Lights in the Darkness

Chronicles of Zephyros - Chapter 8
Purging the Evil

It didn’t take long for the company to make their way back to the giant frog statue – the apparent source of the evil. Zephyros stated, “So, what’s your plan Osric?”

Osric replied, “I need some time to contemplate.”

Zephyros answered, “More time?”

“With our Maker,” he retorted.

“Ah, very well,” Zephyros responded impatiently; obviously anxious to leave the mire complex. “Let’s have another look at those scroll cases Dudda while we’re waiting for our Maker,” he commented with a slight grin.

“I’d love to boss!” Dudda replied, as he cleared a spot on the beach and put down his cloak so he could sit more comfortably. “Ansger, would you mind holding your lantern over here, I need some light.”

Ansger answered, “If you’re looking for a steady hand, I’m afraid I’m not up to the task. Xenocrates, please take my lantern.” He stated with beads of sweat on his brow and quivers of chills rippled through his body. Xenorates took the lantern and held it in position for Dudda who began tinkering with the lock mechanism on the first scroll case.

“I’m very worried about Ansger.” Zephyros whispered to Zelik, “What do you think we should do?”

Zelik replied, “Only a pray from the Maker can relieve his suffering and I’m afraid that prayer is beyond our abilities.”

“Precisely, which is the reason why we need to get back to town quickly.” Zephyros stated sharply as his eye’s pierced through the back of Osric. “I won’t lose another friend today,” he muttered under his breath as he walked over to Ansger’s side. “Ansger, here sit down and rest.” He pointed to a nearby box next to the wall, “And keep hydrated,” as he fished through Ansger’s pack looking for a water skin to hand him.

“Thank you, m’lord,” Ansger replied as he sat down wrapping his cloak tightly around his body.

“How are you coming along Dudda?” Zephyros inquired?

“One of these is beyond my skill, but the other seems more worn. I think I see the pattern from its use.” Dudda replied as he manipulated the scroll case in the flickering lantern light. “There!” a brief click was heard as Dudda opened the end of the case. “What do you make of this boss?”

Zephyros grasped the scroll and held it to the lantern light and studied the script. “This does not appear to be an arcane spell, but perhaps a prayer scroll.” With a few strides he was at Osric’s back. “What does this say?” Zephyros asked as he held the scroll in front of Osric’s nose.

Osric furrowed his brow at Zephyros as he grabbed the scroll out of Zephyro’s hands. “It’s appears to be three prayers.” The frown disappeared from Osric’s face. “By the Maker! Our prayers have been answered!” He stood up and positioned himself directly in front of Ansger and started reciting one of the prayers off the scroll. A faint halo of gold could be seen forming over Osric’s head as waves of energy pulsed to his hands. Upon completing the prayer Osric’s hands were brilliantly glowing with a soft yellow light. He touched Ansger where he was bit with one hand and the other he placed on his brow. Ansger gasped for air and collapsed. Xephyros and Dudda helped his body fall prone. The pulsing energy was transferred to Ansger’s body; it rippled about and then shot into the air, disappearing into the darkness. “He’s cured!” Osric exclaimed. “Let him rest while we purge the evil from this statue.”

Zephyros shook his head with a beaming grin and snorted, “Osric you never cease to amaze me! Thank you!” Without hesitation Osric stepped forward to face the frog statue and began reciting another prayer. Balls of blue energy began swirling around his head; the pattern slowly grew to a maelstrom as a buzz of energy could be heard. He finished the prayer with, “By our Father I command thee!” The balls flew to the frog stature and swirled about it in every direction emitting a buzzing energy and at once they all burst into a bright pulse. At that same moment a crack could be heard as the statute shifted. “Our Father has answered our prayer! The power of the cult has been banished!” Osric exclaimed. Zelik stepped forward and pulled the cloak off the head of the frog.

“Look, the central eye has melted! Proof the Maker has answered our calling and is the one and only!” Zelik cheered. The statue had also cracked in half no longer serving as a vessel for evil.

“There is but one more step; the blessing of the Maker.” Osric stated as he began chanting another prayer. The heaviness of evil departed as Osric finished. Everyone within the company breathed a sigh of relief.

Dudda couldn’t help but notice the topaz eyes of the frog were still intact. “Boss, do you mind if I try and pry out those stones?” He asked.

“Great idea.” Zephyros replied. Dudda took his dagger and easily popped both gems free.

Having awoke from unconsciousness; Zephyros asked Ansger, “How are you feeling?”

“I feel great, but I do long for fresh air.” Ansger replied.

“Aye, I think we all do.” Zephyros stated. “Let’s get out of here.” Zephyros announced to the company. Over the next few minutes the company gathered their belongings and treasures. They then formed up and set about making their way to the stairs to the level above. “Henryk, please guide us through any areas we have yet to explore,” Zephyros requested.

“We go to the left then Captain.” He replied as the company wound around the shafts of the complex. Soon they were back in front of one of the pools on the upper level, one that had not been fully explored. “Get one of the boats up here,” Henryk yelled.

“Get in position!” Osric yelled as he noticed movement in the water. Altan stepped forward with Osric as Ansger and Zelik formed up behind them. Giant frogs could be seen crawling slowly towards the company attracted to the light and motion. Zephyros cast a spell of Ogre Power on Osric in an effort ensure the fight was brief. Within a few moments the frogs were within striking distance.

“Yahhh!” Altan roared as he dodged the first frog’s attack. Zelik took the opportunity to skewer the frog’s soft underbelly from behind Altan. It fell lifeless from his attack.

“Watch it!” Ansger yelled to Osric as the next frog coiled for an attack against him. Osric easily dodged the attack and responded with one of his own.

“Take that toad!” He cried as his mace fell soundly on the crown the frog’s skull. Ansger quickly assisted Osric with his spear and finished the frog off. After the brief encounter the company quickly brought the boats into position and searched to the West and then North, circling around to the East side as guided by Henryk. With no more areas to search the company moved to the entrance of the dungeon to discover their mules had been stolen. With the help of Henryk the company collapsed the entrance of the dungeon. The company then moved to the nearby Hamlet to check on the townsfolk and rest. As they arrived in town they noticed one of the buildings was on fire and the apparent owner was on lying lifelessly on the ground.

Zephyros made his way to the front, “What’s the matter he asked the nearest town person?”

“Ah well, a few of us have had enough of this fella’s antics.” It was clear to Zephyros that the fear that was present upon their first visit days ago was gone.

“Very well, he had it coming then.” Zephyros replied, “We wanted to advise you that the source of evil that was causing your hamlet trouble has been cleansed, so you should not experience any more strange behaviors from your people. All we ask is that we are able to rest up here this evening and that you please keep an eye on the cave entrance that we collapsed. If you see any signs of the cult returning to the area or the entrance being disturbed please send message to Taygle’s End and ask for audience with The Tarchoony Brotherhood.

“Aye, we will and please make yourselves comfortable. We’re appreciative of your help. We’ve had a very rough year. We will all be glad to put this time behind us,” The villager replied. The company made themselves comfortable and started discussing their plans once they reached Taygle’s End.

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Chronicles of Zephyros - Chapter 9
Sailing for Hewflore

The following morning the company left for Taygle’s End. Osric spent most of the journey discussing future possibilities in Taygle’s End with Lady Ostryd. The company agreed that they could utilize the Monastery as a stronghold for the forces of The Tarchoony Brotherhood. Furthermore, as a reward for freeing her from the Frog Cult Dungeon Osric, Zelik and Zephyros were each awarded a land grant that should each yield 25gp per month. Lady Ostryd also left open the possibility for Osric to administrate the church and study within the town of Taygle’s End. Many more details were left to work out and time will tell what will come of these opportunities. Soon the town was on the horizon and Zephyros stated, “Men!” addressing his retinue. “Please accompany me to Thane Garnier’s residence so we may return his wand and thank him for his assistance.” While his men waited in the courtyard Zephyros requested admission and greeted Thane Garnier with a smile, “We were successful thanks to your help.”

“Ah, found the items useful?” Thane Garnier replied.

“Indeed, the potion of heroism and the scroll of minor globe of invulnerability helped turn the final battle our way. The wand also helped decide a pitched battle with a well-timed lightning bolt,” replied Zephyros. With that he handed the wand back to Thane Garnier, who smiled back at Zephyros.

“I had a feeling you would be victorious. Tell me more about the Frog Cult,” Thane Garnier requested. The two went into details describing everything from the creatures encountered to the layout of the labyrinth.

“What do you make of these?” Zephyros asked as he pulled out the three frog-shaped electrum amulets with three eyes of blue spinels and translucent topaz.

“Hrmmmm,” Thane Garnier uttered as he eyed the amulets warily. “I would like to study these if you do not mind, could I have them for a week.”

Zephyros answered, “Sure, just be careful they radiate evil. Also, we came across some spells during our adventure and I was wondering if you would like to trade with each other so we may improve our repertoires.”

Thane Garnier replied, “On a two for one basis, I’ll agree. We can perform the exchange here in my library.”

Zephyros began reviewing Thane Garnier’s spell book, “A very nice collection sir!” He took mental note of the spells including:

First Level: Burning Hands, Unseen Servant, Detect Magic, Chameleon, Magic Mouth and Ventriloquism
Second Level: Alter Self, Hypnotic Pattern, Necromantic Potence, Knock, Web and Detect Invisible
Third Level: Dispel Magic, Enervate, Gaseous Form and Skinchange

“Please begin your study of the amulets. Our company will be departing for Hewflore in a week, I’ll check back with you before we depart. Upon our return we’ll complete our exchange. Thank you for the opportunity, I am in your service,” Zephyros stated. Later that week Zephyros would meet back up with Thane who explained to him that the amulets were evil and appeared to the souls of the fallen. These souls appeared to charge the amulets to what end he did not know. Certainly the amulets are evil and could be destroyed with a Dispel Magic spell, that way the precious materials that made up the amulets could be sold without harm to the recipient.

The remaining time the company spent in Taygle’s End was administrative in nature. Zephyros paid and released Fionnbharr having taken an interest in Cenwulf’s intellect and potential for the craft. Fionnbharr requested to accompany The Tarchoony Brotherhood back to Hewflore, a decision he would later regret. The remaining henchmen of Zephyros were squared up with and all were eager to make it back to Hewflore to spend some of their hard earned cash. Zephyros asked Dudda, “Would you mind keeping an eye on the lad?” referring to Wilmar the abused lad discovered on the upper level of the Cultist Dungeon.

“Sure thing boss!” Dudda replied.

Zephyros went on to explain, “I can tell he looks up to you and he seems to show some potential in your line of work. Perhaps he’ll want to depart once we reach Hewflore, but considering he doesn’t have any parents and where we found him, he may just decide to accompany us. I’m ok with that assuming you don’t mind keeping him out of trouble.”

Dudda answered, “I know what you mean boss. I’ll keep an eye on the lad. He’s had a rough go thus far, it’s a shame. I think we’re as close to family has he’s got, so I’d hate to abandon him unless that’s what he wants to do.”

Zephyros sighed, “Very well.”

Zephyros also met with Nore of the Master Boater’s guild. Apparently trade has been abysmal considering both the cultists and the pirate menace. Both men agreed to discuss ways to open trade further in the area upon the company’s return to Taygle’s End.

After spending a week in Taygle’s End The Tarchoony Brotherhood loaded up their flotilla of fishing boats and canoes and started making their way to Hewflore. They followed the shoreline as recommended by both Athelwine and Zephyros. Camp was made the first evening along the shoreline. After starting a fire and cooking supper the company turned in. During the third watch Dudda heard something that alerted him; the snapping of a twig followed by a muffled curse. He nudged Henryk and pointed to the shore as he yelled, “To Arms!” Henryk grabbed a burning log out of the fire and threw it as hard as he could towards the approaching brigands, but alas the fire did not carry with it.

“We’ve been made!” exclaimed one of the pirates as they charged towards the party. Within moments a mad melee ensued. Henryk, Ansger, Fionnbharr, Haakon, Osric, Zelik and Altan attempted to make a line. But it was apparent the brotherhood was severely outnumbered; the line would not prevent all of the pirates from breaking through. The next rank consisted of Athelwine, Emyr, Gizim, Zephyros, Xenocrates, Dudda and six crossbowmen. Cenwulf, Wilburg, Godric and Wilmar were in the rear attempting to stay out of the fight entirely.

Fionnbharr let loose with a Weallack battle cry and charged forth deep into their ranks, impaling two of the pirates before he was lost in the sea of bandits. “Hold the line!” yelled Zelik. The first wave of enemies washed upon the front line of the champions, no more fell but Henryk and Osric were both injured. The front line of the Tarchoony Brotherhood gave better then they received, but they were being overwhelmed and pirates were getting through.

Godric and Gizim finished their light spells which illuminated the battlefield. The grim news was now apparent; the company was outnumbered three to one. As the archers let loose their arrows, Xenocrates finished his Summon Berserkers spell; three of them were destroyed before they could swing an axe. Zephyros was slashed with a sword causing him to lose his concentration, “Kill this one!” Zephyros exclaimed pointing to the pirate who had just slashed his arm.

A moment later a sword erupted through the pirate’s chest as Dudda emerged from behind the pirate, “I got you covered boss, don’t you worry!”

“Thanks Dudda!” Zephyros chuckled as he began casting again. Clearly The Tarchoony Brotherhood was in peril of being overrun, had The Maker forsaken them? Not yet, as the momentum shifted as the initiative was seized by the brotherhood.

The front line and archers erupted in quick succession creating a wave of pirate death the likes of which the poor raiders had never seen before. They went from outnumbering the company threefold to being less than even in mere moments. To add to their exposure Zephyros put a few under a Sleep spell and Xenocrates finished summoning more berserkers. The call to retreat came from the pirate leader only to be met with Osric’s booming voice, “Charge!” The pirate leader and sergeant ran down the shoreline as the remainder dropped their weapons and surrendered. Full pursuit was given with the Berserkers leading the way.

After closing the gap the pirate Captain was met in melee with the Berserkers who hewed into him like cord wood. As the company neared the skirmish the Captain disappeared into a fog like mist that we have seen before, his belongings fell to the earth and in the darkness the mist could not be tracked.

“He’ll leave this world the way he came into it, naked and crying!” Athelwine snorted as Dudda went through his belongings.

“Grab his belongings and we’ll burn what we don’t want, he’ll not make it out of here alive naked as a jaybird,” Osric added.

Upon returning to the camp Godric was beside the body of Fionnbharr who had a massive wound that had damaged his heart and lungs. He was cleaning the wound and stopping the bleeding. “He’s going to need some healing prayers from The Maker Osric,” stated Godric. “He’s very close to death and if he does pull through I’m afraid he’ll never be quite the same.”

“Aye, his fighting days are over from the looks of it,” Osric replied as he knelt down and started praying for Fionnbharr.

Zephyros yelled, “Gather up all the useful items, strip the bodies and burn what we don’t need. Tie up the prisoners they are going to Hewflore with us. How many boats did they have? Anyone know?”

Dudda replied, “Six boss, nice ones too! Not those leaky fishing boats we got.”

Zephyros smiled, “Excellent, a Captain needs a ship, or at least so they say. Let’s get them ready to sail, we’re sitting ducks out here.” Within an hour The Tarchoony Brotherhood was on the water bound for Hewflore.

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Zelik's Letters
Frogs spawn hope

My dearest Sarah,

I have awoken. In truth, I know not how I came to be here, nor even where “here” might be. I wish I could say that the darkness has lifted; but perchance it has merely dimmed. Ha! How can a darkness dim? What does darkness do – Lift? Retreat? Abate? Flee? A candle is enough to drive back the night; I pray that I have found such a candle.

There are still good people in this world, and I have found a bright knot of such folk. They risked themselves against the stain of chaos and corruption to free me, a stranger, from that fetid prison beneath the earth. Hurling themselves against the daemons with bright, reckless, fierce abandon! Oh, to see such light! It warmed me. Gladly I stood beside them, took up arms again and stood against the dark. I MADE something of myself again, Sarah, and it felt good. We, and it brings a warmth within me to say that inclusive word, WE, fought in the mud and slime against nightmarish abominations of scale and flesh. We found good, innocent folk and brought them forth from despair. With the Maker’s might, we destroyed the pervasive miasma that lay over the reeve and kindled a fire of hope again within the Geatings on the Marish!

And now, what? The company accept me amongst them. They know the land, and even the earthly lord here. Osric follows the maker with a fervour I sometimes admire; and sometimes, truth be told, fear. I can see in his face that Zephyros has suffered so much, but he has a sense of purpose that cannot be denied, and a strength to take us there. Where does the Maker lead them? I know not, but I sense him guiding our path. I will gladly take his hand once more.

Never again, Sarah, should you doubt. I will always hold true

Yours in his arms,

Zelik.

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Broken Idols
Session 31 to 41

Only a few candles illuminate the Abbots chamber of the former Tychite monastery as Osric writes into his journal.
“Exhausting days lie behind us but we finally stood victorious thanks to the Makers guiding hand! I have forgotten how often we have assaulted these cursed caverns down below but after long last we finally found the dark heart of the cults home: A small island guarded by the wretched remains of the cult, undead frogs, cultists, some priests of this croaking menace and the centerpiece of local problems: An unholy statue of the frog daemon.
It tried to gaze into my soul as we reached the beach and showed me the endlessness of its empty promises but with a prayer on my lips and the Makers vow of silence on my shield the trickery had no chance to ensnare me and so we crashed into them like a tidal wave.
Our might and magic were no match for their wicked frog shades and idol witchery and so one by one they fell. Sadly two managed to escape with trickery and we could not chase them them down effectively in these dark tunnels they call home and they even managed to murder our companion Orhan after ambushing us!
After that we decided to destroy the frog idol with a blessing from the Maker after stripping it of its magical protection with the help of Yrics scroll and just take whatever we can and leave this evil place for good. Before we departed we made sure that nobody else can go back in by collapsing the entrance with the help of Henryk and a good fire.
Once we arrived in Rishton we noticed an immediate effect of our deeds, the people there lynched some someone who apparently was part of the cult and set his house on fire. Maker be praised!

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Chronicles of Zephyros - Chapter 10
Hounds and Horrors

“Yes, I too am looking forward to working with Thane Garnier and completing research together, updating our repertoires and giving Wilburg and Cenwulf the attention they need,” Zephyros said to Xenocrates. “I think we’ll head out maybe tomorrow, Osric and Zelik just had a little business with the church to deal with, apparently someone has disturbing one of the temples under the cover of darkness.”

“So we’re going to assist them this evening?” replied Xenocrates.

“Yes, that’s what I understand,” answered Zephyros. Later that evening the company gathered at a temple within the town. It had seen better days, certainly not receiving the full resources of the Makerites. While Osric spoke at length with the caretaker, Zephyros reminded his men what their role was here, “Now men, let’s be respectful while we are in the temple and remember, we don’t know who is interfering here, so let’s use our discretion. After all we are within Hewflore and are therefore subject to their laws and punishment. We’ll let Osric and Zelik sort this out and with some luck we’ll be on our way back to Taygle’s End soon.”

Later that evening a small group of men came into the temple and they were confronted by the Tarchoony Brotherhood. There was a brief altercation where one of the intruders was injured; fortunately aid was given right away. As it turns out the Hounds of Magos were the intruders, a division of the Makerites! Long and at times tense dialog ensued, but the company failed to establish any rapport with the Hounds, therefore the Hounds would not reveal what exactly their intentions were, although it was clear they had been excavating under the temple. The Hounds agreed to leave, but as they did they insisted that the Brotherhood not investigate their excavations. Needless to say as soon as they departed that was precisely what the Tarchoony Brotherhood did.

“What’s down there?” Zephyros asked, while peering over the shoulders of Osric and Zelic as they lowered a lantern on the end of a rope.

“There appears to be some water of what appears to be inside a green metallic tube, and what is that writhing mass?” Osric replied. The company’s curiosity took over and immediately plans were made to lower nearly everyone down, a few would stay behind to not only guard the entrance, but to provide advanced warning to the others should the Hounds of Magos return. Once the exploration team was lowered, the company made their way towards the sound of falling water. Soon they were at the end of the metallic pipe, which opened up into a deep chasm. On the opposite side of the chasm the other end of the pipe billowed out water. On the far side and just to the left of the flowing pipe there appeared to be a landing, with a few steps up to a doorway.

Burak spoke to one of his female companions, “Do you think you can make it over?”

She replied, “That’s what you pay me for, right?”

Burak answered, “Good answer, now we’ll put this rope around your waist and once you are on the other side spike it so we can assemble a rope bridge.”

“Got it!” she snorted as she scampered around the edge of the pipe clinging to the rock wall. After only a few moments she was safely to the other side and began connecting ropes to the stone wall. Osric was the first volunteer to go over, but after testing the ropes he decided to remove his armor first.

“I had better lighten the load, no sense pushing it.” Osric said as he removed his armor. The company tied a rope around his waist and to arrest a fall. After a brief prayer he inched across the chasm using the two-rope bridge. Once on the other side he investigated the door, its symbols and potential meanings. There was what appeared to be a fertility god dating back to the Tarchoony times, which would make this an ancient place. As more were preparing to make their way over suddenly Osric cried out, “Aaaaggggghhhhh! It has me!” A mass of sticky threads stuck to him and tried to pull him up into the darkness above, he narrowly escaped the attack by pulling off his shirt.

“Get archers into position!” Zelik yelled as he began tying a rope around his waist. Athelwine, Burak, and Dudda stepped up and began to fire at the contorted spiderlike mass, striking it several times. Moments later the female acrobat attempted to flee to the safety of the pipe with the rest of the companions by running across the single strand of rope.

A high pitched, “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwww!” was the last the company heard of her as she fell to her death.

Zephryros completed his spell of magic missile; a small trireme jetted from above his shoulder to the creatures head, creating a small flash as it impacted it. Osric began to pray for sanctuary and was soon protected from further attacks, so the horror turned towards Athelwine, sending a single strand his way. He was hit, but it did not stick.

Another salvo of arrows and bolts erupted from the pipe, some of which made their mark onto the creature. But this time the creature’s web hit Athelwine and if were not for the quick actions of Burak he would have been pulled in. “I’ve got you!” Burak shouted as he pulled Athelwine around the edge of the pipe, which added tension to the web and reduced the spider’s leverage on the line. More companions piled on Athelwine to keep him from being pulled into the spider’s maw. Moments later another arrow pierced the creature end’s its miserable life.

“What the hell was that!” Zephyros yelled? “I’ve not seen anything quite like it.”

“A horror of the deep dark past, I’m afraid,” Replied Zelik. “Maybe the Hounds were right?”

“What do you think Xenocrates, will it have anything of use to us? Zephyros asked.

“Most certainly my liege, poison at the least, and I’m guessing more, but I have no way to access it I’m afraid,” Xenocrates replied.

“Nonsense, Dudda is an expert climber and is no stranger to gutting a deer,” Zephyros answered as he threw Dudda a wink.

“No problem at all boss,” Dudda snapped as he took off out of the pipe and up the wall towards the spider horror. As he neared it he could see the eyes and fangs of the creature, most terrifying really. As he was trying to remove the fangs and venom sac his foothold slipped and he nearly pricked himself. In the process of doing so he cut open the sac and ruined the contents. “Dammit!” he exclaimed.

The company all gathered back into the tunnel and collected their thoughts, “Osric what did you see?” inquired Zelik.

“There is a door with runes on it in what must be ancient Tarchoony script. There is a figure, like a fertility god with the top of a woman and the bottom of a man. They are holding a staff with what appears to be a pine cone on top. This must be an ancient religious place.”

“I thought the Hounds of Magos were Makerites,” snorted Zephyros in a sarcastic tone. “Why are they protecting this place?”

“So did I,” answered Osric, “So did I.”

“Well let’s get back to the entrance of the tunnel and consider our path forward. Clearly if we are going to investigate further we need to ensure we have the proper supplies for such a journey and we should only leave with full prayers and repertoires; the Maker knows we may need it,” stated Zelik. So the company moved back towards the entrance less one companion and with more questions then answers.

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A Soldier's Song
Zelik can often be heard singing this song round the fire

We’ll sing a song, a soldier’s song
With cheering rousing chorus
As round our blazing fires we throng
The starry heavens o’er us
Impatient for the coming fight
And as we await the morning’s light
Here in the silence of the night
We’ll chant a soldier’s song

Soldiers are we,
whose lives are pledged to Geatland,
Some have come
from a land beyond the wave,
Sworn to be free,
no more our ancient sire’s land,
Shall shelter the despot or the slave.
Tonight we man the gap of danger
In Maker’s cause, come woe or weal,
’Mid Beastman’s roar and church bell’s peal,
We’ll chant a soldier’s song

In valley green, on towering crag
Our fathers fought before us
And conquered ‘neath the same old flag
That’s proudly floating o’er us
We’re children of a fighting race
That never yet has known disgrace
And as we march, the foe to face
We’ll chant a soldier’s song

Soldiers are we (chorus)

Sons of the Maker! Men of Geatland!
The long-watched day is breaking
The serried ranks of steel
Shall set the beast a’quaking
Our camp fires now are burning low
See in the east a silv’ry glow
Out yonder waits the Reaving foe
So chant a soldier’s song

Soldiers are we (chorus)

(The song is an old Geatish melody. The words have changed slightly since the original was sung during the Dreaman conquest, to reflect its usage during the Reaving. However, it is still regarded as somewhat subversive, and is mostly confined to common folk and not well liked amongst Dreaman nobility)

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Leaving Taygle's End
Session 42 to 44

Back in Hewflore, Osric finds some time to continue his journal
After we made it back to Taygles End with the good news I could already feel how the breaking of the curse of the Frog Cult improved the mood of the villagers. I have the feeling that with time and hard work the Makers parish could flourish here, serving as a beacon of light near these tainted wetlands.
I managed to have some long talks with Lady Astrid and while we certainly have our differences when it comes to punishment and rooting out cultists who still follow the cult despite being no longer possessed I think she is a good person. I will, given the Metropolitans blessing, become the spiritual advisor of her domain, teacher of the local study and will be granted the now empty monastery with the surrounding meadow. While we had to wait for some of our wounded companions the recover I took the chance to burn the wicked books of the monastery in a small celebration following a service before the study in Taygles End. We have to work hard to stamp out any remains of the cult!
When finally travelling back to Hewflore I really started to notice the change in Cowal, the fake teacher and our prisoner. He seems very sullen and probably ponders about his deeds while under the spell of the frog daemon but he can be thankful that its not my place to bring him to proper judgement as I will hand him over to the church in Hewflore. What concerned me also was an attack by river pirates, not just because we lost a former henchmen in the foray but also because brother Zelik noticed that some of them seem to be under the same spell as the villagers before. Do the local pirates work together with the cult? A very troubling thought…
Today I handed over Cowal but it seems he was deemed redeemable… The Maker truly works in mysterious ways. Though the good news is that I was asked by Yuric the Elder to take over the parish in Taygle’s End, a task that I gratefully accepted!
I will now visit Ralf d’Arcy again, he seemed troubled about riff-raff skulking around his church and strange noises in the night.

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The Chronicles of Zephyros - Chapter 11
Foundations

After Osric and Zelik decided to pass on further investigation of the complex under the temple in Hewflore, Zephyros decided to focus on getting various other errands completed so he and his apprentices could relax in Taygle’s End and study in Garnier’s library. Before leaving town he stopped in at the Hewflore curiosity shop where he sold the Rod of Chains. As it turned out the patron was also interested in the Horn of Sea Summoning. The 5,000gp he sold it for would cover all the upcoming research; his mind was already working on the Summon Hero spell he hoped to master.

While in Hewflore he gathered his men, Ansger, Athelwine, Xenocrates, Henryk, Dudda, Wilburg and Cenwulf. “Men, please spend what remaining time we have here in Hewflore by preparing yourselves for the work we have before us. Go to the smiths and procure fine weapons and armor. Pick up supplies such that you are prepared to survive in the wilderness and in the darkest of caverns, for we know not where will be off to next, but you can be rest assured it will not be in the comfort of an inn. Xenocrates and Dudda, I appreciate your leadership in the ways of harvesting components from the creatures we encounter. Let’s please pass this knowledge onto Cenwulf and Wilburg while they also study the ways of healing, such that we can together we can pursue the craft of transmogrification and crossbreeds. In time we will develop our laboratory and library where we can perfect the craft. Additionally, I have collected a great list of spells for us to study together and expand our grimoires, so after we are done scribing we will agree on which spells we will retain in memory to benefit the Tarchoony Brotherhood. Once we have gathered everything we need, let us prepare the boats for departure to Taygle’s End.”

Once in Taygle’s End Zephyros caught back up with Garnier. “Ever heard of the ‘Horned Society?’ ‘Scarlet Brotherhood?’ No? Mmm. You don’t want to. You do? Well, I’m telling you that you don’t. Bad news, Zephyron, er, Zephrykos. Er? What’s your name again? Haha. Just joking.”

Zephyros replied, “Well Garnier, I have much to learn from you it seems. I’m afraid I’m not from these parts, remember what I told you about the portal, so you have me at a disadvantage with respect to the ‘Horned Society’ and the ‘Scarlet Brotherhood.’ Please enlighten me so I can be careful not to offend the wrong person during my travels.”

Garnier’s eyes narrowed and his face took a stern visage. “Zephyros, they seek mages like yourself; offer them power, greatness all in the name of chaos. It’s a dark path son, one you must avoid.”

“What do they do if you decline to join them?” asked Zephyros.

“You end up six feet under,” retorted Garnier.

“Ah I see, well I’m but a simple ship’s captain, I only dabble in the arts,” Zephyros said with a smile.

“I’m afraid you’ll need to do better than that Zephyros, word of your exploits has traveled farther then you think. Prepare yourself. And if a wise man may pass on some wisdom, stay on the path of law and order Zephyros.”

“Aye Garnier, I appreciate your wisdom. One more question, do you think these two groups are recruiting so heavily because of the threat of war? Another war of the wands if you will?”

“You’re a thoughtful man Zephyros, those are my thoughts as well,” answered Garnier.

Much was discussed over the weeks spent together researching in Garnier’s library. As it turned out Zephyros’s first research project was a failure. The only good news is that he knows the information that is needed for Summon Hero is not contained within Garnier’s library, so he will be keeping an eye out for some books on the subject of summoning. Aside from that, the scribing, learning and memorizing of the new spells went well for Zephyros, Xenocrates, Cenwulf and Wilburg. The spell signatures for his new spells are as follows:

Fireball – A trireme appears over the right shoulder of the caster and the catapult on its bow fires upon command a small pea-sized glowing orange ball. Upon reaching the target it bursts into a huge ball of fire, similar to that used in naval warfare.

Slow – This spell is very subtle, in that no visual component is noticed, safe that upon completion of the final word time stands still for an instant for all those around the caster. The next moment time returns to normal for all of those except those targeted and they see the world passing them much faster, although in reality they are acting slower, it’s just how our minds work.

Skinchange – Upon completion of the final word, having already decided which animal the caster wished to turn into, there is a slight whoosh sound along with a puff of black mist which immediately dissipates as the caster takes the new form. Should the caster change form again the whoosh and black mist occur again. There is no distinguishing the animal form from that of the real thing, in fact it is real, or is it?

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The Chronicles of Zephyros - Chapter 12
Raiding Pirate Island

Zephyros supervised the preparations to the riverboats at the port at Taygle’s End. He was looking forward to some fresh air after months of research, but still being mid-winter he was aware of the hazards of naval exploration this time of year. But, the resources of the company were dwindling and so he carefully considered the weights and positioning of the personnel with Zelik, before the Tarchoony Brotherhood Flotilla set out for the North. The orientation of the riverboats was tactically sound, the front two vessels were comprised of our front line infantrymen, and the center two vessels were the caster flagship and archers. Finally, the last two vessels were the remaining archers and reserve infantry.

After departing the port some of the company recalled the passage to the North having been this route before. But the company soon found itself in uncharted waters with an island dead ahead to the North. A pillar of smoke could be seen rising above the tree line on the high side of the island. Zephyros thought out loud, “We can make it either way around this island either Northwest or Northeast, but I’m thinking those are pirates since this island abuts the main channel from the Northeast. They will have lookouts positioned on the bluff overlooking the channel, so let’s make full speed to the Northeast and cover their escape route.” The direction went out to all the vessels and the rowers strained as the riverboats leapt forward with every stroke.

Zelik shouted, “I see several boats on the shore up ahead and men running towards them! Put your back’s into it men!” The first vessel contained Haakon, Almund, Boguslaw, Zelik, Hidswith, Ansger, Henryk, Osric, Hanael and an infantryman. The second was comprised of all mercenary infantrymen. These two would make landfall first, with remaining mercenary infantry on the third vessel, which would fall slightly behind. The flagship with Zephyros, Godric, Cenwulf, Emyr, Athelwine, Wilburg, Xenocrates, Oswald and an infantrymen, would hold off the beach by about sixty feet. Vessel four with Ustig, Dudda, Toland, Jaromir, Burak and several mercenary crossbowmen would hold off at long range, mostly due to lack of rowers. Vessel five also stayed at long range, with the remaining mercenary infantry and crossbowmen.

As soon as our archers were in range of the enemies rushing to defend their shores and riverboats they began to fire. Both Zephyros and Xenocrates created mirror images of themselves to avoid missile fire. After a couple minutes several of the pirates would be dead, but their archers started to gather strength and punished our landing force. Oswald’s ballista certainly impacted their morale as did a well-placed fireball from Zephyros. Within moments of reaching the beach most of the pirate archers were shattered between spells and constant pounding from our archers. Zelik’s and Osric’s infantry force pushed hard into the pirate line and pushed them back into a steady retreat. With only one-third of the enemy force remaining a pirate leader yelled, “Back to the stockade!”

Zephyros thought to himself, “Should we push forward or hold our position? We have the beach and their vessels. If we push we could be exposed on our rear, especially those that stay behind. But if we push we may be able to end it now. He turned around and scanned the horizon for any other vessels.”

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The Chronicles of Zephyros - Chapter 13
Vanishing Pirates

The Tarchoony Brotherhood counseled and decided and quickly decided to make formations and push toward the pirate stronghold. There would be an infantry force supported by archers that would make a frontal assault. A stealth force lead by Burak to move to the West shoreline in an attempt to hit the fortification from the rear. The remainder including Zephyros would remain behind to guard the boats.

Burak motioned to the West, “The five of us will go that way, give us a head start before you start the assault.” Dudda, Jaromir, Roland and Ustig were already moving off Westward along the shoreline.

Osric replied, “Aye, leave now and may the Maker be with us!” Meanwhile on the flagship Oswald continued to fire the ballista upon the pirate stronghold diminishing the door to rubble. “Form up the men!” Osric shouted. Zelik organized the infantry into two ranks. Zelik, Osric, Haakon, Henryk, Hanael, would make up the front line. Ansger and six infantry would make up the rear line. Athelwine, Emyr, Boguslaw and eight crossbow comprised the archer force. Moments later Osric shouted, “Rally up men, let’s move out!” With that the men marched towards the palisades.

It wasn’t long before the pirates started firing arrows at the Tarchoony Brotherhood archers and their aim was impeccable. Several of the men were wounded, to the point that they fell back to longer range. Boguslaw set about healing those as best he could. By the time the infantry force made it to the front gate of the pirate fort they were no longer supported by the archers.

Upon reaching the gate Henryk noticed a pit trap and the men were forced to split into two single file lines in order to breach the front door without falling in the trap. Of course the pirates had formed a horseshoe gauntlet inside the palisades. Osric yelled, “For the Maker!” as he charged in. The Tarchoony Brotherhood was in their element and made short work of the pirate infantry. Simultaneously, Burak jumped over the palisade wall at the rear of the fort, pulling an enemy pirate archer over the wall behind him in the process.

After a few seconds of fighting it was clear that the Tarchoony Brotherhood would have the day. Efforts were made to focus on the pirate leaders and ensure they did not flee. Osric cast a prayer of holding on the pirate boss, no effect. A moment later Zephyros appeared from nowhere and cast a stinking cloud on the pirate boss, again no effect. Only a few swings of weapons later and the pirate boss in the scale armor resembling that of a raptor began fading from sight! “What foul magic is this, stop him!” shouted Osric. His sergeant just a few feet away turned invisible. “Arghhh! Face me you coward!” yelled Ansger. The remaining pirate sergeant jumped from the wall towards the boats, but Athelwine, Dudda, Ustig and the infantry were on his heels.

Burak muttered, “Who can detect invisible? Haakon can’t your sword locate objects? Where his armor goes he goes!”

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