The adventure continues with the Order of the Swan...
PC: Rowen - Syvani Wical of the Huntress. Female Archer and divine caster.
PC: Cinder - Kirith Syvani Mage. Master of Fire and arcane power. (Absent this session)
PC: Khabsha - Oroka shamaness of Mogda - Deathwalker. Gallows humor with bones in her hair and bone armor.
PC: Baern – Durin Warrior. Yer typical bearded jewel freak with a penchant for chopping things with his axe.
PC: Graham – Neran warrior. Freebooter in search of employment.
It turns out, being stranded in the depths of Mar nan Os isn’t so bad with a wical of Cynwen in the party. After a funeral for Weylin, Though it takes a little time, Rowen is able to contact a friendly spirit and lead Cinder and Khabsha to a safe gateway back to the prime plane of Alkevaaron. Unfortunately, the gateway puts them in Ffom, on the far northern coast of Aeranos, in the fringes of the Winter wood. A long travel from the Forever plains.
Since they are all interested to learn the outcome of the battle between the Badgers and the Bloodwolves, and to learn the fate of Fathak – who must have been left in the cavern, and Beta – who led the tribeless in battle, they decide to travel back to the tribelands of the Oroka.
Taking advantage of the proximity to a Mage Guild's tower, where he has some business to conduct, Cinder offers to catch up to them later. After equipping themselves with horses and travel supplies, Rowen and Khabsha make their way along the old trade route between Neb and Neued, where they plan on skirting the Winter Wood. It is here that we pick up the tale, with the tall Syvani druidess and her fair Oroka Shamaness companion just arriving at a ruined tower just off the road, where an old stone wall and a travelers fire offers respite from the cold north winds.
The Old Tower is actually an aging Neran structure built inside the fallen ruins of an even older Giant’s tower. The whole thing somewhat resembles giant, gnarled and ancient teeth reaching from the hilltop and devouring the stone ruins within. A glassy pond lies at the base of the hill and a huge Warden Oak spreads its branches nearby. Permanent shadows underneath, and thick gnarly roots create small caves at the base of the tree. A stream trickles under the oak and makes it way into the pond.
Rowen and Khabsha are welcomed at the fire and introduced to the other travelers. They include:
- A Fimar craftsman by the name of Ferg Wayfinder, traveling with his trade-wagon and his two guards, Geordie Finn and Malis Ap Dearg, a Neran and Kirith-Syvani warrior.
- A quiet, local farmer named Tom McAislin, tall and thin with a long, thin beard.
- A dour Durin warrior named Baern, who offers little other than ad admission that he’s “travelling south”
- A roguish looking mercenary named Graham, who immediately gains Rowens attention by the fine and well cared for Syvani blade he carries.
- And last, an unobtrusive begger in threadbare cloak and rags, with a nasty cough, who stays well back from the fire.
Ferg and Geordie are the most outgoing of the group, inviting the two priestesses to share their fire and tell a bit about themselves. Malis, the beggar and the farmer are all less forthcoming, though none are rude. Geordie explains that the river has made the nearby ford impassable, and thus everyone is waiting it out here until the river subsides. Rowen regales the group with a well told tale of their recent adventures. Ferg tells of his less exciting adventures in trading with the hardened villagers of Ffom, Tom explains that he’s traveling to visit a sick mother in Kaergot and Baern and GRAHAM are two lone travelers temporarily “path-bound” as traveling companions while their journeys match.
After a shared meal, and a bit of dicing between Baern, Malis, Graham, Geordie, Khabsha and Ferg, in which Graham walks away the winner, the beggar offers to play a tune on his tin whistle in return for the meal, though he still shies away from conversation. He’s very good. Even though no threat presents itself, the adventurers blood in all their veins requires that a watch be set, though Rowen and Khabsha are willing to share it with the others. For his part, Ferg says goodnight and sleeps in his wagon, while his guards take turns keeping their own watch near the wagon.
In the early morning hours, Khabsha hears a strange ringing coming from their gear. A quick search reveals the source to be the magic blade, Hawkwing, that has set a small iron pot to humming with its vibration. Waking Rowen, they quickly discuss this newfound power of the blade, and note that the Silver Swans explained the blade had powers against demons. Thus alerted, they make a scan of the camp and find both the beggar and the farmer gone.
A few moments later they hear a strangled cry from the pond at the base of the hill. Rushing there with weapons drawn, they find the beggar pulling the farmer from the pond. Once he’s safe, he explains he awoke to find “something” dragging him into the depths of the small pond. The beggar explains that he was getting a drink from the stream when he heard the farmer and was first on the scene. He saw no attacker, but pulled the farmer from the water.
Rowen explains the swords powers to Ferg and the others and they build the fire high, keeping careful watch until morning, but no other danger presents itself.
In the morning, Baern, Rowen, Graham and Khabsha search the area for clues. Guessing that something might live in the bowels of the tree, Khabsha searches there. Rowen investigates the pond while Baern looks through the ruins. Graham examines the tracks around the attack site. Several of the party notice Geordie arguing with Ferg, but don’t know what it’s about.
Khabsha’s thorough search only gets her muddy, and even a detection spell around the tree and pond reveal no spirit activity. Baern’s search reveals a large, grass covered mound behind the tower, that to his trained Durin eye, appears to hide an old, namer-made structure of some sort, but he finds nothing further. Rowen keeps Hawkwing to hand, but feels no further emanations from the blade, and finds no clues. Graham discovers that Tom the Farmer appears to have walked down the hill to the pond, while the beggar’s story seems to have been the truth. These investigations all take a great deal of the day.
Ferg sends Malis to the river to check the ford, and Graham, when finished with his tracking, accompanies him. While they are away, and while the group is busy investigating, a shout is heard from the tower, When everyone comes running, they find Ferg bleeding from a stab wound with the beggar and the farmer kneeling at his side. They explain that Geordie stabbed the Fimar and ran off over the hill. Though Ferg is weak, he adds that Geordie was angry and raving at losing at dice, though why he was mad at him, Ferg couldn’t say. He was trying to calm the lad down when Geordie stabbed him and ran off. Nearly done in by the deep wound, Ferg than passes out.
While Baern and the beggar chase after Geordie, Rowen and Khabsha set to healing Ferg while Tom keeps watch. Rowen’s magic does the trick, and what was probably a fatal wound for Ferg, becomes an old scar. Baern expects that Geordie is long gone by now, which leaves him surprised to find the young man not far off, sitting in the grass, crying and confused. Geordie pleads some kind of temporary insanity to Baern and the beggar. The beggar takes Geordies dagger, handling the blade with a familiarity that leaves Baern wondering at the beggars true talents, before they lead Geordie back to the tower, where he is relieved to find Ferg still alive.
Malis and Graham return from the river ford, having found it still too high and fast for a crossing, to discover all that has transpired in their absence. Malis is understandably angry at Geordie, who is miserable and ashamed. Rowen and Khabsha reiterate to the group that demonic influence may be at work. After discussing everyone’s motives for being at the camp. They decide Tom’s story is the weakest, since everyone else is traveling south, and thus must wait for the ford to lower, while Tom is supposedly traveling north, and thus has no reason to hang around.
When they confront the farmer, he grows nervous, but answers that he doesn’t often venture from his farm, and was just enjoying the trip. This is obviously not likely, since Tom has barely interacted with the others. When he decides he’s had enough, and starts to gather his supplies to leave, Rowen pulls out the truth spell and hits him with “What is your true purpose here?” Tom blurts out, “To sew the seeds of chaos for the master” before he can stop himself. Realizing the gig is up, he takes off running, with Baern and Graham in hot pursuit.
Tom makes it to the edge of the pond before he’s slammed to the ground by the two warriors, snapping his leg in the process. Thus immobilized, they proceed to start questioning him, but he refuses to answer, claiming that the Syvani witch forced him to say these things. No one buys it. They search Tom’s bag and find a satchel of old gems and jewels.
It’s at this point that Khabsha notices Geordie is no longer by the fire pit. A quick search finds him inching toward Ferg, with his hands hidden behind his back. With little time, she shouts a warning, but no one is close enough to stop Geordie as he pulls a dagger and lunges for Ferg. Khabshas arrow finds Geordie’s back and kills him before he can murder his employer. In the confusion that ensues, Tom tries to throw himself into the pond, but is stopped by his leg and his captors.
Once dragged back to the tower, Tom is tied up and questioned further. When Rowen attempts another truth spell, Tom begins to shake violently and turn purple. Shadows bleed from his eyes and ears and wrap about his throat. When Hawkwing is pressed to his throat, the shaking grows worse, but the shadows disperse. Tom is left alive, but incoherent and catatonic, possibly permanently.
Several discussions are had at this point. One revolves around why Tom was heading toward the pond? Another revolves around what was controlling Tom and Geordie. A third is centered around the possibility of packing up and leaving before anyone else ends up dead or worse. Ferg is all for heading out. Strangely, the beggar sides with Rowen, Baern and Khabsha in wanting to stick around and solve the mystery. They decide to let Ferg and Malis go. Ferg offers his thanks and reminds them that he owes them a debt before departing, taking Geordies body with them.
Once the craftsman and his guard have left, the beggar is questioned, and comes clean. He reveals himself to be Dags McRowd, the Ffomish King’s Bard, sent to investigate the disappearance of the King’s cousin, Jory Talis from this area a few weeks ago. He offers to search the pond, and after being secured with rope he dives in and makes a thorough search, but only gets really muddy.
It is decided that Tom isn’t likely to recover, and might be a threat. Tom is put down, and then questioned by Khabsha with her Death Whispers spell, specifically about where his “master” is and how to get there? The first answer is “through the gateway, in the shadows”. The second is “when the light of the moon reflects from the pond.”
Thus informed, the party knows where to go and how to get there. It is only left to wait for nightfall, which is close. Dags retrieves his armor and gear and the group gathers about the pond….