Campaign of the Month: November 2017

The Gaelean Chronicles: Heroes 4 Hire

Return to the Forgotten: Groorg the Cunning, Round Two
"He's throwing rocks!!"

0900, Mol, 9 Milos, 3E1000


    The Sea Wyvern, with Heroes 4 Hire aboard, sailed out of Anchorhead in sunlight and even seas, paying traditional homage to The Emperor and Shargon’s Talon as they passed. The first evening out, Captain Isabeau Larouche invited the Heroes to her private cabin for dinner, where at the end of the meal she held a small wake for the deceased Calyx Siannodel. The team was a little surprised at how hard the Captain seemed to take the news of Calyx’s death.

    The next month of sailing passed relatively uneventfully, the doldrums of extended sail-travel wearing thin on Potema and Rumblebelly. Naïlo Thia spent much of the time pondering her encounter with her father, Naïlo Elnoril and Erendriel Thalolan’s obvious avoidance of him. Lt. Diplo Norixius attempted to Scry on the Dark Priest several times, but to no avail. During the first few days of the voyage, Karraway recovered from his resurrection with the aid and care of his fellows. Dajjal, Illyia Baham, Alton Beeblebrox and Smedley Hampton spent the voyage preparing for the coming fight ahead, and assisting the crew wherever they could be useful.

Wir, 4 Jo, 3E1000

    The cool morning air was starkly contrasted by the desolate wasteland covered in ash that greeted the Sea Wyvern ashore, just a few hundred yards from where it dropped anchor. The majority of the day was spent shuttling supplies and equipment from the ship to the shore, where the crew and the Heroes set up a base camp to support the extended stay of the galleon. By late afternoon the camp was complete, and the Heroes prepared their wagons, mounts and equipment for the return journey to the Temple.

    They left the next morning at sun up, traveling a day and a half to the trailhead at the eastern end of the Three Sisters. There they began their precarious climb up the long winding mountain path, ever cautious of its dangerous cliffs and rocky trail. It took nearly three days of slow and careful progress before the Heroes found themselves hidden around the last bend before the Temple came into view, an untenable quarter mile approach across an open precipice and narrow bridge against an enemy guaranteed to be entrenched, prepared and waiting.

Mol, 9 Jo, 3E1000

    A quarter mile of open approach in full combat kit. Across a precipice spanned only by a narrow natural bridge. Up a ramp several stories tall to reach the front archway of the Temple on the ziggurat’s upper level. Where the cult will be waiting with whatever defenses they have prepared. This was going to suck.


    Diplo summoned his Paladin’s Steed in the form of a Giant Eagle, and loaded Illyia and Beeblebrox up with him, telling the others that they’d keep the defenders distracted while the rest of the Heroes made their mad dash across the open approach. With that, the massive bird lifted off and carried the three directly at the upper level opening while the rest of the team spurred their mounts on in a charge to try to close the gap alive. As the eagle approached, a pair of boulders the size of a man sailed out of the darkened archway in rapid succession… the first missing wildly left of the bird, but the second clobbering it squarely in the chest. The three riders… Beeblebrox gripping Illyia gripping Diplo… found themselves suddenly tumbling through midair as their flying mount disappeared underneath them in a flash of light. Illyia quickly made sure both his teammates were holding on to him, concentrated on his memory of the interior of the upper level of the Temple, chose a spot and used his Ring of Dimension Door to teleport the three of them “safely” inside.

    Nearly a dozen cultist were entrenched inside the upper level of the temple, and it took a moment for them to realize the three aerial assailants were now in the chamber behind them. Groorg spun around and hurled several more boulders. Diplo took refuge partly behind a massive column and partly behind his tower shield, while Beeblebrox sprinted clockwise around Groorg’s left and Illyia used the Sword of Lyons to turn invisible and circle the group to counter-clockwise to the right. Dajjal sent Luna ahead to observe the fight and look for an opportunity to cast-through-familiar.

    The ensuing melee was swift and brutal. Beeblebrox’s speed, boosted by a Haste spell cast upon him from Diplo, let him blur his way through the cultists, dropping them left and right with relative ease while avoiding the giant’s footfalls. Illyia, invisible and sneaking, was doing an equally vicious job of backstabbing and assassinating cultist on his side of the fray. Diplo was doing an outstanding job keeping Groorg the Cunning’s attention focused on him, though the boulders bouncing off his tower shield were taking their toll, but now Groorg had stopped throwing them and was closing to smash him with a massive stalactite he used as a club.

    The team charging the entrance ramp had made it to the extreme ranges of their bows unscathed, and Thia and Smedley let loose several shots at the cultists manning a stone barricade at the top of the ramp. Their shots rang true, dropping a couple of defenders and wounding a couple others. Dajjal kept an eye out for an opportunity to cast-through-familiar with Luna, but no convenient place could take a Fireball without catching his teammates in the blast.

    Groorg and the squad of cultists made a valiant effort, landing some damaging blows and spells on the Heroes before they fell. Once the cultists were slain, the team concentrated it’s combat strength on Groorg, and he died quickly. The eerie silence of the post-battle lull swept over the upper floor of the Temple as Diplo, Illyia and Beeblebrox took inventory of their injuries and situation, and then Smedley, Thia, Dajjal and Karraway finished closing the gap to join them. The team regrouped and prepared to take on whatever else was coming up the stair from the lower floors of the Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun.

Mol, 9 Jo, 3E1000

    What dangers await the Heroes 4 Hire in the Temple levels below? What other defenses has the Cult of the Elder Eye prepared for them? Will the seven Heroes be enough to stop the Dark Priest’s plot?

    Tune in next week, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!

Home at Half Point: Requiem
Naïlo Elnoril, Naïlo Lorilei, Naïlo Aenwyn, Naïlo Talila... and Naïlo Thia

0330, Zol, 3 Milos, 3E1000

    A heavy heart hung over Half Point.

    As the members of the guild carried the assassins’ bodies out to a pile to be incinerated near the forge, the Heroes 4 Hire carried their own dead, four of the original founders, down to a set of tables the smith had set out for use as preparatory undertaking. Calyx Siannodel and Karraway, both faithful of Belenus, were quickly prepped for transport by Mahim “Mayhem” Dwalin, the guild master, and by noon were on their way south in a wagon to be interred by their fellow clergy at the Temple of Belenus, a day’s journey away in Anchorhead. Meanwhile, the rest of the Heroes, save Dajjal who was still in Tingerhof, prepared two pyre-ships for Ryoun Rodri and Sergeant Greves.


    The staff prepared a feast and plenty of drink, and that evening a vigil was held on the shore of the White River, Ryoun and Greves bodies placed each on their own pyre-ship, and the boats floated out into the river. At the end of the eulogies, Naïlo Thia and Smedley “Deadly” Hampton fired flaming arrows into the boats to set the pyres ablaze. The pyre-ships blazed for more than two hours as the somber reverie continued ashore, celebrating the lives of two great heroes, before they finally were consumed and sunk to the bottom of the river.

    The vigil remained for a good while, well into the night, until sleep demanded folks return to their rooms. As Thia walked back towards the Heroes’ Haven from the water’s edge, she noticed that she had not seen Erendriel Thalolan in a long time, maybe not even anytime during the vigil. As she puzzled his strange absence, a tall, lithe figure in a traveler’s cloak approached her from the crowd. In Elvish, he asked if she was Thia, and when she said yes she asked his identity. He produced a letter, held it open for her to see her own penmanship and her seal in the broken wax, and said, “My name is Naïlo Elnoril, and believe I am your father.”


    Long, silent moments passed between Thia and the elven man named Elnoril. He was unusually tall for a wood elf, but his movements belied no betrayal of grace from his frame. His hair was platinum blonde and his skin fair, and the point of his nose reminded Thia of her own when she looked in a mirror. When she could finally find her breath, she stammered a string of questions in Elvish tripping over her tongue along the way. “Perhaps we could find someplace more comfortable to talk,” Elnoril finally suggested.

    They two of them walked to the Heroes’ Haven and took up residence in the comfortable armchairs surrounding the fireplace just off the main lobby on the first floor. Alton Beeblebrox was already sitting nearby in the same group of chairs, regaling several guild members with stories of their adventures. As his group broke up for the night, he remained and conspicuously eavesdropped on the elves’ conversation.

    The two elves spoke for hours, each with a plethora of questions for the other. Elnoril barraged her with interrogations as to her whereabouts for the last 75 years, her original disappearance, and she recounted her incarceration at the hands of a Devil Lord and her subsequent escape, her time with the wolfpack, her search for the pack’s destroyer, her joining the Heroes 4 Hire, her eventual destruction of Madcoil, and lastly their current quest against the Dark Priest, Lord Daemonne. She barraged him with questions of family and home and all the blanks in her memory, and he recounted the town of Naïlo Nalore, deep in the Silverleaf, and of her family… Naïlo Lorilei, her mother… Naïlo Aenwyn, her younger sister… and Naïlo Talila, her youngest sister. He also recounted the endless search they have conducted and the bottomless expenses they have spent in their attempt to find her.


    The hours were filled with the lilting melodies of Elvish, often still awkward in their rapid back and forth of discovery and sharing. But by the time Thia requested the staff ready a room for Elnoril, the two had bridged the gap of years lost and found each others’ hearts again. Elnoril implored her to return home and come see her mother and sisters, but Thia explained the pending continuation of their quest against Lord Daemonne. She promised, however, that as soon as that was settled, she would return home at once. Thia also asked Elnoril about Thalolan, but he did not recognize the name. When she gave his full name, however, her father did vaguely know of the Erendriel clan. Satisfied with the progress of the evening, things drew to a close and everyone returned to rest.

    The next day was spent making preparations for the coming adventure.

Wir, 4 Milos, 3E1000

    The Heroes 4 Hire plus Thia’s father departed in the morning and traveled the day to Anchorhead. Once there they acquired their usual rooms in the Onyx Fountain Inn, except Thia, who camped with Thalolan, Potema and Rumblebelly in the woods on the outskirts of town. Thalolan had traveled with the animals instead of the group, and Thia was getting the distinct impression that Thalolan was actively avoiding her father. She addressed it with him later that evening, and he admitted that historically, her father did not like him. He wanted to cause as little friction as possible now that the two of them were reunited, so he kept a respectful distance. Thia thought the ‘respectful distance’ was more like a gulf, but she took his words at face value… for now.

Zor, 5 Milos, 3E1000

    The next two days were a flurry of preparation activities. The Heroes started by inquiring at the Harbormaster as to any ships that were available and looking for an extended contract, and found three among the group that they personally knew: the Northwind, the Darkmaiden’s Dance and the Sea Wyvern. It was an easy choice, and the Sea Wyvern was contracted for the expedition.

    Supplies were purchased in quantity, and transloading of goods and vehicles were completed in due time. Elnoril booked passage on a ship bound for Atryae leaving on Sul, so he was happy to have a few more days to hang out with his newly rediscovered first born. Allendretta teleported Dajjal back to Anchorhead in the morning, and he made several personal arrangements throughout the city before joining his comrades in the preparatory activities. The team had a long discussion regarding their lack of a dedicated healer, and ultimately it was decided that they really needed… desired… to resurrect Karraway.

    The necessary materials were gathered and the Heroes rejoined at the Temple of Belenus in the Temple District of Anchorhead. They plead their case with the Bishop, and eventually he agreed to the rite. Karraway’s corpse was exhumed from its crypt in the Undercroft and prepared for the ritual, and the afternoon was spent in prayers of supplication to convince Karraway’s spirit to return. When all was done, Karraway, broken and weak, sat up on the altar and rejoined his fellows in the realm of the living.

0600, Sul, 9 Milos, 3E1000


    The next morning, the Heroes awoke for their departure to the Ashen Wastes and the Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun… and an ultimate showdown with Lord Daemonne and his cult of fanatics. Thia bid her father a tender farewell, and again reinforced her return to Atryae once the Dark Priest’s plan was thwarted. The Heroes finished the last of the packing and loading of the mounts and beast-friends onto the Sea Wyvern, and before the sun was fully cresting the campus-spire of the Forum Arcanus, the Sea Wyvern was under full sail and heading out to sea.

0900, Sul, 9 Milos, 3E1000

    What fate awaits the Heroes at the end of their trek back to the Temple? What preparations has Lord Daemonne made? What forces lie in wait for the Heroes?

    Find out in two weeks, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!

Home at Half Point: Dead by Daylight, Part 2
Half Party Kill


0300, Zol, 3 Milos, 3E1000

    The message sang forth clearly across the Earrings of Communication. “Heroes’ Haven is under attack.”

    Smedley “Deadly” Hampton was not yet asleep, and sprang to action in his room at the Onyx Fountain Inn in Anchorhead. He dressed, packed his things, checked out and rode out headed north toward home. Dajjal slept through this initial transmission, but later awoke to others, got the gist of what was happening from Naïlo Thia and then said he would work a teleport to Anchorhead at first opportunity… but he was out of pocket and unable to assist. He then went back to bed.

    Alton Beeblebrox, Thia and Thalolan heard the deep-throated howl of Potema in the distance, and knew that a form of cavalry was on the way. Beeblebrox rushed to Illyia Baham’s room, found him unconscious and dying in his bed, and force-fed him a Superior Potion of Healing to revive him from the brink. Illyia recovered quickly and donned his weapons and gear while Thia grabbed armor and weapons from the armory across the training room from Illyia’s hallway. They then tried to contact everyone on the Earrings… Smedley and Dajjal answered immediately, but an eerie silence followed. Illyia sent Nightshade to check on Alyn Quinn, Mahim “Mayhem” Dwalin and the other guild members in the second-floor barracks, and when she reported they all appeared to be alive and asleep in their beds, she also mentioned a yellowish haze filling the upper levels of the building that had the smell of cherry bark and almonds. Illyia said he would get help, and then used his Ring of Dimension Door to teleport to the barracks and start shaking people awake. Once he had roused several of the guild members, he ordered them to get everyone up and ready to fight, send one to open the front door of the Haven for the approaching wolfpack, and then everyone attack the assassins on the third floor balcony.

    The team in the basement decided on a plan of action, and proceeded back through the escape tunnels to approach Lt. Diplo Norixius’s room through the secret entrance. A peek through the concealed door sunk their hearts; the huge, blue dragonborn lay sideways across his bed unmoving, his warhammer resting on the floor and still in his hand. The group silently entered through the secret door, but as Thalolan crossed in front of the open door he saw an entire group of the similarly dressed assassins having a hushed discussion out in the balcony hall. The assassins rushed in and the Heroes rushed out, and a melee sprang forth in the doorway where they met. Several of the eight killers hung back in the hall to pepper the Heroes with crossbow bolts. Illyia used his ring again to teleport into Diplo’s room, where in the middle of the fight he rendered aid to Diplo’s unconscious form. Diplo grabbed his Tower Shield to provide some cover from the crossbows outside his door, Thia Wild Shaped into a Winter Wolf, Thalolan Wild Shaped into a Dire Wolf, and Diplo’s room instantly ran out of room due to all the fur, muscle and weapons flying around.

    The Heroes rallied with a vengeance, and the tide turned almost instantly against the assassins. They fell one by one, and when the quicker of the guild members joined the fight followed shortly by Potema and a pack of 25 timber wolves, it was over immediately.

    The doors to all of the founders’ rooms on the third floor hung open, and a deafening silence echoed forth from beyond them.

    A search was organized by the guild members, floor-by-floor and building-by-building while the remaining Heroes 4 Hire searched the other founders’ rooms on the third floor. Calyx Siannodel, Paladin of BelenusRyoun Rodri, Eldridge KnightKarraway, Cleric of Belenus… and lastly, Greves, Sergeant of the Eridani Infantry… lie dead in their beds, murdered in their sleep by poisoned blades.

0330, Zol, 3 Milos, 3E1000

    What will the Heroes 4 Hire do, now that half are dead? Is this the end of Lord Daemonne’s wrath? What is to be their fate?

    Tune in two weeks, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!

Home at Half Point: Dead by Daylight, Part 1
The Beginning, or the End?

Mol, 2 Milos, 3E1000


    The Heroes 4 Hire awoke to a beautiful spring day aside the White River, and found Half Point’s staff already buzzing with the day’s activities. Alton Beeblebrox spent the day teaching more martial arts in Training Room in the basement of the Heroes’ Haven guildhall, while Lt. Diplo Norixius shared his time between cooking in the kitchen and preaching in the Chapel. Alyn Quinn and Mahim “Mayhem” Dwalin met with the remaining Hereos… Illyia Baham, Naïlo Thia, Ryoun Rodri, Karraway, Greves and Calyx Siannodel… to report on business matters at Half Point and the Hardin Mine, the latter of which was of some concern to her due to their lack of communication in a significantly long time.

    South in Anchorhead, Smedley “Deadly” Hampton spent the day doing ‘odd jobs’ for the Suippes, and managing to stay out of sight of the authorities while doing so. In the late morning, Brancis Bowe pulled him aside and informed him that a Suippes branch in the far west of the Caledonia had received a request for an assassination contract on all ten of the founders of the Heroes 4 Hire, and that the Suippes had offered to take the contract for the other eight, but that two of the Heroes were ‘family’ and were therefore immune to Suippes targeting. When the Suippes refused to contract all ten, the requester rejected the idea and stormed out in a huff, saying, “The Suippes are not the only game in town.”

    Smedley thanked Brancis for the heads up that someone, presumably The Dark Priest, Lord Daemonne , was trying to put a hit on them all, and decided to write a letter disclosing this information to Illyia. Smedley put the letter in the post inside the hour, assured Illyia would get the warning the next day by noon. He then returned to his ‘odd jobs’.

    Meanwhile in Tingerhof, Allendretta’s Library divulged a few more things Dajjal didn’t know yet, including rumor of an ancient ritual being developed by an Etran researcher that sounded a lot like Slaggoth. He spent whatever time he could spare with Allendretta, enjoying the company of a fellow bookworm and arcanist.

    While Alyn and Mahim were discussing business matters with the residing founders, Thia and Thalolan invited Illyia and Alyn to a ‘friendly little dinner, just the four of us’… a prospect that brought an immediate blanch, then a blush, then a blanch again to Alyn’s face. Illyia, for the first time in the more than year he’d known her, saw something resembling attraction in the tall, lithe woman’s eye. She shakily agreed, and he did as well, bringing giggles of glee from the two forest elves. Thia and Thalolan rushed out to arrange everything, including conscripting Diplo, the guild cook and several of the waitstaff into their soiree.

    As sunset slowly descended onto Half Point, Illyia dressed in some of his finer haberdashery and met Thia, Thalolan and Alyn downstairs in the guildhall lobby. Alyn was dressed in a beautiful velvet dress of navy edged in gold lace, floor length and off the shoulder, and peeking from her bodice on a delicate silver chain was a small, silver charm of a crescent moon… a symbol Illyia recognized as that of the goddess, Sehannine Moonbow. The two elves led them out of the Heroes’ Haven and along the footpath into the stone druid circle in the center of the property, where they found a candlelit table had been appointed with the finest accoutrements and set for an exquisite but intimate meal for four. Aside the table, Diplo and the one of the waitstaff from the Blind Boggle Inn stood ready to serve and pristinely dressed, him in his white Chef’s Gear of Quality and her in her blue and white maidservants uniform.

    The foursome were seated and five delicious courses were served, and the evening was spent in pleasant conversation as the night sky deepened into ever darkening hues of indigo. The four barely noticed Diplo and his assistant had disappeared at some point after dessert was served, and the night breeze was warm and hinting at the soon approach of summer. The conversation turned to details of Alyn’s history, how she got started in the hospitality profession and what ultimately led her to taking the job as Half Point’s steward, and Illyia found her stories enthralling. At a moment, the two realized that they were alone, the two elves managing to somehow disappear into the evening without notice. It was getting rather late into the night, so Illyia escorted Alyn back to the Heroes’ Haven, up the colonnade to the second floor and the door of her room, and said goodnight with a gentle kiss.

    Once Alyn safely retired into her chamber, Illyia returned to his basement bedroom with an added spring in his step, excited at the prospect of this new romance. Little did he know or notice, that villainy was already afoot in the Heroes’ Haven.

0200, Zol, 3 Milos, 3E1000

    Illyia’s Noae Elithor was proceeding happily and deeply, when something moved in his room next to him. He brought his trance to an end as quickly as he could, but as he groggily awakened he saw a shadowy figure move with lightning speed and a flash of steel. He tried to roll out the bed to his left, but in his slumber he was too slow, and the felt anguish as two blades found their mark in his chest. He then noted a third sensation as the venom from the assassin’s poisoned weapons began to spread from his wounds, a burning sensation making ever more difficult to breath. He was far too familiar with this tactic, and had used it many times himself. He was, convinced, a dead man.

    As darkness closed in around him, the shadowy figure sat down on the bed beside him, rested his hand on Illyia’s chest for a moment, and then grabbed his chin to turn his head to face him. The man was dressed head to toe in black, and the his head was covered in a wrapping leaving only an eye slit exposing the almond shaped eyes of a person of Shou or Mulan descent.

    “That door was a pain in the ass. I expected the Arcane Lock. I thought the mechanical lock back up was a bit of overkill. I can’t believe I missed the needle trap…” He pulled his right glove of his hand, exposing a serious gouge in his middle finger, which he put in his mouth, sucked at and spat a wad of blood out onto the floor.

    “Drow poison? Really?” He leaned into the blanched, slack face, centered in Illyia’s last view. “No matter. Lord Daemonne says, ‘Goodbye’.”

    The shadowy figure stood and walked casually out Illyia’s door into the hallway beyond. And the universe went black.

    Meanwhile and elsewhere in the Heroes’ Haven, Beeblebrox awoke suddenly as a shadowy figure standing over top of his bed suddenly lashed out at him with twin shortswords. The nimble monk rolled off his bed in a flash, one of the attacks finding their mark in his back. He felt the surge of the poison from the blade, but his Stout heritage coupled with the constitution built from years of monk conditioning allowed him to resist its effects. He got a hand on the assailant, flipped him clean off his feet, jumped on top of the ninja’s chest to pin him to the ground, and proceed to pummel the assassin to death. He then slipped through his secret door and down the ladder to the Heroes’ Haven hidden escape tunnel system.

    Thia and Thalolan were snuggled together in their bed when the attack came, two shadowy figures flanking the bed and aiming for each of them. Thia rolled off the bed as Thalolan gave her a solid push, trying to keep her from the brunt of the blows. The ploy worked, mostly, as only one blade found its mark, the poison and the edge wounding but not killing her. Thalolan then rolled the opposite direction to no avail, and both of the assassin’s strikes struck home, leaving him sick and bleeding but on his feet… barely. Thia cast a Fog Cloud that filled her room while she and Thalolan dashed toward the secret door into her private room, and as she did she mentally commanded the illusory ceiling to generate a thunderstorm… completely harmless, but a hopeful distraction for the attackers who were already lost in the fog. To add to their problems, Thalolan cast Spike Growth as they crashed through the secret door and barred it behind them, filling the already fog-filled room with floor and walls of nothing but razor-sharp brambles.

    The two elves rushed down the escape ladder and along the hidden passage to the end, where a secret door and hidden peephole exited into the basement hallway heading towards Illyia’s room. They looked a moment before bursting into the hall, and saw another of the assassins walking across the basement training room toward the stair. He heard them and turned, a look of recognition on his face at seeing Thia, and moved towards them to attack. Thalolan Wild Shaped into a lion and pounced, tearing the ninja limb-from-limb. Thia mentally called Potema, ordered her to call the pack and come join the fight. A moment later, Beeblebrox burst from the secret door to the other set of escape tunnels and assisted the Thaloloan-the-lion in dispatching the assassin. Once the attacker was dead, he grabbed his Earring of Communication and transmitted, “Heroes’ Haven is under attack.”

0300, Zol, 3 Milos, 3E1000

    Will the Heroes 4 Hire survive the assassins’ attack on the Heroes’ Haven? What else does Lord Daemonne’s wrath have in store for them? What is the fate of the other residents of Half Point?

    Find out next week, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!

Home at Half Point: Reset, Regroup, Recharge
"Did he get us up outta bed just to kill a spider?"


1800, Sar, 28 Ayre, 3E1000

    The Heroes 4 Hire retired from their homecoming reverie to the comfort of their own rooms and beds for a well-earned night’s rest. As they slept, Illyia Baham snapped out of his Noae Elithor in the middle of the night to sound of the door to his room creaking open. The hallway beyond appeared empty, for a moment, and then slowly a large, dark arachnid leg extended into the room on the ceiling… followed by another. To Illyia’s dismay he saw a Giant Spider crawl past his door inverted, and shoot a blob of webbing at him as he began to move from his bed, sticking him fast. As the spider scuttled toward him, Illyia concentrated on the barracks located on the second floor of the Heroes’ Haven Guildhall and activated his custom Ring of Dimension Door, teleporting out of the webbing and finding himself standing amongst several dozen slumbering guild members.

    He woke three of the young adventurers from their rest, and commanded them to don their combat gear as quickly as possible and follow him. The blurry-eyed fighters complied and Illyia led the group to the hallway to his room in short order, his keen hearing picking up a whispered comment between two of his reinforcements, “I can’t believe we’re accompanying Illyia Baham on a mission!” Illyia grinned to himself, until they reached his room and found… nothing. No spider, no tracks and no trace, other than the blob of slack webbing encrusting Illyia’s bed and part of the wall. The earlier admiration turned into a different whisper, “Did he get us up outta bed just to kill a spider?”

    Illyia pointed out the web-blob, “GIANT! …Spider.” He then led a floor-by-floor search for the monstrosity, but found nothing.

0800, Sul, 1 Milos, 3E1000

    Smedley “Deadly” Hampton arose early, a bit before dawn, and departed on his horse south for the day-long ride to Anchorhead. The rest of the Heroes 4 Hire spent the day to their own devices and activities, enjoying some well-earned downtime at their comfortable estate. Illyia ran the Rogue’s Den obstacle course for the first time in over six months, and besides a few forgotten tricks and methods made it through it with a minimal of wear-and-tear. Lt. Diplo Norixius spend most of his day in the kitchen with the cooks and Alyn Quin, whom he discovered was a rather talented cook herself… not necessarily to the professional, signature chef level like himself, but the girl had a real knack for ‘down home country-style’ recipes that stick to your bones and everyone loves.

    Naïlo Thia and Erendriel Thalolan spent the entire day in each other’s company, hunting in the morning with Potema, shooting on the archery range around noon and obliviously nauseating everyone with their twitterpation all day long. Alton Beeblebrox taught a day-long hand-to-hand combat course for the guild newbies down in the training room (affectionately called the ‘Fight Pit’), which drew as many ‘not-so-new’ guild members as well. Bruises were earned, not to mention a few nosebleeds, but all in all no training dummies were hurt during the execution of the lesson.

    The rest of the staff went about their daily routine as usual. The E.Bay Trading Post bought and sold wares, the DVT branch downstairs banked and warehoused. The Blind Boggle Inn fed and housed its guests in style and comfort, the Forge forged and the Stables stabled. Diplo preached a little in the Chapel, and the Stonehenge-like stone circle stood quietly in the grove of trees central to the estate, a silent testament to all things druidic. And all of it under the watchful presence of The Happy Lady, proudly placed in the foyer of the Inn where she can greet every guest to Half Point, and work her magic on their spirits.

    Meanwhile, Dajjal spent the past several weeks since the team dropped him off in Tingerhof in Allendretta’s company and Library. There he researched a bevy of rituals and added them to his book. He dined with Allendretta often, and the two had long conversations over a myriad of subjects. Dajjal found Allendretta grew more comfortable with him over time, even so much so as to occasionally forget herself and smile.

1800, Sul, 1 Milos, 3E1000

    With their triumphant return to their homestead, how much time will the Heroes take for themselves? How long can they afford to leave Lord Daemonne’s plot unresolved? Where did that Giant Spider go?

    Tune in next week, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!

Ruins of Sorrow: The Breland King
Come join in the eternal reverie!


1500, Wir, 25 Febryan, 3E1000

    The Heroes 4 Hire watched the glowing, sparking barriers coalesce between the pillars, impeding access to the giant, blue crystalline structure beyond. Lt. Diplo Norixius, stepped forward and touched the barrier, receiving an instant shock but escaping unhurt due to his Blue Dragon heritage. After some discussion as to how to penetrate the barrier, or if they even should, Illyia Baham remembered that the aura he saw through the Gem of Seeing surrounding the statue of the unknown king downstairs in the shrine identically matched the blue electro-force barrier they faced now. The team divided in two, half proceeding to the shrine and half staying in the Library with the barrier.

    Once down in the shrine and in front of the statue, the team realized they, possibly, knew who this was. The statue with its crown and scepter, that decayed and necrotized before the eyes of Naïlo Thia, reminded them all of an old legend, well-known across all of Caledonia and based in the country of Breland:

    A king of Breland, powerful and popular, was overcome in his elder years by fear of death and obsessed over finding immortality. No one knows exactly what he did in his pursuit of his quest; some surmise he sold his soul to a devil, while others assumed that he, being an accomplished and renowned arcanist, dallied with powers best left alone. Either way, he transformed into something unnatural, and when his people shunned him for his hideousness and shrank from him in fear, his rage was unleashed upon them.
    When his anger subsided, the king saw what he had done to his own beloved people, and his sorrow and despair drove him mad. He fled his lands, never to be seen again.

    With the recognition of the Breland King, the half of the team in the shrine approached with caution and investigated the statue once more. They asked Erendriel Thalolan to cast Dispel Magic on the statue, and in a moment the aura was gone, as was the barriers. The team reunited in the Library, and Dajjal put a hand upon the crystal and was instantly gone. The team froze as they realized his disappearance, but Dajjal saw something much different.

    When he touched the crystal, the room instantly changed, and he was standing in a large octagonal foyer with a wide hallway proceeding out of it to the north. Torches and wall sconces began to light themselves in sequence down the hall, and he could see it opened into a much larger chamber beyond. The spaces were ornate, but dusty, as if untouched by the living in centuries. Suddenly feeling very much alone, he put his hand back on the crystal, and just as instantly was standing back in the Library surrounded by his friends.

    With the crystal basically understood, the team teleported through it to the octagonal foyer and proceeded up the hallway, stopping just short of the threshold to the larger chamber beyond. It was massive; dual lines of columns flanked the sides of a great open stone floor, stretching to the limits of sight to an ornately arched ceiling above. At the opposite end a great stone colonnade rose up to a second level above. Stone stairs flanked the entrance where they stood, leading up to catwalks along the outer walls that also led to the second level at the opposite end. And at the top of the grand colonnade sat a great stone throne, and on it a decaying skeleton, some rotting flesh still clinging to its bones under mouldering royal regalia. An ornate-but-tarnished crown rest askew on the back of its skull, and an equally tarnished scepter lay in the crook of its left elbow.

    The Heroes began to discuss, but Smedley “Deadly” Hampton acted first with his bow and bounced an arrow squarely off the skeletal skull from the hallway. The previously dark and lifeless chamber… slowly… rose back to consciousness. The skeletal figure sat up slowly, repositioned the crown properly on its head, placed its right elbow on its knee and its sceptered fist on its left hip, and stared down from its lofty throne.

    “And what do YOU want?” the Breland King asked incredulously, obviously unharmed by Smeldey’s barb. The floor at the base of the colonnade began to come alive with spectral shapes, formless at first but coalescing over time into shapes of people, dancing in an never-ending ball, aristocracy to be sure. Spectral men-at-arms stood sentry along the walls, seemingly unaware of the Heroes presence and barely watching the dancers.

    The Heroes apologized for the interruption, asked a few mundane questions and receive curt, clipped answers for their troubles. When they said they would leave, the Breland King invited them to come in and join his ball. At the sound of that prospect, the Heroes ran for the crystal to the sound of insane cackling, successfully teleporting back to the Library.

    The team took sometime shaking off the freezing cold that had gripped their very souls. They discussed the Dark Priest and what they should do next, and it was agreed upon that they would head south overland to the capital city of Bree to seek trainers to advance their skills. They also agreed to set up a daily task of Scrying on the Dark Priest, hopefully to ascertain his whereabouts and destination. Dajjal would stay behind at the ruins, to search and study in the Library, and stay well clear of the crystal.

0600, Zor, 26 Febryan, 3E1000

    The Heroes 4 Hire, minus Dajjal, set out and traveled five days south over the grasslands of central Breland. Once arrived in the capital, it took little time for them to find the appropriate training masters and begin their advancement training. After twenty long, grueling days of work and sweat and bruises, the team gathered their wagons and mounts and rode the five-day journey back the way they came, back to the Ruins of Sorrow.

    In their absence, Dajjal found much of worth in the library’s contents, but unfortunately most of it he already knew. However, he did decided to revisit the Breland King by himself, teleporting through the crystal and again staying well short of the threshold of main audience chamber. As if on cue, the Breland King sat up from his slumber on his throne. Dajjal asked him how he had found eternal life, and the King rebuked him, saying, “This is NOT life!! THISTHIS is eternal DEATH!” Unfazed, Dajjal asked more questions, and the Breland King baited him, hinting that he may know what Dajjal ultimately wants to know… and he can join his soiree, if he chooses, and see for himself.

    Dajjal changed subjects to the Dark Priest, and the Breland King admitted that ‘Lord Daemonne’ had visited with him regularly during his stays at the Ruins, that He-the-King-himself had advised the Dark Priest and originally steered him to the items and knowledge he sought. And, the Breland King knew what Lord Daemonne was after:

    “He seeks to return his daughter to life, his precious little girl that was tragically killed so long ago.” Dajjal asked why a more routine form of resurrection wasn’t used. “Oh, he’s tried them all, to be sure, Boy. But you see, therein lies the rub. The usual resurrections still cannot violate free will… the SOUL has to WANT to comeback. And apparently, she… does not!” The King let out a maniacally evil cackle, and Dajjal pressed for the solution this Lord Daemonne seeks.

    “Oh, this is the most precious of all. Tharizdun has spoken to him in his dreams, told him of a ritual that can force the soul back into the body, free will or not. It can wrench the soul out of the hands of the Sovereign Host themselves, and back into its corporeal form. Well,… into ‘A’ corporeal form anyway. But, its a fool’s errand, and he’s just the fool to trust what he’s been told by one of the Dark Eight… or by an old, dead King.”

    Dajjal asked about the ritual, and was provided a few details, but the most pivotal of the Breland King’s answers was the timing of the ritual. "Power of this magnitude is not normally available on the Prime Material. Only once in a millennium does a very narrow window open to perform such a rite. Your friend is on a stringent schedule, you see. He has to gather the items. He has to learn the incantations and the performance factors. He has to get the offering. And he has to perform it at EXACTLY the right moment. Only once in a millennium, Boy… " The King let the word hang in the silence for a moment.

    It suddenly dawned on Dajjal like a thunderbolt… something he has seen in many of his books and research and tomes, regarding a once-in-a-millennium moment where the powers of the entire cosmos become available to the proper arcanist. “You’re talking about the Great Conjunction!”

    The Breland King seemed amused, if such could be accomplished on the flesh-decayed face and empty eye-sockets, now filled with tiny, bluish points of light. “Yes, Young One! Yes, the one time in a millennium, when all the celestial bodies of Seles align… align in perfect alignment… the alignment of perfection! Of, PREDICTION! The alignment of POWER!!” The tiny points of light in the King’s sockets burned exceptionally bright for a moment, and then subsided back to their usual intensity.

    “When is it?” Dajjal queried, and the King made a gesture as if he rolled his eyes at Dajjal, although through empty sockets.

    “When does our calendar begin? When does the SELESIAN calendar begin? How do we mark time? WHAT YEAR IS IT?” the King demanded, almost standing up from his throne.

    “It is the 6th of Maros, 1000th year of the 3rd Era.” Dajjal kept his voice level and calm and respectful, recognizing the obvious threat.

    The Breland King sat back in his throne, looking irritated and frustrated that his ‘pupil’ is not following as quickly as he’d hoped. In a sardonic voice, the King said, “…and what DEFINES an era?”

    Dajjal felt a little thick as he verbally walked the mental path laid before him by the King. “A millennium is 1000 years.” The King rolled his head, and then nodded, waiting impatiently as his student made the connections. “The era is defined by the Great Conjunction. The new era starts at the end of the Conjunction!”

    The Breland King relaxed into his throne, now assured that his pupil has ‘gotten it’. “…And the calendar? The Date?”

    Dajjal was sure he had it, but he couldn’t help pause for a long time, recalculating to be sure. “The Great Conjunction will happen at the stroke of midnight on the divide between the 28th of Decia, 1000th year of the 3rd Era, and the 1st of Janos, 1st year of the 4th Era. The Dark Priest must perform Tharizdun’s ritual then to bring his daughter back.”

    There was not enough flesh left on the Breland King’s skull to form a smile, but the skull was grinning nonetheless… evil and unnerving.

Sar, 28 Maros, 3E1000

    The Hereos 4 Hire reunited at the Ruins of Sorrow early in the evening, and enthusiastically discussed what they should do next. With the new information Dajjal had collected from the Breland King, it was decided that the party would return to their home at Half Point in Eridae, for some well earned downtime and rest, while continuing the daily scrying and other investigative avenues to divine Lord Daemonne’s next or ultimate destination. They departed the very next morning, during the wane of the Vernal Equinox and rode southbound along the main rode to Ravenmere. There they purchased passage for themselves, their mounts and their wagons, sailing to Tingerhof in Gilder where they changed ships before continuing on. Dajjal remained behind in Tingerhof to visit Allendretta and her Library.

    The rest of the group continued on to Anchorhead, unloaded their wagons and mounts, and set out for the full-day’s ride to Half Point. Illyia sent Nightshade ahead to carry the message of their pending return, and as they approached their homestead they were greeted by their friends and staff, their guild members old and new as well as many of the guests at the Blind Boggle Inn, to an unusual amount of excitement and camaraderie. Alyn Quinn had personally cooked a “Welcome Home” dinner for the Heroes 4 Hire and had it waiting in the dining room of the Heroes Haven Guildhall, and the waitstaff ushered them there as quickly as they could hand off their mounts to the Stablemaster and their weapons and armor to the Smith.

    As the soiree wound down later in the evening, Alyn reported on the financials of the Heroes’ business ventures, recounting the considerable profits the entire operation has been enjoying, and that the morale of the staff has been extremely high. She also suggested a small across-the-board raise for all the staff for their hard work and obvious success. She also mentioned that there had not been word from the Hardby Mine operation in quite some time, and that she was a little concerned about the lack of regular communication.

    After six months of adventuring and travel across the continent, not to mention grueling combat, the evening finally drew to a close and the Heroes 4 Hire retired to a long night’s rest, finally back home in their own beds. The scrying had proved fruitful and revealed a visit to another enclave of the Cult of the Elder Eye followed by arrival at the Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun. The Dark Priest, Lord Daemonne, even with the Temple in his control, could wait.

1800, Sar, 28 Ayre, 3E1000

    With the Dark Priest, Lord Daemonne, firmly in control of the Temple of Tharizdun, what will the Heroes do next? Will they be able to gain the advantage on him and his cult’s renewed numbers? Can the information given to them by the Breland King be trusted?

    Find out next week, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!

Pursuit of a Madman: The Ruins of Sorrow
The Breland King

1200, Wir, 25 Febryan, 3E1000


    The Heroes 4 Hire stashed their wagons and mounts and headed up the hidden forest path to the ruins where the Cult of Elder Elemental Eye had just recently vacated. They paused in the shaded, foreground approach to the entryway and listened, hearing nothing coming from the ruins over the midday chirping of birds, rustling of wind and other sounds of the forest. Illyia Baham sent Nightshade in to reconnoiter the massive archway, where she peeked in the arrow slits and murder holes arranged along the 40’ deep entrance, finding nothing. Illyia proceeded into the entranceway checking for traps, and finding none issued the rest of the team in.

    The archway led to two great oaken doors, almost silver with age and banded in rusted iron. One hung slightly askew on its hinges, and the pair looked as if they had not been touched in millennia. Surprisingly though, when pushed open the doors swung easily and silently on their hinges, a careful attention to detail evident in their maintenance as to not diminish the facade. Beyond they found a 20’ square foyer, with dilapidated busts of stone flanking the walls and another set of double oaken door at the far end… these in perfect repair and free of defect. Beyond those doors, the party moved into a large, octagonal central chamber 40’ square, with hallways and doors departing in all cardinal direction. This room, too, was clean and in good repair. The hallway west was flanked by 3 pairs of full-size statues of various men of some unknown import, but the Heroes did not recognize.

    And so a methodical search began of the first floor of the keep, room by room, where they found various bedchambers, dining rooms, mess halls, barracks, a small library, closets and staircases going up to a second floor and down to a basement. They discovered the same thing in each room… that the furnishings and supplies and accoutrements had been removed, leaving the entire place feeling bare. They moved down a spiral staircase to the basement, where they found more statues standing guard at the entrance to a shrine. They opened the door and found the shrine empty of furniture, but unlike the rest of the structure there was easily an inch of dust covering the floor indicating easily a century from the last time someone set foot in it. 60’ at the opposite end, a two-step dais held a man-sized statue of an unknown king staring over the rectory, complete with crown and scepter.

    Naïlo Thia rushed in towards the statue, but when she reached the center of the shrine, a demon the team recognized as a Nycaloth appeared out of vapor in front of the statue and moved to attack. Seizing the initiative, the team rushed the demon, and quickly surrounded it dealing mountains of damage from blade, hammer, arrow and spell. The Nycaloth teleported from the swarm to where Thia was still standing, but she managed to sense its attack coming and ducked the swing of its greataxe. The party adjusted their attack, and a few seconds later the demon fell, bursting into a fiery plume until it was no more than a pile of ash.

    The team resumed searching the shrine, finding little of interest, save Thia who discovered that staring at the statue long enough produced a vision of the same king figure, suddenly aging at hyper-speed and turning into a skeletal zombification of his former self. A blink of the eye or looking away ended the vision. Illyia made a once-around-the-room with the Gem of Seeing, observing nothing out of place except that the statue was emanating a strange, blue aura riddled with lightning when viewed through the gem.

    The Heroes 4 Hire left the shrine and continued exploring the dungeons beneath the keep. They found a block of prison cells and a torture chamber that also had not been used in centuries. They turned north and found a crypt filled with sealed burial niches, and other than a cursory check through the area they left well enough alone. They turned west and entered an area of the basement that had obviously been well used, maintained and clean, but was otherwise bare as all the furniture and supplies had been removed. As far as the look of it, the chambers here were a kitchen, storeroom and barracks.

    Exhausting the basement level, they returned to the first floor, headed through the huge mess hall they had found in the north of the structure, passed through a set of double door that led to a small antechamber that opened into the bottom of a 50’ diameter tower, complete with stair spiraling the exterior wall and pillar support up the center. The antechamber housed another statue of the unknown king, but as the party passed it a spurt of flame from a trap sprung forth from the vicinity of the statue’s belt buckle and singed Thia and Illyia. It took Illyia about 30 seconds to disarm the trap, and the Heroes ascended to the second floor to continue exploring. There they found a balcony overlooking the mess hall below, and then down a hallway a set of servant’s quarters similarly cleaned out of any valuables.

    Lastly they came upon a great library, seemingly lost to time. Cobwebs and dust abounded among the bookshelves, although the dust betrayed that a few tomes had been taken. In the middle of the room, standing upon a stone plinth, was a great blue crystalline formation 3’ tall. The plinth was surrounded by four pillars, and between each of the pillars a wall of blue electricity and force, creating an impenetrable barrier to prevent access to the crystal. The team slowly gathered around the barrier, observing and pondering what to do next.

1500, Wir, 25 Febryan, 3E1000

    Will the Heroes 4 Hire be able to regain the Dark Priest’s trail now that he knows they are after him? What does the mad Breland King have to do with this? What secret of the giant crystal is the barrier protecting?

    Tune in next week, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!

Battle in Breland: A Fine Line Between...
"I won't metagame! I promise!!" {flipping frantically through the PHB}

1200, Mol, 23 Febryan, 3E1000


    With the ambush set and their quarry squarely in place, the first Fireball loosed from the Heroes 4 Hire’s hide and detonated on the lead wagon in the line, just short of reach of the nefarious Dark Priest. The wagon erupted into a ball of fiery destruction, incinerating the two drivers and horses instantly and throwing bits of debris and ejecta about widely. Smedley “Deadly” Hampton cast Silence upon the first cluster of cultists, which included the Dark Priest, in order to prevent him from casting spells once the cult recovered from the surprise of the ambush. Dajjal immediately brought his horse to a full gallop to close the distance from where he was safely shadowing the caravan.

    Rumblebelly charged forward to the edge of the treeline and roared, striking fear into the hearts of man and beast alike. Most of the mounted cultist lost control of their mounts, and Pandemonium ensued. Horses fled left and right, away from the grizzly’s challenge, with their riders hostage in the saddle and frantically trying to regain control. The horses of the third wagon in the line also succumbed to fear, and the wagon moved southwest across the grassy fields and away from the trail as Fireballs detonated the second and fourth wagons into flaming wreckage.

    Illyia Baham fired arrows at the Dark Priest from behind the invisibility provided by the Sword of Lyons, and Erendriel Thalolan cast Moonbeam and dropped it squarely on the cluster around the Dark Priest as well. Potema, with Naïlo Thia mounted upon her back, charged forward across the fields and ran down the fleeing (and last remaining) wagon, allowing Thia to gymnastically leap to the wagon and attack the drivers. Potema then killed the nearest horse pulling the wagon, and the collapsing beast immediately caused what could only be termed as a ‘high-speed wagon crash’. Thia again displayed her amazing forest-borne dexterity, leaping from the wrecking crash back to Potema, and once the wrecked wagon came to a stop, Potema killed the second horse as well. The crash killed one of the two drivers, but the other managed to tuck-and-roll his way in the grass to relative safety. One of the mounted cultists regained control of his horse, and came riding in to rescue his comrade from the wagon wreck, but Thalolan moved the Moonbeam upon them, killing both the wounded driver and the horse the other rode in on.

    As Dajjal continued to close on the routed caravan, one of the cultists on an out-of-control horse met him in the opposite direction, and Dajjal dispatched him with a few well-placed crossbow bolts. He let the horse continue with its dead rider flopping from the saddle, apparently entangled in the stirrups. He noted he saw another low-level underling, also without control of his mount, fleeing southeast across the plains, and out of range for Dajjal at the moment. He continued toward the main battle area.

    The Dark Priest finally regathered his wits after the surprise of the ambush, and rode his steed forward nearly 20 yards northwest to get out of the Silence effects, calling his men to follow suit as soon as he reached the edge of the spell. Four of his men followed suit, gathering around him in a tight cluster of men and horses. The Dark Priest the released the spellcasting he had held, and through a twisting swirl that seemed to compress the group through a singular hole in space and time itself, the group disappeared in an instant, horses and all.

    Potema attacked the surviving driver from the wrecked, third wagon, rag-dolling him to death like a chew toy. The last of the cult officers, the only one who did not teleport away with the Dark Priest due to his fleeing and out-of-control mount, wildly tried to regain control of his horse as it took him south from the battlefield at full speed. Nightshade followed on the wing, keeping Illyia informed as she flew. Illyia shot two full salvos of Magic Missile through Nightshade at the fleeing criminal, wounding him considerably before he figured out where the rounds were coming from and dispatching the raven with a well placed Guiding Bolt.

    Potema pounced on the last cultist, who lay pinned by his horse that was just killed by Thalolan’s Moonbeam. And just as quickly as it had started, the attack was over, and 34 cultists and 12 horses lie dead, scattered around the burning and wrecked husks of four wagons. The Dark Priest and five of the cult officers had escaped, as had a lone cultist atop an out-of-control horse. As the rage of battle quieted to the simple chirps of birds and slight rustling of wind, the Heroes chose a corpse that was less destroyed than the others, and had Karraway cast Speak with Dead upon it. They asked the animated corpse their five questions, but got little for it.

    The Heroes conferred and formulated a plan, deciding to go search the ruins the cult had just vacated in an attempt to reacquire the Dark Priest’s trail. They traveled the two day journey back to the ruins, spreading rumors of an attack on a caravan on the wagon trail as they passed through the village at the top of the main road. They parked their wagons and pack animals where Dajjal showed them the cult did, and then proceeded to the outskirts of the ruins proper.

1200, Wir, 25 Febryan, 3E1000

    To where did the Dark Priest teleport? Will they be able to regain his trail now that he knows they are after him? Can his mysterious plan be thwarted in time?

    Find out next week, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!

Battle in Breland: Laying 'Bush
"That's like.... 12 Fireballs at our disposal!"

1800, Far, 13 Febryan, 3E1000


    Dajjal maintained a vigil from his concealed observation position until well after midnight, before he began a sweep to reconnoiter the area around the ruins. Finding nothing out of the ordinary, he used Fly to alight atop the less-crumbled of the two watchtowers, listened for a few moments before sticking his head down the spiral stair accessing the tower top. There he saw a landing one floor down and a closed door, before the stair continued to spiral to the floors below. He snuck down to the landing, placed one of his Arcane Eye tokens associated with the Peering Mirror above the door, listened a moment to the sounds of sleeping people from the floors below, then stealthily ascended and returned to his observation blind.

    Meanwhile, Luna invisibly shadowed the Dark Priest as he organized activity amongst the Cult, until he retired for the evening. Then she explored the interior of the ruins, which remained mostly intact, and successfully mapped out the majority of it mentally. The next morning the Cult was extremely active with their lord the Dark Priest in charge, which looked to Luna and Dajjal like some sort of preparation activity.

    Several cultists were dispatched southward on horseback, and Dajjal left Luna to keep tabs on the Dark Priest while he followed the detachment from a stealthy distance. They rode south a day to the nearest village, where they split and half the contingent continued south. Dajjal stayed with the group in the first ville, where they purchased every available horse in the stables and two wagons. They then immediately gathered their purchases and returned north to the ruins, with Dajjal surreptitiously in tow. They stashed the wagons approximately half a mile short of the ruins, off the beaten path and expediently camouflaged, before bringing the gaggle of horses the rest of the way and corralling them in a paddock lashed together by their cult-mates in the meantime. A few days later, the other half of the group also returned with a small herd of horses bringing the count to 20 in the paddock, and Dajjal snuck back to where the wagons were hidden to find two more had been stashed there as well, bringing the total to four.

Wir, 18 Febryan, 3E1000

    The Cult was preparing to move a large force somewhere for something, that much was obvious. Heated discussions flew back and forth across the Earrings of Communication as the team continued it’s approach, still several days of travel away. Dajjal began working on producing several spell scrolls, as he clandestinely observed several days of preparations and loading of supplies and goods for a long travel by the Cult. To him, it appeared they were moving the whole operation out of the ruins to somewhere else.

Sar, 21 Febryan, 3E1000

    The Heroes 4 Hire had pulled within two days travel of the ruins, when the Cult completed it’s preparations and set out for parts unknown… 40 men now dressed in plain traveling leathers, the vestments of the Cult now well hidden… 20 horses either pulling wagons or bearing riders… four wagons brimming with supplies, furniture and materials. The gaggle pulled out of the ruins foregrounds slowly, plodded their way down the hidden path off the hill and out of the forest, a full day’s travel before coming to the nearest village and the main thoroughfare that followed the river south. Dajjal and Luna followed from concealment, and watch closely as the Dark Priest led his cult through the hamlet. At the south end of the ville, he guided the group off the main road and started down the wagon trail the forked off and curved to the west, out across the grassy plains along the south side of the forest, and toward the approaching Heroes.

    Once the direction of travel the cult was taking became clear, another heated discussion occurred across the Earrings, with the Team less than a day’s travel away from the approaching gaggle of cultists. An ambush tactic and location was hastily decided upon, and the Heroes quickly double timed their mounts and draft animals to get there, stash the wagons and animals a healthy distance away from the potential battle, and then arrange themselves in the tree line along the north side of the trail well before the arrival of the cult’s column of travelers. Dajjal sent Luna ahead, carrying several spell scroll containing Fireball, to fly at top speed past the column and deliver the scrolls to his compatriots at their hiding spot. Dajjal stayed in the treeline, following well behind the gaggle as not to be discovered, but close enough to be able to quickly attack when the time came.

    And so, the Heroes 4 Hire hid and Dajjal shadowed, until the group of cultists walked, rode and drove wagons up to the designated spot… the very spot the Heroes had designated for their ultimate doom.

1200, Mol, 23 Febryan, 3E1000

    What dangers await the Heroes 4 Hire on this long plunge into battle with the Dark Priest and his Cult? Will they be able to defeat him and thwart his grand scheme? Will they ever find out what it is?

    Tune in next week, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!

Gilder to Breland: Shadowing Chaos
Tree Stride is not Transport Via Plants

1200, Far, 20 Janosh, 3E1000


    Luna remained invisible as she tailed the Dark Priest back to his inn. Once in the privacy of his room, he spent several minutes donning and doffing the cap, recycling the illusory disguise over and over, obviously trying to ascertain why it suddenly failed in the Library. He eventually ceased, and sat on the edge of the bed for long moments lost in thought. He then took out his notebook, quickly flipping through several pages newly penned with scrawling notations.

    While Luna surveilled, Dajjal and Allendretta shared lunch and pleasant conversation at the kitchen table. Dajjal answered her questions about the Dark Priest and the Heroes 4 Hire’s experiences with him, surmised some possibilities as to his endgame, and in return asked her several related questions based on her obvious experience with ancient lore. They discussed the imprisonment of Tharizdun and the futility of the notion of a jailbreak from Pandemonium, and she dismissed outright the idea that THAT might be what the Dark Priest is ultimately seeking. Dajjal asked her about herself and her abilities with magic, and Allendretta’s guarded nature took over. She offered little more than cryptic hints, raising her sleeve to expose her forearm and showing him what he had earlier assumed were tattoos. Resembling such, he saw swirling bands of silver tracing up her arm back under the sleeve in what was a pattern of almost elvish design. She took his hand and guided his index finger over the ‘tattoo’, where he felt the streak of silver was frigidly cold and metallic, smooth when stroked in one direction and scaly when rubbed in the other.

    Allendretta asked the cook to leave the room, and with a raised eyebrow the red-haired lady complied. Allendretta offered a demonstration, her last cryptic hint, but warned that it would hurt a bit. Dajjal agreed and she took his hands across the table, one in each of hers with her elbows rested on the surface, and stared him in the eye. She glazed over and her irises disappeared, her eyes becoming silvery orbs like liquid mercury. The air around them instantly dropped dramatically in temperature, a hundred degrees at least, and fog condensed instantly right out of the air before rapidly freezing into tiny crystals of ice. Frost formed on the surfaces around them out to nearly 10 feet, and Dajjal could feel the burning, biting pangs of pain on his extremities and exposed skin, the hurt she had promised fulfilled. She held her demonstration for a few tens of seconds longer, and then released it, letting the warmth of the cozy kitchen rush back into the space around the table.

    As Dajjal shook off the extreme cold, Luna broke into his thoughts to inform him that the Dark Priest had sold his horse and was booking passage on a ship leaving tomorrow morning headed for Seggalion in the neighboring country of Florin. Dajjal commanded her to stick with him, and then used the Earring to communicate the new developments to the rest of the team. After a few moments heated discussion, he finally asked Allendretta for a highly experienced druid, to which she referred him to an acquaintance that lived in a woodland cottage a mile or so north of Tingerhof. Dajjal thanked her and departed the Library toward the druid’s house, stopping by the local DVT to grab a pile of coin to accompany him.

    Dajjal found the quaint cottage and met the druid, and amiable man in his late 50’s. He negotiated with the druid for the future casting of a Scry and several Transport Via Plants spells, in anticipation of a dire need to get the team rejoined very quickly from across the continent of Caledonia. He then returned to his room at the inn for a night’s rest after such a busy day.

Sar, 21 Janosh, 3E1000

    The next morning, the ship conveying the Dark Priest set sail for Seggalion, and Dajjal would spend the next ten days perusing titles in the Library and enjoying conversations with Allendretta and her staff. The villain landed in Seggalion just long enough to purchase passage aboard another vessel headed for Ravenmere, in the south of Breland. Luna was right with him and reporting back regularly, staying invisible for so long that the familiar was worried the effect would become permanent. Two days after the Dark Priest sailed for Ravenmere, the team arrived at the northwestern edge of the Silverwood Forest to await the Transport Via Plants Dajjal had arranged, once the Dark Priest’s destination became clear. They kept a comfortable distance back away from the forest’s edge, to respect the territory the tribe of wild elves had claimed on their first encounter.

Mol, 2 Febryan, 3E1000

    Two more days brought the Dark Priest to Ravenmere, situated in the northwestern corner of the three-way intersection of rivers known as the Suann Estuary. There Luna observed him purchase a horse and buy some basic supplies for a road trip, and then depart on the main road heading north along the river. Another hasty discussion over the earrings, and the team departed their campsite near the Silverwood and began an overland trip south into Jacari toward Breland. Dajjal gathered his things, settled up at the inn and headed to the druid he had contracted, stopping at Allendretta’s first to bid her farewell and again emphasize how much he appreciated her help. She told him to be cautious dealing with this Dark Priest, and that she would like it very much if he would come to visit her when this nasty business was settled.

    Dajjal amended the request of the druid to simply get him to as close to Ravenmere as possible. The druid said he could get him as far as Seggalion safely, as he was unfamiliar with anything farther west than Florin. A quick Transport Via Plants later, and Dajjal was booking passage from Seggalion to Ravenmere on the first available ship, literally boarding it minutes before it left port. Safely aboard for the four-day journey to Breland, he was situating his possessions in his cabin when he discovered a piece of parchment neatly folded and wax-sealed in the pocket of his cloak, the seal bearing the mark he had grown over the last days to recognize as the symbol of Allendretta’s Library. Unsure of when she could have slipped it in his pocket, he gently coaxed the seal open and read within.


Dearest Dajjal,
    I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you and the time we spent together. So few understand what we endure as tieflings. It was a breath of fresh air to be able to share some time with someone who could relate.
    Please be careful in your endeavor to thwart your ‘Dark Priest’. Men who found cults are notoriously dangerous and cunning, and anyone this interested in rites and Tharizdun is doubly so. I require you to return and visit me again.

    The “require” was scribed several times over the same spot, giving the otherwise beautiful penmanship an exceedingly boldface effect.

0600, Far, 6 Febryan, 3E1000

    The four-day journey couldn’t pass fast enough for Dajjal, even with the distraction of Allendretta’s note and her Houdini-like placement of it into his pocket. He got his horse and his gear off the ship as fast as he could once it was docked, and then departed Ravenmere up the northern road along the river. He pushed his mount hard in an attempt to make up for the four-day lead the Priest had on him. Eight days he pushed his horse to its limits, but the steadfast mount held through the abusive pace. The gamble paid off, and as Dajjal pulled within range to gain telepathic vision and hearing through his familiar, Luna, he eased up to match pace and not tip off his quarry.

    The Dark Priest rode through the last village at the end of the main road, and continued along the riverbank still following it northward where it entered into a forest as it climbed a hillside. Although there was no trail to be followed, the Priest seemed to be following an unseen path that he was obviously intimately familiar. They continued following the river upstream, up the wooded hillside, until he arrived just prior to dusk at a set of ancient stone ruins, lost to time and completely overgrown by the forest itself. Dajjal tied his horse up well off what he perceived to be the path and several hundred yards shy of the ruins, before he took an observation position out of sight from the ruins and their surrounds. Luna invisibly followed the villain into the ruins, where her telepathic link showed Dajjal a stronghold of cultists he recognized as the Cult of Evil Chaos… the cult he had briefly served almost two years ago. They had numbers… and they were referring to the Dark Priest as “Sire” and “Count”.

    Dajjal quietly relayed what he was seeing to the rest of the team, now passing through the heart of Jacari, and still an estimated ten days travel from where Dajjal estimated the ruins to be…

    Ten days.

1800, Far, 13 Febryan, 3E1000

    Will the team be able to rejoin with Dajjal at his hidden observation position before the Dark Priest moves again? What does he intend coming to this secret stronghold of the Cult of Evil Chaos? What will he do next?

    Find out next time, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!


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