Trouble Brewing

Alain's Journal - Day 1

What a horrible day it has been. My first day back in Thornhold after 4 years of fruitless travel, and I’m welcomed back with not so much as a bow from the gate guard. To think that they would forget the proper respect due to a member of House Azuril! To add to such nonsense, I find that the first tavern I walk into is about as clean as a Rhythian fisherman’s galley. Complete with a sputtering imbecile of a beggar at the door.

This is when the fun begins. Three guards walk in, demanding that a robed Tiefling accompany them to a crime-scene. Unwittingly, they drag me into it as well, even after explaining that I have no relation with the swordsman! An annoying Gnome Bard ‘detective’ and his giant, inebriated Dragonborn friend come too. After examining the charred remains in a burnt house, we discover a silvery residue on the bodies, accompanied by a bizarre symbol branded to their foreheads. My knowledge extended far enough to identify the substance as alchemical in nature, but nothing more. It was at my revelation of this fact that one of the guards pointed us in the direction of an uptown alchemist by the name of Orin.

After a truly barbaric threat at Orin’s door by Thael, the alchemist quickly let us in his dwelling. After explaining our situation, the gnome told us that the substance is produced by a device called a Spectrograph, and revealed that a spectrograph of his was stolen 3 moons previous. As Orin pushed us out, I noticed that more of that silvery substance was all over one of the walls. Maybe something to ask about later…

After Warryn convinced the guard, Phillip, to stand guard over Orin, we proceeded to investigate for leads, and ended up in the Street of Red Lanterns, inquiring about the mystical half-skull goblin gang. After some deft verbal maneuvering by Warryn, we entered the inner sanctum of the gang’s domain to meet the boss. All was going smoothly, until the same bum at the tavern burst in, armed to the teeth and sheathed in iron scales. A fight ensued, and in the scuffle, I was pushed through a kind of portal to a sunlit courtyard. We slew every aggressive goblin, and after a time it became clear to us that the portal crossed the bridge of time itself, taking us some 40 years in the past!

Upon investigating, we discovered that the half-skull gang was still active, yet still a fledgling organization, comprised solely of local human citizens, young and impressionable. Lucious, the avenger, slipped into the dark of night to spy on a meeting by the courtyard. Chased by guards, Lucious was in dire straits, but we got away in time and barely escaped them with our lives. We returned to the present, and things were the same, except that nobody in the club recognized us… strange considering we very recently killed a lot of their buddies. After resting for a bit, Lucious relayed to us his findings.. he witnessed a robed figure ordering the gang to start recruiting from the more savage races since the gang isn’t growing fast enough. He also approached one of the youths and gleaned from him information regarding the spectrograph & that it has been used in this time period. Lucious says he killed the boy in self-defense.. but I’m not so sure about that.

This has intrigued me immensely. I can feel something big coming from this, and how ironic that I have found more adventure and more promise of power, after 4 years abroad, in the very place I left!

Alain's Journal - Day 2

What a good rest, I recommend this B&B to anyone who’s willing to pay the 15 gold a night.

So, setting out to continue our investigation, I notice that the Inn we stayed at in the past has changed. No external decor, save for a small sign emblazoned with a jawless skull. Curious, I knock, and a voice on the other side asks our business. Warryn, in an impressive display of wordcraft, convinces the doorman, and everyone else in the place that we are part of this apparently secret meeting among the higher echelon members of the half-skull gang, and a manifestation of their boss, accompanied by the same mysterious symbol that was on the burn victims. The people in the room are ordered to go back through the portal, retrieve the spectrograph, and kill the carrier. Deceiving one of the two groups of leaders on a wild goose chase, we run hot on the heels of the Elf and his coterie of Lizardfolk bodyguards.

After killing one of the lizardmen in the dark of night, we entered the same Inn. Spotting some young gang-members, Warryn and I form a plan to get info on the carrier from them. Laying an illusory half-skull tattoo on the gnome’s arm, while he trapped them in threats and deceit, the young men told him that a boy named Revin has the device. A visit to the boy’s house reveals an empty room, and a clueless grandmother, though she says that he frequents the courtyard barricade often. We found the boy impaled on the barricade, and after distracting the guards, we deduce that the Elf killed him, took the Spectrograph, and returned to the present. After a hectic chase through the market district, we lost him…

Returning to Orin’s home, we find the place empty.. I do find a secret door in the residue-stained wall, and stairs leading down to a hidden subterranean lab. I find a veritable hoard of alchemical supplies; I’ll sort through them later, and three Spectrographs!!! Curious at this new development, we all delve deeper in this tunnel complex. We find Phillip, vivisected on a slab, with some strange notes regarding a parasitic host experiment..? Further within, Lucious slices through a soft section of ceiling, and discovers a way to the courtyard in present-day. Interesting. Deeper in the tunnels, we enter a large cave, with a rune bedecked altar. It’s origin is unknown to me, but I can sense a power about it. We battle a trio of fiendish Hyenas, and a bizarre shapeshifting Hobgoblin. I sure hope we don’t have to encounter another one of those vicious and unpredictable creatures. It seems that our initial goal of finding this device is solved, but why did those people have to burn? What is the gang / cult really up to?

After the tense battle, we proceeded to investigate the strange pool of viscous gray muck taking up a large area of the cave. After summoning an Unseen Servant to dig through the slime, a host of bizarre alien Fell Taints emerged! Barely achieving victory with our minds intact, we drove on through the darkened corridor from whence the Hyenas came. Soon after, we arrived in Orin’s secret workshop, lit only by a brilliant blue light emanating from a teleportation circle flanked by two large brass tables. Investigating a large bookshelf on the left wall, we were nearly crushed as the Elf and his remaining Lizardfolk servant pushed the bookcase over. I received a nasty blow to the shoulder, and was scorched by that treacherous little Gnome bastard when he slipped out from under a table. Poor Warryn was nearly rent asunder by the Elf’s twin blades, yet we carried swift vengeance upon all, including Orin, as he made an attempt to escape from us.

Lucious heard scuffling and voices from the tunnel, and we quickly pursued them to the courtyard. After some searching, we ended up at the door of an out-of-breath Tiefling. With careful negotiation, he let us in his home, and admitted his spying on us. To complete the revelation, the Tiefling “Mercy”, told us that he was responsible for killing the Eye servants at the burned home, and him being the leader of the Half-Skulls. According to him, his gang has been trying to eradicate the Eyes from within, posing as innocent hired muscle for the nefarious cabal. He asked for our help in strengthening their numbers to take this cult down, however, it meant we would have to join him. I disagreed completely, joining a gang of savage cretins and lowly ragamoffins is a preposterous idea. With a lengthy debate, Warryn and Mercy convinced me to join, for the good of Thornhold. I’m still unhappy with this whole ordeal, Mercy has sent us to Rhythia to find recruits, seeing as how I spent 4 years there….

Alain's Journal - Current Studies 1

I’m almost reaching conclusions with several arcane studies. Both spells originated from the native practices of Rhythia, and I trust that both will prove effective in this current mystery here in Thornhold.

Shadow Serpent: emphasis on third somatic sequence & slightly less hiss on first verbal sussuration…

Float: don’t forget the hop at the end!

Also, I think I can find a way to safely attach Alchemist’s Fire/Frost/Acid to arrows & bolts with a little more experimenting. Not that I use a bow, however, it could bring in a little extra gold.
Supplemental: Very close to completing Tanglefoot formula. Need to get into University library for “Vyren’s Alchemy vol. 4”.

Rowan thinks that fellow “Rambo” is pretty “awesome”.... I guess it’s a Dragonborn thing. I wish he’d stop complaining about his new body, it was his choice to come back in the first place.

Spotted some Amanita growing by the courtyard fountain! I can get down to some serious work on that infuriatingly complex healing poultice recipe..

Bizarre Hobgoblin shapeshifter.. perhaps caused by disease, or possibly cursed. Which is the original form, or is it a unique species? Definitely a top research priority when I’m allowed back in the University.

Alain's Journal - Day 12

Fresh off the boat from Thornhold, to the village of Hunun. It’ll be a week-long trek along the Jungle Road till we reach Rhythia...

I can’t believe I’m back here again. I was just here less than a moon before, thinking about how glad I was to return home. I come back to Thornhold after 4 years, and within 3 days I’m back on a boat.. back to Rhythia. I didn’t even get to see my family, or the University. Hopefully this trip won’t take that long, so I can do what I originally set out to do.

We start our hike tomorrow.

Alain's Journal - Day 13

Nothing exciting today trekking through the perilous Rhythian jungle.. except for a near fatal encounter with the local wildlife.

Apparently we encroached on Bullywug territory, and we were forced to lay waste to a squad of the vile Toad-men. To make things worse, a mobile predatory plant came out of the brush and joined in the havoc, and soon after the fight a dreaded Cockatrice attacked us, drawn by the blood and sounds of battle. I suffered several vicious wounds, which Warryn healed. Regardless, tonight I have gained a sort of enlightenment after my near-death experience. I feel an untapped energy flowing through me, and a new sense of vigor. Tonight I will work on my current studies; I have a good feeling about them.

Alain's Journal - Current Studies 2

I’ve finished everything from my last entry! What luck to find the volume I needed on that despicable Gnome’s bookshelf.

So far I’ve been trying to decipher a scroll I bought off the cartographer in Hunun, it’s an offensive spell manipulating cold energy.. it might be a while until I figure it out.

Orin had quite a lot of goodies in his workshops. I’ve been busy studying his texts and examining the various components. So far I’m working on a sort of blinding bomb, a concentrated poison, a flammable tar-bomb, a muscle-stiffening oil, and an ectoplasmic dampening oil. Also, I’m still working on that dratted Herbal Poultice.

Fell Taints, and entities associated with them: The Eyes were planning on bringing something into the world, possibly from the realms beyond the fabric of reality. I hesitate to delve into such insane lore, but it must be done soon.. I would prefer doing it in the safety of the university.

Alain's Journal - Day 14

In the morning of the last day before reaching Blackjaw Swamp, Lucious and I decided to scout ahead. I still don’t quite understand why I decided to do such an idiotic thing, because we payed for it. The two of us fell a good 60 feet down a narrow chasm that was obscured by the undergrowth. Luckily the chasm was narrow enough for us to grab handfuls of root on the way down, turning a most unpleasant death into a light battering…

While Warryn and Natty went off to find something to pull us up, we noticed that there was a cracked and dirty stone door set into the overgrown earth. Walking in, we were beset upon by a clutch of Kruthiks nesting in the root formations dominating the cave. After the struggle, we found a chest; with difficulty, Lucious forced it open to find a good amount of gold and some healing potions.

Continuing along a torchlit tunnel, we enter a two-level cave; the higher level ringing the lower and accessed by rough stone steps across the room. At the top of the steps, we encountered a pair of vicious Kobolds with crude spears. They proved no match, until the bones scattered across the lower level animated into a pair of undead Skeletons! After the bloody battle, we searched the cave and found a key to the large stone door barring our progress, and a curious magic Orb flush with crimson energy swirling in its core.. a most fortunate find.

After following polished stone steps upwards for a time, we entered a semi-circular chamber of marble.. some sort of gallery full of paintings, urns, and various curios. Skittering down the room from another set of stairs, 5 kobolds tried to kill us, and did not succeed. The last two kobolds succumbed to the sinister power of this new Orb… both kobolds were bleeding and battered, and suddenly the orb started to call out to me. I answered that call, and the crimson energy turned black.. suddenly both kobolds expelled huge torrents of blood from their wounds, killing them in most gruesome fashion.

Among the old and ruined items in the gallery, Lucious pulled out a gleaming blade, its steel laced with crimson. It held a wicked sharp edge, and coursed with magic power. Pleased with his find, Lucious led the way up the steps to the surface.

It seems that this was an old tower, for the steps led to the middle of the what would have been the tower’s main chamber. All that remained of the structure was a ring of stones, and some disjointed walls. The soil beneath us began to churn, and we quickly hopped away from an emerging figure. Out of the hot earth a blazing skeleton dragged itself up. Lucious engaged the flaming undead assured by his resistance to heat, and his new weapon. I dispatched a swarm of kobolds that thought to take advantage of our distraction; the puny scratches of the kobolds only fueled the fires of Lucious’ retributive power, making short work of the fiery undead.

Drawn to the sounds of battle, Warryn and Natty found us resting from our nice little detour in the blasted jungle. I can’t wait to sleep in a bed, and eat some real food.

Alain's Journal - Day 15

It was early today that we were ambushed by a band of foul Bullywugs again. After the struggle, we interrogated the dying mudpriest, and he told us upon his last breaths a horrible truth: the Bullywugs are being led by a group of Lizardfolk who are going to summon a demon into the world. Following the tracks of the frog-men, we searched for the site of this ritual.

Not long after, we approached a massive tree, its roots a gnarled fortress over a man high. We nearly passed it, when suddenly a team of Bullywugs leaped out from the roots, accompanied by a disgusting centipede 6 feet in length! With the beasts dead at our feet, we discovered a tunnel leading underground at the tree’s roots. As we delved this dungeon, we fought more of the frog-men, and a handful of vicious Lizardfolk. Following the sound of chanting, we espied the Lizard mage in the final stages of the summoning. He was surrounded by allies.

Without hesitation, Lucious quick-stepped into the chamber and cleft a Bullywug in twain before the others knew what was happening. We were too late to prevent the summoning, and the Lizard mage gave us a reptilian grin as the Runespiral Demon floated menacingly behind him. The entire chamber was a storm of electricity and fire as we fought the creatures. It was Lucious who killed the demon, sundering its shell in a single blow and impaling its body with his radiant blade. There was nothing left of the fiend… we may have saved many lives today. Hooray us.

That night we heard bootsteps crunching through the undergrowth towards our camp. Prepared for the worse, we were relieved to hear a calm voice hail us, and request our succor. Out of the darkness, emerged a large Dragonborn, armed and armored, introducing himself as Dragonov, adventurer and military tactician. Sensing no danger from this new ally, we invited him to accompany us to Rhythia, and he gladly accepted, relieved to not be alone in the wilds anymore.

Alain's Journal - Day 16

Today we left the jungle and entered the Blackjaw Swamp, a dismal, sludge-filled marsh caused by the river delta that runs through the desert. We found a chest today pinned underwater by a fallen tree. Natty showed off his muscles by moving the tree aside, and Lucious used his 6-foot “lockpick” to open it. Always nice to find free gold!

However, being ambushed by two Ankhegs and their broodlings was not nice. After we exterminated the lot, we found some past adventurers who were not as lucky, one was wearing a shining suit of magic chain, which Dragonov relinquished with much pleasure.

Later, we spotted a sapphire atop an ancient battle-standard thrust in the ground. Good thing I spotted all the poisonous spores on the ground, or we would have walk through it to get the jewel. Natty braved the spores and came back with the treasure with only minor swelling.

As the sun began to set, we came across a ramshackle hut in the marsh, the windows lit with eerie green light. A beautiful, albeit crazed looking woman regarded us at the door. As we approached, we could plainly see that she was in the process of dragging a heavily drugged girl into her domicile.. for experimental vivisection as she plainly admitted.. Seeing the many signs, I realized that this was no ordinary woman, but a Hag wearing a young woman’s skin! I advised not to invoke her ire, but to instead persuade her to let the girl go. She made a big fuss, but decided to trade her for 200 gold. A small price to pay; I will remember this place so I can return when I am stronger. This dark magic cannot go on, the whole area stank of necromancy. That night, we settled camp on a patch of dry ground. The girl introduced herself as Rhona, a noble’s daughter from Rhythia captured and traded off to that horrible hag. She’s got a lot of spirit, and is very intelligent; I admit that I could not take my eyes off of her.. it took all my concentration that night to not break my vow of celibacy. The last thing I need is a beautiful girl accompanying us, giving me unwanted temptations that if surrendered to, would break my marriage to the Art and cripple my power. I’ll just ignore her, for both of our sakes.

There was a tall pedestal in our camp, with an inscription on it. Dragonov deciphered that the crystal atop the pedestal would reveal the answer to the inscribed riddle. We’ll see about that, for now I should rest, and try not to think about women.

Alain's Journal - Day 17

A heat wave settled over Blackjaw Swamp today. It’s so humid, I can hardly breathe. Just one more day until the golden spires of Rhythia will be in sight..

As dawn broke, a shaft of sunlight refracted through the crystal on the mysterious pedestal. It twisted the light into the shape of a crescent moon, projected on the ground nearby. After a while pondering, we set about digging at the spot, and discovered a stone sarcophagus holding the remains of a noble knight. All was ruined and rotted, except for the knight’s sword. The moment Nattie held it, the dust sloughed off the weapon as frigid cold energy coursed across the blade! Paying respects the the fallen knight, Nattie swore to honor the blade in the former owner’s name.

Early in the day, we ran into a group of merchants on their way to Hunun. Their wagon broke down, and none of the merchants could get it up and running again. With the aid of Dragonov and Nattie, the merchants were able to continue to the village, and they rewarded us with a sack of gold. Not long after, Lucious spotted something gleaming in the root tangles. It was a golden shield emblazoned with two snakes. With a heroic show of strength, Nattie wrenched the shield free, and was satisfied to discover it had magical properties! (Flamedrinker Shield)

Later on, we stumbled on a camp of 30 desert raiders hiding in the marsh. Carefully and slowly we slipped passed them unnoticed, taking some valuables with us.

An hour later, we were ambushed by a 12 foot tall Ogre! Before any of us could react, all we heard was a tremendous crash and a sickening wet sound… the Ogre lay dead, impaled on a jagged tree stump. Lucious had tripped the brute at the last second, turning what would have been a serious fight merely a scare.

Not long after that, we followed the sounds of clashing steel, and spied a deadly duel between two desert warriors. I recognized the sigil of the Malec-Keth Jannisaries on one of the men, and we distracted the other man long enough for the Jannisary to strike the killing blow. He later introduced himself as Hadish the Bold, a former Jannisary and errant adventurer. He gave us a healing potion, and a receipt with his signature on it, telling us to take that to Ahmed’s Armory in Rhythia. Who knows what that interesting man has for us in the city? I have always been fascinated by the Malec-Keth Jannisaries, the elite soldiers of the Sultan and the Lorekeepers. It is said that they are trained by the Efreets in the City of Brass, and seeing the skill and discipline of these warriors, I don’t doubt it.

Hadish also gave us a spear-like object that, if thrust in the ground, will emanate an aura that protects against acidic substances. He said we would need it for the dragon that haunts the last stretch of Blackjaw. I really hope we don’t need to

—two strange humanoids wreathed in shadow have just approached us.. they have asked to lay down all our possessions as offering to their master.. Lucious has just threatened them with death, ookay how did that new ice spell go

—oh my…


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