Jade Regent

Session 22

Cusp’s Log

We decided to hunker down in a frozen tenement building. During the night, a strange shadow nails a black sheet over the door, and the Black Hart’s frightening whisper’s harry us through the night.

The next day, we carry on to a place where even our magical light struggles to penetrate. Beyond this, we come upon a large group of armed warriors who are stood frozen in formation. We pass them, and near them are piles of frozen corpses which begin to glow revealing a great throne, upon which sits the Black Hart.

It rises and speaks to us, claiming that Kiekus’s father was killed by the Karmi, who also slayed Kieku’s mother. It speaks of burning Drekki’s home, and having his exile wrought upon him. It speaks of murdering Cusp’s family, and tells us to join him, bringing Ilthaqua the Frozen Lord to the world, and acting as his tools in bringing about a terrible darkness to the world. We spring to the attack, but Cusp and Kieku die. Ulf get’s kissed and turns into an Ilthaquan even after we’ve killed the Black Hart. Ulf, or his Ilthaquan form escape into the dark night.

We find a couple of captives in a cage and a set of stairs behind the throne into the side of the ediface. One of the frozen men, carrying a journal regarding a last defense against a black horror which came over the land. Cusp recalls that Ilthaquan are children of the Great Old One and they can infect people with a psychosis that changes them into Ilthaquan. The Ilthaquan kiss quickly curses you, and changes you into one of them. This makes us believe that Ulf is now cursed and insane and very hard to recover to a normal state of mind. Only a wish or miracle would return him to normal.

We climb to the top of what turns out to be a miles high tower at the top of which has black gemstones around the top of an alter, set into depressions and carved with sacrificial grooves. A holy symbol of Ilthaqua is carved into the alter as well. The stones, it seems are a critical component of a nefarious ceremony, so we remove them and make our way back down to the base of the tower.

We return to the caravan, and continue traveling across the crown of the world. Uksaker comes too, but is catatonic. We return to the road, and travel about 450 miles and find that the caravan is building up a retinue of undead which follow it. We make a stand at a place called the Dead Man’s Dome, which is rumored to be haunted by a benign ghost. The undead fall in to attack us, when there is a keen wail, a flash and for a moment we see the Black Hart’s visage in the cloud. We are set upon by an undead Mammoth and Hoarfrost spirits and during the fight, a ghostly figure attacks the mammoth and we prevail against the filthy undead. The ghost who helped us reveals to us a terracotta warrior talisman, and proves the legend of this place true.

We travel onwards and descend from the high ice, coming to the village of Ulangorn. One of the many stops on the Path of Argoni. We stop and trade for a while, before leaving. We pass through the Demogorgi forest and encounter a hideous spider. We kill it and continue and come to the lands of the Osman Confederation surrounding Lake Boreem and continue to the town of Jagerin, which stands along the Path of Argoni. The people here are not particularly interested in our arrival so we don’t stay here long. The Path of Argoni comes to the Wall of Heaven mountains, a place called Alterzood, the last pass. The temperature drops and ominous storms menace the horizon. The mountain passes rage with avalanches, and the Black Hart’s menacing visage grows in the storm. We believe the Black Hart has manifested in the blizzards. Koya suggests we find a necroplis sacred to Desna, which should be hidden in the mountains somewhere and offer us a way through.

We travel with the Morozko’s on our heels, before we find the underground passage to the necropolis.

Session 21

Cusp’s Log

We travel north towards the Alabstine Peaks, across the frozen wastelands for a number of weeks. As we travel towards the Storm Tower, the amount of blizzards start to increase. One day, we encounter some Frost Giants, but they are quite intimidated by the site of Vezundavaag draconic head, mounted on the front of our lead caravan.

On the eve of Cusp’s birthday, we see the Storm Tower looming high above the plains around it. We leave the caravan hidden amongst the feet of mountains, as we decide to take the rest of the journey on foot. The tower itself is surrounded by hundreds of skeletons, which we can’t avoid and are forced to fight and we destroy many of them. We head up to a great broken causeway surrounded by a moat of black sludge. As we walk along the causeway, two Chaarda leap out of the slime but we drive them back. Within the confines of the tower, we are ambushed undead humanoids and a huge plant creature. We deal with these, and manipulate a control panel and lift to reach the second level, where we are welcomed by a Remorhoaz, which we defeat, break open some crystal doors and then we are again attacked by crystal scorpion like creatures. We defeat them, and find the room they’ve been occupying contain many crystalline formations which seem to some kind of machine or mechanism, perhaps the means to disable the energy cloud.

Further up the tower, we come to a windswept chamber where Katiyana awaits with her hoarfrost guardians which we engage in combat. We defeat the winged woman, whose spirit merges into the storm orb, which explodes in a flash of light and disappears. Hopefully the storms plaguing this whole region will eventually disperse. She carries a letter written by another, speaking of a frozen lord. The storm tower is actually an ancient tower and my recollections don’t give me any insight into it’s function. The crystal on the second floor making up the mechanism don’t seem to linked to the storms.

We reach the rook of the tower, and somehow, Cusp perceives the Nameless Spire, as if it is the middle of the day and the Black Hart peering back at him and beckoning us closer. On our decision to go the Nameless Spire, the storms and blizzards seem to subside. The Black Hart seems surely to be beckoning us. We reach the Nameless Spire, and surrounding it, there are thousands of walking dead. We come to the outskirts of a frozen ancient ruined city, at the centre of which looms the great Spire. The Spire is a solid structure with a pointed tip like an obelisk. Of course it is polar night, so we cannot see beyond our lights but we know it to be there.

We come to a city square, and horrifying screams pierce the night, shaking some of us to the bone. Further on, a great ice Hydra bursts from a hollow but we defeat it easily. Further on again, we are accosted by a furred Yeti henchman of the Black Hart. The creature has been placed under a magical oath to destroy us and Cusp suggests we don’t kill it, but the party doesn’t agree and decides to deal with it in the most extreme of ways.

Session 20
Session 20

Cusp’s Log

Ameiko suggests we should use the Amatatsu Seal right away, which we do to bring Kiku back to life. We search the cabin and find quite a few drums of ale, foodstuffs and a loose floorboard which hides a magical adamantine mace. We move a short way and drive our wagons into a circle before settling down to a nervous rest. The rest of the night is peaceful and day emerges but it brings little light.

We travel for a few days through marshlands till we reach a place called the Coppek Ford which means we’re leaving the lake country region. The ford is at a crossing of the Taraska river and we eventually find a shallow area where we think we can cross. We take our time, picking our way across the Taraska and follow the river north and eventually east where we come to higher ground, emerging finally from the marshlands. There are herds of musk oxen around, when Ulf takes note of the partially buried remains of an ox being consumed by a polar ooze. We travel for 5 more days when the glow of the sun finally illuminates the expanse we’ve been traveling on. We are surprised to see an encampment of what looks to be Erutaki camped ahead. The travelers reprimand us for traveling this far north and speak of various superstitions which suggest that it will be bad luck to camp together. Ulf takes note of a town near here where we would be welcome, but it is a bit off our trail. Regardless, we continue to where the path splits and decide to head to this town, named Iqaliat.

We eventually reach the town of Iqaliat which is built into the side of a ridge, on the edge of the High Ice. It’s a fortified settlement and even to Ulf, the townsfolk seem a bit stand-offish and unfriendly. We circle the wagons and make our way to the chief’s home. There seems to be a lack of livestock, and we meet with Sonavut who looks happy to meet with Ulf. Sonavut makes us feel welcome and she tells us the town has many problems and is being plagued by a White Dragon named Vegsundvaag. The dragon has been lairing in the High Ice and started harassing the townsfolk. Strange monoliths have been appearing on the High Ice, which may or may not be contributing to an increase in storm activity. We are interrupted by a knock at the door and find there is a commotion outside. A crowd has gathered around Tunuat, the village shaman who is addressing the folks. He accuses us of bringing bad omens to the place, and that we bring a taint here and demands a sacrifice. We have a lynch mob here and arguments begin to escalate. We manage to beseech Nalvanak, the chieftain to Tunuat’s great distress, to allow us to help them defeat the dragon. Tunuat retreats in defeat, but we feel there is more to the shaman’s accusations than he makes out. We treat with the chieftain who tells us that there is a path past the dragon’s lair. He tells us that the monoliths are connected to the frozen dead. We are allowed to stay here the night but we must leave to slay the dragon tomorrow. We talk to Sonavut about Tunuat who also seems sympathetic to our suspicions about the shaman.

In the morning, we are gifted with magical claws by the chieftain and then we make our way to the High Ice. Near the crevasse, we are bathed in the light of an aurora borealis, and feel the blessings of Desna. We reach the crevasse which Dreki scouts out. He manages to find the dragon which chases him out of the crevasse and into our trap. We manage to defeat the beast and find in its lair a medallion that we learn belonged to Tunuat. We also find the remains of another dragon and smashed eggshells.

We learn back at the town that Tunuat is missing, said to be up at the wind altars. We head up to the little wind altar but he is not there. We find a secret door which is trapped just beyond which a pit opens. We pull folks out of the pit, and continue on down the tunnel and meet a guide named Naquun. He converses with Ulf and he also seems to be tracking Tunuat. When speaking with him, it is revealed that he is under the possession of a quasit demon, which we destroy. Removed of the possessive force, the guide tells us that Tunuat carried out a ritual on him which must have caused the possession. He joins us to find the shaman and we carry on, coming to a door which we open behind which reveals a sunken room open to the sky. Tunuat is down in a pool of slush at the bottom of the room, amongst many bones. There are bone altars here as well. Tunuat is obviously an agent and so we slay him, and his frost undead henchman. He carries a symbol of Sithhud, the demon lord of blizzards and the frozen dead.

The slushy basin at the bottom of the ramp is filled with hundreds of bones, all marked with a curious rune like a frost-rimed, three-fingered skeletal hand. This symbol also appeared on a black talisman shaped like a black horned head worn by Tunuat. The skulls of these skeletons have been piled into a crude altar and a number of white shards, that we identify as fragments of white dragon eggshell, are placed before it. Painted along the icy walls of the pit are Erutaki pictograms, scattered among many more of the strange runes.

One of the pictograms shows strange black standing stones rising from icy hills. These appear to be the black monoliths that the Erutaki nomads and Sonavut told us their hunters had reported as having recently appeared on the High Ice.

Another pictogram displays a cluster of towers glowing with a strange blue light. We recognize these blue-limned towers as the Nameless Spires, an ancient ruined city at the North Pole. We learn that the Erutaki believe the wind spirits reside here—a dangerous place, but a source of great visions for those brave enough to seek it. Tunuak himself undertook a vision quest within the last year and it is speculated that his subsequent behavior may have resulted from falling under the spell of this winged woman.

The third pictogram shows a single monolithic tower rising above what seems to be a black lake, with white mountain peaks behind it, which we identify as the Alabastrine Peaks.

The fourth pictogram depicts a spiraling storm with long arms ending in ice-fanged jaws devouring Erutaki villages, but with longer jaw-arms reaching toward forests, crudely drawn castles and cities, and what may be ships at sea. Warriors are shown trying to fight the storm with spears before being engulfed and sealed in tombs of ice. We identify the fang-armed spiral as representing the morozkos, or “hungry storms,” the legendary blizzards that rage across the Crown of the World. They are seemingly living storms that can devour entire villages and that almost seem to seek out their victims.

The fifth pictogram shows a blue-skinned woman with dark wings and hair, wearing a silver crown or circlet. Her hand grasps one of the claw-symbols like a scepter, and spiraling streaks of silver and white curl from it in every direction. We decipher notes scrawled in Erutaki beneath this pictogram that speak of an obsessive love for “Katiyana, who speaks to me on the winds from her tower in the Storm.” No-one recognizes this winged woman.

The final pictogram shows a humanoid silhouette with stag-like horns sat upon a throne within one of the blue-limned towers. Notes scrawled in Erutaki beneath this pictogram stated that this being was “Her Lord and Master, the Black Hart, who sits upon his throne in the Nameless Spires.”

After the elders of Iqaliat had spent time discussing the pictograms, they further revealed that their ancient tales say that the morozkos were a roaring scourge wielded by Sithhud, demon lord of blizzards and the frozen dead, who ate the flesh of the dead and bound their bones to serve him in ages past. The three-fingered skeletal claw is Sithhud’s mark, and the pictograms suggest that the Black Hart may have found some way to reclaim the demon lord’s ancient power, perhaps using the strange black monoliths or other ancient magics discovered in the Nameless Spires and that the dark-winged woman is his servant.
The elders believe that the third pictogram shows a place that the Erutaki call the Storm Tower. So named because of the storms that always seem to swirl above its pinnacle, this spire is similar to those found in the Nameless Spires, but it stands alone near the Alabastrine Peaks. It seems that the morozkos have been awakened from the Storm Tower, but if the Black Hart or the winged woman gains full control over the hungry storms, none will be able to stand before them, and our caravan will never make it across the Crown of the World.

We are given a pass to stay in town and freely trade and are gifted with interesting items.

Session 19
Session 19

Cusp’s Log

We emerge out of the forest and don’t feel there has been any passage of time. An 800 mile long journey over the crown of the world to Tian-Xia lays before us. In the early days, we pass between the Stonespear and Rimethirst mountains and so a week passes and we celebrate the Equinox by breaking out the bog nuts and whatever spare wine and ale that we have. One day, we must deal with a terrible snow storm forcing us to hunker down. We travel for a few weeks and thankfully there are not too many other storms for us to contend with. We eventually come to the northern slopes of the Rimethirst. and enter rugged hill country named Urjuk, a realm once inhabited by giants who for the most part have migrated away. Apparently, giants come here to take their final marches and die. Having come through pretty desolate terrain, this area feels more lush and we come to a copse of trees with many ravens flocking about it. We decide to scout ahead, but Gelden attempts an augury first, which doesn’t reveal much. We leave the caravan and approach the copse when a strange noise booms out scattering the ravens.
" You have violated the sacred lands of the giants." We spy the red-pinioned raven and Cusp calls for the voice’s owner to reveal itself at which point we are swarmed by the flock, and attacked by a great wolf and giant. We vanquish our foes and even manage to kill the red-pinioned raven. We track the giant to a den and find the remains of one Kargun Yamachuck, a fallen guide. In the deceased’s possessions, we find a scroll tube containing a map of the Path of Arganhei, which should help us on our travel.

We continue our travel, skirting around the Taraska river, across the Hoarwell March, and up towards Unimo, which should allow us to climb up to the High Ice. We travel past the Alabastrian Peaks, and past the [Insert] to Jargen, and through the Hall of Heaven and down into Horngarl. Of course, we could shave off some time by cutting through the hill country of the Garjuks or down through lake country and so wee decide to take the lower path of the lake country and further on, spy an odd cabin. There is wildlife around, which is heartening to see, and daylight is waning and we are coming into polar twilight.

We eventually emerge from the marshlands and find a group of lodgings. An old woman calls to us from one of these, and Cusp rather naively decides that we should break bread with her. On entering her home though, she reveals herself as a Witchfire Hag kicks the hell out of us, killing Kiku and then making her ethereal escape into the frozen night.

Session 18
Session 18

Cusp’s Log

After the battle, we search the hall finding the hag wears a symbol to the god of hags. The storm outside subsides suddenly as we leave and we find a path leading to a great snapped, dead tree. A large hollow leads down into a chamber below the tree. A clairvoyance reveals a room with partial animal and human remains, some of which are spread over a table and a cauldron. There are also some small lumpy clay figurines that resemble the caravan members. Kieku thinks these may have been used as scyring foci or to remotely affect us. There are symbols of Goran about as well. We decide to leave and spy in the forest a small child, wild and savage looking which leaps away as we notice it. We search where the child was and find the it’s tracks change into that of a fox. Kieku thinks its a changeling, a creature resulting from the union of a hag and human which tells of the possible uses the hags had for those men in the hall.

We return to the caravan, leaving the clay dolls with Koya and picking up Uksaka and Ulf who will be helpful in tracking the changeling child and we continue to do so, following its tracks for a few miles leading to and across a road. It’s getting colder, the snow is getting deeper, and the air is still. Ulf calls a stop to the party, and points out an Uskrik tree ahead. A southern tree not usually found this far north. Its bark issues a noxious sap which fuses with the snow to form a dangerous poison. A tune begins to ring out through the woods but Cusp counters it with his drumming. The sound comes from a copse of trees, where we encounter some arctic spiders who we do battle with and we are victorious, though some of us are poisoned. We continue travelling and come to what appears to be some kind of burial ground, before which lies an exposed runestone, engraved with skald script. It is a mother’s lament for her son who was murdered by brigands. As we clear away some of the snow, two filthy undead burst from the ground, though we destroy them. We continue to dig away at the snow and find some gear and mummified animal remains but not much else. The tracks eventually lead to an iced lake, wreathed in mist. A lonely isle sits out near the middle of the lake. On the way across the ice, we encounter another of the witches who we do battle with upon the dangerous ice. We kill her and make our way to the isle where we find some ice statues carved in our likeness as well as some magical ointments. The fox trail continues past the isle but we heal up first. We continue following the fox back to the road and then onwards to where the forest takes on a more eastern feel, made up primarily of bamboo.

When we emerge from the bamboo forest, we come to a secluded vale and small village within some rice fields. A grim edifice looms over the village and a hollow wind issues through these parts as we make our way to the village. Frightened villagers speak of a cruel mistress who lives in the pagoda and levies high taxes from them. They speak of big monsters that live in the darkness and they tell us the mistress is both youthful and aged. The village has no name and there doesn’t’ seem to be any history to the place. This seems consistent with the curse that grips this whole region. We decide to head to the edifice to deal with the curse. As we approach the three tiered structure, shadows coalesce into a wolf like creature which we attack and defeat. The edifice itself is set with bronze doors which we open to reveal a strange androgynous person sat near the base of some stairs. She inclines her head and tells us that she is Misami of clan Oniski, and that our destruction is at hand as we back the Amatatsu dynasty. Kieku strikes her but she is just vapor and her howling laughter issues from the levels above. We climb the stairs to a chamber circled by a gallery and encounter Misami again. A fierce fight ensues with this which but we emerge triumphant.

We’ve broken the curse over the land and we can finally rest from much weariness, a most welcome respite. The bloodfeather raven had been watching the caravans the whole time but it has since departed, upon our return and we pack up the caravan and finally manage to leave the forest, which fades into the icy tundra behind us.

A Lethal Trap and an Eternal Twilight
Session 17

Cusp’s Log

During the battle with the oni, Kimandatsu, Kiku and Gelden are poisoned by deathblade which the ninja employed against us. There is no way to deal with the poison now but delay poison allows us to continue to search. Further on, we find a small pen or cell which houses a growling winter wolf which we quickly dispatch, but perhaps prematurely out of desperation or fear, for the creature seems to be a prisoner here; we’ll never learn its story now.
Further on again, we find a beaten and imprisoned Ulfen man who lies in a grotto and who is none other than Ulf, the arctic guide for whom we’ve been searching. He is guarded by three blindheims which lurk in the water and blind some of us with their terrible gaze attack. We dispatch them, and free Ulf. He speaks of the Path of Aganhei, a route that climbs through the Crown of the World. It is an eastern name, named after an Amatatsu explorer. We make our way back to the hall, blind and beaten, and search a little more before resting for a short while near a door which we’ve uncovered. After a short respite and conversation with Ulf, we hurriedly decide to open the door which is trapped and sets off a violent column of flame which tears through the room. It extinguishes the lives of Gelden and Kiku and leaves Dreki and Cusp sorely wounded. Luckily, Ulf was sat away from the fire’s proximity. This, of course, forces us to retreat from the hall altogether, and we do so, returning to Kalsgard.

We convalesce in Kalsgard for a long time, waiting for the Amatatsu Seal to recover its power to resurrect our fallen comrades. During this time, Lute Haggersley reveals the Rimerunners’ nefarious dealings which get their operations suspended. Suishen tells us that hundreds of years ago in Minkai, oni emerged from the Forest of Spirits and began their war against the five royal families. By 4456 AR, they were close to their goals of domination. They waged battles against the Amatatsu whose numbers were greatly reduced, forcing the family to flee. The Amatatsu patriarch sold the sword to finance the family’s exile, changed their name to Kaijitsu, and sought refuge in Brinewall as Rokuro Kaijitsu. They magically secured the family seal and became a family of merchants and glassblowers.

Ulf tells us that the journey over the Crown of the World will take 3-6 months or more, depending on the weather. We spend two months in town, researching, working, and stocking up on supplies for the road ahead, with Ulf and Uksahhka as our guides.

We finally set out in the summer and the path of Aganhei sweeps through various small settlements before cutting through a swath of uncharted territory. On the third day, we’ve passed through the Thanelands and roll into the fortified town of Turvik. It’s a town that overlooks miles of tundra. The next day we journey out of Turvik and eventually come to a wooded area and a fork in the road. Ulf is a little concerned at the strange unnatural silence that seems to have befallen these lands. He has no memory of this place and bids us head along the left path but we decide to take a harrow reading by Koya to see if her Varisian divinations can reveal any insights. During the harrow reading, she is overcome by a trance and speaks in an eerie tone:-

“Trapped within by a hateful three,
A realm from which you cannot flee,
Where dreams are real, peace is strife,
Safety peril, and death is life.

Beyond the dark cacophony
the withering caress will be.
Scalding cold, and chill of ire,
Just above a peril dire,
Spanning across the threshold key,
Your senses invoke treachery.

To break the curse, pray break it thrice,
Or pay, you will, the vengeful price.
The only way to leave this place
A baleful coven you must face."

Our hearts sink as we realise we are trapped in a cursed, nightmare forest and a baleful howl which threatens our resolve is overcome by a very loud roll of drum licks by Cusp but Koya’s trance threatens a great number of trials ahead if we are to break free of the curse which corrupts these lands. We think we need to go to sleep to directly deal with the curse and so we attempt to do so. Some of us manage to sleep, others do not and are fatigued, but those who sleep do not bring us any closer to breaking the curse. We continue travelling down the path to a crossroads but whichever road we take brings us back to this spot in the woods, a treacherous junction from which there seems to be no escape. We try to break the paths by cutting down trees, and trying to sleep and yet we still remain and cannot escape. All the while, there are glimpses of the antlered black humanoid who has plagued our nightmares all this while.

The creature has left some cloven footprints in the snow, and a small group of us decide to follow these into the dense woods. Through the snow, we come to a hideous effigy, an Ulfen Nithing Pole. It is set to ward off enemies by way of fear but bolstered by Gelden’s prayers, we are able to bring ourselves to approach it. As we pass it, though, it bursts a deadly spray of splinters and animates as a great wood golem, which we fight and defeat.

The tracks lead eventually to an Ulfen hall, surrounded by small outbuildings. Smoke issues lazily from the hall’s chimney, and from the cover of the treeline, we divine seven Ulfen men sat inside, their grim visages held low. A terrible-looking storm gathers over distant hills and we make our way to the door hoping to treat with the Jarl as these people too may be under the spell that has gripped these lands. Somehow, we’ve divined or recalled the name of the Jarl: Gathik Thorgrisson.

The Jarl allows us to enter the hall if we remove our weapons and we agree to do so, leaving them by the door. As we enter and converse with the men, we realise that a magical miasma is upon this place. They too seem to be under a curse and seem quiet and depressed. They offer us drink and speak little but soon, the illusion drops. They are corpses, and a shattering thunder-strike obliterates the central fireplace as a terrible hunched creature crashes through the doors we’d just entered, silhouetted by night and lightning and rain. It demands weregild for our work at Ravenscraeg and a terrifying battle ensues but we emerge the victors.

Thawing of Frozen Shadows
Session 16

Cusp’s Log

The room we fought the Tian woman in resembles a training hall. Its walls are lined with doors to small cells which we search. Most cells hold nothing of interest, except for one which contains an eastern triptych screen and the other, a door revealing a hallway, only relatively recently hewn into the mountain. The hall leads to a room containing a demonic idol and a magic circle of some kind. Kiku believes it to be a protective circle of planar binding. A giant diseased hand, hidden under a cot in the corner of the room, scurries out and scratches some of us up a bit, but we kill whatever it is. We find a secret compartment with scrolls of magic circle vs evil. There is evidence that the ogre possibly uses this place as a lab of sorts.

We head back to the grotto and, on our way, discover a well. A fiery glow emerges from the well, and in its depths, we find none other that the flaming magical sword which we’ve been searching for, Suishen. It seems to have been tossed down here by the ogre mage. The sword is deeply enchanted and intelligent. We are suddenly ambushed by some executioner’s hoods hiding in the dark confines of the ceiling, but they are quickly dealt with by Gelden’s quick prayers. We turn our attention back to Suishen which speaks of an oni, Kimandatsu, who tried to wield it, then destroy it, and finally tossed it down the well. The sword was indeed stolen by Asvig, as we suspected, who contacted Thorborg, who is also known as Kimandatsu, the ogre mage.

We heal a bit, then go downstairs and deal with more thugs and Goti. We fight our way past them and meet with the oni, Kimandatsu, and some remaining ninja. A pitched battle ensues inside a strange, diamond-shaped room containing a gurgling waterfall and alcoves hewn into its walls set above the floor. The battle is aerial for some and tests our abilities but we finally dispatch the oni and her accursed ninja retinue.

A Disturbed Night's Rest
Session 15

Cusps Log

The party decides to rest after our pitched fight with the fortress’s inhabitants and we find some scrolls which seem to be the diaries of Snorri Stone-Eyes. The mad reaver had written that Ravenscraeg is his hall, and he was proud that none would come here. It was built to be impregnable, and his eye allowed him to cast his vision into the past or future. He predicts a time when the gods would wage war on each other, and the rough beast will slip its chains to claim this world. Only the prepared would be spared the devastation that is to claim this world, once it is ripe for conquest. On a voyage into the steaming sea in search of an artifact to protect his fortress, he contracted an illness which defied all attempts at a cure, and it grew worse over the years. He lost the ability to speak, and it was the illness that wound up claiming his life. We should ponder on this, as Cusp has memory of a mention that Snorri Stone Eyes was healthy right before he’d suddenly died which would seem to contradict these journal writings. In any case, it was at the time of this strange illness that he’d resolved some of his differences with his brother, Ranulfr and moved into a townhouse in Kalsgard, and became quite insane. A passage in the rantings speaks of a concealed cache in the upstairs flue.

Any further sleep this night though is disturbed when a group of ninja and their tian female leader wielding a nasty poisonous blade, set themselves on the room we hole up in. We only just manage to hold our own in this fight, and she withdraws. We rest the remainder of the night and are harried again by zombies who smash their way into our room. There may be an evil priest in this place, and as well the ninja is still alive.

There’s not much more to be found, except magical boots of the north, stuffed into the Flue. We take these and head downstairs, dispatching some troll guards and continuing our search through the underground caves and rooms. We eventually come up against the tien girl, and do her in…

Assault on Ravenscraeg
Session 14

The PCs return to the Hunting Serpent Inn where they discover that their rooms have been ransacked but, having left nothing behind, nothing has been stolen. They transport themselves to the Amatatsu Library for 6 hours, where they study new texts. Back in Kalsgard, they rest, before working with Fynn Snaevald to acquire magical items to fortify and protect themselves for another attempt upon Ravenscraeg.
Back at Ravenscraeg, they once again ascend the stair. As they near the top, dozens of thugs rain rocks and stone upon them, but they are protected by the cover of the stairs and then by the magical shields that they erect. As they near the final platform, the thugs retreat into the Hall, closing and barring the heavy doors behind them. The PCs several minutes crowbarring open the doors before gaining entrace to a deserted longhall. Shortly after they enter, swarms of ravens attack. Unprepared to fight these unexpected foes, the PCs hole up in an adjacent room, empty but for the piles of rocks and masonry that had been used to harry their ascent to the hall. Having prepared suitable weapons, they open the door to permit the ravens into the room, slaying a swarm, and then exiting into the main chamber to deal with another. As the swarm disperses, ninja, previously hidden on the low balcony that surrounds the hall, attack with bows. The party responds quickly and ascends one of the balconies to face them in melee. A pitch battle ensues, with the PCs facing not only but the group of ninja engaged, but subsequently the group of ninja from the opposite balcony, thirty thugs who erupt from one of the bottom doors, and finally, a werebear who marshalls the chaotic force into something resembling organisation. The battle is long and fierce, and at one point it looks as though the party is going to be overwhelmed, but judicious use of glitterdust, and healing magics, keep their hopes alive. Finally, as a mysterious archer draws several of their attackers away, and Dreki manages to slay the werebear with a freezing touch, the remaining combatants flee the battle deeper into the hall, leaving the PCs a few minutes to catch their breaths and heal their wounds. In this time, they see the archer, a humanoid clad in furs, retreating from the hall with dejected thugs returning to the stair. The PCs descend and, discovering that the archer had killed four in total, slay the remaining three.
Back in the hall, the party strip the bodies of valuables before searching through the rooms on the lower and upper levels of the hall. Reaching the bottom of the tower, they discover an alchemist’s laboratory with a strange, insect-infested man held in a glass case (which Cusp identifies as a hellwasp wasp infestation), and a prisoner—a merchant from Kalsgard named Lute Haggersley—in a nearby cell.
Lute tells the PCs that he is a merchant recently elected to the Rimerunners Guild’s board of shareholders. He had the misfortune to vote against a measure proposed by Thorborg Silverskorr and then had the temerity to not be intimidated and bullied into capitulating. He was abducted from the road on a trip to some of the outlying villages around Kalsgard and was brought here. Lute has primarily faced Goti Runecaster so far, who tried out various noxious brews that he had concocted (fortunately with no overly baneful effects) and threatened him with infestation by the hellwasp swarm. He also says that the werebear, who was called Jorgan the Axe, had worked him over a few times as well. Lute also tells the PCs that he had not been questioned and has no idea why he is being held. He warns that a hideous purple ogre seems to command the fortress, and claims the ogre is actually none other than Thorborg Silverskorr, the leader of the Rimerunners Guild. Outside his cell, Lute heard Thorborg speaking to Goti, and though Lute did not witness a transformation, he is convinced Thorborg is actually the purple ogre who visited him shortly thereafter. Lute is of no help to the party’s efforts in Ravenscraeg, and requests to wait somewhere safe for the PCs to escort him back to Kalsgard.

Regret at Ravenscraeg
Session 13

The PCs decide to investigate the Rimerunner’s Guild. After staking it out from a nearby tavern throughout the day, they infiltrate at night through the back door by using a silence stone and some lockpicking skill by Cusp. Inside, they defeat the six guards after a tumultuous fight (killing three and capturing three), and also succeed in preventing the guards from raising the alarm by signal log. They find Uksahkka, and, unable to open it there, wrestle an iron lockbox out of its secret room. They hire a horse and cart from the Hunting Serpent Inn, and using bedclothes from the guard barracks, transport the lockbox and three prisoners to Fynn Snaevald’s house (leaving the dead bodies of the other three guards in the secret room).
Fynn agrees to help, securing the prisoners in a strongroom and employing a dwarven contact to open the safe. Cusp and Fynn study the business records while the others rest and determine the details of the Rimerunners involvement and the location of Ravenscraeg.
The next day, the PCs set out to Ravenscraeg. The have a little trouble with a splitting ochre jelly before arriving at the wooden stair that climbs the cliff to the hall. As they ascend, they deal with the spider eater quite easily, but then run into real problems with the tengu ninjas who use their poison and vanish ability to lethal effect. Tragically, Cusp is slain after having been flanked and subjected to deathblade poison. The party retreats from the site once they defeat the ninjas to seek divine aid for their fallen comrade. Using a magical disguise, Dreki enters the city and retrieves the Amatatsu from the caravan, which is distraught upon hearing the news, and returns to the party’s temporary camp outside. After being placed upon Cusp’s chest for a few seconds, the Seal begins to emit transparent ribbons of minkaian characters and arcane and divine runes which wrap the gnome’s body and impress upon his flesh; the runes and characters glowing on his skin before fading as he awoke from death.