriors charging into battle was someone he recognized. As he was trying to process this, the warrior was surrounded by kobolds and almost immediately brought down, despite Manny’s efforts to help. The rest of the Night Guard advanced boldly through the battlefield, slaying kobolds left and right, but Manny remained by the warrior’s side, inconsolable, trying desperately to stabilize her.

The Night Guard and their allies held their own as a second wave of kobolds attacked. The draconic commander’s attempt at a magical attack was negated by Val’s quick counterspell. While Alfo and the commander traded formidable blows, Shadow drained the commander’s soul, finally ending the battle.

After handcuffing and detaining the silver kobolds, the party and their newfound allies settled down at the tavern for some well-deserved explanations. The blue-robed human named himself as Ricsig, and Manny introduced one of the warriors – a woman named Lavondra – as his mother. The other warrior, a man called Ulf, accused Ricsig of shirking his duties as a protector of Osden, and blamed him for the kobolds’ attack on the village.

Browbeaten and humbled, Ricsig admitted that while he tried to protect the town, he simply wasn’t powerful enough alone. He explained that Osden had previously been under the guardianship of a family of silver dragons, but they had recently been usurped by a powerful white dragon. That dragon used its influence to take control of the local kobolds and their allies, sending them to attack the town’s inhabitants. Ricsig claimed to be a close friend of the silver dragon family, having worked with them for many years to keep Osden safe.

But while he wove this tale for the Night Guard, Ricsig secretly targeted their minds, magically reading the party’s thoughts to determine their true intentions. While Ricsig managed to skim Manny’s memories, Val’s petty frustrations, Tam’s questions, and even Alfo’s secrets, Tam noticed the sorcerer’s intrusion and sternly reprimanded him – in Druidic, to protect Ricsig from the party’s ire.

Ricsig apologized, explaining that he simply needed to be assured that the party had pure intentions. He told Tam that he, too, had visions, and recognized the Night Guard from the images of the mountain and starry dragon that had so often occupied Tam’s dreams. The sorcerer knew the Night Guard by reputation, and though familiar with their power, he couldn’t be sure of their motivations without checking. Ricsig admitted that the past few days had been extremely difficult and traumatic for him. The marauding white dragon was entirely beyond his ability to cope with alone, and he was desperate for the party’s help.

The Night Guard agreed to help deal with the threat. Val calmed down the indignant Ulf and near-hysterical Ricsig, and the group decided to retire for the night before debriefing the next morning.

The party awoke early to find Ricsig already looking over his notes and making plans. He loaned magical items to several of the group members – a Maul of Dragonslaying for Alfo and a Ring of Protection from Cold for Manny. Ricsig explained that the white dragon’s lair was the Rimespire, a shining tower of ice located in the Fey realm of pride. Tam recognized the tower from his visions.

Ricsig used a spell of clairvoyance to scope out the Rimespire. He immediately spotted the white dragon, Duragfang, perched atop the tower. Before he could look around, Duragfang sneered back at Ricsig through the spell, “So, when will you return?” In shock, Ricsig reeled back, breaking the spell.

With no chance to surprise Duragfang at the Spire, the Night Guard chose to take a direct approach. Manny teleported the group – now only the Night Guard and Ricsig, as they had to leave Shadow, Magnolia, and Kiran behind – onto the roof of the Rimespire to confront Duragfang.

Where they had expected a battle, they found only empty ice – the dragon had disappeared. Cautiously, the group tried to enter the tower. They were caught in a slide trap, which dumped Tam and Alfo into a singed library occupied by kobold vandals. Alfo and Val neatly dispatched the kobolds before they could cause any trouble, and the party put out the fire. They salvaged what books remained unburnt and continued onward.

The next staircase the party found contained a lightning rune trap, which they safely dispelled. The floor below consisted of fine living quarters, furnished luxuriously and decorated with rare, gorgeous pieces of art. Ricsig graciously accepted the party’s compliments on this collection, admitting that the items had taken “a long time” to gather. The Night Guard began to suspect that Ricsig had not told them everything about his relationship to the silver dragon family, despite his repeated insistence otherwise.

Descending one staircase further, the party entered a wrecked alchemical laboratory, filled with the ruins of potion-making supplies, broken glass, and some heavily armed kobolds. Before the party could be drawn into a lengthy skirmish, Val tossed a Thunderstone into the center of the room. Manny incinerated the survivors – except a silver kobold, who cowered in the back of the room.

Suspiciously, the little kobold recognized Ricsig, who introduced him as Yarck. Before the party could ask any questions, Ricsig directed Yarck upstairs to safety, and the party continued down to the next floor.

Halfway down the stairs, Val noticed an illusion masking a hole in the floor – too late for Alfo, who stumbled into the illusion and fell through. With Ricsig’s help and Val’s climbing rope, the rest of the party made it safely down, and finally they stood before the door to the Rimespire’s main room.

Together the Night Guard stepped inside – and were met by the baleful gaze of Duragfang himself, a huge white dragon with one silver fang. Duragfang fixed his glare on Ricsig and snarled a challenge.

“So you’re back. Like what I’ve done with the place?”

Apoplectic with fury, Ricsig screeched back, “You’ve turned this place into an abomination!” He shimmered, his shape changing. Before the party’s eyes, he transformed into his true form: Namroth, a young silver dragon. Duragfang screeched with fury and roared out a blast of icy cold, shocking the Night Guard and killing Tam’s swarm companions. While the party reeled from the blast, Namroth leapt forward to claw and bite at Duragfang, while Tam and Manny targeted the white dragon with fire spells. Alfo landed a fearsome blow with the dragon-slaying maul.

Duragfang unfurled his wings and bowled the party over with a blast of freezing wind. The white dragon leapt out through a craggy hole in the wall behind him and flew out of sight. Namroth immediately followed him, leaving the party shocked and disoriented.

Thinking quickly, Val grabbed Alfo and stepped through a Dimension Door with him, transporting them both to the roof. When they arrived they saw a dire scene: Above the lonely pinnacle of the Rimespire, Duragfang and Namroth struggled, locked in aerial combat.

The smaller dragon was no match, and Val and Alfo looked on in horror as he flailed, clutched in Duragfang’s icy talons…


Best Line goes to Alfo:

(When the Night Guard encountered Lavondra.)

“Wait. Is your mom in the cloud?!”

Honorable Mention to Manny: “Guys, I’m as cool as a dragon! I’m just as fast and also emotional!”

Best RP goes to Tam, for scolding a silver dragon in Druidic.


Timeline
18:00 – Alarm bells ring in the town square. The party investigates.
18:10 – The party and their allies battle and subdue an attacking force of (mainly) kobolds.
19:00 – Everyone goes to the tavern to talk.
20:00 – Ricsig explains recent events to the party and begs their help. Meanwhile, Manny is delighted to be reunited with family.
[Long Rest]
06:00 – Ricsig presents the party with magical items to prepare for their battle.
07:30 – The party teleports to the Rimespire and descends its hazardous stairs.
08:30 – The party encounters Duragfang. Ricsig reveals his true nature as Namroth. Battle ensues.

View
The Journey to Osden
Through the Northern Hills

Mere moments remained before the army’s arrival. The Night Guard questioned one of the survivors of the battle, a soldier named Guntram. He was too badly in shock to tell the party much, but they did learn that his orders to wait in the forest had come not from Elesar but from Captain Connal Reloks – confirming that Elesar was not the legitimate Captain of the Royal Core. The party stabilized the shivering Guntram, and gave him what little healing they could.

With that, the rest of the Gladrathi army reached the clearing and surrounded the party. Captain Connal himself approached, immediately ordering the Night Guard handcuffed and their weapons confiscated. They were marched to a command tent, and each party member was questioned in turn.

Tam volunteered to go first and attempted to overwhelm Connal with details, relating the Night Guard’s adventures in the Feral Bosk and the events that led up to the battle in the Ei’dath Woods. Val was next, and tried to intimidate the captain by talking up the Night Guard’s rank and importance. Connal’s meticulous note-taking and professional mien held up to both Tam and Val. Manny was not treated as well as the two humans; Connal interrogated him aggressively about the source of his magical knowledge and threw him in a cage for “a special round of questioning later.”

Alfo was the only one left. He was taken to a separate tent, where the rest of the Night Guard could neither see nor hear what was happening. They did hear Shadow, though*. Hidden in the woods, Shadow relayed to the party that the army was behaving strangely – hacking down trees, looting the corpses of Elesar’s crew, and executing survivors, including Guntram. Luckily, Shadow remained undetected by the army’s scouts. Val and Tam tried to escape their bonds, but the locks held fast.

Meanwhile, Alfo was disturbed to see Connal’s guard fetch a torture kit for his interrogation. The captain handed Alfo a letter from Alfo’s own father, who had written to apologize for sending “them” after him. Connal explained that his job was to recover people who had “slipped from their path”. He revealed himself to be a Fjiordin in disguise: Bendus Frostbeard of Emberhearth. He claimed that Alfo had strayed from Ulaa’s light, but he was there to help Alfo return to a blessed path.

“You will now pay from the flesh what you lost in spirit. The Church of Ulaa will forgive you…”

Frostbeard briefly tortured Alfo. Satisfied the sinner had been set right, Frostbeard freed him and laid out the terms of his agreement. He promised to use his official power to make the Night Guard’s crimes disappear, and to write up a report framing the party as aberration-slaying heroes, without mentioning Elesar at all. Suspiciously and reluctantly, Alfo agreed – but still couldn’t understand why Frostbeard had been sent after him. Alfo soon began to suspect that his deeds in the current, alternate timeline** might not be entirely commendable.

“Am I paying for sins I never committed?”

Frostbeard gave Alfo no further information, but instead assumed his disguise as Captain Connal again and ordered the army to break camp, as his work was done. He did give Alfo a reward for “helping the Elven State”. The army cleared the battle site, threw all the dead in a mass grave, and marched away as quickly as they had appeared.

Exhausted and confused after their baffling encounter with Connal’s army, the Night Guard headed back to Sindaleth to rest. Redrick informed Manny that he’d submitted a claim for the Lead to Gold property, and they needed only wait a week for the business owner – their old sponsor Derpus the Alchemist – to approve the property transfer. The party settled in for a week of R&R.

Manny spent his week building a teleportation circle inside his shop, thereby creating a base in Sindaleth for the Night Guard. Tam tried to eavesdrop in a local tavern, but after an unfortuante encounter with Animal Control, went to research in the library instead. Val and Alfo spent their first free day reading books and doing odd jobs, respectively. The two then went out on a hunting trip at Alfo’s behest, managing to track down and kill a Chuul in the forest. They celebrated by sharing some of Alfo’s mead, though it was a bit strong for Val.

At the week’s end, Manny’s teleportation circle was complete. Redrick notified the party that Derpus had gladly handed over ownership of the shop to Manny, who in turn hired a shopkeeper to watch over the store for him. The Night Guard was ready to leave for Osden.

They resolved to take an overland route through the relatively unknown Northern Hills, rather than the familiar path through the Ashewood or a different route through a mysterious mountain pass. With light hearts, they struck out northward.

A few days into their journey, the Night Guard passed a group of Crisideans bound for Nilve Thalor. They were delighted to see their old friend Pateirn among the group, but he didn’t recognize the party. This brief encounter reminded them that in the alternate timeline**, they couldn’t count on old allies or friends.

As the Night Guard traveled onward, the seasons’ change made itself apparent. Flowers bloomed on the hillsides and fish filled the streams. The party met a duo of fellow travelers, who told them of a red dragon lurking in the mountain pass the Night Guard had prudently avoided. During their travels the Night Guard also found a magically locked chest; Val opened it and discovered strength-enhancing gauntlets, which he presented to Magnolia as a gift.

The party progressed further northward, and the hills began to give way to mountainous terrain. One night the party stumbled upon the camp of a cheerful satyr, who introduced himself as Tion and invited the party to join him for stew and music. Tam donated some herbs for the stew, while Val accepted Tion’s challenge of a musical competition. Alfo earned Tion’s respect by sharing some of his expertly brewed mead. Manny and Tion shared tales of their travels. After an evening of fun and revelry, Tion taught Val one last, important song – his name, in Sylvan, which would give Val the power to summon him.

“Should you ever have need, call upon Tion.”

In the morning Tion had disappeared, and the party continued northward.

The landscape grew open and clear. From their high vantage point, the party could see the whole of the Vale below them, from Pabshaw to Tila Estate. Traveling onward, the Night Guard passed an ancient shrine and spotted some local wildlife before they finally reached the edge of the Kilik Mountains. Not far off they could see Osden, and nearby, in the shadow of the Adern’s Peaks, the small orc village Alfo had promised to destroy as part of his shady deal with a black-market vendor.

At Alfo’s request, the party approached the orc village – but instead of the degenerate camp they had expected, they found a quiet settlement, populated by a family of peaceful farmers. The Night Guard stayed to observe the camp for an entire day, seeking to understand why the vendor had wanted these “evil” orcs killed – but couldn’t find a good reason. Unfazed, Alfo was still ready to fulfill his end of the deal, but the rest of the party managed to persuade him to hold off on murdering the villagers.

Instead, the Night Guard made their way to the ferry dock, and caught the ferry across the sea to Osden. During the half-day ride, Manny explained to the party that despite his serene expression, he was overjoyed, as he “might have friends” in Osden and was looking forward to seeing them again. However, he also warned the party that some people in the city likely wanted him dead. To protect Manny from unknown foes, Alfo created a peasant costume, which Manny reluctantly accepted. Manny also took the opportunity to clarify a few of the party’s concerns by asking Oghma:

“Are orcs evil?” Yes.
“Is someone in Osden trying to kill [Manny]?” Yes.

The party arrived at Osden, and Manny led them to a favorite tavern he remembered from his travels. The tavern, though showing its age and the weight of the Emperor’s influence in the town, still stood, and the party was welcomed in. But before the barkeep could begin to answer Manny’s questions, they were interrupted by a noise outside.

In the central square a great clamor rang out, as the city alarm bells began to toll…


Best Line goes to Tam and Val:
When the party encountered a pair of travelers on the same road
Val: “Are they halflings?” (Suspecting them of being scoundrels familiar to Val)
Tam, simultaneously: “Are they cannibals?” ( Remembering the Underdark )

Best RP goes to Alfo, for holding steadfast to his goals and promises, even when faced by very strange evidence about “his” past. ( Also for establishing himself as a master brewer.)


Timeline

00:00 – The party is detained and questioned by Capt. Connal Reloks (?). Alfo is tortured by “Connal,” really a disguised Fjiordin.
01:00 – The Night Guard is freed. “Connal” and his army leave.
02:00 – The party return to their lodgings to rest.

Spring*** 13 – Manny starts making a teleportation circle in the office of the potion shop. This will take 7 days. Tam researches the Druids’ Council. Alfo does odd jobs. Val reads his new book.
Spring 14 – Manny continues his work. Val and Alfo go hunting. Tam is arrested.
Spring 15 – Manny continues his work. Alfo and Val track down and kill a Chuul.
Spring 16-19 – These days pass without incident. Manny completes the teleportation circle receives final notice that he officially owns the shop.

Spring 19 – The party embarks for Osden via the Northern Hills.
Spring 23 – The party encounters a group of ice elves bound for Nilve Thalor.
Spring 25 – The party meets a traveling duo and shares camp and stories.
Spring 29 – The seasons’ change brings warm breezes, birdsong, and clear night skies.
Spring 32 – The party finds a stream and minor treasure.
Spring 35 – The party finds a magically locked chest and opens it to reveal a pair of Gauntlets of Ogre Strength. These are given to Magnolia.
Spring 38 – Rain does not impede travel.
Spring 41 – The party encounters the campsite of Tion, a satyr. They become friends.
Spring 48 – The party passes by an ancient shrine in a hillside.
Spring 51 – The party draws near enough to Osden to see it in the distance. The nearby orc village is not threatening enough to immediately attack, so the party progresses straight to Osden.
Spring 52 – The party takes the ferry to Osden.


*Telepathically.

** Timeline B, the “alternate timeline,” defined as that which the Night Guard were transported into at an unknown point.

**Called it spring because I don’t know the seasons/months as they are called in Mythweald…. will edit and fix

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Return to Sindaleth
A "relaxing" day

Unlike the Shadow Gate under Tila Estate, the portal the Night Guard stepped through this time stayed open behind them, as Elidyr wished. The party crossed the lake and made their way through the woods to Sindaleth. Upon arrival, they split up, and each party member headed off to pursue their individual goals.

Tam spent his morning at the library, updating the local records of the “Cursed Woods” with an account of the Night Guard’s adventure in the Feral Bosk. He also checked in with Airic to confirm that the magical plague afflicting Sindaleth’s citizens had been cured – Elidyr’s curse was ended. After his morning of research, Tam visited the Home Tree, seeking a moment of rest after the events of the previous week. He told the tree the Night Guard’s story and received advice about where the party should head next – to either Oscus, or Osden.

Alfo went to the local black market and spent his morning getting to know the vendors and perusing their wares; eventually he purchased a Javelin of Lightning.

Manny sought out the nearest Lead to Gold outlet, looking for a transmutation book. However, due to a series of unfortunate accidents, the shopkeeper disappeared under a heap of alchemical supplies and was trapped in the cellar. Enterprising as ever, Manny decided to take over the shop, pretending to be a Lead to Gold employee.

Val tracked down the gravesite of Elidyr’s ancestors to find rare kingsblood flowers, a component of the legendary armor Rhoskan had offered to make for him. In exchange for the flowers he harvested, Val respectfully left a tribute at the grave site. He next headed for the black market, and was pleased to meet Alfo there. Together, they managed to convince a vendor that his wares were not quite so rare as they seemed – and that the price should be reduced accordingly. Val purchased the Manual of Quickness of Action.

“Ah yes, a noble back in Pabshaw had another copy. His name? Hmm… I seem to remember he was called Valerian Redwyne.”

Meanwhile, Manny’s pretense proved successful. His charm won over several skeptical patrons, and despite knowing nothing about the shop’s layout or stock, he made a handy profit.

After Val left the black market behind to seek more legal goods, Alfo approached a weapons vendor he’d met earlier, who had a magnificent magical sword for sale. Alfo offered a shady deal – a favor for the sword. The vendor asked Alfo to hunt down and kill a family of orcs near Oscus in exchange for the sword; Alfo immediately agreed to do so.

Val, having investigated most of the shops of interest, decided to stop by Lead to Gold – and was astonished to see Manny behind the counter. Manny managed to convince Val that he really did have a second job as a shopkeeper. As he was explaining his work, the heap of alchemical supplies on the counter began to collapse! Manny tried to save them from disaster, but slipped and was accidentally exposed to a Potion of Gaseous Form.

Unable to speak in his new cloudy form, Manny endeavored to communicate with Val by pointing at letters on various advertisements and labels. While waiting for Manny to spell out his excuses, Val shamelessly poked around the shop and “acquired” some valuable items. Finally, the potion wore off and Manny condensed into a solid, if unapologetic, mass. Just then, a city guard appeared at the door, demanding to know what had happened. Val and Manny explained that the original shopkeeper had disappeared and that they simply couldn’t find him. The guard marched over to the till and hit the floor release button, freeing the incandescent shopkeeper, who quit on the spot. Manny, being possessed of decent business acumen, instantly claimed the shop for his own.

After making his deal with the black market vendor, Alfo wandered the city searching for a courier for hire. He was overjoyed to run into his old friend, Keth Redblade, whom he met early on in the Night Guard’s adventures. The two spent a pleasant evening drinking and sharing tales. Keth agreed to serve as Alfo’s trusted messenger, and after Alfo handed over a few letters for delivery, they agreed to meet in Osden in a few months’ time.

After their action-packed day, the party was ready to retire for the evening, and met at Manny’s new shop to discuss their plans. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. On the step stood a formidable official who introduced himself as Elesar Glynhorn, Captain of the Gladrathi Royal Core. Despite the late hour, he insisted this business was urgent, and without the party’s cooperation he would arrest them. Elesar and Manny sorted out Manny’s property-rights issue (with Redrick’s help) and the captain soon declared the real reason for his visit: the Night Guard had been implicated in the disappearance of Elidyr Ashebow, and he needed the party’s help in tracking down the missing king.

Leaving Magnolia to guard the shop, the Night Guard led Elesar out into the forest, following their earlier trail. They did not trust him, however, and while Alfo snuck off to track an aberration with Shadow’s help, the rest of the party faded into the darkness, out of Elesar’s reach. Not soon enough, though – as soon as Elesar sensed their betrayal, he turned on them, ordering his hidden allies to attack.

From behind trees and bushes, a dozen armed warriors and casters leapt out at the Night Guard. Spells and arrows flew, and the party quickly realized Elesar’s soldiers were more than a match for them. In the distance, Val heard the marching of the Gladrathi army, but they were too far away to hear his call for help.

Meanwhile, Alfo found the aberration he and Shadow had been tracking and lured it back into the midst of the battle. Elesar’s warriors and the aberration wore each other down while the Night Guard tried to stay out of serious danger. Alfo, refusing to flee, turned and faced the aberration head-on. It lifted him into the air and bit him savagely, but Alfo slew the monster with a fearsome swing of the Axe of Dromar.

Few of Elesar’s allies survived. The dead, including the captain himself, lay scattered amidst smoldering foliage in the aftermath of the battle.

Wounded and battle-weary, the Night Guard had nowhere to run. Not far off, they heard the tramp of hundreds of feet, as the army approached…


Best Line goes to Alfo.
After the party left the Shadow realm and were on their way back to Sindaleth:
Alfo: “Manny, you need healing. Tam, go scout. Val, put your ear to the ground.”
Val: “Why?”
Alfo (genuinely confused): “Because you’re the… leader?”

Honorable Mention to Manny and Val, who realized halfway through Manny’s misadventure that “the real enemy was capitalism the whole time!”

Best RP goes to Manny, for disappearing a shopkeeper, impersonating the shopkeeper, and (mostly) legally acquiring the potion shop.


Timeline
? – The party leaves through the Shadow gate.
07:00 – The party crosses the lake and returns to Sindaleth.
13:00 – The party spends the afternoon engaged in their own individual agendas. Tam updates notes at the library, Val visits a grave, Manny patronizes the local potion shop, and Alfo explores the black market.
16:00 – Tam goes to see the home tree. Meanwhile, Val and Alfo make some shady deals, and Manny inadvertently takes over the potion shop.
19:00 – Alfo meets his old friend Keth Redblade for drinks. Manny acquires the potion shop.
21:00 – The party regroup at Manny’s new shop and are approached by Elesar Glynhorn, Captain of the Gladrathi Royal Core, who convinces them to follow him into the forest. Alfo tracks an aberration.
23:00 – The Night Guard sense danger and hide. Elesar and his soldiers attack the Night Guard; Alfo and Shadow draw the aberration to the battle. After many losses, the aberration and Elesar’s forces are defeated.
23:30 – Wounded and battle-weary, the Night Guard cannot flee. They await the approaching army.

View
The Maiden Tree
Spring comes to the Ei'dath Woods

With no safe haven in sight and scant hours left before Kiran became a serious hazard, the Night Guard made a difficult choice. Ruling that the most merciful act would be to kill Kiran before he had to experience lycanthropic transformation, the party put him into the Bag of Holding, where he suffocated. Magnolia, who throughout the whole adventure had repeatedly risked herself to protect Kiran, looked on in stony silence.

The Night Guard continued on through the forest and soon spotted a lantern light in the distance. Following the light brought them to a clearing, fenced with snowbanks around a single large tree, which supported a treehouse-like shelter. As Val stepped forward to investigate, he was blinded by a trap – then the occupant of the treehouse, watching from a window, promptly shot Val.

Alfo and Shadow rushed forward to attack. Immediately they were caught in another trap, and while Shadow managed to scramble free, Alfo was severely wounded. Meanwhile, the figure in the treehouse – recognizable now as the lost King of Sindaleth, Elidyr Ashebow – fired arrow after arrow at the party, injuring both Manny and Magnolia. Seeing no other recourse, Tam called out to the King, hailing him by name and ordering him to stop fighting.

Upon hearing this, Elidyr broke free of his madness and recognized the Night Guard. The King apologized for his traps and arrows, and invited the party into his tree safehouse to rest and recuperate. Elidyr had been isolated in the Feral Bosk for six months, and after a grim encounter with the Pursuer, the Shadowfell had twisted Elidyr’s mind. The King was reluctant to share any more information, though Alfo did gain his trust by sharing a drink with him.

But the quest for the Maiden Tree still lay ahead, and all too soon, the party’s relaxing safehouse break was over. The Night Guard, now accompanied by Elidyr, walked onward, towards the lake at the heart of the forest. As they neared the shore, the party was attacked by yet more ice-beings*and an air elemental. While Alfo and Elidyr were more than a match for their solid enemies, the air elemental posed a grave threat until Manny cast a fireball into it. Shadow took the opportunity to leach the elemental’s soul.

Before the party could collect themselves, they heard the nearby howling of wolves. With just seconds to spare, the Night Guard and their allies ducked into the shelter of Val’s magic, as a pack of werewolves and winter wolves charged up to surround them. The party made a plan to tackle these new enemies one by one, and Alfo and Elidyr prepared to leap out into battle.

Suddenly, the Pursuer appeared in the distance, steadily approaching the party. Alfo and Elidyr fearlessly traded blows with the werewolves and winter wolves, while Tam raised a wall of fire in the Pursuer’s path. Undaunted, the Pursuer tossed huge ice blocks towards the party, hemming them in. Alfo and Elidyr finished off their foes, though the King nearly succumbed to a werewolf’s bite, surviving due to Val’s inspiring words. Finally, Manny aimed a fireball at the Pursuer, obliterating him and granting the Night Guard a precious moment’s respite.

With no time to lose, the party advanced towards the lake. Elidyr admitted that the Night Guard had exceeded his expectations and earned his trust; there was no longer any reason for him to hide the truth. He revealed to the party that the Pursuer was not a person, but an idea: the embodiment of the endless hunt, Alfo’s greatest fear. The Pursuer was sent by the Ice Maiden, the ruler of the Feral Bosk and Elidyr’s betrothed. Long ago, Elidyr traded fates with someone else, and had sought to escape his fate ever since. But his evasion had a price: the shadow-plague in Sindaleth. Now Elidyr, aided by the Night Guard, was ready to seek out the Maiden and fulfill his fate.

The party reached the lake and walked out over its frozen surface, to the magnificent Maiden Tree, then descended the tree’s spiral stair. Deep within the heart of the tree waited the cool, impassive Maiden of Ice. As the party approached her, the Maiden had words only for Elidyr.

“Are you ready to fulfil your promise?”

Elidyr ran to meet her, and as the two were reunited the Maiden transformed into a dryad, vibrant and lovely. The Maiden Tree changed with her, growing light and warm as the realm’s cruelty and bitterness drained away. The Maiden – now the Maiden of the Lake – thanked the Night Guard for their assistance, and commended Alfo’s bravery in facing his worst fears. Upon accepting his fate – to face the darkness and drive it back – Alfo was freed of his paranoia and insanity, and named the new warden of the Ei’dath Woods.

“Fate is not something you can flee. And it’s not something you should want to flee.”

The Maiden used her extraordinary healing power to cure Alfo and Elidyr of their curses, and even revived Kiran and cured him of lycanthropy. She granted boons to the entire party, giving them her blessing to help them in the many trials that surely lay ahead. To Manny she gave her dagger of ice, to Val a cloak of protection, to Tam wisdom and reassurance, and to Alfo a blessing for his trident, by which he could remember his courageous deeds in setting right the balance of the realm. With their hearts lightened by these gifts, the party prepared to leave the Tree. Elidyr remained behind, King of Winter and Spring in his new home.

As the party stepped through the Shadow gate, Alfo looked back upon memories from his past: a scene of slaughter, in which Alfo’s family members were killed by an aberration. In Alfo’s memory, he was rescued from the aberration by his mother, a noble warrior – but looking back upon the memory, Alfo realized the figure that had saved him was his goddess, Ulaa.

“One day it will be your duty to fight these creatures… Until then, I promise to protect you.”

The party passed through the gate, and the vision faded, along with the darkness over the Ei’dath woods. The Night Guard stood now looking over the calm, clear surface of a spring lake.

In the distance, in the heart of Sindaleth, the party could see the Home Tree – and for the first time in memory, the tree was in bloom.


Best Line goes to Val.
Upon meeting the King of the Elves: “Guys, there’s definitely a chance he’s a lycanthrope.”

Honorable Mention to Manny, who eloquently answered a question with “You know, the thing, the uh… the thing!”

Best RP goes to Tam, for making the Persuasion check of a lifetime (with an assist from Val, of course) to snap King Elidyr Ashebow out of Shadowfell-imposed madness.


Timeline
? – The party murders Kiran Poole.
? – The party encounters King Elidyr Ashebow in his hideout (a perilous encounter).
? – The King gives the party shelter and healing in his tree fort.
[Long Rest]
? – The party and Elidyr set off towards the Lake, but are attacked by hobgoblins and an air elemental. These are quickly defeated.
? – Afterwards, the party is almost immediately set upon by winter wolves and werewolves. To add to the trouble, the Pursuer appears. The Night Guard’s victory is narrow this time.
? – The party reaches the Lake and Elidyr reveals the truth of his fate.
? – The party enters the Tree and confronts the Maiden. She is reunited with Elidyr, and the icy Shadow realm is transformed into a place of healing and light.
? – The Maiden of the Lake bestows gifts upon the Night Guard, and restores Kiran’s life.
? – The Night Guard leaves the Maiden Tree.
In the distance, the party sees the Home Tree – and for the first time in memory, the tree is in bloom.


*For lack of a better term. Ordinary humanoids, transformed into servants of the Feral Bosk when their hearts were replaced with shards of ice.

View
Snow Moon
Lost in the Feral Bosk

As the menacing figure of Alfo’s double, the Pursuer, advanced on the Night Guard, their attempts to drive him off seemed futile. Fire did not harm the Pursuer, nor did arrows. Looking closely, Val realized that the Pursuer was actually on the Ethereal Plane, hence his invincibility. But the ice shard lodged in place of the Pursuer’s heart was not ethereal – and Val shot it, proving the menace could be hit and damaged.

Shadow convinced the party that they could not fight something as powerful as the Pursuer, and the group turned to flee. The Pursuer created an ice wall to hinder their progress, but the party ducked around it and kept running. Then the Pursuer – seeming to exercise no ordinary magic, rather a deep control over the realm itself – appeared atop the ice wall, gaining high ground on the party. Alfo (Alfalfa?) fired a staggering shot at his double’s icy heart, and Manny vaporized the ice wall with a fireball before the Pursuer could take action. When the steam cleared, the Pursuer was gone, leaving only the shard of ice behind.

After shaking off the Pursuer, the party took a moment to rest and discuss important news from their home plane and histories. A note from Rhoskan informed the party that if they could gather the supplies for legendary weapons and articles, Rhoskan might be able to craft these items in the future. Val read a letter from his informant Adder Goldcrest, who warned Val that an assassin, sent by the warmongering Emperor Galleon himself, was on the Night Guard’s trail, for reasons unknown. Alfo relayed some historical knowledge about the emperor – most importantly, that Galleon is cursed by both dwarves and elves, and his bloodline cursed to end with him.

Manny confided some of the story of his (distant) past to the party, told them he’d recently discovered his sister’s position of power as a dangerous empress, and requested the Night Guard’s help in dealing with the issue. Manny also took the time to ask a few questions to Oghma, gaining useful information:

Is the starry being depicted in the mural in the Tila Crypt from the inner planes? No.
Regarding the Maiden who tended Rillifane, is there only one? No.

Perhaps the most pressing news was from Tam, who realized almost too late that Kiran Poole’s symptoms – disturbing nightmares and scars from a boar attack – indicated Kiran suffered from the curse of lycanthropy. While unconscious due to knockout drugs, Kiran posed no risk to the party – but in the vast, moonlit bosk, Kiran’s supply of sleeping potions was rapidly dwindling. While Tam searched for solutions, Val, Alfo and Manny took bets on whether a transformed Kiran would be small or large.

As they continued through the snowy woodland, the Night Guard noticed a campfire ahead. Val and Shadow scouted the scene and discovered two ice trolls and their winter wolf companion discussing a shrine further down the path. The party snuck ahead to the shrine, and after deciphering the primitive runes engraved on its surface, they sacrificed some weapons and rations to it. In return the ancient magic there bestowed Aid upon the party and reassured them that their current search for the Maiden was a good course of action.

The Night Guard pressed onward, deeper into the forest, but almost immediately they were attacked by other denizens of the Bosk. Much like the Pursuer, these enemies resembled ordinary people with chips of ice lodged in place of their hearts. The battle was swift but fierce, and the icy warriors of the Shadow realm were vanquished, weak to fire and Windsinger’s blade. Tam examined the bodies and discerned that their hearts had been surgically removed, cut out and replaced with ice. This was no necromancy, but the cold, cruel work of the Feral Bosk itself.

Seeking direction, Alfo climbed a tree to try and see where the center of the Bosk lay. Instead, he saw a massive blizzard roaring towards the party. Just in time, Val created a magical shelter and the party resolved to wait out the storm, using their time for crafting, alchemy work, and rest.

Yet peace was not to be theirs. After several hours had passed, the Night Guard prepared to embark again into the forest, but the Pursuer had caught up to them again. This time, the Pursuer used his control over the realm to hurl massive blocks of ice at the party members. Scrambling to defend themselves against their powerful enemy, the party rushed into the woods, narrowly escaping with their lives.

The Night Guard quickly realized the Pursuer had run them into a trap. As they fled the deeper woods, the full force of the blizzard struck them, and the party became separated. Hours passed before the party members could find each other. After hours of struggling to survive in the freezing wilderness, they were exhausted (except Alfo, whose ranger training kept him and Shadow safe through the storm).

Weary, lost, and chilled to the bone, the party had no option but to rest, and try to recuperate before continuing their search for the Maiden. But the sleeping potions had run out, and Kiran was mere hours from waking. Huddled together under the shelter of Val’s magic, the party struggled to decide what to do next.

The endless night wore on…


Best Line goes to Val, who watched Manny firebolt an ally in the back and exclaimed, “Well, Magnolia, after what Manny just did, you’re the best snerson** I know!”

Honorable mention to Manny, who after barely surviving the blizzard used the excuse “We sneople** are not meant for this weather!”

Best RP goes to both Val, for risking himself to save Kiran’s life, and Manny, for confiding in the party some of the secrets of his mysterious history.


Timeline
? – The party escapes the Pursuer.
? – The party discusses non-Shadowfell news while walking.*
? – After eavesdropping on some locals, the party visits an ancient shrine.
? – The party is attacked by more icy servants of the realm.
? – A blizzard envelops the party and they lose direction.
? – The Pursuer catches up to the party and attacks.
? – The party escapes, only to run straight into the blizzard, suffering cold and fatigue.
? – The endless night wears on…


*Conversations have been condensed and moved to preserve continuity.

**Snerson (snake person), sneople (snake people) – in reference to Yuan-Ti.

View
The Journey to Sindaleth
Woodland Wanderings

The Night Guard prepared to embark for Sindaleth and welcomed two new traveling companions: Magnolia, who would serve as a bodyguard, and Kiran, a Ranger and cartographer. The party decided to avoid the Underdark route and the river route, choosing instead to travel overland to their destination. After loading up their gear and buying some horses to travel with (including Val’s new best friend Moxy), the Night Guard set off.

Soon they passed by the now-familiar town of Elder Vale, and took the opportunity to sell some of their found treasures and buy new supplies, including some powerful poisons and positoxin. Most notably, Val managed to convince the proprietor of the potion shop to trade a mundane robe for incredibly valuable Golden Ice poison. Alfo, meanwhile, enjoyed the day of shopping immensely, particularly since the rest of the party bought him gifts to help cheer him up. Kiran slyly (but not slyly enough to avoid notice) spent some of his earnings on knockout drugs and hallucinogens, ostensibly for recreational use.

Back on the road again, the Night Guard enjoyed ten days of fairly uneventful travel before trouble appeared near the Ashewood. The party came across an ogre named Krog jealously guarding a stolen owlbear egg. Just as they managed to convince Krog they meant no harm, the egg’s mother appeared and furiously attacked. In the ensuing battle, both Krog and the owlbear mother were killed, and Manny set the forest on fire. The party raced to construct a firebreak and luckily succeeded; before leaving, Alfo adopted the owlbear egg at Shadow’s behest, hoping that the imprinted owlbear chick could make a formidable ally to the Night Guard.

The party assumed that would be the end of the owlbear problem, but six nights later they were awakened by the cry of “Danger!” from Val’s Dagger of Warning. Just outside the party’s sleeping dome, a huge male owlbear snarled and paced, swiping at the dome in rage. Tam ascertained that the owlbear might be placated if the egg were returned to him. Once this was done, the owlbear took his egg back, and with a last parting glare, disappeared into the forest.

The rest of the journey passed without incident, and soon the Night Guard arrived in Sindaleth. But the city was very different than they remembered. The streets were quiet and the population subdued; everywhere they looked, the party could see sick people, all marked with Alfo’s runes. The plague was clearly virulent, and to stop its spread the victims had been cut off from the rest of the population.

Amid the sick walked a druid of the Circle of the Land, Airic, distributing supplies and food. Airic told the party that the magical plague had first struck about fifteen years ago, was spread by touch, and was almost invariably fatal. The King himself was affected by the plague, but recovered – as had Airic – due to a strong connection to magic. After his recovery, the King went on a quest to seek the Maiden of the Woods and her supernatural powers to cure the plague, but years passed and he did not return. While many others had sought the king, none found him, and in his absence the plague continued to spread. Airic told the Night Guard that the Maiden was merely a myth, and the King’s foolishness likely cost him his life. Throughout Airic’s tale, Alfo slowly came to the devastating realization that the mark was his fault.

Tam and Alfo gained entry to the Wildwood Assembly’s library to search for clues about the Maiden of the Woods, the plague, and the forest north of Sindaleth in general. The only book referencing the Maiden was a children’s storybook, describing her as a powerful dryad who lived in the Home Tree and protected Rillifane. More information was available about the nearby woods, though; named the Cursed Woods, the area was rumored to be populated by lycanthropes and winter wolves, and rife with natural hazards such as freezing temperatures, deep snowbanks, and blizzards.

Meanwhile, Val and Manny put on a benefit concert to raise money for victims of the plague and to entertain the sick children. With drama and flair, the duo told an embellished (and tastefully altered) tale of the Battle of Glutton’s Teeth. They raised 130 silver, but more importantly, the children loved the show (although, due to the dark magic of their plague, they couldn’t get close enough to Windsinger to touch it when Val showed it off.)

After these preparations the Night Guard and their companions set off into the forest, to seek the King of the Elves. As they walked, the air began to chill – far beyond the ordinary cold of winter – and the forest loomed dark around them. Worst of all, the crescent moon had changed as well, rising now as a full moon to light their path. The woods echoed with the distant cries of wolves, and the party realized they had again stepped into a Shadow realm, and into grave danger.

In the distance the party could see a solitary figure trudging inexorably towards them. The figure raised its axe in an ominous gesture, calling out, “FOR THE MAIDEN.”

Hair and beard shot through with ice, and wearing the skin of Shadow of the Trees draped over his shoulders, this new enemy could only be Alfo…


Best Line goes to Alfo, and there were too many excellent lines to list (most having to do with Alfo’s new pseudonym, Alfalfa.)

Best RP goes to Alfo/Alfalfa, for creative problem-solving: adopting a secret identity to remain unknown in Sindaleth.


Timeline
Day 1 – The party embarks for Sindaleth.
Day 6 – The party enjoys a brief break from travel in Elder Vale.
Day 16 – The party battles an ogre and an owlbear, and adopts an owlbear egg.
Day 22 – The party returns the egg to its remaining parent.
Day 30 – The party arrives in Sindaleth.
[Subsequent timekeeping loss due to Shadow realm entry]

View
Leaving the Dread Mire
Bittersweet farewells, and new mysteries

The Night Guard paused at the entrance to the crypt, unsure of their next steps. While Val was convinced that he needed to redeem the Penitent and lead him out of the Shadow realm, other party members vacillated on whether to prioritize destroying the Penitent’s coffin, destroying the cursed cross, or just leaving the Dread Mire as quickly as possible.

Val and Shadow’s stealthy investigation revealed little within the crypt. Alfo, meanwhile, was haunted by the whispers of the dead, and compelled to cover his ears. While the group prepared to explore the crypt, skeletal figures emerged from the dusty tombs and advanced. One skeleton tried to shut the crypt door – and Alfo, recognizing it as his long-dead family member Plesuntwile Songstream, couldn’t bring himself to attack. Instead, he darted past to help secure the doors.

The party rushed into the crypt to battle the skeletons. After a brief struggle, the undead were destroyed, and cautious investigation of the crypt resumed. Manny noticed an ornate coffin standing at the very end of the hallway. There could be no doubt – this was the resting place of the Penitent.

Side tunnels in the crypt revealed many rooms filled with coffins, including places marked for Tam, Val’s parents, and Elya. Val found Elya herself hovering over her grave, and encouraged her to come with him to seek out the Penitent. Their final confrontation could not be far off: in the next room down the crypt hallway, faint piano music could be heard.

Meanwhile, in the main crypt chamber, Manny observed an extensive mural covering the walls and ceiling. Side panels of the mural showed mysterious scenes similar to Tam’s visions of Shadow and other realms. The central image depicted the mountain over Emberhearth, with four small figures – identifiable as the Night Guard – trekking upwards. Over the mountaintop, descending from the heavens, was an enormous dragon, dark as the night sky and glittering with stars.

Shaken by this mysterious image and the events of the preceding hours, Manny quietly discussed his findings with the Night Guard and decided to consult Oghma regarding the party’s next course of action. At Val’s behest, Manny asked his god whether taking the Penitent through the Shadow gate and out of the Dread Mire would redeem the vampire. The answer was simple but devastating: No.

The party needed to find another answer – and quickly, because the familiar chords of the Penitent’s piano could still be heard from the remaining unexplored side tunnel. But before Val could call the party together to discuss a secondary plan, Redrick finally succumbed to his guilt. Rushing into the room before anyone in the party could stop him, Redrick cried out that he sought redemption, and to atone for his mistakes.

“It’s my fault! I was supposed to be the one guarding the crypt! I’m the only one that can fix this!”

Val sprinted after Redrick, catching up just in time to see the Penitent, smote down by Redrick’s sword, struggling to free himself from the ruins of the broken piano. Desperate to stop the bloodshed and redeem the Penitent if possible, Val tried to calm Redrick, but the paladin was resolute in his purpose. Near panic, Val snatched up the Penitent’s blade, and immediately its subtle song harmonized with the music of Windsinger.

The Penitent, reeling from Redrick’s attack, dissolved into mist and fled into the hallway, but was stopped by the rest of the Night Guard. Manny, adhering to Val’s original plan, magically restrained Redrick while Val prepared to stake the vampire through the heart. But when Val flung open the Penitent’s coffin, he looked through it to find a gate – the very Shadow gate the party sought – just within. Redrick broke free of the enchantment and again begged the party to let him fulfill his purpose.

“You don’t understand – if I don’t slay him, the curse won’t break!”

Tam created a rainstorm to bring the Penitent to the ground, and despite Val’s pleas, Redrick slew the vampire with one staggering blow. As the body disintegrated into ash, Redrick collapsed – at last, free of his cursed vow to serve the Penitent in life and death. Finally at peace, Redrick faded and disappeared.

Val cast his stake away, frustrated and angry, but Elya explained to him that no matter how events had transpired, it was for the better: the curse was over now. Elya, like Redrick, was finally free. Elya thanked Val, and with a parting kiss on the cheek, she too disappeared.

After gleaning what useful items and information they could, the party prepared to step through the Shadow gate, eager to depart the realm of dread and despair. One by one, they stepped through the door, and back into Mythweald. Last to leave was Val, who looked back to see his own memories through the door: a scene from his youth, spending a precious last moment with Elya before leaving for bard college. As Elya waved goodbye, Val stepped through the Shadow gate, and left the memory behind him.

With that, the Tila Estate’s connection to the Shadow was permanently closed. The party awoke, confused but surprisingly well rested, in their quarters. After discussing the situation over breakfast, they resolved to spend the day recuperating from their adventure and researching the strange phenomena they experienced in the Dread Mire.

Alfo headed to the Temple of Ulaa to seek counsel and healing. The kindly priest there cured Alfo’s temporary madness, but expressed concern about the deeper causes of his condition. Despite claims that he could handle the paranoia, Alfo could not reassure the priest.

“The longer my adventure continues, the more the dead haunt me.”

Meanwhile, Manny and Val explored the Redwyne family crypt, and found it clean and surprisingly bereft of corpses and disarray. The crypt was also empty of the items the party took while in the Shadow realm – most notably the Penitent’s sword, which Val promptly named Duskchanter. Manny noted that the mural had changed – now one of the side panels, previously a dark, empty swamp, featured an image of Redrick striking the fatal blow upon the Penitent. Curiously, the style of the mural identified it as Tam’s handiwork.

Tam, meanwhile, spent the day in the estate library. Haunted by the image of the starry dragon, he sought out books of dragonlore, but couldn’t find any reference to the creature. After falling asleep on the book, he experienced another prophetic dream: images of the Dread Mire and the slain Penitent faded away as the Shadow gate closed, and were replaced by images of a frozen woodland, Alfo’s journal, and an icy, Alfo-like figure, clad in furs and wearing Shadow the wolf’s skin as a grisly trophy.

Upon reuniting after their day of rest, the Night Guard shares their discoveries and thoughts. Manny has an epiphany and realizes the Sending Stone that the party left with Mitch Barlow in the Dread Mire might allow them to contact him! Through the clear connection, Mitch, pleased to hear from the party, explained to them that he was the new caretaker of the Dread Mire. Mitch swore to upkeep and protect that realm as the Night Guard’s new planar ally.

The Night Guard unanimously decided that, since several of their pressing goals intersected in Sindaleth, they would travel to the elven city next. Before leaving, though, they took time to stock up on supplies and put their local affairs into order. Val invested his recent tax profits into his community and the improvement of his fortress. Manny consulted with Wysafiel about the party’s activities in the Dread Mire, and spent his spare time trying to fashion a Sending Stone. Alfo, meanwhile, traded his only flawless diamond for a very rare potion – one that could transform a single creature into its Shadowfell equivalent.

Alfo calmed Shadow and explained to her what was about to happen, that it was for the best, and that she would be okay, no matter what happened. Then, without hesitation, he administered the potion. Immediately the beloved wolf melted into a pool of dark shadow. Ethereal mist rose from the pool, re-forming into a large, menacing form. Shadow of the Trees was gone. In her place stood Shadow the Final Destroyer, a monstrous wolf covered in the weeping eyes of the slain. Now capable of speaking telepathically, Shadow reassured the party that while their interactions would be different now, they still held making the Night Guard strong as their first priority.

Filled with anticipation, the Night Guard set off towards Sindaleth…


Best Line goes to Alfo, who confidently sang “I can do anything!” then immediately suffered acute insanity.

Best RP goes to Val.


Timeline
? – The party enters the crypt, battles skeletons, and explores the tombs.
? – The Penitent is destroyed by Redrick.
? – The Night Guard leaves the Dread Mire.
10:00 – The party awaken back in Mythweald.
11:00 – Alfo visits the temple, Tam visits the library, and Val and Manny explore the crypt.
18:00 – The party calls Mitch.
[Long Rest]
All day – The party prepares for travel to Sindaleth. Shadow of the Trees becomes Shadow the Final Destroyer.
[Long Rest]
Filled with anticipation, the Night Guard sets off towards Sindaleth…

View
The Dread Mire
Family Matters

Finding the party had returned to the Dread Mire, Tam flew up over the swamp to survey the area. The creeping mist extended to every corner of Tila Estate, rising into an impassable white wall at the borders. Zombies, skeletons, and worse horrors roamed the grounds and graveyard. In the distance rose an unfamiliar white tower, from which emanated the faint and far-off sound of a woman singing.

Tam woke up Val and Alfo, and they discussed what to do next. Despite Redrick’s reservations about the “cursed” white tower, they decided to approach it anyway – especially since someone, possibly their missing party member Manny, was shooting firebolts from an open window in an effort to draw attention to the tower.

As they approached the tower, the group found themselves following in the footsteps of an undead horde, whose goal seemed bent on destroying the tower gates. Even worse, the mist grew denser, blocking their path. Up in the tower, Manny and his new friend Mitch Barlow –trapped in the same room – were unable to offer much help.

Val heard the faint sound of singing from the tower’s highest floors, and recognized the voice of his beloved cousin, Elya. He began to sing out to her, harmonizing with the familiar tune – and as he sang, the mists began to part before him.

The undead horde immediately turned and attacked. Val continued to advance towards the tower, never losing his voice, while at his side Alfo, Shadow and Redrick slayed the undead in their path. With a little help from Manny and Mitch, the undead horde was vanquished. And as the last notes of Val’s song faded away, the mist faded with them, leaving the way to the tower clear.

The door was trapped, but broken down enough to gain access. After dealing with a poison spine trap and warding glyph, the party headed upstairs. Mitch warned them (via speaking stone) that the next level of the tower contained the dangerous artefact that had cursed the Dread Mire’s Val, turning him into a vampire – “a crucifix of extraordinary power” that would threaten the Night Guard as well. But with no other way to reach Manny and Mitch, they continued to climb.

The stairs abruptly led to a heavy door, from behind which no sound came save a faint dripping. Inside the room hung a huge, bleeding cross – and atop it was fixed the Redwyne signet ring and a lock of pure white hair. The party skirted around this horrific artefact, narrowly avoiding descent into bloodlust and madness at the mere sight of it, and continued up to the third floor of the tower.

This door opened easily, and the Night Guard found themselves reunited at last, in the comfortable setting of Mitch Barlow’s alchemy lab. Mitch was just as surprised to see the Night Guard as they were to see him, but grateful as well. Val gave him the Amulet of Undead Servants, and – at last – Mitch was whole and well again.

Mitch provided some background on the current situation in the Dread Mire. The dark alternate version of Val, who Mitch refers to as “the Penitent,” was cursed with vampirism after stealing the crucifix the party saw in the previous room. In a fit of bloodlust, the Penitent killed his family, including Val’s brother Danial. Elya stood in his way, trying to stop him – and was slain as well. The news, though not unexpected, hurt Val deeply.

Mitch admitted that after that tragedy, he hid the cursed crucifix in his tower and raised Elya as a banshee. Her vigilance and the magical mist surrounding the tower were – until that day – enough to shield it from the Penitent’s attention. Mitch also confided that the Redrick currently with the Night Guard was different than the Redrick they knew in the waking world – this Redrick had taken a different Oath. Finally, Mitch explained that to leave the Dread Mire, the party would have to go through the door Tam had seen in his visions. The door, however, stood in the depths of the estate’s crypt, protected by a monstrous Gravehulk built out of Val’s own dead family.

Tam spent the duration of this discussion investigating the insects in the room. Manny, meanwhile, prayed to Oghma for guidance, and was swiftly answered – a book toppled from a shelf behind him, and fell open to a page with an unusual illustration. The page depicted four figures, clearly the Night Guard, and a huge dragon made out of stars.

Leaving the rest of the party to ponder this new information, Val climbed to the rooftop alone to speak with Elya. Her familiar face had been twisted into ghastly wreck by death and undeath, but her sweet voice had not changed, and she greeted Val with warmth and compassion. Val, shocked and appalled by the suffering inflicted upon his cousin, could hardly find words:

“Elya… I’m not the one who killed you. But I am the one who left you. And for that, I am sorry.”

Elya forgave Val – for what, neither of them could fully understand. She also told Val how happy she was for him: despite her piteous state, she was still overjoyed that Val achieved his dreams of being a hero and an adventurer. Elya offered to help the party leave the Dread Mire, and explained to Val that her only remaining wish was to be released from the dream – to go home, and be at peace.

Only one battle remained. Val returned to the party, fortified by his cousin’s comforting words, and together they proceeded to the family crypt. The grounds were infested with zombies and skeletons, which threatened the party at every turn. Worse yet was the Gravehulk, a shambling mass of stitched-together corpses infested by the spirits of Val’s slain family.

Faced down by this monstrosity, Val turned to his greatest strength – his words. With Tam at his side in the shape of the Redwyne’s family symbol, Val challenged his family to leave their spectral prison behind and join him in seeking the door to freedom from the nightmare that held them all. While the Gravehulk attacked Val over and over, his clear voice did not falter; he called out to his family members, forgiving them, offering apology, and inspiring them to break free. Redrick stood by Val and selflessly shielded him from the worst of the assault. Meanwhile, Alfo, Shadow and Manny raced around the battlefield, striking down the lesser undead and spirits with fire, claws, and weapons whenever they crawled back into the fight.

Despite being surrounded by fierce fighting, Val persuaded every one of his immediate family – his father, mother, brother Danial, and twin siblings Alessia and Alistair – to leave the Gravehulk. Weakened by the loss, the monstrosity* was finally thrown down and destroyed. The spirits of Val’s family converged on the crypt doors and opened them for the Night Guard, who gathered there, filled with anticipation.

They pushed the crypt doors open and prepared to walk into the darkness…


Best Line goes doubly to Val and Alfo:

(Val, astonished and shocked to hear from Mitch in the white tower)
Val: Wait. Mitch Barlow?! You’re fuckin’ dead!

(Alfo, who in a moment of madness was compelled to eat the ashes of a wraith he’d just killed, despite Redrick’s noble attempts to inspire Alfo to great deeds)
Little does he know what I’m about to do…

Best RP goes to Val, for his trust in Elya and his brave, kind words to his family.


Timeline

? – The party wakes again in the Dread Mire.
? – The party quests for the white tower, in search of Manny.
? – Redrick, Alfo, and Shadow battle an undead horde, while Val sings the mists away.
? – The party climbs the tower, passing by a cursed crucifix.
? – The party is reunited with Manny and Mitch, who explains much of the current situation to them.
? – Manny prays for guidance and is answered with a cryptic image. Meanwhile, Val reconciles with his cousin Elya.
? –Elya’s aid is secured, and the party travels to the crypt.
? – The party vanquishes another undead horde and the monstrous Gravehulk. Val retrieves his family’s spirits.
? – They push the crypt doors open and prepare to walk into the darkness…


*Does not refer to the D&D taxon ‘monstrosity.’

View
Nightmare
Mysteries of the Dread Mire

Upon waking, surrounded by a deathly, unfamiliar version of Val’s estate, Tam investigated the grounds and discovered Redrick – an older, more battle-worn Redrick – fighting some zombies and skeletons in the swamp. Tam lent his aid and together they quickly squashed the undead.

Meanwhile, within the mansion, Alfo and Val woke up to hear piano music echoing from downstairs. They snuck down to the common room and found a mysterious figure seated there. Alfo, forgoing subtlety, demanded identification. The figure leapt up and revealed himself to be an alternate version of Val – instead of the charming bard the Night Guard knew so well, this figure was a cold, compassionless vampire. Val cast Daylight to drive the vampire back, but he was too powerful to be contained. Despite the combined efforts of Val, Alfo, Tam and Redrick (who had rushed to the mansion at the sounds of battle), the vampire overpowered them, and one by one, threw down the heroes and drained their blood.

In shock, the Night Guard awoke – back in their own quarters, in sunny Tila Estate. Dazed and still tired, Val was greeted by Redrick, who wished to talk about the new hires and resume the previous day’s organizational work. Val reluctantly agreed and, with the rest of the still-disquieted party, decided to go confer with Val’s new information network.

Aunt Taryn, the Thieves’ guild agent, had no information that could help the Night Guard understand their strange experience. However, the Noble informant Adder Goldcrest told the party of the Tila Estate’s tragic history: long ago, a sorceress in the family transformed her husband into a vampire, who went mad and killed the whole household. The vampire was slain by none other than Dagug Goldseeker.

This tale was confirmed by the third informant, Wysafiel, an ex-Seeker spy and Val’s new conduit of magic-related news from across all of Mythweald. Wysafiel performed an augury to demonstrate to the Night Guard that they had, at some point during their recent adventures, traveled to an alternate timeline. In the Mythweald they currently occupied*, the orcish siege on Sindaleth never happened, Val’s debts were paid, and the Night Guard of this realm was very different than the party knew themselves to be. Even Mitch’s amulet had changed – it no longer contained Mitch! And strangest of all, Wysafiel claimed that she had never heard of Syl… as though he didn’t even exist.

Wysafiel identified the party’s nightmare experience as taking place in the Dread Mire, and described that realm as a “specific aspect of the Shadow; a realm manifesting someone’s worst fears.” She also pointed out that if the party could go back through their records of their Underdark adventures, they might be able to determine the exact point in their travels that they left their original timeline**.

With a final cryptic warning to avoid extended exposure to Shadow realms – “the longer you stay there, the harder it is to resist” – Wysafiel left the party to their own devices. Alfo immediately suggested a plan of psychological resistance. If the Night Guard dedicated the rest of their day to happiness, rest, calm, and celebration, he surmised, they would be much less likely to be transported to a realm of dread and despair in their dreams.

The Night Guard enthusiastically adopted this plan, and Val gathered his new staff to launch a wonderful party. Everyone in the estate attended. Val made an inspiring speech to cheer up his new household. Alfo enjoyed the drinks, shenanigans, and the company of his new friend Grud Smasher Jr. Even Tam spent some time socializing. Finally, as the successful celebration began to wind down, the exhausted Night Guard settled in to rest.

They woke to the creeping mist, overpowering stench of death, and familiar piano music that immediately made one thing clear: the Night Guard had returned to the Dread Mire…


Best Line goes doubly to Alfo:

(Attempting to deliver a devastating hex on the vampire Val:)
Alfo: Your hair.. is oily… and flaxen!

(Later, immediately before perpetrating shenanigans)
Alfo: Attention… I just want to inform everyone there will be no shenanigans.

Best RP goes to Alfo, whose efforts to prevent returning to the nightmare realm by instituting a happiness day were greatly appreciated, even if ineffective.


Timeline
? – The party wakes in an unfamiliar, dreadful alternate reality.
? – The party is brutally slaughtered by a vampire version of Val.

[Long Rest… or not.]

10:00 – The party wakes up, disoriented, in their ordinary quarters.
11:30 – The party questions Val’s information network for news, and for clues about what happened to them during the night.
14:00 – Party preparations begin.
18:00 – Partying ensues. Fun, camaraderie, and plenty of good music!
21:00 – The celebration winds down, and the Night Guard go to sleep, confident in their work.

? – They wake to the creeping mist, overpowering stench of death, and familiar piano music that immediately makes one thing clear: the Night Guard has returned to the Dread Mire…


*Henceforth “Timeline B.”

**Henceforth “Timeline A.”

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Leaving the Underdark
The Battle for Glutton's Teeth

THE STONECAPE PROPHECY

The first gave in to bloodlust, which consumed his drive to spare.
The second fled in fear, forgetting himself in isolation.
The third was plagued by grief, losing his will to live.
The last drowned in despair, cursing his kin to suffer ill.
They can all be redeemed, each confronted by the truth –
For no matter how crooked their shadows, these heroes can still stand in the Light.

These were the words, spoken in four voices, which Tam heard upon putting on the prophetic cloak. Shaken by the cryptic prediction, the group relied upon Rhoskan to map them a risk-minimizing route through the fortress, to the elevator, and then left the Forge.

Immediately they were met by a scene of destruction – an injured troll crouched in a corner of the next room, jealously clutching a treasure chest, while hobgoblin guards approached. The guards attacked the troll for not giving up its treasure; the Night Guard stealthily watched the ensuing battle until all combatants were weakened, then stepped in to finish the job. The troll was slain by a vicious blow from Alfo’s diamond maul; the hobgoblins, after recognizing the party, were eliminated before they could warn their commander of the Night Guard’s betrayal.

After looting the room, Val scouted ahead – and stepped right into the path of a Gelatinous Cube! He barely evaded its grasp, but Alfo was so disturbed by the sight he couldn’t move. The party fled, pulling Alfo with them, as the cube doggedly pursued. Val insulted Alfo severely enough to snap him out of his panic and the party proceeded to the relative safety of the next room.

After (mostly) evading a trapped floor, tripwires, and a warding glyph, the party found themselves in the entryway to the fortress. Adjacent, in the entrance of the receiving hall, were two hobgoblin guards – dead, by drow daggers. The party entered the receiving room only to find themselves face-to-face with the Queen of the drow – and Talila, who revealed herself and her twin brother to be the Queen’s children and trusted aides.

The drow queen explained that the Night Guard were spared at Talila’s grateful intercession, and that the crimes – the murder of other drow in the Underdark – that had so far marked them for death would be forgiven, if the Night Guard helped defend the Glutton’s Teeth from the hobgoblin onslaught. The party swiftly agreed, and leaving the Queen to strengthen the fortress defenses with ritual magic, they headed back out into the hallways to set up traps.

Val investigated the library and discovered two skeletons sprawled next to an ornate scroll case. While grabbing the scroll case he stepped on a Rug of Aging, which aged him 16 years in a few terrifying moments. The case was worth it, though – inside was a scroll written by his uncle Draxus, naming him the new Baron of Tila Estate:

Deed of Entitlement
for the Barony and Estate of Tila

I (undersigned) Bequeath the aforementioned title and lands unto this servant, for services rendered. As to the taxes gathered, this Baron shall owe 1/3 of the Estate’s income to the Crown’s Authority. As to levies, he shall provide no less, and no more than 1/3 his finest troops, your country commends you.

Furthermore, I grant permission to the entitled Party to gather tolls for the upkeep of roads and bridges, given it doth not exceed 1/3 the property income.

Galleon
AB-38-2020

Meanwhile, Alfo helped Rhoskan work on the elevator. When Val returned from finding Deed of Entitlement, Alfo was shocked and disturbed by Val’s change in age. Redrick, however, was unfazed, and verified the deed as legitimate – truly Val was now a Baron. Redrick immediately offered his service as Steward of Val’s new estate, and Val accepted.

Manny, after discovering a book of fire spells, decided to help out the party by killing all the hobgoblin guards asleep in a common room in the fortress with a fireball. After this he felt lucky enough to creep up on the Hobgoblin commander himself – but failed to reproduce his convincing Deva impersonation. The commander immediately ordered his army to attack the fortress.

Chaos ensued. Val, some of the Rangers, and a drow fire team sprinted to the rooftop to secure defenses there. Tam and Talila joined forces to set up an ambush and sent a squad of mercenaries to help Rhoskan. Alfo and Shadow, along with Alfo’s golem, guarded the entryway, which had been trapped with the Rug of Aging. Manny, meanwhile, fought fiercely to incapacitate the Hobgoblin commander, and finally petrified him with a cursed gaze.

While the rest of the party battled to keep the hobgoblins from advancing into the fortress, Manny impersonated the hobgoblin commander and ordered the army to cease their attack. In the subsequent disarray, Val’s fire team and Manny’s destructive casting created discord in the ranks. Meanwhile, within the fortress, Alfo decimated an infiltration team of goblins and was heartened by his success. Victory for the Night Guard and their allies finally seemed within reach!

Suddenly, the blood-chilling roar of a dragon echoed across the battlefield. From his rooftop perch Val glimpsed the skeletal silhouette of a dracolich as it soared down over the fortress. This enemy was familiar – Ewlbkhan the black dragon had returned. Val and Tam sprinted to warn the drow Queen as the dracolich landed in the midst of the battlefield.

But when Val pushed open the door, he saw the Queen lying dead – the murderer, her own son, standing over her with a cursed, ceremonial dagger in his hand. He and Talila had summoned the dragon themselves, he hissed – “for entropy!” The drow twins attacked Val and Tam, but luckily the cousins were able to evade them and take their daggers.

Meanwhile, the battle with the dracolich took a turn for the better when Manny, impersonating the commander, convinced the hobgoblin arm to “attack the dragon!” Despite the army’s best efforts, the dracolich was not deterred – and with a single breath, it killed over half the remaining troops. Alfo sent out his golem to attack the dracolich too, but it was not restrained.

The Night Guard and their allies fiercely attacked their betrayers, the drow twins, and killed them – but not before another bladed creature, identical to those the Harvester summoned in the chapel, burst from her dying body. With a resolute attack from Alfo and quick bladework by Val the monster was dispatched. From outside the fortress, the deep boom of moving earth and the cries of a Purple Worm alerted the party to even more urgent danger.

Racing through the fortress, dragging their wounded with them, the Night Guard and their allies crammed into the elevator and Rhoskan pressed the switch. The battle cries of the dracolich and purple worm faded down into the earth as the party were carried upward, rising into the beautiful city of Emberhearth.

As they arrived, the party were greeted by their old ally Syl, who immediately restored Val’s proper age (but couldn’t fix his hair color, to Val’s delight) and updated them on Pat, who slayed a red dragon after leaving the Night Guard. Syl also identified the ceremonial daggers Tam and Val retrieved from the drow as relevant to Myrkul, the god of entropy, death, and decay, but couldn’t offer any insight on the Harvester or its monster minions. To help the Night Guard investigate the many mysteries they encountered in the Underdark, Syl teleported them to Elder Vale to explore its libraries.

But upon their arrival the party received some harrowing news. Somewhere, somehow, time went wrong. The party now stood fifteen years in the “future,” and a group calling themselves the Night Guard had supposedly already placed the Eye in Ashewood Redoubt – an entire year past. Val discovered that “his” debt had been paid over seven years ago, and eavesdropping in public venues revealed that the party had no particular reputation.

The Night Guard proceeded to Ashewood Redoubt to restore the Eye of the Sun Watchers. Upon arrival, they found that the Eye is just one of a set of two – and its counterpart, the Eye of the Dusk Watchers, had already been placed in the tower. As Tam reached out to restore the Eye to its rightful place, he was overwhelmed by a flickering succession of mental images – ice, fire, glass, murky earth, dragons, elementals, artefacts, undead, potions, caverns, and more flashed through his mind, and again he heard the words of the Stonecape Prophecy.

With that, the Eye was in place, and magic was ostensibly restored to Mythweald. Val and the Night Guard traveled to his mansion, and Val, aided in his task by the expertise and hard work of Redrick, organized his estate by hiring staff and setting up taxes and tolls. After a long day of working on the estate, the Night Guard retired to their new quarters and settled in for a well-earned rest.

But they woke to a horribly different world. The grounds were blanketed in pale mist, as though an autumn chill had swept over the estate. In the mansion, Val heard a piano playing a familiar, sorrowful melody. And Tam was again inundated with images: undead soldiers, a misty swamp, the stench of death, and a dark, terrible figure.

Steely-armored, pale-haired, with a vicious gleam in his eyes and Windsinger in his right hand – the figure was unmistakably Val…


Best Line goes to Alfo:

(When the dracolich enters the battlefield and casually destroys the hobgoblin army)
Rest of the party, panicking: What do we do! What do we do!
Alfo: Well… we get on the elevator!

Best RP is shared between Val, for taking his new age, barony, and esteem in stride; and Manny, for enthusiastically embracing his chaotic nature.


Timeline

08:00 – At the touch of the Mantle of the Weald, Tam hears the STONECAPE PROPHECY.
08:30 – The party battles hobgoblins and a troll.
10:00 – The party allies with the Drow queen and her warriors.
11:00 – Val discovers his title and estate. Redrick verifies the title and Val accepts his Stewardship.
11:30 – Manny accidentally triggers the Hobgoblin attack on Glutton’s Teeth.
11:45 – The drow twins betray the Night Guard and their own Queen by summoning a dracolich to the battle.
12:00 – The Night Guard and their allies flee the battle in the restored elevator.

[Long Rest]

00:00 – The Night Guard and their allies arrive in Emberhearth.

[At this point accurate timekeeping was lost.]

? – The party is teleported to Elder Vale to search for answers in the libraries there, but discovers instead that they have somehow experienced a rift in time.

? – The party travels to Ashewood Redoubt and restores the Eye of the Sun Watchers.

? – The party returns to Val’s estate to rest, recuperate, and discuss their plans.

[Long Rest]

? – The party wakes in a different world. Tam has a vision: death, undeath, dread, darkness, and a familiar figure: Steely-armored, pale-haired, with a vicious gleam in his eyes and Windsinger in his right hand – the figure is unmistakably Val …

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