House of Cards

Summary Recap
Prelude to Ruin
  • Summary of Events

After Fangren was slain, Blackwood Company spent a bit of time cleaning up the town of the remaining gnolls before joining the town in a celebration of success. After accepting their reward, and spending a little time destroying a cursed dagger, they set off to gather supplies for their return trip back to Wroat. Despite some curious incidents, they were able to procure amenities and aid, including assistance from the reactivated Warforged.

Upon arriving in Wroat, they were congratulated for a job well done, and sent to rest. The Battlemage being offered a position with another group, led by the younger Jarad Vincent. Early the next morning, however, the remaining three members of the group were rudely awaken when word that Stormhome was being attacked. They were airlifted to the city, and given assistance by a Warden who also happened to be the ship’s commander.

Immediately upon landing, they engaged in battle with fire and frost elementals, cutting a swath through them, though it was clear that the damage to the island had already been dealt. They then encountered a warped, shadowy tiefling who called himself Grimoire, and declared that the Frighteners had declared war upon the Guild and the rest of the world.

The battle was hard-fought, with the party just barely coming out on top as, with Grimoire’s presence, the elementals attacks struck true more often and with greater potency than before. Near the end of the fight, the group began to fracture under the strain, with the Monk quitting the field, only to run into Karlalel.

Once the battle was won, Karl managed to persuade the Artificer to open the vase he had found earlier. Once he did, a powerful presence was released unto the world once again. Karl then convinced the group that, with the city clearly in tatters, a rest would be in the group’s best interest, of which he would provide the accommodations – his own private ship. Once out to the sea, the group took a well-deserved rest, then, before they could question the vampire’s benevolence over-much, were tasked with retrieving an object for him.

The group was then set upon a jungle island, where they battled their way through carnivorous spiders to make their way through an abandoned, ruined temple. Despite some puzzles, traps, and teleporting spiders, they were able to breach the defenses only to be stopped by a longtooth shifter who accused them of being defilers before attacking the group. A lengthy battle ensued, before the party was able to slip by her and obtain the object they had quested for. The shifter, revealing herself as Aurora-Dawnshield, interposed again, but was left with broken legs as the Aria Lockwood finished her off.

Aurora then escaped, and the party made to destroy the artifact and leave, where they were met by Miko Miyazaki, a ranking officer of the Guild and right-hand woman to the Guild’s leader. She accused them of treason (though the Warden was only charged with dereliction of duties) and ordered them to return with her immediately. The group complied without resistance and was returned to Wroat for a trial, where they were introduced to Chandler Demortant√© and his cat, Mr. Scruffy.

They were ordered, to prove their innocence, to investigate a ruin the Guild had been interested in for some time on the Sarlonan continent. Though not pleased with the idea, the group departed, under the supervision of Miko, and entered the ruin. There, they battled emaciated kalasthar cannibals, found and explored an unusual species of monster known as Jahori, and then, inexplicably, disappeared.

That was when an entire chunk of Sarlona lifted off the ground, rising thousands of miles above the ground, leaving the Guild, with its eyes and ears in the area missing in action, completely blindsided.

All over the continent, however, riots began to erupt in major cities , leaders of countries began more open military build-ups, and a few have even gone as far as to move forces to the borders of their nations, as though prepared to be attack…or in preparation of making a preemptive strike.

With all of its resources being pulled into trying to keep the peace and hold together a nation, what was left was spared to put together a team, dubbed “Mystborn,” to resume the investigation into the “Sarlona Incident,” with the objective of finding the team that preceded them, as well as return with whatever information they can about what happened. The Guild is concerned that the Frightener attack, the sudden earth mote rising up, and the mass riots, are connected, and needs to know what steps it has to take to properly handle the situation.

Only a member of House Orien’s elite Unicorn’s Horn and an untried puppetmaster possibly stand between the Guild’s survival.

No pressure.

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Cross, Step, and Double Cross
Second Contract: Diplomacy
  • Sar 4th, Barrakas, 998 YK

Taking a short breather, the adventurers of Blackwood Company took a moment to observe their surroundings. Outside of the elaborate, 60 foot room, there was a large hole in the sand where the worm had sunk down into. Deciding to continue their exploration of the ruins, they repelled into the fissure, where they found an alchemist’s lab. Within, vials of liquid steel, tin, pewter, and iron could be found upon the table, along with a few common gems. What really caught the adventurer’s attention was a small robot in the corner, a magic circle, and a locked door.

With ease, the Assassin stealthily unlocked and opened the door, revealing a small workroom, little more than a closet, save that there were several bookshelves, four deactivated warforged lying about, and a work desk with a thick spellbook upon it, which the Artificer revealed belonged to a general of the Last War, one Jarad K. Vincente, Sr..

Well, there might also have been a glowing sigil entrapping the power of a lost god known only as Ruin on the floor as well.

Before they could debate just what a dead god was doing locked in a wizards’ basement, the Artificer suddenly ran back into the other room and reactivated the robot they found on the floor. After getting itself into order, it gave its designation as W31-RD. Further questioning informed the group how to re-energize the vase, but the Artificer was interested in something a bit more.

According to the laws after the Last War, any warforged was considered sentient and thus could not be owned. However, for other constructs, they had to prove their sentience. Determined to make off with useful goods from what he assumed to be an abandoned ‘estate,’ he found himself surprised to learn that the droid was, in fact, still under ownership, and that the owner was very much still alive.

He promptly returned everything he’d picked up to that point, aside from the spellbook. He was pretty sure Jarad Sr. wouldn’t mind if he borrowed it for a little while. He even left a note.

After a short questioning session with the droid, they learned that the senior Vincente was ‘six feet under’ with the insinuation that he was digging a hole or something similar. They also managed to get the droid to activate the Warforged, whom they made a contract with to assist them in exchange for high-quality oil and repairs.

With their new-found assistance, the group made haste back to town, where they then devised a plan to get the drop on Fangren – the Battlemage would sneak to the back discreetly in order to get the drop on the gnolls. When negotiations within the tent began to break down, the Battlemage jumped in, and the the group managed to get the drop on Fangren’s bodyguards. It was clear, however, that the gnoll’s leader was not so easily surprised.

The battle quickly became one-sided, with Blackwood Company coming out on top, but Fangren had a number of tricks up his sleeve, of which he utilized to keep the group off-balance. When it became apparent that the battle was clearly not in his favor, he made an amiable attempt to escape, and he used an invisibility evocation. However, in his desperation, he seemed to have forgotten that, during the battle, he had been set aflame.

The group followed his burning outline outside, and slew him with little ceremony.

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"It's actually pronounced 'Vah-z'."
Second Contract: Diplomacy
  • Sar 4th, Barrakas, 998 YK

The rest after having disposed of Karalel went off mostly without a hitch, however at last watch, the Battlemage got a little curious and managed to hear voices on the other side of the door, which lead into the unknown, probably further into the tomb. Trying not to startle the others in their rest, he darted to cover, preparing for the worst. The Monk saw him and they both prepared themselves. The Assassin, ever stealthy, managed to open the door unnoticed and the party gathered to descend a flight of stairs, to find an angry Druid, of the Shifter variety, along with three humans. They seemed to be frustrated trying to open yet another stone door, the Druid seeming particularly perturbed at the door’s presence.

The group made their presence known and offered their assistance in opening the door. One of the group managed to decipher the message next to the door, revealing that the way to open it lied in the brazier to the left. As they approached, the brazier idea quite literally blew up in their faces, as they were flown backward and caught aflame themselves. After putting out the fire, they realized there was a small blue orb sitting where the fire used to be, they picked it up, and the door swung open.

Inside the next room, the adventurer’s found, you guessed it, more sand! The sand completely covered the floor, and on the left and right sides of the room protruded 3 small pillars, and at the end of the room, lo-and-behold, the vase the Gnoll Leader had asked the party to gather, was resting upon another pillar. The party worked their way over to the vase, the sand yet again providing a difficult ground to maneuver upon. The Artificer made his way over to the vase first, and unknowingly summoned a waiting monstrosity that plunged out from under the sand and lunged at him with his pincers, grabbing hold of him. The party raced to his defense, and managed to knock the Artificer out of the creature’s mandibles. The new member, the Druid, managed a flashy wall-kick onto the monster’s left arm, transforming into a wolf mid-air and gnawing furiously.

The Artificer, inspired, baited the monster into grabbing hold of him yet again, this time with a plan. The artificer lit a Molotov cocktail and threw it into the monster’s tiny opening of a mouth, only to have it shake it off and make a sound that could be construed as a laugh. Clearly, fire wasn’t going to do the job here.

Despite a few close calls, the party was managing to get the upper hand through brute force; despite the creature burrowing underground and appearing somewhere else in the sand every few seconds, forcing the adventurer’s had to get off hits where they could. Nevertheless, the party defeated the monster, and it sank ominously into the sand… The Monk then instinctively went for the vase, even if unfortunately, the magical aura around the vase jumped off it and plunged into the sand. The Battlemage, seeing the vase in the possession of the Monk, ventured back into the tomb in an attempt to find a way out, despite not being followed.

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Trick Sequence
Second Contract: Diplomacy
  • Sar 4th, Barrakas, 998 YK

With sand pouring into the room, the group had to work fast, making their way through the sand. Despite the bursts of Sand that threatened to crush them and a number of high-velocity spiked coils launching at them, they did successfully manage to disable the trap.

As they continued deeper into the ruin, they found a more prepared group of gnolls waiting, so they devised a strategy to look like clueless and lost adventurers. While the Aria “Ghost” Lockwood slipped into the shadows, the rest of the group took up positions as two gnolls left their positions.

The gnolls spoke with the Artificer and the Battlemage for a short moment before, not satisfied with their answers, lashing out at the group, engaging in a swift bout. Ultimately, they were no match for the group and were readily dispatched.

The real challenge came when the group entered the throne room beyond and saw the forces arrayed before them. Four more gnolls revealed themselves from behind a number of sarcophagi, while as many hyena, hissing and snarling, stood at their heels.

As the battle began, from the behind the throne itself, another presence continuously rained down arrows, sometimes explosive ones, at the party, wreaking havoc even as the battle slowly turned towards Blackwood’s favor.

When at least the numbers had thinned and the group turned to face off against the remaining few, bloodied hyena and the mysterious archer, they were in for quite a shock.

Karlalel stepped out from behind the throne, and greeted them as though they were long friends.

The group immediately turned their attention onto the vampire they were certain they had killed hardly a day ago and started cutting loose, before the battle had progressed too far, unleashed a wave of darkness across a good portion of the room, before making a dramatic exit with the mention that this wouldn’t be the last they’d seen of him.

He also said it with quite a bit of good cheer.

Somewhat frustrated and bemused by the vampire’s tactics, the group cleaned up the few enemies left and set up to camp out, determined to rest and finish their search for the glowing vase.

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A Little Village up the Coast
Second Contract: Diplomacy
  • Sar 4th, Barrakas, 998 YK

It was a lovely, homely little village Blackwood Company found before them. A provincial town, at best, it sported a small number of homes, a few shops, and a town hall at its center.

Though, there was a little bit of a twist, concerning the gnolls who where leading townspeople around by chains.

Thinking quick, the Assassin shifted herself into the form of a gnoll, her mask concealing the most obvious changes until she was ready. The Artificer too, was mindful of the situation, and quickly devised an easy-to-escape leash, to help the group blend in more successfully.

The group confronted a pair of gnolls leading around some Humans, and queries into the bizarre setting led them to split up and explore the town. The Assassin and the Artificer made way to the town hall, while the Battlemage and the Monk decided to poke around.

What both groups learned was suitably discomfiting.

The Battlemage and the Monk first explored the shopping section, where they spoke with a young child hiding amidst the ruins of a small building. He told them of a fiery man coming to the town, working with the gnolls to bring the city to its current state, but didn’t know much himself.

He also found the Battlemage so intimidating that he wet himself during questioning.

The two then explored the housing section, where they found a gnoll staring into a curious-looking hole at one end of an alley, and two more standing before a house at the end of another. The Monk moved to interrogate the lone gnoll while the Battlemage made a suitable distraction.

The Monk the proceeded to push the gnoll down the hole and walk away.

Unfortunately, the Battlemage and the Monk only managed to antagonize the gnolls, who sounded the alarm, forcing the two to the center of town, where they met up with the rest of the group and where then, grudgingly, given permission to speak to the gnolls’ leader.

Once regrouped, the leader made himself known, naming himself Fangren, a Shaman of his tribe. He was the same gnoll that the Assassin and the Artificer watched lead a band of gnolls to attack the minotaur caravan they had ‘shared’ the road with not an hour past. The Artificer managed to dissemble enough that the Shaman didn’t recognize him as the same Antica he fought on the road, but he was suspicious nonetheless.

Regardless, he welcomed them evenly, and even asked for them to undertake a small job for him – make way into a nearby tomb, where a band of gnolls formerly a part of his crew were hiding out, and fetch a glowing vase. He offered a handsome reward, and, with reservation, the group agreed, considering it part of their mission to solve the problem diplomatically.

And as that allowed them to wet their blades a little as the made to solve the mystery, not a single one of them complained…in the gnoll’s earshot, at least.

They immediately made for the tomb, which was only a short trek, and just by its appearance – a massive, open animal scull amidst the sand – it was clear that this would be no easy feat. Then again, they were among the best The Guild had to offer. Easy simply wasn’t on the menu.

They cautiously entered the tomb, examining the first room with a casual indifference, until they found the door to the next room. Upon opening it, the door to the room they had entered began to shut even as a trio of gnolls began to assault the group.

The Artificer managed to jam a crowbar between the door, managing to slow it, but left him noticeably further from his companions…and just as they’d felled the first three, they were set upon by another quartet, emerging from hidden doors around the room.

Though more challenging than the first, it wasn’t a true test of the group’s skill, and they managed to dispatch them, the Assassin literally tearing them to pieces. The Artificer even went as far as to stuff these dismembered body parts into the door, to the consternation of the Monk.

Even then, two of the gnolls, before dying grisly deaths, each managed to pull a lever on each side, setting off a trap by appearances.

That ‘appearance’ being the rapid influx of sand into the room.

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A Speculative End
Second Contract: Diplomacy
  • Far 3rd, Barrakas, 998 YK

On their way back to Wroat, Blackwood Company encountered a caravan of shady minotaur, closely guarded by a trio of trolls. While not immediately hostile, they certainly weren’t friendly with the group as they passed one another on the road.

Then, without any noticeable provocation, the caravan came under attack by a vicious group of gnolls. The caravan sturdily rejected the company’s offer to assist with the gnoll’s attack. The company, split between rendering assistance regardless and reporting their successful mission, seperated, with the Battlemage and the Monk headed onward toward town while the Assassin and the Artificer stayed behind.

The minotaur and the trolls easily ripped apart the gnoll forces, with the two remaining adventurers watching the proceedings more or less dispassionately, until they noticed a gnoll shaman at the back making an escape. They quickly followed him, catching up to him and demanding to know who he was and why he was attacking the caravan.

The gnoll named himself as Fangren, and he claimed that the minotaur were transporting fresh slaves into the Great Crag.

Figuring they’d heard enough, they two attacked him…only to have him vanish before their eyes. They managed to score a few hits, but eventually, growing tired with the farce, he grabbed the Artificer and effortlessly threw him 20 feet into the dirt. Asking the Assassin if it would be fine to leave things as they were, he then made his departure.

Once Battlemage and the Monk returned to Wroat, the Monk investigated the situation with the brooch Karlalel left behind after the Battlemage got up-in-arms with the Company’s contractor, Binwin Bronzebottom, who wouldn’t give them their pay. The dwarf insisted that a magical trinket such as a brooch was not enough to prove the mission a success.

Luck would have it that the Artificer had the vampire’s head.

The Monk went to the local monastery and found out from the head priest, Father Tristan, that the brooch was cursed, steeped in Karlalel’s tainted essence, was not to be worn under any circumstances.

The Battlemage would certainly attest to the wisdom of that proclamation, though if pressed, he swears he merely tripped after putting it on. Of course, he gave no one any particular reason to disbelieve him, at any rate.

Shortly after, the Assassin and the Artificer arrived at Wroat, along with the vampire’s head, and along with the Monk and Battlemage, collected their pay and assortment of magic items. Fortunately for the Company, Binwin had another contract at hand. According to the mission report, there was an issue to be resolved at a small village outside the Great Crag, and as Bronzebottom put it, was to be handled as ‘diplomatically if possible.’

Naturally, the report held as few actually useful pieces of information as possible.

They were told that they’d leave at first light, so that they should rest up now. The Monk, of course, had other plans. He sold some goods to an old merchant he frequented, Greg, gathering some information in the process before changing into more noble clothing and heading to a bar known as the Silver Unicorn. While there, after some digging around, he managed to learn of a party for a nobleman’s coming-of-age ceremony, Jarad Vincente, before making a hasty exit.

  • Sar 4th, Barrakas, 998 YK

The next morning, the group set out back into Droaam, specifically to the Great Crag, under the pretense of picking up more supplies while attempting to learn a few things about the surroundings and the situation in the village they were to ‘fix.’ There, a goblin name Thieorry befriended the Battlemage and the Monk, while another, more magically adept goblin named Sprugg told the Artificer, with the Assassin present, about a book he had that detailed his findings on the manipulation of space time.

And for the low-low price of talking to a Blue Dragon, they could have it rather than pay his asking price of 30,000gp, something any mage would know as a bargain if it were on the up and up.

While the Artificer and the Assassin learned this, Thieorry, making well on a promise to keep others at least five feet away from the trio, brought them to a familiar merchant: Greg. Here, the Monk was able to weasel a little more information out of him than the last time, finding out about the nature of the city, a little bit about the Dreaming Dark, and how he should look into the ranks of the Guild if he were so interested in them, and managed to make a little extra gold on the side.

Thieorry then let slip that he knew they were members of the Guild and were on a mission.

The Battlemage’s questioning was interrupted when the goblin pointed out that they were attracting some of his friends’ attention, in the form of four trolls and minotaur. They were allowed to escape, though Thieorry’s parting words about the Sisters who run the place and her information network left a chill in their bones.

They managed to regroup and exit the city with a bit more dignity, and made way for the village of Shardne, just north of the Great Crag.

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The Fall of Karlalel the Scourge
First Contract: Vampire Slaying
  • Far 3rd, Barrakas, 998 YK

It had cost them a week of travel, a week of searching, of playing hide and seek, trailing behind the ruins of a madman.

But they’d caught him. And there was reckoning.

And how there was a reckoning.

The battle took place within an old Breland fort established during the midst of the Last War, deep in Droaam territory, within one of the largest rooms available – one used by commanders to have war criminals and unruly soldiers fight each other in pseudo-gladiatorial styled combat.

A fitting place for a final duel.

Few words were exchanged as the group of adventurers took charge. One vampire patriarch and two blood elementals? Challenging opposition, to be certain, but these adventurers were no average fare.

They were members of The Guild, and they were angry.

Karlalel made the first move, ordering his elementals to engage the party whilst he made to escape. Certain he could handle them, he still had no interest in it – survival first, before all things. Unfortunately, things went slightly astray as he attempted to force a lever that wouldn’t budge, which would have led to the outside.

The adventurers took heart, assailing the elementals, the self-elected leader of the party, an Artificer, moving to engage Karlalel in single-combat. At some point during their fight, Karlalel had turned his attentions elsewhere, and, with a hypnotizing glare and words of seduction, dominated the Battlemage.

The battle quickly began to move in Karlalel’s favor, and he exploited that advantage to further his attempts at escape, culminating in his opening of the secret passage at last.

Several opportunities arose wherein he could have had his escape, but, for pride or perhaps arrogance, he continued his fight against the group.

Meanwhile, the Monk of the party and the Assassin were making quick work of the elementals, even as they split into two as they were worn down. Though the group had long since stopped caring about party communication, they had an understanding about party priorities, and began to bring their might against Karlalel properly, to his chagrin. The Swordmage was finally able to break free from the vampire’s domination and rejoin the fight on his own terms.

It didn’t take much longer, now with the group focused on just one enemy. When the final blow was struck, Karlalel’s last exclamation was that this wasn’t the last they’d see of him, that he would be back.

He left behind a cursed brooch of vitality, a memento of his evil, as it was so coated in his taint the magic itself had warped.

Sharing a collective feeling of a job well done, the group began to escape, to return to the capital of Breland and collect their earnings for the defeat of the Scourge.

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