Estea: The Shadows Lengthen

While in Braefield

The group reported to the sheriff, Cyrus, who let them know that things were well in hand.

The huntsman, Darus, Kelmar’s father, one of his deputies, and 6 hunting hounds were searching for Kelmar.

With the evening’s preparations for High Harvestide – he said the only thing they should worry about would be the Runa – who had been run out of town the night before by an angry mob – or the mad monk of Braefield – who comes into town from the eastern forest with strange tidings and prophecy. Cyrus said just keep those folks out of town and we should be alright.

Bronwyn saw her aunt – who complained about Gared’s impulsiveness and for wandering around with gypsies and stranger folk in his youth. She seemed to sniff at her companions, but wished her well.

Chen saw his parents and his mother hoped that he would join them for the feast that night, but his father just spat on the ground and walked away. Chen declined the invite.

In their patrol Chen found the Runa to the northeast of town. They said that the bard Thomlin Merryweather was at the Inn but that they were not welcome in town.

When Darus’s hound, Dragon, appeared with a barbed black feathered arrow in its side that afternoon – Chen knew that goblins of the Shadowlands had infiltrated into Istarnia.

They spent a brief amount of time preparing defenses. Glawen taught the few folk who would listen to him some basic attack maneuvers while Chen helped to organize a system of fire signals in case of attack. The townsfolk were to focus on the south side of town and the Runa were convinced to watch in the north.

Because of the gathering of wood for the fires of High Harvestide – they were already prepared to construct signal fires. Even so, the feast was go to on as planned.

Kelmar’s mother gave the group a bundle of bread, cheese, and apples to take with them – asking Chen to bring her husband and son home safely.

Glawen set to tracking the hound’s blood trail through the misting and overcast hills.

They lost the trail with the fading light, but saw a fire flicker into life on a distant hillside and approached it.

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Travel to Braefield
The group returns to Braefield

The group travels north after pretending to escort Glawen and Gregor as prisoners to the capital.

On the way they encounter an ettercap ambush and a group of peasants who were overcame by smoke from burning Blighted crops.

They were escorted by the Braefield militia to Lord’s Manor. Chen’s friend Jorn, let him know that Kelmar had gone missing the night before (which would have been the same night they fought the blight elemental in the pond.)

Lord Aleric looked terribly tired and beaten down – but thanked them for escorting Gregor.

Glawen was awoken by a cry in the night, but the guards did not let him up the stairs.

In the morning Lord Aleric looked well. In fact his leg that had been shattered in a fight with an ogre years before was healed! He said that Gregor worked his magic and that his wife and newborn son was stabilized.

Now that they were safe and he was in good health, Aleric planned to lead Braefield’s Militia to the Wall to face the hordes of Hobgoblins, Bugbears, Goblins, and ogre’s that were threatening the kingdom.

He left Brynn in charge of the manor and asked the group to aid the sheriff, Cyrus in keeping the peace.

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The Gathering of the Three Races is over
Things Fall Apart - and Glawen is Blamed!

The Company of Light returns to Fleethill to find that everything has changed.

The elves are packing to leave, the alliance in question after Glawen was accused of attempting to murder the Brundar Chief, Sigurd.

The Brundar have left, as have the Runa. Not only that, the human soldiers of Istarnia are packing up to reinforce the soldiers at Pelor’s Wall, which was assaulted during the night by an organized force of Hobgoblins, Ogres, Bugbears, and Goblins – using siege engines and magic of a greater sophistication than in previous assaults.

The dwarves of Barak Durn planned a tentative alliance with Istarnia – mostly with trade of resources, goods, and information – so something positive came out of the time at Fleethill.

The dwarf hearth-maiden, Gildas, hired Coryn to translate the book, Angrildrin, into dwarvish. She also talked with Dulkas for a bit and convinces him to accompany Coryn and keep the book and her safe.

They march to the encampment and Chen convinced King Willhelm that he would escort Gregor and Glawen to ‘justice.’

Rerik leaves with Thorn to return to the halfling town of River’s Bend to reinforce their defenses there.

Bronwyn’s father, Gared, is traveling south with King Willhelm to lead a unit that lost their captain in the surprise assault. He is clothed in chain mail and the white and gold tunic of a Istarnian Captain. A two handed great-sword is slung over his broad shoulders.

Gared bids farewell to Bronwyn – hugs her close – and whispers to her for a bit.

He hugged her again and brushed tears out of his eyes, as another Captain swung from his saddle before asking to talk to Chen privately.

He talks with Chen, offers his wagon to their use, and then saddles up and is off to the Wall.

The group takes Gregor, ditches the wagon, and is off to Braefield.

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A Soldier In Diguise
It's Brynn, that rebellious sword swinging noble lady!

Brynn had followed Glawen after hearing where the Company of Light was, bearing a message for Chen from her father, Lord Aleric.

They found her lost in the woods just after the Blight Elemental was defeated, with a message for Chen. It was meant for a soldier to deliver but she disguised herself to get out of Braefield and catch up with her friend Bronwyn, who seemed to be caught up in a story worthy of a legend.

Also her mother has been isolated for days with a midwife and healer and her father would not let anyone see her. Anything was better than waiting.

The message is a request to escort the priest Gregor to Braefield in hopes of saving the lives of his wife and unborn child.

For the eyes of Chen Emberhill: It is with some urgency that I write you. My wife, the Lady Karellyn is deathly ill, and I fear she will not survive the delivery of our child. Braefield’s most gifted herbalist is able to do nothing. Some word of your deeds and the happenings of the encampment of Fleethill have reached my ears. They say there is a man who can perform miraculous healing who traveled with the Runa to Fleethill. Please beseech him to come to Braefield with all haste. Escort him if you are able. The roads are dangerous to travel. I would be in your debt if you would do this service for me.

Your friend and Lord, Aleric.

They sleep the night in the woods and then return to Fleethill in the morning.

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Pond is Purified
Glawen Returns and Rerik has his Day

Glawen arrived at the last minute to help defeat the Blight Elemental.

Ariat, the wood elf priestess wall hurled against a tree and pierced by a blight stag – nearly dying. Rerik surprised everyone with a couple of well placed arrows that bit into the maw of the Blight Elemental – sending it to a watery grave and causing all the creatures it animated to collapse just seconds before the culmination of the ritual.

Selvara gave a great piercing shout and the moon pulsed and the air seemed to go silver for a second. Calihar, the wood elf ranger, poured the vial into the pond and all the slime and dark oily sludge on and around the pond is blasted away into motes of light.

Selvara shuddered and collapsed, saying, “I feel it in my bones – This creature was a Blight Elemental—a necrotic entity from a parallel realm that envelops Estea – The Shadowfell, land of the dead – much as elementals harken from the Elemental Chaos, a land of primal energy. I fear that even as Faerie retreats and separates from Estea – the Shadow creeps and draws nearer to the mortal realm.”

That said, the gnarled and ancient wood elf priestess passes out.

It is a sobering thought, to imagine that the land of the dead and shadow might be closing in on the world.

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Glawen's Story
A mysterious set up.

While on his way to the dining tent after the blight boars had attacked the fairgrounds, Glawen was approached by Aerun’ilthar – the griffin rider noble of the wood elves. Aerun was dressed in a long grey hooded cloak that shaded his features. He whispered to Glawen that he had something to say that could not be said with other ears around.

The two of them walked from the encampment to the river side and Aerun glanced around and whispered to Glawen about a plot against the elves by the Istarnians – that Cassivar was naïve to think that humans could be trusted, and that he had discovered that this gathering was really a trap meant to lure them.

It was then that Aerun plunged the short sword that he had concealed under his cloak into Glawen’s stomach. Glawen threw himself backwards in an effort to avoid the next blow – but it caught him on the side of the head and he toppled into unconciousness.

He was found floating in the river by a Halfling named Willow who recognized him as one of the company of light. She was wise enough to recognize the blue vial he carried as a healing potion and revived him with it.

When he returned to the camp he found it to be in chaos.

The Runa were leaving. As their wagons rolled past, Arasmus explained why.

Gregor had incited a riot by doing another healing and declaring the Gods to be dead or having abandoned Estea. A small crowd of Istarnian ruffians had cornered and assaulted a Runa youth – a stray rock took out his eye. The bullies were driven off by other Runa and Gregor emerged to heal the child, reforming the eye that had been shattered – bellowing at the gathering crowd that they were servants of darkness and that only by embracing The Goddess would they ever be healed of the blight within their souls.

The crowd was just about to surge forward and Arasmus feared he might have had to use lethal magics to stop them when Istarnian calvalry drove a wedge between the groups. King Willhelm appeared and restored order by arresting the bullies as well as Gregor.

The Runa were allowed to go in peace, but since many in the encampment seemed hostile towards them, they began to pack up to leave, heading north along the Kings Road. The last thing Arasmus said to Glawen was that his companions had been searching for him but could not find him. They had left with the wood elf priestesses to purify the blighted pond earlier in the night.

Shortly after the wagons rolled past him, Glawen was surrounded by mounted Istarnian Cavalry – with lances and crossbows leveled at him.

Glawen was accused of attempting to murder Chief Sigurd. He was seen to fire an arrow from a longbow at the Chief with many witnesses present – and then flee when the assassination attempts failed. His actions have thrown the talks of alliance into chaos. The captain of the Istarnian Guards promised him safety and a fair trial if Glawen would only agree to come with them peacefully. If the facts show him to be innocent, perhaps the alliance can be saved.

It was then that one of the mounted soldiers fired a crossbow quarrel at him. This time Glawen was on edge and able to react. He dived under the belly of a horse and came to his feet on the outside of the circle of horses. He heard the Captain berate the soldier who fired the quarrel as the horsemen maneuvered to untangle themselves from the close circle they had formed.

Glawen reached the shelter of the forest before they could close the gap, and kept on running. Not sure whether Aerun’ithil may have prepared any more surprises for him, he avoided the camp of the wood elf rangers on the edge of the Kingswoods. He was later able to pick up the trail the group left on their way to the blighted pond – mostly by the footprints of two dwarves – one of which he recognized as Dulkas.

It took a little over two hours to catch up to them – and near the end the trees were bare of leaves, their trunks blackened and slick with foul slime. Thorn bushes and brambles invested the ground that was once rich with moss, ferns and undergrowth. A horrid stench permeated everything. The lilting voices of the Sisters of the Crescent he could hear calling out to the Elf Goddess Selhaine contrasted to the sickening atmosphere.

When he finally emerged into the clearing around the pond, it was the scene of a battle. A strange tentacled creature lashed out against the elves, dwarves, humans, and Halfling. Twisted animals: Stag, bear, wolf, and crows that were hideously mutated and animated grappled with the group—many more lay dead or twitching on the ground.

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Ritual To Purify the Blight Pond
I pull a tree down on it.

GATHERING:

The 4 wood elf Sisters of the Crescent have gathered all the materials needed to conduct the ritual to purify the blighted pond. Each has a wood elf ranger to accompany them – though Glawen is nowhere to be found. Surprisingly the dwarf priestess of Hestia is also there.

Gildas Silverhand explains to Dulkas

I have never seen the rituals of a people other than ours. I am curious to see the similarities and differences in how we express our faith.

The high priestess Selvara, has gnarled brown skin and silver hair and eyes. She walks with one hand on the shoulder of the young acolyte, Gilithona, and speaks to Chen and Bronwyn as they walk through the darkening gloom of the Kingswoods.

You humans think it strange that a vigil for the dead would take 3 days. In elder times this was not so, and our spirits could find Arvandor unaided. The divine realm of Arvandor is at the heights of Ailanthus’s branches – what humans would call the World Tree. Since the world was broken before the war of shadows – the paths of Ailanthus have been twisted and it is no longer a simple matter for spirits to travel. Without the vigil, a spirit might be trapped in this realm as a ghost – or worse in some shadow plane within the World Tree as a wraith. This is one of the reasons there are so many un-restful spirits in the world today.

She is quiet for a bit more and then speaks up.

Your king worries that he may have caused offence at asking us to do this thing, so soon after bidding farewell to the spirit of Naki Ev’ethyr. But this is well, because our prayers are more effective by Selhaine’s light. (Selhaine is both the name of the moon and the goddess of magic and mystery for the elves.) And there is reason for haste. The corruption in this world never rests, so neither must we. We honour Naki by cleansing the evil that took her life.

OTHER PRIESTESSES DESCRIBE THE RITUAL

They continue through the forest as the other priestesses, Ariat and Dalyth explain the ritual:

The ritual to purify the blight is a brief one and should take no more than 10 minutes. Selvara could conduct it alone, but as a group we are stronger. Each voice adds to the effectiveness of the ritual. We four shall recite the prayer and call down the purifying light of Selhaine, the moon goddess of the elves. At the culmination of the ritual, the vial of blessed water will be poured into the blighted pond with Selhaine’s power it will be cleansed of blight.

THE BLIGHT POND

The scent of the pond is the first thing to strike you. A vile and rotting smell that almost has a physical presence. Next is the blackening of the trees. In a wide circle around the pond, the leaves of the trees have completely fallen, turning to a black sludge at their base. The proud trunks of the trees closest to the pond seem to be sunken and rotten at their base.

While moss and fern have withered and died since the group passed the pond last, there is a new growth of black thorn bushes that make advancing towards the stench of the pond an arduous journey.

When you break through, you see the surface of the water is now completely blackened and an oozy film of dark slime coats the ground around it – ground that is littered with the corpses of twisted and rotting animals – their bodies blackened and ruptured with shards of dark bone.

Selvara steps forward and raises her hand with the vial… each priestess has a scroll that they recite while the High Priestess speaks from memory. Their lilting voices seem to lighten the foul place and you can feel a crackling hum in the air. The moon, 3 days shy of being full, seems to draw a little closer and swell with a strange silvery light. A fall flower opens and twines around the foot of the high priestess.

As they enter their second minute of chanting – a red glow fills the blighted glen – causing the black filth coating the pond, ground, and trees to glisten like congealed blood and sending a shiver down your spine. The red comet of Ky’ruath throbs over the clearing around the pond, brighter than ever.

The group is surprised by a great shadowy tentacle that curls from the pond and knocks Selvara and Gilithona flat. Corellon’s Vial is sent spinning through the air and clatters in the branches of a great black leafless oak,

More tentacles emerge. They are slick with black slime and noxious vapours twist in the night air.

As the group attacks it, a shadowy maw emerges and animates dead animals with a keening cry – like nails scratching on your grave. The fight is fierce with many a heroic moment – the priestesses continuing their chanting as the group tries to keep the brunt of the beast’s assault away from them.

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At Fleethill after the Blight Boar Attack
The Company of Light is Called on Again

The mood of the encampment at Fleethill is somber following the attack of the blight boars on the fair grounds. The festive energy of the night before, when the Runa mage, Arasmus, entertained the crowd with fireworks and illusion has all but dissipated.

Many gather for comfort and safety at the Great Hall of the main tent – where Gared and his staff fuel the crowd with food and drink. The whispered comments of hope and anger at the actions and words of the priest Gregor are on the lips of many of the patrons. How could he have brought the Istarnian soldier back from certain death? How dare he speak out against Pelor and suggest this upstart Great Goddess is the only true deity?

Many negative comments are also slung towards the Runa, who shelter Gregor at their encampment. People who cheered Arasmus on the night previous now speak as if he were an evil warlock in league with Gregor, the fey of the Elder Forest, or worse.

RUMOURS HEARD AT THE INN

- King Willhelm’s decree of rationing food is celebrated by some – but some nobles believe that they will have to do with less. Some commoners are worried about the amount of control the army will have over food and think the poorest may have to do without.

- The Halfling merchants have pulled their booths from the fair ground and have created a defensive formation of their river rafts – in case of another attack.

- some volunteer milita men have chose to leave Fleethill to return to their villages to see that their families are safe and King Willhelm allowed that.

- many merchants wish to return to Caeristar but King Willhelm will not reduce the strength of the encampment to send them escorted at this time. They grumble about how the king should treat the merchants of Istarnia with more consideration. After all, we are the backbone of this nation.

- Wood elf rangers report more beasts in the Kingswoods. They have created traps and defensive lines around their camp and it is not wise to walk through unescorted.

NEXT BIT OF ACTION

- the elf bard Cassivar reports that King Willhelm has asked the Sisters of the Crescent to take action this night, as soon as the vigil is done, and purify the pond. They are now blessing the Corellon’s Vial and preparing for the journey.

The company of light is asked again if they would join the Priestesses. Despite the difficulties you have faced so far, you have succeeded at all tasks set before you. Would you prepare yourself, and find the Halfling, Rerik, and convince him to join you?

As they move through the camp in the dimming light, the mood is tense. Every tent has armed guards posted at them. The few fires in the field are packed with people, and wagons are set up in a defensive circle around them. Only the wood elf rangers and Brundar tribes-people shun the safety of numbers – trusting their own skill against any creature that may come in the night.

The merchant booths have all been set down and packed away, leaving only trampled grass where they once were. Beyond the field, you can see the lights of the Floating Village on the river. As you get closer you can see it is made of rafts, barges, and boats, slung together to create pathways and dwellings for the Halflings of Riversbend. The village is anchored to prevent it from drifting downstream. Lanterns send shifting shadows across the water and wood as the structure creaks and sways in the current. There are no visible means to board it, and the nearest walkway is 6 feet from the shore.

2 halfling guards challenge them: State your business tall ones

They wear leather armor and stand a little over 3 and a half feet – but their hands rest on the pommels of short swords that look well used.

Sure we know Rerik. What’s your names? He spoke well of you. Said you saved his life a few times. I can take you to him.

(A rolled up rope and board walkway is thrown your way. It unwinds and lands near two posts on the shoreline that you had not seen in the dim of twilight.)

Rerik is found on the Halfling floating village – training with one of their warriors with a spear. They clatter and pivot about the rocking surface of a wide barge, a crowd of Halflings are gathered around and watching. The warrior training him feints with a jab and then suddenly swings the butt of the spear at Rerik’s head. Rerik sees the feint and tumbles backward, losing his own spear but avoiding his opponents. They stand there for a moment. Rerik’s breath comes in great gasps and sweat drips from his brow. His trainer lets out a great belly laugh.

Good boy! You have learned to avoid blows well. He claps Reriks shoulder. Next you will need to learn how to land them.

They notice the group and the trainer addresses them. Now this is something you don’t see every day. Tall ones on a Halfling barge. What brings you here?

Rerik agrees to join them again, saying he expected to get caught up in another misadventure, so he thought it best to figure out how to use the weapons the king gave him.

Glawen is nowhere to be found.

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At the Fair Grounds
Boars Attack

The group returns to Fleethill and still have to wait for the Sisters of the Crescent to finish their vigil for Naki.

Arasmus is entertaining the crowd at Fleethill with illusion and fireworks.

Chen buys some snazzy boots and Dulkas has gloves made from drake skin.

Bronwyn is gifted a pendant with a heart shaped leaf from her father – it is made from a wood she does not recognize.

Coryn catches up with Arasmus and begins to translate the book Angrildrin – which tells of an elf / dwarf alliance around four thousand years ago.

They have their fortune read by Arasmus, but a Runa woman named Yasmira steps in and reads Bronwyn’s. Arasmus differs to her and Yasmira disappears afterwards.

They hear that the adventure party which traveled with the Runa have left to seek treasure in the Sunken City of the Blightfen Bog. They imagine that the Flaming Sword of Calidor might be found there – as it was lost shortly before Rhyan Istar left Calidor and formed the nation of Istarnia.

Everyone trains to get their new skills for level 2.

The fairgrounds are attacked by blight boars.

The party kills one, the Brundar kill another, Aerun’ithil the griffin rider kills another, and Istarnian Calvary defeat the last one.

Gregor, a priest of The Goddess who traveled with the Runa revives an Istarnian knight who had been trampled and gored.

The crowd gathers in amazement but quickly turns against Gregor when he announces that the gods of Estea are dead or have abandoned the world. Only the Goddess can see them through these dark times.

Dulkas and the group are able to save him from being mobbed.

They return to the dining tent to await news – though Glawen is nowhere to be found.

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The Tilting Tower
Spectres Battle A Go Go

The group traveled to Caeristar.

They stayed at the Flying Fish.

A man named Hastor bumped into Glawen. He had a wounded shoulder.

They hired Bron and Tor to get them to the Isle of Tears.

They fought a giant lake serpent and Tor was nearly killed.

They gathered the dew of flowers in Correlon’s vial.

A spiretop drake stole their vial.

Coryn stopped it with a sleep spell and they decided to investigate the tower it came from.

They were attacked by spectres.

Later they found that there were two forces of spectres battling each other.

They found a secret chamber that described how Queen Illestra came to be imprisoned in the tower.

They found the Queen as a spectre who claimed to have been murdered by a traitorous mage named Quillem.

They defeated Quillem and were rewarded with magical items.

The tower crumbled around them as the spirits were released.

They found the body of Hastor, throat slit but with no shoulder wound like they had seen him the night before.

They returen to Fleethill.

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