The Pillar of Heaven

Session 11: Of Goats and Generals

Following the battle with the nonexistent Ithaquas, Wildward engaged with the surviving dire mountain goat only to learn that its deceased mate was pregnant. Acting quickly, with the aid of Berouwvol, the Wildward performed a successful emergency c-section. He now has an infant baby goat snuggling the crook of his hips…hard.

Around the campfire, Nyx used her fireside chat venue to reveal that she had been living with the Cult of Morkano prior to meeting the rest of the party at the Porcelain Pussycat. As she revealed the details of her story, she made it clear that the Cult’s leaders had poisoned the waters of her trust, in addition to the poisoning of the waters of Fairhaven. Nyx is prepared to use her standing in the Cult to help the Patrons and their allies of Aerandir gain entrance into the Moraeambo stronghold. Nyx proposed that the Patrons cut off the head of the snake by destroying the leadership of the Cult. The Wildward revealed that he was sent to Fairhaven to find C and accompany him.

The group set off on the 100-mile journey from Sky Mirror Lake to the Moraeambo. Cee and Berouwvol led the marching order, with the Wildward using his foraging, meteorology, and cartography skills to support the party as its primary wilderness guide. Edible roots were discovered, gethered and eaten. Nyx deployed her invisible friend Gary on a variety of reconnaissance missions: tracking the wayward paths of the Ithaqua, venturing to the Moraeambo to steal Wulfgar’s handwriting sample, and even flying further north to try to find the Cult’s ultimate winter stronghold. Faithful Wilfrick herded the pack animals from a safe position as the journey progressed uneventfully.

From her position in the rear of the group, Siri noticed lots of Kobold tracks. Setting up an ambush, Gary served as Nyx’s eyes to use telepathy with Yerimi, the self-identified leader of the Kobold platoon. Somewhat intimidated, and wanting very much to secure the safe passage of the Kobolds, Yerimi informed the Patrons that he was a lifelong servant of the great red dragon Vayotorn. This group was traveling to a stronghold that matched the description of the Moraeambo, in order to make the area ready for its new resident. One of Vayotorn’s offspring is set to move into the area.

So eager was Yerimi to avoid a confrontation that he paid the toll of a 100gp diamond to Berouwvol, who stepped forward as the face of the group when Yerimi insisted on seeing his interlocutor. Significantly, Berouwvol lowered his warhammer and allowed the Kobolds to pass unharmed. Is Ber turning over a new leaf of gentler behavior? Will the Patrons leverage their relationship with Yerimi in the future?

Meanwhile…Wildward has used Druidcraft to predict that a snow storm will hit the area in the next 24 hours.

Session 10: No Such Thing As Ithaquas

In the aftermath of the Battle of Sky Mirror Lake, the Patrons apprehended Cult Leader Ernesto, who attempted to flee via small water craft. Wildward and C combined to pull Ernesto into the water, knock him unconscious, and bind him. They tied him to a tree while the group rested to gather its bearings.

Several individuals performed rituals to the gods and nature during the rest. C took his Oath of Vengeance to Yenaelweth. Verred smeared herself with earth and mud, then cleansed herself in the cold waters of Sky Mirror Lake, affirming to Aerandir her pursuit of her world walk. Wildward invoked the spirit of Nature to guide his pursuits. A great deal of divine power and attention attends the adventuring group.

Upon considering the information gleaned from the cultists, C found Ernesto guilty of capital crimes and authorized Nyx to execute him, and she did with gusto. C stated that his preferred course will be to turn the group away from the Pass of the Dragon to pursue the destruction of the Cult of Morkano at their headquarters citadel. All of the Patrons of Fairhaven are on board with this plan, as it offers a path to combating the group directly responsible for the poisoning of Fairhaven’s fresh water supply. Regardless of what unfolds in the quest for the Pillar of Heaven, C and his allies have a chance to protect hundred of thousands of innocent lives if the Cult’s sinister plans can be stopped.

Nyx dispatched Gary the Invisible Friend on a variety of scouting expeditions. Gary discovered that the Brightmore group had not yet departed from Robin’s Roost. As he set out to the north-northeast to locate the cult compound, the still of the night was disturbed by a horrifying, blood-curdling scream that echoed off the surrounding hillsides. Siri recognized the sound as that of the terrible and entirely fictional Ithaqua – an imaginary monster of insatiable greed and hunger.

Boldly, Berouwvol set off to hunt the monster, and the rest of the group quickly joined him. With tactical expertise provided by Nyx, the combined forces of the Patrons and the Aerandir party made quick work of two Ithaquas with ranged attacks. Amid the fracas, it became apparent that Wildward’s use of Sarmbik’s Wand of Wonder created dangerous results for friends and foes alike. Yet the group prevailed, this time with no fatalities.

Session 9: The Cleansing of Sky Mirror Lake

Upon waking up in camp, Pemming Gildshine returned to Fairhaven to conduct a campaign of spying and mischief. The rest of the Patrons of Fairhaven conducted a spirited discussion concerning how to engage with the group of black-clad campers at Sky Mirror Lake. Nyx’s invisible friend Gary had investigated the entire area, which made the Patrons well aware of the layout of the terrain. It was agreed that Nyx would approach the group and parley to gather information about their purposes and who sent them.

As the Aerandir party awoke, Brynne Simons presented the Patrons with several books that had come from the Royal Library. The various tomes of knowledge will help those who use them as resources to glean relevant information on a broad range of topics. In return for the two scrolls Nyx gave her, Brynn also provided three Paladin-only scrolls to Cee, who it appears is deeply admired by most of the members of the Aerandir party.

With the marching order set and various plans in place (including a run by Gary back to Robin’s Roost), the Patrons and their allies hit the trail toward Sky Mirror Lake. After a couple of hours, several winged creatures appeared in the skies above. It was a pod of wyrmling silver dragons. With a bit of effort, a line of communication was established, and one of the dragons landed to hold converse with Brynne, the group’s only speaker of Draconic language.

The dragon informed Brynne that the group’s coming had been indicated by an ally (Hubbard K. Dewling) in Robin’s Roost. Moreover, the dragons were aware that the black-clad campers at the lake had been poisoning the water there. A second group of wyrmlings was already scouting the scene at the lake. The Patrons and their friends were being watched and tested by the elder silver dragons who guard the pass, it was learned.

Next, a raven arrived from Robin’s Roost, bearing a return letter from Otis Shipman. This letter was a response to Nyx’s letter from several days earlier. Otis offered reports regarding the routing of a squad of Thornicroft’s soldiers, along with a story about a break-in at the Royal Library of Fairhaven that resulted in the ouster of chief sage al-Qarawi. The letter also informed the Patrons that Archduke Ravensdale had been appointed to the newly created post of Chief of Internal Security for the Kingdom of Fairhaven.

At last, the large group of adventurers reached the southern shore of the Royal River. Fording the stream, everyone took up concealed positions as Nyx entered the camp to speak to the campers. Among other things, she learned that they were indeed Cultists of Morkano, on a mission ordered by a Cultist named Wulfgar, to poison the water and make their getaway. She also learned that Wulfgar and the rest of the cultists dwell in the headquarters of the Cult of Morkano to the North.

Nyx exited the camp, and the party attacked. Many cultists were felled by swords and spells, as the cult leader, Ernesto, sought to make his escape by boat. Toward the end of the combat, a blanket of darkness engulfed the main battle area. An eruption of fire followed several seconds later, destroying all the remaining cult members (save Ernesto). Sadly, Miya Bywater of the Aerandir party was burned to death in the flames, and many other allies suffered burns in the fire.

Session 8: Treasures, Maps, & Companions

The Patrons wrapped up their foray into Sarmbik’s Vault with an organized process for dividing the great treasure. This process featured several intra-party deals, including the sale of the first selection by Berouwvol and a tourmaline for the Wildward, from Nyx, in exchange for a promise of regular use of his new Wand of Wonder. C took custody of Sarmbik’s crystal ball, which is ostensibly linked to his madness. Before they left the Vault, Nyx performed a strange ritual to summon her new invisible friend, rousing C’s suspicion.

Outside the tomb, the leading Halflings awaited the Patrons. Several Halflings imposed the Patrons to make good on their promises, including the promise to provide information about the Pass of the Dragon to Everwin Peake, and the promise to help Robin’s Roost with its poisoned water supply. Hubbard K. Dewling translated Sarmbik’s map of the Pass of the Dragon, and the Wildward made a copy of the map for Mayor Adleberg.

After the Wildward provided the plans for Robin’s Roost to build its own water purification cistern, the Patrons hit the trail toward the Pass of the Dragon. They made their rendezvous with the party of Aerandir. Currently, the Patrons are within striking distance of Sky Mirror Lake, where Nyx’s invisible friend has espied a group of black-clad campers.

Session 7: Sarmbik's Vault

In venturing beyond the guardian room of Sarmbik’s Vault, the Patrons of Fairhaven came to a natural cavern deep within the hillside of The Roost. Replete with stalagmites, spikes, and scalding geysers, the cavern challenged the Patrons to find a way to traverse its natural and man-made obstacles. This was accomplished with an extremely well-constructed rope bridge and some spider-form reconnaissance by The Wildward.

Most of the party withstood the ill effects of the mad gnome shade’s appearance, but Cee’s courage was thwarted by Sarmbik’s horrifying visage. Pemming bolstered the party with inspiring music and glib banter. Amid the inane babbling of the ghost, many Patrons assailed the spirit while Nyx engaged it in a telepathic contest of wills. Nyx prevailed, and the ghost revealed that it was being controlled by “The Lady” through its crystal ball.

Soon after driving off the ghost, the Patrons advanced into the heart of Sarmbik’s Vault: his spare but well-stocked treasure room. Therein, Sarmbik’s ghost was at last defeated by the mighty hammer falls of Berouwvol. The Patrons then looted his treasure. Among many other useful boons, the hoard contained the one particular item for which the party had trespassed the ancient tomb: a detailed map of the Pass of the Dragon.

Session 6: Hubbard K. Dewling of Robin's Roost

After eliminating the were-rat, and his badger and toad allies, the Patrons of Fairhaven resumed their journey with Wender Wilkins along the Royal River. For his part, Wilkins collected the bounty for the were-rat’s head, upgraded the Patrons’ treasure to more portable forms, and provided some useful information about his home town of Robin’s Roost. On board the ship, the Patrons discussed tactics for engaging the Brightmore party and potentially eliminating them as competition in the quest for the Pillar of Heaven.

Upon arriving in Robin’s Roost, the Patrons were greeted by Adia, who served as a guide and advisor in town. It was clear that the townspeople were erecting a fairgrounds to honor the impending arrival of native son and folk hero, Everwin Peake. She led them to a wood-built motte-and-bailey style keep called the Roost, wherein resided the noted halting sage Hubbard K. Dewling. The sage enjoyed beer with the Patrons at the Dragon Skull Inn, and he shared what he knew about the Pass of the Dragon (which was a fair amount).

Other troubles persist in Robin’s Roost, including the befouling of the water supply by a bizarre bluish-greenish-blackish algae. Upon parting company with Dewling, the Patrons were led by Adia to the home of Adelberg, the town mayor. Once they gained entry to the meeting, the Patrons agreed to help the town with its water supply in exchange for the key to Sarmbik’s Vault, which is said to contain vital information about the Pass of the Dragon. The Patrons also agreed that they would share any information that they found in the Vault that could be vital to Everwin Peake’s success in the Pass of the Dragon, including Sarmbik’s Journal and the map he was thought to have made of the Pass.

The Patrons gained entry into Sarmbik’s Vault, and they bypassed a room filled with summoned and illusory guardians. They defeated a poison dart trap. Now, the party stands at the mouth of a large cavern, which roils with steaming geysers, and includes a spiked floor and a precipitous path across slippery stalagmites.

Session 5: Win in the Willow

After dissecting the Guardian Snake and salting the meat, the party convened on the deck of the boat to discuss a communications strategy with the Patrons of Fairhaven. Nyx will write letters and use her magic to create false messages that will mislead any unauthorized readers. In this way, the party will learn about events in Fairhaven, and potential shape conditions there in their favor.

Alighting in Ashton, the party then transacted some business with the horse traders and provisioners there. C said goodbye to the party temporarily in order to attend some family business from before his military service. The group got their first look at the party of the Brightmore Brothers, who had stopped in Ashton to rest along their overland journey to the Pass of the Dragon.

In Ashton, the party obtained a bounty poster for the dreaded River Rat, who was determined to be a lycanthrope. Sensing an opportunity, the group landed close to the Rat’s giant willow tree and took out a cluster of Giant Wasps there. After penetrating the Magic Mouth on the door of the tree, Nyx triggered a trap that doused Pemming with sticky goo. This sweet-tasting pinkish goo slowed down some members of the group, but it did little to hinder the party’s ability to take out the rat and his allies, the Badger and the Toad.

By session’s end, the party had brought all of the Rat’s fragile yet valuable treasure back on board Wender Wilkins’s ferry boat. Their next destination is the last port of call on the Royal River: Robin’s Roost.

Session 4: Guards and the Guardian

The characters woke at Otis’ offices. They made their way back to the Porcelain Pussycat, where the Wildward befriended a dog. Berouwvol engaged in some strategic destruction of property by smashing the literal porcelain pussycat with his warhammer. The party fixed the pussycat with magic. Inside, newly minted squire Wilfric demonstrated sincerity and industriousness, while serving-maid Rosa was added to the party payroll.

Unfortunately, the party was unable to get deep inside the Royal Library of Fairhaven. The fees to speak with the sages and peruse materials were too high. Brynne Simons provided some aid to the party, in the form of maps and collaboration. Her group, led by Verred, priestess of Aerandir, eventually resolved to accompany the party over the Pass of the Dragon into Zarkandaria.

After receiving supplies from Otis, the party boarded the craft of Wender Wilkins, ferryman extraordinaire. A group of guards tried to ride off with information regarding the party’s departure. Swift-acting Berouwvol took the lead in cutting down the fleeing guards from long distance, ensuring that no message could be delivered to the guards’ commander, the despised Baron Thornicroft. The Wildward also caught a fish for his new Osprey-friend.

As Wilkins’ boat made its way up river, it was accosted by the “Guardian of the River,” a giant constrictor snake. The reptile threatened to grab C and carry him off into the water, but a fast-acting Wildward broke the snake’s hold with powerful magic. The entire party combined to rout the snake, the carcass of which is now being smoked and eaten aboard the deck of the ship.

The next stop for the party is the riverside town of Ashton, where the group will rejoin Wilfric. The young squire is guided captured horses to the town.

Session 3: The Quay Imbroglio

As the party wrangled the dead and unconscious bodies of their fallen foes upon the stone quay, several giant rats and rat swarms emerged and attacked. With some effort and ingenuity, the party fended off these beasts. Finally, the bodies (including that of their slumbering comrade Berouwvol) were dragged to a hidden spot behind a hut at the end of the quay.

Then, a platoon of soldiers led by Captain Trumlin marched down the quay toward the party. Trumlin identified himself as the leader of Duke Breakspear’s forces. The Wildward spoke to Captain Trumlin, as did Nyx, but neither was able to prevent him from ordering his troops to complete their sweeping search of the quay.

The Wildward tried to dissuade Captain Trumlin by attacking him and his troops with powerful offensive magic. Things looked bad for the party when the armed forces forced their surrender. However, Otis Shipman appeared with a ragtag group of armed militia to force a stalemate with Trumlin’s troops.

Otis cut a deal to trade the captive prisoners who had attacked the party for the freedom of the party itself. Trumlin and his troops then went on to complete their sweep of the docks. The party retired to Otis’ offices to rest up before their journey, which is set to begin the next day.

Session 2: The Patrons of Fairhaven
O! The rising numbskullduggery...

The evening at the Inn of the Porcelain Pussycat had reached its conclusion. The party finished its conversation and its business there. Both “Grizeldo” and Berouwvol continuing their binge drinking. Nyx wrote a private letter, which the party later learned was intended for her mystery patron, Otis Shipman.

Heading outside, five large, dangerous dogs confronted the group. These dogs had surrounded a frightened boy. With some small difficulty, the party fended them off. The boy revealed that his name was Wilfric. His slain older brother had been a sergeant in C’s platoon. Wilfric hardly escaped from the Battle of Trademeet with his life, and he now sought service as C’s squire. C ordered the boy to remain at the Porcelain Pussycat until the appointed meeting time the following day.

The group then moved onward to secure the sponsorship and payments from their three patrons. The party made contact with Nyx’s contact, Reglor. He’s a sly-looking fellow whom, it was later learned, is associated with the Guild of Crossed Daggers. She gave him her letter for delivery, and the group agreed to meet up with him following the first patronal encounter.

At the first meeting, the party agreed to a contract with Father Bilwill Gildshine, a cleric of Gwalto. Bilwill informed the party, through his oftentimes unintelligible high-pitched glee, that a group of Gwalto’s cleric had discovered that the leaders of the faith had made a secret bargain with the followers of an evil god, Morkano. Now, Gildshine and his fellows sought secret allegiances with other powerful groups within Fairhaven. Toward that end, Bilwill thought that both Berouwvol and C made excellent additions to the party. Bilwill also confided that he felt like Li Peng’s vision had been misunderstood, and that the Pillar of Heaven was really to be found within the great Stone Spire of Etala, upon which the Weirdrangle was constructed.

During this meeting, it was revealed that Grizeldo Croon was, in fact, an elaborate disguise cooked up by none other than the son of Bilwill Gildshine, the gnome Pemming Gildshine. Pemming had distinguished himself of late by making a mess of a plateful of table scraps, and by failing to lift Nyx’s letter from her hand. Later in the evening, fatigue would cause Pemming to retire at a safe location within the Sea-Vault of Aearmo.

Next, the group met with Otis Shipman, Nyx’s patron and the guild master of the powerful League of Shipwrights and Sail Makers. Ship proved an affable fellow. He stated that the guild leaders did not want the Pillar of Heaven to fall into the hands of the ruling Aristocracy, because it would perpetuate the iniquitous status quo. Otis assigned Reglor to be a “fixer” for the group, to take care of administrative needs prior to the departure on the road to the Weirdrangle. Also, Otis professed his belief that the Pillar of Heaven was to be found in a churning, roiling, magical sea somewhere off to the north of far Dykumo. Only one of Otis’ ships could survive such waters without foundering, he said.

At this point, the party headed down to the nearby docks to catch a ferry to the Sea Vault of Aearmo. At the ferry, Wilfric revealed that he had followed the group and gained the valuable information that Reglor had been using their names in discussions with several other individuals. C was notably upset that Wilfric had disobeyed his orders. So, Wilfric was sent back to the Porcelain Pussycat and given the task of proving to C that he could be trusted.

Within the majestic Sea-Vault of Aearmo, the cleric Beranleod became the third patron to contract the party’s services in search of the Pillar of Heaven. His contract bore the same terms as the other two patrons. Beranleod asserted that the clerics of Aearmo are interested in the Pillar of Heaven as a means to purify the poisoned fresh water sources that are impacting drinking water supplies and crop irrigation across Fairhaven. Beranleod also professed his ignorance of the final resting place of the Pillar of Heaven. He strongly believed that Li Peng’s vision had significance and that the Weirdrangle should be investigated. In addition, Beranleod explained that he had been contacted by Otis Shipman who, having received Nyx’s letter, wanted to ensure that the mutual patrons could cooperate in their sponsorship of the party.

It was at this point that Pemming retired due to the fatigued of a long a stressful day. The rest of the party returned via ferry to the docks. They were greeted by three guard who claimed to serve under the command of Baron Cruikshank. These guards demanded the surrender of the party, and a general melee ensued. Wildward knocked one of the guards into the harbor, and two other guards were knocked unconscious. Two thugs, issuing order to the guards, moved in to thwart the party, but they were quickly overcome by the combined efforts of the group.

Currently, the party has apprehended three guards and one of the thugs. The other thug died as a result of his wounds.