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Rising Phoenix Gaming

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An Epic Fantasy D&D 5E campaign set in a Homebrewed world
  1. What's new in this club
  2. With Marida, Brarga, and Altares searching for tracks, Kathra settled for following in Tooli's wake, glancing about the dig site. Archeology wasn't something she was familiar with, but she could tell that Tooli took definite care with her study. She wasn't too concerned about the danger the supposed goblins might offer, less there was an entire horde of them, but she couldn't see what interest they would have in the digging up of history. "Destructive shits they might be," the dwarf agreed with the eladrin. "But I don't see why they'd wait to break some old pottery and statuettes, if there were enough of them to threaten Tooli and Altares." Kathra snorted and nodded at the forlorn scholar. "More, even if they were in such a pettily destructive mood, no goblin I ever heard tell of has ever given the smallest damn for parchment and paper and what may be scribbled upon them. If they were watching for you two to leave..." She squared her shoulders and addressed those who had been searching for tracks. "Two days old... Still, with such numbers, think you we can follow them?" She arched a vivid brow pierced by a golden ring. "Anything of particular note in these journals and maps of yours? This smells of something more than mere ransackery."
  3. "Goblins are vindictive little bastards," Maighan opines as she watches Tooli mourn her artifacts. "They don't need an excuse to break things. They just enjoy it." She looked around then. "That said, the area doesn't seem good for a settlement to be nearby...so it's not likely that there was a patrol. And ten goblins out and about while not on patrol means a raiding party. Nothing much around here to raid but that village though." "Have they been having goblin troubles?"
  4. Altares slowly moved to the surrounding area to search while Marida stayed in close to the camp. Finding tracks was not a problem, the perpetrators of the misdeed made no attempt to hide that they had been there. The two trackers identified the prints as belonging to Goblins. They counted at least ten distinct sets but both believed there had been as many as twenty but the tracks were to mingled to get an accurate count. Altares said that the tracks were no more than two days old. Tooli and he had left the camp four days ago to resupply. He surmised that the goblins had known they were gone but he shook his head. "I don't know how i could have missed them, but they had to have been observing us. I am very disappointed in myself." Brarga had walked around the camp he was looking at other things aside from tracks in the dirt. He saw that the scholars tools had been broken and scattered. Boxes of dig artifacts over turned and spilled. pottery that had been intact and carfully wrapped stompped on and shattered. "This wasn't stealing this was destroying. Is this place sacred to the local goblins?" Altares sauntered up to the dragonborn, "No, not that we know of. There haven't even been any goblins in this are in almost two generations. The only threats are the usual wildlife wolves and mountain lions. Sometimes a rare beast such as an owlbear or or giant hyenas but they usually live in the hills nearer the mountains. The same places the the goblins might lair." The fuming centaur turns back and look for Tooli who is wander through the wreckage picking up what can be saved. "Tooli! Do you see anything missing?" Tooli stands straight a broken statuette in her hands, "Only the dig journal and the maps we made. Everything else is just broken."
  5. "I assume thas 'sn't how ye left tha camp?" Marida asked bluntly to the scholar, a note of guarded concern in her voice now that the ancient demon-worshiping settlement was apparently taken in one fell swoop, primed with ghosts and unstable magics. Oh, and the possibility of more mundane raiders having assaulted the camp. Or tomb raiders, even worse, blindly unleashing said ghosts and unstable magic. "No," responded Tooli with the horror of one calculating the cost of everything potentially lost in front of her. "Faen than. Sir Altares, ef ye haif tha skill, I'll sweep left an' ye sweep right; an' we'll see ef these brigands left tracks, aye?" And she did just that, stalking away with her dark eyes scanning everything for clues about the invaders.
  6. Tooli listened somewhat in awe and a bit of frustration. She opened her mouth to say something, closed it, opened it again, closed it again, shrugged and shook her head and said, “Yes, well, all of that.” She shook her head again then looked at Kathra. “Amphis, White Amphis to be exact, that is what the High-Men called the material your kind call the Heart Stone. They used it after reshaping it with magic to create the Travel Stones. At least that is what my master believes. As for what happened to them. Hubris, age, and the dragonborn. They ruled for a very long time, strangely they adhered to their treaty with the elves, but everywhere else felt their boot on the neck. But, over such great distances even with the travel stones, they grew stretch. The Dragonborn, who were their slave soldiers grew powerful and when one among them rose up with magic he had discovered he led the rebellion that shattered the High-Men’s empire, and gave birth to the Dragaeran Empire. Anyway it is late. We should rest.” They came into the ruins early the next morning. If you could call them ruins. It was in a shallow valley about six miles deep and two to three wide, running east to west ringed by forested hills. The hills to the north were taller and rose steadily toward the mountains whose snow-capped peaks were clearly visible in the distance. The snow melted into streams which ran into the valley collecting in a lake at the western end which in turn ran off in a wide stream along the southern hills. The ruins themselves would have been easily missed were it not for the still visible remains of the road which led into the valley. The adventures entered and saw that the ruins everyone was talking about were little more than broken and weathered foundations and the stubs of stone walls none of which stood no more than six inches to a foot above ground. They passed through many of these sorts of ruins and did not come upon anything different until they can toward the end of the Valley near the banks of the lake. Near the lake they came upon Tooli and Altares dig sites. Several sections of ground staked out and with massive amounts of dirt removed revealing true ruins buried under the younger ruins on the surface. “As you can see the High-Man ruins are on the third layer and are relatively intact. The two higher layers are of the normal human construction prevalent after the region’s re-conquest by the Imperium. I believe that the High-Men ruins were probably buried in some local catastrophe which would explain why they were not repurposed.” She points out spot of interest as she talks explaining what is what, then points toward the lake, “Our camp it at the lake, only about a half mile more.” Ten minutes later they were at the lake looking upon the ruins of the ransacked archaeological camp!
  7. "For mortal beings, you spend so much time looking back," Maighan noted. "I'd think you'd want to keep your eyes on the future! You have but heartbeats to appreciate your time, surely the adventure before us is more appealing than script on dusty pages detailing the adventures of others in ages past." "So! Regardless of who built what, when...this is where we are. Let's begin searching out this witch, if such there be, hmm?"
  8. As the tales were being told, plate forgotten in her hand, Kathra's eyes had gone over the fire to the distant mountains. In the gloom, their massive, hulking bulk could only be noted by how they obscured the lowest laying stars in the sky. Kathra might have enjoyed her travels, but her heart would always long for the mountains by the sea, for Landsend, no matter how far she journeyed. "These High-Men, they are known to my kind," Kathra said in her clear, rich voice, her jade eyes still on the unseen mountains. "Most dwarves, they find their path early in life and follow it for all their days. My path, young as I am, has taken many twists until I buried my Thane and made my Vow." One of her broad hands reached up to grasp one of the diamond terminals of her torc of peculiarly lustrous braided gold wire. "I have held a mason's hammer and pick, worked the smiths' bellows, fished the Sea, shepherded the goats and sheep in the highlands. During it all, I listened to the tales of the various craftsmen." She rolled her big shoulders then took her eyes from the mountains, the gaze going around the circle of her companions and guide. "We may not have known the High-men for slavers and demonbinders, for they treated with us fairly. And it was needed, for in those times, we clashed often and hard with the giants and the dragons driven into our lands. Indeed, it was the coming of the High-men that led to the founding of Landsend, my Hold, and several other Holds, as well. By this time, the High-Men had come to control all three Leaves, save for the high places, and what they sought from us was Heart Stone. Heart Stone is only found at the very roots of mountains, hard to reach, harder to mine. The only thing rarer is Perfect Gold, that legendary, quintessential marriage of Mineral and Metal." The she-dwarf tapped the torc she never removed from about her thick neck with a blunt finger, then set aside her plate and planted her hands on her knees. "The amount of Heart Stone the High-men desired is unfathomable in these days, but it has been recorded that millions of tons were delivered, over several centuries. This was many generations ago, of course, even by the reckoning of Dwarves and Elves, but it was never revealed to my kind, or at least I never heard tell what the High-Men did with all that Heart Stone, or where it went."
  9. Marida snapped her fingers as the dragonborn's speech inspired her own memories, learned at the knees of her elders before her parents passed and she joined the Grugach warrior lodges. "Oye. I got thas one. When all elf kin were yet one under tha reign o' tha Lady of tha forest, she struck a pact wi' these high-men as wae knew them. Mighty travelers not a' our kenning, different from tha other men," she began, gesturing in the general direction of the ruins with a free hand, "She made tha pact ta spare our woods tha fate of the wrym kings a' old, but en tha end, tha cowardly pact w'th these high-men was but tha first step th't saw mae kin, the Grugach, right or wrong, walk away from the Lady's court." She shook her head, "If haif tha things you say are a qaiter true, Braga, tha pact should haif naev'r bin struck. If these ruins bae of tha high-men, it's fine soil tae grow a hex 'r twelve an host tae many a sleeping wight."
  10. There was a sense of disorientation for Brarga at the ancient name, no longer fully listening to Tooli. The name sparked a memory that seemed almost another lifetime away for Brarga. It was from his youth, barely able to move about, let alone hold a weapon, even a stick. It came from a history lesson, about the empire that existed before the Dragaeran Empire which he lived in and would one day serve. The ancient Empire were slavers, sorcerors, and demon worshipers. They drove the dragons from the lowlands into the mountains, they enslaved the dragonborn until... and then the memory fades to black, and he couldn't recall what the end was. He had a feeling that they found something, and that was the turning point, but he had no idea what. Brarga's yellow eyes narrowed, and he looked at Tooli, and he spoke. "This was the empire before The Dragaeran. They drove the dragons into the mountains, enslaved my people. They were slavers, sorcerors, and demon worshipers." His voice was a low rumble, and the disgust was evident in his tone. When the others looked at him he shrugged his broad shoulders. "I recalled something of one of my childhood history lessons." He shook his head. "But I cannot recall what happened that changed it, what lead to their downfall."
  11. Tooli regarded the big elf and the Imperial, they weren't going to drop this and she had weeks of work invested. "Alright, I will take you to the site, but Altares and I claim it by right of discovery. But you're wasting your time, there is nothing there that could be of interest to a bunch of adventures." The ruins lay several miles to the north west. Tooli and Altares led the party up the worn path that would have carried them to the next village, but they turned off that established path after about three miles and continued north and west on what appeared to be game trails. The going was not particularly hard, but the trails were narrow and twisty. The land was lightly forested and the small animals were the usual sort you could find anywhere in this Leave. They crossed several shallow streams and were steadily climbing into the low hills that would eventually lead into the distant mountains. They made descent time but still the journey was long. As evening approached, Altares raised his arm signaling a halt. "We are not far now but we will not arrive before full dark. There are dangerous beast which hunt at night and our destination is a favored hunting ground due to the water. I suggest we find a camp site and rest until morning when we can continue and arrive fresh." After a short discussion it was agreed to camp. In short order a suitable location was found and a camp set up, fire wood and water from a nearby stream fetched, and supper was cooking. The party sat around the fire, all except Altares, who watched over them from beyond the light of the fire. When the food was served and everyone had a plate, they commenced to eat for the long march and excitement made them all hungry. Kathra, between bites, asked Tooli a question. "If you and your friend are not adventurers, then what are you doing here?" Tooli paused her eating and then set her plate down. "We hail form the West Leave, I studied in the north at the Stormlight Assembly, and by nature am a scholar and a historian of sorts. My master, Sear Remedious, found passages in an ancient text which, led him to believe that there might be important archeological artifacts here. I was sent to locate the site and investigate whether a full expedition should be mounted. Altares was sent to escort me." "And is it? Worthy?" Brarga too had paused his eating though he was still hungry. "I ask because it seems you are well known in that village, trusted even which implies you have been here a while. The distance from village to these ruinsis such that you must have a semi permanent camp up here and go to the village to resupply. The way the village trusts and treats you leads me to surmise that you have been here for several weeks if not months. So, what is so interesting about these ruins that adventurers wouldn't find it worth their time but yet here you are?" Tooli humphed, "The people here call these ruins the Prydain ruins but they don't really know anything about them, and that is not what they truly are. The name Prydain doesn't seem to be anything real. I believe that it is simply a word these people made up because they found the real name hard to pronounce and even that name had no meaning to them. The ruins are very very old, in fact it is probably the ruins of at least three previous civilizations layered atop one another, the oldest bear a striking similarity to Antichan architecture, what little there is left of it. The Antichan flourished from about 20,000 years ago to about 15,000 years ago, their realm was across the Seas of Turmoil, and while they did explore here in the ancient days they ran afoul of the Old Elven Kingdom, this was in the time before the split, and they did not settle. But some millennia or so later when the Antichan were in decline another race came from those lands, related to the Antichan, and they did settle. They called themselves the Pydrnxphenxios." Tooli pronounced the strange name with what the rest of the party could only assume was accuracy and some fluency. All of them rolled the stranage word around in their heads and mouths though none pronounced it the way she had. The word was simply too foreign. "Anyway I beleive that this Prydain is an over simplification of the Pydrnxphenxios name that evolved over time."
  12. Brarga snorted. He knew making any sort of actual threat was not going to help, and to be fair, he didn't want to do so. He doubted he had enough pull to get more than a patrol to come here, and even that would take doing. "You can come with us to these ruins, show us that there's nothing there if you wish, and then return here, and we'll be on our way and out of your hair, if that is something you'd agree to."
  13. After minute or two of trying to decide if this was sinister or them trying to get the group to fuck off, the Grugach warrior snorted in amusement. "A'right thaen. I'll bite. Why would tha village doin tha trail be better? Do they haif a witch-queen tae worry about?" Tooli's response was a shrug and headshake, "I don't think so. Like Betham said, there haven't been any witches around here in hundred years since the Purges." Marida looked at the village representative as if they grew a second and a third head with that blithe pronouncement. The grugach, like all elves, were fairly innately magical, and the first thing about being innately magical was that you made in the interest of the local highly magical being to keep the area at least livable, and they'd keep the less... wholesome forces away. Attempt to purge them entirely? That was a surefire recipe to get you and your kin to the seventh generation hexed in a fairly fatal and/or inconvenient way. Her gobsmacked expression all but proclaimed 'Ye bloody lucky fools. How are ye alive?'. Verbally, she forced her voice flat and calm, "I think we'll want tha directions tae both places, if ye don't mind."
  14. Tooli looked back and forth as the Elves and Dwarf spoke her mouth, turning down into a frown, she ended with her gaze on Brarga and we he said noting looked back at Kathra. "There is nothing interesting in those ruins for adventurers certainly no witches, and they are somewhat out of the way. You might have more luck at Foz Hollow, that's the village down the trail.
  15. Tree take her. And outsiders called the Grugach insular. Settling far enough from civilization that there was no contact with any other villages? That was extreme. Didn't need much to reinforce a superstition when literally everything around you was trying to kill you. She snorted in amusement. "Don't naid much tae to keep 'e story like tha' alive en this area," the Grugach countered with a waggled finger at the fae elf, "Give us a bairing tae tha ruins and we'll put paid tae any hex on 'em. Tha last hexed ruins we 'it did'nae help tha bony gob haunting it like a bad odor. And, aye, bae only fair trade tae solve a problem or three on our way there."
  16. "People don't get upset about things that are long gone," Maighan points out. "A hundred years or two is nothing to us, but for you it's...what? Three generations?" "That's a long time to have a superstition without any kind of reinforcement." She folded her arms. "There's more to this story, isn't there Tooli?"
  17. "You've been most gracious and helpful, missus, and indeed, your ears are most keen," Kathra said, giving the village woman a nod, but not taking her eyes of Tooli. She took another pull of the unexpectedly excellent beer. Thirty-five years wasn't so long a time among Dwarfkind, though it was at least a generation as reckoned by humans. What did Tooli seek out there after such a time? It wasn't much, but it was at least a thread to follow, meager as it was. She planted her arms on the table, broad hands wrapped around her mug. "Missus, if you would be so kind, where would we find these Prydain ruins? My companions and I might be interested in taking a look around ourselves." She flashed Tooli a tight grin, then turned to look at the village woman. "And if there is aught we can do for your fine village while we are here, please feel free to ask and we will do our best to aid you if we can."
  18. Tooli glanced at Altares, obviously not liking the ease at which the centaur had accepted the newcomers, but with a sigh she nodded. "Come, lets us ease the minds of the villagers and introduce you. You all look like you could use a good meal." She led them to the doors of the long house and rapped upon the door with a odd knock that must have been a signal. Almost immediately the sounds of bars being lifted on the other side could be heard and then the door swung open and with Tooli's encouragement people, the villagers, poured out. Tooli reassured them that you were not an invading Imperial force and that you only wished to rest and eat. After introducing you to a dozen or so villagers including the Elder of the village and the head of the Women's Circle She led you into the long house and to a table where the party was served food consisting of goat, root vegetables, bread and cheese, along with Beer or water as each preferred to wash it down. Tooli sat at one end of the table, Altares had stayed outside, and nursed a tankard of beer. After the party ate their fill she finally spoke, "These are simple villagers, they subsistence farm and raise goats and sheep for their own use. They don't trade cause there is no one near to trade with and only about once or twice a year a traveling trader may come by. The nearest village is about fifteen miles, due west, only accessible by trail. They are even more insular than these folk." Tooli takes a sip of beer, "as for witches, these folk are very superstisous and talk of such will deeply upset them, so i'd be somewhat quiet about whatever your quest is. I'm sure it has notheing to so with these good people." "What has nothin to do wit us mistress?" One of the women who was serving them, a housewife, short, plump, and closer to middle age than to youth, said as she came up with a pitcher to refill your mugs. "Nothing," replied Tooli. "Nothin eh? I distinctly heard you say witch. I might be getting old but taint nothin wrong wit me hearing." Kathra cut into the conversation as she held her mug out for more of the surprisingly good beer. "We are on a quest looking for a witch who hold the mothe rof some children. Have you heard of anyone like that?" "Here? No, no, taint been anyting like that around here, not in a long time. No witches here in four, maybe five generations." She filled Kathra's mug. "Now my great gran, she used to tell us wee ones wicked stories of witches. Back when she was a wee one herself there were witch out in the Prydain ruins, out there where you and yer horse boy been digging around. But that was along time ago, Great gran was almost a hundred and twenty when she passed and that was what, thirty, thirty five year ago." Tooli looked uncomfortable.
  19. Maighan returned Kathra's look with an impish smirk, then looked at the town and its folk with curiosity. It seemed rather dreary to her eyes. Not just in a 'dreary like everything in the mortal realm' way, but even taking that into account. Poor, ill-kept, and full of fearful people. The politics of mortals were nothing more than murmurs in the courts where she'd maneuvered, but it seemed perhaps she should correct that oversight in the near future. There was at least an 'Imperium' that was not well loved, and of which folk recognized Brarga as being part of. Enough to start with. With Kathra taking the lead on talking, Maighan took in the mood of the people gathered here. With a hand she reached out to trail her fingers along the pitted old wood bracing along the wall of a building next to her. There were memories in the warp and weft of the wood, old stories of old times; the warmth of hearth fires, the smell of drink and food. An inn, or tavern perhaps? But yes, it had been some time now. Some hard time, by the look of it. Altares was interesting though. A lone centaur? And one who recognized an Eladrin on sight. Who was he, and where had he come from? And why? Curious indeed.
  20. Kathra shared a glance with Brarga, then stepped forward as well, giving the woman a casual once-over. "Tooli, aye. Witches. Well, one witch, in particular." Under the guise of flipping one of her thick braids over a broad shoulder, she gave Maighan a look. I hope the Key sent us to the right place... "We know little of the details, but there a three innocent girls, and their mother is being... tested by a witch, cursed most terribly, in fact. We have been tasked by a spirit, She Whom Watches Over - a task we accepted freely, I should add - to save the mother and the children." The dwarf casted her gaze around the village with a wry twist to her generous mouth. "Have you, or you, noble Altares, have heard tell of such a witch hereabouts?"
  21. "But you are an Imperial..." the woman started, but the Centaur took a step forward and un-knocked his bow sliding the arrow back into its quiver in one smooth motion. "An Imperial traveling with a dwarf, an Eledrin, and," the centaur pause studying Marida acutely from the distance, "another elf of some sort. Hardly a warband. Me thinks thye are what they say." He steps closer and bows, "I am Altares, and this is..." It is the girls turn to cut off the centaur. "Tooli, I am called Tooli.' She to comes closer to the party. "What business do you have here in Breesham Village? She said something about witches."
  22. Brarga looked at the Centaur, and then to the young woman who'd addressed them. He held his hands where they could be seen, clearly with no weapon in them. "We are not here on imperial business, We are as my comrade has said. We are travellers with no ill intent towards any here." His deep voice rumbled, and he tried his best to not look annoyed and intimidating.
  23. The dogs barking is cut off in mid bark other than that silence greets Kathra's pronouncement. Then, off to the left of where the stand the sound of hooves between two of the houses. The hoof beats come closer and then a centaur holding a lowered bow shows himself, arrow knocked but string undrawn. And then to the right the door of a house next to the long house opens partly and a young girl slips out pulling the door shut. She is perhaps older than she looks, Light brown skin, dark brown hair worn pulled back and tied into a long tail that falls between her shoulders. The girls is dress in a worn leather long coat that is reinforced at shoulders and elbows, trousers, also of worn leather tucked into very worn boots. Her shirt is a pull over blouse of cotton in and off white color. Oddly the blouse seems to have a hood instead of a collar, though it is down currently. The blouse is tucked into her trousers which are held in place by a slender belt from which hang several pouches and a sheathed dagger. "These people do not see Imperials often and the last time they did it did not end well." She says this looking straight at Brarga. "For either party." Her accent is not of the South Leave but of the North, similar but not the same as Renn's was. Her voice, a warm contralto, was full of confidence, as was her stance.
  24. Kathra finished beating on her drum with a cheerful flourish, then slid it around out of the way on her weapon belt. If she was perturbed by the reception they had received, she gave no sign of it. They were simple villagers, at first sight anyway, and strangers could often portend trouble. She gave stone and brickwork of the long house a cursory glance, not so much to consider how to breach it, but rather with a sense of professional curiosity. Seemed common enough, nothing special, let alone a patch on superior Dwarven craftmanship. Kathra nodded at her companions. Warhammer still in its loop and shield on her back, the broad shouldered she-dwarf removed her gauntlets and tucked them into her belt, then strolled forward until she was halfway between the long house and her companions. A pleasant grin on her fetching face, she raised a thick arm in the air and waved. "Ho the hold! I am Kathra Caebrek from far Land's End Hold," she called out in her rich, clear voice, a voice practiced at being heard over the waves crashing against the base of her mountain home. "I and my Companions are travellers and adventurers and mean you and yours no ill will." She chuckled ruefully. "Truth, our journey has taken some unexpected turns, and we would be most grateful if you could enlighten us as to where we are. If you should treat with us fairly, we would more than pleased to do you a good turn in return." Jade eyes twinkled as she lowered her arm and planted her hand on a solid hip. "Any witches or feral beasts needing to be dealt with?"
  25. Brarga resisted the urge to move his hands to his weapons, that simply wouldn't help the situation. He looked down to Kathra, and nodded. "I do believe you're up." His whisper was still fairly loud, due to his deep voice, but it was clear to any who could hear. He studied the fortified building, thinking about how he'd take it as a thought exercise, but otherwise remained silent. He checked the others, making sure they were ready, and that they'd not be attacked from the flanks.
  26. The party marched into the remote village to the sound of Kathra's drum which also gave the village plenty of warning of the approaching villagers and with that warning the village did what villages do. As our heroes entered the village they found empty dirt streets and houses with doors firmly shut and windows, which normally would be open to allow the good flow of air, shuttered. Even the village center, where and ancient well made of finely cut stone and marble was empty. The village itself consisted of about fifteen houses made of quarter stone or mud fired brick, the rest of the construction wood. The houses were sturdy and none were new. The roofs were slightly angles and flat with the high side to the front and the angle to the back. They were not thatched but appeared to be covered with slate Shingles. Each had a small garden and several had chicken coops but no fowl cound be seen. The largest building was set off to the side of the well and was a single story long house as big as five or six of the other house put together. Its walls were of stone and brick entirely and the roof was flat with a four foot high Parapet running all around. This parapet was made of good thick timber, solid but with spy holes built into the wall at regular intervals. Unless there were stairs at the back the party could see no way to gain the roof from the outside. It was obvious that in times of trouble the whole population of the village could take refuge in the long house and that it was somewhat fortified. The keen practiced eyes of the adventurers could make out half dozen men crouched behind that parapet likely armed with bows. Aside from those ostensibly hidden men, no one else could been seen though the elves could hear the muffled sounds of people sheltered in many of the house and a great many in the long house. The party stopped at the well. Somewhere a dog barked.

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