Jade Regent

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.

The Funeral Ship
Session 12

Cusp’s Log

We are to meet Uksahkka at Spearshaker’s Point at midday and paddle out to the funeral ship as the mists roll in. In the morning, as we’re preparing for the day we learn that people have been asking about us and we also notice a great number of ravens flocking and following us around the city.
As the sun reaches its midday zenith, a mist has rolled in from the ocean and Cusp spies a longship at Spearshaker’s Point with an honour guard of Ulfen Huscarls. We meet Uksahkka who has with her kayaks, a horse and a cart. She hands us small clay tokens carved with a songbird sigil and she bids us present these to the priest Yin-Po of the shrine of Shelyn in the fire quarter of the city when we return there, and that for now, she will give us some brief study in the ways of using these kayaks.
That evening, as we are ready to embark, we are attacked by a giant shark-eating crab which almost drags Kiku into the brine and a watery death. After its defeat and under the cover of darkness and this sweeping fog, we quickly paddle out to the funeral ship as it comes into view, tethering our boats to its quietly drifting hull and boarding it as quickly as our land legs will let us.
On the vessel, we hear noises from the ship’s hold and investigate only to come upon a wealth of treasure and the shackled Snorri Stone-Eye born again as a terrible undead. As we do battle in the pressing confines of the hold, black-suited eastern assassins, known as ninja board the ship which Dreki finds out the hard way when he goes above to find where Ulf and possibly the sword, might be, but instead finds the deck and main mast racing with fire and ninja unhitching our boats. They quickly turn their attention to us, and a violent battle erupts though they all but manage to escape except for one who we take prisoner. We are dismayed to find that neither Ulf nor the sword are here and that we’ve been either led astray, or the ninja have at least gained the sword, or that perhaps they too left empty-handed.
We managed to recover our boats and return to the beach with our captive where we question him though he utters not a word when asked under a tone of forgiveness, or under pain of death. The others are content to leave him tied here, but Cusp frees him as the others are out of sight. We return to Kalsgard and our inn for the night, before making our way to the fire district the next day. On our walk through the city, a beggar tells us that “they are coming for us,” though his words may be a cliche laced with coincidence given our reputation in the city.
As we approach the shine to Shelyn, it is beset suddenly by a massive stone elemental, heralded by the accursed red-pinioned raven. Yin-Po is here, though battered and we manage to defeat the elemental. Upon showing the token to Yin-Po, he takes us through a secret door off an alleyway which leads to a busted safehouse and he shrieks, exclaiming that Uksahkka has been taken. A large black feather is the only evidence of what might have done this, as we believe it to be a Tengu feather. Suddenly a helmet that Dreki had found in the hold of the funeral ship reveals its sentience to us, and claims to be a Cassisian angel named Helgarval. It tells us that the Rimerunner’s guild is actually a front for the frozen shadow assassins and thieves who are themselves agents of the Five Strorms Oni (the one’s who attacked Minkai in the past war which swept across that land.) The raven is a familar of Goti Runecaster, who is an associate of Thorborg Silverskorr, the head of the alliance between the Rimerunners and the Frozen Shadows. The angel itself was a familiar to a deceased mage, and has spent much time in the city investigating these corruptions.

Session 11

Cusp’s Log

We return to Fynn Snaevald, who tells us that Suishen was stolen. A band of men wearing black clothes and masked, led by a tall leader staged a vicious assault in which some of Fynn’s men where killed, and the precious sword stolen. He takes us to the room where the sword was kept and we investigate the area but the perpetrators left no evidence that would lead us to them behind. We speak of Asvig Longthews but we have no evidence directly connecting the local lord and this robbery, though our instincts tell us it was him. Fynn wishes to ínvoke the right of ‘weregild,’ at the loss of his men and the sword. He confirms the sword was purchased from Rokuro Kaijitsu here in Kalsgard.
We decide to investigate Asvig further as there is also the fact that robbery happened at about the same time as we recovered the Amatatsu artifacts in Brinewall. We purchase a wand of healing from the temple of Torag and meet with Nauma Irongleam there, who also offers other magical assistance to us.
Later in the day, we travel south from the city and come upon a gate bearing a lions head stylized motif at the mouth of a track leading to a farmhouse surrounded by a guarded fence. We settle into a nearby copse of trees to spy upon the compound into the evening. Later that evening, a group of merrily singing and drinking warriors bearing the lions head motif are spotted making there way along the road towards the compound from the city, eventually meandering their way inside its fence. Some time later, another pair of men make their way back from the city to the farm and we hear them speaking to each other of Snorri’s funeral, which brings us great surprise. There seems to be a raucous funeral party building up at the farm in honour of the late Snorri Stone-Eye, a most surprising and possibly fortuitous turn of events for us, for an enemy beneath the soil is one less over the way as my Pa used to say.
We take the opportunity to sneak closer to the farm and snoop around. The main building is a single story affair with a main door, a back door and an adjoining outbuilding which seems to be a wool room or shearing shed. Investigation of the wool room and the adjoining room of the main building reveals some people rutting in the storeroom. We quickly surprise and disable them, before Cusp sneaks in under the magical cloak of his vanish spells to look around whilst the others remain hidden outside the building. Many drunken Ulfen raiders are sat, stood or laid about in various states of sobriety yet Cusp is drawn to the main bedroom, where he finds Asvig, his wife, and another having sex. The gnome takes the opportunity to look for the sword but to no avail, only a pair of magical boots which he steals. He also spies the red-pinioned raven, which suggests that it is indeed a familiar to one of these vile humans. But in somewhat short order, and in a moment of distraction from the men’s lust, Asvig’s wife gets wind of something strange, and pulls herself free to find the source. Cusp’s presence is revealed as the sorceress shouts a call to arms, and Cusp’s friends take the opportunity to blast into the building where a tremendous battle breaks out. We are vastly outnumbered, but Cusp calls forth the elemental from the magical stone he carries, which quickly levels the odds, by indeed, leveling many Ulfen men. We manage to take Asvig and his wife hostage as we get wind of another group of Ulfen warriors even now making their way to the farm.
We parlay with them, though Dreki turns himself over as a hostage to them, to the ire of Cusp though it actually plays into our hands somewhat, as they reveal some secrets to him. They reveal to him that Asvig was acting on behalf of another entity and that they’ve kidnapped a guide. It may have been something to do with gifts for the funeral ship. This guide, Ulf, would soon be joining Snorri and that perhaps the sword is going to be sacrificed as well but of this they are not sure. Meanwhile, inside and under questioning, Asvig chokes on his own tongue as he tries to speak though he welcomes the curse and his journey to Asgard. Asvig’s wife, Helva doesn’t seem to think she is cursed and she tells us that Snorri was as fit as a bull, but a sickness came quickly over him his final weeks. She tells us that the funeral is at dawn at Spearshaker’s Point. It will be well-attended by Ulfen warriors. We come to an agreement with Helva, whereby we can go with as much treasure as we can carry, and will forever remain unmolested by her or the remnants of Asvig’s people and in return, we will release her and be on our way.
We quickly load up a wagon with gear and treasure and depart the farm. On our way back we encounter a woman who is badly beaten. Her name is Uksahkka and she claims she is friends with Ulf, a ranger and expert on the mountains around Kalsgard. His last job came from Asvig who commissioned him to blaze a route through the Grungir forest but when Ulf came to the farm to learn the details, he disappeared, which further confirms the story that the Ulfen men spoke of to Dreki. We tell her about the funeral of Snorri Stone-Eye, and that we fear that Ulf may be taken there to be sacrificed with the fallen Ulfen warrior and a precious heirloom that we seek.

The Skalsbridge and Kalsgard
Session 10

Cusp’s Log

We’ve left Eldentre and headed north towards the Skalsbridge. We eventually reach the bridge, a confluence of the Thundering River and another great waterway, and decide to make camp here near the ancient and massive structure. The night is cold as we expect from these northern climes and there is a mist that clings to the ground and oppresses our fires.

That evening, an attack comes from the river by a huge group of Ulfen barbarians who’ve come by a long boat. Somehow, we beat them back to the boat though Kelda and Kiku heroically leap onto the vessel and slay the fleeing barbarians, risking their own lives. A more heroic display, one would be hard pressed to find. If they were defeated, they would have been lost to us forever. We search the raiders and find that they each wear a lion armband which represents their service to a liege lord. We question some prisoners; one of them somehow chokes on his own words, literally, and dies. He must have been under the effect of some nefarious magic or curse, or was otherwise one unlucky sod.

The next day, we come to Ullerskad, a trade hub with numerous hunting lodges and home to old wealthy Ulfen retirees. Here, we learn that the boat the Ulfen raiders came upon us on, is registered to the Rimerunners Guild, a trading organisation that specialises in Linnorm King and Tian trade, and is a very influential trading house. We are advised to take the ship to Kalsgard and speak to the guild chiefs there about recompense for our discovery of the vessel.

Ameiko suggests that in Kalsgard, we need to locate the home of Fynn Snaevald, or his heirs and Sandru says that we need to find a capable, trustworthy guide if we are to cross the Crown of the World. The caravan master also suggests that we need to find out who the lionshead armbands are affiliated with, and possibly enquire into the bloodfeather raven, as it may be a mage’s familiar. He says we should stay at the Hunting Serpent Inn.
Still in Ullerskad though, we attempt to return the ship to a Rimerunner merchant who instead gives us a letter to take to the Rimerunners in Kalsgard and where we can collect our reward. We decide not to stay too long in this settlement, as we do not wish to draw suspicion about the ship we ‘found’, and furthermore, it is almost Archerfest, a holy day of Erastil.

We continue travelling north, and after a time, eventually reach Kalsgard, a massive city. We come into the Oak Quarter but make our way through the streets to the Bone Quarter where we leave the caravan. Some of us stay with it, whilst the rest of us head to the Inn known as the Hunting Serpent. The barkeep is named Tosti, a jovial and welcoming fellow and we revel a bit in the warm taproom before retiring to our rooms to sleep.

The next morning, we head to the Jade District where the Rimerunner headquarters are located. Upon handing over the letter, we’re told that the vessel was stolen a few nights ago. We’re thanked for its return, and given a writ of payment enabling us to collect our reward from the temple of Abadar, which we do.

We find that the gold armbands have a jewellers mark, and we track down the maker who we bribe to reveal who his client is. He tells us that his client is Asvig Longthews, an Ulfen landowner who has a red-haired wife, and is known as a ring giver, or a local lord. His settlement is probably well-guarded, as he has had about 100 of these rings made (we slew about 40 ring wearers on the river).

We decide that we will deal with this Asvig before our imminent departure from the city lest we are forced to leave in haste, and turn our attention to Snaevald. It turns out he is alive and well, and trades in amber and oil and Tian antiques and his home becomes known to us. He must be 80 years old by now. We pay the venerable old fellow a visit and come to him as traders carrying rare Tian antiques. He seems not very impressed, and bids us to return when we have proof that we carry rare and ancient Tian antiques that would interest him. We return to our caravan, but make plans to return to Snaevald this evening…

The Southlands and the Grungir
Session 9

Cusp’s Log

We decide to find a defensible position to camp and are attacked by an Ulfen band. We defend the camp, and later, Sandru tells us about Opir Eightfingers, a Linnorm King who presides over the town of Jol. An unfriendly settlement somewhat out of our way. The plan for us though, is to travel through Tomgruv and Solskinn instead, which are trading settlements on our route to Kalsgard. Ameiko is cursed with dreams of the antlered man again, and so we use the seal to cure her.

The next morning, some of us notice that one of the ravens that shadow the group is much larger than the others and has a red pinion feather. A most ridiculous flourish. Koya and some of the others see it as an omen, a bad omen.

Whilst scouting ahead, Shalelu spots two hill giants on the road some way down, and they are marked with black antler tattoos so more of Snorri Stone-Eye’s denizens we guess. We ambush them, and defeat them and continue. That evening, Shalelu is plagued by dreams but as she is not a scion, the seal can be no help to her.

Throughout the next day, Sandru seems a bit troubled in his thoughts though not very forthcoming when pressed. We eventually come to a more established road and continue along it towards the town of Tomgruv.

Tomgruv, as it turns out, is a good-sized settlement though appears strangely quiet and abandoned. In fact, the townsfolk were being harrassed by trolls which where raiding the Inn and we defeated them, though not without a bit of trouble. The townsfolk where hiding in the mine, the entrance to which is a great door in the side of a hill in the centre of town, and when they emerge, they seem very appreciative of our efforts and much merriment ensued, on this night, being the Ritual of Stardust.

Relationship update: Sandru (3) Koya (1) Ameiko (2) Shalelu (1).

Through the evening, ore wagons with dwarven handlers rumble into town. We ask a few people about the antlered symbology we’ve been seeing but no-one much knows anything about it or what it might mean. There is a nice chain shirt in town being sold for 8000 gp, and we also learn that Solskinn has some strange happenings of late. They’ve been plagued by phantoms and shadows at night. Some patrols were sent out to investigate, but have vanished.

The next day, we roll out with the dwarven miners who are going our way. They speak of Kopparberget, the mine accounts for much of the Linnorm Kings wealth. Sveinn Bloodeagle controls the mine, and he is also the King of Kalsgard. Kopparberget though, is a bustling mining settlement and fortress. It’s well defended and has a vast series of mines and tunnels and some are home to monsters, hence the need for many guards and protections.

By mid afternoon, we reach Solskinn, nestled in a pretty area, quiet and quite welcoming. We draw our wagons up to the main central green and visit the local Inn. There, we learn that people out after dark simply vanish or are taken by ghostly shadows and phantoms that fly through the night air. We visit Hakel, priest of Gorum who speaks of the influence of the fey realm which may be cause for these phantoms and disappearances. Hakel though seems to suggest this situation is a blessing though, for people are free to indulge in a long and trouble-free sleep of a night time, and are happier for it the next day. This has been going on it seems, for about six months. Is this an affront to Desna? Koya doesn’t think it’s our place to solve this mystery. Everyone seems against us investigating or interfering but Gelden and I stakeout the witching hours regardless, of course, from the safety of our rooms.

That night, strange shapes and shadows pass through town, flying in and out of areas and haunting the streets. We decide against going out. The next day, we set out with the dwarves and eventually reach the Grungir Forest that evening. We rest and set out the following day, the ravens high in the canopy. The forest is thick and shadowy. Dreki and Shalelu spy a female giant, stood in the crook of a massive tree. She is clutching a reel and golden thread, and she carries silver shears and watches the scouts just as they watch her. She ignores us though, even as I try to talk to her and appeal to her.

We break through the forest though and meet up eventually with the dwarves we set out with, who claim not to have seen the giantess. Shalelu suggests that the giantess was a ‘norn’, a creature which represents the physical manifestation of fate and perhaps lends credence to our mission. I think the vision was a good omen. This norn may just a be a force of nature but perhaps she has been weaving our road all this time, till we reached our source, her. Perhaps we are on our own now though; the shears she was carrying may represent that. That night is peaceful.

The next day is uneventful and we reach the shores of the Thundering River where we cross a bridge and get to a logging town and watchpost, known as Losthome. Trassen lays to the east we come to learn. Losthome though, is known for its carpenters and traders of wooden wares. We learn that it’s possible to reach Kalsgard by river, but with the caravan, it is not a journey for us.

That night, we decide to invoke Ameiko’s new found ability to transport us to the Library of the Amatatsu family. We appear in her tranquil gardens, a large wooden pagoda-like structure at its centre and presided over by a strange armored ghost, a ribrarian of sorts. This ribrarian, Shoshi is quite welcoming and we are each bid to find a book. I find a book called ‘The Song of the Falling Blossom’, and Shoshi welcomes us to keep the book and return it within a week. A most strange interlude indeed.

Returning to our world though, we set off the next morning and we anticipate no more settlements between us and our destination, except perhaps for Eldentre a town nestled they say in the cradle of an ancient fortified tree…

Into the Nolands
Session 8

Cusp’s Log

Once back at the caravan, Sandru fails to open the chests we recovered but when they are brought into the presence of Ameiko, they open. One chest contains a bamboo rod or sceptre, shaped into the style of a serpent or dragon and surrounded by a complex aura of magic. The other chest contains a tome, also magical, its cover emblazoned with eastern symbols in Minkaian; its title being ‘Ki of the Amatatsu’. We learn that Amatatsu is a notable name and the book contains teachings of natural and supernatural connections between the body, the physical and the metaphysical. The other chest holds the strange shelved puzzle box which contains imagery of an imperial dragon. Opening the puzzle box’s lid reveals a small dragon statuette and we are all, all of a sudden, overcome with dizziness and black out…

We see visions of an army sweeping over the nation of Tien Xia…
We see a friend strike down another…
We see a Tien man, bearing a katana exchange it for a bag of gems to an Ulfen man…
We see Ameiko rise from a resting place near a jade throne…
And then we come around…

We believe the murdered man in our visions to be Emperor Shigure of Minkai. We know that the name of the Kaijitsu’s is truly Amatatsu, and that Ameiko must be the last scion of the last imperial family, the Amatatsus. The Tien man we saw was Rokuro Amatatsu selling much or all of the family wealth to the Ulfen merchant Fynn Snaevald, to fund their exile and escape from the oncoming onslaught.

The katana is ‘Suishen’, intelligent and can impart more knowledge. Further, Ameiko is the current heir of the Amatatsu line, the last of five imperial families. We believe the statuette is the ‘Amatatsu Seal’, and represents the family’s right to rule over Minkai. It is an artifact in its own right, which gifts scions of Amatatsu, or those very close to them, with healing and other magics. The wooden puzzle box is an artifact in its own right, designed to hide objects from magical divination or attempts to find them. The book, if read by a scion, gives the knowledge to take advantage of the Ki Meditation feat, and teaches a lot about mysterious ki forces and energies. The rod is called the Nyoi Amatatsu, which by spending ki, allows scions to enter some kind of metaphysical library of the mind.

This was all knowledge that came to our minds as Ameiko opened the puzzle box and we also recall a wispy shape sucked into the Amatatsu Seal. Ameiko tells of a desperate spirit, yearning for the Seal to be found by an heir. A nature spirit, possibly a kami and not known for possessing people; its home may be the Amatatsu Seal.

Ameiko speaks of the Jade Regent, usurper and murderer of the Emperor. She speaks of her family’s exile, and the sale of Suishen. We decide we must go to Kalsgard and seek Fynn Snaevald. The travel to Kalsgard will be two weeks and a dangerous journey, up through the Nolands, we must follow the trail through Southmoor and to Kopparberget, a mine. We could also go to Tomgruv or Solskinn, then on to the Neck to Losthome, and then follow the banks of the Thundering River and on to Kalsgard.

The next day, we start our journey north. Growing flocks of ravens sweep across the barren rocky lands and seem always to dog our travels as we come to experience. In a couple of days, we spy a a tree-shaped structure. We investigate it and come to the gruesome realisation that it is a collection of dismembered bodies that have been nailed to a timber frame. Dreki tells us it is an effigy known as a tree of souls. It’s made up of a dozen or so human bodies, each body missing at least a limb, and their stumps are sewn shut or cauterised. Some may have been nailed whilst alive, and died as a result of the process, and Dreki suspects the ‘tree’ is made up of the remains of the leaders of opposing tribes, possibly to those opposing the Red Fang tribe, on account of some of the observed tattoos. We notice that we’re observed by a couple of wild folk, so we decide to briskly move on. During the rest of the day, we feel that we’re being watched.

That evening, we are attacked by a band of Ulfen barbarians but vanquish them after a pitched battle. We question a captive who tells us we should flee north as there are many other Ulfen tribesman around. Gelden is cursed with nightmares during the rest of the night but we use the statuette to remove the curse.

The next day, the caravan comes upon a nithing pole, an effigy proclaiming a curse to those going into these lands. The horses are nervous and the area around the pole is wreathed in necromantic magic. Through some experimentation, we relocate the pole and continue onwards.