Lights in the Darkness

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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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 7
Finishing Touches

As far as Zephyros was concerned the sooner we left this mud hole the the better. Osric and Zelik were having an intense discussion regarding the frog statue. “It is very evil,” Zelik stated. “I can barely stand to be near it. How are we going to destroy it?”

Osric replied,“I don’t know for sure. I suppose we can attempt to purify it like the last one we discovered under the inn at Taygle’s End.”

“Bah, they’ll just make another one. Let’s just prop a canoe over the head of it and write a warning to others. We’re going to cave this place in anyway before we leave.” Zephyros interrupted.

“No, we must complete our mission,” Osric retorted.

“Very well, let’s come back to it later. We have some more exploring to do. You two can figure it out while we finish exploring the rest of the dungeon.” Zephyros responded. “Henryk!”

“Yes, my liege?” Henryk answered.

“Let’s review the map and plot our course.” Zephyros stated, eager to press on. “There! We haven’t finished investigating the area near the stair to the upper level.” The company formed up, with Osric, Zelik, Ansger, Altan and Athelwine in the lead element. It wasn’t long before they were in new territory, but not much changed, the way was wet, muddy and cold. Osric stepped into a small room off the tunnel.

“See another empty room,” Osric mumbled before suddenly being assaulted by what appeared to be a giant spider frog abomination. He quickly reacted by raising his weapon, but those around him were not as quick on their feet. “Die creaton!” he yelled as the fiend hissed under the blow. Ansger and Zelik joined the fight, but the creature was evasive.

“Aaaarrrrraaahhhh, it got me!” Ansger yelled as the creature’s fangs bit into his arm. Luckily for him although the fangs did wound him, they only tore the flesh and failed to deliver venom. A few moments later the spider would be hanging limply from the end of Ansger’s spear.

“Where did it come from?” Zelik asked Osric.

“From the rafters.” Osric replied.

“Surely, this thing has been here a while. I wonder if it has a nest up there.” Zelik commented as Zephyros pushed his way forward.

“Yes, it must have a lair up there. Dudda, will you please investigate?”

“Are you sure there is only one?” Dudda asked.

“Yes, they are solitary creatures.” Zephyros replied confidently. At that Dudda scampered up a nearby post to gain access to the landing.

“Yep there is a lair up here. There are bodies, they are…well look for yourself.” Dudda pushed the corpses off the landing onto the floor below. The nearby members of the company searched for loot as Dudda made his way down. After a few moments Dudda muttered, “Here’s something, in the belt, a gem and a few coins. Better than nothing.”

“Great work, let’s press on.” Zephyros commanded and with that the column marched onward, through the area where Orhan met his fate and the cultist zealot escaped. A small tunnel bent off to the left and the lead element of the party moved down the corridor. They eventually came upon a room, the floor covered with mud, there was a platform with a chest upon it.

“Nothing is this easy.” Zelik commented.

“Yes, let’s investigate, no one touch the chest,” Osric shouted. “Get the rogues up here!” Dudda and Gizzim made their way up to the front and started to look around.

“I don’t see anything special about the chest, do you Gizzim?” Dudda muttered.

“No, nothing peculiar about the chest.” Gizzim responded.

“Now you hold your tongue and don’t move a muscle.” Henryk warned. “Up there, see that column? It is supporting something in the ceiling above and is bound in new metal cladding. It is out of place here.”

“Ah yeah, I see it now.” Dudda replied.

“Everyone out of here!” Henryk stated firmly.

“Not so fast” Osric said calmly. “Let’s lasso the chest and pull it from a safe distance down the hallway.”

Zelik shrugged, “That may work.” After several minutes of preparations the rope was ready.

“There got it!” Osric yelled. “On the count of three, everyone pull. One! Two! Three!” There was a loud popping sound from the platform, but nothing else.

Zephyros pushed up to Osric, “What the hell is going on? Henryk just told me this is a giant trap. We’re going to cave this whole dam place in on us. Listen, Xenocrates can summon some men to Bremmen to help us. Let’s evacuate to the main hall.” With that the party fell back.

Moments later Xenocrates finished his spell and four Bremmen warriors appeared in front of him. “You two, go down the tunnel, there is a chest. Open the chest and bring the treasures to me.”

“Yes master!” They replied as they ran off chanting a Bremmen war tune. It wasn’t but a minute later that the entire dungeon shook and rumbled.

“Good catch Henryk!” Cheered. “We won’t be seeing those two again. Let’s continue moving. There is only one are left now.”

After what felt like a mile in the labyrinth the company came upon a room with a pool. In the pool were creatures that were operating a rope like contraption with buckets. These buckets were going upward apparently to feed water to the upper portion. The creatures did not stir as the company approached. “Halt!” Osric ordered as he raised his hand. “Xenocrates, send the warriors up to investigate.”

“You heard him!” Xenocrates shouted.

“Aye!” Replied the Bremmen warriors as they sauntered near the edge of the water.

“Zombies!” Osric yelled, as he started a prayer of banishment.

“Attack!” Zelik cried as the party advanced. The zombies stopped what they were doing as the party advanced upon them. A Bremmen warrior collapsed under the undead assault as it leapt forward and smashed Zelik. Osric’s prayer was ineffective.

Arrows rained down from Athelwine, Altan and Gizzim, bringing a zombie down. Soon after the other Bremmen warrior smashed a zombie down. “Yaaaahhhhh!” Osric yelled as he relieved Zelik in the front. Smashing a zombie in the face.

Hot with a fever contracted from the vermin fought hours ago Ansger summoned his energy to deal a fatal blow to the last zombie. “Take this!” He yelled as the spear bit into the zombie releasing a brilliant energy which filled the room light a flash of lightening. “Help, I’m blinded!” Ansger cried as he began swinging the spear wildly.

“Calm yourself Ansger! Osric exlaimed. “They are all finished. What caused that flash of light. Was that the spear?”

“Aye, it must have been.” Ansger replied. Moments later his vision was restored. “An amazing weapon this is, I think I’ll be more prepared for it next time.”

Zephyros cleared his throat, “Well according to Henryk’s map we’ve investigated everything on this level. So, let’s search these creatures and make our way back to the frog statue. Hopefully you two have made up your mind by now,” Zephyros stated as he smiled at Osric and Zelik. “Let’s hurry, I’m concerned for Ansger, this climate is not good for his condition.” With that the company marched on, with a sense of haste as everyone was eager to leave this den of evil.

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Chronicles of Zephyros - Chapter 6
A Somber Conclusion

Dudda, Athelwine and Gizem took positions in the statue room to the South, which was the same direction the vanguard went in pursuit of the retreating cultists. Henryk would also support the line while Godric would shed light onto the front. With Dudda and Gizem in the shadows, Zephyros anticipated that the company would not be surprised by a counterattack from any remaining cultists.

With the front line secured Zephyros bellowed, “Quick, let’s search the corpses and surrounding areas for loot. There is no telling how much time we have.” He made way to the area where one of the cultist leaders transform into a mist like cloud while his equipment fell to the ground. “That must have been a potion of gaseous form,” he thought to himself. After what seemed like an hour of exhaustive searching the company gathered all the treasures into one pile. The spoils included several wondrous items, coin and gems worth thousands of gold. “This is our best haul so far!” Zephyros concluded as a large smile beamed across his scarred face. The wondrous items included a pair of boots, horn, satchel, two rings, two scroll cases and four potions. Zephyros asked Xenocrates, “What do you make of them?”

Xenocrates spent some time looking over them and replied, “The satchel is connected to another dimension which allows the user to store more items within it then the apparent volume could contain in this dimension. The horn appears to be able to summon a water elemental. One of the rings is enchanted with protective powers. One of the potions will cause the imbiber to fall under the control of the next person they see, if that person is of the opposite sex the effect will be quite powerful. As for the boots, second ring and other three potions, I’m afraid I do not recognize them.” As Xenocrates was beginning to look over the two ivory scroll cases he was interrupted.

“Enemies are here!” Athelwine shouted from the South as he fired an arrow at the shadowy figures. The company would soon learn that the vanguard was pushing several rodent-frog scavengers into the rest of the company as they returned from their pursuit. Between the two forces the scavengers were destroyed, but not before Ansger would receive a nasty bite on his lower leg that would leave him with a potentially fatal disease.

“Osric what happened!” Zephyros cried as he sprinted to Orhan’s corpse.

“Orhan fearlessly led us in pursuit of the cultist leader, he tracked his every movement and right into an ambush. He was overwhelmed by the frog men and has perished,” he said as he bowed his head. “May the Maker have mercy upon him.”

“Did you kill their leader?” Zephyros asked.

Grinding his teeth Osric replied, “No, we were very close, but he fled into the darkness and without our tracker we were unable to pursue further.” Zephyros demeanor changed as his complexion flushed red.

“These spineless cowards deserve a fitting end, hopefully we will have an opportunity to finish them, but sadly I expect they are well on their way out of this place. I’m glad you and the others are safe Osric. What do you say about gathering the treasures we have thus far, quickly searching the areas we have not thoroughly investigated and not delaying our return to Taygle’s End any longer than necessary? I’d like to see if we can help our friend Orhan and Ansger is complaining of a fever since being bitten by one of the scavengers. I’m afraid if we spend much more time here the darkness may take more of us.”

A few feet away Xenocrates stated, “These scroll cases are most interesting. They appear to have some sort of protective lock on them. I’m not exactly sure what would happen if the combination wasn’t right and one tried to open it, but my guess is it would not be good. Dudda, you’re good with locks and traps, why don’t you have a look?”

“You just got done saying that opening it with the wrong combination would not be good.” He retorted.

“Just have a look is all, humor me.” Xenocrates replied as he handed him the scroll cases. Dudda fidgeted with the symbols that slid into different positions.

“I agree with your assessment and on one of them I see a pattern, that would be my guess at the combination.”
The case opened when and a scroll was revealed.

“Let me see that.” Xenocrates asked. Dudda hastily handed him both scroll cases. “These aren’t words of power in any language I know, they appear to be blessings. Osric take a look.”

Osric smiled as he looked over the blessings, “The Maker be praised! We have not only the means to cure disease and dispel magic, but also the power to restore life!” He immediately kneeled in prayer and was joined by the other acolytes within the company. A peace washed over the company.

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Chronicles of Zephyros - Chapter 5
Cultists on the Run

The minor globe of invulnerability that Orhan cast was fading just as the last of the cultist strongmen including the cultist that took a gaseous form and the shadow being fled through a concealed wicker door to the South of the beachhead. Osric rallied the men on the beach to pursue them, this included Zelik, Ansger, Orhan, Altan, and several summoned Bremen. I stayed behind with a couple of the Bremen warriors I summoned to organize the remainder of the company that was on the other side of the lake, the first half of which were just boarding the two boats.

One of the men who aiding the cultists was in the process of recovering from the mind control he had been under. He introduced himself as Haakon, a Bremen warrior. He quickly gathered up his belongings, donned his armor and headed after the group in pursuit of the Cultists. The first of the boats landed on the shore including Xenocrates, Athelwine, Lady Ostrid and several others. As we sent the boats back empty for the remainder of the company, I directed the summoned Bremen warriors to pursue the vanguard and aid them. I began to doubt the wisdom of the decision to split up and I hoped my friends would not fall victim to one of the Frogmen’s Traps.

As the second half of the company boarded the boats and started making their way over. The rest of us secured our position on the beach, made flame for our lanterns and surveyed the battlefield. I thought to myself, “What should we do? Attempt to pursue and risk getting lost or separated in the labyrinth? Should we gather the loot, after all that was the reason many of us were here?”

My thoughts were broken by Henryk disembarking one of the boats, he exclaimed, “There were at least two of them buggers on the other side Zephyros. They threw a dam snakelike creature at me! The darn thing latched onto my leg! I hate snakes!”

I smiled at him and said, “That makes two of us, I’m glad you’re alright friend and thanks for keeping the rear guard. Now let’s form a line while the others gather the loot left behind by the cultists.” I muttered under my breath, “If we make it out of here we may as well have something to show for it.” I looked around, “Dudda, where are you?”

“Here I am boss!” he said with a smile as he emerged from the shadows, “what do you need?”

“I’ve got a little job for you,” I whispered as he drew closer.

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Osric's Journal Entries from Taygle's End
Odds and Ends

I still don’t know why I agreed to help this horse-headed Monstrosity who calls itself “Agapetos”. So it and it’s village were lucky enough to hear the word of the Maker and he even ended up getting rescued by us from these snivelling Widdigmen: He should be eternally grateful but now he somehow expecting that we risk our lives and spend our meager resources to rescue the whole tribe as well! We all have seen what the four armed giants are capable of! We would need a small army and siege weapons to have any chance of annihilating a whole village full of them!
Why have I agreed to help? It was Zephyros idea of course… His ideas and proposals always sound great when he utters them, oh yes, but a day later and I often start to wonder. Luckily his ideas are usually good after all but sometimes I wonder. He sure has a way with words…


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The Frog Caverns
Sessions 25 to 30

Upon reaching the town of Carlton the group quickly locates the local Maker’s House to get rid of the curses currently hanging over Osric and Urien in exchange for the destruction of some of the unholy jewelry the group has found.
After that Osric allows himself a short respite while sitting outside of a tavern, enjoying a refreshing watered down ale and watching the townsfolk pass by while writing into his diary.

“We discovered tracks near the tunnel exit leading away from the monastery but we had to rest and recover first. Besides this gives our men a chance to celebrate and me a chance to preach the Makers word. I have to admit that I was surprised about how many attended the mass and some even thanked me afterwards, maybe not all is lost for Taglyes End.

We followed the tracks from hidden tunnel northwards and ended up at Rish Hill with an somewhat hidden entrance into the depth. There we spotted some strange figures in the bushes. We boldly confronted them and they quickly retreated. We couldn’t follow their tracks in the thick underbrush of the hills so we went back to the gaping hole where the footprints of the cultist led us. Its not far from a thorpe called Rishton and I guess we will see if they were not aligned with these vile demon worshipers and on their way to get reinforcements. So far so good but be have to hurry.

The steps leading down into the hole looked treacherous so we tried to advance slowly but our torches gave us away and they were prepared. Vicious incantations assailed our senses while we had troubles getting footage on these slippery steps. Only after our own mages called in ancient warriors we could advance into the cavern where a bloody battle began. Even one of these four armed giant was fighting for the cult but we managed to put him down thanks to a spell and slay him before he could cause any serious damage. We did our best to keep up the pressure as even more emerged from below. I could barely hold the line with these visions visions but thanks to some well placed shots these mages could be kept in check and we barely managed to keep the upper hand after entangling some armored frog monstrosity. We managed to kill most of them in the end but some of them escaped and Boguslaw ended up badly hurt.

We took from from them what we could scavenge but didn’t dare to pursue them deeper into their tunnels. We went back to the Monastery to recover but I left Emyr back to spy on them for before heading back to the monastery as well. I trust that he will bring back vital information’s about the coming and going.

We decided to go to Carlton to get rid of the curses but before we could depart two messengers arrived at our gates. The owner of the large mansion on the other other side of the road apparently wanted to have a chat with us. We not only seemed to share a large amount of caution but also a common goal in the eradication of the cult. The thane Garnier seem to be a seasoned warrior who clashed blades with the cult before but injuries, age and dwindling resources seem to put a dampener on his efforts to oppose the cult. His report of the cults influence dampened my mood considerably though, apparently the Cult spread into other nearby villages already! The only hope now is to strike hard and try to scatter and weaken them by destroying their main sanctuary under the hills before rebuilding a strong presence of our faith in Taygles End to act as a beacon of hope. This should give us some time to hunt down the remnants and drive this perverse frog idolatry deep into the swamp again. This is not something that can be left for others to sort out though, that is something I have to do myself! I have to take over the parish of Taygles End and secure the support of Lady Ostrid for that. We will see if Garnier will show support for that as well but for now he generously gave us some old artifacts for the promise to remove the cult from Taygles End. With them we departed finally to Carlton.

Our next assault ended with more bloodshed then I hoped Urien was slain by the cultistsand poor XXX was crushed b, a huge snake when trying to rescue Emyr who got bitten as well. We foumd fake doors guarded by slime, a storage room, two underground lakes (one with huge but so far peaceful frogs that we could cross with a raft), more cultists, widdig converts and a boy from the next village who was a slave of a cultist mage who has treated him very badly. His name is XXX and he wanted to accompany us to point out the mage when we encounter him. We also found stairs that go further down but ultimately we had to withdraw. I pray that the captives are still alive and well but pressing on might be our doom so we went back to the monastery to recover.

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The Tychite Monastery
Sessions 22 to 24

Osric finds a moment to pen a few words into his journal while Zephyros still discusses matters with Lady Osthryds household guards. “The Lady seems to be missing for quite a while now too and where much friendlier this time, probably also more desperate as they seem to know about the cult. Still, its a bit suspicious that they didn’t allow us to inspect all of their remaining soldiers…
The study didn’t hold any clues to where we could find our missing brethren and the lady but we found another statue of this foul frog abomination hidden away like a cowardly thief in a small side room of Cowalls abode. No religious texts could be found anywhere but we found a book with weird scribbling in it that makes ones head hurt.
There still seem to be some of the possessed in the town but they keep still for now after we clobbered their leaders and fellow cultists. The rest of the residents don’t seem to be too friendly either but I think not all hope is lost for this place. With a strong guidance and hard work this community could very well become a beacon of hope in this vile swamp. We will visit the monastery next and by the Maker, lets hope we find some holy water there.”

After massaging his bruised shoulder Osric continues his entry:
“More cultists was all that awaited us in the monastery.
At first everything seemed abandoned just recently as we made our way through the outbuildings. We found more of these mad scribbling in the study and copy rooms, the cult must have been busy here for a while it seems. We then were forced to scale the walls to gain access to the main building as the remaining cultists dared to show their face. Despite our disadvantaged position we managed to drive them back and get onto the roof without any loss. Climbing down into the cultist held garden seemed unwise so we bashed a hole into the roof to enter.
This was where the remaining cultists decided to press an attack and it was some righteous slaughter as we had to stand on the fallen to fight the crazed followers of the frog daemon! Most of them were ill equipped so we only sustained some bloody bruises while they were vanquished and hunted down to the last man.
We have not seen any traces of the monks so we have to search this whole place thoroughly for any clues.”

“We finally cleansed the monastery but this place opens up more questions then it does solve.”
Osric takes a deep breath while gazing into a candle flame thinking about what happened in the hours prior.
The monastery turned up more of these vile books and statues but no hints to the missing wardens, rulers or monks. After a long search a secret tunnel was found that wasn’t very deep but very long with many dug out rooms to each side. Some reminded him of animal pens and others were like empty storage rooms but there also was a grizzly hall full of tables with corpses. It must have been some sort of laboratory as many corpses showed signs of experimentation and amputations. The dead also decided to rise to nobody’s surprise but the resulting battle was a bloody affair.
The undead surrounded the group quicker then holy symbols could drive them back forcing the whole group to retreat and spike the doors after Osric held them off as long as he could. A counter attack was prepared and many a berserkers were called back from the other side to aid. Again the undead proved to be more then a match and only the clever use of an old scroll and the Makers holy might saved the day from becoming an utter disaster. Only Eirik the Axiomar suffered a grievous wound as one of the zombies torn his hand to shreds.
“I slowly wonder if these monks are not the ones to blame for this whole mess. I suspect that these books were used to convert or at least influence the people studying here before they were shipped off to the caves. The escape tunnel coupled with the experimentation chamber also makes one think. Was it a route to get out of the monastery in case of an emergency or was it to secretly enter without anyone else noticing? Who or what else was living down there?”

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Cultist Showdown in Taglye's End
Sessions 19 to 21

After the cellar was secured and the cultists were littering the ground bleeding, Osric finds some time to write into his journal:
Cowal and his cronies suffered a righteous defeat at our hands today! If the Maker wills it he will survive the journey back to Hewflore for further questioning…
At first t didn’t look too good, The self appointed teacher played it smart and tried to paint himself a humble servant that took up things in his own hands when noticing an empty study here in Taygle’s End. The infirmary and church didnt present us with any obvious signs and while he wasn’t too firm with his prayers he at least was more hospitable then the last time, probably because due to the armed men that were with us this time. I couldn’t find any hints that would reveal his true colors but luckily his fellow cultists weren’t so clever. They attacked my comrades in the tavern after trying to poison them and therefore sealing their own fate. Once I joined up to take a closer look at the Inn we also found a captured merchant (Who turned out to be a member of the frog cult) and an Axiomar named Eirikir before were attacked by Cowal and his goons in full force. Many of the guards, the smith and some other shady looking guys were trying to corner in the cellar while some frog-men abominations tried to rush out of the cavernous parts below.
While I was holding back theses foul beasts with the Makers might my brothers-in-arms butchered the rest of the cultists.
Unfortunately brother Cuthbert lost his arm in the scuffle.
With that done we had some time to explore the hidden parts of the cellar more closely. The only resistance we found were some of these frog abominations that we could keep from attacking us with the Makers might and a giant snake. I still have the feeling that some of the frogs managed to escape but even our elven and dwarven companions couldn’t find any secret hiding places or doors. The most important and terrifying thing we found was the statue of this frog daemon these madmen call their master. It was difficult even looking at it and had a large gem in its head. We lacked any tools to destroy this unholy sanctum so we have to see if we can get any holy water from the monastery or Froxhall.
After all that we were lucky to also capture the wife of the innkeeper. Eirikir sensed none of the infernal hatred that was abundant on the other cultists on her so Zephyros convinced her to cooperate with us. Seems like the cult drags potential members and captives down to some watery cave near the river where the influence of the daemon is strong enough to either posses or kill the new recruits. Maybe it takes a while before the cult can be sure if the newest members loyalty, at least this would explain why the merchant was still bound in one of the rooms of the inn. I really doubt this charade was some sort of ruse to trust him as we would have no reason to find him before we defeated the cultists in the inn.
Or next plan is to get the troops into the town and search the Study for any clues. We have to hurry though, not just because Warden Gee & Deacon Tostig might still be in the cults clutches but also because Lady Osthryd seems to have been captured and brought down to the caverns.

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From Hewflore to Taygle's End
Session 18

After a long break Osric picks up his journal again, flips to a fresh page and starts writing down:
Yric mentioned that two brothers who were investigating Taygles End have vanished. I bet this fake teacher there is responsible. We will put an end to that!
I visited the local Magonine friary today. I am surprised how young elder Bede is and wonder what deeds he done in the Makers name to already lead a friary at his age. We talked briefly and he was rather reserved but one of his position probably ends up with many hidden adversaries so I won’t hold that against him. It seems the death cult Fraegr mentioned is worshipping the daemon called “Orcus”, this swamp truly is a hive of scum and devilry!
I paid the sculptor a visit as well to see how the statue for the Study of Saint Tibba is progressing and instructed them to work on a few features some more. Saint Magos needs to looks as impressive as his deeds.

Osric continues writes into his journal while crossing the lake:
We departed from Hewflore to find evidence of the frog cult in Taygle’s End. With my mercenaries I doubt we will encounter any problems with the local lord. I have to admit that I look forward to hunt cultists again and cleaning out this rotten village will be a great first step to bring the Makers judgement into this foul swamp.
I should not forget to also find a chance to get more information about that Orcus cult. Maybe Colbert knows something? Maybe we can Visit Froxhall without resting there for a night, the prices they charge there should be considered robbery! I will better check up on Fraegr once we are back in Hewflore too, I haven’t seen him since he was with Zephyros and Xenocrates when we came back from our last expedition. I think he might know more about the cult.

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