Way Of The Wicked - The Fall of Talingarde

Book 1, Act 4 Burning Balentyne

Before the party disembarks from the Frosthamar they attack the crew slaying them quickly and mercilessly, ending with Cervantes beheading Captain Odenkirk. After looting the crew and the ship they set fire to the Frosthamar casting darkness upon it to cover their vile treachery. They make the trek to the market town of Aldencross where they instruct Grumblejack to remain in the woods outside of town and the party will make contact with him every two days. Entering Aldencross they find lodging in The Lord’s Dalliance, the only inn in town. During the first four days they begin to uncover vital information from the various people around town.

#1. The garrison is maned by about one hundred soldiers, four captains, one mage, one cleric and his acolytes, and the commander Lord Thomas Havelyn.
#2. Three of the four captains live in Aldencross.
#3. Lord Havelyn is well respected by the townsfolk as well as the soldiers.
#4. There is a small contingent of ten dwarfs led by one Barnabus Eisenbauch to refit the gatehouse of the garrison.
#5. Most of the humans of Aldencross does not seem to like dwarves
#6. The Lord’s Dalliance got it’s name as a brothel which was rumored to have a secret tunnel connecting it to Balentyne so the previous lord could come and go as he pleased without alerting his wife.
#7. Father Donning may have been demoted and sent to Balentyne after some serious trouble with the Church. (Raphael knows of Father Donning and does not believe this to be true)
#8. Captain Zach Eddarly is a handsome man and somewhat of a heartthrob among the ladies of town.
#9. That to be so grim Lord Havelyn might be guilty of something.
#10. The owner of the Lord’s Dalliance Bellam Barhold is a lush and complains he can not get a hold of any good wine.
#11. That Captain Varning leads a weekly patrol into the woods surrounding Balentyne.

Then one night Cylara learns from one of the soldiers that prisoners have escaped Branderscar, killing everyone in the prison save for a corrupt sergeant. A reward has been issued for their recapture. Meeting in their rooms they decide that they must not use their real names again and they must be careful to continue using the iron circlets to disguise themselves. They also hear that someone may have seen an ogre outside of town.


Later that night Zeitram, Kharon and Cervantes discover that the secret passage from the inn to Balentyne is not a rumor, catching Bellam Barhold using it to steal three cases of elven wine from Balentyne’s storage room. They promise their silence for upgrading their room to a suite at no further cost.

The next day the villains decided to implement Zeitram’s plan to strain racial tensions as much as possible between dwarves and humans. That evening Cervantes joined the dwarven table at the Lord’s Dalliance and took part in their nightly drinking contest. Once it was apparent they were all well intoxicated, Cylara mentioned to her soldier friends that Barnabus the dwarf had scathingly insulted her earlier. Intent on defending her honor, one of the soldiers approached Barnabus and began shouting at him. Shouting quickly turned to insults and shoving between the two factions. Soon the feud escalated to an all out brawl with punches being thrown and more dwarves and soldiers joining the fray.

Bar fight

It was at that point that Raphael stood behind one young soldier and with a magical compulsion he whispered, “Kill him”. The guard started to resist, but Raphael repeated the command more forcefully. As a dwarf charged, the youthful private drew his longsword and ran the stocky, bearded fellow through the belly. Somewhere a woman screamed. A blast of gunfire from the bartender ended the fray and the Watch was called to the scene.

Even later that night the group left the inn with a knife stolen from Barnabus’ room. They disguised themselves as dwarves and pounced upon the guards in the dead of night. The battle was quick and the guards soon lay dead with Barnabus’ dagger, and the seed of discontent, firmly planted in the chest of one of the fallen.

The next morning they resolved to leave town early. Not just to avoid the the fallout of their clandestine murders, but because today was an excellent day for hunting. It just so happens that today they would be hunting men. Specifically, Captain Ryan Varning and his small group of soldiers that go on a patrol once a week to scout the countryside. Between the trio of Ashe, Cervantes, and Kharon they were soon on the trail of the patrol. While they may have gotten a head start on the party, the distance was closed in a matter of a couple days.

They descended upon the campsite of the watch patrol in the dead of night. Ashe fired an arrow enchanted with silence while Zeitram slipped invisibly into the camp. The combination was devastating with many of the soldiers dead or dying without knowing who or what was attacking them. Cylara stood back casting spells and cackling madly. Ashe fired arrows with deadly precision against any who were unwise enough to exit their tents. Kharon and Cervantes efficiently murdered all who still lay sleeping. Zeitram entered the largest tent and was suddenly attacked! Captain Varning had awoken and was fighting back. Zeitram stumbled backwards from the tent clutching his wound. The tent shook violently and was suddenly still.

Raphael and Cervantes cried out in alarm that Varning was escaping. The captain lept upon his horse and took off at a gallop. The party made a dash for their horses while Raphael cast a pair of spells at the fleeing captain and his horse. Both fought off the enchantment and Varning and his pursuers disappeared into the forest. Snarling a curse Raphael mounted his horse and made attempt to catch up knowing that if the captain should escape at this moment the element of surprise would be forever lost.

The chase was frantic. Assassin vines had to be dodged, a cliff had to be climbed, blocked paths had to be navigated, and an angry bear! Varning proved to be an expert rider and bypassed them all. Just when he seemed to be on the verge of escape he was slowed enough for his attackers to seize him. He fought valiantly but in the end the forces of Asmodeus prevailed. Varning and his men were stripped of all valuables, their campsite taken down and burned, corpses and supplies were hurled into the vast lake, and all traces of their passing were expertly brushed away by Ashe. And over the next many days, Grumblejack would feast on horseflesh.

Ambush

Upon their return to Aldencross they learn that the bodies of the dead soldiers were found. The dwarves were questioned by Father Donnigan and he does not believe that Barnabus was responsible.

The party then resolved to take advantage of the secret passage beneath the inn to see what they could discover. They decided that for this first foray into the keep that only the most stealthy of them should go. It was decided that Cervantes the pirate, Kharon the inquisitor, Ashe the ranger, and Zeitram the rogue would be the ones to enter the keep this night. Raphael cast a blessing of status upon them so that if they ran into trouble that he would know. He stayed in his room at the Lord’s Dalliance with Cylara and awaited their return.

Disguising themselves as soldiers of the keep, the group of four entered the armory. Being so late at night, it was abandoned. There were stairs leading up into the tower and a door. Choosing the door, they found themselves in a hallway. Rounding the corner they began opening doors and found a couple empty rooms. Thinking themselves in an unused part of the keep they barged into the next room without much precaution. Opening the door they found a man seated at a large desk wearing a captain’s badge of office. “What do you want,” he asked looking quite displeased.

Clearly not expecting to find anyone in the room Zeitram stammered, “Uh, just checking on you.” The captain’s eyes narrowed and the rest of the group held their collective breath at Zeitram’s omitted honorific of “sir”.

The captain turned back to his writing desk and grumbled, “Next time just knock.” The group offered their apologies and hastily shut the door.

They took more caution with the next room and determined by the lack of noise that it was probably unoccupied. Entering the room they found it to be another captain’s quarters with nicer furnishings. Searching the room, they found a hidden compartment in the wardrobe that contained love letters between Captain Zack Eddarly and the wife of Captain Franz Mott, Catelyn. Taking the letters so they might put them to good use, they began to argue on what to do next. Kill the captain in the next room? Search more of the keep?

They were interrupted when the real night watchmen came down the hallway and began checking doors. Locking the door, they stayed still and silent as stone, and when the watch had passed they made a hasty dash for the secret door. Zeitram grabbed another bottle of elvish wine on his way out and led the party back to the Lord’s Dalliance. When they exited the basement of the inn they were confronted by Master Barhold about being up and about so early in the morning. Zeitram assured the innkeeper that nothing was wrong and slyly handed Barhold a bottle of rare elvish wine. Looking pale and shaken, Barhold said nothing as the group went back to their rooms and relayed the details of their scouting mission to Cylara and Raphael.

The next day the villains gathered more information about town and later retreated back to their rooms to plan the next course of action. Many ideas were thrown around, including assassinating the captain in his quarters, sending the love letters to Captain Mott to arrange a confrontation between him and Captain Eddarly, and poisoning the weekly stew a little old lady brought to the keep once a week. More ideas were brought forth and quickly dismissed.

It was at this time that Zeitram felt the need to leave the room and bumped into Suri, the innkeeper’s daughter. She claimed to have been mopping the next room, however Zeitram noticed that the bucket not only held no water, but was bone dry. Eyeing her, and the close proximity to the room where the group were plotting, he suggested they make use of the empty room. He tried to be charming, but there was more malice in his look than lust. He took a step forward and she ran.
Cursing, he ran after. The rest of the group, having heard the commotion, all hurried downstairs as well.

Tavern1a

Master Barhold, the innkeeper, intercepted them when they came downstairs and demanded to speak with them. Once seated with him he confronted them with what Suri overheard while outside their room. “Poisonings and murders. I don’t know who you people are but only bad things have happened since you’re arrived in town. Suri will no longer be serving your food or fetching your baths and I want you gone by tomorrow. And if I catch you in my cellar again I’ll be headed to the watchtower to tell them what I know.”

Many in the party would have visibly paled if not for their magical disguises. If looks could kill, Cervantes would have reduced the innkeeper to ashes with the dangerous glare in his eyes. Raphael smoothly interjected, “Oh Master Barhold, I think there is definitely some sort of misunderstanding here. Clearly your daughter only heard a small part of our quiet conversation taken horribly out of context behind a closed door. Surely you must reconsider.”

“No. I want you gone”, Barhold stated firmly.

“I see”, Raphael mused. “Tell me Master Barhold, what is bothering you. What is this really about?” He leaned forward in his chair calmly awaiting the man’s response.

Barhold leaned forward himself and stared right back at Raphael. “I don’t like being blackmailed”, he growled.

“Ah, there we go”, Raphael purred, a smile creeping over his lips. “Now we have the truth of it! I can see we have wronged you greatly Master Barhold. You’ve given us your best suites for an entire month and all we have done is take advantage of your generous hospitality. I would offer my sincerest apologies, but I see this matter can not be resolved satisfactorily with mere words.” He then pulled out a bulging coin purse and began counting out piles of gold. “I would offer three hundred apologies if I thought it would matter. Perhaps you would accept three hundred of these instead?”

Barhold stood transfixed by the pile of gold laid in front of him. With silver-tongued assurances from Raphael that they truly meant no harm towards anyone in the Lord’s Dalliance or in Aldencross, which was technically true in a way, he backed down from his demands for the group to leave and graciously accepted their gold.

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Book 1, Act 3, The Fire-Axe

At the end of their training The Master calls them to a lavish banquet and calls forth the slave that Kharon had been taking his pleasure with. Summoning forth a barbed devil the woman is given to it, to which it gleefully tears to pieces. Drawing some of the devil’s blood with a silver dagger he moves to each party member and draws the sign of Asmodeus on their forehead.

“Behold,”he proclaims, “The Nessian Knot is forged.”

Just in time,”The Master remarks.“My ship has arrived.” On the river dock behind the manor under cover of darkness, a square-sailed longship sailed into the slip. Sitting heavily in the waters, laden with a substantial cargo. The Master dismisses the party and the feast is over.

The party is called to his study the next day, “Welcome my children,” he said in a deep resonant voice that had an almost inhuman quality to it.“Training is at an end. You have proven yourselves worthy. Now, it is time for you to use that training and take on your first mission.”

Your mission is war, my children. You will bring war to Talingarde.”

You have two objectives. First, you will see a shipment of munitions delivered to a bugbear chieftain named Sakkarot Fire-Axe. He makes his camp on the northern coast of Lake Tarik beyond the Watch Wall. With this shipment, the Fire-Axe will have resources enough to unite the barbarous humanoid tribes of the north and light the fire of war.”

Sitting on the dock as we speak is the longship Frosthammar captained by Kargeld Odenkirk. Tomorrow when the ship is resupplied it will be your transport. The captain is a ruthless mercenary and not to be trusted. He knows nothing of the specifics of our mission and you should keep it that way. He knows he is smuggling cargo to the north beyond the Watch Wall. That is all he need know.”

Once the cargo is safely delivered, he will take you just south across the lake under cover of darkness and land near the town of Alden cross. There our contract with Captain Odenkirk will be concluded.”

It is a shame how greedy he has proven. I had hoped to let the captain serve me again but it seems he is too much a liability. Kill him. Kill his crew. Burn his ship and leave no survivors. It is crucial that no one suspects our involvement and that loose ends are taken care of. Be sure to reclaim the coin I gave him. Best not to be wasteful.”

That done you begin your second task. We will do more still to aid our ally the Fire-Axe. The bugbears are mighty warriors but poor siege engineers. You will infiltrate the tower Balentyne, keystone of the Watch Wall, kill it’s commander and open the gate for Sakkarot’s horde.”

Once the shaggy monstrosities pierce the Watch Wall, the bugbears will pillage and lay waste to the townships of the north and the local garrisons will have no choice but to meet the Fire-Ave in the open field. Sakkarot is the most brilliant, gifted and murderous bugbear of his generation. I expect these battles to go poorly for the knights and yeoman of fair Talingarde.”

Do all of this and then when you task is done, break this clay seal.” He handed the party a delicately carved clay seal adorned with a tangled knot of thorns surrounding the holy symbol of Asmodeus. “I will have more instructions then. Succeed and I will see you rewarded handsomely. Fail or betray me and you will pray for the comfort of Hell before I am done with you.”

The mission you start upon today is a holy mission. The people of Talingarde think they have seen the last of the mighty Asmodeus. Soon enough we will remind them that there is no escaping the grasp of Hell. Let us toast our success.”

He poured each of the party a glass of deep red wine and pouring one for himself he raised the glass and offered the toast.

To War!”

The party boarded the Frosthammar and began their journey, and slowly made their way up the coast. Just as they were about to pass the Watch Wall they were hailed by a Talingardian ship christened The Blade of St. Marius. Coming along side the Frosthamar Raphael informed Captain Edward Sambryl that they were on a mission to the north on a secret mission. The captain considered what Raphael had to say and let them go. The next night the ship was attacked by a group of tritons and water elementals led by a Triton Oracle named Nerianus. The party defeated them and captured Nerianus, upon questioning he claimed that Mitra had been sending him visions of the evil that was coming to Talingarde. The party disposed of him.

Moving on Captain Odenkirk told them that they had to detour to Seal Isle to refresh the water supplies. Knowing that the water stores were fine Cervantes questioned the Captain further and discovered that he wanted to hunt seals for some extra coin. Not having been given a time limit they agreed to the stop at the isle.

Arriving at the island the party hunted seals obtaining 5 pelts and Odenkirk and his crew obtaining 6. Shortly after the hunting was over they were approached by a group of Yutak tribesman. Ignoring the captain’s suggestion to kill them they traded with the tribesman obtaining a 8 foot long narwhal horn and several walrus tusks.

Leaving the island the Odenkirk sailed north to a narrow river that led through the northern woods to Lake Tarik where they quickly found the humanoid encampment of the Fire-Axe. Docking they were met by several bugbears, thinking Grumblejack was in charge they asked if he brought the “little ones” to eat. Raphael stated that they were there on the orders of Cardinal Thorne, which meant nothing to the bugbears. He then stated that they were there at the Fire-Axe’s invitation, which confused the bugbears long enough for the Fire-Axe to arrive.

Picture 14

The Fire-Axe stated that the men were his guests and that they brought them steel to fight their war. He then invited the party to join them in a feast to honor their arrival, to which they accepted. During the meal they found that the camp not only consisted of bugbears but also goblins, hill giants, and a few Naatanuks (intelligent polar bears from the far north). After the meal concluded the Fire-Axe requested them to accompany him to his tent.


“You are traitors to your own kind. You must know that. When Balentyne falls and my horde pours through it’s shattered gates, we will slaughter the Talireans by the thousands. Yet I see no regret in your eyes. Tell me how can this be?”


Each party member related their stories to the Fire-Axe and when they mentioned the f brand he removed his breastplate to show them the sign of Asmodeus burned into his chest and said, “We all have our scars.” The party reveals that they are the ninth knot and the Fire-Axe tells them “I am the only true member of the the knot. The rest are only fools” at which point he tells them that he will betray his own at the appointed time for the greater glory of Asmodeus.


He then finishes the evening by saying,“Tomorrow you must depart this camp. It will never be truly safe for you here. Over the next week, more tribes will rally to my banner. I will promise them blood and give them steel. Then at last I will be ready to march. I will move my horde to the valley just North of Balentyne. There we will wait for your signal. Fire this rocket into the air. Within the hour we will attack. Make sure that the way is ready.”


“After we gather, my horde will be idle and start to grow anxious. I can hold them together for another two weeks. After that, I can expect desertions and squabbling. Get your work done before then. You have one month to infiltrate and destroy Balentyne.”


He then handed the party a single carefully wrapped signal rocket and then says staring into the party’s eyes,“Can you do this? In one month can you break the Watch Wall?” answering him that they can he grunts and says “Thorn has faith in you. If you weren’t his best, he wouldn’t have sent you. Do this and your names will be legend. Hail Asmodeus!!”


The next morning the party left the encampment and spent the next week crossing Lake Tarik.

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Book1, Act 2, Into the Knot

The party spends the next three days in luxurious comfort, but they are not alone in the manor house along with Tiadora are four others that share their domicile.

Elise Zadaria (Human, Winter Witch)

Dostan Alfson (Half-Elf, Barbarian)

Tallus “Trak” Rackburn (Human, Ranger)

Titus “Trik” Rackburn (human, Cleric)

On the evening of the third day the party is summoned to the Masters study.

“Have you enjoyed your gifts? The iron circlets allow you to move amongst your enemies as one of them. The silver amulets will remind you of your true loyalties. The other items – well, you need them now.”


“You have done well to escape Branderscar and accept my offer. However, you are still not ready for my service. Tiadora will lead you to the basement of this domicile. There you will find nine chambers each more dangerous than the last. Somewhere hidden within these chambers is a pendant of silver and sapphire. Recover the pendant and bring it to me. Let nothing and no one stand in your way.”


He stood up and looked out of the manor house window across the grey moor. “It’s almost dusk. You have until dusk tomorrow to bring me my prize. Do not fail me.”


The cardinal then regained his seat and Tiadora beckoned to the party leading the way to the basement.


Upon reaching the basement the party moved into the first room which had an inscription on the archway leading into the room. “Deception is a tool. Self-Deception is death. Decieve always thy enemy but never thyself.” The room beyond was a plain room with one door lit by a an oil lamp hanging in the center of the room. Quickly moving across the room Zeitram barely jumped clear of the pit trap set before the door. Looking at the pit filled with blunted spikes he looked upon an inscription in the wall. “Thou wert deceived. Pain is thy reward.” After careful searching the party found the door in front of the pit was false and a secret niche in the northern wall containing a glowing piece of alchemical ice. They then found a concealed door on the southern wall opening to a short hallway at which a door waited at the end.


Inscribed on the door was “Following the herd is for fools. Fear not their icy derision. Instead, fear only thy Infernal Lord.” Opening the door the party found a plain stone chamber with a door in each wall. On the floor was discovered tracks of at least a dozen people moving toward the east and south doors. The west door was covered in a violet fungus that radiated cold. Cervantes informed the party that it was a creature called “Violet Fungus” that feeds off of heat and would grow double in size if a single torch was brought near it. Using the alchemical ice obtained in the previous room the violet fungus was destroyed and inscribed on the door was “Thou hast made thine own path”. Walking down a rather long hallway the party encountered yet another door with another inscription “Know your enemy. Shatter all that blinds you and then burn thy adversary to ashes.”


Upon opening the door Zeitram was met with an inky darkness that his sunrod could not penetrate. Moving up Kharon and Raphael were able to see a chamber with two other doors and a pedestal in the center holding a black rock. Kharon moved into the room to inspect the rock when he was suddenly attacked from behind by what Cervantes identified as a Vampiric Mist. After defeating the vampiric mist and shattering the piece of obsidian radiating the darkness spell the party moved to the north door, untrapped and unlocked they opened and moved down the short path to yet another door with an inscription


“Cruelty is a tool not a pastime. Be ruthless to thy enemy but reward those who serve thee well.” upon opening the door they looked upon a plain stone room without exit and a torturers rack sitting in the center. Searching the room they found nothing but the very functional torturers rack. Turning to leave Raphael heard a faint noise and upon investigating found a secret alcove with a frightened young man dressed in knights livery.


Squire timeon


Upon questioning he said his name was Timeon, Squire of Sir Balin. The party assured him that he was safe and beckoned him to sit on the rack to receive healing. After he reluctantly sat Raphael commanded Kharon to seize him. Kharon quickly strapped Timeon onto the rack where he was questioned. Timeon told the party that he was accompanying his master when they were set upon by a large band of brigands. He was knocked unconscious and upon awaking found that he and his master had been captured by an evil worshiper of Asmodeus. Timeon blindly fled and secreted himself in the hidden alcove where he heard the follower of Asmodeus looking for him and heard him speaking of the terrors of the dungeon that he was in. Afterwards they continued the torture despite his pleading for them to stop and then Cervantes cut his throat.


Going back to the room of darkness the party moved through the eastern door, down a hallway stopping at a door inscribed with “The chosen are revealed by their might. The weak deserve no sympathy.”Upon opening the door they found another plain stone chamber with one other door in the southern wall. Sitting in the center of the chamber was a pair of metal cobras. The party engaged the mythral cobras and destroyed them.


Snakes

Moving to the door the find the inscription “Suffer not the fool. Stupidity is our faith’s cardinal sin.”. Opening the door the party beheld a plain stone room with a stairway leading out the east wall and a podium in the center of the room. Approaching the podium they found a pendant of a silver dragon with sapphire eyes. Not trusting the ease with which they’ve found the pendant they began to search finding a secret passage in the west wall, revealing another hallway. Moving down the hall they found another door with another inscription, “Secrecy is our greatest ally. Exposure brings death.” Upon opening the door, a sudden shrieking started as it was hit by Zeitram’s sunrod. The party retreated from the room waiting for several moments. Moving back to the room the party discovered four water-logged corpses standing wielding great axes.


Undead

Once again the party retreated back to the room and waited for the Draugr to arrive, and upon arrival engaged the party in fierce combat. After several tense moments the four Draugr were defeated.


Afterwards the party destroyed the shrieker and moved through the stone room filled with coffins the Draugr occupied to another door leading to a short hallway, leading to a door with another inscription on it, Serve thy master well and be rewarded." Next to the door hung a iron ring on a wooden peg. Upon opening the door the party found another simple stone room with a bed and standing near the door a single armed man.


Sir balin

The party had used their iron circlets to assume the forms of Squire Timeon and several Talingardian soldiers and told him that they had come to rescue him. As soon as Sir Balin moved into the next room they surrounded and attacked him. During the fighting Sir Balin disabled both Ashe and Zeitram but was himself disabled, at which point Raphael stabilized Sir Balin took his holy symbol of silver and sapphire and dragged him to the torture rack at which point they dowsed him with lamp oil and Raphael said “Sir Balin you have been found guilty of crimes against us, you are therefore sentenced to death by fire.” and lit him on fire. Before expiring Sir Balin said strangely calm and clear, “May Mitra bring vengeance upon you.”


After slaying Sir Balin the party returned to the Master’s study


“You’ve returned.” The high priest holds the trinket and pauses as if in deep contemplation. He watches the holy symbol glitter in the light. “A pretty enough thing, eh?”he muses. This is a holy symbol of Mitra in particular the sort favored by the Knights of Alerion. Perhaps you already knew that.“


”Remember this symbol. This is the mark of those who destroyed our faith and sought to banish all traces of the worship of our Father from these shores. These, my friends, are your enemies."


Tossing the holy symbol to Cervantes he continues “Keep it. It may aid you in disguising yourself.”


He then smiled. _You have done well. Escaping from Branderscar, slaughtering Sir Balin… yes, you are worthy. Now let us complete your training…"


For three long months the party trains under the close tutelage of The Master honing them into instruments of vengeance. He is a brilliant teacher, learning quickly that success brings reward and failure delivers them to the hellish tortures of Tiadora.

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Way of the Wicked Book 1
Act One (Prison Break!!)

Branding1

Art above created by Michael Clarke.


In the kingdom of Talingarde, many crimes may send you to Branderscar Prison, but the sentence has but one meaning. You are wicked and irredeemable. Each of you received the same greeting when you arrived. You were held down by rough hands and branded upon the arm with a runic F. The mark signifies ‘forsaken’ and the painful scar is indelible proof that each of you has betrayed the great and eternal love of Mitra and his chosen mortal vassals.


Condemned, you face at best a life of shackles and servitude in the nearby salt mines. Others might await the “gentle” ministrations of the inquisitors so that co-conspirators may be revealed and confessions extracted. Perhaps, some of you will be spared this ordeal. Perhaps instead you have come to Branderscar to face the final judgment. In three days, the executioner arrives and the axe falls or the pyre will be lit. Through fire or steel, your crimes will be answered.


You have all been chained together in the same communal cell dressed in nothing but filthy, tattered rags. Manhandled and mistreated, any finery you once possessed is either ruined or long lost. No special treatment has been given any prisoner – male or female, commoner or noble – all of the forsaken are bound and imprisoned together. Your feet are secured by iron cuffs tethered by one long chain. Your arms are secured to the wall above by manacles. A guard is posted right outside the cell day and night. Little thought is given to long term accommodations. At Branderscar, justice comes swift and sure.


Escape seems hopeless. You have all been well searched and every attempt to conceal anything on your person has failed. And if you could somehow slip your bonds and fly out of this prison, where would you go? Who from your former life would want anything to do with the forsaken? Despised, alone and shackled – all that you can do now is await your doom.


For each of you, your old life is over. For each of you, hope is a fading memory. For each of you, justice will be fairly meted. And who can blame fair Talingarde after what each of you has done?

Adventure #1 05.27.2013

With the addition of Cervantes the Pirate the party began to discuss what had brought each to Branderscar Prison. During their discussion Sergeant Blackerly arrived with two guards commanding Zeitram to stand expressing surprise that a fine lady would wish to visit him. Escorted down Zeitram beheld a woman of unearthly beauty dressed in black, face covered by a thin gossamer silk veil. Tears streaking down her face she asked the sergeant to leave them alone together, blank faced the sergeant left them at which point her mournful face changed to a devilishly sly grin.

She stated that her name was Tiadora and that she represented a friend who wished to speak with him and his fellow cell mates. Giving him her silken veil she told him that they had three days to effect an escape of Branderscar Prison and make their way to a manor house on the Old Moor Road at which time they would meet with their mutual “friend.” Message given she rose as the sergeant returned where she thanked him for allowing her to visit with her “beloved” one last time and assured him that searching her beloved would not be necessary.

Upon being returned to his cell, Zeitram informed his fellow prisoners of his strange encounter as well as her request. Revealing the silken veil he removed a patch that contained a set of masterwork thieves tools, with which he used to unlock their manacles. They then noticed that they were being watched by an ogre in an adjacent cell. He promised to assist them if they would set him free. They quickly opened their cell door and freed Grumblejack the ogre.

Moving into the guard chamber they quickly dispatched the two guards and moved down the stairs. Upon opening the door they saw two guards in the great hall. Grumblejack strode forth and struck the closet guard killing him instantly. The other guard blew the signal horn and was quickly engaged and killed by Cervantes and Zeitram, where they observed archers on the top of the gate house across the courtyard. Quickly retreating back into the main building they barred the door.

They set about exploring the castle discovering the mess hall and then the barracks. Where three guards were making themselves ready for battle. Raphael who had donned one of the guard’s uniform informed the guards that the signal horn was a drill and to pay it no mind. The guards satisfied went back to their bunks at which time Raphael closed the door and moved to the kitchen while Cervantes and Kharon barricaded the door with tables from the mess hall. The guards became suspicious as they heard the moving of the furniture and opened the door to find themselves trapped by the mess hall tables. Catching sight of the other prisoners they attempted to push past the tables at which time Grumblejack moved the tables and proceeded to kill the guards.

In the Kitchen they found Sam and Myrtle (two servants for the castle) huddled in the corner of the room. Kharon asked them if they served the Great Asmodeus which they said no that they served Mitra at which point Kharon slew Sam followed by Cervantes slaying Myrtle.

Moving back to the great hall Zeitram unlocked the door to Sergeant Blackerly’s Office and Cervantes broke into the armory. While Cervantes emptied the armory Zeitram and Raphael searched finding a map of the prison and records implicating Sergeant Blackerly in stealing supplies from the prison and selling them for personal profit. They opened the supply room and found that it was quite bare of the supplies needed for optimal operation. Zeitram opened another door leading to the sergeant’s room where they found the sergeant in the process of removing his strongbox.

Engaging the sergeant they were able to subdue him and took him into the supply room where they had found branding irons that had been used on them. The sergeant offered information if Raphael wouldn’t brand him. Raphael agreed provided that the information was useful. Sergeant Blackerly told them that since the signal horn had been sounded that the warden would come down from his tower to lead the remaining guards and so would not obey any command of his to lay down arms. Agreeing that his information was indeed helpful he fulfilled his promise to not brand Sergeant Blackerly and instead had Cervantes do it. After severely beating sergeant Blackerly they tied him up and put him in a cell with the paperwork implicating him on the floor in front of the door leading into the cells, thus sealing his fate.

Moving out the kitchen door they secretly made their way to the wardens tower where they found the first floor empty save for plaques telling the story of Branderscar’s History. The second floor they found to be a library in which they found three valuable books. On the final floor they found the warden’s map of the surrounding area giving them directions to the Old Moor Road.

In finding the tower empty they deduced that the Warden and what remained of the guards were at the gatehouse attempting to keep them contained. Raphael, Zeitram and Grumblejack rushed the gatehouse at which point they were fired upon by two bowman on the top of the gatehouse. One guard released two guard dogs on Zeitram and Grumblejack as Raphael used the window patch from the veil to make a window in the main gate. They dispatched the bowman, the guard and the dogs. Seeing the gate led into an entryway with a second set of doors and arrow slits he told Grumblejack to break down the door leading into the gatehouse itself. Breaking down the door Grumblejack was struck by a magic missile causing him to stagger and fall. Ashe moved to the doorway and spotted a single guard with a longbow and a wizard. Ashe shot the wizard as he casted a spell sending a flaming sphere into her. Cerventes dived over the flaming sphere entering the room and killed the guard with a longsword as Ashe retreated from the doorway shooting the wizard again.

The wizard stated “I will see you all back in your chains” cast a spell and disappeared.

Zietram also dived over the flaming sphere which had now caught the wooden door on fire and moved up the ladder onto the next level where he found the opening mechanisms for the gates and the portcullis. He started to open the gate and was told to stop by Raphael knowing that the wizard had cast an invisibility spell and was still there. Suddenly the flaming sphere moved and struck Cervantes revealing the wizard still in the room. Cervantes attacked and killed him with his longsword.

The party moved out of the castle across the bridge where they found the guardhouse on the landward side empty the guards having fled knowing that they only way the prisoners could have escaped after the signal horn was to have killed everyone else. Using the map they found in the Wardens room they journeyed to the Old Moor Road and found the manor house.

Haunted house

Upon knocking on the door they were met by Tiadora who instructed slaves to take them to their rooms to get them cleaned up, fed and healed so they could be presented to the master.


The party was led by Tiadora to a beautifully appointed office richly decorated with dark wood and sumptuous brocade tapestry. Sitting in a leather high-backed chair was a devilishly handsome fellow who smiles as you enter. “I believe you to be the first to ever escape from Branderscar Prison. Well done! Of course, you had help from the outside,” he said with a wicked smile.


"But enough with pleasantries. You must be curious why I’ve helped you. Rest assured this is no random act of altruism. I have brought you here for a reason. My name is Cardinal Adrastus Thorn. I am the last high priest of Asmodeus left on the island of Talingarde. Once the Prince of Nessus was rightly revered alongside the other great powers. Now, the king of Talingarde has become a puppet to Mitran fanatics who wish to destroy any religion that does not bow to their insipid sun god.


For their blasphemy, I will see the same people who imprisoned and condemned you to suffer. I understand what you went through for I have faced it myself." With that he pulled down his sleeve of his robe revealing his own runic ‘F’ brand. “I am going to burn Talingarde to the ground and from the ashes I will build a new nation that knows its rightful master. I can not do this alone. I seek servants worthy of our Infernal Father’s majesty. Have I found them in you?”


He rose, eyes flashing with hellfire and divine purpose.“Join me!” "Serve me well in this holy endeavor and I will raise you up in the eyes of gods and men. I will make you princes of the new Talingarde. Today, swear fealty to me and to Asmodeus.


“Put aside forgiveness and I shall give you vengeance. Put aside mercy and be made powerful. Put aside peace and become my harbingers of war. What say you? Will you swear your allegiance or will you burn with rest of the blind fools.”


The party agreed


“Excellent. Let us make this official. Signing in blood is traditional.”


He brought out a quill, a silver ritual knife and two copies of a contract written on some unidentifiable leather and written in dark red ink


After reading the contract each of the party signs The Pact of Thorns


Giving the party one of the contracts the other he keeps.


Well done. Your first command: prepare yourselves. Stay within the manor. You are now hunted by the Talirean soldiery. In three days you will begin your training."

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